POOLIE IN NOTTINGHAM trots along to Walsall

One of the weirdest things I've seen in Walsall was a few weeks ago when I was working through there. Walking along a street near the town centre I noticed a parked car which had a fully misted up windscreen, despite it being a sunny and fairly mild day. I looked a bit closer, and saw that the passenger seat had a healthy covering of mouldy fungus.
This was presumably from where the sunroof had been leaking and dripping on the seat. The driver's seat was mushroom-free, and the tax disc was in date, so I can only think that someone in Walsall drives it round in that condition without any worries.

I was hoping the trip to the Bescot to see Pools would be a bit more exciting than this, but unfortunately it wasn't to be. This has been one of those seasons where I'd settle for a point before the kick off of most away fixtures, particularly against a team at the bottom who are desperate for points. By the end of it I was just relieved that it was over.

It was such a shame that the game was a bore draw as I had another young brain in tow ready to be washed blue and white. My nephew Wilf had accompanied me to the pitiful display at Wycombe a few weeks earlier, and enjoyed the experience so much he had convinced his twin brother Dan to come along as well. Dan isn't into sport like Wilf is, but even so I reckon he can be another young member of the Poolie fraternity. "prior to this match the fixture always guaranteed goals. Last season's fixture saw the net bulge no less than 7 times, and the season before that featured 5 strikes"

Now it's all a distant, hazy, squelchy memory now, but in the week leading up to the game all of my family (and more or less everyone I know) seemed to be suffering from a sickness bug that involved plenty of spewing and skittery turds. My mam gave me a warning, ruefully shaking her head when recalling what had happened when she picked Wilf and Dan up from school a few days previously.

"When they got out of the car, Wilf was walking like John Wayne. I thought he was messing about, so I told him to stop walking like that or people would think he had sharted. He just looked at me and said 'I have.' Poor little bugger."

I've never been one to let a bit of a virus stop me following Pools, so me, my son Ewan and the twins left Leamington and joined the M40 north to get on the M6. After ten minutes or so, Ewan informed me that he needed the toilet, and it wasn't just for a slash. I told him to hold it in and I would stop at the next services. I didn't realise how few services there are on the motorways round Birmingham, but I was made well aware 5 minutes later when Ewan turned red with the effort of keeping his duds clean, just as we passed a sign informing us that the next services were at least ten miles away.

There was nothing else for it, so I left the motorway at the next exit, and headed up an A-road where I soon found a lay-by. Ewan got out of the car, squatted down and let it flow, much to the relief of both of us. After that little diversion we got back onto the motorway, and it wasn't long before we got to the Walsall junction.
Time was ticking away, and I managed to get parked up in the train station car park right next to the ground with minutes to spare before kick-off. The Bescot is one of those newfangled characterless stadiums sandwiched between the motorway and an industrial estate, but it is one of my favourite League One away days. Walsall fans are probably the friendliest of any team I have seen Pools play at, and prior to this match the fixture always guaranteed goals. Last season's fixture saw the net bulge no less than 7 times, and the season before that featured 5 strikes.

The Walsall niceness was in evidence at the turnstile, when the cheerful old gadgie on the gate said I only had to pay for one child admission to cover the three of them. No wonder the club has experienced financial problems over the years!

We got in just as the game kicked off, and found some seats to the left of the goal. After a couple of minutes, I was delighted to hear Wilf ask where Luke James was. He had obviously made an impression on Wilf during the Wycombe game, and I explained that he was injured.

Absolutely nothing of note happened in the first half, other than Walsall demonstrating some poor finishing from the few chances they managed to create. During half time, I spotted Andy Ramalamadingdong, and he sat with us for the second half.

The second half was more of the same, until Ewan suddenly announced that he needed the toilet really quickly. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough, and there was a fair bit of skidding in Ewan's undercrackers. He was a bit embarrassed as I dropped them in the bin, but I assured him that many a great Poolie before him had followed through and needed to discard their duds in a football ground.

Whilst all this was going on, I heard the biggest roar of the game, and feared that Walsall had taken the lead. Emerging from the bogs, my fears were unjustified, and Andy filled me in. The lumbering Macken had gone up for a header in our box, Flinders more or less flattened him, and the ref gave us a free kick!

Sweeney got put through on goal but the Walsall keeper made a good save, and that was about it for excitement. Dan summed it up perfectly when I dropped the twins back at my sister's. "Was it a good game?" she enquired. "The best bit was when they kicked the ball really high and it went over the stadium roof" he replied. And I think he was right.