Monday, 16 May 2022

Update The Insta Later

Sheffield United U18 5 v Colchester United U18 1 
U18 Professional Development League Play Off Semi Final 
Sunday 15 May 2022 
SUFC 2021/22 Game #74 

(I'll begin with an apology, particularly to SubStack email subscribers & those who clicked the Blog soon after publication. In the last Blog, I announced that Forest had beaten us 1-0. It was in fact 2-1. Amateur Hour. That's now been corrected in online versions)

So, the Blades U18 remarkable season continues. Unbeaten (W15, D8) in the regular season. Won this semi final. Now through to a one off National Final against Charlton Athletic. (I'm always obliged to point out at this stage this is U18 Academy Division 3. Don't get too carried away. But - Win What You're In).

It's worth explaining that three of today's U18 starters (Sachdev, Peck & Arblaster) had also started the U23 play off last Monday. And four U18 starters (Hiddleston, Potter, Lankshear & Theo Williams) were on the U23 bench on Monday. (As it happens, I think that says more about where the U23s are).

This was a kick up the arse reminder about U18 football. Things change quickly during games. There's a lot of ebb and flow. I thought United had been disappointing in the first half. A ridiculous amount of play was over the top into Theo Williams channel. Hoping he would be able to get a steal on the left back and work something. It wasn't not working, but it wasn't producing either. Don't get me wrong, we had chances, you always do at U18. But, so did Colchester. Indeed, they scored just before half time.

Owen Hampson was subbed by Charlie Staniland for the second half. That put a burst of energy in it. Willing to try & get forward with the ball at his feet. And, Del Geary started to take more of a role in the tech area. Getting quite ratty he was. Both with his own team & the officials. Remember, Del is now Academy Manager. I feel some "coaches" are more suited to the whiteboard & strategy documents needed at management level. Some are more suited to the tracksuit, cones & shouting needed when working with players. I worry about Del - very much a hands on coach, rather than a CEO.

That point does give me a chance to shout out former U23 hands on coach and former Academy Manager Travis Binnion. In case you hadn't heard, I've got an inappropriate man crush on Trav. His Manchester United U18s (he's hands on coach with them) won the FA Youth Cup in the week.

Anyway. Rewind. Chaz Staniland driving forward. Del shouting & bawling. A bit of refocus. And the Young Blades really started to get back into it. After a period of sustained pressure, Josh Smith scored a great goal from a tight angle on the left. Great inside the defender ball from Sydie Peck. And I think the keeper will be a little pissed off. It seemed to go through him. I felt a bit for young Smith. All these rapscallions know where the Club Photographer is. Score. Run over. Hold the pose. Update your Insta after the game.

Josh, poor fucker, he's got the equaliser. He knows the drill. Pick the ball out of the net. Run with it. Place it on the centre circle spot. Get the game going. Get the winner. No photo op there lad.

No drama. The Go Ahead Goal came just two minutes later. The thing I remember most is the back to goal, deep in his own half, flick & turn to set the move up from Theo Williams. He feeds Lankshear. He takes it deep. Squares it & a slight deflection puts in in Peck's stride and he bundles it home.

Run to the camera now. Everybody.

On 72 minutes, I swear to Didzy, Josh Smith scored his second & The Blades third from the exact same spot as his first. This time, it's more of an individual effort. Some neat work from Peck & Williams on the left corner of the penalty area released the ball back to Josh. He weaves & a'waggles into the box and scores hard and low across the keeper.

Potter & Williams added the fourth & fifth. And there were a few substitutions to preserve players for the final. One down at HT. Five goals in twenty minutes & cruise the last ten. Gotta love that.

As this was "only" an U18 game. And as it was Sunday. And as key Carrier Bag Firm luminaries do the Sunday Session in Fanny's every week, I asked for, and was granted a one match trial.

Lord Nelson
166 Arundel St, Sheffield City Centre, Sheffield S1 4RE

Ossett Brewery, White Rat, Pale Ale on Cask at 4%

A great beer. In excellent condition. Suited the weather. And the mood. Plough in. Bitter hop burst hits you first. Further down, you get a bit more of "golden ale" sugar before that kicks. But, those lovely hops predominate.

