A 3 o’clock kickoff on a Bank Holiday Monday, is always a strange feeling. It’s a hybrid of a Saturday and a Sunday. Like some kind of weird offspring that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the family. Even though it was a Bank Holiday Monday, the Welly was still opening at its usual time, and that’s where I headed. Thing is with Bank Holidays, public transport also falls in with the rest of the day’s oddity. The timetables are altered to something in between a normal weekday and a Sunday. It’s why Hereford Gary was later in than usual, as was Steve, yet like me, for Ian, Jinksy and JK it wasn’t affecting our usual home game routine. Daryl on the other hand, was having to work. From the Welly, it was round to the Colemore, but with the ‘committee room’ empty, we took that over for a change. The Buggies were at home to QPR, and a lot of their usuals joined us in there. However, Paul Mason was one that was missing. Daryl working was an obvious absenteeism, but where Paul had got to, was a mystery to us. Even with it being a Bank Holiday, Kilda wasn’t open, so we went to the Head Of Steam instead. Huddersfield versus Blackburn was the game being shown, and with us being far more closer to safety than we were the trapdoor, it made for comfortable viewing. Especially as there was something hanging on the game for both clubs, though for polar opposite reasons. Whose idea it was, I can’t recall, but we decided to order some finger food. Steve ordered some chicken wings, Jinksy and me ordered some Onion rings, and JK and Ian ordered chips. We then shared what we’d ordered. All I can say, is it was a fantastic little idea, and one that will get repeated at some point in the future. With the games fast running out, chances are, it’ll be next season now. From HOS, we decided to get a bus biggest part of the way to the ground. Getting off at the next stop after the Rainbow, we walked the rest of the way, up to the ground. Unfortunately, we made kickoff.
With virtually nothing hanging on the game, both sets of players had a laid back attitude to the match. Normally, it’s us fans who don fancy dress at the end of the season, but instead, the players indulged to alleviate the boredom. Blues wore a mix of outfits that reassembled the Severn dwarfs and the Wombles, and Stoke settled on Smurfs and Muppets. Orinoco was in goal for Blues, and for Stoke, it was Fozzie Bear who was guarding the net. True to form, Marc Roberts chose to be Dopey at the back for Blues. Others for Blues were Long, who was Happy (Just to get a short term contract.) Jutkiewicz, who being the elder statesman of the team, was Great Uncle Bulgaria, (Complete with walking stick. The Zimmer frame, being on order.) Tahith Chong looked good as Madame Cholet, but nothing else, Colin was the sometimes brilliant (But not today.) Wellington. Bielik was Doc. I suppose given his well documented injury problems before he arrived at Blues, that knowledge was invaluable. Bacuna was Sleepy, and today, he was pretty much comatose. Hall was Grumpy. Maybe the many scouts that usually try to get a glimpse of him, hadn’t bothered to turn up. It would explain why he himself didn’t. As for Stoke, I’ve already said that Fozzie Bear was in goal for them, up front, Tyrese Campbell ran (Stumbled.) round as Kermit the Frog, and Dwight Gayle threw strops like only Miss Piggy can. As for the rest of the visiting team, they were all dressed as Smurfs. Hey, can you tell the difference between one Smurf and another? Nor could I. What could have been an intriguing match up, was as interesting as watching random reruns of weather forecasts from the late 80s, early 90s.
I did then, feel kind of flat on the way to the Spotted Dog. On the one hand, the 0.0 draw, was the point that took us to the infamous ’50 mark’, that total that usually means safety for at least another season, but the game was as as enjoyable and entertaining as a party political broadcast by the Liberal Democrats. At least there was an almost full mob of ale trailers in the Dog. Our ranks were swelled by the arrival of Des the Buggie. (No, not a character from the Muppet show that you can’t remember.) Once again, the subject of ‘Safe standing’ was brought up. Being a dinosaur, I remember the old terracing. I never ever felt in danger on them, even when they were jammed packed, or even at Shrewsbury away in 1980, when I probably should have done. As me and Jude shared recollections of our terrace experiences, the one thing that rose to the surface, more than anything else, was the way the fans looked after each other. It was an unwritten code. If you saw someone lose their footing and go down, if they were close to you, you automatically grabbed them and pulled them back to their feet. It didn’t matter if you didn’t know them, you just did it. Any kids or girlfriends, were especially looked after because of their obvious frailties, compared to the vast majority of what was, a male crowd. It was never ever, ‘every man for themselves’. That mindset only ever belonged with one fanbase…..Liverpool. If you choose to believe it, and I don’t, Blues are installing ‘Safe standing’. They’ve completed their polls, done their research, money has supposedly been put aside, it just remains to be seen and done. Doing the maths, as it stands, (No pun intended.) if everyone who stated that they would be willing to move into the Safe standing area, applies, then they’ll have a 1 in 3 chance of being successful. Back to the old style terracing, and the reason why I loved and miss it so much. You could stand with your mates. It appears I might not be able to. I am now giving it deep thought as to whether I will actually make the move, or maybe see if I can move to the back row of the block I sit in now. As the club still haven’t released details of next season’s, season tickets, I’ve still got a bit of time to decide what to do. Becoming hungry, I bid farewell to the rest, and went off in search of some chips on the way back home.