Thankfully, the RMT strike that had been planned for the day, wouldn’t be disrailling me. (See what I did there? That’s right, a big chunk of Wensleydale. At best, my humour is just crumbly cheese.) Had I needed to, I’d have been able to walk. In an age gone by, it’s what supporters did, everyone lived close to the ground. If I’d have still been living in Telford, then it would’ve meant either the National Express to Brum, or a bus to Wolverhampton and then the tram the rest of the way. I seriously don’t miss living in Telford, but then, I’m guessing you’ll have realised that by now. I still did the usual home game thing, and went to the Welly, but unsurprisingly, Hereford Gary wasn’t there waiting for the doors to open. I was surprised to see Steve arrive, as he usually gets the train in, but had said that he was getting the bus. Apparently, he’d been able to get the train after all. Like Hereford Gary, another I wasn’t expecting to see, was Worcester Pete, so you can imagine my surprise when he walked through the door. Not literally obviously. Now that really would’ve been a shock. Either a crash of splintered wood, Incredible Hulk style or a ghostly apparition moving through it, a lá (Insert ghost of choice.) He looked haggard, I suspect from the journey taken by car with his missus. ‘Normal’ people that aren’t football supporters, have a way of making you feel kind of stupid and inadequately over reliant on something they see to be inane. How do you, and can you, rationally vindicate what is essentially addiction? In the past, I’ve had many conflicts with romantic partners over football and more importantly, Birmingham City. How I see it, is that I was a supporter before I met them, and retrospectively, am still a supporter after too. They may have been very very special to me, but never as special as Blues. Only one of my former girlfriends ‘got it’, and she was a Blues season ticket holder who I met through watching Blues. On paper, a match made in Heaven. In reality, one made in Hell, but then, that’s another story. As we all chatted, so Pete visibly relaxed. Jakob, over on his own from Scandinavia, (Although a Swede, he lives and works in Denmark.) and Taff arrived, as did Jk. Taffy’s having problems with his blood pressure. Well, his doctor is with working it out anyway. We were also joined by the Buggies crew, including a rejuvenated Paul Mason. Last season, Paul had walked away from not only Albion, but football in general. He’d just become jaded by it, and had had enough. Over the summer, he’d discovered a new found enthusiasm for the game again, and in particular, Albion. New seasons and new players can do that to you. From experience, I know how quickly it can evaporate too. He’s still not working, although he’s been able to a little freelance work for Jackie, and I wondered how long before that will effect the enthusiasm. Moving on to the Colemore, we carried the general conversations and banter on. Not that I can remember the reason for his irk, but Taff went on a rant. Knowing that he was preaching to the converted, I grabbed his arm and with a mischievous grin, reminded him about his blood pressure. It stopped him mid flow as it instantly dawned on him, that the rant was for nothing, and that he was getting teased for it. We all burst into laughter. On the way out, we bumped into the ex Welly barmaid who was on a day off from the Colemore. I really should find out her name, and then try to remember it, as I chat with her often enough. We toddled off down to Kilda, where a rare appearance of Phil surprised. Taff treated us to some posh crisps from behind the bar. I’ve got to say, they were very nice, but very expensive too. Definitely the type of crisps you indulge in at Christmas. Gravity then took us down to Bob’s, where Ade was blocking the way to the bar, and boring everyone within earshot. Drink bought, I went and sat on my own at a table outside, expecting most to catch up with Ade, however, they all joined me instead. Mind you, he really is excruciatingly dull, and has a voice that’s reminiscent of white noise. I walked up to the ground with Steve, still not having our timing right, we were to make kickoff.
Now I know that Wigan were promoted last season, but I did think we’d be able to beat them. Darren and Luke were on holiday, and so were absent. It turned out to have been a good move. Around the 10th minute. Jukiewicz was put through. 30 yards from goal, he was pulled back by one of the Wigan centre halves. It was a nailed on red card. Or so it looked. It totally changed the dynamic of the game. Wigan reverted into their shell, and defended and defended. Blues were bereft of imagination and ingenuity up front. It was frustrating to watch. Towards the end of the first half, Wigan broke out, and the eleven men were hanging on. Surely the second half, would see us put the travelling Lancastrians to the sword. Nope. In fact, it looked like Wigan had their full compliment of players still, and Blues were down to 10. I say similar to this a lot when describing how football matches transpire, but it truly was inevitable that the ten men Wigan would score a winner, against the eleven men Blues. It was horrifically painful to watch. Our best chance, fell to Jobe Bellingham. He missed it, and I fear, has also missed his chance to make his own name in football. I could be being harsh here. He is young after all, and it doesn’t help that his elder brother has taken the world by storm so early either, but I don’t think he’s got what it takes.
I traipsed to the Spotted Dog.
Even the ale selection in the Spotted Dog was uninspiring. It was as though it was in keeping with what’s going on at Blues, both on and off the pitch. At least the weather was holding up enough to be able to drink at our usual table outside in the beer garden, and I joined Dave Webb and Mal, before being joined by Russell and both Jakob and Taffy. Natt Peters dropped in too, wearing a classic Blues shirt from the year we got promoted to the Premier League in 01/02. Although in great condition, it looked like he’d slept in it all week, it was that badly in need of an iron. At least either chuck it in the dryer for 10 minutes or so, or hang it up wet, after you wash it. Maybe I’ve lived on my own for too long and I’ve become over domesticated. In defence, at least I don’t care what washing liquid I use. In fact, unless I went to check what it is, I haven’t a clue what brand i actually use. This last week, Nat had been working with a certain ex-player’s Granddaughter. Although kind of impressive, I still haven’t forgiven her Granddad for elbowing Mick Harford in the mouth so hard, that it knocked Micky out cold, was carried off on a stretcher and had receive stitches both internally as well as externally. What was worse, was Harford was sidelined for a month while it healed. What was Sam Allardyce’s punishment? A six month ban? Nope. Wasn’t even given a talking to, let alone a card. As you can see, I haven’t forgiven Allardyce for what he did, and it still rankles with me to this day. I don’t condone domestic violence whatsoever, but with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I asked that if she was to ever stand behind Nat, that he could ‘accidentally’ throw an elbow her way. With there not being a decent beer selection, a few of us decamped down to the White Swan. We were now within spitting distance of The Anchor. (Don’t worry, I refrained from spitting at the place.) It’s now been close to five years since I last set foot in the place. A place I used to love dearly. All us ale trailers did. It was our HQ. Gerry who owns it, took the decision to take a step back to concentrate on his young family, and thus lease the pub out. The bloke who now runs it, has ripped the soul out of the place, and he went about it immediately. It was change I really wasn’t happy about, and with a heavy heart, I walked out for the very last time, vowing never to return. The rest were curious to see what had happened to the place, and left me in the Swan to go in the Anchor. Anyone who is unfortunate enough to ever spend far too much time with me, will know me to be extremely stubborn. Even to the point of it being detrimental to my situation. So Russell, JK, Ian, Jakob and Mal left me to go on their fact finding mission to The Anchor, and finishing up, I got the bus back home.
Footnote:- After reviewing footage of the incident, it was deemed that Jukiewicz was guilty of simulation, and was handed a two match ban. Pity they didn’t have the technology back in 1983