On the bus into town, I was struck by some strange nerves. It might have been the last game of the season and only a win would guarantee another season in the Championship, but I couldn’t have cared less, which division we’d have been in, with the outcome of the results. I’d still be purchasing a season ticket. I’d still be well into double figures in away games attended. It wouldn’t bother me, who owned, managed or played for us. So the nerves were unexpected. In reality, the only plus to staying up, would be the international weekends, where the two top divisions take a break. These give me more opportunity to ground hop. I’d already made my mind up that I was going to miss a couple of home games and some rubbish away games anyway. Life throws up these anomalies, where events clash. Lack of planning foresight, is another way of putting it. Our biggest gate of the season was to coincide with the Brum fun run. The bus had to detour because of the run traffic restrictions put in place, and I was duly dumped a little further from The Square Peg. I made my way through lycra clad fitness freaks and bodies belonging to people who shouldn’t have been wearing the stuff. I joined a disheveled Jinksy, not so fresh, from the overnight coach, back from Glasgow. Undoubtedly the conversation would turn to Scottish football and indeed it did. Steve Gerrard’s appointment will either be a stroke of genius, or it will end, an expensive mess. Spoons walked past resplendent in shorts, although definitely, not to compete in the run. We tried to attract his attention, without reverting to banging on the window and only drawing attention to ourselves. L.J. and Paige landed and L.J. had somehow clumsily, split his trainers. Crestfallen, he’d purchased some Super Glue, to try and fix the problem. Opening time, and we made use of The Wellington. Steve and Darrell were already in there. That strange case of nerves had vanished from me, but were still hovering over the others. Darrell was wearing his home shirt, the current sponsorship emblazoned on it, made him look like a potential runner. He walks fast enough to. Steve, Darrell and Jinksy went off to The Spotted Dog, as I caught up with L.J. and Paige. Paul Mason and Jacky came in and I was able to give them an update on my recovery and also tell Paul, I intended to get to his stag do. We’d been joined by the lad who is Blues and Rangers, and I can’t remember the name of. (Note to self, ask Jinksy again.) It was on to the Dog and play “Dodge the runner” on the way. Hands up in apologies, as we scuttled across them. As we got to the Dog, L.J. and Paige headed for the ground. Expecting a right pantomime at the turnstiles, they were determined to make kick off. I wanted another pint, and to catch up with some of the ale trailers. The Bournemouth couple were in there, and I filled Jeff in with an update. I hadn’t seen them since Cardiff away, and in all honesty, although I thought I was more than ready at the time, it was still far too early after the accident, to put myself through it. If I’m being truthful, it was a bit of defiance, that it wasn’t as bad as the doctors were saying it was. After actually researching about the injuries I ended up with, I’ve learnt that they are, and I really do need to use that thing in between my ears, that I almost, didn’t have. I acknowledged John and Andy, and noted that Moz wasn’t in attendance, though wasn’t able to find out exactly why. On my way out to the garden, I spotted Rich looking at his phone. It looked like he was already checking the scores, and the round of games, hadn’t even started. I said hello to Mikey, I was feeling really good. I’m immune to this “Last game” scenario now. I have to take my shoes and socks off, if I want to count how many seasons I’ve watched Blues down the decades, and either promotion or relegation hinged on the final fixture. I had to stop, as there were too many complaints. Kick off was approaching, and we trooped off, up to the ground. Dave Thomas was unusually quiet, he could’ve added another shout for this one. “Made In Brum, All Sold Out”. I’ll be sad when he finally gives up, like no Sports Argus, and congregating round the smelly bloke with the transistor radio jammed up against his ear, when you desperately needed to know how your nearest rivals were getting on. These days, fans just use their phones. Scores updated before the ball hits the back of the net.
With a lack of a fanzine, I settled on a programme instead. A publication that media hungry young fans and the next generation that will replace them, will cause to be obsolete. As extinct as the Sports Argus.
Where have you lot been? Just because the weather’s nice.
After the usual greetings, Seeley asleep, it was head in the game. For me, it was all about Blues. If they were to win, it wouldn’t matter what anyone else did anyway. Fulham came in to this one, with a good chance of making the second automatic position and also on the back of a very long unbeaten run. They never really looked capable, though competent enough. We scored. All we had to do now, was just keep kicking it out of the ground and if they could, on to the railway line behind the Fulham fans. It was a long time till half time, let alone the rest of the game. The response, wasn’t really forthcoming, unless your nerves were on tender hooks, mine weren’t. I was quite enjoying it. The reactions of different supporters, who obviously thought Fulham would score, every time they’d get the ball, were like expectant fathers (Even the women) The relief when the second went in, made for a happy half time. Certainly made for a happy reunion hug off L.J. when we met up on the concourse at the top of the Tilton. I can’t say, I hadn’t been expecting more off Fulham. I hadn’t been expecting it to be this easy. Maybe it was just my lack of nerves. All through the second half, scores from the other games were announced by different people, I only cared about the one I was watching. Fulham managed to pull a goal back, there was still time for us to mess this up. Stockdale made an excellent save from an identical move immediately after their goal. It was the first time, I had become bothered about the other scores. I needn’t have been bothered as Adams made it three, we had the two goal cushion back and the cigars were being handed out. I said my goodbyes, and wished everyone to have a good summer and fashionably, left early. After all, I wasn’t going to invade the pitch with the Carling brigade and I wasn’t going to congratulate the players, just for surviving relegation.
As I got to the Dog, Mikey’s brother Steve and Jude were just getting there. It was nice to have the pub fairly empty before the hordes descended. Paul Mason and Jacky were in the garden. Albion fans and a Villa fan, in a pub full of Blues fans. The West Midlands police would be having kittens, if they’d have known.
A motley crew. The Swedes amongst them somewhere.
Russell and Nick joined me with another couple of the postmen in tow, and then L.J. and Paige.
The last post wasn’t on the playlist.
I’m quite partial to a brass band, especially when they’re playing pop songs, I’ve heard of. This lot were all in their third year at University. Which one, I don’t know, but they were really good. They were appreciated by both L.J. and Paige. I was surprised by Paige, but in all honesty, I shouldn’t have been. I’ve really took to Paige, she’s a class act. Unfortunately for her, she’s fallen for my lad. Not because he’s not worth falling for, but he just doesn’t feel the same way. As a parent, you have no control over your kids love life, but then kids have no control of their parents love life. No magic wand, no happy ever after. At least the Blues had made us all happy. As with these end of season games, everyone just drifts off. The party can’t go on forever. Oh, and I went and left my programme where I’d been sitting outside in the Dog. Couldn’t have a perfect day, now could I?