Barnsley 3-0 Walsall – Part One

Being a football supporter isn’t an easy task.  Heartbroken is probably the best word to describe how I feel right now.  My heart actually hurts the same way it would when you go through a break up.

Unable to travel to Barnsley I had to watch the game on Sky Sports.  As much as watching the match in the comfort of your own home is slightly appealing, I wanted nothing more than to be with my fellow supporters in the away stand.  But other commitments meant I was unable to attend.

I don’t really want to comment too much on the game.  The main downside to watching it at home was having to sit through the action replays.  Seeing the goals scored against us over and over again was torturous.  During the match I felt completely useless, and all I could do was to shout and scream at the TV.  When I am at the games I often feel like my shouting can make an impact on the players, which may be a silly thought I know.

Taking positives from the match is difficult.  Lots of fans on social media have been criticising players like Rico Henry and Romaine Sawyers.  I have to admit it was not a good performance by many of the Saddlers players.  It would be nice to think that they are just as devastated as the fans.  Surely even if they have got deals elsewhere for next season, getting to the playoff finals and playing Wembley twice in two years (for most of them) would be an accomplishment they would love to have.

Waking up today I felt upset about the situation.  I had hoped that this dreary feeling would go away.  But then Walsall wouldn’t be the team I supported if they didn’t put me through these trials and tribulations.  The scoreline and this playoff semi finals seems to sum up our season.  We are always lucky to be in with a chance, and on a bad day like yesterday it can go horribly wrong.  But when we are given a difficult task both players and fans pull together and have achieved some amazing scorelines.

Yes it is a hard task to come back in with a chance of getting into the finals, but do you know what – I still believe in them.  When did the Saddlers ever make anything easy?  Thursday needs a lot of positive thinking and passion from the players.  If they can put in the performance we know they have in them, Wembley is still possible.

My sister and her boyfriend Joakim, are visiting from Sweden on that day, so the whole family will be turning out at the Banks’s.  As Joakim is a Liverpool supporter I am hoping he can bring some of their magic and luck that The Reds had in Instanbul when they were 2005 winners of the Champions League.

Whatever the outcome will be on Thursday I am immensely proud of what this team have achieved.  At the beginning of the season, if I was told we would have this success I would have been over the moon.

I am grateful that I can see this team of players play again one last time, although I am hoping and praying that the final game will be at Wembley.

Road to Wembley Take 2

valepark.JPG

Vale Park – Photo by Rebecca Grant

This morning I was nervous and couldn’t eat any breakfast before we set off on our trip to Vale Park.

Going into the game our dream scenario was to win by two clear goals, and Doncaster to beat Burton.  Our fans had even been calling for our old captain Andy Butler to help us out by putting one past the Brewers.  This would then see us gain automatic promotion into the Championship.

dadandivalepark.JPG

Dad and I’s prematch selfie

Arriving in in Burslem it was the first time this season we had hit traffic with other supporters also going to the ground.  With the sun shining, the walk amongst my fellow Walsall supporters helped build a positive feeling.  Although there was the back up plan of the playoffs in our minds.

At the ground I was still filled with excitement and nerves, I just had to keep reminding myself that we can only do as much as we can.  The supporters were brilliant and helped build the atmosphere in the ground, with all the inflatables floating around and the crowd singing.

The match was probably the best performance I have seen from the Saddlers this season.  In the first half, just as we got a corner, I told my dad how I had read that we had been practicing set pieces during the week.  Then, as we went to take it, I asked where Downing was and the next thing I knew he had scored a goal.  This was his his third of the season, making it a record for him.

From that moment our day only got better with more goals coming from Bradshaw, Forde (x2) and Mantom, giving us a 5-0 victory over Port Vale.

vale.JPG

Players cheering the fans at the end of the game – Photo by Rebecca Grant

Although the lads did their job the other result did not go our way, and we are now in the playoffs.  It did get confusing at times during the game when our fans starting cheering as though Doncaster were in the lead.  I have no idea why they would do this, especially with lots of members in the crowd watching the Burton game on their phones.

I am gutted that we weren’t promoted automatically, but in a way I am glad that I get to see the team play again.  The players we have had this season are the best I have ever seen play at Walsall.  We have some very skilful players, some of which we will lose next season.  So getting to see more matches is just a bonus to what has been a very enjoyable year.  Let’s hope they can all go down in the Saddlers’ history books by winning the 3rd spot left in the Championship.

 

Leicester City, Champions of the Premier League

Winning the Premier League is what  football dreams are made of.

Leicester city fcLeicester City’s story this season has captured the hearts of many.  Not just football fans in the UK, but with all people around the world.

It gives hope to us long suffering fans that our teams could achieve similar successes.  I mean not necessarily winning the Premier League, but winning games and competitions to prove critics wrong.

When people ask me why I like football, it is a question I always find difficult to answer.  Especially if it is asked during a spell when my team are on a losing streak.  But if I could bag all the energy and joy the Foxes fans were feeling and give that to the next person who asks, that might help me explain.

I can only imagine how their supporters are feeling.  The closest I have come to such elation is when Walsall won the playoff final in 2001 and when we became champions of League Two in 2007.

With all the money that is in the Premier League Leicester’s success is something that was thought of as being impossible.  Money is a subject within the game that frustrates me.  It has in part ruined some aspects of the game.  Take Aston Villa, there is no amount of money in the world that could have saved them this season.

jamie vardy 3

The real winner of this all is Jamie Vardy.  A footballer who not too long ago was playing for Fleetwood Town in the conference.  Now he finds himself currently one goal shy of being the top goal scorer in the Premier League, and a film of his life to be made.

Football is a funny game, so we never know what is in store for us next season.  So for now let’s enjoy the success of the underdog.