Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Day A Bald, Fat, Ageing Ex Loanee Shut Us Out

Game 5 - Burton Albion Away

I woke up Sunday and it didn't feel right. I think we were the only Football League team playing on this day. Why? I didn't bother to check. I didn't care really. Frustrating as it was, we had waited all week for this, and the 3 of us were going to make the most of it. Panic stations hit early on Sunday. James' Dad came to pick us up and I'd lost my Centenary Shirt for Niku. I handed him the MMC Estates Blue shirt, number 12, no name as we picked him up and he looked less than impressed. It was almost skin tight, showing off his pecks (manboobs) and stretching so that it would never fit me again. But at least the 3 of us were kitted out and ready for action. I armed each member of our team with a gone off Boost energy drink from SHOPPPPPPPPP near me, and we each paid a mere £15 for a return. Now that we all had railcards, we were saving money right left and centre and the whole day turned out to cost little over £20. So we waited for our first train, which took us from Stockport to Stoke. From there it was Stoke to Tamworth, and then Tamworth to Burton.

The first train was excellent. James took his time to get hyper but once he did he got into it more. We started to sing and dance around the middle of our 2 carriages to an extent where it begun to piss people off. Of all the people in the world you would not want to piss off, I would place Millwall fans in my Top 10. The odds eh?? After a word in our ear from a Dale fan, and a few dirty looks from the Millwall firm we settled down and were dignified on our next 2 trains at least. The last thing we need is to be stabbed in the eye for singing "Can you hear the carriage sing? Nooo. Noooo." We saw a few Dale fans on our way there, a couple I recognised but failed to be completely sure until a facebook checkup afterwards assured me I did know them. And now we were here, at Burton....... and it smelt like piss.

Don't worry, I understand why it smelt bad. Brewery etc. But it was just not nice at all. Nothing was open apart from Lidl (Where we managed to get a 2l bottle of Iron Brew, not Irn Bru, for 42p!!!) and Pizza Base, where I enjoyed some excellent garlic bread and a handful of undercooked, ketchupless chips. James and Niku went to the church to pray for Dale, only to be shunted back outside and left to look like idiots. Walking to the ground we met a man, who I wrongly claimed to be the reason for the piss smell at first, who was a St Albans City fan, visiting Burton just for the sake of it. He claimed he had visited 115 English Football grounds, and had not been to Burton since they had re-entered the Football League. Admittedly, we did enjoy his company for 15 mins or so, whilst he explained how he subsequently is not married, and why he has no proper life. However, any football lover, is a friend of ours so we listened, exchanged views and poliltely left him to head up quicker. I only hope he didn't miss his train back, because that really is, a long journey home on a Sunday evening.

We came to the ground, did a lap, and circled the premises menacingly. Admittedly, the town is a dump, but it terms of a Football Ground, the Pirelli Stadium seemed top notch. Neat and tidy from the outside, atmosphere in it. We were very comfortable. Upon our arrival, we need of course blag junior tickets. I claimed that my voice had just broken, and that I was an early bloomer. James made up a fake D.O.B and Niku just squeezed himself through the barrier, probably claiming obesity benefits. He really did look big in that shirt... So the 3 of us, 14 years old now for the sake of argument trundled in. The coppers said they didn't expect to see us near the bar if we were U14 or we would be arrested. We were more than happy to say "we don't drink" so that the smirks were wiped off their faces pretty quick and we could get on into the ground. Like I said, good atmosphere and the fans were in relatively good voice. Unfortunately, our players weren't as up for it as we were. 1-0 down inside 3 minutes, and we were struggling. Guy Branston, the Burton Captain, seemed to get the idea that we were clapping him after his abysmal 15 or so games for us on loan a couple of years ago. I for one, was not clapping. I just hoped Dagnall got the ball at his feet and made the donkey fall on his arse. Unfortunately, Daggers never got the ball to his feet...

