Who Watches The Watchers? The VAR Controversy.


The Summer of 2026 was beautiful. It was cool for a change, in fact it was just right. When the Sun shone it was warm, and when the breeze blew, it was cool. The crowds thronged to Wembley. It was the FA Cup final. They filled the stands waving everything they could possibly buy from the concession stands dotted around the area. Foam hands, hats, swords, hammers. cuddly toys, scarves, replica shirts. Fans of both teams mingled together and made merry drinking the 1% alcohol Schitezer beers in half pint glasses at £10 a pop. Don’t fucking spill it. Oops he swore, that will be picked up by the sensitive microphones dotted around the stadium. Within a microsecond the cameras will find you, determine your seat number, ticket details, your address, your phone number, your sexuality, marriage status, your driving license details and your criminal records. As if by magic your phone bleeps, a text, it’s from the Police. You have been found guilty of using profane language describing a sexual act in a public place. You have been fined £1000 and must attend an Anti Profanity class. ‘Bollocks’ he thought….know what I’m sayin’? Thought.

VAR. Have you ever hated such an innocent acronym? Yeah man I have to get a VAR Scan on my knee. Oh ar. VAR. Video Assistant Referee. It originated in Holland and first trialled by their Football League, the KNVB. They were very hot on it, in fact they had a right hard on for it and pressed other Football Associations at International and National levels to adopt it, trial it, talk about it. The Propaganda was good and wholesome because the propaganda was money. And we all know the sultry voice that has. Those little shrivelled dick Motherfuckers in the Hugo Boss suits would be like little excited Monkeys running around biting and trying to fuck each other with that voice absorbed into their thick heads. Yeah man there was a right speed in getting this VAR thing adopted, the speed only a project that crackles and crinkles with very rustly handshakes can make. Fast man, very fast 2014 as part of the Refereeing 2.0 project. 

Our sport is in mortal danger. The Lizards have taken over, they have got greedy, like they always do. Not content any more with the Russian six foot tall blonde hookers and the complimentary snort, the brown envelopes, the free tickets. It’s now about constant income, constant flows. VAR will provide that. In English Football the footage of matches goes to Stockley park. What is that place? What goes on there? All we have seen is standard photographs with Proto Fascist looking Referee drones staring at big fuck off Monitors. Backs erect, attentive, concentrating like it’s a fucking rocket launch. It’s wrong man, it smells bad, this whole thing. Imagine it’s one big con. Who watchers the watchers?

Imagine some geeky self fondler has broken himself away from flogging child porn on the dark web and developed an amazing gambling algorithm. It’s a betting algorithm that doesn’t bet on the results of matches but looks at the spread of bets on a particular match. If you had a betting company, a big online one, you could make a lot of money in stopping successful bets. What if that program could also tell you the perfect result, including red and yellow cards, fouls, goals all the crap you bet on. But now the Punter never wins big, never gets that crazy win on the Acca. They win just enough to keep them interested and clicking those phones. Yeah, the betting companies would make a lot of money. Money that I suspect is moving around the men who love the VAR. 

That program would be dead easy to synch up to a Football Association VAR Set up. Maybe the Big Betting companies have people within the companies that provide VAR Technology to Associations. That way the ‘advisors’ are only a phone call away. The money made would flow very nicely everywhere. New cars, holidays, houses in the country…

VAR is bent mate. It’s too fishy by far. It’s so incompetent that it surpasses some of the other major dropped bollocks the English FA are fond of. That makes it as weird as fuck to me. There have been strange decisions made in Premier League games this season. Ones that are stand out errant decisions, data points well off the fucking graph.

We hear talking head Pundits on all the major Football shows. Some of the conversations from them are quite anti VAR but don’t be fooled. The message they are spreading is that yes, it’s rubbish, the whole idea…but we are powerless and weak…we can’t argue with FIFA or the FA any of the Alphabet arseholes to be honest, you are just a fan…like us, but weak…lets make the best out of it for now, things ‘might’ change in the future…These pundits are sucking the fight out of you. They don’t care about your enjoyment. They don’t give a fuck about how you feel about football because YOU are just a TWAT. They don’t care about your enjoyment.

Football in this country has evolved from the knee snapping, mud plugging, playing in snow drifts with only coal to eat semi combat football of yesteryear, now it is beautiful as we encourage players from around the world to share in this popular madness. They have brought their ideas and philosophies on how we should play football and it has been a hard slog since the day Ardilles and that other bloke came here and signed for Tottenham. Tough for them and tough for us. We had to adapt too and love the way the game was changed. We have always been receptive to change, us, the fan. In those days most of the crowd were working class blokes, women, kids. When you have no money you adapt fast to change, you have to or you won’t survive. We accepted them very well I think. 

