22/8/87 Them lot v Blues, Bitter Sweet.

Typical, ordinarily the first real Bank Holiday of the year, (Although it is one, I lump January 1st in with the Christmas break) is ruined by rubbish weather. This year’s a bit different to say the least. As Covid 19 carries on with its devastation, and the vast majority of us, rightly stay in doors, the sun comes out. Although we claim we’re not, we’re animals, we enjoy the first real sun of the year, we like to get out in the spring air, the one time that it wouldn’t bother me watching a smug Matt Taylor, predicting rain, and he’s predicting gorgeous weather, it doesn’t seem fair.

Back in 1987, I’d taken my first steps on the rocky path of love, I was a late starter when it came to affairs of the heart, I was extremely shy when it came to girls back then, I was shy full stop in all honesty, I’ve put that straight as I’ve gone through my adult life, but I still class myself as shy, something that astonishes people when I admit to it, so I must be doing something right. I’d fallen head over heels for this girl Linda, and she with me, we were inseparable, most of the time, you couldn’t slip a piece of A4 between us, football for once, wasn’t grabbing my attention, we got engaged, everything was going swimmingly, on the job front, things weren’t so easy, getting one was proving impossible, (It was the 80s, I was not the only one who was a frequent visitor to the Job Centre) I helped Les out on his milk round, he helped me out with a bit of cash in return. The fixtures for the new season were released, we were to play the Vile away, on the 2nd Saturday of the season, with the Vile newly relegated, I was interested again, Linda wasn’t too happy, but this was a fixture that I wasn’t going to miss, I hadn’t been to a game since we’d first started going out in the February. I was due to get my dole money on the Saturday morning of the game, but sometimes, it wouldn’t drop through the letterbox until the Monday, (We used to have dole checks sent to us back then) I made sure I had enough for the game, just in case. I helped Les on the morning of the game, racing round as fast as I could, so I wouldn’t feel so guilty, when I got the bus home, it was a big milk round, covered a large area, a rival company covered the same area, using 5 different milk floats and their drivers. I got home, quick wash, quick change, I raced down to catch the train to Brum, I was still sweating when a lad got on and sat opposite me at Wolverhampton, he had noticed my Blues top, and started up a conversation, he revealed that he was a Vile fan, and other than his appalling taste in football clubs, was ok. We parted our ways at New Street, I went for a pint (Beer, not milk, I’d had enough of seeing that stuff) at the station bar, and then went up to the Cabin, a subterranean bar off Priory Island, had another in there, before getting a marker pen from W H Smith’s, I was a fledgling graffiti artist back then, and then getting the train to Witton. The pen that I had bought, was taken off me, when I was searched, when gaining entrance to the ground.

Someone managed to smuggle one in though, as the executive boxes that made up the back wall of the terracing on the away end, were ‘decorated’ with the word ‘Zulu’ and ‘BCFC’, it’s what I had had in mind, though I protested my innocence, when mine had been confiscated. The first half was fairly even, the usual derby fair, a huge number of Zulus had infiltrated the Holte End, and had ganged up, their presence had been noted by their counterparts, and sometimes, the ongoing skirmishes, were more interesting than what was happening on the pitch. The players must’ve been influenced by what was going on in the home end, and decided to have a little battle of their own, the highlight of which, before it was broken up, was Alan McInally racing in and punching Vince Overson, full in the face, with all his might, it turned Oversons face slightly, McInally immediately realising his mistake, backed away as fast as he could, before Overson had the chance to show him how to punch properly. Halftime, 0:0, at least we weren’t losing. Second half was a different story. Blues were kicking towards the away end and it seemed to make a difference, Tony Rees had a chance from around the penalty spot, dispatching it to put us 1:0 up. I wasn’t expecting it to last, so the second came as a bit of a welcome surprise, the late Ian Handysides, took a shot from outside the area, the net bulged, we went ballistic, 2:0, time to party. The Zulus were more than holding their own in the Holte End, and were having fun. The rest of the game was quite comfortable, we’d won the game, won the fight between the players, and the Zulus had won on the Holte.

It was a buoyant train ride back into town, and I even met up with the Vile fan I’d met earlier, and was able to ‘rub it in’ with him, before he got off in Wolverhampton. The only thing I lost all day, was my voice through chanting at the game……or so I thought at the time, I got back to Wellington, and went round to Linda’s, she’d spent the day with my mate Charlie, and had decided to end the relationship between me and her.

FOOTNOTE:-It took me awhile to get over the break-up, Linda had been my first love. Her and Charlie ended up having a kid, but they weren’t to last either. I’ve seen Linda since, and although I was heartbroken at the time of the break-up, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, she hadn’t aged well, and had had even more kids, it could’ve been me.

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