Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Norwichomon. Sunday: Bigus

Well here it is. We waited for 27 years, and finally Lingering finished his first installment. This surprise came out of the blue and I was pressured with documenting the second day of our momentus weekend adventure. If you remember, Lingering, Lumberjack, the Turk, Kopper, Relegation Zone Mikey and me, Bigus, headed to blightly for a weekend of footy and self-indulgence.

The first installment of Norwichomon detailed our day (and night) in Norwich to see the mighty canaries lose to Coventry. Well, the tale continues here. We hit the road the next morning, Wembley and the Carling Cup final was our destination. Join us after the jump.

Awake but nurturing hanovers, we congregated in the dining room of the Holiday Inn, Norwich to relieve them of their suppply of bacon and Coffee. Everyone had a hangover.

Our mentally challenged bus-driver was waiting out front, well-rested I might add, and in possesion of a new cable for his GPS system. However I was now traveling with them once again and it was unnecessary.

After a quick stop to pick up scotch eggs and water we were back on the road and on the one main highway that leads to London in under 5 minutes. Our driver muttered "oh the A11, yeah now I remember" as I rolled my eyes. Had Kopper heard it, he may have exploded. In the back someone farted and an inquisition was well under way to discover who the guilty party was. Lumberjack admitted to the offence before rattling off all of the teams Norwich would meet in League One next season.

This gave the rest of us great joy; you see Lumberjack moved from England to LA when he was just 12 and although he has retained his accent to some degree and tried hard to remain English, he failed misrably at pronouncing some of the teams he was scanning in the paper. Out came Hartle-pool followed by a look at League Two to predict we would play the promotion chasing Rowsh-dale (Rochdale pro: Rotch-dale). We laughed at him for a good 10 minutes before moving on. Most of us were still 3 sheets to the wind and in hysterics the entire way to our hotel in Shoreditch.

Our rooms would not be ready until later in the afternoon but the folks at the Marriot let us sling our stuff into one room. I won the battle to use the lavvy first amid groans. Those who have ever been on a curry, pie, drinking weekend with a bunch of mates will know that what goes in, has to come out. EVERYONE needed to go, yet I was first. Get In. An opportunity to reap revenage upon two-hours of League one mockery. I opened the door and low and behold, no window. GET IN!

Ten minutes later I emerged as Lingering was living up to his name, hovering outside the door dancing the jig of discomfort. In he went, to join the odors of Basmati, Chippati, Rogan Josh, mango chutney, scotch eggs, meat pies, 14 pints of Stella and 8 shots of Tequilla. The screams could be heard in the lobby.

Back in the coach. Our driver told us he knew the way to Wembley, he was of course full of shit and just following his sat nav, which led him to a 8 mile traffic jam through north London. As soon as we could see Wembley, we had him pull over and hopped out.

Ten minutes later, there she was again, like an old friend with a new haircut welcoming you after a spell away. This was my second time to new Wembley. She is without a doubt the greatest stadium in the World. While I haven't seen them all, it is hard to believe that any of the biggies like the Maracana, have the atmosphere AND superb facilities that Wembley offers.

In fact off the pitch, the Maracana is an absolute shit hole. Anyway. I have seen whats on offer in this great country, the old AND the new but Wembley is just magnificent. A giant beauty. Inside the walk ways are spacious and the food was surprisingly good. The balti pie wasn't a patch on Delias in Norwich but it was good!

As we climbed the stairs to the wide concourse that stretches around the stadium, anti-Liverpool songs were being sung by United fans. Lingering took exception. "They are playing Spurs... fucking animals!"

We had decided to play a joke on RZM some time earlier. As a Spurs fan, he was excited to be at Wembley but dissapointed that he was sitting with Manchester United fans behind their goal. Of course this wasn't true but we had been winding him up for close to 3 months and it was a lot of fun. "Dont worry Mikey, we'll look after you", and "you'll have to keep quiet mate, if Spurs score, bite your tongue!"

