Mum’s birthday weekend.

Last weekend it was mum’s birthday so Nel and I went down for the weekend and I was really looking forward to it having not seen mum since our Boxing Day trip when I was poorly. We left at 4.30pm on the Friday so that we could have the full day on Saturday before returning Sunday afternoon. Nel wanted to sleep downstairs on the fold-out camp bed this time as a picture had jumped off mum’s bedroom wall last time and spooked Nel so much she didn’t fancy sleeping in there again.

The next morning, mum had woken up early and made herself a cup of tea to drink in bed so when I poked my head round her door to sing “Happy Birthday” she told me she’d put the coffee machine on for me and I was welcome to pour a cup and join her. So I did and Rocky was hilarious! He had been sitting on the floor at mum’s side of the bed and then he walked round to mine and glared up at me. I laughed at him and we wondered what was the matter as he’d been doing the same to mum. We decided that maybe he didn’t like me getting sitting in his mummy’s bed, and he carried on glaring which just made us giggle. When we got up, we crept downstairs and made our breakfast – mum had her usual porridge and I had my usual bacon bagel. I walked in to the living room with my food to be greeted by Rocky sitting in the middle of the floor – evidently waiting for me, or rather, for his bits of bacon which I always save him for when I’ve finished eating. Aha! THAT was why he’d been glaring at us! After he’d had his bacon, he disappeared contentedly without a backward glance πŸ˜€

Once Nel was awake enough to join us, mum opened her cards and presents and she had lots of lovely ones from friends, family and colleagues – ex-colleagues now since she has finally managed to retire at the end of January πŸ™‚

Nel had taken a beautiful picture of Rocky at Christmas and she’d printed and framed it as a birthday present, and we’d given her a voucher for a manicure now that she is a lady of leisure as she recently expressed a wish to have a professional manicure sometime.

When we were showered and dressed we went out to the shops and though I’d said I would be happy to take her next day, mum insisted she’d just as soon do her grocery shopping today and get it done, even if it was her birthday. We did, however, have a quick look in a couple of other shops and a drink and sweet treat in Costa as well πŸ™‚ On the way home, we dropped off Nel at her friend’s house for the afternoon and we had a cooked dinner before going out to the match – though we were,at this point, still debating whether we should go as it had apparently snowed heavily in Manchester (but it was just rain/sleet in Chester.) Eventually, by the end of a yummy dinner of braised steak, we decided we’d go, but be prepared to turn back if we felt it necessary. Happily, we made it OK and I’ve blogged separately about the match.

I’d had to concentrate on the drive home – 8″ snow in Manchester gradually became slushy snow then deep surface water on the roads back to Chester. However we’d had a fantastic afternoon and after picking up Nel on the way, had a nice celebratory drink before bed time.

On Sunday morning mum and I repeated our cuppa-in-bed-before-breakfast and this time Rocky was happy to curl up with us and patiently wait for his bacon πŸ™‚ After looking at all mum’s lovely retirement cards and presents, we went out to get the new hoover we’d seen the day before but had wanted to read reviews on before buying. We then had a gorgeous dinner of roast lamb before Nel and I took our leave and headed home. I had missed mum having been used to seeing her a bit more often than the time between these visits and I think all three of us enjoyed our weekend just being girls together. πŸ™‚

The drive home was mainly through pea-soup fog and we generally had to just follow the lights in front of us – happily on motorways that’s not such a difficult thing – although there were still one or two idiots who didn’t feel they needed fog lights on -and in some cases, ANY lights! We got back around 6pm and Billy returned from his match about an hour and a half later, bringing takeaway for everyone after winning his bet on both the score and first scorerthanks Newcastle and thanks Mr Ba πŸ™‚

City 3 – 0 Liverpool

Having missed the two games over Christmas/New Year I was looking forward to watching this game though a bit uncertain as to how we’d do. I HOPED we’d rise above our shakey results but couldn’t be sure as I didn’t know how these players would react. Once again I enjoyed one of my German beers whilst watching, and was joined by Billy and Raji. Although I’d ALWAYS rather be at the match than watching on TV, regardless of weather or comfort, the weather was especially grim which eased the pain of being an armchair fan slightly.

The game was enjoyable and entertaining but I was convinced Liverpool would soon score as they had a good percentage of the possession. Happily for us though, they weren’t really threatening in the final third, aided by Kompany’s MOtM performace. How Adam managed to not only stay on the pitch (until he was subbed) but avoid even a booking, I do not know! And yet Barry got a soft second yellow and walked! Nice consistent refereeing there – not!

We were gifted a first goal by very dodgy keeping, but the second goal was a beauty of a header from Yaya. The third was a well taken penalty by birthday boy Milner – but how does the ref give a penalty but no card? Liverpool hit the woodwork late on but it ended with City keeping a valuable clean sheet πŸ™‚

So, we were 3 points clear at the top of the table again – at least until ManUre played Newcastle the next day. (Joy of joys, Newcastle did the business and got a great win, pleasing City fans as well as their own in the process πŸ˜€ )

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

Boxing Day – have Kleenex, will travel.

