Saturday 12 January 2019

Stockport Must Be Empty - Altrincham FC Vs Stockport County FC, National League North, J. Davidson Stadium (01/01/19)

Having consumed my own body weight in Parma ham less than twelve hours ago and for about two hours straight having been plied with prawn cocktail, sausage rolls, coleslaw and eight types of cheese, I’m feeling sluggish to say the least. The temptation as the alarm on my phone starts to wail is to turn it off, roll over and pull the duvet over my head.

Although I can't roll over, because I’m in a bed that apparently was made for Tom Thumb, and if I do move too suddenly there's a chance of going through the plasterboard. I am not at home, I’m over one hundred and seventy miles from home, I’m in the spare room of my other half's Rachel's parents house. Where any minute now her mum will be knocking on the door with a coffee and I'm pretty sure I can hear my daughter stirring in the adjacent room, so there is no chance of getting back to sleep now.

Not a drinker anymore by any means, I am at least unlike a few people today, i.e. Tom who was at a very fashionable New Years Eve party back in London last night, who probably hasn’t even been to bed yet, and is still drinking the latest must have brand of artisan gin, not feeling the effects of alcohol and have a hangover to contend with, I peel myself out of bed, down my coffee and prepare for the day.

A day that is bright, clear and a bit chilly. The usual discussion between me and Rachel whenever we go to a match about if she should bring an extra jumper or scarf etc holds us up momentarily, however we are soon on the road, the very quiet and clear roads, making the short drive to our first game of 2019.

“Follow the football” announces Rachel, and the brown sign with a white ball is soon guiding us, not only to this afternoon's destination, but also the local ice rick. Although it's a three o'clock kick off, the red brick terraced houses that surround the J. Davidson Stadium, home of Altrincham FC (ALT), look bereft of life. Many of them still have their twinkling Christmas lights up, but they all still look half asleep, so I ensure not to slam the door of my car too hard, as we find a place to park only a stone's throw from the ground.

Those who have ventured out and are not at home nursing the aftermath of last night's revelry or are finishing off the potato salad in front of a special New Year’s Day edition of Bake Off, are wandering around in almost silence. The sky is as clear as anything, the pavement is littered with orange cones, and the grey and red facade of the J. Davidson Stadium, looks a bit like the outside of a major DIY chain store.

Like well wrapped up, woolly hat wearing lemmings, we join the steady stream of Stockport County FC (SC) fans, ALT’s opponents, and follow the large black arrows on the laminated signs, stuck to the concrete wall, that read “away fans”. Poorly printed posters, smothered in sellotape and each in their own tatty red frame confirm the fixture, and kick off time.

As a larger man, few things in football bring a sweat to my brow quicker, than the sight of a turnstile. Most of which were designed for the smaller more malnourished people of the 1900’s, they don't deal well with my hulking frame and each time I encounter one, I have the same recurring nightmare I’m going to get stuck in it and end up as some hideous meme.

Passing those finishing up their nondescript looking lunch, wrapped in white paper, I take a deep breath, and head in. Handing over my money to the lady behind the mesh, I edge on through, making it out the other side in one piece.

Segregation is something that still feels very alien at non league football. Seeing a ground partitioned at this level just doesn't seem right, there will be no halftime change of ends no access to the club shop or any cover if the weather decides to turn. The SC fans have long steep crumbling banks of uncovered terracing, with its rolled top red railings to call home for the day.

The lack of protection from the elements is the least of Rachel's concern right now. She is staring slack jawed, poking me in my side and bringing to my attention the four “portaloos”.

Not adverse to standing, as long as I can get my appropriate lean on, and I can attest to the ones today of being at the perfect height not only to relieve the strain on ones back, but also to allow a comfortable flick through the programme that Rachel's just bought from one of the two men in red and white scarfs on the way in. One young SC fan though, whose stature means leaning will not be an option, is less than impressed by the lack of seats.

“Do we have to stand up during the whole match?” he asks his Dad, “yes” he replies, “why?”.

What I first thought was a prime place to stand, just to the side of the goal, and a few steps up from the front, soon turns out to be the complete opposite on the arrival of the SC keeper and his coach, who start to go through his warm up right in front of us. Each hefty kick causes everyone in the vicinity to have an involuntary tic. The only comfort is the thud of the ball hitting the keepers gloves. “Good save” comments one person, as he gets his finger tips to a shot and tips it around the temporary posts.

