Thursday, 3 December 2009

Steeped in tradition

Yesterday was our annual December boys trip to watch the football. This ritual has existed for twenty years now. My friend Paul and I, are usually joined by some other long suffering Manchester City fans that we have known for years, however this year proved too difficult to organise so just the two of us met. (The more astute amongst you will have noticed that it is not yet December - this is a mere technicality arising from life getting in the way of it actually being on a Saturday in December). The ritual used to be a fortnightly event, when football was played on a Saturday and we were young and flush enough to get away with it. Now it’s an annual event due to being grown up and slightly more sensible.

The format is devastatingly simple. We meet on a Saturday in December when City are at home and at 11am start drinking our way towards the stadium. Having arrived at the ground, at least a couple more pints are consumed prior to enduring a tortuously frustrating football match. After the game, more drinks are consumed before the entire game is drunkenly dissected, minute-by-minute in an Indian restaurant over a hot spicy curry.

I was a little worried this year that all the money that City have spent (£200m in 18 months) might spoil our tradition by proving to be entertaining and rewarding which has never happened before. I was worried it might take something away from the day, that our new found wealth might erode another footballing tradition.

However, I need not have worried. The game was as the pundits would say “really crap” and despite going a goal up in the first half we succumbed to a sucker punch penalty late into the second half. I’m always at my happiest when I’m either totally relaxed and serene (like when I’m fishing) or when I’m incandescent with rage after an abominable refereeing decision (like yesterday). By the time he blew his full time whistle, I was positively neanderthal.

There was much to discuss after the game and we worked really hard to ensure that no positives were allowed to venture into our post match analysis. The curry house (Darbar – on the famous Rusholme curry mile) served the most amazing Indian food I have ever eaten to the point where I really struggled to maintain my grumpiness. The condiments were of course used to highlight formations and strategies and at one point my naan bread was used as a makeshift pie chart used to illustrate our ongoing plight. My team have now drawn their last seven games, which is a source of huge disappointment after such a strong start to the season. This necessitated more lager as we just couldn’t get to the bottom of our tactical challenges.

I called Mel to collect me at 9pm and managed to establish on the short drive home that she wasn’t really interested in discussing the merits of a 4-3-3 versus a 4-4-2 formation. She was however interested in discussing her sister Penny’s new dog which is a Bichon Frise and had been collected from the breeder that afternoon. I was taken to meet the new little girl which is called Saffron or Saffy as I am instructed to call her. On the basis of hearing her name, I was expecting her to be a golden yellow colour but not so, she is in fact white.

She didn’t seem too concerned by my staggering although she did seem quite keen on checking my face for any residue curry so maybe Saffron is the right name for her. After a brief introduction I was whisked home on health and safety grounds, in case I sat on Saffy which in my state was a distinct possibility.

The Christmas party season starts this week and my bah humbug senses have already started to tingle. Mel is a huge Christmas fan and for her sake I will try and enter into some form of Christmas Spirit.

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