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!) πŸ˜€ ) We also sampled my chili sherry which was surprisingly good. A really good night with really good friends πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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! πŸ˜‰ 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 πŸ™‚

A week of City – ridiculous to sublime

Newcastle 0- 2 City (AET)(Capital One Cup)

Billy and I both had tickets for this clash between our clubs but were both working so were catching the bus in straight after work as the train would be too tight time-wise. However, really we wanted the train back as it was quicker and the time suited more, so we decided on bus in, train home (costing more, of course!) We made a contingency plan in the unlikely event it went to extra time/penalties as neither of us would be willing to miss the end if that were the case. This would mean we’d have to get the last bus back which stops EVERYWHERE and takes an hour and a half to do the 20 minute journey from Newcastle to home – making it a late night for a school night! We rushed in, had a sausage roll from Greggs on the bus for our tea and made it to the pub for a quick drink before the game, meeting up with my City friends there.

I left Billy there as I had to climb up all those stairs to level 7 – good job I did as stewards also searched every away fan before letting us through the turnstiles. My bag was searched and I had to wait for a female steward to pat me down – annoying having to wait and I wouldn’t have minded a bloke doing it as it was just quick and I was wearing 3 layers plus a coat so it was hardly intimate. Sniffer dogs were also on duty though one moron did manage to get a flare through somehow. πŸ™

We were right in the corner next to the weird plastic wall

The game was dire! It was so poor (from a City perspective) that the away fans had to make our own entertainment and were comically asking each other if they should get themselves kicked out and watch the rest of the match in the pub where they’s at least have a pint to help them through πŸ˜‰

At the end of normal time, I couldn’t believe it was still 0-0 and Newcastle should have won it in that time I felt. However they didn’t, so last bus it was! To a man, every City fan’s face reflected the same thought: “Oh God! Not another half hour of this rubbish to watch!” There was a Newcastle steward near us who started off with a poker face, but as the match went on and singing became more creative, he first smiled, then grinned and by the end was laughing openly. (Particular ones that amused him were “Costel for England” and “We’ll play ’til half ten….” πŸ˜€ )

The football did improve when we brought Silva on and Newcastle shifted their midfield a bit leaving him room. Pantilimon made a good save or two but over all this could have been anybody’s game – it just happened to be ours in the end. City fans were pleased of course, but there was no massive celebration, knowing as we did that it was a poor game and a slightly lucky result.

It had been fun seeing my friends though and we went back to the pub for a quick drink whilst waiting for the bus so we got to enjoy a post-match chat for a bit. We managed to stay awake on the way home despite the length of the journey and though it hadn’t been an exciting night, it had certainly been pleasant enough. City were in the pot for the next round – and subsequently drew Leicester away.

MCFC’s 60-Second highlights here
MCFC’s Extended highlights here
NUFC report here

City 7 – 0 Norwich (Premier League)

As many people know, I have a big soft spot for Norwich and I love their away supporters who come for a good time and a laugh and to support their team (as opposed to barracking the opposition) This was also the game that naturally fell at the right amount of time since my last match and hence my last visit to see mum. So this was the game I was planning to attend. However, I then found out that the Hexham bonfire night was the same date and we had a friend who had asked to come round for hotdogs after the fireworks so I changed my plans and let a friend use my ticket – arranging instead to go to the Spurs game at the end of the month. WHAT a game to miss! πŸ™

I watched on TV and couldn’t believe what I was seeing πŸ™‚ Whilst I enjoyed so many City goals immensely, and we DID play well (despite this not getting much acknowledgement by the tv commentators and pundits!) I did know that Norwich were also poor. I have chatted with Norwich supporting friends who have not been happy with the tactics or performances this season. This game was surely another nail in Hughton’s coffin? Naturally, I was not surprised to have City friends confirm that the away fans stayed and supported their team right to the end (unlike another set of fans we all know and hate….;) ) Costel kept a clean sheet though to be fair, he wasn’t really put to the test. That said, I’m perfectly happy with him in goal and with the idea of giving both our brilliant keepers game time and rest periods. The media, as ever, are getting their knickers in a twist about nothing in my opinion. Anyway, nice goal difference for us after this game πŸ™‚

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

City 5 – 2 CSKA Moscow(Champions League)

Another mid week game; another one watched on the box. I have to confess I didn’t expect such good football or such a great result from us! I was pleased for Negredo (AKA “The Beast”) getting a well deserved hat trick too. I thoroughly enjoyed it though the two goals we conceded were very poor; we were brilliant going forwards and dreadful defending. Still, that put us through to the knock out stages of the Champions League for the first time, and though I don’t envisage us proceeding beyond a round, two at the outside, it IS good to see that we are making progress each successive year and learning that little bit more each time.