I do my best to occupy myself, trying not to concentrate solely on the ball hurtling towards us. I take in my surroundings, that all lie in the shadow of the most monumental mobile phone mast. As far as the ground is concerned it's just the right side of shabby. Flags hang from the back of the covered terrace opposite us and the majority of red seats in the reasonably sized main stand to our left are yet to be filled.

The black and white cat bombing about, its bell going crazy, does its best to get away from the danger, but the ever increasing amount of people means unlike the cat, we don't have many other options of where to go, so must endure the fear of getting walloped in the face for just a little bit longer.

“Shock coffee” is how Rachel describes the drinks she’s just returned with from the red shipping container food kiosk. It’s 90% brown, caffeinated liquid, 5% sugar, 5% milk. She tells me such is her picnic egg malaise, she almost put “salt” in mine, but is pretty sure it was sugar as she intended. Such is the curved top of the railings, there is nowhere to rest them, so we are forced to clutch on to them, turning them into impromptu hand warmers, until they become cool enough to drink. The instant hit is “well nice” as Rachel puts it, and we both shudder in unison, like a cut scene from Trainspotting.

I think its Post Malone who is single handedly trying to break the already shaky sounding speakers dotted around. The presence of the tattooed faced one is much to Rachel's displeasure, “keep it in the changing rooms and out of the stadiums” she grumbles. Having heard my stories of non league football obsession with 80’s dance music, she is disappointed to say the least to hear this modern guff.

A considerable ripple of applause washes over the terrace as the SC players emerge from the centre of the main stand to warm up, the players respond with that overly exaggerated above the head clapping, that only footballers do.

There is an epidemic spreading across football, that is only getting worse, and that is people nearly dying because of stray balls from players warming up, nearly killing innocents. “Heads” scram those that the ball passes over and into the crowd, mercifully the football Gods have shown some mercy today, and the woman who is hit, is still alive and is only slightly embarrassed.

The SC players let out an excitable squeal in the middle of one of their warm up, a single SC flag has been hoisted on the very front row of red railings, as more and more people arrive. “It's well busy” says Rachel as what was a completely empty terrace when we arrived, we are now rubbing shoulders with those trying to carve out their own little bit of space.

Rachel points out the two sides only met five days ago on Boxing Day, SC coming out victors 2 - 0. Which is a promising sign on our ten year anniversary since we first saw SC play at Underhill, as the last two times they drew and lost, we might actually see them win.

The low slung winter sun, is causing problems for a few, anyone who wants to talk to the person to their side, has to raise one hand to shield their eyes from its dazzling rays. Taking a moment away from his drills, the SC keeper reaches out his giant glove covered hands towards some kids, who are looking for a fist pump. As more and more people arrive, many have that slightly gormless look of ‘where can I go?’, stopping briefly to asses the situation, turning their head like a meerkat on lookout, before moving on in search of some space.

I realise in our rush to leave today, I forgot something, when a man pitches up in front of us, and start to tuck into his home made sandwiches. Rachel's mum makes a mean sandwich, ever had an omelette in a sandwich? No I hadn't before about nine years ago, and now I can’t get enough of them. Such is the growing size of the crowd, the stewards have just opened up a second part of the ground, a covered terrace, just past the beer “gazebo” as one person has dubbed it, which is doing a roaring trade, and like the very safe and controlled breaching of a dam the SC fans file through the newly opened red gate. One of those being ‘Mr Shite’ who sat behind us at SC’s recent game at The Hive, and spent 90% of it saying everything was “shite”.

The group of friends in front of us, fall into the Tom camp of how to celebrate New Year, they weren't by the sound of it watching Suggs and eating blue cheese. The mere sight of beer is turning their stomachs, almost each and everyone of them is sipping from a Lucozade bottle, trying their best to recover. “Can't be doing with staring into the sun” says one, turning his back to it peeking over the roofs of some nearby houses.

SC's manager Jim Gannon’s brief appearance on the far touchline, kick starts his song, that ripples through the crowd. The chance of being smacked by a ball, for us at least, has shifted twenty yards up the pitch to our left. The SC players are going through their final shooting practise. Lucky for those directly around the goal, the players are generally on target. Each shot that goes in gets a “weyy” the odd ones that don’t, which I’m happy to report is not many, get a “boo”. The only deviation from the almost panto like routine, is one that comes back off the woodwork, that gets a  “ohhh”.

