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Destination Scouseland
Destination Scouseland

A Tale of Two Journeys

By: Chris Smith
Date: 12/08/2009

THIS was a tale of two journeys. The one going to Merseyside was relatively optimistic whilst the trip back was reminiscent of many last season. The main positive I took from last night was that this wasn't a league game.

It was, in truth, an awkward fixture and last night’s results seem to indicate a marked difference between ability between Leagues One and Two. After all, in recent years, only the spenders like Peterbore and Franchisescum seem to have made an impact. Unfortunately, it also makes the achievements of our rivals down the road that much more laudable. That isn't to say we were outclassed as the scoreline suggests, rather that we were beaten by a team that was much more clinical when they had a chance.

We met up at Thorne North station and transferred into the one motor. The line up was pretty much the same as last year with Big Jim driving, Gary and me as passengers with an interloper from Qatar. Jere must think he’s got it made over there. Hot climate, plenty of wonga and not watching what was to transpire on a regular basis. His last game was Darlo away last season, another game of sheer misery. However, the sun was beating down as we left and spirits were high. The football boogie CD was ready to play for the first time and a good sing song was to be had by all.

we'd decided to give the M62 a miss as it rivals the M25 as a car park in midweek. For once, a Yorkie hadn't crashed on the M18 or M1 so we navigated ourselves onto the Barnsley to Manchester road where things started to go off. For a start, Jim’s CD player started to play up, so there was to be no belting out insults to Scumthorpe to the Liquidator tune. Whether Jere thought this was a blessing or not I'm not sure as he was an initiate to the increased racket of the last year. We did manage to sing the amended Specials hit of "Ghost Ground" which has among its lyrics "This ground is coming like a ghost ground; fans don't come no more, too much fighting in the Pontoon" as well as "all the stands are being closed down". Appropriately it also counts the fans as getting angry, and a few did boo the team after the game last night, albeit a small minority. The Sweet’s Blockbuster is now "Netbuster" and we did wonder at the final whistle whether anyone had had a clue what to do. In my own case, I did feel like uttering that piece where the singer is rendered speechless with "We just haven't...aaah huuuuh" (One for our older fans)

We often make reference to the prevailing weather on the way to games in mock John Motshon shpeak ash well (complete with heh hehs) and as the cloud built up as we crossed the Pennines, I was tempted to proffer whether the sun was going down on Town’s prospects this season (insert Dezh here if preferred).

It is a nicer run over to the north-west this way, and we did manage to make good time, only getting stuck in traffic briefly just before hitting the M57. There were a few knuckle draggers in the last pre-motorway village, which told us we'd crossed from Derbyshire into Greater (?) Manchester. It was then motorway all the way to the Wirral, albeit we hit a bit of rush hour traffic and Welsh sheep drovers as we neared their border.

Ominously, it was starting to rain and the hot weather of the east seemed more distant. Perhaps I was getting spooked by the proximity of Wales. It might even have been the entering of car rustling country and on cue, a foreign coach was seen on the M53 which prompted speculation that some scally down the local boozer was going to be saying "Got the transport sor’ed for the nex’ European game lah. Go ‘ead" (I can't believe I've done a diversity course at work this year, tut!)

We were parked up in Birkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkenhead just before half past six having passed by the ground, and looked for somewhere to get some scran. We saw a promising prospect in the George and Dragon with meals advertised at £1.99 but it was boozing time only so we had to cast our net a bit wider (hope you like the fishing analogy). The Scouse House over the road was (appropriately) shuttered up but we'd been given directions to the Brass and Balance, a Wetherspoons gaff, and got in there about 7pm. I don't know what it is about the UK, having travelled widely, but we were stood at the unattended bar in a relatively empty pub whilst what seemed to be a relative army of staff collected up empties. It’s not like that in Malta, blah blah blah. I was getting twitchy as I do when the blood sugar starts to drop (and whilst I'd happily live on Mars Bars, the quack might have something to say about that) but we managed to get served and to be fair, the turnaround on getting a good meal to us was impressive. Gary used the waiting time to apprise the local chavbabe talent (I really DO worry about him). Strangely enough though, when he reckoned that the Thorne chavettes had some competition, I jumped to the defence of the young mums of my adopted home.

We saw Gareth, another well travelled exile and in due course, headed up for the game. Birkkkkkkkkkkkkkkenhead has seen better days (it makes Bradford look up market), but the Tranmere ground appears to be in a well appointed residential area. Unfortunately, they seem to jealously guard their parking rights, so having parked up in Chester, which was the closest we could get given the permit holder areas, we walked down to the ground only just making kick-off. It was a good move parking away from the ground, as a jobsworth could be seen with his ticket machine at the ready. This seems opportunistic to me, as there were plenty of spaces nearer the ground and I doubt the area has that many interlopers on an average weekday.

The article continues in Part Two

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