City fans’ answer to the racism of the last time the teams met was to sing Yaya songs loudly and proudly. Nice touch fellow Blues πŸ™‚

MCFC’s highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

Season opener: City 4 – 0 Newcastle

At last! Football’s back! Not only were City at home, but it was also the family derby to kick off the season.

And then came bloody TV and changed the game to Monday night! I hate Monday night football! And this meant that now neither Billy nor I could go to one of our most eagerly anticipated games of the season. NOT happy! πŸ™ Even less so once it was arranged that this match would be dedicated to the memory of Bert Trautmann, City Legend in the strictest sense, and truly inspiring gent to boot.

I got it into my head that since I couldn’t be there, I’d like to watch the match in the pub instead, even if it meant I’d be the only one in a City shirt amidst all the Toon ones. Having brilliant friends, my idea became a reality and so I watched in Studio Sportsbar with Billy, Paul, Roger, Roger, Steph, Graham and Shaun. Shaun had even (at Paul’s behest) found some Espresso Smirnoff which I have been wanting to try. I tried it both on its own and with lemonade – it works better alone which is absolutely lovely and would make a gorgeous after dinner drink πŸ™‚ (Thanks Shaun and Paul πŸ™‚ )

The screen at Studio is nice and big and clear so I could enjoy every bit of the match and was soon lost in the magic of a flowing ball, skilful feet and the general beauty of the game. The two Roger’s being Sunderland fans were naturally siding with me and the rest were watching with resignation and little hope. Alas for them, their fears were borne out.

City 4 – 0 Newcastle: City’s starting lineup for looked exciting and they lived up to this, despite not actually having to step up from 2nd gear. It wasn’t a top performance from my boys, but it was plenty good enough against a team that didn’t really look like having much desire or opportunity to score. Krul made 5 top class saves, we should certainly have had 2 of the 3 penalty claims (I didn’t feel Yaya had complete control of the ball for his so wasn’t a penalty in my view) and then we had a goal incorrectly ruled offside so this scoreline could easily have been 10 – 0. I didn’t care, I was happy with 3 points, a clean sheet and lots of attacking football. Naturally I did cheer our goals but I did restrain myself a lot to keep it down from usual πŸ˜› Nobody could argue Stephen Taylor’s red card – what a stupid thing to do! The only worry for me from City’s point of view was that in reaching for a ball, Kompany hurt himself and had to go off – he’s now out for a month and he was a big loss last season when not playing πŸ™ Dzeko looked reborn which I think is likely to be the new playing style (using wingers) suiting him nicely. It was ruefully amusing that the poor bloke did everything BUT score – it was just one of those nights for him – but hopefully on another occasion he’ll get the goals his play deserved. (Goals then: Silva 6 mins after lovely build up play by Dzeko; Aguero 22 mins after a beautiful backheel pass from Dzeko; Yaya 50 mins with a sublime free kick (which the wall ducked!) and Nasri 75 mins all on his own.)

There’s a lovely long season ahead so I can’t and won’t get too carried away, but it’s wonderful to have the beautiful game back and I was happy with what I saw of Pellegrini, his style of play and the new boys’ contributions. Top of the league after the first round of games πŸ™‚

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here report – well worth a read for a Toon persepctive

3 more City wins then a loss: ManUre, Chelsea, Wigan, Spurs

ManUre 1- 2 City

I watched this one on TV (well, on TV via the Sky app on the Xbox) and would have taken a point if offered before KO. It was an enjoyable game though as you’d expect in a derby, it was a bit heated at times. I couldn’t believe it when we went 0-1 up thanks to the efforts of Nasri and Milner πŸ™‚ I did rather scream my delight and made a mental apology to the elderly lady who lives next door. Billy was watching with me and asked if I’d still take a point – to which I replied that I would, and as it turned out, unfortunately our lead didn’t last too long though it was harsh that Kompany was “credited” with an own goal. The remainder of the game was very nerve racing for me (and probably all fans of either team) and I thought every one of our team played well and Tevez stood out for his energy and tenacity. With about 20 minutes to go, Aguero came on and caused ManUre problems before taking on all comers and scoring a brilliant solo goal.

