The home game usual, but with a twist, the Norwegians were over for the game. Waiting for the bus into town, a beggar came and put the act on. I’d seen him do it before. It’s proper heart rendering. The dishevelled look, the story, the tears, the pleading, the lot. It deserves an Oscar. I’ve learnt over the years that someone who does this kind of thing, isn’t anywhere near as destitute as they claim. In fact, the vast majority aren’t even destitute, it’s a job to them. I only wish I could do something to help the ones who truly need it. I have neither the money, time or energy to unfortunately. As always for a Saturday home game, the Welly was first. On entry, I was advised to be careful as one of the cats had been sick. I looked at the floor, and sure enough, the contents of one of the cats stomachs was now in two different piles. Not the type of thing you want to enter a pub to. Personally, I’m not a fan of cats, but then I’m not really a fan of pets anyway. I struggle to look after myself, let alone look after an animal. Chances are, the poor thing would end up having to look after me. That would be fine if it was able to go to work in my place, but the company I work for have strict rules about animals in the work place. This is really surprising as they’re happy enough to have me around the place. The first through the door were a couple of the Norwegians, Ivar and Lars. Ivar I knew, so gave him a hug, Lars I didn’t, so I heartily shook his hand instead. Next were Taff and an early Steve, before Hereford Gary arrived too. Once Daryl and JK had turned up, we got one of the barmaids to take a team pic.
From the usual, we moved on to the usual. Well maybe not for Ivar and Lars, but it was for us. In the Colemore, we talked about plans for Hull. Steve and Gaye were stopping the weekend there, JK was stopping at his Sister’s in Leeds and Spoons and Jude were going to be stopping in Hull too. Neither Gaye or Jude had ever been to Hull, so it was a new one for them. They weren’t going to be at the game though. Gaye doesn’t really like football, and Jude is a Vile fan, so obviously she doesn’t like football either. I’d looked at the train times for the Sunday morning of the game, and their advised route was 10:01 from New Street via Sheffield, touching down at 12:54. I’d noticed that, although a tight change over in Sheffield, you could catch the 09:01, touching down in Hull just before 12 o’clock. That was going to be the one me and Ian would catch. It would just be where to meet up with the rest, that would need sorting out. That would be a question on the day. The rest were going to check out the new Dig Brew bottle shop that had opened up near to New Street. Lagging behind, by the time I’d caught up, they were already heading onto Kilda. Apparently, the bottle shop hadn’t been all that good, so I hadn’t missed much. Ade was in Kilda, boring everyone within earshot to death, so I sat away from the table he was on. Daryl came to join me, as did Taffy, Ivar and Lars. None of them could put up with him either. Lars wanted to know how I’d become a Blues fan. It’s a road that’s not quite as long as the one we’re all on, (You really need to be a Blues supporter to appreciate that joke.) but it’s a long story and takes a bit of telling. With time kicking on, and the two Norwegians wanting to get to the ground, we took a slow walk up from Kilda. It gave me the opportunity to explain fully to Lars anyway. And I will say, I did apologise several times for boring him with it. Remarkably, he thanked me. It was different to the normal story apparently. To tell the truth, it beats me that anyone could ever find my life interesting, but they always do.
Getting to my seat as slowly as I could, it was still remarked upon by all around, how early I was. It was Seeley’s 5th birthday. Time has certainly flown. It seems like only a month ago that Steph announced that she was pregnant with him. As kids go, he’s a well mannered, bright little boy, but then both Steph and Justin are conscientious parents. Talking of bright, (Don’t you just love a bit of smooth continuity? You don’t get much of it with this rubbish.) Blues started brightly and with a purpose. So much so, that they took the lead through a header from our on-loan from Arsenal, American defender, Auston Trusty. Although cleared by a Bristol City defender, the ball was deemed to have crossed the line by the referee’s vibrating wristband. (Not that I could see it vibrate. My eyesight isn’t that good. It’s just that he was pointing towards the centre circle.) I never like goals like that. I liked that it was for Blues obviously, but I’m never able to celebrate properly. It doesn’t feel right unless you see the net ripple. But for a few sorties into our final third, Blues controlled the game. Just before halftime, Trusty got Blues and his second. ‘U..S..A, U..S..A’ rang round the home end. I know we’ve only got him on-loan, but he really does look a solid defender. Adding goals to his C.V., will only increase his chances of making the Arsenal first team and staying there. If the first half had been easy, the second would prove to be even easier, but first of all, Seeley had to contend with a line of well wishers. Both Rob and Alex with her ginger hair, came to make a fuss of him. If I’d remembered it was his birthday, I’d have bought him a little something. Nothing special, just something. I’m rubbish at remembering birthdays though. I even struggle to remember my family’s birthdays. Anyway, second half. There aren’t many times where I watch a commanding performance from Blues. ‘Game management’ is a phrase that’s crept into football speak. It’s something that usually saved for the last throws of a game, when a winning team slows the game down, and effectively time wastes. Game management doesn’t just mean that though. It envelops tactics and game plans too. A good manager/head coach will do extensive research on the opposition. They will know how a team plays, how individuals plays. They will utilise their own players to match up to and, dominate an opposition team. That’s not to say they mean to keep possession of the ball, it’s more of a ‘cat and mouse’ physical ‘party mind trick’. Basically, allow the opposition the ball in positions and areas where they’re the least effective, whilst at the same time, unconsciously continuously allowing you to play to your strengths. To explain a little better, ie:-If an opposition is weak at crossing and haven’t players who are prolific scorers with their head, but you have players that defending crosses is easy to them, and have a goalkeeper who’s commanding in the air and never drops a cross, then you lay ‘traps’, where the opposition is forced into wide areas, where crossing is their only option. By using this kind of tactic, all you need to do is wait for the right mistake, to hit that team on the break. The second half was similar to this. Bristol City came up against a resolute, well organised defence, as they attempted to get something out of the game. While the away team continued to ‘bang their heads against a brick wall’, Blues just waited for the mistakes and striding forward, picked off Bristol City. It could’ve easily have been 4 or 5:0 to Blues, such was our game management/game plan and chances. It was only 3:0 in the end, with the 3rd coming from another on-loan defender. Dion Sanderson mopping up at the back post. The difference between this team and Rowett’s, Blues are much more exiting going forward. It’s a lot less formulated than Rowett’s was.
Afterwards, it was back to the Spotted Dog. Seeing Russell and one of his mates from work that I now know as Gambol, I sat with them, before being joined by Taffy, Ivar and Lars and then Daryl and JK. With Mal and Rich at the next table, the place filled up. Spoons and Jude arrived, as did Ian and Jinksy, before Tron dropped in with another Norwegian who was the absolute double of Nick. I specially got up, so I could give Tron a hug. A great lad, who I was to find out, is now on 151 British grounds. That’s a tremendous achievement in my eyes. 151 grounds is an impressive amount of grounds as it is, but to do it while living and working in Norway, whilst raising a family, and contending with the breakup of his marriage, puts the fans who have no excuse for not even going to away games, to shame. I arranged with Ian what train we’d be going to Hull on, as we all happily chatted. It’s a rarity when there’s nothing on the football pitch we could moan at. Life was sweet. As the evening turned to night, people started to fade away, including myself. Content to get the bus home.