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Nationwide Division One, 18/8/01
Rotherham United
Watching Brazil again
By Andrew Barnard

Thursday: Fax club from Brussels explaining I can't be there forty-eight hours before kick-off as required to exchange my long-distance season ticket voucher for a ticket cos I'm in Brussels, so can they, like, just reserve me a ticket and I'll pick it up.

Friday: Travel to London.

Saturday: 13:50: Get to Euston and buy return ticket to Watford Junction. 13.51: Announcement that the following blah blah Tring blah overhead lines blah blah will be delayed. 13.52: Hmm. Isn't that all the trains to Watford Junction? 13.53: Yes indeed it is. 13.54 By at least forty minutes, says the information desk. They'll let me know when they have more information. 14.00: Jump onto train to Kings X. 14.10: Catch Uxbridge-bound Metropolitan Line train. 14.20: Change to Watford-bound train at Baker St. 14.30: Wembley or somewhere. Maybe I should have got the line to Willesden Junction. 14.40: And there's a ten pound fine if you don't have a valid ticket. Maybe I can get BR from Harrow-on-the-Hill. 14.45: No, they only go to Chesham or somewhere. Jump in taxi at HotH.

15.00: Arrive at the Vic to collect ticket from ticket collection point, but am redirected to ticket office. Strains of something that's almost Z-cars but not quite. 15.01: Loud cheers and "oooh" from crowd as I round corner to ticket office. More cheers. 15.02: Am handed my ticket by nice lady in the ticket office. Glance up at monitor in ticket office to see Tommy Smith side-footing ball into Rotherham net after goalie can only parry a long-range effort. Inside of ticket office echoes with the joyful roar of a Brussels Hornet. 15.04: Clear security and emerge into Rookery. Phew, the farce is over at last. Still 1-0, and it's just like watching Brazil. 15.10: But Brazil are not quite the invincible force they once were and, slowly but surely, the game ebbs away from the Golden Boys just like last season. 15:18 Rotherham equalise after Robbo lets his man get away from him.

15.43: Proof that pumping balls aimlessly upfield can pay dividends, at least in the real-world league. Rotherham defender lays off ball to Allan Nielsen, who manages to extract himself from goalie's half-Nelson and restores the lead. 15.49: Four minutes of supposed injury time is over and I glug two Carlsbergs in celebration of not missing any goals.

16.00: Just like watching Brazil again, Micah Hyde is bossing the midfield and Marcus Gayle is like a speeded-up GNW. 16.15: Tommy Smith finishes a really good goal, and now it's just a question of how many we'll win by. 16.17: Or how long we can hold out. Once again the game ebbs away from the Golden Boys just like last season. 16.20: Rotherham score - well, maybe the ball didn't cross the line, but hey. 16.30: Vega (Pagey in disguise and on more money?) gives away a penalty. Another present: Espen saves. The next twenty minutes (five minutes of injury time this half, apparently) are just like watching the Golden Boys the second half of last season. 16.55: I learn (amongst other things, such as news of Matt R's impending wedding) that the above-mentioned "long-range effort" at 15.02 was in fact a penalty. Nobody has a clue why the penalty was awarded, but maybe Ramon Vega was given it for his frightening impersonation of Robert Page.