Counting our blessings at Christmas

Well time has run away with me and here I am on Christmas Eve reflecting on a year of huge change for us.

Last Christmas we had no idea where we’d be living at this time, or even if we’d have a roof over our heads at all. We had no security, no money, no idea what the future might hold and it was very, very scary. We were living one day at a time and barely hanging in there.

Gradually, we’ve taken little steps forward and now we are living in a house that’s plenty large enough for us all to remain together as a family unit, complete with cats, and we are very lucky to have such a lovely landlady. By pooling our resources, and working hard we’ve managed to just about make ends meet. Billy was working part-time at first but now has a full-time job which he is enjoying getting his teeth into. Nel was unemployed but is now very settled into an NHS admin apprenticeship and is very much part of the team at work, valued for herself – and spoiled to bits by everyone in the department! Raji was doing a job that didn’t really challenge him enough but is now in a role which suits him well and pays more. I have spent the year working as much overtime as possible, with just one week off in July, but this has kept our heads above water and I do enjoy my work and feel a part of the team. Stephen still works at the pub which he enjoys but the hours aren’t sufficient to support him, unfortunately. So we’ve had small but positive changes since last Christmas – little steps;right direction.

This has led to me really feeling the true spirit of Christmas and I am fully in the mood to count my blessings.

I have my family all together and getting on with life by helping each other through. I have a nice home. I have absolutely wonderful friends and family who have supported us though this tricky year. I have the things that really matter.

I’ve cut down a lot on Christmas presents – and even cards – as have many people in this financial climate. I’ve made many presents myself and have enjoyed doing so and put a lot of TLC into them. Those presents I have bought were carefully chosen and I’ve made use of special offers, discounts and loyalty schemes, but I am pleased with what I’ve bought. People won’t have umpteen things, just one or two presents that I hope will really please them. It’s all so much more special and meaningful for me this year and I hope the recipients feel it too.

On the other side of the coin,I feel lucky to have such lovely, kind, caring colleagues who are also good friends. I’ve already received lovely messages in cards and presents from unexpected quarters. I’ve enjoyed sharing Christmas cheer with people who work very intensely all year and feel privileged to get on so well with people of all roles within the hospital. But more than this, these people have supported me through bad times and shared good ones every day so what little I’ve done for them at this time of year to put a smile on their faces has been very enjoyable to do.

At home, I have two children of whom I am proud and whom I am happy to call friends as well as family. I am lucky to have my wonderful mum who, as you know, is a huge part of my life and gives me so much by way of support, love and fun. She doesn’t live with us but is nonetheless part of this family unit and I don’t know what I’d have done without her. Raji, of course, does live with us and enriches our household; I must admit I can’t imagine him not being with us now. We get on really well and he is more a brother and friend than “just” an in-law. As for Billy and I, we’ve actually managed to spend some time together here and there and now that he’s settled in to his job and life has calmed down a bit, he’s more like the man with whom I fell in love. Dare I hope we can pause to enjoy each other for a while?

As you may know, our darts team is made up of very good friends and they too have seen us through this year. I love my Friday nights playing darts in their company. In good times and bad, we can just relax and be ourselves with them, and they with us. I miss them if I don’t see them one week and I don’t get bored with their company if we get together for other things (such as watching football in the pub and generally leading each other astray 😉 ) Their easy company and solid friendship has kept us going at times when we’ve really needed propping up.

I also have my beloved City to keep me entertained and through my football I have many friends who enrich my life. I have my City friends, some of whom I meet up with at games, some I only see occasionally. I have friends who are fans of other football clubs, some of whom I know well, some I’ve only met once or twice. Football brings me closer to my brother when we exchange match day texts as the geographical distance between us and busy lives make it all too easy to lose touch otherwise. All of these people make me feel a part of something, a sense of belonging and offer humour and opinion to entertain me. Many of them do more and have generously given me help, advice, support, access to match tickets and are dear friends. (You know who you are.)

So as I sit here counting my blessings and looking forward to a family Christmas and New Year with friends, I would just like to thank each and every one of you who has helped make this year bearable and kept us going. THANK YOU! I wish you a Christmas time full of your own blessings, with love, laughter and light and I hope that 2014 will be all that you hope it will be.

Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all my wonderful family and friends.