Don't get me wrong, O'Grady is a good striker, but despite his size, he is better on the ground than in the air. Branston mopped up everything that came above head height in Burton's half. We never had a chance, not with the way we were playing. Both Kennedy's were poor and Dagnall was ineffective without the ball at his feet. The game stayed as it was, and we lost a game we shouldn't have. However, on the positives, I did get a free Dr Pepper out of it, as the shop was closing just as I asked for one, and they just let me have it. So I guess I was the big winner then... :/

The journey back was enjoyable. The first train to Chesterfield was mad. Me and Niku began singing in good voice. Banging the middle of the carriage, disturbing passengers. Things were good, but James was still in a mood. It wasn't until we got 10 Bury Bombers going that he stood up, pumped out his chest and sang his heart out. We were so noisy we had more than one complaints. Result :) Admittedly, we were upset at the defeat, but resiliant. The 2nd train wasn't quite the same. Crammed in so tight we could barely move, we weren't exactly going to burst into song. There was a bit of banter flying around though, as we were appointed controllers of luggage. I helped a very attractive woman carry her bags off the train, before also offering to chuck someone out of their seat for someone even fitter to sit down!!! But that was as far as it goes. We were home, and the day was a mixed one. Probably one of the best for singing, but the worst for football.

However, as the saying goes, there is always next time. As I am writing this it is 11.45am on Saturday morning. My train is in 45 minutes and I am not even dressed, Apologies for the rush, but I don't want to miss today, Barnet at home. We have a new supporter, and expect a lot more surprises from todays game. Enter.... Will Jones.

Monday, 14 September 2009

We ARE Hardcore Fans...But Which Way To The Ground?

Game 4 - Torquay (Home)

Saturday was always going to be.... interesting. Despite supporting Dale for 6+ years, I had never ever gotten to the ground via train. It felt almost like an Away match. New station, singing on the train, everything was set as if we were planning for a journey to a new ground. Well for one of us it was. Niku was about to experience his first taste of Spotland. His only appearance in a Dale shirt before that came away to Macclesfield. In fact, looking back I don't think he even wore won then. Lucky for him today he bore my lucky (I say this but I can't think of when it's ever brought Dale good luck) Centenary Black+White shirt. Still, it was an honour for him, and an honour for me showing him our ground. I was excited. James was here too, donning his new McArdle Home Shirt, which he had asked his mum to get him as a birthday present. Fair play, I don't know too many people willing to show such support to the club he has only become accustomed to in the last 8 or 9 months. However here he was, and here I was, Gary Jones on my back. Why Jonah? Well the honest truth is, it was the cheapest player I could find in terms of single numbers and letters... The next closest was Jon Shaw, and he was never going on the back of any shirt I will ever wear!!!

And so it begins.... Meet up at the station for ten past 12. 20 past for Niku. What you will become aware of for the season, is Niku's time keeping. Never once has he been ready to leave his house, or arriving at mine, or simply arriving anywhere. He simply has a phobia of being on time. Scary, but he has to live with it, not me :/ £2.20 was the train fare! These rail cards are bloody brilliant. Extremely cheap for an adult fare, return to Rochdale. So we set off and arrived at Salford Crescent. We were fairly lively on the way up, but it was the first and only change where we got going. The energy drinks kicked in, certainly for super-hyper kid James, who jumped off the Grove train smashing into things, shouting Dale as loud as he could. Sure, we got a few awkward stares, but I couldn't care less. We were in motion! On the next train we really got going. We started setting out our team for the day, we got a few songs going and eventually took the volume up a shade too much. In all honesty, we weren't that loud. The carriage was full of noisy teens stopping off at Piccadilly, and we weren't being frowned upon by any! Sure enough, the driver took heart to our singing, and very inpolitely told us to shut up or get off the carriage. As he walked away a couple of quite loud "Up The Dale's" pissed him off so much, that he gave us a last warning. We laughed it off, had a good bitch, until Niku pointed out the big sign to the left of where James was sitting. "Passengers must not sing on the train, unless they are given permission from the Driver. Unless this written confirmation is obtained, passengers should not disrupt the public peace" Well, we were laughing our heads off. The sign was right next to where we had chosen to sit, and despite our real urge to go and ask the Driver for written confirmation, we opted out, knowing that we had no clue of what was to happen when we got off the train.

