4/12/21 Millwall v Blues, Taking Arthur Minute Out To Reflect.

As the country goes into a blind panic about a new variant of the Coronavirus landing in Britain, the clamour for new measures results in the tired old ways of trying to combat it. Masks are to be worn on public transport again. They don’t work. I don’t know if your eyesight is very good, but I haven’t met anyone yet who can see it with the naked eye. Just like the air we breathe, you can’t see it. Surely if you can still breathe with a mask on, then you can breathe the virus in. Alternatively, if the virus is thicker than air, then it also must be heavier. Being heavier, gravity would cause the virus to lie on surfaces. Why is there no instruction to disinfect your shoes, keeping them outside your front door? If that’s not how the virus works, then how does it work? Either stop lying, and tell us the truth or admit that you haven’t got a clue. All that studying, all those qualifications that were gained, mean nothing. Firstly, they said that one injection of the vaccine gave you 60% protection, two gives you well over 90% protection. Now they’re saying that it’s not enough, and you’ll need a booster. So all these claims about the vaccine being the conquering solution to the virus are obviously not true then? A dose of Obecalp perhaps? Just a question, how large is the Greek alphabet? Only I reckon they’re going to run out. There’s clamour to impose stricter sanctions on people who haven’t been vaccinated. Where’s the thinking behind that? So much for freedom. Unless I’m writing this from beyond the grave, then I’m still alive, still unvaccinated. I don’t live on a sparsely populated island thousands of miles away from anywhere. With 1,111,307 people, Brum is the second largest city. I live in Aston, a small, impoverished area, with a population of 22,636. I’m not even going to add Handsworth into the equation, because we all know that the Birchfield road is a main dual carriageway into town, and the virus isn’t allowed to cross the road on its own according to its parents. I can’t even remember what the ‘Indian’ variant was named or renamed, but 69.1% of the population of Aston is Asian or Asian descent. Just for the record, 5.6% of the population of Aston is white British. I therefore, officially belong to an ethnic minority. Back to the vaccine. It’s not widely reported, but even double vaccinated have contracted and died from the virus. Propaganda works both ways. I’m not anti vaccination, it’s entirely down to the individual person as to whether they have it or not. I have my own theory on the virus and how it spreads. A theory that I haven’t read or been told about, and it may or may not be right. I work in a factory anyway, so who’s going to listen to me? I just wish they would tell us the truth and not just keep trying to hold us all in line. Like I’ve said, propaganda works both ways and something isn’t right with all this. One last joint question for everyone and anyone to ponder, how many more variants is there going to be and how many more boosters are you going to have to have before we get to the end of this? I got to New Street station. Jinksy, Jared (one of Jinksy’s Rangers mates, and someone I’d met a couple of times before) and Daryl was catching the same train as me down to Euston. The conversation on the train was as fluid as usual. Amongst other threads, we chatted about football hooligan books and films coupled with linked firms. At one point, that particular genre was quite big. Like most things though, it seems to have gone out of fashion. I’ll hold my hands up now and admit that I’m fascinated by it. Have I dabbled? Let’s just say that I wouldn’t let on, even if I had. Touching down, Jinksy and Jared waited for Nat and another Rangers mate, Robbie’s train to dock. Me and Daryl met up with Steve, who had travelled down on a London Midland service. We then walked to the Barrel Drop at St Pancras. We went one of Daryl’s ‘shortcuts’. It didn’t feel any quicker, but we didn’t get lost. That’s my forte. The Barrel Drop was rammed full of West Ham. Even without any club colours on, you could tell they were West Ham. Fortune wasn’t hiding on us though, and we didn’t need to look everywhere to find a table. The Rangers 4 landed, as did JK. Weekend television schedules means reality shows fill the screens of an evening. I don’t know who brought one particular programme up, but I believe it was either Steve or Nat. I can’t bare them. (That’s reality TV, not Steve and Nat.) It’s cheap television to produce and doesn’t stretch the viewer’s intelligence. Besides, you definitely couldn’t class either Steve and Nat as cheap, or lack intelligence. We were all split up as we came out of the Spoons. Some exited through the right door, the rest, including me, accidentally went through an emergency exit door. As the rest were debating with one of the bouncers, I carried on walking, meeting back up with Steve, JK and Daryl. it was onto London Bridge.