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Sunday, 15 May 2022


Sheffield United 1 v Nottingham Forest 2 
Championship Play Offs Semi Final 1st Leg
Saturday 14 May 2022 
SUFC 2021/22 Game #73 

How did you get on then? During the great Bramall Lane Seat Free-For-All. Some fella supposed to come up to yer, weren't he?

"That's my season ticket seat, I've had it for fifteen years, fuck off aht a' it"

Head vein bulging. Chin jutting. Stone Island badge flexing. Spittle forming. Nostrils a'flaring. No. Me either.

Still, I had all the "lines" ready.

"Sander Berge lodged with us when he first came over. He got me this ticket as a thank you. Take it up with him."

"(Quietly & Conspiratorially) Hi mate, let's not have any fuss, I'm on a Banning Order & I mustn't draw attention to meself, you don't look like a Grass, leave it yeah"

"I know, great seat ain't it. Fifteen years you day, me & my Dad had it from when the stand opened in 1975 until 2007, he died in it…"

What a load of Bollocks. As many on here will know, for a good few years now I've been advocating RANSEAL. It does what it says on the tin. 

Random Allocation of Numbered Seats Everywhere, Any Location

In this proposal, your Season Ticket is a cheap, loyalty way of gaining access to every home league game of the season. But doesn't entitle you to any particular seat. Two days before each match, you get an email from the club with a pdf ticket, which has been completely randomly allocated in any seat, row, block, stand anywhere in the ground.

One game, right behind the Directors Box in The South. The next game, right behind a pillar on The Shoreham. The next game, front row in the Bramall Lane Lower.

Extensive research shows that potential United fans won't buy season tickets because they're worried about getting stuck next to some fucker who keeps banging on about teamsheets & the Hull City training ground & a new MicroPub on Woodseats.

That is restricting Season Ticket sales, reducing revenue & holding us back as a club. The Prince knows this. And has looked for solutions. RANSEAL means you'll only get teamsheet nerd for one game. One day, and soon, we will adopt RANSEAL. Forget Safe Standing, this is the future. Be prepared.

We weren't really at it were we? We weren't awful. We weren't overrun. But Gibbs-White, Ndiaye & Berge just couldn't get anything going. Couple that with defensive slips & gaffs. It could have been a very long afternoon. But, some good saves. And a bit of luck here & there. And, we're still in it after that late goal. I hate two leg games. They should be ditched across all formats. They're neither here nor there. If it's drama you want, you're just wasting a game. But, here we are, still in it.

One of the Carrier Bag Firm beer geeks had bought a load of American beers not normally distributed in the UK. When quizzed on how he'd managed to get hold of them, he replied … "off of Instagram". So, there you have it. We adjourned to the Instagram Tavern.

Hill Farmstead Brewery, (Greensboro, Vermont), Edward, American Pale from a Tin at 5.2%

Named after the Brewers Grandad Edward, using water from the well on the land he once owned. Unfiltered and dry hopped. Pale and Caramel malt. Centennial, Chinook, Columbus, Simcoe, and Warrior hops.

The Alchemist, (Stowe, Vermont), Focal Banger, American IPA from a Tin at 7%

A long description on the tin as to why you should drink it from the tin. We fucking ignored that. Citra & Mosaic hops.

Tree House Brewing Co, (Charlton, Massachusetts), Julius, American IPA from a Tin at 6.8%

Tree House Brewing Co, Green, American IPA from a Tin at 7.5%

Made with Australian and American hops, kettle and dry hopped.

Tree House Brewing Co, Spring, Double IPA from a Tin at 7.9%

Tree House Brewing Co, Haze, Double IPA from a Tin at 8.2%

Tree House Brewing Co, Curiosity One Hundred Twenty Two, Double IPA from a Tin at 8.2%

Here we fucking go. Nothing on the tin about the beer. No name. No description. Zilch. You have to scan the QR code on the tin to find out what it is.

Tree House Brewing Co, New Day, Double IPA from a Tin at 7.8%

Another one of yer "QR only tins".

