By Tim Tweddell
Thanks to the powers that be who run that big fixtures computer
and then pay for it by charging websites to print its results, the
last game of this remarkable season was against my hometown team
Hull City, who, like us, had nothing to play for, but our season has
just reached its climax while theirs has ended.
Can you practise being a spectator/supporter? The opportunity was
there for me to try, so I arrived a week early for the play-offs and was
pleased to have done so.
I had expected to see a cobbled together side of reserves and juniors
take the field but Aidy was having none of that. The only player
rested was Mackay, with Bangura being preferred to Spring in midfield.
The slight injury suffered by Carlisle meant an opportunity for
Mariappa and he was the only unexpected starter.
The game was enjoyable in many ways. DeMerit was immense and
should be in the USA squad for the World Cup. Mariappa was a
revelation, so assured for his first start in a "real" game. Doyley was
ever reliable; there should be a new position invented for Jordan
Stewart, which I shall call wing cover. His full back play may not be
the best but he appears all over the back line snuffing out threats
as they appear. Henderson was sensibly playing at least six feet off
his marker to avoid any prospect of a card; in fact, there were no bookings
in the game and hardly a rough challenge of any kind throughout. Both
goalkeepers made good saves when called upon to do so, and the fans at both
ends seemed content with the result after much singing back and forth and
happy banter, the highlight of which was a joint chorus of "We hate Leeds".
If I have one regret, it is that Blizzard wasn't on the bench to make a
cameo appearance at the end. What an ovation he would have got, but Aidy can't
get everything right.
After the game, both teams along with their coaches went to salute their
respective fans. Jordan Stewart made a point of shaking hands with the
three officials who stood on the halfway line viewing the happy end to the
season, and then went over the shake hands warmly with the Hull manager and
his staff (a bit of research showed that he was a junior at Leicester City
when Peter Taylor was manager there).
So, this was anything but a boring end of season game. If you want boring,
get a set of DVDs of the Peter Ebdon / Graham Dott World Snooker Championship
I went to the millennium stadium last season for the Rugby League Challenge
Cup Final which Hull RLFC won 25-24. I’d like to go again this year to see
my other team win, in similarly exciting circumstances. Now that would be a