As I previously explained, I was no more clued in than either of the 2 people next to me, when it came to getting to Spotland from the station. Me and Niku were both bare chested underneath our Dale shirts, so after being persuaded by us 2, James took off his shirt and started to ask for directions. Obviously, he didn't want to be seen in a Dale shirt asking "Where's Spotland?" He gave us the signal, and we followed him from a safe distance, until we were clear to walk on. Imagine the same incident happening 4 times on the walk to the ground. Shirt off, directions, shirt on, embarrasment over. Shirt off, directions, shirt on, embarrasment over, etc etc. Fair play to James, he put on his best Torquay accent and took one for the team. Me and Niku didn't help by following a randomer who we believed to be wearing a Dale away shirt, half a mile in the wrong direction! On the way to Spotland we stopped off at Asda for our final set of directions. A humungous french baguette in hand, alongside 2 apple turnovers between 3, and a box of cold sausages, we walked the final mile. Lunch was out of the way and we arrived at the ground at 2.50pm. With all the messing around it took us near to an hour to make it. Although we know it now, and we were confident we could do it again no questions asked.

The game? Well the game was a good-un. Dale were magnificent first half. Buckley, Dagnall and Kennedy showed their class as per usual, and the football we played on a pristeen pitch was really enjoyable to watch. Unfortunately, we should have buried more than just the one chance, and that was the dissapointing thing. Second half we were under the cosh, but strong performances from Jonah and JK in Midfield, were backed up by a solid back 4 where Wiseman was outstanding. Things are certainly on the up, especially if we can keep O'Grady in good nick alongside Dagnall. For the record, this was my first appearance in the Thwaites Beer Stand, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Cheaper than the WMG, you can stand up for the whole game, watch from the front at all times, and the singing is much better than I thought it was. The highlight was certainly the last 10 minutes, standing next to Kenny Arthur. James collected the ball once or twice, and shouts of "Keepit!!!" in a rich Scottish accent through us off guard a couple of times. We thought he was shouting Keepers, and the ball came straight back. Upon reflection, he was always trying to slow things down, and wanted us lot to keep it and not give it back! Perhaps those few seconds he took to slow it down were vital, as things could have got more tense at the end, considering we conceded another needless goal.

We got the bus back. 5.00pm we caught in coming straight out the ground. For £1.50 it took us straight into the Town Centre, from which we had a light 10 minute jog to the station, only to find the train was delayed, and we could have walked from the bloody ground and caught it in time!!! Back to Manchester Vic we headed, claiming a space between carriages and singing "There were 10 Bury Bomber's in the air" all the way down to 0. Admittedly, we weren't quite in full voice, although we had an excellent warm-up in preparation for Northampton Away next weekend. The walk from Manchester Vic to Piccadilly was magic!!! Proudly puffing out our chests and singing verse after verse of songs from every player, not least Kenny Arther, we were given dirty looks from disgruntled Arsenal fans for dapening their misery, happy City fans for taking some of their spotlight, and a couple of idiots who just wanted to shout at us. But we couldn't care. We were more than happy, and celebrated in fine voice. Bring on Sixfields next week. I cannot wait!!!

Up The Dale!!!

Friday, 4 September 2009

2 Games, 2 Defeats But Who Cares?

Games 2 + 3 - Cheltenham (Home)

Coming off the back of a 94th minute win away to Aldershot, I couldn't resist travelling up to Spotland to see if we were hitting form. Unfortunately I missed the Aldershot game (For a reason I can't even remember it was so long ago now) but I was up and raring to go for my first home game of the season. Oh how that excitement was robbed of me. Oh how that excitement, and jubilation from the Weekends result, was turned to dissapointment and frustration on a mild Tuesday evening. What to say? Not much... Perhaps the result wasn't deserved, perhaps it was. In all honesty, I couldn't care. We lost the game and it's not something I want to talk about. The WMG was quiet, but still cheap. A lift from my Mum meant there was little to see apart from the game, and even that was limited. Another game, alone. Another poor result. Let's see if things could get better when my man James Black returned for Rotherham 5 days later....

