Its been an interesting few days, firstly in Coventry and then in Birmingham. The weather is definitely changing rapidly and the Autumn leaves are raining down wherever I go. I am not sure why but it seems only days since I noticed that the leaves were first changing colour and now they are dropping to provide me with a yellow and brown carpet as I walk, perhaps its always that quick or maybe the odd weather this year has contributed.
As I strolled through Coventry city centre on my way to the Ricoh stadium I was stopped by three young people with some sound recording equipment, they told me they were from the University studying Journalism and could they ask me a question. I agreed and thought to myself what matter of import could they want my opinion on? National topics or perhaps my insight into the Savile scandal or the US Elections? The question came….
Have you ever seen a Ghost?
I was speechless for a few seconds before guffawing a No. They then asked if I believed in Ghosts and I gave a lengthy answer about being an atheist therefore I didn’t believe in a spirit that perhaps could become a Ghost. The disappointment in their faces told me I wasn’t going to feature heavily in their work.
I had a great time in Coventry, the club themselves were very generous with their time and I was hosted for two nights by the Bond family. I discovered I am utter rubbish at FIFA13 even though I narrowly beat Harry over two legs, he let me play online and a 4-0 drubbing convinced me I should not play again without a lot of practice. Peter and Katrina treated me like one of their own, I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality.
That was mirrored when I got to Birmingham, Dave Farrell from the Blues Trust arranged for me to be hosted in the hotel around the corner from St Andrews and he and his lovely wife gave me dinner at their house before returning me back to my hotel room. It was a shame I didn’t get to see much of Birmingham City, they operate a 28 day policy for notification for charity requests, it seems that not every club has the time for common sense but with my usual wit and charm I asked to see someone from the Media department whilst I was at the club and he kindly took me pitchside and arranged for a promotional story. The club itself is in a bit of trouble and in limbo, the Blues Trust has a real challenge in trying to get fan involvement but with people like Dave driving it on I am sure that they will do good things in the coming months and years.
There isn’t a place in England or Wales that you can’t find a decent Pompey fan and Birmingham is no different, John Lish was my next host and we had many conversations about the state of the club, the Pompey Trust and football in general. I was due at Aston Villa on Saturday and they were playing Norwich at home in the lunch time SKY kickoff so I knew it would be difficult for the club to do much. My thanks go to Debbie Sly of the AVFC Community dept for securing me a complimentary match ticket. It was odd being a neutral at the game, I marvelled at the noise of the Norwich fans but was also quite shocked at how quiet and inert the Villa fans were. The side was struggling and the lack of support was quite shocking except at one point in the first half when, on the point of the 19th minute, all the Villa fans stood up and applauded for a full minute, this was in support of “Stan” who is the Villa player Stiliyan Petrov who is fighting leukemia. It was quite impressive to be honest and touching.
After the match I took a stroll across to West Bromwich to fulfil that part of the walk and in the evening John and I headed to a local curry house to enjoy a meal and more chat which was great fun as social evenings have been few and far between the last couple of months.
Next Blog will contain tales from West Brom, Walsall and Wolves, W tastic!