The time I swopped scarves with a Vilareal fan…
What goes on tour stays on tour. or not, as the case may be. Lets face it, these trips are where legends are made. The stories we come back and tell are part of the motivation for going in the first place. This is one of those that claimed it’s place in my personal history mostly for the one thing that didn’t happen: The flight home.
We went out there to support our team. He got the tickets whilst I booked the flights and a hire car. We also nailed a hotel down before we left and enjoyed the cruise up the motorway from Alicante to Vila-real just above Valencia and the home, it appears, of Spanish porcelain.
A cracking day on the lash, singing for our team, before, during and after the match including the moment where we shared a song with a bunch of locals and swopped scarves. As I said in my original tweet, this could have been the start of a beautiful friendship but it wasn’t. The only thing that we exchanged were scarves and songs and then we went into our end of the ground and they went into theirs and that was the end of it.
We drank our way through the night and ended up in a wonderful nightclub and frankly, given that the day had begun 24 hours earlier, I’m amazed that we remember any of it at all.
We followed it up, probably sooner than I should have been driving, by tracking on back down the coast to that famous bastion of British sobriety in Spain, Benidorm. We got there some time around 4 or 5pm and as we walked into a bar that was replaying highlights of the previous night’s game, He was delighted to get to actually see the goal that Hadabarndoor scored for the Arsenal!
Over the next 12 hours we took in every ‘Brits abroad’ cliche that we possibly could: Elvis impersonator, bucking bronco, strip club, northern comedian, karaoke, kebab for tea and dinner. We crammed it all in and it culminated around 4.30am with me stripped to my underpants on the dancefloor of a near deserted club dancing to God knows what. When the DJ politely suggested that I get dressed and go home it seemed like the wise thing to do!
After two days of heavy drinking including going to bed approximately one hour before needing to leave for the homebound flight, He and I were annoyed, but could barely claim to be surprised, that we didn’t quite make that flight out of Alicante. We did make it to the airport about half an hour before flight time so at least we got to see the plane leave without us…
We tried to get a flight shortly afterwards with Ryanair to Liverpool but they tried to charge us £250 each so we told them where to stick it and ended up aboard a Jet2 flight to Leeds / Bradford. In the meantime, I phoned home and arranged a babysitter for the evening as I was meant to be looking after the boys and I also dealt with making sure the pub would be open and staffed right through until closing rather than just until 9 as it stood.
Then I made the tough call, telling MrsP that things had gone a little awry! Hindsight taught me that I didn’t need to do this, despite a Planes, Trains and Automobiles epic journey via Leeds, Manchester and Shrewsbury, we actually got back no more than a couple of hours after we were due. In fact, I should add that after the initial cock up I went to huge lengths to get home from Spain to ensure the minimum of disruption but, you know, the damage was done.
Maybe one day MrsP will look back and laugh about it like He and I do…. I can’t help but respect the fact that she went an entire week without speaking to me at all and only broke the silence then because I was off to London to see AC/DC and we needed to discuss when I was due back. Needless to say I didn’t make any promises this time but I did make damn sure I got the train I intended to!