4/3/20 Leicester City v Blues, F.A.Cup 5th Round, A Cup Without A Sorcerer.

I was feeling quite wired when the alarm went off, I was expecting to be sluggish, having only had a couple of hours sleep, but getting ready was a breeze, so much so that I was able to hit town ahead of schedule, and thus was able to grab an earlier train. Mikey was on the platform when I got to it, already the day was going well. We touched down in Leicester, where we bumped into Andy and Moz, chatting to them on the way to meeting the two Steve’s, messer’s Jinks and Whaley, in The Parcel Yard, a deceptive, Tardis of a place, like any new friend of the Doctors, I heard myself repeating one of the most common lines from the programme, ‘It’s bigger on the inside’. Whilst in the surprisingly cavernous bar, Jeff and John came in, both with overnight rucksacks. The FA, in their infinite wisdom, had decided that with this season’s competition, the 5th round would be played midweek, with no replays, us ale trailers had worked out that in the unlikely event that the game went to extra time and penalties, there was a good chance we’d miss the last train, luckily we’d discovered there was a National Express coach back to Brum that left Leicester at 00:40, so most of us booked that as a fall back, I’d even looked at booking digs, JK had gone as far as booking a place, Jeff living in Bournemouth, and John in London, had decided just to stay in Leicester for the night, hence their overnight rucksacks when they came in. We moved on into town, and The Ale Wagon, I hadn’t been in the place for around five years, but this little gem hadn’t changed, in fact, other than keeping on top of the dusting, and updating the CAMRA mags, I’m not convinced anything else had changed. It’s a proper ale drinkers place, unfussy, unpretentious. We caught up with JK in the Blue Boar, this was one when I was doing my research, that I was looking forward to.

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“I wasn’t disappointed”

I was hungry, so treated myself to a ham and tomato crusty cob, I almost went for a plain stilton one, ignoring the disparaging comments about the infamous cheese from the barman, Mikey had been tempted too, before settling for the same filling as me. We went to another GBG entry on the same street, with The Two Tailed Lion, an upmarket place, before taking in The Rutland and Derby Arms, the 3rd place in the guide in the same street,

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“Not as quaint on the inside”

I got into a conversation with a Leicester based Blues fan, and his Leicester supporting mate about connections between the two clubs, and all time favourite players, including players that became legendary because of the passion and loyalty they showed, despite their limited ability. I could’ve chatted for a lot longer, but we were on the move again, this time to The Distillery, a place not in the guide, where the subject of kit sponsors that we won’t endorse because of their links to ‘them lot’ was brought up. None of us wil ever touch Muller yoghurt for instance. I still smile if I see a Triton shower. Kit manufacturers was something else we talked about, recalling a whole history of Blues ones. I’m an absolute anorak when it comes to Blues kits and sponsors, although, I don’t actually buy them. I was overjoyed when it was announced that Blues were to have Adidas for four years, I’ve been extremely disappointed with the quality of them though, and haven’t even been close to being seduced by anything enough to shell out hard earned cash. We all fancied a last beer before the game, and we took in another GBG entry in The Globe, before traipsing to the ground.

With 5,100 of us trying to get in, kickoff was always going to be missed, fans that, like us, had spent most of the afternoon drinking, were joined by fans who had taken the decision to travel over after their day at work,

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“That’s what 5,100 away fans at Leicester looks like”

We started quite brightly, before we decided to crawl into our shell, and let the Premier League club have the ball. We defended efficiently enough, and for all the possession that the home side was afforded, they weren’t exactly stretching us, it made for a cat and mouse kind of game, but although the cat had its nose pressed up against the window, making sure that the mouse didn’t escape, the mouse was happy with not going anywhere, and had its feet up while reading the local paper. Halftime, I went to see who was around,

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“I spotted Rob”

But chatted to Spoons, as I saw him on the stairs.

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“Now that would make for an interesting game”

He does find some great t-shirts. Second half and I joined the two Steve’s, as the game carried on where it had left off, the ex-player rule wasn’t adhered to, Demarai Gray was withdrawn before he was able to haunt us. The game was meandering towards extra time, when Leicester took the lead, and ultimately won the game. There wasn’t really anything to lose before, so it had been disappointing, but Blues immediately went in search of the equaliser, which was annoying, it was a cup game, there had to be a winner, we’d retreated and put up the barricades, frustratingly, we’d got what those tactics deserved. Much as Leicester hadn’t looked all that impressive, we hadn’t given a good account of ourselves either. As games go, it hadn’t been a classic, far from it, it was instantly forgettable instead.

Filing out of the ground, we were out of the Cup too, consoling ourselves, that we’d be able to get a pint before the train home to Brum, and not have to wait around to be cooped up on a coach. Thanks to Jinksy’s phone, we made it back to the station, and The Parcel Yard, being midweek, the place called time earlier than they do at a weekend, so we went in search of food and beer for the train, JK went off to his hotel. Touching down in Brum, we all parted company, thankfully, I was able to get the last bus.

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