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View From The Dolan: An Absolute Circus

Ben’s take on a sour day at the SCL.

PA Images via Getty Images

Pfft. Where to start with this one? I thought about not doing one as I just couldn’t be bothered, but I know there are at least three people who read this column regularly, so here we are.

It was a crazy one all round, really. My week leading up to the game and planning my own routine around the match was thrown in to chaos because:

a) My daughter decided she wanted to go which meant a scramble for tickets,

b) I had to pre-book parking in car park 6 (old dog track)

Pre-book parking?! The place has been empty for the last six years! What was even more annoying was that, apparently, I could have pre-booked for every game before this one, saving me a whole £2. Gutted mate! More on the car park later.

On the morning of the game, I woke up early and was restless, so did the only thing a well balanced, sane man would do and drove to the big Boots in Calcot and bought some CK One (it’s a classic scent for the modern world, thank you). Upon returning, I was greeted by my son who was dressed in this season’s keeper kit. Nice touch.

The morning evaporated pretty quickly, partly because we left for the ground at 12. Upon approaching the car park, I was greeted with a sign saying “pre-booked spaces only” and you could tell, at that point, the day was going to be an unmitigated disaster. More people were being turned away than actually parking up and I just couldn’t get my head round it to be honest. Bloody day trippers!

With us being there so early, we headed off to the toy shop to spend some time and unnecessary money. It looked like everyone else had the same idea - loads of stressed dads in full replica kit chasing their children around the colourful aisles to eat up the clock before kick off. Plastic tat chosen and paid for, we headed back to the car and then off to the stadium.

The hotel was dead, especially upstairs. And I like it like that. Easy access to the bar, plenty of space to sit down, perfect. I assumed most people were at the protest or battling with parking. They certainly weren’t at the fair the club had put on, that’s for sure. Or was it a circus? Dunno. Hard to separate the two at the minute to be honest.

Drinks drunk and snacks snacked on, we marched off towards the gate, free signed calendar in hands (thanks Young Royals) to be greeted with… a massive queue. A queue to get through the turnstiles. It was massive too, must have been in it for a good 15 minutes.

Once we’d actually got in, the Dolan was rocking. I saw one chap with a personal bucket of KFC and another with a flask - and people say there’s no atmosphere in the stand! All jokes aside, it was nice to see it full for a change and I can live with the queues once in a very, very blue moon.

On the pitch… well, we all know what happened. A side note is that, as regular readers will know, I am Junior Hoilett’s biggest fan, but his second yellow was absolutely mindless. To commit a tackle like that, in that part of the park, was just crazy. This was part of the downfall, but we never looked like winning the game and who knows, we may never win again.

It’s not even “another loss”: it’s eight successive defeats, including to a non-league team, a 7-0 home reverse and a couple of four-goal losses chucked in for good measure. We don’t even look like drawing games right now and, with that in mind, I have come to the conclusion that we will most likely get relegated.

I’m writing this, deliberately, the day after the game. I would like to thank those people who messaged me to agree with the video and to those who didn’t agree, but were respectful. Of course, as you’ll see, I got a fair amount of abuse. It is what it is, right?

But the reality is that the pitch “invasion” will land us a fine, the police and council will investigate the incident and the club will use up the already stretched resources they have with clearing this mess up. On top of that, matchday staff will probably leave making the service and whole experience worse (if that’s possible). So what I’ve said is my opinion, I stand by it, and if you want to have a constructive chat with me about my views, you know where I am.

Until next time.