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 🙂

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 🙂

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. 🙁 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!) 😀

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 🙂 – 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.

A lovely drive and Emily came too.

As you know by now, if you know me, St George’s Day is mine and mum’s big annual event in memory of my dad. This year, it happened to fall on the Saturday of the Easter weekend so we thought we’d take advantage of the bank holidays either side to go to Eastbourne and see the sea, then visit my brother on the Sunday.

After working overtime the week before, I was ready for a break and drove down to mum’s on the Thursday and so we could leave for Sussex on Friday. On Friday we both wore our green ribbons in memory of my beloved Nan whose birthday it would have been. Rocky, mum’s cat, was booked into the cattery but he’d disappeared early that morning and we hadn’t a clue what to do if he didn’t return in time for us to leave. We decided to go to the crem to leave dad’s red rose and then return (instead of going on from there) to see if Rocky thought the coast was clear and returned whilst we were out.

As usual, the crem was beautiful, peaceful and welcoming and we left dad’s rose and sat on the bench for a while, before going back. Rocky was still nowhere to be seen, and then just as we despaired, he appeared! I grabbed him and mum put him in his carrier and we took him to the cattery with him protesting all the way. (It’s a lovely cattery and he was fine once we got there.)

Then we had a lovely drive down the M6 and though we’d expected lots of traffic, it all turned out to be going north, so we had no congestion at all. We stopped for our picnic lunch and a coffee which we had outside since the weather was glorious. Just north of Oxford, we noticed that the car sounded very noisy and when mum suggested that it sounded like the exhaust, I had to agree. We stopped at the nearest services, which turned out be very busy and I had a job to park. Happily, the man in the car next to where I was trying to park talked me through patiently and we got there! (The people standing around the car the other side were taking up all the room and wouldn’t move, which didn’t help!) I got down on hands and knees and had a peek under the car – sure enough, the exhaust pipe leading into the silencer had come loose. Agh! I didn’t think the AA would be able to do a lot apart from patch it up, so felt there probably wasn’t any point getting them out. We went inside for a drink and I called my brother to see if he thought it was safe enough to continue our journey and sort it out when we arrived. He said that was fine as long as the pipe wasn’t so low it was on the ground, so we continued, ignoring he fact that we sounded like a motorbike with a cough 😉

As we drove past Uckfield (where we used to live and where my brother still does) I decided to use the petrol station there as I would then know we had enough without having to find one. (We were shocked to see petrol priced at 134.9p a litre – it was 136.9p in Chester and 138.9p in Hexham!) Then we noticed there was a KwikFit next door – and it was open! So we popped in and they took a look at the exhaust – sadly it was a different part to that replaced previously, so it was not under warranty and I’d have to pay. The man there was really friendly and helpful and said it was an easy job and would cost £45 though he’d have to order the parts. Amazingly, they would be open on Easter Sunday and said they could so it that afternoon when we’d be in Uckfield anyway – and the part should come on the Saturday. Brilliant! 🙂

As a family Easter present, mum had bought us a Sat Nav, which is something we’ve been wanting for a while. Although I know the way to Sussex, and know the Eastbourne area, I did want the extra help for locating the hotel without having to hunt, though I had an idea roughly where it was. We decided, therefore, to use it from about half way so that we could get the hang of how much notice it gave for lane changes, turn-offs etc. The voice that it was set to use was “Emily UK” and before long, we were calling it Emily, or sometimes “Em” for short. This has now stuck and it is a she, called Emily. 🙂 We were quite impressed with her, though once we left the M25 and were on the M23, she wanted us to drive to Brighton and then across to Eastbourne. Not the way we wanted, so we did our usual and left at East Grinstead to drive down the A22. Em didn’t like this at all and kept urging us to turn around and go to Brighton. She had a way of using intonation to imply an unhappy sigh when every time she said “Recalculating” – I swear she sounded more annoyed each time 😀 We waited for her to realise that we were nearer to our destination than to Brighton but even when we were 5 miles away, she wanted us to go to Brighton! (Sadly, this has shaken my confidence in her a bit, so I’m not yet happy she could get me wherever I need to be if I don’t know the way.) In the end, mum turned Emily off, turned her back on and asked her to find where we were and then to navigate to the the hotel. Happily she did this without a fuss and was very helpful in locating the exact turn for the hotel – we’d have missed it without her. Thanks Em! 🙂

One of the things about this hotel that had particularly appealed to us was the private parking (Eastbourne can be a nightmare in holiday season) but when we pulled up, (at around 5.30 pm) the 3 spaces were taken. Mum hopped out and went to ask inside what to do, and they said we could park behind the owner’s car which would block it in. We therefore gave the owner the car keys when we checked in so she could move it if needed. (She obviously gets this a lot as she wasn’t at all concerned, and it meant we could all relax. We did warn her that the exhaust was noisy though, so she wouldn’t think she’d done anything to it.)

The hotel – Our room was the at the right hand side, with the open window:


Photobucket

View from our window, looking towards the sea: Photobucket

Our hostess was very friendly and welcoming and showed us to our room. It was small but bright and comfortable – though the loo/shower room was tiny with a badly fitting sliding door which left quite a gap when closed. It’s a good job we are mum and daughter!


Photobucket

We quickly unpacked and changed our tops since the drive had been pretty hot and sticky, and went for a walk along the seafront – an unexpected bonus made possible by the fantastic weather and our proximity to the beach. Afterwards, we had a picnic tea and bottle of wine in our room and felt realxed and ready for St George’s Day.