That's all right, it was only Bristol.
In fact, getting to Scunthorpe was easier, the motorway Gods were going to have a laugh.
It's been interesting reading DoDtS's views on coach v rail, www.thelittlegazette.com/news/loadsngl.asp?cid=EDW2&id=413796, personally it's train everytime, and when you can get from London to Leicester for £14 and Stockport for £16, it scores. (I appreciate you have to add fares from Southend unless your an exile). However, you can get great coach bargains, I live a reasonable distance from Victoria, and if the time taken is not too unforgiving, Bristol was 2 and a 1/2 hours for a tenner return, I'm on.
Yet, the motorway has to behave, and on Saturday it didn't. (Car drivers would have had the same problem.)
Two, yes two, crashes, meant police sirens, ambulance helicopters, crikey
everybody was out, nothing was moving, for miles. Our driver decided to take the scenic route and go on to the A329 around Ascot and Wokingham rejoining the M4 later. It worked OK, cost us an hour, but no one complained, my only concern was the hippie mum behind me trying to control her kids, Rainbow and, wait for it, Dante!
Half one now, five years since I'd been in the Highbury Vaults, up that bloody Hill, decided to go for it. Passed five other pubs, two now closed, before slumping into a seat and seeing that the place hadn't changed at all, Young's taking over or not, except for only five other customers, a great shame, meeting in there before a nineties game the place was heaving.
Just on two, a fair walk, so only time for three pints then. One of which was a Supreme Champion Ale of Cornwall, as voted by CAMRA, the marvellous Tribute from the St Austell Brewery. However, it was great to see Gem beer from micro-brewery Bath Ales, a 4.1% amber beer, Gem has a rich aroma of hops and malt, with a long, deep, bitter-sweet finish. Exceptional and well known to my taste buds from a year working in the spa city.
Bugger, half two, it's OK, I've got my map. Well maps sometimes paint a false picture, 30 minutes was starting to look a bit conservative as the floodlights were nowhere to be seen! A bus, now I remember that the buses to get from Parkway station were 70 something, I get to the bus stop. 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, they like their 70's! It was a 75 and he did go past the stadium, where I entered the open terrace at five minutes to three, no problem!
Sadly, the team seemed to be believe there was no problem as well, finding themselves two down in the first quarter. The match over after an hour. Read a full report here, if you can: www.thelittlegazette.com/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=413748
The subs did come on to make it a game of sorts and we had a bit of a laugh at the end. A mate who lives in Bristol now, and only sees a couple of Southend games a year, couldn't believe why Laurent wasn't on from the start, we couldn't answer him, other than, "that's Tilly."
The support was great, lots of wit in adversity as ever and even the Gas fans, safely under their roof, joined in with "are you Tottenham in disguise?" Weren't singing that when the second went in, were you lads?
In all honesty this was a "disaster waiting to happen", as another mate pointed out. Crewe, now bottom, put three past us, and we didn't look too safe against Yeovil and Swindon, hardly promotion candidates at the moment, though the Robins seem to have livened up, that Paytner eh?
The Scunthorpe match, as their manager so eloquently put it, "could have been six or seven". Well, it wasn't mate but God knows what might have happened if Hoops hadn't felt so generous against his former employers. It could have been six or seven here, the Aussie pulling off two brilliant saves to keep us in the game early on.
I felt that the hard stuff was done on Tuesday, I can I'm a supporter, the team can't! The warnings about Rovers were there with a 3-1 win over Oldham five days before. Showed them too much respect, blimey Tills you've tried to sign Lambert twice, didn't you warn them! Some basic defending would have helped as another left back in the squad, but this is old stuff and T&B are certain to look for more defensive cover in the new year. Possibly.
In the meantime we just have to hope our attacking strengths our strong enough to knock over the rubbish as well as stealing enough points off the stronger teams. However, our two top scorers, the sick-note Lord and 34 year old Dougie, are always going to miss a few games. HRK we lose for a month before January, the only creative left foot in the team without Harding.
The subs intervention, though welcome, and Laurent's strike was terrific, I've seen them fly over the bar, was too little too late. In fact Rovers were more likely to score again once the shock had cleared from their system, a few panic clearances from them before that cheered us up.
As the final whistle approached a friend who had been at Yeovil leaned over and said. "At least it didn't rain". Too true, but with Leeds and the five goal scoring Farmers, new manager attached, to visit the Hall over the coming week, rain might be the least of our troubles.
By Saturday 15.00 we will know if the defence has got the point about the disaster of the first hour at the Memorial, Harding back will be a massive help though Leeds have a couple of tasty in-form forwards, not just one, and if another unbeaten run is going to build up.
The M4 had cleared by the time I reached the 17.45 coach back to London which arrived on time.
At last, a break now until, bugger, Northwich or Telford away in the cup, no cheap fares to either of those I bet!
Federici - 7; Two terrific early saves kept us in the match for, oh, 16 minutes. Blameless for the goals, nearly got a hand to the fourth that was perfectly placed, very good goalkeeper.
Sankofa - 6; Sankofa is excused, didn't think he was too bad, amongst the chaos around him.
Clarke - 6; Here you have a form forward like Lambert and Clarkey and Captain Adam's answer, to keep a line in the six yard area while tricky Ricky fools us all by sneaking off to the edge of the area. Did anyone go with him, no, a guy with eleven goals to his name! Four goals later, so now fifteen and the country's top scorer, and the points were gone. Unbelievable! Great saving stop in the second half.
Barrett - 6; See above with more but less spectacular defending. They both get sixes for the sheer amount of time they were in the game making last ditch tackles and headed clearances, sadly mainly due to a lot of poor marking from the two of them.
Francis - 4; Francis deserved his seven that night, but he had the time as he did against Swindon, to play off his right foot. Rovers had a real right winger and didn't it show. It was frankly an embarrassing performance at this level, only my fourth 4 in three seasons.
Betsy - 5; My Bristol based mate goes to a few City games and remembers Betsy well, In his opinion, "nothings changed". Oh dear!
McCormack - 5; Well, you wanted to play! The loss of Sawyers energy was a blow especially as Macca played like his Dad.
Christophe - 5; Christophe was the shock though, MOM against Scunny for me, he seemed tired here, letting the Rovers midfield through in droves. With Leeds on Tuesday I hope he gets some rest in!
Hal-Kanu - 6; There was an attempt at some creative thought here, but his classy left food was seen far too infrequently.
Revell - 5; Defence starts at the front Tilly tells us and Revell, Walker and Betsy were ordinary in helping out at the back and making something happen up front. Alex I saw win one header, the one that pulled a fantastic save from the Rovers keeper which Clarke pushed over the line for our first. I'm told he won another, not good enough.
Walker - 5; See above with more runs and less headers.
Subs: Scannell (for Betsy 64) - 7; Went passed opponents as if they weren't there, must be in with a chance over Betsy, even for Leeds. Deserves a go.
Laurent (for Walker 64) - 7; Many felt he should have started at Scunthorpe and certainly did everything to show Tilly he should start on Tuesday here. Lively, powerful, skilful and another great finish, this time with his feet.
Grant (for McCormack 63) - 5; No disrespect to Snoopy, but didn't notice he was on. So poor was the central midfield in the first sixty four minutes I was numbed to any improvement there might have been.