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Like everyone else, I've been pissed off with proceeedings for a long time now. Not only with the performances of NUFC on the pitch, but with the administration of the Premier League; the greed over money concerning this 39th game abroad lark and the scheduling of TV games purely to suit the armchair fans with no respect or regard whatsoever for the travelling fans.
There have been lots of seasons where I haven't missed a game, home or away, in the League, the domestic cups and in Europe. But not this season, I've taken a personal stand this season against attending away games which aren't 3.00pm kick offs on a Saturday. As a result, I've refused to attend the 6.00pm at Stoke, the 12.45pm at Villa, the 7.45pm at Arsenal and the 5.15pm at Man Utd (lucky you – ED). The Liverpool away at 3.00pm on a Saturday however, was a game I was always going to attend.
When I travel to the away games, I normally do everything north of Birmingham on a coach and everything south of Birmingham by train or plane. Yesterday however, the thought of witnessing another humiliation on the pitch and the thought of a four hour coach journey home just didn't appeal to me somehow, so I decided I would take the car and drive down.
I wanted to do a ‘SAS job', get in quickly, get the job done, then get out again. Another reason was that I couldn't be bothered to sit on a coach down there for 4 hours listening to the fans around me depressing me even further with their tales of woe about how we were going to be relegated and that KK would resign if we did etc. etc. etc.
So I set off on my own at 9.00am, just me and the radio for company. The roads were clear except for the M60 Manchester Ring Road and I arrived in plenty of time. After being relieved of £8 for the car park, I headed for the chippy as I hadn't stopped for owt to eat or drink on the way down.
Outside the chippy I starting talking to a traffic cop on his motorbike, I told him where I was parked and asked him how quickly the traffic moved after the game and how long it would take to reach the start of the M62, about a mile away. He said if you wait until the end of the match it will take you about 45 minutes to go one mile but if you are willing to leave 5 minutes before the end of the match, it will be a straight run through and you will hit the M62 in about five minutes.
The thought of leaving the game to beat the traffic sounded appealing but I said to the copper “I never leave the game early, never have done”. I just stopped short of saying “never will”.
I bode farewell to the copper and made my way up Utting Ave to where The Arkles pub is on the corner at the top. I was surprised to find that they have converted the pub to ‘Home Fans Only' and this will have come as a shock to the travelling toon fans who have always made this pub their number one destination.
As I stood eating my chips outside The Arkles watching the doormen asking to see fans match tickets so they could turn away Toon fans, I pointed loads of them in the direction of pubs where I knew for a fact Toon fans often go to (The Flat Iron, The Cabbage Hall, The Willow Grove and The Claremont).
I walked along with a few of them who didn't know the area and where they were going and I took them to The Cabbage Hall which was packed with Toon fans in high spirits (pissed). I then walked further on to The Claremont where I had arranged to meet some mates. The pre-match banter and joviality was great, as it usually always is, and both Toon and Liverpool fans took great delight in watching on the big screen Pompey dump Man Utd out of the FA Cup. That was just about where the fun for the day ended cos 15 minutes later I was inside the ground awaiting kick-off.
I reckon my first post on this thread sums up the match so I don't want to go into any more detail about it and depress myself even further. The only on-pitch thing worth mentioning was Oba's 40 yard shot which rattled the bar (when your lucks in that would have gone in).
I witnessed lots of fans today, many of whom I knew, asking the stewards at half-time to open the gate and let them out so they could go back to the pub and have a drink, rather than stay and witness the second half. A few of them tried to get me to go with them but as I was driving home after the game I knew I couldn't have a drink so I decided it was ‘my duty' to stay and support the lads.
Six minutes into the second half when Gerrard strolled through to notch their third, I was beginning to wish I had gone with them. As the clock on the scoreboard ticked over to 60, 65, 70 minutes I suddenly began to think about what the copper had said about avoiding the traffic if I left early and I'm sorry to admit it but when the clock reached 85 minutes I realised it would have been stupidity to stop to the end so I walked out and went back to my car, which thankfully still had its wheels on.
I made a speedy exit from the car park on to the road outside and just as the copper had said, the roads were empty and I made it to the start of the M62 in about five minutes. The result came on the radio at 5.00pm and as it was still 3-0 I was relieved that I hadn't walked out early and missed some form of toon comeback (a goal at least).
On the drive home, the M62, M60, M1 and A1 were all empty and believe it or not I was back home and standing having a pint in The Rockliffe (my local) at 7.30pm. As I had left the car park in Liverpool at 4.50pm I was over the moon that I had managed to do the journey home in just two hours forty minutes. (Yes, I realise the BBS speed police will be working out their calculations that I must have been driving way above the speed limit, and it's true, I was touching 120mph at times, albeit on a clear straight road).
After a couple of pints in my local I went across the road to my other local where my mates band were playing and after a few tracks blasted out, it was easy to forget that I had actually been to the match at all. That was, until match of the day could be seen on the TV in the bar and one of the lads said to me “have you seen that, I bet you're glad you didn't go today”.
When I told him I did go he asked me “why, why the feck do you bother Paul” to which the only answer I could find was “I don't know mate, because I have to, it would feel like betrayal if I didn't”? Not a very good answer I admit and nowadays I find myself sometimes ‘glad' that the kick-off times are changed so that it gives me an ‘excuse' not to attend.
Its getting harder folks, Newcastle United need to give me something back to maintain the passion in me, otherwise I will fast become one of those fans who often tell you “oh yes, I'm a Toon fan, I used to go to the matches but I don't go now”.
Sad from Whitley Bay.