It gave us, in  English football beautiful players mixing with brutal semi Neanderthals, one week on muddy patches and the next week manicured lawns of a pitch. These beautiful players, well they too learned how to adapt. It made English top flight football a lucrative and exciting thing to watch…a very lucrative thing. They wanted more money and more power. They were hungry now. The men in tight expensive suits had arrived. The men who had eyes like sharks and skin that was tanned with the paleness of their skin glowing underneath.

So they sold everything that wasn’t nailed down, they drove clubs apart with TV Money, split ideas and philosophies. Entropy had set in, financial entropy. There can be no creative process in that system. VAR is the ultimate entropic system. Matches will no longer be often chaotic, emotional, gut wrenching, hair pulling joy, all the dynamic madness a system uses to grow and develop. Instead there will be an equilibrium, a dissipation of energy. A death. Will it be stopped? No, VAR will march on, there is a power in money and money in power. There are of course ways to stop it but it requires action from us, the dickheads who give them their money. Stop buying beers in the stadiums for a match occasionally. Get a day when every match where VAR is in operation will be a dry match. Don’t buy a hotdog, don’t buy a pie. Support the team 100% as always, sing, drink outside the stadium. See what happens. Of course it will never happen, we have lost the war already. We are greedy and we consume. We are the people that fuck off to the bar after twenty minutes and miss a few goals while we drink the watered down shite beer they sell in football stadiums. We are the ones that moan….all the fucking time about the game. We are the ones that make Monkey noises at Black dudes trying to earn a living playing football, we are the ones that make jokes about Korean players eating dogs, we are the ones that enjoy punching other people in the head because its funny and you hate them because of that match or that player or because they come from that place or this place or they worship a different fucking Sky Wizard than you. Fucking hell.

All I’m asking is that the next time some doughnut runs on the pitch because his emotions have gone a bit wild, find that VAR screen or any equipment you think is VAR connected and smash the fuck out of it. That’s a good fucking message.



“Kane come here!”

The whole of Castle Warnock trembles as the cracked voice of Colin Wanker echoes down the mouldy stone corridors. The foundations creak as if the very earth wants to rid itself of this evil edifice. The tapestries of his many infamous victories flutter with anticipation. Sheffield United shirts, Cardiff shirts stained and tattered are nailed to the dank walls.

Harry Kane is asleep in his basket close to the dungeon doors. He has been whining all night and sniffing the ceramic stained bowl next to his basket that still has no food in it. Master Warnock is a harsh Master. Didn’t Kane do his Masters bidding yesterday? It has been tough learning under Mourinho. Jose is just Warnock in a better suit and hair. But Kane puts those thoughts out of his head for a moment and runs up the moss covered stone steps to the dark court where Master Warnock sits and glowers. Kanes eyes struggle to adapt to the darkness at first but he can see the red glow of Master Warnocks eyes.

Kane runs to the steps before the throne of Warnock and falls upon his back in soft resignation. His nervous pissing erupts into the air in a great golden spurt and splashes the feet of Atwell sitting at the feet of Warnock.

“For fucks sake man GET UP! You’re not at Molineux now you idiot!” Warnock aims a kick at Kane but misses. Kane falls over again as if shot. Atwell blows his whistle and tries to give Master Warnock a red card. Warnock laughs and the sound is like somebody trying to have a shit down a sink plughole.

Colin Wankers pale crusty hand gently rubs Atwells head and scratches his ear. Atwell tries to lick Warnocks hand and Warnock slaps Atwells head hard. The slap echoes throughout the court and everyone present winces and whimpers. Atwell scurries under Warnocks throne beaten and sad. He starts to lick his own arsehole.

“Come here Harry you filthy beast” Warnock growls. Kane crawls to the feet of Warnock and his long fat tongue licks feebly at Colins stained slippers. From the toe of one of the slippers a yellowed deformed Warnock toenail  peeks out through a worn hole and the tongue of Kane licks and slathers around that foul digit. 

“Harry you did well today at Molineux and there will be rewards YES! Rewards!” Warnock declares. The shadows in the court cheer but it is louder than it should be. It is a display of sorts to curry the favour of the Master of Castle Warnock. Harry Kane runs around and tries to bite his own arse in excitement. Warnock puts a pale hand within his robe and pulls out a rancid half chewed bone. He throws it towards Kane who falls over his own feet trying to catch it, the decrepit bone hits him in the forehead and bounces towards Atwell who tries to grab it. Kane snarls and Atwell retreats under the dark throne, growling and rubbing his moth eaten head on Warnocks foot. 

“What is this Nunoism Harry you filthy animal, what is it?” Warnock cries.

“Beautiful football? Beautiful players? Team spirit? A philosophy?…what is this strange and horrifying thing these Portuguese bastards have brought to my beautiful country?” Warnock stands and angrily points to an effigy of Nuno studded with bite marks and arrows that stands not ten yards from his throne.

“Where is the tackling?” Warnock cries. The Court wail as if in pain.

