Like I’ve stated before, most of my holiday allocation is swallowed up by company shutdowns. Don’t get me wrong, I like having the time off, but I usually never go anywhere special. Most of the time I just end up vegetating in front of the television. The upshot is, I only have 3 floating days I can use at my own discretion. I’m already thinking of next season’s away night games before Christmas. I’ve been quite fortunate with who we’ve been given this season. I don’t fancy going to either Reading or Bournemouth, our two night games after Christmas, so unless I need to use a day on a F.A.Cup replay, I should be able to keep them for next season. So Coventry away was my last holiday of the year. One woman where I work has still got eight floating days she can take before this Christmas, due to length of service. Am I jealous? You better believe I am. Mind you, she has been with the company just over one hundred and fifty years. I’m led to believe that she was only 3 months old when she first started work there. I managed to get a little sleep before getting back up and ventured out to the Welly. Daryl soon joined me, followed by Ian and a mate who, like Ian, works on the railway and is also a Union official. JK also joined us after first having a pizza at the Colemore. I got the impression that Ian’s mate was a bit in awe of him. He was rather gushing in his praise. Much as it would have been a nice little ego boost for Ian, it was like he was trying to defend Ian too much. Much as we tease Ian, he hasn’t got where he is out of pure luck. Us ale trailers all know that, it’s kind of why we tease him so much. Somehow, we missed JK coming out of the Welly, and although, given it was still relatively early, the train was due, so we didn’t wait for him. We were to meet back up with him as we got off in Coventry. Personally, I blame the German market. There’s absolutely no reason to, but I’m just going to blame it anyway. Steve was waiting for us on the other side of the barrier. Being only a short hop game, we were all hitting Coventry at different times and for different reasons. Jinksy had decided not to do the game at all. He’d come down with the lurgy. We all claimed he’d got Covid as a joke because like me, he’s outspoken about the virus and bizarrely, the joke stuck. The Old Windmill was first. We had toyed with the idea of going to the Broomhill Tavern, but it was just a little too far out of our way.
It has been well over 4 years since I’d been to Coventry, and although some things had changed, it’s still a soulless place. One thing that had changed, was the next place we were to go. Mainly because, it wasn’t there pre Covid. I can’t remember seeing this monstrosity either.
The Hops d’Amore is a cracking little micro pub and a very welcome addition to what is a fairly sparse real ale scene in Coventry.
Nat Peters landed, and John turned up. As his birthday present, I’d decided to combine the three things in one. Watching Blues, meeting up with my son who I hadn’t seen since before Covid, and a ticket as a birthday present. Like I’ve said before, although indoctrinated by yours truly, John doesn’t get down the Blues that often. He may be indoctrinated but he’s not addicted. We moved round to the Gatehouse Tavern.
Now being brewed in Burton apparently, it was just rude not to try a pint of the Brew XI. Spoons landed. He looked rightly tired after a days brewing at Churchend. Much as it’s a dream job for a lot of us ale drinkers, it’s nowhere near as easy as it sounds, and certainly not as easy as Spoons makes it out to be. I’d love a go at it mind, but fear that I’d be more of a hindrance than a help. I was fully enjoying catching up with John. Life gets in the way and time is not your friend. Although part of me still sees him as a 14 year old boy, he’s a grown man of double that. As a parent, our mind plays tricks on us. 14 or not, he’s still colour blind. The new Blues 3rd kit is green and orange. His colour blindness had turned the green into black. I still can’t get over how he thinks I’m winding him up when I’m not. Maybe it’s all the tricks I’ve played on him over the years. It didn’t help that the barman sided with John when I showed him a photo on the Blues website. Once and for all John, if and when you read this, it’s definitely green and orange. We’d spent so long chatting and catching up, that the rest had gone off to get taxis. John tried and failed to book an Uber, and ended up having to phone his girlfriend to book one for him. She sounded really nice on the phone. Not pent up like his last girlfriend. There was something I couldn’t quite take to with Shannon. Brody sounds so much better. Sounds like someone I’d like to meet. Even if I probably have spelt the poor girls name wrong. The taxi got to the ground a lot easier than either me or John was expecting. I was even able to get a programme. Something that has been a rarity this season.
Getting in, I saw and said hello to Mickey, as we climbed the steps to the back, I Gave Rob a hug just before we got there.
