Walsall fan Graeme Brookes shares his latest blog on day seven of his walk from Walsall to Wembley.
It`s Friday. We are at the weekend! Its nearly that time, the butterflies have started. Walsall at Wembley? It just doesn`t sound right, well it is right and it is happening! I can`t wait. It`s really weird thinking back to that first game of the season away at Vale (getting my brother wearing a Wolves shirt for his stag that day) and looking around, we represented really well that day but I still bet there wasn`t more than 1500 Saddlers taking that short journey to Port Vale. Well only 7 months later there will be 30,000 Walsall fans in one place at one time!?! I can`t believe it. Silly thing but I have never been to Wembley for a game of football – only to see: Muse, Metallica and AC/DC. I refused tickets because I wanted sit at Wembley to watch football and the first time I did was to watch Walsall FC. On Sunday, I will have done that. That is mental!
Anyway – less sentimental warbling. Yesterday as I established was the day of grump, this morning I felt was going to be even worse. I slept terribly as my legs were killing me, I kept getting cramp and my legs were twitching and I just had a real dull throb constantly. You should`ve seen where I slept – it was like a bloody museum. It was only one of two living grade 2 buildings in all of Bedfordshire. It had 13 bedrooms, good god. Don`t get me wrong, I still slept crap but even still – I got to sleep in some Downton Abbey house. I`m surprised there wasn`t a common alarm that beeped as I walked in, just phenomenal. If that was in Walsall, it would be like a really posh version of the Imperial!
On top of sleeping poo, I then woke up with a raging headache, I had to get up ready for a Free Radio thing at 7am (they didn`t call until 7.30ish though luckily) and I was feeling rough. Well the radio thing led to me blubbing, what was that about?! I`m not meant to blart just yet! I was feeling quite sorry for myself.
Off we went – I didn`t even notice the eclipse and after a few minutes my right knee buckled on me and I thought ‘here we go`. I whacked on the Walsall Podcast: One Pod Beyond and started walking and then got a mention! I appreciate the BBC Midlands Today, Free Radio, Radio WM, Big Centre TV, and Talksport – but when I got that mention on ‘One Pod Beyond` I giggled like a child and was made up. Then I got a reply tweet from Dan Walker at Football Focus, as we had a request by Football Focus to send them some footage about the walk as they want to cover a little bit of it at the request of none other than Mr Dan Walker personally. Amazing stuff. The walk ‘should` be going on national TV on BBC: Football Focus. After getting a mention on ‘One Pod . .` and then Dan getting back to me (excitement levels are in that order!), I suddenly started walking like Shaft (the original, not the Samuel L one). I was top of the world. I kept hitting locks, which though pretty is actually annoying because you have to push up the hill`s (they`re only little but still! Size doesn`t matter – does it?). but I didn`t mind. Then to add my being bouncy – I got a call from Walsall Society from the Blind! They obviously had a room full of all the people who use the centre, staff, volunteers – everyone. It was just them saying very sweet things and whooping, cheering, clapping and generally sending lots of support. I nearly leaked again! I managed to start blasting through the walk at that point – I still think I have pulled part of my right tush, my knees keep aching at times (never at the same time weirdly), my feet are generally just painful but my right foot is hurting as when I stand on it, it sends a nerve pain shooting along the sole of it. Painful but it didn`t matter, I was on a mission. I wasn`t grumpy anymore. It was a Jake from Blues Brothers moment (Do you see the light, can you seeeeee the light). To confirm this mission, I then saw some weird duck thing that looked like it was wearing some weird red batman mask (kind of like the crap Chris O`Donnell ‘Robin` mask in Batman Forever – Val Kilmer was an underrated Batman). When I saw the ‘superhero duck` – I knew the day was going to pass easy!
I was enjoying the walk today too, it`s hard because people want to know about how ‘nice` and ‘pretty` it all is – which it is, trust me . . . BUT . . . after walking for so long and passing so many fields and sights, you become a little de-sensitised. I really couldn`t care for what feels like I am in the set of Midsomer Murders, so as I am walking by yet another lock I get surprised by a chappie named: Malcolm. Malcom, was the very first person I contacted about this ridiculous and ludicrous idea of walking to Wembley – as he had walked the Grand Union Canal through leisure over a prolonged period of time. We have kept in touch as I prepared and he very kindly donated a number of weeks ago. Anyway – he decided to turn up and walk a few miles with me. That was pretty cool, Ebbsfleet fan, he`s been to Wembley. As if Ebbsfleet has been to Wembley and we haven`t!
Anyway – I don`t think I mentioned, last Saturday I did a bucket collection in the Saddlers club prior to the match and MK Dons and Walsall fans contributed and it raised: £200. Additionally, I have had a wee collection jar to the back of my bag and just opened that up to £147. All together, we must be getting close to that final amount but I won`t really get into that until after I have got to Wembley. Still in need of donations, so if you`re reading this – please bloody donate. Don`t make me get all Bob Geldof on you (and that means cussing, not growing horrendously bad white man dreadlock/rat tail things). The point of these blogs is for me to get you over to the site, so you donate. It`s kind of like the people that go to the Deli section`s at supermarkets – steal the free cheese and then don`t buy any (I do that every single time I go in! I am disgusted in myself as I write this, but I can assure you I will do it again!). The only difference is, you`ll buy something else from them, and I have nothing else to offer besides some attempted wit, some sentimental emotions, a personal story and some really sore legs – so for that reason, please please donate. I appreciate if you are waiting until I actually complete the walk – which I fully respect and understand, just make sure you do – because I will finish it, even if I have to crawl. I will be at the top of the stairs at Wembley Way at 1pm on Sunday.
When I write this blog tomorrow, I will be 6 miles walk away from Wembley. Wowzer. I shall speak to you then. Take care and have a nice night! G. x
Distance: 16.8 miles. Time: 5 hours, 20 mins. MPH: 3.15
22 miles remaining. 119.9 miles walked.
2 days to Wembley