Rotherham Away. Nope. Things just got even worse. Although the day out was certainly more eventful. Where to start? Well James returns to action for his first game of the season. Niku was absent due to it being his birthday - The keeness really has left the awesome 3some who talked only months earlier about 30 games this season. Shame...

So off to Millmoor. Oh no wait, nearly got that wrong. A bit like on the day... I was planning the journey (Using trusty Football Ground Guide followed by National Rail - There's just no other way) to Rotherhams old ground, before realising this wasn't where they played!!! Having got my railcard the day before, my Adult Train fair was down from £15 to £9. Excellent start :D Strangely, the journey up was quiet. We found ourselves catching up on the Summer more than anything. I hadn't seen the main man in a month or so, and I was keen to pass the time by talking him through every piece of Dale news I knew, from signing Chris O'Grady to our minging new Away kit, to the possibility of Keith Hill taking the England job!!! We sat behind a Rotherham fan all the way from Stockport Station. God knows where he came from, and why he travelled all that way every week to watch such rubbish!!!

And rubbish it was... but more on that later. First and next stop was Sheffield. Off we got, 2 seconds later we were at the SuperTram! "SUPERTRAMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!" If at anytime during this blog I vender off into such ridiculous quote's, it's just me and the lads repeating any midely interesting word we here in a loud. high pitched voice whilst waving our arms up and down. Just ignore it, it's a craze that we started last year with Frank Fielding. "FIIIEEELLLLDDDIIIIIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGGGGG" <<<< You see? I get like that sometimes.... So on the Supertram we hop, no clue where we are going. Tickets were barely anything, £2 in fact. Yet James, tight as he is, still tries to get a junior fare!!! At the time of speaking, he is now 16, but Rotherham was 4 days before his birthday, and surprise surprise, passport copy in hand, he's blagging child tickets for the game and the train. Not on the Supertram though. Oooooohhhh no. The rather large ticketwoman wasn't having any of it. "You can get anyone's passport" she claims. She then decides to further lecture us for 15 minute's on how she could walk into the "birth certificate place" and get hold of anyone's passport details if she wanted. She went on to say if she really wanted, she could get the Queens Passport and show us a copy next time we were in Sheffield. From then on we just stopped listening and wanted her to go away, James (still reluctantly) gave her 2 quid. A rather heated bitch session followed. Stupid ticketwoman :/

So we continued. Isn't it funny how when you see a fellow fan at perhaps a Station or walking down, you ALWAYS without fail, see them in the ground. It's bizarre. If I nod at someone or talk to any fan on the way to the match, I will see them later on. It's fact, it really is. Well we followed 2 lads who told us how to get to the Supertram. "SUPERTRAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" Sorry... Did it again. Anyway, yeah we followed these 2 "lads" and went to the ground together. In the hope they don't read this, the funny part of the story, is that James later told me that one of them wasn't a guy. A shaggy haired, quite chubby Dale fan who I had referred to as "mate" and "pal" when asking and thanking them for directions, was actually a girl. I couldn't believe it. Only when I saw her walking into the girls toilets at the game did I nearly choke on my pie!!! (Which let me point out, was very below par) I didn't feel bad. I didn't feel shame for being so ignorant. I felt so bloody sorry for this lass!!!! At least show some more chest to make sure for christs sake woman!!! (As I offer advice I know that if she's reading this, it's the last thing she wants - Please don't read this. Thanks....)

And onto the game. Incredibly as James haggled for an under 15 ticket, I followed asking for a Student ticket (£10) knowing he wouldn't let me in for Under 15. But the point I made in an earlier post was very much confirmed. The ticket men at the ground couldn't give a toss!!! He looked at me, laughed and gave me a fiver change!!! Sound. Very sound. I was thinking, this very good day could turn out even better. We took our seat, again in front of the lads at the back. Today wasn't a singing day for us either. Neither of us were hyper, Niku was not here to push us on, James just wanted to watch the game. So did I. However, we did hurl quite a bit of warranted abuse at the rather large Rotherham fan. The one man band who stood up and shouted insults at us on his own. Well, at least he tried, which is more than I can say for most of the Home fans that day. 1 song they had, 1 bloody song!!! AND IT WASN'T EVEN A SONG! They just clapped for Christs sake. They just started clapping, it was bizarre and laughable. I felt sorry for the fans, they had left the very homely Milmoor, and moved to a right joke of a ground.

