FA Carling Premiership, 23/4/00
Running in, please pass
By Martin Blanc
Well, it's all come down to a good kickaround, and what a bloody splendid kickaround it was. Knocked five bells out of the cheating Gooners, started playing like a Premiership outfit all in all, and despite the crimson embarrassment of the utterly unjustifiable, though somehow larger-truthful, halftime score, it was a fantastic afternoon. The refereeing got comedic after a while, then tragic, but we all departed - the day and the league - with our heads held high, including Robbo who quit the pitch like he'd just finished his third encore at Knebworth, God bless him.
The game wasn't packed with little incidents, it was crammed with huge neon-lit ones, from hero-to-zero Seaman in the first minute to the mincing overpaid French tart's Glasgow kiss on Helguson in the last, by way of a splendid lightning storm and a free bar of chocolate - and there isn't much that requires comment passed. Hurrah. Just to say that I hope Tommy Smith's on a low wage, so he doesn't have to take the pay cut that's coming to everyone and decides to stick around; and that GT is indeed unique amongst men. For he has listened and observed, and done what he could, and will hopefully buy and sell slightly more deftly, and with more luck, than he did last summer. Cos we can do this, whether or not we want to swallow or choke on the lucre next time we're up in this league, we can stick it to them.
But how we stuck it to them. Ten goal attempts for their every one, but that just meant thirty of ours yielded zilch in the first half, and the Arse were batting 1000, as our Yank friends say. Oh, it was pulsating stuff, and the needlepoint accuracy of their third was undeniably entertaining. But we worked our way back into it, should/could have levelled...oh, this was really a season highpoint - more representative than Anfield or Chelsea, let's face it. But we do some things supremely well - like losing 3-2. It didn't come naturally - our first 3-2 defeat was crap, undeniably, but the rest have been engrossing, irritating, and not necessarily the best we can do, I mean they augur more promise from our beloved team, and that's why it's frustrating when the next week, the tank seems to be empty.
Oh what the hell, the season's run-in is upon us - this is the batch of games we looked at from afar and thought, oh God, please don't let us need the points from these games to stay up, please let us be sorted by then. And you know something? We don't. And we are. So let's party like last year was 1999, and next year we'll be back in this division, this league, this wretched pandemic loadsamoney pissing contest...and we can send GT out on a high.