By Ashley Dakin
I’ve never written a piece before and after this I am unlikely to write anything else, however, I do feel strongly about what I am about to say.
I make no apologies regarding the sentiment. Especially as we are on the cusp of promotion back to the Championship. I fully appreciate the emotional high everyone is on at the moment. I have secured my seats for the journey from my home in Scotland down to Wembley and have also secured my season tickets for both myself and my son for next season. BUT something is gnawing at me. Call it instinct or call it 35 odd years of being a City supporter.
And here it is…we have, to put it in Glaswegion context, done ourselves in! Let me qualify that statement…we have not lost at home in a league match since Colchester back on March 1st 2016 (after going ahead in the match!) This is a problem. With social media at the forefront of every minute of every game it only takes a poor second half for the manager to be hung at dawn. You only need to look at the history books to see this.
The most recent example is with the loss (away!) to Sheffield United. The derision was palpable. Stuart McCall had to come out in public and make a statement to advise that, whilst a poor result/performance, ultimately the target of getting to the play offs would be achieved, which it was!
What concerns me is that (hopefully) if we go up, we will lose a few home games, fact. We were the only EFL team not to lose at home this season. The issue is that it has been THAT long since we have lost a match that as supporters, we are going to lose all perspective of reality when eventually this ultimate situation occurs. This is when all the statements about “It’s a Marathon and not a sprint” will be wheeled out, which will actually be quite appropriate. I think we should remind ourselves that Taxes & Death are the only thing guaranteed in life. We need to add a third. We will lose a home game!
The last time we had this type of giddy behaviour was back in the nineties. Who remembers the day against Barnsley when 1-0 down and Gordon Watson scoring two goals in the last five minutes to start an amazing run of performances? We still lost games then.
Then there was one of the first game of the 2000-2001 season playing Chelsea at home. 2-0 winners, Carbone scoring the second and Hasselbank getting angrily subbed in the second half. Our expectations rose. I remember sitting in the (still getting renovated kop) and thinking, as did everyone else that night, that we would qualify for Europe that season! As history unfolded that year everything crashed around. The difference was that social media wasn’t around as much, if at all, then, which made it easier for the club to manage these expectations through press conference etc. Granted, Geoffrey Richmond didn’t do a lot to alleviate the hype but it could still be managed. I shudder to think what would have been swept around Valley Parade had the technology we have today been around then!
A couple of home defeats next season and you can get a tweet directly to @officialbantams copying everyone and their uncle venting your spleen as you walk out of the ground. Remember, by Monday, those Gremlins the performance psychologists call “your chimp” will be well and truly back where it should be and normal rationale assumes its role. In other words, what’s done is done and lets focus on the next game.
The concern I have is of the expectations of the few as opposed to the many. They will be expecting us to win the Championship, to win the EFL cup and to win the FA Cup and qualify for the Champions League next season. Everything else will be abject failure. They can have more of a disruptive influence on the club than the 90% that would be happy for the team to be mid table in the Championship (should they get there). These are the active social media-ites that purport to be genuinely concerned for the clubs well being, but all they are doing is spouting their own self interest which, in the short -medium term will be damaging.
I feel for James Mason. He has a hell of job to do. I have seen at first hand how hard he works and what a job he is doing. It’s people like him that needs to be retained. Players will come and go but the club will always be there (a cliche I know!) He has the media experience and I have seen how he positively promotes the club through these channels.
Being a passionate City fan, I would hate it for social media to take over. It’s akin to the tail wagging the dog and its unacceptable. Being 200 miles away, its brilliant. Gone are the days of my mum sending me cuttings from the T&A and cursing at radio 2 (5 Live wasn’t around then) not giving us any sort of mention of a win which meant looking for the result in the paper the next day!
We have to keep everything in perspective. This week has reminded us of that. I just don’t want to see the team turned on for a home defeat. As long as they work for the badge, which is a little different from other clubs, as the badge is a culture and the DNA of the club, then I will be happy and I will keep coming down from Scotland with my son to shout them on!
Let’s fill Wembley and shout them on to the right result.