Date:Monday September 19 2011
This was a big day for me, not because it was the first away test for our practically new team, but because I was travelling to the Black Country with somebody different.
Vital`s very own self-confessed loony Sandy; Jezza, who if you don`t know him, has the most wonderful dry sense of humour and his two sons Nathan and Daniel to bring him back to earth when he steps out of line, very kindly invited me to travel with them. I`d sat with them at various games before, but had been warned that actually travelling with them was a different matter altogether.
Anyway, the alarm, not that I needed one, got me out of bed at 6 am and I headed off to Shoreham By Sea station to catch the 7:14 train to London Victoria. All straight forward I thought, until the platform announcer advised that the train was running late due to congestion at Worthing. Oh come on guys, is this the best you can come up with? Congestion at Worthing at 7 a.m on a Saturday morning?
The train arrived late at Victoria. No surprise there, it usually does and I headed off to Edgware to meet loony Sandy in Starbucks. We duly met up and I did my gentlemanly duty and offered the said loony a coffee, which she gleefully accepted with one condition i.e. she wanted to order it herself because it was complicated. Now I didn`t know coffee could be complicated, but Sandy made sure that it was and we set down next to a couple of ladies.
Within seconds, one of them asked if we were QPR fans? Now bearing in mind that Sandy was wearing a home shirt complete with badge, I figured this might be quite an easy question to answer and so it was. It turns out that Sandy actually knew the lady who asked the question from many years ago and I believe the words school and 1950`s were mentioned.
I downed my coffee and Sandy spooned out her mug of complicated froth and we set off to meet Jezza. We loaded what seemed to be a suitcase full of food that Sandy had kindly prepared and headed to the charming M1 motorway.
During the week, Jezza had commented to me that should Sandy even mention the word Jude, who I believe she is quite fond of, she would be evicted onto the hard shoulder. Personally, I thought this was a little unfair, so as a show of support I played my newly downloaded ring tone of Hey Jude.
The journey up the M1 was slow to say the least, with numerous hold-ups on the way, but Jezza was very understanding of the cars and people stranded on the hard shoulder, but unfortunately, I`m unable to print the exact words he used, as this is a family forum. Sandy spent most of the time tweeting the whole world on her i phone, which incidentally, has now been surgically welded to her hand, while Nathan and Daniel munched on the melted, chocolate covered Crunchie biscuits I`d brought along.
We arrived at the cark park to discover that Arsenal were going to ruin my accumulator, and by all accounts, Mr Sandy, but at least I had the comfort of knowing that the main event of the day was about to unfold. The main event of course was not the game, but the much Vital publicised Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagels. This subject even warranted its own thread on Vital, but despite suggestions that Asda Mature Cheddar and Pickled Onions should fill the Bagel, let me assure you that the fare that Sandy served up was delightful, so much so, I may even consider dropping my pre-match KFC fare in favour of the Bagel shop next door.
To compliment this fine pre-match feast, I`d brought along a rather decent bottle of red wine, but unfortunately, the cork decided to break in half in the process of removing it. Not to be outdone by the wretched cork, I managed to push it into the bottle, but not before a jet of wine had squirted over my, yes you guessed it, white shirt. It would have been sheer greed to drink all the wine, but not wanting to leave an opened bottle of wine in Jezza`s car, I hid it on a wall under an over-hanging bush, hoping to retrieve it after the game. Within three minutes, the bottle had been lifted by a Wolves fan and it was at that point, I just knew it was going to be our day.
We trooped off to ground, me in my newly coloured speckled red and white shirt and watched our beloved team sweep aside Wolves and I have to admit, I think we were all surprised at just how easy it was.
The game passed in what seemed like record time and we headed back with smiles galore to the car, with the only interruption being some deluded oik poking Sandy in the chest and saying how lucky we were, but it didn`t stop her bouncing along like a demented jumping bean, such was her joy at winning.
With Bagel number two in hand, we quietly headed off home knowing it had been a good day. Sandy even found time to "comfort" Mr Sandy on the demise of Arsenal, but I have to say that I didn`t know that comfort involved laughing.
We all said our goodbyes on returning to London, in what for me was the perfect day. Great game, great result, but most of all, great people.
I arrived home just in time to hear the BBC say "if you don`t want to see the results, then look away now" giving you at most three seconds to leave the room before they blab the results, forgetting that most people have ears as well as eyes.
To summarise, this is what away days are all about and I recommend it to the house!
Date:Monday September 19 2011
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