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Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
Every now and then I leave my 'Celtic enclave' in the wild west of Cornwall to support my/our team. I don't get out enough but when I do I try to make the most of it. Following the great stories brought to us by 'Dad of Dave the Shrimper' in his 'My Life As A Shrimper,' I wondered about continuing the idea on the 'Zone as I'm sure there's plenty of us who could spin a yarn or two about our travels following the mighty Shrimpers. I'll kick off with a few about my recent week on the road again taking in the games and journeys from Penzance to Cheltenham, Walsall and Wycombe. Special thanks due here to 'fbm' for encouraging me out of Cornwall for this little road show. 'White Van in Cheltenham Car Park' coming soon...
 

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
1. White Van in Cheltenham Car Park

As the new poster, 'MikeInTorquay,' wrote - it was a lovely evening in Cheltenham as he parked up. I found a secluded car park in Prestbury, about a mile away from the ground. The 'secluded' part was important for my purposes, as I will reveal later.

I popped into The Kings Arms and was pleasantly surprised to discover my pint of fizzy pop lager cost only £2-17 and there was I thinking that Cheltenham would be charging London prices. There were no ostensible footy fans in or outside of the pub and my 2006 home shirt attracted no attention whatsoever. I got a text from my old pal 'fbm' and discovered he was in another part of town so we decided to meet in the ground instead. I was sweating profusely by the time I got to the ground where I saw another old Blues compadre, Pete from Yeovil, and his missis. I'd met him when some Argyle fans (who are mutual friends) flew up from Cornwall with me for our game at the Hall with them back in November, 2006 (1-1, Marky G). I'd got my shirt that day coincidentally, a belated birthday present to myself as I liked the acknowledgement of our centenary status on it and the fact that the Nike technology allowed the sweat to breathe...

The poster known as 'fbm' beckoned me over to a quiet spot above the corner flag. Little did we know that 'True Blue' and the big drum would be banging on behind us five minutes later. When we found that we'd be kicking towards the other end we moved towards the halfway line just as the game kicked off as we didn't want that f*cker (ie the drum) in our ear for the duration. We started as brightly as the evening sun with several chances in quick succession, mostly headers. The debutant M'Voto had a strong near-post header which blazed over the bar after five minutes. This prompted me into a solo rendering of a variant to the chorus of the Abba tune, 'Fernando'..."There was something in the air that night - his speed, his height, M'Voto"...the song hasn't caught on yet, but there's still time - well, about five months anyway. Barney had a much easier header (as he was unmarked) at the other post a few minutes later that he should have guided in instead of over, but we can forgive him due to events of the second half. The tall Col Ewe loanee Heath also went close with a header which looked as though it bounced over the keeper's hands off the post. There was only one team in it at this stage and it was the mighty Shrimpers.

On the half hour Cheltenham seemed to sense that they were still in the game as we hadn't capitalised on our possession. The fantastically named Elvis Hammond looked lively and we were grateful to Steve Mildenhall for making a wonderful save low to his left in a one-on-one with Hutton. He saved well again from a header after a corner but Hammond converted the third of these Chelt chances from a ball played across the six yard box which had only been half-cleared after a long throw. This was just before half-time and it seemed crazy that we were a goal down after bossing the game for so long. At one stage, we looked so comfortable playing our way across the back four, I turned to 'fbm' and sardonically remarked the word 'Brazil' followed by the obvious line, "...it's just like watching Brazil." M'Voto and Heath looked imposing in the middle and my only worry at that stage had been White's tendency to drift inside where the action was, which left a big gap behind him when possession was lost. Our midfield looked tight and tenacious and Walker looked eager if ineffective up front. However, though it was hard to believe, we were still one down and at half-time I texted one of Cornwall's other Shrimpers, 'Richie C' in deepest Devoran, to reassure him that we were still very much in this.

The second half began unnervingly for us though as Cheltenham carried on from where they left off and it was only when they surprisingly took Hammond off for the veteran Alsop on the hour that we slowly came back into the game. The introduction of 'Asbo' Sawyer and our own veteran 'The Doogie' Freedman (for JFC and Walker respectively) turned the game our way. Sawyer, his years belying the authority which he has on the ball, looked industrious and confident. He often received the ball inside from the left, dropped his right shoulder and prompted and probed for openings from around the halfway line, setting Grant free on the right when he could and providing the missing link between midfield struggle and attacking incision. Blues' attacking impetus paid off with about quarter of an hour to go, a far post header from Heath inviting Barney to risk getting his head kicked in as he stole ahead of keeper and defender to nod it over the line. He looked as though he enjoyed baiting the Chelts' fans by putting his hands to his ears after they had commented on his 'reject' status at Tottenham earlier that half. We were buzzing now and just as I was looking forward to extra-time Francis put over a fantastic cross which Barney headed in at the far post, once more celebrating in front of the Robins' fans, one angry one running down the steps of the terrace to remonstrate at him. Barney carried on towards us as his team-mates mobbed him and he saluted us in joint celebration. A great ending to a game of three halves - the first half-hour which we dominated, the second one which they did and the final one in which we eventually regained control in great style and with a grand-stand finish.

After applauding our lads off the pitch, I bade farewell to 'fbm' and alerted him to my pub of choice ahead of our next game at Walsall before I made my way back to The Kings Arms. I texted Richie C to appraise him of the gripping finale, the strength of our defence and about Barney's goals and he replied 'good - they and Barney were crap on Saturday.' I savoured the pint of bitter* this time (only £1-79) and then another and made my way back to my van. I was relieved that the car park was secluded as I slept in the back of the van and could wander behind the back of it from time to time during the night safe in the knowledge that no-one could see me communing with nature as the steam rose above the bushes.