“Where is the snot and bollocks? Where is the combat? The blood? WHERE IS THE PAIN?” He shouts. He steps down onto the Court floor and kicks Harry Kane full in the face and Harry grabs up his mouldy bone and hides under Warnocks throne pushing Atwell out. Atwell runs behind a tapestry to hide. 

Warnocks piss stained robe flutters as he dances around the flagstones while his acolytes shiver. There is Sean Dyche trying to pull out his own eyes dressed in a suit that tight it looks as if his head is about to pop. We see Eddie Howe dressed in a black SS uniform but it is only the silver glint of his deaths head badge that gives him away. Gary Linekers ears flap like bats wings as he nods his head furiously in agreement with his Masters voice. 

“Yes Harry you dirty little sod, much was done yesterday and I will say under duress you did well, but this is a war and not a battle. Beauty must be crushed!” Warnock gargles and points his skeletal finger at the Nuno effigy…”Beauty has no place within football! We are Britishmen are we not? Our sport was built on combat and warfare! Not art and creativity! This is what our crowds want! Anger and violence, tears and snot! BLOOD AND DISHONOUR!” Warnock screams. 

The bats fly from the attics of the Castle and into the black night sky. Yes there will be further battles Warnock thinks as he kicks Harry Kane in the face again as he walks back to his throne. Yes there will be more battles. 

“Bring me my baby Hedgehogs!” Warnock cries. The fire is getting low and there are plans to be made….



Through with the two-step, where the rhythm is law
Through with the two-step, where the rhythm is law
Oh, yes, it’s love in any key
You opened up the door – now I know it’s got to be.

Robert Plant ‘Thru with the two step’ Principle of Moments (1983)

He came from Monaco and he’s five foot seven. There was a moment yesterday during the Tottenham match when Joao Moutinho, Midfielder, Portugeezer swept around the Spurs midfield like they weren’t there. There was ugliness of course, the dragged foot, the shove, the physical heckling. Everything you expect from a Spurs side, a Mourinho side. We have that Yin and Yang of Portuguese art. The feral grappling of Spurs and Jose contrasted with the lightness of foot, the creativity of Joao Moutinho.

At one point there was a moment of sheer beauty when Moutinho possessed the ball at his feet from a jangly discordant under pressure pass. The ball clung to him. The ball was his, for the moment. He slid here and there with it and that ball although his would soon be sliding across the beautiful Molineux pitch to another player in Gold and Black. But not just delivered, it was inserted, perhaps even gifted. The ball was ‘to foot’ or it was delivered to the place where the receiving player should have been. An almost perfect juncture made between Moutinho to Jota or to Raul or to Otto or Doherty. Splashed across all sections of the pitch in melodic and perfect timing. 

Joao receives again and he is under pressure. He shifts his balance, prods the ball an inch here or a few inches there. He waits, looks up. The opposition player is on the floor wondering, amazed, sad. Eating the Molineux turf. 

Under pressure again and surrounded by two, three now four players. He is water to their rock. Spilling out from the press of bodies he is alive and able. He drops a shoulder and his balance is left, then right foot. He leans back to slow himself and the momentum of the ball and him is now slower and players slide past him. Now lean forward and a prod of the ball means it is two or three feet in front of him. He moves to the ball. Outide of the right foot. He moves and watches. Adama is moving into space. Adama hasn’t moved yet but he’s about to. You see Adamas head has dropped a few inches and he has started to swivel his body to coil a burst of speed off his right foot. That’s all it is, T-Minus 0,005 of a second until Traore lift off. Joao knows even if he is twenty yards away. How does he see it? What does Moutinho see that we rarely do? I see it because I am watching closely. The ball is gone from Moutinho and is sent into a patch of turf where no one stands to receive. Not yet anyway. Adama is there within a split second. A chance. Adama is hacked down instantly. Joao Moutinho raises his hands to the sky and looks at the rain, these cold black sheets of  rain falling out of the sky.

Moutinho is back in the centre circle. We are not in possession. Spurs move the ball around with slick almost patent intent. But it now rarely moves around Moutinho. They are avoiding him. Forcing the ball out wide, forcing Tottenham to leave gaps and holes. You see, Joao also reconnoitres, he senses movement before it happens. Even against players he may not know well enough. They move and probe and he replies constantly at their heels. There are no tackles here, no sending Spurs players crashing to the floor. There are no Jose Mourinho bitter pills to give out. Instead he shadows and he plays with them. He moves them to positions of weakness and ineffectiveness. He mugs them at will and they don’t even know it. They are ignorant and stupid. This isn’t football we recognise of course. Many of the faces around me see the complete art, the whole rapturous symphony of football we are playing. I am just watching parts that Moutinho is playing. When the ball is elsewhere I watch him close. His movement, his temerity and his mature almost Philosophical play. 

