1/4/23 Blues V Blackburn Rovers. Boxing Day Blues.

That’s confused you, hasn’t it? No, it’s not a delayed April Fool joke. Everyone knows that you can’t prank anyone after midday on the day itself, and it’s definitively after then. Still struggling to see any other kind of link though, aren’t you? Best read on. If you can be bothered, and I really wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. So yeah, April the 1st. A morning of merry japes, although the biggest majority of them fail. We still attempt them though. I found with working nights, that the best time was to play jokes on unsuspecting colleagues at 5 past midnight. Being mischievous by nature anyway, I am actually always on my guard. If though, I find something really funny, I never mind being a but of a joke. Unlike a lot of people, my ego certainly isn’t fragile enough to be sensitive to everything. Self depreciating humour is priceless, it’s great at sorting out the weeds from the chaff. Makes people up their ‘A’ game. When you continuously poke fun out of yourself, you are free to poke fun out of anyone and anyhow you want. The biggest of egos will always shrink to nothing. There was a time I was fragile, but I learned quickly that self deprecating humour disables people, and gets them on your side. As quickly as I’d learnt to use it as a defence mechanism, I realised I could also use it as a weapon too. I ain’t fragile anymore, but am extremely mischievous. Easy target? You’ll never ever even come close. That’s not me boasting, that’s just me stating fact. Boasting is for people with fragile egos. Mine is now a combination of granite and tungsten. I just haven’t decided which bits are which yet. That’s the problem with being ugly and stupid, I just can’t tell. Even when I look in the mirror. Mind you, that’s because they always break on me. Anyway, enough of the digressing. I caught the bus into town, and with the Ol Bill cruising around the city centre, I went and got advanced train tickets for when we play Millwall away. Kind of Ironic really, as the reason for the police presence was that Millwall were playing the Buggies at the Hawthorns. After getting my train tickets, I rocked up at the Welly, where I met up with Taff, who was having a beer before heading off to Wrexham. I was still getting over having laryngitis, something that had also ripped through a lot of people where I work. Apparently, one of the barmen had had it too. Here’s the funny thing though, he’s got his TV, lights and almost everything else electronic, linked to his Alexa. How I laughed when I found out that Alexa wouldn’t recognise his attempts at talking to it. My sister Chris has one, and thinks it’s a wonderful little gadget. Well obviously it’s not that wonderful then Sis. If ever I needed another reason why I’ll never have one of the irritating things, this was it. There’s not been a computer developed yet that is close to being as powerful as the average human brain, yet we continue to ignore its true capabilities. As a species, we’re lazy. Choosing to invent things like Alexa to help us become even more lazy. We instead clog our minds up with so much inane gunge, that it’s no wonder there’s so much personal mental health issues floating round us. Amongst the usual suspects landing, was someone who had been in touch with me during the week. Hughsey, his son Dan, and his brother Aidan made their appearance. Hughsey has been my mate for biggest part of 25 years. Someone who at one point, I saw regularly. I first met him whilst working at the same place and the friendship grew from there. I’m not one for cultivating work friendships into social ones, but Hughsey has been an exception. Dan, I’ve seen grow up. Aidan, I had only met once, and I really couldn’t remember him. I had though, now got a balancing act to perform between catching up with Hughsey, and still mixing with my current social circle. It was something akin to spinning plates whilst delivering a stand-up comedy routine. The only one missing from Hughsey’s little crew was Rory, the lad who Hughsey came to the game with for the last match of last season. He would be joining us, but not until he’d managed to extricate himself from his child rearing duties. We moved onto The Colemore. After all, I wasn’t going to change from my usual kind of pub crawl. Paul and Jackie Mason came in, and I couldn’t resist asking Jackie if she’d got a ticket in the away end. I then explained to Hughsey and Co, that Paul was Buggies, Jackie was Millwall and they were married to each other. Ian arrived, and I confirmed with him about the train tickets for Sunderland. I also confirmed that I’d got Good Friday off, and could now do Egham beer festival before the Reading game. With the important stuff sorted, I could go back to catching up with Hughsey. On the way out, I said T’ra to Jazz behind the bar, before we headed down to Kilda. Spoons was in there, and then a stressed Rory arrived. From Kilda, there’s now less choice of places to drink, than when Hughsey last came to a game, so I ended up dragging him to the Spotted Dog. In the Dog, Russell reminded me about the get together he was having for Badger’s 50th birthday the next day. I’d forgotten all about it. Mind you, I’m rubbish at remembering birthdays. To tell the truth, I don’t like them. Firstly, I don’t like being centre of attention, and secondly, they remind me that I’m not getting any younger. There was a time when they reminded me that I wasn’t exactly happy with my life. These days, they just remind me that I’m disintegrating. With running late, Rory hadn’t had anything to eat and was hungry. Seeing the selection of different homemade scotch eggs on offer, he bought one of each. When they arrived, he encouraged us to dig in. I didn’t need to be asked twice. Especially with the black pudding one. We then walked up to the ground. I know this might come as a bit of a shock, but I have been known to attend a couple of games a season at St Andrews. For Hughsey and crew, it was their first. Including going up to the ground for tickets to games, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve done the walk up to it, but it’s well over a thousand. I’ve done it that many times, I could probably even do it blindfolded now. Crossing the Watery Lane might be a bit of a game of Russian roulette due to it being a dual carriageway of course, but I’m sure the rest would be easy enough.

