I’m still not getting my timing right with catching buses into town. Pre Covid, I very rarely had to wait for a bus. Maybe I’ve become so used to catching buses in Brum, that I expect it to be instant. Compared to back in Telford, busses in Brum are instant There were times back in Telford that waiting for a bus took so long, that several birthdays could pass before one would finally arrive. As I waited, I caught up with what everyone had posted on the WhatsApp group, the previous evening. My Friday evenings usually consist of me attempting to watch whatever match Sky are covering and then falling asleep long before halftime, waking up around midnight, before crawling into bed. Getting into town I spotted JK and we walked to New Street station. Andy from the Dog joined us on the train over to Peterborough. For the first time since before news of the virus broke in China, and also the news that the repairs hadn’t been done and tickets were being put to ballot, neither were subjects of the conversation on the train. The chat was as ‘normal’ as it used to be. Touchdown Peterborough, and we followed Daryl’s lead, not entirely sure that he knew where he was going, but we still made it to the Draper’s Arms. A Wetherspoons, but one in the GBG. There wasn’t a bad selection to be honest. The next train from Brum docked and the Carling Academy descended. The door staff were going to have their hands full. As we exited, Andy teamed up with the rest of his crew from the Dog. We carried on to the first of the places we wanted to take in. the Bumble Inn. A micro pub, and a new one from my last visit to Peterborough. It’s Steve’s birthday tradition to buy everyone he’s with, a drink. It’s a nice tradition to take on. Whether it’s a good thing or not, with my birthday being in July, I don’t get to do this. Steve being the oldest of us ale trailers and arguably the most naturally fittest of us all, the jokes were about Queen Victoria still being on the throne when he was born and such like.
It was then on to the Ostrich. A place I remembered from the last time, but a place that had changed. Now a music venue, and by the looks, the type of music I tend to like. Both the beer and selection, was still as good too. If I lived in Peterborough, then it would be a place I’d use a lot. Jeff and the Dog crew landed while we were in there. Our two groups weren’t the only Blues in there either.
If The Ostrich was good, Charters was something very different.
The Noonans were obviously there, including Rob’s eldest. The kid’s got into football in a big way, and is starting to make waves (No pun intended……..honest.) with playing. By the sounds of it, he’s on the rocky path to making it. As I said to Rob though, allow the lad to enjoy it and don’t push. I remember in another lifetime when I dabbled with playing youth football, a Dad breaking his son’s love for the game because he pushed him too far. We all indoctrinate our kids, even when we really try not to. I’m guilty of it. My lad is Blues because I dragged him to watch them when he was a kid. Thankfully, although I foisted Blues on him, he’s not become addicted like I am. I needed a pint. I fully expected the others to be Halfway down theirs, but they hadn’t got served, the bar was so packed. Nat Peters spotted me, his booming voice, made his presence known to me. He’s not quite Brian Blessed, but he’s not far off. Yet someone else I hadn’t seen since before Covid, it was brilliant to see him. Charters was heaving with Blues, both on the boat, and in the garden. It was a bit of a wrench to leave the place if I’m being honest, but there was other pubs we wanted to do, and getting served in there wasn’t quick, even if the staff were racing around as fast as they could. They were definitely earning their money. Just down from Charters and along the Oundle Road, are two real ale GBG entries extremely close to one another. It must be brilliant to be a Peterborough United supporting ale trailer. We went first in the Palmerston Arms and then almost immediately next door to the Yard of Ale. The Palmerston was quieter, maybe even a bit more refined, but brilliant. The Yard of Ale, was totally different, but just as good.
It was onto the main event, the reason we were there.
I’d been really looking forward to this, after the way we’d started the season and how we’d been playing. Even after getting beaten by Fulham during the week, I was expecting to bounce back. I was expecting nothing else but a win With a huge away following, and league positions, everything was set up for the third away win of the season.
