Chelsea 3 – 0 Manchester United
Padiham 1 – 2 FC United
And a pub crawl…

Yesterday’s plan was to watch the United game in a pub near Boundary Park and then go and watch FC United’s last game against Padiham. Sara and I had a bit of a disagreement about this: she can’t understand why I want to go and watch “Pub League” football, especially when we have so much work to do on the house at the moment. 😕

Eventually she gave in so we jumped in a cab to Oldham and watched the first half in the soulless Litten Tree. At half time, with United already 1-0 down, we decided to move elsewhere. We stuck our noses in Budda and Last Orders but they were equally dire, so we made a beeline towards Boundary Park where the FC United fans would no doubt be gathering.

We made it to The Queens as the second half was starting and it was already standing room only, absolutely packed with FC United fans. It was much more lively in there, with plenty of banter and singing, including a reworked version of the Johnny Cash/Michael Shields song (which I can’t stop humming). :-”

The game didn’t live up to the media build-up. United were very poor on the day and Chelsea fully deserved the result. I’m surprised it took them this long to clinch the title after having it virtually in the bag since October. The other downside to the day was Wayne Rooney – the only reason for watching England – broke a bone in his foot which could mean he will miss the World Cup. 😮

At 2-0 down and fed up of the smell from the toilets in the Queens, we decided to move on again. We arrived at the Old Grey Mare just in time to see Chelsea score the third, so went straight into the beer garden to enjoy the pleasant weather instead of watching the presentations. As kick-off time approached, we moved on the the White Hart but decided not to bother with the FC United game after all; we were enjoying the pub crawl more than the football by now. :”>

So we carried on, in to Royton with a few drinks in the Carter’s Arms and the Railway, then on to the Simla for a curry – Lamb Jale Jhule (extra hot) for me. Stuffed, we decided to call it a day after that, grabbed a taxi back via Turf Pit Lane which dropped us off at the King’s Arms for a nightcap and then stumbled home. :p

FC United 0 – 1 Great Harwood Town

Over 6000 people packed Gigg Lane for FC United’s final home match of the season.

After a couple of pints in the sunshine outside the Staff of Life/Pack Horse, we made our way up to the ground and were only just able to get into the Main Stand, with the Cemetery End already full to capacity. Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes due to crowd congestion.

The game itself was a bit of a stalemate. FC had few chances, mainly long-range efforts from the Man With No Name, Rory Patterson. Harwood were solid at the back, their number 5 calmly mopping up everything that came his way. Their number 3, however, was a disgrace – numerous sly digs at Power, whinging and playacting before finally throwing himself to the ground dramatically to get Power sent off. There were a few more scuffles in the second half and their number 12 was also red carded. Harwood pinched the winner in stoppage time but the result didn’t matter.

Once again the atmosphere was superb, constant noise and singing for the whole 90 minutes. We are the main stand, we’re louder than you was definitely true today. My ears are still ringing.

We stayed for the end of season presentations and speeches but didn’t follow the open-top bus parade down to the Swan and Cemetery.

Chadderton 2 – 3 FC United

Last night I went to Boundary Park for the first time in over 20 years. Having heard lots of good things from friends who gave up going to “Big” United when the Glazers took over, I figured it was about time I took in an FC United game. I wasn’t disappointed. :d

FC United, who were last week crowned champions of North West Counties Football League Division 2 (i.e. Division 10), were ‘away’ to Chadderton so it was the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.

We met for a swift pint in the White Hart before strolling down to the ground, where we followed the crowd and paid the princely sum of £7 on the gate. I was surprised to find that it was just like being at a “real” game as we made our way to our seats; the stand was packed to capacity – 2300 apparently – and they were all, and I mean *all*, chanting familiar songs borrowed from “Big” United. :-”

The football wasn’t half as bad as I expected either. I thought it’d be a herd of overweight players chasing the ball all over the park like school kids, but I was pleasantly surprised. There were some decent footballers out there: United’s number 6, Adie Orr, stood out for me and even the huge number 11, Leon Mike, showed a few decent touches.

