Walking down Corporation Street, I encountered an old acquaintance of mine, a Blues fan I see from time to time. A nice lad, that has learning difficulties. Years ago, he would have been seen as ‘special’. Labels might get changed, but we still use them to describe someone, we feel the need to compartmentalise people, understanding might have led to being able to use the correct clinical words, but they’re still labels. This lad used to work as a steward down Blues, but was eased out, because these days, you have to have qualifications in crowd control, and like I said, he has learning difficulties, he was seen as a liability. After a quick catch up chat, I pitched up in the Wellington. I was joined by, not another Blues fan, but Paul and Jackie, but wasn’t long before Pete came in and joined us. There’s a couple of kittens at the Welly, and they do, what kittens do, look cute, and annoy you. They’re entertainment by themselves. Taffy came in with a burger, complete with bag and wrapper. Food and paper, they were never going to leave him alone with that combination. Steve and Darryl came in, as did JK, and Badge, last but not least, Jacob and Ivar, came in. The new season, and plans for Nottingham were talked about, I decided to get another pint, and was only a third of the way down it, when everyone decided to decamp to the Head Of Steam as it had opened its doors, maybe I was out of practice, due to the close season, but didn’t fancy gulping it down, I eventually followed everyone to the HOS, by which time, I was now out of sync with the rest, and I found myself on my own again, though I did catch up with Jacob, who was snapping photos with his phone. It gave me the opportunity to chat to him, prying a little, I found out that his job takes him from his home in Sweden to Denmark from time to time. If I didn’t know my job wasn’t insignificant, then hearing this, highlighted it even more. He went off to join Taffy and Ivar at the Woodman, as I made it to Kilda, before the clouds emptied their entire contents, all in one go. Jinksy, fresh from work came in, as did Paul, not quite, fresh from hospital. It’s good to see Paul, as it is, but even more so, since he fell very ill and had to be admitted. Aida also arrived, and it was he, that I walked down to Digbrew with. Once I’d said hello to both Craig and Birdy, I had a pint of Pop, no, not a fizzy soft drink, it was a mild, with a cola backnote. It tasted much better than it sounds. Aida is of the same opinion as me, with Blues this season, not only do neither of us believe we’ll be anywhere above halfway up the league, but were in agreement, that relegation is a certainty. We followed the rest to Klink, which is now Beer. I was hoping that I’d enough money left over for a Half, I hadn’t, my holiday money from work, had run out, I should’ve had just a half in the Welly, instead of a second pint, maybe then, I would’ve stayed in sync with the rest, amazingly, the bloke behind the bar, let me off what I owed, although I was extremely grateful, the next time I see him behind the bar, I’ll give him what he let me off with.
First home game of the season, and you’re never sure that the barcode on your new card will work, not like the old season ticket books, where you used to tear the right voucher out. The new card worked, I was in. I may have a new card, but I’m in the same seat, and as I made my way to it, I acknowledged the long suffering usuals that have to put up with me. Seeley had grown, and is even more aware of everything. After the smash and grab at Brentford, the million changes at Portsmouth, and the recruitment of more players, as the transfer deadline passed, I wasn’t the only one that hadn’t a clue, who would be playing, the first few minutes were taken up by trying to work out who was who, and where. We weren’t dominating, but we at least saw more of the ball, than we had in London. What did surprise me, was the quality of the passing, when we did have the ball. I had to stop pinching myself, as I witnessed short intricate passes to feet, the pinching had ceased to be effective, I was finding myself doing it almost continuously. I found I was forever having to wipe the drool from my mouth. Since Chris Hughton was in the directors chair, most of the football we’ve played has been reality TV level, that haves you reaching for the remote, only to find, the batteries have run out, some of the football has been so poor, you’re trying to gouge your own eyes out with anything remotely sharp that comes to hand. It didn’t create any real, clear cut chances though, and although you felt that it was only a matter of time, you also wondered how long the impatient amongst us grew. . . well, impatient. Some like their football played at break next speed, and as simple as possible, a clearance from the goalkeeper, bouncing over the opposition defence before being headed in by a brute of a striker. I prefer to watch football that leaves me open mouthed in awe, at the skilful complexity, football that I haven’t the talent to imagine, let alone replicate. It took until the hour mark before the deadlock was broken, but it at least came from Blues, though the goal itself, was a typical cross, headed in at the far post by Jutkiewics, our brute of a striker. We looked comfortable after that, but it’s Blues I’m talking about (Or writing about) here. Wes Harding was caught flat footed, and the Bristol player finished with aplomb. 1:1 it ended. Crowley was substituted just after Jukes goal, virtually the same time as the previous two games, I found this a little strange, he’d been arguably our best player versus Pompey, and acquitted himself well at Brentford. Against Bristol City, much the same again, could be a stamina issue, but he doesn’t look tired when he comes off. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it just seems strange, I wouldn’t notice it otherwise, pretty much most other things rush past me at Express speed.
Leaving the ground, I was heartened by the football I’d seen Blues play. They hadn’t changed my opinion on how the season will end, after all, it is early days, but I am actually hoping that what I saw, wasn’t a flash in the pan. Instead of the usual after match pint in the Spotted Dog, or somewhere else for a change, I headed home.