10/2/23 Blues V West Bromwich Albion. Double Take.

With yet another Friday evening game, it at least meant another Saturday ground hop to look forward to. Even if it wasn’t going to be the one I’d originally penciled in. I wonder if it’s why they call it ‘pencilling in’. You pencil something in and then find yourself having to change your plans. By using a pencil, you’re able to rub it out and start again. If I was able to do that with huge swathes of my life, I’d have needed a rubber (Or erasure, if you’re American.) the size of Australia, but I digress. So after finding myself doing the usual thing of trying to grab a decent chunk of sleep whilst my mind jumps from one thing to another and refuses to shut down to allow that sleep, I yet again, give up and get back up. I suppose on plus side, I am able to take things at a slower pace. I can relax a bit. Getting into town, I made my way to the Welly. Again, my luck wasn’t in, and the barmaid I like, wasn’t working. Steve arrived almost straight after me, and spotting Paul Mason and Daryl towards the dart board, we joined them. With Paul being a Buggies fan, he’s great for swapping information about different away trips. He was though, much more confident about this game, than he had been about the game at the Hawthorns. He did though, say about a weakness that the Buggies keeper had for facing long shots, but I assured him that he didn’t need to worry, as we didn’t take long shots. JK landed, as did Ian. After another pint, we moved onto The Colemore, where Spoons was already drinking. Least Jazz, my favourite barmaid in the Colemore was working. With Wigan away being Spoons 50th birthday weekend, it not only falls on the town’s beer festival, but it falls nicely with a Levellers gig he’s going to try and get to, the night before. I haven’t been to a gig for getting on for around 6 years now, and it really is something that I’m keen to put right. It doesn’t help that there’s not much of the music that’s been released in the last 10 years, that I’ve actually liked. It also doesn’t help that a lot of the artists I do like, are getting older and keeling over. Whether it’s due to illness or in fact, just down to old age, I’m finding my choice is diminishing. Being addicted to football attending, and also trying to live on poor wages, is also a hindrance. Saturday is out of the question for obvious reasons, and as football takes most of my disposable earnings, I just don’t have the money to do other things. I know I’m whinging, and if it really bothered me, I’d work out a better balance, but at the moment, it’s heavily tipping in favour of football. Whether that’ll change in the future, I have no idea. At one point, I spotted Jazz dive under one of the nearby tables to root something from underneath one of the legs. I joked, enquiring as to whether they’d now got her picking discarded chewing gum from off the furniture. She showed me the crumpled menu that someone had wedged underneath the table leg. Disgruntled, she informed me it was bound in leather. I looked at it, before joking that all it needed was ironing. Knowing I was joking, she laughed, shook her head and took it back off me. From the Colemore, we went to this place in the photo underneath.

“The Craven Arms.”

We very rarely visit the Craven Arms, though it is an excellent pub. It’s just that it’s a little bit out of the way. If it wasn’t, I could see myself going in there more often. After having a peanut butter stout called Rees by Shiny brewery in the Colemore, I needed something to clean my palate. Much as the pint had been gorgeous, I was finding myself licking my teeth. We were joined by a Buggies mate of Paul’s, and we got into a conversation about how we found ourselves supporting the clubs we do. I try to keep it as simple as I possibly can, but it never ever ends up that way. I would so love to say I support Blues because of my Dad and just leave it like that, but then I have to explain that he didn’t directly have a hand in my first game, as he had already died, and that my first game wasn’t even Blues. I then have to explain the unwritten family code of not supporting each others clubs, and how come we came to be living where we were. It ends up with me having to explain half my life story. Something that is excruciatingly boring at the best of times. I’m actually thinking of writing it all down, (Including helpful diagrams.) photocopying it several hundred times, and just handing a copy to the next poor unwitting victim who inquires. Thus, it’d save so much time, and also if they just happen to run out of toilet paper……. (Makes note to photocopy on soft, perforated, perfumed paper.) From the Craven, me and Ian walked down to Horton’s. After he’d waxed so lyrical about the place, I’d been intrigued to check the place out again. This is where Friday night games can be a bit hit and miss with certain bars and pubs. Horton’s had bouncers on, and it was full. However, it wasn’t full of either Blues or Buggies fans, but young, Friday night reveller types. A few centuries ago, I’d have been one of them. A few centuries ago, I wasn’t bothered about what I drank, just as long as it was some kind of alcohol. I’m a lot more discerning now. I’ve also found that, although I do drink craft beer, if I’ve been drinking cask ale, I struggle to then drink carbonated stuff. I suppose it was catering for the usual Friday night revellers and also Spoons who like me, had also decided to check it out for a pre-match drop in, but like me, found out that Horton’s hadn’t any real ale on. After missing far too many goals just lately, I was keen to get to the ground, a lot earlier than I had against Preston. Cutting my losses, I left most of my fizzy pint, and headed up the hill.

