It’s been a funny old season so far with the campaign already turning into a bit of a slog as the injuries pile up and the points tally fails to set pulses racing. Usually, we can put most of this to one side and concentrate on the travelling and getting boozed side of things, but oddly we’ve not really had much in the awayday stakes of late either to help scratch that itch. There was a fun day out in Donny early doors but since then, not much of note. Grimsby was ok, but the train strike made that more faff than fun and other day trips to the likes of Stevenage and Gillingham have also fallen by the wayside for one reason or another.
So with this in mind, we were quite looking forward to hitting up Stockport when it came around, although Avanti’s continuing fuckery also made getting train tickets a touch difficult (and expensive!) so this meant the travelling party up on the day was a bit light in numbers. It’s also been a while since we got to go up to Edgeley Park, with our first visit that 0-0 which was our last big away before the world pulled down the shutters in 2020. That seems like a lifetime ago. Of course, our next visit was sand fans during the title winning season when we went up there midweek and nicked three big points that started getting people to believe we might just be the real deal that year.
We’d also be travelling with a bit of hope as Tuesday’s bounce back point with a superb 2nd half up at Northampton had a few of the regulars purring about us showing a bit more of the sort of performance that had got us into this spot in the first place. Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it as life intervened at reasonably short notice meaning I couldn’t be in the office to sneak off a touch early for the game. Thankfully the ever cheerful Frakey stepped in last minute to ensure you lovely people had some old nonsense to read about that one and meant our silly unbroken run of competitive games on Gandermonium 2.0 now stretches back to December 2012. Yes yes, I’m well aware we need to get a life thank you very much and rest assured that in the unlikely event that we do indeed obtain one, you dear reader will of course be the first to know.
So, for the first time in a while, I tipped out of my pit at 6am and trying to disturb Mrs Taz as little as possible, I sorted my shit out and dipped out the door half an hour later to get my arse into East Croydon. A quick check of the bus app on my fondleslab though soon revealed I may be waiting a while for transport, so erring on the side of caution, I ping an Uber and I’m soon on my way after a short wait. Sadly the cabbie has LBC on and it’s got the usual fucking idiots on ringing in to talk shit about all sorts of cobblers. Give it a rest lads, it’s not even fucking 7am. No one wants to hear your hot take on immigrants or drug addicts or Albanian gangsters at this time of the morning, I’ve not even had a cuppa yet for fucks sake. Dropped off, I hit the platform and wait for a London Bridge train as tales of suburban train woe come through on the Whatsapp thingy. It seems Mr X has been stranded somewhere on the loop heading to Wimbledon and 4Days has had to leg it to Sutton to make a slightly earlier train than planned as this has a knock on effect to other Thameslink services. Uh oh! As I wait, a couple of lads arrive on the platform dressed up like what seems to be US Highway patrolmen in full dress uniform. No idea if this is genuine clobber or if they’re really committed to their Halloween fancy dress however as my train pulls in and I hop on before any further investigation can be carried out.
At London Bridge, I take a brisk stroll to the Northern Line and am soon feeling very toasty indeed as I trundle under the capital to Euston station. Here I emerge to find Mr X, Greek and Indy waiting outside with the former two puffing away on ciggies. With “Jesus Christ it’s early” grunts by way of greeting exchanged, I head to Sainos for some bacon from the hot shelf and return at the same time 4Days appears from Pret with his own scoff. “Won the lottery have we?” I enquire “seems a bit pricey for you mate!”. At this point a homeless chap appears requesting a couple of quid. None us have any shrapnel and it’s left to the Welshman to dip into his sky rocket and hand over some cash. “Don’t spend it all on drugs like I was going to!” he advises as he hands it over. “You don’t do drugs!” snorts Greek. “I do, I drink!” responds 4Days. “Alcohol’s not a drug!!” comes back the Mediterranean to snorts of derision from the rest of us. “Think you need to do some Googling mate!” I advise.
We head for the train and with Mr X and I obtaining cuppas, we hit the somewhat quiet train and settle in for the trip. It seems Greek has listened to my advice and has indeed been Googling. “Seems alcohol IS a drug!” he exclaims “says here it’s a Central Nervous System depressant” before apolgising to 4Days. Which in itself is something of a collectors item. we leave on time and begin the elongated run north as engineering works means that the train will be diverting round Birmingham and through the likes of Walsall. A part of the world of course renowned for it’s beautiful and captivating landscapes. The train we’re on is brand new and even has clever wireless charging points in the table, although these require your phone not to be in a case to actually work. Along the way, we pass the time with such chatter as home printers, how the hell we’re getting back from Carlisle on the train without laying out the sort of money that should see us actually being awarded the franchise itself and where the actual fuck Stetchford is. “Sounds like the sort of place Melchester Rovers would play” chuckles 4Days. Along the way we also pass within sight of Walsall’s gaff and the slightly more impressive Villa Park. Getting a round of teas in also proves challenging for Mr X, who when trying to do the ‘deliver to seat’ option can only get a QR code up on his phone. In the end, with all of us refusing to scan it for him, he simply gives up and just walks to the buffet instead.