*Butcombe - just in case any real ale enthusiasts are reading this.
 
Last edited:

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
2. The Man Who Loved Gary Lineker

As the new poster, 'MikeInTorquay,' wrote - it was a lovely evening in Cheltenham as he parked up. I found a secluded car park in Prestbury, about a mile away from the ground. The 'secluded' part was important for my purposes, as I will reveal later.

I popped into The Kings Arms and was pleasantly surprised to discover my pint of fizzy pop lager cost only £2-17 and there was I thinking that Cheltenham would be charging London prices. There were no ostensible footy fans in or outside of the pub and my 2006 home shirt attracted no attention whatsoever. I got a text from my old pal 'fbm' and discovered he was in another part of town so we decided to meet in the ground instead. I was sweating profusely by the time I got to the ground where I saw another old Blues compadre, Pete from Yeovil, and his missis. I'd met him when some Argyle fans (who are mutual friends) flew up from Cornwall with me for our game at the Hall with them back in November, 2006 (1-1, Marky G). I'd got my shirt that day coincidentally, a belated birthday present to myself as I liked the acknowledgement of our centenary status on it and the fact that the Nike technology allowed the sweat to breathe...

The poster known as 'fbm' beckoned me over to a quiet spot above the corner flag. Little did we know that 'True Blue' and the big drum would be banging on behind us five minutes later. When we found that we'd be kicking towards the other end we moved towards the halfway line just as the game kicked off as we didn't want that f*cker (ie the drum) in our ear for the duration. We started as brightly as the evening sun with several chances in quick succession, mostly headers. The debutant M'Voto had a strong near-post header which blazed over the bar after five minutes. This prompted me into a solo rendering of a variant to the chorus of the Abba tune, 'Fernando'..."There was something in the air that night - his speed, his height, M'Voto"...the song hasn't caught on yet, but there's still time - well, about five months anyway. Barney had a much easier header (as he was unmarked) at the other post a few minutes later that he should have guided in instead of over, but we can forgive him due to events of the second half. The tall Col Ewe loanee Heath also went close with a header which looked as though it bounced over the keeper's hands off the post. There was only one team in it at this stage and it was the mighty Shrimpers.

On the half hour Cheltenham seemed to sense that they were still in the game as we hadn't capitalised on our possession. The fantastically named Elvis Hammond looked lively and we were grateful to Steve Mildenhall for making a wonderful save low to his left in a one-on-one with Hutton. He saved well again from a header after a corner but Hammond converted the third of these Chelt chances from a ball played across the six yard box which had only been half-cleared after a long throw. This was just before half-time and it seemed crazy that we were a goal down after bossing the game for so long. At one stage, we looked so comfortable playing our way across the back four, I turned to 'fbm' and sardonically remarked the word 'Brazil' followed by the obvious line, "...it's just like watching Brazil." M'Voto and Heath looked imposing in the middle and my only worry at that stage had been White's tendency to drift inside where the action was, which left a big gap behind him when possession was lost. Our midfield looked tight and tenacious and Walker looked eager if ineffective up front. However, though it was hard to believe, we were still one down and at half-time I texted one of Cornwall's other Shrimpers, 'Richie C' in deepest Devoran, to reassure him that we were still very much in this.

The second half began unnervingly for us though as Cheltenham carried on from where they left off and it was only when they surprisingly took Hammond off for the veteran Alsop on the hour that we slowly came back into the game. The introduction of 'Asbo' Sawyer and our own veteran 'The Doogie' Freedman (for JFC and Walker respectively) turned the game our way. Sawyer, his years belying the authority which he has on the ball, looked industrious and confident. He often received the ball inside from the left, dropped his right shoulder and prompted and probed for openings from around the halfway line, setting Grant free on the right when he could and providing the missing link between midfield struggle and attacking incision. Blues' attacking impetus paid off with about quarter of an hour to go, a far post header from Heath inviting Barney to risk getting his head kicked in as he stole ahead of keeper and defender to nod it over the line. He looked as though he enjoyed baiting the Chelts' fans by putting his hands to his ears after they had commented on his 'reject' status at Tottenham earlier that half. We were buzzing now and just as I was looking forward to extra-time Francis put over a fantastic cross which Barney headed in at the far post, once more celebrating in front of the Robins' fans, one angry one running down the steps of the terrace to remonstrate at him. Barney carried on towards us as his team-mates mobbed him and he saluted us in joint celebration. A great ending to a game of three halves - the first half-hour which we dominated, the second one which they did and the final one in which we eventually regained control in great style and with a grand-stand finish.

After applauding our lads off the pitch, I bade farewell to 'fbm' and alerted him to my pub of choice ahead of our next game at Walsall before I made my way back to The Kings Arms. I texted Richie C to appraise him of the gripping finale, the strength of our defence and about Barney's goals and he replied 'good - they and Barney were crap on Saturday.' I savoured the pint of bitter* this time (only £1-79) and then another and made my way back to my van. I was relieved that the car park was secluded as I slept in the back of the van and could wander behind the back of it from time to time during the night safe in the knowledge that no-one could see me communing with nature as the steam rose above the bushes.

*Butcombe - just in case any real ale enthusiasts are reading this.

