The journey to and from Oxford was littered with something I hate. Smart Motorways. Or building of Smart Motorway.
Barely a car in sight. 50mph speed limit. Not impressed. Even less impressed as when we did find the national speed limit a multitude of idiots took to not indicating, moving into my lane, not speeding up to my speed, and slowly passing somebody doing 48mph in the inside lane. A braking from my 70mph plus approach needed on far too many occasions. Chris is used to my road rage but I’m convinced driving standards are worse than ever.
Still, despite being Friday night and making two stops, we made good time. Sleep at the Holiday In Express was poor quality. The mattress didn’t help, but some lower back / buttock pain was niggling. New cancer growth? Don’t know. It might have been the length of time in the BMW which, while a beautiful car, does seem to contort my aching body a little.
Two tramadol for the first time in weeks and a couple of paracetamol numbed the pain and I got a good six hours sleep.
We headed off for a late breakfast, included in the room rate but they managed to make bacon, sausage and scrambled egg taste average. Coffee and orange juice well received though. We killed a few hours in our late checkout room before heading out for a walk.
Despite my injuries we got from one end of the ground to the Frankie and Benny’s at the other. Alas, fully booked. Annoying. Then into a chip shop and burger bar where I ended up with a cardboard cheeseburger. Mediocre nutrition. The drive home later at least saw an M&S chicken sandwich get into me. Culinary delights hadnt been the order of the day..
But in between, there was the match. The possibility of free tickets from a friend in touch with a player was on the table. Many years ago I’d been promised the same at a Burnley v Stockport game. It seems that time the bloke at Burnley seemed to have given my tickets to his mate as they’d ceased to exist by the time I got there. I don’t like Burnley.
This time the messages started bouncing backwards and forwards as to where we should collect our tickets. “Reception” failed us as confusion between player name, my name and friend’s name left a trail of of destruction in the series of freebies Oxford United were dishing out.
No tickets, but another option. There’s another door further round the stand. We went there. Asked and waited. The nice lady came out of her office and headed back in the general direction we’d come from. What seemed like an age later, but was probably only five minutes, we were in. Well, in the bar to be precise. £40 of free tickets was very welcome but partially offset by paying £4.70 for a 330ml bottle of lager, but we were £40 up with the tickets. A rssultt to offset the petrol and hotel costs.
Then into the seated area in the stand called the directors’ box. A decent view across the pitch to several hundred other Oldham fans. People in suits sat there with us while I continued my Wurzel Gummidge tour of the U.K. and eventually Oldham’s saviour, the Morrocan born new owner, appeared with his family and a bright blue suit which wouldn’t be out of place in a holiday camp. We sat back into our padded seat as the players emerged from the tunnel.
The first half started. Our on loan centre half who’s from Manchester City and is rather good got injured. Our substitute full back who’s never played a league game comes on. This is not a good start. We now have two centre backs with combined ages under forty and one of whom isn’t a centre back. These kids are not what you need in a relegation battle I thought.
The game ended goalless. The quality wasn’t great but somehow I found it highly entertaining. Part of that was due to the Oxford fan in the section next to us getting unbelievably angry every time the Oldham team did anything. Despite it being clear we were trying, albeit unsuccessfully, to win the game he was getting particularly angry at perceived time wasting. When an Oldham player escaped a red card for a wild high challenge this bloke’s head nearly joined the International Space Station in orbit above the planet. He wasn’t happy at all!
Meanwhile, despite best efforts, Oldham were pretty much reduced to a blocked effort before half time and a substitute making a bursting run and shooting so wide the ball went out for a throw in. Still, goalless is quite good for a team that leaks goals and has conceded more than the other twenty three members of League One this season.
Good time with Chris who heads back to university today. A long but relatively easy drive home and a decent sleep without that pain returning. Good news as any pain makes me think my date of death is closing in!
Next up, Walsall at home on Wednesday. Does it get any bigger than this?