There’s nothing quite like it as all the stars begin to align when we are just one calendar week away from the start of that most vital thing in our lives – the beginning of the new football season.
Season tickets, memberships, and arrangements for a match-day lift schedule with your mates all nicely completed, pre-season has officially ended with the final home friendly, which in our case took place at Carrow Road against Olympiacos and ended in a nice little 2-0 win. Even the excitement of an Ashes season will be over for another two years.
And what better way to spend the last Friday of July than enjoying a beer in the sunshine with your mates, particularly when my company turned out to be occasional MFW writer and regular reader Don Harold at my favourite pub with an NR postcode, the Fat Cat on West End Street.
I turned up early for our rendezvous in order to purchase a Fat Cat Hoodie and return it safely to the car.
When Don turned up I forgot I had osteoporosis and my hand resembled a drunken spider for a while until everything fell back into place and the conversation began to flow, about Don’s job, his new electric company Tesla and how he is splitting his life, generally successfully, between Norfolk and Wolverhampton.
Don had brought his Border Collie, Buddy, with him and although he is a little too mature for puppy antic these days, Buddy provided a wonderful moment when propositioned by an attractive little German breed whose advances he fended off while not upsetting her senses of femininity or dignity.
A true, well-educated gentledog in fact.
My catch-up tales were rather less positive for medical and other reasons and, yes, our respective families were both just fine so surely it must be time to rip into what we’d come for – an excitable, banter-filled, and animated cat about the football with other folks joining in at will, if uninvited some of the time.
Not this time. It really seemed like neither of us wanted to kick off a chat about football, which with Don and I is bordering on the unknown.
But we steeled ourselves and went for it, becoming far more animated as certain keywords appeared.
A couple of Don’s observations were as pithy as I’ve come to expect, something along the lines of, “If Ted Boehly can buy Chelsea in what seemed like five minutes, I’d love to know what Mark Attanasio is really up to. It’s due diligence complicated by the fact that we’re some kind of PLC. Oh well, if that’s what they say, so be it. They say they’re not allowed to say anything else so perhaps we’re expecting too much.”
And the lack of communication with the fanbase is there for all [not] to see. I think as individuals Don and I have entirely given up worrying about it and we’d covered the topic in the time he’d ordered his pork pie, let alone eaten it.
We are both Celtic fans and exchanged a couple of stories about Shane Duffy during his time with the Celts.
To summarise, Celtic supporters tended to love him because he left nothing on the pitch, while at the same time deriding him for a lack of skill on the ball.
I think we’re all expecting all of that as well, aren’t we?
As we parted company in a slightly happier mood, Don explained what I’d kind of known all along: He wanted to take my particular season ticket on because he likes sitting with all the folks I sat with for so long, and who can blame him!
So take a bow Alan, [Mystic] Kev, Steve, both the Roberts and Michael – from me and Don. You never know. Some Day One Day.
Don’s final comment about Huddersfield was the best. He freely agreed that he admires what David Wagner did at the club, but after a quick look at our first team coaching and physio team he couldn’t help but add wryly: “I’ve nothing against Huddersfield, but I don’t want to BE them!”
Eagle-eyed MFW readers will have noticed that I often referred to Don H as my, “Man in the stands” last season on the simple basis that he was at the game I wasn’t, and feel that every match report should contain an impression of the atmosphere and a personal view that you could only acquire from “being there” and I am delighted to say Don will be fulfilling that role throughout 2023-24.
In the meantime, hopefully sunrise on Saturday, August 5 will give me a good kick up the arse and I’ll find some motivation for the season ahead from somewhere!