Sunday, 8 April 2012

Crystal Palace - The March of the Inbetweeners

As we sauntered up the Cattell road towards St Andrews we saw them coming towards us.

Three pre-pubescent youths trumpeting down the hill. Thin, gangly, ill-complexions; a wayward nose here, a large forehead there. They were not 18 years old and were decked out as if kicked backwards through a Topman sale.

Yet here they were....marching down the Cattell road singing:

 'She said no Marlon, she said no'.

True, they were droning it out the sides of their mouths - almost humming it. 

And true, they weren't stopping to check the reaction.

But what front!

I fixed them with a cold steely stare. 

Suddenly, Rowett senior burst across me, I held him back as he snarled 'PRATS!'. 

They carried on walking, never stopping, they soon melted into the crowd.

Rowett senior had a mad glare in his eye - like the Ancient Mariner but with a beer belly and no beard.

This had ruined his day. He shook his head in dejection and whispered:

 'How did it come to this? We've gone soft'

The middle class readers of you will roll your eyes and see it as petty tribalism. But there's something to be said for this crazed bloke's fury. I'm a fan of hostility at football as long as it doesn't spill into hooliganism, and the sight of seeing smug Croydonians marching around our end chanting anti-Blues songs without apprehension, well, it were particularly sickening.

Rowett senior stopped suddenly at the side of the road, he turned and pointed at the back of the TK Max with a remorseful and a wistful demeanour...

'There was a pub there my son, it had a horses trough outside the front of it....and away fans would be dunked into it.'

I forced a smile of pity and patted the old man's shoulder in consolation. It was a small gesture, one to help soothe his woe.

He looked up to the sky and sighed.

Birmingham had once been the Inbetweeners had unchecked reign here.

We settled into our seats and allowed the first half to beam into our faces.

It was beauty. Pure art.

One touch; pass move; stretch the game use the wingers; one two; keep ball; relentless attacks; shooting at will. Like Barcelona.

Blues went 3-0 up after 35 ish minutes with the first half performance of the season. In the stand I cried. 

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I saw the team, this team that should have won this league. No team is better player for player. Alas, the thin squad and the extra games have done for us.

Well maybe.

If we beat West Ham on Monday we go 3pts behind them and the top two opens up.

Could we?

Blues are now back to being the most inform team around with three consecutive 3-1 wins [two coming away from home].

As we left the ground we walked past the away end to see police vans dividing the home fans from the away. The Inbetweeners were cowering behind the fence.

I turned to Rowett senior and he gave a Buddhist nod of satiety, no words were exchanged, none were needed.

The Blues had won, and Rowett senior had calmed. 

Equilibrium had been achieved.

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