Or: A day of ego-boosting Social Media
We had a prompt 12.29 departure from the agreed bus stop outside the centre of the U.K. Hi- Tech Industry. Ronnie and Bob were in good spirits. No doubt the works canteen had been in good order and from the stationary cupboard they had requisitioned pencils sharpened to perfection. Ronnie then told us of his new car. He has bought a boy racer, furry dice draped, ghetto blaster enhanced, souped–up to sport setting, hyper sensitively clutched, BLUE Ford Fiesta. It has so many new gizmos and gubbins that it took the time for us to get to Gloucester on the M5 before he finished his description. We spent the rest of the journey looking out for examples of his pulling machine on the motorway. When we couldn’t find any we had to agree he had chosen a mighty fine car, so rare and specialised that we should perhaps go to a game in it. He then told us of the bucket seats and low slung roof rendering the likelihood of my getting in as good but of my chance of getting out virtually non-existent. I now suggested we couldn’t find examples of his car because most were conveniently parked up awaiting a ritual burning on every sink estate in the country. Harsh I know, but I was hurt.
This morning I had finished and posted a blog for 1988. This retold days of teaching in Milton Keynes. Every so often a comment would come through on my phone so by the time we reached our Tamworth coffee stop I had to have a Social Media check. I should point out that we arrived just as the Rovers team were heading back to their coach minus Rory Gaffney. He had been trapped by Ronnie in the toilet and enlightened by tales of Blue Fiestas and soft top alternatives. He emerged rather bemused to also find the lads gone. I made the last bit up but I was still smarting.
We arrived by 4.15 and I did a few circuits of Heeley to find the best parking spot for a quick getaway after the game, i.e. just outside our first pub.
Pre match Pubs
Sheaf View (10)
In the Sheaf View
This is a classic pub of the Real Ale Revolution. It offers a wide range of local brews plus interesting swapped beers from further afield. The pub has expanded a bit and now has more space and a lighter feel to the rooms. We ventured out towards the back and sat in what is a conservatory like room with views out to the patio and train line beyond. Among the 9 beers on offer was one marked at 3%. I normally shun these but the barman helpfully offered the required sample along with his recommendation that it was pretty good. So it was pretty good. This meant the others could sit and enjoy a few while I practiced being Mr Sippy for a change. By this time we had established that Ron had deliberately left his phone in the car and that the others in the usual crowd could not be contacted, nor would they contact me. They seem now to know not to phone me when I am driving to a game. The Lord, Geoff, Tangent Tim and Paul would be coming from Leeds by train and obviously drinking in the city centre.
By now some ex pupils had commented rather positively to my blog on Facebook. I felt I should keep this to myself as the comments were rather glowing and I might look a bit big headed should I show them to my mates. I sat, strangely contented, smiling to myself while supping, very slowly, a 3% Redemption Trinity Ale. Sad or what? I was happy in my own little bubble for a few minutes. Reality soon returned and we decided to move on down the hill.
White Lion (11)
In the White Lion
The White Lion has improved massively since my last visit. That was during its difficult times when its future was rather uncertain. Now the pub has an impressive beer range and has benefited by a refurbishment that promotes its finer features. One such aspect is the small snug that we used for our chat and sup. We soon found that where we sat was important. In this case we had arranged ourselves around a table used as part of a Blade group’s pre-match ritual. They were keen to let us know we were sitting in their seat but we were in happy mode and saw it as an invitation to talk with them rather than move somewhere else. All was fine, we were in Real ale and Football land when travelling fans are welcomed in the true spirit of beer drinking and fandom. Ron and Bob ventured that the extra atmosphere generated by our happy conversation meant this one just tipped the Sheaf View for best pub so marks were duly allocated to reflect that assertion. Few could recollect the last time we played each other in Sheffield. The late eighties? In fact 1988. Spooky or what? Again a notification message flashed on my phone with tales of my teaching systems theory in 1988 by a bogey analogy. I couldn’t hold it any longer and shared the post with the others. I opened myself to ridicule from them but no, all was sweetness and light, as they imagined days of me in elbow padded jackets and chalk dusted rooms.
It was now 7.10 and we had a brisk 10 -15 minute walk to the ground.
Sheffield United 1 Bristol Rovers 0 Attendance: 19,196 (833 Gasheads)
Gashead to the right of me
Gasheads to the left
There was a fine upper tier view for our travelling band. Unfortunately our usual groups were difficult to locate. No doubt our City friends who went to Sheffield a few weeks ago to watch at Wednesday wouldn’t have that problem but we took significantly more on a Tuesday night and this created its own issues. Not that we should compare such things but big club, no fans, springs to mind. We dominated the first half hour. Then they sat back a bit and lost some control. It was regained and we carved out the best chances (Easter, set up by a deft short pass from Harrison somehow put it wide). We had debated in the pub about the problems of putting an undoubtedly good but new and very young centre half in to a team. Ronnie thought their goal was down to ill thought out substitutions. I, alternatively, thought that it was a case of a new player, only meeting up with team mates the day before, not being sufficiently trained in the way we do things. This left Chris Lines of all people to get a crucial defensive header. We all know that that scenario has only one end result and sure enough the Lines quiff was duly parted and Chapman nodded home. Immediately from the kick off Easter completed his 15 minutes of inadequacy and we were down to 10 men. We had more chances, but so too did United. In the final minutes, in the very far distance, the ball bobbled around, hit hands, smacked into defending dives and was cleared off the line, so a draw eluded a deserving Rovers team. They left to a standing ovation. There was not a hint of patronising comment from Blades walking to their cars. They had been outplayed for much of the game. We commented on a Wilder job done well and to get used to his cheating diving, abrasive style of football. Talking of which we are off to Northampton next week. Oh the joy!
Match Entertainment: 4
Sometimes the best team loses a game.
Rovers Ratings /10
Roos 7, Lockyer 8, J. Clarke 7, Clarke-Salter 7, Brown 6, Leadbitter 7, O. Clarke 8, Boateng 6 Lines 7, Harrison 8, Easter 6. Subs Bodin 5, James 4, Moore 6
Man of the Match: Ollie Clarke
Best Beer: Redemption Trinity in the Sheaf View
Best Pub: White Lion
Beer choice 4 (out of 5)
Beer Quality 3 (average score of beers chosen, out of 5)
Staff and service 5 (Out of 5)
Total 12 out of 15
The scores are reported as I wasn’t drinking alcohol but was in the pub.
The Journey Home
I have a beef. I know this may surprise you but we all agreed in the car over this one. As the M1 was roadwork heavy I decided that the best route home would be A38, M6N, M5.M4, and M32. A quick check on google maps, all traffic was clear. We made good time to Birmingham’s Gravelly Hill arriving at 12 ish. A diversion said the slip road was closed. No problem, follow the yellow signs and we would be on the M5 in no time. The yellow signs soon stopped appearing. We went back to the Aston Expressway. As we ventured around the slip road we noticed the sign “M6 Junctions 7 to 10 closed, Expect Long Delays”. We were on the slip road, there was no alternative route. This was our first indication of a problem. We got to Junction 7 around 1.30 in the morning. The air was bluer than blue. Why could they not have told us earlier? Why close a road at a junction with only one alternative when the country’s most complex, and therefore most alternative offering, junction was the very one that gave us the first hint of a problem. I got home, after dropping the others at their respective homes, at 3.20. I was however, still smiling at the Facebook ego massage.
Cheers Nikki and Arfur.
Next up: Northampton Away Saturday 1st October