Monday, 20 April 2015

Celebrating with the fans at Bristol City

They're playing Drink Up Thy Zider at Bristol City's ground, Ashton Gate.

It's their song.

So we drink up our cider and head for our seats, having gone through the turnstiles in a numbered entry system devised by the Romans for the Coliseum and other public buildings like it.
But, unlike Ancient Rome, we're not segregated, we're all in this together. So we're sitting in front of a row of people in wheelchairs, a mother and young child two seats away...
...and, next to us, wafting across the stadium, are the strong smells of body odour, pasties and something with the aroma of Marmite (which, in this context, you wouldn't like at all even if you usually loved this foul, black yeast extract on your toast).

It's approaching three o'clock and the crowd behind us starts singing. Their musical programme begins with the adaptation of a song by 70s glam rock group Slade, which starts off with an expletive followed by the words Swindon Town and the fact they are staying down. I am so glad Mrs Bancroft is not here. Swindon is her team.
There is singing and getting up all through the match, which is not very interesting but exciting nonetheless because City are going up into the Championship League and a 0-0 draw, which is what happens today, means they are League One champions. 

I am not a football fan in any sense of the word but I'm here today because Mr Grigg couldn't find anyone else to go with him. However, from a sociological, crowd-watching point of view, being in this stadium is an experience not to be missed.

There is comedy gold when the fans sing Always Sh*t on the Welsh Side of the Bridge, to the tune of Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. The rivalry towards their brethren on the other side of the Bristol Channel is legendary.

And I wonder who makes up these songs, and whether they practise them in someone's front room or back yard before unleashing them on the football public.

And then the shaved heads launch into Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole, Going Up, Up, Up and people start dancing and waving their scarves.
The game comes to an end, there is an announcement not to go on to the pitch and then, as fans of all ages walk down to the hallowed turf regardless, Mr Grigg asks me: 'Shall we go on the pitch?'

So we stroll down onto the grass, the stewards standing aside for us and smiling. And here we are, walking on the ground where Mr Grigg's team, which he has supported since he was a small boy, have played year in, year out.
'Have you done this before?' I say. It's a rather smug question, as I'm an old hand at invading the pitch. I once jumped over the barrier at Wembley, although it was for the Ladies Hockey Final in 1975. (One of my schoolfriends has still not given me back the Bay City Rollers striped socks I lent her for the day).

'No,' Mr Grigg says, a grin on his face as wide as the Severn Bridge.

'Good, isn't it?'
That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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