Time to exorcise some demons?

12 Feb

Say. We are top of th.., err. How about, quite well placed at present? Nahhh. Screw it. We ARE top of the league so why not enjoy the moment? The table doesn’t lie and our run of form is quite incredible. Brentford now 21 league games unbeaten. Only Spurs and Leicester City have overturned us since late October. Ivan Toney is leading the Championship goal scoring charts and the team are on fire. We’ve just overtaken Norwich City after that fine, fine win at Reading on Wednesday night. Frank out??? Where are you? Where ARE YOU? . Let’s be havin’ you! Come on. How far away is all that nonsense now? How quiet have the keyboard warriors gone? Even Sergi Canos is getting praise from the most ferocious armchair managers. Hmm – about five months too late and how magnanimous but there you go. Things are indeed good at present so why not enjoy the moment? Next up, Barnsley on Sunday and a chance to not only maintain the pace but, perhaps, exorcise one of THE demons of last season.

Cripes, we all know what happened. After that wonderful run towards the end of the campaign, Huddersfield Town did us that quite unexpected favour of beating West Brom on the Friday night. Thank you very much, Mark Devlin. All we had to do was beat Stoke City in game 45 and we were up into automatic. Instead, we did a Leeds. No matter, game 46 saw the ultimate in unexpected shocks – the Loftus Road mob got a result at West Brom. The door to the Premier League was still open. All we had to do was beat Barnsley at Griffin Park. The same Barnsley team facing their own unlikely battle to avoid relegation. Instead, they played their hearts out and we did a Leeds. Congratulations to the Tykes – a much more deserved victory than the time Toby was adjudged to have beaten Buzz in the half-time mascot race. For Brentford, there were still the play-offs……

Never forget the time the Toby and Barnsley ‘won’ at Griffin Park.

Which of course is why we meet again on Sunday. This time around Barnsley are looking super safe and, perhaps, may even have a surge towards the play-offs on their mind. The gap to Bournemouth in sixth is only 9 points. The relegation slots are way off and currently being occupied by Wycombe, Birmingham City and Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Valérien Ismaël’s side may not have won in five league games but they are a different proposition the time around. Even Chelsea were made to work hard in last night’s FA Cup game (eventually running out 1-0 winnners) and their biggest problem at present would seem to be on social media where the club were forced to announce yesterday that…” Due to a copyright claim dated 2018, the official Barnsley Football Club Twitter account (@BarnsleyFC) has been temporarily suspended”. 

As one North Stand observer would comment on our WhatsApp Group – “It’s the sort of thing that would have happened to us a few years ago.” One can only imagine the admin oversight / other that lead to that one although the good news being they are now back in action. And good news it is too. The club being one of my favourites in the league with good times having been had on our travels, regardless of the result. Now they are the ones on the road in a game about as big as it comes.

Hoping for a better result than the previous rematch

The longer this unbeaten run continues the more incredible it seems. A metaphorical skyscraper of a performance but one which, equally, could feel like a Jenga tower. The more it continues the wobblier it feels. The pressure, perhaps, building although certainly not apparent from Thomas and the players IF that is indeed the case. Perhaps its just the glass half-empty approach of football fans. Natural pessimists, normally, although this time around loving the moment. Last season I wanted every game to come but there was that huge feeling of extra stress because we knew we were playing catch up and so, so reliant on others around us.

This time, there’s still that feeling of desperation to play again but it is with uber confidence. It is with wanting to see just how far we can go. It is with having supreme and unadulterated confidence in whomever is picked to start. Of knowing that despite conceding first (as we have done in the last four games) we have the firepower to blitz just about anyone. 17 (seventeen) goals scored in those same four games speaks for itself.

That’s not to be over-confident or arrogant. Likewise, we can’t go into Sunday’s game thinking it will be anything but the toughest of challenges. Once the whistle goes then forget the form, forget the other results and forget the league placings. Focus on Barnsley and just keep on doing what we’ve been doing. We can’t ask for more than that. Everything else comes off the back of it. 

Oh, I love football at the best of times but this is next level fun. Like all of us, I’m desperate to be there in person. I hate watching it on TV, knowing how close we live to the stadium and remembering just how incredible following the Bees is in person. At least we have Mark Burridge and team to keep us company. Temporary custodians of our massed physical presence at Lionel Road. The weight of the home supporters on the shoulders of our comms team and our board of directors. Oh, and Pontus Jansson who seems the one person on the planet even louder than Harry Potter / Simon. His shouting and encouragement clearly audible over the top of the audio and a joy to behold. Kicking and screaming his way to the top alongside the players out on pitch.

No doubt he’ll be back there on Sunday doing more of the same. We’ll all be alongside him, in spirit. I can’t wait for this one. Here’s to an extra special Valentines’ Day. Just hopefully without the cards. Oh, and if Stoke want to upset another promotion push, then there’s no better time than their trip to Norwich on Saturday afternoon to play that card. Come on. Lets be havin’ you…

21 and counting. Barnsley very much our ‘Karleigh Osborne’ game…

Nick Bruzon 

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