Issue A Grand Day Out

As told by Richard Wardell

Clutching a bag filled with food and drink and a copy of a decent newspaper, I stood on the train platform waiting in anticipation for a train to take me to London. I’d been looking forward to our game at Brentford for a few months now, since we decided to visit Griffin Park and had booked our train tickets. The train duly arrived on time and I was greeted by my brother who had already travelled south from Saltaire. It had been a few years since I’d been to a City away game using public transport but the thought of a stress free train journey was appealing. Unfortunately another friend had to forfeit their train ticket as their girlfriend had arrived home that morning following an operation in BRI.

The train was busy but the journey was enjoyable. Time spent reading a decent newspaper (which doesn’t occur often due to time constraints) was interrupted by the munching of food and chat about how today’s game might pan out and how our season had been inconsistent in terms of results. As we approached Kings Cross my brother’s phone was buzzing with a text message from a work colleague who was at the Leeds-Carlisle game which was kicking off at 12.15pm.

We’d arrived safely in London and I was walking along the platform where I’d been only 48 hours earlier for a work meeting. My brother and I were greeted by John, one of my brother’s friends, who had given up their Spurs season ticket to come to see our game. (Incidentally, the Spurs-Middlesbrough game finished 1-1.) Armed with our 1-day travelcards we headed for the Piccadilly line and our destination of South Ealing tube station. Just as we were about to step on to the escalator we bumped into Paul, a southern based City supporter who sits with us at Valley Parade when he ventures north. We knew that Paul was flying out to Amsterdam that evening for a works do, but he’d decided to come to the game and leave slightly early in the hope of there been no goals in the last 15 minutes.

Arriving at South Ealing tube station, we were then met by Liam, another of my brother’s friends who lives down south. He’d driven across from Kent to meet up with us. The five of us walked towards Griffin Park and were greeted with plenty of pubs to obtain a pint from. We decided upon The New Inn where the atmosphere was friendly. Punters were watching history in the making as Queen of the South had beaten Aberdeen 4-3 to reach their first ever Scottish Cup Final. This is what makes football special when the underdog triumphs over the favourite. A decent pint of Directors Courage was sunk and not even a shower of rain could dampen our spirits as we walked to the away end. Griffin Park may not be the biggest ground in England but it has plenty of charm as it’s crammed in on all sides by housing.

We decided to enter the turnstile for standing as it’s not often that you can stand at football games these days. Considering our league position and the distance from West Yorkshire, there was a reasonable following of City supporters; several hundred in good voice. McCall and Jacobs had decided to play young Luke O’Brien at left back and overall he had a decent game with his most important contribution been a headed clearance off the line in the first half. City found themselves 1-0 down early on after we conceded possession in our half and Glenn Poole stroked a fine shot across Loach and into the bottom right hand corner of our goal. City seemed to be a bit sluggish but we equalised with our first effort on target as Thorne hit a half volley to score his 14th goal of the season. However, two minutes later and there were wild celebrations in the away end as Nix found a bit of space on the left hand side and unleashed an unstoppable shot past Brown to put City 2-1 up.

Eddie Johnson was playing up front again after his previous two games had yielded two goals. He found himself in the clear with glorious opportunity to make it 3-1 to City but unfortunately he seemed to scuff his shot and Brown saved with relative ease. City were made to pay for this miss as we failed to clear the ball on several occasions following a Brentford free kick from the right hand side and defender Bennett hit a super shot which beat Loach and went in off the underside of the cross bar. Half an hour had elapsed and already we’d seen four fine goals. Half time arrived with the teams locked at 2-2.

My eagle eyed brother had spotted a guy in the away end who he used to go to school with, Ben, and his elder brother Nigel was with him. I’d been in the same school year as Nigel and at one point we’d played in the same school football team. As the second half commenced a voice said to me “Hello Richard”. It was another guy, Graham, who was with Nigel who I also went to school with. I chatted with Nigel and Graham during the second half and discussed who we had stayed in touch with since leaving school nearly twenty years ago. One person who I mentioned was Andrew, who was meant to be with us at the game but due to his daughter being ill, he had been unable to make the trip south. As the clock ticked on, Craig Bentham replaced Tom Penford. Would this be the last time we would see Bentham in a City shirt following his recent three month loan spell at Farsley Celtic? Paul exited for his flight to Amsterdam but he was okay as there were no more goals. Although City did have a decent shout for a penalty as Wetherall was obviously fouled in the Brentford 18 yard box. However, referee Armstrong waved play on and left the City supporters bemused. Omar Daley had replaced the hard working Nix and should he have chosen to pass to the on rushing Thorne instead of deciding to shoot himself to loose possession, City could have snatched a late winner. But it wasn’t to be.

I said my goodbyes to Nigel and Graham then my brother waved Liam off to Kent. This left the three of us (my brother, John and me) to walk back to South Ealing tube station. We arrived at Kings Cross in time for a pint of good Yorkshire ale in the form of Black Sheep then my brother and I headed north on the train. A grand day out and not a sighting of Wallace or Gromit!