After a swim and shower in a leisure centre on the outskirts of Cheltenham, your correspondent breakfasted in Evesham ahead of a pleasant journey through the A and B roads that bisect the Cotswolds. I stopped in a pub just outside Chipping Campden (sic) and read about 'the veteran Alsop'* who came off the bench last night to assist the Blues' recovery against the Robins. The pub reflected the class divide of the area - I was amongst some hearty folk who sounded like extras on 'The Archers' and who drank some very dodgy-looking cloudy cider. The colour of it reminded me of my time working at The Royal Free over 25 years ago and having to drain acidic urine from catheter bags of patients who had urinary tract infections on the oncology ward there. In the adjoining bar which I had initially entered, I was asked by the landlady, "Will you be lunching with us ?" and took one look at the rest of the room which was full of tables of well-heeled people even older than me before replying in the negative. I had a little look around the back of the bar and saw I could nip into what we used to call 'the public' as I felt distinctly out of place sporting my victorious white Southend polo amongst the tweeds on the tables. In the public, the group of rubicund rustic guys gathered drinking the cider seemed to know a bit about the beautiful game, although they mostly talked about 'the Villa.' Their conversation also drifted towards events in South Africa - in June 2010 - and they ruminated on the possible time differences that might affect their viewing of the games ahead. I was tempted to intervene and reassure them of my understanding of this situation, ie that there wouldn't be a lot to worry about in that respect, but discretion and a desire to keep my 'outsider' status overruled my public service inclinations. Talk of the World Cup though got me thinking...

...about Sir Bobby Robson and that fantastic failure against the Germans in 1990. A couple of months after that wonderful game I was travelling in Albania when I was greeted by a well-spoken Albanian man who had taught himself English through listening to the BBC's World Service, an imprisonable offence in this isolationist enclave of the Balkans back in the day. I will call this man 'Perlat' after an Albanian goalkeeper of the time. Perlat was a doctor who loved England and English football, and one player in particular - Gary Lineker. He saw him as an English gentleman and admired his conduct on the pitch as well as his penchant for scoring crucial goals for his country. I saw a game in Tirana with Perlat on the following day and we kept in touch via the quaint old-fashioned medium of pen and paper for many a year. Perlat went on to make a documentary which won a BAFTA award. It was called 'The Man Who Loved Gary Lineker' and it described the harrowing experiences of a young Albanian doctor who had a passion for the game we love. In the documentary, there was footage of Perlat's brothers and friends playing football barefoot on some rocky terrain in northern Albania. We see Perlat treating old miners and we see him sat tense with his radio on as he listens to England's Euro '92 qualifier away to Poland. That tension is ripped apart when Gary Lineker scores an 85th -minute goal to put England on the plane to Stockholm. He is ecstatic and he repeats the name 'Gary' several times. I have thought of Perlat often over the years and that memory of his joy at England's result in Poland is 'an enduring image' as Paul Whitehouse (in his Ron Manager persona) used to say.

Fast forward a day after stopping off in Northampton to see an old mate and learn from his mate - a Hull fan - that we had drawn The Tigers in the next round of the Carling Cup and I'm sat in 'Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem' ("the oldest inn in England") after checking into a well-rough Backpackers Hostel east of Nottingham City Centre, awaiting the arrival of 'The Man Who Loved Gary Lineker.' He once coined the fantastic phrase 'passive drinking' - he didn't drink at the time but he felt giddy as a result of 'passive drinking' with me and my old footy team when he was over here editing the documentary in '92. Tonight though he had a couple of pints of 'Old Trip' and was enjoying our first meeting in nearly ten years. He'd since become a Consultant in 'ENT' but like me had been unable to find a cure for rampant snoring. We talked about England's chances in 2010 - optimistic as ever - and went to have a look at the Brian Clough statue in King Street. Perlat now knows thanks to one of the quotes there that "if God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there." I now know that the power of the beautiful game to bring together outsiders by dint of political geography and isolationist choice remains enduring. The young Aussie who had to share a room with me now knows that snoring is a terrible affliction.

*Aside for 'fbm' here - he's only 36 mate; his squad number is 39.
 
Last edited:

OldBlueLady

Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
47,890
Location
Benfleet
I thought Gary Lineker was God! Much more so than Mr Beckham.....Good to see you on Tuesday though Rob and a complete surprise
 

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
Cheers Kay - you too. It was only arranged hastily as 'fbm' planted the seed with the thought of these three away games in a row. Once I'm out of Cornwall with the van then I try to make a bit of a trip of it, as I hope this little tale might testify...
 

OldBlueLady

Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
47,890
Location
Benfleet
Cheers Kay - you too. It was only arranged hastily as 'fbm' planted the seed with the thought of these three away games in a row. Once I'm out of Cornwall with the van then I try to make a bit of a trip of it, as I hope this little tale might testify...

Was just so thrown - it was like "Rob!" and then a big hug!
 

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
You may well have been thrown if you were standing next to me when JFC put that header away just before half-time!
 

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
3. Give Youth A Chance

After a swim and shower in a leisure centre on the outskirts of Cheltenham, your correspondent breakfasted in Evesham ahead of a pleasant journey through the A and B roads that bisect the Cotswolds. I stopped in a pub just outside Chipping Campden (sic) and read about 'the veteran Alsop'* who came off the bench last night to assist the Blues' recovery against the Robins. The pub reflected the class divide of the area - I was amongst some hearty folk who sounded like extras on 'The Archers' and who drank some very dodgy-looking cloudy cider. The colour of it reminded me of my time working at The Royal Free over 25 years ago and having to drain acidic urine from catheter bags of patients who had urinary tract infections on the oncology ward there. In the adjoining bar which I had initially entered, I was asked by the landlady, "Will you be lunching with us ?" and took one look at the rest of the room which was full of tables of well-heeled people even older than me before replying in the negative. I had a little look around the back of the bar and saw I could nip into what we used to call 'the public' as I felt distinctly out of place sporting my victorious white Southend polo amongst the tweeds on the tables. In the public, the group of rubicund rustic guys gathered drinking the cider seemed to know a bit about the beautiful game, although they mostly talked about 'the Villa.' Their conversation also drifted towards events in South Africa - in June 2010 - and they ruminated on the possible time differences that might affect their viewing of the games ahead. I was tempted to intervene and reassure them of my understanding of this situation, ie that there wouldn't be a lot to worry about in that respect, but discretion and a desire to keep my 'outsider' status overruled my public service inclinations. Talk of the World Cup though got me thinking...

