Preparation - taken from Issue 52 of the fanzine


I’m taking a trip tomorrow. Heading over the border on a raid. The risks will be high but the rewards will surely be worth it. I’ll have to endure hours of travel discomfort coupled with the inevitable ennui of familiar destinations offering the same view for miles and miles. The strange flat landscape will baffle our navigators. We will arrive at a desolate car park and try to engage with the locals to ascertain a friendly drinking hole to satisfy our party of weary travellers. A trek through unfamiliar territory. A beer to settle the nerves. A moment of reflection. To be here in another town, another country, surrounded by friends who share the same ambition for the day as you. To have arrived. The anticipation. And then the ground, the match and hopefully the rewards.

At this moment though I am still preparing for the trip. After all preparation is everything. I’ve reached the autumn of my years. No longer can I take off with a couple of four-packs of ale, a pork pie and a pocket full of change. Wake up on the sofa after a night on the grog, brush myself down, maybe brush my teeth and then wander down the road to the catholic church to start another adventure. No. Now I find myself planning the trip a week or so in advance.

Clothes. Check the weather forecast. Should I take a coat? Food. Packed lunch. Drink. Do I risk a couple of bottles? Medication. All legal. I also need sleep. Eight hours would be great. Otherwise I’ll be grumpy. Set the alarm for the morning. I don’t want to sleep in and miss out on the mission.

The evening before of course it’ll be the texts from mates with plans for the day. Are we going off message? Someone knows of a great pub a few miles from the ground. That sparks a debate. Stay with the programme everyone.

Who has the flags? Are we taking stickers? Will Wingnut wear the same jacket as me again? Questions, questions, questions. A travel day was simple once upon a time. No internet to muddy the waters. Now we have option paralysis with too much choice. Social media encourages rumours and false rivalries. At least a Sat Nav is welcomed by the intrepid modern traveller. Back in the day it was quite simply a trip into the unknown especially on those early FA Cup rounds. No prior knowledge apart from a ground address. A trusty road atlas and away to go. Weston Super Mare and Bideford, just two of the places where a warm welcome was awaiting us. It was probably best that social media was decades away as those days would have given keyboard warriors repetitive strain injuries for sure.

They say that travel broadens the mind. It’s true. As we grow older it can be easy to stay safe at home and not venture out of the comfort zone however the rewards are still there to be won and they will never be appreciated so well if you don’t make that first step out of the door to follow your team to glory.

I’m going away tomorrow. I’m ready now.

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