Billy, Nel and I were visiting mum on Boxing Day and staying for one night – Raji and Stephen were working, sadly, so couldn’t join us. We planned to leave by 9am and I was up early as usual. I soon realised I had a coldgreat! πŸ™ I seemed to recall that the last one I’d had, I’d caught from Stephen and that he had then had it back again a few weeks later so I assumed this was phase 2 of the same bug for me too. Still, it wasn’t going to stop me seeing my Mummy, so I applied my sinus cream*, took more herbs and got out my box of Kleenex Balsam – the 3 things that help get me through a cold and without which I’d be thoroughly miserable.

We left at 9am as planned and had a really smooth drive down – the only difficulty being the very high winds in places causing me to fight to keep the car on course. We arrived in time for lunch – a proper Boxing Day lunch of home-made chips and cold meats, sausage rolls etc, accompanied by a very nice red wine πŸ™‚

In the afternoon Nel went for a nap, Billy fell asleep on the sofa and mum and relaxed with Gillette Soccer Saturday (on Monday πŸ˜‰ ) to get the football updates. Palace had played earlier so their result was final – sadly a loss to Southampton (away) but no more than mum expected really. Newcastle and City remained at 0-0 for so long that it was a good job we had other games to keep us entertained really πŸ˜‰ Finally Newcastle broke their deadlock and went on to win, but City were held to a 0-0 by West Brom. ManUre’s 5-0 win took them level on points with us but held to 2nd place by our goal difference – the second half of the season will be interesting indeed!

As the afternoon went on, I was sniffling more and my cold seemed to be developing apace. Nel reappeared and watched the TV programme mum had recorded for her – and Billy went upstairs for a nap. We nibbled for tea rather than having a proper meal but my appetite wasn’t great so this suited me nicely. After eating we watched some more TV and then I had to give in at 9pm as I was so very tired I could hardly think straight. So it was my turn to disappear, leaving Mum and Billy to watch Hercule Poirot and Nel to play on her laptop. Apparently Rocky appeared, cautiously, having avoided everyone since our arrival, and he tried to settle on mum’s lap but was wary of Billy (he doesn’t like men for some reason) – then as soon as Billy spoke, he was off!

I slept deeply, but woke every hour or so through the night, falling into a deep sleep again and in the morning my sinuses were very painful, my head ached, my glands felt solid, my throat scratched and my teeth tingled. Argh! In the absence of anti-inflammatory herbs (though I did have my regular mix of St John’s Wort, Echinacea and Withania with me and took my usual daily dose of that) I asked mum for a couple of aspirin and she even managed soluble ones πŸ™‚ When Nel was up, I suggested a mooch round the retail park as I really felt the need for some fresh air and they liked the sound of that. Billy declined to accompany us once he got up so we girls took ourselves off – me with Kleenex to hand as I was still sneezy and sniffly. The fresh air was wonderful and we commented that the weather was so mild that it was like a soft spring day in march rather than Christmas time. I couldn’t really get into the browsing but was happy to follow mum and Nel – I didn’t really feel with it but didn’t want to spoil it for them and I WAS enjoying the fresh air between shops.

When we got back, I was feeling quite hungry and we enjoyed stew and fresh baked baguettes before putting our things together for the drive home. I took some more aspirin before we left and as we said goodbye felt really bad that it had been a poor visit what with Nel and Billy sleeping half the time and me being ill. Mum said that nevertheless it had been lovely to see us and I’m glad we had come and enjoyed being able to see her, but wish we’d been more with it.

I don’t know how I drove home! I was on auto-pilot and it’s a good job I do that route so much. My sinuses were so painful and the low winter sun didn’t help matters at all. Billy had to have the tissue box to hand to pass me fresh ones, I had the sun visor down and my sunglasses on, but it was agony still. It was a good job we were travelling north as the southbound carriageway was gridlocked for miles and I would have struggled to cope with that in my state.

Once we arrived home, I left Billy to unload the car, I did the minimum necessary and collapsed in to bed, managed one episode of a TV series and some chocolates then went out like a light.

(* Sinus cream: comfrey base; hypericum infused oil; echinacea tincture; lobelia tincture; liquorice tincture; cramp bark tincture; peppermint oil; tea tree oil; chamomile oil. This soothes the inflammation, prevents secondary infection and opens the airways.)

City 3 – 1 Newcastle – sans Billy!

This was the first time since we’ve been together, that Billy and I haven’t both attended the family derby. Newcastle took only a reduced allocation this year – mightily strange decision on their part, even allowing for the supposition that City are telling visiting clubs that they must choose their allocation in advance as there is no “sale or return”. Newcastle fans always travel in good numbers and the clashes between the two clubs are usually popular for both sets of fans so there would be little chance that Mr Cashley would be stuck with unsold tickets. Many, many Toon fans failed to get tickets and were not at all happy. So…..

