The Anonymous Widower

Real Fans Don’t Like Certain Teams

I’m a real football fan, who has followed the game probably since about the age of six or so, when my father first took me to White Hart Lane. One of the early games I saw was when Newcastle and the legend, Jackie Milburn, were visitors. I think Spurs won and I do know that Ted Ditchburn, their goalkeeper was outstanding and that Jackie Milburn missed a penalty. Other teams, I saw in the fifties and early sixties with my father, included Leeds with John Charles and Stoke City with Stanley Matthews. I watched most Cup finals of that era on the television, but the earliest I remember is probably the Manchester City v Birmingham City final of 1956, when Bert Trautmann broke his neck and Don Revie played as a deep-lying centre-forward.

my father had had a long history of both playing football and supporting Spurs.  He always said, that he first went to Spurs in a pony and trap, and hisfather paid a boy to hold the horse’s head during the match. i think too, he’d been at the 1921 Cup Final.

I started going to Ipswich when my parents moved to Felixstowe.  Usually, I was taken by the next door neighbour as getting between Ipswich and Felixstowe in those days wasn’t easy by public transport. As I was living in London most of the time, I still cycled to some of Spurs home matches and later at Liverpool University, I visited both Everton and Liverpool and quite a lot of teams in the area, including Manchester United, Preston, Leeds, Blackpool, Blackburn and Burnley. I didn’t carry a camera as I do now, so there is no record of the visits to the old grounds. Some were very rudimentary and far inferior to how they are today. I remember that getting to Old Trafford involved getting a steam powered shuttle train from the centre of Manchester. I think this was probably, when I took the train from Huyton.

Over the years, I’ve developed a dislike of certain teams. I won’t mention them all, but the usual suspects are there.

This last few weeks, I’ve been watching the story unfold at Cardiff City. I don’t like bullies and I very much feel that the club, the fans and the manager have been very badly treated.

So I felt quite a bit of delight, when Sunderland scored their second goal tonight at Cardiff.

To not  win couldn’t have happened to a more deserving owner!

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , , , | Leave a comment

That Was A Waste Of Time That Was!

I’m now back home, as I failed to get a lift to Doncaster, in time to get there for the match. So my ticket and the one I bought for a possible driver have gone to waste. The money is irrevalent, but i don’t like to throw tickets in the bin, when someone less well off trhan myself, might have used them.

I probably didn’t leave myself enough time to get to the A1 at Apex Corner. As Doncaster, is one of these towns, where I’ve never had a gluten-free meal in the centre and the ground is some way away from the centre, I went to the only open Carluccuio’s near me at St. Pancras to get a meal, before taking a Tube and a 113 bus out of London.

The Tube and bus was my downfall, as it took about half-an-hour longer than I thought it would.

So when the clock went past 12:30, my cut-off time for getting to the match, I reversed my route and came home.

As luck would have it, I got home a lot quicker, than it had taken me to go.

In a way the missing of this match might be a blessing.  The two other impossible ones; Yeovil and Leeds, can now be missed, without them breaking a perfect record.

Unless of course today’s match should be abandoned!

December 26, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

I’ve Got My Banners Ready!

I’ve made a couple of banners to help in my journey.

I've Got My Banners Ready!

I’ve Got My Banners Ready!

Whether I go though, is up to the weather!

December 26, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Nothing Is Impossible!

It’s just that some things are more difficult than others.

One of my favourite quotes was made by Barnes Wallace in an interview by Chris Brasher for the obituary television program, that would follow the innovative engineer’s death.

There is no greater thrill in life than showing something is impossible and then proving how it can be done!

I’ve lived my life by this mantra even before I saw the program.

My current problem is how to get to Doncaster on Boxing Day to see Ipswich play.

There are no trains or buses, as it is Christmas.

I have posted on forums, written to newspapers, the television and radio and not one sensible reply. I’ve even offered a free ticket to the person, who drives me up to Doncaster.

I have even thought about hiring a helicopter.  Light aircraft are not on, as Doncaster built on their grass field by the racecourse and the old Doncaster ground.

But then no-one says no to this London mongrel with a strong connection to Suffolk.  According to my late father, I was at least conceived in the county. The last time was when I was told it would be impossible to visit all 92 League clubs in alphabetical order by public transport.  I did that, but perhaps not as easily or fast, as I would have liked. I’m a stubborn bugger!

So I’ll be hitching all the way up. I can get a bus to the bottom of the A1 at Apex Corner and that’s where I’ll start. I’ve got a banner ready saying.

TRACTOR TO DONCASTER PLEASE!!

