It’s Sunday evening, the day after the Marine game.
11 days and 3 Unibond league matches since I last blogged on the run in to the end of our season.
3 matches that have seen us win 2 games and draw the other, and score 9 goals and concede 4.
We sit in 6th place in the table just a point from a play off spot.
Now this is all great stuff, but the thing that has pleased me most about the last 3 games (at least on the pitch anyway) is the change you can see in the team spirit, the squad, and the belief that actually, they probably are one of the best fooballing sides in this division now, and have every right to fight for one of those top 5 places.
Self belief is a wonderful thing. Just look at United in the early 90s, once that first premiership title was gained, Old Trafford became a fortress, at that time visiting managers used to go there and expect to able to perform a ‘damage limitation exercise’, and get away with losing by a respectable score as opposed to a drubbing. Many teams had lost the game, in their heads at least, before they even went on the pitch.
I reckon the same can be said for Carlos Roca… hear me out with this one. Carlos looks like he plays on his confidence, if he’s playing well, he’ll continue to improve. He was forced to take the penalty he scored at Ferriby, because the rest of the team knew that he needed that vital goal to boost his confidence at a point where he was missing a number of 1-on-1′s with keepers in a number of games. Look how he has gone on to play since. He’s skinning players for fun, in fact he actually went back and skinned the same player twice at one point yesterday, he’s found a final ball from somewhere, and to top it all he’s developed an eye for goal again.
Like a number of players this season he’s hit form just at the right time for us (at least I hope it’s the right time, and not 2 or 3 games too late !). Yesterday during the second half, the defensive partnership of Tong and Nuge finally seemed to click, Carl Lomax played, for me anyway, his best game for FC United so far. You could see on his face how much scoring meant to him. Nicky Platt was flabbergasted about the reception he got when he came on as a sub at Gigg Lane last Wednesday night. I just hope we can hang on to a starting 11 line up like Ashton, Warrender, Tong, Nuge, Garner, Jerome, Si Carden, Nicky Platt, Roca, Lomax, and Phil Marsh for as long as we can. And thats to not even mention Chaddy, Kyle Wilson, the Baguleys, and Adam Carden.
Our season’s have tended to follow a pattern… we start shakily and then generally improve as we go on, to finish with a flurry and a run of victories towards the end. This is a result of 3 straight promotions, and our squad having to ‘step up’ a level each year and taking 10 to 15 games to find their feet (and self belief – see above). If we ever get promoted to the Blue Square North, expect the same thing to happen again.
I believe we now have a squad of players that ‘get’ FC United, understand the passion, and the uniqueness of this club, it’s members, and it’s support. days like yesterday don’t come along very often at this level. It’s last minute equalisers like Hednesdford, and days like yesterday that make this club special. They are what defines the very essence of football to me as a fan. That’s why I’ll usually be the one that utterly looses it when we score, or gets all giddy when we’re into the last 5 or 10 minutes when we are frantically pushing forward looking for a winner, or last ditch defending to protect a 1 goal lead. That’s just me, I can’t help it. I think we actually started to get complaints when I made a conscious effort to ‘calm down’ during games, so I went back to being a loon.
Speaking of ‘calm down, calm down’, that brings me neatly back to yesterday. For some reason (never fully explained), Marine point blank refused entry for the FCUMRadio crew into their ground yesterday. I’m guessing, but I think certain people associated with Marine weren’t entirely happy with the slightly ‘biased’ nature of our commentary during the home game at Gigg. Well, in true FCUM style it was a case of ‘fcum’, and a big thanks go out to everyone involved in sneaking bits of kit in for us, and making us feel welcome in the somewhat cramped confines of the stand ! The one thing I really do miss because do the radio show is the chance to be in with our own support, especially during away games. We are usually stuck in a press box, in a main stand, surrounded by seated, silent, opposition support. So I jumped at the chance to do all the things I normally can’t do. Sing, swear, taunt the opposition, and get involved again. In fact once or twice this season, I have deliberately avoided doing the radio, so that I could do precisely that. Yesterday was my chance to loon around and I loved every minute of it.
There are very few better feelings in life than walking out of a football ground in Merseyside, after coming from behind to win 3-2, and singing “2-1 and you f*cked it up…! 2-1 and you f*cked it up…!”, to the scousers that were left. Surreal memories of Newcastle Town away, when we finally came out into the street though (after we were locked in for 20 minutes), as we were faced with a police line, the main road closed by police horses, and the helicopter hovering overhead. As usual with visits to that part of the world, it was time to keep your head down, make for a sharp exit straight to the car, and off down the East Lancs back to civilisation. Overall it felt like a ‘proper’ away game. Loved it… (had to say it again)
Comedy moment in the last 2 weeks ? Step forward Mr David Chadwick (again). Penalised against Hednesford whilst warming up on the touchline, for celebrating/encroaching after we scored, Chaddy became the first player in our short history to be given a yellow card and then substitued ONTO the pitch to shore up our defence…. he then proceeded to have a small ‘altercation’ with Hednesford’s big number 11, the aftermath of which saw Chaddy peform a running 7 or 8 stride attempt to avoid a comedy pratfall in front of all our support.
5 games to go during our normal season (if Margy reads this he’ll bollock me for not saying 7..), and 4 of them are at home. No excuses for not getting behind the lads. YOU have your part to play. The teams around us may have 1 or 2 games in hand over us but they WILL continue to drop points. We need to keep grabbing 3 at every opportunity we have left.
See you at Gigg lane, or via the text phone.