I HAVE no idea where to start with this, to be honest. I often start the night before, but as the night before Watford started about Wednesday I’m not sure either of us want to relive all that. You out of boredom, me out of self-loathing.
Let’s start on Saturday, shall we? It’s the British Podcast Awards in London. Lots of you have voted for us so we feel like at least one of us should go down. Plus, we love a do. But Gareth, Neil and Andy are all away and it looks a bit posh for everyone else, so it is left to me.
I travel down with my wife who likes going to London and had also expressed an interest in seeing me at some point over the bank holiday. We get there about lunchtime, dump our bags and, because central London is actually smaller than you think, walk down to the West End in the sunshine.
I’m meeting Robbie Scotcher, who is our Crystal Palace fan for TAW. He works in theatre and so we chat footie, acting and Bill Kenwright. It’s a lot of fun. He’s also bigger than I thought. Then he goes off to work and me and my wife go an watch 42nd Street. It is really, really good and the theatre at Drury Lane is magnificent. Altogether, five tap shoes out of five.
We wander back the hotel, who by now are letting us in the room, and get ready for the awards. The dress code is “dress like you would for a friends party who has hired a nice venue”. Which I can’t get my head round. I don’t have any friends who would hire a nice venue for their birthday. We just go to Pogues. I wish people would just tell me exactly what to do more.
I try three different tops on and change my shoes to something smarter and we go. It’s a relatively short walk to the awards in King’s Cross and I stop on the way to show Laura the steps from the Spice Girls wannabe video, which is in the hotel of the last awards we went to. Local knowledge, that. What a husband.
We get to the awards and there is a brilliant moment when I discover a) I actually know someone and b) there is a free bar. Some of the lads from Radio City Talk are involved in the boxing and MMA podcast Fight Disciples and are nominated for Best Sports Podcast. Which I didn’t know because I’m incredibly self-absorbed. It’s good to see them, anyway. Scousers on tour.
All I know going in is that we are in the top 20 for Listeners’ Choice award. We are announced as the “silver award winner”. Which, given that there is no actual award for this, never mind a silver one, essentially just means we came second. Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review won, if you were wondering. They’re from the BBC.
I’m a bit gutted to be honest with you, as I like winning things and we’ve got a bit used to it. The Anfield Wrap I mean, not frigging Liverpool. But looking around on the night showed it’s a boss achievement. There are genuinely famous people on the shortlist doing podcasts now, with huge social media reach. There are big organisations like the BBC and Empire magazine backing podcasts. The fact we managed to get the second highest number of votes from our listeners makes me proud of us and you. So thanks from the bottom of my heart. If you voted, like. If you didn’t you can go fuck yourself.
Anyway, it was worth going just to see Fight Disciples win. They really, really didn’t expect it and are rather beside themselves with joy. I try and do a bit of networking afterwards but I realise I’m a bit drunk and haven’t remembered what anyone looked like who I wanted to speak to so went home.
I’ll go through Sunday fairly quickly as I have been banging on for a while already and I’m nowhere near match day. Sunday is a stag do in Leeds. Which is helpfully about 200 miles past Watford. It’s a good friend from school, David Sweeney. I’m looking forward to it.
All the rest of the lads are either nearly there or on their way from Liverpool. They are all drinking. This puts me in a predicament. Do I stay sober and risk my friends being all more drunk than me and possibly annoying, meaning I have to play catch-up and probably go too far the other way? Or crack open the cans on the train on my own, before 11am and look like a lunatic.
Four cans later I’m pulling in to Leeds station with no one having sat anywhere near me for the entire journey. I meet the other lids in a lovely gastro pub called Wetherspoons in the station and we’re soon on our way to our boutique hotel for the night, The Holiday Inn Express. Although I’m not entirely sure what is Express about it. Maybe the length of time we were in there before we were out on the ale.
We were going to The Garden Party which sounds very posh but was actually a rave in a pub car park. That is a slight disservice, they’ve got a marquee and they have done it up very nice. I’m having a slightly drunk dance outside and a TAW listener introduced themselves and my head goes a bit.
After the music gets all a bit the same and we want a different lager to the one lager they sell, we head up to Headingley and go to a few student pubs, at least one of which I end up doing karaoke in. As one shuts we seem to be able find another before finally finding ourselves in The Box. I’m not sure what time we get in, exactly, although apparently it was very important for me and Tim Smith to have a two-hour conversation about absolute wham when we got in.