...about Sir Bobby Robson and that fantastic failure against the Germans in 1990. A couple of months after that wonderful game I was travelling in Albania when I was greeted by a well-spoken Albanian man who had taught himself English through listening to the BBC's World Service, an imprisonable offence in this isolationist enclave of the Balkans back in the day. I will call this man 'Perlat' after an Albanian goalkeeper of the time. Perlat was a doctor who loved England and English football, and one player in particular - Gary Lineker. He saw him as an English gentleman and admired his conduct on the pitch as well as his penchant for scoring crucial goals for his country. I saw a game in Tirana with Perlat on the following day and we kept in touch via the quaint old-fashioned medium of pen and paper for many a year. Perlat went on to make a documentary which won a BAFTA award. It was called 'The Man Who Loved Gary Lineker' and it described the harrowing experiences of a young Albanian doctor who had a passion for the game we love. In the documentary, there was footage of Perlat's brothers and friends playing football barefoot on some rocky terrain in northern Albania. We see Perlat treating old miners and we see him sat tense with his radio on as he listens to England's Euro '92 qualifier away to Poland. That tension is ripped apart when Gary Lineker scores an 85th -minute goal to put England on the plane to Stockholm. He is ecstatic and he repeats the name 'Gary' several times. I have thought of Perlat often over the years and that memory of his joy at England's result in Poland is 'an enduring image' as Paul Whitehouse (in his Ron Manager persona) used to say.

Fast forward a day after stopping off in Northampton to see an old mate and learn from his mate - a Hull fan - that we had drawn The Tigers in the next round of the Carling Cup and I'm sat in 'Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem' ("the oldest inn in England") after checking into a well-rough Backpackers Hostel east of Nottingham City Centre, awaiting the arrival of 'The Man Who Loved Gary Lineker.' He once coined the fantastic phrase 'passive drinking' - he didn't drink at the time but he felt giddy as a result of 'passive drinking' with me and my old footy team when he was over here editing the documentary in '92. Tonight though he had a couple of pints of 'Old Trip' and was enjoying our first meeting in nearly ten years. He'd since become a Consultant in 'ENT' but like me had been unable to find a cure for rampant snoring. We talked about England's chances in 2010 - optimistic as ever - and went to have a look at the Brian Clough statue in King Street. Perlat now knows thanks to one of the quotes there that "if God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there." I now know that the power of the beautiful game to bring together outsiders by dint of political geography and isolationist choice remains enduring. The young Aussie who had to share a room with me now knows that snoring is a terrible affliction.

*Aside for 'fbm' here - he's only 36 mate; his squad number is 39.

The young Aussie had somehow contrived to jam the lock to our room and was desperate for a slash. This was strictly non en-suite being just a cheap and cheerless dormitory so I scrabbled around in my bag to find the number of the hostel to alert the warden so we could get out and matey could get to a loo before it all got out of control. I found the number but no joy - just an answerphone message. I was fiddling with the lock again when I heard another Aussie voice from the other side of the door and luckily the owner of the voice managed to open it from outside, telling us to "leave it on the latch as it was a bit stiff." Cue 'Carry On' riposte but my young room-mate had no time for jokey banter so I got out of the way and let him splash the enamel...

The place did feel pretty dodgy and I had slept with the shorts containing my valuables under my pillow. I took them with me off to the shower and noticed what appeared to be a flea-bite on my left calf. Maybe another night in the van would have been a better option after all. I came back to the room and started sorting out my bag before leaving. My recently relieved room-mate returned and we started making a bit of small talk. He'd been over here a month and couldn't find any work, not even in Nottingham's plentiful bars. If it carried on much longer, he was going to have to admit defeat and return home. I wished him luck and was out of the fleapit before one could say "...but I still hope you lose The Ashes."

Although there was breakfast available at the hostel, I felt like the oldest back-packer in the world so didn't really want to hang around there any longer than I had to and headed off into the City Centre where I found a little cafe with an empty upstairs area to read yesterday's paper whilst munching on some toast and get a cappuccino hit. Youth unemployment was up seventy-five per cent over the last year apparently as the effects of the recession were really beginning to bite. No 'green shoots of recovery' for the nation's youth then. It was beginning to feel like old times for this old timer as I remembered similar problems in the early eighties. This was even more evident as I wandered around the City Centre and stopped to sit by a fountain in order to make some notes in readiness to bring my concerns to the attention of ShrimperZone on my return home. A skinny young waif who had the look of drug abuse in his eyes sat next to me and told me about his plans to seek shelter that night. He had an East Midlands accent and next went on to tell his story to a guy wearing a Kurt Cobain t-shirt just along from me. You didn't have to go too far to find out that all is not well in the heart of the country. I thought about the words of a young barman last night in the nearby 'Market Inn' who was bemoaning the lack of respect amongst people these days and how he noticed it was getting a lot worse. He seemed to be enjoying the banter with an old Scots guy who was telling him that he could talk to anyone from "any walk of life - in their language." That is a great skill to have. If it is all getting polarised and desperate, the need for social linguists will be even more acute. I don't see young people getting that gig somehow...

...but luckily there's jobs for the boys at Southend United! Lee Sawyer's performance at Cheltenham reminded me that the youth of today is the hope for the future. And every time I hear our fans baying "Mooooooose", I know that there's still hope. We're just one big Pandora's Box. Maybe Johnny Herd will get a game one day too...
 

