25/3/23 Scarborough Athletic V Southport, National League North. It’s Just Not Fair.

If you were expecting a ‘Kevin the teenager’ style rant, you’ll not be too disappointed. However, it’s not a teenage rant about never being allowed to do anything. It’s not parental restrictions that are irking me. Some may say that what I do as a hobby/pasttime/addiction is boring. I don’t actually care if they do to be honest. What I do know, is that I need it. Like thousands of others in this country, I’m trapped in an ever expanding circle of poverty. My rent is too high and my wages are too low. We live in a country whose government simply doesn’t care. It’s also become blindingly obvious that the opposition party in waiting doesn’t care either. Whilst companies bleat on about rising costs, they still continue to make profits off the backs of their workforce. Us Minions are being squashed and squeezed until we have nothing left to give, and for what? Eat, sleep, work, repeat. We’re not living, we’re existing. No point looking at and planning for a future, because you won’t be able to afford it. It’s why I do what I do. 6 days a week I get ground down. I’m dead inside. 1 day is all I get to resemble something that is close to being human. If you honestly believe I’m being over dramatic, then you seriously need to reevaluate your life. So what am I actually getting at? Inflation in this country is horrific. The only thing that’s not going up, are our wages. Our spare money is rapidly shrinking. Is that fair? Is it fair to bleed people dry? Is it fair just to turn people into robots? Eat, sleep, work, repeat. It was another international weekend. A chance to escape my meagre, insignificant existence. A chance to ground hop, visit a different part of the country, enjoy beer from breweries I wouldn’t normally see beer from, just be me. Is one day out of seven too much to ask for? I headed to New Street believing I’d worked out the cheapest way of splitting my train tickets for the journey. I was sure I would have enough money. How wrong was I. The amount shocked me. The amount had me returning to the ATM, to get some more money out. One day out of seven. Is that to be taken off me too? Eat, sleep, work, repeat. I caught the train upto Sheffield, and changed for Scarborough. On the one hand, I was enjoying the journey from Sheffield, but on the other, it was a long one. With my headphones on, listening to my playlist, I was a world away from the whine and grind of everyday life. We all need to be able to either switch off, or switch on, and in my case, matchday is the only day I switch on. The rest of the time, I’m just on automatic. Like my screensaver says, ‘Dead Inside’. Finally touching down in Scarborough, I attacked the itinerary I’d meticulously worked out. The Angel was first. A backstreet boozer, and not much of a selection, but what I had was well kept. The next was worth the walk on so many levels. Scarborough is on the coast, so with living in the middle of the country, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see the sea.

“It’s there between the land and the sky.”

Although huge chunks of this blog concerns football, I don’t just go into standby for the summer, I am quite partial to a bit of cricket watching. I don’t write about it on here because it simply wouldn’t transfer. Walking to the next on the itinerary, I happened upon Scarborough cricket ground. I couldn’t resist having a peep through the gates. What I saw, surprised me.

“Now that’s a cricket ground.”

I’ve seen smaller county headquarters than this place. I’ve been to both Worcestershire’s New Road, and Leicestershire’s Grace Road. Neither are as big as Scarborough’s ground, yet it’s Headingley in Leeds that’s the Yorkshire head quarters and Test arena. Scarborough could easily host international cricket. In fact, if it ever does, I might just take a trip up there and watch it. I wasn’t there for cricket though, even if my mind had momentarily been filled with thoughts of warm summer sun, leather and willow. I carried on to the North Riding Brew Pub. I’ve had beer from this tap’s brewery many times. It’s a good brewery.

“Good pub too”

From there, I walked back into town and to Scholar’s Bar.

“Southport were keeping a low profile.”

A great little bar. Real ale, football themed, and does cracking ham cobs too. What is there not to like?

“As the song goes, “We support our local club.”

With the Southport crew taking over the other half of the pub, I looked around. I’ve got to say, I was quite impressed at seeing so many different Non-League scarves adorning the walls. There was though, and I’m really not boasting here, only 2 scarves belonging to clubs I haven’t visited…….yet. From Scholar’s Bar, I moved onto Craft Bar.

“A bit different.”

After Scholar’s, Craft Bar was a contrast. A little bit bohemian, a little bit more relaxed, a little bit of everything really. Still didn’t feel right though. From Craft Bar, it was back to something I was more comfortable with. Stumble Inn was somewhere you were more likely to stumble out of.

“Going to be starting on the ceiling soon.”

