When I can I like to spend Saturday afternoons watching Gilette Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports News. That’s usually only once a month, given my work shift pattern and other commitments. I find it relaxing, watching the results update through the afternoon and listening to the football chat. My attention always picks up when Rochdale are mentioned. Last Saturday was extra special though, because Bray Wanderers were playing in a UK competition and making a cameo appearance on the show.
The Irn Bru Scottish Challenge Cup got pushed up the billing due to the absence of Premiership and Championship games in England [due to the international break] and the entire League programme in Scotland [due to a combination of the international break and the Irn Bru]. There were frequent updates on the Team Ferdinand versus Team Shearer charity match that was taking place at Loftus Road in aid of the victims of the horrific Grenfell Towers fire – great to see football be able to do something for such a worthy cause.
So there we were up on the board, Elgin City versus Bray Wanderers. Nestled between Dundee United versus Allow Athletic [United are the reigning Irn Bru holders] and Hamilton Academicals [a team who’s red-and-white hooped jersey is one of my favourites] versus Cove Rangers [of the Highland League].
There was no score in the first half. When the half-times were flashing up on the vidiprinter we came in between the Blackpool versus AFC Wimbledon half-time and the Berwick Rangers versus Queen of the South interval score.
Berwick Rangers, the only English team who play in the main Scottish pyramid. Queen of the South who Bray hosted in a friendly game at the Carlisle Grounds the summer we had the temporary ‘Michael Collins’ stand on the railway side of the ground.
Blackpool who had been in the Premiership not so long ago. AFC Wimbledon, a team who’s jersey Alun Armstrong’s character always wore in my favourite TV show, New Tricks. The writer of that show had certainly been a football fan – apart from the AFC Wimbledon nod, he’d named the three Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad characters Halford, Lane and Standing in honour of the Halford Lane Stand at West Bromwich Albion’s Hawthorns stadium.
As the second half progressed it became clear that there would be no fairy tale ending to the afternoon. Wanderers went one down, and then two down in injury time. That’s how it finished.
The full times flashed up on the vidiprinter. We came in just above the Bury versus Scunthorpe result. By chance Rochdale, who finished 0-0 away to Southend, had hosted Bury and Scunthorpe in the first two home League One games of the season, my first two games contributing to the Rochdale programme [talking about Bray Wanderers, mostly].
The classified results followed. That’s the famous bit where they read out the full day’s results and the narrator puts various spins of emphasis and inflection on his voice depending on whether the result is a home win, away win, no-score draw or score draw. We got our mention, even if it was only to confirm our defeat.
It’s usually pushing five o-clock again the classifieds are announced. They always brings to mind The Jam’s ‘’Just Who Is the Five O’clock Hero?’’ even though that track is actually about workers coming home from the factory and not the results coming in on a Saturday. But I suppose, a song can be whatever it means to you.
I flicked over to the Ireland versus Georgia game. It didn’t offer any consolation for Bray’s Irn Bru demise. A dire performance and a result that makes Russia 2018 seem a lot farther away than however far away Russia is geographically.
So it’s back to the League. Only not this week because it’s the FAI Cup and we’re out of that too. At least Bohemians didn’t win at the weekend, dropping two points at home to Galway. They have no more games in hand on us and are four points adrift of us. In football you take whatever crumbs of consolation you can when results don’t go your way.