Monday, 17 May 2010

Next... Swindon at home

So it all comes down to the last home game of the season!

There have been a number of blogs about this game and the main theme, of which there seems to be 100% agreement, is that it is a pivotal point in the history of the club.

Clearly we still need to win at Wembley (assuming we get through tonight) so it's not exactly make or break, but a defeat tonight would obviously heap much more gloom on a very troubled four year period following almost unlimited growth in the decade before it.

There is something different about winning and losing, obviously. The trouble with this season is that promotion would not have seemed like the victory that it was in 1998 or 2000. When you secure something that you don't perceive to be yours it is cause for celebration. If you manage to lose something getting it back seems a lot less of an achievement.

In fact, as I see it, this season had the potential to be acceptable (promotion) or a total disaster (no promotion). Thus, tonight's game is merely the opportunity to avoid total devastation. I am talking about the season not the club as a whole, but I guess you get my point.

Anything less than a victory tonight (over two legs) and the season will have been an unmitigated disaster. We failed to make any impression on the cups, including the JPT where we should have been one of the favourites to get to Wembley, and another season in this division is likely to lead to many more in this, if not a lower, one.

I know this is probably not the place to get all negative, but I think it is important that we all know what is at stake.

Tonight is a time for heroes. There can't be a more important fixture for a football club to play at home. Sure the home leg of a Champions League Semi-Final is important, but I doubt that the result of that could be as significant as tonight could be.

Tonight is for heroes. There needs to be a lot of heroes tonight. We need them in the North Stand, the East Stand and the West Stand. If you have anything left after a day at work; if you have anything left after a long season of third division football; if you have any passion and desire for out club to succeed now is the time to let it out!

There is a feeling in modern football that the players have so much money that they are obligated to give us the performances and/or results that we demand. Tonight it is for us all to show just how much we want this, just how much it matters and just how much we care.

Sure the players need to do their bit. I would like to think that we are going to get 100% effort and commitment, and I expect we will. I hope we will get 100% concentration - this cannot always be guaranteed. I also hope we get a fair proportion of luck, as this is a massive variable in the potential outcome of any game.

However, even if the players give 100% there is the potential for our support to build on that. We need to make the Swindon players perform at less than their potential 100%. I have been to a number of games at The Valley over the years where I honestly believe that the crowd have influenced the game, both good and bad. For the record the best atmosphere I remember at The Valley was the second leg of the playoff semi-final in 1998.

Let's remember that when we file out of The Valley, even if we can find a scapegoat (assuming we don't leave happy) we will all be left to suffer the disappointment. When I was at school my parents always told me "Do your best, and then you can have no regrets". In fairness I think that was because they thought my best would be good enough. Tonight we all need to do our best to lift our team and to intimidate theirs.

If we all do our best then after the game we can have no regrets. If we all do our best then we will be able to hold our heads high as we face what ever challenges come our way. More importantly, however, I believe that if we all do our best it will be good enough.

So let's forget about the money worries, let's forget about the disappointments of recent seasons, let's get behind our team and let's win that place at Wembley. Let's really win it!

Up the Addicks!