So to the main event and the real reason why Hughsey and Co were there. We were playing Blackburn for the forth time this season. With watching their televised games, I hadn’t been impressed, but they were still firmly entrenched in the playoff zone. By contrast, we were nervously looking over our shoulders at relegation. Coupled with beating Rotherham, the win at QPR had done us a world of good, but we certainly weren’t out of the woods. Even if we were picking up points again. When it flows, our forward play can be exiting, but we play a counter attacking game. It’s not tactics I like, but given our financial circumstances, I suppose we have no choice until things change with the ownership and we can start planning for a more solid future, instead of a season to season, month to month, even week to week reaction. The club isn’t quite in free fall, it’s more of a slow motion descent into oblivion, but it is still on a downward trajectory. We got to halftime with the match still goaless. I’d be happy with a point. The second half though, was to produce a goal. It came on the hour, and it was Blues who scored it. A good finish by Reda Khadra. I would actually like Blues to make his loan permanent, but it’s not up to me. Sat here writing this, I can’t even tell you what will happen at Blues next week, let alone what will happen in the summer. On the pitch, we were able to see the game out. The win put us on 48 points. Not quite safety, but a lot closer.

I’d arranged with Hughsey and crew to meet back up in the Spotted Dog. Except for Steve, there was an almost full mob of us ale trailers in there. This is where being such a regular/addict shows. Walking from the ground to the Dog, is like walking from my armchair to my kitchen. For Hughsey and Co and their occasional/rare appearance, I suppose it’s akin to, from armchair to kitchen via Bristol. Eventually they landed, but they’d taken that long, I thought they’d given up and gone home. Either that or they’d got so badly lost, they’d ended up in Kenilworth. After saying hello to Badger and wishing him happy birthday for the next day, I decided it was about time I actually played the host. I fancied doing a bit of impressing, and there’s several pubs in Brum, you can impress with. Moving on, we walked up into town. Near to where the statue of the bull is, one of those fairground boxing machines had been set up. Yep, I’m finally getting to the subheading. Although a Blues fan, Rory is also an enthusiastic amateur boxer….or was. We were never going to make it passed without him having a go. Taking off, and handing his coat to Hughsey, Rory went for it. I must admit, even I was disappointed with his score. It was though, his first attempt. He had another go. Surely this time he’d get a score he was proud of. After all, he’d warmed up with the first attempt. Nope, his score was even worse than his first. Cutting his losses, he gave up. Rory is though, well adept in the use of self-deprecating humour. Although obviously embarrassed with himself, he made light of his performance. Joining in on this fun at his expense, we were to carry on until we split up for the day, but not before I’d dragged them in the Old Contemptibles for a final beer. Walking them back to New Street, it had been good meeting up with them all. Whether Aidan will come back for another game, is debatable, but as we said T’ra, Dan told me he wants to do an away game. Ironically, me and Hughsey had not 10 minutes before, discussed organising an away day sometime next season. Where and when will have to be decided, but it won’t be a Boxing Day though, there’s no trains.

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