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Pigs to the Slaughter - Part 2

By: Chris Smith
Date: 23/09/2009 (Last updated: 13/12/2009)

THE niceties were soon over and it was time for kick-off via the Chip Butty Song which they sing nearly as well as us (only kidding, louder than us if only due to the numbers in the ground.) It took me back a good few years as the Kop started to belt out proper chants rather than some of the generic rubbish you hear at most grounds around the country. However, that was nothing compared to the explosion when Jamie Ward scored inside five minutes.

It was payback time for me as the bloke to my right used my shoulder as a pivot to lift himself higher as he pogoed up and down. I do it all the time to Town fans on the rare occasion that we score. I was laughing insanely as were my neighbours. I didn't realise I disliked Wendy so much. I'd actually looked at their fans bouncing up and down at the start of the game and thought "w*****s" I think they should have gone down instead of us in 2004, that must be it. Not that I hold resentments…

Shamefully, I was enjoying the venom directed at the fans and the subs that were limbering up in front of us. To be quite honest, I was curious to see whether the Blades hated Wendy as much as we did in the 1980s and to be fair, it was no contest. I could fill a page with the insults of which all are unprintable. As a few Blades subs passed the time of evening with their Wendy counterparts, the Valad were warning them of the risk of catching swine flu among rather more robust directives to the opposition. This is because Blades fans call their city counterparts "The Pigs" Mind you, it’s reciprocated and both sets of fans sport badges with pigs wearing their rivals’ shirts. A fan later told me that Blades supporters had been planning to go in the part of the Malta Family Stand closest to the away support in surgical masks to emphasise this point. Apparently some did, but not in the anticipated numbers. Shame!

Matthew of course was soaking it up. Loving it, as Keegan might have said. Five minutes in and a goal up. A Henderson shot doubled the lead only a few minutes later and it was more than the home crowd could have hoped for. That was the cue for my right trainer to come off as the bloke to the right threw another "manie". Not that I minded though! The decibel level rose a bit more and the chants of "You're not bouncing anymore" surged down from the Kop. I liked it when the "Shoreham boys we are here" chant blasted out. Shoreham Street runs behind the Kop and the Shoreham End boys were some of their historically feistier element. Proper 70s and 80s stuff this. I was also waiting for the "Hark now here United sing, the Wednesday ran away..." When this inevitably resounded around the ground, it immediately sparked off memories of us singing it on Boxing Day 1983 in a critical game where Paul Wilkinson scored the winner in a game which confirmed us as promotion candidates. I was glad he'd scored as my feet touched the Pontoon for about the first time that game after the crowd surge!

It was non-stop action as well with Wednesday not putting United under any pressure until a few minutes before half time when United’s goalkeeper had to pull off a tremendous save to put the ball out for a corner. United could have had several more goals but as Wednesday’s attempts to get a consolation just before half time petered out, a deserved, though bizarre, third goal came. I didn't see it until I watched the highlights on Sky later on but then neither did a lot of people around me. I took my eye off the action for a few seconds and suddenly pandemonium ensued. A ball in from United on the right was met by a Wendy defender who beautifully headed past his own keeper. Not as farcical as the goal gifted to Town the following day but the home fans weren't complaining and nor was I.

Matthew mimed how his dad would be greeting the goals and score back home and opined that the first half had been pigs to the slaughter. I like that, I thought. Matthew’s dad hadn't come as he couldn't bear the disappointment if his team had lost the game and I can identify with that. I became convinced that we were going down last year and made sure I was abroad when we played at Bournemouth. I still think I did the right thing. All that anger if it'd happened, and not being able to drown my sorrows.

The good atmosphere continued throughout half time although I have to confess to being fascinated and sidetracked by the Blades mascot, Captain Blade. Is it just me, or is he the lost twin brother of Captain Pugwash? When I see him, I can almost hear that burbling noise he made when confronted with something in the cartoon series. It was with some relief that the second half resumed so I could shake off this rather worrying trip to the rubbish telly of my past.

The relief didn't last long though. Town fans will readily identify with the goal conceded immediately after half time. Marcus Tudgay hammered in after it looked as though United had cleared a dangerous effort. As it came out to Tudgay I had that horrible feeling that the fourth goal we'd been hoping for wasn't going to go to the team we wanted. It must be being a Town fan, but an anticipated thrashing was now a two goal margin with an entire half to go and that meant uncertainty. Whilst it was sickening to see the away support celebrating, at least we couldn't hear them which always makes it seem a bit surreal. It was the catalyst for the home support to bellow out their support whilst intimating a less than welcoming post-match reception. The nerves were definitely showing though, as the first half performance was turned on its head.

The article continues in Part Three

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