All good things come to an end and so it was for TLF as Athletico Madrid finally invoked my Article 50; out of Europe but most definitely not down. Apart from the fine manner of Lesta City’s European departure, (probably more dignified than this country’s will be) there were blessings to be counted:
The threat level to TLF’s liver, bank account and relationship can now be downgraded from ‘severe’ to ‘low’. The ‘once in a lifetime’ excuse was wearing pretty thin with Mr TLF but am pretty sure it stood absolutely no chance at all with Mr First Direct.
The lucky Champions League away shirt can finally, probably under its own steam the state it is in, go into the wash. First worn in Brugges back in September 2016, it has been through 4 group games (home and away) and then both legs of the last sixteen and quarter finals. For Copenhagen it was worn for 24 hours and I don’t think it has ever recovered from the match day session in Seville; neither has TLF.
As a result of all this, there may be residents of Seville or Madrid who believe that Lesta’s away kit is ‘pale grey with random smudge’. An error of TLF judgment in the shirt selection department perhaps but a topic of conversation in Bruges, which brings us to..
The company TLF kept, which was generally loud, kind, funny, generous, with the capacity for some very dodgy jokes and some serious alcohol consumption. In fact like being at Clarence Park but abroad and in a bigger stadium. There was even a bit of symmetry (how fancy am I!) when as I enjoyed a small post-match beverage after our final game, I bumped into the guys I had hung out with when all this started back in Brugges.
For the group stage draw, TLF requirements were limited, “Bruges please and nowhere scary,” I muttered as I watched the group stage draw via very poor wifi in an Edinburgh hotel. BOOM! All boxes successfully ticked.
By the time we were through to the knockout stage…..let me say that again, ‘the knockout stage’, I was so delirious I didn’t care about destination and yet TLF was spoiled again. In total four fantastic, friendly cities, at least two of which will be graced with the TLF presence again sometime in the future.
That my ridiculous, unpredictable, football club made it to the Champions League quarter finals and I was lucky enough that it happened at a time when I had the wherewithal, the flexibility (thanks work!), the friends (thanks DG for tickets and SC for the roof over my head post home games) and a tolerant Mr TLF to mean that I could be there for eight out of ten games (like the cat food but more important….)