I was just twelve, when I watched Wolves beat Blackburn Rovers 3-0 in the 1960 Cup Final. Like many of the finals of that era, there was a serious injury to a player, which reduced Blackburn to ten men, as substitutes weren’t allowed. The Blackburn player was Dave Whelan.
Today, he was the Chairman and major shareholder of Wigan Athletic, as they beat Manchester City to win the FA Cup.
Either there is a God, or everything comes to those who wait!
BT seem to be pulling out the stops to get customers to use their broadband services to get sporting TV, and especially football.
As I’m a customer of BT Vision, I don’t need to do anything.
Sunderland have now had two players sent off in successive matches, which means they lose them until the end of the season.
Although, they are now playing better with ten men.
Wigan incidentally, seem to be favourites for the drop.
At least, we didn’t get the all West Country Division One play-off to decide who comes up, but I would prefer a trip to Brentford, than one to Yeovil.
The worst scenario would be if Wigan and Yeovil are the two new teams in the Championship.
I took these pictures of the walk to Burnley’s ground; Turf Moor and the walk back by a route avoiding the dreadful pedestrian-unfriendly roundabout by the station.
Burnley is a town that needs a few more light-controlled crossings, as both walks involved lots of crossing of major roads, often with iron railings to get in your way.
Many clubs would organise a bus service on match days, especially as the climb back to the station is quite severe.
I mentioned this in the previous post about next season and increasingly, I’m finding that this is the way I go to football matches.
I eat first, often at the London station, like Kings Cross or Waterloo, but sometimes like yesterday for the trip to Portman Road at home, which is a about twenty minutes from Liverpool Street station.
I then travel out in First Class, so I get a comfortable trip, getting to the match just before kick-off.
Afterwards, I usually take the first train back.
After yesterday, the matches that Ipswich Town will play next season are starting to come into line.
I can start to work out, which matches will be a bit more than an Eat-Travel-Watch-Return trip.
Looking at Championship promotion and relegation, it looks like the following.
Cardiff are definitely up and although I’ve never been to see Ipswich there, it’ll be one I’m happy to miss. Although, I quite like going to the Welsh capital on the best diesel trains in the world. I must go again to Cardiff or Swansea before the trains are retired from that route.
It looks like the others to go up are one or both from Hull and Watford, and possibly one from Brighton, Crystal Palace, Bolton, Nottingham Forest and Leicester. I would be sad to miss out on the trips to Hull, Watford, Brighton and Nottingham and I’d love to get rid of Leicester, as the ground is so far from the station. I think on balance, I’m prepared to put up with the dump that is Selhurst Park, to see an easy away match. It’s just a pity, that the two to go up can’t be Bolton and Leicester.
Sadly at the other end of the table, three of my favourite away places; Barnsley, Bristol City and Wolves are in line for relegation, along with Peterborough. The only one I’m not bothered about is the latter, as although the ground is one of the worst in the Championship, the city is worth a visit. After my last trip to Wolves, I think that I’ll miss that trip the most.
I’ll deal with who’s coming up first. Doncaster and Bournemouth are definitely up and although, I like Doncaster’s new ground, you have to get a taxi from the station and I would suspect, that Doncaster isn’t the most coeliac-friendly town. But as you go there from Kings Cross, it’s an Eat-Travel-Watch-Return trip. Bournemouth is an easy trip, the ground is very good and I’d probably fortify myself with a good breakfast at Carluccio’s in Waterloo.
Of the other candidates to possibly come up; Brentford, Yeovil, Sheffield United and Swindon, I’m really only against Yeovil, as that is an almost impossible trip. Brentford would be a low-cost bonus and Sheffield United and Swindon are more easy trips. Although, after my last trip back from Sheffield, I’d prefer one of the others.
The big question is who’s coming down from the Premier League, with Reading and QPR, who seem to me certain to get relegated. It’ll either be Aston Villa, Newcastle or Wigan. I hope it’s not Wigan, as that is a bad ground to travel to. I think I’d prefer Aston Villa to Newcastle, solely on the distance involved.
The team I’m annoyed about, who are coming down is QPR, as they have the worst ground for away supporters, where I’ve ever seen a match. Hopefully, they’ll get promoted or relegated quickly, or perhaps their rich owners, will walk away from their toy and the club will do a Portsmouth.
Since I wrote this post, we’ve seen Reading and QPR commit mutual suicide in a monochrome match. So I’ll just have to put on my strongest underwear and brave a trip to Loftus Road for a season or two.
You see very few football teams wearing pink. But Birmingham City did today.
It’s actually Birmingham’s third kit, as The Sun reports here.
