Authored By Max
On paper, not the most appealing fixture, but courtesy of a morning supporters game in Middleton, just outside 'Dale, this turned into a bloody good trip.
It wasn't quite so good at the start of the day, though. We were going by minibus and the supporters match kick off had been set for about 11am, meaning a very early departure. When the alarm went off at 5:45am, I do remember thinking 'oh fuck this', before somehow dragging myself out of bed and into the shower.
I was in Barnet a little after half six. I didn't really know that time of day existed, to be doing things anyway.
Slowly but surely, every turned up, got a bacon roll or something from Cafe Jose and hopped on the minibus. I parked myself at the back with a few others. It was quite evident the back of the bus was going to be the 'silly' bit and the front a bit quieter. We left just after 7am. Either way, we were still not quite moving at 7:08am (I remember looking at the time on my phone)...as I cracked open my first can of Carlsberg. Oh dear.
The journey up was pretty easy going. In more ways than one really, as those of us at the back were not holding back at all, simply getting right on it. I didn't have to worry about playing football, unlike most of the others, so it wasn't so bad for me, but hardly ideal preperation for the other lads.
We got to Middleton and everyone got ready and kicked off quite quickly. Playing on an artificial pitch, we were a goal down after about 30 seconds. Sadly, it was a sign of things to come. I can't imagine the morning's activites on the bus had helped. We got dicked 5-1, our goal was a cracker mind you, but little consolation. I even made a brief cameo as a sub for the final ten. I didn't really do much, other than take a nasty kick to the ankle.
Oh well, that bit done and dusted, back on the bus for the short journey to Rochdale and back on the beers. We went in The Church pub, just by the ground. Nice little place. Very much a home fans pub, but we all got a really friendly welcome, fair play. Three of the lads decided despite coming all the way to Rochdale, they weren't going into the ground, but were going to watch Jeff Stelling instead. I'd not ticked Spotland off before, so I was always going in. We quickly went in the little chip shop opposite the away end before kick off. Real little old school Northern chippy, its basically the downstairs of a house. But there steak & kidney pie, chips and graaaaavy is amazing. Cheap too, lovely. However, queing for this, we got in the ground at about 3:02..to find we'd managed to miss Adam Birchall bang the Bees 1-0 up.
Turned out we missed the only good bit. It was all downhill pretty quickly. Two goals in the last 5 of the first half saw us go off 2-1 down. Second half we just showed no fight whatsoever and never looked like getting another. When Rochdale went 3-1 up on 72 minutes, that was my cue to depart. Another shocking performance, a dreadful start to the season.
We had a pint in The Church pub watching the scores come in, before heading back to our minibus. We made a quick tactical stop off at a big Tesco and stocked up on a crate or two, as well as a plastic container that we filled with ice to put the beers in. Clever aren't we? Despite both matches involving Barnet and Rochdale that day being a disaster, we had a bloody good journey home. I don't know why, I guess we were all a bit excited about this new method of transportation to an away game. That and we were all absolutely battered.
We got back to Barnet about half nine. For those at the front of the bus not drinking, it must have been the worst journey home ever. For us at the back, we'd had music blasting all the way home, done various mature things like putting our arses against the back window and just intoxicated ourselves to a silly state. Quality.
Most of us nipped in the Queens Arms for one or two, before trudging off home, in various states. A really ridiculous day, given where we went, why and how. But oh well, all part of the fun. Barnet were bloody awful, though.