i knew there was a match on, but i'd thought it was on later in the day. we queued for a few minutes to get into spiral car park near haymarket, but it was obviously going to take forever. so we decided to try fenkle street car park. it's usually quite quiet so we can get parked there no hassle.
unfortunately, the route i took was the route past the RVI and round past St James' Park.
can i give you a little piece of advice?
NEVER EVER EVER drive past st james' park on a match day just before the game is due to start.
i felt like i was driving through a pedestrianised zone. (and to be honest, i couldn't believe that the roads weren't all closed!) the roads around the football ground were a flood of black and white. we would have got down the street quicker if we were walking. it was nerve wracking. but no biggie. i saw it as my own fault for not thinking things through.
then? i did something even dafter.
i meant to turn onto st james' boulevard. but i missed my turning - obviously so relieved to be away from the sea of people - and turned down Stowell Street, through the Chinese Gate.
i'd kind of forgotten how many people walk up to St James' Park from down there. this was even worse. outside the ground, people had just been walking straight across the road, at a 90 degree angle to the direction i was travelling. on Stowell Street, they were walking in the opposite direction to the one i was trying to drive.
even in the car, we could feel the excitement in the air. we'd lost the first match; noone was hugely optimistic about our odds of winning this next one, but everyone was hopeful we would at least scrape a draw. and this good mood was palpable. noone seemed annoyed by the idiots trying to drive up their pathway. they smiled as they cut in front of the car. i smiled back.
on match days, the streets belong to the football fans. and i think that's how it should be.
the match was newcastle v aston villa. as we walked round town, we could hear the regular cheers, and ended up calling one of our friends to ask the score. at that point it was 3-0. by the end of the match, they'd scored another three.
it was a pretty good day for newcastle fans.