Monday, 31 October 2011

And it was all going so well...

Oh dear. I must admit I've not got a huge appetite to report on the occurrences on Saturday. I didn't want to have to write about this situation this year, the least I can hope is that this is the only time I need to address the subject. The facts are this: we lost our first league game of the season, going down 4-2 away from home in our furthest road trip against a team that we still have never beat. Now I don't believe in curses, but I do believe in sickness and it seem that we suffered a little bit of altitude sickness, the cure for which is a firm plant down onto the ground, or astro-turf if you like.

The 4-2 isn't the fair scoreline. The 4-2 was, at points in the game, 0-1 and 4-1. So, we shipped 4 unanswered goals in a period of about 25 game minutes, which for statisticians out there is 200% more than we managed to concede in 350 minutes. Grim reading. Now I would normally view this kind of record like a meek schoolchild sat on the same table as all of the trouble makers but knowing that I wasn't the one getting the letter home, even if I do believe that the forward is the first line of defence. I don't have that luxury this time. What can only be termed as an unfortunate series of events conspired to place me, a life-time forward player without about as much instinct to mark a player as a fat man has to run a marathon, at the position of right-half. Now I'm not complaining, I'll do whatever I need to for my team and whatever I'm asked, but I was certainly out of my comfort zone. I tried to give as much as I physically could and my still aching legs and astro-burned knees and elbows are testimony to that, but did I do enough? Was I satisfied? Am I proud? No on three counts. There is no absolution in a 4-2 loss like the one we inflicted onto ourselves at the weekend, not for me, not for any member of the squad. It was a result of foolish pride and poor hearing. Foolish pride for us thinking we can turn up and win, poor hearing for not heeding the words of coach and not hearing the calls of our team-mates as we passed the ball away or wandered into a tackle time after time after time. When the Halloween horror show was over we were a wounded animal, raw wounds on show and with no one to be vengeful to or turn on other than ourselves, and that is a far more embarrassing thing that any scoreline could be.

I remember the first game we lost last year, a deserved loss to a decent side who went on to gain promotion. There was lots of frustration and pent up anger then as well. There was also lots of fatalism and shrugging of shoulders, absolutes were used, it was a season defining moment and one we never recovered from as we limped to that 5th place finish we knew didn't credit us. It was at this moment that the violins came out instead of the fighting spirit. We were too busy and shameful to steel ourselves, get over ourselves and start playing well again. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us losing, they are only going to view us as vulnerable and it is only going to boost them. It is now our task to prove that we are not vulnerable.

Last year, after we lost to the better side we went out the very next week and lost to an inferior side. This year that sequence could be reversed. On Saturday we, the wounded animal, face the 2nd place team. At stake, a 5 point gap at the top if we win, a trip down to position 3 if we lose. Make no mistake that this is the most important moment of our season, not so far, I mean full stop. It is now up to us, as a group who lost, to right the wrongs. It is all of us, those who know the mistakes they made, those who pointed them out, those who wrongly do not fault themselves, those who were missing and those do not want our hard-work to count for nothing. We will always have to prove that we are the best team out there rather than just muttering it in frustrated rambling over beers on Saturdays after losses, while we look up at other teams.

So to all the lads on our team I say, embrace this challenge and come together. We will fall down only if we let ourselves. The others want to take what we have, but let's not let them. Let's smile and do what we can do, let's win, let's stay on top and let's get them points back on that board. We're in for a fight, be ready or be beaten, there is no backing down.

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