24/9/22 Woking V Solihull Moors, National League. A Woke In A Daze, Too Scared To Speak.

It’s one of those in between times of year, where you don’t know what to wear. The summer heat is fading fast, as the crisp coldness of winter raises its ugly head. (The older I get, the more the cold and damp eats at my joints like a ravenous sharp toothed animal.) Opening the door to go out, is akin to opening the freezer. As the day warms up, the decision to wear that thick bulky coat returns to bite you on the posterior. A weekend given over to International fixtures, meant Blues hadn’t got a game. Ironically, although the club’s in the predicament it is, they’ve still got players away on International duty. For me, it was just an opportunity to go ground hopping. Venturing out, I caught the train down from Moor Street to Marylebone. It was on the train that I discovered Jinksy was heading for the same game as me, but was on the following service. For me, it’d been a plan of mine since the fixtures came out. For him, it’d been much more, spur of the moment. Touching down at Marylebone, I headed for The Met Bar. A bit like Bob’s Bar, that’s not actually it’s proper name. It’s more of a nickname. Met is a shortening of Metropolitan, as the building was once the headquarters of the Metropolitan underground railway and although now part of the larger TFL system, the line still operates out of Baker Street. As Wetherspoons go, the Met is fast becoming a favourite of mine. It’s got that vibrant, interesting, but kind of relaxed feel about it. A good start to a day out in London.

“A beautiful interior, as you can see”

After the first pint of the day, I went next door and caught the tube down to Waterloo. It’s getting quite a regular pass through for me. The first time I went looking for the King’s Arms, I got off at Waterloo East and although I found it eventually, I wasted far too long going round in circles trying to locate it. These days, I know the way off by heart. Walking in and getting a pint, I went to sit down. It was then I spotted a familiar face. No, not Jinksy but the lad he was meeting up with. I met Del in the summer, when I joined up with Jinksy, a couple of Rangers mates of his, Jared and Ulster Jim, and also a barmy Millwall lad, also named Del, for the Test match between England and India at Edgbaston. Although a Vile fan, Jinksy’s mate Del’s ok. Catching up, Jinksy joined us. After a second pint in there, we migrated to the Hole in the Wall. Although I’d planned to have one in the Waterloo Tap before getting the train to Woking, we had a couple in the Hole instead. In all honesty, the conversation was flowing so well, I hadn’t been keeping an eye on the time anyway. Getting the train to Woking, we passed Epsom race course. Although not even a small fan of horse racing, I was still impressed with the grandstand. Not enough to try and take a photo admittedly, but then photos taken from a moving train window, are very rarely any good anyway. Touching down in Woking, you could immediately understand why it’s most famous son, Paul Weller, fled the place at the first available opportunity. Other than Paul and the town’s football club, the only other ‘fact’ it’s famous for, is it was where the Aliens in H G Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’ landed, and you’ve got to ask yourself, if you’re a self respecting Alien, why you wouldn’t just get straight back in your spaceship after one glimpse and vanish as quickly as you arrived, whilst at the same time, also chastising the mission’s navigation crew for landing you there in the first place. I am of course, doing a disservice to the town, I’m sure it’s a lovely place to live, work and play. I just couldn’t see myself living there, unless I was drugged up and forced to under an armed guard. After doing my research on what Woking had in terms of pubs, I’d discovered there were only two worth visiting, and one of those was a Wetherspoons. It was why I’d planned to drink round Waterloo, and been more than happy to meet up with Jinksy and Del there. We’d got time for a last pint before the game though, so we went in the Junction Tap. As with keeping with the rest of the town, the Junction is pretty nondescript in terms of decor, and so there really wasn’t any point in taking photos of it. The range of ales was decent enough, so I could at least, understand why it seemed to be the ‘go to’ place for Woking’s real ale drinkers. With several of them wearing replica Woking shirts from different seasons, we just needed to wait for when they left, to follow to the ground. It was though, good to see not only non international football on the telly, but Forest Green were losing the game that was being featured. Not only were they losing, but losing heavily. It was two fingers up to Dale Vince, and his vegan dictatorship. The plan of following the Woking supporters to the ground, backfired. We watched them all leave, quickly drinking up, we went to follow them out. They’d vanished. It was obvious that the routine was drink in the Junction, and get a taxi to the ground. So Uber it was then.

Woking’s ground is a bit unusual, as you will see from the photos.