I know there was a lot of ShitTalk about whether print at home QR code tickets would work at the Bramall Lane turnstiles. But, I never in a million years thought I'd end the evening having to scan QR codes to find out what I was fucking drinking. Madness.

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Friday, 13 May 2022

Couch To 1k

Lancashire 566 for 9 declared 
v Yorkshire 53 for 2 
County Championship Division 1 
Close on Day Two 
Friday 13 May 2022 
Played at Headingley 

I am afraid this Blog is going to drift into sentiment & nostalgia. Please accept my apologies. That is because this is the One Thousandth Blog I have published since the debut in July 2014. At times, it got very lazy. One Blog covering two, three, four or more games. As my "other creative writing projects" expanded, some Blogs weren't even about a game or a beer!!!

For long periods, the Blog got formulaic - went to this, drank that. And, I know that on many, many occasions it looks like I'm searching for any controversy or pivot point upon which to start a ruck. My excuse is - there are only so many different ways to say the same thing a thousand times.

I'm now going to get a bit evangelical. I'm a statistician by academic training & career path. So, I've amazed myself by just how much I've enjoyed trying to write creatively. It has led me down avenues I never thought possible - quotes of mine lifted for newspapers, chapters in other people's books, the truly marvellous Dem Blades football fanzine & a great new writing project called The Pinch.

Hell. I even got my name in Wisden. (I entered their annual writing competition, didn't win, but got listed in the also rans - still counts, mate). But, mainly, I've just enjoyed writing it for the sake of writing it. If you ever feel like doing some writing, even for yourself, particularly for yourself, DO IT.

I often claim "it's just my diary". I write it as my head says it to the page. That's why there's so much fucking swearing in it!!!

But, I'm not a fucking mug (there, swearing again). It's a conceit. Look at Me, Me, Me. With all me travel & different games & counting this, that and the other and shit. Sorry. Indulge me. 

You have just been informed by the Carrier Bag Firm.

As it's The Roses game. Let's continue the Nostalgia Tip. I was at an amazing game at Bramall Lane in August 1969. As always with Carrier Bag Firm stories, I remember it differently to how it actually happened. But, I've now checked the #FACTS.

It was three day Championship cricket in those days. All based on time. No minimum overs. Just a minimum of (I think) 20 overs in the final hour on Day 3. But, the Captains knew the deal. They'd have a good idea of how many overs would be available in the game. Let's call it 310 overs. Give or take.

The Lankies batted first and made 171 all out in 88 overs. Bowler Peter Lever top scored with 57. Chris Old took 5 for 34.

Yorkshire replied with 290 for 8 declared. A lead of 119. Geoff Boycott top scored with 80. And John Hampshire got to 62. The aforementioned Peter Lever took 5 for 61. Yorkshire's innings took another 101 overs out of the game. Jack Bond the Lancashire Captain would have calculated maybe 120 overs left in the game, trailing by 119. The scoring rate to date in the game had been around 2.4 an over.

Today, I put it to the Carrier Bag Firm in the North East Lower. What would you have done if you'd been Bond? Trail by 119, maybe 120 overs left. The consensus was - try to bat out those overs for a Draw. Or at least bat it deep so that Yorkshire didn't have a chase. Which is essentially what Lancashire tried.

Nought for one. Ten for two. They were looking down the barrel. But a big third wicket stand took it to 150 for 3. At least Yorkshire would have to bat again. 150 for 4, 157 for 5, 159 for 6, 159 for 7. A lead of just 40. In real time, when I was eleven, I couldn't fathom why The Red Rose had been blocking & taking an age to get to 160, hardly playing a shot. But, now, unfathomably to an eleven year old, they were trying to cart it on the John Street Terrace, on to The Shoreham, and into the BLLT.

At that stage, with seven gone already, runs had become more important than overs consumed. 160 for 8, 167 for 9, 183 all out. Farokh Engineer a magnificent 96 & Clive Lloyd a battling 50. The Umpires got the abacus out. Yorkshire would chase 65 in 19 overs.