I set off, leaving Billy to watch the game online. For once I had thought to check if there were likely to be any more motorway closures before I left, and it looked like I’d be OK – but I made sure I had Em along in case.

I needed to meet up with Rick before the game as I had to return his tickets that I’d used to take H to the Wolves game, and as luck would have it, as I walked from the car park, I bumped in to Mark who said that Rick was just behind him. We were soon joined by more NE Blues, and we went en masse to City Square, where the rest of the gang (who’d come down by mini-bus from the NE) joined us too. We had a drink, sorted tickets, sold some more raffle tickets and exchanged the odd cuddle or two, and then went our own ways to take our seats.

Leading up to the game, and me living amongst the Newcastle fans, there were many discussions as to what we thought the result might be. Both teams remained unbeaten in the league thus far. Some thought City would hammer Newcastle (a couple of people even said they’d be happy if we “only” thrashed them 3-0!) Others thought it would be tight but City would still prevail. Personally I felt I might take a point – this was the highest scorers in the league against the tightest defence. We might score well, but we also concede – and they don’t!

It was really weird to be sitting in my seat, looking over at the away fans who were half their usual number, and Billy was not amongst them! I felt quite bad being there when he wasn’t. I hoped we could have a good game without the ref spoiling it for once – on our previous recent encounters the refs have not been great. Happily, this time we could simply enjoy the match itself.

At first it all seemed a little cagey and tentative. City went forward but between our own lack of conviction and their strong defending, we couldn’t get past them. Meanwhile they had a couple of excellent chances and as half time neared it looked like it would be 0-0. However, out of the blue, City had a penalty when Ryan Taylor cleared the ball with his arm (not intentionally, but the arm was outstretched so he can have no arguments) and Mario took the spot kick so casually that we didn’t think it was going in! Happily for us, it did, and just a couple of minutes later Micah (who’d had an excellent game so far) managed to score with his head, sending us in to the break with a 2-0 lead πŸ™‚

I went and met Don at half time and got back to my seat just in time for the whistle. Again, Newcastle had chances (hitting the post at one point) but City rode it out and then Micah was fouled, earning us another penalty which Aguero tucked away. I started to relax a little, hoping that at 3-0 with most of the game gone, we might just have got our 3 points. Although Newcastle got a late consolation I felt they deserved it as they’d played well and had kept at it. I thought that Stephen Taylor was their MotM, by the way – he had such a great game and seemed to anticipate many of our attacking moves, cutting our players off from going round, slipping inside or whatever else we had planned. Our own MotM was Micah – I hope Capello was watching!

It had been an enjoyable game and I could live with 3-1 πŸ™‚

The visiting fans might have been half their usual number but they still sang loudly – unfortunately only half their singing was for their own club, the other half being against ours. (I always find this bizarre with any club – get behind your own team. I’m also getting well bored of the same old “Where were you when you were s**t?” though our reply of “We were here when we were s**t” is very valid. Anyway, I digress…) Sadly, the day was somewhat marred by one single idiot who decided it would be a good idea to light a firework and throw it into the home fans! The bang was very loud and mad me jump, and I have heard that when the firework landed in a section with children close by, a home fan picked it up to protect them – and it went off in his hands. πŸ™ Unfortunately, our fans retaliated by throwing coins and lighters at away fans – although I can understand the anger, this was not acceptable and more innocent bystanders were liable to be hurt. Predictably missiles were returned, and one away fan ripped up his seat and launched it – it hit a lady in the face apparently. On this occasion, the police and stewards were excellent and got things under control quite quickly, and the firework thrower and seat vandal have been arrested. This is NOT what football is about and fortunately something I have only rarely seen. It’s the worst trouble I’ve seen at our stadium in any case. It’s a shame that this happened on a day which should have been about the fine performances on the pitch, and between two sets of fans who have previously generally respected each other and got on well. However, a couple of idiots are not representative of all fans of their clubs and this should be remembered.

One cause of amusement was that the PA announced that “due to unforeseen circumstances there will be no chips today” several wits commented that maybe the fryers were refusing to warm up – They weren’t too far from the truth either (no gas to heat the fryers!) πŸ˜€

When I got back to the car I spoke to Billy on the phone since I was still only just receiving all the first half texts – the signal gets blocked or oversubscribed in the stadium and this has been getting much worse recently, so there was no point texting him – he wouldn’t get my text until midnight! He was philosophical about the result and had no arguments with the penalties or the performances. It was still a shame he’d been unable to come though. On my drive in, I’d seen that my usual homeward bound slip road was blocked off, so I turned on Em to get me safely back on the M60 to go home and she did the job nicely. It was nice to have her for back up.

So, we are now the only unbeaten premiership side and have added another 3 valuable points and a further 2 goals to our goal difference. Happy days πŸ™‚ – but when’s this bubble going to burst, I wonder?

