Survival, Dolores and The Twins

Inch by inch, point by point, day by day, Rovers are edging towards safety in the most agonising, stomach-churning manner imaginable.

I haven’t posted for a day or two because, quite frankly, I’m knackered.

Not just on account of the football – I didn’t even go to Upton Park so I can’t claim any wussy kind of travel fatigue – but I’m sure the emotional investment in seeing this thing out and calculating the various, mercifully dwindling, permutations of circumstances which could condemn us to The Championship has contributed to my exhaustion.

I had a darned busy weekend of cricket, officiating, reporting, intervening as peacemaker in a couple of, shall we say, heated discussions too, plus a late night at an 18th on Sunday night so it was all, in combination, somewhat draining.

By my reckoning, we can forget West Ham and Blackpool – I’m assuming Blackpool lose at Old Trafford which of course they might not but I wouldn’t put stolen money on them getting points off United.

So Wigan, Wolves and Birmingham would all have to pass us. Possible? Of course. Likely? Not bloody, hopefully.

The one positive thing around Rovers at present is just that, the positivism. Just as one writer put it to “When Saturday Comes” two years ago, when he said: “the best thing that happened in 2008-2009 was realising that there WERE three sides worse than us,” it is begining to look likely that as wretched as we have been, it won’t culminate in the nightmare descent into the division of the dead men.

We haven’t really been that pro-active in actually acheiving anything. What does the run now stand at, one win in 13 games? Hardly the Great Escape with Steve McQueen, or even Fulham three years ago with Roy Hodgson is it?Basically we’ve scraped a few draws, failed to beat any of our relegation rivals since January and beat a Bolton side which imploded at Wembley and hasn’t recovered – most annoying that at weekend I ignored my Reebok season-ticket holder mate who advised me to put money on a Sunderland win, saying that the Bolton public was resentful and angry at their semi-final no-show and that the team, so shunned by their fans, were mentally on the beach.

A run like that usually plunges you into trouble, not out of it but the others have been as poor or worse.

Please don’t let my ever-pessimistic mate Big John’s scenario come to pass though – he has this fear that after not being in the bottom three all season, a late goal at Molyneux or elsewhere will consign us to the drop zone at about 5.55pm on May 22nd.

It would suit both us and Man United for both teams to sit sunbathing and leave the ball on the centre spot for two hours on Saturday but I really believe that when it comes to it, teams just don’t do that. Their fans will want a win to clinch the title in style and we want a point which is hard-earned and deserved so I doubt any 1982 West Germany v Austria carryings on will ensue.

It was funny seeing my twin nephews celebrate their 18th last night. They were born the night we completed our first Premiership season. We beat Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 to clinch fourth place – not even a UEFA Cup spot for that after the post-Heysel ban – and I got a call very late on after my usual Saturday diet in those days of as much Speckled Hen as I could humanly consume, a chip butty before the match, at least two packs of Hamlets and a late-night kebab, from my brother-in-law.

I was very excited about going to see them at Royal Preston the day after and stayed awake listening to some compilation tape a friend had made me, playing “Dreams” and “Linger” by the Cranberries over and over in my headphones.

I know Dolores and co turned out to be a  bit naff but those were two good singles and they sounded very magical as I lay there very excited but far too far over the limit to drive and imagined what twin baby boys might look like! Nothing like one another, as it turned out.

I looked at them last night pouring bottles of Snecklifter into glasses, chatting with their mates, and remembered them springing to life in their nappies and scrambling to the telly if the “Neighbours” theme came on, wobbling away stood up with hands on the screen. The two of them playing to the simple-minded gallery (me, with no concern for any damage they might be doing themselves!) by throwing themselves off the sofa onto a pile of cushions and pillows as I laughed uproariously.

I’m proud to say that unlike with my other two nephews, my indoctrination efforts succeeded and both are Rovers fans. Here’s to their 21st with us still in the top flight.

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