Frickley isnt exactly a favourite destination for FC fans, probably ranking alongside Skem in terms of ones to avoid, due to trouble at previous matches. I on the other hand have always quite enjoyed the trip, with the bus ride over the pennines, views across the hills from the nice covered terrace and extremely melodramatic police escort out of town after the match. Coincidence would have it, that it was Frickley away once again when I managed to find time to return to Manchester for the weekend.
Before the flight too important meetings needed to take place. Firstly Rot-Weiss Essen fan, and good friend, B. was met and we travelled to the airport. Then we met the Stade Family Fun Park Crew who had flown over to watch Borussia Dortmund and then St Pauli and were staying at my flat. Keys handed over, we boarded our plane and headed for Ringway.
We touched down around midday and after B. had spent some time getting used to cars on the wrong side of the road and security cameras everywhere, we met up with our host from the Odd Carriers and then had a mooch around town. A bit of a look around Oi Polloi, a few bargains snapped up in Bags of Flavor (the vintage Woolrich Coat I snapped up is almost worth a post of closeups only the Darmstadt Casuals site could match!), local cullinary delights on Tibb Street enjoyed, a few city stickers peeled off lampposts and had a good laugh at the Chester ones, and then caught the tram up to Old Trafford. It was odd looking around Old Trafford (from the outside) again. The new quadrants look so alien and yet beneath the stands, there is still a feeling of nostalgia and home to it all. This was quickly dashed though by the number of half and half city/United scarves being snapped up by passing tourists.
In the evening, we went to Joshua Brookes for JB Shorts, the evening of short plays run in the basement there every once in a while. Id never been, but Im glad we went. The plays were all very good, and often extremely funny, but at the same time short enough that if one didn’t tickle your fancy, then the next one would be on soon after. As is often the case with events involving anything made with a bit of love in Manchester, there were plenty of familiar FC faces there, including of course James Quinn who armchair army fans will know from the radio commentary, and the rest of you will know from Early Doors. Definitely worth a visit next time its on!
Afterwards we did a tour of various pubs, exposing our German guest, now dubbed “Cornish” to the wonders of real ale. The Elbow beer in the Castle Hotel finished us off and left us stumbling through Picadilly Gardens chewing on cardboard sandwiches from the Spar.
On the Saturday we were up fairly early and after a quick nosebag were off to the Red Lion pub in Withington. A quick pint and then it was off once again, with the Didsbury and Withington branch in their minibus. The sun was shining so the trip across all the more enjoyable. Another quick pub stop was fitted in near the ground and we still made it for kick off.
Id expected the match to be quite close, but instead we made light work of Frickley. A scrappy start, was followed by a couple of goals with a dash of luck and before long we were bossing the game. Finally a decent performance in the FA Trophy! Despite the relatively low turnout, the atmosphere was pretty good and there was no sign of trouble, apart from when B. spotted someone in a Wuppertaler SV(!) shirt. I caught up with plenty of old friends during the course of the match and even met a fellow St Pauli fan from the Sudkurve who is living over in Manchester for the next couple of months!
After the final whistle we got our now standard police escort out of town. Within an hour and a half we were back in Manchester and spent the rest of the evening in the Port Street Beer House with a few other Oddies and other FCers. The Kernel Pale Ale Stella was going down particularly well. We even spotted a lad in a St Pauli scarf, but he didn’t seem to know much about what it was.
We caught the first half of the derby on the Sunday, but fortunately were out at Ringway by the time the final score came in. Ive never seen so many people queuing to go on their holidays, looking so depressed! A good time to leave the country!