That was the first, ‘football, bloody hell’ moment that I’ve experienced as an Albion fan for a few years. The swinging pendulum of results just tick tocked into the right place just in time. Then complete unbridled, joyful mayhem broke loose amongst the travelling Albion army in a way that took me back to the original North Stand, there were lots of lads and lasses all with smiling faces.
What a strange season. Whilst 2012/13 certainly wasn’t a procession to the play-offs, it always felt fairly likely from Easter time onwards. This season it feels like we’ve stumbled into the play-offs despite our play, rather than because of it. But whilst its easy to think about the points that got away this season, there’s also a case to be made for the points we’ve won as a result of a late late show – in recent weeks late goals at Blackburn and Huddersfield as well as home to Yeovil have rescued what now look like critical points, when at the time it felt like too little too late.
And of course, today’s late late show the best of the lot. The best perhaps since Deano beat the Flying Hippo (pick it up at 7.30 mins).
This time last year I felt confident we’d make the play-off final due to our run-in form. We all know what happened and that left the club, teams and fans with a hangover that took until Christmas to shake off. Today, I’m just amazed we find ourselves here. We travelled to Nottingham more in hope than expectation, and for once it wasn’t the hope that killed us. Whether this results in a reverse psychology meaning we go into the play-offs with nothing much to lose, who knows.
So, to quote Steven Gerard, ‘we go again’. Derby up next who’ve had a solid end to the season and a 13 point gap tells its own story. But the great thing about the play-offs, is that the previous 46 games mean nothing. It’s a blank sheet, form is irrelevant and only 180 minutes stand between one team and Wembley. It’s cliché central. You need a little bit of luck to get there, and maybe today just showed that Lady Luck is spending her spring holidays on the south coast (not to take anything away from CMS’s precision point genius – never mind goal of the season, that was assist of the season). We will see.
As a friend of mine texted me after the match, re-charge for the play-offs. Let’s hope we do, fans and players alike. I was delighted to see how psyched up the players seemed after the game when at times this season it has felt a little like 11 blokes who don’t know each other that well playing football. Any doubts I had about the team spirit ceased to exist after I saw them at the final whistle. They are up for it, no doubt about that.
The last word goes to a Reading fan I know. His words below, which I received 5 minutes after the games today. Now that is what I call a class act. Thanks Mr Hop.
Oh yes, and thanks to Burnley too. Football, bloody hell.