Whenever a chant or song from the SC fans does break out, it's always from the far end, and has normally petered out by the time it gets to us, “SCFC is the team for me” almost makes it to us, but
not quiet, sore heads, mean things are slow to get going. One of the worse for wear from the group in front of us has had enough of all the waiting around, with a quarter of an hour until kick off, “can we start this football match, I'm bored already”.

What was a bleak swathe of concrete is a now a sea of heads. We’ve finished our coffees, “good job” says Rachel following her final sip, her concoction has done just as she had intended. A new arrival behind us on his phone is trying to find a friend, “I’m in” he says, having to slightly raise his voice over the noise of the crowd, they are doing their best to find each other, “there is a lot here”, he replies, before giving out directions and hoping that he can be found.

“Stockport must be empty, everybody is here” jokes a man nearby, as more and more people squeeze past each other to find a spot. The spine tingling “scarf around my neck” song bubbles up from the crowd for a moment and although I’ve no Tom today, I’ve still got a person billowing vape smoke in my face and there is still plenty of food chat going on. “I'll wait until half time” says the tall thin redhead “queue is too long”, who when he is offered a pint, declines emphatically, “I’ll be sick”.

The teams depart, one young SC fan leans over the hoardings to beat out a rhythm as they do. The rest of the ground is certainly busy, but it's nowhere near as heaving, as in the away end as more people continue to arrive. “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen” says the perky voiced announcer. Faintly in the distance I think I can hear an SC drum and even fainter still I can just make out the singing of the home fans, “bring out the Alty”.

Europes, The Final Countdown, is the song of choice in these parts to get the crowd going in preparation of kick off, a mild improvement on Post Malone, but only just. Those fans in the newly opened stand have to shield their eyes against the sun as Fanfare For The Common Man, welcomes the teams out, not from the decoy yellow and green striped tunnel to the side of the main stand, but from its centre, all while one SC fan is being mercilessly mocked his choice of “suave” jacket.

Each team surround one half of the centre circle, while the voice over the PA, whose tone has noticeably changed, explains there will be a moment of reflection, a “roll of honour” a chance to “celebrate” those “connected to the club” who have died over the last twelve months, “and so we remember”.

With the whole place on their feet, the applause is punctuated with the odd shout of “blue army” from the SC fans and the end is signified by a blast of the referees whistle, which evokes even louder cries from the crowd of, “come on County”.

In what must be close to some kind of a world record, in the brief time between the players finishing the applause and the intended kick off time, the PA rattles off both teams starting elevens at breakneck speed. Completing them faultlessly may I add, as the ALT player lifts his foot to kick off and still with just enough time to ensure we all “enjoy the game”.

The whistle draws more shouts of “come on County” and the first of many chants about SC’s home, “Edgeley, Edgeley”.

Over all the heads I just about see the early ALT chance at the far post, the forward is unable to hook the shot over his shoulder, the sun almost making the goal we are behind invisible. The first home chant of the game, “we all follow the Alty” gets a sarcastic response from the SC fans, the choice of the home fans second, gets a few quizzical glances, “no one likes us, but we don't care”.

Just over five minutes gone and SC go close with a long range effort, but not as close as the “ohhhhhhh” maybe suggests according to one fan, “miles away”. The supporters in front of us have stopped grumbling about their hangovers and have moved on to the state of the pitch or “shit turf”. SC go again, the latest chant of “come on County” is interrupted by firework display esq oohs and ahhs. The latest attempt on goal, an always rising off target shot that well clears the bar, is put down to by the resident groundsman, because the ball was “bobbling”.

Late arrivals swivel their heads back and forth, scanning the terrace for somewhere to stand, but it's rammed. Rammed but quiet, one person puts it down to “everyone” being “hungover”, as another adds “fuck making any noise yet”.
“Robust” says Rachel, when one ALT player disposes an SC one with a firm shoulder barge in midfield, which inspires a song from the home fans. “Come on Alty, come on Alty”. The sun once more causes issues as the ball all but disappeared when it crossed into the SC box, forcing the woman behind me to leap forward, grasp my shoulder and ask, “what's happening”.

I tell her not a lot, in fact very little has happened in the opening fifteen minutes at all.

