30/1/18 Blues v Sunderland. Wonderland bewilderment.

An over used phrase in football is “This is the biggest game of the season”. Another over used, more modern phrase is “This is a six pointer” The first phrase translates as “Possibly the most pivotal game of the season”. The originator of the second phrase, should be subjected to a similar situation as Bill Murray’s character in the film “Groundhog Day”. Only with this person, they’d spend all day everyday in double maths lessons. There’s no such thing as a six pointer. It’s just hyperbole. Would either club be relegated if they lost the game? No. It might lead to a loss of confidence in certain players. It might lead to a disintegration of team spirit and belief in team mates, depending on how well either team are doing before going into the match but neither club is getting relegated. So it was just the most important game so far then? Every game is important for different reasons. The Championship is so much more interesting than the Premier league. Any team can beat any team on any given day. For me, the match up with Sunderland was more interesting than important. A game between two experienced managers and two teams that for most of the season, had under performed. Who would come out on top or would it be honours equal? J.K., And Pete were already in The Wellington when I got in there. We were joined by Jinksy not long after. One of the threads of conversation was nicknames. Not many people know my full name. In fact, I’ve been known as Sid since I was about six years of age. I even introduce myself as Sid these days. It’s a shortening of my surname. For a while, I was known as Telford Sid by fellow Blues fans, because that’s where I was living and although I’ve lived back in Brum for almost five years now, to a couple of people, I’m still Telford Sid, though due to my sorties up to watch Hearts, I’m starting to be known as Jambo Sid. Thing is with nicknames, is they’re easier to remember. They’re more intimate. Trouble is, they aren’t always nice. Andy Paterson is known as Poopants for an incident that happened to him, well over ten years ago. I won’t go into details, the monika says it all really. We moved on to The Woodman and were joined by Steve. I don’t know if they hadn’t paid the bill or swapped all the lightbulbs for energy saving ones or were getting ready early for Valentine’s day, with some “Mood” lighting or what it was, but it was definitely murky in there. It put me and J.K. in mind of The New Beehive in Bradford. A beautiful Edwardian pub, lit by gas, so that place had a good excuse for being a bit dim. (Not unlike myself) After having one in here, it was on to Dig Brew. Bryn and his Son were in here. Sat here writing this, I’ve just realised I met his Son when he was just a kid. Roughly 26 years ago. Boy do I feel old. The others claimed a bench away from the bar. We chatted about sportsmen and women, who had made their own particular sport their own, people who were just head and shoulders above their peers, like Phil Taylor, Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher. Also the once in a lifetime, Mavericks. The tortured souled, demon fighters. People who could do things, that us mere mortals couldn’t even dream up, let alone expertly execute with a casual nonchalance. People like Ian Botham, Usain Bolt, George Best, Ronnie O’Sullivan. Me and Bryn took a walk down memory lane about Andy Bird and his attire. Back when we were all in our twenties, all Birdy ever used to wear on his upper body, was a polo shirt. Didn’t matter what the weather was, just a polo shirt. Even the night games. He’d go everywhere with Blues except for a fortnight somewhere in the middle of the season, where he’d go on a skiing holiday. Always coming back with a suntan. These days, he’s took to wearing sandals and shorts to a game, though he does wear a fleece. Bryn then informed me of the reason why Huddersfield made it pay on the gate after all. Apparently, the owner of the club is experiencing cash flow problems and it was a quick way of getting funds in. A worrying eye opener. I would definitely be concerned if I was a Huddersfield fan. Getting relegated would potentially catastrophic. The rest were off to The Clink, so I said goodbye to Bryn and his lad, and joined them. I had a pint of Meraki from the Salopian Brewery in the Clink. I’ve recently started watching Derry Girls and wondered if anyone else had got into it. Both Jinksy and J.K. liked it but Steve wasn’t enamoured with it. It didn’t stop us recalling the best bits of the series so far. It seems to be a bit of a Marmite programme, love it or hate it. For me, it’s painfully funny. The writer has nailed it. Cringe worthy caricatures that you can’t help liking set in the very real, bizarre for outsiders, Irish troubles. Give it a go, if you haven’t watched it. Especially if you’re a fan of nineties music. We finished off at the Dog. Spoons was in. Russell and Aida in the garden. We stayed inside in the warmth. Apparently, Darrell had been that wasted at the beer festival in Manchester, that he’d started talking in tongues. I could relate to this, I talk gibberish biggest part of the time, I’m asleep the rest of the time.

As only Blues, football and this country can do things, they’d got a female only turnstile. Something I’m not averse to but I am when there’s no actual indication of it till you were told of it, right at the turnstile. No sign above the turnstile. How is anyone, male or female, supposed to know? It’s bad enough that you have to try and make it through the queue for the ticket pick up point. It’s bad enough you have to be unnecessarily searched, but this on top? It’s oppressively inept. I probably will get a season ticket next season, but it’s things like this that’s making me wonder whether it’s worth the hassle. I’m used to it for away games, expect it, but I’m fed up of it at home games now. Looking round the ground when I got to my seat, I was expecting a bigger crowd. So much for the six point hype. Sunderland fluffed a good chance before we grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and made it ours. Davis scored after a good move with a shot that the keeper should’ve saved. With a lull in play, I caught up with Steph. Seeley is seemingly, a bottomless pit when it comes to food. Here’s the twist though, her and Justin had argued at length about what either of them wanted him to eat. They both wanted him to eat what they ate. I knew all along, like kids do, that he’d make his own mind up. The upshot, he loves what Steph likes and turns his nose up at what Justin likes. He’s his Mother’s kid. 2:0. Great cross from Maghoma and even better header from four foot two Boga, who had found a trampoline to use to leap the three feet needed to head the ball in. Half time and I braved the swamp that passes for our toilets and bumped into Badger on the way back. He’d borrowed Poopants season ticket. I didn’t know if I was more surprised that the Blues were winning 2:0 at half time or seeing Badger at successive home games after he hadn’t been to one for about four years. Thinking about it, it felt like I hadn’t seen Blues 2:0 up at half time for about four years. Things were a bit surreal and they were to get even more so. Good work by Davis set Gallagher up with a tap in. 3:0. We went barmy. We then preceded to play champagne football. Flicks, back heals, blind side runs, dummies, nutmegs, reverse passing. Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, but this was the best fifteen minutes of football, I’d had the pleasure of watching Blues play since Chris Hughton was manager. Substitutions put paid to my enjoyment. Two for Sunderland, one for Blues. It disrupted the flow. Gave Sunderland impetus. They pulled a goal back and we went all jittery. Could we be fragile enough to mess it up? Course we could. We have a history of it. Thankfully we didn’t mess it up. I couldn’t say I wasn’t disappointed with Sunderland though. I was expecting a much closer game. Two teams battling each other to avoid relegation. We’re starting to look stronger every game. Both on and off the ball. It was a good three points. Not six. Will we carry on picking points up, enough to stay up? Confidence? Belief? There’s a momentum. Not steamroller proportions yet but it’s definitely better than before Christmas.

I walked back into town and noticed a few Mackems on the way. They would’ve most likely have been Midlands based. No chance of a train back to Sunderland at that time of night. Sunderland aren’t quite a national side. Not like Leeds, Manchester United or Liverpool but they are a big club. They’re on the same level as Everton, Aston Villa or West Ham. They heading for League one? They’ve been there before in my lifetime, and no, it wasn’t before the invention of the television. My Nephew Dave ranted about incompetent owners in his blog post for Preston v Blues. Back to back relegations at any level should have the alarm bells ringing. What’s going on at Sunderland?

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