After three seasons of shows, guests aplenty and more fun than we have any right to have shared, it’s with a mix of sadness and relief that I have to announce that The MooCamp Radio Show has come to an end.
There are a number of reasons for it, but the main factors are a mix of the radio station itself no-longer being able to support a live show in the evening, and us feeling that the show at this stage had pretty much run its course, so it didn’t feel appropriate to start touting it round the radio stations of Milton Keynes. And I guess the fact that the one station that we did approach didn’t get back to us helped make that decision too 😉
Anyway, from all of us here, I just wanted to say a huge thanks to everyone who listened, who got involved, who texted, tweeted, sent in ideas or who took the time to abuse us either as a group or individually. It’s been great fun
This Just In – Following today’s announcement that the Kingston lot have got through the playoffs, shares in MK cleaning firms are set to rocket when trading begins again on Tuesday morning. Speaking exclusively to The MooCamp this evening, local cleaning magnate Roy Al-Doulton announced excitedly
“We’re going to be rich! Rich I tell ya! It’s been ages since we’ve had a proper boycott, and this one’s a dirty protest too? Fantastic! I’ve just been on the line to my broker, and we’ll both be retiring after this.”
The current status of the Armitage Shanks Countdown Clock shows that it is currently:
since anyone took a crap on the floor in the Boycott End
More on this once we’ve dug out the photos of the last dirty protest.
It’s Goodnight From Me, And It’s Goodnight From Him
In the week that plucky underdogs Leicester romped to their first ever Premiere League championship, we basically imploded in spectacular fashion, and I’m not just talking about on the pitch.
There’s little point in pouring over the faults once again. To be quite frank I’m sick and tired of the whole thing. And now it would appear that Winkelman and Robinson have fallen out. I don’t really care who’s to blame. Both, one, none of them! Who cares! We’re done, and going down. The only pertinent thing that I’ve read over the last couple of weeks came from Winkelman. He, and excuse me if I paraphrase here, gave an interview to the local press, where the stand out phrase went along the lines that he was sick and tired of seeing players walking around the stadium, drawing a wage, while not playing. Who’s to blame for that? Robbo for once again bringing in a marquee name in Upson, only to find out that he’s past his sell by date? The non-existent scouting system, putting duds forward for the club to sign? The council for pissing around with Woughton, thus our injury list lengthens week after week? The training itself? The coaching staff? I’ve no idea. And to be quite frank, I don’t give a shit. And here’s why.
Anyone who’s read this blog over the last few weeks will be well aware that I’ve followed this club for 11yrs, and more. Home and away. I was one of the hundred or so idiots who went to Cardiff on a Tuesday night for a League Cup second round tie. I could bore you senseless recounting all the other pathetic stuff I’ve done in my support for the club, but as above, I just can’t really be arsed any longer.
In the aforementioned 11yrs, I’ve only left a game early 5 times. And all this season you’ll note. Coincidence? I think not.
Getafe: It was boring
QPR away: It was a shit game, and we wanted to miss the crowd in order to catch the train home.
Burnley: I was ill
Brentford: We were shit, and there was a better game on the telly
Ipswich: I was threatened with violence from a fellow supporter for not towing the happy-clapper line
Yep’, you’ve read that right. Apparently spending somewhere around the £100 mark on a day out, doesn’t give you the right to have a laugh with your mates, and basically take the piss out of what looked like 11 strangers who all turned up wearing the same coloured jerseys, and thus Robbo threw them on the pitch and hoped for the best (It didn’t work by the way) and generally having a good day. Up until halftime at any rate.
I’m a firm believer in free speech. Always have been, always will be. I may not agree with what you say, but I fully uphold your right to say it. Even if it makes you look like a right wanker. In actual fact, more so if you’ll end up looking like a wanker. What I won’t do however is fight for that right. I’m not much cop at punching other people’s dads, and violence, in my opinion, gets you nowhere, except locked up. Trust me on this. I’m originally from the west coast of Scotland, I know.
There have been a fair few ‘incidents’ this season. No need to rake over them again here. But to focus on one in particular, with a certain resonance to what happened last Saturday, I give you, QPR away.
