FRIDAY night I drove to Nottingham with The Shipbuilders. It was fun but I couldn’t drink and it was a late one because Nottingham is always slightly further than you think. I also woke up on Saturday earlier than I wanted to and couldn’t get back to sleep so I got up and did grown-up jobs that involved driving places. Like running errands and buying socks. At least it was sunny.
Saturday night I spent in on my own watching boxing and drinking lager while my wife was out at a Eurovision party. Eventually, I decided Eurovision Twitter was too good, so I turned over and joined in. Mad Eurovision, la. I was meant to go to bed early but it didn’t really happen and then my wife woke me up when she came in anyway. The cheek. I would NEVER do that.
The upshot is I was tired on Sunday morning and inevitably just out the shower when Tizzer and his lad were already outside mine waiting in a taxi. I rushed some clothes on, overdressing for the London sunshine I didn’t know about, and we were soon on our way to pick up Josh and then Ben.
Craig Hannan had made a late decision to come too after picking up a spare from James Cutler, so the six of us were in Wetherspoons in time for the 8am opening time. If you are wondering what lager to drink for your first pint at 8am I can recommend Asahi. It is very smooth. Mick Clarke follows soon after upsetting a taxi driver by getting toast crumbs all over the back of his car. He should count himself lucky. It’s far from the worst thing I’ve experienced deposited from Mick Clarke when he’s hungover.
Lime Street is full of Tranmere fans off to Wembley. I see a few I know, including Craig Pennington from Bido Lito, and they are all a mix of excitement and nerves. It is hard to imagine a play-off final, having never been in one. Never so much does a whole season come down to one game. Lose a Europa League final in Basel, and you’ve still got Dortmund at home once the dust settles. But what is the point of webbing Solihull 9-0 if you’ve got to go back there on the same level the next year? I’ve got my fingers crossed for them.
Luckily there are two fast London trains in quick succession so we manage to get seats together even with the extra people. We’re also sat by The Irregulars, who have abandoned their usual bus for a table seat on a fast train. They encourage me, Craig and Mick to gamble with them on a card game I don’t totally understand and we inevitably lose. Not as soft as they look, them boys. I want a rematch on the bus to Hong Kong.
By the time we get to London I’m fairly merry. I’ve arranged for us to meet Phil Blundell in a pub called The Old George in Bethnal Green and he’s already there by the time we arrive despite, I’m pretty sure, it still being technically morning. It is absolutely gorgeous weather and the concrete schoolyard around us feels like it could be in Sao Paulo. Sutty and Marjo join us in the beer garden at the back and it’s all that lovely I don’t really want to leave. Imagine falling at the 37th league game because the weather was quite nice.
We do leave eventually, although we do miss kick-off. In my slight defence we seem to be walking for ages once we arrive at the station. And it was really, really nice in that beer garden. I eventually get in the ground to see Joel Matip hit the bar. At least I think it is Matip. He’s bloody miles away.
Yeah let’s do the ground. On a positive note I have a hotdog that is really nice. A proper sausage and not that expensive. On a negative note there is absolutely everything else. I mean I suppose you can see from everywhere. Unlike Goodison where 85 per cent of the ground is a restricted view and the other 15 per cent is very restricted. But still. It’s never a football ground. I think back to Upton Park and weep for the home fans who have to come here every week.
The away end is split into two half way up so it is quite hard to get songs going. By the time you figure out what the front end are singing they’ve stopped. But never mind, Daniel Sturridge has just danced round the goalkeeper and we all know this one. Go absolutely ballistic.
The Reds score three more second half. Job done. The ground is empty by the time the game ends so it’s no worries getting the train too. Although they do make us walk round in circles for ages for reasons which aren’t apparent. Or maybe we are just drunk.
Matt Lim has text saying they are in some trendy bar called Cargo or Climate Change or something but it is the opposite direction and Jake Nolan is going to a rooftop bar but it looks a bit like someone is selling cans on the top of a car park so we just head back where we started. Back in the sun.
We soon realise we’ve got ages until our train so we go on a bit of a pub crawl round Bethnal Green and then to a pub by Euston where a fella from Mossley Hill works. I’m the stage of drunk where I am talking to strangers and my mates are largely leaving me to it. I’m pretty sure I promise to get a couple some Liverpool tickets. Not even sure they liked footie.
Eventually we get on a train and I buy much more beer than I need. I only actually manage one I think before the tiredness catches up with me. I find a quiet part of the train and go to sleep. Done in. By the time we get to Lime Street I’m not even sure anyone says goodbye. We just all wander off in different directions. I get home and my wife is still awake and I try and pretend I am not that drunk. I am informed the next day that I was not successful.
Up the nearly there Reds. In every possible way.