My first proper match of the season due to me sunning myself in beautiful Kefalonia for a couple of weeks, and I get a two-nil victory, and had it been three or four, it would still have been a pretty fair result. While I was away, we had a man sent off in every league game, yet when I’m back, there isn’t even a yellow in sight – I don’t want to take full credit for it, but that’s some pretty compelling evidence right there.
Some things I noticed today:
The cladding on the Saxon street side glistens in the sunlight
The traffic lights by the main entrance have been replaced with men. Whatever next?
It seemed to take much less time to get out of the car park
All the club need to do to get people to stay behind and clap the team off is get a tosser to stage a one-man pitch invasion after the final whistle
Our stewards are actually pretty good at dealing with tossers.
On the pitch, I thought we played some great football, particularly in the first half. When you consider that we had a few key players out through suspensions and injuries, I came away feeling positive, fluffy and to be completely honest with you, rather content. We were strong defensively, creative in midfield, and created a lot of chances. Stand-out performances today from:
Chicksen – it’s great to see him getting some matchtime in his proper position, though I’m sure he’ll be back fighing for a place one Lewie’s back off of the naughty step
McKenzie – solid as a solid thing that’s been taking night classes in getting even more solid
Otsemobor – looks solid and creative in equal amounts
Chadwick – a man possessed in the first half, and deserved his goal
Powell – whatever we’ve done with him over the summer, it was a great idea. I’ve always been a fan, but his first touch has improved beyond recognition, and he looks great – this could be his season
Great to see Lowe get a goal, and great to see him following in on Powell’s shot. Slightly surreal to see Jimmy Bullard in a Dons top, but hilarious to see the reaction to him – every touch greeted by cheers and willing him to shoot.
It’s obviously early days, but I’m feeling quietly confident about what I’ve seen so far.
It’s about 38 hours till kick-off of the first leg, and I’m getting more nervous by the hour. There’s the usual pre-match nerves, combined with “our entire season rests on the next two matches” nerves, topped off with a whole bundle of “will we get a big enough turnout to spur the lads on” nerves and “will the dickheads turn on the team if we’re not five up at half time” nerves. Other than that, I’m really enjoying the build-up.
There’s no two ways of looking at it – I despise the play-offs. Promotion should be decided over 46 games. End of. Fact.
Yesterday’s match left a bad taste in my mouth, but not due to anything that happened during the match. It wasn’t a good game, but in the course of a season, you’re going to get them, no matter who you support. It was the reaction to the performance by a significant section of our support that appalled me.
I’ll nail my colours to the mast here and say that I honestly don’t believe that there’s ever an appropriate time to boo your team. I’ve done it once myself, and that’s in more than thirty years of watching live football, and I still feel uncomfortable at having done that. I don’t think it’s fair on the players, I don’t think it’s fair on the fans around you, and it certainly doesn’t help anything.
It’s one of those odd coincidences that bearing in mind where we’ll be in ten days time, the only time I’ve ever booed a team was away at Huddersfield. Saturday 18th Feb 2006, and it was at the end of a 5-0 defeat in a season where we eventually got relegated to League Two. It had been a long day, and we’d been absolutely torn apart. In another of those odd coincidences, our manager at the time was Danny Wilson, who if we manage to pull through against Huddersfield, could be facing us at Wembley if he can get the Blades past Stevenage. Anyway, in a piece of tactical genius, Wilson had put Craig Morgan (not known for his speed and definitely not a Right Back) at Right Back against Andy Booth (well known for his speed and pretty lethal against someone who’s definitely not a Right Back) and decided to persevere with this selection until we were 4-0 down (the OS match report even changed some of the timings around to show that Morgan had been subbed before the fourth goal, but that’s not how it happened). There weren’t many of us there, and at the final whistle, as the players came over to clap us, I was absolutely livid, and booed for all I was worth. I can still remember the hurt look on Ben Chorley’s face as he came over, and I’ve always felt slightly ashamed at my reaction to it. Nobody wanted us to lose that match 5-0 (except the Terriers of course but that’s kind of obvious) and while in the split second that I did it I probably felt slightly better, it didn’t last longer than it took me to see the look on Chopper’s face.
If you compare that situation to the Walsall match yesterday, then I honestly can’t understand what could lead a single person to respond to that performance with anything more than a quiet tut. We’ve been in the top six for almost the entire season, and with a very limited squad and budget, we’ve managed to finish comfortably in the play-offs. We’ve done that by playing some of the best football that I’ve ever seen us play, football that has brought us applause and platitudes from all around, and have performed in a manner that I’ve been proud to have witnessed. We’ve scored more than 100 goals for the first time ever in a season, and the goals have come from all over the squad. Put simply, we’ve done ourselves proud as a team.
And yet a significant number of fans were so disappointed that one match hadn’t gone the way that they’d hoped, that they, rather than shrugging their shoulders and treating it as one of those things, or perhaps leaving early and going home, or perhaps even deciding that they wouldn’t come back, they instead decided that they would boo the team at half time, and again at full time. In the last official league match of the season, and in the last opportunity they had to show their team that they had their support prior to the play-offs.
Take football out of this for a minute – that’s just rude. And ignorant. And bad manners. And it’s behaviour that wouldn’t be acceptable anywhere else. And you know what, it is NOT acceptable amongst our support.
If you booed, and you’re not already writing a letter of apology to Karl and the players, then please don’t come back. You’ve outstayed your welcome, and it’s time for you to go and play in the gutter somewhere. If you’ve bought tickets for the play-offs, then I’ll refund the money myself. Just sod off and find something to do with your time where you’ll be welcome, because this isn’t it. You’re not a supporter, you’re an embarrassment to the club, and to be honest, to the species as well. You’re everything that’s wrong with this country, and I wish you nothing but ill for the future. I’d rather take just 100 fans to Huddersfield who are going to get behind the team and show their support when things aren’t going well, because that’s when the team and the manager need it.
I can hear your self-righteous whining already. “I’ve paid my money, I have the right to show my displeasure” or “It’s a free country – I can say what I like”. Well I’ve paid my money too, and I have the right to call you up for the vile scumbag that you really are. The right to free speech doesn’t allow you to behave like an idiot and remain unchallenged. It gives you the right to behave like an idiot and be called an idiot. You’re an idiot.
I’m guessing that most people will have had people around them who booed yesterday. I’m going to make a personal stand on this one, and I encourage you to join me. If anyone boos near me on Saturday, Tuesday or at any match in the future then I’m going to challenge them on it. I’m going to vocally and very publicly call them an idiot for it, and I’ll keep doing it if they keep on booing. I’ll stand in front of them and shout them down if I have to – I’m not going to have the successes that my club is achieving denigrated by morons who think that buying a ticket gives them the right to behave in such an idiotic manner.