Steve and Paul were already on the station concourse when I got to New Street. Mikey was off somewhere getting provisions for the train and Ian was on his way. With a little bit of time to spare, I went in search of a lottery ticket. Would I carry on working if I ever win it? Would I fu . . We found enough adjacent seats that weren’t reserved and started to put the world to rights. It had been announced during the week, when we’d be playing the F.A. Youth Cup game v Bury away. I really fancy doing the game, as does Steve. Trouble is, my meagre holiday allowance means that I’m unlikely to do it. Unless we were to get one of the two Manchester clubs the day after in the senior cup away. We worked out that with the game being a 7 o’clock kick off, it was just about do-able with the last train back from Manchester, but ideally, a stop over would be best. It also transpired that Ian’s Dad had died on the Thursday. I’d had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times at games, a top top lad. R.I.P.
Forgiven for the early crash.
We were going to do a couple of pubs in Dewsbury. I hadn’t got a ticket passed Huddersfield and Ian hadn’t got one passed Manchester. We collared the guard. The bloke was juggling with three different gadgets. We felt sorry for him. There’s genuine empathy between us Minions in different professions when it comes to having to deal with the continual ineptitude displayed by management. Management in all walks of life has totally forgotten, that it’s part of their remit to make our jobs as easy as possible. Us Minions are getting more and more overloaded by work. Personally, I’m sick of it. I now have, no respect for management whatsoever. I can’t even bring myself to be civil to them anymore. Ok, ok, rant over. My ticket, by the way, resembled a gig ticket. And surprise surprise, it didn’t work at the barrier at Huddersfield when I used it later. I’m jumping ahead of myself though. We touched down in Manchester and hot footed it to platform 13. Me, Steve and Paul somehow lost Mikey and Ian. As it was, the train was delayed leaving Manchester due to having to wait for the signals to change so we could precede across the junction. We could’ve dawdled to the platform. You’re not far out of Manc land before you’ve got the moors around you. Rambling country. Good to get the mills from out of your lungs. It’s more the call centre these days and rambling is not your reality television. Ever since I first did Manchester to Huddersfield, the line has been my favourite. Sure, there’s more spectacular lines, in terms of scenery, but for me, there’s just something about it. The moors, the Pennines, the farms, villages and towns. Hey, I didn’t say I wasn’t easily pleased, did I? Touch down Dewsbury. Too early for our target destination, so we headed for The Time Piece. Dewsbury’s Wetherspoons. Over the road from the place, three lads in suits were raiding a speedbank for funds. Someone’s getting married, we commented. Walking through the door of the Wetherspoons, we were confronted by the trio’s mates. There must’ve been around forty to fifty lads, all suited and booted. We agreed that they had really pushed the boat out. They looked brilliant. On our way out, Paul and Steve asked them where they were off to before I got the chance. Doncaster races apparently. Judging by the bags of cans and bottles they all had, most would not remember where they were and why they were there, way before the last race.
New Street station never looked this picturesque.
The West Riding Refreshment Rooms is something special. If you’ve a whole afternoon to do nothing but relax in, this is a place to do it. Ian and Mikey had caught us back up and Spoons, Paul Mason, Darrell and J.K. had all landed too. Spoons had done a Cumbrian line special. The other three had done the Manchester beer festival. All had an overnight bag of some sort.
Even the fruit machine seems right.
Ever wondered what your very own real ale name would be? On the wall next to us was how you could work it out.
Spoons helped me out.
Fisher’s Sweet Ferret Lifter, if you’re interested. If it was ever to be brewed, it would have to be a smokey, coffee stout, 5.6% a.b.v. We headed back to Huddersfield and were stopped by the Old Bill as we were coming out of the station. They wanted to know where we were going. So we told them, our itenery. Once it was quickly established that we weren’t going to be any trouble, he actually chucked in a few recommendations. Unfortunately, we’d done them all. The Kings Head was virtually empty when we got in there. It had been decorated since last season. It was a lot brighter.
