There are many things that the inhabitants of these proud British Isles do well - complaining, queuing, putting gravy on everything, opening burger restaurants in every available space of a city centre, selling off public services to the highest bidder, shouting “BREXIT MEANS BREXIT” very loud, drinking tea etc. We may see ourselves as this puff-out-our-chests-and-simply-get-on-with-it nation but there is nothing that sets off a collective panic more than snow.
After a barrage of two (TWO!) days of the white stuff, our television screens are filled with wall-to-wall footage of some clown on a rural road in Harrogate whose car is stuck. News reporters are stood outside in the freezing cold telling presumably interested viewers that, yes, it is indeed cold.
With all this chaos, one may expect a voyage from the frozen north to the bourgeois south to be somewhat of an intrepid task. Pah, a little snow never stopped the 0620 M35 Megabus service from Leeds to London Victoria. If anything, the adverse weather conditions had scared off many a motorist making the M1 an absolute joy to fly down.
A covering of snow may strike fear into the hearts of the average Brit, there is nothing I dread more on a four-hour long Megabus ride than the ominous crackle. It is a sound that sends a shiver down my spine, arms tense, palms are sweaty, buttocks relax - this is the death knell. A death knell sat at a snowy Watford Gap services with almost two hours left on the journey - yes, my earphones have broken.
Many people in this situation would simply give up, accept the situation and enjoy the remainder of the journey admiring the scenery without the musical accompaniment. My mother did not raise a quitter and woe betide, I am listening to that AFI back catalogue until we reach London even if it kills me.
Imagine the next 120 minutes of your life performing a series of input jack gymnastics and keeping your hand stationary in one place for so long it actually cramps up, sounds fun doesn’t it? Now imagine, this was all so you could listen to the frankly mixed ‘Burials’ album - which is not even one of Davey Havok and co’s strongest efforts - and Jimmy Eat World’s ‘The Authority Song’ for eight consecutive times (it’s such a banger).
The capital is blanketed in a thick fog making it look every inch the scene of a Sherlock Holmes tale. We’re here to play Millwall, scary Millwall. They’re that team in all of those hooligan films I’ve watched over and over again (GREEN STREET IS BETTER THAN FOOTBALL FACTORY, DEAL WITH IT). I wonder if I’m going to be accosted and asked “what time is it” to rumble my dulcet Manchester accent.
All of this is dumbfounded, of course, because football violence doesn’t really exist anymore. Besides, there is something far more important to be doing pre-match in south London - the Bermondsey Beer Mile!
Bobbing and weaving from independent brewery to independent brewery underneath railway arches really is my idea of an afternoon out. Freed from the shackles of chain pubs, dreadful lager and bouncers asking “yer going the match, lads?”. This is what pre-match sups should be about.
The wander to The Den encompassed everything those hooligan films had taught me. Swaggering past a scrap yard, I felt as if I was swimming through an ocean of Burberry and those funny caps. You could sense the hostility in the air, evident by the fact that an unassuming dog received a volley of spit for merely strolling past a group of excitable young gentlemen.
We had gone undetected and made our way into the positively baltic Den to see the Lions play some Cats. It seems Millwall that go the extra mile to ensure that visiting supporters do ponder “there is a chance I could get my head kicked in at some point”. There is even a stand that is called ‘Cold Blow Lane’ - Cold Blow Lane. “Where we sitting today, mate?” “Oh yeh, we’re in Cold Blow Lane”.
It is almost admirable about the level of macho-ness attached to this club. All the stands seem to be sponsored by the most blokiest of things whether it be roofing, drainage or screws and there is that huge looming factory in the background. It is not necessarily a bad thing, I just found it incredible amusing.
Anyway, as per usual, Sunderland managed to get themselves into a promising position thanks to a ridiculous screamer from gorgeous Bryan Oviedo before retreating into their shell. They couldn’t even take advantage of the fact that Jason Steele was actually having a good game and, inevitably, Millwall scored. It’s not a defeat but, in the end, it probably won’t be enough to keep us up.
All that was left was to be herded on to a train back to London Bridge and forking out an infuriatingly expensive £11.99 for a replacement (and inferior) pair of earphones. I mean, you can’t drink a bottle of water and eat an entire bag of M&S onion rings without a soundtrack, can you?
Oh, and you thought that snow would affect the journey back? No chance mate, nothing stops that M35.