Taking a day off from work midweek always seems to be better than it probably is. Even one single day, makes it feel like you’re having an extra weekend. I got home from work, had a tiny bit of sleep, and got ready. Apart from the weather, everything else ran smoothly, too smoothly. Depression doesn’t allow you to enjoy when things are going right. Experience tells you that it never lasts. I discovered though, that when life is weighing on top of you, that never lasts either, and equilibrium will be back. Equilibrium, by the way, is what a depressive needs to aim for. A constant battle to find a balance you can be content with. The Manchester train rolled into New Street, and I spotted Steve. Although he’d got a table, he was surrounded by others. I found a seat nearby and settled down for a bit more sleep. Waking up just before Macclesfield, the people opposite Steve, got off at Stockport. I was able to join him. As I sat down, I was attacked by cramp. A combination of age, overuse and lack of rest. Told you, when things run smoothly, something trips you up. On this occasion, it was the chance that I was going to trip someone else up, as I tried to straighten my leg, gripped by pain. Getting off at Piccadilly, we’d got roughly half an hour. Just long enough for a quick half in the Tap. There was a coffee stout from Marble brewery on. It was gorgeous. Me and Steve had previously discussed dropping in on the Buffet Bar at Stalybridge station. The last couple of times, we’d visited the West Riding Refreshment Rooms at Dewsbury station, but although we both like the one at Dewsbury, we really fancied doing the one at Stalybridge.
The bar is a veritable kaleidoscope of railway antiquities and other visual delights of a bygone age. It’s like drinking in a museum. With all the virus restrictions and what not, it was good to see that the range of ales was still excellent too. As Steve said, it was like Coronavirus hadn’t happened. We got chatting about plans to expand Moor Street station in Brum. It’s the only one in the centre of Birmingham that has any character at all. We both agreed that a micro pub would be ideal there. a decent pub of any sort is missing at either of the other two, but Moor Street is crying out for a little bar that’s keeping within the character of the place. No doubt, it will get a cocktail bar to cater for the youngsters arriving from Solihull on a Friday and Saturday night. By the time we’d got the train to Huddersfield, the weather was looking decidedly nasty. By the time we’d got to Huddersfield itself, it was venting its fury on the town. Trying to look up at street names and keeping dry, is no easy task. By the time I’d got to the hotel, I was drenched. I even had to take my coat off in reception because I was dripping all over the confirmation form they wanted me to fill in. Once I’d checked in and emptied my rucksack with all my stuff in and put it all away, the pelting rain had subsided to almost nothing. By the time I met back up with Steve in The Rhubarb, the sun was coming back out. I’d been in the Rhubarb once before, but several years before. it hasn’t changed a bit, other than it had less ales on. Something I was sure was down to the, now usual, issues over Covid. After comparing notes on our respective digs for the night, we discussed an itinerary whilst waiting for a response from the rest of the ale trailers attending the game. I’d read a review on the Whatpub website for Williams Beer & Gin House. Steve was up for a visit. It was to be a new one for both of us. If I’m being nice to the place, it’s worth going back for a second visit to confirm. Confirm what? Well once poured, our totally different pints were both hazy. Neither were advertised as being hazy, and neither tasted like they had turned, but something didn’t appear right with them. One hazy beer could be acceptable, but not both. Thing is, the two pints together, only came to a fiver. That’s why a second visit needs to be taken, though obviously not because of the price, it’ll only be for a half. We found out that Spoons, Jude and Ian were in The Grove, so we headed there. We told them about the last place as well as accommodation descriptions. They hadn’t checked in at theirs yet. A group of locals near us, noticed our accents. Jude obviously always points out that she’s a B6’er, when she accompanies Spoons to an away pre-match ale trail. One of the group of locals, pointed out that he was from Perry Barr originally, and also of the wrong persuasion. It’s times like that, when I get a kick out of pointing out how close I live to the piggery. The look of deflation on their faces when it dawns on them that one of us, lives in their territory, is immensely satisfying. As the others went to check in, me and Steve got chatting about our own playing careers. I say playing careers, Steve was much more interesting in playing as a kid than me. The lure of watching Blues was always too great for me. Playing wasn’t really for me. I could kick a ball straight, but just not consistently enough for it to be personally enjoyable. However, watching football and in particular, Blues, has always been the thing that makes me feel alive. I suppose I could sit down with a psychiatrist and truly discover why, but then why waste theirs and my time? It’s an addiction I can live with. We decided to move on and meet JK in the King’s Head. Nat was travelling over from Manchester, once he’d finished work, and was going to join us in there. Nat did indeed join us, and we then ended up getting a taxi to the ground.