Everyone had their own take on what happened that afternoon. But most of you are wrong. Here’s what actually happened. Some morons took exception to a gang of adolescent males having a day out down that London, singing some stupid songs, and generally having a good time, while drunk, and thought throwing a few punches around was a good idea. It wasn’t. Someone I know personally ended up being banned for a short while. He’d done nothing but have the temerity to be stood in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was innocent. And by the conventions of modern law, you’re supposed to remain innocent until proven guilty. Well not at MK it soon transpired.
Him, and others, were soon convicted by the kangaroo court of social media. They were young. They were wearing clobber that was widely associated with an unsavoury element. They were drunk. But most importantly of all, they weren’t like us. So they must be guilty. The backlash was pathetic. Almost to a man, and it’s almost exclusively males who post on footy related forums, they had already made their minds up. Guilty as charged. Take them down. Ban ’em, and throw the book at ’em. The club chipped in with a nice wee ‘warning’ that certain fans were being watched. And recently the widely ineffective supporters association posted their own Johnny-come-lately, lapdog response.
This is what you’re up against. I’ve actually come across an MK supporter who, this season, went on one of the fans forums and said that he’d rather we played our usual ‘play it out from the back’ style of footy and lose, that adapt to the style The Championship requires and win. I shit you not. He’d rather we played and lost, than won. What chance do you stand against that?
One of the main attractions of following this club for me is down to the fact that it’s not like other clubs. It’s a bit of a joke really. But I don’t mind. We’re a massive windup in the face of traditional footy. But when fellow supporters tap one of your friends on the shoulder and tell him basically to wind his neck in, or else, well that’s it for me.
That’s why I walked out of Portman Road at halftime, and got a train back home. Sorry to those on the mini-bus that I came with for any worry and distress I caused, but I’m so angry at what happened that I gave my season ticket to someone else for Saturday’s game against Forest, and decided to spend the afternoon in the garden, which now looks lovely. I didn’t listen to the game on the wireless, and I’ve no interest in the result. I’m assuming we got a right kicking.
I’m not going to throw my season ticket back at the club like some of my friends have in past seasons, and wage a campaign stating that it was all a property deal, because basically right at this moment I couldn’t give a shit. It’s obviously tied up in a property development scheme. Big deal. Who cares? At least The Guardian have stopped referring to Winkleman as an ex-music mogul, and only this week called him a property developer. So if the shoe fits…
I wasn’t at The Winterland Ballroom in January ’78, so I didn’t hear John Lydon asking the crowd if they ever had the feeling that they’d been cheated. But after last weekend I didn’t need to be.
Well that wraps it up for 2015/16 then. Quite a season really.
It was a season that started with a degree of hope, a sense of belief, built on last season’s general wonderfulness, and a feeling that, unless something truly awful happened, we would probably be alright. It all started so well too – that beautiful sunny day in Rotherham where we got our first taste of Championship football, and it tasted good. I can remember chatting to people on that day and saying “this league isn’t so tough then is it?”.
We were top of the league too! I think the stats for the season show that we were top of the league for longer than everyone else in the Championship except some of the others. Can you tell that I can’t remember where I saw the stat?
Anyway, a good start swiftly gave way to a pretty poor season. We tried to play our passing game, building from the back, and keeping possession, and we kept on getting caught out. Some teams were pressing us hard and we were making mistakes, while others just sat back, let us have the possession and waited for us to balls it up. We rarely disappointed. The swagger of last season had gone, and much as we persisted, it just seemed to be a little out of reach.
There were many reasons for our struggles, and they’ll be argued over for many seasons to come, but there are a few areas where I think we got it wrong.
First of all, Robbo said at the start of the season that he would be putting his faith in the team that got us promoted. That sounded like a brave move at the time, but it also felt like the right one – we had a team of players who knew how to play with an for each other, and that should be a real head start for us. Clearly, it was the wrong decision, but just how wrong it was wasn’t really clear at the start. First of all, we didn’t have the entire team that got us promoted, and any suggestion that we would be able to compete at a higher level without adequate replacements for Dele, Benik and Will was probably naive to say the least. We did bring in replacements in those areas, but it would be an understatement to say that they didn’t fill the shoes of any of the players that we’d lost. We also discovered as the season went on, that a significant number of the players that we did have from last season just weren’t good enough for the Championship. That’s the overriding reason for me that we’ve been relegated, and it’s the most obvious I guess – our players weren’t good enough for this league.
