26/3/22 Wimbledon v Cambridge United, New Balls Please And The Game That Wasn’t 2B.

To tell you the truth, I’ve deliberated over writing a post for this. More of why later on. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all religious on you, but I am a believer that there’s a reason for absolutely everything and everything has ramifications. However, for the life of me, I don’t understand the ultimate reason for this one. The initial reasons can be seen as pretty obvious. As a ground hopper and with Blues not having a game, I’d poured over the fixture list. Again, pretty obvious and with still having ambitions of completing the fabled 92, I’d settled on this game. The last time it was international weekend, a work colleague had joined me. Things had gone ok and I was happy for him to join me again. So right then, here’s the account of the day. I’d arranged to meet up at New Street station. Unfortunately, the train we were going to catch, was cancelled. It meant that everyone who had arranged to travel on that train, would then cram on to the next one with the people who had decided on that service. They even opened up first class to anyone, just to try and accommodate everyone. Even then, we were too late to get seats together and so settled on sitting on the floor in the vestibule between carriages. Liam just hasn’t the experience I have when it comes to travelling on trains, and I had to hurry him up when we got off, knowing that the entire train would now be heading for the underground. I’d even specifically worn a bright yellow Adidas hoodie so he wouldn’t lose sight of me as I led the way throughout the day. We got the Northern line down to Leicester Square and went in the Moon Under Water. A small Wetherspoons. In fact, possibly one of the smallest I’ve been in. In all reality, it was just a stop gap before the Harp opened anyway. Once in the Harp, and like I’ve said before, (Probably too much.) it’s my favourite in the West end, I did my usual thing, and had a stout. One thing you can guarantee with the Harp, there’s always a dark beer on the bar. It’s actually possibly why the place is my favourite in the West end.

“I Didn’t see my big brother, though he could’ve been watching me from somewhere”

One stipulation from the last trip Liam joined me on, still stood. Absolutely no talk about work. Every other subject was not a problem, just not work. That’s not because I hate work as such. Obviously I never want to be there, but it’s low hanging fruit in terms of common ground. How are you going to grow personality wise and get to know someone who you work with, if you only ever talk about the same thing again and again? You’re not. Step out of your comfort zone, you might just learn something beneficial. Unbeknown to you, your intellect will also be expanding. Liam had learned from the last time that whatever he shared with me, stayed with me. Relaxing a little, he opened up. Knowing exactly where I was, I decided to surprise my friend from work by walking down to Trafalgar Square. Even I became a tourist.

“I just love a visual cliche”

We hit the Tube again and headed down to Waterloo. The first place, and another favourite London pub of mine, was the King’s Arms. We got chatting to a couple at the next table. Chatting to strangers when I go on my ground hopping trips, is part and parcel of the day. I’m relaxed, I’m enjoying myself, I’m having fun and the barriers are down. From the King’s Arms, we dropped into the Hole in the Wall. A place I hadn’t been in since before the virus reared its ugly head and ruined everything.

“Yep, it’s underneath a viaduct”

The Hole in the Wall is one place that had been severely affected by Covid. It’s a place that is usually given a wide berth by tourists. Mainly because of it’s position and the frontage just isn’t attractive enough. It’s more of a ‘locals’ place. A place that with being so close to the station, was used by London commuters. Since the pandemic, the pub had not only been shut, but the opening times had been severely altered. I half expected it to still be shut. Looking round, I don’t think I was the only one to have changed their route and had been using other pubs. It wasn’t anywhere near as busy as pre-Covid. Reliance is important to us. It breeds confidence. Liam remarked on how confident I appeared to him. In truth, I learned to appreciate the good comments people said and say about me, and strived to improve on the bad things that I’m able to. The rest, the bit in the middle, I just tend to ignore. It’s about looking outwardly and not inwardly, but altering both. In reality, people are far more self conscious than they really need to be. It grips them to the point of mental paralysis. Life is to be enjoyed, so enjoy it. Smile, laugh, stop allowing yourself to be miserable. Liam’s still at the crossroads in his life, and the junction is a bit busy. It’s stick or twist time. I’m not going to go into details because that’s unfair to him and the situation. As we sat, dissecting and making sense of his personal life, I saw that the beer was starting to take its toll on him. The lad isn’t a regular drinker of real ale, and he’d also not slept much. We took the train down to Wimbledon and went in The Alexandra for a quick half. I’d got a couple on the itinerary for Wimbledon, so straight after, it was next door to the Hand And Racquet. Liam was really struggling now, so I said to leave his half. I knew the walk to the ground would sober him up a bit. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the ground, it hadn’t sobered him up enough and we were refused entry.

Wimbledon lost 1:0

Liam was nothing but apologetic about being the cause of refusal, and although disappointed, I took it in my stride. Thing is, I’ve got into grounds up and down the country in a far worse state than what Liam was in, so that in itself has fuelled my indignation towards the ‘new’ Wimbledon. It’s not the club that spent time in the wilderness. The club I watched at King’s Meadow. I will attempt to watch another game at their new ground, but I’m in no rush. Maybe I’ll wait until they’re relegated back out of the EFL and watch them when they’re struggling to attract a crowd in the National League South. With two more hours now to kill, we wandered back to the Prince of Wales and had something to eat. Liam still feeling apologetic, insisted on paying. In all honesty, he didn’t need to, but if it was to help make him feel better, I was never going to say no. With the food, the entry refusal and knowing that Wimbledon had been beaten, Liam was much more contented and a lot more sober. We caught the train back up to Waterloo and then the Tube up to Leicester Square again. It was a lovely Saturday evening and the West end was heaving with people out having a good time. Another favourite place of mine is the Lamb and Flag. An old, but tiny pub in a place where the customers are able to spill out into the street in front. Experience gives you a level of surety in certain situations. You can have fun playing around with it. I love being able to read people. I’m now at a stage in life where I can waltz passed the barriers people put up, as if they’re not there. I can make myself comfortable in their minds and move the furniture round if I want to. If I like that person, I will arrange the furniture so it will benefit them. If that person thinks they’re better than me, then I’ll put the furniture upside down in a heap. If they still believe they’re better than me, then I’ll just take a match to the furniture of their mind and watch their lives burn as their mental wellbeing goes up in flames. Standing outside the pub with Liam, I pointed out other drinkers, their mannerisms and backgrounds from their body language and dress sense. My confidence can of course, be mistaken for arrogance. Something that I’m always mindful of. It’s one of the reasons why I use so much self-deprecating humour. I know what I know, and am what I am. I will never apologise for that, but will never use it to intentionally belittle anyone else either. Liam is a good lad who needs to believe in himself more. We’re all fragile in certain situations. Those are the times when you just have to be brave and push yourself forward. Believe me, it’s a lot easier than you think and once through the other side, you’re stronger for it. Yes yes, I know that people will be reading this and be thinking I need to take my own advice at times, but that’s the point. I can be just as fragile. I’m nowhere near as confident as I appear to be. After the Lamb and Flag, we went to the Lemon Tree. I wish we’d have gone back to the Harp. That’s not to say the Lemon Tree wasn’t good, it was just a lot quieter and a tad bit boring because of it. Once again, time had sped by far too quickly, and we needed to get back to Euston. We had just enough time for Liam to get something to eat back at the station before getting the train home to Brum. After eating, he sparked out. As we reached the edge of Birmingham, I attempted to wake him up. At one point, I even thought he was dead. It took me having to lick my finger and sticking it in his ear, for him to wake up. It had been a good interesting day, but really hadn’t gone the way as planned. Hence the deliberation with writing this rubbish.

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