Nervous Week, Wondrous Year

A nervy Sunday is in prospect as we await news of Birmingham v Fulham and Wigan v West Ham.

Thankfully I’m at cricket so I’ll have that to worry about – although looking out of the window hopefully I may get an early finish there and be home for the Stanley game.

Home wins in those two Premiership games – Sky have picked a couple of meaningless matches today, haven’t they? – mean that it goes to the last game and while I still believe it would take an extraordinary set of circumstances to send us down, we surrendered during those shameful final 12 minutes at Ewood yesterday any right to expect anyone else to do the right thing by us.

The sight of a Blackburn Rovers team allowing Manchester United to parade to the title without a single challenge put in was one of the most embarrassing sights I’ve ever seen.

By beating United we couldn’t go down. By drawing with them we can.

Let no-one now complain if Fergie decides to put the Youth team out against Blackpool or if Stoke send their squad to Majorca a week early as a reward for their Cup Final efforts and hand Wigan a win.

Let no Rovers official condemn any fan who sold his ticket to a United supporter when our own team sold their own souls and their moral standing – I wonder what Chelsea fans must have made of the tawdry spectacle?

Of course, if Rovers play as well as they have been doing they should get the required draw or win at Molyneux.

But any right to expect anyone else to give a hundred per cent, as every team ought to in every game, was lost for good and all as we ran the clock down to allow yet another set of visiting supporters to use Ewood as a party venue. 

As far as Stanley are concerned, I wish them every success. I spent quite enough time at The Crown Ground as a reporter over the yearss to ever want to go back – at least until they build a decent press box – but I had a great respect for John Coleman and Jimmy Bell.

It beggars belief that they have never been offered a bigger job, these two canny, clever Scousers whose Stanley team, besides three  promotions, in 13 years or so, have never ended a season in a lower position than they finished the season before.

My pals who go regularly tell me that even with two thousand on at Stanley, they generate a great atmosphere and it would be remarkable if next season they were playing against the Sheffield clubs, PNE and Charlton as well as old pals Bury and Rochdale.

Talking of Rochdale ex-Rover Keith Hill is another who deserves the utmost credit for taking the Dale close to the League One play-offs on crowds and a budget not much different to Stanley’s. One to keep an eye on, Keith, a “thinker outside the box” as modern parlance might have it.

Spent last night on a do at Blackburn Northern CC for my best mate’s daughter Rachael, 24, also my god-daughter, who is off on a 15-month round-the-world trip with boyfriend Liam.

It was great to get out and see old friends and how I envy the pair of them.

In 1979, aged 20, I flew for the first time (well ok, I’d been on one of those little planes that used to fly round Blackpool one Sunday afternoon) to Athens.

I’d been to Finland by boat, and spent six weeks of the long, hot summer of 1976 in Brittany but that holiday to Greece, island-hopping and such, was very magical.

I remember standing on top of a hill called Lykabetos gazing across Athens, the endless urban sprawl, the acropolis opposite, the mountains in the distance and thinking, “wow, so this is the world!”

A few days later it was sunset over Santorini – very few hotels or holidaymakers there back then – a spectacle which still makes the spine tingle to recall.

It was all so alien and strange and mystical but being in a place as wondrous just sort of on that cusp between teenage and adulthood it really seemed as if the world was yours to grasp if you just had the will to reach out for it.

Thirty-two years later I probably haven’t grasped, or even seen as much of that world as I might have imagined I would in those moments but I really love the thought of young people getting out and getting that experience sooner rather than later.

Hopefully our two daughters will enjoy a bit of that wanderlust and Lesley and I can live it a little through them.

Whatever, stay safe, Liam and Rachael, and savour every second of it.

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