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AWAY DAYS



Football Is The Chore!
Ah here we go. This is more like it! Away from home, the football hasn't set the world alight this season (perhaps a bit harsh, it's been decent!), but the away days out certainly have. Lincoln, Torquay, Northampton, Charlton, Rochdale even had its moments. All great days and weekends, but this one's a little different. Any time we play in the vicinity of NOTTINGHAM, Max Bygraves' University abode gets a visit.

Four of us left London on Friday afternoon, with four more to join on Saturday morning. It's sort of a ritual to go to Nottingham, the nightlife is fantastic and obviously being of a student flavour, it's bloody cheap as well. If you don't mind sleeping on floors, or sofas, or if you're lucky a spare bed in a student house, which of course, we do not.

After a pacy journey North, we immediately set to work on relieving the fridge of the cans within. The tunes were out in force, not for the last time this weekend. It's always a chilled start before heading out to some local student oriented bars. The notion of "we'll have a quiet one" is always considered but rarely, if ever becomes adhered to. It's the weekend isn't it. It'd be rude not to!

A regular haunt is Cucamaras. It's a little cocktail bar tucked away in an alley off one of the main roads. Not somewhere you'd stumble upon by chance, but it's always pretty full with youngsters, blaring out a very cheesy playlist with finest (yet cheap) spirit based concoctions. Scoff if you may, but it is as good as it sounds, old people.

Max's Uni flatmates were with the four of us who had journeyed, along with some others and we were all dancing away merrily. It all has to be done. What also has to be done, but with some caution is to take a shot from those girls who walk round with a load of them. You sort of feel rude if you say no, don't you? After all they'll probably like you better if you say yes, or something like that. The caution resides in the taste, very hit and miss. This was a large miss, as my snap happy camera would confirm.

To sum up just how cheesy this venue was, we were about to leave after a long stay but were pulled back by the sound of Billie's "Because We Want To", probably just after "Cest La Vie" by B*witched. I know what you're thinking. We did soon move on.

Those Walkabout places seem to be everywhere. They have certainly been mentioned in a number of previous away trips, if you fancy having a look to find them. Time escapes you at this stage and apparently we were in here for an hour. News to me, though it did seem a good idea to relieve my pockets of shrapnel in the quiz and fruit machines respectively, as well as another horrendous shot. That's me finished, no more or no football tomorrow!

Yes we all felt a little low in the morning, but the prospect of football slowly rose us from the slumber. News reached us from the south that the others were on their way, and by eleven they had arrived. No sort of pace was being set with getting back on the rocking horse, but it was some sort of pace nonetheless. Some of the other occupants of the house were off on their own football day, going to watch Oldham play Southampton. We were all enjoying the glamour of League football in our own special way.

After a quick drop into the bookies we made the 1300 train to Burton, which seemed to travel at about 10mph tops. It was on it's way to Cardiff so I can understand the drivers' reluctance to rush there. There was nine of us in total now on the way to football. We arrived in plenty of time for a pint or two and Max directed us (in his Danny Dyer coat) to a pub he had visited before.

The Derby Inn, on the road to the ground was like stepping back through time. Fantastic stuff. All the old skool pub signage was still up around the bar, as two doors separated one room from a smaller room. You needed a key to go to the toilet. A football annual from 1998 was lying around, begging to be read, and a pint of Scrumpy Jack was just the ticket for me.

The people within weren't half friendly either. Sometimes when you go North you encounter a little hostility the moment a hint of cockney passes through the lips, however these people were welcoming and polite, as they watched the horse racing on a TV perched on an old stool. Brilliant.

The time was now to move on and watch some football. Time to bounce back after recent defeats. Perhaps not. The lure of the bar under the stand was very strong, and especially with the game being shown on the telly in there, a number of people probably didn't leave. I had a quick half and watched the game live though. Wish I hadn't, it was a big anti-climax. But enough of that, I've already spoken enough about it, thanks.

We ambled out disappointed. It was a depressing thought that all we now had left was to go back to Nottingham, get drunk and go out to the Trent Student Union where bottles start at £1.60. Oh life is so harsh at times!

We stayed in The Hanbury Arms for a short while before going home. The occupants of the homeward train must have been very impressed by our level of conversation, but never mind!

To cut a long story short, the process of before is repeated. Cans are consumed before getting ready and going out. One bad thing about this SU is the queue to get in. Silly organisation causes such things. It is worth the wait though, but some of the others headed off elsewhere. Five of us, with the aforementioned housemates in tow, were going in however.

As mentioned before, the bottles will set you back £1.60, or so. Well it'd be rude not to get handfuls of them then! Fizzy pop it may be, but different drinks for different needs, as David Brent once so eloquently put. Even if the football is disappointing, you still have to make the most of these situations, we were out to have fun and losing 2-0 wouldn't stop that.

We danced the night away to some of the finest dance tracks known to man. I love the place. Apparently this is all in the name of Barnet FC and you'd like to know about it, but that's fine! What I will add is Sidney Samson's Riverside could well be getting an airing at a ground sometime soon. A fine specimen of music.

The place closes at the early hour of 0230. That means it's hometime. By 0300 I was in bed owing to the last two nights, and the two nights before where I had been out with work people. Cos I'm just that bloody mad. Many of the others stayed downstairs chatting away with all sorts of random friends. That's the sort of thing that happens in these student houses, living however you bloody like. Though this incessant talking kept me awake slightly, it was fine by me.

After a weekend like this, driving out of Nottingham is a low feeling. There was time in the morning for a McDonalds breakfast and another stop at the bookmakers, but then the realisation sets in that you have to go home to do normal things like working and being dignified. Being very tired doesn't help none either, but that has to be expected I guess!

Still, after a good spell on the motorway I was home early afternoon, ready to do absolutely nothing in order to recover. I hope you enjoyed my story.



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