Oh no, not another northern derby!
Date: Saturday 17th September 2005According to my mole on the Black Sea camp of our recent opponents, a warning notice has gone up at the Plovdiv arena to the effect that "Anyone associating with Meat Pie and Chips is in danger of suffering a serious health hazard". Fans who travelled over here are terrified; they think I'm some form of Salmonella. Apparently I'm now a no-go area. Ah well, such is the price of fame.........I digress. After the heady heights of encountering Europe's finest in midweek, a trip to Manchester (should that actually read "Personchester" in this politically correct world of ours? I might just contact Germaine Greer about that one) sounds positively mundane. After a team whose player list reads like an algebra exam, what fears should names like: James, Cole, Fowler, Barton, Mills and Sinclair (bit upmarket that one) Vassel etc, hold for the mighty ..er..Navy Blues? (away strip time). Of course, in trying to copy the international flavour of our: Jaaskelainen, Giannakopoulos, Okocha, N'Gotty, Diouf and Tal Ben Haim etc. ( how fluently they flow from the tonge) they have imported a couple of Musampas and Distins, but that's just a spurious attempt at keeping up with the Joneses (read Allardyces). First thing to remember, particularly on Sunday, is that we are "Bolton Lancs". Ignore the Royal Mail and the land-grabbing feudal lords of Manchester City Council who would attempt to lay claim to our fair town, Greater Manchester, or any other form of Manchester disease..we ain't. We are "Bolton, Lancs". We neither want or need any indications of "sleeping with the enemy" in the unthinkable event a draw should occur on Sunday. Now then, to business and the arena. "Eastlands" (a sort of Southfork with hot-dog vans and blue and white garden gnomes) is just another attempt to avoid the utter boredom of being known as" The City of Manchester Stadium", though not half as pretentious as the red half's "Theatre of Dreams" at Old Trafford (later to be known as "The Glazier Caravan Site", and while I'm on the subject, where exactly is Young Trafford?). Gee, who thinks these things up? Anyway... on the serious side, the "Sky Blues" need a little wary watching since their "higher than thou" claim, unfortuantely happens to be true (well, at the moment that is). How long that will last could be altered by a point snatching trip by our goodselves! The TV pundits will most likely have some black and white film footage of "Dark satanic mills" or a rendering of Houghton Weavers' "Blackpool Bell" lined up for "Yet another northern derby, by gum" Apparently, last time we played there they saw thousands of cars heading towards the Metropolis on the M63 over the gunmetal grey waters of the Irwell and the ship canal, got all excited and didn't realize sixty percent of them were about to turn off at the Trafford Centre to go shopping and twenty percent were heading for the airport. Somehow they (the opposition) have managed to scuffle their way upwards into the higher echelons of the league table, a fact that must have their red neighbours fuming at their very pretentiousness. We will not be quite so uncharitable, or indeed, so casually contemptuous or dismissive of this creditable achievement. Good old Sir Alec might actually want us to "win". Imagine that in your wildest dreams. Since Miss Ellie ( read K. Keegan esq ) passed on, and old devious JR (read S. Pearce esq) rode into town (sorry, City) all the little sky-blue dogies have had a red-hot branding iron applied to their venerable overpaid rumps. It seems to have worked. The dressing room background music- "Songs of praise with Kev" has been replaced by decibel shattering "Eminem" and "Fifty Cent gangsta-rap anthems" a la Old Psycho himself as he strides the corridors of power muttering incoherently about his delusions of grandeur of "We are the champions" etc etc and trying valiantly to decipher the notes he scribbled on Thursday evening whilst watching us.. Steady there old chap, don't get carried away! Gee, the Commonwealth Games have much to answer for. Quite gone to their heads, silly fellows! Old King Cole (definitely not a merry old soul) has acquired a new lease of life and found religion, and hasn't stamped on a face in, well, this whole season (all five games of it so far). He needs introducing to Bruno at an early stage. Vassel, Distin and Reyna may one day wish to come and watch us, so a good idea is an early view of row three where they will be sitting. Robbie Fowler and the injured Bradley Wright-Phillips are not sure to figure so we'll ignore them 'til they happen. Our best allies in their side are Messrs Barton, James and Mills. It's always a possibility that keeper James will wear his "utterly butterly" gloves and help our cause with a gift clanger or not "got himself ready". Mr Barton is a sending off waiting to happen, as is his follically challenged "hate the world" comrade, the Mills bomb, who is sure to either go or cripple someone. Definitely no relation to the other half of Mills and Boone. When on song he makes Robbie Savage look like a nice guy and Senor Campo can have a field day of free-kick earning if he plays it right. Wind him up Jiouffy! Whether Mexican Pete will lead our charge, or the Bolton battering ram will play, is a point still uncertain. Will we have an old pals' reunion with our respective Japanese gentlemen, who knows? One thing is for sure, the bravest Wanderer this weeek will undoubtedly be old MEATPIEANDCHIPS. "Why", you may ask, "are you playing then?". Oh no, much braver than that. I just happen to work on Oxford Road in Manchester's heartland, surrounded daily by red and sky blue fanatics. If any of them read this and realise that MEATPIEANDCHIPS is actually "The Farnworth Flamenco dancer" I may never write another pre-match. But if we win on Sunday, boy will I do some paybacking! Footnote: A tough call this, City are a different proposition than last year. A win would be a real boost for the Whites (might do me no harm at work either). Come on you Whites, Navy Blues or whatever. Allardyce expects that every man will do his duty.