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

Happy Birthday Billy.

34 years young today! (Mind you, he acts as though he’s 9 years OLDER than me with the way he hobbles and moans, but I s’pose his birthday isn’t the time to rub that in πŸ˜‰ )

Not having much money, we had a small family celebration courtesy of party food from Iceland, a DVD, and a birthday cake lovingly made by yours truly πŸ™‚

This morning I took him coffee and bacon sandwich, along with his cards to open in bed. At his request, he mainly received money which he is putting towards replacing his now defunct laptop, so when he got up, he popped in to town to collect his new toy. He also got a very clever “gift voucher” from mum so that he could go to a Newcastle match on her. πŸ™‚

This afternoon, all five of us sat together and watched Iron Man 2 which we enjoyed (I can’t believe it was 2008 when Billy, the kids and I watched Iron Man 1 at the cinema!) and we munched party food and drink. The Iceland range of nibbles was rather nice and we all particularly liked the chicken skewers, and then we finished with the coffee and walnut cake I’d made this morning:


Photobucket

Raji and Stephen were both working this evening hence the early gathering, but it worked out quite well as it has left time for Billy to pack for his forthcoming week away (working) and to play with his new laptop.

Happy Birthday Billy, hope you have enjoyed your day. πŸ™‚

This time last year.

Football round-up (incl City v Hammers & Everton)

With the cost of petrol being so high, and my funds being limited, I didn’t go to the home game against West Ham, and watched it on the internet instead. (Galling when you have a season ticket and have already paid for your seat!) City started well and when we went 2-0 up in the first fifteen minutes, the commentators were talking about it being a cricket score – however, they don’t know City like I do! πŸ˜‰ I was so pleased for both scorers (De Jong and Zaba) as both consistently give their all and are popular with the fans. AJ and Silva were everywhere and Silva was my MotM. Sadly, as the game went on, City relaxed too much and let West Ham get back in the game, with Ba scoring for them before half time. After the break Balotelli hit the cross bar (he had a good game I thought) and Silva opted to pass instead of shoot when he looked certain to score. Happily, City hung on for the win and the 3 points, but I felt sorry for the Hammers as they deserved more from the game. I hope they somehow survive the drop, but I fear the worst for them.

MCFC’s 60 second highlights here.
Kippax Blue’s photos here.

This weekend, we were away to Everton and as my subscription had run out on Liveonlinefooty, I decided to listen to a radio commentary of the game instead. Annoyingly, I couldn’t pick them up at all – BBC Radio Manchester stop airing at match time so I tried Radio 5 Live – but that was just coverage of various games, not this one specifically. So I tried Key103 through the official City site – but it wouldn’t stream. Grrrr! In the end I had to make do with the text commentary and Twitter updates πŸ™ It sounded like we were poor over all though it’s hard to tell with mere text commentary, and despite going 0-1 up (Yaya) we managed to lose 2-1 – Distin scoring the first, of course! I was strangely comforted at this confirmation of City’s inconsistency and hoped it meant we’d have had a kick up the backside before the big games against Spurs and Stoke.

Elsewhere, it was an interesting day in both the Prem and Championship and as a football fan in the broader sense as well as just being interested in my own club, I have soft spots for teams that had big a day.

Newcastle had already been confirmed as safe after a rough season, but it was nice to see them win 3-0 against Birmingham.

Blackpool did City a favour when they managed a draw against Spurs – a win would have been nicer though πŸ˜‰

And West Ham got a point against Blackburn, meaning we’re none the wiser yet as to which teams will be relegated this season. Personally I’d love to see West Ham, Wolves and Blackpool stay up but I very much doubt it will happen.

Crystal palace played at lunchtime and were on TV. After being at great risk of relegation most of the season, they’d finally got to relax and enjoy the game after last week’s results confirmed their survival. I was so pleased for my many Palace supporting friends and mum, and I watched a bit of the match – until Forest scored and Palace went down to 10 men and I felt I was a jinx πŸ˜‰ When I next looked at the score on the net, a second goal had just gone in! So I left it until full time before looking again, and saw it had ended 3-0. However, I gather the fans had a great day out and had had a bit of a party atmosphere anyway. Well done Palace – hopefully we’ll come and see you again next season.

Norwich had already clinched automatic promotion to the Prem so despite drawing int their game against Coventry, got to party in full on the last day of the season. Really chuffed for them and have liked the club for many years. I’d say that if I had had no other influences and had just picked a team to follow for myself, it would have been Norwich. They’re a real family club and I love that, the ground and the fans. I’m looking forward to meeting up with old friends again next season. Welcome back Canaries. πŸ™‚

(QPR were, of course, the other team automatically promoted as they are the season’s champions. I have no special feeling either way for them, though of course, they’ve been big news lately with their FA Hearing hanging over them.)