If there’s a bigger room with this much floor tiling, I’d like to see it.
Me, Ian and Paul talked about music. How you don’t have to like an act, to be able to appreciate them. Especially an act that evolves. Forever experimenting with new and different sounds. We walked passed the fluorescent welcoming committee to the taxi rank and got two of them to the Star. Hopefully, the tip that we gave the driver will enable him to buy some more duct tape to help keep the contraption together. The owner of The Star remembered us all from last season. As soon as the draw had been made, he’d been expecting us. Me and Ian got talking about modern day relationships. I gave him my theory on how the traditional maternal/paternal roles had blurred because of poor wages. Do I want to go back to how it used to be? No, I just want better wages at the lowest level. Wages people with kids can actually live comfortably and contentedly on, without having to have their wages topped up, or worry how they’re actually going to eat after they’ve paid their exorbitant rent. I’m ranting again.
Rat and Ratchet was next. Rat Brewery Tap but owned by Ossett. I had a Pied Piper in here. I’ve had it before but still nice.
I don’t know if there was a rat in the kitchen but there was definitely one in the bar.
My last place before the game was The Grove. Arguably the best place in Huddersfield and there’s a few good pubs in the place. Certainly not the worst place to find good beer in, that’s for sure. Milton Keynes gets that particular trophy. A truly awful place. It was in here that Paul Mason praised me for attempting to do every game with Blues this season and doing it totally independently. No official travel, no lift in someone’s car. (A lift off my Sis and hubby back in to town from the ground when I watched Shrewsbury v West Ham, though extremely kind and helpful, doesn’t count, as I still had to use public transport between Brum and Shrewsbury) Something I’m quite proud of. He recognised how much commitment it takes to do it as he’d done it with Albion. The Muppets that are in charge where I work, are expecting us to give up a Saturday towards the end of April, to do a stock take on overtime. What Paul said to me, only strengthened my resolve to complete the season. They can go fish for the overtime. On the way to the ground, I hit the market for something to eat. I found a little cafe thing in one of the corners and bagged myself a bacon bap or whatever they call a bap in Yorkshire.
Like prison vans. Miss so much, see so little.
Once in, I headed up the back. Spotted Tom and Martin’s mate. Hey guess what? That’s right, I can’t remember the poor blokes name. It was actually in Huddersfield, where I’d first started talking to them. A lot had happened to them all since then. Kids, for a start. As it seems to be now, we started brightly. Surprising, since Worzel had made seven changes. A quality move by Huddersfield, their first bit of quality as it happened, led to them taking the lead. Was it going to be one of those games, where they just picked us off? Like Derby but without the cheating? No. A kid behind me, commented disparagingly, that Huddersfield had never won anything. I could’ve ignored his ignorance but couldn’t help myself, I turned round and put him in his place. I forget sometimes, that not everyone has my encyclopedic knowledge when it comes to football, but I do expect a basic level of knowledge. What did he think the three stars above the Huddersfield emblem signified? The plough? The great bear? Appearances on Stars in Your Eyes? Half time and I went downstairs to see if I could see anyone I knew. I said hello to a few people I know and went back up. I spotted Darrell and J.K and joined them. For the second week running, we bossed the second half and deservedly equalised through one of the seven changes, Jutkiewicz. Good finish it was too.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
We, and Jutkiewicz, had the ball in the net again, only for it to be called off-side. Stood where I was, it did look off-side. There was a lot that didn’t think it was. Blue tinted glasses? Except for one really good chance that they should’ve put away, Huddersfield didn’t show much in the second half. We should’ve got a winner. We had the play, had the chances. 1:1 it finished and I made a beeline for the lad that I’d turned on. I was never going to leave it where it was. We’re all Blues, all want the same thing. There’s been enough civil war over Rowett as it is, without adding to it. We shook hands. We were good.
With a replay and a cup draw to look forward to, I walked back into town.
Wet cobbled streets and crazy skies.
