Graham Mason's blog looks back on his trip to Birmingham away a couple of months back....
ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER DEFEAT, ANOTHER REASON TO LOVE SAFC
It's a story.
Me and my Bury-born pal spent this weekend in Birmingham, so thought we'd share our story.
How did it start? 7am..or rather 4am for Tom after work finishing at 3am on Stevie Dean's Jarra bus. It seemed we had escaped the noisier of the 2 buses and Tom tried to get his head down for the next 4 hours before embarking on our first win since that great day down at Blackpool. Fail. To coin a new phrase, he couldn't hack the banter. Instead we seemed to waltz through to half 11 and we were at Tamworth, where we went for a few cheap beers(mine started on a coffee as double amaretto as Tom grumbled at my femininity into his Carlsberg). We had a walk around the most dead town in the history of town before being asked at the local Subway if we were part of a "team"..yes, yes we were, all 2 of us, while a group of, let’s say more drunk, Sunderland supporting gentleman, bought some very dashing suits from the market stall opposite the lingerie section of the market. I never want to visit Tamworth again. We saw some cool owls and headed back to the coach. Haway the lads!
I bought my usual badge outside the ground as a few choice songs were sang from the coach and into the ground we go. Little did we know these guys would turn out to be the angels of the weekend.
On to the match and I sat 15 rows above Tom first half and witnesses a very encouraging display, buyoed by the tenacity of Cattermole and the excellent Colback, we took the game to Birmingham, and nearly had a goal after excellent work by Cattermole only for Sessagnon to miss the net after excellent play. Game on..or so we thought. Just before half time, right infront of us, Bardsley attempted to clear before a MASSIVE shout from Mignolet altered his decision..and you know what happened. So we dominated the first half and went in 1-0 down, but we had a good feeling about this one!
Onto the second half and you knew it was only a matter of time before we punished them, walking all over them being probed by the impressive Henderson in his much prefer wing role, and Sessagnon torturing Parnaby at the other. Chance after chance was missed, but you knew Birmingham wouldn't hold onto this and we could pull it back, maybe even win it with 30 minutes to go. Step forward Craig Gardner. With Birmingham's second shot of the match they were 2 up, and we were dead and buried.
Outside the ground some bother ensued but we steered well clear as I contemplated my reasoning behind why I follow SAFC and if it's time to hang up the faith for the final time as Tom pleaded with me to not be..well..a dick. I couldn't hack the banter.
We made our way to Weatherspoons to be told, no colours..it wouldn't be the first time. We had a quick pint at another one, and a shitty burger while watching the Mancs get beat by the money bags and then celebrate like they'd won the cup.
On our way to the hotel and then we'd realised it was a double bed we had booked, and the receptionist asked if we'd like Rose petals..I still got the twat back. We got showered, separately, and out we went. Stopping to drop the keys back and I decided to see if the receptionist could hack the banter, asking "when he got off?" and then if he wanted to join us in our "nice big bed later". He politely declined.
First bar was decent enough as the bartender poured me a good value amaretto and we decided we should ask him where the bars that play alternative music where. Never doubt the ability to body pop to Radiohead. Bad choice. First bar was blasting out Rise Against and we decided this was the bar we'd lose the night. I drank the rankest pint of Stella and made my way to the beer garden, where we bumped into a lovely fellow who we began to chat with. He asked if we liked drugs, and no was the reply before he asked if we were racist. Then went on to show us his swastika, telling us how his Dad's biker friends killed some Asians. We needed to head out, and fast. I quickly polished off my Stella without vomiting just as he told us about his knives collection..that he had in his pocket. Night ruined? Maybe. But it's a story.
We then headed to maybe the shittiest rock bar I've ever had the displeasure of pissing in. Awful. We headed out, cut our losses and decided we should have stayed in Broad Street.
We went in this bar which was brilliant, if you’re into your Abba and swimming in the last chance saloon, but great craic and commentated on the potential of Jordan Henderson's brother pulling the hot blonde. He started well enough but it seemed every cross hit the first man. Before Tom got chatting to the rather alt looking barmaid. Me being the taken(almost married and proud here lads, and no, I’m not a sissy) man I am, I did a Newcastle United and stood aside for the less handsome Tom to grab her number before debating if the forum we met upon would be to blame for Sunderland away day’s very own version Take Me Out. Let the forwards see the goal indeed. But Tom was tired.
We got back at about 3 and as soon as our heads hit the pillow we were out for the count. We got to the nearest cheap bar for the good old Anthony Stokes to miss a penalty and decide on which match we wanted to go and watch, while Tom text the barmaid. We sat and watched greasy locks Andy before Tom had to leave, lady in hand to the train for Manchester as I sat and enjoyed the bore 0-0er until about 4 mins before time..trust that to happen.
On the train home now. What can I say? Not the greatest weekend, but fill of great stories of how 8 defeats in 9 become me and Tom being able to hack the banter.
What am I trying to get at? That no matter what, no matter what the score, no matter the team, no matter which greedy £24m man wants to leave, no matter which God loving Ghanian joins us next, I have Sunderland to thank for something at the end of every week. It’s what makes us Sunderland AFC.
I love Sunderland AFC. After all, it's a story isn't it?