Bonfire night then back-to-back in the pub

As I mentioned in my last post, the huge event that is Hexham’s bonfire fell on the same date as a City match but one of our friends had asked us, when we first got this house, if she could come round for hotdogs after the fireworks as it sits right next to the park. Ironically, she then couldn’t make it after all but we decided to have an open house for our friends anyway. I did a load of hot dogs and a big pot of homemade leek and potato soup, got some wine and beer and lit a nice big fire in the living room. We had a great night with our friends, with an old Queen tribute concert playing on the TV as background (Lots of dead artists featured, causing much hilarity (you had to be there!) 😀 ) We also sampled my chili sherry which was surprisingly good. A really good night with really good friends 🙂

Can you have too much of a good thing? Not yet, it seems, as we kept company with these same friends last Sunday in a repeat-but-one-better of the day I was led astray 😉 I worked my socks off at home on the Saturday to earn myself a day off, though I did quickly make the Christmas cakes Sunday morning and left them to cook in the Rayburn for the day. We met up in Studio Sports Bar and spent the entire day there, watching all 3 of the day’s football matches back-to-back. HOW decadent!

First up was Spurs 0 – 1 Newcastle and we expected a home win. However, in what was actually an entertaining game, Newcastle defended resolutely and Krull made world class ave after world class save! (Easily MotM by a mile.) The bar offers a free shot for every Newcastle goal when showing live matches so we all had a shot to celebrate 🙂 Billy, Graham, Paul, Steph and bar staff were Newcastle fans, I wanted Newcastle to win, but Roger wanted them to lose so this added to the fun.

Next was Roger’s team versus mineSunderland 1 – 0 City and again, Roger was the only one wanting a home win. This is City’s bogey team/bogey ground so I was resigned to losing. In fact it looked like an extension of the previous game in which one team defended resolutely. The home goal was down to appalling defending on our part and City annoyed me by trying to walk the ball in the net every time. Also, players were often hoofing the ball to our lone front man – Aguero, who had no chance of winning the ball against the tall defenders. That said, we created chances and between deflections, good defending and an excellent keeper, we were held at bay.

MCFC’s 60-Second Highlights here
MCFC’s Extended Highlights here

Roger and I were still friends at the end, of course and in fact were the only ones in there proudly sporting our colours! I also got a lovely family photo of him with Steph and Marc 🙂

Sunderland v City

Lovely family

We were all supporting the away team in the final gameManUre 1 – 0 Arsenal I should have known that I’d jinx it! 😉 Again, a game that continued from the last with Arsenal playing the role of City!

What a fantastic day though – I don’t think I’ve ever watched 3 games in a row like that as I never have the time! I must be getting old though as I’m starting to take opportunities when they arise and I work hard enough that I feel I should enjoy some R&R when offered the chance. Billy went home straight away at the end of the last match as he wanted to watch his NFL team (Greenbay Packers) but I stayed with Paul and Graham and Paul saw me home later. I’d had 4 bottles of Stella all day,(match day special offer) plus the (weak) shot earlier so was mellow but not drunk. Then Shaun decided he’d clean out the pumps and left the drained off beer in glasses on the bar for any who wanted them so I got to sample them. (I did only have about 1/4 of a pint though, honest!)

Drinks all round!

This was my kind of relaxing day – plenty of football with good friends. I loved it 🙂

More winning ways and ManUre get another thrashing!

After the unlikely win against Hull the other week and then a lucky draw away at Stoke where we continued to look poor, I wasn’t too confident going in to the derby. Okay, we’d had a great win with beautiful attacking football away at Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League but I worried that this would have the effect of leaving the players too burned out to perform. Nevertheless I eagerly looked forward to the game and got there nice and early.

What a fantastic afternoon it turned out to be! The sunshine was glorious and it was hot enough to need no jumper or coat. The stadium was packed – though I confess I did get a bit irritated with the tourist-types who were sitting in my area and who seemed to think they could just sit where they pleased, wander around throughout the game and so on. I was pleased with the starting lineup and was delighted that from the very beginning of this match, City looked up for it.

Who’d have believed what happened next? We totally and utterly out-played them on every inch of the pitch! This was the City we all love to watch and it was all so ridiculously easy! Just watch the highlights to see just how mouth-watering the football from City was.

We were 1-0 up as half time approached and one of my season ticket neighbours muttered encouragement and asked for another before the break. Wish granted! 😀 I nipped to the loo during half time and everyone was celebrating in the concourses – this is unheard of! We’re City. We KNOW that 2-0 up with another 45 to play means anything can happen still! I’ve never seen our fans partying like this in anticipation! People were jumping up and down, cuddling each other, singing and grinning. It was pretty infectious even for those of us that weren’t quite convinced yet.

