Saturday is the one day of the week where I feel true freedom from a life that is becoming more and more a psychological trudge, I’m obviously not the only one who feels it, the bus driver hadn’t changed the destination on the front, and I was the only one who had noticed at that ridiculous time in the morning, and with darkness outside, you couldn’t claim that it really was morning, the rest of the passengers were mentally asleep, or just maybe subliminally hoping that the bus was taking them anywhere but work on a Saturday, and with Saturday being a day that people can do things they want to do, the mood on a bus at that time of day is pretty solemn, only those who are on their way home from nightshift, are buoyant, except the ones who are struggling to keep their eyes open, only an expression of relief and contentment, telling them apart from those trying to pinch a bit more sleep on the way to their employment Hell. With the shop of choice no longer a choice, and with enough time to try and look for one that was open and selling things I actually wanted, I circled New Street, finding one that sold magazines and papers, I picked up a copy of When Saturday Comes, a mag whose origins are very much of the fanzine genre, pitching up in my seat on the 06:15, I buried my nose in said mag, blocking out the dark damp outside with that and my playlist. Only between Stafford and Crewe did it start to get light, by Edinburgh, the mag had been devoured and so had the chicken and bacon pasty I’d bought too. Getting off at Waverly, I got myself a Scottish poppy, then nipped into The Booking Office at the top of the station approach. Getting a pint and finding somewhere I could put it down, I noticed a table of Geordies, all of them middle aged, most of them female, a local opportunist of a similar age worked round the table, trying his luck, they weren’t interested, even blanking him, when he waved on his way out. I was going to have a quick half in the Malt Shovel on the way to The Halfway House, but the place wasn’t open as advertised. Although a fantastic little place, the main reason for a visit to the Halfway, was to pick up a beanie hat, something that I could wear, and go under the radar in. Whilst in there, another party of Geordies descended, eavesdropping, they were a football team, I pictured them bumping into the female set, later that day. No visit to Embra for a Hearts game is complete without a visit to the Diggers, no visit to the Diggers, is complete without having a steak pie, it’s gone past habit to almost compulsory. I saw Lex and Debbie on their way out, before finishing my last pint before the game, and joining the throng heading towards the ground. A bunch of Paisley boys headed the opposite way towards the away turnstiles, making their presence known, made me feel that things at Tynecastle had become anaesthetied, almost resigned to relegation already, Hearts used to be a place that even the Old Firm didn’t want to go to, now it seemed that anyone could turn up and take away three points.
I usually don’t mind missing kickoff, but I was never going to miss the minutes silence of remembrance, the whole ground standing as one in quiet reflection, something that means more to Heart of Midlothian football club, than any other football club in Great Britain. The more I learn about the two world wars, and the sacrifice that was made, by everyone involved, perished or survived, the more I appreciate that sacrifice.
“Thank you, R.I.P.”
St Mirren were in full voice, the rumour that the defence that was as strong as the old castle rock, was more loose chippings these days, had got around. Hearts started on the front foot, playing a higher line, a good move produced a corner that produced a smart near post finish from Naismith, the Jambos were playing with a freedom that they hadn’t under the dour Levein, 1:0 up, 6 minutes gone, I was still half expecting them to put the brakes on and glue those chippings together. St Mirren stepped over the ankle high wall that had been assembled using a print stick, and equalised, the away support took to bouncing again, that parity didn’t last for long, Uche Ikpeazu latched onto a through ball finishing smartly from an acute angle, or so I thought at the time, it’s since been attributed to an own goal, it was the other end of the pitch, but having watched the highlights, I don’t think the defender would’ve been able to keep it out had he been more talented anyway. This brand new lead was to last even less than the first one, after schoolboy defending from a player who hasn’t attended school, since the cane was still in use, and his central defensive partner who looked like he’d only just got back from playing in the rugby world cup in Japan, and was confused by a ball that ran true and could be predicted. Talking of predicting football, a member of the WhatsApp group I belong to, uses statistics to back up, flimsy at best, arguments, had pointed out that I was watching the worst SPL home side versus the worst away team, an ‘insomniac’s dream’ apparently, on the 42nd, Hearts took a 3:2 lead through Bozanic, how was I going to get to sleep with all these goals flying in, I’ll never know. Halftime brought a lone piper playing ‘Amazing Grace’, poignant to say the least. Second half and the scoring didn’t stop, only it was all Hearts. Jamie Walker was the next to add to the scoring, a smart header, on 76, Mulraney left the best goal of the game till last, a lovely curling shot, from just outside the area, 14 minutes plus added time, was never enough for a decent snooze, and you couldn’t guarantee that more goals weren’t going to be scored, especially as Naismith was playing like a schoolboy let out of lunchtime detention early, before grabbing something bursting with ‘E’ numbers from the canteen, on the way out to the playground. Oh, and the Blues were losing 1:0, Mr Negative was right, I had chosen the wrong game to go to.
It may have only been a fellow struggling side that Hearts had beaten, but it had been a breath of fresh air, compared to the football played under Levein, it was more a mood of relief than optimism, I hadn’t had to put up with as many games, as the same maroon throng that left the ground as entered it, and the Diggers was a happier place.
“Stick that in your documentary”
I’d read on a Hearts fan forum that a collaboration between a television production company and BBC Scotland was in the process of producing a warts and all documentary on behind the scenes events at Hearts concerning the 19/20 season, including not only shadowing the first team and staff, but the commercial department and also the fans, similar to ‘Sunderland Till I Die’, I wasn’t expecting them to turn up at the Diggers to do some filming though. I did my best to avoid breaking the camera, but there is a tiny possibility that I might be on this programme, hopefully for their sakes, either Devine intervention will have caused the film to be spoilt, or the director will have the good sense to cut me out, knowing that by doing that, it will stop the inevitable barrage of complaints that will ensue. If either of these things don’t happen, and by some hideous quirk of fate, you stumble on this programme, please please have a bucket to hand, just in case my image appears on screen, and you have an instant need to vomit. If, whatever you’ve seen me on it, then explodes, remember that I’m only on minimum wage, and thus, no point trying to sue for compensation. As usual, I spent most of the journey back on the train, asleep, though it was a more contented journey than the previous trip back from Edinburgh.