Jk was with Darryl on the concourse at New Street when I got there, but he wasn’t going to Huddersfield with the rest of us, he was off to watch Albion, no, not that Albion, he was off up to Scotland taking in Albion v Airdrieonians in the 3rd round of the Scottish cup. I went off to get a lottery ticket, coming back, Ian, his wife Karen, Spoons and Jude had arrived, we joined them, with both Steve and Mikey joining us too. The journey up to Manchester flew by with the conversation flowing easily between us. Usually I try and put notes on my phone, bullet points of certain things that were said, but the conversation was so varied that I didn’t want to miss anything, especially as there were plenty of one liners punctuating the flow. We changed at Manchester, getting off into the murky weather of west Yorkshire at Huddersfield, having enough time to make use of the fantastic Buffet there. The one on the platform is a proper independent establishment, and a breath of fresh air compared to the usual bland national chains. I’d noticed Mikey’s trainers, thinking they were new, he admitted to having several pairs, to which I admitted to owning several more than he, each pair, Adidas Originals, each pair lovingly looked after, including putting them back in their original boxes, after cleaning them. I wear them in the sequence they were bought in, it’s a strange, guilty pleasure, one I know I’ll add to, one I probably need some kind of therapy for. We short hopped to Dewsbury, and the delightful West Riding Refreshment Rooms. If you’re thinking that’s a bit of a rigmoral, heading out to Dewsbury, when we’d already been to the destination of the game, then believe me when I say it’s definitely worth the effort.
“What a place to wait for a train”
With only grabbing a sausage roll in the buffet at Huddersfield station, I ordered a bacon and sausage butty. To say it was on the large side, is an understatement. It covered the plate it came on, and I’m not entirely sure that they don’t use old satellite dishes as plates. We caught the train back, well six of us managed to squeeze on, Spoons and Jude opted to get the next one. If ever someone who believes that guards on trains aren’t needed, then this was an example to give them, as guards are an absolute necessity. Stopping back in Huddersfield, they used the big key on the side of the train to let all us sardines off. Steve met his Niece the other side of the barrier, and she joined us in the King’s Head, again the conversation flowed, before Steve said farewell to his Niece, and we grabbed taxis to the next pub, but not before we took a couple of photos of things.
“The working class version of rugby”
“The working class version of a Prime Minister”
The Star isn’t in the GBG, but it should be, it’s one of our favourite Huddersfield pubs, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the landlord, as he was expecting us. The Rat and Ratchet wasn’t though, a tap for the Rat and Ossett breweries, and a decent pub, that is in the GBG. Spoons stuck some money in the jukebox, and naturally, talk was of music, me and Karen agreeing that the 90s was the best decade, and much better than the 80s. Me and Jude chatted about her marriage, and how unhappy it had made her. You can get sucked in by situations in life, I know I have, duty and responsibility not being our friends, Jude managed to clamber out of the hole that was her marriage, as did I from mine. Listening to her describe what she went through, I’m glad that with Spoons, they’ve got something special. Anyway, enough of the sloppy stuff, we moved on to The Corner, a tap for Mallinson’s Brewery. After a quick half, we said farewell to the girls, and moved on to the last place before the game. The Vulcan was packed when we got there.
“It’s not what it looks like”
So packed that they hadn’t got any proper glasses left, and I had to have it in this abomination. It definitely was real ale in that glass, designed to make the undrinkable drinkable, it made the drinkable undrinkable and I gave up on it.
