With what feels like another lifetime ago, I used the subheading Tequila for a game between Halesowen and Sutton Coldfield. I’d just started up this blog, and I was still to settle on a writing style. I can’t say it has a particular style now. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, it hasn’t any style at all. I’m not even going to attempt to say that at least it’s a lot more entertaining now. It’s just a lot less excruciatingly awful. As any one time and never again, or serial reader of this garb will attest to, you get pure honesty, a unique opinion and maybe, just maybe, a touch of humour. Whether that humour is meant or by complete accident, as long as I’ve made at least someone smile, then that’s good enough for me. So to Hull then, or to give the city its proper title, Kingston upon Hull. Out of sheer laziness, nobody actually uses the ‘Kingston upon’ bit. Other than the full title making it sound a lot more grander than it actually really is, Hull just conjures up an impression of grubbiness. In reality, it’s somewhere in between. I like the place. It’s got some impressive buildings and architecture. You can sense a time when the city was a lot more important and prosperous than it is now. You can also see how much it’s deteriorated and has been neglected since too. Partially due to its geographical location, it does give you the feeling of being on its own, almost forgotten. It’s given rise to a population that is different from the rest of the country. An almost island sense of identity. A kind of cut off, insular mindset. Not xenophobic, but proudly independent. The games kickoff itself had been moved. Not because of Sky Sports coverage interruption, but because the city were holding a massive food fair and it would’ve stretched the local constabulary too far. Like the Nottingham Goose fair, or the Shrewsbury Flower show, the fair is huge, but similarly it’s virtually unknown to the rest of the country. It’s the old adage really. If it’s not happening in London, then it’s ignored by the media establishment. I suppose, at least it was still a 3 o’clock kickoff. I headed out for the trains up to Hull with reservations about the journey. It’s maybe why I touched down in town earlier than I needed to. Ian on the other hand, had to wait for a later bus, as the one he’d planned to catch had been cancelled. He still made it in time for the train, but we would need to get tickets from Sheffield to Hull on the way. Thankfully, the guard on the Cross Country service, sold us one. Had we waited until the Northern Rail service between Sheffield and Hull, we would’ve been charged full price as we wouldn’t have been allowed to use our railcard. I had been concerned with changing trains at Sheffield, after touching down late into Stockport the day before and having to wait almost an hour before getting a train to Buxton, I was a little on edge. Because of his job and hobbies, Ian has a couple of Apps on his phone that he can follow a train service’s progress. Changing trains in Sheffield turned out to be a lot easier than I’d been expecting, let alone feared. Right up until just outside Ferriby, we’d been going slow, but we were still moving. We stopped. That wasn’t good. We started again, before being informed of a significant signalling problem. At Ferriby, they allowed passengers off to stretch their legs. This really was not good news. The few Blues fans that were on the train with us, searched their phones forlornly for taxis. Ian did the same. It was very much a ‘stick or twist’ situation. After an hour, we finally moved. At least we’d be able to claim a full refund for the journey between Sheffield and Hull. With being useless with things like that, I’d be leaving that to Ian to sort out. Given his job, he’d have been able to do that on the pooter at work. It wasn’t the end of it though. Outside Hull, we then stopped again. This was fast becoming a nightmare of epic proportions. Never mind get a pint, would we even make kickoff for the second half? Finally, with a relief we docked. We just needed to meet up with the rest. All those ideas we’d had for a decent drink at some great pubs, had evaporated. It was now a mad dash to wet our whistles. We met up with Spoons, Steve and JK drinking outside Pave. Not a place any of us had been in before, and because of its proximity to the ground, understandably full of the home support. There was though, a decent range of ales. Not a big range, but none of the usual suspects. Me and Ian were playing catch up. As we were half way down our second pints, the other three went off to Atom, a brewery tap that had been in the city centre last season. Draining our pints, we joined back up with them. JK had been disparagingly told by a barmaid who’d been informed that the old place in town, was reverting back to a ‘normal’ pub. If by normal, that means Carling, Stella, Foster’s and the like, the place won’t be open long. Personally, I’d rather drink water out of the Humber, but if that’s what you’re happy with, then Carling is for you. As we caught up on how Steve and Gaye’s, Spoons and Jude’s evening had been, news filtered through that the kickoff had been delayed. That’s starting to become a regular theme this season. Not that it was to bother us, as we still missed kickoff.
