Who said that football is a game of 90 minutes…?
Well, in the Most Important March Ever (since the last one, anyway), we’ve managed to do something few of us predicted before we went to New Meadow.
We’re currently unbeaten.
For the second time in a week, we leave it late to equalise, but you’re left with looking at more than a glimmer of hope again.
By many accounts (even from the Blackpool side), we didn’t play badly. Certainly, we didn’t look too bad on the highlights.
That we were losing to the kind of goal that teams down the bottom didn’t seem to kill us.
Indeed, that’s something which has become apparent in the last few weeks – we’re no longer collapsing when we go behind.
True, we’re still letting the first goal in, and our goalscoring remains an issue, but we are showing signs of finally tightening up at the back.
And because we’ve started to do that, we’re still in games late on.
Who cares if the much maligned Ollie Palmer’s goal was a bit of a fluke? I don’t, you don’t, and neither does he.
His first game in fuck knows how long, comes off the bench, and gains us another point that might yet end up deciding our fate.
If there’s a time for him to start finding his goal scoring touch, the games this month wouldn’t be bad timing.
But one senses confidence growing again, which has been a large part of the battle this season.
When our Head Coach suggests the players are frustrated they didn’t come away yesterday with a win, I can believe that.
Is that the effect of not only Robbo’s new approach with them, but the influence of people like our Mindset Manager?
We shouldn’t forget to mention people like set piece guru Andy Parslow, though this bit on the OS caught my eye:
“What I’ve loved recently is that it’s not just a case of I’m coming to the players with an idea of what we’re going to do. The players are texting me and saying, ‘Have you seen this corner?’ ‘Have you seen this routine?’ and ‘What should we do in this situation?’
Presumably, the players are referring to what happens when that round white thing comes towards them.
Enough snark, we’re unbeaten in two and slowly climbing the form table, if not the actual league table right now.
Parslow, Robbo and others have been talking about “cultural shifts”, which if nothing else might hint at what they thought about the latter stages of the Glyn Hodges era.
Does anyone else suspect MR is biting his tongue a fair bit over that?
That’s in the past now, and you don’t need me to tell you how important Tuesday is. Or Saturday. Or the following game.
Burton are unhelpfully flying right now, beating Peterborough yesterday, but all good runs come to an end…
We need to turn our home into Fortress Plough Lane, as opposed to Theme Park PL (the place where all visitors go home happy).
Given the fixtures ahead, it will determine what division we start life in next season.
Speaking of our new venue, just before the weekend we got a timeline of when the tests events are planned.
You can read them yourself, and even the first one with limited capacity will be a special occasion.
I do get the sense from the update that the club isn’t totally convinced restrictions will be fully lifted.
It might be irrational thinking, and the longer things like social distancing remain the more pissed off the population will become.
But May 18th (a Tuesday evening) is penciled in for the first PL game with spectators since the 1990s.
There are many questions that will already arise from that. Who gets in and who doesn’t? Who will the match be between?
And will the New Sportsman be open by then?
Nice problems to have, mind you. The aim is to have higher capacity test events during the PSFs in July, and by that time they’ll hopefully have figured out whether you need a jab or a negative Rona test to enter.
Or even some sort of inhaler thingy that kills the virus stone dead for about 24 hours. I’m sure I’ve seen those mentioned alongside everything else recently.
Perhaps “no jab no entry” could be used as a way of persuading your anti-vaxxer mate, who listens to “@Dave_Truthteller54463” on Twatter too much.
It’s something to look forward to, anyway. To put it mildly.
The Rona has turned everything upside down, and then some, as we all know.
Indeed, it was today (Sunday) that we played our last game in front of a home crowd**, a 0-0 shitfest against Bolton.
** – I nearly wrote “paying crowd” but we played Charlton this season in front of 2000 happy Addicts and a handful of unhappy Wombles in the press area.
The significance of that day is that it was also our last ever competitive fixture at Kingsmeadow.
I’m sure when you read the news that evening/the next day, and heard murmurings of a nasty virus that came from China, you were thinking more of when Tranmere would overtake us.
And even when the games were stopped, there was still half an expectation that we would resume in May, when it had all died down.
A year on, and the world is a completely different place. While you get used to not being able to go to games, I think people are missing it now.
Christ, people are now starting to talk about missing going to the office and going on the tube to it.
AFCW does sound confident that we can have our first test game in mid-May though, and I do suspect these roadmap timings are deliberately long so they can’t be pushed back much more.
At some point, we must have our lives back. The politicians know that.
After all the shit of the last twelve months, people everywhere will appreciate going back into grounds more than ever.
In our case, the emotion might be too great for some people. Especially with alcohol inside them.
But today, somebody put it more eloquently than I ever could, and it was too good for me not to blatantly steal (sorry, Mr Armfield):
When the next opportunity arises, it’ll be at a new, different ground with a different manager and a vastly-different squad. But not, I hope, in a different division…