The journey home
We can’t expect to win away every time. Whenever we do win away, there’s a spring in our step as we exit the ground. Someone, with feeling, shouts, ‘Get in there!’ It turns out to be the coach driver, eager to shepherd his passengers on board and get home. There may be a long journey ahead of us, but the emotion could be described as somewhere between contentment and amazement, depending on who we played, and the importance of the occasion. To a degree the same could be said about an away draw, unless of course, we were 2-0 up then messed it up in the last ten minutes.
And the away defeat? For example, when we were 2-0 up and really messed it up in the last ten minutes. I sigh, maybe. That’s about it. I’m a man of peace, and have learned over the years how to take the rough with the smooth. It’s not so much anger that the away fans feel as they trudge back to the car park, where the one supporters coach, engine running, is preventing most of the car drivers from making a prompt exit. It’s not so much anger as disappointment, and bewilderment. “How did we manage to lose that one?” It’s getting dark and now it’s bitterly cold.
I settle into the car, bump up the heat, and punch on the radio for Sports Report. It’s exactly 5pm. Time for Hubert Bath’s “Out of the Blue”, or ‘Dum de dum de dum de dum, de dudderly dum de dum’ to most football fans, virtual and real alike. Time to catch up with the results of the teams that most people have heard of. The ‘proper’ teams. Those that monotonously and continually occupy the first six places of the Premier League. Sports Report and 606 are my company on the journey home, at least until I can no longer tolerate the ignorance, angst, and bias of those who phone in and tell the listening public what is wrong with their own team, and how to put it right. As their self-perceived wisdom drones on, I smile to myself, and think of all those who will read this and say to me, “Surely all this is enough to put you off ever going again?” Yeh, right. We might have lost, and I might have sighed a few times over the loss but, once more, I’ve really enjoyed it. The journey. The liberty. The expectation. The banter. The culture of the town and ground I’ve visited. Within hours I’ll be looking at the fixture list again, and working out when and where I can make my next trip. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll win the next one. It’s the hope…
My attention is jolted back to the radio. I’m sure I recognise the animated voice of the latest expert to phone in. He sounds remarkably like the former colleague I chatted with in the breakout room a couple of years ago. The chap who laughed like a drain when I told him I was a Kettering supporter. The caller says he’s a fanatical Liverpool supporter and he’s phoned in to complain that he missed some of today’s game. Apparently, he lost reception after he spilled some of his can of lager onto the remote.
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...watched Ipswich Town home and away until moving to Kettering in 1983, since when I have followed Kettering Town. If I'm not watching KTFC, I tend to seek out a game on a ground I have not previously visited.
...featured in the Kettering Town match-day programmes in the 2021-22 season.
Kettering; verb. The present continuous tense of the verb 'to ketter', as in "I know I am, I'm sure I am, I'm Kettering till I die". Or, as our fans sang once on a rain-soaked open terrace in Charlton, "I'm Kettering till I dry".
We are required to be pessimists. Being a pessimist is a large part of the enjoyment.