Only one person ever said no to me and that was the devil after my stroke.  She took one look at me and thought I’d be too much trouble. So she let me stay here!

In a way, it was a compliment.

December 22, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

A Game Of Four Odd Goals

Yesterday, I went to the football at Ipswich on a very cold evening.

As I needed to go to the dentist in Felixstowe at lunchtime, I went early. This meant that as the cost of my dentist in Felixstowe is so much lower than one in London, I effectively was able to buy a First Class ticket on the saving, thus avoiding the need to pay rush hour prices to get to the match.

The idea was then to come back to Ipswich and waste time by going to a museum, watching a film, exploring the shops and having a pizza in Pizza Express.

All I did was have the pizza and get very cold, as Ipswich shut down virtually completely around five, giving me nearly three hours to find something to do. Since, I worked in the town, all my friends there have either moved away or now live way out of the town.

The biggest disappointment was that the first showing in the cinema was 19:30, whereas in Cambridge today several films start at around four. I could have walked to the multiplex, but I wanted to go to the cinema in the Corn Exchange, where C and myself had so many happy memories.

Even Debenhams and Starbucks shut at six, whereas John Lewis in Cambridge and Norwich shut yesterday at seven.

No wonder the town centre was as dead as a doornail.

But then the crowd at the football was less than fifteen thousand, which is very low for Portman Road.

The game was a pretty good one and memorable for four rather odd goals.

Luke Hyam and Carlos Edwards seemed to stumble over the ball before they put it in the net and Jordan Rhodes, for Blackburn, got the best of the Ipswich keeper in a rush for the ball.

And then to seal the match, Frank Nouble, thundered in on the Blackburn keeper and stole the ball, before slotting it in the net. Mick McCarthy, summed it up as follows on the BBC report.

He is a handful and a frightening prospect when he is bearing down on you.

He certainly scared the goalkeeper. For a big man, Nouble’s pace is astounding.

At least the train was warm, going home, even if it wasn’t a Class 90 and Mark Three coaches.

December 4, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

My Easiest Championship Ground To Travel To

Yesterday, Ipswich Town played at Charlton. It is a very easy ground to get to, as I just get a bus to London Bridge and then take a train to the station at Charlton. It’s then just a short walk to The Valley.

In fact, this ease of access was one of the problems of my viewing of the match, as Ipswich fans bought every seat possible.  The seats at Charlton may be in good condition, but it really is one of the most cramped away areas in the country. QPR used to be worse, but it had improved this season.

I was next to the staircase and hardly got any view of the match at all in the first half, as the two guys in front of me were six footers and never sat down. One even stood on the stairs effectively blocking any view of the goal to my right, just fifteen metres or so away. It did get better in the second half, as some didn’t return after half time and I was able to stand in front of an empty seat the other side of the stairs.

So it was not a good viewing experience! The technology exists, so that you can choose your seat and see the view.  Eventually, this will be used in all grounds in the Premier League and the Championship.

But at least we won by a Tommy Smith goal. Although, with average luck, we should have scored a couple more before the game really got going.

I was home before six. Except for the three grounds near me; The Emirates, White Hart Lane and Brisbane Road, this must be the only ground, where, I can do that!

I do think next time I go to The Valley and the match is likely to be full, I’ll get a hospitality package early.

December 1, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

An Offer For An Ipswich Town Fan Based In London

I am attempting to see every Ipswich Town League and Cup match this season.

So far it has gone very well and I haven’t missed one, although some it could be said were eminently missable.

The problem match is the Boxing Day match at Doncaster, where there are no trains on that day.

Today though, I have bought two tickets for the match. One ticket is for myself, and the other will be for anyone who gives me a lift to and from the match.

November 29, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

I Meet An Ipswich Town Cockney

On the 38 bus coming back from the Angel, I was approached by another Ipswich Town fan.  As usual in this sort of weather, I was wearing an appropriate woolly hat.

He told me he’d been born in the Royal Free Hospital in the Liverpool Road, which probably makes him a genuine Cockney, according to this map.

His parents had then moved to Suffolk.

I’m not, but how many Town fans are genuine Cockneys? For various reasons like the closure of Central London maternity units, very few genuine Cockneys are born these days.

November 29, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

I’m An Attack Shopper

I don’t mess about shopping and especially where groceries are concerned.

Take this morning, which as I’m going to football at Ipswich this afternoon, was very much a small weekly shop for my staples and supper tonight.

My local Waitrose in Islington opens at 08:00 on a Saturday, with the Sainsburys next door opening an hour early. Because too, of the dreadful news from Australia, I decided to go as early as possible and left my house at 07:40. I didn’t buy much as the picture shows.

