Kit chaos at Stevenage as Crewe's latest star shines
At Broadhall Way.
I had not been inside Stevenage's stadium for long before I realised all was not quite going to plan.
There was just over an hour until the newest addition to the Football League was due to meet Crewe for their first competitive fixture and in many ways everything looked to be in good order.
A milky September sun beamed down on the superb playing surface and the fans slowly started to make their way through the turnstiles as Stevenage prepared for their third home fixture as a League Two club.
But close to the the middle of the pitch, a circle of officials and club representatives in the midst of a very serious discussion told a different story.
The problem, it turned out, concerned Crewe's away strip. The referee thought it was too similar in both colour and design to Stevenage's white and red home kit.
Crewe warmed-up wearing red socks and shirts with orange shorts, a very funky combination, but the referee was still not satisfied and so when the Alex appeared for kick-off they were sporting Stevenage's yellow away kit.
Crewe (left) wore Stevenage's away strip for their match at Broadhall Way
It was a slightly farcical start to the afternoon but the 400 or so away supporters saw the funny side, making the most of the opportunity to chant "yellows" in support of their team.
I heard someone suggest that it was an embarrassing sequence of events ahead of a professional football match and it is hard to disagree.
But I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon at Broadhall Way and there were many qualities that I sometimes think have been permanently lost at higher levels of the game.
The ground, now officially called the Lamex Stadium, benefits immensely from the fact that one side and end are terraced. The Stevenage fans packed the terraced side and created a cracking atmosphere.
There is an intimacy at grounds like Stevenage's that I don't think you have at many of the architecturally fantastic but somehow slightly soulless modern stadia. I almost stumbled into several of the Crewe squad as I made my way into the ground and there was none of the separation between players and fans that I think slightly deadens the experience at the top level.
I could hear the instructions and frustrations that emanated from the management teams in the dug-outs, while the vociferous opinions that came down from the stands must surely have reached the players. The home supporters sat in front of me made it very clear that Crewe wideman Clayton Donaldson was slightly too enthusiastic in his desire to embrace the admittedly lush-looking playing surface.
I noticed that Crewe boss Dario Gradi spent a good 10 minutes chatting to two Stevenage supporters as his team went through their warm-up routine, while the veteran manager chatted at length to another fan after the match.
In truth it was a largely ordinary contest, with lengthy passages of scrappy and dis-jointed play. The referee did not help as he was far too quick to blow his whistle, but the contest had plenty to admire.
Crewe defender David Artell suggested afterwards that Stevenage had been very physical in their approach but I felt the home team showed great desire and commitment to hold on for a 1-1 draw after Stacy Long was sent off with half an hour remaining.
Veteran Crewe boss Gradi reckons it is too early to tell whether his side are capable of pushing for promotion. They now have five points from five games and lacked a cutting edge on Saturday that Gradi admitted was a concern.
But the Crewe boss was undoubtedly buoyed by the incredibly promising performance of substitute Nick Powell - a youngster who is apparently already wanted by some of England's top clubs.
Gradi believes that Powell has a big future in the game
The 16-year-old was recently a member of the England Under-17 team that won a round-robin tournament involving Australia, Turkey and Portugal.
And at Broadhall Way the young forward played with a skill and confidence after his 66th-minute introduction that suggested he has a bright future in the game.
Just about his first touch was a sublime flick that wrong-footed an opponent while his time on the pitch featured step-overs, dribbles and two crisp left-foot shots that drew decent stops from Stevenage keeper Chris Day.
Powell almost won the match for his team with a late low strike that caught Day flat footed which narrowly missed the target.
"I have known him since he was 10 and he has always been confident," said Gradi.
"He was a little boy with quick feet and was temperamental as a youngster but he has a lot going for him.
"He is not an easy player to pin down to a position because he likes to go where he wants to go, a little bit like Steven Gerrard.
"However, he is not the same kind of player as Gerrard, he has got more tricks and flicks and is a cleverer player than Gerrard although he does not have his power.
"He is best playing behind the front striker, he is two footed and good in the air."
Garratt and Clayton have yet to figure for Crewe's first team, while the match at Stevenage was Powell's second substitute appearance.
The kit fiasco meant that Powell had the name of Ronnie Henry on his back on Saturday afternoon.
But in years to come, it might just be that there will be no confusion about the name of the youngster who made such a good impression after coming off the bench at Stevenage.