£1.35 a pint, that cabbie was wrong: Day Tripping to Scunthorpe

At one pound there could be no complaints about the four hour Megabus journey from Victoria and there were none.

The mate I met before the Donny game was there again but made sure it was a strict one hour, well two, this time around, no trips back to Bakewell on this occasion!

At £11.30 a decent day return for the one hour 'TransPennine Express' journey, (two painted up carriages), and stopped at Doncaster, Barnetby, (whatever happened to their team?), Scunthorpe and ended at Grimsby, ahh, the memories.

Did make me laugh though it was costing more to get from Sheffield to Scunthorpe than London to Sheffield, let the train take the strain!

I was determined to follow my own pub crawl as the train pulled in to sunny Scunny just after 5, two and a half hours to kick-off, must remember 7.30 start, but why, everybody starts at 7.45 nowadays? (Answer, the A18, see later!)

The cab driver who picked up the comedian Mark Thomas, as revealed after 'Have I Got News for You' had finished on Saturday, who said such nasty things about his own town should be pulled up in front of the local council. My first impression was of a spacious, leafy suburb, not often you say that leaving a rail station, anywhere! My thoughts on the place just got better as the pre-match refreshments continued!

The Honest Lawyer was five minutes walk away and I got a shock when the elderly guy sitting at the bar, the owner as it turned out, said: "Good Afternoon." I looked at him as suspiciously as anybody who lives and work in London would. A choice of six real ales calmed the nerves. Two pints later I had no nerves at all!

The Tom Woods, (£2.70), dark and dusky, how I like them, was 5% and tasted like it. Down a level to the 4.5% Cains Autumn Ale, (£2.50), a lighter ale with a slight woody taste, sadly that taste was taken over by the stronger Tom Woods before, it spoilt what would have been a great pint, must do it the other way round next time!

On to the Weatherspoons, The Blue Bell, a couple of minutes up the road. A small selection for this chain but at £1.79 the usual bargin, I tried an old favourite from Wales, the Reverent James, that damn Tom Woods was still affecting my taste buds, onwards.

As I turned into Doncaster Road I found out why they gave you the extra 15 minutes, you'd miss the last train if they didn't! The A18 stretches on and on, and on. At last The Berkeley Hotel was on the horizon, just hit 7, the Old Farmhouse by the ground would have to be missed, Sam Smith hostelries of any type are not to be taken likely, even in a hotel, a pint of Old Museum, if served correctly, is a joy.

"£1.35 please."

"Are you taking the piss?" (laughing)

"No TV or music license, we do it to get the punters in, same for the Alpine Lager as well."

And it worked, the place was packed of Scunthorpe shirts, always worryingly too close to West Ham ones for my liking.

Once I got over the fact I could have had four pints in here and saved a few bob I had another half, just to hear the barmaid say; "68p please." Little things.

You can see the floodlights from the hotel and as a car drived past with a Blue hanging out shouting, "We love you Southend." I shouted "Southend" back, realising while they were in the safety of a motor I was surrounded by a few hundred Scunny fans, I crept into the darkness!

Onwards past the food world of Kentucky Fried and Big Macs, I was in the ground just before the start joining around 200 other Shrimpers.

My Lord, Barny's out there, give him till half time, (not far wrong), and they'll playing in Yellow, great stuff, I love that chant, and strangely enough I was in the mood for a song.

So were a few Southend supporters who seemed to decide it was their mission for the game to piss off the stewards and make it tough for the rest of us who wanted to watch the game. Travelling a distance on a Tuesday evening does not give anyone a license to spoil it for anybody else.

"Sit down", I asked one Gentleman who had partaken in a few cheap pints himself, and more.

"Who the fuck are you", he politely replied.

"I'm from Southend and I want to watch the game. Who the fuck are you?" (Technically not correct anymore but I stand my ground.)

Ha, amazing the bottle you pick up after a few bottles, still I got a 'well done' from a bloke next to me so I was feeling a touch smug!

Match report here: www.southendunited-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=413094.

No more moaning from me about the officials, surprised how low the crowd was though.

Did not go crazy at first when we scored as I could see the ref looking at Adam and placing the whistle in his mouth, did think he was going to give a foul. Then he pointed to the centre spot. Seen it again now, most headed goals from a corner will have some physical contact made, looked OK and didn't he put it away well. The penalty, see 'no more moaning about officials'. Consistency guys, consistency. Boring but true.

I read one post on the Zone that both teams didn't play that well and why was everybody going on about the 'excellent' game. Not sure where he was sitting but even through my Old Museum haze this was stirling stuff, just what you wanted after such a long trip on a cold evening. I'm confident both these teams are in for the long hall.

Scunthorpe are not bad with plenty of attacking options, great on the break, watch them at the Hall. Hoops does seem to have improved but did we laugh after he missed that sitter just before half time.

A very long four minutes of injury time brought us a deserved and hard-worked for point.

That walk back, a risky two pieces of chicken and chips, last train back to Sheffield, changing at Doncaster, will I ever be rid of that place, and the coach back to London, (£7.50, I was robbed), with all my Croatian buddies from the last trip.

There was the joy of hearing Scunny manager Nigel Adkins on the local radio; "Could have been six or seven, could have been six or seven." Strange how excited scousers sound like parrots on speed.

Hit the smoke at 6am and somehow getting through a days work thanks to several cups of caffeine. I'm getting too old for this!

Federici - 8; Great positioning, he scares the life out of opposing strikers. Enjoy while here.

Sankofa - 6; Got skinned a couple of times but no disaster, good game.

Clarke - 8; You know what your going to get, however for the second game running I couldn't spot an error, just in time for re-opening contract talks.

Barrett - 7; Another storming performance from the skipper, gave everything, great header for the goal.

Francis - 7; Solid defensive match, at left back! As ever, caught out at times when going forward but that's our Simon.

Betsy - 6; Most frustrating player after 12 games. I hope I'm giving him the most exciting player after 24.

Sawyer - 7; Ran himself into the ground, again. Keep thinking he deserves a rest, then he plays like this. If Ipswich are watching him, are you surprised?

Christophe - 8
; Maybe a MOM award for consistency over the last few games. Yes, the odd pass does go astray, but still head and shoulders, literally, above anyone in midfield. Broke up several promising Iron attacks.

Barnard - 6; Not fully fit. A bit of a nuisance, but not the Lord, someone doing an ordinary impression. Hopefully back to his best for Leeds.

Revell - 7; Revell continues to improve though some don't agree, fair enough, to me fought for every ball, was involved in some good passing movements.

Subs: Walker (for Barnard 61) - 6; James nearly won the game with a shot that brought the best out of the Scunny keeper, otherwise the usual mixed package.

McCormack - (for Sawyer 74) - 6; Was beaten for pace a few times when he first came on but soon snapping away like the Macca of old. No Yellow!

Laurent - (for Revell 85) - 6; Our goal winner v Swindon might thought he'd get more time, welcome to the ways of Tilly my French friend. Bizarre booking for time-wasting over a throw in our half!