I did actually go to some “proper’ matches this summer

25 08 2013
Airdireonians 4 Stenhousemuir 3
Scottish League Cup
3/8/13

When I booked my train tickets to Glasgow I had no reason to visit Airdrie, my trip there “just happened”.

A few weeks before I thought my trip was going to be very different,  here was my simple plan; watch Celtic v Ross County, with Partick Thistle as back up, buy a few DVDs, have a few pints, soak up a bit of culture and then return home refreshed.

Things started to go wrong the day after I had booked the train tickets; twitter told me that Partick’s match had been moved to Friday 2nd August. Then I casually checked Celtic’s ticket prices and inadvertently found out that Celtic’s match had been awarded a 5:15 kick off. Bollocks, my train was due to leave at 5:40. I checked the lower divisions but no matches were listed, what was a guy to do?

Well obviously this guy was going to slip back in to his default position of blaming Michel Platini. That fucker has done it to me again, he waited until I booked tickets before forcing the SPL to move matches. Mark my words curly, I will have my day one day, I will be victorious!!!

After a little surfing I knew that Scottish League Cup games were being played on the day of my visit. I tried to remember the clubs from the greater Glasgow area that would be in the draw. I hoped that Queen’s Park were at home but I would have settled for Clyde, Albion Rovers, Airdrieonians, or even Rangers at a pinch. Airdrieonians were the only ones drawn at home so I was going to Airdrie.

Google maps is a real boon for the first time visitors to football grounds, they certainly are for me, but then I’m the sort of bloke that likes to look like they know where they’re going. Unfortunately google maps doesn’t prevent you getting lost,  a thought that was at the forefront of my mind as I gazed at the end of a cul-de-sac.

Google maps doesn’t put your mind at rest when you manage to see the corner of a deserted stand in the gap between two houses either. For a few brief minutes I thought I was walking towards a deserted ground. As I was getting lost I heard the sound of bagpipes and took it as a sign that the match was on, I pictured jovial pre-match festivities until I walked around a corner and saw pipers outside a wedding reception.

I trudged on like a depressed deep-sea diver. Then I saw a beautiful man in a beautiful red shirt. He was obviously a match goer. What a beautiful moment for rain to start falling!!!

It was quite an entertaining match. Stenhousmuir went 2-0 in front. A ginger dynamo then scored two to help put Airdrie 3-2 in front before half-time. Two players were also sent off before half time for fighting in front of the ref. A tattooed fella scored Airdrie’s fourth near the end. I left before Stenhousemuir scored their third.

The journey home was fine until I changed trains at Warrington. The Chester-bound train was full of drunk “cricket fans”. It’s funny how the fans of “your side” can make you want the opposition to win.

Aug 3 055

Brentford 3 Dagenham & Redbridge 2
English League Cup
6/8/13

The phrase “On your fee lose your seat”? is undoubtedly a hackneyed mainstay of the twattish pub joker’s repertoire. He, for it is usually a “him”, will deliver the line with such practiced polish, and such impeccable timing, that he will say the line as he pinches someone’s seat. Until today’s trip I didn’t realize that the phrase also applied to trains.

Just after Nuneaton I vacated my seat to allow an older gentlemen to use the free seat next to me (Chronic 5-a-side goalkeepers’ knee means that I always sit on the aisle side). There were so many people in the “vestibule” area I had to move in to any available space to make room for the older gentleman. When I moved to go back to my seat I saw a young woman was moving to sit in my fucking seat, the charming old fucker in the next seat had fucking managed to remain fucking silent.

The young woman spent the next twenty fucking minutes loudly droning on about her fucking brilliant gap year plans to the fucking silent old duffer. Have you ever tried to spend twenty minutes trying to read When Saturday Comes whilst smouldering in an upright position? If you haven’t let me educate you, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

London was the same as always; gloriously sunny, full of people and museums. shops and art galleries. I walked to Brentford’s ground from South Ealing and it was a pleasant old stroll, well apart from the shifty looking guy that glared at me. They say there’s a pub on each corner of the Griffin Park and it’s all true.

The match was quite exciting; Brentford went behind then went ahead, then it was level, then Brentford scored a late late winner.

They tell you that people from Londoners aren’t friendly. My 1986 Denmark shirt caused a chat with a lad called Simon, which led to a half time pint, which led to several post-match pints in one of the corner pubs, and a conversation that wound its way around The Smiths, Spinal Tap, Reeves and Mortimer and a potential a Welsh Brentford fans’ group. Before I knew it was past midnight and I was walking around Acton looking for the night bus stop. I think I like Brentford.

Aug 7 041

Wales U21s 1 Finland U21s 5
UEFA Under 21s European Championship
14/8/13
(Played at Nantporth!!!!)

This match obviously filled everyone connected with Bangor with a tangible pride. When was the last time that a Welsh international match was so full people were locked out? This fact seemed to impress the FAW dignitaries.  It always feels a little unnatural to see Nantporth without standing spectators, but that’s UEFA’s rules for you.

Wales were obviously hammered.

aug14 053

Birmingham City 0 Brighton & Hove Albion 1
Football League Championship
17/8/13

I couldn’t find the ticket office, I couldn’t get in a pub, the  match was mostly listless and the crowd didn’t seem to like Llandudno’s Neal Eardley. I was also sandwiched between an 8 year old  that shouted “Sit Down, Shut Up” at the Brighton fans on my left and the goading hand gestures of the Brighton fans on my right. Yeah, like it’s dead funny when you’re separated by 40 seats and a row of stewards and you give it the big one to people that don’t care what you think. It was sooooo 1-0 to The Banter!!!

Having said all that the post-match walk to New Street was shorter than I expected

aug 17 138

FC United 0 Fylde 0
Northern Premier League
20/8/13

This was my kind of day. Trainer shopping and looking at a Picasso painting in the morning, then World Cinema DVD shopping and looking at Alfredo Di Stefano’s shirt in the afternoon, then a match at the club I co-own in the evening. It wasn’t a bad match and could have gone either way.

It’s always good to watch FC United. This time I met a bloke called Dave. Dave is a typical football fan; interested and interesting; interested in you and interesting to talk to. People like Dave are the opposite of That Modern Football, they have stories and memories to tell rather than Banter to say. People like Dave only miss 14 matches in 40 years at Old Trafford before the Glazers turned up, they see players like Norman Whiteside and Mark Hughes play in the same youth United team, Bobby Charlton tell people like Dave to fuck off when they ask for autographs as teenagers.  I can listen to people like Dave all day long, especially when they invite to the pub on your next visit.

aug 21 084

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