77. Why is the Sick Bay like Huddersfield Town Football Club?

Right now Joy and I should be trundling through France on our way to Barcelona. Instead of which we have delayed our departure until tomorrow. What was so important that we had to give up two days of our holiday?

Firstly, when we get back, I have promised to let a bunch of lads use the Sick Bay for their school prom. They particularly want my van because they love the deafening two tone siren and the flashing blue light. ( Course they do, they’re teenagers. And I love showing them off.) So a couple of days ago I washed the van and then checked the siren etc was working. It was working fine and to avoid annoying the neighbours I quickly flicked the ‘off’ switch. The noise carried on. I turned off the ignition – still the din continued. Joy shouted something which I couldn’t hear but eventually realised that she was suggesting I turn it off as poor Sammy, across the road, is studying for her ‘A’ levels. I explained that it was faulty and wouldn’t stop. Things got pretty heated between us. Eventually I disconnected the battery and peace reigned once more.

As usual I went running to the guys on the Late Bay forum for help. When I washed it did I use a hose? Yes I did. Transpires that I got water through the front air grill and so damaged a relay just below. Fortunately I have discovered a local auto electrician just around the corner from us and they told me to bring it round and they’d have a look. (This was midday on Bank Holiday Sunday, the day we had originally planned to set off.) Jameel and Irfan listened to my tale of woe and then suggested that Joy and I go for a walk while they sorted things out. Joy wandered round the local antique dealers and I came across a Turkish barber that was open so I got my hair cut. Manchester is wonderfully diverse!

Irfan fixes the circuit board wrecked by my careless use of a hose

They spent two hours on the job but only charged me for one hour because the Sick Bay was born in the same year as Jameel, 1972, and he’s the boss. Nice guy too. I am delighted that I have found these guys as they both know what they’re doing and they are fascinated by my van.

1972 is also the year when Huddersfield Town were last in the top flight of English football, and that’s the other reason why we were setting off late. My son-in-law, Ed, is a lifelong Town fan and I have been watching their progress in the play off matches with him on the telly. When they defeated Sheffield Wednesday to book their place in the final at Wembley, Ed asked me if I’d like to go with him and I said yes, of course. An old family friend, Eddie, knowing how devoted Ed is to the club, came up with free tickets in corporate hospitality. Eddie manages the Skybet marketing team and as they were sponsors of the event, he was able to work this minor miracle.

In the end there were quite a few of us who benefited from Eddie’s generosity, including another friend of Ed’s (also called Eddie – keep up at the back there), and we all piled into the train bound for Wembley.

With an Ed and two Eddies involved in our day we had to call into this boozer. The lady in blue is Eddie’s mum. Eddie is in the middle, both are genuine, lifelong Town supporters.

 

The match itself was a fairly drab encounter won by Town in a dramatic penalty shoot out. The contest between the fans was won hands down by the Huddersfield support which was nothing short of magnificent. The thought occurred to me that if VWs are the peoples’ campers then Huddersfield Town are the peoples’ football club. Both are high on traditional values and both try to achieve quality through design and management rather than by splashing a fortune on bling and glitter. There are no prima donnas in the team, no big money signings and some are on loan from other clubs. They have a quietly efficient, and very likeable, manager and they have an old school owner, a local businessman who does it all for love. Not a Russian oligarch or Arab sheik in sight. Ed has bought a season ticket and so next season will watch the likes of United, City, Arsenal and Liverpool – for the princely sum of £200. He also bought one for his three year old son, a supporter of the future and that cost twenty quid! After the game the players and their wives mingled with the fans who they treated as old friends, in fact many of them were old friends.

Half an hour ago this player, Hefelen, was beating his fists in frustration on the Wembley turf after missing his penalty. Now all smiles with Ed and Jonny.

Apart from the free tickets and corporate hospitality Eddie had one more surprise in store for Ed. At lunch he invited Ed to be the bearer of the winner’s cup onto the pitch just before kick-off. So with the tannoy announcing, ‘And here is what it’s all about . . . Ed Burns with the Cup!’, Ed walked onto the Wembley pitch to place the Cup on its pedestal as 90,000 fans went nuts.

In the players’ tunnel Ed prepares to walk onto the pitch . . .
. . . through this door . . .

 

. . . and out onto the pitch and 90,000 cheering fans. Eddie, on the left, makes sure everything is running smoothly.

The victory and subsequent elevation to the premiership was greeted with a sense of stunned ecstasy by the legions of Town fans and by the ones in our own little party. When we got to Euston Jonny announced that we would all travel back to Manchester in first class. Eddie went off to find a shop where he could buy bottles of champagne, later shared with all the Town fans on the train. That’s what Huddersfield fans are like – it’s 45 years since they had a major triumph and so they make sure they celebrate in style when it happens. It’s too late for me, I am a United Red, but if any VW Bay fans are out there, and you don’t have a footy club to support, I would recommend Huddersfield Town. You have a lot of values in common.

 

That bag in front of Eddie is full of champagne which was shared with every Town supporter on the train. On his right is Jonny who insisted on upgrading all of us to first class. (‘We’re premiership class now!’)
I was pitch side when the players came out. So excited I accidentally barged into the referee. ‘Sorry mate’, he said. It was that sort of a day.
Our table in the Bobby Moore suite was number 72. The year Town were last in the top division and the year the Sick Bay was born.  An omen?

So that’s why we’re setting off tomorrow for Barcelona. We’ve lost two days’ holiday but it was more than worth it. I wish Town every success in the premiership; they are a great club with great fans and they belong in the top flight. Good luck in all your matches – apart from when you play United!


About Basil John Mandy

A sixty odd year old born in Ladysmith, South Africa. Manchester United supporter and a great fan of the city in general. I worked for Kelloggs since 1982, apart from a year's sabbatical that I took to ride a bicycle to South Africa. I retired at the end of 2015 and have 2 grandsons, Lenny and Ellis. And now I've got a granddaughter as well - Dottie Joy!!

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