So that’s the Championship season done and the Prem has only a couple more weeks to go, with a lot still to play for. What a great season in both leagues being pretty wide open. I love this game πŸ™‚

Newcastle 1 – 3 City

On Boxing Day, Stephen, Billy and I drove into Newcastle for our family derby. We had been so pleased when we saw this fixture as we don’t normally see each other on Boxing Day, going as we do, to our respective matches. In fact, this was the first Boxing Day in 9 years that the Toon had played at home so we were ALL happy at only having a local trip to make for once. We met up with fellow City and Newcastle fans in our usual pre-match watering hole and had a pleasant couple of hours before the game.

After climbing the millions of stairs to the away area (actually the climb isn’t as bad as people make out, as long as you pace yourself) I thought the view over the top of the stadium, of a snow covered city was pretty so couldn’t resist taking a photo. (Click for full size to see properly.)


View over Newcastle SJP

I was sitting with my fellow North East Blues – well, I say sitting but actually we stood throughout the entire game. We had a fabulous time, singing and cheering, and “doing the Poznan(so called after City fans adopted it from Lech Poznan fans.) Home fans were pretty quiet throughout, which is quite rare, so the away fans just had fun amongst themselves. With two early goals, my throat was sore almost from the start but it was well worth it. πŸ™‚

Newcastle played OK and certainly were dominant for much of the game but City somehow didn’t look too troubled and somehow I wasn’t too nervous. When Newcastle scored their consolation goal and the home fans found their voices, City fans sang “We forgot that you were here” πŸ˜€ I was pleased that the ref, who did make some odd decisions, often in City’s favour, did not actually make any game changing ones and therefore did not control the outcome as in the previous meeting between our clubs.

MCFC’s 60 second highlights video here.

After the final whistle,it took a while to get down the stairs again and when we did finally do so, the police were being rather heavy handed with the segregation and I had no way to get to Billy nor he to me. I was with Rick who was also headed back to the pub so I sent Billy a text to say I’d see him in there which seemed the easiest thing to do. We had to walk a very long way round the stadium – mingling with home fans anyway so the point of the police sending us the long way round was what exactly? Billy called me again and asked me to wait for him where I was but poor Rick was desperate for the loo so I just had to hope we didn’t have to wait too long since he refused to go on ahead and leave me. (Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the offer, though didn’t feel at all threatened or worried waiting where we were.) Billy and Stephen appeared eventually and we went back to the pub together, though Billy was in his usual bitter, hostile post-match mood so I’d rather have just met him in there.

I’d had a text during the game (just the one this time, fortunately, unlike the last time City played at SJP where the abusive texts were many and venomous) in which Billy said that City had bought the ref again. After the game he went on at length about City have 12 or even 13 men, though eventually he did concede that it was not the ref that had cost them the game, but the two early goals gifted by their defence. Immediately after these games, Billy is not a rational man and even though I’m his wife, I can both see and feel the pure hate he has for me as an opposition fan – it ain’t pretty, I can tell you.

Fortunately, after another pint or two in the pub he calmed down, as he always does, and we got to enjoy just being with friends again. As ever, I enjoyed seeing Ian, Chris and co (Billy’s football going friends) again and hopefully I can go to a Newcastle match sometime and see them again.

I had also enjoyed spending time with Stephen (apart from during the match of course, when he and Billy were in the home end) and I think Billy had enjoyed this too as he asked Stephen if he’d like to go to a few more games together as and when opportunity presented itself. πŸ™‚

All in all, a nice way to spend Boxing Day especially when there was so little travelling for a change, though of course, I was the happiest of the party by the end of the day.

City 2 – 1 Newcastle

Still tired after a long day and a short night, Billy and I were on the road at 7.30 am on Sunday ready to relax and enjoy a good day at football watching our two teams play each other. The weather was absolutely appalling and driving conditions the same – visibility was so poor with all the rain and the spray that fog lights were needed. When we arrived in Manchester and parked at the stadium it was no better and we were thoroughly soaked by the time we walked to the pub.

A sociable couple of hours helped lift our spirits though and we enjoyed a drink and a chat with Phil, Dave, Spiv, H, Chinnor and BlueMong, amongst others. Billy and I parted company then, to go to our own team’s respective ends and each wished each other an enjoyable game – as long as OUR OWN team won πŸ˜‰ To be honest, I was worried that Billy’s boys would be more up for it than mine and mine might be tired after two excellent games in the last week. I lived in hope though.

I was so glad to be back in my own season ticket seat again, though as I came out into the stand, the man who sits in front of me was walking behind me and shouted out “She’s a Geordie! There’s a Geordie here!” which made people look – though the steward knows us and laughed so they soon looked away again πŸ˜€ My new neighbours for the season weren’t there so I was spared the bruised foot which was a relief.

