Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bad Omens

Last Wednesday

Bit of a late write up but better late than never...

As a big Liverpool FC supporter I was really looking forward to last Wednesday. Liverpool were in the final of the Champions League, the second time that they'd been there in three years. I sometimes found it hard to concentrate that day at work as I was actually feeling really excited/apprehensive about the match ahead.

I sorted out a good venue to watch the game by reading up on the LFC official web site forums to see where fellow London fans were going.

The previous two years (for the FA Cup and European finals) we'd all found ourselves in the basement of a bar just around the corner from Barbican tube station.

Two years ago it was called The Extra Time Bar, then last year Masque(?!) and this year it was (according to someone who'd checked out venues) shut altogether. Of course, we should have realised that a bar that changed names so dramatically was struggling to keep afloat but the atmosphere there for the last two years had been the closet to being at the match without actually being at the match.

Two years ago when we were 3-0 down at half time and I was so despondent that I was about to walk out and go home, everyone in the bar started singing "You'll Never Walk Alone." I joined in, never left and the rest is, of course, history.

Liverpool incredibly fought back with 3 goals in 6 minutes and went on to win the game on penalties. I left the bar that night drenched in all the booze that had been thrown around as we all celebrated each goal and each penalty and the eventual victory and it had been bloody amazing!

Then Liverpool did the same a year later in the FA Cup. We never gave up hope, even when all looked lost and once again I stumbled out (though into bright sunshine this time), a happy drunk, my voice hoarse from all the singing.

This time around an alternative venue was required and that turned out to be "The Walkabout" in Temple. It had a capacity for hundreds more than the Extra Time/Masque bar ever had, so the prospects for getting in were good and the other half (wearing an LFC polo shirt of mine, a few sizes too big for her) was coming along too having heard my stories of how great the atmosphere was over the last two years.

We headed off after work and got there quickly and this is where the bad omens started to kick in...

There was a queue...

But not just an ordinary queue...It was a very, very, very, VERY long queue. I walked to the front and, counting in rough blocks, estimated that there were 200 people queuing to get into the place.

I spoke to the bouncer at the front. He was dressed in a dark suit and had shades and a clip-on earpiece. This wasn't a good sign. Here in broad daylight were 200 people trying to get into a pub to see a football game, not a nightclub. Perhaps he didn't have anything else to wear. Who knows?

Anyhow, he told me "It's one in, one out."

I peered around him (which wasn't easy) and could see that the place was already heaving inside. *sigh*

It was pointless queuing. Why were all these people there when it was obvious that perhaps only a handful at the front might even make it in? At the back of the queue, you had no chance.

Plan B - But, with almost two hours to go until kick off, we still had time to find an alternative venue. We looked around Covent Garden. Surely, we'd be able to find something? But everywhere that we went was either packed around a large TV screen already, or had a
screen smaller than my one at home (and I refused to watch it like this as that'd be pointless) or not so full but plain unpleasant.

Plan C - "Look, let's head back to my place and watch it in the bar downstairs." It'd be easy to get home afterwards and you never know, despite being an Aussie bar in an Aussie area of London, perhaps the atmosphere might be okay for a footie match?

So off we went, on the tube back to my place.

Plan D - As we got nearer we decided that since we hadn't eaten (and were starving) we'd pop into McDonalds (not my usual choice but we needed something fast), grab a few things, scrap the pub, eat them back at my place and then head down to the pub for the second half.

Standing in line, waiting to be served, I suddenly realised something "unfortunate."

Having left my rucksack behind, so that I was unburdened during the game, it suddenly occurred to me that my house keys were in the front pocket...back in the office. Arrgrghhhh!

So here I was, just yards from my home, with no way of getting in.

The stupid thing is that, this wasn't the first time I'd done this but the fourth! "Once bitten, twice shy," obviously didn't count where my brain was concerned!

And when (dear reader) do you ask was the last time that I had left my keys back in the office? Why, all of two years ago after the last Champions League final!

I just never learn!

Plan E - With just 20 minutes left until kickoff we sat down in McD's and wolfed our food down. It was actually quite tasty though obviously, being fatty fast food, not very good for us. Then off to the pub where we watched the game, where Liverpool lost but not in a bad way and then back to London, to the office to get my keys and back home in the early hours of the morning.

As we travelled to and from London, I thought long and hard about whether I'd broken any mirrors recently, but no; it was just one of those nights.

Hopefully next time I'll remember!


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