Sergio takes on 4 and still scores!

I was ecstatic but fully expected them to equalise as to win away at OT twice on the bounce seemed too good to be true. Happily, it wasn’t and whilst this didn’t really alter the title race, it dented their pride and bolstered ours πŸ™‚

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

Chelsea 1 – 2 City FA Cup semi-final

Rather decadently I managed to watch both our game and the Toon derby. Billy had gone to the match and I watched at home with Raji but alas it was a deserved result. The referee was very poor (Sunderland should have had penalty and a Newcastle goal was disallowed for off-side when it was clearly onside by a mile) but he didn’t alter the fact that Sunderland were the better team on the day.

So on to ours – I couldn’t call it and hoped it would be a good game, whichever way it went, and it most certainly was! WHAT a great game and neutrals will have loved it as it was end to end. It was a brilliant performance from both teams, but especially City who dominated right up until the last 20 minutes or so, at which time we rode our luck and only some fantastic defending and goal-keeping kept us in it. I was utterly convinced that we’d concede during this period as Chelsea came alive and we went to bits at the back.
My nerves were shot by end but the goals by Nasri and Aguero were enough, despite Ba’s brilliant one for Chelsea – and we were through to the final πŸ™‚

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

City 1 – 0 Wigan

I watched this game online even though I was really tired and having a stressful week at work and could have done without a late night really. It was a dire match! City looked like they’d all been drugged and Wigan were all over us in every position. It was only a matter of time before they scored and we didn’t look like we would at all.Hart was on the ball though (quite literally) and he saved us a few times, and Lescott made a magnificent clearance off the line so that somehow it remained 0-0 with 10 minutes to go. Tevez had yet another high-energy game and he pulled a goal out of his hat and gave us a miraculous, undeserved 3 points! Even though Wigan, as usual, brought only a handful of fans, I did have to feel sorry for them as they should have had at least 1 point, if not all 3.

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

Spurs 3 – 1 City

I really didn’t have time to spend a couple of hours watching football as I was busy preparing the house for a VIP visit the next day. The 1.30pm KO wasn’t at all helpful in this regard so I put the match on TV (via Xbox) and kept half an eye on it whilst sorting, cleaning and cooking. (So it’s my own fault for not giving the boys my full support πŸ˜‰ ) It was a lively game and Spurs came at us repeatedly at first but somehow Tevez kept the ball when he really had no right to do so, to pass it to Nasri who managed to get it in the back of the net – against the run of play! Yess! πŸ™‚ We looked fairly comfortable for the remainder of the first half though I was a bit frustrated that we weren’t more clinical in front of goal. In the second half we got more and more casual – you can’t just sit back at 0-1 up, especially away from home, and that’s just what we did. Spurs made some good substitutions and we didn’t bother. We started to be more and more under attack and looking less and less willing to do anything about it. When they equalised it was no more than they deserved but it also pushed them on to score another 2 goals in close succession. It was pointless waiting until almost 85 minutes to make our subs (I thought Dzeko should have been subbed early in the second half as it just wasn’t happening for him today) Bizarrely we put Lescott on (at 90 minutes!) up front! I’m hoping there was sound logic there but even if so, it was far too little, far too late. Spurs fully deserved their win and City should have been more awake.

MCFC links to follow.

