Since the draw was made, the talk had been laden with jokes, yet nobody grew tired of them, on the contrary, we just came up with more and more imaginative ones, not least when the club decided to produce half and half scarves for the occasion. Steve even got the train to Coventry to have breakfast at the Spon Gate Wetherspoons to make it feel like a ‘proper’ away game. Truth is, it wouldn’t have mattered if the game was your first away game, or like me, the 288th, it was completely and utterly unique, I’ve watched Blues v Charlton at West Ham, and Chester at Macclesfield, I even watched a ‘swapped’ game at St Andrews v Slough in the F.A.Cup, but although we played in our change kit, we had the run of the ground, this one was to be totally different to that one. We were the away team, we weren’t going to be allowed to sit in our normal seats. I did toy with the idea of getting the train into town instead of the usual bus, but in all honesty, you try and do different things for a home game anyway, just to break the mundane, it was always going to be the same but different, regardless of whatever we did. Neither clubs owners are any good, the reason why Coventry are playing at St Andrews in the first place, is because their owners are inept, but they had conspired to offer Blues 9,200 tickets, which was gratefully taken up, and then gleefully snapped up us Blues fans, half the ground each almost, the West Midlands police mindful of segregation and access reduced the capacity to 22,000. So I got the usual bus and did the usual thing of going to the Wellington, that’s where it all became ‘different’, different can just mean mindset at times, much as you could try and see this game as just another home game, you couldn’t, your mindset was changed for you, without you actually noticing.
“This was a first”
As you can see, I even took a photo of the bar and range of ales in the Welly, I haven’t before. Even with Dingle Dave coming in to join us, it was the usual, Jinksy, Gaz from Hereford saying hello, Steve fresh from his Coventry expedition, Darryl, Ian and JK There were Coventry fans coming in like it was their usual start for a home game, loads of them, the more that came in, the more I felt like an interloper, which when the surroundings are so familiar, is one surreal feeling. The Colmore was pretty equal in numbers,
“A strange day indeed”
but the Head of Steam was probably more Coventry, I gave Spoons a whisky mag I’d picked up in Embra, and got my ticket off Mikey.
“The royal blue must’ve faded”
I hadn’t noticed any animosity between the two sets of fans, but hadn’t noticed any new found camaraderie either, it was definitely a new experience for me, and I suspect a lot of others too. Something you couldn’t help noticing, was Mikey’s shirt.
“No, he hadn’t got his breakfast all over it”
We found Paul in Kilda, not Paul Mason, Baggies had West Ham away, but it looks like Coventry hadn’t discovered Kilda yet, as it was just Blues in there, and possibly the first time in the day that I felt that it was just another home game, bar getting the bus into town.
“More Covbrew than Digbrew”
If Kilda was just like a normal home game, Digbrew definitely wasn’t, it was full of Coventry, they’d definitely found that place, it was the busiest I’d seen the place before a game.
“Excuse me officer, is this the away end?”
I’d heard that St Andrews could be a nasty place to go to as an away fan.
“Mr Spoons didn’t think so”
“Mikey, Darryl and Ian, there’s someone in your seat”
“Good grief, and the rest of ours”
“You’re supposed to be at home”
The best thing about the game, was the atmosphere, and in truth, the atmosphere wasn’t all that good. Different songs pertaining to the seating arrangement and Coventry’s ground predicament went back and forth throughout, but as a spectacle in itself, the game was flatter than a snooker table at The Crucible,
“They should’ve kept the lights off”
“I said, they should’ve kept the…..oh never mind”
O’Hare, on loan from the Vile, and on the pitch as a substitute for Coventry, missed a chance right at the end, that not just your Mom or your Gran could’ve put away, but a two day old baby could’ve put away easily. So 0:0 it finished, and the crowd made their way home, back to do it again at a venue that’s more familiar.
There’d been stories of aggravation all day, but really nothing more than stories, on the way to the Spotted Dog, I saw a herd of police rushing over from The Crown, but I’m really not sure that it was just for a bit of exercise. I saw and heard a truncheon being used, but it was definitely more for show than anything else.
“And we had to put up with this”
The Dog was just like a home game, with all the same faces, but the strangeness hadn’t finished, Ian expressed that he’d always had a ‘thing’ for Lorraine Kelly, and I thought I had strange taste in women. I got the bus into town, and the bus back home, I’d enjoyed the trip to St Andrews, we may even get to do it all again next season, although I half expected a Coventry fan to be sitting in my chair, holding the TV remote when I got in the flat, it had been that kind of day.