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
4. Walsall Calling

The young Aussie had somehow contrived to jam the lock to our room and was desperate for a slash. This was strictly non en-suite being just a cheap and cheerless dormitory so I scrabbled around in my bag to find the number of the hostel to alert the warden so we could get out and matey could get to a loo before it all got out of control. I found the number but no joy - just an answerphone message. I was fiddling with the lock again when I heard another Aussie voice from the other side of the door and luckily the owner of the voice managed to open it from outside, telling us to "leave it on the latch as it was a bit stiff." Cue 'Carry On' riposte but my young room-mate had no time for jokey banter so I got out of the way and let him splash the enamel...

The place did feel pretty dodgy and I had slept with the shorts containing my valuables under my pillow. I took them with me off to the shower and noticed what appeared to be a flea-bite on my left calf. Maybe another night in the van would have been a better option after all. I came back to the room and started sorting out my bag before leaving. My recently relieved room-mate returned and we started making a bit of small talk. He'd been over here a month and couldn't find any work, not even in Nottingham's plentiful bars. If it carried on much longer, he was going to have to admit defeat and return home. I wished him luck and was out of the fleapit before one could say "...but I still hope you lose The Ashes."

Although there was breakfast available at the hostel, I felt like the oldest back-packer in the world so didn't really want to hang around there any longer than I had to and headed off into the City Centre where I found a little cafe with an empty upstairs area to read yesterday's paper whilst munching on some toast and get a cappuccino hit. Youth unemployment was up seventy-five per cent over the last year apparently as the effects of the recession were really beginning to bite. No 'green shoots of recovery' for the nation's youth then. It was beginning to feel like old times for this old timer as I remembered similar problems in the early eighties. This was even more evident as I wandered around the City Centre and stopped to sit by a fountain in order to make some notes in readiness to bring my concerns to the attention of ShrimperZone on my return home. A skinny young waif who had the look of drug abuse in his eyes sat next to me and told me about his plans to seek shelter that night. He had an East Midlands accent and next went on to tell his story to a guy wearing a Kurt Cobain t-shirt just along from me. You didn't have to go too far to find out that all is not well in the heart of the country. I thought about the words of a young barman last night in the nearby 'Market Inn' who was bemoaning the lack of respect amongst people these days and how he noticed it was getting a lot worse. He seemed to be enjoying the banter with an old Scots guy who was telling him that he could talk to anyone from "any walk of life - in their language." That is a great skill to have. If it is all getting polarised and desperate, the need for social linguists will be even more acute. I don't see young people getting that gig somehow...

...but luckily there's jobs for the boys at Southend United! Lee Sawyer's performance at Cheltenham reminded me that the youth of today is the hope for the future. And every time I hear our fans baying "Mooooooose", I know that there's still hope. We're just one big Pandora's Box. Maybe Johnny Herd will get a game one day too...

From East to West Midlands via 'Brian Clough Way' and beyond, your correspondent arrived in Bilston - the birthplace of one Ronnie Pountney - approximately five miles north-west of Walsall. Ronnie's successors were due there on the following day but I was seeking inspiration in the interim via 'The Trumpet,' the old boozer once beloved by Slade, four Black Country lads who changed my once young world with their stomping singles in the early seventies. Unfortunately, The Trumpet keeps funny hours and whilst every other Bilston pub seemed to be doing a roaring trade on 'Poets Day,' Slade's erstwhile local remained resolutely shut until after seven. I back-tracked to 'Woody's Bar,' which is often used by Roy Wood, ex-leader of Wizzard and mainstay of a great sixties band called The Move. There was a Genesis tribute band playing in the hall out the back of there later that night, so I was informed by mine host before I retreated to the corner of the bar from where I could watch the News channel. I learned that a Redditch estate is currently plagued by anti-social behaviour from 'feral youth gangs' and that there are community initiatives (such as the setting up of a youth club) to 'tackle the problems.' Two blokes around my age came in and sat down near the screen and I noticed their attention pick up when news of Birmingham City's imminent match against Man United got some coverage. I decided to try my luck at The Trumpet once more, but though it was now nearly seven, it was still closed and a local passer-by advised me to go to the Wetherspoon's over the road as it was cheaper. It's a great pastime sat in a pub reading a paper. I could keep an eye and an ear on an animated conversation going on about England's World Cup chances in South Africa and one bloke in particular becoming increasingly voluble and red-faced. His listeners sat with stony expressions as if they knew there was no way of salvaging this one and the grim-faced group all trooped off a few minutes later no doubt looking forward to their next port-of-call together. I looked out the window and was pleasantly surprised to discover that The Trumpet was now open - worthy of trumpet fanfare in itself!

The Trumpet is a fantastic old-fashioned pub. Just one small narrow bar with a space at the back for bands to play. Slade had played there too apparently, but nowadays it was jazz only and as I was perusing the pictures of people who'd played there - including a fairly young George Melly no less - I spotted the two blokes from Woody's come through the door. One of them, Chris, was a big Slade fan from yesteryear too and yes, I was right, both he and his mate Phil were big 'Blues' (Brum) fans and they had come up from Brum via Bilston Central tram station for the music on at Woody's. They invited me to sit with them and we got talking about all the bands that we liked from way back when. They too were big fans of Sparks and we cracked on pretty well, especially as they were amused by the reason for my little trip out to the Black Country and just as the jazz band were warming up, they decided to split to see 'The Carpet Crawlers' (aforementioned Genesis tribute band). They asked me if I liked Genesis and I said I liked some of the Gabriel stuff, although 'Follow You, Follow Me' has got under my skin somewhat unexpectedly in recent years. So I ended up leaving The Trumpet to partake in a trip down memory lane music-wise and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard, especially the singer's perfect Gabriel voice and a reminder of just how much I love the track, 'I Know What I Like In Your Wardrobe.' I left Chris and Phil with a request to let me know when Sparks were next playing up in Brum so I could make it. I enjoyed their droll humour and like what I know of Brum people and know what I like in them too.

