AKA something big must have happened for your editor to do an update.
The almost impossible *has* happened after all – for the first time in the AFCW era, we’re at Wembley in a proper competitive final.
Thanks to a mixture of technical knowhow, modern broadcasting and good old fashioned voodoo, I was able to watch both games live on Sky, and a couple of things struck me.
Firstly, well done to all concerned. As you’ve no doubt gathered this season just gone, I genuinely didn’t think we’ll get this far. The job isn’t finished yet, but we’ve not only exceeded expectations but smashed them too.
True, that will make next season interesting if we lose on the 30th, but we’ll cross that bridge when it’s right ahead of us…
Secondly, we’re at Wembley because we have managed to get that will-to-win at exactly the right time.
When we went 2-0 down yesterday, I’m sure many if not most of us thought that was going to be it. But when the resurgent Akinfenwa did what he’s done all career, it only seemed like there would be one winner.
And yes, Reeves deserved a goal for his run alone. Still, I’m sure Taylor will happily claim it.
But you only have to look at the post-match celebrations again to get a sense of why we’ve got the ultimate big prize to come.
When you sense that buzz through a computer screen, let alone being there to begin with, you know the stars have aligned right at the precise moment.
Those there last night will have barely gotten any sleep but won’t have cared much about that. At least until this Saturday arrives and they realise how dead they feel.
No doubt when you go through this place during the summer, and read back reports from November and December in particular, you’ll see plenty of references to “disconnect”.
The whole whys and wherefores about why we suddenly kicked into life have been almost done to death, but if we beat Plymouth it could make the turnaround even more remarkable.
Remember – with the exceptions of Roos and Charles, these are exactly the same players who stunk the joint out against St. Evenage and the first half at Newport.
Back then, they could do no right, especially with their pre-Xmas piss up going down very badly. Today, they can do no wrong.
Kudos to NA for changing as a manager himself to earn the right to lead us out at Wembley. Again, plenty has been said about his approach, not all of it positive, but right now everyone loves him again.
Personally, I hope he approaches this buildup in exactly the same way as he did before the Fleetwood game. Try not to be too clever, stick with what works and let fate take over a little bit more.
Do that on the 30th and who knows what will happen?
Anyway, once the jubilation of so many people going to the arse end of Lancashire subsides, the buildup can properly begin.
There will be the usual angst of trying to get a ticket. There will be those coming for their one game a season, the semi-woodworkers, the full-blown gloryhunters and the unattached who just want a day out at Wembley.
What is clear is that we’ll be the underdogs, both on and off the field. The Pilgrims are well on course to take 35k to north London, and possibly even more.
We probably will get just above half of that, though I think we’re capable of taking 20k. That does include those delaying their holidays by just one or two days…
But there won’t be as much pressure on us as there wil be on those from Devon. They’re pretty much expected to go up, whereas to an extent we’re not.
We’ve been in this situation before (think Eastlands), and on the day anything can happen. Ask Middlesbrough fans about this time last season and how they didn’t turn up for their final against Norwich.
OK, there’s going to be the backstory of us maybe playing Franchise in a league fixture, and all the mixed emotions of that, but I think a lot more people within AFCW circles want that to happen than you’d think.
Will that act as an added motivation for the 30th? Perhaps not, as I think the thought of playing Charlton and Bolton will drive us on a lot more.
But at least we’re 90/120 minutes/penalty shootout away from realising that. And after some pretty lousy weekends in the last three seasons, it’s going to be pretty enjoyable.
Your editor touches down at Heathrow a week today, on Thursday, and given my record of games I fully expect to be turned around at immigration…