Jota is upended again on the Spurs touchline right in front of the Southbank. Jota has been clattered by ignorance from a Spurs player who jogs back to his team mates and winks at one, high fives another. Jota sits still, gathering his thoughts. He was clattered, upended and the Referee is ineffectual, noctambulistic, displaying a mere shadow of control now. Spurs are emboldened by Atwells ignorance of the rules of the game. Atwell is redolent in it, he bathes in his foolishness. The ball is out for a corner. Joao Moutinho jogs up to the prone Jota who has the look of a man who can’t believe the events that have followed this almost violent assault on his idea of what football should be. Jota looks to Moutinho, it’s a look of almost apology and resignation at what has just happened. Joao just half shrugs and smiles, collects the ball. There is a corner to be taken. The machine grinds on. No time to waste in internal debate as to the wasted chance and the morbid stoicness of Stuart Atwells darkness and idiocy. The ball must be put back into play. Joao has seen it all. For him there is no time to waste but more importantly there is no need to let the darkness of Atwells surreal decision making, bordering on the obscene affect him. There is no remonstration, no angry display, just an objective reply and glint of emotion. The ball goes back into the box, inch perfect. A chance. The ball rattles around the box and Joao is lurking just outside, waiting patiently and there isn’t a Spurs player within nine or ten yards of him. 

It was a loss and I’m not going to give a punch by punch report of the whole game because it’s pointless in more ways than one. I came away from the ground in awe. I came away speechless thinking of things I could say about the match and all of them became pointless every time I thought of what Joao did here or there. As Spurs fans milled around me going back to the hell hole they came from they were smiling and happy. Three points for them. For me…well. I have just watched probably the greatest footballer that has ever played for Wolverhampton Wanderers. I watched him in the rain, a cold December rain and I didn’t feel it really. I watched beautiful football and the result was nothing to me really. Spurs could have the three points. It is a fair exchange in what was to me, a light in the darkness of the game. I couldn’t stop thinking about the way he moved. Dancers steps, small increments of movements, off the ball and on it. I see the other Wolves players responding to what Joao is and more importantly why he is. This is now what we are. We have made a team who played in a Champions League final look like the teams we used to play in the Championship. Where the spirit of Warnock is wrapped in the faux football Mourinho has brought to them. A moral victory for us? Of course. I watch Match of the Day later and listen to Gary Lineker expound his own blabberings on how Tottenham dominated the game and I laughed out loud and all through the night I am kicking my legs out restless, replaying every move Joao Moutinho did.

God Bless you Joao Moutinho. Thank you Joao Moutinho.

Chasing Shadows-Wolves V West Ham United


You know the past month or two has been a crazy time at Molineux towers. The games the team have played. The Arsenal crap, people getting nightsticks over their heads in Portugal, European football in general, Benik, all that stuff. Years ago we were quite happy to just slag Dave Edwards and Lambert off a bit. Things were much simpler and much more easy to get your head around. Now of course we have a whole new complicated system to analyse. No way I can understand any of it. Somebody came up and whispered two names to me last night who Wolves are looking at in January window, I’m not going to mention either of them I’m afraid, in fact I’m going to forget that said person even mentioned them. Nothing is being said at Molineux. If the operating system says shut the fuck up, then I’m shutting up as well. I’m a Wolves fan first and a Writer after. I’ve never been one for wondering what my presents were under the Xmas tree, never peeled back the wrapping paper for a quick look. 

West Ham United. Well, I don’t feel sorry for them much. I’m well past the point where I can wax lyrics of fatness about how they are on some sort of trajectory to nothingness…or Championship football. All I was watching was this team of ours, they have transcended last season for sure but there was something more tonight, something different…

West Ham are hard at this point of the game just after the second half. Pelegrinniyman has obviously waxed lyrics of intensity to them. Now this is the West Ham we know and hate. Moving the ball with purity and idea. Moving through our midfield like shit through a Goose. The ball is recycled around their main men with speed. Declan Rice stays on his feet for once and he shows glimpses of what he is about. West Hams hard on is confusing our play for this short period, we are chasing the ball, but we have shape, we have an idea too. West Ham grow in confidence and we seem to shrink. The claggy skin of the Wolves scrotum pulls in on itself for a moment as we watch who is moving and trying to keep our shape. Now West Ham are getting a foot in the door here. Something we have seen sometimes down here at Molineux. But Moutinho is on this particular case and he is stalking. He doesn’t have the ball yet but he is waiting patiently putting himself into position to collect and to move players around, The spill will come for sure, it only has to be the slightest errant touch and he will be onto it. Lo and behold there is a knee high pass between two West Hammerites and he has it. Moutinho that is. Like a Rat at a Potato he scoops the ball and is moving. Fast. An outstretched West HamandCheese foot. Joao Moutinho is moving with the ball at a terrific speed at this point. Wrestling across the centre circle. The tackle is errant but Moutinho is alive to it. He has to be. He’s seen it all before… 

Moutinho is the Bull on the top of the hill sunning himself, chewing a bit of grass, letting out the odd sanguine and maybe content fart ripple into the air. A young Bull comes running up to him sweating and breathing heavily. Joao! Joao! Moutinho regards this young rippling muscled Bull it’s flanks dripping with sweat.