Hull has never been a happy hunting ground for Blues. Last season, even the match officials were against us by giving a goal and the lead to the home side, after the ball had clearly gone out for a goal kick to Blues. My first visit there back in the February of 2006/07, Blues were flying high in the Division and were odds on for automatic promotion. Hull were firmly entrenched in the relegation zone. They beat us 2:1. And enough said about the 6:1 loss in Lee Carsley’s last game in temporary charge, before Steve Cotterill took the reins, the better. In fact, before the game, I’d seen Blues at Hull five times, and we’d lost every single game. You would understand then, if I didn’t expect to get anything more than maybe just a point, but Blues under Eustace seem to be ignoring any of this at the moment, and are looking like a side to be wary of at the least, if not feared.
“I usually go up the back, but there wasn’t any space so I made do with a view of the back of Ian’s head instead”
After playing well, our early endeavour was awarded with a penalty. Given for a foul on Krystian Bielik, up stepped the reliable in these circumstances, Troy Deeney, who powered it passed the Hull keeper to give Blues the lead. Hull responded and John Ruddy had to dive full length to palm a chance destined for the bottom corner, round the post. It was to be the closest that Hull would get in the whole game. At halftime, I went in search of something to eat and was tempted by the pulled pork in BBQ sauce and chips. It was to be the best food I’d had at a football ground, since the sausage cobs I’d had at Evesham United during mine and Jinksy’s Non-League ground hopping escapades, at the height of the Covid restrictions that had been imposed on the professional game. If the pulled pork and chips was delicious, it was nothing compared to Juninho Bacuna’s early strike for Blues after the restart. Moving forward and switching the ball from right to left, he unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside the area passed the Hull keeper. We were in total ecstasy in the away end. Blues were firmly on top now. You could even say, it really was just a Sunday afternoon stroll in the park, such was our dominance. One of the reasons why we’re so solid at the back, is Auston Trusty. His performances haven’t gone unnoticed by us Blues fans either, with regular chants of U..S..A. and some have even taken things further.
“Stars and Stripes in the house.”
Us ale trailers have a 3 goal rule. Never mind the time, if it’s 3:0, it’s back to the pub. Obviously, that usually means we’re on the wrong end of the scoreline though. Tahith Chong was put through, one on one with the keeper, said keeper takes him out, but only gets booked. We do however, get a penalty. Up steps Troy Deeney, 3:0? Nope, Deeney smashed the ball so high, and with so much power, that it put a hole in the roof of the stand and carried on its journey into space. The last I heard, it had knocked a satellite off course and was now chasing the Millennium Falcon in a Galaxy far far away. Apparently, Chewbacca is not amused as he can’t seem to out run it. The reason for the delayed kickoff was that it was discovered that one of the goals was too high. They’d have needed to be at least 10 yards higher if Deeney’s effort was ever going to trouble the scoreline. Spoons still left to meet back up with Jude and to get the train back to Brum though, the rest of us stayed to watch the end. A third would’ve put some gloss on what was already a fairly easy victory for Blues, but what impressed me most about the whole game, was the spirit of togetherness within the squad after the final whistle. Yes, I know we’d just won, but nobody was left out. Even players who hadn’t got any minutes on the pitch were included. There were no cliques, no egos, no rank pulling. In fact, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised had I seen the kit man being given a piggy back across the pitch towards us from John Eustace, the spirit of togetherness was so refreshingly evident.
“Although us lot in the stands singled out Bacuna with the Tequila song of course”
Walking back towards the station through a shopping mall, much to the alarm of the home support, and the amusement of shoppers, us Blues fans made use of the acoustics in there, with a few celebratory songs. Life was good. Getting back to the station, we’d time for a pint, so we went in the nearby Admiral of the Humber Wetherspoons. We were joined in there by Jeff and John, but also Lou. It’s always good to see the old faces, the usual suspects, win or lose, but when you’ve won, it’s just so much more the sweeter. Back on the platform, I saw Clacker, his lads and Paul from the Roost. Along with chatting about the win, we swapped our stories of the journey up. The delay had almost all but been forgotten. Had we done the usual and lost, it would’ve just added to the misery, but instead, nobody cared now. Touching down back in good old Brummagem, I didn’t even care it was to a rain soaked city. It was still ours.