Football League Division Two, 05/04/05, 7.45pm
Down, but not yet out...
By Julie MacTaggart
It's one o'clock in the morning and I'm writing this in the knowledge that if I was a Watford-based fan, then I'd still be on the M4. So Plymouth. New ground for me, a Tuesday night in the Easter holidays making it possible to attend, a shorter trip than usual...well, we thought it was anyway. We didn't get off to an auspicious start, one of our members being brought low with food poisoning so it was just the two of us heading towards my sister's in Plymouth. She reckoned that whatever the score she couldn't lose because she's adopted Plymouth as her second team. I just thought of what losing would mean to us. And it's not good, it's not good at all. We started brightly enough and if Dyer's attempt had gone in instead of smacking against the post, who knows what would have happened. I find it difficult to say very much about the actual match. I've always admired the Matt Rowsons and Ian Grants of this world for their ability to do that, but it all seems so surreal at the moment. I couldn't even work out what formation we were supposedly playing for most of it. As the game wore on, you got the feeling that the pernickety ref and his linespeople would have found a reason to disallow a goal if we had at any stage really looked like putting it into the net (notwithstanding the Dyer effort). At the end of the game, the players and manager came across and applauded the fans who, mostly, applauded back. But it got me thinking. We lost tonight because we took our eye off the ball for a second, we waited for a ref's whistle that nobody heard and by the time we realised what was happening, the ball was in the back of our net. It's not unlike the situation we find ourselves in, a few weeks ago we were sitting safe, mid-table, possibly about to explode into a run for the play offs and we took our eye off the ball; obviously not for a split second - in fact, I wouldn't like to work out how many seconds - but we took our eye off the ball and here we are staring relegation in the face. It's unthinkable yet it can easily happen. Which is why polite applause at the end of the game between players and fans isn't enough.