“What is the matter young Bull?” Moutinho asks.

“In the Valley, the Farmer has just released 200 Cows into our field! Lets run down there and fuck one!”

Moutinho laughs.. coughs (as a bit of grass is stuck in his throat).

“Young Bull, you are fast and you are strong and the valley is a few miles distant. If we run we may be too tired to fuck one of those Cows…so let us stretch our legs and enjoy this afternoon that is filled with beautiful sunshine and this cool breeze. We will walk down yes, and we will fuck all of them”. 

Moutinho is in the air the split second the tackle happens. Like I said he is alive. He lets his foot just trail delicately like a Japanese Cherry Blossom floating through the air. It looks like a harsh tackle. It looks like Moutinho is injured. It all looks horrible. But it is not. Joao writhes on the floor as if shot. Not too dramatic but just enough for the Referee to halt play. This takes the sting out of this great West Ham second half erection. Joao gets to his feet and you can see that limpid organ of the half time West Ham team talk shrink as we watched. Moutinho is the best player I have ever seen at Molineux. There I said it. It’s all about him. By this point the West Ham hard on is trying to sink and retreat back into it’s body cavity like a Mole in the daylight.

Jonny Otto wrestles and moves too. At one point I am seeing at least three Jonny Ottos on the pitch. Every time I look there he is. There is the ‘thunk’ of the ball off Conor Coady again as he blocks a hard nasty shot from the edge of the box. I watch Neves track a West Hammerite, Neves moves the player away from a passing or attacking position. He’s like the blokes shadow and no shit Neves tracks him away from danger over at least 40 yards and is no nearer that 5 yards away from him at any time. This bloke doesn’t even have to be physical to impart his madness on the game. It looks simple and easy and that’s why we know it’s the hardest thing to do.

Hold on let me get back to beginning. Saiss is on for Kilman. I am a big fan of Saiss and love to see him on the pitch. We need his kind of madness sometimes and today is one of the games where we need him. Adama is being Adama again. Those fat juicy rhythms he produces down the right are redolent with Nunoism. Slowly but surely West Ham are being pulled out of shape by Adama. They have no real answer to the enigma of Adama Traore. There is method in this madness and we watch a lopsided West Ham now opening up on the left. There are Adama made gaps which Jota moves into with alacrity. Crosses and pushes into the box. Birthday boy Jota jumbles and cajoles the West Ham defence into errors and miscalculated movement. Our shape tempered by Adamas speed and mind in harmony. Corner. Joao floats another tasty ball into the box. Donk, physical and immovable shrugs off the ministrations of a West Ham defender and nods the ball home. 1-0 mate. Have that. I am pleased Donk has had this goal. Now Nuno has shown him new ways to play, new thoughts about the game. Donk is alive all game. It’s like they want…no need to play for us and to play well, to make Nuno proud, to make us proud maybe.

But Rui Patricio doing swan shapes as he leapt across the face of goal to caress and softly convince a curly West Ham shot from going in for a leveller. I see you Rui Patricio. I see you all season. Don’t think you have escaped being named here in this blog. I see you and I love what you do too. Every game. I think goalkeepers like to be quite anonymous. It means they are doing there jobs properly but man he was a steal of a price wasn’t he? I’ve never seen a stop like he made. It was lovely. Shout out to men who work in the background making stuff continue to happen. At one point he’s on a one on one with Snotgrass. What a nightmare that is…not from Snotties ability but having that lump legging full pelt at you. Rui dinks the ball off him. I think Snotty got injured but to be honest I don’t blame him for pissing off early and being substituted. I bet he can’t get his head around this madness. Bye Snotty, don’t let the door bang your arse on the way out.

Adama still had things to say and wedged himself into the holes Adama had made. You can’t win against this madness surely. Jonny is through onto goal at one point and it’s all army and leggy from West Hams defence clawing at him to stop him getting a shot off. Where the hell did Jonny come from anyway? Last time I looked he was waxing duties down that end and a second later he’s barrelling towards goal. Assassin mate.

By this point in the match it’s settled down into that crazy shit we have watched for a couple of years. Wolves get their heads into the rhythm and it’s like all hell has broken loose in the West Ham half. This ends up with Cresswell losing his mind after being terrorised by Adama and he hacks Traore down. Only a yellow? Oh OK then…again. This time a floaty jazzy riff from Moutinho lands on the head of Saiss who goes just a nibble wide of the post. Nuno takes of Jimmy and Jota the two Jays, Cutrone is on and he is absolutely going crackers for the ball from the off. The hunger this lad shows scares me. It would have been easy for him to just slide into the team with barely a thought about why he was there. We see this with many teams. The Fulhams, West Hams, Villa. Players brought in from abroad who land at a club to find there is no philosophy there, no idea, no creativity. Cutrone is going mad and in an almost carbon copy of the other week Neto has the ball and this time instead of clacking the ball towards goal he must have had Nunos voice entering his head. So the ball is laid into the path of Cutrone who pokes a gentle almost sublime shot into the corner. 2-0. Cutrone is emotional. A weight off his shoulders? I don’t know. I don’t get aggravated at strikers not scoring, well not really. He deserved this though, he deserved it good.

