Love live the British Summer …. wherever it is!
The footy season is back, and I’m on my way to Glasgow, just hoping that the deluge of rain showing up in some parts of the UK is not going to ruin my first official day out of the season. I say ‘official’ as bro-in-law Simon and I did go to the ‘Sven’s in town’ show at Meccano Lane last Saturday, where the local stewardry screwed up and tried to cram 6,000 Forest fans into a stand designed to hold a thousand less. THAT’S why the kick-off was delayed – only 6,000 County fans turned up to ‘pack’ the other three sides of the ground; a big club indeed!
This season I’ve discovered that I can get by rail to Glasgow from Crewe for less than £20 return. It does mean I have to drive to Crewe, but that’s only 45 minutes from my pad so I can live with that. Today I share a carriage with a boisterous hen party who get out at Carlisle. CARLISLE!!! ah, seems they’re transferring to a train bound for Newcastle. Makes more sense, no doubt heading for the Crown Posada…..
I arrive in Glasgow to the unpredicted sunshine. Good old weather men, eh? In my usual inimitable style, I decide to walk the two miles or so to Firhill, past a number of shops and businesses sporting Cantonese writing. Boy, it was further than I thought! A helpful programme seller apologises for it only being a thin issue (“small crowd expected today”) but does guide me to the club bar. En route, there’s a desk in reception where you can buy match tickets – seems we’re all going to be in the one stand today, very cosy. The bar is spilt into two halves by a screen. Pay a bit more for your ticket – it’s called ‘match day hospitality’ – and you get to go in the other bit. I’m happy where I am, even happier when the bloke next to me, obviously in the know, orders a bottle from the fridge, which turns out to be Arran Blonde. Even better, they’ve got Arran Dark too! That’s me sorted.
The stadium is a mix of the past, the present, and what is to be. Home and Away fans are all in the reasonably new Jackie Husband stand down one side. Also new(ish) is a stand behind one goal, empty today save for a ball boy. The ancient old main stand is equally unoccupied, whilst behind t’other goal there’s just an overgrown grass bank. A steward tells me they have permission to build a new stand on that, but in the second tier of Scottish football, what’s the point?
Berwick are advertising two new kits on their website – the traditional yellow & black stripes, plus a red & black stripe change kit. Against yellow, red & black hooped Partick, both are useless and so they turn out in white. The ref starts the season with a bang by booking the first player to go within three feet of an opponent – they’ll all have been sent off by half time at this rate! Berwick are playing some pretty football and up front it’s like watching Brazil. Unfortunately it IS Brazil, Alan Brazil, a willing runner and master of the hold-up, but as a lone striker who’s he holding it up for? It’s only a matter of time and rocket shots either side of half time contribute to a 3-0 home lead. At the break I wander to the food counter and am thrilled to see Cheese & Onion pies on the menu. I’m equally thrilled when I discover they’ve sold out. The alternative of Nachos with cheese looks at bit pricey at £2.70 so I re-pocket my brass.
We’re entertained at the break by the youth teams of both clubs attempting a shoot-out contest, U.S.-style. It’s a laugh a minute as spotty teenagers sprint half the length of the pitch only to blaze high, wide and handsome. Berwick look like they’ve only got a primary school kid in goal but he happily watches the ball sail way above his head. After continuing into sudden death the commentator finally gives up at 2-2.
That’s the only result Berwick are likely to get today, although they do manage to pull a goal back in the second half. It just serves to annoy the home team however who pop in a couple more for good measure and the Partick faithful celebrate a famous Scottish cup victory. As a long-suffering Berwick admirer I’m one of the 50 travelling supporters who’ve seen it all before. Even the hardcore effers & blinders are unusually subdued today and have retired to the bar long before the final whistle.
My 40-minute walk back to the station is surprisingly interrupted by an unseen force dragging me into the Pot Still on Hope Street for a pint of Houston Texas – how did THAT happen? The train back to Crewe is curiously devoid of hen partiers; in fact there’s not that many on at all. A good chance to settle down for a nap and to reflect on a six-goal start to the season. Now if only I could count on at least that many in ALL of my matches this year. Dream on …
Floodlight pylons: Four and sturdy ones at that!
Parakeets: The resident bird in this part of Glasgow is the Crispy Duck
Club Shop: Outside the ground – and only open on match days
Toilets: I can only speak for the Jackie Husband stand but you’ll find no problems in there.
Tannoy music: A stirring rendition of Sylvia by Focus
Player with the quirkiest name: Sadly I couldn’t find anybody with a remotely interesting name…