The first of May. International Workers’ Day. A holiday in some places, driven by Socialists, called to commemorate workers who were shot in Chicago during the Haymarket Affair, for having the temerity to demand an eight hour day. Not now observed in Chicago or, for that matter, the UK. This is why I’m sitting on a high speed train to Bristol to do more training and, just as pre Yeovil, the nerves are kicking in badly.
Yesterday it was announced that the final game of the season will be televised. Away to Notts Forest, live on TV, which is good, as in typical Brighton But Only At Home style I do not have a ticket. I may have written about the inadequacies of televised football earlier this season but, on Saturday, I will have an advantage on our travelling hoards. If I REALLY want to torture myself I can switch between our game and Reading’s. Whoop de doo. *necks meths*
The equation for us to get in to the playoffs is simple. We need to win and we need Reading not to. If Reading do win then whatever we do is irrelevant. This blog will immediately put on its long shorts and Hawaian shirt and spend the summer on the metaphorical beach, watching England humiliate themselves in Brazil notwithstanding. But if things go our way then we will have emulated last season at least, against all the odds, and perhaps I will once again be starting at thousands of angrily bunged clackers and begging Mark to drive me home.
Will I watch? Of course I will. Will I watch from behind the sofa and through my fingers in the style of an eight year old watching their first Dr Who? Probably. The thought of this game is currently much, much scarier than the thought that this afternoon I am going to be training eight random strangers in a room several hours away from my home town. It truly is squeaky bum time and I can only pray that this time it’s not our fat kids in replica shirts sitting crying in an abandoned away end.
There is, however, something remarkably tin pot about being nervous over a shoot out to see who finishes sixth. Sixth place is fifth loser. You don’t get a medal for it in the Olympics nor a certificate for it at school. Only the desire of modern football to extend the season and increase the television revenue tension has led sixth place to mean anything. I said when we got to Wembley in 91 that it would have been a travesty if we’d have gone up that year. We had a negative goal difference FFS. The run in that season was beyond dire, 3-0 loss at home to Oxford and another “interesting” post defeat trip back to Fratton Station from the Pompey away end dire. Horrid. We were brilliant against Millwall and didn’t turn up against Notts Co and that’s why the only things people remember from that season are THAT Wendy free kick and the pink Chewit wrapper kit.
We didn’t deserve to go up last season either. Not for losing our hole against Palace but for not finishing second or even first which, with that squad, we should have. Too many draws. Nearly as frustrating as this season. And if we get sixth we probably haven’t deserved even that let alone to go up. I’ll say it now. Anything we achieve this weekend and beyond has not quite been earned.
The three best teams in this division over 46 games will have been Leicester, Burnley and Derby. That is known before we start on Saturday. They have been the most consistent and that’s what it takes. In any sort of fair world all three would be up.
After them comes a slew of mid table ordinariness. Yes even you ‘Arry. Especially you with your jowly panto dame face and minted dog and team full of Premier League millionaires and your lucky 1-0 wins. You should have walked this poor division. Hang your jowls in shame.
But thems the rules as they say. We all know what we need to do at the start of the season and, as most predicted, we are top ten and in with a playoff shout. Would I have taken this if offered it in June 2013 when we were in post Gus meltdown? Absolutely. And let’s not kid ourselves. Palace who think of themselves as some sort of Against Modern Football gatekeepers (despite the Ultras and goal music) happily used this route to get Premier League football. And, after a hapless start under Wurzel, they’ve kept it. Pulis and Palace may suit each other just a bit too much annoyingly.
So what are my feelings? Despite loathing the idea of the playoffs of course I want two more games – at least – after Saturday, even if they are against Derby who did the double over us. And so I’m nervous.
Whenever there is a one v one shootout (and essentially that is what there is here given Blackburn’s goal difference) I think back to that mystic squid the Germans used during the world cup (or was it an octopus? It had ink and tentacles anyway and I believe it was called Paul and is now dead). I wondered if the blog could benefit from something similar to try to predict the outcome. Benny The Mystic Aggressive Seagull for example who I’d place two piles of crumbs for on top of a bin, with a blue and white striped flag behind it and one with a blue and white hooped. Too much hassle though. Unless any of you know of an actual seagull called Benny.
Or I could have done the Magic Toddler Breakfast Choice where, if my toddler points to her egg first it’s the Egg Of Triumph and we’re definitely extending our season but if she chooses her sausage it’s the Sausage Of Despair and we’re done for. She always chooses her egg first though and we only give her a cooked breakfast about twice a year.
I’m thinking about this too much aren’t I?
*EDIT* apparently I’m not thinking about it enough as I didn’t even go near the we can draw if they lost scenario. Thanks @GeddesChris