Remember, there was no T20 in those days. The Gillette Cup had been introduced in 1963, and had become a 60 overs a side one day County Cricket Competition. The 40 overs John Player League was actually introduced the same year (1969) as this Roses Game. Big scores in a few overs was a thing of the future in 1969.

But, 65 off 19 it was. At 59 for 3, needing just 6 to win, Yorkshire looked well set. But, were running out of balls to score off. They scrabbled it to 64 for 3, one to win.

But, fucking hell, wickets 4 & 5 went on the same score. Including Engineer stumping Chris Old standing up to fast bowler Ken Higgs. Here we go…

Richard Hutton coming to the crease for Yorkshire. Wickets aren't important now. One ball left (Higgs). One to win. An almighty heave. The ball off the edge, which edge I don't know. Let's say Top Edge. Held by Harry Pilling in a slip (ish) position. Ridic. Three wickets going on 64, with the scores level. DRAWN MATCH WITH SCORES LEVEL. (If you batted fourth in one of those games in those days, as Yorkshire did, you got some extra points).

Not going to be like that in 2022 I fear. Lancashire just batted on & on today. Keaton Jennings eventually run out in a kerfuffle for 238. Vilas eventually hauled them in with 9 gone. 566.

Lyth left one and was LBW to Bailey for 10. Malan gone for 23 before the close. All fairly dismal.

Elusive Brewing (Wokingham), Skyline Drive, American Pale Ale on Cask at 4.5%

Interesting balance. It's quite dry & earthy at first. But, there's a growing bitterness that fills in after that.

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Thursday, 12 May 2022

YCCC, A New Low

Lancashire 288 for 3 
v Yorkshire 
County Championship Division 1 
Close on Day One 
Thursday 12 May 2022 
Played at Headingley 

Yorkshire County Cricket Club. A NEW LOW. Look I'll take all the shit that can be thrown at me about - does it really matter - can't you enjoy yourself without drinking beer - there's far more important things that need doing. Understood. But, I Blog about Cricket & Beer.

If you're providing "catering". And if that includes selling beer. Then, that's low hanging fruit. That should be so easy to get right. County Cricket Clubs which have an inclusive, you can enjoy yourself here, this is your place - feel, will succeed in attracting & retaining fans & Members. And, I'm not talking about the unsustainable competitive beer drinking that surrounds International & T20 cricket. I'm talking about normal, jolly, couple of pints, hail fellow well met, what you having, can I get you one, adult drinking.

So. The Headingley Long Room. Decent sized bar front. Few Cask handpulls. Few Keg fonts. Designer Gins, etc behind the bar. Rows of your Red Wines. And ranks of your Whites & Fizz in the fridge. Glasses of every shape and size. Pints. Halves. Tumblers. Wine stems. The lot. All waiting to be brimmed with booze. A bright, cavernous room, bedecked with Memorabilia, tables & comfy chairs. Even Sofas FFS. How can you fuck it up from there?

If you ask for a Pint of Preferred, to sit down & drink inside the room. All those lovely glass vessels are ignored, rejected, indeed verboten. They can only serve your beer in PAPER CUPS. And, this is nothing to do with safety, or no glass outside, or eco friendly. They have always (previously) served you a beer (or anything else) in a glass at Yorkshire 4 Day games on your adult say so that you're going to drink it inside. But, for … reasons … they have now decided to downgrade the experience to PAPER CUPS. 

Yeah. Yeah. I know. Grand scheme and all that. But, that's a bizarre thing to do. Plastic eco if you have to. Although glass, washed is perfectly sustainable. But PAPER CUPS. I give up.

I gave up as far as…

Headingley Central, Otley Rd, Headingley, Leeds LS6 2UE

If you persevere with my Blogs throughout the cricket season, you're going to hear a LOT about Arcadia. And I make no excuses. I want to say "there's been some changes". But, what with the Pandemic an' all that, it's difficult to know the difference between normal & new normal. Nominally, it's still Table Service. But, with a load of Cricket Carrier Baggers all turning up in a three minute window, that's blown out of the water. As people naturally just order at the bar.

