Voyage to Middlesbrough

8.40- I’m on the train to Sheffield, to get another train which will then take me to Darlington, to get another train which will then take me to Middlesbrough for the Playoff semi-final match against Aston Villa. I will be there five hours before kick off. Lord knows what I will do, but I promise to write about whatever wonderful things I happen to experience.

As is often the case the night before a planned and suitably momentous event, I had a dream as precursor-

I was at a mostly empty football ground full of musky smog. I was standing on a small platform with a group of energetic football goons behind the goal. I never looked at them, they were just faceless goons.

It took a long time for us to score but eventually Adama got the ball in the middle of the box and caressed it into the right corner. The goons on the platform got animated. We started jeering an extravagantly dressed ballboy who seemed about the age of 25. He was hating his job, desperately retrieving the ball for his keeper to restart.

The dream ended with the ball-man goading us while Villa scored up the other end with a tap-in in a crowded box for the last kick of the match. The environment was so dead we didn’t even realise an attack was on. That was full time, 1-1. Not a bad prediction from the dream I think.

9.15- I have a very nice limited edition 2015 Boro shirt, worn only twice by the players for kit clashes against Brentford. The only trouble with it is that it’s got Adomah’s name on the back, who coincidentally is now banging in the goals for Villa. We pretty much swapped him for Adama (the fastest and most skillful player on the planet). He is of a mercurial temperament. There were some games where he looked like he’d never played football before, others when he would skip past Premier League players like they were plastic cones. This inconsistency continued through the Monk season, then Tony Pulis came in in January and really fancied him, and he’s been our finest player ever since. He’s a rocket. Apparently Chelsea want him for 30 million. So today could well be the last time I see him play in red.

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9.24- I just got a call from an unknown number. I didn’t answer of course but I did check the voicemail about twenty minutes later. It was from a smoggy lady saying it was about my ticket. What the fuck is that about? I wonder. I check the front compartment of my bag and notice that my ticket has gone. I call the nice lady on the Boro helpline and she tells me Loughborough station just called to tell her they’ve found my ticket, but it was fine, she said. They’d duplicate it for me.

The modern world is full of safety nets. In the olden days about forty years ago they probably wouldn’t have been able to do that and I wouldn’t have been able to go to the match at all. That would be all I deserve really. That and no anaesthetics.

9.28- The last time I went to the Riverside was when I was just turning 15, in 2008. We got hammered 5-0 by Chelsea, Juliano Belleti scoring the finest 40 yard strike I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. The first time I went to the Riverside was 2007 vs Aston Villa. We lost 3-0.

10.55- Do you know what? I think I might treat myself to a nice refreshing lager beer soon. Do you know what also? I don’t think I’ve had a weekend without a beer this year. I know this because I last took a mental note of this in January, and since then the pattern hasn’t been broken. Something tends to happen every weekend, and when things happen you just have a beer. That’s just what you do. It’s quite sad in a way.

I bet for most people it’s been like that for forty or fifty years. People complain about not having enough money, but if you can afford a beer most weekends you should be very grateful to be a citizen of your country and not one of North Korea, eating rice and oats for breakfast, lunch and dinner and getting shipped off to the gulags for saying you’re not that much of a fan of Kim Jong’s hairstyle.

Which brings me to what I’m reading. I’m reading We by Zamyatin. This is a largely under-known and underappreciated text that was instrumental in inspiring the two powerhouses of modern literature- Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. I loved both of these other texts, particularly Brave New World which was more humorous and mind-boggling. The text is a satire of communism, and exists at some point in the future when the world is One State. Everybody is named after numbers, all buildings are made of glass so that all behaviour can be observed and everything is dictated by the Supreme Benefactor (some Russian version of Jeremy Corbyn). It’s very prophetic of North Korea today. I do enjoy it. My affinity with Russian Literature grows still greater by the year.

11.40- Today is a thirteen hour solo quest; a chance to get in some quality Jamo time. Sometimes it can be very good to spend a bit of time with yourself. Sitting on a train, reading, listening to electronic music, staring out of the train window like you’re being filmed for a documentary.

