Tuesday night was like sending the boys off to war. Admittedly, with all the changes, it was like sending off the Catering Corps whilst the real soldiers scored big time with the local butchers’ daughter.
It’s certainly reassuring that we can more than just compete putting out a side like we did. I can’t be the only one whose mind drifted to 2007. Then we were being held together by bits of string and a dwindling ember of hope. Duffy and Burgess’ form had long deserted them, Rose and Yemi promised to threaten, but never did. Gilchrist was like a broken Action Man, Foster sidelined with a nasty leg-snap, Brevett and Johnson preoccupied with restocking on Werthers Originals and emptying their bedpans. We were a ragged unit, with only Billy Turley maintaining any form, and let’s face it, dignity.
This time around the second string can dismiss a startlingly average Wrexham side, whilst the big boys remain, despite all that’s happened, a force majeur.
Looking at it in the round, it’s been a spectacularly successful ‘regular season’, coining an increasingly popular Americanism as though we’re all having tailgate parties and supporting the Pittsburgh Steelers. Add in the likely six points from Chester, and you’re starting to look at a points-total that would have won us the title in years’ past. We have amassed, by a mile, the best points total since we’ve been in this godforsaken place.
Is it different this time? Last time the play-offs felt like we were visiting a curmudgeonly old uncle dying a slow diseased death. Compelled to visit, hating every minute, wishing to simply scream “I hate you, why don’t you just fuck off?”. This time it is different, like supporting a Colombian top flight team run by a drugs cartel; intense, exciting, but no less terrifying.