At the turnstile, I spotted Jinksy, putting on something that resembled a Scottish accent, I mentioned him being Rangers, thankfully he heard and acknowledged me, as I could feel half a dozen eyes belonging to fellow Rangers fans glaring at me. Once through the turnstiles and introductions over, I recognised the face of Mickey O’Brien, worse for wear, he admitted to going through a rough patch with his missus, hence the blow out. During our catch up, he said he’d seen a mate of ours, a lad I hadn’t seen for a good few years, out with his brother, and having a blow out of his own. Listening between the lines, it sounded like he was going through a marital crisis of his own. We parted to go and actually watch the game. A game that would turn out to be pretty equal for the first half. Lee Camp had been dropped, replaced, not by the next senior goalkeeper, Stockdale, but Connor Trueman, a youngster. I’ve watched numerous goalkeepers play for Blues, among them, some really good ones, at times, the club has even had more than one good keeper on its books, at the same time, but at the moment, we haven’t one, you could take all the good bits from each one, mash them together, and you still wouldn’t be able to produce a decent goalkeeper. At the other end, the football that Clotet is getting the team to play, with the players he’s got at his disposal, is creating an abundance of chances, trouble is, those chances are going begging. Halftime I met up with Jinksy again, getting to talk to a fellow Jambo that was with him. Second half started in a similar vein, till a brilliant through ball split us open, it begged to be finished, it was, 1:0 to the home side. My spirit dropped, from there on in, I knew it would be a slog to equalise, not because we wouldn’t make chances, but because we can’t finish them. I like Lukas Jutkiewicz, he’s a hard working, intelligent player, but except for that one certain ball that needs to be played to him, he’s not a goal scorer, he’s our best chance of getting a goal, but not a goalscorer. Miraculously, we managed to get the goal we needed to the restore parity, with 12 minutes left, a set piece these days with Craig Gardner no where near the team, has a chance of being delivered onto someone’s head, and not into the crowd behind the goal, being behind the goal at the other end of the pitch, doesn’t make for recognising who’s who, and who’s done what, we celebrated, not the, champagne popping kind of celebrating, the kind that takes over the body, and you find yourself jumping up and down, letting all your inhibitions go, I hadn’t a clue who had scored for us, nobody else around me did, I didn’t care who scored for us, nobody else around me did either. As is the way at the moment, Blues don’t crawl back up into their shell, but carry on trying to attack, could we get a winner? Could we? Just could we?…….no. I’d refrained from pointing out on the train, or the pub, that we’d only drawn once this season, as I hadn’t wanted to tempt fate, I might as well had. Drawing a game from a losing position, feels like half a win, same as drawing from a winning position feels like half a defeat, so managing to draw away from home, and from a losing position, didn’t feel too bad.
Joining Darryl and Mikey, we had just enough time to have a quick half in the Head of Steam, before getting the train back to Manchester Victoria.
“Not this train though”
If it wasn’t for the King’s Head, the other side of the station entrance being so good, we would probably use the Head of Steam, however…… I hadn’t been in the Head of Steam in Huddersfield before, and in keeping with the rest of the Camerons owned chain, it’s good. I can see me using it again, however…… We got the train to Victoria, and headed to a ‘go to’ pub nearby to it, when we touched down, The Angel is brilliant, a proper homely, back street pub, as always with Manchester forever building, we had to negotiate roadworks to get to it, but once there, the hassle was worth it, it always is. Manchester has got so many great boozers, the next one I hadn’t been in before, but Darryl had, and he led us there, mind you, with Darryl, he’s always leading, even when he doesn’t know where he’s going, which is rare, but does happen.
“keeping Darryl within eyesight”
Port Street Beer House, is one I’ll do again, not sure when, but definitely again. With the second round of the F.A.Cup looming into view, and thus the magical 3rd draw, we talked about who we’d want, with Manchester not on the fixture list for Blues right now, we all plumped for one of the clubs from there at their place, who we’ll get, will probably be somewhere devoid of decent beer, such as Milton Keynes, or an unappealing home game versus a club in the same division as us. We can but hope. We had just enough time for a final one at the Piccadilly Tap before getting the train back to Brum. We hadn’t been the only ones drinking in Manchester, Jinksy hadn’t needed much persuasion off Nat Peters, and neither had a Rangers mate of theirs.
“The good, the bad, and the ugly, not necessarily in that order, take your pick”
We couldn’t find three seats together on the train, so I went and found my reservation, jamming in the headphones. Arriving back in Brum, I met up with Darryl again, having a pint in the Post Office Vaults with him, before we then went our separate ways.