So on to the second half then and I expected more from the visitors who must have had a blistering half time talk………. or not! They carried on as they left off, and so did we – goal number 3 ….. And 5 minutes later, number 4! 😀

We could have had more and home fans were very happy to be singing “It should have been 5To be fair, for the first time ever that I can recall, a section of the visiting fans did actually continue singing and supporting their team even at 4-0 down. These were definitely not the usual breed of ManUre fans who have always been very arrogant and silently superior in the past. City fans ironically cheered with them at Rooney’s consolation goal (and it WAS a good free kick, galling though it was!)

What a brilliant team effort with everyone playing their part so that picking a MotM was very hard, but I settled on Navas myself. All our new boys look fantastic and seem to be fitting in nicely with our other creative players. Lovely to see.

So by the end of the match I had a blistered hand from clapping, a hoarse throat from cheering and a nice bruise on my leg from jumping up ……. but I was very happy 🙂 I had a wonderfully relaxed drive home and although dead on my feet by the time I finally got there at almost 10.30pm, I was still smiling.

ManUre – MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
ManUre – MCFC’s Extended highlights here
ManUre – Kippax Blue’s photos here

I couldn’t get a stream for the Cup game against Wigan but I did listen to the commentary online courtesy of BBC Radio Manchester and my favourite match commentator, Ian Cheeseman, and it seemed like we just picked up from the end of the last game – despite the fact it was a different set of players 🙂 5-0 and we were through to the next round which will be a divorce derby – away to Newcastle! Still, at least I can hopefully get there even on a school night 🙂

Wigan – MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
Wigan – MCFC’s Extended highlights here
Wigan – Kippax Blue’s photos here

Winning at home

Well we’ve now had a couple of weeks of the household chore regime and I’d say it is thus far of mixed success. Generally a move in the right direction though and mainly a matter of getting into a firm routine with what needs to be done and when. Billy and Raji have undertaken the shopping fairly successfully and will obviously take a little while to find the way that works best for them, but I’d say this has been a successful change. Billy hasn’t got the hang of the washing yet (pardon the pun!) but again, time should remedy that – I hope, ‘cos I’m hanging on to some stuff knowing I won’t see it for weeks if I put it in the basket 😉 He hasn’t quite mastered ensuring a load goes in every single night plus an extra most weekends, so we haven’t yet had an empty laundry basket. He also tends to forget to get it in and sorted at night so we’ve had some that’s dew-damp when the next lot needs to take its place. But he’s getting better as the days are going by and Rome wasn’t built in a day, so that’s fine. Raji did some of the ironing last weekend but had a bit of a shock at how long it takes so didn’t manage it all – as I said previously, I don’t think other people realised how time consuming these jobs are and thus the reason why I didn’t have time for anything except chores. Raji’s been very keen to do washing up at weekends and he’s helped everyone as and when needed so he’s definitely bought in to the idea of sharing the workload. Stephen and Nel still have a way to go and are not getting their jobs done regularly so they need to work out their routine and stick to it. Also, so far, neither Nel or Billy has braved the Rayburn but that’s something that I am happy to wait until we get a chance for me to show them the ropes.

And so I was able to leave for my weekend away hoping that I wouldn’t come home to my usual mountain of chores with which to catch up…

First up was football and I was SO excited to finally be going to a live game again 🙂 I loved seeing people I hadn’t seen all summer – and even bumped in to an old friend from Maine Road whom I haven’t seen for years so that was great. Alas, the football wasn’t so great! City 2 – 0 Hull was the most dire affair, and HOW we won I have no idea! I had to keep reminding myself what league I was supposed to be watching! The day out and occasion was far better than the “entertainment” it has to be said. The atmosphere was also very poor and Hull fans were singing alone most of the time. I didn’t particularly like some of their chants but I did laugh when they went one further than the old stand rivalry of Maine Road with the furthest side of the away section sang “We’re the left side, we’re the left side, we’re the left side of City” and the right side reciprocated 😀
MCFC 60-Second highlights here
MCFC Extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

