17/2/18 Blues v Millwall. A Page Turner.

With a couple of games to go, including an away game to go before payday, I could’ve done without this game. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad had the football been any good this season. Had you blinked, you’d have missed any glimpse of anything better. I’d seen a mirage just lately and like a fool, (I am Blues after all) I’d been taken in by it. I text L.J. to ask if he was on his way. Usually, he’s sluggishly late with this sort of stuff, but he was obviously trying to make an impression. Brum maybe an amazing place, but impressing with Blues, is a complete waste of time and money. He was already in The Roost with his “Friend” when I text him. Anyone who is a parent will know the double meaning of “Friend” when it comes to their kids private life. He had had tried to hide it from me but I’m not a total idiot. I got off the bus and wondered down towards the Spotted Dog but had a change of heart and decided to have a pint in The Lamp. It had been a very, very long time since I’d last been in there and it was about time I visited it again before it disappeared and the Birmingham Mail filled their website with a “Lost Pubs Of Birmingham” article. I really hope this doesn’t happen but such is the way life goes. We are too quick to grasp the new before we’ve lost the old because we didn’t value it enough. A lad I know by face but not by name was at the bar. He remembered my name. Still can’t remember his. At least, because he mentioned her name several times, I now remember his missus name. It’s a start. Rich came in without Malc, and then Mikey landed. I’d forgotten how comfortable this pub was/is. It’s a afternoon session pub, where you can just waffle on to your heart’s content. Ian Allen joined us, unsurprisingly, he looked tired. We spent far too long reminiscing about games and players from way back in the 80s and 90s. We had all been through it. Why do we still do it? It’ll be one for the future. With it kicking on, Mikey ordered a taxi to the ground. The owners of Blues are Chinese, no slight on them or their background but within keeping with their customs and traditions, they’d chosen this game as part of their New Year’s celebrations. Every single attendee at the game was to get a red envelope with a voucher. Thus is my luck, (It’s awful) I never got one. They’d already run out.

I spent a lot of the first half trying to spot the back of L.J.s head, much to the amusement of Steph. She couldn’t understand how I couldn’t spot the back of my Son’s head. With today’s hair cuts and gelled styles, quite easy. The game was flat. The kind of game you wished you hadn’t bothered watching on the television. As the half came to an end, I spotted LJ and Paige coming up from the bottom block. Paige wasn’t what I was expecting, but then most people are never what you imagine. I joined them where I said to meet them. I saw Spoons too. It turned out that Paige is a Dingle, with how bad we are and how good the Wolves are this season, my lad’s got no chance of trying to convert her to Blues. She seemed ok on first impressions. Totally different to Becka, and I’d actually liked her too. The second half was dire. We had no direction at all. Millwall became a little bit more adventurous. Only a little bit, but enough. Enough to score and score what turned out to be the winner. Gardner had a gilt edged chance that once upon a time, he would have scored from. The kind that he would have smashed in. These days, those gilt edged chances are blazed high and wide. Millwall wanted a breather and gave us a free kick. They’d seen enough of us close up, to know it was safe. Gardner stood over the ball and the referee got his foam spray out. He got some on Gardner’s boots. Gardner was more concerned with that, than he was about, the free kick, or the fact we were losing the match and the position we were placed in the league. Millwall could’ve had a game of cards, not just because of how long Gardner had taken, but because of the free kick when it was actually taken. Professional footballers are paid a lot of money for doing what they’re doing, or what they’re not doing. Even semi professional players are paid enough to walk into their nearest/best sports equipment shop and be able to purchase another pair of boots. Explain to every single football supporter in the world, regardless of their age, the club they support or the country they’re from, why it is seemingly impossible for a professional footballer to be able to execute a function that is so easy to complete that anyone who has ever seen a football, let alone kicked one, can do. Oh Craig Gardner, that footballer so good, that when he wanted to move from Birmingham City in 2011, he had ambitions of playing for England. No international caps later, and he’s back, cleaning shaving foam from his boots because at least it’s easier than actually doing the job that he’s being paid for. Another defeat, another soulless performance.

I met up with L.J. and Paige outside, even with so many that had left, it had still taken too long to get out of an all seater ground. Doesn’t matter what ground it is, it takes too long. Roll on a time when the terracing is back. Paige had had previous dealings with Millwall. They were going to play up again, well their fans were going to, well, some of them. Just down from the away end, two sets of fans who were trying to perversely uphold their reputations, deciding that even with the immediate vicinity of the police constabulary, they were going to indulge in a bit of pavement wrestling. I got Paige out of the way before L.J. had to try and explain everything and we made our way back to the Dog. Once we’d holed out in the garden, I got to know Paige better. Nick came out and joined us so he could have a puff on his electronic smoke gizmo. Turns out that Paige and Nick had got a few Wolverhampton memories. Gave me a chance to give L.J. my initial thoughts on Paige. We’d been talking about where to head off to pub wise, I spotted a subtle reaction from Paige as one of the pubs was described, it made my mind up. I came back into the bar to say hello and goodbye to the rest, including both the Swedish and Norwegian Blues who were over for the game, when we left and we walked up to The Old Contemptibles. I bored Paige and L.J. with a bit of history about the place and we spent time people watching, as well as reminiscing with L.J. about his childhood. He’d actually forgotten that he’d not only bought Bourbon biscuits because I don’t like them much, but he’d also worked out that I couldn’t stand the squishy sweet milk bottle sweets he used to buy. They were both in their different elements for different reasons. It was good finding out that Paige is a people watcher. The time had flown passed, but then it always does when I’m with my lad. Time will tell if he and Paige will become more than what they are now but same as with Becka, l like her. They’re different people but good people. We hit McDonald’s before they got the train back to Coventry, L.J. did the chivalrous thing and gave his change to a homeless lad that was sat outside.



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