North East Hospitality
Sunday 30th October 2016
The clocks went back last night resulting in a well needed extra hour in bed this morning. That was no excuse for the bloke in the street outside my hotel to be singing and shouting at the top of his voice at 7am! His selection of ditties included the ‘Blaydon Races’ but as irritating as it was I assume he was celebrating the Geordies latest victory over Preston. And I’m sure our thumping of the Mackems contributed to his general mood.
On a football journey that lasts best part of 6 days mine started on Friday night this time round, my flight from Southampton being so early that it required an overnight stay in the soulless and ridiculously hot Premier Inn at the airport.
I’ve never understood why many hotels, trains and the like feel it is essential to have the heating turned up just because it ‘should’ be cold outside. The temperature is unseasonably warm right now…..so turn it off!!
Consequently, after a couple of jars in the hotel bar, a broken and uncomfortable sleep followed rather than one of those depicted on TV by Lenny Henry!
Our flight on the other hand, despite taking off at a time that felt like the middle of the night, was not only on time and efficiency personified but gave quite spectacular views of a glorious sunrise.
Overnight bags dropped at our digs in Newcastle city centre and breakfast consumed we utilised the area’s excellent metro system to head down to Sunderland and enjoy some pre match refreshment that although was probably a little bit early to be considered ok, it was perfectly acceptable if you’d been up as long as we had!
Like Newcastle, Norwich and one or two others, the ‘right in the centre of the city’ feel to the Stadium of Light adds a special ingredient to the overall away day experience and the walk across the iconic bridge over the Wear adds to that aspect.
Everyone expected us to beat Middlesbrough last week and with our hosts currently propping up the table that expectancy was similar this week. Boro leaving with a point emphasized however, that there was absolutely no room for complacency.
As is always the case the travelling Gooners were present in force, the sold out away end high up behind the goal making themselves heard all afternoon in the usual fashion.
And after a dominant start Ox ended a good week for him personally by taking on and beating the full back before slinging over an excellent cross that Alexis made his own by thumping a fine header home to put us in front.
A second looked like coming at any moment and had it materialised it would probably have been game over. The slender lead however, meant our hosts were always in the game no matter how much we dominated.
Defensive mistakes leading to goals are irritating and frustrating of course. If they don’t lead to dropping points however, they are far easier to accept and forget.
With time running out it looked like yesterday’s could have been extremely costly, doubly frustrating when we should have been awarded a penalty of our own just a couple of minutes earlier.
In those last 20 minutes Olly not only showed what a good player he is but more importantly demonstrated just what an alternative he offers. A great move and cross from Gibbo, excellent movement inside the box and a fine finish put as back in front.
Cue carnage in the away end, the fine jostle laced with as much relief as any other emotion.
The remaining minutes were about how many rather than if we would win and another couple of goals were intensely pleasing and put or more realistic look to the scoreline given our performance and domination all game.
Another one ticked off then and a thoroughly entertaining couple of hours was followed by the customary celebrations firstly for an hour or so in Sunderland before the excellent hospitality the city of Newcastle always offers to Saturday night visitors.
Today we are flying back to Southampton and our flight has just been called so I’ll sign off.
Then follows a drive to Luton as believe it or not later tonight we board another flight this time to the Bulgarian capital.
Life……be in it! 😉