“Although not London Bridge station, what a view”

Getting off, we started on the Bermondsey mile.

“Mistaken for London Bridge by a rich American”

Something that London has done but hasn’t been utilised by the rest of the country enough, is the use of the arches of viaducts. Bermondsey has been, to a large extent, gentrified, but you’re still drawn by the many independent businesses that display and sell their wares. Anspach & Hobday (The arch house.) Was the first place we did.

“This place”

It was key keg craft beer, but then, it was hardly ever going to be cask ale. One thing that caught all of our attentions, was a bike.

“This bike”

Not because it was blocking the door. The creator of this beast, moved it so I could take a better photograph. He obviously didn’t know how bad I am at taking them. He described everything about the thing, and I’ve got to say, because as I can only just about ride in a straight line for about 20 yards, before crashing, have no real interest in bicycles, I was really impressed. The creator is definitely missing his vocation. Instead of being a bouncer, he should be building these for a living. This was just his everyday bike, he’d built himself another that was beautifully decorative. They were his pride and joy, and although I suspect that he hadn’t got many other things in his life, they were still extraordinary bits of kit. London Beer Factory was next, a place that did actually do cask ale.

“Don’t fancy a barrel drop from the top of the rack in here mind”

Southwark Brewing Co was the next place.

“Something to read while you’re drinking”

We could’ve visited a lot more places like the three we drank in, but if we had, then like the late kickoff game, when Spoons gave his ticket up and Daryl and JK were turned away from the ground, I reckon that would’ve happened again. We walked over to the Borough market and the Rake, but not before taking this photo for this blog post.

“It’s what happens when you haven’t got a guard on the train, and why the RMT are maybe coming out on strike”

In the Rake, we made the acquaintance of a little lad who was with his Mom and her friend. Turned out that his north Brummie father was trying to ‘persuade’ his son to be a Vile fan. We, of course, took time out to ‘advise’ him that he could do better than the B6ers, and that ‘us lot’ had much more fun supporting Blues. The lad was all for coming to the game with us, so much had we ‘sold’ him the idea. I’d love to have seen his Dad’s face, when his son told him he wanted to support Blues instead. We managed to squeeze onto the last possible train down to South Bermondsey. The other four never did manage to catch up with us, and ended up getting a taxi to the ground.

“Poignant”

On the 6th minute, the travelling Blues support exploded in applause for a 6 year old boy who had sadly and appallingly lost his life at the hands of his vicious father and step-mother. The trial had had much publicity this last week, and I’m not too proud to admit that hearing about it, had brought tears to my eyes. I’m not paternal in the slightest. In fact, until my lad got to puberty, I found being a father extremely difficult and demanding. I struggled to connect and interact with him, but to even contemplate doing any of the abysmal things that those two did to that poor little boy, was unimaginable. It’s not just Blues fans and Brummies who have been shocked and disgusted by it, but the whole of the country. On that 6th minute, it wasn’t just the travelling Blues support, but the whole ground that erupted into applause. Although it looked spontaneous, I suspect it had been pre planned, because both sets of players even stopped to join in with the applause. So much had the case affected people. Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, we do love you. We may never have got to meet you, but you’re certainly not going to be forgotten. I’d better write about the game I suppose. Whenever we play a team managed by Gary Rowett, I always expect the same thing. The tactics he used at Blues, have been the same everywhere he’s gone since. There’s still Blues supporters who would love to see him back at the club. I’m certainly not one of them. I still remember being told at work that he’d been sacked. The utter relief I felt, was palpable. What I wasn’t expecting, was by the time I’d got home from work that day, Gianfranco Zola had been appointed in his place. It was crass bad manners if nothing else by our Chinese owners. It may have been perfectly normal to do that sort of thing in the far east, but not in this country. Zola was onto a loser from the very start, as many didn’t give him a chance or any support. It was total civil war in the stands with fighting even breaking out between Blues fans. I’d never known anything like it before, and haven’t since. I was desperate for Zola to do well at Blues. I’d grown extremely bored by the mind numbing football that Rowett insisted on Blues playing. That day Rowett was sacked, put me in such a happy mood. You won’t be surprised to hear that any win against a team that Rowett manages, is all the sweeter for me. Millwall scored early and immediately retreated back into their shell. Classic Rowett. We tried and failed miserably to retaliate. Blues lack a lot at the moment. The quick, imaginative, fluid movement of the early weeks of the season, now feels like it happened several years ago. We’re hesitant, leaden footed, predictable. Exactly what Rowett can defend against. Just before halftime, it was sucker punch time. Millwall scored a near post header from a corner. Something else we were finding it easy to defend against in the early weeks of the season. 2:0 halftime, game over. We would really need to play differently and much better in the second half. Lee Bowyer is a West Ham boy, and there’s not a lot of love lost between West Ham and Millwall. He must’ve blistered the paint on the walls in the Blues changing room, because Blues attacked the home side with gusto in the opening minutes of the second half. We were so much on top, that it was inevitable that we’d get a goal back. It was a good finish from the lad from Chelmsley. The momentum was now with Blues, we were back in it. Nope. It was like someone had turned the power off and we just went back to how limply we’d finished the first half. With nothing much happening, I went to produce some Carling. As I’m walking back up the steps to the stand, Millwall scored a third. By the time I’d got to the top, Daryl was coming down. I turned and joined him back down the steps.

