Sunday, May 01, 2005

Football, beer and a BBQ. What more do you want?

Ryan came in from school with a grin like a Cheshire cat on Friday telling me that he had something in his bag for me that is the best present in the world. Despite me telling him that I wasn't interested unless it was a Star Trek DVD boxset or a half dozen Star Bars (the finest chocolate bar on the face of the planet!) I was impressed when he pulled out a ticket for the St. Mirren versus Ross County game the following day. St. Mirren have a scheme where they give out tickets to school kids for certain games and if they are accompanied by an adult, the child gets free admission and the adult only has to pay ten pounds to get in. I was delighted as I haven't been to a game for years as it's not cheap and becoming a student removed any chance of being able to afford it. The only problem was that we were going over to Lyn and Brian's house on Saturday for a BBQ and Ryan was to go over in the afternoon to play with Grant so I told Ryan that we might not be able to go. It was that old chesnut, "wait and see what your Mum says". However, when Fiona arrived home, a quick call was made to Lyn and it transpired that Grant had a ticket for the game too, so I could take both of them, problem solved.

The next afternoon Lyn & Grant came and picked up myself and Ryan and dropped us off near Love Street in Paisley. The kids were Hyper and I decided to add to their hysteria by buying some sweets and juice and a Star Bar for me (yum). We joined the queue to enter the ground only to be told by a Policeman that the kids were not allowed to take plastic bottles into the ground. I should have known better, but it's been so long since I went to a game that I forgot the damage that a bottle of Fruit Shoot can do a football player when thrown by a 10 year old kid! The kids downed their "weapons" and we entered the ground and found a good place to sit behind the goal. There were kids everywhere, as obviously many Dads had taken advantage of the discounted entry to the game and I thought to myself that St. Mirren deserved a pat on the back for being sensible enough to realise that this was the age to try and attract future fans who realistically might be paying customers for the next fifty years.

The players arrived on the park just after 3.00 to a massive roar from the crowd. It was a perfect day for a game of football, mild sunshine, a perfect pitch and a crowd of four thousand fans. As I looked over to the North stand where most of the noise was coming from I remembered fondly coming here frequently when I was a kid with my friends, Brian and Alan. In those days we were in the Premier League and games against Celtic and Rangers were packed full of fans and as there was no seating in those days the crowds must have been 20,000+. We took those days for granted, however, hopefully they will come again.

The game it itself was not too bad and St. Mirren took the lead half way through the first half.

Click here for a video clip of St. Mirren on the attack!

As half time approached I decided to get into the burger queue early to avoid a long wait. After ten minutes, and just as the half time whistle blew, we got to the front of the queue only to be told that there were no burgers left and only two hot dogs. I bought the hot dogs for the boys and I made do with a pie, but I felt sorry for the young girl who was sure to get dogs abuse off the fifty foot long queue behind me who would need to buy a minging pie, whether they wanted to or not.

The second half was not as good as the first and no further goals were scored. At full time we gave the crowd a chance to disperse and took our time leaving. Outside I spotted my friend Alan (who I mentioned early) waiting for his wife. They had been at the game and were heading off to the Wee Barrell pub for a drink. The pub has been at the centre of a possible urban myth in Paisley since I was kid with people saying that whenever Rod Stewart is in town he always drops in there for a drink. As far as I know there is no evidence to back this up, however Alan told me an apparently true and very funny story about someone he knows that drinks in the Argyle Bar who approached the Megastar the last time that he was in town and being a typical Paisley Buddie gave Rod his autograph! I have been reliably informed that there is conclusive photographic proof of this in the Argyle Bar, I will just need to do my own reconnaissance mission and have a pint while I am there.

Myself, Ryan and Grant returned home and the boys played while I grabbed a quick shower. Fiona came in from work and we headed over to Brian & Lyn's house for this evening's BBQ. Brian already had the coals burning and the pressure was on as it looked like it was going to rain. Burgers, sausages, kebabs and chicken wings were all cooked and enjoyed with rolls, salad and a beer. The kids played happily and I even had a shot at a couple of games with them and after removing all my dignity playing with a skipping rope, sat down again! The first few spots of rain started and a scramble ensued as we tried to pack up all the toys, chairs and food and moved inside.

Lyn had asked me if I could bring over my tool to strip wires as their pet rabbit had chewed through their outdoor lights power supply. I was surprised by this given my world reknowned reputation for DIY disasters, but I carried on anyway. I was chatting away as I stripped the plastic coating from the metal and startred to secure them together with insulating tape. As I joined the second wire together, Fiona looked out of the window and exclaimed "Lyn, their lovely!". "What's lovely?" I asked curiously and Fiona replied that the lights in the garden were. A nanosecond passed before the penny dropped, "is this wire still plugged in?" I asked, my voice raising several octaves. Bloody hell, here I was stripping electrical cable while it was still plugged into the mains, thankfully the adaptor obviously sent the power through at a low level, just as well as I would have went up in a puff of smoke. The girls found this very funny and I decided that I needed a drink and in future I would check if sockets were plugged in before attempting any similar jobs.

A good night of conversation and drinks followed and the kids played happily upstairs. Ryan likes to play Big Brother to Grant so he was in his element and he was staying overnight, so a long lie was on the cards for the morning. The kids eventually settled down to sleep and around 2am, we decided to make tracks and the taxi duly arrived to take us home. Fiona and I chatted for a while then she turned in for the night and I wasn't far behind her, safe in the knowledge that we would not be up before 10am!

Grant & Ryan just before kick off.

St. Mirren & Ross County take to the pitch.

Kick off.

The St. Mirren defence stand tall under pressure.

The North Stand.

The South Stand

The team celebrate after taking the lead.

Full time and a 1-0 victory for St. Mirren

Ricky Gillies leaves the pitch after the crowd show their gratitude on his last home game for the club.

Alan & Margaret with the boys.

Ryan keeps the fire going.

Brian cooking the food on the BBQ.

Me, taping the wires together while they are still plugged into the mains!

The girls trying work off some of the BBQ food.

Conclusive proof for those of you who thought that Fiona is a bit of a Witch!