Greater Manchester Branch

Gone for a Burton

I hadn’t intended on getting up at 6:20am, even if it is match day, but when your own black cat noisily and persistently reminds you (and demands breakfast) you heed the call.

Still, it gave me time to actually sit down with a brew and make a start on this and let Mrs K sleep in. That good people is what you call collateral - particularly as she’s picking me up at about 9pm tonight when the coach gets back.

As infuriating as it was to be relegated to League One, I’ve come to the conclusion that finally we’ve had the “clear the decks” and start again which we’ve been needing since probably one of our last seasons in the Premiership. As Mr Methven, so eloquently put it - “The Piss Taking Party Is Over”.

The new squad is shaping up. They look up for the fight, keen proud to wear the shirt, and almost most importantly – happy. They want to be here – especially The Man with the name you’d love to touch… but you mustn’t touch…

Relegation has once again offered up the opportunity for travelling fans to visit new grounds. Many of you set off at silly o’clock in the morning, and I salute you for it. Best fans in the country.

When the fixtures were released, I had a scan through to see which I could potentially make. A few stood out, so I put in my request to management (Mrs K and newly arrived Mini-K). Burton Away was one I didn’t want to miss – the pub stop the Greater Manchester Branch use alone is worth it, let alone the match.

Last year’s visit to The Brewers not only saw us pick up one of very few wins, but also gave the SAFC Twitter account the gif of Coleman cheering, which must have been flogged like an ailing mare toward the end of that season, but alas not many more points were secured.

It was a great atmosphere and reminded me of a time when stadiums of that size, and indeed being back on the terraces was a more regular sight for me.

In a former life I was a Darlington fan. For those of you who experience Feethams, you’ll know what I mean. The Tin Shed was a proper old school stand. You’d feel superior looking over at the “Posh People” in the East Stand who had a seat, or the weirdos who went in the Polham Lane end which had no roof and contained about 8 people, and possibly a small dog. But I digress…

I moved to Manchester in 2006, and then onto Westhoughton, near Bolton, in 2012. I’d been aware of the Greater Manchester SAFC Supporters Branch when I first moved down but hadn’t acted on it, a schoolboy error as I’m sure I could have gone to a lot more matches and met a lot of great people sooner. Now that I’m somewhat more out in the sticks, having a well organised group of like-minded fans is fantastic for fans like me who want to get to more games, but initially didn’t know many people. I’m still probably one of the few Mackems in my area, but it’s nice to know there aren’t others far away!

My journey begins today in TGI Friday’s Car Park at Prestwich. Situated near a mental health facility, I have often considered checking myself in after some of the matches I’ve been to in recent years, but thankfully it hasn’t come to that yet.

We then plunge into Manchester City Centre. En route, that’s French for en route, I noticed that every seat on our coach had a USB port for chargers. What a time to be alive!

From here we make our way up the A6 towards Stockport, home of among other things, Robinson’s Brewery, Blossoms and a Hat Museum. Onwards down the M6 we make another pick up before filing the bus almost to capacity with our final stop.

Quick flick of the V’s at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium and we’re on our way. As you might have spotted, being the “Greater Manchester Branch” our net is cast rather wide for our branch!

You get all kinds of stories on the coach from fans’ families. This trip involved a story about “Uncle Norman” who decided to ram a Jeep up a Rhino’s arse. If that wasn’t enough, he then drove a Jeep – possibly the same one – into a vat of Carlsberg. Exceptional.

And so, we drive on to The Dog and Partridge in the village of Marchington. Quiet, quaint, quintessentially English with quality beer, and for some reason, Beano Wallpaper in the Gents.

I didn’t think to ask what they have in the Ladies. Mizz and Smash Hits? After being fed and thoroughly watered, we clambered back onto the coach and off to the Pirelli we went.

Unlike last season when I was in the terraces, we were this time situated in the stand to the left of the terrace with seats. A change is as good as a rest I suppose. Things have certainly changed.

That was quite noticeable from the off.

The team are beginning to gel together, but they faced a Burton side which, like us, are desperate to get back out of League One at the first attempt.

A lot was said about Burton’s new keeper, I noticed several comments along the lines of - “He doesn’t know any of his team mates. This will go well”. As it happens his major impact on the game was to clatter Charlie Wyke and send him off on a stretcher. Cheers Dimitar.

We had struggled massively to get into the game and unfortunately paid for it.

Chris Maguire’s excellent goal was a highlight of the second half, but it we failed to capitalise on the momentum and so we meet out first defeat of the season.

A substitution on 84 minutes really wasn’t going to change the game – a bit earlier and who knows. Something to think about, Mr Ross.

And there it was. On the coach back some will debate the why’s and wherefores, others will sleep. I choose sleep, although that may have been aided by the earlier “watering”.

Despite it being a loss, it’s always been more about the day out than just the match. Often the match is the inconvenience we have to go to during what would otherwise be a thoroughly good day out!

Onwards and upwards. I’m already looking forward to it. Ha’way lads!

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