The blackboard listing the beers has gone. To be replaced by out of sync beer lists on each table. Which take a lot more maintenance when a new 'un comes on, than just using a damp cloth & chalk.

But, they serve in GLASS. And the beer range is always good.

Pentrich Brewing Co, (Derbyshire), Crooked Paths, Hazy Session Pale on Cask at 4.2%

Hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic and Idaho 7. A lot going on there. Bitter grapefruit. Quite soft & downy to taste. Lot of citrus all over it. The finish wasn't powerful, but man, lasted forever. I was still licking it around as I got back to my seat in the ground.

Right. Disappointing day on the green for the Yorkies. It started nicely. The Lancastrianites were twelve for two off 11 miserly overs. Both going to Jordan Thompson. But, that was it. Croft went for 104 after the New Ball had been taken. Jennings striding up the stairs at Close, 150 Not Out. 

At times, we had the scoring under control. And, a number of, admittedly difficult, chances went down. Patto did 21 overs for 38. Rauf 19 for 62. Loten got carted. But, for long periods, I felt little was being tried. Reconciled to the fate. Quiet in the field. Few Red Bulls, in PAPER CUPS, needed methinks.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2022

No Place Like Home

Sheffield United U23 0 v Bristol City U23 1 
Professional Development League Semi Final 
Monday 9 May 2022 
Played at York City!!! 
SUFC 2021/22 Game #72 

The headline is - that's the end of the season for the U23s, a defeat in a poor, flat, uninspiring display.

Lots of "traffic" since Saturday about people not being able to buy THEIR seats for the Forest game. If I'm honest, I've not helped with a series of incendiary Twitter posts (smiley face). But, here's the reason why shit like that won't trouble the Carrier Bag Firm. Here we are. At a Sheffield United Under Two Three HOME game. Being played in YORK. Not The Lane. Not Chesterfield. Not Shirecliffe. As all previous U23 home games have been. Not in Sheffield. Not in South Yorkshire. Not in NE Derbyshire. In York.

You can't get your usual seat? Dry your eyes mate…

"I'm not gonna fucking just fucking leave it all now
"'Cause you said it'd be forever, and that was your vow
"And you're gonna let our things simply crash and fall down
"You're well out of order now, this is well out of town…

The U23s finished their regular league season on top of the Professional Development League North. Played 23. Won 15. Drew 3. For 48 points. That put them into today's Play Off SF.

They also competed (alongside some Cat 1 & some Cat 3 Academies) in the Premier League Cup. Finishing second in their four team group. (Above both Everton & Burnley). Played 6. Won 3. Drew 1. For 10 points. 

They lost a dramatic Round of 16 knock out game 4-3 away at Derby County.

For my part, repping the Carrier Bag Firm, I did 7 home league (& play off) games & 5 away. Two home cup games & two away. Making 16 out of 31 they played.

Across all that, I harvested three new ground ticks. York City's new ground. Loughborough University (as a Derby County U23 home game). And Wigan Athletic's Academy ground at Christopher Park.

Successful on the pitch (before today), it felt like an odd season to me. Call ups. Call backs. Drop downs. And a lot of fluid movement between the U18s and U23s. All against a backcloth of our more experienced Academy lads out on loan in "men's football".

No single dominant goalscorer - again. Indeed, twenty one different goalscorers this season. Including Slater, Brewster, Ndiaye & Jebbison. Will Osula topped the list with 9 goals. Hassan Ayari next with 7. It's worth noting that Will's 9 goals came in just 8 starts & 2 subs.

We have to go back to 2017/18 to find a Big Number Goalscorer. Tyler Smith bagging 22 goals. For comparison, there were 17 different goalscorers that season. And we used a frankly ridiculous SIXTY players. This, 2021/22 season, we used 46 players.

"Intriguingly", seven of the 60 who featured in 2017/18 also featured this season. Belehouan, Broadbent, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Slater, Dewhurst & Eastwood.

