When AFC Bournemouth beat Carlisle United 2-1 in early January 2005, me and three mates decided we would go to the fourth round match no matter where it was. The day after when the draw was made, The Cherries were drawn away to the winners of the Burnley v. Liverpool replay. Naturally this was fantastic news, as both are big northern clubs and we were guaranteed an away trip up north. We all hoped and assumed we would play Liverpool, as that would be a real money earner for my beloved AFC Bournemouth, who were and have always been in massive debt. The FA Cup is a great way for wee teams to get money in, especially when they are drawn away to a big club, as the clubs share the gate receipts. WE GOT READY FOR A BIG TRIP TO ANFIELD, LIVERPOOL!! But just in case Burnley won, we didn’t book the bus/train tickets!
Then against all the odds a below strength Liverpool side scored the winner for Burnley via Jimmy Tryoary and our trip to Anfield, Liverpool turned into a trip to Turf Moor, Burnley. In line with what me and my mates love doing (random ideas) we decided to make 3 days of it, a long weekend. This meant getting up early on the Friday morning to get a cheap megabus to London, spend a day in the capital and then get another cheap megabus to Leeds, where we decided to stay for a night, before getting a train to Burnley the Saturday morning of the match. We were all set, we bought our tickets, booked a hotel in Leeds and one in Burnley and decided to throw in some wacky ideas, hair dye, visits to random football stadiums and alcohol. Those on the trip would be my housemate Austin, my ex-housemate Neil and James. It was bound to be a classic weekend!
It started at 6 am on the Friday with me slicing limes in the kitchen ready for my stock of Corona over the weekend which was in my bag. Me and Austin met Neil at the megabus bus stop outside Bournemouth University in Wallisdown and we were off. It all started with a bang, beer for breakfast with Austin using Cider as Milk for Cornflakes. Before we knew it we were in London and I set a challenge to do some football grounds. We were at Victoria on the District Line, so I suggested we could to Fulham and Chelsea’s football stadiums since they were both close by. Off we headed on a Westbound District Line. As fate would have it, we needed to change at Earl’s Court. This meant getting onto the Wimbledon service to make it to Putney Bridge, which is 10 minute walk from Craven Cottage, Fulham FC! However when we alighted the tube, it was a speedy run required to get the next one. With me and Austin already on the train, Neil rammed an inflatable AFC Bournemouth football shirt into the tube just as the doors were shutting. If memory serves, the shirt was on the train but Neil wasn’t! This was soon put right and the train couldn’t leave the station, as the doors had jammed. An underground worker came over and sorted the doors out, by which time Neil and the inflatable AFC Bournemouth shirt were both on the train, as we pissed ourselves laughing at 10 am in front of unimpressed Londoners. Trust me, it was fucking funny!!!!!!!
We got off at Putney Bridge and set about walking firstly to Fulham FC and then to the nearest pub for 11 am first orders. Down long posh roads, we found Craven Cottage which did actually look like a house. We weren’t too impressed by the stadium. Neil and I gave it a 2/10. The shop was closed, no sign of life and it was a mission to find. There wasn’t even a Fulham FC Bar for us to enjoy our first beer. Never mind, we left soon after past unset tarmac, where builders were digging and we found a pub called The Firken with giraffes on the wall. It was classic. In there we drank Cobra beer for first orders, before deciding to do Stamford Bridge of Chelsea next, which was bound to be more impressive, and maybe even have a bar! We enjoyed some photos of the stadium and the hotel, and popped into The Shed Bar for a pint. By this stage we had also got in touch with James who was finished work and going to meet us in the next pub. The next pub turned out to be the Urban Bar at Whitechapel. Not before Neil somehow managed to lose his bag on the way. We never got the bag back. I think he had food and toiletries in it. We had a relaxed few pints and dukebox session in the Urban Bar. We contemplated taking the central line out to Leyton Orient to throw in an extra football stadium pint for the day, but ended up heading back towards Victoria, where our Megabus to Leeds would leave from.
