I don’t know about anyone else, but I learnt a lot from the final pre-season game. Okay so none of it had anything to do with the squad, or where Latics are likely to finish come May, but what I learnt should keep me in good stead for at least a year or so. Really, it’s simple, and I should have known better in the first place. If you want to actually watch a football match, don’t take a girl with you – not a three year old any way.

Yes, Saturday saw the first appearance of a little perm at the match. I’m not sure where the idea came from, or how I thought someone who can’t currently concentrate long enough to last through a Duncan Ferguson substitute appearance would be able to manage a full 90 minutes, I don’t know. Maybe it was my hangover, maybe I’d had too hard a week at work, who knows? So after assuring Mother Perm that it was only a pre-season friendly so there wouldn’t be any shouty swearing and armed with ‘give it a go’ bravado (plus a rucksack filled with sweets and toys) it was off to Robin Park.

Now it’s not the little one’s first time at the JJB, she was there just over 12 months ago for the after promotion shindig. So of course she knew what it was all about. We’d go in, they’d play music, some people would be on the pitch, a couple of them would have oversized heads, and be a funny shade of yellow, then the music would stop and it would be time to go home. So as soon as everything goes quiet for kick off it’s “are we going home now?”. I almost felt sorry for her.

To be fair, once she realised that we were stopping to watch the men kick the ball about, and got over the fact that Jimmy Bullard and Jason Roberts weren’t going to show their faces, she was fine. The appearance of JJ and B may have been a bigger draw than the home debuts of Jewell’s summer shopping spree, but even so she was watching the game.
“Who’s that with a number 5 on his back?”, “Who’s that with a number 7 on his back?”, “Why’s that man got a white shirt on?”, “Who’s that man with the green on? Not the goalkeeper, the other one.” It may have all meant, I only got to see half of the game, but it was a great pleasure to see her showing an interest.

I’ve never believed those people who claim to remember the minute details of their first game, and here was proof in flesh. The little perm just about understands that the point of the game is to kick the ball in the net, but here she was “oooo”ing at all the right bits, applauding the Arnhem goal, that even I couldn’t see from our second half vantage point of one row back from the edge of the away team’s18 yard box (“JJ might come past dad!”).

Would I take her again? Maybe next summer, I think a league game is just that little bit beyond her at the minute (not to mention beyond my wallet), but at least I’ve struck the first blow. She reckons she enjoyed it but has told Mrs Perm that she doesn’t think Daddy will go again, “it takes too long”.

Oh yes, there was a game to report on. Nothing special to be honest, the new players looked alright, without causing any big splashes. It was very much a pre season game and it’s hard to be critical. Their goal looked to be a lovely free kick. Ours? I missed it of course; if little Perm does come again she’s definitely going to the loo at half-time.

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