We weren’t the only ones who’d given up. By the time we’d got the next train back to London Bridge, I’d seen and chatted to Clacker and his lads, Rob from the Roost, and Paul from the White Swan. At London Bridge, I parted company with Daryl, he was off back up to Euston, I’d got other plans and I was also booked on a later train. As I got off at Waterloo, I spotted Clacker and the lads again. They were travelling back from Marylebone. In the past, I’ve travelled back from Marylebone, and probably will do again in the future, but I’m ever so slightly more affluent these days, I’ve got a little bit more wriggle room. Travelling to and from Euston is dearer, but quicker. It’s not quite a chauffeur driven helicopter yet, but hey, a bloke is entitled to have aspirations and step up accordingly. In around 350 years time, keep your eyes out for a strange looking bloke, ungainly getting out of Henrietta the helicopter. Do not approach though, I’ll be far too ‘busy’ to waste time chatting to riff faff. I won’t mind quickly signing a few autographs of course, but absolutely no ‘selfies’. I’m still going to be ugly don’t forget. No amount of money is going to amend that particular issue. Plastic surgery won’t be that good, even in 350 years time. Thus, your mobile phone will still melt, or blow up with my image on it. At Waterloo, I changed for the Northern line, getting off at Leicester Square. My destination was a centuries old, Fuller’s pub called the Lamb and Flag. It’s not an easy place to get to unless you’re well acquainted with it, and judging by the fact it was rammed in there, an awful lot of people are. With the weather not being as cold as it had been, I decided to take my pint out into the street outside.

“As you can see”

I was going to do my favourite in the west end, the Harp, another Fuller’s pub. Due to their lack of ale choice at the moment, I tend to avoid any Green King or Nicholson’s establishment in London. So off I headed to the Harp. Only I didn’t. The more I walked, the more I got completely lost. All these famous street names, and for some reason, none of them were registering with me. At one point, I walked passed Covent Garden tube station. Something anyone who has ever used that station will attest to, if you see people queuing outside to use it, avoid like the plague……or is that Coronavirus. Of course, there was obviously a queue. I am extremely stupid, but not THAT stupid. Thinking it was a wise thing to do, (It wasn’t.) I changed direction. I became even more lost. (Oh curse my senseless lack of direction.) I honestly thought I knew the west end well enough, not to keep consistently going the wrong way. Even with it being as really busy as it was that particular Saturday. It was just like it was, in the good old pre Covid days. Bizarrely, I happened upon on the Craft Beer Co. This was a place I’d got us ale trailers lost trying to find, a few years ago before a game at QPR. It was a sight for sure eyes. Not only had I been extremely impressed with this place the last time, but it was just as good this time too. Also, I finally knew exactly where I was and how to find a decent tube station afterwards. With all this messing about, I headed back to Euston once I’d had a pint, having just enough time to take in the Euston Tap and its banging 90s dance tracks emanating from the sound system. God, it didn’t half make me feel my age, as I stood there working out how old the memories were, that flooded back to me. To top off the day, the train I was booked on was cancelled, and so I had to wait for the next one home to Brum. I’d enjoyed myself immensely, but it hadn’t gone exactly the way I would’ve liked. If nothing else, we’d lost to a club managed by Rowett and I hate that.

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