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


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.


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.


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.


Football Widow Weekend

As a Walsall fan at this stage in the season (and it is not often this happens) every point counts.  This isn’t just the games that we play, it’s the teams around us in the league.

The Saddler’s match this weekend has been rescheduled for Monday, as we have been chosen to be shown on Sky Sports.  Meaning that not only did I have to reschedule work to make sure I have the day off, I also had to look for what side I need to cheer for.

bradleydack.jpgOn Saturday Burton face Gillingham at home.  With the Brewers being the team to stop us getting automatic promotion I have taken on the role of being a Gills’ supporter for one day only.
Although secretly I am a bit of a Bradley Dack fan, whose skill I admired when he played against us at the Banks.  I am hoping he’ll become my hero this weekend by scoring the winner against Burton, leaving Walsall still in with a chance of second place.

But today, instead of keep checking my phone for score updates, I will be trying to enjoy my football free Saturday.

Bradford 4 – 0 Walsall

me at bradford

Me at Valley Parade, photo by Peter Grant

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.

bradford warm up

Saddlers warming up, photo by Rebecca Grant

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’.

bradford match

Bradford v Walsall, photo by Rebecca Grant

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!