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Tell us your adventure watching Town on the telly
Town on the box: Hereford (h), 8 October 2006
22 January 2007
It's OK, I told my mates confidently before I disappeared to China for a holiday. I get back on the Saturday. I will be at the Hereford game. I will beat jetlag. I will drink Red Bull all day if I have to.
I underestimated jetlag. Legging it back from the other side of the world, and then having to make the comparably far smaller trip to Cleethorpes the next day. I underestimated it. Totally. On Sunday morning I awoke. And realised there was no way I was going to make it to the game. I felt like I'd had a long night in the boozer, my eyes aching, my senses numbed. With the game being on Sky, I had to find somewhere to watch the game, somewhere close. Could I rely on a mate? No-one I knew has the required channels. I could walk down the road looking for a house with a satellite dish and see if they'd let me in for the afternoon. But would you let in a stranger who said: "Hi, you don't know me, but any chance I can watch the Grimsby match on your telly this afternoon?"
Leeds is a sizeable place, with an ever-burgeoning population of 'expats'. I wondered if any other Grimbarians living locally were planning on getting together... The computer takes what seems like forever to switch on, as I take to the internet messageboards. I discover that several Town fans are getting together at a bar in Headingley. Headingley is close enough. I know how to get there easily: I work in Headingley. The temptation to be with fellow Town fans is strong.
But their chosen venue is off-putting. I know the boozeries of Headingley well. I know this particular venue too well. I go from work at lunchtimes, but I far from enjoy the place.
The only draw is the occasionally lit fire, which more simpers than roars. Aside from that the music is usually awful, so loud that you have to speak boisterously. There's a stupidly large screen, constantly on Sky Sports News, strangely hypnotic to the point that I read the ticker over and over, oblivious to any conversation I'm supposed to be contributing to. The beer? "You like beer, Si, why don't you like it here? They have lots of beers – look!" Yes, unarguably they do have lots of beers. But I like proper beer, not the fizzy piss that is GrolschStellaCarling. They're all much a muchness – watery, chilly, fizzy pop. Their bitter is on tap as well, a crime sufficent that come the revolution those that serve beer this way will be the first against the wall.
And then there's one more little thing that irks me, and irks me the most – little in size, gargantuan in irritation. These little bloody flies that are always there. No matter when I go, where I sit, what I do, there are always these flies. Bastards. I hate them, the irritating little shits. People chat away, constantly shooing the buggers out of their faces like some nervous tic. My mind is made up. Even if there will be Town fans there, I just can't overcome my sheer hatred for the place.
I quickly consider other local options. None meet the requirement of Sky Sports and decent beer. I want to be drinking proper hand-pulled beer, not tap-drawn Tetley's. And with company. I'm running out of time. I need to look slightly further afield. I consult the CAMRA beer guide, the bible for finding a good watering hole. Idle Working Men's Club? Closed for half the game. Half the game? What kind of place shuts at half-time? The Albion? I ring to find out if they'll be showing the game; their phone is engaged, and then unanswered. I'm starting to fret.
I'm starting to consider I may have to dismiss my principles and leg it up to that place of evil called The Box. And then I remember that on my journey home from work, I pass a foxy little pub hidden to the side of a leisure centre. It holds an array of mighty beers, it that doesn't get too busy, it shows Sky games, and I know someone who lives nearby who I can coax to join me. I'm already on my way out the door, ringing my mate, to join me, so I don't feel like a lonesome bum while I watch the game. Come and have a beer or two, I plead, setting my argument on the strength of the lure of drink to soften the secondary requirement to watch Town. My victim is pleased by the offer of beer, and not put off by the Town game.
I arrive. I swiftly order two pints of a Copper Dragon brew. I settle down under the TV. I watch, aware that there are only a couple of more people whose attention is drawn to the screen. If the match is to be embarrassing, at least I will feel a fool in the presence of few. Gary Jones' perfectly placed low finish gets a satisfied "yes!" from me; Lump's second – his oh-so-wonderful second – volleyed home from the tightest of angles has me grabbing my mate by the shoulders. "Did you see that?!" Is it the beer, the continuous stream of great beer? Is it the exuberance of seeing such a great finish by Town, rather than against Town? The fact we're actually winning? That Town could be about to end a three-match winless run? The first time I have seen the lads play for a few weeks? Who knows, who cares! I'm having fun. And there is a God, and just for today Gary Jones is his name!
So there are two points to this story. If you do have to watch the game in a pub, make sure you go somewhere you will be comfortable; don't just settle for any old place. And secondly, you don't have to be with fellow Town fans to have a good time. Think of it as spreading the word (if the boys play well). Shame I fell asleep on the bus home, missed my stop and had to walk for half an hour. I'd like to blame it on the jetlag, but it might just have been the beers... oh, sod it. It was worth it.