The Twelve Days of Christmas

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1. Saw my sister get married to a Manchester City fan. He goes frequently, but his brother goes to every single City match. He asked me for advice ahead of their trip to Santander and I have done the same about a possible trip to Deportivo La Coruna. Who says charity doesn’t begin at home?

2. Had a very pleasant conversation with Andrew Cole about being in my next book. He’s well up for it and we’ll meet for lunch in Cheshire on January 5. He wants to give his fee to charity.

3. Interviewed the former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards at his house for almost three hours. It’s no squat. He wants to give his fee to the worthwhile body that is the former Manchester United players association.

4. Watched United at Stoke. As I stood in a queue for a pie outside the ground, a Stoke fan sidled up to me and said: “I really hope we beat The Shit today.” They didn’t. Bunny, the former editor of a Stoke fanzine, was much more cerebral company – but he still hoped they’d beat us, obviously.

The away end in full 

5. Spent a week getting over the jet lag from the trip to Japan. For the first six days after my return I woke up between 4 and 5am. It was worth it – it’s not often that you see your team crowned champions of the world.

6. Received a sledge for Christmas from my dad. I’m 35 and spend most of my time where it’s sunny. I don’t need nor desire a massive wooden sledge. I told him this and he looked at me like a little boy lost. I’ve received your emails and yes, I’ll dedicate a future blog to the lunatic who, when once introduced to my then girlfriend for the first time, said: “Dear me love, you’re horny.”

7. Stood with Altrincham’s kit man when he received a call from their manager with the news that they had beaten York City 2-1 away with a late winner. Oh to witness the joy on his face. Football gives those moments of unconditional happiness. I’ll watch them play Northwich Victoria in the Cheshire derby on New Year’s Day but have refused his offer of a free ticket. Clubs like Alty need money on the gate.

8. Sat at a table as a beautiful dancer who’s done the Moulin Rouge and all the big Paris shows came over to say hello. The cat was away but the mouse didn’t play. My sister used to dance with her and I’ve not seen her for a few years. 20 minutes into a conversation, she asked what I was doing the following day. I replied: “I’m going to pop in at Kendal Town’s ground to take a picture and then get back to Manchester." "Oh,” was her reply.

"Not tonight luv, I'm off to Kendal" 

9. Sold fanzines as the temperature plunged to minus 4 outside Old Trafford before the Middlesbrough game. Not good. I’ll reward the other sellers and writers by treating them to pictures with the four trophies won by United in 2008 at Old Trafford.

10. Had a birthday beer in Tokyo. Word spread fast. By the end of the night, it seemed that every Manchester United lad was in the bar. There were even some who haven’t received banning orders. A great night.

11. Received a request to write a match report for the Club World Cup final in Tokyo from a national British newspaper. The request was sent the day after the match when I was on a flight home…

12. Met three Pachuca directors in a Yokohama bar and stayed out with them until 5am. They were extremely posh, well-educated Mexicans. By the end of the night I’d persuaded one of them to give Finch a trial and one of my travel partners, a TV presenter/journalist who I shall write about in a future blog, had them standing up singing La Bamba. And Please Don’t Go by KWS.

A Happy New Year to you all.

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