After an enjoyable afternoon I drove to mum’s to join her and Nel. Nel had travelled down by train on the Wednesday before and the plan was for me to stay the night then bring her home on Sunday with me after having a lovely time doing the Chester ghost walk and visiting Chester Zoo with Granny 🙂 For a rarity, Mum’s football team were on TV so I had the rare pleasure of a double header of football 🙂 Whislt Nel escaped upsatirs, we watched Palace 3 v 1 Sunderland and what a game! That was more like it! Palace played beautiful one touch passing football and although Sunderland rallied in the second half (at 1-1 it looked like it could be anyone’s game) Palace stepped it up a notch again and thoroughly deserved their win. Brilliant stuff – especially after the lacklustre game I’d watched earlier. After the match we all shared Dominos pizza to make a near perfect day: A double whammy of football, lots of cuddles with friends, pizza for tea and time with my mum and my daughter 🙂

After a wicked roast dinner on Sunday, Nel and I headed home and had a very pleasant drive – though she did try and disown me every time I shared grins and waves with Liverpool fans returning from their win against ManUre 😀 (In fact every football result in which I had an interest, (City, Palace, Newcastle, Norwich, Liverpool and QPR) went the way I wanted. Unheard of!)

All in all, a good weekend I’d say 🙂

Coming to the end.

This last week I have had a sense of the summer coming to its end. It isn’t feeling autumnal quite yet, but there is a feel of it being late summer now and although I am exceptionally pleased that we’ve had a summer, this cooler week has made me dread the return of the cold. It’s been so liberating not having to huddle for warmth, turn on heating, light fires, get into bed with a hot water bottle at a ridiculously early time just to keep warm or having to don layers of clothing.

However, it’s not just the weather. I’ve enjoyed having two whole days each weekend to get all my jobs done at home. Once the football season re-starts, I’m back to having to plan around matches. If I’m going to the match I tend to be away for the weekend which means somehow getting things done before, or having extra to do the next week. If I’m not going to the games, I still have to plan around taking a couple of hours out to watch/follow the match live. Don’t get me wrong – I’m pleased we’ll soon have football back and excited about the new season. But being a woman I have the extra challenge of still getting things done around my hobby. (It’s a good job I don’t share Billy and Raji’s love of cricket isn’t it? That takes up entire weekends plus most weekday evenings between playing, practising, umpiring and watching it!)

What’s also potentially coming to an end, is being able to blog about whatever I feel like at the time each week, and I have enjoyed that over the closed season. I haven’t been able to do as much as I’d like but I have definitely felt my blog regain some of its self-therapeutic role in my life. Maybe I’ll try to continue with this and just mention football rather than trying to post about each game. We’ll see. I want to be able to enjoy writing each post, rather than feeling it a chore, which it did become a bit at the beginning of the year. The problem, of course, is that I am now working full time which vastly reduces the time I have available for anything so blogging more than once a week is not possible and during the football season, I can really only manage it fortnightly. So it needs to count. I think I will just see how it goes but it feels like my blog has to change with the times and somehow find a new place in my ever busy life.

I really have loved having a summer this year though so for now I’m just going to try and enjoy the last of it before it slips away….

Rounding off my break

All too soon it seemed that I was coming to the end of my holiday and I used the last few days to sort out everything from my sock drawer to my paperwork – hardly glamorous but rather satisfying. One thing I will/won’t miss is that for these last 2 weeks I’ve been doing all the washing up once or twice a day – I won’t miss it in that it seems grossly unfair that people just leave all their dirty stuff and don’t take a turn, but I will miss it because all that dirty stuff will now remain there! Washing up (and leaving dirty plates, glasses and cups sitting around in the living room) is one of my bug bears in our household. I’ve also kept on top of emptying bins, not had to worry about how long it takes to put the wash-load out to dry in the mornings, and been able to cook what and when I’ve fancied. Best of all though, I’ve seen more of the family because everyone has such vastly different working/sleeping/waking times that we’re usually ships that pass. Being at home I’ve been here to chat at whatever time they are most inclined and I’ve loved that. (Funnily enough, the exception has been Billy – I saw no more of him than usual as he tended to either be out or in bed.) A little bonus that has brought me much pleasure has been fussing the cats every time I’ve been around them – their soft, furry, purry little bodies are such great de-stressors and I’ve had lovely cuddles and smiles dotted about my days here and there.