The Spoils Of My Attack

The Spoils Of My Attack

I did have to go to both stores, as Waitrose don’t sell my favourite Genius bread.

I don’t know when we started doing our shopping early on a Saturday morning, but this behaviour of a direct and early Saturday morning raid on the shops, was very much part of our married life.

The one difference, is that I use a list and C rarely did.

I tend to behave in the same way with IKEA.  I needed some small pieces yesterday, so as I had nothing to do yesterday afternoon, except read the Internet or the Standard, I went to their store in Edmonton, reading the paper on the way.

Some might find this very much obsessive behaviour, but I do like to maximise the use of my time.

On the trip to football today, I’ll be reading the paper again and doing some difficult Sudokus.

November 23, 2013 Posted by | Sport, World | , , | Leave a comment

A Very Good Football Trip

As I said here, my trip to Blackpool, yesterday, started well at Kings Cross.

As I had a few minutes before the Glasgow train to Preston, I had time to visit the Virgin First Class lounge at Euston. I think some companies charge extra for the lounge if you’re on a cheap ticket or close it altogether at weekends, but Virgin don’t seem to penny pinch like that at Euston.

The train was on time to Preston, but it did look very much like rain.

Approaching Preston

Approaching Preston

As I had booked to Blackpool North station, which is a walk of three kilometres to the ground, I asked if I could use my ticket to Blackpool South station, which is only about eight hundred metres.  I was informed that there would be no problem by someone from Northern Rail! I certainly hadn’t found a Jobsworth.

The guy on the train gave the same story and I arrived at the station to walk to Bloomfield Road.

Walking To Bloomfield Road

Walking To Bloomfield Road

I made it in plenty of time, walking in the sun, although the weather was threatening.

It really started to rain, just as I got under cover in my seat.

The match was a topsy-turvy affair, with Ipswich winning with the odd goal in five, scored in stoppage time. Ipswich were one-nil down at half-time, so unusually for a manager, Mick McCarthy threw caution to the wind and played with four forwards across the field.

He got the result all the Ipswich fans wanted and you do wonder, if he hasn’t found the best way to use the talent he has available.

I must admit, I did look at the two Blackpool goals last night on the BBC and I can’t help feeling that if Cresswell and Smith had been playing, one or both of these goals might not have been scored.

In the end the Ipswich fans all went about their journeys home happy with the result, so the two Blackpool goals didn’t matter.

As it connects better to the London trains, I decided to do the long walk to Blackpool North station. However, I didn’t have to walk all the way, as I found a 14 bus, that went near the station. There was the usual silly ticketing palaver, you get with a bus pass outside London and I do wonder if bus companies have shares in those that produce ticket paper.

I got a crowded train to Preston fairly easily, but it arrived there, just as a Euston train was departing. A Virgin employee told me, I had an hour to wait, but as I had an Off-Peak ticket I could take any train.  I then realised, it would be nice to eat something, so as a Manchester Piccadilly train was alongside, a gluten-free supper in Carluccio’s at Piccadilly station beckoned. I could then take one of the more numerous trains to London. The Virgin also told me, that the Manchester to London trains weren’t busy, as City and United weren’t playing.

Where had all the Jobsworths gone?

I had my supper in Carluccio’s at a fast pace and made the 19:35 train with ease.  I had intended to upgrade to First, but as I got four seats and a table to myself in Stearage, I didn’t bother. In fact the fifteen pound upgrade, I didn’t buy, virtually paid for my meal in Carluccio’s.

As I’d arrived in Piccadilly virtually dead on seven, I’d ordered, waited for and eaten my meal in about half-an-hour, whilst checking the news and the football results on the excellent wi-fi. So with luck, I’d be able to go straight home from Euston and catch the start of Match of the Day.

I did! It had been a very good trip.

In a few years time, going from London to Blackpool will be a lot easier, as they are electrifying the line from Preston, as part of the major electrification between Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. It has also been stated that this will mean a tour-hourly service of faster electric trains to and from London. But as I’ll still have the problem of getting a decent gluten-free meal on the way down, but as it will be a greatly improved service from Blackpool to Manchester Piccadilly, I can still go via Manchester and have a decent meal, whilst changing trains.

In fact, if like I did, you have a ticket from Blackpool North to London, you will have several stations, where you can change onto a fast train to London, if you just missed a direct train and didn’t want to wait two hours. You could change at Preston, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool or even Wigan North Western.

I can’t help but feel, that this long-awaited electrification is going to make a lot of difference to the whole of the triangle based on Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool.

It should have been done years ago!

November 10, 2013 Posted by | Food, Sport, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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