If you started reading this because you were looking for tips on how to get rid of an irritating, unsightly mark, then I’m sorry to disappoint. Anyway, what’s the poor bloke done to you? I’m sure given time, and if you got to know Mark better, you’d become firm friends. I mean, if it’s just because he’s ugly and stupid, then you’ll probably just need to be more tolerant of him. Look, my siblings had been trying to eradicate me for years before finally realising that they just couldn’t get rid, and thus gave up. I’m still here. Still ugly and stupid. Still writing this rubbish. Although now March and on the cusp of spring, winter had decided to go out with a bang, and unleashed a cold snap on us. If winter wasn’t happy enough doing that, it revelled in dumping a load of snow on us too. So much so that I was worried this game was going to fall foul. Yes, I know I’ve been saying how dire the football has been, but the thought of being stuck in the flat for the weekend, was not one I wanted to contemplate. Now I keep saying that I’m addicted to what I do as a pasttime, so I’ll give you an example and after you’ve read it, ask yourself if my actions are those of a rational person. On the Thursday morning before this game, I finished a 10 hour plus nightshift at 7 o’clock, completely worn out, and with body and mind screaming for bed, I walked home through the heavily falling snow. Picking up enough money for the match ticket and the bus fare, I then set out to the bus stop to stand with a forever growing queue for half an hour. Usually, I never have to wait more than 10 minutes, but the adverse weather conditions were having an effect on the buses. The queue that had formed was so big, that there was no chance of being one of the lucky ones to squeeze on the first bus when that finally arrived. It was the next one I managed to get on, and even then, that one was so rammed solid, I had to stand all the way, as it inched its way into town. By this time, there was a good 3 inches of snow lying on the ground, and it was still coming out of the sky. I’d had the idea of getting a bus from near the entrance to Moor Street station to the ground. This was not only exasperated by both a fire engine and a police van blocking the road with their flashing blue lights, trying to sort out a car that had skidded off the road and into a road sign, but the few buses I was seeing, were displaying ‘Sorry. Not in service.’ Cutting my losses, I trudged through the snow to the ground, to get my ticket for Sunderland away. I managed to make it back home afterwards, but it had taken me an hour and a half longer than it usually does, was truly exhausted from all the exertion, and I still had another 10 hour plus. shift to do that night. Commitment or addiction? Don’t forget, I could’ve and should’ve been in bed, and I’m fast approaching 55 years of age. Surely at my age I shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing anymore. I do though, and whether (Or is that weather?) you think it’s addiction or not, it’s unhealthy close. A Saturday home game could only mean one thing, (Especially as we’ve now done the Wetherspoons thing.) turning up for opening time at the Welly. Taffy wasn’t there, but Hereford Gary was, and so was the barmaid I like. Now I know Taffy is an avid reader of this garbage, and before the last home game, I’d noticed him observing me in an attempt to work out which Welly barmaid I’ve been writing about. Well mate, you’ll just have to keep watching my reactions. Chatting to Gaz, the subject of Forest Green and their owner came up. Going on my usual rant against Dale Vince, I made it funny enough to have Gary in fits of laughter and I noticed that even both the barman and barmaid had moved close enough to listen. By the way Taff, I now know the barmaid’s name. I’ve been extremely disparaging about Vince before on here, and nothing he’s done since has altered my perception that he’s a dangerous tyrannical dictator. In one sense, it’s a shame, as everyone I spoke to when I ground hopped at the New Lawns, were brilliant, but after the Vile and also Liverpool, Forest Green are the one club I like to see beaten every game they play. In order, Steve, JK and Jinksy turned up, but then Worcester Pete arrived too. Pete had been absent for that many pre-match get togethers, that we had started to get concerned. Not withstanding the continuing Russian roulette of rail strikes, he’d still been ‘missing in action’. Turned out it was just apathy brought on by yet another season of groundhog day. This week, Blues had dangled the tantalising idea of ‘Safe standing’, being brought in permanently when the ground repairs are finally carried out. Here’s the crux of the matter for me. I don’t believe for one second that the funds have been ‘ring fenced’ for the repairs. The only thing that’s been ‘fenced’, is the ruble from the bottom tiers, that they’ve dumped in the Kop carpark. Maybe they’re going to spend the entire close season fixing it all back together again, by using a combination of Blu Tack, sticking plasters and packing tape. The club though, asked for supporters opinions via their website. I will admit, I did read the statement and even attempted to fill in the questionnaire, but then it started to ask for email details and such like, and so immediately started to smell a rat. I declined to carry on with submitting my opinion, as I really don’t want to be inundated with ‘offers’ I’ll never be interested in. Low and behold, I was then sent a text asking for my opinion. This time, I did reply, as it wasn’t asking for personal