Follow up to the 'Return from exile' article here.
Was good to be back in the Park Lane lower, in amongst familiar faces that all appear to have retained their seats in my absence. Obviously better at time-managing life than I am. Routine victory, Everton hardly put us under pressure. We were professional. Highlight moment? Celebrating Lennon's goal with the lad to my left who proceeded to bear hug me whilst I punched the air with both fists. Felt something on my elbow, to then find the bloke in front of me holding his temple and screaming. He then proceeded to kneel down and hold his head for the next fifteen minutes. His mate didn't seem that bothered telling me not to worry. I wasn't sure if I was the one responsible for the head injury. If he's clutching his temple, did he turn to face my celebrating and got an elbow in the head for his troubles? The longer he stayed down, the funnier it got. This was the supporters stand equivalent to a Gareth Bale roll-over after being fouled. He kept touching his head and looking at his hand, perhaps waiting for blood to pour out.
A couple of people asked if he was okay, others apologised because nobody truly knew who hit him. I stood there, hands in pocket, not quite sure if this bloke was waiting for more witnesses to his 'injury' to come forward so that he could perhaps sue me for serious foul play. In the end he picked himself up and I departed for a half-time meet-up with some mates.
I celebrated Benny's goal with far more restraint in terms of body-popping movements, applauding the effort with glee and smiles and gentle hugs, this time with the lads to my right. The bloke in front ducked regardless, in fear of another attack.
At full time, he turned around and faced me. For a moment I thought "Here we go...he wants my name and address for insurance purposes". Instead, I got a handshake and a goodbye. I accepted and patted him on the back. Just like on the pitch after the final whistle.
Thankfully, very little trouble at the Bell and Hare before and after the game. Meet a few people, hoping for a far quicker return (in the next month or so) with hopefully a Saturday kick-off to allow for more pre and post match banter.
Simply nothing like being at the Lane. Even for the one game.
One final note, I didn't see Chirpy. Because had I, he would have got two non-accidental elbows to the face, the git. I know where you live chicken. You stay hiding.