by Kevin Henning

Although today’s Manchester derby comes too early in the season to decide the destiny of the title, it will certainly be a huge boost for either side should they be able to pull off a win. Neck and neck in the league this season, it’ll be a much anticipated clash and three points will be a most welcome early Christmas present.

The hosts have been in unbelievable form at home but will have to concentrate on half the competitions they were involved in at the season’s beginning. United will travel across the city in hope rather than expectation and recent defensive lapses will be the main concern.

I’ll have my phone switched off to help my total focus on the match, conversation will be a non-starter for the duration and I’ll be praying that my Sky plus box doesn’t malfunction and successfully records the Manchester derby for my return home.

Due to the lack of foresight from both the Premier League and the Hull Sunday Boys League, I’ve had to choose between Longhill Ravens versus North Ferriby United in the under 12’s league and City’s clash with United. I’ll be hoping for home wins in both fixtures as my lad plays for the Ravens and I’m a blue. Obviously, your son comes first (doesn’t he?) so I’ll be stood on a windswept field in Humberside desperately trying to avoid finding out the score from the Etihad stadium. It’s going to be a nightmare.

At least one of the other parents is likely to be recieving updates via text messages so eye contact will be ruled out. As we turn into our street, I’ll have a glance to see whether the bloke next door but one is stood outside and will have to climb the back fence if he is while my missus opens up. Those of you with empty schedules don’t realise how lucky you really are. You’ll all be either delirious or devastated by half past three while I’ll be sitting down with a hot brew and a sense of apprehensive anticipation.

It’s going to be the latest round of a sport I like to refer to as “Score Dodging”, a dangerous game that I’ve participated in countless times over the years. England internationals, Manchester City league fixtures, World Cup quarter finals and cup finals have all been ruined by some inconsiderate buffoon spouting the scoreline while I wander around nervously avoiding all media outlets. The most painful memories include marching through Doncaster market with my hands over my ears shouting “Lalalalalalalalalala!” to avoid hearing a stall holder’s wireless radio tuned to Five Live. On another occasion, the missus strolled into the front room, looked at the telly with a confused expression on her fizzog and asking why the radio is saying England are 5-0 up when the telly is saying it’s only 1-0.

My Dad is another swine who likes to spoil the fun. After Score Dodging a 90’s Champions League match between Rangers and Juventus to watch the highlights later on, he spitefully enquired whether I was still staying up to watch “the Champions of Scotland” as he passed me on the landing. Given that he prefers the green and white half of Glasgow, I knew full well that he knew the score and it wasn’t good news for the Gers qualification hopes. I sat watching the Italians rout Rangers 4-0 at Ibrox plotting my revenge.
As explained above, score dodging is a dangerous and arduous pastime. I’ll implore all my friends, family and associates not to attempt to contact me and I’ll stand on an uninhabited corner of the field later this afternoon. Upon my return, I’ll watch the match over two hours later than you.

It’s going to be the most extreme game of Score Dodging I’ve ever been involved in. Wish me luck.