To say the issues over the remedial work that is finally taking place at St Andrews is frustrating me, doesn’t even scrape the surface of how I feel. The away games have been straight forward. The home games and how they’ve been handled is eating away at my mental wellbeing. I get depression, not anxiety, but the uncertainty with the stands has had me feeling like an expectant father, in the week leading up to the due date. Take this week. On Tuesday evening, it was revealed that the work had been done, and a verbal ‘sign off’ had been given concerning the Tilton upper tier (Where I hold a season ticket for.) The official sign off was to take place the following day before 5 o’clock at the latest. The 5 o’clock deadline whooshed past. It was confirmed around 18:45, that due to a discrepancy in the documentation required for the work to be passed, the stand would now not be open for the game versus Derby on Friday night. The fault was solely on the clubs side. Major incompetence. With hours before kickoff, the club issued a statement about how tickets were to be distributed. We were implored to wait for an email and then if fortunate, take the ‘print at home’ option. Although I have an email address, I am loathe to give the club it. As for having a printer at home, I haven’t even got a compooter. I can only assume that they’d translated documents from Chinese, and it was discovered it was actually the menu for the ‘Golden Wok’ I wasn’t devastated, because I had an inkling something would go wrong, but I was extremely disappointed. We’d effectively been lied to once again. On Thursday, they found the right paperwork, the council safety inspection was satisfied and around 18:15, the club took to social media to acclaim the Tilton upper Tier was now open. 25 hours, 30 minutes before kickoff. Although greatly relieved enough for the night shift to pass by in a state of euphoria, it did annoy me that we’ve had to put our lives on hold. Plans ripped up, replaced by new plans that in turn, have been ripped up, and replaced by the original plans. I just want to watch the football club I love play. These incompetent people who are running, or to be honest, ruining the club, need to be stripped of their ownership. It’s obviously not as simple as that, but should be. Now I’ve bored you with my frustrations, I’ll actually write my usual post. I do actually enjoy a Friday night game. It not only gives the weekend a good start, but means I get to do a Saturday ground hop somewhere. Yep, that means two posts to do this week, two for you lot to have to suffer reading. A Friday night game also means trying to grab sleep when I’m full of anticipation for the evening. Your mind is racing with thoughts of preparations. I did manage some kip, enough so I wouldn’t fall asleep on the bus home, only to wake up disoriented, and in Walsall. It’s not something I recommend doing late on a Friday or Saturday night. My good mood was tempered as I came out of my flat to rain. I really do hate the stuff. Waiting for the bus into town, I watched the nightmare of the Friday afternoon commute home, exasperated by the many roadworks on the Birchfield Road. I was thankful I wasn’t stuck in the slow moving traffic, imprisoned in their tin cocoons. There’s nowhere in Birmingham at the moment that hasn’t got roadworks and building work going on. A lot is for the Commonwealth games. Something I honestly can’t see me bothering with. Visitors to the city next year, won’t have experienced the upheaval of this year. If they were to, they wouldn’t bother coming back next year. Andy and John were in the Welly when I got in there, and I joined them. The talk wasn’t of how well we’re playing, or the signing of Troy Deeney, it was the mess with the stands. Taffy joined us, as did Steve, Mikey, JK, and the first appearance this season of Worcester Pete, who I gave a hug to. Covid and vaccinations reared their ugly heads in the conversation, and of course, so did the ground issues and its handling. At least plans of trains to Peterborough next Saturday were discussed. it was a bit of light release. JK went off to Head of Steam, only to send news back, that there was a tiny choice of ale. Based on this, we went to the Colemore. The infamous bouncer who I hadn’t encountered was on the door, I wondered why he was scowling at people. Stories about his antics were true. Not a nice person with power by the seem of things. Most drank up to head for Kilda, me, Jinksy and Mikey followed behind. If sparks fly when Daryl walks, then dust settles on Mikey. He’s as slow as Daryl is fast. So laid back, that he travels by sun lounger. On the way, me and Jinksy lost him. As we passed Kilda, the rest were in there. Both me and Jinksy fancied taking in Halton Turner. Ade was on his way out as we got there, we both acknowledged him and went in. Unfortunately, they hadn’t got their chocolate stout on, they were in the process of brewing another batch. I settled for ‘Whiplash’, it was awful. It was the first from there, that I hadn’t liked. As we stood under the viaduct outside, Jinksy recollected a story off one of his Rangers mates, concerning his 4 year old granddaughter. It was a pure Glaswegian culture thing. Tickling the girl, she was to exclaim ‘You’re a cunt Granddad’, as she’s laughing her little head off. It was typical innocent ignorance. Embarrassingly funny. The girls Mom was horrified of course, but being a parent myself, I know how even with the greatest will in the world, kids can still trip you up with their behaviour. The rest joined us as a thunderstorm threatened. It was on then to Bob’s. Ade’s annoying, grating voice echoed from upstairs, with the toilets being upstairs and needing to visit, I noted he was boring Worcester Pete and Spoons. It was a relief to finally walk up towards the ground with Spoons, knowing that I’d be sitting in my own seat. ‘Made in Brum’ wasn’t being sold though. Dave Thomas wasn’t at his usual pitch. Me and Spoons speculated whether Dave had packed it in. It’s certainly not because he hasn’t enough content to choose from for several issues. Dave’s not getting any younger though, and M.I.B. takes up a lot of his time and energy. If he has packed it in, and I really wouldn’t blame him if that’s actually the case, I’m certainly going to miss it. Another end of an era.
