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Oh, me of little faith!
By Ian Grant
"Seventh?!? You're 'aving a larf, sunshine!"

Put your hands up if you didn't think we'd be promoted this season. Just me, then?

Yes, I was dumb enough to predict that we'd finish seventh - worse, I did it in a national magazine. Doh. My excuse? Years of lowering expectations in anticipation of another season of fuzzy mundanity at Vicarage Road. I had hopes for this year, I always do - but I didn't believe.

I was wrong, obviously. It's been a fantastic jam doughnut of a season, all my dreams come true. From Johnno's eclipsing presence to Palace's pitiful plummet, it's been Christmas come early, late and all points in between.

Bizarrely, my natural pessimism probably made the whole thing more enjoyable. As panic-stricken Grimsby-watching reached a crescendo, I remained unusually calm - having not even expected to make the playoffs, it was difficult to get down-hearted about the occasional defeat and some wonky performances. Besides, when you live in Archer-torn Brighton, there's always someone nearby who's really suffering....

Off the field and on the Net, it was mayhem: five hundred Mailing List subscribers, one thousand copies of BSaD's "Luddite Edition" fanzine sold. From being part of the Watford IFC team that out-sang all-comers at the Euronet tournament in Middlesbrough to charging round to Gillingham to support the Donny Rovers fans to that final day of wondrous madness in London, I don't think I've ever finished a season with so many fond memories.

But, for me, there's one recollection that over-shadows all others - the first half against Brentford was a joy, replete with special moments that really did make me happy when skies were very, very grey. Occasionally, no matter how often it disappoints and frustrates, no matter how viciously its exploited by those who'd sell its soul, football does actually provide an escape route into enchantment and glory.

Treasure those moments.