On Friday night we were back playing darts (it was a cup game last week when I was away, Raji stood in for me, and after winning round one, the team was knocked out at the next stage.) We were at home against The Grapes (the team defeated by the boys in the cup last week) and they absolutely thumped us! It’s been years since we lost 11-0 but that’s what happened. In most of the games we were miles behind but the away team faltered on their finishing allowing us to catch up and get a couple of goes at a double before they finally got it themselves. They were, however, a very nice lot and it was nonetheless a good evening. Senior was ill – the result won’t have helped make him feel better – so Billy stood in for him so our playing order was: Mark, me, Junior, Billy, Paul and Graham. At least I don’t need to spell out for you which games we won or lost 😉

Thumped!

On Saturday it was fun following the FA Cup action – for me this is still a magic competition and brings the wider football family together. We all love a cup upset (unless we’re on the receiving end of course) and we all know anything can happen on the day. Sadly Newcastle were beaten by Brighton, though from the bit of the game I saw, the result was deserved. I listened to City 3 v 0 Watford on the radio and it sounded comfortable though never to be taken for granted. Thankfully we were 2-0 up at the break thanks to a fabulus Tevez free kick and another Barry header. This made it a little easier to bear in the second half and it was lovely for our 17-year old debutant, Lopes, to score the 3rd. Watford fans didn’t endear themselves to the home fans with their chants of “United. United…” Why on earth do fans do this? Support your own club, that’s what you’re there for! Anyway, a good win and City are into the next round. And it turns out that it will be against the winners of the replay in another of the games that interested me – Palace v Stoke! I do hope Palace win through so we can play them – at least either mum or I would be happy with the result and could wholeheartedly get behind them to go the whole way 🙂

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here

So now here I am on Sunday evening having relaxed, sorted, blogged,and packed my gym bag ready to get back to normal tomorrow. I have really enjoyed this much needed break and although I’ve kept busy, I’ve been able to relax too. I’ve enjoyed being a housewife and mum again, do I have to go back…………..?

City 1 – 0 Swansea

This match was a tea-time kick off and it felt odd to be able to do things at home and not leave until lunchtime. After scraping snow off the car in the morning, it had thawed by the time I set off and I had an easy drive down – though the low winter sun was a bit of a pain. No sun in summer, bright, clear sunshine in winter at just the right height to blind drivers :S

It was good to be back and it wasn’t quite as cold as I’d expected it to be, but it was a dire first half, taking 38 mins until we had a shot at goal!It looked like we’d carried on from Ajax game, looking slow, passes going astray and seeming to be second to every 50/50 ball. There was a nasty looking injury to Michu and Hart immediately went to his assistance and called on the physios. Thankfully after some treatment he was able to carry on playing. I hate to see players injured badly, regardless of their club, but little did I know there was more to come...

The second half was better, though we certainly were not on fire, apart from Tevez who chased every ball at both ends of the pitch, and his goal was a relief. Sadly, there was an injury to Swans keeper,Vorm, when Tevez scored and it looked like a thigh/groin strain. He received treatment but after a long stoppage was stretchered off to applause from the whole stadium. About 20 minutes later it was Micah that was in trouble – he suddenly pulled up and looked to be in a bad way. He too was stretchered off to applause from whole stadium but it was awful that two men were hurt and needed to be treated.

The long breaks for treatment meant this game broke records and became the longest ever Prem game when we had 12 added minutes at the end. It was about right too – I’d expected at least 10. It seemed about the only thing the officials got right – they’d been dreadful throughout. Balls judged to be out when they were in, in when they were out and lots of strange little decisions, though none major. Just enough to get themselves noticed!

By contrast, the Swansea fans were excellent and sang throughout, mainly getting behind their own team. It was nice to hear different songs to the usual generic *insert team here* type songs, which I do hate. Even though I had to content myself with watching this fixture last season on TV, the fans obviously impressed me then too.

So this wasn’t a great game, not the best performance and yet we managed to get the goal, the points and a clean sheet (Hart made a couple of great saves during the game too.) I felt reasonably satisfied as I walked to the car to drive to mums for the night 🙂

MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

Too Foxy Darts

On Friday night we played darts at The Fox – one of the best throws in the league I think. The random playing order was: Paul, me, Junior, Senior, Graham, Mark and we won: both treble; Rogers’ doubles; Junior’s singles; and Graham’s singles. Once again it came down to the last game but Mark was unlucky.

My own darts, in a reversal of the normal pattern, were OK for the trebles and went downhill for my other two games! Nevertheless, Paul and I could have nicked our doubles, and I had the chance to take my singles game, but when I missed my double I knew I’d blown it.