We had a pint in Molly O’Gradys bar at Victoria and then headed onto the Megabus with a carryout, including Austin’s 3leet of cider. Once on the Megabus it was rammed and it got hot in there. We were a cert to run out of alcohol on the long journey to Leeds (where we would stay in a hotel and hopefully still have time to go clubbing). After about an hour we started doing stupid bets. One of these was hilarious, whereby James said he would give Neil £30 if he downed the rest of Austin’s 3 leet of Cider in one gulp. Neil was up for it and he did it. In front of a crowded bus, Neil drank about 2 litres of Cider in the space of less than a minute and in one sip. He was hammered straight away. It was great craic. I spoke to a few people on the bus and they couldn’t believe Neil had downed it. The rest of us were actually fairly sober although we’d been drinking all day. The bus finally arrived in Leeds and we found our Hotel within 5 minutes, got quickly changed and headed out on the town. The four of us. It must have been gone midnight, so a nightclub was our best bet. In Leeds Majestyk and Jumpin Jaks nightclub are as one, and entry was £3 with a free drink so we were sorted! Neil was gone, but the rest of us continued to drink heavily and get pissed. There’s a photo taken by the resident photographer of the four of us in there and Neil is gone to the world. Absolute carnage. We then ended up staying in the Hotel Bar till about 3 or 4 am after that, I drank Becks in bottles and Neil had cider pints! Austin and James went to bed.
Neil and I were up early rise and shine on the big day of the match and we went for a cheap and easy £3 fry up in the Debenhams in Leeds City Centre while Austin and James refused to get up. Neil and I also sussed out how to get to Elland Road, as we had plenty of time and it would be nice to visit the stadium, even though WE ALL HATE LEEDS (and especially AFC Bournemouth fans following bank holiday in May 1990, when Leeds won 1-0 at Dean Court to get into Division One, and they sent the Cherries down to Division Three that day amidst rioting from the Leeds scum). Back at the hotel, Austin still refused to get up, but we had dragged James out of bed using the remainder of Neil’s sausage sandwich to lure him up for food and beer via Elland Road. We got the bus out to Elland Road, which appeared from nowhere in some kind of barren Northern council estate, or at least thats what it looked like. Leeds had just signed Northern Ireland’s David Healy that week and had also reduced ALL their shirts to £10. For a laugh all three of us bought a Leeds shirt. Against our principle really, but two and a half years later I’d set fire to mine ahead of the Bournemouth v. Leeds match. We walked round the stadium and the club shop, with photo opportunities by the ground and the Billy Bremner statue. I got my Northern Ireland fleg out. This was the third stadium I visited in the two days.
We then got back to the hotel about 3 hours from kick off and in the wrong city (Leeds, not Burnley) and told Austin the match was postponed due to rain so we were all going to watch Leeds v. Brighton instead. We didn’t and we wouldn’t have, though he did believe us strangely, before finally rolling out of bed and walking slowly but surely to Leeds central train station where we quickly bought tickets, I grabbed some Corona and lime (plus cheese strings) and we boarded a train direct for Burnley! It was now about two hours to kick off and we were all dressed in red and black AFC Bournemouth stuff ready for the 4th round match. I dyed my hair black, Neil’s was red, the other two didn’t bother. We enjoyed chatting up some Blackpool girls on the train who were heading to a hen night. They were all pretty. Then some Colchester United fans started singing, they were in our division at the time and drawn away to Premiership Blackburn Rovers (who we had already beaten earlier in the season at Ewood Park). We enjoyed a bit of craic with them and soon our train had stopped in Burnley and we got off. With time ticking towards kick off, and a nice cheap wee hotel already booked, we went for a taxi from the train station to The Sparrow Hawk Hotel. The hotel was pretty close to Turf Moor and had a good selection of ales.
WE got quick showers but Neil was streets ahead, already waiting with the beers in the hotel bar, where we quickly drank them and then headed to a bar where we heard on the internet that pints were £1!! The bar was the Miner’s Club in Burnley, which was round the corner and also on the way to the stadium, about 1 hour before kick off we were enjoying it! On the way there I noticed a shap called UDA Discount Stores!! Unbelieveable I thought, since in Northern Ireland the UDA is the Ulster Defence Association, a loyalist terrorist movement. I had to get my Northern Ireland fleg out for the photo opportunity even if this comedy was lost to the English public…Once inside the Miner’s Club did indeed have cheap beer, £1.20 for a gorgeoud pint of Claret and Blue bitter and they even let away fans in, though we think they burst Neil’s inflatable AFC Bournemouth shirt, which to be fair had already survived being crushed by tube doors in London, flung down the stair case in a Leeds hotel and travelled all this way just to watch the Cherries! The beer was good and we had a few before walking to Turf Moor. Once inside the stadium, we made our way to the back few rows just before kick off. We started brightly on the pitch, with Wade Elliott and Brian Stock running rings round the Burnley defenders and giving them a real early fright. The possession continued in our favour and we were the better team for most of the first half, as we attacked the other end. The Burnley stadium was massive, with four decent stands. We stood behind the nets. As good as we were, both on the pitch and singing wise in the stands, Burnley finally broke and got a goal, on the stroke of half time and that was 1-0. The Championship (Division 2) team were winning against my League One (Division 3) team. I posed next to a boring peeler for a half time photo with my Northern Ireland fleg, which is a great photo taken by Neil. After this we got some food and beer (a Burnley FC Lager!!) before having to finish quickly and get back in time for the second half, which we were confident of scoring once, or even twice.
