The holiday weekend
By Matt Rowson
Got anything planned for the holiday weekend?
Personally, I find public holidays a good excuse to spend some time with my folks; let my Mum cook for me, let the dog take me for a walk. Take a break from all the hassle, recharge the batteries. There'll probably be a half-decent film on at some point... if not, we might be able to get a video out or something.
Oh yes, there's some football on, isn't there ? Well, that'll be nice. The game against Wrexham on Saturday's quite important isn't it ? Could seal promotion or something. That Monday fixture looks a bit dull though. Can't see many people wanting to turn out for that one... with both teams all but guaranteed promotion and all, what is there to play for?
Oh yes, winning the title would be nice of course... but surely it's a trivial detail, the merest cherry on top of the icing on the promotion cake. Hardly something conducive to generating a bit of atmosphere. Indeed, consider the shared experiences of the two sets of fans this season : the sides boast very similar track records, having broken away from the pack early on, and stumbled as complacency set in. It could even be argued that each side has benefited from the other's presence. After all, each has taken points off the chasing pack, and kept up a degree of pressure on the other. Add to this the cordial relationship between the two managers... why, I suspect the atmosphere on Monday will be something akin to a testimonial, or friendly fixture.
It's hardly as if either side has a lot to prove, either. For example, were Watford widely expected to sign an exalted ex-England international, Liverpool captain and former Hornet hero to boot over the summer, one might expect the players to be playing for their places.... but what are the chances of that happening ? And after all, these players have achieved promotion... they will surely expect a little loyalty; it's not as if they'll have to prove their ability to face tougher opposition next season (assuming, of course, that promotion is secured).
Bristol are in the same boat of course, which only adds to the potential for this to be a laid-back, affable encounter. Two of their strikers are even loan-players; one can hardly expect them to be as committed to the cause as their colleagues. Sean McCarthy may have fallen out of favour at Oldham, and ex-Hayes striker Jason Roberts may be behind the likes of Goodman, Claridge, Bull, and Friedman not to mention Foley (although sadly, not Connolly) in the queue for places in the Wolves forward line.... but they won't really be out to impress, will they?
All in all a pretty dull encounter in prospect, I'm afraid. Strange that it's sold out though. Can't think what all the fuss is about. Still, as I've got a ticket, it would be a shame not to use it.
See you on Monday.
(With f***ing bells on!)