A lovely long Easter weekend

I’d been looking forward to having a run of 4 days away from work and Billy and I started it by driving down to mum’s on the Thursday night so we would have all day Good Friday together. Billy had a relaxed with a book while mum and I popped to the shops when they opened. We got loads of bargains! πŸ™‚ Between us we got 15 items for £10.85 in the 99p shop, mum bought something she needed that was on special offer, and then on the way home we EACH picked up a free bottle of car screen wash from Halfords, courtesy of O2 Priority Moments. Since mum doesn’t have a car, I now have 2 bottles and just in the nick of time since mine has just run out πŸ™‚ We all enjoyed a veritable feast for lunch – roast lamb with all the trimmings, accompanied by an absolutely gorgeous bottle of wine and then Chocolate Eclairs for dessert. Mmmmmmm. The weather was actually beautifully spring-like so we went for a post-prandial walk along the new footpath into Wales which was most enjoyable. In the evening we enjoyed crumpets and hot cross buns whilst watching Mum’s boys who had a rare TV appearance – sadly though, they didn’t fare well πŸ™

The next morning was match day; family derby day! We took our time over breakfast and mum packed us lots of food for the day whilst I tried to pack the car with all the household bits mum had donated to us, plus our bags and Easter bags from mum. I got there in the end but I do miss my bootspace. Billy and I popped in to B&Q on the way out of Chester as I had a £10 voucher I could spend in there courtesy of my online market research surveys and we wanted to pick up an instant fire bag or two if we could. We couldn’t find them so had to ask and were directed to the “porch-type” area where we found their last few going cheap – £2 each instead of £3.98 – so we got 5 which was brilliant πŸ™‚

Then it was off to Manchester for the match. I needed to meet up with a friend who had my ticket having used it for the last game and then Billy wanted to pop to the pub to meet with some of our City friends. He was ahead of me (but holding my hand) as we went in to the pub and the bouncers on the door asked for his match ticket to prove he was a home fan as he wasn’t wearing any colours. Just as he was wondering what to do (since opening his mouth would give away his accent!) they caught sight of my coat/scarf and waved us in with an apology. (I would say he owes me but to be fair we usually enjoy the “protection” of the home fan on these occasions.) We had a pleasant pre-match drink and then I left Billy there as the pub is close to the away end anyway and I like to be in my seat much earlier than he does. The match itself was pretty tame I felt – I was even almost-bored for much of the first half though of course it helped that City looked well in control. That said, it took until just before the break for us to score one that counted and typically it was 2 not just the one (could have been 3 but the Toon keeper was in form!) The second half was very comfortable and but for aforementioned keeper, the final score would/could/should have been more than “just” 4-0, though I did think Newcastle were going to score one as the clock ticked down. As ever, the match went too quickly for me as these days I appreciate every second of being there and just want it to go on so I don’t have to leave. Amusing moments were when Newcastle fans sang their usual irritating “They’re here, they’re there….empty seats” and home fans responded with “You only sold one tier πŸ˜€ (To be fair, from my wider view of both sides of the coin, both chants were equally unmerited (home fans hadn’t all arrived at that point and away teams no longer get their allocation on a sale-or-return basis I believe.) The atmosphere was poor – home fans were very quiet and the poorest I’ve witnessed for a very long time. Similarly, I’ve never known Toon fans to be that quiet for lengthy spells at a time. The best entertainment I go was from one of my season ticket neighbours who had a touch of heartburn and was asking everyone if they had any Rennies πŸ˜€ I foresee much mileage in this for future fun. I met Billy back at the car and for once I didn’t get a load of bitter raging – but then there really weren’t any controversial incidents in this fixture for a change. We had a nice easy drive home, though couldn’t get parked anywhere near the house so had to quickly unload then park the car and walk back home.
MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Kippax Blue’s photos here

The next day being Easter Sunday, of course we went to Pat’s for dinner, booze and games. Dinner was roast pork followed by not one, but two, puddings and then cheese and crackers. It was a little strange with no Grandpa this time (sadly he passed away a couple of months ago but we were privileged to be at his funeral and say goodbye.) The girls actually did better in Trivial Pursuit than usual though of course, the boys still won – the girls won the Logo game, the boys won both Taboo and Trivial Pursuit. We really MUST get some new questions for TP for next time though as even the girls are starting to remember the answers and event he debates, for some of the cards now! There are also an increasing number of questions for which we dispute the answers and/or wording. It was a great day as usual and we finally got to bed at 2am! πŸ™‚

