As the sun tortured Upper Tilehurst, I forewent the opportunity to gain a delicious sun tan and settled down to my own form of torture in the shape of watching the game before the penultimate game (is there a name for that? Like, pre-penultimate?) of an emotionally draining season.
With the team news published (as it always is), I felt that the players just needed to give it some beans, strap on their big-boy shorts and put in a shift. One win in eight is pretty atrocious form - we’ve talked to death about that over the past few days. This really was the very, very last chance to make the last two games interesting. Swift coming back was massive: I felt he would make a genuine difference. I also hoped that Pauno’s new trim (such a dish) would have a similarly inspiring effect on us as we took on a team who were as equally bereft of form as we were.
I threw caution to the wind refreshment-wise and tucked into some chilli peanuts and an actual beer (a simple Pacifico Clara). It was a good combination and kept me ticking over until half time when I’d sort some lunch.
As I looked out of the window at both cats sunbathing in the front lawn, it appeared we’d come prepared for this game - better going forward, a bit more competent with the ball and generally a lot brighter than previous games. The brightness and energy soon converted itself into an actual, physical goal. A well-worked number from the initial corner saw Swift pop a ball over the top and onto the flying head of Meite, which kissed the post and bounded into the rippling net behind it. Lovely soccer.
At half time, I tucked into some pesto pasta and Googled The Swans’ remaining fixtures. Derby and then Watford to come for them. If we won this game, there was defo a chance. Defo.
Of course, that chance very quickly evaporated like a shallow puddle on a mid-spring day when Ayew was introduced by the visitors and immediately caused havoc/played some football by setting up Lowe after Rafa did well to parry his initial shot. The reaction from the lads was the kind of one I give when it’s KFC for dinner (ie, very good) and we continued to be in the game.
I was rudely disturbed by a Hermes driver banging on my living room window AND ringing the door bell (bit OTT) to drop off a purchase I made from ASOS less than 24 hours earlier (it was only some pants, don’t get excited) and whilst I was up, I got another beer, but this time it was 0% (a little bit like the share price of the now defunct Super League...).
The game fizzled out like a forlorn piece of bacon in a small frying pan and I was ready to accept a draw. Until of course Ayew was given the keys to the penalty area and had literally thousands of seconds to take his time and score goal number two.
At that point, I turned off the TV, walked into the garden and the blazing sunshine and breathed deeply: the season was over and I felt OK about it. Apparently we equalised but it made no difference. For now, we must be content with finishing in the top half of the table for the first time in a while and a core group of players who could (key word) move forward quite positively.
As for being tortured by football, I’m over it now. I’ll just enjoy the last few games, hopefully see some younger players get a chance and look forward to a meaty pre-season of preparation.
The emotional toll that not being in attendance at games has really got to me these past few weeks and even those “must win” matches have seemed as redundant as a Debenhams worker. I just want to get back to footie, watch the games physically and feel like I’m part of it.
The fact we will do that again for the first time in a long while in the same division is OK by me. I may feel differently in a few days, but at the moment I’m chill with it. It’s always the hope that kills you - let’s believe that better days will come for us and that we’ll be there to see it in the flesh.
Until next time.