Well, right up until just after Midday on the Friday, I was due to travel down to South Wales, to watch Blues at Cardiff. Now normally, that would’ve entailed getting the train via Cheltenham and Bristol. As ASLEF were on strike in England, that route was no longer viable. However, as we pondered this on the train for the Luton game, it dawned on us that Arriva Trains Wales served the Shrewsbury to Birmingham line, as well as Shrewsbury to Cardiff. We checked, and sure enough, that particular service was still available to us. This, baring in mind with the kickoff already having been moved forward to 12:30 due to Sky Sports covering the game live. Firstly JK, discovered that the first train to Shrewsbury was now departing from Wolverhampton and not New Street. Hasty searches into getting the tram then followed. It was still viable. Then, not one, but all the services that would’ve got us down to Cardiff in time for kickoff, were cancelled. The first service down to Cardiff from Shrewsbury, only got us to Cardiff Central at halftime. The mission was over. It meant, I now had a free Saturday, but it also meant that I was limited to games I could get to by either bus or tram. In fairness, there were a few to choose from, but most of the grounds I’d already done, and I wanted to go somewhere new. I’d always held Walsall Wood as a ‘backup option’ for this sort of scenario, and I decided to cash that option in. I just needed to rustle up some kind of itinerary. With it being a local game to where I live, I didn’t even need to head into town, but I did anyway. Usually for a Saturday home game, I get to the Welly for opening time at 10 o’clock, but then you’ll already know all that, if you regularly read this rubbish. I wanted to do something different. Researching where else but Wetherspoons was open early, I discovered that The Bacchus was open. Like the Old Joint Stock, it is expensive, but like the OJS, it’s also a bit impressive.
It might be a subsidiary of Mitchell and Butler’s, but Nicholson’s make an effort with their pubs decor. A bit like Wetherspoons, there’s good and bad in terms of beer choice. For instance, they were slow to pick up after Covid. Not as bad as Green King have been, but still slow. I still fancied dropping in at the Welly before getting the bus, and that’s what I did, finding Daryl at our usual table, but not before my appearance had been noticed by one of the barmaids, whose eyes inexplicably lit up when she saw me. I honestly don’t realise how much of an impression I leave on people. All I know, is I like to make people smile. Even if it’s completely involuntary on my part. There really is, nothing wrong with looking like an idiot. None of us are perfect, and so there’s absolutely no point pretending to appear so. The ones that do try, really are the idiots. As a member of the RMT, and not ASLEF, Daryl had been due to work, but with no Avanti trains running, he’d been sent home after an hour of being there. Obviously, that had been no great shame to him, but unlike me, hadn’t the compulsion to take in a game somewhere. His problem, was timing getting home so as to not have to mix with the Twelve toed delusional, going to Vile Pork to watch ‘them lot’. Having to walk through them twice a season, to get to work, I could totally understand it. I say twice a season, because that’s usually how many home night matches they play, and that’s two too many. It’s not so bad if they kick off at 7:45, because most of the troglodytes are in the Cesspit by then, but an 8 o’clock kickoff is horrendous. The sights and smell is truly horrific. When that happens, I try and hold my breath for as long as I can, and avoid any contact whatsoever. Never mind Covid, there’s many more deadly diseases you can catch off them. Rats, pigeons, and Vile fans. All vermin. Walsall Wood, isn’t too far away from Aldridge. A place where when I first moved back over to Brum, I worked on a little industrial estate near. I was only at the company for a month, before managing to get a job at a factory, a lot closer to my flat. I wasn’t catching the same bus, but it was following a similar route to the one I used to take. Some of it was familiar, but not a great lot of it was. If I’m being honest, I used to hate the bus journey. It used to take far too long. It was nice having that feeling of contentment, that at least I don’t have to do it now. Aldridge isn’t the biggest of places, and it’s certainly not somewhere I could live. It does have a Wetherspoons though, and quite an impressive one at that.