I actually enjoy my own company most of the time. It’s just the anticipation of it that fills me with dread. Hanging out with other people is much easier.

We often have a decision in life, to do one of two things. One of these is to go out and meet friends, have a few drinks and a few laughs. Needless to say this is an easy, enjoyable option. But alternatively we can sit glued to our desks battling with King Lear. Which is not something to look forward to, is difficult to persevere with and is enjoyable only in a few fleeting moments. But when we take the latter option, we can enjoy the next day much more, and we lubricate our minds with new ideas that refresh us in ways we couldn’t imagine if we just took the easy way out. The people who spend their lives on their own, reading, meditating, wandering through distant lands. They’re the mad ones and they’re the real ones who vanquish the tedious difficulties of human life.

Today I am simply in the North, completely unshackled, free to roam wherever, whenever I choose. And for this opportunity I owe life a lot of gratitude.

11.32- Just got into Darlington. If there was one thing I would say to summarise the North it would be that there are considerably more red bricks around. And viaducts, the cities are all full of viaducts.

I just bought a can of IPA for £2.50 from M+S. I remember somebody or other in politics- some fucking idiot, saying that us millennials should stop buying coffees from Starbucks if we want to get on the property ladder. He could equally have been talking about beer as well which is more expensive. My only point to add is; what kind of psychopath thinks houses are that important?

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13.00- I’m in Boro now. The streets are very wide. It took me a while to find real civilisation. I’m sitting in a courtyard with another pale ale. I found a street where the pubs are all like boutique shops. There was a pub called The Devil’s Advocate, which is probably among the best pub names I’ve ever heard. But for arbitrary reasons I didn’t go there, and settled for the Slater’s Pick, which is a mediocre name in comparison.

There’s nobody in the courtyard except a headless multi-coloured manikin, with a motorbike t-shirt. I’ve had worse company in recent weeks.  

13.57-  I went to the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art. As soon as I got in there some middle-aged smoggy with red hair on both sides of her head like rose petals kept talking to me about a couple of Lowry paintings. I felt mostly ambivalent towards this artist. Apparently he painted his paintings by commission mostly, some of them taking less than an hour each, which was something at least.

In another room there were a few strange Chinese videos, one of a naked woman devouring a variety of cosmetic products. Another of a woman, probably the same one’s feet, in ice skates as she is dragged by a trailer across the ground. There was also a photo of thousands of bikes piled up on a landfill site. Conclusion: China has got some serious problems.

14.48- I’ve still got a lifetime before kick off so I find a nice place on the grass nearby to bask in the sun in. I soon discover I’m not alone- there were lots of gangs of rowdy little smoggy kids waddling around making noises at each other. I was listening to music so was alarmed to find a particularly ugly child, covered in freckles and with two very prominent front teeth like a beaver trying to communicate me. He was with a posse of fellow juveniles but I didn’t look at any of them.

“Why have you got eggs?” he asked in a really high pitched, really northern accent. He was pointing to the boiled egg next to me. It had crushed in my bag, so I was planning on disposing of it.

“Just boiled eggs for a snack.” I explained.

He crushed it up with his hands and threw it down the hill.
“That’s fine, I wasn’t going to eat it anyway. “

“What are you doing here?”

“Oh just relaxing on this hill.”

His faceless minions remained completely silent except for a few giggles. The little brat then turned around as if to go away. They found something better to do than pester an innocent young tourist like myself. 

It went completely quiet, oh for fuck’s sake I thought. I turned round to see in the corner of my vision that the freckled brat had exposed his arse to me. As I turned his cretinous gang then cackled to themselves and scurried off back to a nearby garden with a trampoline.

For about five minutes I reclined on the hill and thought about what I was going to do to entertain myself for the next three hours in this crazy northern place.

Then a small rock landed on my rucksack by my side. I turned round and saw the freckled brat’s head peeping round the garden fence. I wasn’t welcome. It wasn’t safe. I grabbed my sack, got up and left.

16.30-  Is drinking on one’s own permissible? It always seems so in the books. Maybe the literary guys get a free pass in that regard. Maybe I am just one of the ordinary losers.

