As I get older, I find myself less interested in my birthday. The last one I celebrated properly was my 30th, with a party in the back garden. For 32, I contented myself with shouting “Noooooooooooooooooooooo!” at the television as I watched Michael Jackson evade conviction on even the minor charges of giving alcohol to a minor, something he’d admitted to doing. Yesterday, when I turned 36, I ticked the no publicity box and celebrated with a swim in the sea, a takeaway curry and a dip into the bottle of single malt I received in the morning.
From now on, however, I have a real reason to celebrate on 13 June. In the Birthday Honours, an OBE was awarded to Brian Lomax, chairman of Supporters Direct and father of one of my dearest friends. Brian’s a life force. He was instrumental in saving Northampton Town FC when the club hit the buffers in 1992, and, subsequently, has shown many football fans how grass-roots activity can see off inept and corrupt management of their beloved team. In the mid-1990s, he almost succeeded in getting me interested in football, after years of hating sport in any form. I liked the singalongs, the pies, the Bovril and Brian’s excellent company in the nearest pub after the game, but I couldn’t quite work up enough of an interest in the blokes doing things with the spherical doodah. After attending the play-offs at the old Wembley in 1997, and seeing the Cobblers despatch Swansea for a well-deserved promotion, I felt my work was done.
So, from this moment on, 13 June is Brian Lomax Day.