Tuesday was great. Football. Right in front of you. So close it suffocated you. So close it got hold of you by the neck and shook you until you took notice. So close I could smell Shittu’s deep heat-laden legs. So close I could sense the tension in Ben Foster’s every mis-kick. So close I could see the menace in the eyes of Aidy Boothroyd. Hell-bent on non-failure (that’s success to you) this team, hell-bent on being something more than nothing. Hell-bent on casting aside memories of ’99, 2000. Just hell-bent. Whatever they want to do, they really want to do it. And more often than not they go out there and do it as they wanted to do it before they went out and did it.
Comparing last night with Goodison Park on Saturday, we managed some more of what we’d tried then, considerably more effectively – but that could have had something to do with the opposition being different. Everton were big and solid, to a man. (Have you seen Alan Stubbs close up?) West Ham were more…human, somehow, faster (Andy Johnson included), more our cup of tea. And if the rest of the teams we’ll play are in that mold, rather than the brick en-suite low-flush houses of the Toffeemen, we may very well prosper enough to survive. Our first home game was bound to be a bit special, though. A splendid sight greeted us, once we’d got into the ground and past the security checks, which I hope are to do with the global paranoia, rather than merely the Premier League’s. A beautiful pitch, and the Yellow Army dense in seven-eighths of the ground.
I did not, in all honesty, expect to be at the match. First home game in the Premiership would surely be a sell out? Er…apparently not, and late in the day I was able to take my place in the Vicarage Road stand – despite having no membership credentials other than my dad being a season ticket holder.