Sunday, December 31, 2006

Football Crazy *

As she is out of the country, my dearest and lovely JJ left me her ticket to see her Northampton take on my Millwall yesterday, with the only drawback being that I'm sat in with the home crowd, or so I thought ...

My body has been badly in need of a right proper lie-in, which would have come in handy yesterday morning. But, up I get as I'm off to see Millwall get another fine victory away from home following our tremendous 4-1 win away to Brentford on Boxing Day (okay, Brentford haven't won a match in 22 games, but it was still a good one for us). It's quite cold outside, I'm thinking as I walk to the station, but nothing I can't handle. Up to Euston I go and, after having quick pint in the pub, hop on the train and make my way to Northampton. Time for another pint in town as there is plenty of time to get to the ground. Then start making my way to Sixfields and the drizzle which accompanied this walk at the outset has now turned in to a downpour - it's fucking pissing it down, and it's getting really cold. Eventually get to the ground, soaked to the skin, freezing cold, but at least I'm there and about to watch a game - and, with both teams too close to the bottom of the table, it's quite crucial that we win this one.

I go to my seats (I have two tickets next to each other, but that's not important right now) but there is an old couple in them, so I take one next to them. I ask the next person along if they expect someone to sit in the one I occupy and they say probably. I tell the old couple that, if someone claims mine, then I'll have to kick them out and they don't say much - probably can't understand a word I'm saying, these northern types (anything north of the Thames is northern to me, by the way). The rain is still flooding down, by the way.

Game kicks off and the Cobblers are looking awful, while Millwall are looking very lively and very much the better side. No surprise really then when we take the lead with a cracking shot from Houbertz. Northampton then come back into it and the game flows from end to end. It has to be said, however, that the home side had much the better chances with their striker Andy Kirk failing to hit the target with two or three headers when rising unmarked right in front of goal. Huge interruption in the game when Millwall defender Danny Senda lies motionless on the ground and has to be taken to hospital. Apparently he suffered concussion but was conscious when they eventually stretchered him off. He regained consciousness probably as a result of the length of time it took the medics to get to him. All the players - Millwall and Northampton - were screaming their heads off for them to come on and the medics seemed to take an age to do anything. Eventually, it took one of the Northampton players to grab the stretcher himself and take it to Senda.

Back to the game and it has to be said that, as the half carried on, the conditions were becoming more and more treacherous and many players could not stay on their feet. And back to my seat and someone turning up to claim the one I was in. I told the old couple that they would have to move and was given short shrift, so decided that, as I spotted a free seat a few rows away, I would take that instead of causing any grief. On checking my tickets, I then realised I had claimed the wrong seats all along and I should have been sat elsewhere - cue apologies from Reidski, so now I was red-faced with embarrassment as well as still being soaked.

Half time comes and there are murmers from some that they wouldn't be surprised if the game gets called off at the break. But, with no ground staff making an appearance on the pitch or no inspections from the officials, then it's game on. So the second half kicks off and Northampton just cannot do anything in front of goal. And so it goes and so it goes, and the rain continues to pour down and the ball is increasingly getting slowed down by the standing water at one end of the ground.

20 minutes to go and the ref says enough is enough and takes the players off but only after some of the Millwall squad go off their heads as they don't understand how the pitch could be playable 20 minutes previously but isn't now. Anyway, for the records, this game didn't happen.

Bit strange that, as soon as the fans were leaving the stadium, the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds (okay, that last part didn't happen, but the rain did stop). But it was still fucking freezing, so got to the station via the pub where I watched a woeful Arsenal get beat by Sheffield United, which was very enjoyable.

Return trip was made and I eventually got home to a nice warm house, but only after a train journey from Northampton to Euston in which the people sat behind me chatted very loudly the whole way.

Millwall boss Wille Donnachie seems a bit irate that the game was abandoned when it was, but, the bottom line is that the conditions were simply not suitable for a football match. One worry for Northampton and particularly their ground staff, is that is now two games off this season as a result of a waterlogged pitch. Yesterday, the rain was pretty bad and one or two other matches also suffered as a result. But it does suggest that maybe more work needs to be done that could avoid such scenarios. Alternatively, maybe it just rains more in Northampton than it does anywhere else in the country.

Anyway, this was only the second time I have been at a game which has been abandoned. I've been on my way to many when we hear they have been called off, but not when the game has got underway. The only previous time was against Hibs at Celtic Park some time in the last 70s/early 80s. It was a foggy day, but at least we could see the pitch, so the game starts. As the second half continues - and with Hibs 2-0 up - the fog gets really bad and we cannot see the goals at the other end of the stadium (we are in what was known as "the Celtic end"). What we could see, however, was some of the Hibs players giving us the two-fingered salute as they walked off to our cheers at the ref's decision to call it off. I think we won the rearranged fixture by about five or six goals, tee hee!

P.S. I got a right good lie in this morning - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

* Spinners



Blogger gordon said...

Couldn't the cobblers play with JJ away?
Hope you have a good new year.

2:24 pm  
Blogger timesnewroman said...

Love the idea of you evicting these old folk's from their seats. When's the rematch?

3:03 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Great account of a match that never happened. Was the fog at the Hibs match caused by cigarette smoke? It's just that studies have revealed that the Scots are Britain's top smokers. I once travelled to Runcorn to see Hull City winning up to half time (cup match) but then a short wall by the side of the pitch collapsed under spectator pressure and the silly buggers called the game off. Nobody was injured as far as I know. All the best for 2007 ye young whippersnapper!

4:51 pm  
Blogger Reidski said...

Gordon - obviously not. And thanks and same to you.

tnr - I was totally embarrassed, as you can imagine. And no date set yet and what with FA cup fixtures coming up and possibilities of replays and all that, it could be some time yet.

YP - thanks for your comments. Yes, very strange about reasons for calling games off. I suppose that they may have thought the loose bricks could have been used as missiles. In fact, was that you with a brick in your hand that I saw on the telly?

5:15 pm  

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