The time: approximately 4:55pm on Saturday February 5. The place: Brisbane Road, London E10, just outside Leyton Orient's football ground. My mood: euphoric. I'm an Orient season-ticket holder, and I'd just seen them triumph 2-1 in an exciting game against local rivals Southend United. I'd also just heard on the radio that the other team I support, my old hometown club Bradford City, had pulled off the English Premiership's shock result of the day by beating the mighty Arsenal, also by 2-1. I couldn't stop smiling - and maybe that was why the ugly little incident I'm about to describe happened.
I did what I always do after Orient home games. I made my way to join the small crowd gathering outside the entrance of the Orient Supporters' Club, which is built into the ground and which always opens five minutes or so after the final whistle on match days. While standing there, and still smiling at the news I was hearing on the radio, I felt something wet hit the back of my head. I put my hand up to find out what it was, and was disgusted to find that it was phlegm. Someone had spat at me.
I then turned round to discover that the someone in question was still there. He was a red-faced, squat individual with cropped blond hair; and as I turned around, he said
'Wanna' make something of it?'
I didn't wanna' make something of it. So I said;
'What's your problem. Are you a bad loser or something?'
and hoped that either he'd go away or that the Supporters' Club doors would open so that I could walk away to a place my new acquaintance wouldn't be allowed to enter.
Unfortunately, neither of those things happened. Instead, he said;
'Well, you're gonna' lose this'
and snatched my Orient scarf from around my neck. I wasn't willing to lose the scarf, so I grabbed his arms, and after a brief struggle he threw it to the ground. It was at this point that I was, with hindsight, very naive... but then, I'm not a fighting man. I bent down to retrieve my scarf, and felt a faint glancing blow on the top of my head. I looked up to see several of the other Orient fans dragging my adversary away, and eventually... as he carried on struggling... wrestling him to the ground.
Obviously, brave little soldier that he was, he'd tried to attack me while my back was turned, but had been prevented from doing so by the other Orient fans waiting to get into the Supporters' Club.
At this point a group of police officers arrived, and so did some of my would-be assailant's friends, who persuaded him to 'leave it'. I could have told the police what had happened, but then the Supporters' Club doors opened and the prospect of a post-match pint seemed far more appealing than pursuing the matter further.
Once inside the Club, I was a reluctant hero, repeatedly being asked to explain what had happened. I obliged, but I wasn't feeling brave or clever. The chilling realization that I could have been badly injured as punishment for the crime of smiling and wearing a scarf had, by then, sunk in.
Now, I want to put this in context. In a career as a soccer fan stretching back to 1968 and taking in games at all levels from international to amateur, that was the first time I'd ever been assaulted in any way. Generally, the truth is that if you want to go to football and you're not looking for trouble, then you can avoid it.
And has it put me off the game? Of course not. It's in my blood, as anyone who's visited my h2g2 soccer page - Ormondroyd's Virtual Supporters' Club - might have gathered. I'll be back at Brisbane Road to see Orient take on Exeter City on Tuesday evening, and next Saturday I'll be at West Ham to cheer on my Bradford boys.
But the West Ham fans have a bit of a reputation. So I don't think I'll take my Bradford scarf.