It was 6.45am on Saturday morning. I was already getting texts off the lads asking what I wanted from McDonalds. I was contemplating taking the bottles out of the fridge. These thoughts at this time of the day only mean one thing, football IS BACK.
15 of us were heading down to Leicester via minibus, but due to the worry of traffic problems, we parked up at Nottingham and got the train in. Better to be safe than sorry and risk quality pub time! We left the North East at 8am and sharply hit the A1. Can’s were being cracked and stupid football bets were being placed, everybody was in good spirits and floating that we should be easily winning games like these.
After only 2 toilet stops, we hit Nottingham. We easily got parked up on Queen Street and took the quick walk across the road into the station paying £10 for a return. Police were all over the train and having 15 Northern lads tip on, all a bit boisterous, we knew we would be magnets. All was good though, the police were excellent with us, throwing as much rubbish back at us as we were giving them.
We landed in Leicester at 11am, turning right out of the station, we knew of a Spoons so all headed for here. As we were approaching, you could hear a group of Sunderland fans in full chorus. The Last Plantagenet had an open front of shop, it was full of our lot and it just seemed to get busier and busier. The bouncers and police who were keeping a close eye on things handled everything brilliantly, they weren’t annoyed by any of the noise and let proceedings carry on. To be fair, they were probably just as excited for the new season as we were! The pub wasn’t showing the early kick off, so we asked around and found out that the Yates’s just around the corner was showing the Utd v Spurs match. We headed for there and set up on two massive tables at the back of the pub – it soon filled up with a load more Sunderland fans. Listening around you could hear everyone with high expectations of a result in our favor, me included. The alcohol was well and truly flowing so decided to put £20 on a Sunderland win with Lens to score first. Easy winner in my drunken eyes.
We headed for the stadium and all got a drink in before taking our seats. Beer was getting flung everywhere, songs were being belted out. It looked like Man Utd away in the Capital Cup.
Kick off commenced. I don’t know what it was, but it seemed to me like the lads were still in Pre-Season mode. Leicester wanted every ball more, there was zero urgency with us. It took 10 minutes for Leicester to get their first goal. It killed the atmosphere instantly. Looking around, you could see the look of bewilderment on people’s faces. On 18 minutes, it was 2-0. 7 minutes later, it was 3-0. People were leaving and heading back to the pubs. 25 minutes into the new season and already 3-0 down. Comments of ‘perhaps the pundits were right’ were being banded about. We were certainly doing a ‘Sunderland’. Half time came and so did more beer. There were no songs this time though, just people arguing among themselves. A few scuffles even broke out but these were quickly calmed down. It’s amazing what a game of football can do to someone’s mentality in such a short space of time. The second half was approaching. As we headed back to our seats, you could see a load more people who had clearly had enough and headed for the exits.
15 minutes in and Defoe pulled one back. It still didn’t do anything for the atmosphere though, it was dead. On 66 minutes, Albrighton made it 4-1. I didn’t even catch Fletcher’s goal, our second. I was still sat down with my head in my hands. The Leicester fans stayed behind at full time, obviously. I can’t even explain the subdued looks on the away fans faces as we walked out.
The minibus journey home was a weird one. The lads just didn’t know what to say. Of course, it is still to early to make any kind of judgement call on the team, I just hope they pick their heads up and make a decent go of it against Norwich this coming weekend, because if things don’t go our way, every game sharply becomes a 6 pointer so early in the season. That’s the kind of pressure we can do without…Again