By this point of course the West Ham fans are filing out in that trudge that reminded me of Napoleons retreat from Moscow. Desperate and trudging through the cold back to home. It was brilliant thank you. Nuno does his little thing for the Southbank and he mouths ‘For You’ as he receives the love. Thank you Nuno and bless your heart.

Rubber Bullets Euro Mullets


Rubber Bullets and Euro Mullets

Italics by B. Simmo and normal text by me

I’ll be honest I was laughing. Here I was in Poundstretcher listening to Cosmic Ray waxing sweet lyrics to me about Wolves in Europe while I was looking at 49p boxes of strange flavoured soup nobody bought. That’s why they were in here. So Green vegetable (which looked very unpalatable, and Roasted Garlic and Mushroom, which when I cooked it up looked like wallpaper paste and didn’t taste much better. So Braga away. Europa League group game. They slathered some butter on us up here at Molineux and I wonder how we will do there. Win probably, draw maybe. We wont lose. Not now. 

The squad is bare minimum. There is talk of ‘quality’ on the bench or the lack of it. I think about the Villa squad for some reason. Plenty of ‘quality’ there if you cast the costs of that bunch into the equation…but still shit. Quality is an all encompassing word kind of like how you would wax about a Winters day walking the dogs down the cut. How’s the weather? Cold. Quality mate. I think the January window will be an important time for us. Maybe we do lack that killer substitution. Something to change a game. We are working very hard…well the squad are. Fosun are very quiet, have you noticed? That means they are busy sorting shit out. Busy tapping phone screens talking to people, cajoling and convincing players maybe? Wolves have taken a couple of under 23 lads with them to the game tonight. This is good practice. Is it too early to see the fruits of the past couple of years at the Academy start to ripen. Are they ready to be flung into the madness of games at this level. Nearly I think, very close.

Braga away. I’m watching Standard Liege Paedophiles getting ragged around the streets of Porto. Take a sip of tea while I wait for this stream to stop juddering around. You can hear the Wolves fans in the stadium. I’m laughing again it’s great. The stadium at Braga looks like it’s been put into a hole in the ground. It looks like a quarry. It probably is. I don’t care about it’s history or it’s quirks. I don’t care about Portuguese fucking egg custards. I don’t care that half our squad are Portugeezers. A Wolves fan has been caught by himself outside a bar and has had a knuckling off the Belgians. I wonder how Bart and crew are getting on…

2004 was the last time I was in this part of Portugal. Sitting here reflecting on what happened yesterday reminds of that time. Excitement at your team playing well in a major tournament, believing that they could go far. Enjoying Super bock or Sagres for 1 euro a pop and Hot dogs with crisps (it shouldn’t work but it does, trust me), and realising what genuinely nice people the Portuguese are. I was 28 then. No Facebook, no Twitter, no iPhones.

Team news. No changes from Bournemouth. Nuno is a hard task master. That’s what you get paid for mate, to play football, stop crying and get out there or we’ll flog you to Leeds mate. But our team do perform of course. Even if Jimenez must feel like being sick every time he jogs onto the green grass of another pitch. This pitch looks like they have just laid it. I’m expecting some bloke on there with a shovel whacking it flat. No changes. OK. It’s pissing down too. Man, people would have been on the piss all day and are now standing outside a non too pretty stadium getting whacked by Paramilitary Cops in the pouring rain. I dip another biscuit in me tea. Hope everyone I know is OK. 

Stephen Smith was a nice person. If some people don’t remember, he was the Wolves fan who was stabbed and killed in Lisbon In Euro 2004. My friends and my folks all thought it was me. 2004 doesn’t sound a long time ago, but in 2019, when you see now how everyone appears to expose every part of their day to day life online these days, no matter whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, 2004 seems a lifetime away. Ironically, it probably would’ve helped back then, at least my family and friends would’ve known I was ok without worrying.

Yes the pitch is a bit wild. Have they bunged some sand around? It’s five or six minutes it and one of the enemy Portugeezers whacks the ball towards Rui Patricio and Neves helps it through goalwards as it hits his knee. 1-0 to them. I mean, I’m not too bloody fussed at the moment. Wolves just lately come out to play with bed fluff still in their hair for some reason. They take a bit of starting for sure. Even Nuno doesn’t look too perturbed about it. Neves looks bashful and he keeps furrowing his brows a bit. But Moutinho God bless him is starting to flex around in midfield. As he does everybody else seems to start to settle down a little. The Spanish Assassin Jonny Otto darts into a crossing position and sticks the ball onto the head of who else? Raul fucking Jimenez mate. He nods it in the net. Equaliser. Gew on. Fair play. I’m making noises like there are people in the room with me celebrating but it’s just me and the dogs and the warm Co-Codamol feeling.