Secondly, we tried to play the same game that had been so successful for us in League 1, and kept trying long after it was clear that it wasn’t working in the Championship. Pretty much every team seemed to know how to play us, and were able to stop us playing our game, at least in any areas of the pitch where it mattered. Our possession statistics were the best in the league for considerable periods of the season, yet our league position, our shots and our goals scored were the exact opposite. I felt until way past christmas that it would still come right for us, and that we were right to keep playing that way. I also felt, probably rightly, that we weren’t set up to play any other way. I was wrong, as we eventually proved, much too late, that we could dig in and grind out points away at places like Hull. An earlier change to our style of play, and I think that we’d still be playing Championship football come August.
Thirdly, we weren’t strong enough, both physically and mentally, either as individuals or as a team. We didn’t have the stamina to hold on to games we were winning or drawing in, and gave away large numbers of points in the dying stages of games. Our confidence went early on, and it hasn’t returned. We didn’t fight hard enough to keep possession when challenged, and we didn’t fight hard enough to get it back when we lost it – there was a noticeable difference between the ruthless efficiency that we saw from the majority of our opponents and our own ‘nice’ approach. Just the games that we threw away in the last few minutes would have been enough to keep us up.
Fourthly, we seem to have completely underestimated pretty much every element of what was required to compete in the Championship. At a fans forum towards the end of last season, Robbo claimed that he “didn’t need a top half championship budget to compete in the top half of the championship”. According to a table that was published fairly early on in the season, we had the lowest budget in the championship, and Rotherham just one place above us had a budget that was double ours. At the same event, Robbo also said that if we went up, we “would have the pick of the loan players from top premiership sides”. That clearly failed to materialise, perhaps due to the higher financial expectations for loans at this level meaning that we couldn’t actually afford them, and also perhaps due to clubs not wanting to send their players out to a side that was losing all the time. It’s possible to argue that this means that we were doomed from the very beginning, but it’s not easy to understand how Winkie got this one so wrong.
As well as the challenges for the players and the management, it’s also been a season-long learning experience for the fans. We’ve had to get used to losing more than we’re winning, which has been a rather useful reminder of just how successful the club has been in recent years. Since the relegation under Danny Wilson back in 2006, we’ve not had a season where losing was the norm, and a lot of our fanbase weren’t around back then. We’ve also had more ‘issues’ amongst the fans at away matches than in previous seasons, combined with stricter stewarding and policing, which is something that we need to get better at controlling ourselves.
Rotherham away on the opening day
Being top of the Championship for a week back in August
Frustrating the hell out of Hull
Filling the stadium against Chelsea
Wednesday away – my favourite away of the season
The walkers and kayakers to Fulham
Daniel’s equaliser at Bristol City
Dele becoming the darling of English football
Players, manager and fans applauding each other after relegation was actually confirmed against Brentford
The lap of appreciation after the Forest game
Robbo confirming that he’s staying
Relegation being all but confirmed against Rotherham
Robbo getting booed at the end of the Rotherham game
Antony Kay’s goal at Leeds
Making Bolton look like Barcelona at their place
No Tony Stratford at the end of season awards
Gifting Huddersfield three points at their place
The MooCamp Radio Show misplacing it’s radio station
Getting hammered at home by the Saints
Burnley showing the real gulf between us and them
Hearing Chelsea Dagger on the radio at some point in April and thinking ‘I haven’t heard this for ages’ then realising what that meant
Lack of progress on the training ground.
There’s a nervousness as we start to look forward to life back in League 1. We ought to be able to compete in the top-half, but we’ve not won a game in two months, and it will take something quite significant to turn that losing mentality around. The last time we got relegated, we reached the playoffs in the next season, but that took Martin Allen to shake the club up and turn things around. It remains to be seen whether Robbo has what it takes to turn us around, and whether Winkie is able to provide the support that he needs. Expectations will be high – I’d be happy with a side that’s pushing for the playoffs next season, but I have a feeling that won’t be enough for many. If we did manage to find our way back into the championship, then whether we’d be able to find a way to compete I really have no idea. That will be a nice problem to have I guess.