The game kicked off and sadly, there was an early injury when Ben Arfa went down after a 50:50 ball was won by De Jong. Players of both teams continued playing, but Ben Arfa didn’t get up and later when the ball went out of play, the ref went to see what was amiss. The tackle had looked innocuous enough (Billy said he that he thought it looked bad at the time but that his fellow Geordies nearby had said it looked a fair tackle to them.) Tragically for the young player,he was stretchered off (to sympathetic applause) and we later heard he had broken his leg in two places. πŸ™

Throughout the first half, City looked slow and ponderous – second to every ball, slow to work out where it was. Newcastle though looked bright and determined. About 20 minutes in though, Tevez went down in the box and we waited to see what the ref would do – it had looked a reasonable shout but not a dead cert, from where I sit. The ref gave the penalty, and Carlos converted it, but I found out later that the foul had been outside the box and therefore not a penalty. Amazing, this was the same referee that had given us absolutely nothing last week against Chelsea! (Billy later said it was his fault for having called the man a clown last week!)

Being 1-0 up lifted the crowd slightly, though it had been a poor atmosphere beforehand and remained poor until towards the end of the game – in fairness there was little to cheer and it was very frustrating for the home fans. However, Newcastle fans were terrible! In contrast to their usual loud and proud encouragement for their team, they chose instead to focus on anti-City singing – “Ssssshhh” and “Where were you when you were sh**?” At one point, Newcastle had an attacking throw in that was not far short off the corner and their fans started with the “Sshhh” thing again – what did they want US to do? Sing encouragement to THEIR team? As it was, even they weren’t doing that. And then there was their ridiculous “They’re here, they’re there…empty seats” Ridiculous because they had plenty of empty seats themselves, not bringing as many as usual, and likely for the same reasons as the home fans that gave this game a miss – price! Billy paid Β£36 for his ticket and that will have been the cheapest (non-concessionary) price home fans would have been charged too. However, undeterred, they sang this over and over again, ad nauseum. Some of the comments of City fans were hilarious and after a while, we just laughed at the Toon’s strange antics. One of the strangest being when they all did the pogo πŸ˜€ At least this one was fun and more like their usual good natured selves, which is what I usually enjoy about their visits when they play us.

It seemed inevitable when the equaliser was scored, and we were screaming for AJ to come on – which he finally did with about 20 minutes to go, for Barry – and what a difference he and Ade (who came on about 10 minutes before, for Yaya) made! At last, we had a game to entertain us and frankly it felt like anything might now happen. Happily for us, it did – in the form of a goal for AJ, followed up with plenty of attack.

And then our hearts sank. Lescott brought down Ameobi in the area and we waited for the ref to award the penalty. Only he didn’t. We were mystified as to why – it looked nailed on to us. The ref had had an absolute stinker of a game, though unlike last week, it was in our favour. Newcastle were denied at least a point, more like 3, as we held on to the 2-1 scoreline to the end. This took City up to 2nd place and above ManUre – which should have delighted me. The points were ours – and yet I felt cheap, it was wrong.

I had to walk the long way round to meet Billy thanks to the police segregation – daft in as much as that as soon as one exits the stadium gates, both sets of fans freely mingle (and without incident too, despite the ugliness of the result.) Billy was absolutely fizzing, though he did calm I think, when he realised that I and other Blues knew they’d been hard done by. We went to the pub, somehow missing Phil, but finding Norb and Sophie and after a couple of drinks to bring us back down to earth, we headed back to the car.

Phil was already back in Oldham so we set off to meet him, having had directions over the phone, but there was a little slip road which took us by surprise and away from where we needed to be – so we called it a day and turned towards home instead, as it was getting dark, we needed the loo and some food.

It was only after the day that we realised how heavily De Jong was coming under fire for the challenge on Ben Arfa – though opinion is divided, roughly equally (across City sites and those of other clubs), those opinions are hotly held, and there’s no grey area it seems. I’ve seen a (poor quality) video of the tackle and it does look awful close up – though I personally maintain there was no intent other than getting the ball and TECHNICALLY it was no foul. To be honest, the fact that opinion is so divided and the issue so debated proves to me that the ref had a right to make a decision (or not) either way since replays are not actually clarifying the matter. Also telling, was the fact that Newcastle players noticed nothing amiss and continued playing, the post match interview by Houghton didn’t even mention it and their assistant manager said it was a fair tackle. The (dubiously motivated) Dutch manager has jumped on the band waggon by banning De Jong from his national team which only shows himself up – apparently not difficult as he’s unpopular in Holland as it is. I am not saying that De Jong is an angel (and goodness knows we’d be upset if one of our players was on the receiving end of a serious injury) but the witch hunt by the media is extremely unprofessional and out of order. The game was not a bad tempered one and there was no malice in the tackle – it’s just very bad luck that the outcome was so awful for a young and talented player (and for Newcastle who had finally made a promising signing to help them through the season.) Sometimes accidents can happen and as many fans and players are fond of saying – it’s a man’s game, a contact sport and unless we make the sport sterile, there is no way to be certain that injuries will not occur. I wish De Jong the strength and dignity to come through this – I believe the club are supporting him, advising him to remain silent on the matter (though surely an apology would be nice?) and taking action against those media organisations who have taken the persecution too far. I also wish Ben Arfur the strength and spirit to get through this awful time and make a speedy recovery and swift return – but it’s going to be a long road.