Despite a few Poet's Day cobwebs, I awoke with that special feeling of anticipation you get when you are going to see the mighty Shrimpers on their travels. I selected my white away shirt from the Championship season and wore some yellow away socks for the occasion. I parked up in Walsall and did a quick reccie in the town before stopping at a cafe near the bus station to check on the progress of my mate - the poster known as 'fbm' - in his journey from south-east Essex. Unfortunately he'd got stuck on the M25 and it was touch and go as to whether he'd get to the ground in time. I sloped off to 'The Rising Sun' and then 'The Black Country Arms,' two recommended pubs in the 'Old Walsall pubs' internet link, in an effort to relax before the game. It was now a brilliantly sunny afternoon by the time I walked to the ground where I picked up my ticket from my step-daughter (who lives in Brum) as the club had difficulties sending it to me in time due to a postal strike. Luckily, the ever diligent Mrs S checked the post at the crack of dawn each day for me and sent it onto her daughter just in time. I received a barge on my shoulder just as the ticket was handed over and yes, it was 'fbm' just arrived after a monster journey. My step-daughter and her fella went to the home end and I said that I hope they enjoyed the match, but not too much.

Now I know that a lot has been written about this game already on the 'Zone so I'll just confine my report to a few points. My initial feeling when I heard that Adam - who I love as one of us, a Southend fan himself - had returned to the defence in place of M'Voto was one of disappointment. I felt this was harsh on our young debutant from the Cheltenham game, especially as there were ongoing doubts about Adam's fitness. This seemed to be confirmed in the first half but I will return to this in a moment. The following are transcripts of texts I sent to Richie C, another Shrimper in Cornwall, about the game:-

1. At half-time..."Ballwatching at the back cost us a soft goal but we're still in it"

2. In reply to Richie's concerns about Adam..."He had a better 2nd half but he is the weakest link - Sawyer came on as sub and gave us added impetus. Francis got caught in possession & the ensuing counter led to the pen = 2 dropped points:madman:"

I was pleased that White had looked positionally better but was hugely disappointed in Francis for getting caught upfield even though I later discovered it was Sawyer who had given away the penalty. My step-daughter's fella reckoned that the challenge on their guy was outside the box, but I guess the ref calls it as he sees it and that's that. I felt sorry for JFC being taken off when he had played well and I was delighted for 'The Doogie' scoring after all his injury problems from last season. Great work by The Moose for the goal and Barney's flick-on from the cross. That Clayton Ince moment was wonderful though and will probably be the abiding memory of the day. Oh yes, my step-daughter cooks a mean lamb curry too!
 
Last edited:

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
5. Going For A Burton

From East to West Midlands via 'Brian Clough Way' and beyond, your correspondent arrived in Bilston - the birthplace of one Ronnie Pountney - approximately five miles north-west of Walsall. Ronnie's successors were due there on the following day but I was seeking inspiration in the interim via 'The Trumpet,' the old boozer once beloved by Slade, four Black Country lads who changed my once young world with their stomping singles in the early seventies. Unfortunately, The Trumpet keeps funny hours and whilst every other Bilston pub seemed to be doing a roaring trade on 'Poets Day,' Slade's erstwhile local remained resolutely shut until after seven. I back-tracked to 'Woody's Bar,' which is often used by Roy Wood, ex-leader of Wizzard and mainstay of a great sixties band called The Move. There was a Genesis tribute band playing in the hall out the back of there later that night I was informed by mine host before I retreated to the corner of the bar from where I could watch the News channel. I learned that a Redditch estate is currently plagued by anti-social behaviour from 'feral youth gangs' and that there are community initiatives (such as the setting up of a youth club) to 'tackle the problems.' Two blokes around my age came in and sat down near the screen and I noticed their attention pick up when news of Birmingham City's imminent match against Man United got some coverage. I decided to try my luck at The Trumpet once more, but though it was now nearly seven, it was still closed and a local passer-by advised me to go to the Wetherspoon's over the road as it was cheaper. It's a great pastime sat in a pub reading a paper. I could keep an eye and an ear on an animated conversation going on about England's World Cup chances in South Africa and one bloke in particular becoming increasingly voluble and red-faced. His listeners sat with stony expressions as if they knew there was no way of salvaging this one and the grim-faced group all trooped off a few minutes later no doubt looking forward to their next port-of-call together. I looked out the window and was pleasantly surprised to discover that The Trumpet was now open - worthy of trumpet fanfare in itself!

The Trumpet is a fantastic old-fashioned pub. Just one small narrow bar with a space at the back for bands to play. Slade had played there too apparently, but nowadays it was jazz only and as I was perusing the pictures of people who'd played there - including a fairly young George Melly no less - I spotted the two blokes from Woody's come through the door. One of them, Chris, was a big Slade fan from yesteryear too and yes, I was right, both he and his mate Phil were big 'Blues' (Brum) fans and they had come up from Brum via Bilston Central tram station for the music on at Woody's. They invited me to sit with them and we got talking about all the bands that we liked from way back when. They too were big fans of Sparks and we cracked on pretty well, especially as they were amused by the reason for my little trip out to the Black Country and just as the jazz band were warming up, they decided to split to see 'The Carpet Crawlers' (aforementioned Genesis tribute band). They asked me if I liked Genesis and I said I liked some of the Gabriel stuff, although 'Follow You, Follow Me' has got under my skin somewhat unexpectedly in recent years. So I ended up leaving The Trumpet to partake in a trip down memory lane music-wise and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard, especially the singer's perfect Gabriel voice and a reminder of just how much I love the track, 'I Know What I Like In Your Wardrobe.' I left Chris and Phil with a request to let me know when Sparks were next playing up in Brum so I could make it. I enjoyed their droll humour and like what I know of Brum people and know what I like in them too.

