Yeovil Pregame – Nerves
I’m sitting on a train going along the Sussex coast. I’d forgotten how nice some of it was and how ugly other bits are. The Adur estuary just after Shoreham and the mix of countryside and coast that follows it is stunning, even in the rain. Teville Gate is bloody ugly. The houses in Lancing look smaller that I remember them from when I was young and we played footy at the Owzat Centre every week.
I’ve been looking out of the window to try and take my nerves away and my mind off, well, everything. Actually, I just saw somewhere in West Worthing called Original Curryland which made me laugh for a second. West Worthing. Home of the Murgh Masala. Who knew?
But back to my nerves. They are two-fold. My company has a prestigious new client. Today I am training them on a version of our system they’ve bought that I’ve been using for literally weeks. The thing is I know exactly the sort of operation they run and that’s why I’ve been selected. The session will last all day (probably) and is over three hours away from The Amex. Tonight sees our last home game of the regular season against Yeovil, thanks to Sky. I am 99% certain to miss it live. I will catch some on TV I should think. I should rename this “Brighton But Only In My Own Home”.
Friday night football. FRIDAY! Who the actual fuck is going to watch the game apart from Brighton and Yeovil fans who can no longer make it thanks to the date change? A wise man – NSC’s Bozza – wrote that the last game of the season should be all about a boozy day of high jinks with your mates, a proper day of it. He’s right. Instead Brighton fans will be booking holiday or scrambling in from work while the Yeovil fans face a journey by road that will get them home in the middle of the night. Thanks Sky you fucking nobby wanking bastard fucking cockjugglingthundercunts.
When I retire I’m going to live in Boring Goring.
Where was I?
Ah yes. Nerves. And annoyance. I am nervous because of the course and because my best suit has already got wet in the rain. I quite like training but I don’t quite feel equipped today. I am nervous because there is an outside chance the training won’t last all day and I’ll be able to go, but in reality any cock up on the trains and I might miss the first half on telly, or even the whole thing. I am nervous because, if we don’t win, our season is fucked. Over. Kaput. If this happens I wonder if Oscar will have hit the ceiling? I worry that this wouldn’t upset me as much as Gus leaving.
Even if we win it is now out of our hands. Reading just need two wins from two games to make sixth. We started blowing it on Monday against Blackpool.
That bit round Littlehampton’s pretty. But Jesus, look at the rain. Yuck.
Let’s be blunt here. Yeovil are rock bottom and they do not have the resources to compete in this division. They’ve given it a go but ultimately come up short, much like us when we were in The Championship at Withdean. We know how they feel and we therefore know they are there for the taking. Just like Barnsley and Blackpool should have been. This is not a shoe in for us.
The fact that it isn’t says everything you need to know about our season. We are avoiding sixth like an errant milkman in a cupboard, hiding from the cuckolded husband. We lost at home to Barnsley and Middlesboro. We could only draw to Blackpool who are in all sorts of bother, underfunded and coached by a player. He still outwitted Jones and Oscar.
This rain! It’s like being back in February.
If we got sixth could we win the playoffs? Probably not. If we did by some miracle could we compete in the Premier League? Not with this squad. WHY I am nervous then? I had given up on actually going up months ago and the chances are no greater today than they were then.
Because since last year I dread the end of the season.
Because I’m writing this season diary and my grand finale might be me sitting in a chair with a takeaway watching the second half of a defeat by Yeovil. This version of Brighton But Only At Home is brought to you in conjunction with Alan Bennett and Morrissey.
Or we could win and Reading could draw and then the last day would be fricking unbearable. Frankly it’s the hope I can’t stand.
We’re nearing Portsmouth. I think I can smell Mr Portsmouth Football Club and his Bell End. I’d better go.
Yeovil Post Game – Elation
If only I’d been a bit braver.
Those are not the words of Oscar ruing a season of caution that had been excellently dissected by Adam Virgo at half time. No, Oscar’s words were “we are the only team in The Championship to become weaker after the transfer window”. Back to that later. They are my words.
