WE may have lost 5-1 but Sunday night's FA Cup quarter-final reminded me why I am a Gashead. When my team Bristol Rovers lose at least they do it gloriously. And I am not just talking about the result.
Apart from the one stray Gashead who apparently shouted abuse at the TV people (and who wouldn't want to give those smug Beeb blokes like Lineker, Hansen and Shearer a piece of their mind), I thought the whole night was magnificent.
The Memorial Stadium was turned into one big party for the day, with people wearing fancy dress, carrying great banners and mock FA Cups, and shouting their hearts out for the lads, particularly when it came to our traditional song Goodnight Irene.
But the thing that pleased me most was that after we had succumbed to the deadly West Brom strike force despite a valiant battle, a large proportion of the crowd stayed back to applaud the victors from the pitch. It reminds me of why I took the Gas oath years ago, rather than joined the red menace on the other side of Bristol.
Shocking to admit but the first game I saw in that fair city was a game at Ashton Gate! I didn't really have a choice, being only eight at the time and having just moved to Bristol from deepest Dorset. My dad took me along and we stood on an open terrace. Being a rather exciteable youngster (guess some things never change) I shouted my heart out for the home team until some miserable old sh*thead behind me tapped my old man on the shoulder and announced: "Can you tell your son to shut up - this is supposed to be the quiet end." We left soon after that, it being a dire game. There were three goals in the last four minutes which we failed to see, and I am glad to say two of them went to Blackpool - who won 4-2. I laughed all the way home and so started a lifelong hatred.
Move forward a couple of weeks and my dad, still undecided on which Bristol team to support, took me down to Eastville, where we stood on the old terrace below the M32 motorway bridge where fans used to park up and watch the game until the police came to move them on.
It was a friendly against Southampton, and by my recollection Rovers lost 7-0 with a certain Welsh international striker called Ron Davies scoring most of the goals. It didn't matter, the banter and friendliness on the terrace won me over, as did the idea of supporting the underdog.
As the Gasheads sang with five minutes to go and with our FA Cup semi-final dream crushed: "I'm Rovers til I die".
Good old Wren accompanied me to the game, but her lucky mascot tag has now slipped. Until then she had not seen the Gas lose... and that included our Wembley Stadium outing last year. Afterwards we managed to stay cheery on the way home, enjoyed a nice tea but managed to miss the highlights of the game because they switched the Match of the Day 2 start time to 10pm. Beeb b**tards.
Last night I had an early one, on the basis that I had to come in and do an early stint on the Echo as part of my Meeja Wales initiation ceremony.
I took the opportunity to cook a recipe I found in an Observer magazine for Scotch Broth.
I adapted it slightly because I didn't have any lamb breast (I didn't know Lamb had breasts - is that why the Welsh are known to be so passionate towards them?)
Instead I used two lamb leg steaks and chopped them into thick pieces.
Two large lamb leg steaks
A carrot, peeled and chopped into smallish dice
A swede treated the same way
2 potatoes treated the same way
Some firm cabbage, chopped
1 peeled onion, stuck with five cloves
2 bay leaves
salt and lots of white pepper
50 gms pearl barley
Some chopped parsley (I used flat leaf but the recipe demanded curly)
WHAT I DID:
Put the lamb in a big caserole, then covered it with water and brought it to the boil.
Scraped the scum from the top then simmered for 30 mins.
Add all the other ingredients apart from the pearl barley and parsley and bring back to a simmer.
Leave simmering for an hour, then add the pearl barley.
Cook for another 20 mins to half an hour until the barley softens.
Add the parsley.
A nice way, too, to toast the Boss's new baby daughter Annabel, who is doing very nicely, thank you. When people congratulated him on his return to work this week he thought they were talking about Celtic's 1-1 draw with an equaliser two minutes into injury time at Aberdeen.