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AWAY DAYS



Everyone Remembers Their First Time
Authored by Reginald Crow

Its an age old adage that everyone remembers their first time, for me the date was 6th November 2004, fireworks weekend How Apt.  The setting Rupert Remingtons 30th Birthday Everyone remembers their first time HEREFORD AWAY!!

Having spent 4 years in the wilderness from Barnet, despite being a supporter for 16 years, I had returned at the beginning of the 2004/5 Season with no sense of optimism, illusion, or who would be in the starting line up.  The last time I had seen the mighty Bees we were a league club, I even missed Torquay at home!

A chance meeting with a mate I played cricket with had led to a more regular attendance at the home of the slope.  Then one day I received a phone call saying how do you fancy Hereford away on Saturday.  Going by coach.  My first reaction was no, I hold a record of not ever been on the supporters coach anywhere and I didnt fancy changing that, but then I was told the coach went by another name, Dirty Daves Fun Bus.  As a young and naïve man, dirty and fun are always going to turn nos into yes, and so with a little trepidation I said yes to a 9:00 leave from New Barnet station to Hereford Football Club.

There would be about 20 of us, and little did I know that this trip would signal the start of experience into the collective spirit and brotherhood that comes with following a lower league football side.  The commitment, the excitement, and the exuberance to go out and have a good time all over the country (and in some cases Europe) traveling and drinking and maybe watch the Bees play football as well!!

As I arrived at the station to await the bus there were a few faces I recognized, but knew no names, there were a couple of mates, along with the weird, the loud, the quiet and the just down right insane!  Many were clutching plain carrier bags containing the odd can or two, a copy of Saturdays newspaper ready to catch up on all the team news, and the odd magazine or two for entertainment.

Having entered the Fun Bus and being the new boy I took one of the few remaining seats, next to a man who qualified under the weird, quiet and insane category.  Whilst I can just about remember his first name, I could tell you almost nothing else.  For the entire journey there and back, the only words he spoke were to introduce himself.  After that he opened up a can or two and proceeded to stare (and possibly lick) out the window and not budge from this position.  It wasnt anything I said, how could I have offended someone who I had only told my name? Id made the effort to shower (something he had neglected to do), I even gave him the window seat, yet nothing.  The only time he smiled (apart from when passing wind) was when the whole coach started singing a very typical and uncomplimentary song about him involving his sex life, with the muttering of a swear word or two directed at the back of the coach, and that was it.  He didnt even attend the game, instead choosing to find a local dive to spend the afternoon drinking some more promising to meet up afterwards, I wasnt too bothered if he made it or not.

So I spent the rest of the trip to Hereford making some new acquaintances, re-introducing myself to some forgotten ones, and avoiding the down right moody.  We talked about the prospect of being top at Christmas, the possibility of promotion and all the other usual football banter.

At the back of the coach, football banter was a distant thought.  As the trip went on the volume from the back was gradually being turned up, and it didnt take Sherlock Holmes to work out that it wasnt just lager that had come onto the Fun Bus...  A bottle was being passed around at the back, and it was now being passed towards the front for all to try.  To this day I have no clue what it was, and I dont think I want to know what it was.  It was alcoholic (very) and it was disgusting, it got a good laugh as the reactions of all those supping from the bottle were monitored and then cross-examined for ridicule afterwards.

A bit of good fun, and then from nowhere HES GOT A NOSE BLEED!!! HA HA HA HA.  My first reaction, along with others was Who hit him? Why did he hit him? Did he hit them back?  Alas it was not an altercation but the rarely tried (for obvious reasons) intake of Vodka through the nasal passage, yes, thats correct, the snorting of Vodka.  As the blood poured from the nasal passages of said fellow Bees fan, eyes watering more than a rainforest monsoon, and the pure enjoyment being experienced by his comrades seeing a fellow soldier in such discomfort, it was here I realised the true collective spirit of the Fun Bus group.  No one was helping him, and no one was going to.  Brilliant, I smiled and hoped that this was not going to be my only trip with these merry band of Barnet fans.

Eventually we hit the hills of Herefordshire, and an appropriate pub away from the town was found with a hospitable landlord, cross-eyed locals (reminded me of home), food, reasonably priced beer, and a pool table.  More alcohol consumed, and those not following the Eatings Cheating philosophy had a chip or two, with the odd game of pool or ten played, it was time to head to the game.

Oh yeah, football, it had taken somewhat of a back seat, and the consumption of alcohol was already beginning to take its toll on my memory!  I had never been to Hereford before, and its fair to say, that on the 100 places to visit before I die list, I dont think it will be a popular choice.  The game wasnt a particularly great one overall.  Both goals in the game came in the opening 10 minutes.  Barnet scored first from a trademark Grazioli strikers finish.  A great present for the birthday boy.  Now for the East Terrace regulars at Underhill, goal celebrations have always been pretty energetic, and sometimes painful.  However, away from home, alcohol fuelled, and then add into the mix the concrete pillars that obstruct 25% of the view at Edgar Street and you get a recipe for a full on top quality STACK!!!  Such was the extent of it, that I actually missed the equalizer from Hereford 3 minutes later as I counted all my toes to see if they were still there.

From there the game was relatively uneventful with a goal line clearance for each side, the pies were ok, but the terrace spirits were high (in more ways than one) and the frivolity and laughter from the Fun Bus was infectious as many more joined in as we bounced around and sang our hearts out.  As the Fun Bus crew sprang into a chorus of Happy Birthday for the birthday boy, some of the backseat boys were clearly up to something as they gathered around, and as the last note petered out, the birthday boy was hurriedly grabbed, and given the birthday bumps, much to the horror of the boss eyed, tattooed thugs of stewards, but even they knew this was a battle that was not to be entered into and slowly left the high jinx to be played out.

The game ended 1-1 and a good time had been had by all, and as the post mortem of the game began on the short walk back to the bus, a fist came flying in from an opposition fan who had taken exception to being goaded by the vodka snorter, who unfortunately for him, on this occasion, is easy to pick out in a group.  Before any form of retaliation could be sort or inflicted the traveling constabulary had the man well under control.  The cherry on the top of a very amusing day.

As all personnel were gathered up for the trip home, I was again reunited with the quiet, insane window licker, who had heard the result, but said nothing more of the game.  The trip home had 606 on the radio, some listened whilst others dozed and slept off some their alcohol consumption before returning back to New Barnet station around the 8:30 mark ready for the evening session.  Like many first time experiences the emotion had got to me and I did not have the stamina to carry on.  I headed for home and Match of The Day.

You always remember your first time I do It was not a forgettable or regrettable experience, and was the seed for some great memories.



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