My feet are fucking soaked. Cold and soaked. I’ve been wet at the football before, same as everyone, but this has took the piss. Not sure why they sent everyone up this muddy bank, when there’s a perfectly good bit of tarmac on the left. Fuck it though, we’re in Europe and 1 point off qualifying for the last 32. What a time to be alive. It could rain all day for me as long as we get through. Not sure why they’re taking people’s umbrellas off them. Or flags. That’s a bit shit. Blokes have spent good money on those. Police don’t like football fans at home, bit of an understatement, but abroad, they proper fucking hate us. Never sure whether it’s because we’re English or whether they just hate football fans in general, or both.

I think about Smithy. I was wearing this old Wolves shirt and carrying a sack of spuds out of Marks Veg shop on the Broadway in Bushbury. Smithy is always happy talking about Wolves. Sometimes I see him on the 33 or the 32 bus up town, I always nod hello, going to the footy ay we. We talk about Lescott I think, I’m sure there were rumours about Joleon being sold. Smithy is off to the European Championships to watch England. ‘Watch what yam doing’ I say to him as I piss off with my spuds back to my battered VW camper with the door hanging off. He says something but I can’t hear him.

My shitty little Nokia that I only charged up on a morning in the campsite shower block rang off the hook, as people saw the news and read papers back home seeing “28 year old Wolves fan stabbed” the messages of “call home”, “are you ok” and “ring me ASAP” were mental. Was different then you see. I hadn’t checked myself in at stupid o’clock dancing on a table in a back street Lisbon bar. There were no selfies in front of a Wolves flag. My life, in that beautiful 3 week Portuguese bubble, was completely off the radar. Black Ops man. Incognito. No funny quips on Twitter about being lost in a taxi 15 miles from where I was supposed to be. Nothing. But they’re still things that’ll stick with me forever it’s just they don’t exist on the interweb.

Then it’s BAM and WHAM. Doherty on the end of a lush stick cross from Raul heads it in then what seemed like seconds later Traore lets the Juice dribble down and lays the thing bunted under their Goalie. 1-3. I’m laughing again, it’s so fucking easy…but you know only the hardest practice makes stuff look effortless. Traore is the flavour of the week now despite him being vilified for 12 months. Wonder who the next whipping boy will be? Jota probably…in the absence of Jesus. But hey it’s happening on the pitch, we are controlling. Here is work for sure. Here is intent…

I never knew Stephen, and whilst the only 2 things we ever had in common were age and Wolves, I do think about him, particularly in the context of the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, and the things that I’ve seen following Wolves since then. Whilst other people won’t think about dedicating their trip to Portugal to him, I will, and I’ll raise a glass in his memory, as he should’ve been here enjoying the madness as well.

So the pitch is getting a pummelling a bit like the Wolves fans outside. Now of course the ball is taking that little bobble. Traore stumbles and reins back his take offs. Jimenez continues to roam backwards and forwards stalking and pressing. Jota has a chance and Eduardo their Goalie makes a brilliant save to deny him. Jota aint happy. He wants things to happen here and it’s not. Sometimes you can want too hard. Sometimes it just isn’t going to go the way you want it. I think Diogo is a Warrior. A Wolf for sure…

Robocops. Pretending they don’t understand English. Course they fucking do. They just stand there looking at you with that smug fucking “I’m getting paid overtime to be here” look on their face. Was the same in Turin but at least it wasn’t shitting it down. Always understood people’s frustrations in situations like this but shouting “fucking come on”, or “hurry up” has never seemed to make any difference. Fact is, there’s enough Wolves fans here to force our way through these wankers if we wanted to, but, well, no one likes getting hit with a baton do they? Fuck it. 1-0 down. Piss wet through and muddy. Daren’t look at the gazelles and realise I’ve only brought one pair of jeans for 3 days. Hang on, another roar. 1-1. Get in.

I’m watching the videos people are uploading to Twitter. Old Bill are baton happy. I wonder how many times I’ve been chunked on the head with a Truncheon. A lot I think. Spurs away in the 80s was one I remember. It made me puke up and I couldn’t see anything on the pitch because I had double vision. Sheffield Wednesday as well, away. Dinked right on the forehead and I was eating a bag of chips at the time. I got run over by a Police Horse too by the subway steps. I’m reminiscing while I’m watching the blue helmeted Riot Goons flinging shapes. I watch some Standard fans running around. One of them has a fucking Mullet. I’m crying. Euro Mullets. It’s 2019 for fucks sake. He has what look like stone washed jeans on. Jesus Christ. 

