27/11/21 Blues v Blackpool, White Brum.

No no, it’s not some kind of political far right racist slogan, it had simply just snowed. I write simply and just, but there’s nothing simple and just about snow. I well and truly, absolutely hate the stuff. I used to love it as a kid, but then just as a ridiculous amount of kids that experience snow, love it, I was no different. As a kid, your life is a lot smaller than it is as an adult. Life is all about discovery and play. You can allow your imagination to run wild, not suppress it with responsibility. Instead of basking in the joy of snowball fights, snowmen and snow angels, you realise that snow cancels things, makes movement and mobility difficult. It stops being fun anymore. Thankfully, by the time I’d got into town, it was melting and turning to slush. I hate slush but at least it’s an indication that the horrible stuff is vanishing. I’d arranged to meet up with Taffy in the Welly, before he got the train to go and watch Wrexham. He messaged me to tell me there was no trains to Wrexham until 13:25 because of the weather and he’d decided not to bother. I can’t say I blamed him. Daryl landed, as did JK. The first thing that Daryl did, was plug his phone into charge. JK had cracked the screen on his and needed to get it fixed. Phones are all singing and dancing these days. They fall just short of being able to microwave a pie, but there’s not much else you can’t do on it. Except for the people who steadfastly refuse to become slaves to them and under no circumstances, will possess one, the rest of us are surgically attached to the things. There is no doubt that it’s useful to have one, but the majority of us are preoccupied by them. I long to go back to the time when the Nokia 3310 was king. You could make calls and text on them………and that was about it. No camera, no all important tinternet link…..nothing but an extremely basic game called ‘snake’ to keep us occupied. You could though, drop-kick it up the road, and it would still work. It was basic, but it was fun to have. Now, we’re obsessed with the gadgets. It’s much more important to have a good tinternet connection and be close to a plug or USB socket, than it is to be able to breathe. Steve landed and the conversation flowed from phone talk to the more obvious subject of the weather. Steve had been lucky with his train into Brum, fully expecting it to be delayed. Seamlessly, we then chatted about postponed games and falling foul to late cancellations. Both me and JK reminisced about a game at Exeter, whereas Brum had been snow free, the west country had been hit heavily. Setting off, none of us were aware of how close the game had been to being called off. We both remembered the penalty ‘miss’ by the home side. On the day, I knew there were several snowballs that were thrown to try and put the taker off, but it was only when I watched footage of the game on Midlands Today on the following Monday, did I realise exactly how many snowballs had actually been thrown. In retrospect, the poor bloke was always going to miss. The concentration and resolve he would’ve needed, would have tried the patience of a Saint. (Review the footage on YouTube for yourself, I have, and I’d defy anyone to believe that they wouldn’t miss.) It was on to the Colemore, where Jinksy was to join us, before we moved on to Kilda, where Spoons was in residence. Thoughts and memories of Coventry filled the chat, including how I’d managed to get back to the station after the game, before the shuttle buses did. We dropped in at Halton Turner, before having one last one in Bob’s.

