Support and report #1 — Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough
Despite The Seventy Two being fortunate enough to regularly receive valued contributions from a small number of excellent writers, coverage of all 36 Football League games each weekend verges on the impossible.
In a bid to go some way to rectifying this, I will be inviting short reports from supporters up and down the country (and Wales…), so that the site can reflect feelings in the stands at more than just one corner of the East Midlands.
If you wish to send in a report in the future, please keep it brief (ideally 200-300 words), focus on the emotions off the pitch rather than the events on it and send it by email to email@example.com by 7.30pm on the Sunday evening following the game.
The first couple of reports received this weekend are a great example of what I’m looking for.
Many thanks to Richard Jones and Mark Forster for offering their thoughts, which you can read below:
Crystal Palace 1 Queen’s Park Rangers 2
Written by: Richard Jones
The appearance of Queen’s Park Rangers at Selhurst has rarely been so hotly anticipated. The return of Neil Warnock, Shaun Derry and Clint Hill was a chance for us to show off our new brand of passing football, replacing the ‘hoofball’ tactics of numerous previous managers including Warnock himself.
Unfortunately, some of that passing football included Edgar Davids’ horror back pass just after half time. Jamie Mackie pounced to round the keeper and square to Adel Taarabt who scored. It was a shame to see Davids make such a bad mistake and there are plenty of fans unconvinced as to whether any of his world beating quality is still apparent.
While there’s no question that some of his pace has gone, he hassles and bosses players well and, at the very least, is a huge inspiration to the young squad. Palace rallied well and had the better of the chances in the remainder of the half, with Kieron Cadogan and Wilfred Zaha impressing far more than the much heralded Mackie and Taarabt.
When Palace did score, it inevitably came through the two youngsters, Zaha bursting into the box past Hill and crossing for Cadogan to deftly score on the volley.
These two kids are exemplars of the academy which has kept the club running through the tough times. Victor Moses was a product of our academy and his sale to Wigan meant players were paid and the gates kept open last season.
Rangers’ winning goal was greeted with anger around three quarters of the ground, as it appeared Julian Speroni had been fouled by Heidar Helguson. A sense of injustice remained until the evening highlights show proved Speroni’s protests were unfounded.
Hill and Derry inevitably played expertly but, despite this, their presence was greeted with applause; their heroics at Hillsborough, back in May, still fresh in the memory.
There’s lots to be excited about and concerned with but despite the league position it’s been a cracking season so far. George Burley has brought in exciting young talent and a marquee signing in Edgar Davids and, whatever his faults, I still have to pinch myself when I see him in action.
If we can cut out the silly mistakes and keep hold of some of these loan players a little longer, sniffing around the play-off places isn’t impossible.
Helguson’s goal meant enduring a particularly smug post-match interview from Warnock and another evening in the Jolly Sailor wondering where it all went wrong.
Next up is Millwall at home, which was expertly advertised on the big screen alongside a Crystal Palace dartboard. Top marks to the guys behind that!
Middlesbrough 2 Portsmouth 2
Written by: Mark Forster
Boro fans today had the opportunity to voice their dissatisfaction with manager Gordon Strachan after two disastrous away performances in a week, but two surprise goals in the first 45 minutes against Pompey meant chants condemning the Boro boss were put on hold.
However, after the visitors netted twice in reply and a sending off for “vice captain” Barry Robson, fans now don’t know where to look, as it seems all hope of promotion is lost after only ten games.
Many are even contemplating the prospect of a relegation battle and even the few pro-Strachan supporters are now in agreement that his honeymoon and ‘team building’ period is definitely over.
Fan favourite and another ex-Celtic boss Tony Mowbray’s name was being uttered around the stands as a potential replacement, but would the man who sold half of Celtic to Boro be welcomed by players he didn’t think were up to the task in the SPL?
A post match interview by Strachan on local radio also infuriated fans further with more phoning in to complain about his comments (now dubbed ‘Strachan-Gate’) than the performance on the pitch.
Whatever happens it’s safe to say that many feel that even darker times are ahead in the North East and as a Boro fan I’m struggling to find any positives coming from the place at the moment.
A text I received after the game seemed to sum up Boro fans feelings at the moment perfectly, it simply said: “The pitchforks are being sharpened”.