FC United conceded to a soft free-kick after 15 minutes but managed to equalise just before the break. Chadderton took the lead again, much to the delight of their 40-odd fans, straight after the restart but United were fortunate to earn a penalty – allegedly for an elbowing offence by their big number 4, who got his marching orders – which Darren Lyons converted easily.

With Chadderton down to 10 men, United had several good chances late in the game. Both teams had a goal disallowed for offside – I couldn’t help but notice that the officials seem to operate in slow motion in these lower leagues. United sealed the win ten minutes later through Adie Orr.

I’ve got to say the atmosphere was absolutely stunning, just like being at “Big” United for a derby game or big European night. The fans stand up for the entire 90 minutes – not that Oldham’s ten stewards were bothered – and sang their hearts out throughout, there wasn’t a quiet minute. The songs were superb: about 60% of them are old Manchester United songs left unchanged, 20% of them are slightly altered versions of familiar United chants and the remaining 20% were original FC United songs. All very witty, anti-Sky, anti-Glazer and just plain funny. 🙂

There were some absolute classics: “Under the Boardwalk, Watching FC eeeh eeeh aaay!” and “I am an FC fan, I am Mancunian!” to name but two. I thoroughly enjoyed singing along. \:d/

I’m hooked. If I wasn’t emigrating I would definitely give up my season ticket at Old Trafford next year in favour of following FC United. =((

I’m trying to organise another trip out on Saturday to watch them at ‘home’ (Gigg Lane, Bury) against Great Harwood Town. I’m still in two minds whether I can miss watching Chelsea vs “Big” United and go to FC’s last game against Padiham at Boundary Park, but I’m sorely tempted. :>

It’s infectious, it’s like everything that’s good about “Big” United without the commercialism, expense or hype. Fan-bloody-tastic. b-)

Manchester United 0 – 0 Sunderland

With Pete being on holiday this week, I sold both our Sunderland tickets to someone at work.

After hard day of DIY I decided to splash out and order the game on Pay Per View. Louise and Ian came around so we watched the match, had a few (too many) drinks and a Chinese takeaway. :d

With United enjoying a fine run of form, everyone expected a cricket score against the worst team in the history of the Premiership. Predictably though, it remained goalless and effectively ended any remaining chance of pushing Chelsea for the title. ~X(

I won’t bother slating the players individually but it’s quite obvious that we need a new central midfield this summer. It would also be handy to have someone capable of taking set pieces, since the current candidates are woeful. >:p

On a lighter note, check out the Manchester Buccaneers web site for a different take on happenings at the Nike Trafford Ballpark, er… I mean Old Trafford. :p

Good Friday? Not for me

It’s been “Hard Work Friday” for me. #:-s

With only 12 weekends left before we go, there’s a hell of a lot of DIY to do. The place has to be spot-on for when we rent it out.

So, making the most of the bank holiday, I have:

  • Pulled the 1970s-style pine boards off the kitchen ceiling. This was tougher than it sounds, as the previous owner had fitted them with industrial-strength fixings and “No More Nails” adhesive. I had to drill them out and ended up pulling big chunks of ceiling down with them. It’s going to need a plasterer to put things right.
  • Emptied the loft. Although we had a good go a that when we were shipping, there was still a lot of junk up there. The patio is now full of crap that needs to go to the tip. I discovered a big box full of Dungeons & Dragons books, untouched for about 15 years, which will shortly be appearing on Ebay.
  • Stained the garden fence a nice shade of green. That took much longer than expected and my back really hurts now.
  • Undercoated and glossed the stonework around the kitchen window. I hope the rain holds off.

Tomorrow I can expect much the same again. We’ll nip to B&Q first thing in the morning and buy enough paint to redecorate the entire house. |-)

That will be fun. I can’t wait. :^o

Happy Birthday to Me!