I would have thought, it wasn’t a good idea from a commercial point of view, as I suspect, pink replica shirts wouldn’t be good sellers.
There is more on pink football shirts here.
If you live in Ipswich, support Town and want to go by train to the last match of the season at Burnley,you’ve got a five hour journey starting at six in the morning.
I’m luckier in that I can catch the 08:03 train to Leeds and change for Burnley there, getting there in just under four hours.
Yet again, East Anglia shows how badly it is connected to the rail network.
I also get back to London about 19:30, whereas those going to Ipswich arrive two hours later.
So to answer my question, the answer is yes! But those of us, who live in London can do it a lot easier, than those that live in Ipswich.
I had decided to come back directly from Sheffield station to St. Pancras International.
Partly, this was because it was without a change and also it would enable me to compare the two companies; East Coast and East Midlands. But mainly, it was because the journey up cost £33.00 and I was able to get back for £19.80, by the simpler route.
It started well enough in that I was able to get easily by the Supertram to the station, with a change at Fitzalan Square. My only query, would be to ask if Sheffield have enough trams, as the tram was crowded both ways and there was a long delay waiting to get one at Meadowhall? I also find it strange, that we have six modern tram systems in the UK; London, Edinburgh, West Midlands, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield, and all seem to have different trams and different ticketing systems. For instance, other than London, the only tram system I can use without paying is Sheffield.
If we had a standard UK tram and infrastructure, then anywhere that wanted a system, would be able to cost it very easily. Surely too, a common tram, would reduce inventories for spare parts and reduce costs for staff training.
I have had quite a bit of experience of East Midlands First Class this year, so I took the precaution of going to the usually excellent Marks and Spencer in the station to get a drink. As I’d only had the sandwiches I bought at Meadowhall all day, I thought something to eat might be an idea. But Marks and Spencer were out of gluten-free sandwiches and I couldn’t find any salads at all. There of course, is no restaurant in the station, where anything gluten-free is available. So I would have to wait until St. Pancras.
I did check out the toilets and despite being pretty new, they weren’t in the best of states.
Especially, if you compare them with the exquisite ones I used at Doncaster on the way up. Doncaster’s toilets were also free.
So obviously you don’t pay for what you get!
After the toilets, I thought, I’d check out the First Class Lounge.
It was shut, just like it was at Derby a couple of weeks ago.
The train left Derby on time and I had a table for four to myself. By the time we got to Leicester, I’d had a cup of instant coffee in a cardboard cup, as opposed to the china cups from a pot on East Coast.
Then disaster struck, as we held at Leicester for forty minutes or so, after staff told us that the overhead lines had been brought down in the Elstree area. To be delayed on an electric train by overhead wire problems is to be expected, but when you’re in an operational Class 222 diesel train, it’s somewhat ironic.
We continued untroubled until Kettering, where we stopped for another twenty minutes, before being ordered off the train and onto another Class 222 heading for St. Pancras. I could just about find enough space to stand up. Luckily the crush didn’t last long, as staff told us that at the next stop at Wellingborough, if we got out and walked to the back of what was two trains coupled together there would be more space.
It now was obvious what East Midlands Trains had done. As to get a single train through the damaged knitting at Elstree, would be much easier than getting two trains through, they coupled two six coach trains together to make a twelve coach one.
Before I had moved to the comfort of the second train, I was talking to someone who worked for Network Rail. He blamed Dr. Beeching for all of the delays, as there hadn’t been any investment in the 1960s and 1970s. As I think the electrification that caused all the trouble was installed in the 1980s, that is quite an amazing conclusion.
As all of the electrification of that era seems to cause trouble, no matter where it is installed, I would think that there must be something wrong with the basic design. I did read something about how the Regional Eurostars used to bash hell out of the wires on the East Coast Main Line and cause failures. So perhaps the new Thameslink Class 377 trains are the problem. But I doubt it, as they’ve been around for some years.
In the end we arrived in London at 22:30, after a four hour journey. Marks and Spencer in St. Pancras was devoid of any suitable food, so I went home in a taxi and had cheese on toast.
I wish I’d gone home the other way via Meadowhall and Doncaster, despite it being twenty minutes slower. After all, I was two hours late into St. Pancras. At least, if there’d had been an overhead line failure, I suspect that I’d have been kept going by all that glorious East Coast tea in First Class.
It wasn’t a bad day for a ride and as they did at Barnsley, the Police gave the horses some exercise.
it’s nice to see that the South Yorkshire Police doesn’t seem to mind what colours their horses are. This one doesn’t appear to be the one I saw earlier in the season. Incidentally, I can’t remember seeing a grey police horse for many years. But then to groom a grey so that it looks good, is a lot of hard work.