Life has an incredible way of surprising you in those moments where you are adamant that you've seen it all. In my 30+ years on this earth, I have never ceased to be amazed. This is testament to the unpredictable nature of the world we live in, and how at times we are merely passengers simply clinging on for dear life. We might like to be in control, but whether you like it or not, at times it will be ceded to forces outside of your grasp.\n\nThis post will detail one such incredible moment that happened to me earlier this year. When I woke up that morning, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined what was going to happen to me that day, and that experience changed me as a person. I had no idea that as I left home in London to travel up to Manchester, certain events would unfold that I would never forget 😀.\n\nBank Holiday Headache\n\nBack in May, I'd seen it all. I was working through a particularly busy period around the office, had tonnes of deliverables to complete and was wondering when any free time was ever going to materialise! Thankfully, we had a bank holiday coming up and I was fortunate to spend it at home in London. I REALLY needed that break, and enjoyed and welcomed those extra days of peace and quiet, as well as seeing the great sights that London had to offer. As always, these experiences seem to fly by (unfortunately not like the popular song by boyband Blue) and before I knew it, I was waking up on a Monday morning with an impending trip back up to Manchester. There never seems to be enough time 😬.\n\nI was travelling by train, and if you travel regularly on the UK rail network, you'll have plenty of experience regarding bank holiday (non) service which is always "fun" to experience. Cancelled and diverted trains seem to be rife, and because seemingly EVERYONE wants to travel on these days, the remaining services tend to be uncomfortably full. We Brits just begrudgingly get on with it, but MY GOSH does it ever test your patience! Instead of getting the normal (and easy) direct service from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly, instead I had to get a PACKED (i.e. sit on your suitcase lad) train to Sheffield and change there to end up in Manchester. I should've bought a picnic chair 😂! To be honest, I was looking forward to my evening of zero plans and a multitude of chores that I needed to complete prior to work the next day!\n\nRailway station at sunrise\n\nLet's just say the ride was, uncomfortable. This discomfort continued until we reached Cleethorpes, where I alighted and waited for the train that would take me to Manchester via Sheffield. I couldn't wait, as let's just say I really needed the space!\n\nA Train Journey to Remember\n\nWhilst boarding the train at Cleethorpes, I (like an absolute Rockstar) was considering in great detail the order of which I should complete my chores when I arrived back in Manchester. Put a load in the washing machine, iron some unworn shirts, make dinner, lunch meal prep, no (exciting) activity was spared from my thoughts 🙄! As I entered the carriage and sat at a table, the gentleman opposite me was on the phone ringing various friends and acquaintances from his address book. As I whipped out my laptop and got cracking on some software development for a personal project (fun I know), I couldn't help but overhear that all the people he was calling were turning down his polite offer of a spare corporate ticket to watch Manchester City versus Leicester City at the Ethiad Stadium. This was being played later that evening and he was en route to the match.\n\nHe ended one of his calls, we both said hello, introduced ourselves (for the remainder of this post, I shall refer to him as Richard) and politely made conversation. When you travel so much by train, it is something that just comes naturally. Richard then went back to his calls and I went back to programming, I was in the zone! More and more, his friends rebuffed his spare ticket, so I leaned over expressing my shock that so many people were passing up the opportunity! Manchester City were riding high in the league, going toe-to-toe with Liverpool and fighting to keep their title as the Champions of the English Premier League. I told Richard I had friends who'd kill for those tickets and said it was going to be a fantastic game regardless! He thanked me and went back to his calls. He literally couldn't give the tickets away 😱!\n\nLady shocked that corporate tickets to a football game is a hard sell!\n\nAs we were approaching Manchester Piccadilly, I said my goodbyes and wished Richard the best for the game. He still hadn't found a taker for his ticket at this point, so he offered it...\n\n...to me! I was absolutely dumbfounded, as my plans for the evening had included preparing food and watching Netflix, not watching a game where a team was gunning to win the league from Corporate seats! The shock took over so much that I very nearly declined the offer! Fortunately, I had some senses about me and I accepted, but the moment was so surreal, that as easy as it was to accept the tickets, at the back of my mind, I half expected things to go wrong. Maybe a mistake had been made?\n\nFinding the Way to the Game\n\nSo, still awestruck by the whole situation, we reached Manchester Piccadilly. After Richard dropped his bags off at his hotel, we jetted to the Mercure Hotel in Piccadilly Gardens to have drinks with a friend of his. This friend couldn't go to the game as he was having a romantic weekend away with his girlfriend, but how funny/horrific would it be if he had ditched the trip for arguably the experience of a lifetime? What would you have done 🤔? Richard offered to buy a round and I was having none of that! It was the least I could do given the situation, but he wasn't too fussed either way.\n\nStill there was this niggling thought in the back of my mind that something was going to go wrong. It had to go wrong! How on earth does something like this happen in real life? This was no slight on Richard as a person, he came across as an awesome guy from the offset. It was all based purely on the absurdity of the situation I was in. Supposedly I was going to the Champion's ground to watch the game from Corporate seats when, just that morning I only foresaw chores, pyjamas and Archer on Netflix! How had my life taken such a detour?!\n\nWe finished up drinks, and "apparently" hopped into a taxi en route to the Ethiad stadium. The sceptic in me was still doubtful that, despite the fact that Richard had been a great guy and had exhibited zero red flags, something had to go wrong. I'll never forget the moment we drove up to the Ethiad, with the Manchester City logo beaming at me. Oh gosh! Was this actually real? When we hopped out the taxi, Richard told me we had to pick up the tickets from the front gate. Ah here we go! There were never any tickets! We are going to get told that some kind of mistake had occurred, and sorry sirs for the inconvenience. My gosh I was such a pessimist!