For a variety of circumstances, the Wycombe Wanderers game on the 21st December, will be my first home league game in 10 weeks. Although it only works out to be two home games and doesn’t include the Manchester City game, I can’t remember going that long without a visit to the Kassam or The Manor during the season.
To compensate, during that time I’ll have been to three away games; also something I haven’t done for some time either.
Our win on Saturday was 5,908 days since our last beat Southend at Roots Hall. And for the avoidance of doubt that it’s a difficult place to play, the last time we won – a 1-0 win in 2003 – was itself, the first league win at Roots Hall for 4,608 days.
The reason why I think we’ve struggled at Southend is because in many ways, they are similar to us. We’ve had a few higher highs and lower lows, but broadly speaking we’ve both made the lower leagues our home. When you add that Roots Hall is a horrible place to go, and Southend not easy to get to, it gives them the slight advantage that they’ve been able to capitalise on.
But, something has gone seriously wrong at Southend this season. If Bolton hadn’t had their points deduction The Shrimpers would have been eight points adrift at the bottom of the table. While we’re throwing stats around, that’s three points less than we had at the same point during our worst ever season in 2000/01.
You can’t blame it all on Sol Campbell; though his ludicrous arrogance is somehow fitting to the farce they find themselves in. Campbell believed the lower leagues weren’t that hard. I wonder how much more he needs to take to realise just how wrong he is.
We are also transformed – the four goals on Saturday took us to 37 for the season – just three behind the number we’d achieved at the same time during our two championship winning seasons under Jim Smith in 1983/4 and 1984/5. More recently; that’s seven more than at the same point in 2015/16. Don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t a remarkable performance.
What’s more, I went into the game full of confidence that we’d get a comfortable win. Yes, they have been terrible this season, but when has that stopped us screwing up in the past? Yes, it had been 16 years since our last win there, but what have we got to fear now?
A few weeks ago I talked about not being able to reconcile our results with my perception of who we were as a club or even who Karl Robinson is as a manager, but I think I’m there now. It’s been a topsy turvy season in many ways; but I think we’ve found the new normal.