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View From The Dolan: Late Heartbreak

Ben’s take as Reading don’t quite have enough to see off Brentford at the Mad Stad.

PA Images via Getty Images

It’s difficult to sum up this one, but I’ll do the best I can. In what can only be described as an absolute thunder b*stard of a game, we were somehow on the losing side of a 3-1 score line. There were times during the game when it was like watching us circa 2005/2006, such was the pace, hunger and passing prowess of the team in this match.

Leading up to the game, I didn’t feel unduly nervous or concerned. After all, I’d had a busy day making crisp sandwiches and watching flakes of white stuff fall from the sky as if a snowman had stood on a landmine (or other explosive device). I’d had a pre-match dash to the Co-op to stock up on “goodies” and was eagerly awaiting the team news, which I was sure would not be out of the ordinary or provide any surprises whatsoever.

And then it hit me like a tidal wave in a council run swimming pool caused by a heavy chap jumping into the water too quickly: there was no Swift and no Meite. And I felt like crying. This was, in my opinion, a hammer blow to the potential outcome of the result. Not that I don’t trust the other players: of course I do. But Swift has been literally phenomenal of late and Meite had just come back from a long-termer, so I was gutted for both to say the least.

I was, however, delighted that Stephen Hunt was on co-commentary. I love the guy very much: a really good player for us who had a tremendous work ethic and is a nice guy to boot. He always comes up with some corkers and tonight was no different. He also has phenomenal hair these days, I’d say even better than the 06/07 season when his Alice band worked just as hard as he did.

It wasn’t long into the half when I began my snacking. I tucked into the cheese Doritos I’d bought earlier, cracked open the salsa (which also carried the Doritos branding) and split open (I didn’t split it as such, I’ve just run out of verbs and I want to keep this non-repetitive) a beer. So, I had my Doritos, my salsa and my beer. The perfect trio, if you will. It wasn’t long before I was out of my bar stool (we have bar stools, I wasn’t at an illegal pub) and gasping for air as I watched Michael David Beckham Morrison launch a ball cross field to effectively set up the first goal, which came courtesy of a 12-yard death kick from Joooooooooooooao.

Reading v Brentford - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images

A well-deserved lead was snatched away like a red kite collecting carrion from a frosty pavement (or barren field). I wiped my lips to remove the electric orange-coloured cheese dust deposited by the Doritos, took a breath, stood up, swigged my beer, glanced upwards at the ceiling, took another swig, sat down again, exhaled loudly, swore, swigged again and composed myself. After all, we were still in the game and had been playing spiffingly (an ancient English word for “well”).

At half time, I needed a break. My eyes wondered towards the packet of Revels that had also been purchased pre-game. If you have never had Revels, they are a proper treat! It’s like the confectionary equivalent of a sinister game that gangsters play where they have a gun which contains only one bullet and basically they take turns (probably need at least an even number of people to play) at holding the gun to a body part and pulling the trigger to see who gets the bullet. I’d like to think there’s a name for this game, but it escapes me right now. Anyway, with the Revels, you never know what you might get: could be orange, could be raisin, perhaps coffee, maybe toffee, could be a Malteser... anything! So exciting!

Revels done and dusted, it was back to it. The pace of the game hadn’t relented. It was, well, relentless. I found myself caught up with the nagging feeling that this could (key word) be a dress rehearsal for the play-off final. Such was the intensity of both teams that I really did wonder what the final outcome would be. On one hand, both teams thoroughly deserved a point. On the other, you could see either side forcing another goal to take the lead.

Quinton (Quints) Fortune was still shouting like a train station platform manager shouting “don’t step on the line or you may lose one or all of your limbs” and Pauno was (probably) thinking about which celebratory beer to drink and which 90’s era British indie pop song he should play on his Fender guitar (I assume he owns a Fender) later in the evening.

And then the Bees stung us like a wasp at a family picnic. Two quick goals sealed the deal for them and made sure that all three points went back down (or up?) the M4. I was as deflated as an item that had had all its air taken from it. I admit I switched off after the third goal. Not because I was annoyed so much, but because I couldn’t remember who the next game was against, mainly as I wanted to see how likely a reaction was.

It’s disappointing but not the end of the world. It’s easy to lose track of time in this pandemic-littered world, but with a healthy chunk of games still left to play, there will be many twists and turns yet to come. We’ve overcome disappointment already this season, there’s no reason why we won’t again.

Until next time.