25/2/23 Blues V Luton Town. Charge Of The Light Brigade, MK II.

Although not the first club we’ve played twice in the league this season, playing the return game against the club you played on the opening day of the season, always makes you look at the season retrospectively and you can’t help wondering how the rest of the season will go. On the one hand, the social aspect of watching Blues has flown by. Luton away was on the last Saturday of July because of the season being stopped for the World Cup. It really doesn’t feel that long ago. However, on the actual football side of all things pitch related with Blues, it’s been another long slog for the best part so far. I’m not going to pick faults or find excuses. It is what it is. I can’t influence anything. If I could, then Marc Roberts and Neil Etheridge wouldn’t be at the club anymore. I’ve absolutely nothing against them personally, but as players, and more importantly, players for Blues, they’re awful and their wages are far too high. Ultimately, I don’t blame them for signing the contracts that were offered to them, I would’ve been exactly the same, but it just shows how badly the club’s finances have been handled. The Welly was to be first port of call for the day. In all honesty, I like the fact it opens early, and it’s a bit of a quiet before the storm, kind of place. The quiet doesn’t last long, but it’s nice. Both Taffy and Hereford Gary had beaten me in there, but only just. Taff was on his way through to watch Wrexham, and Gary’s train touches down just before 10 o’clock, and so the pubs opening time is perfect. As for me, doing a night shift seriously messes with your body clock. Unless Blues has been moved to a Friday evening, I always end up doing the same thing. I finish work for the week at 7 o’clock in the morning, grab sleep like every other day, wake up like I always do at roughly the same time, do a few bits and pieces round the flat, like I do the rest of the week, then settle down with every intention of watching whatever game Sky are covering. If I make it passed the presenter chatting about the game in question with the studio guests, I don’t make it passed the first 10 minutes of the game, before falling asleep so deeply, that I find myself waking up around midnight. I then drag myself off to bed, to carry on sleeping. However, by 6 o’clock in the morning at the very latest, I’m wide awake again, and fully refreshed. So for me, the Welly opening time is also perfect. Within a minute of Gary leaving, Jinksy arrived. Just in time to say goodbye to Taffy. Steve was next in, he’d met Taff on his way up from the station as our resident Welshman was on his way down to it. JK was next in, followed by an extremely rare appearance from Phil. Phil was a regular at away games, but his enthusiasm for Blues has been servely battered by our current ownership ineptitude. I can totally understand his indifference to what goes on. I’m that jaded by it all, that I’m now at a stage where I couldn’t care less about what happens at Blues. The club is in the biggest mess that it’s ever been in, and that includes the two times we’ve been in the league below. We did the usual and migrated to the Colemore, where Paul Mason and Rich were holed up. Even our recent victory against the Buggies seems an age ago now. In fact, it’s hard to believe that we’ve actually managed to beat a team twice this season, given our appalling post World Cup form. Every now and again, we go in the Head of Steam in Brum. Pre Covid, it was good in there. Since then, it’s just not been up to the same standard. There’s been various reasons for it, but after the excellent start, it’s been all down hill. As characters go, Dingle Dave certainly made his mark. His death has definitely left a big hole for many of us ale trailers. Still now, stories about him resurface. Chatting about him in the HOS, it made me wonder what kind of legend I’m going to leave, if any at all. There are some whose impact is immense, and some who barely register a passing mention. The vanity in me, dreams that I’ll be forever talked about with the same wistful smile, just as Dave is, but in all honesty, as I’ll be dead, and I don’t believe in an afterlife anyway, I won’t know if I will be or not, so why I should care, is daft really. It’s how we are as humans though, we’re self absorbed with our own importance. Far too much in most cases. The choice of places after town, is getting more and more sparse. Wanting something to eat, I split from the rest, and headed down towards the market. Taste and fashion changes. Gone are the days when the midday choices were just takeout fish and chips or a sit down meal in a cafe. With Brum being so much more cosmopolitan, there’s a plethora of different foods you can try. I am though, a dinosaur, and so quite simple in my eating habits when out watching football. Just a bag of chips would’ve done me, but it’s something that seems to have gone out of fashion. The older I get, the more marginalised I become. I suspect it happens to every generation, but you never feel it will happen to you, until it’s too late and you watch life racing by as you cling on to what you’ve grown so used to. I ended up having a bacon and sausage sandwich, but wondered how long it’ll be before even that will be discontinued. Replaced by a healthy vegan salad wrap that tastes like cardboard. The Spotted Dog was to be my last port of call before the game. It gets busy in there when the 6 Nations is on, but I did spot Mikey’s brother Steve in there. He was in there with his missus Kay. I hadn’t seen them for a while, so had a bit of a catch up with them, before heading out towards the garden to see if there was anyone out there. On the way, I bumped into Paul. Malc was out in the garden, but there was no one else I knew that was worth talking to. Me and Paul caught up on how each others health is. Given his heart problems, he really is doing well. As am I after my head surfing escapade down the escalators at Vauxhall Station. Although it took me a while to fully recover from it, it now seems like it never happened. I’d like to think I’m back to how I was a good year before the incident. After recently seeing photos of myself in hospital, I now know, I truly was an accident waiting to happen. Truth is, you never really know how bad you’ve become, or at least becoming till you’ve hit the proverbial wall, or in my case, the steps of the escalators. As the garden emptied, and Paul left to get to the ground, I checked the time. It was just too early. The pub was virtually empty but for the rugby fans, and so after finishing my pint I took a slow walk up to the ground.

