I’ve never done Stoke away on the train before, normally just as easy to jump on one of the coaches I usually go on. Although Stoke not far away either, the train from Manchester to Stoke itself is probably quicker than the actual walk from the train station to the ground. Now I don’t mind walking anywhere but I’ve heard that is a right pain to get to apparently.
After a mad dash in the morning then with my lads football which I had to take him to, I was back home, washed and out of the door again for about 11.40am. No breakfast, only one brew and I was on-route to another away day. Quick train to Oxford Road, then another quick train from Oxford Road to Piccadilly, I’d bought my train ticket the day before as well to avoid any delays. As it turns out this was a great plan, because as I arrived into Piccadilly a London Euston train via Stoke was leaving from platform 6 in about two minutes. I was actually aiming for the next train about 20 minutes later, but without running, just a fast walk I made the one about to leave.
Can of Guinness on the way down and I was in Stoke for around 12.50pm, not bad going I thought. I was greeted by the police with a “you here for the football?” question. I must have stood out like a sore thump with my new ASDA George black coat on. I nodded and said “yes” at the same time and was handed a leaflet. My mate who I was meeting had suggested the North Stafford Hotel opposite the station for a drink and meeting place, however with no surprise as I headed towards it I saw the notice “public bar closed today”. I still headed inside for a quick pee.
On leaving the hotel I glanced at the leaflet (pictured) that I’d been given and it was pleasantly informing me of the The Leek Road Venue (LRV) Bar that was part of the University there. I headed for that to find it was the Uni bar, so had plenty of space inside and more importantly it was easy enough to get served. My mate arrived about 20 minutes later, but I’d been chatting to a couple of other lads first. Few beers later and it was onto the bus they’d put on for us as well, not before a parked police van had blocked the buses entry in the pick up area mind due. Not a bad service really, £3 a ticket which would bring us back to the station afterwards.
The game itself wasn’t great, Stoke battled and went 1-0 up without having a shot on target after Mata’s own goal. Mata also had our best chance in the first half and should have scored. Other than that we had a few half chances. Second half we were very dominant and were on top for most of it, again though with us not really being great. Stoke kept trying to catch us the break and just as it looked like we were going to come away with nothing. Up stepped Wayne Rooney.
He has his critics, who doesn’t, I’m not defending some of his actions in the past either. The fact is though, he is now Manchester United’s all-time record goalscorer. That means something and no, he’s not at his best anymore but he seems to have accepted that and accepted his squad place too now. He’s always shown commitment whilst on the pitch and his desire to win for United is not to be questioned. He showed that too when he scored and although I was going mental when the goal went it, I noticed it myself. There was no taking all the glory of becoming United’s record goalscorer, he pointed to the ball and ran back to the half-way line in the hope we could get a winner. That for me sums up him up. A winner.
Yes we dropped two points. Yes a few United fans in front of me at the bottom of the stand only celebrated Rooney’s goal by standing there and just clapping? What on earth? How can you not get excited about a last-minute goal? We’re United though and we go until the final whistle. Well done Wayne and your 250th United goal!!
After no beer in the ground as they weren’t serving, there was time for a quick one on the train north, before the pair of us stopped off in Stockport for a couple of beers in The George and to watch the second half of the City vs Spurs match. Two more quick train journeys later and I was back home in the warmth. Another good away day following United.