Pre-Match Musings – Blues Vs Newcastle United
Posted on March 17, 2008
Filed Under Previews By Aff
I had planned a full match preview but upon getting home from work and crashing around a track on Project Gotham Racing for a while, I realised that it probably wasn’t worth it just two hours before kick off. Now there’s just over an hour to go before our biggest game of the season and how there hasn’t been reports of Blues fans literally exploding with anxiety in the local news, I will never know.
I’ve been watching the clock slowly turn all day and it’s impossible to believe that 14 hours can seem as long as they have done today. I mean, really. Now there’s under an hour to go and I feel physically sick. I told Mrs Aff that she needn’t fix me up with any sort of dinner tonight because it wouldn’t stay in its container if we scored – and we will – but she insisted and did me a nice meat and veg meal. I ate a bit. Not much. I think it’ll stay down but if we could afford to skip horrific leg breaks, last minute penalty drama or early sendings off, that’d be swell.
Eerily, as I sat down to write this, V-H1 Classic has decided to throw up “The Winner Takes It All” by Abba…
I’ll be honest, it’s not one of my favourite songs but there’s a certain poignancy to it. The amount of times that I’ve read that this is it, a win and we’re safe and a loss and we can wave goodbye to the Premiership for another year. I’ve dismissed that and even moreso since we managed to hang on to 17th over the weekend but there’s no doubting that a win tonight could severely dent Newcastle’s chances as much as enhancing our own. After all, it’s all about scrambling to seventeenth and at the moment, we’re just about doing that and even if we lose tonight, we’ll still be doing that.
Today’s one of those games, isn’t it? A full match preview doesn’t do it justice so I’ve just decided that I’d sit down with my laptop before the game and write what I felt. There’s something less mechanical about writing when I’m in such a hyped up state but at the same time, I find myself being overly biased and, dare I say it, silly when I write in such a frenzied state!
Tonight’s game was the last thing I thought about before I went to bed last night and the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning. The morning ritual of coffee with Mrs Aff and getting clean and washed for the day ahead was permeated with “Come on you Blues!” under the breath and daydreaming of scenarios that might crop up tonight. Freak accidents happen all the time after all and what if say, James McFadden or Mikael Forssell fell over and rolled an ankle when doing a warm down playing, say, cricket? It happened to Jimmy Anderson… what if someone mistimes a tackle and leaves us with 10 men early on? What if we start like we did against Portsmouth? What if… what if… what if…
Aside from the excruciating anxiety, my day got off to a good start with traffic being kind and me getting into work nice and early. I’d like to believe that there was some sort of buzz around me and that everyone sitting on the bus could tell that this day meant so much to me – and us – but as I looked around at people listening to their iPods and reading their free copies of ‘The Metro’, I somehow doubted it. I sat down with my trusty copy of FourFourTwo and scoured the pages for our name… I don’t know why but I always smile when I see the words ‘Birmingham City’. Whenever I talk about ‘town’ to relatives in Australia, I refer to it as ‘Birmingham City centre’. Just so I can smile.
I got into work and looked for someone to talk to about the game… no such luck. I got into my office and kissed the scarf above my desk. “Come on Blues” I whispered to anyone that would be straining to hear my pleas. No-one answered. I secretly asked for us to be 2 up inside the opening ten minutes and then for the game to die out into a dire midfield battle where neither team looked like scoring. At 9:45 ish, I’ll know whether I’d have gotten my wish. My first wish that a friend or two be struck down by lightning and offer me their tickets for free hasn’t happened so I’m not holding my breath on the result, either.
All in all, not a bad day. Things went smoothly and the working day went quickly. Only when I got home did it begin to drag. I can’t believe that it’s only 19:15… if I’d been dreading 19:15, it would’ve come at a speed only matched by a NASA fuelled rocket.
As I type, the teams news has just come in. Predictably, we have made just one change with McFadden coming back in for Zarate. Glad about that. Newcastle have gone – predictably! – attacking with Martins, Owen and Viduka all starting. They suspect that he’ll start on the left but drift about. Johnson – who I still see as the more intelligent of our two centre mids – will have to be on his toes to track him. He’s dangerous from pretty much anywhere as shown by his 40 yard effort against Liverpool. Geremi also starts for the Geordies as does Joey Barton. I’ve always rated Geremi and as for Barton, he’s one of those players who I’ve always thought thinks he’s better than he is. Time will tell on that one. Newcastle has been the graveyard for more than one promising player over the years.
I feel sick… really, I do.
At 5:30, I met Mrs Aff from work and announced to all and sundry that I wasn’t feeling well. Everyone looked concerned until I explained. They then looked at me with pity. Women… the majority just don’t understand this football malarkey, do they? Imagine if I’d been as dismissive when asked to look at which sort of Wedding dress design I prefer yesterday afternoon?! (As it happens, I picked a nice one and I have excellent taste in both women’s clothing, Wedding dresses and jewellery – the more I discover about myself, the more I worry.)
But back to the game, Newcastle have a lot of quality, don’t they? I started off so optimistic this morning and confidently predicted a 3-1. I don’t buy into all this nonsense of “There run has to end sometime and it’d be TYPICAL if it happened tonight.” I don’t buy that we have worse luck than most clubs. We have a complex that makes us believe that luck plays a part in seeing us never achieve success but if we fail to win tonight, it’ll more than likely be because we haven’t done enough to win the game.
My confidence has been on the slide all day and now, the mere mention of Newcastle’s name leaves me trembling with fear. Not, you must understand Geordie fans, because I’m scared of you lot especially. But because I’m scared of some of the performances and results against teams around us since McLeish took over – Bolton away and Sunderland away particularly. The last few performances have perked us all right up but with this current side, you never feel like you’re too far away from a bad performance before the 3-4 game good run again. The problem is that the good runs coincide with good opponents resulting in points as opposed to three.
Just over half an hour to go… I don’t know what to do to fill that half an hour. I could watch the Setanta Sports preview but having seen a fifteen minute piece on Setanta Sports News where they sort of forgot that we were even involved in tonight’s game, I’ve decided to give it a miss. I’ve decided to give Tom Ross a miss too simply because he’s Tom Ross. I thought about listening to some music but when I’m nervous, I pace and listening to music will dictate the pace of my, well, pace and if I listen to something designed to pump me up for the game, I’ll be knackered before kick off…
Hell, I must bring this to a close now… It’s making my head hurt. I can’t bring myself to make a prediction so I’ll just hope that come 10 PM tonight, we’ve managed to pull it off and all this anxiety has been worth it.
Keep Right On and enjoy the game!