It was here, the final day. The end to a truly dreadful season, and once out of the way I could spend a blissful summer not having to care about anything to do with Sunderland AFC. And what better way to celebrate the close of the season by waking up three hours late for my Megabus?
I guess it may be down to my own naivety that as I enter the twilight of my twenties I could feasibly go on a night out mere hours before boarding a Megabus. Alas, there I was stumbling out of the fine watering holes of Leeds’ Call Lane in the early hours convincing myself I just needed to rest my eyes and then my 5am alarm would wake me up.
It, evidently, did not.
So my final away day of this atrocious 2016/17 campaign began in a haze of rum and cokes, sweat and an exasperation at how much same day trains to London cost. Even the thought of sacking the entire escapade off and staying in bed was scuppered by the fact I was in possession of a mate’s ticket. However, since I am such a top bloke and a Massive Lads Fan, there was only one option on the table.
Suck it up and go.
As £52 reluctantly left my bank account and into the welcoming arms of Big Dicky Branson’s extortionate train company (I get off relatively lightly as some fares were coming in at £105), I packed up my bindle of assorted cans from the night before which, for reasons unknown, contained several gin and tonic mixers.
While the annoyance of missing my £7 Megabus was gnawing on the mind, the fact that I did miss it was kind of a blessing in disguise. No uncomfortable sitting-up sleep, a relatively chilled-out journey and no-one looking utterly disgusted that you’re busting open Stella pint cans with gin and tonic mixers in the AM.
The main concern was the fact the train arrived into Kings Cross at 2.30pm meaning a half hour dash across London to the upmarket streets of Kensington. As you run at full sprint from station to station, a thought does cross your mind of why you’re actually doing this. Why have I bothered to get out of bed? I know the players don’t care, some of them have even feigned injury to not play.
Some are only down here to negotiate a contract with another club (ALLEGEDLY). The manager is on the cusp of walking out because it’s finally dawned on him that he’s a complete and utter loser. We’re also playing the champions of England who will rightly murder us. Ah well, I managed to reach Fulham Broadway with five minutes to spare.
After failing to sell my tickets to a tout for £1,000 I picked up a free programme WITH FREE JOHN TERRY POSTER and finally made it into Stamford Bridge. My reward, you ask? Climbing the stairs to my seat just as Chelsea went ahead. Well, I thought they’d gone ahead - only until I looked up at the scoreboard did I realise I had managed to see us go one-up which, in any other circumstance, would’ve been the highlight of the day.
As if the day couldn't get any worse I was then treated to our pathetic football club obliging in the charade that was John Terry’s substitution. It summed up everything that is rotten with Sunderland AFC in 2017. Bowing to the whims of an egotistical player who thinks he is bigger than not only his own club, but the game itself. Could you imagine the look on Roy Keane’s face had Chelsea suggested this farce during his tenure?
It made a mockery of the game as a spectacle, on top of its dead rubber status, and was an absolute insult to the 1,600 or so Sunderland supporters that had travelled. Luckily, neither the manager nor the majority of that embarrassment of a squad will be here next year and we won’t have to waste anymore time on them.
Anyway, I managed to miss the second Chelsea goal as I was too busy having pictures with stewards on the concourse at half time. Even for a meaningless game at the end of a weary season tempers were still fraying and, sadly, a few fights did kick off in the away section. The fact the campaign has come to a close is a huge blessing as this ill-feeling - even with fellow supporters - needs to be diffused; hopefully the summer will bring that.
Chelsea scored a few more goals but no-one seemed to care as strains of Sunlun Boot Boys were belted out non-stop for what seemed like the entire second half. This club really doesn’t deserve us and as a handful of players half-heartedly clapped, our manager disappeared into the ether, it was time to head to Putney and avoid being the guests at a party no-one invited you to.
A few beers in the sun at the beautiful waterfront pub called The Rocket in Putney, coupled with another mad run across Victoria and a weird altercation with literally the worst Chelsea fans on earth - it was time for home. A four-hour Megabus with no form of water or food and overhearing a couple breaking up, I’m so happy this season is finished.
Join me next year for tales of Preston North End, Brentford and, no doubt, Luton Town in a League Cup match.