Unfortunately, it’s only the outside that’s impressive. Thing is though, like I’ve said, Aldridge isn’t the biggest of places, and although the outside of what was obviously a cinema in the Art Deco style, the inside was small, and dare I say it. (Because I love Art Deco.) a bit basic. Being an early kickoff, Blues had kicked off by the time I’d got to Aldridge, and combined with following the game on the BBC website, I followed the comments on the WhatsApp group I’m in. It wasn’t going well. There was a part of me that was glad I hadn’t made it to Cardiff, but the rest of me was gutted, because I’d also found out that my sister Chris was in Cardiff for the Hundred cricket match at Sophia Gardens. Much that I’m not interested in the Hundred, whatsoever, I would’ve been able to meet up with her, Sarah my niece, and her hubby Dave. Aw well, there’ll be other times. One thing that Aldridge has got, is a micro pub by the name of The Turtles Head. As micro pubs go, it’s an odd mix, half wine bar feel, half eclectic with more than a cursory nod to the part that the local inhabitants played in both World Wars. Something I applaud greatly. The sacrifice that was made by the normal people of the world for what they believed in, should never be understated. They were a times, I’ll never be able to understand fully, and should never be belittled.
As it was another beautiful, hot, late summer Saturday. I decided to walk to the ground, but not before dropping in the last pub on what was a terrifically short itinerary. Lazy Hill Tavern, has a better write up on the Whatpub site than what it actually is. That’s not to say it was awful, but it hadn’t the range of ale that was advertised on the website. It did have the football on. Unfortunately, it was the Vile v Everton game, and the Vile were winning. Worse still, there was several of the inbreds in the pub, watching it. I really really don’t get it. My day out watching Blues in Cardiff had been curtailed by rail strikes. What excuses had the troglodytes got for not getting on a bus, and watching a home game? Truly a disgrace in my eyes. I drank up and left, before I had to suffer seeing and hearing them celebrate at the final whistle. Besides, it really was a nice day, and not a day to race.
It was actually the first game of the league season for both the clubs on show. Both had been in the F.A.Cup the week before, when I’d been in London. Look their scores up, if you’re interested.
I got chatting to a lad watching next to me, who was obviously an away fan, and thus, was cheering them on. Personally. I just wanted to see a goal or two. Although I absolutely adore the sun and heat, it’s not great to play football in. It is after all, a winter sport, and there was nothing winter like about the weather. Beer flavoured ice-cream anyone? I didn’t know much about the Wulfrunians, other than I knew they played somewhere on the outskirts of Wolverhampton. He was able to fill me in a little more about exactly where their home ground is. Like I’d been keeping Walsall Wood as a backup option, I’ve now got Wulfrunians as one. After the initial skirmishes, both teams struggled to contend with the heat. Whether it was because they just didn’t have to run around as much, I’m not entirely sure, but the goalkeepers turned out to be the best players on both teams. As the rest wilted, the keepers stayed strong. Due to their heat busting efforts, the game ended 0:0. On a personal note, I wasn’t exactly happy. It was my forth game of the season, and I’d already experienced three 0:0 draws. I did 54 games last season, five of which, were 0:0 draws, and all five involved Blues. Ground hopping was a bit of light relief last season. Especially considering a lot of them were high scoring games. And now this season, I’ve already seen three 0:0 draws. Was the Blues effect spreading? With good luck no, but then, I’ve never been blessed with much good luck.
I caught the bus back towards Brum, but had already decided to take in a pub I very rarely visit, even though it’s the best, closest pub to where I live. The Barton Arms has to be visited to be believed. My photos just don’t do it justice.
The tiling in the restaurant bit, rivals anything you’ll see in the Cafe Royal in Edinburgh and it’s a Thai food menu too. I keep promising myself that I will go in there for a meal, because I’ve got it on good authority off Badge, that the food is superb. Like I’ve said though, I very rarely go in there. After a final pint, I walked back home. At least my feet hadn’t gone on strike in protest at overuse. As for Blues, they lost 1:0