Despite a few Poet's Day cobwebs, I awoke with that special feeling of anticipation you get when you are going to see the mighty Shrimpers on their travels. I selected my white away shirt from the Championship season and wore some yellow away socks for the occasion. I parked up in Walsall and did a quick reccie in the town before stopping at a cafe near the bus station to check on the progress of my mate - the poster known as 'fbm' - in his journey from south-east Essex. Unfortunately he'd got stuck on the M25 and it was touch and go as to whether he'd get to the ground in time. I sloped off to 'The Rising Sun' and then 'The Black Country Arms,' two recommended pubs in the 'Old Walsall pubs' internet link, in an effort to relax before the game. It was now a brilliantly sunny afternoon by the time I walked to the ground where I picked up my ticket from my step-daughter (who lives in Brum) as the club had difficulties sending it to me in time due to a postal strike. Luckily, the ever diligent Mrs S checked the post at the crack of dawn each day for me and sent it onto her daughter just in time. I received a barge on my shoulder just as the ticket was handed over and yes, it was 'fbm' just arrived after a monster journey. My step-daughter and her fella went to the home end and I said that I hope they enjoyed the match, but not too much.

Now I know that a lot has been written about this game already on the 'Zone so I'll just confine my report to a few points. My initial feeling when I heard that Adam - who I love as one of us, a Southend fan himself - had returned to the defence in place of M'Voto was one of disappointment. I felt this was harsh on our young debutant from the Cheltenham game, especially as there were ongoing doubts about Adam's fitness. This seemed to be confirmed in the first half but I will return to this in a moment. The following are transcripts of texts I sent to Richie C, another Shrimper in Cornwall, about the game:-

1. At half-time..."Ballwatching at the back cost us a soft goal but we're still in it"

2. In reply to Richie's concerns about Adam..."He had a better 2nd half but he is the weakest link - Sawyer came on as sub and gave us added impetus. Francis got caught in possession & the ensuing counter led to the pen = 2 dropped points:madman:"

I was pleased that White had looked positionally better but was hugely disappointed in Francis for getting caught upfield even though I later discovered it was Sawyer who had given away the penalty. My step-daughter's fella reckoned that the challenge on their guy was outside the box, but I guess the ref calls it as he sees it and that's that. I felt sorry for JFC being taken off when he had played well and I was delighted for 'The Doogie' scoring after all his injury problems from last season. Great work by The Moose for the goal and Barney's flick-on from the cross. That Clayton Ince moment was wonderful though and will probably be the abiding memory of the day. Oh yes, my step-daughter cooks a mean lamb curry too!

I don't know if you've had the pleasure of a visit to Burton-on-Trent. It's an old brewing town and the legendary Ind Coope Burton ale which was once sold at The Billet will linger in my palate forever. Nowadays, it's the home of fizzy pop lager brewed by Coors although there are stirrings of its bitter past with a saucy little microwave brewery at a good old boozer called 'The Cottage.' On the Sunday after the Walsall game, I hit the A38 in my white van now loaded up with plants from my step-daughter for Mrs S, so I wouldn't be able to sleep in it again on this tour. Luckily my old mate Steve in Burton is always up for a reconnoitre to The Cottage and though he's not a footy fan we had lots to talk about over a few pints of the sweet but deadly 'Halcyon Daze.'*

The Cottage is a haven of old-fashioned community spirit. Locals were winding each other up about the result of a recent dominoes match and Steve is always at the centre of the banter. I love the atmosphere there and always try to see Steve there if we can arrange it. We go back only about six years now but our affinity for punk rock, real ale and a bit of a laugh has overcome Steve's antipathy to the beautiful game. He is selfless however and has joined me watching England games in Cornish pubs safe in the knowledge that I'll get my round in. Well, dear reader, you may wonder what on earth this little missive from your away travelling correspondent has to do with the mighty Shrimpers. Well, I was on the road again between games and it's important for me to catch up with old mates when I'm out of Cornwall as it's such a long way to go back to. But I'm generally always wearing some form of Southend United shop merchandise and today it was a navy blue tee with the club badge on. This attracted the attention of an old boy in the pub who once lived in Rochford, my birthplace. Turns out he'd moved up to Burton as he was in the brewing trade and when I was drinking Burton at the Billet all those years ago, he was busy 'mekkin it,' as they say up there. So it's not only football that brings people together, dear reader, but it's beer beer beer too...:dizzy:

*5.6% - in case any real ale gravity watchers are out there
 

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
6. Southend Fans Welcome

I don't know if you've had the pleasure of a visit to Burton-on-Trent. It's an old brewing town and the legendary Ind Coope Burton ale which was once sold at The Billet will linger in my palate forever. Nowadays, it's the home of fizzy pop lager brewed by Coors although there are stirrings of its bitter past with a saucy little microwave brewery at a good old boozer called 'The Cottage.' On the Sunday after the Walsall game, I hit the A38 in my white van now loaded up with plants from my step-daughter for Mrs S, so I wouldn't be able to sleep in it again on this tour. Luckily my old mate Steve in Burton is always up for a reconnoitre to The Cottage and though he's not a footy fan we had lots to talk about over a few pints of the sweet but deadly 'Halcyon Daze.'*

