The alarm went off at 5.50am and I grabbed a quick cuppa whilst persuading the puppy that she needed to go out into the cold, wet and wild to do the necessary at such an unholy hour. I swear she already knows when it is the weekend and she has a lie in and Jane said she didn't settle properly all day after that!
In the car at 6.45 for the 50 mile drive and the coach was already there. 39 die-hards on the coach and the general feeling was that it would be a nice gesture for the club to broadcast an apology to the fans before the kick off for that diabolical display last week. Ron, the West Country Blues club chairman, said it was the worst display he had seen in sixty years plus of following the club and whilst the early seventies produced some dire stuff I couldn't argue with him.
He told me that there were a couple of lads on the coach who had travelled up from Truro and do so regularly. For those like me whose geography can be suspect Truro is really " Deep South" and you can add on another two hours and 100 miles to what I was doing. Dedication like that should make the players ashamed of not trying as one or two were guilty of last week.
We had a smooth journey despite sweeping rain all the way and I made the mistake (not for the first time) of trying a microwaved bacon roll at the services which was so hard and dry you'd think it unfit to be served to a human. Still, let's hope Ken Buckley fat van is up to standard!
We arrived at just before 1:00 and time was killed in the fan zone and grabbing a pint in the pub just up the road and opposite the Brick. I was stunned to be charged £2.80 for what was a very decent pint of lager – my local charges £4.25 which is standard in Devon.
The game started with a very subdued crowd but it was clear that the team was up for it and apart from a couple of early errors from Mangala ( who I thought settled down after them) we were looking decent enough with a Walcott a class apart. He protects his full back, has excellent control, thinks, and has pace like I have never seen before- a marvellous signing at £20m.
It all took off after half time. Our chairmen (West Country Blues and BK) both missed the first goal as it was so quick after half time. Niasse was an absolute pain in the backside for Palace, constantly all over their defenders giving them a torrid time and it seemed that Siggy in particular had become aware that if you stay close to him there will be some loose balls (I don't refer here to the Palace defenders feeling scared) to pick up.
It seemed to me that his touch play has improved as he mixed some moments of poor control with some very good control and link up play and I for one am not in the group who think he is too poor for the premier league. He is highly effective against the lesser clubs and sets a great example to all.
Siggy played very well with energy, skill and I wouldn't say he was slow either. Tom had a good game and the goal will do him good. He and Gana play well with Wayne who was my man of the match with a real midfield general display . So often the ball was moved in to him and back out to create space and his diagonal passing to Theo was great to watch.
I' m not one ever to boo our own players and was shocked at the widespread booing Schneiderlin received. I can understand why it happened and he should look to Niasse and Siggy if he wants to change things. Soggy is slowly winning people around with hard graft and his skills are starting to show. Niasse has gone from playing for the under 23s to being the crowd hero and second top scorer again through sheer hard work – does Morgan want it or not?
Keane was ok but beaten too many times in the air for comfort albeit Palace had some huge guys on the pitch.
All told a very enjoyable game and encouraging performances all round. I love how Tom and Jonjo hunt together when chasing the ball – great to see.
We were back on the road by 5.15 and apart from the quaintly named " dash and slash" once we hit the M5 we made good time and I was home by 11. Walcott was voted man of the match by the 39 on the coach. No one agreed with my choice of Rooney – what do I know?
A great day out, Goodison looked in fine shape and the company was excellent. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend West Country Blues or indeed the other travelling supporters clubs to anyone. The cost is way cheaper than paying for your own petrol, the company is pleasant and the journey is relaxing. Thanks to Ron, Becky, Mike and the rest of the team – see you soon!
Reader Comments (12)
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1 Posted 12/02/2018 at 17:10:06
Dave, Rooney? each to their own.
2 Posted 12/02/2018 at 17:14:02
The day is always a long one, but it is performances like the one on Saturday make it worthwhile.
For those interested about the journey to the match from the Westcountry we have 4 main pick up points at Taunton and Bristol with adequate and safe parking at both locations and on the M5 motorway near Junction 13 and our final pick up point at Strensham Services.
Westcountry Blues members travel regularly from many parts of Avon, Cornwall, Devon including Plymouth, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire to these pick up points and car share schemes work well. We can easily put you in touch with fellow Blues from your area if required.
It is a long day but you can catch up with sleep on the coach. We also stop at Keele Services on the M6 for a short break of ten minutes or so and that is an opportunity to grab breakfast or just a coffee.
Again anybody interested in coming along with us visit our website www.westcountryblues.org.uk
3 Posted 12/02/2018 at 19:07:18
I was tempted to go for Niasse as I love his non stop effort and the joy on his face when he scores. Sigurdsson is starting to come good, Gana and Tom both played well and I thought Martina had a really good game.
No-one else of the 38 others on the coach agreed with me which says it all really!!
4 Posted 12/02/2018 at 21:41:58
5 Posted 12/02/2018 at 21:59:50
Hats off to you all. Glad you had a good time.
6 Posted 12/02/2018 at 22:32:14
7 Posted 12/02/2018 at 23:10:55
We did make it down but not to where you are! Sorry. Let us know next time you are coming up and I may brave it to Goodison Park.
It's the difference of our young days of Ball, Harvey and Kendall and the mid 80s of we are 1-0 up so will we win 3-0 or 4-0 to now we are 2-0 up, can we hang on for the draw. Not good for the heart at our age!!
Be good to meet up.
8 Posted 12/02/2018 at 00:01:36
David, ignore me: I think all of you fans who make such efforts and give up a lot of your time following the Blues deserve all the praise you get and you deserve plenty. I hope your next trip has the same result, a victory for our club and more points to keep us where we think they belong. Best wishes for the future.
9 Posted 13/02/2018 at 07:14:33
We are a mixture of Exiled Scousers who have moved to the Region and People like myself from the West Country who have followed the Blues in my case from the age of 8 when we got our first TV and I was made to watch the 1966 FA Cup Final so I guess I am a glory hunter LOL!!!
Neverthe less, aside from military service all around the world for the majority of my working life I have made the trek to Goodison Park when ever possible since I was able to afford it,
Now the coach offers me a financially viable option really, no mileage on the car plus the cance to have a couple of beers knowing I will not have to drive until about 2100 hrs when we get back to Bristol, I then have the best part of a hour and 20 mins drive back to Salisbury in Wiltshire often via Warminster to drop a fellow blue (who hails from Crewe, but is now in HM Forces) off.
A long day but I would not change it!
10 Posted 13/02/2018 at 08:32:03
Phil, I didn't realise that was you! Do you still have my number?
11 Posted 13/02/2018 at 10:28:34
Great point about Kenny and Davies hunting together, Dave, because that's what definitely made the last goal, and it's great to see this hunger in the kids.
12 Posted 13/02/2018 at 21:33:14
I became a blue in 1963 when my older cousin came over and showed me the commemorative glossy magazine of our title triumph. We then kicked a ball around in the garden and he said he'd be Roy Vernon and I would be Alex Young.
A few weeks later my uncle took him and me to the first game of the 1963-64 season which I think we lost 3-4 at home to Burnley?
I was hooked!!
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