details. The results of the survey were released shortly afterwards, and apparently, I’m one of the 37% that would move from my seat and into the area of safe standing. Thing is, I would go back to the days of terracing at St Andrews in a heartbeat, but then given the state of football like it is now, I’d go back to how football was in the pre ‘all seater’ days, in a heartbeat too. The football may not have been as technically good as it is now, but it was a lot more honest. There was nowhere near as much of the gamesmanship that goes on now. I absolutely despise the playacting that goes on. There’s that much now that in a perfect world, I’d be able to set up residence in the stands somewhere with a air rifle, and just shoot any player that flung themselves over in an attempt to benefit from a free-kick. That actually includes any of the Blues players too. We migrated round to the Colemore, where Jazz was behind the bar. She definitely seems so much happier these days. Why that is, I don’t know, but her disposition is far more sunnier than it was when she worked at the Welly. Both Paul and Jackie Mason had already beaten us in there, and so we joined them. The talk was of Sunderland and how expensive the train fares are to get there and back on the day. Even hotels have also been scouted and they’re expensive too. At least we’ve a little bit of time before the game to plan something. After the Colemore, we settled on the Good Intent. I like The Great Western Arcade, even if I do rarely buy anything from the shops in there. It’s the ambience I like. It feels kind of special. A modern day twist on an arcade that was designed by the spectacularly prolific and far seeing, Isambard Kingdom Brunel when he designed the original Snowhill train station. After the Good Intent we moved onto Kilda, where Ian was. Chatting to him about Sunderland, he’s thinking of driving up and stopping. It’s an option to ponder. It’ll depend on the rest, but he’s also going to see if he can get a couple of anywhere to anywhere tickets for the train. We split after Kilda, I didn’t fancy Nortons or the Rainbow, so heading for the Spotted Dog instead.
“So that’s what Wang Yaohui looks like then?”
John, who owns the Spotted Dog had succumbed to a bit of retail therapy and had been captivated by a working diorama of a local biscuit factory. I do have a fascination with models. I always have had in fact. As a kid, I used to enjoy making Airfix models, and as a young adult, even managed to secure myself a job as an assistant model maker at the Blits Hill museum in Telford. The position was only for a year’s contract though, as ultimately, it was just part of a scheme that the Tory government of the time, used to massage the country’s horrendous unemployment figures, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and had it been a proper full-time permanent job, chances are, I’d still be there now. If I’m being totally honest, and if I had much more time, money and space on my hands, I’d probably still have model making as one of my hobbies.
“Just a shame that I’m no good at photography really.”
I have though, at least got football. In a conversation on the way to Wigan, I had said that as long as we didn’t lose against the ‘pie munchers’ and Rotherham at home, the damage to our league position would be minimal, as a point wouldn’t be of any more help to either of the clubs we were playing, as they were in a similar position to us. Yeah yeah, that ‘momentum thing’ again. Since starting back up after the World Cup, we’d gained 11 points from 14 games, going into this game. 11 points from a potential 42. Even the most inept mathematicians amongst you, (Yes, I am thinking of you Chris.) can work out that’s a smidgen over 25%. Not a great return. Especially as before the World Cup break, we’d managed a healthy 28 points from 21 games. 28 points from a potential 63. (That’s not far off 50% Sis.) You certainly don’t have to reside at number 11 Downing Street to work out that that’s a huge drop. Mind you, with the current rate of inflation in this country, I’m not actually entirely sure that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer would see it mind. My record of missing goals this season wasn’t to get any better though, as I didn’t see Reda Khadra’s opener, but I almost did. I at least saw the Blues players celebrating immediately afterwards, so almost got close to witnessing it. At least we were winning. Getting to my seat, I took all the ribbing I got for missing the goal in my stride. Initially I pretended I’d seen the goal, but they all know me too well to fall for that ruse. Like I said, at least we were winning. After playing a little more freely than we had done recently, the opening goal was added to 10 minutes before the break, by a Kevin Long finish from a corner. I am starting to warm to Long, but as my expectations of him when he signed were lower than what most of my morals are, that’s not saying a lot. I’ve still got it in my mind, that he’s going to drop a real clanger at some point, and I’m just waiting for it. He is though, better than Marc Roberts, but then again, that’s actually not saying a lot either. After what was a good first half’s showing, the second half was just an exercise in, ‘we hold what we have’. It didn’t make for much of an exiting watch, but then it’s getting to a stage where the points really are all that matters, and another 3 points was more than welcome.
Coming out of the ground, I didn’t bother going back to the Dog. Mainly because I was skint, but at least I was going home skint and happy.