The delayed kick off was my friend. I made it in front of the telly just after it started, The Boy allowed to stay up and watch with me since it wasn’t a school night, a curry ordered by my wife, a bottle of beer in my hand. It should be manly paradise. Watching a football match with a beer and your son and a burning hot curry on the way. Yet I dislike watching on the TV. It is cheating and, as I’ve already written this season not quite the real thing.
The delayed kick off meant that if I had finished the training I was doing a little earlier, pushed the taxi man a bit harder and got a train just half an hour earlier than I did I probably could have been in my Amex seat instead of sat in the lounge. But I wasn’t. I wanted to be thoroughly professional with my new clients, to offer a long Q&A, to be there for support during the practical, to make sure they were all happy before I left. The riskier way, cutting corners, going for it did not seem to offer the overall rewards of the middle way and so I took that. I wonder if that is a metaphor for the relationship between Oscar and Jones and the players. You spend hours thinking about attacking football then, when you get out there, you play “don’t fuck it up”.
That would certainly explain a limp first half display against Yeovil in which all the old weaknesses are apparent. We defend open play stoutly but are vulnerable to the set piece. Twice Yeovil should have scored from one. Once when we switched off at a short corner and a quick pass in to Palazuelos on the edge of the box saw his shot fly off the bar before being scrambled to safety and once when PIG has a massive rush of blood to the head and charges out for a ball that flies over him. Only Dunk covering behind stops it bouncing in to an empty net.
Our other weaknesses are there too. Diving in eagerly in order to hit the coaches’ win back target. Too many over or under hit passes. Over complication. Terrible finishing. Orlandi, back in the team despite a touch of flu, misses two chances within minutes of each other that I’d have fancied myself to have tucked away, firstly missing a gaping goal with his weaker right foot and then making himself space for a header brilliantly before sending said header wide from six yards. Half time. The curry has arrived. The Boy’s questions have been answered. A new beer has been opened. Yet I am far from happy. Over on Facebook the wife’s sewing circle agree the game is “boring”.
Half time sees that brutal but accurate assessment by Virgs and the general agreement that we have to attack in the second half. We have 45 minutes to save our season.
At last we do! We have a proper go. Lingard (man of the match for me) buzzes like an annoying hornet again having had an off day against Blackpool. Buckley menaces. Ward pushes up. Andrews – yes Andrews – plays a couple of neat attacking passes. Yet my first Twitter swear of the evening comes out when another set of unbelievable chances culminates in a brilliant save from a downward Ulloa header that just bounces too much. Not quite Gordon Banks against Pele but perhaps the Conference version of it.
We are never going to score. I prepare the boy for disappointment and consider clearing the plates. March comes on for Orlandi. Then Stephens gets injured. Another baffling Oscar substitution then occurs as we don’t bother waiting to see if he can continue and bring on Lua Lua for Buckley. He can’t continue and minutes later we have to bring on JFC for the gutted Stephens. That’s it. All three subs. We have gone all in just before the river. Sorry. Lazy poker metaphor again there.
Yeovil are fighting hard and hitting us on the break. They are doing themselves proud. They hit the bar again. Luck would seem to be on our side and, on 78 minutes, this is confirmed. Lua Lua crosses from the right, Ulloa lunges and misses and it bounces straight in. The Amex goes beserk. The Boy and I leap off the sofa. So THAT’S where the goal was coming from.
After that we knock it about nicely and rarely look in danger. The night is capped off when March gets free brilliantly down the right and delivers the perfect cross for Lingard to drill home from close in. 2-0. We. Are. Sixth. Pressure back on Reading. Saturday is now going to be tense. I open another beer. Put The Boy to bed. Do a little jig. Chat on Twitter. Bite my nails again. Then I hear Oscar’s comment about the transfer window and I briefly think “ceiling?”. Not that again. Please.