Adam Bird

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Monday, 27 November 2006

A Taste of the High Life

After days of painful soul searching, I decided that I could afford to take the risk and go to Manchester and watch the game vs Chelsea.

As it turned out, the baby is still safe and warm and being incredibly well looked after. If there was any hint of an appearance, I would have course stayed at home!

Despite the long journey, which included a monsoon at Heathrow scaring the bejesus out of me and Reaso, we arrived at Old Trafford at 3.30, dry and in one piece.

Having parked seemingly in Macclesfield, or Altrincham we faced a long walk to the stadium which we could see tantalisingly in the distance. As at Arsenal earlier on in the season we had to walk along a similar looking road, consisting of fried chicken eateries, cab offices and parades of boarded up shops.

I have been to Old Trafford only once and on that occasion I was overwhelmed by the shear amount of people walking to the ground, congregating outside pubs and on corners close to the ground. That was before they added another 9,000 seats, and both sets of supporters were coming in from elsewhere! This time around it was on a much bigger scale. As we approached the South/East stand quadrant where we were due to enter the stadium, a couple of thousand or so people were congregated outside a couple of local pubs drinking cans of beer and singing Man Utd or anti Chelsea songs. There must have been a small ruckus or something as we were passing because a couple of unfit, puffed out Police Officers ran past out looking slightly red faced and worried!

Once inside the ground, we headed straight for our seats. As I have mentioned before the best part of going to any ground is walking out of the concourse and out of the concrete walkway and seeing the stadium bowl for the first time. (Or if it is a Gillingham away game, past the fat bloke eating a pasty, over the dog peeing up the wall, and through the rusty gap in the corrugated sheeting).

The view as you walk out at Old Trafford is amazing, especially now that they have added the two new quadrants, which gives the ground a slightly more "complete" feel to it.

Our timing was impecible, as we arrived just in time to see the players finishing the pre match warm up, so it gave me a chance to take a couple of photographs. Admittedly, the photo's have not come out too well this time around! Must have been the northern air....

I was looking forward to hearing the Manchester Utd fans singing and creating a "wall of noise", but all the way up until they scored the was hardly a song to be heard from the United faithful. When Saha opened the scoring for Man Utd the noise was deafening, almost on the verge of frightening. 73,000 people screaming with delight creates a hell of a noise I can tell you! I was hoping that this would be the beginning of a sustained vocal performance from the Stretford End, but it remained all Chelsea, who were a credit. They never stopped singing, they had quite a good range of songs and there was nothing in terms of malicousness toward United or any Man Utd player - which I was suprised about.

One thing I have noticed, and it happens at Gillingham as well is a lack of imagination when it comes to songs about a player. All the players have the same song sang about them, which consists of the players name sang in the same sort of tune. Not at all inspiring, and can cause sleepiness when repeated more than three times!

The game itself was throughly enjoyable, despite the fact that we had four planks sat infront of us, whom were all drunk, stank of booze, had wind problems and could not decide whether to keep seated or to stand up. It never really bothers me, as I am normally with the Gills and either join in or find it amusing! It wouldn't have been so bad if they had stood all game, as I wouldn't have minded standing up behind them, but at the final whistle I felt as if I had been on a Gareth Rout fitness workout the amount of times I was up and down!

Having been to Old Trafford and the Emirates this season I could possibly try to compare the two, but I don't think it would be fair to do so. Manchester Utd were playing Chelsea, and Arsenal were playing an already qualified European game, so atmosphere wise it was chalk and cheese. Plus I was sitting in the home end at Arsenal and with the away fans at Old Trafford.

What Old Trafford does have, and it is evident throughout the walk to the ground and the surrounding areas. History.

You can walk past the "United Café", down "Sir Matt Busby Way", tell the time from the "Munich Clock". Hundreds of people selling memorablia, ranging from George Best t-shirt, Cantona flags, Busby Babe badges and all kinds of other things.

Arsenal have this too, but there is a defined history there, you can feel it, smell it and all the people around you have been part of it. Something Highbury had, and Anfield too, which was evident during the stadium tour and museum. Something that I am afraid will be lost when the new Anfield becomes a reality at the end of the decade.

Having tasted the high life I can safely say that I enjoyed it immensley, and would love to see some more top flight action!

Will I see it with the Gills? Highly unlikely!

Old Trafford is called the Theatre of Dreams.

For ninety minutes on Sunday afternoon that was my dream.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Dilemma of a Footballing Tourist

Being a Gillingham fan means that I miss out on the thrills and spills of the Premier League, the Ferrari's, the million pound weekly a salaries and foreign mercenaries.

