This week feels a little strange if I’m honest. The highs of the weekend have begun to wear off and like any high, there’s a comedown to suffer.
It’s not the worst I’ve ever had, coming down from a 2-0 win against your main rivals to find you’re 11 points clear with five games to play, but it’s a comedown, nonetheless. The superlatives poured over the side from the weekend have drained away and it’s back to the hard work.
There’s a feeling amongst the fans that this is job done. I feel it in my bones. Four points to secure the title? No problem. One thing we’ve been good at is drawing at home and that’s when we’ve been judged to be off form. Four points from five games is the sort of return a relegated side will get.
We’re not that. We’re the champions elect. We know in our heart of hearts that it’s all but secure and that when we go to Carlisle next Saturday, we could wrap up promotion. Are we getting ahead of ourselves? The table suggests not, but then until it’s mathematically safe there’s always the fear.
The fear… always lurking…
The win on Saturday banished the fear somewhat. It began the day travelling with me, every so often tapping me on the shoulder and whispering, ‘what if’. Luckily, drinking vodka and lemonade quietens it down a bit, not quite as much as a last-minute Bruno Andrade goal though.
This week it’s been hiding under the bed, only creeping out in those moments between consciousness and sleep, just reminding me it isn’t won yet. All these words I’m writing could come back to haunt me. I finished off the fanzine yesterday and the opening gambit referenced the fact we ‘should’ have won the title by the time you read it.
Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.
That’s why this week is an odd one. It looks to be in the bag, but there’s still work to do. It reminds me of the final day of the month at my old job. We had a sales target to meet and usually, by the last Saturday, we’d met it. I’d called my boss with the figure, he’d dialled it in to his boss and all that remained was to get the last kitchen out and sweep the floors.
What if the last kitchen cancelled unexpectedly? What if some joker tried to bring a ten grand kitchen back? What if in sweeping the floors I found a delivery note I thought had gone still sat there waiting to be processed? What if.
It never happened by the way, but the fear was always there. Even when I sent the officer joker out for a McDonald’s breakfast and we sat around throwing rolled up post-it notes at each other, the fear was there. Right up until midday when the clock struck, the computers closed down and the result was in the bag.
The not knowing is tough too. We could win the title this weekend, but my partner wants to go out for dinner in the evening. It’s booked for 7pm, meaning I’d need to be back for 6pm. Would I really want to leave the ground dead on five if we’ve won the title? Really?
So, we rebook the meal. Then again, we might not win it Saturday and then I’ll be in trouble for our steak not arriving until 8.30pm.
We might not win it at all (says the fear).
That means Good Friday away at Carlisle looks favourable, but I’d made plans months ago. I tried to cancel them, and rather shamelessly because of the title potential. I couldn’t make the trip to Cumbria under usual circumstances, not financially nor logistically. Having been to MK and recent home matches, budgets only go so far. However, if we can tie up the league…..
Then there’s Tranmere at home, a fitting fixture to do it at. They’ve followed us up and it fits the pattern. Last year we were the promoted team and we watched Accrington lift the title, so they could come up and watch us do the same. So many possibilities, so much to think about.
The more you think about it though, the more the fear creeps in. Football should always teach you to never be complacent, but is 11 points clear with 15 to play for complacent?
Yes, it’s complacent… nothing is in the bag yet….
NewsNow has been quiet for the last 24 hours or so, just the EFL Awards to talk about. The speculation has been quashed by the weekend’s results; we’re all sat waiting to see exactly what happens. It’s the calm before the storm, the intake of breath before the big cheer. It’ so still and quiet, you know something big is about to happen.
The League Two title race is flatlining, its time is nearly up. However, until the switch is flicked, until Big John stroke homes another penalty or Bruno smashes a curling effort from outside the box, we’re still catchable. I’d say the waiting is worse than anything but, having witnessed some seasons ended before Christmas and others only alive at this time because the trapdoor is open, this is the type of waiting I can handle.
If only the fear would stay locked away for a couple of days. Where’s my vodka?
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