Good things about Birkenhead:
Adrian Henri, poet
Half Man Half Biscuit,indie band
Dixie Dean, football legend
Bill Tidy, cartoonist
OMD,popsters (OK Wirral,so what?)
Bad things about Birkenhead:
Paul O’grady,crap TV personality
Lewis Collins,crap actor
Jason McAteer,dumb as a rock footballer
One of the benefits of Cables’ Unibond Premier League survival last year was the opportunity to increase the number of localish derbys with clubs to the east and west. The east ,as ever, contains the threat of a newly aggressive and armed to the nuclear teeth Russia, Al Qaeda’s strongholds and was historically the starting place for countless invasions by people looking to beat us up- The Romans,Saxons,Normans etc. Added to that list is now Leigh Genesis, a sort of glamorised subbeto set up masquerading as a football club.They have a new kit, new ground, new name and a sort of product speak more suited to soap powder than non league football. Yeah,Leigh Phil Collins are my pet hate,I know.Sometimes you just take against something without fully understanding why. Sue me….
The west has always been a place of escape, a haven from persecution, a land for adventurers seeking new horizons.For Cables at least that means a trip beneath the river to visit Cammell Laird FC.A non league club that has risen from the West Cheshire League to the Unibond Premier league with impressive speed and determination. This is the return trip after Lairds came to our place last week and acted as if they owned the place, on and off the field.
Driving to the ground we get lost, taking a wrong turn and ending up on the edge of Port Sunlight, which, despite its summery sounding name, is extremely dark and forbidding and lacking in the street lights.After a tour around the back streets McScouse recognises a pub she knows (Yeah!!) and we eventually work our way towards the ground by a process of elimination. Other than the gateman and a few players we are probably the first people in the ground, I say probably as due to the lack of any sort of lighting we could be late arrivals to a near sell out fixture for all we know.The one thing beyond doubt is the cold, the sound of chattering teeth soon alerts a Lairds official who kindly herds us into the director’s room to warm up. We discuss if we should have a sip of medicinal whisky from the director’s personal collection as we wait but decide this would be bad manners without asking first.
After reading the impressive display of club banners on the walls the door swings open and Glocko arrives- Cammell Lairds’ very own Mr Fixit, programme editor, travel organiser, forum moderator, probably boot cleaner too. He’s stitched up McScouse in the Laird’s programme with several pics of her wearing a Laird’s scarf, not bad for a Cables’ match day secretary who doesn’t own a Cables’ scarf.Personally I’d have held them back for blackmail purposes.While in the dressing room area I inadvertently spill Spock’s cup of hot tea down my kecks , anything to get warm. Luckily a free tea machine is on hand to replenish the empty cup.
Fans start to arrive in ones and twos as the lights flicker into life revealing a low but tidy ground with a decent playing surface.The DJ is running through a collection of early 1980s hits which sparks a debate in the Kitchen as to the exact year OMD’s ‘Souvenir’ was in the charts ,I say 83 a couple of locals say 82, although the smart money is on 1981.The kitchen, it has to be said,smells mouth wateringly perfect.A collection of pies and pasties and a cauldron of hot soup draw a regular stream of freezing customers as surely as a spring time jam butty attracts wasps or a jaw bone attracts a drunken Joey Barton fist..
The DJ takes a break from music to advise people to ‘see Glocko’ about a number of unrelated issues.If you want to travel to away games “See Glocko” ,a ticket for a certain event “See Glocko” and so on. Glocko is starting to sound more like Del Boy Trotter as the night wears on.
During the game I decide to try out my £4.99 air horn, picked up from Halfords bargain bucket earlier in the day . Waiting for Black and Amber wire to take a sip of his Cola before creeping up behind him and blaring the air horn right down his unsuspecting lughole. Black and Amber jumps three feet in the air and acts as a human sprinkler as he squirts Cola several feet onto the pitch. Test completed, it works perfectly.
Cabletoffee gets on the wrong side of McScouse after he shouts “up your kilt, mate” at the far side linesman. Not that the liner is wearing a kilt, mores the pity. This blatant anti Scottishness gets Cablestoffee a yellow card from the Slacky Brow collective.Despite the intense cold the Cables’ following is cheered by the onfield showing by the team. Childwall Cable is lamenting the fact he isn’t wearing his lucky imitation mink fur lined winter match boots as his mobile phone goes off more often than a Bootle car alarm.
At full time we make our way around to the players’ tunnel to show our appreciation. After 5 minutes we demand that Andy Gray cut short the players warm down so we can clap them off and get in our cars and put the heaters on.Devotion only goes so far when your nose is an ice cube and your eyelids are frozen open.
On the way home we hold up cars going through the Birkenhead Tunnel for several minutes as we try to ‘jump the gate’ without paying. Nothing ventured nothing gained being the travelling Slacky Browers’ motto.
Honours even on and off the pitch,roll on round four next year.