Keep the faith - or just submit to fate
PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 February 2009 | UPDATED: 16:06 10 September 2010
I recall a conversation around two years ago with a pal at work around this time of the season. There were around a dozen or so games to go and his team were looking down the barrel of a gun which was loaded and ready to fire a bullet etched with the word "relegation".
I recall a conversation around two years ago with a pal at work around this time of the season. There were around a dozen or so games to go and his team were looking down the barrel of a gun which was loaded and ready to fire a bullet etched with the word “relegation”.
The chat we had was around all the away games that Bob's team had to play in the run-in. He was adamant the he and his boys would go to every game till the end of the season. His reasoning was simple. Keep the faith, but it may be several years before they would get a chance to go back.
The season ended in high drama for Bob and his family. On the last day of the season they won a crucial game to ensure their team's survival. On that Sunday afternoon I faithfully promised Bob that I would watch the game on TV and keep him updated by text, so he would know how the other games at the foot of the table were progressing.
It turned out that there were many false messages being put around that afternoon about whether Sheffield United or Wigan were winning. A sudden whisper become fact and the crowd were suddenly cheering about a goal that the guy next to the bloke, who was sitting behind the man, who had the radio who heard the boy in front of them say that so-and-so's scored.
For who and against whom? No one had a clue whether the crucial goal that could save or condemn their team had been scored.
At the start of the game, my promise was announced by Bob to all and sundry around him at Old Trafford that no one was to believe any rumours, whispers, tittle-tattle or gossip until Bob told them so, and it had been confirmed by text from “Goal Update HQ” in my living room in Kenton, NW London. This promise reassured all around him and I was guaranteed as 100pc reliable. It ain't happened until Tim has said it, proclaimed Bob as he and his family took their seats for possibly their final 90 minutes of Premier League Football.
As the drama unfolded that afternoon, it turned out that Bob's team survived the drop. But only just.
I really wanted West Ham to beat Manchester United that day.
The merits or otherwise of their survival from the Premiership are still being debated in pubs, chat rooms and in the courts of England, and I, for one am not convinced about how justified their remaining in the Premiership was or how deserved Sheffield United's relegation was.
But that day I wanted them to survive for Bob, a work colleague and friend I had known for 20 years.
Bob stuck that season out, saw it through to the bitter end in the hope that it might just turn out okay after 38 games. By some miracle West Ham survived.
I was at the defeatist stage last week as we slipped into the bottom three after Watford beat Swansea. Reality had paid us an unwelcome visit, but City are where they deserve to be, in the bottom three.
I have two choices; either accept our fate, or to keep the faith and cheer the team on at every game and somehow believe we'll get out of the mess we are in, just like Bob did, two years ago.
We have to believe City will survive. If we don't we're doomed already.