Finally, Monday. I’m in bed in Leeds and I need to get to Liverpool to get to Watford. I should be moving but I am very much sleeping instead. My friends want to leave for Watford early but I’m making promises with my fingers that my eyes can’t keep. We finally get up about half an hour after checkout.
I get back to Liverpool at 2:47pm and to my house at 2:59pm. My mates are waiting outside. I dump my bag, grab the tickets, say hello to the cat and leave. I reckon I was inside 15 seconds. My bed will have to wait for another 10 hours at least.
Josh is driving and Tizzer is in the front. They wanted to leave much earlier, complaining about bank holiday traffic and roadworks. I was trying to point out that five hours would be fine but they were having none of it. Tizzer even invented some family he was meeting to make me feel worse. Unlucky for him nothing could make me feel worse than my actual hangover. While they slagged me off in the front I slept in the back.
I woke up to a commotion. Apparently we’ve just driven past a large animal, which starts as a stag but is later upgraded to a moose, standing on the side of the M6 brazen as you like. I have googled “moose on the M6” but haven’t found anything, which suggests this lost animal didn’t cause a pile up, at least. Or more likely wasn’t a moose at all. Apparently it was very impressive, though. And not at all bothered about a load of cars driving 80 miles an hour inches away. Possibly because it was bigger than the lot of them.
Nap achieved I’m feeling fresh and Josh is blasting out Faithless. After all the fuss over the leaving time we are in Watford with an hour and a half to spare, easily a record this season. I might mention this once or twice through various mediums.
I meet a few of the lads from the brass band in a pub rather aptly called The Odd Fellows. They’ve been in London all weekend and look in a similar state to me. Me and Josh then go for some Jamaican food. When in Watford, and all that. He has curried goat and I have one of them massive slightly sweet pasties. It’s all delicious and I’d highly recommend it if you are ever in the area. It is just down the road, on the left. Can’t miss it. Think the fella is called Trev.
It’s my first time at Vicarage Road and I really like it. There is a bit of manufactured atmosphere but plenty of real stuff too. It’s just brilliantly old school. The “away ticket collection service” is an old fella outside the away end with loads of tickets in his pocket. The concourse is one of those designed by people who never thought anyone would buy anything in a football ground. They’ve got four proper stands. It’s great.
The game isn’t really. Watford’s team of lads you don’t really know apart from Troy Deeney are big and tough and right in your face with their massive faces. Liverpool struggle to get their passing going, not helped by an early sub, but do start to get in behind them. Then Emre Can scores the best goal ever.
Watford are sound in that they have big screens all round the ground and replay everything. Normally, if the opposition do something decent the home stadium swerve it. Unless, of course, a good shot is met by an even better save. But good old Watford show us every angle of Emre’s goal in high definition. And each time it is met by gasps from the away end.
The away end is a bit of a funny one. I think it is fair to say it was “international”. Which is understandable given the timing and location of the game. There are plenty of scouse lads trying to out-scouse each other, though. 100 scouse points to the fella who responded to a shout of “GET BACK! GET BACK!” with a surprisingly musical “GET BACK TO WHERE YOU ONCE BELONGED!”
It can’t be all fun and songs, though. Tension hits the air as Liverpool don’t capitalise on their period on top and Watford start theirs. Daniel Sturridge jinks through and should probably score by the time he gets there. Then it looks like it is all going to be fine. Then the entire Liverpool defence gets off and their lad hits the bar. We probably should have marked him, on reflection.
Full-time. Go ‘ed, Liverpool. One step closer. We bounce back towards the car and I realise I have no idea where we parked it. Luckily the other two are more on top, otherwise I’d still be wandering round Hertfordshire now.
The trip home is fairly uneventful aside from a trip to Beaconsfield Services. Have you been yet? Belter, lad. It’s got a pub! Well, a Wetherspoons, but it looks like a good one. They’ve got a Nando’s, decent looking Indian, all sorts. They’ve even got a hotel. As one of the lads said, you could spend all day there. And sleep anything off before the drive home. I’ve been to worse towns than this. Essentially, Beaconsfield Services is better than Burnley. If they want to use that as a slogan they are welcome.
We are home just after one because Josh is an absolute jockey. For once, we are all south end Liverpool so the drop-offs are good too. Another crazy win. A very crazy weekend.
Up the silver award Reds.