By Matt Rowson
Hurrah and huzzah. It's all bloody coming together. Not there yet, rough edges still to be smoothed, match-fitness to be attained and so on and so on. But...wow! I mean....WOW! THAT was the screaming banshee of a forward line that we so wanted to let loose on the Premiership last year, THAT was the verve and splendour that we know we're capable of. My god, two years ago we emerged from the Second Division hoping to survive, now we swat mid-table clubs like Sheffield United as effortlessly as flicking back a fringe. Assuming you have hair. But you know what I mean.
Heaven knows this feeling may not last long, but right now it feels as if nothing stands between the Hornets and a quick return to the Prem, a fifth change of division in six seasons. Fulham? Pah. Mutton dressed as lamb. Birmingham? Not with the blinding conceit of Francis in charge. Blackburn? Nah...nothing as scary as Darren Ward, as elegant as Micah Hyde, as imposing as Espen Baardsen, as EVERYTHING as Gifton. Wolves? Seventh. Crystal Palace? Be serious!
It was, of course, only three games ago. And yes yes yes, lots of players back since then... Micah, Heidar, Gifton. And a couple of good performances under our belt. And Cheltenham have a trip to Hull whilst we have the weekend off. And Victory, the left-back; McAuley, the lively striker and Brough, the centre-back, all picked up injuries over the bank holiday. And Alsop, the man-mountain forward, and Bloomer, veteran midfielder, both start suspensions. And the Robins really are running out of players...but like any traumatic experience, the Cheltenham game is a difficult memory to confront.
It's like the eye of Sauron. Not watching our every move, maybe, but there, unavoidable. You can hide, you can ignore it, try to carry on regardless, makes no difference. We Still Have To Play Cheltenham Again.
Many, of course, won't be able to face it, and will hide behind their sofas watching the live coverage on Sky Sports. These people aren't cowards, they are realists. Not weak, not uncommitted, just sensible, normal. But I'm bloody going.
You see, I'm not going to let the prospect of a giant-killing...a two-legged giant-killing get to me. Oh no. They can threaten with whatever they like...utter humiliation, a last-minute winner, Bryan Adams on the PA. No. You don't get anywhere in life by ducking out of challenges.
Do you hear me, Cheltenham? I'm NOT BLOODY SCARED OF YOU. Give it your best shot, give it everything. I can take humiliation, I've been there and survived. And you're not getting to me, do you hear? Not at all, not even a little bit. We faced worse than you in the Crimea, you know. They didn't even sell match programmes at Balaklava! I've survived the Viking raids, the bubonic plague, Dave Bassett. I can take anything you've got to throw at me. Ha!
Anyway, there's a terrace.