I got a text off Jinksy asking if I was doing the game, I was on the train an hour later than them, I’m not going to reveal who delivered a horrendous forecast on the BBC, for the north of England, but you wouldn’t have been able to wipe off the inane grin on his fizzog with a Brillo pad, the less time being blown around in the rain, the better, was my consolation. I saw White Swan Paul at the station, saying hello before getting the Glasgow train up to Preston, just after going through Stafford station, the girl sat next to me woke up, and asked if we’d gone through Wolverhampton, she was horrified when I told her, we had, she got off at Crewe. I don’t keep a count of how many times I’ve missed my stop due to falling asleep, just to say that I don’t expect, not to do it again, I even set the alarm on my phone these days, just as long as I remember to. There was a big police presence at Preston station, I slalomed round them at pace, trying to look like a local, knowing where I was going, which I pretty much do, and headed for my favourite pub in Preston.
“Absolutely no apologies”
I love the Black Horse, it’s a step back in time, unspoilt by fashion or so called progress. Spoons, Mikey, Jinksy, Steve and Darrell had already commandeered the mirrored alcove, and a great conversation flowed, conversation I can’t repeat, conversation I wouldn’t remember, we hit the Orchard next, an offshoot of the Guild Ale House, Preston market has been upgraded, had money spent on the roof, and is now enclosed, as markets go, it’s now worth a visit, as was the Orchard, which occupies one corner, we all wished that Brum had something similar. We went to the Guild Ale House after, a place that is getting more and more popular, every time we visit.
“Xmas stocking fillers for an ale trailer”
J.k. wasn’t anywhere in sight today, but his influence had rubbed off on Spoons, who knocked a pint over, luckily it didn’t smash. If the Black Horse is my favourite pub in Preston, Vinyl Tap automatically jumped into second place. What a place, great range of ales, great range of LPs.
“What a jukebox should look like”
We’d found home, we also couldn’t understand why we were the only ones in here till the door opened and in came Bryn, Birdy, Craig and some relation of Bryn and Craig’s, called Gavin, they, like us, instantly fell in love with the place, if we’d all said about Brum market needing a Bob Inn, Orchard style micro pub, we were all saying that Brum needed a Vinyl Tap too. Flicking through the records, transported me back to the independent record shops of my youth, I wasn’t the only one, a pile of records was quickly assembled on the bar for the bloke who owned the pub to play on the turntable, we were in heaven. Bryn shared a cracking idea for operating a mini bus, touring Brum’s music history, complete with a tour guide, like the Beatles one they run in Liverpool. We all agreed that Brum under sells itself, the city is not one for making a big thing of its achievements, it’s probably this philosophy that gives the rest of the country and beyond the view that Brum is a boring, sprawling mess and the inhabitants lack any kind of intelligence. We could’ve, and almost did, stay in here for the rest of the day, it was a wrench to actually go to the game, we followed Darrell to the ground, skirting the many puddles and small ponds that had accumulated due to rain, even Spoons, who usually just walks through them, had to avoid the deeper ones.
After finding out there wasn’t any programmes left, I headed for the top of the stand, spotting the Noonans. Blues exerted some early pressure on Preston, but it fizzled out, and the game just levelled into mediocre stalemate, the highlight till the board indicating added time went up, was Rob telling me he was going to be a Dad again. In the Premier league, nothing hardly ever happens in added time, not so any other league, I’ve worked out that depending on the minutes added, depends on the amount of chances, a chance a minute is usual, if it’s an odd number, it’s the team that the first chance falls to, that gets the most, it’s strange how it works, as before the board goes up, the players can seem asleep, the board going up seems to fill them with a panic, and they play like they’re possessed, I count the chances down, I did on this occasion too, one for Blues, one for Preston, we missed our last one, Could we defend Preston’s last one and come away with a 0:0 point? Nope, Preston scored. We’re on a four game losing run now. The E.F.L. had come in for some stick off us Blues fans, Preston being where the headquarters are, it may be that the impending points deduction has got into the mindset of the players, I don’t know, but any designs on securing a playoff position, look to be over, I never really thought we’d make them, but I was in a minority.
I don’t know why, as I don’t have any problems in finding the ground, but afterwards I always end up going the wrong way, I ended up asking a constable, something I’m loathe to do, as I don’t like alerting everyone in earshot, to one, being the undoubted idiot that I am, and also two, that I’m opposition. I got a phone call from Darrell regarding my whereabouts, apparently, I was miles away, but at least going the right way, I finally got to the Moorbrook, and met the Preston lads who’d been kindly shouting directions down the phone. As per usual, the Moorbrook had got an excellent range of ales on, and after a couple of gulps of a Great Heck beer, I’d caught up with Darrell and Mikey, Jinksy had met up with Nat, and we weren’t sure on the other two, we moved on to the Plau, a micro pub with a continental style feel to it, we agreed, I think because the bar seemed full of couples, that it was a place to take a date. The other two went in Plug and Tap, where I went off to get my train back, seeing Steph, Justin, Seeley and Dave on the platform, they’d been to Blackpool before the game, certainly not something I would’ve done given the appalling conditions, but apparently Dave knew exactly where to go, and they followed him, still having a fairly good time. I left them to it, when the train came in, and found my reserved seat, falling asleep almost immediately, it’s what being on nights, does to your body clock, weekends tip it upside down, and you start again. Touching down in Brum, I fancied a last pint, and headed to the Post Office Vaults, nobody I knew, was in there, and I sat on my own till I was enveloped by a friendly, mixed group of Dutch, German and English, after a good chat, they went off to catch various transport home, I’d probably bored them enough anyway. Finishing up, I headed home myself.