Along with Scholar’s, I’d probably say this place was my favourite of the day, but I still needed to move on. I had a game to go to. Sat in the last place on my itinerary before the game, The Valley Bar, (Yeah, it was a hotel bar.) I couldn’t help reminiscing about Scarborough’s first game in the Football League. They were the first club that were promoted to the league without having to rely on election. An archaic system that had been in place for far too long. As I sit here writing this, there’s a clamour for promotion to be expanded to 3 clubs. I honestly disagree with it. It’s mainly being pushed for by ex-League clubs who are desperate to get back up, and established league clubs who are petrified of relegation. Every season a club is in ‘exile’, eats into their finances. Here’s the thing though, and the reason why I disagree with promotion being expanded to 3 clubs. Had the ex-League clubs been properly run in the first place, they wouldn’t be in the position of getting relegated, and the one’s who are in danger, seriously need to get their act together. This season, both Wrexham and Notts County are vying for the one automatic promotion. Two of the oldest clubs in the world, and clubs who have enjoyed being a lot lot higher. In my lifetime, Wrexham have been as high as what the Championship is now, and Notts County had a spell in what is now the Premier League. Yes, I understand it’s punishing current ownership and they weren’t the ones who are at fault for their predicament, but you take what comes. Just because the club was as high as it was, doesn’t mean you have a divine right to promotion. You have to earn it. Personally, I’d be happy to go back to one up, one down again, but playoffs extend the league campaign, they’re exiting, and they generate much needed money. I am though, a traditionalist, and of course, a dinosaur.

So about that first game then. The fixture Gods gave them Wolverhampton Wanderers at home. (For those who can only see today’s Premier League, this is a wonderful example of football history.) Right, before I carry on, Athletic are a phoenix side, so not to be confused with the side that played Wolves. That first game, wasn’t even played at the phoenix club’s present ground. So why the history lesson? Look, I’m just reminiscing. Anyway, this was back in 1987, and it was Wolves first game after relegation to the bottom tier. First game of the season and a seaside trip too. Don’t forget, this was back in the 80s when football violence was rife. Like when we went to Blackpool in September 89, the Wolves indulged in a weekend of complete mayhem. The highlight or lowlight, depending on your viewpoint, was a group of Wolves fans who had clambered on the roof. As they were bouncing up and down, one when went straight through the roof and onto the concrete terracing several feet below. The footage is now legendary, but mainly because he discharged himself from hospital later that night. I urge you to YouTube if you can, you will be amazed that he would’ve been able to stand up, let alone discharge himself. Enough of the reminiscing, and onto the present. I did look at getting in the home end, but it appeared I needed to get a ticket first. With the possibility it would be easier, I decided to try my luck with the away end instead. My assumption was correct.

“Obligatory photos, but from the away end”

Another reason for going in the away end, was that I did actually want Southport to win. That wasn’t because I had some bizarre dislike of Scarborough, but because they’re vying for a playoff position with Chorley. Yes, I know it’s down to whatever the Mags do, but you can’t help but wish for a smoother run in to them. Although in no real danger of getting relegated, Southport would’ve been expected to lose this fixture. After an initial bit of pressure from the home side, Southport settled down quite comfortably, and more than held their own in a goaless, but enthralling first half. During the interval, the Southport club photographer came over to take a few pictures of the travelling support. I’m not a fame seeker. I Don’t understand it in the slightest. There is though, plenty of Muppets who are and do, and as the photographer started to take aim with his camera, it signalled several of the travelling support to race to get in his line of fire. They then preceded to act like idiots in the hope of getting photographed. I suppose it’s a chance to go down in posterity, but I still don’t ‘get it’. I could say it’s to do with my age, but as there’s very few photos of me in the public domain, I hardly think so. Leaving the Muppets to it, the snapper went back, ready for the second half. As you will know from reading this utter tosh, I have missed several goals through either turning up to a game late, or leaving early. It appears though, that I’m just cursed to miss goals this season. During a break of play in that second half, and believing myself safe to go and produce some Carling, I was to miss the only goal of the game. I was though, at least content that it had gone to Southport. I’d similarly missed one between Sporting Khalsa and Stamford earlier on in the season, but that one had been scored by Stamford, and I’d wanted Khalsa to win (They didn’t.) As the home side pushed for an equaliser, Southport were presented with a glorious chance to make it 2, and put the game to bed. Unfortunately though, I wasn’t to have the consolation of seeing at least 1 goal, as the Southport player going through with a one to one on the keeper, completely messed it up. It also made for what was, a surprisingly nervy last couple of minutes. No doubt with my luck this season, had I left before the final whistle, one of the sides would’ve scored. I didn’t, and they didn’t.

After the game, I’d got one more on the itinerary before catching the train home, and it was there to where I headed. It seemed though, the yellow hawiian shirt bedecked Southport mob, had the same idea, and they followed me into Cellars. Now happy that one of Chorley’s rivals had lost, I enthusiastically checked to see how the Mags had got on. They’d also lost. Not because of the Southport mob, but I do wish I hadn’t bothered with Cellars, and either had gone back to the Valley Bar, or carried onto Stumble Inn, but that’s the chance you take when you haven’t been somewhere before. On the train back to Brum, I was to discover that the bus strike was now at an end, but that the buses wouldn’t be running until Monday. I would then, still have to walk back to my flat from the station. Back to eat, sleep, work, repeat.


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