King’s Lynn Town FC 0 v 0 FC United of Manchester:
And so to the match. Long journeys are fairly standard when watching football in the nationwide leagues in Germany, but I am not used to it in England at level 7. Yet at 5am the alarm went, and I wandered downstairs to find D. frying sausages for butties for the trip. Soon enough we were on the bus into town, weighed down with food, my flag and a certain amount of beer. We met the rest of the RRF at Piccadilly, and caught one of a whole string of trains we would need to get to King’s Lynn and back. Everything ran in quite an orderly fashion, sophisticated even, Lee having sorted a whole load of different cheeses, and most people having opted for lighter session ales. At Ely though two of our number came back, their pockets bulging with cans of Gin. The volume of the conversation began to increase, the level of taste travelling in the opposite direction.
D. had researched a good pub right on the waterfront. Flags everywhere, random nautical objects, a good range of ales and a beer garden. Plenty of Reds were already there, and we set up in the covered veranda for the afternoon. The landlord was rumoured to be a bit of a “character”, which he duly proved to be, catching J. opening one of the hatch windows. A running war of words and digs at each other continued throughout the afternoon much to the amusement of the rest of us.
Close to 3pm we headed on to the ground, and what a ground! King’s Lynn’s Walks Stadium has it all. A nice old school Mainstand, terraces (partially covered) around the rest of the ground, houses looking over the pitch with people peering out of their kitchen windows, plenty of space for flags and Guinness on tap without any restrictions on bringing it out onto the terrace. Their fans were dead friendly, despite the odd jibe from both sides, and pretty much every Red was singing away with a drink in their hand. The highlight of the day were the various songs relating to King’s Lynn’s more agricultural background. “Ooh Ahh Cantona” sung in a farmer’s accent raised a smile.
The match, despite finishing 0-0, was of a decent quality. Plenty of hard challenges and some nice passages of play on a good quality surface. We had stacks of chances, but upfront we are still struggling and so most finished with a tame effort. King’s Lynn for their part also forced the odd good save (particularly a spectacular double save) and looked more likely once we were reduced down to ten men. In a light drizzle, the final 15 minutes were end to end stuff and left me feeling genuinely nervous about a match for the first time in months. You can’t ask for much more from a game of football.
After the match, there were some unsightly scenes at the local supermarket, but armed with bags of Gin and Whisky, we made our train and started on the journey back to Manchester. Easier said than done, the journey required three trains and us waiting ages in Nottingham and Sheffield. This included the shortest confrontation with an EDL supporter ever (to be fair, I wouldn’t fancy my chances on my own against 6 rival fans, but for such a bold entrance, I’d at least have waited until they’d put their bags of shopping down before legging it), J & S nearly going on a night out in London, and us finding an Asbo bracelet (which we duly attached to J in his sleep). At about midnight we finally arrived back in Manchester. Drunkeness evolving into hangovers, tired but satisfied.