The pitch was terrible, there's no need to go into details. Dale fans don't need to hear it again. Nails, glass, whatever, it was a joke. My comment was actually shown on BBC Sport after the game, and an article I wrote slating Mark Robins (Rotherham Boss) was also quoted on. There was no doubt in my mind Alfie was going to score that day, no doubt. Why we left him free in the box I'll never know, and credit to him, he got a good reception, apart from one bloke at the back calling him Judas. Judas? Come on.... We got good money and he got a better contract. Judas? Not quite... Robins came out afterwards and said that his side dominated the game from start to finish. What game were you watching? The better side, marginally. Rotherham had more of a cutting edge, but we certainly kept the ball better and looked good on what was an awful surface.

Coming away from the game we were dissapointed. The journey back was quiet and un-interupted. James had experienced his first live Dale defeat, and hated it as much as I did. A 20 minute review was enough for us to argue points and get what we wanted off our chests. I still have a bruise from where I punched the glass on the Supertram (No quote necessary) Dissapointing yes. But again, Dale offered a great day out. We hadn't lost our appitate, if anything we had gained it. Keen and raring to go, we started planning for the future. Although our Bury dream was in doubt.... More on that next time.

Final thoughts? Chris O'Grady impressive. Craig Dawson more-so. The now signed on Matthew Flynn provided the height we needed at the back. Although perhaps a quick change around with Nathan Stanton would have provided a more solid Back 4. As good a player Stants is, he can't impose himself in a defence without McArdle, and would no doubt be more suited to Right Back. Buckley dissapointing again, Rundle untrusted, but in Centre Midfield we looked more solid than anywhere else, apart from TK. Knowing we, not the buckets haveTK makes me smile... :D

Up The Dale!!!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

"Where's Your Iranian?! Where's Your Iranian?!"

Game 1 - Port Vale Away. As were the circumstances, I wasn't as optimistic as I usually would have been. My 2 wingmen were absent and I was apprehensive as to Dale's chances. And what turned out to be a good start to the day, was quickly reprehended. Arriving at Hazel Grove station, the guy behind the desk, who knows I'm nearly 17, was more than happy to give me a child ticket (15 and under) for only £3. Now £3 return on top of hopefully a child match ticket would represent good business for a football match. I trudged to the Platform and waited for my train to Stoke. I felt today was a chance to relax more. Usually at this time on a matchday I am pumping my body full of energy drinks (not beer :p) to get myself hyped up and singing without embarrassment. However, today I felt it was probably a tad inappropriate considering I was on my own, wearing a shirt too small for me and reading The Daily Sport (Basically a 50p equivalent to a lads mag, that includes made up transfer rumours, i.e this week - Raul to Stoke and Van Nistelrooy to Notts County)

So I sat down, alone, and read my paper, alone. Up pops the dreaded "Tickets please" You would think that this would be nothing to worry about, I have my ticket, I have already paid. But I knew I'd get a "your never 15" look despite my best efforts (Shaving the bumfluff and leaving my spots unattended) However, this situation is usually avoided, by chanting " Nananananananaaaaa!!! Ticket Ticket Man, Ticket Man, Tiiiiicket Ticket Man!!!" etc until he is so intimidated he just walks straight past (Morally wrong I know, but it works a treat) Today though, not so much. I closed my eyes and said it in my head... but it didn't work. I thought maybe he'd have sympathy, pity for me going to a football match on my own. No chance. Adult fair. Which to be honest, was only an extra £3. So I wasn't on a complete downer.