\n\nI was also dead wrong. We collected the tickets with zero fuss, which again was something my mind found very difficult to process. We also didn't need to worry about queuing, and walked straight in through the front entrance, over the massive Manchester City logo on the ground 😱. After being greeted, we were shown to the staircase which led straight to the corporate lounge, which absolutely blew my mind.\n\nInto the Twilight Zone\n\nRichard walked me into the stunning locale over to his company's table where his company's suppliers (who I shall call Alan and Bill) had already arrived and had ordered drinks. There were many other groups sitting around us, all enjoying their meals and basking in the joyous atmosphere. You could tell we were at the venue of a winning team, and the place was absolutely BUZZING during the pre-game warm up. Richard introduced me, and we all laughed at the absurdity of my answer when Alan asked me how I knew Richard. I think my answer of "oh we only met a few of hours ago" had something to do with that!\n\nI was a bit confused when Alan asked me what I was going to order and started making recommendations, mainly due to me feeling like I'd won the lottery with someone else's ticket. None of this had sunk in yet, I didn't feel like it was real and still half expected it all to vanish in an instant. Again let me stress that Richard, Alan and Bill had been nothing but amazing, this was just unchartered water for me. We all ordered, and ate whilst all the buildup was going on. We had a table near the windows and I could see that the ground was beginning to fill up outside.\n\nThe players had started warming up, and Alan insisted that we go outside to watch as it was my first time in the stadium. THIS was when the experience started to seem real to me. When I got outside, and took in the vastness of the stadium, the absolute feeling of reality stated to dawn on me. We walked up to the balcony, overlooking the managers dugout and it was amazing to see the players perform their drills live and in the flesh. Players like Sergio Aguero, Reheim Sterling, the two Silvas and Leroy Sane all at their peak doing things with a football I never could. The atmosphere in the stadium was building and you could tell the match was going to be a hard fought affair. It definitely bested being at home doing lunchtime meal prep 😅! After the warmup, we all settled into our seats, ready and waiting for the whistle to blow and the big game to kick off ⚽.\n\nThe Game\n\nThe match itself was a real battle, and it had been so long since I'd been to a football game, at first it was surreal to see it played without commentary 🙈! Manchester City controlled a lot of it, which was expected due to the quality and depth of their squad. Despite this, at half time things were delicately poised at 0-0, with Leicester more than capable of grabbing the win. The second half was more of the same, and it looked like it was going to end as a scoreless draw with Leicester able to withstand everything that City the at them. That was until City's Captain, Vincent Kompany, decided to go EPIC BEAST-MODE, taking the ball forward and scoring an absolute SCREAMER from 30 yards out! 😲😲😲\n\nVincent Kompany's Screamer from All Angles During Man City's Win Over Leicester\n\nThat's the way to break the deadlock in a football game, and essentially put one hand on the Premiership title! It was pandemonium as no one expected it, and the stadium completely erupted! I couldn't believe my eyes, and again was simply stunned at how my evening had taken such a turn. I was supposed to be hanging my washing on a clothes horse at this point, not witnessing worldie goals and intense scenes at the Ethiad! Heck I even had a high definition view of the shine off the back of Pep Guardiola's head where I was sitting, absolute monkey nuts!!! I had just witnessed something magical, and I had previously spent most of the evening doubting whether I was awake or dreaming 😂!\n\nEmbracing life in all of it's glory\n\nThe game finished 1-0 and we went back to the Corporate lounge. I was still in shock about everything that had happened throughout my out-of-this world day, and all of us, Richard, Alan, Bill and myself had something to say about it all. It was truly a one in a lifetime experience, and if that wasn't enough, every TV in the lounge played the Vincent Kompany strike on a loop. Each time the ball hit the back of the net the whole place cheered, it was crazy!\n\nWisest of Wise Words\n\nTo say that I was exceedingly thankful and humbled by the situation would be a complete understatement. We had another round of drinks and I must have thanked Richard 1M+ times for including me in such a positive experience, and asked him what he wanted in return. There had to be some way I could repay this good deed, as it isn't every day that events like this happen. I'll never forget his response until the day I die. Instead of money, favours etc, he only asked that I watch the film 'Pay It Forward', and that "I'd understand" when I saw it. Looking at IMDb, the tagline is "A young boy attempts to make the world a better place after his teacher gives him that chance". I highly recommend that you watch it!\n\nPay It Forward movie poster\n\nAfter the last round of drinks, I said my goodbyes, said another 100 thank yous and left Richard, Alan and Bill to the comfort of the Manchester City Corporate lounge. My tram ride home on the Manchester Metrolink was euphoric, and time just seemed to vanish as I took in all the events from the day. Whilst I was brought up to help others and always do the right thing at all costs, from that experience, I felt like it was a responsibility, a duty to do so. It's amazing how much of an effect that one good deed can have on someone else's life, and how amazing it is to see someone else flourish!\n\nPay It Forward\n\nJust when you think you've seen it all and that there are no surprises left, life has an incredible habit of proving you completely wrong. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected those events to unfold quite as they did, but I'm thankful all the same. I also learned a very valuable lesson about paying favours forward rather than backwards and potentially causing a positive chain reaction. Try your best to spread nice deeds and positivity to others, as the profound effect you can have on someone else's life is immeasurable and potentially life-changing. Also, as recipients, we need to be less jaded and sceptical, and allow life into our lives outside of our immediate control. I very nearly passed up the experience of a lifetime due to a mindset that I have later challenged and know now that life can be glorious if we just allow it to be!\n\nTake care and all the best, Si.