Act 3 Scene 2 Rumble thy bellyful! Spit fire! Spout rain!

I have developed this bad, Satday morning habit. Not bad in a crack cocaine kind of a way. More a ‘slightly naive and you know it will end in trouble but not a stay in the Priory’ type of habit. I’ve taken to basing my weather expectations for the day on the weather experienced during the eight minute round trip to the paper shop to get my weekend paper. And those expectations influence my choice of attire for the terraces (one does like to give some thought to one’s football watching outfit, after all). Living in England this is of course an obvious schoolfox error but not one that management has managed to eliminate thus far.

And so this weekend, with a glorious sunny trip to the newsagents, it was inevitable that lightweight skinny jeans, flimsy baseball boots and no hat or brolly were the order of the day. There was a last minute substitution as my canvas bag was eschewed (boom!) in favour of something purple and as it happens waterproof. I’d like to claim tactical insight on that point, but it would be a fib – it just sits better on the hip.

There was still nothing to worry about when I arrived at Clarence Park…well nothing weather-wise anyway. There were however emerging food loyalty issues to deal with. I’d already risked upsetting the domestic apple cart by refusing Mr TLF’s kind offer of a cooked breakfast, explaining that I was a bit worried that my reduced use of Andy’s snack van was upsetting the pre match routine and having an adverse effect on results (plus to be honest Andy’s food is that bit hotter). No sooner am I chowing down my bacon and onion cob from ATB then John is questioning my loyalty to the Saints bar and its provision of fine cheese and onion cobs. Is there no peace for the digestive system of the fox!? Compromise reached – I’ll alternate the cheese and the bacon (sorry Mr TLF).

Once that trivia was out the way, time for the important stuff. Pre match Stella. This week in the company of two upstanding members of the terraces – the lovely Ron and the programme producer genius that is Lee. We covered a multitude of burning issues including Scottish nationalism, the complexities of non-league play-offs (an education for yours truly), Shakespeare, how much we would like to spectate at a Ray v Davie Mac ‘rant off’ and whether buying a spare bed counts as a domestic chore or not. The guys weren’t giving me that one which seems a little harsh. I spent money on something practical, to furnish the spare room and it meant I got to Clarence Park later than I would have liked…what isn’t screaming ‘chore’ at any right-minded person?

And so to the match. Lovely to welcome another ex-TATTPIB player; Barry Hayles and then say au revoir to him as he got sent off before half time with Saints 2-0 up. Weather wise my outfit was holding up – a bit of a shower but I discovered a hood in my new jacket and with Ron’s assistance managed to get it on my head without garrotting myself.

The second half came and I don’t know if the weather gods had been reading the reviews of the latest King Lear production, but clearly they were thinking, “Anything the National Theatre can do. We can do better.” It started with a few spots of rain, then quite a lot, at which point Davie Mac and Ron, with highland foresight made for cover. As the ‘lot of rain’ turned into a deluge with a side order of hail, most of the remaining fans behind the goal also did the sensible thing. But Lee didn’t. And if Lee didn’t then TLF didn’t. And so like the fool to his King Lear I stayed where I was…along with a handful of other adults who should have known better and a gaggle of teenagers (a species known to be impervious to rain). We bore with stoicism and a lot of giggling all that the elements could throw at us. And to be honest when the first person has confessed the rain has soaked through to their pants, and you notice that the two guys wearing the full jogging suit have made an even worse choice than you in the wet weather gear department then what can you do? Except laugh some more, sing very loudly and relish the bonding experience…although I am not sure I needed to hear about someone’s “soggy, saggy balls.” My favoured waterproof bag was a bonus as its contents remained dry but because it sits so neatly on the hip (like I mentioned) it meant a small reservoir of rain water accumulated just by the right pocket of my jeans just to add to the whole swimming pool experience.

Finally the weather cheered up and as we drip dried, everyone else was back from undercover in time to see the mighty Saints score three goals in the three minutes of extra time. The icing on the rain cake. A bonding and entertaining experience and makes me feel like I earned a small non-league stripe. Plus I think the Satday bad habit is probably cured.

Match stats
St Albans 5 Arlesey Town 0
Attendance 640
Losing golden goal tickets 2
Losing raffle tickets 10
Bacon Fries 1 Packet
Additional snack from ATB 1 Bacon and onion cob
Lager consumed 3 pints Stella
Dispute re definition of ‘chore’ 1
Cases of hypothermia Oooh at least 5

When you don’t get a job, memories of a soggy 5-0 win, fuelled with Stella, banter and a lot of singing will always make you smile.

Sou wester Fox

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