Redditch United 1, Stalybridge Celtic 4, 5th November 2005. Though Stalybridge Celtic had beaten Redditch United by a comfortable margin, this Saturday became better remembered for the turn of events after the game.
From the late September of that year up till Christmas, the line from Birmingham New Street to Redditch was the subject of engineering works. This resulted in the inevitable rail replacement bus. On the Guy Fawkes' Night of that period was an event which proved to be life changing for two Stalybridge Celtic supporters.
The poem itself
Originally entitled 'The Snail', this piece was promptly renamed '45 Minutes to Longbridge', quoting from one of the lines within the poem itself. The piece encompasses everything about myself; 'me', my 40 game a season Stalybridge Celtic habit, and over 20 years as a public transport enthusiast.
On that rain lashed Saturday night, it did take the legendary 45 minutes to Longbridge from Redditch, with a fair amount of time spent travelling an extra two miles from Barnt Green to turn the bus around. This was applicable with the outward journey, which took 30 minutes less than the return leg. Most of this was caused by traffic on the A38.
The return journey from Redditch to Birmingham New Street (on a Wright bodied Dennis Dart) took almost as long as the journey from Birmingham New Street to Stockport (on a Virgin Voyager Class 220 DMU). The former was 13 miles long, the other journey was eight times that.
On the outward journey, the bus arrived at Birmingham New Street 15 minutes late. Passengers lined the station forecourt, and listened to stewards announcing the buses for their desired journey, be it Longbridge, Redditch or Selly Oak.
The poem was written within a week of this journey and went down well after being read orally to a fellow relative during a meal at a local Wetherspoons. This was a few days before my talk in Sunfield on St. David's Day of this year. Of the pieces read out, this one created the most positive reaction and smiles. One selling point of this piece was the relative locality to the Lower Clent area of the places which were namechecked.
On a personal note, this piece successfully chronicles my 40 plus games a season habit, following the mighty Stalybridge Celtic and using public transport, whilst being autobiographical at the same time.
It is time for me to cease waffling. Just read the poem, sit comfortably and enjoy. Trust me, this piece should take less than 1 hour, 50 minutes to read; it didn't take me that long to write it. Just click on the link under the 'Related Articles' heading.