Bring on the Euros, bring on the pre-season friendlies, and bring on the 2016/17 season I guess.
And indeed the wider world of footy certainly laughed long and hard last Saturday afternoon. We’re down, as old Francis has been telling us since, well since this time last year really.
It was a terrible game against Brentford. Truly dreadful. No atmosphere to speak of. The footy on offer, well from us any-road, was uninspiring, dull and just plain rubbish. I could visibly see Potter’s shoulders sink when they equalised. You could’ve picked faults with any one of them. But that would be childish, however… Cropper mate! Ever thought that perhaps football might not be your game? His performance in the first half was our whole season in microcosm. Dithering about, unable to make a decision, and just no idea what he should be doing.
I was one of the ones who thought we’d do okay in The Championship. I genuinely thought that we’d finish lower mid-table. I was of the opinion that we’d draw more than we’d win, and sink into mid-table obscurity. If only! We were told that if we managed to finish one place above the relegation zone, then it would’ve been a good season, and we would’ve succeeded. We didn’t. So therefore we failed.
You could point to any number of things that went wrong. The two Spanish lads. The early season striker debacle. Maynard fannying about before signing. The away game against Brentford. Samir pissing in a glass. Kay’s own goal at Dirty Leeds, Dale Jennings’ ever expanding waist line, conceding late equalisers, J.E.T. – the list goes on and on. But hindsight gives you 20/20 vision. The real reason we’ve gone down is simply down to the fact that we weren’t good enough. We were constantly out thought, out played, and both our tactics and players were found wanting.
But as you’re just about to find out, things could be worse. Much worse.
The season panned out in direct inversion to my personal life. I, unfortunately, was ill for most of it. Started feeling unwell on the day of the FA Cup final. Didn’t think much about it. A summer cold probably, and the season kicked off. We smashed Rotherham. I was no better. We went away to Reading, on what was one of the most beautiful summer days for many a year. We had a nil/nil draw. Not a bad result in retrospect. I was beginning to feel dreadful. Really dreadful. We started to lose more than we drew or won. I was by this time feeling really shit. Christmas was on the horizon. Off to Notts Forest on a pub stop mini-bus. Wonderful day. I had my first ever G&T, and met the singer out of The Mekons. We lost. Two days before that I was told that I would have to have part of my foot amputated. To be honest I’ve had better days. New year rocked up. Now the team were right up shit street. We lost at Birmingham. Me on the other hand. Well I knew what was wrong with me, but this is when I started to feel really, really bad. Burnley arrived, and kicked the living shit out of us. I’ve never felt so bad in my entire life. I was quite literally shaking, and couldn’t stop. I had to leave with more than 20mins to go. Which in the circumstances was a blessing in disguise, bearing in mind the result.
March, and into hospital I went. Operation went smooth as a nut. I came out, and instantly I started to feel better. The team on the other hand started to feel really bad. The first game I went to when I could get about on crutches, was the one where Baker missed a last gasp penalty. And well, you know the rest. So as I got better, the team got shitter.
Blame me if you want. I’ll accept full responsibility. I was really looking forward to this season. But as you can see from what happened to me, it’s not been great. And now we’re down. But you’ll be happy to know that I’m feeling chipper. You’ll be reading this on Sunday, but it’s written well before that. So as it stands, I’ve just taken out another mortgage to fund a ticket for Ipswich. A game I’m really looking forward to. Me and a gang of friends are heading off in yet another mini-bus trip. I can’t wait, and many more G&T’s await.
So there you have it. We’re down, but certainly not out. Ipswich is a nothing game. We’ve been relegated. So what. We tried, we failed. Big deal. After the season that I’ve just had, I’m more than happy to still have most of my foot.
So believe me when I tell you this. It’s an old cliche, but there are certainly far more important things in this life than your football team getting relegated.
It was a beautiful sunny day, we were taking an inexperienced goalkeeper, no substitute keeper and a bench primarily made up from Academy kids. It was fancy dress and I wasn’t dressing up. We’ve already been relegated, we were expecting to lose, possibly heavily, and I was going on a minibus leaving at 9:30 am with a two hour pub stop as the only non-drinker. What could possibly go wrong?