Lumberjack had made some t-shirts for the event. Their content was a giant giveaway as to where our seats would be as was RZM's brief flirtation with the tickets. That was until Kopper spotted they said 'Spurs' on them. He was still none the wiser, holding the ticket in a t-shirt that depicted what appeared to be Ronaldo giving Rooney a blow-job. A popular design in the United section for sure!

The product of Lumberjack's dreams?

We posed for pictures in our t-shirts as Manc fans AND Spurs fans failed to get the joke. We did and that's all that matters!

As we headed round the stadium towards our section, the throngs of United fans became a sea of blue and white flags. At this point RZM nabbed a ticket and stared. He looked at the section and then burst into a scream. "You bastards". He then spent five minutes issuing hugs and pushes, jumping up and down like a child at Christmas.

Balloon teams.

Lumberjack gets great seats for Wembley, by the half-way line. But, as soon as Spurs made the final, he went about swapping those (in the Manc section) for Spurs tickets. He managed to swap them with Jonathan Woodgate's family, and so, we were in the WAG section.

Before the game the teams were announced by giant balloons and banners, positioned by handlers on the pitch in the right positions. Very impressive. Kopper reckoned that we had Gareth Bale's family in front of us. Apparently his mum leapt up and down with joy when he came on. John Bostock was also a few rows forward.

RZM prepares for the big game.

RZM was in top form, spending the entire game screaming at every decision. He tends to forget where he is or who is around him when he is watching footy and this was a joy to behold as he yelled "F*ck you ref" 18 times in a row.

The game itself was not the greatest, entertaining but not a classic by any means. Off the pitch there was a smashing encounter 5 rows behind us: a big guy had snatched a flag that was apparently being waved in his face by the guy in front. The offending banderole was owned by a little chap which is why the big chap broke the flag's stick and threw it on the floor.

Little did the big guy know, he had just taken on Vinny Jones meets a pitbull all contained in a 5ft 8 inch north Laaaandon wrapper. The little fella went mental! What ensued was a standoff of finger pointing and close talking. "Get out of my face!!" Eventually I believe the big bloke gave the little fella his own flag as mediated by a bystander and all was well. Spurs fans, nuff said!

Spurs fans enjoy the occasion.

Extra time passed and penalties were upon us. RZM watched every single one through his fingers. As an England and Norwich fan, shoot-outs bring a fear that is unrivalled. As a non-partizan bystander I quite enjoyed the cruelty of the moment.

And then there was one moment in particular: David Bentley. He can't miss can he? He's not some hoofing big lump of a defender destined to sky one in the direction of Hatton Cross tube station. No, this is a man who takes free kicks and scores 45 yard volleys against Arsenal after teeing himself up on his knee. But he did miss, in fact he tried to be a clever dick and keep the ball on the ground. The resulting shot was dragged wide and the Manc fans behind the goal roared the roar of victory.

Penalties. A cruel business.

RZM looked a beaten man. The look on his face would not have been different if I'd smacked him in the balls with a broken flag. We consoled him for a minute and declared penalties to be inhuman. A cruelty that should be reserved for detainees at Guantanamo.

Then he said it: "We weren't beaten by Man U. We weren't beaten, we held our own." He was right.

Harry had stifled the play by copying Fergie throughout the game. Change in formation? Hold on... I'll do the same. The result was an often dull second half that led us to the stalemate that required pennos to decide a winner.

But he was right. Spurs held their own and in fact deserved to win in my eyes. Their fans sang louder and their team gave it everything. But that's football. Its a cruel cruel game and somebody has to win. Jermaine Jenas showed what an over-rated player he is and Modric how under-rated HE is. What I also noticed was that football writers for national papers. Writers like Martin Samuels spend the game typing and not really watching. They were all lined up next to us. Typing away. As soon as the kicks were over, they were off. Draw your own conclusions from that!

