A bit late, but Happy New Year one and all! Hope 2017 is immense for you. 2016 was possibly the best year of my life, but I’ve already got some ideas in my head how to make my 2017 even more fun. I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on how the next few weeks will work and why I won’t be blogging about my football experiences from my recent return to the UK.
For those who follow me in the realms of social media (if not, why not? Twitter -@MattLostBoyo – and Instagram and Snapchat – ‘lostboyo’) you may have noticed that I’ve done a lot of travelling over the festive period. Suppose this spawned from my parents’ lifechanging decision from a few months ago: just like me and my brother, they decided that they were a bit bored with the UK and so they’ve crossed the channel to start a new life in the French countryside. Thus I no longer have an official home in the UK – just to warn you all back there about me coming along and nagging for somewhere to stay on my visits.
So my Christmas was spent in remote, rural, central France, joining my parents on househunting expeditions (my parents are currently living with my auntie and uncle in their home in Thenezay, while they search for their own home). Not that France was my first destination. I fitted in one more trip elsewhere first. Flights to France from Slovakia were expensive, so of course I decided that I should take in a day in Prague too – before flying from there to France on Christmas Eve. Prague was just amazing and I can’t wait to go back there for some football.
From central France it was onwards to Paris, where I met up with my brother – and fellow Lost Boyo – Marc and his wife Kathryn, who were back in Europe from Vietnam for the festive period. We did all the usual tourist stuff, drank champagne at the Christmas market and they very kindly treated me to dinner at a swanky, Parisean restaurant, where the food was just immense. We then parted ways and the next day I was heading to the UK – the south of England to be precise. At least I tried to get to the south, but ridiculous fog in Southampton meant my flight was sent to Birmingham airport before they put us onto a coach to Southampton. 10 hours after I was meant to arrive in Southampton, I finally did and I found that Craig was waiting to pick me up and take me back to his home in the pleasant little village of Cowfold in West Sussex.
This is where the football stuff starts.
Over the next 5 days I watched 5 games of football and I loved being back watching a mix of league and non-league football in the UK. The final game of the 5 saw me head into Hertforshire to watch the brilliant sounding FC Romania (a team of UK-based Romanian expats playing in the Essex Senior League). I stood out in the cold in the small stand of the small home of FC Romania at Cheshunt FC and thought “What the hell am I doing here?” Usually this prompts me to chuckle and remind myself how much I love random adventures really, but this time I realised I just really didn’t want to be there and I was just knackered – both physically and emotionally probably. I was just not arsed and I spent most of the evening in the bar watching Spurs v Chelsea instead like a twat. I then began to go through the usual drill in my head of how I was going to blog about my other trips over the past 5 days and as I began piecing together everything, I realised it would be a draining task writing them all once I arrived back in Slovakia. So, I decided there and then not to bother. My neck of the woods on the continent have a winter break until February and I’ve sort of decided to embrace that break too; as any blogger will tell you, blogging is a time-consuming task and felt a break would be good. The usual blogs will be back next month.
Back to my time in the UK though so I can summarise the trip…
Those 5 days started with a fun coach trip to Plymouth with the Crawley lot and I had a blast. Plymouth fans are honestly the nicest fans you could ever meet and we had a whale of a time in the fans’ tent outside the ground. The only down side of the day was Crawley losing 2-0 to high-flying Plymouth; but we got over that by consuming my auntie’s homemade cherry vodka on the way home, prompting the bus chant of: “MATT LOST BOYO IS HAVING A PARTY! BROUGHT HIS VODKA FROM HIS AUNTIE’S!” We found it humorous anyway – you probably had to be there. Then, it was New Year’s Eve night out in Crawley, but the less said about that the better to be honest.
I got my non-league fix the next day on New Year’s Day as me, Craig and Marilyn headed up to Sutton United for their derby game v Bromley. I’d heard so many good things about Sutton and the club came across very well as they convincingly won 2-0 on the day. The best part of the day though was meeting American Charlie Hatch. He had travelled over from the States for some European travels, although the main reason he was over was to watch his beloved Norwich City play. I’m glad we got to show him some proper non-league football too – even if he didn’t know how pronounce team names like Altrincham properly.
Next up, was a return to the Crawley Town having visited there back in January 2015 for that epic Crawley Town 2-2 MK Dons game I always go on (‘The Matt Harrold Game’). Thanks to knowing Craig, I’ve subjected myself to various Crawley games since, but their usual abjectness was not on show here today and they triumphed 2-0 over Yeovil. I credited the win with my decision to purchase a very cheap Crawley home shirt before the game: all hail the lucky shirt! I suppose the real highlight of the day though was finally visiting a Wetherspoons having not indulged in my favourite pub chain since landing in the UK 4 days previous.
It was goodbye Cowfold and hello London on the 3rd day of the New Year, as I set up base at my pal Dai’s flat in south London. Why was I there? As I was actually going to watch the team I actually support for a change! Swansea were to be hosted by Crystal Palace that night and what a night it was to be! Like most Swansea fans, I’ve been downbeat about them all season as they found themselves bottom of the league by the time 2017 had come around – not to mention the mess behind the scenes there now. But, believing me to be some sort of inspiration (I had seen Crawley Town win the day before after all), I just had a feeling they’d win that night. Even when Wilfried Zaha scored a beauty for Palace to make it undeservedly 1-1, I still felt we’d win. Cue Leroy Fer with an audacious lobbed outside of the foot pass to Angel Rangel’s burst into the box. The scenes when Rangel scored that 88th minute winner were immense and I loved him so much right there and then (well, I still love him…he’s Angel Rangel, an utter legend). I celebrated the win emphatically at an open mic night near New Cross Gate; I passed on the opportunity to entertain the south London masses though – I’ll stick to karaoke.
As I mentioned earlier, I finished my few days in the UK with a trip to FC Romania, but it was just a bit too much for me; although that’s nothing against them – they seemed to have a nice setup. They lost 5-1 to Southend Manor in the Gordon Brasted Memorial Trophy for those interested. I was probably happier at the Brewdog pub near Camden Locks though.
So, 5 games in 5 days done and the next night I was back to a very, very cold Slovakia with me being stranded in Bratislava on landing, as it was the early hours of the morning and there were no trains back to Trnava until 6am. Not to worry – Bratislava bars seem to stay open all night/morning and so I found myself in Zbrojnoš; apparently I looked lonely and so three girls invited me to join them drinking – two from the Dutch embassy, the other from the Korean embassy. They were good fun.
I’ve been back 2 days now and the temperature has been about -12 for most of those days; I now understand why a winter break happens here! The usual blogs will return when the football returns to central Europe. However, there are some things I’m planning on doing…
Lost Boyos came to life 5 years ago this month and to celebrate that fact, I’ll be compiling my Top 5s since I’ve been doing this whole groundhopping thing – Top 5 goals, grounds etc. and maybe some randoms ones (I’m open to suggestions!) Because all football fans love lists don’t they?
Anyway, I’ve gone on longer than I planned. Happy New Year again and I promise I’ll be back at some backwater central European town watching crap football and drinking cheap beer soon.
I’ll leave you with a photo of me wearing a Jürgen Klinsmann mask I found for 2 Euros in a weird French supermarket called Noz for no apparent reason whatsoever.