Saw Steve at New Street who was off to Hereford, originally he’d planned to do Salford, but had a bit of family business to do. I settled down with the mag I’d bought, and enjoyed the journey up to Manchester. Getting off at Piccadilly, I headed down to catch the Metrolink, in this day and age, everything is machine led self service, no interaction with someone behind a counter, who can give reassuring advice, you follow instructions on a screen and hope for the best, like the confused bloke in front of me. I don’t know when or how it happened, but life and getting through it, raced passed the likes of me and this bloke, as impatient members of the following generation, hovered behind us, sighing their displeasure. I know I was one of the ones who was in the band of impatients, and now wish I’d been much more helpful to the preceding bunch. I got off at Deansgate, and headed for a shop I’d heard of, and guess what? Seen on the internet.
“The Shelby’s expand their empire”
“Feeling like a kid again”
I found Classic Football Shirts, and was extremely pleased I did, for someone like me, dripped in football nostalgia, it is an amazing shop. I could’ve easily have spent an entire years wages in it. I almost, almost bought something as it was, but the day was young, and I would’ve needed to cart it round with me. It was a very close call though. Sawyers Arms, a Nicholson’s place, was open early, it came with a group of lads, too loudly starting the days drinking, So much for a quiet pint. Pint finished, I went in search of an iconic Manchester (or Salford, to be exact) music landmark.
“What difference does it make?”
I’m not usually one for doing the tourist thing, but I felt the need, never mind the Jones’s, I was keeping up with the Smiths. I hit my itinerary, and The Gas Lamp,
“What this place was, I don’t know”
This place is well worth the visit, I should’ve asked what this place was in a former life, because it drips an intriguing commercial history. The next place was directly over the road, though the rain was pelting it down, so I waited in the doorway for a break in the traffic, before scuttling over, and down in to Brink, another subterranean bar, but that’s where the similarities ended.
“Manchester starts with a Bee”
I’m not going to make a stinging criticism, it’s another gem of a place. I moved on to The New Oxford, fantastic range of ales, fantastically well kept, but the jukebox was rubbish, can’t always have everything. The Kings Head was to be my last port of call before the game, and I’m really glad I didn’t miss it. If I lived in Salford, I wouldn’t ever go anywhere else, and it’s not like there’s a dearth of good pubs there. With the ground being too far to walk in the little time that was left before kick-off, I got a taxi.
“A tin shoebox”
I don’t know if the Moors had laid on free or subsidised coaches, or the “Class of 92” programme had captured the imagination, but I counted 4 coaches on the way in, “You’ve sold your a#@e (Posterior if you’re struggling as to what body part starts with an ‘A’) to the Devil”, sang the taunting Solihull fans, smiling at the song, I could agree with them, the club you see in the programme, bares no semblance to the one that’s hovering near the top of the National League, with obvious ambitions of breaking into the E.F.L., the soul of the club has been discarded, replaced by a shiny new brand. I tried to picture how the ground would’ve looked before the bulldozers, and gave up. I don’t like this arena style terracing and stands, it’s cheap and nasty. Why the rush? The clamour to race up the pyramid? Why is there the need to have tomorrow yesterday? I have no problem with the former United lads, I have a problem with their disregard for history and tradition. On to the reason why I was there, both teams are a good standard, playing wise, if the clubs are too far up the ladder in terms of infrastructure, they were well matched, and it wasn’t going to be a stroll for either of them. Both showed glimpses of ability that deserves to be higher up, only linking that ability better, showed why it isn’t. The first half ended, 2:1 to Solihull in chances, but 0:0 in conversion. I went to one of the shipping containers that they were using for facilities, and purchased a meat and potato pie, the only thing that Salford City has got right, the pie, not the shipping containers. It was proper short crust pastry, not the usual flaky pastry rubbish, that modern society seems obsessed with. Not quite as good as the pies I’ve had at Bury, but then I haven’t been to watch a game at Bury, since the class of 92 were making their debuts and learning how to shave. The second half brought a breakthrough in the stalemate, unfortunately, it went the way of Salford, a free-kick hit towards the far post was expertly finished with a towering header. The football remained tit for tat tight, as Moors tried to level, and Salford battled to increase their lead, the second and deciding Salford goal came from a prolific striker Blues had plucked from Mansfield, Matt Green, is back at level we plucked him from, and watching him deliciously finish with a curling top corner shot from just outside the ‘D’, you could see why he’d caught the eye, and we’d took an ill feted chance on him. Game set and Matts, you could say.
I walked up the lane to the main road, getting the bus back in to Manchester, docking down in Piccadilly Gardens, I went to the Grey Horse, I had to, it’s my favourite Manchester boozer, I know it only sells Hyde’s, who owns it’s beer, but I just love how friendly it is. I went to The Ape and Apple, a strange name for a pub, a bit sparkly in there, with emphasis on entertaining the customers with sport on the television, but I had to check my change, as I didn’t believe what I’d heard, less than £3 for a pint, and I wasn’t in a Wetherspoons. I watched with satisfaction as Manchester City, were winning easily, keeping themselves ahead of Liverpool. I had just enough time for a pint at The Piccadilly Tap, the closest we’ve got in Brum, in terms of range of ales and location, is the Post Office Vaults, the Tap is better and closer to the station though. I shared the train home to Brum with the new wave of Man City fans, till at Stoke on Trent the last of them got off. An United home game and those City fans are replaced by United, but success definitely attracts, and the new trend, is for the sky blue.