Brothers in Football (and Beer)

I am a sibling of 2 sisters, no brothers. Growing up, the household was made up of mostly women so I was used to a house full of women. I never had a brother growing up or knowing what is was really like having a brotherly relationship.

My older sister has been in a relationship with the same guy for a long time now, not married, but they are as good as with a couple of boys to complete the ensemble – she is now in a house of boys, if I was a spiritual sort I would say that’s karma, but I digress. I get on with her fella, don’t get me wrong, and he’s a great dad to my nephews, we just have different interests. He likes motorbikes, I like football there is nothing wrong with that and when we get together we can chat which is perfectly fine.

My younger sister got married about two and a half years ago to a football mad, lager swilling chap. The day was great, but I was left with a profound notion.  After the ceremony and probably a few Heineken’s in he bowled up to me and exclaimed

“We’re brothers now!”

whilst I appreciated the gesture I definitely felt a sense of pride in the sentiment.

Since then, we’ve got together as a foursome to enjoy a variety of activities together. From Ascot to Junkyard Golf we meet up every so often and have fun. Now I need to state at this point that he’s a Blackburn Rovers fan.  It’s not often you meet a southerner supporting a small(ish) northern team, so I asked why.

“My old man is Chelsea, he told me growing up I could support anyone I wanted as long as they played in Blue” – so he picked Blackburn.

Anyway, the first instigator of meet-ups was their arrival to ours for the weekend to go up to the mighty St Andrew’s for Birmingham v Blackburn. It was a great day, despite Mrs TBN-to-be being left at home too hungover from the night before to make it out, we had a great day. Beers flowed, Blues won 1-0 and the day went well.

They also came up again last season to see Blackburn take on our local team MK Dons.

Which brings me to the third instalment of football related weekends.  Both myself and the Brother-in-law have got passes from our other halves to go away for the weekend to see the reverse fixture from our first match together. Blues v Blackburn up at Ewood Park. A twin room at the Premier Inn is booked, match tickets sorted, train tickets purchased.

I was buzzing with anticipation. I was looking forward to the weekend on the lash – I don’t get to do that much these days, money is currently too precious to be that outgoing with cash. But I was also looking forward to an away day with Blues. A combination of money and no form of Blues membership makes away tickets like gold dust for me. But I love away days – it’s far more tribal than home games and the atmosphere in the stand has added buzz.

The Journey Begins

There I was, standing on Platform 6 of Central MK railway station, bag of clothes in one hand, bag of train beers in the other waiting for the 11:13 Virgin Train to Edinburgh I was already getting cold. The train rolls in and I’m on the lookout for Coach C, the ‘bar’. I find my brother-in-law and show-off my bag of train beers and get settled in for the journey north.

The chat is good and the beers flow as we both agree that a score draw keeps us both happy, no doubt each of us secretly wanting the win. After a change of trains at Preston and a pint in the platform bar we made it to Blackburn and checked-in to our room.

It was a fairly typical blokey arrival, both just dumping bags on the bed and discarding anything not required for the rest of the evening as we make our way out for the evening. From there, the night is a little hazy. We visited a number of bars, drank too much, got too drunk and made our way home.

We woke the next morning, both not feeling too bad and started trying to recall the events of the night before. The first thing that was established is that I’m a devil if anyone around me is wearing a jazzy hat. The other thing we realised, is despite how much of a great night we hand and how rowdy we got, we were actually back in bed by 9.30pm! That’s what a day on the lash gets you post 35 years old.

Matchday

The next day started as only it could on a guy’s weekend – a matchday full English at Wetherspoons with a Guinness! The day pretty much went downhill from there – I’m joking, but only slightly. As we took in our pre-match drinks the clouds started to set in, both in the weather outside and in our get-up-and-go. The only solution? Jager-bombs of course!

We grabbed a cab to the game and got to the ground in good time. The weather was absolutely appalling by this point.

The game itself wasn’t much to write home about. We were truly awful for 70 minutes and the weather was worse. Blackburn deserved their lead as the game began to change with the introduction of Craig Gardner and Jota.

PENALTY!

Gardner made no mistake from the spot, making a point of smashing it home to get everyone riled up.

We were on the front foot and then a scything ball in behind and a squared pass 10 yards out and BANG, Che Adams knocks it home for the equaliser. In truth, we could have maybe snuck a win in the end, but that would have been truly unjust against Blackburn. However, when that equaliser went in a cheered so hard that the following day and for the week that followed I had no voice.

After a few missed calls, we got a cab back to the town centre, dropped our match shirts in the hotel room and hit the town. It was pretty much a repeat of the previous night, but we managed to stay out later.

The Following Day

The Sunday showed the scars of 2 days of solid drinking. I could barely speak and we both felt a little sorry for ourselves. We began the arduous journey home much quieter than on the way up. A delayed connection and a cab ride later and I was home mid-afternoon.

I took myself off to bed until the missus got back from her lunch with friends where she wanted all the goss from the weekend and to laugh at my husky voice. Little did she know, that was the start of what turned out to be a chesty cough she inherited over Christmas and New Year, so I managed to get the last laugh!

The return fixture is over a weekend that covers my sisters, her husband and my girlfriends birthdays, so we will go again in February, just probably not quite as ferociously with partners with us.

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