Sunday, 16 March 2008

The thoughts of a ten year old

Ok I've had 48 hours to reflect on the situation at hand, and again, I have managed to raise my spirits. Not because I think that we have any more chance of promotion this season, but because from here on in it can't get any worse. With four home games left and tickets for Plymouth already purchased I now have five football matches to watch with little or no (especially if we lose at home to West Brom on Friday) pressure on us due to league position.

Thus I can go to three or four games at The Valley with the team playing without fear and an away day where the home team are really scrapping for a place in the play offs that, should they win it, would change their club for the foreseeable future.

When I started going to see Charlton play I was ten years old. My Dad didn't think that a 1970s football stadium was the place a nine year old. At ten I was a little too young to care about the workings of the League Table. I think I picked up the Cup format quicker, although that might have had more to do with watching FA Cup (and European Cup) finals on the television. My point, however, is that I was more than able to enjoy the games in isolation without having any idea of the impact on the season.

So, for the next three games I am going to take that approach. I am not interested in what happened before, or what will happen afterwards. I don't care how many points are at stake, or what the impact of those potential points will be. I'm literally going to take each game as it comes!

If we beat West Brom on Friday then great. If we draw then never mind. If we lose then it's ok as I only have to wait another eight days for a chance to see if we can win the next one. When I was ten I used to get excited about going to a derelict Valley to watch a (third division) team try to win a game of football. Suddenly I'm right up for West Brom. We have a few scores to settle as they beat us at their place before Christmas, drew at The Valley, and beat us on penalties, which is not fair. I have no interest what was at stake in those games, this Friday is a chance for us to ensure that we beat them at least once before the summer holiday.

The fact that due to that penalty shoot-out they currently have 'our' date at Wembley in an FA Cup semi-final is irrelevant.

So on Friday (a little later than usual as it's a late kick-off) I will get in my car and I will drive off to my Dad's house brimming with excitement about getting to see a proper football game played in a proper football stadium (a whole shed load better than the one with a terrace bigger than my primary school playing field). Then My Dad will drive us to our usual parking place where we will stop and walk through Charlton Park, down Charlton Lane then left into Landsdown Mews where you can see the East stand and the North stand behind it. What a sight!

During the car journey and the walk we will be talking about the game coming up. Who will we play? Who will score for us? Will it be 0-0? Will any of the players fall over? Will there be any red cards? Will we win?

There will be no talk about promotion. There will be no talk about play offs. We will be looking forward to a footballing contest between two teams who are just trying to win this game. If we lose it will be one game; if we win it will be one game. It will not affect our season; it will not destroy the last realistic chance of winning promotion. No, it's just one game.

The same rules will apply for the Wolves game, and the mammoth expedition that is Plymouth away. In the unlikely that we are in the top six when we face Southampton on April 12th I may allow a little interest in the league table to slip into our conversation. However, if this 'one game at a time' malarkey works then being superstitious I will have to keep it going, clearly.

Anyway it seems to be working as I'm already getting excited about Friday, and the good thing about Easter is that you get to go to the game a whole day sooner, which for a ten year old is a long time.