So, what should have been an enjoyable occasion and a good match, was spoilt by a terrible refereeing performance and a post-match grudge, which is such a shame for our first family derby after Newcastle’s relegation. It will be no consolation to the Geordies but I can honestly say that I can’t even recall the last time a ref gave us a game by making wrong decisions in our favour – it’s usually us that’s on t he wrong side of them! I only hope the Boxing Day return fixture will be a good one that we can enjoy.

Kippax Blue’s photos here.

Brilliant Blue Birthday City 1 – 0 Chelsea!

Saturday was my birthday and in the weeks before it, I’d asked Billy if he’d mind me not spending the day at home because City were playing and I wanted to go to the match. He very nobly said that as Newcastle didn’t play until the Sunday, he’d come with me to my game meaning we could spend the day together πŸ™‚

On Friday I was at my clinic until the afternoon and the girls in the gym and the beauty salon surprised me with a birthday card and present – some choccies and a beautiful blue nail polish for matchdays:


Birthday Matchday Nail Polish

I applied it on Friday night and was very impressed as it lasted through to Tuesday night! My other birthday surprise was that Billy had done half the ironing for me when I got home – which meant I had time for a nice relaxing bath πŸ™‚

So the day itself… we left the house at 6am because it was a lunchtime kick off and we wanted to see friends in the pub first too. I opened my cards first (actually I opened Nel’s the night before, at her request, because she wouldn’t see me on the day itself and was so pleased with the holographic hamster card she’d got me) and I opened Billy’s present – a book, the 5th in the Shardlake series by C.J.Sansom. (I’d told him not to buy me anything as he was giving up his time and money to come with me.)

We had a smoother-than-anticipated journey down, though Billy was mightily hungover from his cricket dinner the night before (before which we’d also briefly popped in to Steph’s 21st birthday party to wish her a Happy Birthday (her birthday is the same day as mine – even to the same HOUR – but she is now exactly half my age! πŸ˜› )) So he mainly snoozed on the way down, in between taking hours to drink a very weak coffee and several loo stops followed by a close inspection of the bushes at the back of the stadium car park!

We wandered along to City Square where Billy felt sufficiently better to sample a burger and then we went into the City Store where he treated me to some new darts flights:


Photobucket

Next stop was the pub and as it was early, it was unusually uncrowded! We saw Spiv first and then Sandy (from Wookies) and his son, and then Dave and Phil. The first thing that caught my eye about Phil was the gorgeous necklace he was wearing which he had got from Sierra Leone on his recent charity trip. I duly admired it and before he’d even got himself a drink or settled, this amazing man took it off and gave it to me! I was so taken aback and tried to refuse as I didn’t want to deprive him of such a lovely and unusual thing but he insisted and said he had more at home. THANKYOU Phil, I LOVE it!


Sierra Leone necklace

Dave and Phil played the role of “ticket daddy” and juggled things so Billy and I could sit together (Phil giving up his own ST seat for us!) and I asked the man who was going to sit in my seat not to give up any leg room for my neighbour who seems to think it’s all his πŸ˜‰

The beers had perked up Billy and we had a pleasant session with our friends and then it was off to the game! I was expecting us to lose this, though I did feel it shouldn’t be such a high scoring one as Chelsea have been enjoying thus far this season.

I was reasonably pleased to get to half time at 0-0 despite the fact that it was a pretty tame half – the two teams cancelling each other out. The second half, however, was a different matter. City were well on top for most of it and I kept waiting for Chelsea to up the ante and play better – but they never did! The only player of theirs that gave me any cause for concern, was Anelka who looked like he wanted a goal badly, but the rest didn’t worry me. City, on the other hand, looked like a TEAM and worked so well together that it was a job to fault anyone. Boyata did an amazing job and impressed me with his performance. The goal, when it came, seemed to happen in slow motion. Tevez had the ball and I waited for him to pass it only he didn’t. Then he ran at goal and took the shot when I thought he was going to try and run some more – I expected the keeper to save it, only he didn’t. But it was going to hit the post anyway so I was convinced it was wide. But it was IN! YES!! Elation all round the stadium! πŸ™‚ I then started anxiously clock watching – 30 mins to hang on. 25. 20. Agh! Too long! 15. 10. Can we possibly do it? 5. Plus 4 minutes. Agh! Will the ref NEVER blow the whistle? And at long last, he did! (Having had a poor game I feel – he let Chelsea repeatedly hammer Tevez and gave City very little, though Ancelotti somehow felt it was the opposite.)