Beers followed. Lumberjack's appauling dress sense led to him being mocked in a Wembley pub for a crime that rivals throwing a shoe at a President. As he sat on a table supping his ale, a small woman approached him and asked "Are those Chelsea socks?"

She was spot on; not only did Lumberjack have on a pair of white Chelsea half-socks, he had committed the crime of wearing them with brown loafers, a crime that she was quite offended by. He was severly scolded for his lack of dernier cri.

Mikey cheered up at Lumber's beat-down and we drank more beer.

The following day we were up nice and early and ready for the trip back to the airport. I had the clever idea of taking a taxi, an idea that everyone else thought was clever until an accident on the motor-way left us stuck in traffic, and so we missed our plane.

Lumberjack was off to Miami and the off to Turkey. Both managed to make their departures, while myself, RZM and Lingering were informed that there was no way in hell we would be reaching our plane, which was due to lift into the sky 20 minutes later. However, we were informed that had we been holding first class tickets, we'd have been whisked from the check-in counter and rushed to the plane in minutes. Good to know! Kopper stayed at his brothers the night before and being a good little scout, was there in plenty of time. He was in the sky and we were sat in the bar.

Apparently it was all my fault and the other two didn't let me forget it. Still, the 5 hours until the next flight flew by, largely due to me spotting the Premier League stickers behind the counter at WH Smith. Visions of my childhood flashed before me. Endless hours spent filling the yearly sticker books. Time spent haggling a swap involving Terry Fenwick and the Everton silver foil badge, that I desperatley needed to finish the Toffees page. The ammount of 'swap-sies' I accumulated in my search for the elusive Crewe Alexander team sticker and the even rarer Norman Whiteside. We clubbed together our change and decided to share this youthful reminiscence with Mikey. He was hooked. We didn't have the book but we had 30 packs of stickers and decided to build a team each. The winner would be whoever has the strongest side. That was me. It was competitive until I opened my last pack to reveal a shiny foil sticker of Ronaldo and another of Cesc Fabregas. Lingering moaned and Mikey sighed.

Get In!

This was my team...3-5-2

Tim Howard
Zat Knight
Michael Dawson
Patrice Evra
Theo Walcott
Cesc Fabregas
Stilian Petrov
Stuart Downing

The Bigus XI. Not bad eh?

The trip back to our youth was so entertaining that upon landing I vowed to get the book and order more. Lingering and I would truly step down memory lane and fill this years Premeier League book up like children in 1986. As you read this, the book and 50 packs of stickers sits, waiting for Lingering to visit my gaff next Saturday. Waiting has been hard! Look for a post on the joys of Panini soon!

Our arrival back in NY coincided with a pretty naughty storm. Lets just say I am not prepared to dwell any further on a travel nightmare which involved a plane, a bus, a monorail, a train and a car. Steve Martin and John Candy were amatuers!


Ed. Note: we hope that in finally posting the remainder of our trip, the recent foul form of Norwich shall be lifted. Please, blogger gods, un-curse the Canaries!


Ibracadabra said...

great trip. great photos. glad you stayed at the Holiday Inn, Norwich rather than the Holiday Inn - Warwick, RI where the Craigslist Killer does his business...

crossing my fingers for Norwich for you.

Goat said...

I'm just glad I won't be sharing a hotel with you guys for the Chelsea-Milan match.

EbullientFatalist said...

I'm still impressed with the use of "dernier cri."

Keith said...


That round up at the end sounds like you flew back into Newark. (then again, there is an Airtran at JFK, too)

Keith said...

Also, nice XI. Petrov playing up to Cesc and Anderson would be nigh-unstoppable in midfield.

Bigus Dickus said...

JFK. How is it possible to land in a storm yet a 10 minutes monorail takes 2 hrs!

jjf3 said...

'bout damn time, BD!

King Garry I Of Swandanavia said...

I'll be honest. I'm more than a little disappointed I didnt know you lot were in London. My very neck of the woods.

I'd have popped up and lowered the average age a bit.

Ho hum.