Earlier on in the day I’d got a text off Jinksy enquiring which pub to meet in. The Woodman it would be. Another half day off from work and hopefully back to back victories. I’d plans of getting my ticket for the Bournemouth league cup game but whether my Sons habit of being late had rubbed off on me or what, don’t know, I was running late. The ticket would have to wait until Friday. The first bus that turned up was a single decker. I’ve grown to dislike single decker buses but such as the brain works, I had a flashback to the little minibuses that used to operate in Telford. Remembering how bad they were made me appreciate the single decker bus I was on. Those minibuses were lethal. Really uncomfortable, cramped and when overloaded, potential death traps. The single decker I was on was like a limousine compared. I felt kind of uplifted.
I hadn’t been in the Woodman since last season and I’d still got a full loyalty card from the last time so my first pint was effectively free. I joined Jinksy, Darrell, J.K. and Russell outside. The park was covered with families and kids enjoying the late summer sun. A group of student types were sharing a rather pungent spliff on the table next to us. Now I’m not going to mention who the culprit is but one our little group regaled us with a recent night out story. They’d been to a doo and not only had they had a great deal to eat, at one establishment in the city, he’s known as “Bones” because that’s all he leaves, they’d also consumed a fair bit of alcohol. This included a bottle of red wine. Now at the end of the evening he found himself with two predicaments. The last train had gone and the facilities at the station was shut. Now normally a rational mind would allow for control of bodily functions. When drunk, reality gets a bit hazy. In his words “I had to go. There was no stopping it” and so there, right on the platform, he deposited a, again in his words “huge dump”. I don’t condone his actions but judging by the fact that the other 4 of us were laughing uncontrollably, it’s pretty safe to say it was accepted behavior. It led to some weirdly funny things found on the internet. I mean, don’t want to look, can’t help curiosity getting the better of you sick stuff. Nothing against the law, I might add but definitely stuff that’s deemed strange and perverted. The conversation turned sensible as we talked about where the HS2 was going to go. The near by Eagle and Tun, an impending victim. We moved on to the Clink. On the way we went the back way to the Custard Factory. It meant walking over the bridge that straddles the river Rea. Along with the Cole and the Tame, Brum has 3 rivers. A fact most people outside Birmingham don’t know. Coleshill is actually named after the river. We were joined at the Clink by Worcester Pete and Steve Whaley. It was too nice to stay in so we sat outside. We talked about the up coming trips to Burton, Norwich and Derby. Each excellent for pubs and ale. Darrell will be stopping in Norwich, something I have intentions of doing at some point. The conversation turned to craft ale. Although it tends to be more expensive, it’s still got its place. We all agreed that as long as it tastes good then that’s all that matters. That’s why we drink ale and not the mass produced tasteless chemical laced rubbish such as Carling, Fosters and Stella. Last port of call again was the Spotted Dog. Was able to ask Spoons how Bloodstock was whilst Aida interjected with his usual funny, caustic humour. We also talked about the fact that Blues and Villa were both going to be playing their 2nd round home games on the same night. This occurrence is not unheard of but is extremely rare. The assumption was that for once the West Midlands police force could actually “cope” with it.
We made our way up the hill to the ground and I picked up a Made In Brum off Dave Thomas. There was 2 queues, one for the turnstiles and one for the collection point. They intersected each other so it made for an interesting bit of chaos. When I first started watching Blues, season tickets weren’t a big deal. Not many had them. You turned up and you paid at the turnstiles. The bigger the game, the earlier you turned up to make sure you got in. These days you know your seat is safe because you have a ticket for it. We turn up as late as we dare now. Season ticket or just match by match. We also have a policy in place at Blues that everyone gets searched. Home or away fans, all get searched. Is St Andrews the only ground this happens? I believe so. We were told at first it was because there was “intelligence” of a potential terrorist attack. Maybe there was but it’s strange that it’s just us. Many more questions than answers. Rob and Leo were back off holiday and Seeley was in attendance again and Alex landed mid half. It’s funny watching Seeley. He claps when everyone else claps and he watches the game wide eyed. Will he get bored? The rest of us were. Unless you’re hoping that the opposition are going to score in their own net, then you need to shoot on target to score. It looked like we’d given the Bolton keeper the night off. Gardner and Maghoma were back to flattering to deceive again. Half-time bog break. Some of regulars I’ve seen for years are starting to look old. Ken the man with the scarf weighed down with badges died just before the season. He was only in his 50s. Came as a shock. He was always there, home and away. Always in colours, always cheerful, even in defeat. Looking at some of the ageing regulars, I wondered who’d be next. Then the realization hit me that if they’re looking old then so must I be. You know you’re getting old but you try not to believe it. Football is me clinging on to a bit of my youth. We showed a little bit more urgency in 2nd half but still couldn’t muster any proper work for the Bolton keeper to do. The new signing Vassell came on and looked bright but wasn’t presented with even a hint of a chance to score. A rendition of “Shit on the Villa” was started, so at least you didn’t need to check on their score, you knew they were losing. The bedsheets will be unfurled on the Holte end soon no doubt. You can hear Johnny Rafter before you see him. A distinctive singing voice. Steph and me smiled at each other. Nice to know he was still around. The game ended with someone in the top tier of the Tilton having to duck to avoid yet another inept free-kick from Gardner and those that hadn’t had the good sense to leave early, trudged out trying to take the positives with them. We hadn’t lost but the Villa had and that was about the only thing you could say for it. Walking back into town felt strange. It was still relatively warm, barmy even. The previous Tuesdays weather had been autumnal, this was proper early season weather. No need for the winter clothes yet. I’m not going to say what the score was, just that it finished the same as it started.