Well to be honest, not much really – we had a great day out. Just short of 500 of us made the trip, which was about double what I was expecting, and we made a fair bit of noise at times. The football was a bit rubbish in the first half, but somehow we managed to go in on level terms. the football was better in the second half, but somehow we managed to end the game behind. That’s been our season really.
We played a dangerous game with fate by packing 75% of the presenters of The MooCamp Radio Show into the same minibus. Had the bus exploded following an attack by a flock of angry wrens, the entire future of the show would have been in the hands of Young Alby, and that just doesn’t bear thinking about. The very thought sends shivers down my spine. Anyway, great pub stop in a village whose name escapes me (but it definitely began with an H) and then on to the ground.
We faced our relegation with generally good humour – lots of self-deprecating chants, which got occasional recognition and applause from some of the nearby Ipswich fans. A fair bit of chanting was targeting one particularly large lad, who gave as good as he got for a while, before leaving in a bit of a huff. The irony of me chanting towards an overweight bloke wasn’t lost on me, and the disapproving looks from Mrs B helped to keep my participation to a minimum.
In what’s become something of a regular feature at aways this season, there were some cross words exchanged between a few of our fans at half-time, with some people getting angry about some other people’s ‘we’re not very good’ type of chants. Usual handbags type of arguments, but it did result in one of our group (who shall remain nameless until I know he’s alright) deciding to leave at half time, not to be seen again. I have no idea whether there’s anything we can do to keep these rows from spilling over into genuine anger, but I hope we can – it does tend to put a bit of a damper on things, and I could do without it.
As soon as I saw the challenge that won us the pen, I thought ‘definite penalty’, though the fact that literally EVERYONE else around me disagreed suggests that I may well be wrong. Revell took the penalty well, and level we were, just before half time. To be level at half time was actually really, really funny, as we really shouldn’t have been in the game at all, but level we were.
Second half we played a little better football, and at times looked like we might still know how to pass the ball around, but it really was in quite short bursts. On a couple of occasions, the ‘we want you to stay’ chant went up for Revell, and he looked genuinely moved. I think he was just about to be subbed for Maynard when he got our second, so Maynard sat back down again, and a few minutes later came on for Bowditch. They did sub Revell a short while after that and when he went off, you could see that we’d made an impact on him. I don’t think he’s the greatest striker we’re ever going to see, but he is the best striker we’ve had in the air since Clive Platt, and when combined with his fantastic workrate and dedication, that makes him worth keeping. I hope he does stay. But I doubt that he will.
Anyway, just as it looked like we were going to cling on for the point, something happened and they got the winner. I have no idea what it was, because I wasn’t watching, and neither were anyone else around me. I blame Antony Kay myself.
So, a great day out, only spoiled in part by some of the football, a bit of arguing, and a missing presenter. Aways are fun. End of season aways doubly so. And the scary clowns were fantastic – kudos to all those who took the time and effort to do it.
One more game to try and claim that third from bottom spot again, and to try to go down with a bang.
On St. George’s day, nobody wants to be the dragon. Everyone wants to be the one left standing, sword in hand, prodding the bloody corpse to make sure all life has gone. Sadly this year we celebrated Shakespeare’s birthday as the dragon, and we were coughing out smoke instead of breathing fire. Though we’d hoped for a different ending, we were finally put to the sword.
We can all point to games where we could have salvaged points – there have been many – but as Robbo succinctly said in his post-match interview, the table does not lie at the end of the season. We’re going down because we’re one of the worst teams in this division, and that’s been proved beyond any doubt.
This match was a pretty good analogy for our season. We started well, took an early lead, but very quickly found ourselves pegged back to level terms. Then our confidence went, the opposition were playing with a swagger that we couldn’t match, and we resorted to a hoofing the ball forward, vainly hoping for something to happen. Then we started making mistakes, and we fell further and further behind. Injuries led to unplanned substitutions, planned substitutions had a lot of people raising their eyebrows and an air of resignation fell across the stadium.