The very first Peterborough attack, in the very first minute of the game, and Blues found themselves behind. This wasn’t in the script. I don’t mind saying, no actually, I do mind saying, I was shocked, and not in a good way. It’s only a minor blip, I thought, Blues will surely come storming straight back. Well that would’ve been nice if they had, but they didn’t. Shadows were chased and passes misplaced. (Oh if only Blues could’ve been as fluid as my appalling attempt at poetry.) We pressed, but kept coming up against a team that had shipped 6 goals away at Sheffield United. Yeah, the very same club we’d beaten 1:0 on the opening day of the season. Even Luton had put 3 passed them without reply, but here we were, struggling to cut them apart. They even had the audacity to increase their lead. As we’d found it hard to string 2 passes together, they sliced us open. Just as the home forward was about to shoot to make it 2:0, so Wood challenged him. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to a game of snakes and ladders. If I’m being kind to Wood, then I’ll say it was clumsy. The ref was in no doubts, and pointed at the spot. Please, please miss. Nope, 2:0. We’d been up against it since Dean’s own goal, it was looking almost impossible now. Halftime came as almost a relief. Lee Bowyer could now go to work on them, chuck a few tea cups, tea urn, hostess trolley, microwave, bale of towels, cuddly toy. Read them the riot act, passages out of the Koran, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Anything, he just needed to do something. Beer goes in, Carling comes out. I needed to make some. I saw Sam’s daughter, Steph’s mate, one and the same person and for the life of me, I can’t remember her name. She remembered mine though. As you’ve guessed it, I still can’t remember the poor girls name whilst I’m writing this. Second half starts and we’ve got to be the team that scores the next goal, and we’ve got to score it early. Bowyer must’ve been talking in Swahili or such like, because Blues didn’t look any better. Peterborough didn’t look any different either. That next goal that Blues needed to score, was handed to the home side on a plate, complete with a side salad and extra chips. 3:0. Could it get any worse? Yes is the answer to that one, yes it can. Gary Gardner was shown a straight red for a excellently timed foul. Another day, he wouldn’t have been so late and would’ve easily have come away with the ball, on another day he’d have just turned over and put the duvet over his head. A sonic boom accompanied the bubble bursting on that early season promise. If you’re really an optimist, you could point to no more goals being conceded after the sending off. A realist would say that Peterborough had done enough and stopped trying. The wise choice would’ve been to give up after the penalty and either go home or back to the pub. Two games ago, and I was watching a side that was filling me with an optimism that I hadn’t had in decades. I didn’t see that side in Cambridgeshire, and nor did the near 4,000 Blues fans that had travelled either. We’d been let down again. It remains to be seen if there’s a bounce back against Preston, but I’d like one. I don’t want that promise that I saw, to be nothing more than a flash in the pan. Us long suffering Blues fans need something to sing and dance about for a change, and not just a successful relegation battle either.
I came out of the ground feeling flatter than the Cambridgeshire landscape. The rest were in the Brewery Tap, so disconsolately, I headed back there.
The Brewery Tap belongs to the Oakham Brewery, not the worst beer in the world by any standards. Also, Tap houses tend to showcase the whole range from the linked brewery. So why me and Daryl decided to try one of the guest ales, I don’t know, but we both discovered it was awful. Sometimes, my rebellious nature really doesn’t do me any favours. Maybe it was just a cunning plan to enhance their own range, but leaving the guest ale, I gave up and had a pint of Oakham’s Green Devil. Suspiciously, or unsurprisingly (Delete where applicable.) the pint was excellent. Purposely, we’d all settled on avoiding the first possible train back to Brum after the game, knowing it would be uncomfortably, heavily populated with the Carling brigade and academy. The next wasn’t much better. Poor Andy had to put up with me chewing his head, as I stood next to his seat. Needing to produce more Carling of my own, getting off at Leicester became a viable option to the rest of the train journey. Both JK and Daryl were of a similar mindset. Leicester has some decent real ale pubs, but my own particular favourite is the Ale Wagon, and although it wasn’t me who suggested going there, I certainly wasn’t going to raise any objections either. We could’ve stayed a bit longer, could’ve gone somewhere else, but none of us wanted to end up on the last train, and so mooched back to the station Daryl style. If we hadn’t walked so fast, we would’ve missed the next train. Touching down back in Brum, JK and Daryl went to the Post Office Vaults. The days beer was taking effect on me, and rather than take my drunken chances with Birmingham’s Saturday nightlife, I ducked out and got the bus home. A very good day, truly ruined by an abject and uncharacteristic performance in the middle.