Cup and League away encounters plus Ladies football and Ale

Cup and League away encounters plus Ladies football and Ale

So after a busy week volunteering at Norwich Beer Festival and after witnessing three consecutive league victories for City, I arrive at Norwich Railway Station for the journey to Bournemouth. Despite a complete signal lockdown between Stratford and Liverpool Street earlier in the morning it had been fixed and we were only 20 minutes late enabling me to make my connection at Waterloo.

Having checked in to my hotel it was time for a quick stroll along the cliff top before heading to The Firkin Shed. This is a cracking little micropub and helped to break up the two mile walk to the ground. Having purchased my programme and gone through some very stringent security checks it was time to take my seat for the game. Both teams, as is the norm in the Carabao Cup, fielded some of the fringe players or players returning from injury. This game was going to offer us a big test of where we are. Despite losing the game, I was proud of the players performance and we did not deserve to lose the game. We conceded a poor opening goal and missed a great chance at the death however the players gave everything and left nothing out there. I have always maintained that win, lose or draw all I ask for is full commitment and to be entertained. I was not let down.

The following morning I checked out of the hotel along with the local Norwich press reporters were also checking out at the same time and we were in complete agreement that we did not deserve to lose. So on to the train station and the next leg of my journey taking me to Birmingham which is en route to Sheffield where we will be playing on Saturday. Having checked in to my hotel I took a train then bus to the Beacon Hotel in Sedgeley which I had not been to for 10 years. For those that know me, I am rather partial to the odd pint of Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild. This is the home of the Sarah Hughes Brewery and at a mere 6% abv certainly hit the spot. After a few pints I successfully made the return journey to the hotel and an early night.

On the Thursday I wandered around Birmingham carrying out essential research. Norwich has a Beer Festival in February and October next year so it is important to search out ales from elsewhere in the country. I visited two new breweries and two recently opened micro-pubs and found some interesting ales before returning to my hotel for a well earned rest.

On the Friday I headed north to Sheffield where I met up with a lovely couple from Barnsley. One of them was a Sheffield Wednesday supporter so it turned out a good idea to meet up the night before the game. They took me to parts of Sheffield that I never knew existed but it helped with further research.

So it is now Saturday morning and back to Championship action. I meet up with fellow members of Capital Canaries in Sheffield’s Fat Cat. Well they are fellow members again now as I handed over my annual subscription in the pub. Leaving the pub in ample time to get to Hillsborough however the trams were not behaving themselves so we had to take the Malin Bridge tram and walk the final half mile to the ground. Apart from an early chance for the opposition, we started well for 15 minutes but currently penalties are not for us. The rest of the first half was not great but you could see that if we picked up the tempo in the second half then they were there for the taking with their defence looking woefully pedestrian.

In the second half we did exactly what was needed and is one of the best second half performances I have seen for a long time. There is a long season ahead and nothing is ever won in November but there appears to be a great togetherness in the squad.

Maddison was a quality player for us last season and his goals saved us from a potential relegation battle. Personally I believe last season we were too one dimensional where everything went through Maddison and teams got wise to that. What we have now is a team that are all comfortable on the ball and we can attack on both sides and through the middle. After the game I decided to avoid the crowded tram and took the two mile walk back to Kelham Island for further research.

Still buzzing from yesterday it was time to take the tram to Attercliffe and the half mile stroll to the Olympic Legacy Park, the new home of Sheffield United Ladies. Another new ground for me. Sheffield United Ladies were hosting Leicester City Ladies and it was quite entertaining and Sheffield United Ladies fully deserved the victory. They hit the woodwork twice before securing a 1-0 victory with a deflected shot with only a few minutes remaining. Time to return to Sheffield for further research.

Monday arrives and time for a little more research before taking the train back to Norwich at the end of a week long adventure. Back in Norwich for a rest now before my next adventure to Swansea.

Michael Phillips

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