We huffed and puffed but as a team, we really didn’t look like we had any ideas how to get ourselves out of it. There were some poor performances individually, but some very strong ones too. On the poor side, Cody Cropper had a nightmare of a first half (though it was oddly entertaining to watch at times) and was substituted at half time, though it was reported that was due to an injury. Charlie Burns struggled as Cody’s replacement, and any lingering optimistic hopes we had were damned as the goals went in.
On the positive side, Josh Murphy had what I’d say was his best game in a Dons shirt, and will rightly be in demand come the end of the season.
The most positive thing about the day was the reception given to the players and manager at the final whistle. We’d just been relegated, but the fans, players – both loanees and contracted – and manager stood and applauded each other.
This season has been a painful one. We’ve worked so hard to reach the championship, and been found wanting at the first hurdle. The post-mortem has been going on for months already, and will surely continue for a while longer, but for now, we need to lick our wounds, support each other for the final two matches, and finish with a smile on our faces.
I’m gutted, but still proud of what we’ve done this season.
There are some things in life that are just plain wrong, and here’s a list of them.
Singing drummers (Levon Helm excepted)
Women drummers (Meg White excepted)
Two drummers in the same band, at the same time (Adam And The Ants excepted)
Top hats in rock (I’ll give you Slash at a push, but that bloody woman from 4 Non-Blonds ruined it for everyone)
Singing bass players (there is no exception here)
And finally, goalkeepers as captains (Buffon excepted)
Now everything in the list above is unacceptable. There is no debate, and if you disagree, then add yourself to the list. You’ll have noticed however that the overwhelming majority are from the rock n roll world, except the last one. Having a goalkeeper as a captain is rubbish. How on earth can he influence the passage of play, or be called over by the ref’ if there’s a player who needs to be told to calm down if he’s stood in goal? Well he can’t. So there you have it. Goalkeepers as captains, absolute insanity. Strikers as goalkeepers on the other hand, now you’re talking!
MK Dons have been blessed with some great ‘keepers since I first started following them 11+ years ago. We’ve also been blessed with some absolute pish in goal as-well. So ying and yang, light and shade and all that.
My first ‘keeper, so to speak, was friend of Maggie Thatcher, Matt Baker. He wasn’t very good. He was so bad in fact that he was replaced by a Spanish waiter. He was also replaced in one game at the Hockey Stadium by Aaron Wilbraham. A striker no less. It was also Steve ‘Boring’ Claridge’s last game, who didn’t wear any shin pads for that game. Which I remember as being a tad strange.
Now, old Aaron had to don the gloves at halftime due to the fact that both our keepers were injured. One in the warm up, and Baker during the game. He did very well. Even managed to save a scuffed header from aforementioned ‘boring’ radio pundit, and we went on to either win, or draw. Can’t quite remember. So well done him. A true MK legend in more ways than one. And harking back to last week. If you’ve ever booed him when he’s played against us since, then you’re an idiot. Not only did he score a boatload of goals for us, he’s also one of the elite group of players who’ve scored in all four English domestic leagues. And he’s a cracking goalkeeper to boot. So fantastic if you booed him the night we beat his Norwich so comprehensively. Give yourself a massive pat on the back.
Anyway I digress. As I’m writing this, it’s Tuesday night, and I’m listening to the pre-Wednesday game build up on the wireless. The team has just been announced, and if I’m being honest, it’s not looking good. We couldn’t have picked a worst time to find ourselves with a growing injury list. We all know that, bearing a miracle of biblical proportions, we’re down. So kudos to Charlie Burns for making his league debut at Hillsborough. Can’t be easy at anytime, but at this late stage of the season, with every point a massive plus! The lad has my undying admiration without a doubt. It went very well for the young fella, who kept a clean sheet, with help from both posts and the crossbar, in an ill tempered match.
As you all no doubt already know, the only reason young Charlie made his league debut was solely down to the fact that Alex Revell was unavailable to continue his unbeaten run in goal, as we needed him to play upfront against Wednesday on a Tuesday. To have the courage to go in goal when you’re not a ‘keeper shows just how much of a model professional he is. He owes us nothing. I seriously doubt that he’ll be with us next season. So to don the old gloves, and the dreaded purple jersey is a hell of a thing when you’re a striker, but to then go on to save a penalty, bloody hell! I wasn’t there. I’ve never been to Preston in all my 53yrs on this planet, and I’m not intending to start now, but listening to the match on the wireless, I can hardly say that Cropper won man of the match. To cut to the chase, I was mightily pissed off with him. Rushing towards an opposition player running at you, then bringing him down, and earning yourself a straight red when you already know that the club’s first choice ‘keeper has a broken hand, well that’s just stupidity.