20 Minutes's into the journey and I nipped to the toilet, only to come across 4 middle-aged Dale fans drinking beer and having a laugh. I gave my usual "Up The Dale" and walked straight past until I heard "Hold On A Second!" I turned to them only to see one bald man, getting rather excited. Your Peter Crouch, the blogger!!! I recognised your shirt" Why did I ever blog that :/
But no, this guy had come across BIP (Big Headed, Iranian, Peter Crouch) through "There's Always Next Year" and had been reading. I went on to talk for ages with these guys about the blog, why I was on my bill and of course, Dale's chances this season. They invited me to stay with them to the game but I politely declined, from which I think they understood. I was comfortable and these guys were in their element. As I walked off I heard them joking, "Where's your Iranian?" (left - where is that iranian??) they shouted in typical football tune fashion. Excellent :)

I had readers, I had fans. I was famous!!! Not quite... but it's a start. Arriving at Stoke I was stumped as to where and how to get to the ground. The walk seemed too much so I crossed the road and took a bus stopping near the ground. On it were a couple of teenage Port Vale fans. Not as friendly as the older fans I admit but there weren't too many dirty looks, to my face that is anyway. The ground was ok, not the best, not the worst, and my seat for the game was on the opposite side to where most of the singing Dale fans were, just about the middle. I was keen to watch today, more than sing, and really see what Hilly had worked on over pre-season, a lot of it, seemed good. I walked over to talk to my mate Chris at half time, who had made the bench for todays game. He said the gaffer seemed happy and at the break we were level, and playing well. Overall we were the better side. A good goal from the ever more impressive Joey Thompson (after some great work from Buckers) was promising. The disputed handball (which obviously sent our fans into uproar) was disappointing, and in all honesty we should have won the game, not drawn it. The plus side obviously, was that we didn't lose it.

The highlight for me today though, was not the game, the cheap prices (got my junior ticket, the guys at the ground really don't care do they?) or the stress free day. It was those 4 fans I met on the train. At half time, as I lent at the front on the boards, I heard "Crouchie, give us a wave, Crouchie, Crouchie give us a wave" A couple of fans had joined in with the guys from the train as they tried to locate my presence. I gave an indignified thumbs up, before the lads turned round as quick as anything, to reply "Where's Your Iranian? Where's Your Iranian?" There must have been 15+ Dale fans chanting this, most of which probably knew nothing of the blog or "the iranian" But it just really made me laugh, and from something I had written on a blog I believed no one was reading. Absolutely first class, and although I didn't catch any of your names, I said I'd mention you so a big thumbs up to you four. Classic, just classic. I hope to see you again soon, I know your not regulars, but I'm sure I'll catch you again this year.

As I end, I must point out: 1. Not a fan of the away kit 2. Very sad to see Alfie go but he follows the trait of selling our best player year on year to keep alive (Platt, Connor, Holt, Lambert, Perkins, Alfie) 3. Glad Buckley seems he is staying until at least January 4. Disappointing to see us roll over against Wednesday although I didn't go to the game due to lack of return trains to Stockport :( 5. WE NEED TO BRING IN SOME MORE PLAYERS! After letting so many go, we have only brought in one outfield player as a replacement??!! Come on HillCroft pull your finger out!

Up The Dale!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Tennis Torni My Arse!

"Sorry mate, bad news. I've got a tennis tournament."

Are you kidding me? Jesus Christ we've had this planned for months!!! Tomorrow is the big day, first game of the season. The hype, the excitement, the anticipation that has been bottled up for the last 3 months can be released.... yet I'll be doing it on my own. What a joke!!!

Fair play to Niku, he's a sound lad. Although he tends to leave things to the last minute, he is occasionally reliable. Occasionally reliable? That's really not a great quality when you think about it is it?... Forget it, I'm over it. I get the feeling he is too excited with Aston Villa to give a thought about Dale at the moment. Perhaps he feels his first game of the season should always be Villa. Perhaps he's going to Villa tomorrow against Fiorentina... Wait a minute, bugger where's my phone...

