Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ill Man Takes A Sneaky Gyp To Forfar

Hello folks. A few weeks back I took a solo trip north to watch Partick Thistle play Forfar Athletic. Forfar is a small market town some fourteen miles north of Dundee and though easily reached by train and bus it's still what you might term as one of the more esoteric trips you might undertake of a weekend.

Got to Queen Street Station in Glasgow just as the the 11:42 to Dundee was pulling out and had to take the next one an hour later. Not an ideal start with the game due to start at 3pm. Arrived in Dundee just after 2pm. The journey was rather grand actually. The snowcapped hills near and beyond Stirling, the Tayside plains, the views of the Tay estuary all making for an engrossing train ride.

Anyway, one hour to get to the game and I didn't even know where Dundee bus station was................. Handily placed maps of the city centre got me to Seagate station in plenty time and onto the Forfar bus. Still cutting it fine though as I had little idea of where Station Park was in Forfar. A helpful bus driver(What???? They exist?) sent me in the right direction and an even more helpful local gave me the requisite final directions to lead me to the ground. Yay!

I missed the first ten minutes but from what I could see, Thistle hadn't been up to terribly much in my abscence. I wandered about the rather lovely and well maintained ground, ducking under the odd shout and volley of abuse to take the some shots of the action here and there. The weather had been slightly iffy all day and when I arrived, the grounds meagre set of floodlights were ablaze. By half time though, the clouds had cleared and the second half was bathed in the glow of some pleasant late afternoon sunshine. The game ended 0-0 with Thistle limping home with ten men. The referee was an incompetent, the linesmen were morons and Thistle, even with eleven men were ineffectual. Better is expected i'm afraid. Oh, and yes, the famous Forfar Bridies were sold out by half time. Not being a fan of bridies I had a pie and marvelled at it's greaseless texture, lightly spiced mince filling and general solidity. How unlike your average football catering..............

I wound my way back through the town to the bus stop, only to find the next service to Dundee was another hour away. I whiled it away in a nearby pub and could have stayed for longer such were the pleasant surroundings but decided getting half cut on my own in a strange town wasn't a great idea.

Five minutes into the journey back from Forfar I was regretting even having just the two. Caught short on a bus between Forfar and Dundee after two pints, I was in agony. Jumped off the bus somewhere on the outskirts of Dundee and raced for the first pub I could find. Not the manner in which I would have liked to explore a new town.

The walk into the city centre wasn't that bad actually, it was all downhill with some very nice views of the Tay and it's bridges at dusk. After that, a few swifthalfs in the station bar and onto the train for the final leg home.

This should have been a snooze actually but there was some rather fine onboard entertainment to come. A group of blokes got on without tickets. I think they were trying to get back to Glasgow but whatever they thought they were up to they didn't reckon on the ticket inspector from hell. When he appeared they stated that they had neither tickets nor money. Instead of taking the path of least resistance, the old boy with the ticket machine decided now was the time to kick arse. One foot up on the table, ticket machine balanced on his knee he laid down the law, letting them know in no uncertain terms that they would all be getting off at Perth unless they paid their fares. Shouts of "send the bill tae mah address" were rightly ignored and the four halfwits slunk off at Perth, one of them i'm almost certain having paid a full fare somehow expecting his mates to do the same. Beyond that, a carriage full of drunken Motherwell fans and an overheard conversation between a Motherwell fan and the Aberdeen reserve goalie was as entertaining as it got.

Then home............A little exhausted maybe but looking forward to a similar trip next season.