After putting up with the stewards at QPR, they’re not my favourite people right now. I understand they’ve a job to do, but why do they have to ‘get off’ on the power it gives them? One was asking to see tickets. Something I can understand, apparently the ticket for the Buggies game that had been postponed, were scanning through ok at the game on the Friday. First of all, well done anyone who had the gall to try. Secondly, more fool Albion for not thinking their system was fallible. It explains why I and many many others were bunched up at the top of the away end at the Hawthorns. I showed the steward my ticket, he looked at it and moved his gaze to the next ticket, he then, wanted to see it again. Of course, I reminded him he’d seen it. He then preceded to get uppity. Angry, I kept showing him again and again whilst he was trying to look at others. A simple ‘Sorry mate, I hadn’t looked at it properly. Can you just show me again please?”, but no, courtesy wasn’t in his vocabulary. He had to show he was in charge. Sorry, but you’re not in charge, you’re nothing more than a minion. Ok, rant over. Going back to the Buggies game, we needed to keep it tight at the back again, although not concede, but also try and nick a goal. The team’s confidence had been understandably knocked and we needed something to cling on to, something to build on again. Being tighter at the back, leads to less attacking in the opposition half. Safety first, at the expense of pouring forward and creating a myriad of goalscoring chances. As the two sides were sussing each other out, there was early chances for both. It was followed by a bit of inactivity whilst they settled down. Even in these early stages, it was clear it wasn’t going to be the greatest of games. When things are going against you, and you’re struggling to get a goal, let alone a win, you fall back on a ‘thou shalt not pass’ philosophy. I hate negative tactics, but I probably hate continually losing even more. As I would’ve been happy with a 0:0 draw at the Hawthorns, I would’ve been happy with a 0:0 draw at Kirklees (I can’t and won’t use the sponsors name for the ground. The company advertises enough as it is.) The Home side stepped the tempo up a little, and forged a couple of chances. One was nailed on for taking the lead. Thankfully, it was spurned. So 0:0 halftime, and I went to create some Carling. Coming back out of the toilet, I spotted Dave Moyna. I had a good moan to him about the steward I’d had problems with. Second half, and the ‘they shalt not pass’ tactics carried on. Huddersfield looked to find a way through or around. They had a chance they hit the post with, but then we had a header that we really should’ve done better with. Chances for us were far and few between as it was. A raft of substitutions, disrupted the flow. I’m kidding, there wasn’t any flow. Huddersfield pushed more with the forlorn hope of securing a winner. They even managed to hit the outside of the post with one effort. 0:0 it ended, but it was a point gained and a clean sheet. Although feeling flat coming out of the ground like I almost always do after a 0:0 draw, had I been a home fan, I reckon I would’ve felt even flatter. Huddersfield would’ve seen us as two points dropped.
Snaking back through the crowds heading away from the ground, I caught back up with Spoons, Ian and Steve. They were heading to The Vulcan. Night shift and lack of sleep was really starting to eat into me, calling it a night, I headed back to the hotel.
I checked out after a refreshing shower, and went in search of a paper for the train back. Do you think I could find an independent shop that sells newspapers? Nope, no I couldn’t. I trawled several streets looking for one. You’re probably looking at this account, thinking ‘Why don’t you find a WH Smith’s, you Muppet.’ Truth is, I don’t like its policy of forcing customers to use the self checkout service. I also don’t like how they show disdain for people who won’t use them. Yes, I know you’re thinking ‘Luddite and dinosaur’, but first of all, self checkouts are cutting down on jobs. Like factory work, shop working is a staple job. We can’t all work in call centres and warehouses. For some people, saying ‘Hello’ to the person serving them, is the only conversation, albeit brief, that they get. A machine doesn’t know you by name and that you’ve got grandkids for instance. Is it any surprise humanity is suspicious of itself? It’s too consumed with itself to understand that by communicating with other humans, their brains and minds are expanding. So giving up on getting a newspaper, I met up with Spoons, Jude, Ian and JK in the Cherry Tree. Spoons in a Spoons. Yes, I know it’s immature humour, but it still makes me smile. The Vulcan had been rubbish, so they went back to the King’s Head. On the ‘Coming soon’ board had been a Churchend beer. Finding out that Spoons helps brew beers from there, it was promoted to the next beer changed. Spoons even had a pint of it. Churchend beer regularly wins awards for its quality. Goat’s Milk has even won Camra beer of the year. Not a small achievement. Spoons is similar to me in that he uses self deprecating humour. Very much ‘tongue in cheek’, he always maintains he washes his socks within the brewing process. He must use a really bad batch of socks on Gravediggers and Coffin stout, because they’re the ones I always go for, should I see them on somewhere. The other four caught the train back towards Manchester with me, but got off at Stalybridge for a trail. Getting off at Piccadilly, I’d got 27 minutes before the train back to Brum. Plenty of time for a quick half at the Tap, a visit to produce some Carling, and buy a pasty for the train. Seeing as they’d still got the coffee stout on from Marble, my choice at the Tap, was made for me. So had the 0:0 draw been worth all the expenditure? Absolutely. I’d do the same thing again in a heartbeat. Anyone can attend the big games. Takes a certain kind of person to do a midweek away game, when your team is on a bad run of form…………that’s right, it’s called stupidity displayed by an idiot. My name is Sid, I’m a stupid idiot……..and proud of it.