We did it! Thank you City for my birthday win πŸ™‚ 3 points, a 3rd successive victory over “the champions” and an excellent all round performance.

Click here for 60 second highlights and here for Kippax Blue’s photos.

We were kept thoroughly entertained throughout the game by the group sitting behind us who were natural jokers. The best laugh being when someone was spotted warming up and they debated who it was (he was wearing coat and hat) then one commented drily “Well it’s either Ade or Sweep!” Brilliant! (If you’re a non football fan reading this, never mind – suffice to say it’d be obvious a mile away which was which. πŸ˜‰ ) Also of some entertainment was the Chelsea fans rendition of “We’re gonna bounce in a minute” (tune of “There’s only one A. N Other ” ) which had home fans wondering what they were singing followed by absolute bemusement when the visitors stopped singing and started jumping up and down πŸ˜€

We didn’t really have time to go back to the pub afterwards (and would be back in a week anyway for the City v Newcastle game) but we had time to revisit City Square and grab a cuppa. The sun was shining and everyone was relaxed and happy and it was really great to be able to watch the post match interviews on the big screens (the downside of going to the games is that I always miss the interviews and then only read snippets of what they were later in the week.) The MotM, Kompany is as fantastic off the pitch as he is on it and gave a really good interview – he got a round of applause from me when he answered the question about whether or not City could win the title with “You lot need to relax” πŸ˜€ We also bumped in to Norb and his new wife Sophie and spent some time chatting to them and hearing about their honeymoon.

I had had birthday texts throughout the day, including ones from the children and my phone couldn’t cope with all the e-mail notifications telling me I had birthday wishes on Facebook – so I had to wait until Sunday to read those πŸ™‚

Once the car park cleared and we could get away, we drove to Mum’s where she had a perfect birthday meal ready – steak, home made chips, salad, and baguette, accompanied by wine and followed by a beautiful birthday cake complete with score:


Birthday Cake (City 1 - Chelsea 0)

I was also spoiled with lots of presents from mum including a voucher to spend on Amazon, one of my favourite perfumes (which is hard to find) a couple of soft jumpers and a posh shampoo. We just relaxed for the evening and were all struggling to stay awake so had an early night.

Next morning after breakfast, Billy did a couple of jobs for mum which required his height and strength, and then we headed home again so he could get to his match in time. He bought me dinner at Tebay services on the way which was nice and a rare treat (Hope Colin notices this as he likes Tebay services πŸ˜‰ )

It had been a perfect birthday and I wouldn’t have wished it any different. Thank you everyone πŸ™‚

Wigan win, West Brom woes, and welcome response.

On Sunday City played away at Wigan and never having won at this ground before, plus the fact that we could jump to 4th in the table with a win, I was half expecting another defeat. The game was not on TV and had been moved to the Sunday only because of the European match the previous Thursday, so I watched it online. It was less a football match than Disney on ice as the driving rain made the surface extremely slick – in fact at half time, the centre spot lines had to be repainted! I didn’t have any heart attacks, but it was a hard-fought game, and City needed concentration to get the 3 points. Thanks to Tevez (my MotM) and Yaya the mission was accomplished with a 0-2 win, and City are now in 4th spot. Well done boys πŸ™‚

In contrast, Wednesday night saw a mix of City youngsters and senior squad members lose 2-1 away to West Brom in the Carling Cup. The match was not on TV nor internet so I followed the MCFC Twitter updates whilst watching a DVD with Nel, texting updates to Rick, and listening to Stephen and Billy cheering on Newcastle in their outstanding victory against Chelsea. (Well done the Toon.) I suppose it’s disappointing being out of the competition but somehow I only managed to feel resigned, rather than upset. I don’t have any problem playing our youngsters and I do fully appreciate and applaud the necessity to rotate the players when there are so many fixtures (League, European Cup competition, League Cup and FA Cup) – but from what I could gather Rocky Crocky was up front on his own at one point – and to put it politely, I just DON’T get that, even if it was only for 10 minutes. However, onwards and upwards and well done to those teams still in the competition after beating bigger clubs (take a bow, Cobblers.)

And just to round off a week of City, today I had a phone call from Charlotte in Supporter Services regarding my dissatisfaction with the car parking changes. She was very pleasant and understanding of why I was so annoyed and reassured me that my view had been passed on and taken on board. Hopefully they will have learned from this so that changes in future can be handled a little better and certainly I was mollified to think this. On a practical level of course, there is nothing that can be done to undo the changes, but as I explained to Charlotte, this was not the reason I shared my thoughts. I did say that thus far this season I felt distanced from my club and would see how the season went before considering what to do next year. By the end of the phone call (which was a relaxed and unhurried chat, rather than feeling like a mere PR exercise) I felt that maybe City IS still my beloved club and not a big anonymous, uncaring entity. It is this aspect of the new circumstances that will ultimately cement or sever my love for my club, not what they do on the pitch, so well done City for taking the time and making the effort.

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