Coventry are flying high this season, and I was expecting them to take the game to us. It was as much as we could do to hold on at times. The closest anyone came to a goal in the first half though, went to Blues. Bella hit the bar with a speculative shot from outside the box. Halftime, and I went to produce some Carling. Well if Spoons was required to do a day’s brewing at Churchend, then I’m sure I could help Molson Coors out, but not before a quick chat to another Dad and Lad team in the guise of Bryn and Gav. The second half had Blues starting on the front foot. It was almost like Coventry had decided to extend the halftime break. However, it wasn’t to last long and Blues didn’t manage to capitalise on the short but sweet good start. The game reverted back to type, with Coventry on top. It was attritional to say the least from Blues. That’s the royal blue shade, (Or was it green and black?????) not the sky blue shade. This was when John implored me to just buy him either an Action Man, or Barbie doll for his next birthday. No mate, firstly, you’re 28 years of age, and secondly, why do you think I indoctrinated you all those years ago? It was with the wish to have someone else to share the misery of following Blues with. Once again, the substandard officialdom of this season was to make an appearance. Yes it was a booking, but there was no way it was a straight red card. We were to be denied the services of Ryan Woods for the remainder of the game. If it had been a tactic of ‘just get a point’ before, then it definitely was afterwards. So 0:0 it was then. Our 4th blank of the season. I’m not going to make any excuses or point accusing fingers. I’m neither happy and content with the situation or venomously spitting feathers. Maybe it’s because I’ve just been ground down by the situation at Blues, and I’m resigned to everything and anything. What I do know, is there’s very little financial backing from the owners. I’m annoyed because with a football club, you can’t just slam the wallet shut and not then expect a bright future, but at the same time, there’s been an awful lot of their money that’s been wasted. Should they have made better choices? It looks blindingly obvious now, but hindsight is a useless possession. Foresight is a rare gift. Speculate to accumulate is all very well, but one mistake can mean you lose everything you’ve gained. The owners have made more than one mistake and I’m confident they’ll make more. I suppose us Blues fans will just have to hang on a bit tighter. Either that, or just take the next turning off the long long road. It would be nice to be able to book a taxi to the happy abode at the end of it though.
Getting away from the ground is much more difficult than getting to it. Would I bother if I lived in Coventry? No, I don’t think I would. I know that both John and his mate Saj don’t. It was really kind of Saj to come and pick us up. The hard bit was finding where he was parked. It’s the trouble with out of town grounds that aren’t Brighton’s. There’s a railway track that goes passed the ground. A bit like Bolton’s, it took the powers that be in Coventry far too long to finally have a station built. Unfortunately, they hadn’t the organisation and communication skills that the authorities in Brighton knew they needed. Trains do stop at the station, but it’s not only too small, but so are the trains that stop there. It means that when there’s a big event at the ground, whether sporting or musical, no trains stop at the station because they simply can’t accommodate all the people who want to use that form of transport. If you didn’t laugh at the irony, you’d cry at the sheer stupidity. It was chaotic coming out of the ground. You’d got groups of fans of both clubs going all different ways. Some knowing what they’re doing and where they’re going and some not. There were potential flashpoints everywhere. The organisation is abysmal. The policing even worse. Frustrated at being not allowed to get through one gap in between the shuttle buses, an indigent John chose another gap. He then vaulted over the metal fence on the central reservation. I had no option but to try and follow him. Age is not being kind to my body. The bones and muscles just don’t work as well as they used to. Wear and tear from 30 odd years of the manual physicality of factory work. John laughed in derision at my whinging, protesting attempt at getting over the barrier. I’m only glad I didn’t end up in an undignified heap on the road. Saj mercifully spotted us, and we jumped in his car. A vague combined knowledge of how to get to the main station from the ground ensued and ensured that I got back before the shuttle buses did. It had been wonderful meeting and catching up with John. If I’m going to be all soppy and sentimental, then, for me, it was the highlight of the last 20 months. As the train pulled in, I saw Daryl and a familiar face. It was Tron. I knew he was coming over from Norway for the home game against Blackpool the following Saturday, but I wasn’t expecting to see him in Coventry. If any of the Scandinavians were going to get back over to England to watch Blues, then it was always going to be Tron first. It was fantastic seeing him. Another sign that it’s time we just get back to life and get on with it, not keep trying to run away from something we can’t see and might never fall foul of. Touching down, we headed to the Welly as it shuts at midnight. All three of us have done many grounds and now that travel restrictions have been lifted, Tron can get to many more. We chatted and compared where we’d been and where we’d like to go. It was a nice end to the night, before me and Daryl left our Norwegian friend in peace, to get our different buses home. I have one question before I end this post though. John! Do you want me to get you a Ken to go with Barbie doll next year?