The Cottage is a haven of old-fashioned community spirit. Locals were winding each other up about the result of a recent dominoes match and Steve is always at the centre of the banter. I love the atmosphere there and always try to see Steve there if we can arrange it. We go back only about six years now but our affinity for punk rock, real ale and a bit of a laugh has overcome Steve's antipathy to the beautiful game. He is selfless however and has joined me watching England games in Cornish pubs safe in the knowledge that I'll get my round in. Well, dear reader, you may wonder what on earth this little missive from your away travelling correspondent has to do with the mighty Shrimpers. Well, I was on the road again between games and it's important for me to catch up with old mates when I'm out of Cornwall as it's such a long way to go back to. But I'm generally always wearing some form of Southend United shop merchandise and today it was a navy blue tee with the club badge on. This attracted the attention of an old boy in the pub who once lived in Rochford, my birthplace. Turns out he'd moved up to Burton as he was in the brewing trade and when I was drinking Burton at the Billet all those years ago, he was busy 'mekkin it,' as they say up there. So it's not only football that brings people together, dear reader, but it's beer beer beer too...:dizzy:

*5.6% - in case any real ale gravity watchers are out there

'Southend Fans Welcome' was the sign that attracted me into 'The Flint Cottage' opposite High Wycombe station. The only time that me and 'fbm' didn't try to arrange a pub meet before the game resulted in me seeing him in 'The Flint' no problem! The hosts were indeed friendly and we reminisced about The Kursaal, The Kursaal Flyers and Eddie & The Hot Rods too. Apparently, Leeds fans were welcome there last Saturday too but it seemed doubtful that they'd extend the same hospitality to Millwall's famous supporters.

It was another fine evening for football and a beer and so we headed out into the beer garden. The call of a pre-match curry dragged the 'fbm crew' away from the garden and me and my mate Vijay stayed for another before getting a cab to the ground. Vijay is a Londoner who supports Everton - an anomaly which he blames on extended family but fair play to him, he goes to nearly every home game and most away games too. Tonight though he was rooting for the mighty Shrimpers and he was impressed by our support at Adams Park, a pleasant ground made even more so by the sunny evening. I was buoyed by seeing some old friends there and the atmosphere was further enlivened by the arrival of Francis Laurent and his family, who sat just behind us.

We started brightly with great possession in midfield but there was no change from the Wycombe defence in which Michael Duberry was omnivorous. The Wycombe sub Jon-Paul Pitman looked lively and his work from a counter-attack led to the corner from which Matt Harrold tucked away a decent header inside Mildy's right post. I guess it was inevitable he would score against us, but we carried on where we left off and won a corner of our own just before half-time. The Moose played it short to Francis who swept a lovely curling cross into the box for JFC to power in a firm header. Cue frenetic celebrations behind that goal and I turned round to point at Monsieur Laurent in acknowledgement of his close friend's great work. He smiled back and put his thumbs up to me. I thought we would go on and win this game without difficulty, but unfortunately Duberry and his mates stayed steadfast and we just couldn't get behind them, though Revell did inject some fresh enthusiasm late on when he came on for Dougie who had struggled with the physical side of this game.

It was back to Cornwall for me the following day, but I'd had a great trip - just a shame there were only two points to show from games where we should have got six. I suspect that if we'd had a bit more of the pace and unpredictability that the injured Frenchman behind me could have provided then we may well have got them. The positives were our midfield's solidity and the emergence of a better understanding amongst the back four. Adam looked much better than he had against Walsall, but going forward we lacked width, pace and creativity and I guess this will cost us more points unless we can address this sooner rather than later.
 

OldBlueLady

Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
47,890
Location
Benfleet
I was buoyed by seeing some old friends there and the atmosphere was further enlivened by the arrival of Francis Laurent and his family, who sat just behind us.

Less of the "old" thank you and more of the "long time" ;)
 

Rob Noxious

Retro Supremo⭐
Joined
Oct 23, 2008
Messages
7,364
Location
Penzance
Desperately Seeking Stories...

Any 'on the road' or rail tales from Hull? Or elsewhere for that matter...(bump)
 

Pubey

Guest
Any 'on the road' or rail tales from Hull? Or elsewhere for that matter...(bump)

I got on the train at Sheffield, listened to some tunes, read a book and ate some Percy Pigs. Got to the ground, met up with Manchester Blue and bumped into Kay. Got the train home, ate some fruit pastilles, read my book and listened to some tunes. got home at midnight.

crazy times!
 

Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,309
Location
The wilds of Kent
I got on the train at Sheffield, listened to some tunes, read a book and ate some Percy Pigs. Got to the ground, met up with Manchester Blue and bumped into Kay. Got the train home, ate some fruit pastilles, read my book and listened to some tunes. got home at midnight.

crazy times!

fruit pastilles AND Percy Pigs? Madness indeed.
 

OldBlueLady

Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
47,890
Location
Benfleet
fruit pastilles AND Percy Pigs? Madness indeed.

I like Penny Pigs actually ;). Hutton drove me up in Patch the Puma, we shared a tube of lime and chilli Pringles which he hadn't tried before. There was a massive fire on the Gainsboro road just after we came through Lincoln, clouds and clouds of black smoke though strangely, those on the coaches never saw them! Took us just over 4 hours I think to get there, but arrived in time to greet the team coach - which just pipped the Trust and SOL ones.

Lots of familiar faces, and made the effort to find Pubey - thought it was about time! Easy journey home, just managed to squeeze into Peterborough services and get a coffee before they closed their last outlet open - and about 20 mins before the coaches got there. then was very entertained by panicky texts from Dan saying the coach had disappeared! I think we were at Duxford before they left the services. Got back to Benfleet just before half 1 - I think I only braked 4 times in total so Hutton must have done well :whistling:
 
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