We’ve already had the old “he’s a good shot stopper, and his distribution is good” from the usual apologists. That’s as may be, but he’s a headless chicken who should’ve realised what he was doing. But I’m being overly harsh.
So let’s look on the bright side. He’s a young, square jawed American. He was quite good on Coronation Street. And let’s count our blessings that he’s not Ian.
Now, if only we could’ve found a goalkeeper who could play as a striker this season, we would’ve been laughing.
One of those ‘not sure why that was so good, but it really, really was’ kind of evenings. Still buzzing from it a couple of days later to be honest. There were a number of ‘why on earth are you going?’ questions that were thrown my way beforehand, but it was a bit like Saturday, in that I felt I really should be there.
No opportunity for #Coachwars, as there was just the one coach, although I did my best, with #coachwarssoundtracks bringing the best of a series of Desert Island Disc podcasts. Chris Hadfield, Kylie and an author, activist and feminist whose name escapes me all shared their life stories and their record collections, and the journey went quickly.
Hillsborough is a difficult place to watch football. As soon as you see the away end from the outside, it still looks exactly the same as it did in all those news reports from 1989. It’s eerie and I find it hard not to feel like some sort of tragedy voyeur if I spend too long outside there. I took a walk round to the memorial, which I always find a moving experience – this year, with our match being so close to an anniversary, and particularly with the jury currently being out, it felt doubly so. There were messages and flowers from some of the families, which I found difficult to read, so I made my way back to the ground.
We weren’t expecting many of our lot, and it felt a bit like an away match of old – I recognised pretty much every one of the 185 of us who made the trip, and there was just a good feeling about it. We know we’re down (unless something ridiculous happens repeatedly over the next few weeks, but more of that later) and everyone just seemed happy to enjoy the ride while we’re still in the championship.
So we’re relying on a miracle if we’re going to stay up, we rarely score (to be honest at the moment, we rarely shoot), our main goalie is out for the rest of the season, our number two goalie is suspended and we’ve got our academy goalie Charlie Burns making his full debut. Our most consistent defender is on 14 yellows so one more will see him out for the rest of the season. We’re playing a team who have resources that simply are in a different league to us, and who are in the playoff spots. What could possibly go wrong?
Well to be honest, it went rather well, all things considered. Charlie did himself proud, making some good saves throughout the game. Wednesday hit the woodwork about a hundred times, and didn’t seem to have their shooting boots with them when they managed to get into good positions. Wednesday went down to ten men after one of their lot decided to literally kick Johnny Williams up in the air while the ref was busy booking one of their lot for diving (harshly I’ve heard since). Johnny Williams got assaulted by one of their supporters when he got substituted, Robbo intervened to protect him, and all the while, the Wednesday players, bench and fans were getting more and more hot and bothered.
The crowd were getting on their backs, and were we even remotely threatening as a football team at the moment, we’d probably have gone on to win it. Sadly that wasn’t to be, but we knew that a draw would be enough to keep us clinging on for four more days, and cling on we did.
What made the evening so special for me was that we felt united as a fanbase. We were all in it together, we all sang together, we all laughed together and we generally all had a great time together – none of the frustrations and annoyances that have been part of other away trips this season were there, and it felt great to be there together. Thanks everyone.
Come the final whistle, as the other scores came in, it became clear that everyone else had drawn too. That meant that Charlton were relegated, we were still nine points behind the three teams above us, but interestingly, Bristol City had dropped back into fourth from bottom.
Odd as it may seem, there’s still a chance for us to stay up. If we win our remaining three games, and Bristol City lose their remaining three games, we will stay up. While I could easily see Bristol City losing their remaining three games, I really can’t see us winning ours, so it’s not going to happen, but it keeps it alive for one more game. If we win on Saturday and any of the other four lose, then we’re still clinging on, but the Bristol City goal difference means that it really has to be them.