By the age of forty-something, one should know better than to get annoyed about the outcome of a football match. After all, we all know, it’s just football. Right?
Right. Well, kind of.
- you go 2-0 up against the run of play away from home and end up hanging on for a draw;
- it feels like 3 precious promotion points have been reduced – again – to a single solitary notch on the board;
- your young and talented centre half has had a rush of blood to the head;
- your immediate promotion rivals have convincing home wins;
- you feel your team invited the draw by camping out in their own half after going ahead; and
- your train home is delayed so you end up writing this blog post sitting on the floor at St Pancras station (I live north of London, not by the sea, despite the blue and white allegiance).
Except when except when except when all these things conspire to create an illogical sense of annoyance.
Time, then, for a reality check. Not even the most blinkered of BHAFC fans could have possibly hoped that the Albion would be undefeated up to 15 December with only one more match to play before Christmas. Nor that we’d be guaranteed in the top four on 1 January 2016. Nor that we’d (quietly) be looking like genuine promotion contenders. It’s really come to something when we regard 3 points won at Burnley, Derby and QPR as between 3 and 6 points lost. Especially when we’ve rediscovered the art of winning at home. What do they say? Win at home, draw away, and promotion takes care of itself.
But football fans are greedy, we always want more, we can always see what’s wrong. Against QPR the criticisms are easy to find. Calde, bless the man, looked out of his depth; we put too much pressure on Stockdale in the first half with unhelpful backpasses; our goals were a bit soft from a QPR perspective rather than the result of clinical finishing; Dunk’s recklessness; our defensive distribution was poor and so on…
…but most of all we did set up camp in our own half for 30 minutes or so after scoring our second. I almost expected QPR to charge us rent for the way we set up shop. Why did we do this? Maybe the Albion Roar guys called it right:
I’m not going to criticise Chris too much for this, the man is working wonders, but I’m interested to know why we didn’t seek to kill the game off at 2-0 with another goal or at least implement a kill game strategy. Instead we seemed to put up the “please shoot” neon signs and the outcome was inevitable.
And so the annoyance does creep in.
There, dear reader, is the problem with football. Even in this season of all seasons we mere football fan mortals, lose our perspective. This is not the usual perspective about where we’ve come from since the dark days, this is perspective that even title contenders have off days, throw away points and don’t win every game. Which is why I refer you back to the “reality check” paragraph above. If you’re still feeling annoyed, read it and read it again. Then once more for luck. And if that doesn’t work, then read this over on NSC.
Next up the Boro roll into town. A must win six pointer? Not really, no. A big game, yes, but the season doesn’t ride on it by any means. And nor does this QPR result. Let’s get that perspective back and remember that we’d have grabbed with both hands the chance to be top four (minimum) on 1 January and we could yet be top one.
Last thing, if you don’t mind. The title of this blog post. Not my sentiments. Not at all. But they were the words of one Albion fan as the rest of us applauded the boys in yellow when the final whistle went. A throw away comment in the heat of the moment, I’m sure. But let’s have that reality check again. You can and should applaud a 2-2 draw at Loftus Road and most of us did just that before running to get our much delayed trains. Yes, we’ve got our war stories about the ones that got away. But don’t forget, the other 23 teams in this division will all have their own war stories too about what could’ve been, what should’ve been, and 21 of them are below us at the time of writing. I know whose war stories I’d rather have.
And war stories or not, the Championship table tells a pretty compelling story, even on this most, erm, annoying of evenings.