The Football Neutral: Match Eighteen – Wigan Athletic vs AFC Bournemouth

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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!

…Now I’m not being mean, but the DW Stadium is in rather bleak surroundings.  An industrial estate, a massive car park, a railway line and a shopping park border it – although things were made a little bit more jolly by the unexpected presence of a massive travelling circus.  Also, when you’re stood outside it becomes obvious that the stadium itself could use a bit of a polish.  The grey parts of the walls are a bit mildewy, but how do you go about cleaning that up when it’s so high?  You can’t exactly spray it with a hose.

After parking up (it costs a fiver, but it’s seriously convenient), I headed across the bridge shown above to the stadium for a walk around it.  As I began my circuit, I saw a kid wearing the saddest half-scarf of all time.

If you’re not familiar with the half-scarf phenomenon, this is how it works:  Two teams play each other, and there’s apparently a level of mutual respect between the two sides.  Thus a half-scarf is produced.  I think I first saw these showing Manchester United on one half, Celtic on the other – this making sense as they’ve always had a close relationship.  Since then though, it’s got a bit stupid.  As West Ham got hammered 5-0 by Nottingham Forest the other week, they showed a kid on the crowd wearing a half scarf bearing both teams names.  Why?  Who on earth thought that was a good idea?

You watch the Champions League and these aberrations are everywhere.  Here’s my impression:  With the occasional exception (Leicester City and Athletic Madrid have a long standing friendship, for example), why on earth should you like another team?  You love YOUR club.  You don’t share that love with any other team.  These scarves need eradicating from the planet as soon as possible.

To the kid that I saw.  Wigan have, of course, been part of the Europa League this season, battling valiantly on the continent whilst facing the pressures of trying to get promoted from the Championship.  Competing in this tournament has given rise to the half scarf within the DW Stadium.  And the one that I saw, showing that the form has already well and truly jumped the shark:

One half Wigan Athletic.  Acceptable.  The other half… Maribor.

Yep….

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The Football Neutral: Match Nine – AFC Bournemouth vs Bolton Wanderers

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(Note – I for some reason didn’t take any pictures during the game, so above is a stock photo of Dean Court)

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!

…A two hour journey took three.  As I got closer to Bournemouth my car’s diesel tank decided to all of a sudden stop being economical (possibly aided by my less than legal speeds) and I had to stop to refuel as the clock ticked away.  I sense I may have irritated the guy in the petrol station somewhere in the depths of the New Forest as I rudely interrupted his conversation with his mate about rabbits.  Am I the only person who ever needs to get somewhere?

My sat nav then took me to a street that clearly did not contain Dean Court.  It contained brand new houses.  Then putting in the EXACT SAME destination actually took me to the right place.  I had been warned that it may be slightly tricky to park at the ground.  These people certainly did not lie.  Two car parks were full as 3pm ticked around.  Every available spot of grass was full up.  Every single yard of double yellow line had a car on it.  This was quite maddening.  Which is a massive understatement, bearing in mind how much swearing was going on within the car at the time.

I found a space on a backstreet somewhere and ran.  I have not run as fast in a long time, and as I got around half a mile away from my car I realised that I had forgotten to note down exactly where I’d parked.  And when I say “parked”, I mean “dumped my Ford Fiesta somewhere next to a kerb and probably didn’t lock it”.

I had to run across a park on my way to the ground, sprinting past a man in a suit doing the same.  He was wearing shoes and slipped on the wet grass.  He didn’t go down, but it did make me amend my stride.  Couldn’t exactly turn up for my gig that night covered in mud.

I had to pick up my ticket from the office, and was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only person to be so late for the game.  As discussed at length previously, I hate being late for anything, and I was busy checking the score as I waited in line.

Was then a quick walk to the turnstiles past the club shop.  I’ll say this:  Bournemouth have some seriously attractive looking merchandise.  I had read that they play in black and red stripes to echo AC Milan, but everyone I saw who was wearing official club gear looked really well turned out.  Plus it was seriously cold (despite my run) so I was almost tempted to buy myself a coat.

The turnstiles were closed.  Sensing another Guiseley experience of having to seek out someone to let me in, I bumped into one of the nicest stewards I’d ever met, a man mountain who looked like the double of Hightower from the Police Academy movies.  He checked my ticket, let me in a side door and before I knew it I was in my seat….

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