blue flares and the beer shower

It’s a long time since I have traveled on a coach to a football game (more than 40 years) but yesterday Richard and I traveled to the Manchester City away game against Crystal Palace down in Croyden, I just couldn’t be bothered with the driving and in truth was in two minds whether to go the game but Richard did a fine job of talking me into it and so it was that we left home about 07:30 for the coach pick up at The Etihad stadium. It wasn’t the best of coaches and certainly not the sort of coach that I would imagine would be used for coach holidays – a little tatty and too cramped (and I’m neither overweight or tall). But it was more than worth it.

The march to the title for a scintillating Liverpool side was being pretty much treated as a formality by fans, club and media and (for me at least) with growing and slightly distasteful references to one of the tragedies that hit the club and its supporters (and football in general) some years ago.

It’s a strange time in football when we have a situation where Liverpool fans will be cheering on their cross city rivals to win their next game and manchester united fans want Manchester City to win the League title – but that’s exactly what the situation is (with just the one exception, probably the single exception on the planet of a former colleague who is a manchester united fan – and wants Liverpool to win the title!)

Crystal Palaces stadium is an old and tired sort of place but currently hosts a team who are one of the form teams of recent months, so we expected a difficult game and traveled with the risk of the game being something of a ‘dead rubber’ if Liverpool were to beat Chelsea in the earlier kick off.

After a short wander around – and some excellent pre match fayre Richard and I were in the ground and able to watch the Liverpool v Chelsea match and see a team that has played with style and confidence choke on the occasion and fall to a football tactical masterclass, and of all the people to gift the game to the opposition it was the Liverpool captain who played a key part in both of the Chelsea goals. The atmosphere and celebration in the packed and crammed concourse at Selhurst Park were exceptional and when the second goal went in the situation went crazy – beer was everywhere and the choking acrid smoke from a blue flare in the enclosed concourse just added to the scenes.

City then went onto win the game 0-2 and put themselves right back in the race for the title. We were home for just after midnight, a long day but another memorable day etched in my memory and one that I was glad to be able to share with Richard.

Next week City play away at Everton and Richard and I have our tickets for that – City have just three games left and we will be at each of them.

Will they win? Who knows you would expect Liverpool and Chelsea to win both of their games – City’s record at Everton is dismal and is a really tough game, so in real terms there is a long way to go – it’s just too tight to call and it’s quite possible of course that Chelsea could end the season on top of the pile – any-which way it’s been pretty decent (again) being a Manchester City fan.

Extra pictures posted to note the day – click the first to open the gallery