In my many years of peering through this fence, one thing has stayed remarkably similar, namely that we always seem to win more games away than we do at home. Never mind being very disappointing for those of us stuck in this post-life compound, just why is it I wonder? Is it the atmosphere that puts our lads off? Does the sight of the cemetery on two sides cause players to ponder on their mortality when they should be pondering on the opposition centre forward? It surely can't be the pressure of expectation. And, given the size of the usual gate it certainly can't be stagefright. But, whatever the reason, it does seem to be the case. Even our glorious run to fourth place a few years back was fuelled mainly by unlikely wins on our travels, with home games featuring an unfeasible number of draws. This year has not so far been the same of course, not least because we haven't had enough wins either home or away. But now I start to think the tide has turned, and that what is clearly going to be an epic run to escape from the bottom three in this last few weeks of the season is likely to feature a number of gritty wins on the road and somewhat less glorious results at home. I hope I'm wrong. Expectations were certainly running high after last week’s excellent win at Newton Aycliffe for the visit of Jarrow Roofing on Saturday, but we hoped in vain. Bad goals conceded, and despite lots of possession, not enough good attempts on goal. Never mind, lets go again...
View from the Cemetery
So much to talk about. Ground problems but progress on the pitch, the fight against relegation looking very interesting, big boys across the river looking rocky and manager writing to the fans, tight championship race with Shildon slowly emerging as most people’s favourites, FIFA up to their usual shameless shenanigans; where do we start? At home obviously, although we don't often play there. All in all more good news than bad, the occasional disaster being interspersed with a good few fighting wins. Certainly managed to upset the Bishop faithful, quite distressed at the nerve of the likes of us beating the likes of them, and quite vocal about it as well. Seems we were very lucky, only a matter of them being bad, not us being good. All a matter of opinion of course, and my spies reckoned we could have had six in both games. Probably mistaken. Shame, but never mind old chaps, Bishops will return to their rightful glory one of these days I'm sure.
Back on Planet Earth lack of goals seems to be our biggest problem, solid in most parts otherwise, and to be fair the new combination of youth and Irish flair up front looks promising, with the occasional move forward of the Ginger E'to to spice things up. Yes, looks like a fascinating few weeks through to the end of the season. I am cautiously optimistic...
Very good win down at Bishops, and an encouraging display I hear. Overall one of our lucky opponents Bishops, get a fair number of results against them, much to the disgust of some of their loyal supporters it must be said. Great weeping and wailing through the match and afterwards from one or two local gentlemen, after some premature celebration when Bishops took the lead, and quite an amount of noise on the web. But it definitely shows they care, and there are plenty of them.
Not my business of course, but they always look to me like a steadily run club, not taking chances or spending money they haven't got. Much like our own little club indeed, though on a bigger scale. Makes you think about our place in things.
So, will we finally see some action down at Meadow Park this Saturday? The workers don't seem too confident, that's for sure, much shaking of heads and the occasional expletive, not deleted. It does look a bit of a mess and no mistake, not helped by the boy racer tendencies of the tractor drivers if you ask me, some nice tracks and turn marks, in fact the source of the expletives more often than not. Looks like it is very weather dependent, not a comforting thought in January. But if it stays reasonably dry, and if they can get a decent bit of rolling done regularly, well then the lads might have a very nice patch of mud to play on. Not grass admittedly, but even so. But if it turns and stays wet then off the boys go on their travels I guess. Not much use to us up here....
New year, New problems? Doesn't look like it. So now us locally bound fans can't even see the home games? Bit harsh. Although we can see the problem, or problems I should say, it’s easy enough from our viewpoint. Lot of damp, and a lot of tractor marks. Keep hearing optimistic noises, but it looks a small, but persistent problem to me. If we get the drain sorted, can we make the grass grow? Not before May or so methinks. And it has to rain or snow some time. Could be a long running sore this. And not what we need, what with having about a million games in hand of our rivals now. A difficult piece of maths this; do you take six games in hand for a four point deficit? Pretty easy that one, if you don't think you can make up that kind of gap then you are giving up; and even more so eight games in hand for five points. Then it starts to gets interesting. Six games for eight points? Yes, I guess so, if you can't beat a point a game then there isn't much hope either. But moving on, six games for fourteen points? Tough ask, be safe and sound by a long way if we do that. So an interesting little set of scenarios at the very least. The fixtures have a long way to unwind as well. Most of our rivals to play again, and Synners to play twice, could be game changers, and they don't look like they are despairing that’s for sure.
Anyway off we go, with an away day for a home game this week, should be fun, nice place, if you can find your way through the car park. Enjoy it all....
How sad to miss out on a trip over to Carlisle on the Saturday before Christmas, no doubt have to swap it for a Wednesday night in January, oh joy... [The Ghostly Gadgie is too pessimistic: we are away to Celtic Nation on Saturday, 7 March, 3:00pm kick off.]
Still, who could not be excited by the win in the big game? Some slight compensation for those of us who still follow, at a distance, our City's other club. Four wins off the belt in the most important game in English football for the first time ever. Or is it the most important? Maybe it’s just quite a sad little event between two sides of little account in the game. Only saying. But never mind what the world thinks, we like it, especially when the good lads win. Did I miss it, or did anybody punch a horse?
Excellent win on the road, just like the good old days. Bit of a masterstroke moving the ginger Eto from back to front. Is this going to be one of those proverbial seasons of two halves? Or maybe a third and two thirds to be pedantic. I certainly hope so. Could have scored ten, should have scored six, happy to score three, was the way I heard it. Still, let's not be greedy, small steps, journey of a thousand miles and all that...
25 games to go, and that well known football sage Ozo of the Board Inn thinks the target should be another 37 points. Ten wins, seven draws and eight defeats or thereabouts. Likes a challenge that lad, but still, it pays to be ambitious. Let’s get those around us well and truly in our sights first I say. Anyway, lots of keen young lads all running around and what have you, so what’s not to like?
When I was more mobile my other sporting interest was in the horses. Principally slow horses, although of course I didn't realise they were slow when I backed them. But a little news item the other day reminded me of those happy days. Evidently in a race down at Sedgefield during the week a man waved the wrong flag at some vital moment, and as a consequence of some arcane rule the race was declared void some fifteen minutes after it was all over. And what happens when a race is declared void? Well, all bets, winners or losers, are off and all you have to do is take your ticket back to the bookie or Tote and get your money back. That will be the ticket you threw in the bin or on the floor of course when your horse got beat. Much fun and games ensued I'm told. Bins were upended, floors searched and much weeping and wailing was heard. Wish I'd been there.