The Playoffs Are In Our Own Hands……

….and my nerves are unbearable.

Reasons I’m not a professional footballer.

  1. I’m rubbish at football. Not just ‘didn’t quite make it’ rubbish but actual ‘oh God, here he comes again’ rubbish. Eventually, after about twenty years of practice, the high point of my ‘career’ was playing as a regular centre back for an ex pat drinking club in Taipei. I did at least get to play a few times in the Taiwanese national stadium but only because they hire it out ridiculously cheaply for local tournaments, a sort of Wembley meets Happy Valley in Woodingdean.
  2. I have black boots and no facial hair.
  3. Male Ugg Boots make me want to head on to the streets with a gun.
  4. I’ve never consciously played a Flo Rida record or eaten at Nandos.
  5. I’m overweight.
  6. I’m in my forties
  7. I’d struggle to beat Guy Butters in a foot race.
  8. (and most importantly) Before a Brighton game I am a bag of nerves. A dribbling wreck. About as calm as Basil Fawlty confronted by a coach load of German tourists and a herd of wildebeest at the same time. This I handle in one of two ways. I drink a lot of Harvey’s or I rant at the ref. Or both. The only times I approach a game calmly is when my son is with me and I can focus on looking after him, which is probably why he’s got a season ticket with me next season. For a player such pre match nerves would be criminal.

So you can imagine how I’m facing the prospect of the Blackpool game on Monday, because events this week have transpired to put sixth in The Championship, aka The Place That No One Seems To Want, in our own hands. Win our next three games and we are guaranteed to be in the playoffs again, only this time without Holloway and The Nigels (which sounds like a dreadful folk band from Ilchester). For one thing I’m up at 6.30am on a Sunday writing about it.

I just hope the players haven’t got the same nerves. On the face of it two of the games are very winnable indeed. Blackpool have been imploding recently. Their form is abysmal and, on Friday night, one of their staff slapped Steven Dobbie in a way that had anyone who’d witnessed his “performances” for us thinking ‘I wish I’d done that’. Blackpool came here last season and were taken apart 6-1 and we even scored their goal for them. Everything is pointing to an Albion win, just as it was when we were at home to Barnsley. See why I’m nervous now?

Then there’s Yeovil at home (a game I will be watching three quarters of from home thanks to Sky unless someone can voodoo my clients in to cancelling the training course I’m running in the West Country that day). A side who may well be down by then. A side who have been consistently dreadful all season and who I tipped for relegation at the start of the season along with everyone else. Easy win surely? Arrrggh! NOTHING in this division is easy.

Then there’s Forest away. Talking of imploding that’s just what Forest have done, firstly with the adorable Billy Davies in charge and then without. Having played themselves out of the playoff picture all together, yesterday they played themselves back in. A game that was looking easy could now be make or break.

All of this is good news for local brewers and bad news for referees and the poor sods who have to sit near me. The only light at the end of the tunnel of nerves is that, as I said, sixth appears to be The Place That No One Seems To Want. On the one hand this suggests we are in possession of the poison Ron Challis. On the other it means there’s just as much chance of those around us blowing it too. Drawing away at a poor, time wasting obsessed Huddersfield Town could have been our undoing only Reading lost, to the disgust of one of my regular Twitter chums, Bournemouth lost to ten man Sheffield Wednesday, and Ipswich , who knew what they had to do, lost at Watford. That point, that late Bruno strike has put us in pole position. I just hope we’ve got the nerve and skill to keep it. Otherwise, lads, you may find yourself playing centre back in a deserted Taiwanese stadium after a couple of shots of vodka.




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