I’d just like to say, before any smart-arse points it out, yes I am aware that this has been published after Barnsley pumped us at home. These well crafted forms of prose don’t just appear out of thin air, yer knaa, and there’s been too many games of football on lately.
When the big wigs in English football get together to have a good old moan about how we should follow the lead of our European counterparts and implement a winter break in England, a little part of me dies inside - not at the prospect of losing this run of festive fixtures, but more because it has come to my attention that these men with their furrowed brows and fat wallets have never experienced the joy of two awaydays in four days.
Antonio Conte has never drank four pints at a pub on the Snake Pass gazing out upon snow-capped hills en route to Sheffield, and I highly doubt messrs Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger have had to navigate around the needlessly confusing streets of Nottingham to find a Greene King establishment.
In my weaker moments I almost pity them, but then I remember they’re Premier League managers.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without having the wonderful delight of hot, steamy Championship football action to get you out of any prior family engagements. Boy, the good Lord was smiling down on us when he bestowed us with trips to both Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest - what better way is there to warm you up on a cold, crisp post-Christmas morning?
Boxing Day’s trip to Bramall Lane started the way every day should - sat on a bus in a car park in Prestwich, watching the rain the cascade down and waiting for a large bald man to arrive so you can set off. While I am a man of fine transportation tastes, alas the Megabus did not run between Manchester and Sheffield on this holiest of days and I was left in the capable hands of the Greater Manchester Supporter’s Branch.
And boy, did we laugh, debating at length whether the reservoir on the Snake Pass was used for either testing the real bouncing bomb or was the setting for the film The Dam Busters - no-one could really confirm or deny since there was no phone signal for miles. On the plus side there was time for a delightful slurp in the most picturesque of alehouses before we ventured into deepest, darkest Sheffield.
Now, we all know how the game went, so here are just a couple of observations I noted down:
- It was bloody freezing.
- I can’t remember us having a shot.
- Sheffield United’s fans kept singing ‘Shearer!’ at us like it was 1997 or something.
- The stadium announcer did this really weird thing when Sheffield United had a substitution where he’d say “well played Leon” or “great game Mark” like he was their over-enthusiastic Dad watch a Sunday League match.
- I couldn’t see the pitch for the majority of the game.
- I was beyond elated to get back on the bus and go home.
With a hot slice of a 3-0 defeat injected directly into my veins, you better believe I was hyped to venture down to Nottingham to see these kings amongst men do it all over again the day before New Year’s Eve. Actually, I kinda was. I’d never been to Nottingham Forest, or even Nottingham for that matter, and being the sad act that I am really wanted to tick off another ground.
When faced with two hours stuck on a Northern Rail train, what you really want is for the seating in the carriages laid out in a way so you’re constantly staring at the person across from you. So, it was equally delightful I got to spend the stops between Barnsley and Langley Mill with an aggressive charver assessing my every sip of Stella Artois.
Having never experienced Nottingham in any way, shape or form prior to this moment, it struck me as a place that might look nice when it’s finished instead of the actual building site it currently was.
Navigating the streets to find a suitable alehouse was particularly problematic and then there was getting to the ground... in short, Nottingham really confused me.
Now we all know how the game went so here are just a couple of observations I noted down:
- WE SCORED WITH OUR ONLY SHOT trolololololololololol.
- WE WON WITH OUR ONLY SHOT trolololololololololol.
- THEY SACKED THEIR MANAGER AFTER WE WON WITH OUR ONLY SHOT trolololololololol.
Anyway, we got turned away from Hooters (it was full, we’re not some kind of miscreants) after the match and the Northern Rail train took ages to get home.
Happy new year everyone!