All that crammed in and still a day left for me to do some homemaking which was wonderful. This house really requires a full time homemaker I feel but I did manage to get a lot done and was pleased over all with a lovely four day break from work πŸ™‚


Nel’s Snowy Birthday

Nel’s birthday was on a Saturday this year and since she hates football so much, I forfeited my match to devote the day to her. She wanted to visit the Hancock Museum followed by a Chinese meal for lunch at a restaurant in Newcastle that we’ve enjoyed in the past. However, snow started falling heavily on the Friday and we decided to revise our plans in the interests of safety and having a stress-free day. (We have agreed, however, to go to the museum at a later date so that she doesn’t miss out, but the restaurant appears to now be closed.)

As usual, I was the first up and as Nel had requested a birthday cheesecake, I got on with making her one (and one for the rest of the family!) as well as a big pan of leek and potato soup. When she woke up, she sent me a text requesting a chopped apple and a cat to be take to her in bed! After obliging, I also gave her her presents and cards (DVD’s from us) and Billy trudged through a blizzard in the (now fairly deep) snow to collect Mum’s birthday parcel from the sorting office.

Just before noon, Billy, Raji, and I took the birthday girl out for her Chinese lunch to one of our favourite restaurants, The Golden Dragon, just in town. We had a lovely meal whilst watching the snow falling outside. We had the lunchtime menu but added crispy duck pancakes too as it was a treat. Although I ordered my usual favourite (chicken in lemon sauce) we all shared our dishes so we also had chicken and mushrooms, beef in black bean sauce and broccoli in garlic sauce. The latter was gorgeous and a new (2nd) favourite of mine. Billy left to go to his football match which was still on, and transport running, and the rest of lingered over coffee and Chinese tea before leaving. On the way home, we rented a DVD for later, and then when we got home, Nel went for a nap!

Since I had written off any hope of following my match, it was an unexpected bonus being able to do so, and Raji and I settled in the living room with the fire on, TV flicking between the rugby and Soccer Saturday and I followed MCFC’s text commentary of the game, a comfortable sounding 2-0 win for City. πŸ™‚

We had an evening meal of homemade soup, bacon sandwiches and cheesecake and once Nel appeared, she, Raji and I watched The Amazing Spiderman whilst drinking mulled wine – a cosy way to spend a snowy evening πŸ™‚ The film was very good and much better than previous Spiderman ones; it is very much in keeping with the Avengers series and I look forward to the next film.

Although it was not quite how we’d planned to spend Nel’s birthday, it was a very pleasant and relaxing day in the end and we all rather enjoyed it. I can’t believe my youngest baby is 20 now, but am very proud of her and how she’s grown into such a lovely young woman πŸ™‚

Not doing; just being.

We spent a lovely, leisurely Boxing Day at home (mainly eating what we wanted, when we wanted it πŸ˜‰ ) I watched the Sunderland 1 v 0 City match on a very hit-and-miss webstream whilst Billy watched ManUre 4 v 3 Newcastle and we were both wanting each other’s team to win; we were both disappointed! Ho hum! (MCFC’s 60-second highlights here and extended ones here)

On the 27th, Nel and I drove down to mum’s to spend the night and just have some girls’ time out. Nel went shopping with her friend who lives nearby and mum and I did……………. absolutely nothing! πŸ™‚ We just sat and chatted and it was lovely. Nel returned in time for dinner (braised steak, mmmm.) She had asked if she could sleep in the living room on the camp bed and as soon as we’d made it up ready, Rocky decided it looked very cosy (which it did, as mum always makes it so) and promptly claimed it! πŸ˜€ Nel going to bed later didn’t bother him a bit – since he had his spot, right in the middle and wasn’t budging! At some point in the night though, he did decide to let Nel get some sleep and he went upstairs to sleep with mummy. The next morning we went for a mooch in the shops and though we enjoyed ourselves, we didn’t actually buy much (and even then what we bought was from the 99p shop!) so we clearly hadn’t missed much the day before. We had a lovely late lunch of mum’s home-made chips with Bockwurst before we set off for home again. What a wonderfully relaxing visit – not doing, just being πŸ™‚

I couldn’t get a web stream for the Norwich 3 v 4 City match and had to content myself with the radio commentary instead. It sounded a fantastic match and of course, the result was very pleasing too. The effort was certainly better than the apparent lack of interest on Boxing Day and fans of both clubs got their moneys-worth. (MCFC’s 60-second highlights here.)

