18/11/17 Blues v Nottingham Forest. Smiles like team spirit.

I’d been kidding myself that I was trying to save money but in reality, I’ve got pence to my name. I haven’t had a wage rise for well over eighteen months and it’s really starting to bite. What’s worse is that it doesn’t look like I’m going to get one anytime soon either. It’s not making for a comfortable lifestyle. All I’ve got left is the football, I’ve cut everything else out. I just can’t afford it. Usually, I would’ve been on my third or fourth pub (Third or fourth pint in the days of the Anchor) when I came out my flat. It was that late that the North London Derby was nearing halftime. The only spare seat on the single decker bus into town was on the back seat. The ceiling is that low at the back of the bus that I banged my head on it as I went to sit down. The other passengers looked round to see what the hollow sound was. Don’t worry folks, it was me. Nothing between the ears you see. Town was heaving with Christmas shoppers. I hate town at this time of year. In fact, I hate any town at this time of year. First Saturday of October to the last Saturday before the 25rd of December. Slow moving hoards, not really enjoying what they’re doing. It’s etched on their faces. Every year, same shops, same presents. Once out of the throng, I relax. Because of the lateness, I feel like an interloper. Eyed up in case I’m Forrest. No give away colours. There’s no one in the Dog. Jinksy and J.K. are in Edinburgh and Steve is still in Tenerife. I take my my one and only pint of the day outside to the garden and play on my phone. Spoons lands. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone I love talking to. There’s so much more to Spoons than meets the eye. Just when you think you know him, you find something else about him and it’s always a surprise. He’s not stereotypical in any shape or form. It’s one of the things you can appreciate about him. Whilst he was telling me about seeing T’Pau in Shrewsbury the previous night, one of the Norwegian Blues landed.

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Dead Parrot sketch anyone?

It’s always good to see the Scandinavians. It always puzzles me as to why they have settled on supporting us lot but they do and their passion for and pride in Birmingham City never diminishes. Aida lands and we chew over the team line up. Neither of us are hopeful. We got talking music and more importantly, how much vinyl Aida has got ordered. No wonder he doesn’t go to away games. He spends the money on music. Not bad music, I might add. Spoons had already left to get a programme, I left Aida holding court with Roy and Ivar and caught up with Spoons just as he was buying a badge for one of the Norwegians off Dave Thomas. He got me to text Jude to remind her to bring the Black Sabbath beer for the Norwegians. As he’d promised me a pint after game, it was seriously not a problem. He’d also put up with my winging that I’d got no money too. So here I was, watching Blues the most sober I’d been in years.

7 hours and 16 minutes after the last goal he scored, Adams scored again. Trouble is, nobody had scored in between. Not even an own goal. It was a good little through ball from Kieftenbeld but to be honest, I thought he’d took it too wide. Then he checked and switched feet and shot. I can’t have been the only one that wasn’t expecting the inside side netting to bulge. I wasn’t. Everyone around me was thinking the same thing. I’m going to say this quietly because I really don’t want to jinx anything, I noticed there was a team spirit. Seventeen games into the season is to put it mildly, a bit late, but it was definitely there. Being a Blues fan and thus pessimistic by nature, I don’t expect it to last. Especially with the next three games but it was so good to see. Gleeson was looking like he’d been playing in the midfield all season and Blues were looking pretty good. We’d been here before this season though and as Steph and me caught each others gaze, we agreed that we didn’t want halftime to come. Pessimism or repetition? Gleeson was replaced by Maghoma for the second half and didn’t it show. Maghoma is a waste of time as a footballer. Ability but no brains to go with it, but even he seemed to be buying into the embryonic team spirit thing that was going on. The only player that definitely wasn’t on the same page was N’Sue. A performance that warranted a personal rendition of “You’re not fit to wear the shirt”. The change in personnel disrupted us. Forrest got more than a foothold. Every now and again they let us have a touch of the ball. For forty five minutes and six minutes of added time, we waited for the inevitable equaliser and winner. They never came. I’m not going to get carried away with the obvious green shoots of team spirit or the result or more importantly, the 3 points as I still feel we’re going down but taking the anxiety of watching every minute of the second half tick by out of the equation, we defended with purpose as a unit. Will we take that into the next three matches and build on it? I’m not holding my breath but am hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Dez the Baggie was in the Dog when we got back there. Thanks to Spoons, my one and only pint was to be added to. Dez like most of the Baggies fans, has put up with Tony Pulis only because he was getting results. The football was attritional. He’d been to the game v Chelsea yet he was still in the Dog before we were. We are in an era that is embracing a brand of football that is awful to watch but is effective. It’s a revamp of 80s football. The experts call it counter attacking. I know it as hoof ball. You don’t have to be skillful to play hoof ball. Just big, strong, fast and be prepared to run. I’m not the only one that loathes hoof ball but it has got its supporters. I find the fans of hoof ball to be impatient and easily pleased. I’m finding that I’m leaving the pub for the match as late as possible and leaving most games way before the final whistle because it’s just boring. Predictable, mind numbing stuff. I’m watching football that I could play and I’m rubbish. Dez likened Pulis to the bloke that won’t leave the party although the party is over. Everyone was landing now. The mood was a happy one. Darrell mentioned he was completing the 92 on Tuesday at Morecambe. I won’t manage it this season but I should next season. With new grounds for Spurs and Brentford being built and promotion to the football league these days, I’m in no particular rush. I’ve already started on the non league grounds. Jude lands so I budged up so she could sit down. Apparently, there’s a steam train heading to Cardiff on the very day we play them at their place. It’s traveling down from Tyseley, with a four hour turn round in Cardiff. Fingers crossed it’s round the game because it would be so cool to do it for the game. I said to Spoons that I might even do Peaky Blinders for it. Chances are though, the hours won’t match up. Jude needed to free up some space on her phone so she was deleting photos. Whilst doing so, she happened on a little video she took of Spoons doing an impression of Freddie Mercury doing “I wanna break free” in the White Swan as he swept up some glass. All he needed was a leather mini skirt and some fishnets. Tron landed and greeted me like a long lost Brother. He asked me if I was joining everyone at Manzils for a curry. Not having any spare money, I said I couldn’t. He spoke to one of the Norwegians in Norwegian. I have no idea what was said but I think it was on the lines that Tron would pay for me. Much as I appreciate the gesture, pride got the better of me. I’d taken two pints off Spoons as it was. I bid goodbye to everyone and promised Tron that I’d definitely go for a curry next time and I will. If nothing else, I haven’t done one yet and they’re supposed to be a cracking night. I got the bus into town and Steve from the bus to work was on there with a couple of mates. His mates had gone down to Wembley mid week to watch England and missed the train back. Apparently someone offered to drive all the way down to London and bring them back, it was an offer they couldn’t refuse. Texting my ground hopping Nephew Dave after the previous Saturdays results, I said that us and Shrewsbury would be swapping places at the end of the season. Even told him to get his ears checked when he hinted he could hear the Great Escape tune in respect of us. My phone pinged, he’d sent me a link of the Great Escape tune. He really needs to lay off that Carling. Stick to the ale.

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