The big game time players this season were Andre Brooks, 27 starts, 2 subs
Nicksoen Gomis, 27 starts
Angelo Cappello, 21 starts
Joe Starbuck, 19 starts, 1 sub
Oliver Arblaster, 18 starts, 1 sub

Of course, that's a double edged sword. For more established players, it can be a signal for - going nowhere. Only Brooks & Arblaster of those started the game today. There is a rumour Cappello trialled with Watford recently. It'll sound mad. But these U23 Academy play offs always come at the wrong time of the season - the end.

Some players will already know they're unlikely to be retained next season. And, clubs are extremely conservative, saving all and sundry for first team games - in our case the Championship Play Offs. And, the Academy management are already planning longer term. All working against this single, one off, short term game.

So. We ended up with a makeshift team. Shored up with Amissah in goal & Ky Gordon at centre back. The main issue was the frankly lightweight pairing of Leo Gaxha & Hassan Ayari up top. They couldn't get anything going. Partly because of a lack of control and energy in midfield from Arblaster & Peck. Those two are "up & coming" players. They'll surely be retained. But, compared to what I've seen from them before, they were poor today.

Collins kept fucking about warming subs up & showing them the tablet. Then sitting them on their arse. He finally hauled Gaxha off on 60. And stuck George Broadbent, most recently on loan at Rochdale, on in an unfamiliar role.

As the game bumbled towards extra time, I think he decided to save his subs for that. Subs that included Will Lankshear (6 goals in 5 starts & 9 subs). And we got our arses bitten as Bristol City scored on 89. A great curling shot from outside the box.

Lankshear immediately came on for Ayari. But, we were done. Big choice on Ayari this Summer I feel.

Even though I've already joked about it, an afternoon game in York does, of course, afford a great drinking day. The Carrier Bag Firm started in…

The Maltings
Tanner's Moat, York YO1 6HU

A bit of a York Institution. They've placed themselves as one of those wholesome, traditional pub grub hostelries. Lots of "jokey" quips written on the menu. And mammoth portions. Too much for the plate, and you're supposed to go - oooohhhh look at that. Every table clearing is met with - aaahhh, it beat you did it?

Eight on Cask. Four pukka Keg

Two By Two (Wallsend, Tyne & Wear), Azzaca IPA on Cask at 6%

I didn't realise that was 6% when I ordered it. Amateur Hour. Just what I expected. Fruit & Sweet at first. Some ginger in there, which surprised me a bit. Quite a thin mouthfeel. Tongue tingling bitterness, but not a throat grabber. Great beer.

York Brewery, Guzzler, Golden Ale on Cask at 3.6%

(FFS, look at them chips, piss take)
Easy drinking. Uncomplicated. Good condition. Challenger and Celeia hops.

We adjourned to…

House Of The Trembling Madness
14 Lendal, York YO1 8AA

The first time I've been in that branch. One set of Keg/Cask upstairs. Which seemed to be centred on a Cloudwater takeover. And, a different set downstairs, (where we settled). The Carrier Bag Firm sometimes adopt the - all order the same beer - rule. Makes us more confident we got the one we were targeting. Today we swerved that. I ordered…

Sureshot Brewing (Manchester), Name A Yellow Fruit, West Coast IPA on Keg at 6.7%

The barman lined mine & the others on the bar & pointed them out. I wrote down verbatim what he said about this one;

"That one is definitely the West Coast. I'm telling you specifically because, nowadays, a lot of West Coasts don't look like West Coasts anymore. Just don't call it a West Coast if it comes at you Hazy. Because it isn't"

He's right. He's right. He's fucking right. So many beers billed lazily as West Coast, which aren't. He's right. This one was one.

Wylam (Newcastle), The Makings Of You, Centennial Pale Ale on Keg at 4.4%

Fresh & Bright. Just a bit of bitter grinding away in the depths. Bursting with flavour.

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Sunday, 8 May 2022

My My

Sheffield United 4 v Fulham 0  
The Championship 
Saturday 7 May 2022 
SUFC 2021/22 Game #71 

So. That went well. The Carrier Bag Firm sent the bat signal confirming we're in the Play Offs on 81 minutes. I took the earpiece out. I switched off the BBC Radio 5 Live around the grounds programme on my DAB. Mind you I had previously announced to Row S that Middlesbrough were three down at half time. They were all a little gobsmacked confused when I subsequently announced it as 2-1 to Preston on 48 minutes!!!

