This weekend has been packed with sport for me starting with Saturday when without a game to go to I had been invited to Goodwood races as the clinic I work in was sponsoring one of the races on the card and it was an opportunity to enjoy the hospitality, lose some money (I’m rubbish at betting) and keep an eye on the football on the mobile.
Despite studying the form and carefully selecting the horses I thought would win based on statistics, the going, the jockey and the recent form of the nag, one of the girls I work with won over a hundred quid purely because she liked the colours the jockeys were wearing. I noted that none of those wearing blue and white crossed the line first – no change there then! My 21 year old son was due to swim the Alcatraz to San Francisco swim, a distance of 1.5 miles raising money for an Alzheimer’s disease charity which I’m proud to say he completed in a time of 45 minutes.
For those of you who support this worthy cause feel free to donate via the following link: Just Giving.
My youngest son, Ben accompanied me to join up with Will and two Liverpool fans who were mates of his. They were Dale who plays six a side football with Will and Dean, the 15 year old son of a neighbour. The early conversation turned to Jonny’s achievement and the coldness of the water, need for a wet suit, powerful currents and the fact that there are occasional things in the water that might want to eat you such as sharks. Ben stated that he had told his brother to smear the faeces of himself and others onto his body to deter shark attacks adding a caveat that he didn’t really know whether such a ploy would be any good or not but it would be hilarious if he did it.
This got the banter off to a good start and it was the turn of Dean to attract attention as it became noticeable that his phone kept going off for text messages. We suggested that there was a girl involved and this proved to be a cast into a richly stocked pool. Dean, being fifteen and with the self-consciousness to match, proved to be an excellent target for ribbing unmercifully and gradually we prised out of him that the person he was communicating with was a girl called Chloe but she was only a friend.
This did not stop the psychological torture from continuing and Dean’s embarrassment reaching high levels. Will appeared to take pity on the lad and said that we should all back off and that he thought it was very nice that Dean had a young lady friend and that it was none of our business etc. The conversation moved on to other matters concerning the game to come and there was a lull in Dean’s discomfiture until out of nowhere Will asked if Chloe had one of those tasteful little bluebird or butterfly tattoos on her arse! All apart from Dean dissolved in mirth and there was I thinking Will was going soft – a cruel and wicked man if ever there was one!
We called in at the Selly Park Tavern to grab a steak sandwich and a few chips for lunch and of course an obligatory pint. Will convinced me to try the Brew 11 which by my recollection was the sort of stuff you put in your radiator to clean it out in days past but I have to say it was a pleasant surprise to the hogwash I remember as a younger man.
We moved off at 15.15 thinking we had plenty of time to make kick off only to discover that there was a Sky Rider event in Birmingham and as a result most of the roads were blocked off. Brilliant organisation when there is a major Premier League game going on the same day!
Will became increasingly annoyed as we had to divert all the way up to Five Ways round town and back in towards the ground to eventually arrive at St Andrews a few minutes late. The threats to the lives of cyclists and pedestrians increased with every minute closer to four o’clock but Will’s maniacal driving and his intimate knowledge of our fair city’s streets got us into the game with about seven minutes on the clock.
Blues pressed Liverpool high up the pitch with Cameron Jerome catching the eye early on with pace and movement giving Carragher and Skrtel an uncomfortable time. He was well supported by McFadden and attacking midfielders, Gardner and Bowyer. Barry Ferguson was imperious as usual and Blues were playing some excellent stuff by the mid point of the half.
Larsson was making good runs down the right but the real plaudits must go to the defensive quartet especially Dann and Johnson who were superb all afternoon ably assisted by Carr and Ridgewell. Foster had very little to do all afternoon apart from save one shot early in the second period and field a few routine crosses such was Blues dominance in this game.
It is difficult to pick out anyone that was below par and this was reflected in the fact that McLeish only made one substitution in time added on at the end of the game when Zigic came on for McFadden.
For Liverpool Pepe Reina was by far their best player and it is only thanks to him that Liverpool escaped from St Andrews today with a point. A superb save from Cameron Jerome’s header on 22 minutes was the pick but another from Garner after 37 minutes was breathtaking.
Further chances in the second half from Jerome and Scott Dann went close and one of these should have been taken from excellent crosses from Carr whose delivery all afternoon was very good overlapping with Larsson.
Liverpool had one fierce shot in the 64th minute from Torres who was otherwise disappointing. The World Cup winning striker was superbly tackled by Johnson in the first half with the Spaniard claiming a penalty but this was correctly waved away by Mark Halsey who had a good game in only his second Premier League fixture since returning from cancer treatment. He played his part in making this game an enjoyable spectacle.
Apart from a final flurry from Liverpool in the final ten minutes or so in an attempt to steal the points, this was Birmingham’s day when they were the better side. Unfortunately, they were eventually unable to score the goal their performance deserved and had to settle for a 0-0 score line.
If there is such a thing as an entertaining goalless draw; this was it. The atmosphere was fantastic and a crowd of 27,333 gave Stephen Gerrard in particular a lot of stick as to his whereabouts in Africa over the summer. A bloke proposed to his girlfriend on the pitch which was accepted; the Tilton responded with chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing!” Cruel but fair I’d say! 😀
We departed the game for a curry at the Punjab Paradise restaurant before the long journey back south. We were all generally happy with the result although Dean’s prediction of a 5-0 win for Liverpool looked decidedly daft in the final analysis. Blues are no pushovers and no team is going to come to St Andrews and have an easy ride this season. The last home defeat was 17 games ago and long may it continue.
Dean was continued to be ribbed about Chloe as his text messages carried on coming in thick and fast. Despite his protestations we suspect this girl is more than a friend and he for his part eventually embraced the banter as he wasn’t going to escape it.
About an hour into the journey home flatulence started to kick in and the car filled with chemicals similar to some that have been internationally outlawed necessitating the opening and closing of the electric windows. My son, Ben was by far the worst culprit and despite the fact that I have a cold and can’t smell anything much; there was no escape.
We arrived back home at about 22.45 tired but having had a great day. Sure, it was a game Blues should have won but there was plenty to be positive about.
Finally I’ve been asked to state what I feel was good, bad and ugly about the match day; the good was the banter and all the laughs we had to and from the game; the bad was Ben’s flatulence in the confined space of the car on the way back and the ugly was Liverpool defender Skrtel who rates right up there with classics such as Shaun Goater of Manchester City fame! KRO SOTV