4/10/19 Blues v Middlesbrough, Starting In The Middle.

After grabbing a couple of hours kip, I caught the bus into town, before getting cash out of the bank to cover the two back to back games I was going to be doing that weekend, down to the booking office at New Street to get my train tickets for the following weekends ground hop, as it’s international weekend and Blues hadn’t got a game, then back on the bus to the Blues ground, to get my ticket for Leeds away, bouncing back into town to meet Dingle Dave. I often wonder how we all coped before the advent of mobile phones, linking us all together, we agreed plans, and stuck to them, had meeting points and a base to head for. When I got in the Head of Steam, Baggies Alan, Taffy and Jinksy were already in there with Dave. The Jambos/Hobos banter was instant, Dave had vowed to wear a Hubs t-shirt, taking him at his word, I’d worn my maroon Diggers one. Dave’s had a chequered past, like me, a natural flirt, with a wandering eye. He regaled us with a tale about an Irish girlfriend he’d lived with, if I state that she was ‘connected’, that’s all I’m going to state, listening to Dave as he entertained us with the stories, I couldn’t say which was the more barmy, her, the situation, or him for getting himself into it, but extremely luckily for him, he managed to extricate himself somehow. He and his girlfriend were in Madrid, and Dave noticed that they were being followed, once convinced of it, he brought it to the attention of his girlfriend, who brushing it off, reassuring him that it was only Mi5, and that they always followed her.

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“I probably should’ve checked for a microphone”

With Steve joining us, we dropped in on the Post Office Vaults, which was quiet for an early Friday evening. Where Jinksy works, he’s had to deal with ex Thomas Cook staff, we got chatting about pensions. I’m in a generation that has been screwed when it comes to them. When I started working, sinking money into a private pension wasn’t even an afterthought as the state one was good enough, since then, the government have realised that they’re spending too much on pensions, and now want to shift the burden back on to the individual. For me to get today’s average weekly wage, in 15 years time (when it won’t be worth anywhere near what it is now) I would have to put in the equivalent of a weeks wage, every month. I’m on minimum wage, I’ve no hope of affording a 10th of my monthly wage, let alone a quarter. Effectively, I’ll be working till I die. We moved on to Kilda. In need of something with a bit of tang about it, I was disappointed with a raspberry sour I had, ending up not bothering to finish it. With Clink now shut, it’s messing with our timing, Digbrew was busy, and not just with Blues fans, as by the time we’d got there, most of the Blues fans that had been in there, were now heading for the ground, though one of the brewers collared us to try a porter that they were brewing, with a little more maturity, it should be good, as I find the beer not fantastic in there, I’m looking forward to when it’s ready to drink. We briefly contemplated which would be the quickest way, before seeing Rich at the bus stop, waiting a couple of minutes with him, before we all gave up on the idea, and walked up to the ground, splitting for different parts of the ground. I can see me ending up back at the Spotted Dog for my last beer before the game.

So I was late in again, but then I wasn’t expecting the game that I was going to watch. It had been a long time since we’d played well against Middlesbrough, but we started off well, we were dominating and how we didn’t score before we actually did, was down to our ex keeper Randolph, who was having a blinding game. Boro hung on at times, but halftime came without the lead increasing. I would have expected strong words to have been spoken in the Middlesbrough dressing room at the interval, and then the team from the North East to have come out afterwards with a more steely resolve, but if that been the intention, the pairing of Sunjic and Bellingham in the centre of our midfield, wasn’t having any of it. I have to keep pinching myself that Jude is as young as he is. He’s still at school. He still physically growing. At that age, I looked like I should’ve been at school, it’s only when he tires around the 70th minute, do you realise that he is the age he is. Clotet withdrew him, and we automatically missed him. Odin-Bailey, although 3 years older, is also trying to break into the first team, trying to make his mark, he’s not as good as Jude, hasn’t the presence, he’s the same level as both Nathan Redmond and Dimi Gray when they were at Blues, along with Maghoma, he’d come on as substitute. The score was still 1:0, despite the pressure we’d exhorted, a sucker punch had been lurking in the shadows, attired  in dark clothing, complete with balaclava, it struck, 1:1 far post header, a string of fine saves, hitting woodwork and desperate Boro defending mattered for nothing. We’d played some great football up to that point, and it was harsh to take, had it been a game where Blues had spent all game in our own half, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed. We hadn’t the time left, even with added time to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down, to go again. We wearily ventured over the Halfway line for the umpteenth time, the vastly impressive Crowley stood a cross up for the usually reliable Juke, the type he buries, only it was Odin-Bailey on the end of it, the linesman kept his flag down, we’d deservedly won it, right at the end. It should’ve been a lot easier, it should’ve been 3 or 4 nil, but I was coming out of the ground with a spring in my step, happy with how we’d played.

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“A rare sighting at a home game these days”

I caught the bus home with Badge, as I needed to be up early.

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