By Chris Rowland.
It’s a long time since I set out for a match with the red star glowing quite this brightly.
First, world champions. Then, a dismissive contemptuous swatting away of our closest rivals on Boxing Day, on their own coarse turf.
And then the day after, Man City, most likely to end up being our closest rivals, have their keeper sent off and substitute their returning goalscoring hero as a result, have their star player storm off after being substituted, have a row between manager and coach, an on-pitch row between two more players, surrender a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2, against our opponents today, and end with their manager making the factually inaccurate comment that they can no longer catch us. We begin the day ten points clear with two games in hand.
All of which puts the dark threat the day holds – my reliance on the deadly duo of Northern Rail and Transpennine Express – into sweet relief.
With the threat of service disruptions up to Sat Jan 4th from Transpennine, with only some of their advertised services running, and Northern explaining that due to the introduction of new trains they’ve had to get some old mothballed ones out without the ‘usual’ facilities ie toilets – new trains means older trains, go figure – I have every reason for apprehension and uncertainty. There’s no confidence in travelling by train these days. And I’m saying ‘these days’ a lot these days!
There is a train at 11:05 from home that would get me into Manchester ten minutes before my train to Liverpool, but I daren’t trust that narrow a gap. Instead I choose to get the 10:05. I can spend an hour having a coffee and a nose around at Victoria. Except when I get to the station I see the 10:05 Northern service to Manchester Victoria is cancelled due to lack of a train guard. I will have to get the 11:05 after all, and endure the risk of missing my connection.
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