Other than this, I just enjoyed being at home for a few days – no work, no plans, just pottering around doing little things like catching up with some blogging, cleaning up my laptop (backing up files, doing a defrag etc.) and playing with my new phone, installing apps etc. πŸ™‚ I was not missing work at all!

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?) πŸ˜€

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! πŸ™

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

Filling the week between…

It’s a good job the Monday following the match was a Bank Holiday as it gave me a chance to try and come back to earth. Actually I didn’t quite manage that until Wednesday and then I started getting dizzy at the thought of this coming Sunday so it’s been a week of living my life in body but my soul elsewhere. I’ve had distractions but nothing’s taken my attention away from my beloved Blues for long…

On Monday Nel treated me to seeing the Avengers Assemble film – I drove us to the Metrocentre and she paid for our tickets πŸ™‚ The film was excellent and brought the characters from the previous films together beautifully. This was also my first trip tot he all new cinema in the Metrocentre and I was impressed – especially by the extra room for wheelchairs and other disabled users. We did however take our own picnic lunch as their prices are extortionate. After the film I managed to visit the O2 shop and sort out my new contract tariff which was something I’d been wanting to do. It was really nice to spend the day with my lovely daughter – thanks Nel. πŸ™‚

On Tuesday I was back at work in my own job – but everyone was talking football to me so it wasn’t too much of a successful distraction πŸ˜‰

Wednesday was busy with shopping, gym, meeting and preparations for a short break next week – and I did start to calm down a bit.

Thursday and Friday I worked for another department helping out and was kept busy but even so my mind kept wandering into football mode now and then and by Friday afternoon I was already really excited.

Saturday (today) has been very busy but I’ve found it very hard to concentrate on the laundry, packing and a million other things I’ve needed to do because all I can think of is tomorrow and the match! It may be a good job I will need to be up very early as I may be too excited to sleep anyway πŸ˜‰ Billy is going to his game away at Everton so we are driving down to Manchester early in order for him to meet up with his friends and catch the train from Piccadilly to Liverpool.

Come on City……… one more push…..

One huge step for City: Newcastle 0 – 2 City

After all the excitement and tension of the derby on Monday, here we were with another huge game on Sunday – and the family derby to boot! Billy and I had set the ground rules: Enemies only for 90+ minutes, not the whole day; Absolutely no texting during the match or half time; neither of us is responsible for anything that happens on the pitch, the ref, or other fans of our clubs! It’s taken a few years for us to learn these rules need setting – I’ll let you guess which of us needed the rules to be set! πŸ˜‰

We decided to take the bus to town as this is the one fixture a season when I can have a matchday drink or two, and we popped in to see Paul at work on the way. (Work being a betting shop) Billy put a betting slip in front of me but I am superstitious and didn’t want to bet on either the City or Swansea games. Eventually I chose first/last scorer in our match (Ben Arfa for both) and hoped it was a safe enough one to win or lose πŸ˜‰ On arriving at our usual pre-match pub we soon found the North_East Blues and the Irish Blues as well as some other Blue individuals I know, before Billy’s Toon gang arrived. Pre-match socialising was therefore a whirlwind of trying to see everyone and be everywhere at once for a couple of hours. When I was ready to head to the stadium, I left Billy to his drinking and walked up alone – nerves not quite as bad as they had been earlier, thanks to two halves (of lager) πŸ˜‰ Good job I am used to those stairs up to level 7 and paced myself though there were plenty of others who didn’t, and a few who were even managing to sing as they climbed.

The consensus of opinion in the pub had been that this was a tough game to call. Two in-form teams with much for which to play. Two loyal followings supporting their team all the way. Two decent managers who have done well this season.

