August 2005 has for me been a month of extremes as a Hornet. Had someone on the 1st told me that by the end of the month that in the League we would have won three, drawn two and only lost one, I would have phoned the police to inform them that there was a lunatic on the loose who should be locked away.
The month started not with me being pessimistic in the usual sense of the word, but certainly realistic about our prospects. Over the summer we had expectedly sold Webber and Helguson, then Gunnarsson went and, along with the uproar of Gibbs being shown the door, the club was left without a strikeforce, a defence, half a midfield, with an untried manager and the soul ripped out.
For the first time in more than twenty years, I had not looked forward to the start of a season; it kept me busy on a Saturday afternoon but I feared about what I was going to be watching. I predicted a 22nd place finish on the mailing list; it would give me no pleasure at all if I were right - I want to see us win this division and conquer the Premiership - but reality kicked in.
When the news came that we had signed Henderson I was not over the moon, mainly because of the price tag, but his having played with King before meant that one area was dealt with. Carlisle again filled a gap, and after this my opinion was starting to change about the season.
Then the Preston performance came: this was as bad as it could have been, I remember leaving the ground just before injury time was being played and heard a bloke on his mobile say "new team, same shit", which summed it up perfectly in just four words. The defence was a little stronger but the midfield pairing of Bangura and Blizzard were very much out-played: oh, how we needed Mahon and A. N. Other! This match plainly highlighted what would happen to us when we got injuries and suspensions.
Now that I can't really afford to go to away matches, added to the fact that my wife won't allow it, I am restricted to home and televised away matches. I haven't got the nerves to listen to them on the radio, so in order to prevent a fatal coronary embolism, I restrict myself to catching the result on Sky Sports News some time after the match has finished; 3-3 at Plymouth, our first points on the board.
It was reading the match reports and the comments on the mailing list, coupled with the excellent idea from Boothroyd of getting the team to stay in the West country for a few days to get to know each other, that convinced me, more or less overnight, that we were better than 22nd.
For Cardiff, I was feeling that we were going to win, and win comfortably we did. From there on, we have looked a lot better and we signed Spring, offloaded Devaney and Boothroyd's statements don't have me scurrying for a dictionary. Also for the first time in a few years, there is a feeling that a lead would remain a lead and going behind means that we would fight back rather than falling over meekly: PNE the exception not the rule, I can confidently suggest.
Now August has ended, I feel quite optimistic about the season. Whether we can maintain our position over the next eight months remains to be seen but there is enough evidence to suggest to even the most pessimistic fans that we shouldn't go down and we may even realistically reach the playoffs. But one month at a time, we have 120 more points to compete for. Have no fear Boothroyd wants them because he believes. And so should we; I now know I can.