Even at my middle to later age, I still enjoy a good old away day with the lads, and once presented with the opportunity to head to Stevenage just ahead of the festive period, with 20 odd other like minded away dayers, then the chance needed to be taken.
Saturday 22nd December 2018 – Stevenage 1-3 Mansfield Town
Those that know me well, know I did ten years solid of this type of shit, setting off at stupid o clock, rocking up at an away venue, getting trollied, then forgetting most of the match, before sleeping all the way home, all to the tune of £100 lighter in the wallet.
Nowadays I thought those days were kept safe for the likes of County away etc, but once Jay had pushed the idea in front of me, I was up for the task of getting to the One Call for a supposed 8am departure.
I say supposed, for the bus had to travel from Wakefield or somewhere suitably fucking stupid, such was the need to save £20 on booking costs. I was reliably informed also that there would be no toilet aboard such a luxury outing such as this, so resisted all temptation the night previous, to increase the share price of bargain booze, and stock up on bottles of spirits and such like, you know, just like everyone else had done.
Ah, back to the ‘supposed 8 o clock collection time’, well this turned into more like twenty past, and a rather frantic rallying phone calling session between an ever increasing frantic bus organizer and a good passage of nasty banter form the rest of the travel contingent. Rather disappointingly to our ability to take the piss for the rest of our lives, the rather small looking coach turned up, with somehow 30 seats built into it’s framework, when it looked like 12 would be a more perfect fit.
Credit where it is due, we all got on, and once we had stopped taking the piss, the driver seemed a bit of alright for getting us to and from the game and more importantly down the A1, but seeing as I am writing this, and no one can stop me, the Yeovil coach it was not!
I didn’t know it was twinned with bloody Ibiza, Jesus Christ, it was a warm day, but even I had an issue with having to pay £45 to get in Manumission later that night!
As with all parts of arriving anywhere early, we stopped off at Wetherspoons for a shit cheap pint or a few, I’d had a bit of rough time at work, so promptly took to drinking Bud Light by the boatload to ease the tension.
The locals were taken aback by a load of fatties jumping off the coach and ruining their breakfast, I swear blind one of them told me “to move out of the way you cunt”, as he approached the bar, but I didn’t really understand him so ignored the twat.
Our two reliable cricketing friends from the Isle of Wight had arranged to join us for the day, I won’t embarrass them here by naming them, but if you read the fanzine or the website, you’ll know who I mean, but once hooking up, we then moved over the road to a local(ish) looking bar, the white lion I think, but I may have been on the merry road by this point.
Still, despite the locals hogging the pool table all afternoon, and the barman turning the music up to deafening heights every time we sang a football song, the £4 a pint affair went down rather well, before the driver pulled back up to kindly take us to the game.
Bez had forgotten to honour his pre-match pledge of treating me to entry, so I reluctantly handed over my twenty odd quid, before being forcefully searched by some drugged up steward ahead of settling into the seats for the game to kick off.
Credit here as well for the new drummer, who didn’t stop all afternoon, and led to one of those great away days where everyone joins in with singing, and even with only 300 odd away fans, it sounded like treble that number.
These usually happen at big away days (again like County), but the constant ‘David Flitcrofts Barmy Army’ was most enjoyable, as was another song which I can’t quite remember how it finished!
Still, the Stags quite literally took the piss in the first half, and were strolling it, so much so around the 40 minute mark, I took off to dive into the food kiosk and tuck into a Hot Dog and Chips, reasonably priced at £8 I thought, not!
Just as I had worked out how to squeeze some ketchup out onto the old sausage, the home side promptly scored against the run of play.
It didn’t ruin the half time chit chat, as we knew the Stags would get back into the game during the second half, and boy did they.
The singing continued until Sweeney had rightly equalized, before Walker bagged a deserved brace to notch the singing up a little more.
Had the game finished 6-1, then the home side wouldn’t have a had a case to answer.
The walk to the little coach afterwards was eventful as it meant trying to find the fucker in the first place, parked at the back of a temporary car park the other side of the now demolished home end behind the goal.
Despite a stop to pick up some supplies, we were back in what I thought was quick time, that was until the players coach overtook us on the Rainworth By-Pass!
A well worn day, and one to remind me just how good those 10 years or so had been to me, all those decades ago.
Michael – 2018