With a new convoluted, protracted, takeover hovering over the club, supporters are rightly getting restless. After the small protest in front of the executive seats at the last home game, it had been expanded to an organised march from the Bullring Tavern. I completely understand the frustration boiling up to the point of wanting to ‘do something’, but I honestly don’t see the point of demonstrating like they are. It’s never going to make an impact where it needs to. If the owners were based in this country, regardless of their country of birth, then it would make an impression on them, but they’re not and any media coverage in this country, isn’t going to be given airtime in any other country. Think about it. The war in the Ukraine is a seriously big event, but the rest of the world carries on like it’s actually not happening. In reality, it’s impact on the world is miniscule, compared to the total life altering devastation in the Ukraine. Now if a war in Europe barely registers an eyebrow raise on any other continent, what’s a march by a few hundred rightly disgruntled fans going to achieve? I honestly don’t know if this latest attempt to take over Blues will be successful. At best, I’m pessimistic. At worst, I’m convinced it’ll fail. It comes to something when pessimism is seen as optimistic. There was a game going on though, and it was a local derby. Like I’ve said before, I enjoy our games against the Buggies. There’s the local rivalry, and you’re desperate to come out on top, but there just isn’t the vicousness attached to the games against the Vile or even the scruffy Dingles. I like the lad we’ve got on loan from Manchester United. Hannibal Mejbri, a Tunisian has a fantastic head of hair that rivals Tahith Chong’s. For that alone, they’re easy to spot, but Hannibal has that energy, enthusiasm and stamina that Blues hasn’t had in its midfield since a certain long blonde haired Welshman from Wrexham. Like Savage, Mejbri is everywhere. What the average midfielder covers in two games, Hannibal covers in one half. Like Savage though, Mejbri gets booked a lot. A late challenge was never very far away from Robbie, and the same has to be said about Hannibal. Amongst all the energy, enthusiasm and stamina, is ability. His delivery can be pinpoint, and he sees opportunities that someone might not. 10 minutes into the game, his pinpoint accuracy matched up his opportunism. Paul Mason had been right, the Buggies keeper was weak with long-range shots. Spotting that the Buggies keeper was badly placed, Mejbri exploited it with a well placed free-kick from outside the penalty area. 1:0 Blues. Time for the reaction. Time for the Buggies to show the good form they’d been in since they’d ditched that ineffectual, mercenary, dinosaur Steve Bruce. Buoyant from their astonishingly late win at Swansea, Blues were on their toes to anything the Buggies could muster. It was to be the type of performance we saw from the team prior to the World Cup break, but because of the form we’d shown post World Cup break, it didn’t feel as comfortable as a Blues fan as it would’ve looked from a non Blues fan. Early in the second half, we increased our lead. A towering unchallenged header by Bielik, from a perfectly hit corner from that man of the match Tunisian, gave us a cushion that would prove unsurmountable for the travelling barcodes. Had the ground been repaired when it could’ve and quite easily should’ve been, the celebration in the bottom tier of the Tilton would’ve been a spectacle by itself.

So not only with back to back wins, but also the first double over a club this season, I exited the ground with that warm feeling of satisfaction and contentment. The first part of the weekend successfully completed, I had a spring in my step that only these specific situations in my life can conjure up. With a ground hop to look forward to for the next day, tiredness could wait a little longer. Spotting Hereford Gary, I walked up into town with him, before he turned off to get the train, and I turned off to get the bus. Finding out that Hearts had beaten Hamilton 2:0 away in the 5th round of the Scottish F.A.Cup, I was a happy bunny.

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