Or what’s left of it. A statement had been issued by Blues during the week leading up to the game, recognising the same day announcement from the EFl, that the club was being charged for breaking rules of procedure over the failed takeover. The upshot of it, was that Maxco had started doing things in relation to running the club before the EFL due diligence OADT had been completed. Firstly, it hasn’t helped that ultimately, the takeover didn’t go through. Coupled with all the media exposure and boasts of what they were doing, it was disrespectful of the rules. Much as I can understand the eagerness to start getting things done, rules and procedures are in place for important reasons. Every single person who was subject of the OADT investigation, could well have been successful, with absolutely no previous misdemeanours highlighted, but regardless of whether you’re ‘clean’ or not, you still need to have patience and wait for the results. Were they that arrogant that they truly believed they were above the rules? The fact that the proposed staged takeover failed it’s first hurdle, shows that Maxco weren’t ‘fit and proper’ after all. In layman’s terms, they were just a bunch of ‘tyre kickers.’ To put their actions into a context, it was the equivalent of going into a supermarket, picking something off a shelf, opening it up, eating a big amount of it, and then not being able to pay for it when you got to the checkout. In conjunction with both the club and EFLs statements, BSHL issued one of their own, exonerating them from all charges. However, this is a downright lie, as the shareholder, Vong Pech who was attempting to sell to Maxco, is intrinsically entwined with both ORI and BSHL. In reality, he’s the brother-in-law of Wang Yaohui who is the shadowy ‘Mr King’, and someone who’s link is not only being investigated separately by the EFL, but a link that will ultimately bring the ‘house of cards’ down, if proven. I suppose, the failed Maxco takeover has opened the door for other interested parties, but we now have an EFL punishment hovering over us and speculation as to what it’ll be. Whereas the ownership continues to lie, I won’t. Home games have really become a chore. All the fun has been sucked out. Looking around at a derelict ground, I pictured in my mind how the place was back in the dark days of the late 80s, and as I watched the game, and remembering how bad we’d been on the pitch when Ken Wheldon was owner. I couldn’t help feeling it’s worse now, than it was then. At least back then, things were so much more transparent in terms of ownership.

“Is it any surprise I drink to deaden the pain?”

The 1:0 defeat was no surprise either. It’s soul destroying what’s happening at Blues both on and off the pitch. The malaise is all consuming.

In a life of drudgery, Blues and its social aspect is light relief for me. After the game, I just wanted to get home and forget about it all. So I did.


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