So, 2020 has arrived in the guise of a beautiful morning. I’m going to a football match this afternoon, then tonight there’s a new Doctor and a new Dracula. Not a bad start for any geeky, gothic, football fans out there. And I reckon there’ll be pizza.
Over here in the UK it’s Boxing Day, a day that is right at the forefront of the No-Man’s Land that lies between Christmas and New Year.
My Boxing Day plans have been ruined by the weather, which is another British certainty.
There are many people who go walking on this day (an activity that is also in the lap of the Gods), but I’d planned to go to watch my local non-league football team play but, alas, a waterlogged pitch has scuppered that.
Then I had a close call when my wife suggested shopping-but while she and my daughter brave the hustle and bustle I’ve managed to retreat into Costa with a book about Orkney. I’m surely due another visit. To Orkney, that is, not Costa.
Anyway, I hope you guys all had a good Christmas, and if not maybe we can navigate this treacherous No-Man’s Land together on the way to 2020.
Catch you soon. It’s raining in Orkney too.
And still, the no man’s land between summer and autumn.
The green foliage hangs heavy, but the odd leaf is beginning to turn.
What’s a guy to do, when travelling to watch a local non-league team?
The sun is still there, but sinking, diluted.
Is it too warm for a coat, or too cold for a jumper?
Just bring on winter and we’ll all know where we stand.
I’ve written that much, over on Facebook, about the tragedy and travesty that is unfolding at Bury FC, that I don’t feel like adding much more about it here.
But tonight, with tomorrow’s deadline looming, a deadline after which this historic club, after 134 years, will slip from existence, I took my son to Gigg Lane.
This is his club. Not a club he inherited from me, just as I inherited Manchester City from my father, but a club that he gave his heart to of his own accord. It’s a club that I have learned to love because he loves it.
On the journey there we heard a first glimmer of hope over the car radio. A chink of light in long-gathering shadows.
I feel a little more optimistic, but the margins are tight. It will go right down to the wire. It’s not dark yet.
Summer: when my son needs a machete to get to his football match.
I’d tried to prepare my son. You know, just in case.
I’d previously been to Wembley three times. The old Wembley once, this new Wembley twice. Three visits to the renowned, fabled stadium. And three times I’d seen my team get beat. I’d once proclaimed that I’d retired from Wembley. Who’d have thought that of a Manchester City fan, a few years ago? But then my boy came along.
“Even if we lose,” I’d told him, “you’ll get to experience Cup Final day. A match at Wembley. You will come back again.”
I needn’t have worried. For once everything went as planned. A crushing, 6-0 win and quite a memorable day. An historic domestic treble, although this was actually our fourth trophy of the season.
When the fourth goal went in, the man sat on the other side of my son hugged him, and then said to me, while beckoning towards his own young boy: “They don’t know how lucky they are, do they?”
I knew what he meant. The 90’s were a nightmare. Schooldays were insufferable.
“What do you think we’ll win this season?” James had asked me back in August.
Listen to him, I thought, the new City fan. Full of expectation.
There is a ‘knowing’ among we older fans. A wisdom built on pain. But on Saturday we could forget all that, that part of our DNA was lost in celebration.
And the music was great, too. Belting out adopted, and adapted, anthems by Mancunian bands such as Oasis, James and Joy Division. And that certain band from up the East Lancs: The Beatles.
Before the game I met up with some familiar faces from my past, camaraderies of work place and youth.
I never got to go to a City game with my Dad, but I know the stories. The ’56 Trautmann final. He and his friends reported missing, later found sleeping in an otherwise empty train in the Manchester sidings.
I was conscious I was making new memories for my lad. Life is all about passing on the baton. Saturday was a marker for him.
And then Monday night, a time to celebrate in our own backyard, my son and daughter decked out with replica kits and flags.
We went into Manchester to see the victory parade, as the Manchester City players milked the acclaim while showing off the four pieces of silverware that they’d won this season.
And to say goodbye to Vincent Kompany, our most successful captain and our leader, whose stature is just as great off the field. An adopted Mancunian from Belgium, he had married a local girl and wanted to give something back to the city that had given him so much in his eleven years here. He’d set up, with the mayor of Greater Manchester, a charity called Tackle4MCR, to help the city’s homeless, and all of the money from his testimonial year was going into that.
It was loud and jovial, (blue) Mancunians at their best, people gaining vantage points from bus shelter roofs and clinging halfway up lampposts, singing songs and cheering on their heroes.
In the middle of this lot, this throng 100,000 strong, my wife turned to me. “I need a wee.”
I suddenly imagined another use for one of those trophies.
While at the football stadiums all around the country players and fans are observing a minute’s silence for tomorrow’s Remembrance Sunday, I just learned that Heart of Midlothian (Hearts) was the first British club whose players signed up en masse for World War One.
Sixteen players enlisted, and on the first day of the Battle of the Somme three died. Of the sixteen in total, seven died in the war and seven were seriously injured.
That’s the kind of statistic that brings home just how devastating that war was.