A Northerner in exile

Monday 23rd August 2010 16:59

Sodje: Ageless

Sodje: Ageless

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Bury blogger Sanny Rudravajhala has finally calmed down enough to write again, and he has many tales to tell

Punch drunk Sanny finds it's grimmer down South

Right, first things first, my last blog promised more disappointment and depression once our end of season implosion had been completed in the form of a post-mortem.

The thing is, I was too annoyed to write any more about it. Everything had been said and I don't think there's a single Bury fan who thought any differently about it. But that's done with now, time to move on and to make up for it, I present to you a bumper blog entry; complete with random violence and acts of kindness in equal measure.

As far as I was concerned, the jury was out on the new-look Bury side, having been unable to attend a single pre-season game due to my ongoing exile in London (soon to be Nottingham) .

This made our opening day defeat to a robust Port Vale side quite a refreshing prospect. It reminded me of my first Bury game, which was with my mate Ste, for his 13th Birthday and would be start of a series of events that lead me to now writing about Bury for your enjoyment!

As we sat in the very same seats as when we beat West Brom in 1998, I found myself having to ask Ste exactly who some of our new signings were, it was all eerily familiar. As far as the result was concerned, that's where the similarities ended. We were undone by some lax play on a corner, a lack of a real cutting edge in front of goal and a considerable difference in physical presence.

The players that stood out that day for me however, were our new maurauding right-back, Phil Picken, the ever outstanding Efe Sodje and the boy with the yellow boots, Andy Howarth; a tricky winger who I'm sure will be a crowd pleaser this season.

Mental

Onto Oxford and I think it was very much a smash and grab affair. As with the first game, the gap on the pitch between our defence and midfield was huge. Sitting up with the gods and the drum, it was pretty clear to see that we weren't picking up enough second balls and inviting pressure and their equaliser was inevitable.

At times, we were over-run and to come away with three points was a fantastic result, it made getting stuck on the M25 for 40 minutes worthwhile, for sure. After the game, me and Himi (my other Bury supporting best-mate) decided to sample the lovely city of Oxford for a bit of food before heading back to the big smog.

We found an interesting venue...wall to wall TVs showing Chelsea's destruction of Wigan, interspersed with breaking news of Kevin Blackwell's departure on screens showing Sky Sports News, as a football fan, what more could you ask for? How about a punch in the face?

I have to thank the clearly deranged Oxford fan in the bar for that added bonus to my football viewing and bar food. In what has to be a classic bit of mentalism, he decided to smack my head into the wall whilst I was 'mid-flow' at the urinal and then grab me, whilst I was still figuring out how I could manage to do my button fly up with one hand whilst simultaneously trying to appease this lunatic who had me by the throat!

Anyway, he then punched me in the face whilst exclaiming, 'Oxford' over and over in a questioning manner before the toilet attendant intervened!! None of it quite made sense... Why was he asking me about Oxford? What the hell was his thought process during all this? And where is the honour in feebly punching a bloke whilst he's using the toilet! It was a pretty poor effort at a punch to be fair.

The end result was that I went back to eat my food, got a free pint for me and Himi and this guy, who is apparently a regular, is now barred! I'm sure the 'ultras' of yesteryear would be Cruyff turning in their graves at what constitutes 'football violence' these days!

Kindness

Onto last weekend, I travelled up from London on Saturday morning by train and was greeted at Euston by intermittent waves of 'Tangerine Northerners'. No, it wasn't a Scouse hen do starting early but in fact Blackpool fans on their way to The Emirates for what would turn out to be a humiliating lesson in football. I couldn't help but feel jealous.

Had the bookies' predictions from last season come true, Blackpool should have been playing us in League One this year! As they passed me on the escalator, I wished them good luck, pointing to my Bury crest and reminding them that it's very easy to be back in the doldrums before you knew it!

Euston train station itself was packed but I couldn't help but notice the bright orange shirt in a huge queue for information. Even if he got to the front, they couldn't sell him a ticket for anything. They'd probably just give him a tube map and send him on his way. I decided to do what any good northerner should do when they see a compatriot and actually speak to them - a somewhat unheard of phenomenon to most Londoners.

The result of this was me explaining the rudiments of an Oyster Card and telling him that the two minute walk to Euston Square station would save him and his mates a lot of time when queuing to buy one. With my good deed accomplished, I could get back to my pilgrimage to the home of black puddings, Robert Peel and Andy Bishop.

Judgement

Northampton without Akinfenwa was always going to be a different kettle of fish to the team that we dropped four points to last season. The guy may have looked like a competition winner but in both fixtures last season, he scored equalisers that denied us a total of six points that would have prolonged our season by two games.

In Steve Guinan, out of the significant shadow of his former strike partner, the Cobblers have a player who knows every trick in the book - and he probably should do, he's an FA coach tutor too. His domino rally style collapse in the box and subsequent cool penalty finish showed that the experienced striker knows how to play the game and the ref.

As far as our strikers are concerned, Andy Bishop is looking far from match-sharp at the moment and I'm a big Bishop fan. The thing with him is, he needs that 'scurrier' to help him out and Ryan Lowe is far from being that water-carrier. He's arguably a better finisher and until Bishop can get firing on all cylinders, I'd consider giving big Lenell John-Lewis or Danny Carlton a go. Having said that, we don't have a reserve team anymore, so I guess the only way he can get sharper is to keep playing.

At the other end, the imperious Sodje is showing no signs of slowing down with age and although he went off with injury towards the end against Northampton, I have no doubt that they'll patch him back together and send him off to Barnet next week. Considering the guy first turned up at Bury in a mask that was holding his face together, I'm sure he'll be fine.

I am going to continue to reserve judgement on a few more of our other players however. There are still question marks over Belford in goal and I've now seen Sweeny pull out of two 50-50 challenges over our first three league games, I wonder what Stephen Dawson would say about such things... Anyway, I said I'd moved on!

It's Barnet on Saturday and it could go either way. Yes, you've got to expect a win against a side that lost 7-0 last week but you never know in League Two, never has there been a greater leveller than the inconsistency that is the lower league footballer.

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