Wonders never cease, my new season ticket card that I hadn’t actually been able to use this season, worked. I did have to take it out of its plastic wallet so it would read properly though. I probably don’t realise how much of a good impression I leave on people, if I’m being honest, but it was all grins and hugs that I received from all around when I got to my seat. Both Seeley and Luke are growing up fast. 18 months is a long time for an adult, for a kid, the change in appearance is shocking. When you’re a kid, you get fed up of hearing ‘Haven’t you grown?’, as a kid, you don’t share the wonderment. The fact that I skin my hair now, didn’t go unnoticed and the fact that Steph had been a regular at a gym didn’t go unnoticed by me. She looked amazing for it.
Me and Steph, with eyes on the game, spent biggest part of it, catching up, catching up and catching up. Like I stated in my Stoke post, the lack of fans in the stands is having an effect. Blues sputtered. Although the first goal when it came, wasn’t undeserved, we hadn’t up until then, been playing all that well. It was apparent though, that Derby aren’t the side they were five years ago. They certainly won’t be battling at the right end of the League table come the end of the season. It was good to see Hogan score again. He’s very much a ‘confidence player’, and goals are what will give him that confidence. The buzz that surrounded Troy Deeney’s signing, had transcended to the ground. I’d never known such a reception that greeted his first appearance along the touchline, as he warmed up. What a full Tilton would’ve been like, can only be imagined We got better towards the end of the first half, a bit more flowing. Several players, played under Karanka’s regime, it must’ve been horrible. You can see the spirit now, see the enjoyment. Halftime, and Steph showed me around a million photos that she’d taken of what they’d got up to with Seeley and his home schooling. The transformation from what she was like pre-Seeley, is truly commendable. A bit of a free spirit, loose cannon, she’s become a brilliant Mom. I showed her my ‘Lockdown look’, and the reason for skinning my head. Second half, and we continued to play some good stuff. Not as good as I have seen from Blues this season, but still good. Then the moment arrived. The ground erupted to welcome a certain debut. I kind of felt a little sorry for Jukiewicz, although, I think I would’ve felt sorry for anyone being replaced. Juke hadn’t let us down, but the rapturous reception Deeney got as he jogged onto the pitch, would’ve made anyone feel inferior. In truth, he looked a little rusty, half a step off the cohesion of the team. 1:0 is never really a lead you can enjoy until after the final whistle. Blues weren’t sitting back and just playing on the break, but Derby were trying to press for the equaliser. A couple of times I caught myself wishing the time down. Concerned about being on the wrong end of the next goal. I needn’t have been so worried. Deeney’s time in the Premier League has made him a more intelligent player. His movement created gaps that the football we play can capitalise on. Yet another flowing move, led to Jeremie Bela having time and space to lash in the second. It was the least another good performance from the bloke deserved, and he gratefully celebrated his achievement. The only thing that would’ve topped what was a ‘routine’ win, would’ve been a goal from ‘you know who’ on his debut. It was just nice to have that feeling that it was a ‘routine’ win again. I hadn’t had that feeling since Chris Hughton was manager.
walking away from the ground, I heard Derby accents, I caught up for a natter about their current plight and what they thought of Wayne Rooney in particular. From the outside, he looks to be drowning with his hands tied. The proverbial ‘cat in a bag’ scenario. They showed quite a pragmatic approach to what’s going on behind the scenes at their club. I do actually love going to Derby, but I think this season might be the last time for a game for at least a couple of seasons. I headed back to Bob’s, only to be informed that they were closing, cheekily, I asked to use the toilet. I was allowed. Thanks for that. I made my way to the Spotted Dog, attempting to engage in conversation with Ade, who ‘blanked’ me. Simply, no class. Steve and Faye were already in there. Someone else who were as pleased to see me, as I was them. 18 months, blah blah blah. There was a happy, contented after match vibe in the Dog, one I think we’re going to be quite accustomed to this season. It’s now over to the owners to sort the ground out and quickly. I wondered on the bus home, whether I would be regretting going back to the Dog after the game, come the morning. Tonight though, I didn’t care.