Time and time again Wade Elliott gave the Burnley left back a nightmare afternoon, wriggling in and out and firing crosses in to Steve Fletcher and James Hayter. We hit the bar and post a few times, Hayter headed wide, Stock fired a free kick over, we did everything but score. Even sub Alan Connell went close and Spicer also banged a shot wide. We continued singing until the 90th minute, where we hoped to snatch a late equaliser and take the tie back to Dean Court for the replay. However as we pressed, Burnley broke away and hit a second goal in injury time. Suddenly our FA Cup run had come to an end, but we had done well. We played them off the park and gave them a scare. How they won 2-0 I’ll never know. The four of us sighed, and dandered happily still back to the Miner’s Club, for another £1.10 pint. After that and watching the other results on the TV, it was back to the hotel to get changed have dinner, play some darts and sink some more pints. The party weekend wasn’t over! After dinner we headed out in search of another pub. We ended up in the quiet White Hart, where Neil, James and Austin happily sat and watched the live band. However I got bored after an hour and decided to club Burnley up on my own. None of them wanted to come. I then found a female haven in a club called “Paradise Island.” The News of The World Girls were all out that night and I met them all, squeezed a few nice breasts, posed for some photos and continued to drink and talk to randoms. I also blagged my way in behind the bar and started singing on a fake microphone. It was all mental. I even made it onto the roof into was was another part of the nightclub called “The Garden.” You know what, I don’t think I’ll ever be there again, but it was a great night. I never asked any girls to dance or kiss for whatever reason. They were all drop dead gorgeous, and I was single at the time. A bit of love in Burnley would have been nice, instead I left before 1 am (I think…) as I met up with the guys again in the hotel pub, which was still open. We chilled out there and played some pool. With Neil and Austin even staying up till 5 am, while I ran nude round the hotel and James went to sleep. There was still the Sunday trip home to Bournemouth via London to come…
My mate Austin is a lazy bastard. Its true and even he will admit it. He lies in bed so long in mornings, and sleeps on train etc. while travelling with us. On this occassion, he had missed the day before’s trip to Elland Road, and almost missed the train and buses to Burnley. Despite me and Neil being up rise and shine after having our full English breakfast, Austin was still not getting up. WE waited for him in the hotel lobby and he still wouldn’t arrive. Sunday train service, we knew would be shit and turned out to be one an hour from Burnley to Leeds for our connecting megabus. Austin made us miss this by about 6 minutes and we ended up having lunch in McDonalds before getting the next train to Leeds in the hope of making up the time and catching the megabus we had booked. Unfortunately we missed it, which cost us a staggerring £40 EACH, I couldn’t believe it, but Austin never seems to worry about money for some reason, and we ended up getting a coach (from a different station) to London which if on time would allow for us to catch our final megabus from London to Bournemouth. Sadly we also missed this and the end result meant it had cost us an extra £56 or something to get home from a trip which was overall brilliant, but spoiled by Austin’s laziness in honesty. These days if Austin isn’t ready, I just do things for myself anyhow and leave him behind. I’m not risking large sums of money on someone else’s fault (if its my fault then that’s fine, but someone else’s fault will never make me miss a bus/train again)…
Who went – Jonny Blair, Neil Macey, Austin Sheppard, James Condron.
Transport Used – Megabus, London Underground, Overground Trains, Buses, National Express, Taxis.
Cities Visited – Bournemouth – London – Leeds – Burnley (back the same way).
Bars Visited – Giraffe Pub (Fulham), The Shed Bar (Chelsea), The Urban Bar (Whitechapel), Molly O’Grady’s (Victoria), Majestyk (Leeds), Jumpin Jaks (Leeds), Metropole Hotel Bar (Leeds), The General Elliott (Leeds), The Royal Oak (Leeds), The Traveller’s Tavern (Victoria), Wetherspoon’s (Leeds), Smithie’s Cafe Bar (Burnley), The Sparrow Hawk Hotel Bar (Burnley), The Miner’s (Burnley), Burnley FC Bar (Burnley), The White Hart Inn (Burnley), Paradise Island (Burnley), The Garden (Burnley).