It was my birthday on Tuesday. <:-p If I live to the expected "three score and ten", then at 36 I'm now entering the second half of my life. It's downhill from here. Quite depressing really. 😐 To celebrate the occasion, I did... nowt. I'm officially a grumpy old man now. (:| Anyway, I thought I'd check out this website to find out what was number one in the charts on the day I was born. Also, by putting in the date when you turned 18 years old, it’s supposed to tell you your “life theme”. :-”

  • 11/04/1970 – Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • 11/04/1988 – Pet Shop Boys – Heart

Make of that what you will.

What was number one for you and what’s your “life theme”? Leave a comment.

Shattered

It’s April, so we should be enjoying pleasant springtime weather but this weekend has been bitterly cold. We’ve had snow, hailstone, thunder and lightning – not much outside DIY is getting done.

This morning it was -4 degrees and the car was covered with ice so, as usual, it was my job to go out early to clear the windows and warm up the car. It was that kind of thick, clear ice that you can’t scrape off and de-icer spray barely touches it.

My usual technique in these circumstances is to start the engine, put on all the blowers and then pour plenty of cold water on the windows, using the wipers to prevent it from re-freezing straight away.

Some people I know use warm or hot water, claiming that windscreens these days are much tougher and won’t shatter, but I’d never risk that. I’d rather take my time and use two or three times as much cold water. [-x

So I’m mighty pissed off that my windscreen cracked this morning when I poured cold water on it. As we drove down Ripponden Road, the crack grew visibly larger and by the time I arrived at work it was about 12-15 inches long. #-o

Autoglass are coming to replace the screen on Wednesday morning. They say it’s perfectly safe and weatherproof in the meantime. Hmm, we’ll see. That’s another £75 quid wasted on the car this month. :((

Edit: They came in a van and fitted the new glass on the College car park. As I was driving home, I noticed loads of dirty marks and the trim around the doors was all twisted and bent. It looked like someone had broken into the car with a screwdriver. Not happy at all, I complained and they came out to put everything right the following day.

Manchester United 2 – 0 Arsenal

Today’s superb win against an in-form Arsenal side kept the pressure on Chelsea at the top of the table and assured United of Champions’ League football next season. 🙂

Van Nistelrooy started, with Saha on the bench, but otherwise it was the same team that has won all of the last eight games.

It was a tight game, particularly in the opening 15 minutes, but United weathered the early pressure and had several decent chances to go ahead. Rooney was a constant threat and went close several times, including what should’ve been a stonewall penalty when Toure made a two-handed diving save after colliding with Lehman. Graham Poll, true to form, didn’t give it. :-??

I thought Vidic had a superb game again: he’s really settling in now and I’m already looking forward to seeing him alongside Heinze next season. It was his crunching tackle on the half way line that led to United’s first goal. Mikael Silvestre, looking a lot more comfortable on the left, picked up the ball and swung a perfect cross into the box. Rooney controlled it first time and smashed the ball home from six yards.

Wenger threw on Henry and Ljungberg but Arsenal were caught out ten minutes from time as they pressed for an equialiser, with Rooney racing through to square an easy ball for Park to slot home. =d>

Today’s attendance, just short of 71000, was a post-war record at Old Trafford. Most of the new North/West quadrant was in use for the first time, but there were still a few empty sections. At our end, the temporary scaffolding that has covered the new North/East quadrant had been removed too, but the seats hadn’t been fitted yet. It will certainly be impressive next year. b-)

Greyhounds

Last night we had a trip out to Belle Vue Greyhounds, organised by the College Social Club. I think about 40 of us went this time.

Last year I came home about £80 up after winning a couple of 50p “combination trios”. No such luck this time. :-s

Our table – me, Adrian, Dave Mills & Mike Bonney – didn’t have much success at all. We were only staking £1.50 each per race, but our only win was a miserable £24 (thanks to a dog called “Nick’s Rescue”), so we ended up out of pocket by about £15 each. It was a good laugh though. :d

Wondering if there’s a greyhound track in Melbourne, I just found this link. Will have to give that a whirl one day. $-)