While we're on exact timings. I bought MY ticket for the Forest game at 3:46pm. While sitting in The Albion. Now. As it happens. Many people are pointing out on SoMeed & Forums that I haven't bought MY seat. That I've bought someone else's seat. Possibly I've even bought THEIR seat. So, I've deliberately worded it as I bought MY TICKET.

Because, this is where we are as a Club. People actually believing that a seat they have had a ticket for in the past, is somehow THEIR seat for a game in the future, that they don't yet have a ticket for.

(ICYMI, season ticket holders have a few days priority window to buy A ticket. But, the config means that some season ticket holders (ie me) will not be able to buy the same seat they have enjoyed in the regular season. Because, well because, we're no longer in the fucking regular season. So, any season ticket holder can buy any seat).

It's not your seat. It's not my seat. It's just a seat. Used to be wooden, now plastic. My ticket bought at 3:46pm.

As we approached The Albion, my CBF companion said;

"Get me a Pint. Anything. You choose. But not some mad high abv IPA. Hang on. Go previous. If we're not having a fucking mad high abv IPA today, when are we having one."

…is the correct answer…

So. My beer. Note that's my beer. As in the one I bought. This time around. For this celebration. My beer. Despite some fucker at the bar creating about - oooohhhh I used to have that beer all the time, really it's my beer & you shouldn't be allowed to buy it. My beer was…

Stancill Brewery, Komrade IPA on Keg at 6%

Citra and Mosaic hops. Cloudy, unfiltered & chewy. Vegan friendly. Loved it. Punchy without being overpowering. And it's MINE.

Stancill Brewery, Roxie, Ginger Pale on Keg at 4.2%
The keg clip just said Ginger. Fair do. Blended and subtle with it. The best way.

We subsequently adjourned to a very busy BrewDog Sheffield. (To collect a free birthday beer for one of the party).

BrewDog, United For Ukraine, New England IPA on Keg at 5.2%

It just so happens that Chester's in Kremenchuk, Ukraine is a bar which will live long in the memory of The Horrendous Lemons (the Football Firm I have been in all my adult life, a lot longer than the CBF). So, this was an emotional choice. You know the drill. Profits from the beer go to charities associated with Ukraine, etc. 

Irrepressible weren't they? Berge, MGW & Ili combining. Just a perfect mood lifter. MY team & I'll fight anyone who says they're not.

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Sunday, 1 May 2022


Leicestershire 149 all out 
v Middlesex 370 all out 
Leicestershire 272 all out 
Middlesex 52 for 0 
Middlesex Win By 10 Wickets 
County Championship Division 2 
Day Three 
Saturday 30 April 2022 
Played at Lord's 

We left Day 2 a bit early to get over to Loftus Rd. But, we had the speculation. The Running Foxes had finished Day 2 miles behind & 3 down. There was heated discussion as to how many bottles of Champagne to take. Of course, the Carrier Bag Firm rule is simple - always take as many as you can.

Often when I write Blogs from Middlesex games, I'm appealing to my Yorkshire Constituency. I'm a Yorkshireman. I support Yorkshire County Cricket Club. But, sometimes, it can be a frustrating and maybe even joyless experience with Yorkshire. I'm not saying that about what happens on the pitch. They're my guys. They put the lot in, and leave nothing behind. There's the joy right there.

But, the surrounding experience. Ggggrrrr. Take for instance, those bubbles I argued we should take into the ground. The Steward at the Lord's gate looked at my bag. Looked AT it. Maybe 5 yards away. Looked AT it. Not IN it. And queried & ruled.

"There's just alcohol in there I think. I've no need to look in it…"

Wouldn't happen at Headingley. No. And, here's the CBF info for my Yorkshire Constituency.

I enjoy ALL the discounts for my Middlesex Subscription. Early Bird. Direct Debit. Country Membership. Two Members at one address. And, over the Pandemic various extra loyalty discounts & perks have kicked in.