It was time for the game. What unfolded, I was certainly not expecting. As I took my seat and greeted everyone around me, a deafening fanfare echoed round the ground. The match ball was delivered on what looked like, a velvet cushion by four white doves, who, holding it in their beaks, gently flew it down to the match officials. A full orchestra had been set up in the lower tier of the Kop to accompany the proceedings. As the match kicked off, the soundtrack to ‘All Hail to the Conquering Hero’, filled the air. It was then, that the two teams revealed that they were wearing boots with tiny jet engines that enabled them to hover and fly. Impressively, the jet streams were in the colours of the two strips. Unfortunately, Ivan Sunjic hadn’t quite got the hang of his boots, and he immediately and accidentally carreared into the brass section of the orchestra. It held up play, as the french horn player had to have his instrument replaced. (No sexual innuendos about ‘getting the horn’, thank you very much. I know how your minds work.) I surmised that Riley McGree’s boots were being controlled remotely by Lee Bowyer. It was the only way I could see to explain why he was so much better than the other players. Now I’m not saying Troy Deeney is too fat, but it was taking several attempts before he was managing to leave the ground, and when he did finally make it up into the air, he couldn’t get more than two feet above the ground before the engines on his boots gave up, and he crashed back down to earth. He is of course, back in Brum and no doubt indulging in his mother’s cooking. I fear, a little to much. What is it with kids and technology? I remember my Mom at 75 years of age struggling with the Sky remote. Regardless of the foolproof, written down instructions I left for her, I would always come back home to find a blue screen and Mom claiming that she hadn’t a clue what she’d pressed. My 6 year old son was a different matter. I gave him no guidance whatsoever with what to do, but within seconds, from a choice of hundreds of channels, he’d found the children’s channels. If that wasn’t irritatingly impressive enough, I discovered a couple of days later when I went to watch something I’d recorded, that not only had my lad worked out how to record something himself, he’d put his favourite programmes on a series link. Mom never did fathom out how to even change the channel. As the rest of the players struggled to get to grips with their boots, 17 year old Jordan James was already doing aerobatics. At one point, he disappeared over the roof of the Spion Kop, only to reappear 5 minutes later with a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Flying over to the electric scoreboard, he sat on top to drink his milkshake and laugh at the rest of the players attempts, before swooping down to fly through a startled Mark Roberts’ legs as he once again, tried to take a long through in. It resulted in Roberts ending up in a heap. The previous two attempts by Roberts had also seen him end up in a heap, but at least the ball did end up somewhere near to where he was aiming. The first attempt ended up with the ball being thrown backwards and well over the roof of the main stand. I believe, a number 97 bus had to swerve out of the way, as it landed on the Garrison Lane. His second attempt resulted in the ball harmlessly dropping near to where Roberts had been hovering. Roberts himself had collided with the goalpost, passing many startled team mates and opponents alike, with his forlorn attempts to slow down. Thankfully, Roberts hadn’t injured himself, but the whole of the goal had needed to be replaced though. It wasn’t just the Blues players who were having problems, Blackpool were having just as many. At one point, one of the opposition strikers had chased after a through ball, only to fail to stop as he over shot the ball as he tried kicking it towards goal. He ended up two rows behind me in the top tier ot the Tilton. A goalless first half was met by rapturous applause amid much laughter, as the two teams walked off to have their boots refueled. Unfortunately, the scheduled fuel delivery arrived too late for the second half, and the players reverted back to their normal footwear. If only they could’ve found two sets of roller skates, the second half might not have been the turgid affair that it was. At one point, it was that boring, I almost joined in with Steph, Justin and Seeley’s game of ‘eye spy’. Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to read the book I’d bought from Waterstones that morning for my sister Chris for Christmas. I found Tolstoy’s War and Peace absolutely riveting. I really do hope she enjoys it. It’s a special illustrated edition signed by the author herself. I was three quarters the way through when Blues finally managed to score. The Juke tapping home from close range. It was a fortuitous three points. When I say that, what I mean is, unlike the 3:3 draw between Fylde and Brackley, when both teams deserved 4 points each, Blues and Blackpool deserved to have points taken off them. I suspected it was what I would’ve grown accustomed to under Aitor Karanka, had I had to have suffered it. I suppose Covid has had its good points. 3 points is 3 points though, and I should at least be grateful for that.

Afterwards, it was back to the Spotted Dog, just to try warm up a bit. As per usual for a Saturday after the game, it was quite busy. The conversation flowed. Much much smoother than any of the football any of us had seen at the match. A bloke near us chipped in several times. Blues’ visit to Shrewsbury in 1980 cropped up. Turned out, this bloke had been in the home end, memories of the game flooded back for both of us. It was amazing to share someone else’s experience of the events. It’s a day that left a major impression on me, and thus led to me becoming a Birmingham City supporter as opposed to just a Liverpool fanatic. As we chatted, more and more cross overs came to light. I was to learn that his name was Rob, and he was now a resident of Digbeth. He joined me in going to the White Swan. Looking around the pub, I spotted through the bar, Dave Thomas, his missus, and Tron in the back room. I told Rob I was going to join them. Although Rob followed, he got chatting to the group next to us. It was the first time, I’d really been able to chat to any of the three for what felt like, decades. I hadn’t realised, how much Dave and his wife are absolutely besotted with each other. You could see the genuine adoration that they have for each other in the sparkle in their eyes as they look at each other. Although I’ve a wandering eye and am very much a free spirit, I’m still a romantic at heart. One of the fantastic things about socialising in a pub, is that it’s not regimented, not convoluted. You come and go as you please, join in and dip out at entirely different times. Me and Rob found ourselves joining up again. More layers of our personalities peeled away. It was a comfortable, honest conversation as we relaxed. Finishing up, we parted company in town. Personally, I’ll look forward to many more idle chats with Rob in the real ale pubs of Digbeth and Brum.

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