I’m in but the fuckers have taken my ticket. Twats. I like to keep them, but worse, I don’t know where the lads are, so spend the first half on my jack. 2-1. 3-1. Get fucking in. Hugging strangers, lay on the steps, this is what it’s about. This is what you get up at 3am to get a flight for. Half time. Find some of the lads. Ones glasses got bust when the 3rd went in. He quite rightly couldn’t give a shit. One of the older boys has pissed himself but you can’t really tell. Words getting round that the coppers have been heavy handed with people. Women, kids, old blokes. Wankers. Knowing that they’ll keep us in for at least 1/2 an hour makes me think there’s a chance of this kicking off. It doesn’t. We throw it away really. 3-3. Fuck it, I don’t care. We’re in the next round and could get drawn against anyone.

It is what it is. Nuno takes off players and puts players on. Jimmy gets booked and I’m crazy. Why? How? What the fuck are you doing Jimmy? But then I look at Twitter and someone is explaining why he got himself booked. Then it’s that quiet zen moment when you realise you’ve acted like a Tit and you should sit down and shut up if you don’t know what you’re talking about. But Braga now have something of a lob on flapping around and they navigate the potholes appearing in the pitch to stick another two goals in and we are equal. But it’s a point lads. That means knock out stages pal. That means more European madness. I bet North Birmingham Albion fucking hate this. I can feel their pain pulsing away across the M6 into WolvoLand. They will never have this you know.

Food wine and bed. Up at 8 for a day/night in Porto. Missed calls off some of the lads who can’t find one of the lads. He’s had a whack off a Robocop on his way in and no one knows where he is. It’s ok. He was drinking in the square until 1.30 with the other lads and got back safe and sound. This is good news as he hasn’t lost his wallet, phone and glasses this time.Bus to Porto. Piece of piss. Let’s get back on it. This ends up being an error. Loads of Wolves in Porto. You’d think we were playing them on the Friday night. Liege nowhere to be seen. Fuck them. Picking off people and then shit themselves when Wolves numbers turned up. 3 o’clock, let’s have some port.

Rubber bullets winging around in this video Steve Plant puts up. Fucking hell. I’m glad I never went. I remark that I would be in some restaurant somewhere in Porto eating fine food, looking at the wine list, ticking off Museums and places of interest. Showing people my Porto Fridge magnet and going ‘Hola’ at every doughnut I meet. But I wouldn’t I would be didging rubber bullets and chasing Belgians around…well shambling around on my floppy leg being a twat…

Get talking to a bloke who worked with a mate of mine who died. This is lovely. Exchanged some great stories and raised a glass. Next 4 hours are a blank. We’ve had our picture taken by a shop that says “Neves” on it. I have no recollection of this. It’s 9 o’clock, where the fuck am I? I’m in the hotel. Right. Back on it. Let’s head down to the river. Find a bar. Bloke with a guitar doing Oasis. This is great, everyone singing, dancing, drinking. Are those 2 women hookers? Not sure. Some lad gets on the mic and starts doing the corner shop song. Pissed. Think he’s looking at his phone for the lyrics, messes one line up. Gets pelters. Let’s help him out. Fuck, I’m forgetting the lyrics. I know, do the Jeff Shi, “she loves you” line. Perfect. That worked. Shit everyone’s filmed that, never mind, I don’t care. Scouser there that we start rattling to. Turns out we were at the same game in the World Cup 2006. Great. Shots, port, more port. Fuck it, let’s do the corner shop song again without the mic. This works. It’s absolutely pissing it down again, let’s walk back. For the 2nd time in 2 days I realise my Barbour coat isn’t waterproof. Shit. Never mind, it ain’t far. Is that a church? Let’s get out of the rain. Oh, it’s a soup kitchen for the homeless. They offer us tea & coffee. No I’m good thanks, here, have some money. I should’ve turned left not right. I’m soaked. I’m sure the hotel wasn’t this far. Google maps, you are full of shit. 1% battery and I’ve ran out of fags. Shit, no battery now. That’s ok I think I know where I am. Ah, the hotel. Bugger the doors locked. Ring the bell. Night porter gives me a smoke, but I’ve forgotten what my room number is. Shit, I’m really in trouble here. Beep. No not that door. Beep. No not that one either. What’s that at the end of the corridor? Bonus. My mate has done the old “shoe in the door” trick. Thank fuck. I could kiss him. I’m home but it’s 3 o’clock and I’ve got to be up at 6 for the flight. Doesn’t matter though. We’re through to the next round which means we’ve got at least one more of these to do. Oh and Sheff United Sunday.

I listen to my mate snoring and whilst I listen to his grunts and squeaks, struggling to get to sleep, I realise how lucky I am to be here. Stephen Smith would, I’m sure, have loved this.

I’m glad the people I know have got back safe. Things are good. Even if I’m not there I know people like me will have had some crazy times. This is what this madness is, a time to generate stories and madness, something to remember and wax about to people who perhaps weren’t there like me. Euro stories man.