A New Year's treat from Red Rose Rover.
There is a certain inevitability at the turn of a new year, that thoughts stray to the past as well as to making resolutions regarding our future selves. Previous New Year’s Eve revelries are recalled; many times with warmth and affection for friendships lost or enduring, sometimes with occasional embarrassment; we were all young and foolish once after all. Some of us remain foolish even if youth is viewed firmly in the rear-view mirror !
As you get older, the cliché definitely holds true that policemen look younger and New Year’s Eves arrive with alarming frequency. The Millennium Bug and all the concerns that entailed seem like yesterday. In writing this column, I’ve just realised that the only time I have ever done the “London at New Year’s Eve” thing was now over 30 years ago. Alarming isn’t the word, believe me; grab it with both hands kids - this isn’t a rehearsal.
Over the years, I have made so many resolutions, only to cast them aside with the enthusiasm of an angler on steroids. Fitness, weight-loss, learn an instrument, learn a language…just some of the things that I will doubtless revisit in 2018…again.
However, this year, what about setting some football-related ones – much easier to keep, much more convenient to pursue, none involving fitness or diets. You’re in I presume ?
Here we go then in a handy Buzzfeed* type list…
(I’ll apologise now though for the lack of an accompanying gallery of tangentially related photographs which seemingly is de-rigeur for this kind of “journalism”, I use the term journalism quite incorrectly) :-
1. Visit (more of) the 92 league grounds
I’ve been a football fan almost all of my life and have often thought that visiting the 92 league grounds seems like an achievable and enjoyable aspiration. I’ve been stuck round about the fifty mark of current league grounds for some time. That needs to improve, so in 2018, I plan to make it a focus of attention.
In my defence, my score has been affected adversely by the fact that many of the grounds that I visited in my (relative) youth no longer exist – Burnden Park, Leeds Road, the Dell, Highfield Road just some examples.
Even Morecambe have shifted grounds since I once watched a pre-season friendly at Christie Park as a teenager. Some of the teams have since dropped out of the league – Wrexham (remember Duncan McKenzie on the railings ?) Halifax Town (Easter 1974 for me), Chester City even dropped out of the league and changed grounds – but at least I did see a young Ian Rush in his only season at the club.
This season has provided the opportunity to add some new ones to the portfolio – clouds, silver-linings and all that I suppose. I’ve even added one (Chesterfield’s new ground) by virtue of attending an Accrington Stanley away game, you take ‘em where you can !
2. Watch a Scottish League Two game (preferably in a stadium not able to host international football)
I tried the first part of this a few years back whilst visiting Glasgow, but then failed on the second aspect and subsequently decided it didn’t really count. The mighty Celtic were at home but perversely I decided instead to watch Queens Park take on Berwick Rangers as I thought it was likely to be a more “authentic” experience. It also meant that I could watch in relative comfort at Hampden Park after visiting the Scottish National Football Museum; which is deep in the bowels of the main stand, with a number of Rovers-related artefacts, highly recommended should you be in the area.
However, I recognise that watching a fourth tier game at Hampden is far from “authentic”, so watch out Stirling Albion et al…you are on my list, why not put it on yours ?
3. Watch the 2018 World Cup without betting on an England victory
I love the World Cup. The chance to see nations from the different confederations competing against each other throws up some terrific combinations - Cameroon v Argentina (1990); South Korea v Italy (2002); Germany v Brazil (2014) for instance.
The only thing that takes the edge off the whole thing for me is the hype that surrounds England in the run up to a tournament. It usually lasts until the opening game and then the cries for the return of capital punishment for under-performing footballers begin.
In 2014 I had the good fortune to be between jobs and thus was able to gorge myself on every single game, that’s right…the lot. It was fantastic, except for the England games, they were interminable.
On the cusp of 2018, who knows what will unfold for our heroes, but whatever happens, we could resolve to take it in our strides, meeting triumph &/or disaster just the same. Or we could call for Mowbray to be sacked.
Either way, have a very Happy New Year & let’s keep our fingers crossed that this time next year we can resolve to attend more Championship matches at Ewood.
RED ROSE ROVER
*apparently this is journalistic clickbait which entices in readers…I’m definitely old.