Rare matchday report!
After a chaotic and expensive trip to the airport, I actually made a game of football! I arrived in Manchester Friday afternoon, and after dropping off my bags at D. in Wythenshaw, we caught the bus into town to meet the others for a pint of Holts (Maple Moon now on cask at the Crown and Anchor!). We then trekked it up to the CAMRA Winter Ale festival, turning down city’s offer to “Be Part of It” on the way ;-). After giving the one purchaser in our group loads of abuse for buying the programme (it was sponsored by Wetherspoons), of course we spent much of the evening then studying the thing like a form guide at the races. I went for Red Kyte (from somewhere up in Scotland), something from the Phoenix Brewery, a porter everyone had been banging on about and then a slightly disappointing Golden ale, the name of which I cant remember, but which had a citrus finish that didn’t appeal to me. By this time I was fairly drunk, although not quite as bad as one friend who had taken a beating offsomething which I think was called Welsh Harp. Further drunken behaviour was witnessed by SD. who launched into a hilarious rant at how smug vegetarians want to change the world, seemingly prompted entirely by the pile of veggie curry Id just bought. Back into cabs and we headed off to Corbieres. Id never been before, but entering the cellar bar to the strains of Fleetwood Mac, I immediately knew I liked the place! A few drinks were enjoyed, whilst said Welsh Harp drinker was positioned strategically so he could be pinned in and prevented from swinging at some coked up city boy who was, to be fair, being a big of a knob. A quick stop off at Retro bar and then bed.
Saturday started well with a egg barm at a nearby greasy spoon and even bumping into some Germans also heading to the match on the tram. Before long we were sat in Course You Can Malcolms, listening to the comedian on, take the piss out of Crumpsall which didn’t please J. It wouldn’t be the last mention of Crumpsall for the day, but probably the last featuring any humour! The match itself was given a little extra atmosphere due to the arrival of the big flags as organised by FCUM Passion. I got on to the terrace a little late as Id been gabbing on to JayDivision about St Pauli, so I missed the handing out of the flags, but I thought they looked really good. The match itself of course, can be read about here http://www.fc-utd.co.uk/story.php?story_id=3369. In general I thought we looked very comfortable. Ive not seen Wolfenden play before and enjoyed watching him in particular, as he made a couple of very nice runs. It remains to be see whether we are fighting relegation or aiming for the play-offs, such is the nature of this league, but its nice to have a few more wins under our belts either way. During the second half and after the match, the St Pauli solidarity-banner was held up in the MRE and we even got a photo of it, before the stewards chased shooed us out of the ground as they wanted to close up. Outside we spotted David Conn from the Guardian at the match making a dash for it, no doubt trying to make it home without missing too much of “his lot’s” match against Villa.
Thirsty after the match we headed in the direction of the Waterloo and watched city lose. The beer was setting in by now, and the our table’s conversation seemed to be carried out in a Brummie accent to accompany the match, as well as occasional pauses which were filled by high pitched singing of some song off the Karate Kid soundtrack.
Afterwards we caught the tram back into town. The tram ride normally is a dull affair, but of an evening it provides a perfect cross section of Mancunian society, or as one friend put it “it’s a fucking Zoo on wheels”. Hen do’s, shift workers, football fans, hip hop freaks, indie kids, scallies. Its all there on that late night tram. On the way we passed through the aforementioned Crumpsall. This prompted an attempt to insert the word Crump in any word that remotely rhymed. Early attempts “Bottled beer or beer from the Crump” where ok. By the end of our several hours spent in Cask, the attempts were pushing it a little, as was our table in the pub, where the conversation seemed to just be a loud exchange of expletives and in-jokes. Still with most on Belgian beer and me on a half litre bottle of Dortmunder Union, it was no surprise. The evening was downhill from there. We popped over to Joshua Brookes, but what used to be a sound post-match hangout for many FC fans has all gone a bit gentrified. No more Fifa to play, no shots menu and now increasingly populated by people who think its acceptable to wear (in winter) cuffed skinny jeans and leather loafers…with no socks! We need a new local. JB – RIP.
The next day and it was home time for me. D. dropped me off at the airport and I checked in. As I was going through the security gate though, I spotted someone wearing a Carlotti Sports jacket. In fact he was all decked out in Carlotti. Now Carlotti to me screams “Mill Town” and in such a place, the wearing of an entire Carlotti clothing range may well be regarded as fashionable in the same way the shunning of socks might be by those newer visitors to JBs. I therefore assumed he was just a slightly crazy civilian. However then more Carlotti wearers appeared! It was the Rochdale AFC squad! Queuing for a coffee, one of them let on to me. “Hiya mate. Did you go the match yesterday?” he asked, nodding in the direction of the barscarf around my neck. “Yeah I did” I said tentatively knowing it was an FC one. “Berba hattrick – nice” he says thinking Id been watching Big United. “Ah no sorry mate, this is for FC United. Don’t spit in my coffee!” I returned with a wink. Considering they had been beaten by us with a last minute goal, the Rochdale lads were very pleasant. They asked about FC and how we were doing, which was nice. They also explained where they were off to. A training camp in Spain! Hasn’t Division 2 gone posh!