Saturday, October 24, 1981
Robert arrived at twelve for Athletic's game with Cross End Avenue. He brought Carol–it’s their sixth wedding anniversary today–along with her sister Lynne. We were all in high spirits about the match, Lynne and Carol even putting green and white ribbons in their hair.
We got to the ground an hour before kick off because a big crowd was expected, and as the crowd grew so did our tension. There was a bit of trouble, the two opposing sets of fans throwing stones and other missiles and we saw two people led away with blood streaming down their faces. Cross End came out first, in all red with black stripes. Their support was phenomenal and packed one half of the Easterby End and part of the Three Locks Road side: they outshouted us really. The sight of the thronged multitude on all sides was heart-warming.
As expected, Cross End started superbly, looking quick and decisive, easily the better side. They were nearly always in our half and we soon realised it was going to be one of those sickening games where nothing went right for Athletic. Littlewood was utter crap and was booked early on and totally bloody annoyingly predictably, Cross End scored shortly after.
In the second-half we played better, piling on the pressure, but the usual form was missing and the players seemed to lack the skill to get the ball through the Cross End midfield. That was it for us. Easterby seemed overawed by the size of the crowd and all the build-up, and I was pretty depressed. As Robert said, it’s hard to admit your team isn’t the best.
One of Rob’s teaching friends had come across for the game with four venture scouts, and we all decided to go for a curry afterwards. We met up with them outside the Athletic shop but just as reached Howden Rd, Rob's car started to steam. No curry. The others went home while me and Robert trudged about in the torrential rain looking for a garage. He rang the AA, then Dad, and after Dad had come to pick up Lynne and Carol, we had to wait an hour for the AA man to show up, and when he did we followed him to a garage up Debdenshaw Rd where he topped up the coolant and told us to follow him on to Knowlesbeck. Within a couple of minutes he’d vanished into the night leaving us to drive home.
We endured an hour of Robert being pig-headed and stubborn and everyone else getting worked up and ratchety before finally everyone left.
A weird day.