Oh well, if he's there he deserves it. He's short on money and I understand that. Me on the other hand, not so much :D Working every morning in the last week has provided me with a healthy £100 budget for the start of the season. Add that to the money I have in my wallet already and that's.... £102.50

Although tomorrow, money isn't an issue. If I manage to blag a child fair - which means shaving off the neat little stubble I've been growing :( - on top of a child ticket, I will only be £11 worse off. The major problem, will be finding my way to the ground from Stoke On Trent. I've been told that it's a 4 mile walk, so that's out of the question. I've got detailed instructions on how to get to the nearest bus stop and where to go from there. Usually, it's just a matter of following the crowd but I remember arriving at Shrewsbury last year, not a Dale fan on the train and no fans at all to be found in the town centre. Me and James relied on policemen to give us a lift to the ground, and although that may seem embarrassing, I can assure you no Shrewsbury fan dared approach us after we stepped out of the back of that car :D Perhaps it will be a case of same again, though I doubt it.

I have no clue what to expect tomorrow, James is away, Niku has a "tennis torni" and other supporters I may take such as Ed (more about him another time) has broken his collar bone, and Mikey is on joo camp (a jewish camp thing in Israel, more about him later too) One thing I do know is that we may have a kit clash. With limited funds, I have not been able to purchase last years, nor will I manage this years (horrible) kit. So it's Centenary Kit through and through. However, it has come to my attention that Port Vale, of course, play in Black and White. So look out for Number 17 tomorrow, in a long sleeved MMC Estates Blue Home Shirt I nicked from my last game at Dale ;) haha!

So boiling hot, friendless, pretending to be 16, with my own sandwiches (another money-saver), I enter the 2009/10 season, fully (not really) prepared and raring (hesitant) to go. However, I will be there and it will be Number 1 on my list. If any of you do see me tomorrow, lonely and sweating like Cheryl Cole in Pizza Hut, then come up to me, have a chat, buy me a pint... you know because I'm under 16... not because I'm cheap! How dare you!!

Up The Dale!!!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

A Quiet Summer

So it's July 30th. A few readers may think the blog is dead. Far from it. However, I am not quite as close as I would like to be to 25 games. So far - 0. Talks of Rossendale Away, Blackpool Away, then at Home, Man United aswell, have been dampened. The reason? Money. Other factors in the lack of Dale action so far include broken body parts, football tours, tournaments and fitness regimes, aswell as on off holidays to Iran, visits to Grandma Black, and an addiction to Tennis. But the main overall contributor to a long pre season has been the lack of funding. Without work, a football club, and a face unable to blag child train tickets, I am finding it very hard to get about. The pressure on me to get my drivers licence is also building. We are realising that it is going to be very, very tough for 3 teens to get to as many football games as we hope. Gone are the days that I once went to watch 7 games in 7 days, the same season that I managed to go to a game a weekend from August to May. Truth be told there has been a lot going on, and although I get the impression at times that my 2 companions are not as keen on the idea we set about a couple of months ago, I fully believe that one night in playing Fifa, or even one trip to the WMG Stand, will re-ignite the fire.

So what plans do we have now then? Well it's back to the drawing board and we will begin with the first game of the season away to Port Vale. Me and Niku will book our tickets and will follow that trip with Wigan at home. I have decided that on the side of Dale, the two of us will also use our trips to Villa as an excuse to post here. So things are on the up in all honesty. Villa Park follows Villa Park, and by then we will be in full swing. I am hoping a weeks work down in Poynton can earn me near to £100 next week, which will all be saved for Spotland. Me and Niku have also spoken briefly of a sponsored bike ride (maybe not naked as the picture suggests....yet again we are desperate!!!), with the proceeds going towards, well, US!!! The idea of the bikeride being we cycle to a nearby game from our homes in Stockport. Whatever we do, you will be the first to know and hopefully, the weather clears up for the start of the season. The excitement is quite unbearable as we begin our journey :)

Up The Dale!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Reminiscing Followed By A Change Of Plan

I can't wait for this season to get underway. Writing this blog almost gives me a purpose, and even more of a reason to go and watch Dale. What I am wary of is looking for the funnies though. I don't want to be halfway through a game worrying that nothing of note has happened. In fact, I feel a more relaxed outlook will suit me better. I'll blog when I want to, when it feels right.

It's hard to focus on football in the midst of Wimbledon, The Lions Tour and The Ashes approaching, but when I think back to my experiences of Dale and the season ahead, it becomes harder to bare, that my first game is a month away!!!

I think back to 3 of my most glorious times watching Dale, in order of preference.

