I’ve been listening to a lot of music from America recently. It’s not quite country and it’s not quite rock, so I’m going to call it Americana. In one of the songs, there’s a line where the singer, Cody (I know, right?!) says “I’m a little more lyric than I am rhythm”.
And it got me thinking about Reading FC of late. We’ve got the lyric, but we quite literally haven’t had the rhythm, that stability, that consistency. The game against the Canaries was unlikely to help us find that rhythm.
I actually got to the Whitley Bowl pretty early, for me anyway. A mix-up with the half-time prizes meant old muggings here (me) was in the megashop at 7.16pm putting my own hand in my own pocket to purchase the trophy that one person would win playing “corner flag chaos” at the water break.
Unintended purchasing complete, it was into Gate 5 and the confines of a fairly barren Dolan concourse. So barren in fact that the bar staff were literally bickering about who would take my order. “Chill out,” I said in my head, “the club still gets the money from my refreshment sale, split contractually between the catering company, the various overheads and of course, the wages they pay you guys,” I silently added, again in my head.
I’ve never seen a sausage roll and a pint of Amstel move so quick. It was like a colony of ants back there, protecting and serving their queen. Except in this case, I was their queen as they handed over the warm meaty pastry and the chilled lager. It really was service worthy of a decent trip advisor (or similar) review.
In terms of the tempo, game plan and overall execution of our play, that first half was as good as any I’ve seen for a long while. Granted, Norwich let us get up the pitch too often, but the only thing we didn’t do (CLICHE ALERT) is score. There were times in that first 45 when I genuinely had my mouth wide open at the chances we created, like some sort of medium-sized sea cucumber gasping for air above the salty waves.
Half time went off like a dream (I think), although upon arrival back to my seat, my father (or dad if you are under 30) explained that he couldn’t hear a word I said. I text a trusted source who sits in the Upper West and she said she could and so I then challenged my father (dad) on this and he said I was holding the mic too close to my mouth.
And I said “well how is that possible when someone I know who sits in the Upper West has said they could hear every word”, and he said “I don’t know” so I just said “well you don’t know what you are talking about” and I told him next time he should probably just record it so I could see if he was lying. Admittedly, there is an overall problem with the PA system (it’s old) but next time I am going to leave the mic on the floor, just to prove my point.
Of course, the early stages of the second half did nothing to chill the frosty air that had come between me and my father (dad) as Norwich, against the run of play, broke the deadlock. And of course, of course it had to be the ultimate anti-footballer Grant F***g Hanley. God I hate that guy. The ref by this point was playing an extreme game of silly buggers and the lad in front of me shouted “you’re a jobsworth” which I found very funny.
I felt at this point we were going to lie down like a lion after a big meal… but we didn’t! Instead, our own mane-haired chap in midfield popped up with a the sweetest ping you’ll see for a while to draw the game to 1-1.
We were playing some good stuff, some really good stuff actually. We didn’t sit there and take it, we didn’t look scared, we just kept playing football. A triple substitution kept the tempo up and made sense at that point in the game, allowing us to take the point.
Honestly, I felt we could (and maybe should) have won the game. If you asked someone who wasn’t aware of the season expectations, finances or recent history of both teams which team should have been winning, I’d bet a bag of flaming-hot Monster Munch they’d say us, based on that showing. I’m absolutely delighted with the performance, the point gets us closer to the overall goal of staying up and sets the scene for a Mega Hoops derby on Friday evening.
Maybe, just maybe, we are both the lyric and the rhythm now.
Until next time.