The bus into town made the two women jump when it arrived in front of them, so engrossed in looking at photos on their phones were they. I sat upstairs and had to endure the irritating tune that accompanied whatever game a bloke way too old to be playing on his gameboy. I never understood why the tunes were so loud and so annoying on them things. The Wellington was the start of the evenings anaesthetic. Pete, J.K., Russell, Dave Broughton, Steve and his mate Paul was already in there, complete with Paul Mason too. I got talking to Steve’s mate Paul who told me he’d just retired. Although I was on a half days holiday, to know every day you get up, you don’t have to go to work, must be wonderful. Some people struggle with not having the structure of routine, I wouldn’t. I could properly relax. We talked about the previous Sundays game. The policing and the fallout from the clapperboards. The general consensus was that both were ridiculous. we moved down to the Woodman. Darrell was meeting us in here. We took over the back room. This room is one of my favourites in Brum. There’s better examples of Victorian/Edwardian pub interiors in the country but this one feels so comfortable. I was in conversation with Russell on the way there and we both walked passed a £20 note on the floor. Paul had spotted it and bought the round with it. A free pint courtesy of the poor unfortunate who dropped it. Cheers. My second visit to the Ruin was next and also my second pint of Oakham Citra of the day. Paul Mason is getting married next year and we were all invited to the stag do in Huddersfield. Like a true football fan, he’s made sure it won’t clash with any of the World Cup or the playoffs. I can see me going. As usual on a night game, we went to the Clink next. One of the beers in here was a celery sour. Russell had this. I almost did but had the pineapple sour instead. I got a sip of the celery sour. The celery taste was very subtle but it was there. Not unpleasant. The barman told us about his cousin running on the pitch at the end of the game on Sunday. Sounded a complete barmpot. Me and Paul Mason swapped stories of old. Both football and pubs. Like me, he used to drink dish water masquerading as lager, before we introduced our tastebuds to the delights of real ale. Neither of us could understand why we’d left so long or how now, looking back, drink what we drank. Jinksy landed after working overtime and J.K. bailed, too ill. We dropped in the Spotted Dog, Pete had left to meet his mates in the Royal George. He seems to be leaving it later and later before he meets up with them. You can see that the thought of drinking fizzy rubbish fills him with dread. I used to do the same till I just couldn’t do it anymore. I’d rather have a cup of tea than drink a pint of Carling. Spoons was already in the Dog. He was saying, he preferred a Wednesday night game. Wednesday is a lot less busy at work so he’s not so tired. I haven’t got a preference myself. Ian Allen landed, another one still in his work clothes. A hard day eating biscuits and drinking tea in another union meeting was the tongue in cheek accusation. We left for the game.
It was definitely after the Lord mayors show. Where had all the police gone? The other five thousand fans? The atmosphere? More importantly, where’s my clapper? Seeley was back after Sunday. He’s a proper little cheeky chap now. I kind of missed him on Sunday. Even with a couple of chances in the first half, everything and everyone seemed flat after Sunday. Injuries have plagued us this season. For me, it’s another pointer that this season will end in relegation for us. The latest was Maxime Colin. Not only another injury but another hamstring injury. What surprised me, was who Worzel put on in his place. David Cotterill came on and to our utter bewilderment, went to right back. Clarky is back. Square pegs in round holes. Talk about fish out of water. He looked like he’d never played there in his life. He also looked like he was just happy to be on the pitch. Not only did he look like he’d never played there before but it was evident that he was nowhere near match fit as even before the half was over, he was blowing. There was one thing that was worth the effort of attending. A shot from Kieftenbeld that he took from somewhere near the back of the Tilton, that dipped, swerved, turned the ball inside out and had it not hit the post, would’ve made a football sized hole to the side of a building, somewhere in town. Half time and I saw Dave. He’d got a photo of me and him at an away game from over 10 years ago. He said it was either Luton or Southend but I think it was Bolton, last game, the season before. Either way, I looked shockingly young. Johnny Rafter said that I still looked young. Didn’t stop me feeling old. Half a century old next July. The second half was abysmal. Brentford, who had been easy on the ball in the first half, stepped up their game. Worzel said afterwards, that the first wasn’t a penalty. Brentford would’ve found some other method of scoring anyway. Another 2:0 defeat to a Cockney side, this one very similar in execution to the first. Steve Cotterill claimed that Sunday had taken it out of us. Villa won 2:0 away at Preston. They must’ve been really tired to win by that kind of margin.