Monday, February 25, 2013

25th May 2008

In the Blue Corner
Leeds United. The pride of Yorkshire. The Peacocks who had once strutted round the greatest stadiums in Europe. Their fans now inured to failure and spending their first ever year out of the first division as a result of the disingenuousness of their bombastic, megalomaniac chairman.

In the Red Corner
Doncaster Rovers. A grubby corner of Yorkshire which had stood still since the end of the miner's strike. A team that were on the verge of extinction four years ago. Their supporters, flat-hatted whippet lovers, more used spending their Sundays sitting in deckchairs watching the Black Dyke Mills band in a rain-sodden park.

Went to buy a souvenir scarf – inappropriate summer wear as by this time it was a sunny and warm day. However, these things have to be done.
Made principled but ultimately ill-advised decision not to put any more money into Football League’s coffers by declining to buy a ‘homecrafted pie’ at the bargain price of £6.
Chose instead to purchase a burger of uncertain ancestry from a stall on Wembley Way for £3.00. Spent most of Monday on the toilet as a direct result of this.

The first half was forgettable. They were all over is in the first twenty minutes. Only the heroics of the much-maligned Ankergren preventing a rout.
The goal seemed inevitable, but the manner unexpected. |Their 5ft 9 in centre forward rising above our two towering centre halves and heading home a corner.

We hardly strung one set of passes together.
It wasn't until the last five minutes that we looked like scoring.
Just on ninety minutes, a long throw was punched out by the portly Sullivan. Cleanly, but without a lot of power.
The ball cleared all the players in the penalty and bounced invitingly for a player positioned thirty yards from the goal for such an eventuality.

This could be our last chance. A perfect opportunity to level the game. I looked to my left and recognised the aquiline profile and slightly hunched gait of Jonathan Douglas.
My heart sank. The one player you didn't want to have possibly your last shot on goal. A man who couldn't hit a bull with a baking board.
To my pleasant surprise, he adjusted his speed, measuring his stride perfectly so that he could hit the ball on the volley. Maybe I'd misjudged him.

The whole of the Leeds end fell silent. The thud of his boot hitting the ball could be heard clearly. For a cruel fraction of a second, I thought the ball was going in. By the time it reached the penalty area, it was obvious that the laws of physics would have to be broken if it was to go anywhere near the goal.
The ball crossed the goal line at the edge of the penalty area, still rising, and landed roughly 5 yards behind the corner flag.

You could hear the sighs from the Leeds fans. You could hear the hoots of derision from the Donny fans. A minute later, the whistle went.

Post Match
Herded like cattle by unsmiling cockney coppers dreaming of their overtime bonuses onto overcrowded trains, seemingly outnumbered 2:1 by happy Donny fans. They were ok. I was sat opposite one. He talked to me like I was a little old lady whose dog had just been knocked down in the road in front of her. I didn't feel as good as that. The journey home was going to be a long one. As was the next season.

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