The Football Neutral: Match Thirty – Mansfield Town vs Burton Albion

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The only way to read this post in FULL along with 23 others from 2014/15 is to buy my season review eBook in the Kindle store. It’s less than £3 and over 300 pages of my daft adventures. Pick it up, enjoy it and you’ll be supporting my travels next season. Feel free to tell anyone you might know about it too! Thank you so much!

…When you’re used to travelling to games on your own, it’s really enjoyable to head off to a match with a couple of mates.  Our journey from Nottingham to Mansfield didn’t take too long as it’s just a few miles north.  The car was filled with talk of comedy – The Noise Next Door had a great Edinburgh and are on tour soon – and at one point we spotted a tent at the side of the road, pitched as if someone is living in it on a permanent basis.  I was very tempted to stop and have a look, but what do you say if someone is actually in there?  It’s a weird way to start a conversation.

Once in Mansfield we parked up and walked along to Field Mill (now renamed as the One Call Stadium) and had a little wander around the outside.  As we walked down the street that we’d parked on, Tom managed to find a discarded blade of some sort on the floor and we speculated how it got there – obviously the answer won’t be as fantastical as the suggestions that we came up with.  The away end at Field Mill sticks out into a retail park that has my ideal day out with my daughter summed up in two shops:  Maplins for me (I like looking at electronics and making plans for projects that I will never construct) with Pets at Home next door (so my daughter can go and look at fish and hamsters).  Underneath the far side of that end was a mattress, suggesting that someone lives there on a semi-permanent basis.  If we’d have known, we could have stole him a tent.  Whoever it belonged to had popped out for the day, a good idea as the Burton fans (who were superb throughout) would have kept him awake with their noise if he fancied a nap.

If you’re a comedian, you pride yourself on knowing every single comedy club in the country.  Well at Mansfield, the three of us discovered a new one:  The excellently named “Hoofers” that has nights within Field Mill.  However, they are paying the Peter Kay IMPERSONATOR (yes, that’s right: A man who DOES ANOTHER MAN’S ACT) Lee Lard to perform there this festive season.

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At least you get cheesecake, I suppose. But he’s more expensive than a Michael Buble tribute with a three course dinner! And it’s not like you won’t know all of his jokes! Madness…

The only way to read this post from last season in full (along with 23 others and a load of extra stuff) is to get my eBook for less than £3. Click here to get it. I’d be really grateful!

The Football Neutral: Match Twenty Three – York City vs Burton Albion

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This is now an edited version of the original blog… you can read the full one by downloading my Football Neutral 2013/14 season review on Kindle.  Well over 300 pages of daftness. Less than £2! Thanks!

…Like most older stadiums, Bootham Crescent is surrounded by terraced housing.  In one of the tiny little front yards, a goth man stood gardening.  A proper goth.  Completely done up in full regalia.  Well, not quite full – I presume his full length leather trenchcoat was left inside as it was quite warm – but he was wearing makeup, his long hair dyed the blackest of blacks (for another sitcom reference, the black of a priest’s socks in Father Ted) and he was wearing long fishnet sleeves over a short sleeved black t-shirt.  We were agog.  I’ll be honest, seeing a goth in a supermarket is a weird enough experience; seeing one with a trowel in hand potting some plants is mind-bendingly weird.  Fair play to him though; he didn’t care that every single football supporter walking past noticed this rather odd sight.  He just got on doing what he was doing; I suspect trying to grow black roses or something like that.

Following on from the goth experience, we rounded a corner to head into the ground.  As we did so, we saw the fattest policeman that I have ever seen.  Honestly, he must have been at least 25 stone AND not exactly tall.  He was waving people across the road as he stopped a car, and I was surprised to not see him pull out a pasty to enjoy whilst he had a spare second.  He was the kind of chubby that made him resemble a cartoon character.  I am confident that even with dodgy knees, an irregular heartbeat and sciatica that I could outrun him in a pursuit.  He was so lardy that I reckon anything like that would immediately kill him.

As you walk to the turnstile for the David Longhurst Stand (named after the York striker who tragically died on the pitch in 1990) I noticed that most of the windows in the Main Stand look like badly built extensions; all jutted out and surrounded by red painted wood.  The turnstile we entered just says “ground” on it.  £17 and you’re in, and you can either stay stood on the Longhurst Terrace, or you can pay an extra £1 to sit in the Popular Stand.  And on this particular day, both stands were definitely popular.  The sun was out and the ground seemed pretty full to me…

If you enjoyed this tiniest of snippets of my day out in York, then please help support this project of mine by downloading my ebook which has the full versions of all 26 matches I attended last season and lots more. 300 pages for less than £2! Thanks!


The Football Neutral: Match Twenty Two – Burton Albion vs AFC Wimbledon

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This is now an edited version of the original blog… you can read the full one by downloading my Football Neutral 2013/14 season review on Kindle.  Well over 300 pages of daftness. Less than £2! Thanks!

…I had to park out the back of the industrial units, near to a sandwich packing factory.  As I got out and put on my coat, I noticed the fattest man I have ever seen wearing a hairnet smoking a cigarette.  He finished it, and whilst staring at me, slowly got out another and lit it.  At this point I was not entirely sure that he was employed by the company.

As I approached the stadium near the away end, I caught a glimpse of the terrace I would be in, the West Stand.  Massive flags everywhere, reminding me of a miniature version of Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park (which, for the record, sounds nowhere near as good as Westfalenstadion).  Even with a modest history, it seems the Burton fans are desperate to promote a good atmosphere and club feel; my initial theory is that it would be like my trip to Dagenham, but transplanted into the Midlands – all Derby, Forest and maybe Leicester fans choosing to watch a more local team to save some money and get their kids into the game.  Wrong.  Everyone I met was Albion through and through, and some of the most knowledgeable fans I’ve met this year.

Now for some criticism.  I apologise in advance, because Burton really is a cracking club and I had a great day.  But: their club badge is stupid.  Really horrible.

It’s like someone saw the Ajax badge (made up of just a few lines) and thought it could be recreated.  It can’t.  A guy in the ground had a proper retro flag that would have been a MUCH better choice.  I’m just putting this out there.  There’s isn’t much other criticism, honest.  Certainly not of the ticket prices, because they’re easy to get: £15 to stand, £20 to sit.  Same for both home and away fans (which is incredibly rare higher up the leagues so I’m always pleasantly shocked by it).  Three stands are terraced, then the main stand has seats where you actually have to buy a ticket from the main office.  For us lucky standers, it’s just cash on the gate, exactly how football should be.

Once in the ground, I needed food.  I’ve been on a diet for two weeks since meeting wrestler turned Yoga guru “Diamond” Dallas Page and starting his DDP Yoga programme, so was allowed something unhealthy. Burton is the place you want to go if you fancy something naughty, trust me…

If you liked this little extract then please feel free to buy my ebook containing the full match report (and 25 others) by clicking this link.  It’s less than £2, over 300 pages long and I promise you is a fun read. Ta!