This Middlesex 2022 season, I got my own Membership. Which includes admission, and the roam of Lord's (including the Pavilion) and outgrounds for Championship, 50 Over & T20. And I got a voucher/promo code to gift an equivalent Membership to another Carrier Bag Firm Footsoldier. And I got a guest admission card (only Championship & 50 over), which allows me to take another ad hoc rag tag CBF into games. Let's call that THREE MEMBERSHIPS in all but name.

That cost me. £47.20. Yes. £47.20. Effectively for three Memberships. Now, I'm not claiming you can walk in off the street & pick up three Middlesex Memberships for less than a nifty fifty. As I said, I'm up to my nostrils in discounts & loyalty. But, I am saying, me, myself, I paid £47.20 for three Middlesex Memberships.

I paid £230 for my solitary, single 2022 YCCC Membership. Oh. And One Fucking Pound extra as a piss take Postage charge. Here. You can have this from me. Until Yorkshire (and many other Counties) get Subscription rates designed to attract & retain a wider, bigger, more diverse, more representative of all corners of the County fanbase, then we'll continue churning through the same shit we just have.

Oh. And don't forget. For that £47.20. The Steward looked AT my bag & waved me on my alcohol journey.

In that bag were…

Nyetimber, Classic Cuvee, English Sparkling Wine, Traditional Method, (West Chiltington, England), so NOT Champagne, from a bottle, with a "pop" at 12%

That smelled glorious just as the cork was popped. Lots & lots of fruit. I'll admit disappointment as not all that survived. Very easy drinking, but a tad thin. I felt it played out a bit acid as I got down it.

Monsigny Champagne, No. III Brut, from a bottle at 12.5%

That's one of Aldi's. A great go-to for your second bottle. When they're three down overnight & miles behind.

Some of the display cases between the Lord's Long Room, The Old Library & The Writing Room were dedicated to memorabilia from the Civil Service Sports Clubs Cricket Teams. Now, I was a career Civil Servant, I joined the CSSC on Day One of my working life. So, fair to say, I was fascinated.

The display included an intriguing (but incomplete) card from a match as recently as 1975. I Zingari v The Civil Service at Battersea. A potential long lost cousin of mine, W M Rose, opened for I Zingari in the first innings. Got Six. Not sure where he batted in the second. But, he ended 2 not out in a poor 54 all out. But he took EIGHT Civil Service wickets in their first innings. Including the Hat Trick. The Civil Servants will have hated that. The longer the game went on, the longer they could stay away from their desks!!!

Ben Mike was born in Nottingham in 1998. He took 5 for 37 (and 9 for 94 in the match) on his Leicester debut v Sussex in 2018. His highest score before today was 74 v The Brown Hatters last year. Today he came in at 105 for 5 in the 36th over. Leicestershire still trailed by 116.

Mulder went at 127 for 6, with Ben on 8 off 25 balls.

Barnes went at 225 for 7 (having made 36 of that 98 run stand). Ben was now 66 off just 76 balls. And the Middle Saxons would at least have to bat again.

Callum Parkinson went at 264 for 8 (having made just 9 in a stand of 39). Ben had blasted past his previous best. Now just five short of his maiden century (and at Lord's) off just 103 balls.

A single (now on 96) off the first ball of the 73rd over. Chris Wright (a former Middlesex player) blocked out the rest.

Ben snaffled two singles (now on 98 off 106) in the 74th. But Wright took a single off the last to keep the strike. And took two off the third of the 75th. And was out to the 5th ball. 271 for 9. Ben Mike off strike on 98 not out.

Ben took a single off the second ball of Toby Roland-Jones over. Overseas Gunslinger Beuran Hendricks on strike.


Cleaned up.

Ben stranded on 99. Short of his maiden ton. Nine fours. Four sixes. Just 108 balls. And at Lord's. Cruel game sometimes. He actually had to console Hendricks who was distraught. By the time he got to the rope, I think he realised he'd got a better story to tell his grandkids than if he'd actually got the ton over the line. The lower pavilion, and the Long Room, and me cheered him to the rafters.

Stoneman & Robson brought the chase home without drama. They didn't bring Ben Mike on to bowl.

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