SOUTHAMPTON is a long way. Famously. It’s pretty much as far as you are asked to go in the Premier League. If you go any further you are in the sea. Although it rained that much we might as well have got in the sea. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Mick Clarke has volunteered driving duties as he is in work the next day and none of us can be trusted to behave sensibly unless we are given a vehicle to look after. The eight-seater has been booked for a while and is oversubscribed. I don’t know if it’s the fame of the Nathaniel Clyne video but we are having to turn people away now. We’re thinking of running a B Team Bus where we monitor performance to see if people are ready to step up to the big boys. It is quite a pace to live with on days like today…
Even though we have to bully someone to drive, I much prefer the smaller vehicles these days. The coaches from Merseyside were leaving at 7am, which was lovely as I was rolling over and going back to sleep about that time, especially after a few beers at Crystal Fighters the night before. An 8am alarm, quick shower, and stroll round to Ben Mac’s to say a quick hello to his baby is far more civilised.
Mick’s pick-ups aren’t too bad this week. A cafe on South Road in Waterloo, Wavertree and finally in Garston. Ronan has persuaded the cafe to open early for him, Benno and Neil. Although apparently the first response he got was “Are you going to turn up this time?”
This is a reaction to a week when he ordered 24 bacon and sausage butties for a whole bus full of lads only to go out and get drunk, oversleep and miss the bus in the morning. So not only did he not get to see the game, he had to go into the cafe the next day and pay a pissed off cafe owner £45 for 24 uneaten sandwiches. Although, apparently, she wasn’t as pissed off as the 24 hungry lads on the bus who hadn’t had any brekkie.
There are no such issues today, although Ronan hadn’t exactly had an early night on the Friday and had the arse to show for it. But he’s still first there and orders sandwiches for those who can’t make it. Everyone is soon picked up and we are quickly on our way, just an hour or so after we said we would be. Which for us must be some sort of record.
The journey down is fairly uneventful, save for the driver who wasn’t drinking needing more toilet stops than those who weren’t and also taking us past Oxford so many times it was renamed Moxford. He still swears that is what the Sat Nav told him to do, but unless that computer is very fond of The Kassam Stadium and 40 minute detours I think he might have taken a wrong turn.
Mick’s Oxford fetish means we, again, have to abandon the car wherever we can in the hope of avoiding a parking ticket and rush to the ground. We seem to be in time but a sizeable queue means we miss the first few minutes. I wish these new grounds had put a few more turnstiles in.
Once in it is nice to see a few friends new and old. Me and @Ap823_ from the Twitter have a cuddle on the stairway and, once in my seat, I realise Kim Gordon, who did a few Pink’s last season, including the mad post-Dortmund one, is sat behind me. A few of the lads from the irregular coach join us too. It feels like it is going to be a good day.
And then the Reds don’t quite score. They dominate and penetrate and do lots of things you need to do to win football matches but it just doesn’t quite happen. At half-time we joke that they are just waiting to score in front of us, but alas, no. I still can’t believe Roberto Firmino didn’t score. I still can’t believe Clyne’s header doesn’t drop in. But 0-0 it is.
We return to the car soaking wet, without a couple of points, but with the now familiar parking ticket that apparently now just gets built into the day’s costs. Never mind. The match ticket was only £20. Well in Virgin Media. Makes up for the hundred odd quid you charge me every month for my internet and TV.
We might not have won, but we are, at that point, still top of the league, so spirits on the way home are high. We sing along to an Oasis live album really loudly and it reminds me of the time we beat Manchester City 3-2 in 2014 and, having spent the afternoon with Noel Gallagher, I heard Jamie Webster leading a huge singalong of Live Forever at the Boss Night in Sound.
We felt invincible that night. Unfortunately the team couldn’t get over the line. This year though? I still fancy it. Mick puts his foot down on the way home and we are in Pogue Mahones by 9.45. After that I go to an engagement party and, very unnecessarily, a house party I stumbled across on my street on my way home. Was really glad for that extra glass of red wine on Sunday morning, I’ll tell you.
Up the pay in 15 days to reduce your penalty charge notice Reds.