It was an enjoyable evening though and we like the home team so weren’t too disheartened. We keep losing 6-5; surely we can manage to start WINNING 6-5?! 🙂

As usual, there was domino card run by the home team and on this occasion I was asked to pick a domino at random from a bag to decide the winner. It happened to be Billy that won! 😀 Couldn’t have done that if I tried!

The pub had the Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds match showing and we all glanced up at it now and then – but our game came to standstill when we saw the incredible assault on Kirkland (Wednesday’s keeper) by a fan. In a week of football getting bad press, this was the icing on the cake! What IS wrong with some people? Thankfully he’s been arrested, though apparently already has 2 banning orders, but what about all the idiots that welcomed him back in to the stand like a hero? 🙁

In other football….

Newcastle 3 – 0 Bordeaux – I watched this game online whilst Billy was at the match, and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a great performance by Newcastle against a very poor visiting side, with some very pretty football at times. Cabaye and Obertan stood out for me.

Newcastle 0 – 3 ManUre I watched this one on TV with Billy and Raji and hoped (against expectation) that Newcastle would return the favour City had done by beating Sunderland, but alas, it was a below par performance from the Toon I felt.

England 5 – 0 San Marino This was a Friday night fixture so we were playing darts in the pub and I could only keep half an eye on the game. It seemed a very poor game and I saw the first 4 goals but missed the 5th. A win as expected, but nothing to crow about really.

England P – P Poland I settled down to watch this game and couldn’t believe the farce that followed! Poland have a purpose built stadium, with a roof. The forecast was for rain, and indeed, 4 hours before KO it was pouring. The Polish team chose not to close the roof and the pitch was too sodden to play. Then the roof wouldn’t close because of the heavy rain and yet, with roof still open and rain still pouring, it was decided to wait and see if the game could be played an hour later! You couldn’t make it up! I did actually keep the ITV coverage on throughout all this as the team, especially Adrian Chiles, were hilarious! Fair play to them, they had me in stitches with comments about the absence of any groundsmen (and their forks) and understandable bemusement at the ref throwing his ball in every corner of the pitch (just in case one corner was playable?) 😀

EnglandU21’s 1 – 0 Serbia I didn’t watch this one but was HORRIFIED by the shambles after England scored and the racism directed at our players. Serbia need banning UEFA – no excuses! 🙁

England 1 – 1 Poland At last the game was played on Wednesday evening but it was very poor. I felt it was a case of “let’s just get the game played and get home lads” (for which I couldn’t blame them) though I expect the pitch condition will have played some part. It’s also rumoured that our players were given sleeping tablets the night before – unbelievable if true, but it might explain their slowness! At the end of the day, the game is done with, we got a point which will hopefully do.
ITV Highlights here

The new season is almost here…

My new season ticket has arrived! 🙂

Complete with: a Season 2011-12 Review booklet; a pen; some Champions postcards; a wrist band; card-wallet embossed with the club crest; and a gold pin engraved with the word Champions. Very nice, thank you City 🙂

Not long to go now, and yet, in a strange way, I almost don’t want it to start. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve missed my football and I can’t wait to be back in my seat at the Etihad Stadium, but this season is only ever going to be an anticlimax after the last. How could it possibly match that?

Even if we win the league and maybe a cup, (I’m not expecting this however) it will be wonderful of course, but nothing will be able to top that feeling of utter delirious joy, wonder, disbelief and euphoria at winning our first title for 44 years. And nothing will beat that last game and the manner of our victory. What we need to do is keep last season in its own special box to open and wonder at with pleasure, but to go in to the new season with a blank canvas – otherwise we’re doomed to feel disappointed that we won’t feel quite such a giddy rush this time round.

I can’t make the first match at home to Southampton, a sell-out with tickets priced £51-£56 (making my season ticket look even better value for money than ever!) Fortunately, this year the club have introduced a partnership giving a legitimate way for season-ticket holders to sell on their seat for games they can’t attend. Only fans who have a membership can buy, too, so everyone’s a winner hopefully. I’ve now registered my account on the ticket-selling site and I’ll give a try for that first game. My own first game, then, will be the QPR one a fortnight later – I have to say that I am looking forward to that 🙂

Last season, a lot of our games were moved to Monday evenings which meant I couldn’t go, but it looks like so far, the moves have been to Sunday evenings. That makes them awkward but not impossible – and I will probably try to stay at mum’s after them and drive back up very early Monday mornings for work. We’ll see how it goes.

So – Charity Shield this coming Sunday (can’t say that I am particularly interested in that) and then let the season begin….