I get confused at the best of times, but the Christmas holidays completely messes your thinking up, two bank holidays in the middle of the week, one the following week, double decker style, sandwiched by weekends, Boxing day and New Year’s day games kicking off at 3 o’clock, you lose track of what the date is, and regardless of how much you try and follow what day it is, because of the upheaval of what’s open, what’s running, whose on holiday, whose not, you end up, being disoriented, and not having a clue, what day it is, so we’re playing Wednesday, on a Tuesday, and it feels like a cross between a Saturday and Sunday, and I get confused at the best of times. I didn’t see anyone on the concourse at New Street, everyone was doing different things, some were missing, some stopping at relations, and making their way by different routes, the Sheffield Tap, not being open, meant different arrival times, so seeing Ian on the train, was at least a good start, we moved carriages and found Mikey, Damian and his missus, spending the time, churning up memories of old players. Touching down at Sheffield, we made our way passed a deserted bus station, but saw that the trams were working, on our way to The Bankers Draft, a Wetherspoons in the place, I hadn’t been in. The first people we saw, were Spoons and Jude, so we joined them, before they moved on to the Head of Steam, to meet up with others, including Jacob and Christophe, Ian and Mikey, knew the way to the Kelham Island area, and we walked it, I’d only ever gone by tram, had I known how close it was, I’d have always walked. Both the Riverside and the Fat Cat, were shut, Kelham Island the pub, wasn’t, Steve had spotted us, and shouted, we met both he and Nephew Joe, in there. Transport at Christmas was easily the first topic of conversation, not so much, planes, trains and automobiles, and more trains, trams, and buses. I’ve been spoiled by growing up in Shropshire, when it comes to pork pies, very few, (You can count them on one hand, not needing to lick, the fingers you have left) around the country I’ve tried, that come anywhere near standard. Had I been wearing a hat, I would’ve doft it, at the one that Mikey, bought, and proceeded to share, with the rest of us. From now on, when I’m ever in Sheffield, I will be going into Kelham Island, possibly with a small hand cart, to purchase as many as I can afford. All I can deduce, is someone, must’ve visited Shropshire, and stolen a recipe. J.K. came in, fresh from his Sister visiting in Leeds, Steve had stayed at Joe’s in Worksop, Damian and his good lady had followed us, as had the Swedes, Jacob and Christophe, who were staying in Sheffield, Spoons came in with Jude and a couple of friends, and/or family (I missed who they were), we de-camped to the Wellington, (No, not that Wellington) after a quick pint, went round the corner, (No, not the bend, I did that decades ago) and caught the tram to the ground, though as it was too early, well, for us anyway, to get there, Spoons is convinced that the ball is delivered by fairies, at kick-off time, and we went in the Rawson Spring, a Wetherspoons near the ground, for a quick half.
Hillsborough is an old ground, dilapidated, some would say, full of character, others would say, I like it, it’s got soul, not in the James Brown kind of soul.
“What a lovely final view, they would’ve seen
Wednesday were up for this game, backed by a healthy sized home crowd. Before the game, there had been strong rumours, that Steve Bruce was going to be the new man at the helm, someone, who like Sheffield Wednesday, has his best days behind him. I’ve no bitterness towards Bruce, nor do I see him as a Blues legend, although he served us a player, and then manager, I just can’t see him doing much at Hillsborough, although the Wednesday players, did seem like they were playing for their futures. They took the lead, fittingly through Steven Fletcher, yet someone else, whose future is behind them, Lee Camp must’ve been slipped something, in his Christmas pudding, as he was brilliant, I’m not saying we were particularly poor, or the Owls, particularly productive, but the much maligned Camp, was definitely showing, why Monk had gone for him, in the first place, and why he’d persevered with him. I don’t know whether it’s because he started at the Villa, or that us Bluenoses, give him so much stick for it, but Barry Bannan was another, that had had his figgy pud laced, he was everywhere. I went to get something to eat at half-time, but because Sheffield Wednesday in their ultimate wisdom, have slowed everything down, and not up, by having more tills for card only payments, in protest, I deprived them of my custom. Second-half was much the same as the first, except Adams calmly buried his one chance of the game, to equalise, and Craig Gardner, taking a free kick from outside the box, extended the season of goodwill, by, instead of killing someone high up in the away end, contrived to hit the base of the post instead. After the gaffe from the Preston keeper, Oma Boggles strike against Stoke, an absolute sublime piece of show boating in this game, off Kieftenbeld, I’m not sure I’d have been able to cope with Craig Gardner scoring a free kick from outside the area, without streaking through the surrounding area of Owleton, causing locals to vomit en massè. Luckily for the immediate population, it meant the game finished 1:1,
I got the tram, to the next stop, for a visit to the New Barracks Tavern, just getting there before Mikey.
“Same box of Lego bricks, that the Rutland was built from”
It wasn’t that I was trying to beat him back to the pub, he knew the way, and walked it, I’d still be wandering around lost, as you’re reading this. With Stoke losing at home again, we amused ourselves, by reading the eschewing meltdown on the Oatcake forum, the Potters hatred of the Bromsgrove mercenary, grows with each news conference, and interview. We went our separate ways after the pub, Mikey was making use of the school holidays, and was stopping up there. I jumped back on the tram, getting off in West street, making my way to The Grapes, a pub I’d visited before.
“A beautiful pub, but the ghosts, were the only thing alive”
I’m sure the pub had been more full of life, the last time I’d dropped in there, had the bloke behind the bar, asked me and the only other customer, to join hands, to see if he could contact the living, I would’ve in a heartbeat, which I kept checking, just in case, even my pulse had decided to desert me, for a livelier morgue. My legendary lack of direction, had already decided to leave for the next pub, leaving me to take a wrong turn, as I tried to follow, eventually, after thinking I might have to phone Mikey, to see if I could spend the night on the floor of his hotel room, I made it back to the station, amazingly, with enough time to go to Burger King on the station, now I know I’ve said I wouldn’t go in one of these type places again, but I was hungry, and it was devoid of millennials, I settled for some kind of chicken burger with cheese and bacon, in a bagel type bun, it did the trick anyway. I snuggled down, with a foreboding, that only envelops, after a holiday, when everything returns to normality.