The opening 15 minutes of the match followed City’s frequent pattern of needing to settle into it. We away fans hadn’t sat down (and never did) but if we had, the nerves would have soon had us on our feet I think. We did find our pace and come in to it after this period and in general for this half we had more of the possession and frequently took the ball forwards only to faff about in and around the area trying to tippy-tappy the ball in. By contrast, when they did get the ball, Newcastle made a determined break for goal and looked like they’d take any chance of a shot they could get – my poor heart! Newcastle started to look more dangerous towards the whistle and both keepers made a couple of good saves to keep it 0-0 at half time.

City’s half time team talk must have been good because the second half was all about us; we dominated the game though still couldn’t make the break through and Newcastle still gave us a scare or two. Eventually the obvious substitution was made – De Jong came on allowing Yaya to come further forwards and what a difference this made! Sure enough, our big-game player sent us wild with a 70th minute goal πŸ™‚ We went nuts in the away end, and despite non-stop singing up to now, we somehow managed to crank up the volume in celebration. Neil, who was next to me, says I burst his eardrum with my ecstatic screaming πŸ˜€ OMG! Could we do this? We dared to believe and a happy Poznan broke out, giving me more bruises to add to my football tally, but I wasn’t complaining!

A poor quality photo of the TV footage just about showing me finishing celebratory cuddles after the goal:

Both sides then had a couple of great chances that came to nothing and our nerves were as stretched as ever. It didn’t help that as soon as we’d scored, the stadium’s digital clock went off so we couldn’t see how long we had to hang on for. It seemed forever! And then almost at full time, Yaya sent us delirious again with another beautiful goal. Oh how we went wild! Surely now we’d done it? We had 3 added minutes to endure, but then the whistle went and we jumped, cheered, clapped and sang our hearts out! We were so proud and so delighted to have witnessed a great second half performance against an excellent team.

Another poor photo from TV – my back at full time as we were leaving:

The ref was poor in terms of starting off card-happy and booking players without cause and then letting them get away with things for which they more deserved to be booked! However, he was equally so with both teams and certainly didn’t change the game or its outcome. Both sets of fans were excellent, singing in support of their own team rather than abusing the other, and applauded each others’ players which was nice.(See NUFC and MCFC fans’ tweets here) Best chant of the day: “Fergie’s cracking up….he’s cracking up…he’s cracking up.. πŸ˜€

Eventually it was time to head back to the pub and I walked there with Rick, hoping Billy would get the chance to stay behind for Newcastle players’ lap of honour as it was their last home game of the season. We were walking amongst hundreds of home fans of course, but were touched at how many made a point of wishing us luck with winning the title. When we got back to the pub I headed for the corner where Billy would be when in so he wouldn’t worry about me (I had also sent him a couple of texts of course) and Chris bought me a drink as he was the first of the gang to get back. We had another enjoyable couple of hours in there with friendly Toon v City singing and relaxed banter (a couple of City fans did go slightly too far at one point and it could have kicked off, but they settled down and all was well) and we all watched the Swansea match. There was even a Swansea fan in πŸ™‚ I think we all expected a home win but I bet Fergie and Co were very disappointed with only 2 goals πŸ˜€

After a record 3 drinks for me (5 over the whole day) Billy and got the bus back home, munching a picnic on the way. He needed the loo so we popped in to Donnie’s for that and stayed for one more drink to chat with Steph who was on her own behind the bar. SIX drinks! Still, I reckon I deserved it after what City’s put me through πŸ˜‰

So there we have it – City are in pole position to win the title at the last game of the season the next Sunday. City and ManUre equal on points but we have an 8 goal advantage. You’d hope we can beat relegation threatened QPR at home but this IS City! So my nerves will be stretched to their limits again as the game approaches. As an aside, I’d love QPR to survive (mainly thanks to them having Shaun and Ned in their team) but would like it to be because Bolton have lost their own match rather than having QPR beat us.

Do I dare to start believing yet………?

MCFC’s 60-second highlights here
MCFC’s extended highlights here
Fan YouTube video here
if you fancy getting caught up in the mood
Well respected NUFC site’s match report here – a good read though the author didn’t see our Poznan & Shawcross was booked on his debut for us πŸ˜‰

Excellent song – listen to the words, try not to cry near the end! πŸ˜‰ :

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