I saw a familiar figure asking Old Bill on the whereabouts of the train station on the corner of Leeds road. Nat Peters, complete with overnight bag. Prepare to be impressed, because I was, and you should be. After taking in our game, he was heading up to Glasgow, stopping there for the night, and then traveling up to Dingwall to Watch Rangers at Ross County. For those of you who don’t know where Dingwall is, it’s north of Inverness. Inverness is at least an eight hour journey from Birmingham by train. It’s certainly not a minor undertaking. I don’t know if it’s jealousy or just lack of understanding, why any football supporter is myopic enough to belittle this sort of commitment. Personally, I can not condone a fan who doesn’t see beyond his own football club. It shows a lack of intelligence. To them, the opposition are faceless bodies in a different colour kit to their club. I’m ranting yet again. The first pub I did after the game was a pub I hadn’t done before but I can quite easily, see myself doing again. A pub, that if it was on my doorstep, would be my local. The Slubbers. Strange name for a pub, but a cosy little place.
Come home to a real fire.
I caught up on the football scores and the news. When I called in at the Whalebone in Hull, I took a photo of a bascule bridge, on the way back. I read that Banksy had targeted it for a bit of his unique artwork. It was like he’d followed in my footsteps. Except I didn’t doodle on the bridge. The way I was feeling that day, it would’ve been something derogatory about the Blues team anyway. A performance that bad that it induced me to post a rant about it. On the way back to the station, I dropped into The Sportsman. Nick, Colin and a young apprentice of theirs were in there. I joined them. The young apprentice has still a way to go before he makes a serious drinker by the looks, he couldn’t manage anymore and was on coke. (No, not the marching powder, the brown fizzy stuff) They left (Or escaped) for the train, leaving me to savor my last pint in Huddersfield.
A superb example of Art Deco.
I caught the train back to Manchester and had just enough time to head for the Piccadilly Tap for a quick half. Only the barman didn’t hear me properly over the music, and poured me a pint. After taking the first gulp, there was no way I was going to waste any of it. It was absolutely gorgeous. What was it? I have no idea, other than it was a chocolate stout. It was that nice, I shook the barmans hand and thanked him for not hearing me properly. I could’ve had another two or three but time and money was against me. I found myself a seat and stuck my headphones in. I was joined by a pretty wasted Johnny Rafter. I don’t know what was up with me, but I was flying. I’d been in a real dark place for quite some time, this was a rare clink of warm sunlight and I was enjoying it for what it was. John perked up a bit and we chatted politics. He’s involved in Momentum, something I’m keen to get into. Something he’s keen to get me into. However, despite my excuses and protestations, I’m basically too lazy to commit to anything. Full of good intentions and all that. It is getting closer to when I actually do something though. Paul Mason wondered passed and informed me that all the lads were in the next carriage and there were spare seats. Also, the Baggies were beating Liverpool in the late game. I joined the lads and Darrell announced that Liverpool had pulled it back to 3:2. Queue a nervous Paul. How many times have I felt that over the years? Too many to mention. Thankfully, they held on. Not just for Paul’s sake, but I just don’t like Liverpool. Solely because of their fans. I’ve had the displeasure of meeting scores of Liverpool fans through the years and I can count on one hand, how many I’ve liked, and still have at least three fingers left. Both Spoons and Darrell were heading for The Costamongers, when we touched back down in Brum. An opportunity, too good to ignore.
Back in Blighty.
I used to go in Costas when I was young and stupid, with a greebo mate of mine. I used to get curious glances because of the casual gear that I wore, until they realized I liked the music. I’m not young anymore (Still stupid though) but when I heard that this place was reopening, I couldn’t resist finding out if it was as good.
Great things don’t change.
Not only was it as good, it was as if, it had never shut. How I had missed this place. It was just a shame about the beer but then, it wasn’t the beer I went down there for. I was joined by Spoons, Jude and Darrell. It was a perfect way to finish a brilliant day.