Veni Vidi Vici Valencia
The tour of firsts; the first appearance of the promising youngsters from the Youth Academy, the first time our heroes had taken the lead, the first time they weren’t losing at half time, the first time Hoss saw a hotel breakfast and the first international conquest of a fair maiden. Stubbs Junior – we salute you.
However the first appearance was not promising: an industrial and uninspiring city with little to excite the first time visitor. First impressions fortunately turned out to be erroneous as Valencia was a suitable venue for culture lovers such as ourselves – in other words there were plenty of acceptable bars.
The “good” news was that this year a game had been arranged so it seemed only fair to pay a visit to our opponents hostelry which turned out to be an Irish pub with access to every TV station in the world with one exception which was great as England were doing well against the Aussies in the Ashes. You can now guess which TV station they could not receive. Consequently we missed all the weekend action. A serious nights drinking began which took us to several bars where there was always the opportunity to “feel the monkey”. No one took up this offer. Not even the girls from the HSBC bank, one of whom was to blow the wax out of John’s ears. No wonder he was grinning from ear to ear when he staggered back to the hotel several pounds lighter the next morning.
Enough frivolity, you are here to find out about the football. On the Saturday we met at the bar and sauntered off to the dust bowl where the match would take place. The heat was oppressive and we had done no proper training; but we were told that this team had no experience. Why do we always believe that line? In the new team kit, borrowed from the Red House, we actually resembled athletes – Sumo wrestlers to be more precise. The playing surface did not really suit our brand of silky passing and intelligent moving off the ball but we knew we could play badly on any pitch so we weren’t too daunted.
Unbelievably we took the lead, fresh-faced youngster John Kavanagh rising to meet the finest cross of this, or any, tour and headed us into a lead. Celebrations were muted as this was new territory for us, we did not know how to cheer the fact that we were in front. True to type the lead did not last long but we were still level at half time. Whatever was in the oranges did not help team formation as everyone picked their own place on the park, substitute being the most popular request. By full time the hosts had run out 4-1 victors and then revealed that a few of them actually played on that pitch every week.
All that remained to do was avail ourselves of their hospitality and go and get drunk. We knew were getting closer and one day victory would be ours, roll on 2006!
The Persistent Offenders
The Usual Suspects
3rd Time Lucky
2nd Time Around
2005 Tour Virgins
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