So when a chance comes along to swap my Priestfield's and Millmoor's for Anfield or Old Trafford I snap it up with gusto.

Having recently received an opportunity, courtesy of good friend (even better now!) Reaso, to watch Manchester Utd v Chelsea I accepted without hesitation.

I had sudden visions of Rooney, Giggs, Carrick, Saha, Shevchenko, Lampard, Ballack and Drogba. 75,000 passionate fans roaring in the "Theatre of Dreams", the smell of a big game, Mourinho's whinging, Fergies red hooter and yet more photo opportunities for the website(!).

Before my fantasies got too out of hand it suddenly dawned on me.... Baby Bird....!

Bugger....

I could possibly be in Manchester whilst Steph goes into labour with my first child! Although not due until the 6th December, there is every possibility she could give birth at anytime now or right up until the 16th!

We have joked throughout the pregnancy about me being at football when the baby is born and an announcement being made over the tannoy "Congratulations to Adam Bird of the Rainham End, his girlfriend has given birth to a baby xxxx".

In all seriousness it has just been in jest. The reality being, if I was at football, and Steph went into labour, I would of course leave my seat immediately and rush off like a mad man straight up to the Darent Valley delivery suite!

However, there is an important reason for me writting this, not just as an excuse to glorify another stroke of football ticket lottery winning.

I am trying to tempt fate.

The Man U v Chelsea game in on the 26th, the same day as Paris's birthday. Laws of average suggest that three things are unlikely to happen all in one day. Ironically my favourite tv programme is 24, and anyone watching that will know a LOT can happen in one day!

So, as politely as I can ask;

Mr Sod,

Author of Sod's law, please will you give me a break on the 26th November so that I can watch the game without worry, have my cake and eat it.

Thank you kindly,

Adam, Stephanie and Baby Bird.

Friday, 10 November 2006

A Touch Anticlimactic

I have just got back from the third scan, and despite my initial excitement the actual event was a bit of a letdown.

Firstly - the result! We only had a third scan to check for giantitis but the baby's growth is on the dollar with nothing to worry about what so ever! I can ever breathe a further sigh of relief as Steph is not even carrying too much water, it must be just the way Mother nature decided Steph would carry her first baby!

The head was measured in diameter and circumference and all was worked out to be fine. The thigh bone was also measured, and again all was as it should be. The next measurement was taken, but I am not too sure what it was they were measuring! We were not actually looking at this point, as whatever was being measured would have given the game away as to the baby's sex! It must have been a strange view for any voyeurs seeing three excited people (my mum came this time) looking away from the monitor with their eyes in their hands!

I was expecting the scan to be a window of opportunity for us, to meet the baby properly! I guess I was hoping the baby would be so developed that it would wave, or give a thumbs up, maybe even see it winking back at us, but we couldn't really see too much in the way of details.

In fact the more the baby develops the harder it is for us to see it!

Just to add further disappointment to our visit we were also unable to get another photograph! Apparently they only issue photographs for the 12 and 21 week scans! Not too sure why... but there we go!

Still, we can rejoice in that there are no further complications. Steph can relax slightly in that an average baby will be passing down her birth canal instead of a six-year old mini-me!

Four weeks and counting!

Monday, 6 November 2006

Raring to go!

As we enter our eight month of pregnancy Steph and I are all ready and waiting!

The nursery is ready (albeit awaiting some blinds - which are on order), we have a baby bath - with a floating duck themometer, we have stacked up on baby shampoo, talcum powder, nappies and all sorts of potions that I don't have a clue what are used for! The only thing we need now is a baby!

In footballing terms, we are entering what Alex Ferguson referred to as "Squeeky Bum Time", that period at the end of the footballing season whereby each game played determines whether or not your team is going to come out on top, win the championship or get pipped at the post. For ninety minutes as a supporter you are sat at the edge of your seat willing your team on.

Steph and I are at the stage now, we have gone nearly to the end of the season, in a position of strength in a flaw free nine months, and we are waiting nervously for the final whistle!

More seriously thought, we are both starting to get a little nervous. Stephanie particularly so, as she is anticipating the actual birth itself. I am particularly nervous as I constantly ponder the problems that I may face as a parent. Unruly behavour, delinquency, poor attititude at school and all sorts of things that I shouldn't be worrying about right now!

We have another scan on Friday, just to monitor the babies growth, as judging by Steph's "bump" we are going to be giving birth to a toddler and not a baby!

The past eight months have flown by, so will the time from now until the baby arrives! It's been a great journey so far, one that is far from over. We are stuck on that rollercoaster where you want to get off to tell everyone all about it, but stuck because your still having a really great time.
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