How to watch it tonight. What we’ll miss in person.

17 Feb

What is there to say today? Brentford travel to QPR looking to further strengthen the automatic spot we’ve finally reached and possibly retake the top from Norwich City. With Watford now third after their own win last night things remain super tight. Norwich City go to Coventry and Swansea City host Nottingham Forest. Neither look particularly taxing opponents, on paper, but you could have said the same about Barnsley. On paper. This is the Championship where anything can happen. Where any team can beat any. Where every point counts.

I could give the tub thumping speech about take overs and there being a mere 3.5 miles between our respective homes. Two stadia kept at arms length by the 237 bus and not much more. Show me someone telling Peter Gilham this one doesn’t matter and I’ll show you someone taking their life in their hands. It is a mantra absorbed by all the players and evidenced, yet again, by the reaction to Said Benrahma’s penalty last season (crips, that seems a lifetime ago already). The players running to our man with a mic and celebrate together.

Back of the net…!!! Mayhem followed a split second later

It’s a game we want to win more than any other. Yet at the same time, without fans being there in person it fells like we’ve lost something. As much the chance to see unhappy faces in person. To celebrate together. Even knowing that when it gets truly grim, as can happen at times, we’re all in this together. I’ve recounted this one before but even the occasion of Dean Smith’s infamous 4-6-0 formation was punctuated by two highlights.

Firstly, BBC Billy Reeves doing his disco thing. Walking behind the goal at half time, he responded to a call of his name by performing a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ touchline sashay. Part Moonwalker, part Zoolander it was as smooth a transition from casual stroll to C&A model as you could ever hope to see. As one terrace wag noted ,” He accelerated from zero to catwalk in 1.2 seconds”. 

BBC Billy provided a rare moment of joy the time we tried a ‘false 9’

The second came as the goals rained in. Behind me, the emotion had clearly got to another fan who had been giving a running commentary down the phone to his, presumably, better half during the second half. Even this call reached a sad denouement with the line, “Yes. I love you my darling. But we’re sh*t. Now please f**k off” .

Thankfully, this is very much the thin end of the wedge when it comes to recent games at the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium. Last season saw us beating QPR 3-1 – the game with the aforementioned Benrahma pen – whilst the same scoreline was repeated at Griffin Park. That, one of the last few games with fans present and one where there was the personal bonus of seeing H leading the players out.

Yet you are only as good as your last result and for us it was that 2-0 no show against Barnsley whilst our hosts beat Blackburn 1-0 courtesy of a 51st minute goal from Yoann Barbet. Safe to assume it wasn’t a penalty. Equally though, let’s not forget our last result against QPR.  A 2-1 win at Lionel Road in November (game 7(seven) in the unbeaten streak) which had the added bonus of salty tears at full time from Mark Warburton.

His own griping about he 200 fans we’d supposedly smuggled in up there with anything that ever came out of the mouth of Steve Evans or us Celebrating like we’d won the FA Cup. It was a thing of absolute beauty and a tribute to our board of directors / substitutes who made more noise than a Harry Potter convention. It will be interesting to see if there are any temporary additions made to the board this evening in an attempt to redraw the balance.

Oh, Mark. Thank you. For a season where we’ve felt very much locked out you made an already special moment feel even more wonderful. Here’s to more of the same tonight. Kick off is at 7pm . See you there. In spirit. Unless Mr. Benham want to make me one of his 200 directors.

Instead, our options are many. There’s I-follow where ST holders have VIP (i.e. free) access. Failing that you can buy a pass or press the Sky ‘red’ button. Let’s not forget the ideal combination – our friends at radio. Billy ‘disco’ Reeves has confirmed its live on BBC Radio London DAB digital. Ah, ambassador, with these commentary options you are spoiling us.

And just when today couldn’t get any more exciting, our referee is Gavin Ward. On that bombshell…

Nick Bruzon

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