Setting out earlier than planned my Dad and I were filled with excitement and nerves. Bradford away was set to be one of Walsall’s biggest games of the season, against one of the biggest league game crowds I have seen them play.
Getting to the match early and finding a good parking space built our hopes to expect great things from the day. We arrived at the ground about 1 hour and a half before kick off, in fact the players had only just got there and were having a quick look around before their warm up.
There was a slight sense of grandeur about Valley Parade. Not in the stand we were in, but looking out at the big stand hinted of what could lie ahead if the Saddlers are to make it to the Championship.
Arriving earlier means that I get to watch the players warm up, which is one of my favourite things. I get to see if they have any particular routines or rituals. Seeing them in a more laid back style, having a laugh and a joke makes me feel like part of the squad ahead of kick off. Little did I know that this laid back attitude would play a major role in the game itself.
The first half of the game didn’t really get started. Jordy Hiwula had one chance on goal, but other than that there was no excitement from either side.
During half time I had visions of Jon Whitney giving the players a motivational speech. I followed my usual routine of texting my Nan with an update of the game. The text was its usual message that ‘we weren’t playing the best’, and I was ‘not sure where we would get a goal from’. But with Tom Bradshaw on the bench I had hopes he would come on and make a difference.
Then the second half was underway, and this saw Bradford attacking towards where we were sitting. I was pleased that Neil Etheridge was now in goals in front of us.
Again we didn’t get started, and in the 54th minute Morais scored in front of what I can just remember as being a defensive shambles. It pains me to write about the three other goals that were scored, but each and every one of them happened in slow motion. Plus I could see exactly what was going to happen, and thought ‘here we go again’.
If I felt down about the match then understandably so did the players, well at least I hope that’s why their efforts completely diminished. I still had hope and optimism, even at 2-0 down. When the third goal went in I was still praying for a miracle, but then with the fourth I knew that was the final nail in our coffin.
The players lacked the passion and enthusiasm that is needed to get promoted. My hopes and optimism were not reciprocated by most of them on the pitch.
It seems I may be one of a few Walsall fans who still is looking up and hoping that we will gain automatic promotion. Whitney made some very interesting comments after the game hinting that not all of the players are up for this promotion battle. Let’s hope Tuesday sees those whose poor efforts and can’t-be-bothered attitude are out of the team. I want a squad full of players who want this as much as I do!