“I, O County” sing the visiting fans in response to their teams shot at goal, that takes a nick off a defender for a corner. The resulting set piece almost brings about the opener, only for the SC player, who those around us are calling “Danny Zuko”, header to be cleared off the line. “First goal is massive” states one fan whose turned to the person next to him, “whoever scores it, wins it”.

I think it's fair to say the tall thin redhead, who is still yet to eat, has so far dished out the most eclectic mix of insults towards the home players, I’ve ever heard. “Shitty ass” he shouts, straining every sinew of his body. SC go close again, a low edge of the box shot is saved, and again the crowd sound like they are at their local 5th of November display, “ohhhh”.

A home injury stops play, and allows each set of players to take on some water. The back wall of the mini stand rattles as the SC fans pound itmCHECK belting out their latest rendition of SCARF songs. The home fans respond with a low and slow, “Altrincham, Altrincham” which gets a few camp, slightly Carry On, “oh”,

As was sadly proven the last time we saw SC, they don't always “win away”, despite what the fans sing, and if they give the ball away at the back like they just did, much to the anger of one fan, “thats fucking shit” they certainly won't be winning today. They are not punished this time and the home side go again with a foray forward, but the ball into the box is cleared.

For a fraction of a second it looks like the SC number 10 has been forced too wide by the on rushing ALT keeper, to be able to take a shot. He dives at the feet of the SC player and for a second looks like he has done enough to claim the ball, but he hasn't. The goal now gaping, and from a tight angle, three ALT defenders reduced to spectators as the scorer of the SC goal on thirty minutes, rolls it in. He wheels away from goal, his arms out by his side Vincenzo Montella style, soon to be mobbed by his teammates.

One man down in front has removed his scarf from round his neck and is whirling it above his head, one beside has his stretched his out above his head all to the tune of “win away, win away” which for the first time today looks like it might be the case. One man who has vaulted the railings and is running up and down the touchline, certainly thinks so.

The announcement of the the golden goal is like a hard kick in the dick, I would of course been well up for that, however us in the away end, were not given the option. Not long after the restart and ALT let fly a low but ultimately very saveble shot, which is gathered up, to a chorus of relieved sighs. One fan demands that SC “go and get a second”, others are caught up in the spreading song of “we’re on our way”, that quickly and briefly consumes the terrace.

SC are on top, they have ALT pressed back in their own half. They are getting in the right positions, but as one fan points out, after he stops laughing, “at least get one on target” after one SC players attempt at a shot from the edge of the box that is neither a slice or a miss kick, but a mess, a real head scratcher. “What was that?” asks one supporter as the ball spins up into the air, and well away from goal.

It is only the slight deflection from an ALT defender that sends the latest SC shot on goal, narrowly wide of the post. “I-O County” goes up a few decibels while the team prepare to take their 75th corner of the half, but like so many of the ones previously, they don't make anything of it.

“He don’t play for us anymore” points out one SC fan, after a player gives the ball away, which in tennis they would call, an unforced error. In fact in the final five minutes there are a few grumbles around us, as the SC players intensity takes a dip. “Oh come on County wake up” shouts one person, what looked like an attack with so much promise, ends up being slow and lethargic.

A dilemma of historic proposition and one I am all too familiar with, is playing out in front of me. The tall thin redhead, is “starving” but is struggling with the distance he is required to travel to resolve his issue, “I can't be arsed, its miles away”.

When SC win corner number 76, and remember other than the header by “Danny Zuko” they have been almost inconsequential, one person is content, “that'll do”.

“Oh, oh, oh” go the SC fans, like a person juggling a jacket potato, as the ball bounces, pings and ricochets off almost every player in the packed ALT box, but not one player in SC blue is able to get a solid touch on it or bring it under control, when one finally does and is able to set himself, his shot
is over.

A rare ALT attack results in a shot on the SC goal, but it's easy for the keeper to mop up. Food dilemma man saw it, he’s still not moved, he still going on about how “starving he is” but still can’t be “arsed” to do anything about it.

Surely not, I saw him pass us, but I thought he had gone on the side terrace, but is Mr Shite from Barnet behind us? It sounded like him, “ that's shite” says a man in a strong Mancunian accent, when a SC free kick routine doesn't go as planned.

Except for food dilemma man, the thing on most people's mind is getting “a second before half time” and they are presented with many more chances to do so, before the half is done, however most go the way of the recent free kick and are “shite”.

