After all the anticipation, Saturday turned out to be disappointing on far too many levels.
As usual, the day starts at 7:30am where I'm breakfasting at Da Vinci's - what was Orlandos last season before Orlando sold up. The place certainly looks cheerier - a big TV, decent décor and cheery, young staff. For day one of the season I have to start with the big breakfast - bacon, sausage, egg (now singular - a bit tight), tomatoes, mushrooms, chips, beans, toast and tea. Not too bad for £5.50 however the bacon could have been a lot better, I suspect that they microwave it. That is just wrong.
During the breakfast, Martin Deans calls to say he's stuck in traffic and may miss the train. Ladies and Gentlemen, the first cloud of the day is on the horizon….
From Da Vinci's it's over the road to King's Cross - which seems very busy today - and I soon realise that it's due to trains being delayed or cancelled. Martin finally arrives after breaking the land speed record around the streets of Harlesden only to find our 8:30am departure doesn't leave the station until 09:05am. We are further delayed around Newark - signalling problems after some cabling has been half-inched - which all means we pull into Darlo over an hour late. And it's now raining.
Tony and Colin - and later Neil who is over from Norway - are in the Quaker Café - the bar looks as full as ever with 10 hand pumps but it doesn't look quite right - two beers from Jennings? Brains? Courage? It appears that the pub's purchase by Scottish & Newcastle a few months ago has finally kicked in and there are almost no brews from the micros.
It's a happier picture when we move onto Number Twenty-2 where we meet up with a few other regular DAFTS - Paul Brown and John Bell - before we taxi it to the Arena.
The game itself is the archetypal game of two halves - I refer you to Craig's Echo report as this more or less sums up the game and saves me getting the names of the new players mixed up. I'm trying hard not to be too optimistic or too despondent as this stage of the season - not only is it silly to speculate but it's a waste of time. Suffice to say it was the usual undercurrent of moaning that accompanied us all out of the ground. It could have been worse.
The railway station is full of happy Grecians - they're happy to be back in the league and who can blame them? They've had some shitty times down at the real St Jame's Park - good luck to them. Despite this I'm glad they're not in our carriage - the post-pub chips'n'curry sauce are making me sleepy and I can do without anything approaching chirpiness!
The train home - delayed before it even arrived of course - has one functioning toilet and no water for hot drinks. Despite a 10-min stop off in York to re-stock, the guard opts for a 15 min comfort break at Peterborough so passengers can use the facilities. It's like a scene from Carry On At Your Convenience as people file off and on the train.
We're about 35 mins late arriving back at King's Cross - but at least both delays means we can claim some money back on our journey. It's small comfort though.
Not to be outdone, the Circle line has a signal failure at Farringdon and so my 35 min journey takes an hour - finally home at 11:40pm and a microwaved curry to send me on my way to sleep.
It's not been the wonderful start to the season I'd anticipated - I'm knackered (nothing to do with four days at the GBBF of course) and seemingly weary of the season already. Hopefully next weekend's visit to Notts County will redress the balance.