Eventually, we pull into our destination but not before Mr X has insisted we stand by the doors a good several minutes hefore we actually pull in. “Just like the old days this” I comment “Standing up in a train vestibule next to the khazis”. Finally we alight a couple of minutes before 11 and go in search of pints. Coming out of the station, it seems that Stockport has changed a bit since we were last here as we’re greeted by a brand new shiny glass development right outside. One of these is a bar that Greek’s found called ‘Bask’ that most importantly opens at 11. To the bar! We head in, grab pints (ironically all from the Brixton Brewery) and go to find a seat to get supping. As we do, Mr X comments that as he was coming in from his post-train smoke, a “Home fans only” sign was going up in the window. Oh dear! Still, we’ve been served and as we’re pretty much the only people in the gaff, we don’t think they’ll mind us having one. Sadly, the guvnor complete in his Stockport shirt isn’t impressed by this and sends an apologetic minion over to let us know we’ll have to move on once we’ve done our pints. Fair enough, but maybe grumpy bollocks who was right there behind the sodding bar as we were getting served maybe could have pointed this out at the time and avoided an issue? Still, what would you expect from a bloke wearing a baseball cap with ‘Stetson’ written on it. Shit review coming up on Tripadvisor!
We discuss next stops and come up with a plan but Greek isn’t happy as it involves going away from the ground and for some odd reason he wants to try & do the Pineapple in Edgeley again this time round. This was a shite pub we stumbled into the last time we were here nicknamed after a nearby mental ward by the locals. No, really. None of the rest of us are particularly interested as, well, it was a shit pub and the comedy came from that inadvertent first visit. He’s outvoted and supping up, we leave Bask and it’s ‘Stockport isn’t shit’ sign behind and head out into the drizzle to the oddly named ‘Swan with Two Necks’. This is a cracking little boozer and we clog up the snug up front and get stuck into pints while we wait for Magnum and his missus Heidi to catch us up. We also luck out here as 4Days gets a ‘Buy 4 pints get one free’ card with his purchase and he hands it to me to complete with my order from the whip. The barman even suggests ordering Greek a pint of cider so that we can get the freebie. Top stuff! Every penny counts these days after all, cost of living, inflation, Tories etc. We’re soon joined by Magnum and get a second in as his other half then leaves us to it as she shoots off to join a mate on the lash in Manchester for the day.
From here, we head a little further up to the Magnet, a proper beer hounds heaven and find Chalmers and his missus in situ, they’re up in Manchester for the weekend for her birthday and the poor woman has been dragged along to this shit. I try and prod Greek’s “Oh god you’re so boring” bone with the old favourite “Aren’t bridges cool?”. Here we establish that Chalmers has since relegated the Clifton Suspension bridge in favour of the one over the Bosphorus in Istanbul. “Does Brunel know you’re cheating on him?” mocks the big fella. As we we decide that we’ll crack on with the pints as we can’t be arsed with any more walking. This is most enjoyable but as we tick round to 2pm, talk is of getting cabs down to the ground, but with just a bacon roll in me so far today, I’m feeling a little light headed and decide that I’ll walk down and get some fresh air in the old system and some blood flow going instead as it’s only 20 minutes at the most. So at half 2, as they’re faffing with Uber, I take off and wind my way though the back streets in the shadow of the big old rail viaduct down to the ground. As I get in sight of the floodlights and the crowds swell, I spot the other idiots ahead having just been dropped off by their sherberts. So I sneak up behind them and jump on Magnum’s back to announce my re-joining the group. Everyone is of course delighted to see me once again.
Ward, Kizzi, Milsom, Rowe, Eastmond, John, Neufville, Lovatt, Bugiel, Wilson, Randall, SUBS: Kendall, House, Gambin, Kouassi, Fadahunsi, Hart, Boldewijn
I dart to the tea bar for much needed soakage and the fine meat and tater pie I procure does a fine job of reviving ones spirits pre-match. Sadly though, that’s about the highlight of the afternoon as it turns out. We get underway hoping that Tuesday’s comeback has fired us up and inside 20 seconds, they’ve got a lad in the box after he clatters into Randall. Nice, very classy that mate. Then 2 minutes later, the game is rendered pointless. A bouncing ball sees their #14 and Omar go for it, their lad just nicks it away as the Lebanese lad arrives and it looks like he catches his oppo a bit high. As is the way these days, he goes full Neymar and the ref can’t get the red card out quick enough. It’s a bit shit really, as we’ve barely got started and it was a genuine attempt for the ball. Sure, it’s a foul, no argument, but it’s a football incident and there’s no malice. It could easily have been the other way with their lad catching ours a fraction after the ball. Seriously, have some bloody common sense will you man?
