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Lowering the Penis…tone

Submitted by on March 21, 2011 – 9:52 am5 Comments

by J Walter Weatherman
Picture the scene: it’s roughly 10am on a Saturday morning at Piccadilly station, and a group of twenty and thirty something males are stood giggling at a ticket machine because they’ve just typed the word Penis into it.

Now this isn’t out of choice of course, the reason for this outbreak of schoolboy humour is due to the destination: Penistone. And so begins another day on the rattler watching FC United on their travels.

Now I don’t need to tell you that I was one of that group. Or that we did the exact same thing last season, or that I even went so far as to take a photo of the Penistone sign at the train station minus the ‘tone’ so, wait for it, it spelt Penis… No, I don’t need to tell you any of that. But that is the spirit that takes hold of you when you go watching FC on their travels. And it’s bloody marvellous.

Our co-operative, fan-owned thing of wonder is now into its sixth season, yet despite lower numbers travelling than in the first few seasons, it’s still a joy to get on a train, forget about the working week and the usual constraints of everyday life and embark into the unknown. Which is the real beauty of the FC away game. It tempts you with promises of drunken debauchery, adventure and camaraderie like nothing else in life possibly can, before dumping you in such exotic locations as Chorley or Goole.

But it’s these places that make watching FC away what it is. From watching United away in the same cities year in, year out, after the events of May 2005 we suddenly found ourselves facing what can only be described as a culture shock. I can still remember the walk from Witton Albion to Northwich Victoria in the first season, making the short walk through fields, taking in the countryside view and thinking ‘Are those sheep doing it?’ followed swiftly by ‘I’m taking a countryside walk to watch United, I bet John Craven’s never done that before’.

And since then we’ve never looked back, embracing the fact we’ve swapped capitals and other major cities for the likes of non-descript Nottinghamshire towns, the Cheshire countryside and run-down Yorkshire hovels. And who can blame us? Away from the glaring eyes of Sky and the evil, all-consuming monster that is the Premier League, we’ve been left to our own devices and gone on to have a thoroughly great time in places we’d never dream of going if we weren’t watching FC, enjoying the local pubs, hospitality (well, some of the time) and characters that you to tend to meet when visiting these places.

And it’s these setting that invariably lead to a whole host of shenanigans when following FC away from home. Take Bridlington a few years ago for example. The night before the game me and a couple of mates got split up from the rest of our group in a night club and ended up talking to a Brazilian woman and her English husband, who just so happened to be with a sixty year old Jamaican they referred to as ‘Grandad’.

We all ended up going back to the Jamaican’s flat, after being joined by a German on the way who we later found out didn’t actually know anyone there. After drinking some rather special rum and being shown how flexible the Jamaican was (which is actually nowhere near as dodgy as it sounds: he was incredibly proud that he could still touch his toes, and who was I to argue with my host?) I left at 6am, leaving one of my mates behind who then brought this international group of wonder to the game later that day.

Then there was the time on the train back from Lancaster where I found myself in a drunken state, sitting with a Japanese family who were on their way back from the Lakes. They could hardly speak a word of English yet were still happy for me to sit with them (in my head anyway, they were probably terrified) whilst feeding me peanuts.

It’s not all been so international and friendly though. Being surrounded by scallies whilst waiting for the train in Chorley because they thought one of our group had, what do the kids say, erm, ‘dissed’ one their girlfriends, wasn’t as welcoming, especially when filled with rage they closed in on us, before one of them declared in a broad Lancashire accent, ‘This is Chorley!’ in his best Spartan impression. Laugh? I think more than my fair share of wee came out in this Chorley-chortle fest.

But isn’t this what living is all about? Watching FC opens up a world closed off to you for most of the week, but come the weekend the doors to this world are opened once more, and the magic that seems to go hand in hand with our club extends to the whole day. Too many people don’t live, they exist, they don’t stop and think about how life is made up of experiences, good or bad, and while they’re spending another Saturday trudging around B & Q, we’re off yet again on another adventure, ready to regale our rather bored-looking work mates with tales of our shenanigans come Monday morning.

And it’s something we should never lose sight of. We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us still if we’re to make it to our ground, and with FC comes a responsibility and an ethos that defines who we are, but we always need to remember that watching FC and the experiences that go with it is a joy, a joy that not many people are lucky enough to experience. But that’s their choice. Oh, and I think there’s some football to be watched in all this too.

5 Comments »

  • midjmo says:

    Looking around the pub/hotel bar we were frequenting in Buxton on Saturday, brought it home once again how lovely this thing of ours is. At one point there were United fans covering every era from the 1940s to present day.

    A red who used to flag down the team bus in Collyhurst to get a lift to games soon after Busby joined the club. A few reds who did every game of the second division season in the 1970s. Reds who barely missed a game in the 80s and 90s. And reds who still do MUFC aways now. An eclectic mix, if ever there was one.

    FC fought their way back from two down to earn a respectable 2-2 draw as the promotion chase hots up.

  • 1879 says:

    The plan to ‘Leave Ramsay’s saving the theatre bar till just before the 9.27 as we’ll go in, get a drink and then get barred’ went just as we suspected.

    I had wine out of a cupcake holder on the train. It’s not called a cupcake holder it’s probably just called a wrapper. No, actually I don’t think it’s called a wrapper. Anyway, it’s that thing that you bake a cupcake in then take off before you eat it. Josephine90 had brought cakes, sigh, as well as buying azaleas. People ate the cake then had her wine in the only available vessels. Wine with a cakey/jizz on me tits after taste…

    • Elsie says:

      They were muffins not cupcakes, I’m from Bramhall not Prestbury. And it was a primrose not an azalea. Whoever heard of taking an azalea to the match?

  • 1879 says:

    The landlady of Ramsay’s said we brought a bit of class with us for our refined real ale beery palates. Just how bear’s arse is it in there usually if we constitute class?

  • 1879 says:

    “Now there’s only one thing that anyone knows of that can be so small and yet so massive…”

    Brian Cox, Wonders of the universe, episode 3, 48 minutes in.

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