A fine run down the wing, and a shimmy later, the wide player is running up the byline into the ALT box. They win themselves another corner, but make a meal of it. The SC players and fans want a foul on the edge of the ALT box, but the referee waves play on and only thanks to a well timed tackle in midfield are the home team not able to exploit the missing players at the back.

Another corner, another busted flush. With the sun slowly setting and the temperature dropping, people have started to do the cold feet dance, “my feet are fucking frozen” claims one man, as he shifts from foot to foot to the tempo of another round of “I-O County”. Someone who should certainly be cold, due to his inactivity, is the SC keeper, who one person points out, has “not had a save to make”.

“The referee has indicated a minimum of two minutes added time” announces the voice of the PA, as SC prepare for yes you guessed it, another corner. This one at least made it into the box, “ohhhhh” gasp the fans, when the ball is cleared, quickly recycled and lumped back in, only to be cleared once more.

Beaming from ear to ear, the food dilemma man, is dilemma free. “You got two?” asks his friend, “you that hungry?”. Clutching two white paper bags he has returned triumphant, “they've got chicken balti pies” he explains. Also the “queue is massive” so there was little chance of him making a second trip.

The ALT players seem a lot more eager to get back inside then the SC ones, they positively sprint down the tunnel, while the SC players take their time. Rachel cracks out a can of Sprite from her bag, but she has a far from happy look on her face as she does. “I’m frozen” she tells me, as Berlin mark two rears its head. Thankfully I have a scarf for her in my bag she let me borrow, but my attempts to hide the significant coffee stain on it from her, does not go as planned. So now she's cold and angry.

SC are the first of the two teams to reappear, the pop music is still blaring and when ALT run out a far-off home chant wafts our way, the ALT fans attesting once more that their team is, “by far the greatest”. Two pie man is now one pie man, the speed in which he inhaled it, he would really give Tom a run for his money, in some kind of non league eating contest.

The fans around us are singing about how their team make them “happy” when an early chance flies over the bar. One pie man is now no pie man, both gone in not time at all. Orange streaks criss cross the dusk sky and the songs are coming thick and fast, “we’re on our way”, “scarf around my neck” as the home players grow progressively more frustrated and are starting to get a bit overly physical.

A slow opening fifteen is capped with SC winning a free kick and working it well to get the ball into the box. A short pass down the channel is chipped towards the penalty spot, only to be cleared before reaching the intended SC player. The second half has also seen the bustling side stand really come to life, “here's to you Jimmy Gannon” they sing. One of the men in front of us puts it down to the after effects of last nights partying, “they're all still gurning”.

Although it's not spectacular from SC, as one fan puts it the performance is “professional”, the same fan adds that it might to result in a few people “moaning” it’s hardly thrilling stuff, but they look comfortable and are managing the game well.

From a boiling mass of supporters toward the back of the side stand, where most of the away noise is now coming from, comes a long string of goading songs, that fail to get a rise from the home fans, “what's is like to see a crowd?” they bark, “shall we sing a song for you?”. Perhaps the most patronising of all is the suggestion that they are only “here for the County”.

Just shy of twenty minutes gone and a home corner, stirs up no end of panic as the ball knocks about the SC box. “Get it out” urges one person, before the keeper is able to fall on the ball, snuffing out the danger to a cacophony of cheers, at the start of a period of home team dominance. The tide ever so slightly starting to shift on and off the pitch, the home fans grown louder and louder as their team starts to assert its self.

“Not a foul you soft cunt” snarls one SC fan when the home side are awarded a free kick. “Walking right through us” says another, the foul a necessary evil after a meandering run which went unabated and desperate measures had to be taken.

An SC substitution is deemed “defensive” by one fan, the SC manager is shutting up shop as they say. The home teams robust approach and lack of reprisals from the referee is really starting to wear thin, “book him you bastard”, another suggests the foul play is simply “because you're losing”. A wooden rattle somewhere in the crowd to my right ticks over and a rousing song of “we love you Stockport we do” rings out.

Rachel has returned from the toilet, with tales of “no lights”, “loo roll on a coat hanger” and having to use her “torch”, oh and the fact the whole toilet block “moved”. The ALT players are really walking a fine line, “off, off, off” shout the SC fans after another borderline tackle. “You shithouse” screams the now pie filled tall thin redhead. A tidal wave of abuse floods towards the referee who after his chat with the player, where no card was brandished, he is bombarded with booos.