3. Dagnall Comeback (Dale 4-1 Rotherham) - I remember when Dagnall fell against Macclesfield. Much like Owen did for England, it was innocuos, but terribly painful to watch. 6 months out and a place on the bench for the Rotherham game. 1-0 down after 6 minutes, we came to the 80th minute level thanks to Gary Jones. On comes Dagnall, the way he recovered from his cruciate injury deserved an ovation in itself. Scoring on his return was spectacular, we went 2-1 up, Dagnall milks the applause, only to do it again in the 89th, and AGAIN in the 93rd. A 10 minute hat trick off the bench after a 6 month layoff. Bloody magnificent, and I still get chills thinking about it. Ball in hand and the fist punch in front of the Thwaites Beer End.
What else is there to say. Same Old Dagnall....

2. Edwards' Cup Heroics (Dale 2-0 Coventry) - One of my first experiences of a Dale match let alone a high profile FA Cup tie. Me and a couple other of the academy lads went on the pitch before the game to wave banners and flags. The atmosphere was electric and I walked out again alongside Paul Connor, scorer of our first goal. Coventry came into the game on a 10 match unbeaten run, and were near the top of the Division 1 (Championship) At my age, I didn't quite understand what it meant to the fans, but what I did understand was that walking away from the ground, I had seen one of the finest Goalkeeping Performances I will perhaps ever see. Nursing a broken finger, a strained thigh and about 25 other niggling injuries, 5ft 8 Neil Edwards stood between the sticks. He collected EVERYTHING, pulled off about 8 incredible saves and kept Dale in the game. Gareth Griffiths, who had arguably his best game for Dale alongside Keith Hill netted the second and I stood up only to be mauled on and pushed 2 rows down. Who cares?
Shame it all ended down at Wolves...

1. Bragging Rights (Stockport 2-7 Dale) - My home turf. Living in Stockport all my life, I was surprisingly never tempted to support County. One of the main reasons? Well, I fell in love with Rochdale, and you don't cheat on your girlfriend, so why do it to your football club? I took the train with about 6 mates (All County regulars) to stand in the roofless away end by myself, and watch us face a team who had previously kept a record number of clean sheets, with now Wales International Wayne Hennesey in goal. Well you can imagine my, lets say surprisement at being 4-0 up inside 17 minutes. We would have kept that clean sheet had it not been for a terrible Rundle back pass and a rare Matty Gilks mistake. As is the nature of Rochdale fans, being 4-2 up at half time was not good. 99% of people I overheard in the toilets, in the stand were negative. I was thinking to myself.... (Now I know I'm with the Dale :D) But there was no need to be, 30 seconds into the second half we were 5-2 up, finishing with 7. The fans were so shocked, the only songs we could sing throughout the second half was "We want 6, we want 6" We got the 6th. "We want 7, we want 7" We got that. "We want 8, we want 8" Perhaps too ambitious?? Nevertheless, it was extraordinary and the smile didn't leave my face, partly because of the result and partly because it was so cold my mouth was frozen like that....

So there are my 3 greatest memories. Niku will argue the case for Macc 0-1 Dale. Well he can be shot, worst game I've been to in a long time. James will of course say "What about Barnet? 2-0 down, won 3-2!!! Alfie, Alfie" Yes, well it doesn't quite compare to the other 3. Myself? Well on another day I might have put the Playoff Semi against Darlington. David Perkins stole my heart that day.... I think perhaps I am bitter that County got revenge, so best not mention it in the top 3.

Finally, I must comment about the change of title. Upon speaking with Matt Boothman (The fabulous writer of There's Always Next Year) I felt that the blog needed something that stood out, something that gave it character. I shortlisted 10 possible options before settling on something that took me a good nights sleep to finally stick to. "The Big Headed, Iranian, Peter Crouch" relates to all 3 of us, who are battling to achieve our goals this year. James (Big Head), Niku (Half Iranian) and Myself (6ft 3 Crouch look-alike) are all one this season, and this unity is shown in the title. It's random, it's bizarre but most of all it's unique and likeable.

Keep reading, thanks for the support.

Up The Dale!