19.00 –The game was terrible to watch. Villa mugged us off, scoring a header from a corner and then shutting up shop. Boro all over them but never looking like scoring. My seats were wank as well, I was lodged in between some bloke and an absolute meat-sack. I could barely move my knees. Nobody around me was singing. It must be policy for the fans on the horizontal sides of any grounds not to sing. And let’s face it, most home grounds don’t even sing from the vertical ends. That’s why away games are what being a football fan is all about.

I still love the Riverside though. It’s paradise. You can’t beat this for pre-match music. Stolen by many inferior clubs. I hope they paid us for it.

19.43- The train journey back was long and left me much time to ponder my own past, present and future. Swathes of drunken thirty somethings carousing down the carriages drinking pink cans of gin and communicating with extra volume. I found a peaceful carriage to relax in and listen to Valvate by Recondite on repeat until I got to York.


A group of wankers with IPhones sat next to me and turned out to be Villa fans. One of the wankers referred to me as Bamford. Whom I’ve been likened to before. He started attacking me saying every player in Villa’s team except Gibson was better than Boro’s. 

“What you’re saying is just bollocks, just argument without substance. You’re just trying to provoke me, ” I said.

I was glaring at him the whole time. Giving his eyes no peace whatsoever. I think he respected me a bit more because of that. If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, you can win an argument with those strange balls in the middle of your face.

22.10-  I can now say that I’ve been to Chesterfield, York and Doncaster stations. Now I can add those Leviathan public transport bases to my checklist. The day was extremely deflating over all. By voyaging to the Middlesbrough town I gambled on a result and didn’t get one. But I experienced a few new things, and jotted a few of them down here so it’s not all crushing disappointment.

Until my next venture into uncharted lands, my imaginary readers.

 

Whack List #02

All right then men, women and children who are also interested in football. It’s getting towards the final weeks of the season so I thought I would update the whack list for you. If you aren’t familiar with the whack list, then do check out the previous one from earlier on in the season and help yourself to a slice of context.

Now what a fucked up season it’s been. And do you know why? Because this season has drank an entire 1000ml bottle of grey goose, 2 cans of Oranjeboom lager (8.5%) dropped 3 blue ghosts, 2 red audis, snorted 4 slugs of ketamine, injected 2 and a half ounces of liquid smack, banged 900 micro grams of Lysergic acid diethylamide and vacuumed 7 hits of extra strong tropical-skunk-lettuce to wash it all down with.

And that’s just how we like it.

I have to admit at the start of the season I probably didn’t have Leicester City Foxes down to win the league (a tenner or maybe a monkey but that’s about it). I take my hat off to them and then give it to them for free even though it’s Carhartt and makes me look dead cool at matches. I do worry that by achieving the unachievable they’ve kind of ruined it for everyone else now. If anyone else who’s not meant to be all that great does something decent then everyone will just be like ok hold on, it’s still got nothing on what Leicester did in the infamously smacked up 15/16 season. So ‘calm down’, they’ll say. I think football should probably end after this, I mean it’s got to end at some point when all the really bad things start happening in the world. Why not call it a day now, quit while we’re ahead?

Only joking. We love and value soccer here at http://www.lordofthereeves.com

Oh and we don’t like being incendiary towards whack soccer teams here either (even though it’s what we do for a living) so we’ve decided to show mercy upon teams suffering from chronic whackness by not repeating teams from the previous whack list in the top 4 entries. We have this ethos here at http://www.lordofthereeves.com because we acknowledge that footballing whackness is a serious disease that should be taken seriously by the government and not be oversimplified by David Cameron to something along the lines of ‘a self inflicted disease’ or something similar (although we acknowledge that this is the case with Chelsea, who we do not need to remind you, are perhaps the whackest of the whack these days).

So now all the housekeeping is done. Let’s get right to it shall we. Who are the whackest teams in soccer at the minute?

Newcastle United

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When anyone ever hears of anything that’s associated with Newcastle, Brown Ale, The Jets, The Angel of The Motorway, Alan Shearer or Cheryll Crow, they can’t help but stop what they’re doing, tell their boss they’re gonna be a few minutes and then go off on a walk round the block crying to themselves. It still remains a mystery as to how Steve Mclaren got appointed as head coach, presumably he put a gun to Mike Ashley’s head and said

“Make me coach, or I’ll get the mafia on you.”