“You've got to beat the first man!” crIes a supporter, as another SC corner, their 77th, doesn't get very far. ALT have a surge up the other end but its comes to nothing and it's now Jim Gannons, name the fans are singing. The referee continues to be the main focus of the supporters “ref you fucking shithouse’’ as another foul on a SC player goes unpunished.

The man in charge must be secretly relieved when the ALT keeper in unable to deal with a simple back pass, taking an almighty swing and a miss at the ball, not going the full Paul Robinson, but close, “You fat bastard” shouts one person at him. The keeper who is giving the player who rolled him the ball the dirtiest of looks, when he has no right to, is far from fat.

Two more SC corners, number 78 and 79, fail to produce. SC suffering as Rachel points out from a very "Tottenham" problem, of not being unable to get the ball into the box, the same person as before bemoaning, “you've gotta beat the first man”.

With less than ten minutes to go a trickle of stewards appear, taking up position for the final whistle, which is like a red rag to a bull to one SC fan, “we’re on the pitch, if County score”. A quick exchange on the edge of the ALT area sees one SC player away and into the box, with his back to
goal he turns sharply and lets loose a rising shot that is tipped over, winning SC their “eleventh corner” according to the man behind me, but I’m sure its more like their 79th.

Whatever number corner it is, nothing comes of  it, ALT are awarded a foul, an infringement on the man in goal apparently, one fans asks, “what did he do, tickle the keeper you soft bastard?”.

Into the final five and a huge shout for a home pen is declined. A blocked home shot means the SC fans are growing increasingly nervous. A stunning home ball, a flat pinged switch of play out to the wing to a player in acres of space means he can with ease get the ball into the box, but it's cleared. All that “professionalism” from earlier in the half has somewhat melted away and its all getting a big frantic. The home fans can sense it and are at their loudest of the day of so far, “come on you reds, come on you reds”.

I’m not sure what a “mard arse” is, however it is the man in front of me’s go to when addressing the referee. His request that he “book” the player who has just fouled an SC one, falls on deaf ears and I might have to ask Rachel to translate. I sense out of not really wanting to watch, so uses talking to me as a distraction, but one man turns his back on the game and is telling me how this season is SC’s “best chance” to “to go up”, he puts it down to the fact that unlike in previous seasons, “not one team is dominating”.

The announcement of the attendance, “3,383” gets a significant cheer, a big chunk of that must be the SC fans, and it sparks songs of “you're only here for the County”.

It’s all ALT, SC are fighting a rearguard action, “I can't watch this” says one person, the sight of maybe conceding a very late equaliser too grizzly to bear. “Four” blurts one fan at the announcement that the “referee has indicated four minutes of added time” everyone to a man is bemused at how he came to that number, one fan puts it down to that the referee must be “wearing a red shirt”.

A late home corner tests the SC fans nerves, but is just about as threatening as theirs have been. “Blue army” is the latest song, and a relieved “weyyy” goes up, when ALT curl a shot over. ALT win a corner, its curled and SC look to break but loose the ball, not long after they win the ball back high up the pitch and break again, this time winning a corner, but guess what.

The final whistle goes with SC in the ALT box. Many home players fall double, resting their hands on their knees, while the fans around me punch the air.

A child on his fathers shoulders, a man in a rainbow wig and the tall thin redhead, are just a couple of the hoard of SC fans singing "win away", the ALT keeper still on his haunches in his six yard box contemplating the defeat, who has not moved an inch. The SC players applaud what has been a fabulous performance by them considering the conditions, so many hangovers, the captain takes things a little further, he high fives and shakes hands with those who are pressed up against the rail around the edge of the pitch, pumping his fist in celebration as he walks away.

Slowly shuffling forward the crowd make the short walk out. One asks a steward if funnelling so many people through such a small space is not a "safety issue". Another takes it up a notch, suggesting he might be "crushed to death" and then has a premonition of what tomorrows newspaper headlines might be, "stewards gave no assistance".

On Rachel and I's ten year anniversary of first seeing SC, its a joy to see them win, we've not exactly been blessed with super games the last few occasions we've watched them. I still struggle for an explanation as to why SC have grown on me quite like they have, why I check for their score almost as quickly as I do Spurs.

I always thought I would die a one team man, but I think that's changing.


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