“Told you”

The newest stand really does tower above the rest of the ground, and if I’m being honest, (And I endeavour to be, 100% of the time, unless I’m making a joke of something. Well trying to anyway.) it totally looks out of place. Woking does have a substantial fan base for a club that’s never been in the EFL, and you can tell there’s ambition to reach that target, but as a traditionalist with a penchant for nostalgia, I much prefer the patchwork main stand with its rusty looking roof. I’m not one for sparkly brand new. I used to be, but I grew up. Well, I got older anyway. So far this season, The Moors have been a bit of a mixed bag, results wise. I suppose after losing the Playoff final to Grimsby, there was always going to be a hangover, but you can’t stop expectations when a club gets that close to success. The Moors were comfortable in possession of the ball, but without doing anything with it. Half an hour in, and the away team were punished for their lack of urgency in the final third, as Woking took the lead. It should’ve been the spark that Solihull needed, but it wasn’t. In fact, they just carried on as before. Going into halftime, an inspiring team talk was obviously required. If there was one, it made absolutely no difference. The Moors were to be just as disappointing in the second half, as they had been in the first. The Cardinals (Absolutely no idea why they’re nicknamed that.) grew stronger as the game went on. A second goal was no surprise, as Solihull continued to labour with no success. A task that was made even harder after Jamey Osborne was shown a second yellow and thus, dismissed with still 25 minutes left to play. The rest of the game fizzled out with no threat to Woking’s goal, and with the home team being content with their 2:0 lead.

We walked back to the centre of town through the municipal park, and then went in the Herbert Wells. (Yeah, you’re right, it was the Wetherspoons.) After a couple of pints, Jinksy and Del headed back into London. After finishing up myself, I caught a slightly later train, with the idea of going in the Waterloo Tap before heading back up to Marylebone. I really have only one rule for anyone I know in life, don’t ring me on a Saturday, unless you are meeting up with me, or have my express permission to do so. Even family know not to ring me. The reason for this is pretty simple, Saturday is the one day of the week where I can switch off from the reality of my day to day life, and give myself a mental rest. The one’s who I do give permission to, are not only given permission to ring me on sacrosanct day, but at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I give them permission, because at the time I give them it, I can see they need it. They need psychological help. They’re a step away from proverbially hitting a brick wall, and sliding down it, into the pit of despair. As humans, we don’t understand how fragile our mental wellbeing really is. Biggest part of the time, we ignore that particular elephant in the room, until we can’t see anything else because it’s stood directly in front of us, giving us the eyeballs. Bottom line, unless you really are made out of some kind of mental tungsten, then you’ll need someone to nurse maid you through great chunks of your life. As I’ve got older, and I’ve realised my life is insignificant, something that is pliable, something that is lucid, but ultimately, something that’s insignificant, I learned so much more about myself, and surprisingly, it gave me deep insights into people around me. I realised I could step in and help people I came into contact with. I’m not going to state names, but there’s a lad where I work, who recently lost his Dad to cancer. I met his Dad. In fact, not only did I also work with him, but he was my chargehand. He was a bloke I had a huge amount of respect for. He never got stressed out, just took everything in his stride. That in itself, is an incredible quality to possess. His son took his death extremely badly, never mind how hard he’d tried his best to prepare for it happening, it still hit him like a fully loaded freight train at full speed. Ultimately, his Dad was his rock, a boulder of granite, and he’d seen it disintegrate into a pile of dust and that dust blown away by an ice cold gust of wind. He’d been granted permission to ring me. On the train back to Waterloo, I’d had my earphones in, and I was happily listening to my playlist. The lad phoned me, by the time I’d sorted myself out, he’d rung off before I’d had chance to answer. I texted him straight back to say I’d ring him once I’d touched down at Waterloo and got myself a pint. Phoning him up, it was clear that he’d dropped off the wagon. After a lot of cajoling from me, he had managed to drag himself off to the doctors. I knew they’d prescribe antidepressants and that he wouldn’t be able to drink on them. It’s what he needed, he’d needed to dry out at the time. It was obvious from his phone call he was having a blowout, and just needed a bit of reassurance. It’s what I can do, I’m able to put people’s minds at rest, that they’re not going mad, that they haven’t messed up. Everyone is fixable, as long as they want to be. I just help clear the fog so they can go forward and upwards, instead of blindly stumbling around in circles, bumping into the same obstacles. I didn’t give him vindication he was doing right, because we both knew he wasn’t, but reminded him that he just needed to run after the wagon, and jump back on before it disappeared. My Mom when she was alive, always had the best intentions at heart, but her and diplomacy were to forever remain perfect strangers. I must follow my Dad, as unlike Mom, I have the ability to find the right words in one to one situations. I’m honest but I don’t judge. I listen, people relax. It’s simple and comes easy to me. So much so, that I never see it as a gift, a quality, but I suppose it is, because not everyone can do what I do. After the phone call and pint at the Waterloo Tap, I headed back up to Marylebone and got the train home to Brum.

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