“But please Steve, I can’t do that. The club will be destroyed!”

“Mike. Meet my friend, Frankie the Wop, he does bad things to people.”

“Okay steve you can be coach! It’s fine!”

It looks like the cartoons have been stamped first class and are off to the championship for a bit, and all thanks to Big Mike and SportsDirect.com.

Arsenal

whale-shark-mouth-open-for-filter-feeding.jpgImage courtesy of AIFosters, a Lordofthereeves partnering corporation. 

Arsenal are absolutely useless but all of the evangelical maniacs and religious gundamentalists who have faith in Wenger just because he’s a cool guy need to get over themselves and read some Richard Dawkins. Arsenal haven’t achieved anything apart from one FA cup in 9 years! Wigan have done that. They are a disappointment every single season, without fail. Much like the famous Pavlovian experiment with those dogs, just hearing the word ‘Arsenal’ or ‘cannon’ makes us unleash an almighty yawn and we suck all of the dust out of the air into our mouths like whale sharks suck up plankton (only much less enthusiastically). Arsene says that getting a champions league spot every year is an achievement enough. No it isn’t and if you think it is, then you’re probably an undercover spurs fan and you should probably get into snooker instead (definitely one of the greatest sports going at the minute, keep an eye out an Judd Trump, he’s not very good).

Everton

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Everton had us all thinking that they were decent for a while, but this season they’ve gone down with some serious whack disease and it’s showing inside and outside the Goodison Park Superdrome. They’re nearly as whack as Palace! They have some magnificent players though, Mirallas, Steven Gerrard, Delofeu, Barkley, Darren Coleman and Seamus Gibson. And Lukaku is probably the most natural born goalscorer in the entire ultra-league. If Everton don’t find an antidote for their whack disease soon then he’s bound to go to a club that’s not whack, like Atletico Madrid or Middlesbrough, for example.

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9 wins all season Evertown! Something just isn’t clicking at the minute and not even Roberto Martinez knows what. We all know they’re a family though the toffee eaters so sooner or later they’ll come together eventually and crack down on the whackness.

Palace

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Palace, Palace, Palace.

What Palace is this then Alan? Because it seems like your run-of-the-mill garden shed to me, you can live inside it if you’ve brought a sleeping bag with you but don’t think you can get the Queen in there with you

Damn these guys were kicking about some real good soccer last season now they’ve forgotten how to do it. With 39 points, 8 away from Norwich City Zulus they’ve survived being sucked off by the relegation black hole in extremely lucky circumstances. Signing Adebayor was a joke that nobody got. Jedinak sells goats illegally. Dwight Gayle is a funny looking creature. No but we shouldn’t really be laying into these guys here because like the toffee suckers they are a really good club and it’s great to have them in the All-Stars super league. But just a word to the wise Palace, if you’re subscription to the whack rejuvenation centre ends then you will be at risk of dropping down into the whack division of UK Soccer in the 2016/17 UK Soccer division season. And that’s not nice. It really isn’t. Teams who play soccer in that abyss don’t even make the whack list! I mean, look what happened to the real Crystal Palace when it burned to cinders in London Colchester 1936. It’s a whack omen, that’s for sure.

There’s one thing we will say here; God works in mysterious ways Palace. Keep hold of your Bibles and your Qurans folks.

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Obviously Aston Villa deserve a mention but it would be almost unsporting like to kick them when they’re down. Besides, we said we wouldn’t repeat teams that featured in the previous whack list in this whack list so we’re not going to mention how monumentally disappointing Aston Villa have been this season. So we thought a summarising image would suffice.

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So that’s the whack list as it stands guys as we approach premier league hot-time. Thank you for reading this article that you’ve decided to read and then subsequently read on this day. Good luck to the Leicester City Foxes and badgers. Hopefully next season you can do the impossible and do it all over again. But more importantly for the Foxes who have been invited to Jamie Vardy’s party, it’s scheduled to be a big one so don’t forget to bring your coke.

See you next season.