In the world of fantasy you can just quit and start again, a habit I always seem to follow when I find myself engulfed in a Football Manager session.
However, on Saturday I found myself not wishing there was a ‘Quit Game’ button and instead feeling thankful and positively about how far we’ve come as a football club.
It’s better to be in the League Two play-offs and lose away at the second placed club, than to fall to miserable defeat at Hayes & Yeading in mid-table conference mediocrity.
They were dark days weren’t they?
Prior to the last four games we’ve had moments where we’ve become frustrated by defeat, but now looking back I can’t help but say it’s not as bad as such and such.
I’ve been to some nightmare games in my time.
The defeat to Hayes and Yeading in 2011 was perhaps the lowest I’ve felt after a full time whistle – and the worst thing about it?
Clips of the game remain on the internet as a constant reminder - cheers Tyrone Thompson!
Arguably though, there have been worse. A 7-2 drubbing at a then poor Grimsby on New Year’s Day, losing away at the likes of Matlock Town in the FA Trophy to name a few.
But what really makes a bad day at the office? Perhaps an epically long journey or standing in the rain?
Maybe a heavy loss when you are the favourites, unfortunate and stupid sendings-off or something else?
One of my ‘nightmare’ defeats came in an FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay at Fleetwood.
Fleetwood were in good form and typically for Stags back then, it was teetering on the edge of average.
As I recall the first game was a decent performance from Paul Cox’s Stags and we were unlucky not to edge through. The replay three days later would prove a different story. More on the result later.
The journey was a nightmare. First there were road closures due to an accident and then roadworks every which way we seemed to turn – something the SatNav just wouldn’t comprehend and insisted we ‘turn around when possible and head straight for the three hour tail back of curing traffic’.
Generally I suffer from anxiety, this use to maximise when I was a commentator as I hated being late to grounds.
I used to want to arrive at least an hour before I was due on air, allowing maximum time for setting up equipment (in the conference you HAD to be prepared for a full on fist fight over a plug-socket) and getting in the zone.
So as you can imagine, any sign of a delay used to set me off.
Somehow we battled through the traffic, around back roads, maybe even through a few fields to get on track for a 6pm arrival, not ideal for me but it’ll do I thought.
What I didn’t bargain for was the need for a petrol top up (why this wasn’t sorted BEFORE we set off I’ve no idea) and then, a lull on lights failure.
There we were, just outside Fleetwood, having made up some time topped up with fuel and optimistic about the game when suddenly we were plunged into complete darkness.
What happened next shouldn’t have happened – we drove on, being flashed at due to the full beams being used, for at least 10 miles.
We pulled up outside Highbury on a sidestreet and legged it, getting in the ground a 7.20pm, leaving our capable driver to sort the transport home – a questionable £60 wiring job from a local garage. Enough said.
With all the havoc of the journey, we hadn’t heard the team news.
Inside the ground it became apparent that more than half of the squad had been wiped out (by a bout of food poisoning from the original tie, not by the aforementioned accident) and that half of the players that Mickey Moore had put out in Paul Cox’s illness-induced absence, were walking wounded.
As the Fleetwood cold and rain began to pour, Death-Bed Town were ran into the ground by Rampant Fleetwood, who were two up at the break and notched another three past Alan Marriott in the second half, without whom it would have been a cricket score.
On the bright side, Jamie Vardy in his pre Premier-League domination days didn’t score!
The way home was far less eventful, but isn’t that always the way.
Had we WON 5-0 and endured the traffic problems on the return journey, we’d have laughed it off!
Other ones I could recall with a groan, are the likes of Braintree and their complete lack of organisation in relation to the press, or the trip to Ebbsfleet in the burning heat, where Paul Cox was nearly fighting with the home fans after being sent to the stands.
There are loads from up and down the years, I’m sure there are for you too – do feel free to share them.
Either way, Saturday’s defeat at second placed Plymouth may have put an end to the recent U-turn in form, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the dark nightmares of bygone seasons.
Seventh place in Mid-February, the ball is in our court and the article I wrote about Murray’s men not being able to achieve play-off promotion this year is still out there to bite me on the bum – come on fellas, I’m hungry and want to eat my words, I guess we’ll see what happens!
That’s it for this week, I’m off to scour the local DVD store for some of those Football Failure-type DVDs where ex-players like Dion Dublin do awful voice-overs including cheesy lines relating to their other shows.
I can just see it now “Tyrone Thompson had all the space of an open-plan kitchen diner there, and yet he’s managed to squeeze a king-size bed into the box room of a mid-terrace two up two down”.