Football marathons, bargain buckets and dogs in scarves
At the time of writing IÃ¢ÂÂve just got back from Old Trafford after the Chelsea defeat, so IÃ¢ÂÂve been in a better mood.
United were beaten by the better side on the day and weÃ¢ÂÂll leave it at that without getting all 606 and moaning about incompetent referees.
IÃ¢ÂÂm supposed to write these blogs about my life as a football writer, so IÃ¢ÂÂll wind back to happier times. Like a week ago. For the first time in my life, I attended three football matches in one day.
There are plenty of people who complain when football gets switched from the traditional time of 3pm on a Saturday afternoon.
Marine host FC United in a game that actually kicked off at 3pm
For personal reasons, IÃ¢ÂÂve seldom had a problem with games being moved because it allowed me to attend other matches, including watching various family members at non-league grounds.
A Sunday game meant I could watch my brother on a Saturday, or agree to be sent somewhere for work as it wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt clash with a United game.
IÃ¢ÂÂd like to use either of those excuses for what I did last week, but I have to admit that IÃ¢ÂÂm just a sad anorak. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs why I was at Leeds/Bradford airport at 10:30am on Saturday morning, sitting in a mateÃ¢ÂÂs car waiting to pick up a Dutch groundspotter who had flown over to see the same three games.
Erik is from Rotterdam. HeÃ¢ÂÂs been to all 92 League and hundreds of other British grounds, but before you imagine an oddball with string for a belt and bits of Edam hanging from a scruffy moustache, Erik has an otherwise successful life and a gorgeous missus. He just likes watching football and football grounds and IÃ¢ÂÂm right there with him.
So we went to Guiseley, a commuter suburb of Leeds famous for having the first ever Harry RamsdenÃ¢ÂÂs. It was closed when we arrived.
"What we're missing is a midfield terrier..."
The local team are doing well in the Unibond Northern Premier League and a crowd of nearly 900 watched them beat FC United of Manchester to go top of the league.
FCÃ¢ÂÂs results have not been good this season and the football frequently poor. They recently lost to Durham City, giving them their first points of the league campaign, but FCÃ¢ÂÂs fans have been cheered by the news that they have found a site to build their own 5,000 capacity ground.
It will be in Newton Heath, where Manchester United started out, and close to ManchesterÃ¢ÂÂs CityÃ¢ÂÂs Eastlands.
Manchester City Council have assisted the club currently playing out on a limb at Bury, but fans need to double the ÃÂ£250,000 theyÃ¢ÂÂve raised so far before work starts. The rest will be funded by grants and a community shares issue to raise money towards the expected ÃÂ£3.5 million total.
Getting their own place is the absolute priority for FC, who are currently paying Bury around ÃÂ£5,000 a game to stage matches, thus limiting their weekly playersÃ¢ÂÂ wage bill to ÃÂ£1800, the fifth lowest in the league.
In 2006, FC announced the bold aspiration of reaching average attendances of 5,000 in 2009. That didnÃ¢ÂÂt happen, but a hardcore of 2,000 still gives them higher average crowds than several Football League clubs.
Back at Guiseley, there was a large police presence for a non-league game after some Leeds hooligans turned up at the equivalent fixture last season. There were no such problems this time, not that we hung around.
A trip over the Pennines via Burnley saw us arrive at Ramsbottom UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs picturesque home on the banks of the River Irwell.
Daffodils were in bloom behind the goal, while old trains ran along the valley towards Bury on the restored East Lancashire railway.
St David's Day was big in Ramsbottom
A crowd of 180 Ã¢ÂÂ not bad for a level nine game Ã¢ÂÂ saw league leaders Newcastle Town race into a 4-0 lead by half time as they collected their 100th point of the season.
The Ramsbottom officials were friendly, the football of decent quality in the weak Lancashire sun and pie and peas cost ÃÂ£1.10.
The Newcastle goalkeeper even struck up a conversation in which he explained Ã¢ÂÂ in his thick Stoke accent Ã¢ÂÂ that the key to his sideÃ¢ÂÂs success was nothing more than team spirit.
True, but I spotted at least two players who could play three levels higher.
We missed the end of that match as we had to make Bolton against United. A drive on the West Lancashire moors past Gary NevilleÃ¢ÂÂs hamlet (he wants planning permission to build an eco-friendly underground lair which the local press have dubbed Ã¢ÂÂThe Teletubbies houseÃ¢ÂÂ) towards the Reebok.
The 4-0 score line was not reflective of a game in which Bolton played very well in the first half. However, UnitedÃ¢ÂÂs class and sublime skill from Nani and Berbatov made it four.
It was good to see that Bolton have made sensible adjustments to their pricing - my ÃÂ£27 ticket was less than the same seat five years earlier.
I did my first job for UEFA a few days later, interviewing former Manchester United players. One didnÃ¢ÂÂt turn up because heÃ¢ÂÂd been on the beer and missed his flight. I wonÃ¢ÂÂt name and shame him. But Andrew Cole, Alex Stepney and David Sadler did. All were excellent.
Meeting Thomas Helmer two weeks ago came in handy as United drew his former club Bayern Munich. He was happy to do an interview and predicted that Bayern could beat United. He was right.
And then it was Easter, with a request from a paper to go and write a Ã¢ÂÂcolourÃ¢ÂÂ piece about Rochdale v Bournemouth. But first, naturally, I took the train to Liverpool, where Crosby-based Marine were hosting FC United.
My better half did the tourist thing around Liverpool and loved it. My Scouse-averse father refuses to undertake such trips and has never been to Liverpool, except to play football.
Hooton (right) and his mates arrive to meet Mitten
Peter Hooton, the former frontman from The Farm, met me at the station and showed me around the posher part of Liverpool where Marine play at their three-sided ground.
IÃ¢ÂÂve got a lot of time for Peter and unlike many musicians who profess to support a club and never actually go to matches, Peter has watched Liverpool home and away all his life.
He also ran the seminal The End fanzine and heÃ¢ÂÂs talking about republishing some back issues.
Then I had a beer with Simon Carden, FCÃ¢ÂÂs injured midfielder with the nickname Ã¢ÂÂBensonÃ¢ÂÂ because of his inclination for a particular brand of cigarettes.
SimonÃ¢ÂÂs pre-match meal is a KFC bargain bucket. Maybe he gets his fast food inspiration from Paul Scholes, who goes to McDonaldÃ¢ÂÂs most days Ã¢ÂÂ though not before matches.
In a game sponsored by the local Labour party, Marine got a last minute equaliser in front of over 1,000, including 450 from Manchester.
Come on you Reds...
IÃ¢ÂÂd just settled down on the train back to Liverpool, when an elderly drunk with three teeth from Bootle sat down, swore frequently, shook my hand and unburdened himself of such pearls of wisdom as:
A) If you donÃ¢ÂÂt tell the truth, you might as well tell a lie. B) There is more sand than Ants in Africa. C) Ã¢ÂÂYou didnÃ¢ÂÂt pay for anything if you worked in the Docks.Ã¢ÂÂ He later explained that heÃ¢ÂÂd been sacked from the Docks Ã¢ÂÂbecause of the bevvies.Ã¢ÂÂ
And thatÃ¢ÂÂs the thing about travelling to watch football; there are always other stories. It really is more than just a game.