With such an early handicap there’s only one thing for it, sit in and try to frustrate the oppo and see what we can nick on the break. We manage to last about 15 minutes or so before they find a gap wide, the bloke’s got all the time in the world to stand up a cross into the box and their former Notts lad Wooton gets up almost unchallenged to nut it into the back of the net. From here, we dust ourselves off, reset again and mostly keep them at arms length, although they start to try and take the maximum piss where the ref is concerned and they go down soft on every single challenge for a good 15-20 mins or so. Thankfully, he’s not buying any of it. As the half wears on we get out a bit more and with the break approaching, we do manage a couple of attacking forays with Wilson forcing an untidy save from their keeper at his near post.
Second half, it’s much the same as before. Defence v attack with us sitting in and them not looking like they’ve got enough to force an opening. Then the ref intervenes again, blows us up for a soft shit free kick on Wilson and the resulting kick is met with a header and despite Ward’s smart save from the first effort, it rebounds straight to the lad with the original header and he tucks away the rebound. 2-0 and I think we’re done here. Matt chucks on some fresh legs to try and shake things up, going unusually to a back three to pack the midfield but all this really does is leave spaces wide for them to exploit. With 20 to go, they kill the game with a simple ball into the gap and the lad who’d been mortally wounded by Omar earlier skips in and rifles it high past Ward at his near post. Can we go home now please? This has been quite the waste of everyone’s time.
With the most pointless ‘game’ we’ve seen in quite some time at an end, we give the lads their just dues for the efforts put up in the face of the early handicap and then head out into the throng leaving the ground. We decide to make our way back to the Ye Olde Vic, a pub we drank in the last time we were up here as it’s not on Edgeley High Street and nearer the station. It’s busy, but there’s space out back in the little covered yard so we head out there as it’s still mild out. Here we tuck into some sorrows drowning before the train back, which is already looking like the only one as everything out of Manchester prior to ours is either seriously delayed or cancelled entirely. Here we chat to locals who whilst happy with the 3 points also to be fair lament the early red card ruining the contest. Most also think the red was harsh, with a couple even commenting that their early yellow looked worse than Omar’s offence. Way it goes. After 3-4 rounds here, we set off for the local Sainos and cans for the train home, waving off Magnum to await his missus return from Manchester and Chalmers along with his good lady heading the other way for a meal out and night in town.
Mr X and I stride off to do the booze run and without thinking, schlep around the station cutting round under the track, not remembering that the gaff has an entrance on either side. Idiots! We sweep the shelves clear of G&T, grab some sarnies and snacks and having lobbed up for our booty, head for the platform arriving just in time to hear that our train back is delayed by up to half an hour. For fucks sake. So there’s nothing else for it but to tuck into scoff and wait around before it eventually rocks up. Luckily, our carriage stops right where we’re stood and having claimed our seats, we crack out the cans and get skulling them to try and lighten the mood. Progress is slow and we’re soon becoming bored. Mr X has a nap and wakes a while later when Greek squirts him with his water bottle. “Did I miss much?” he enquires rubbing his eyes “Only Wolverhampton” we reply. Another small diversion is provided by a nice lady opposite who we’ve happily been letting use the power sockets to charge her mobile. “Would you like to take Jesus Christ into your life as your lord and saviour?” she enquires. “That’s very kind love, but now’s not a great time to be honest” he replies politely before downing a can of Vodka and soda in one. This seems to put the matter to bed. And besides, I don’t think stumbling League 2 sides are really his forte to be honest.
With further delays around Brum costing us another half hour thanks to someone on the line and then a power outage, we kill some more time with making a gif from a small video we take of Mr X dozing, purely for use in our Whatsapp group thingy. After what seems like a lifetime though and a good dozen cans of G&T down, we eventually roll back into Euston. Waving off the others who head for the Northern Line back to Morden, I take off down to St Pancs and the Thameslink to East Croydon, where if course the last little delay coming into town has ensured that I’ve just missed a train. Sweet. Of course, this was the last fast one and the next train goes round the houses meaning I get back into East Croydon around 1am having just missed the last 410 back to HQ. Fuck my life. I get lucky though as a tram trundles in and I jump that to head off the last 407 at Reeves Corner, finally stumbling in through the front door a mere 19 hours after leaving and with Mrs Taz right where I left her, snoozing soundly in bed. I grab a drink and a pork pie and crash out on the sofa, not wishing to disturb her ladyship.
A much needed week off for the boys now before next weekend’s FA Cup banana skin against Farnborough. What could possibly go wrong eh?