It’s that time of the year again.
Tomorrow at approximately 4.50pm I shall either be sizzling with satisfaction, fiercely frustrated or dangerously depressed. Yes, that’s right - the football season starts again. And I’m talking about the real football season here, not the pseudo-rugby that Americans call football, nor the pompous, over-rated gluttony that is the English Premiership.
My attention will be focussed completely on a small Somerset town where my beloved team, the mighty Saddlers (aka Walsall), will be in combat with Yeovil Town at Huish Park. I will not be there, much to my chagrin, mainly because I live so far away, but also because Mrs PM would reject me with maximum prejudice were I to spend my weekends away from her, screaming with a tribe of like minded Saddlers, as our mighty team do battle on the field of play.
I’ve waited for this all summer. When the football season ends in May, a little piece of my soul is stolen. In England we are meant to enjoy the beautiful weather and relax; the only problem is that the beautiful weather never arrives and most of the time we stare out of the window as the storm clouds expel an ocean of water onto our cities. I would argue that summertime in England is the ideal time to play football, and would gladly back any argument to play the beautiful game every single week of the year. Of course this is not possible and players deserve a rest, so begrudgingly I don’t complain (too much anyway).
During the void that is summer, I have to content myself scrutinizing the internet searching for news on new players. Will we sign a new striker or midfield dynamo? How about a stalwart defender who will let no opposing striker run rampant in our area? What about the safest goalkeeper in the league?
I was disappointed last season because after a lot of promise and a massive unbeaten run, Walsall floundered and ended up finishing in a tedious style in mid table. We also lost the manager, Richard Money (or “Dicky Dosh” as the fans christened him). I was distraught. I regarded him as our best manager for years and he simply walked out. I don’t want to dwell on the reasons why but my frustration was almost unbearable. Many Walsall fans share my irritation (some more than others) and voice their opinions on different platforms. I prefer not to do that. I am not as vociferous as most.
However, now the new manager, Jimmy Mullen, has acquired several decent new recruits and I feel frighteningly confident. I am desperately resisting the inexorable urge to be over-optimistic but it is a massive struggle. My heart tells me that we shall romp through the season winning every game. My head shoots that line of reasoning down in flames, reminding me that there are some very good teams out there who will potentially destroy us. Leeds United will be formidable as will Leicester City. I hope I’m wrong but common sense tells me otherwise.
Of course every fan of every other League One team will be imbued with exactly the same amount of confidence as I am, even though in some cases that confidence will be undeserved.
Me, I will choose to succumb to the excitement in the hope that my club and the players will not let me down.
At 4:50 on Saturday I may be drinking a beer to toast the heroic Saddlers or to drown my sorrows. I pray that fate shines a light on the away team at Huish Park tomorrow and we demolish Yeovil Town.
Come on Walsall – make my day!
Up The Saddlers