From defeat to magnificent victory, from crisis to good news for all CTFC travelling fans. It truly has been a week of contrasting fortunes. If anyone is up there controlling this, I’d like a week where everything progresses gently, the Reds win every game comfortably and everyone gets on like a house on fire. Please?
After a Bank Holiday Weekend at work, looking after transport issues for the Notting Hill Carnival (where the bass is turned up so loud that even the air vibrates), I returned home looking forward to a trip to the seaside. Well, Southend. It may in reality be “On Thames” rather than “On Sea” but it is still much nicer than an afternoon in Ladbroke Grove Station (sorry if you’re reading this in Ladbroke Grove Station, but if you are, stop reading and get back to work). And then the phone rang. Crawley Luxury Coaches were no longer going to provide coaches to the Alliance or to any other CTFC Supporters as they were “sick of the politics”. I have to say that I agreed with the second part of that statement, I’m also sick of the politics, particularly given it’s all so unnecessary. Competition is all well and good, but who is it serving? We agreed to have one united supporters organisation, and that’s what we should have, for the benefit of our supporters and the community. Anyway, I digress. Phone put down, I had a small moment of panic. Then picked up the phone again, had a chat with Travel Ken, and got on with making other arrangements.
Tuesday night at Southend was quite frustrating. The positives- a very good coach journey, a decent bag of fish and chips (if you’re a regular reader of my blogs you’ll see a pattern emerging here), good company and a brilliant second half performance. The negatives? I know we moan regularly about refereeing decisions; it’s part of the normal routine of a football supporter. But I’m not sure I’ve ever been quite so frustrated at a ref in my entire life. If you were following the Alliance twitter feed (ctsalliance) I apologise for my ranting, but dear God Almighty, it was appalling. The referee, for me, got perhaps two decisions right all night- a penalty he gave to Southend and the sending off. I’m fairly convinced he only gave the second because it happened about six inches from his nose. In the first half I thought that Tubbs should have had two penalties- the second, particularly, seemed nailed on. In the second half, to add insult to injury, Akinde was taken down by the Southend keeper right in front of us and booked for diving! So a third defeat in a row- yet still reason for positivity; 270 minutes of football in which we’d played only one poor half (but we will no longer speak of Cheltenham!).
Wednesday morning was probably the turning point of the week. By lunchtime the efforts of Travel Ken and I had secured two quotes for coach travel for the rest of the season which were significantly better than that we had previously. Look out for an announcement later this week- but the winners will be anyone who likes to travel away to watch our mighty Reds, as we will be able to pass on the savings. Remember, we exist only to serve our members and to promote the needs of our club and community, not to make grandiose profits. Also hugely significant was a conversation I had on Wednesday afternoon- perhaps there is still a chance that coach provision for CTFC fans can happen under one umbrella after all. If it doesn’t happen it certainly won’t be because the Alliance doesn’t want it.
Before I move on to the wonderful game we watched yesterday, I’d like to say thanks to the football club, to Silpa, and to the many supporters who’ve offered help or simply been complementary. The club have been wonderfully supportive of our efforts, promoting our travel and our membership drive on their website and in the programme, offering advice, providing dvd’s for away coaches, free match tickets the other night at Southend, and generally listening to me moaning for a couple of hours every week! I’d also like to thank Silpa for her support, advice and offers of help. Even when the rest of the interim Board and I are having a negative moment- and there have been a few, the learning curve has been enormous- we’ve never been able to forget the groundswell of support that enabled the Alliance to happen and has pushed us forward since. If we forget to say so often enough, apologies.
So, on to Bristol Rovers. A wonderful day; glorious sunshine, glorious football and four glorious home goals. Speaking to Colin Bowman, who was putting together his report for the paper before the game, I pointed out that we weren’t having a crisis, even a mini one, and that if we’d taken our chances in the last three games we’d have won them all. I predicted a thumping home win, but that doesn’t make me clairvoyant- everyone I spoke to thought the same, so we were all correct, and if that makes us soothsayers then I’m sharing last nights lottery jackpot with 2000 winners from the Crawley area! Credit to Bristol Rovers fans for travelling such a long way in large numbers and supporting their team throughout, but that team was second best for the entire game. A magnificent performance- perhaps even better than we were at Torquay a few weeks ago. The only thing missing? A big plate of fish and chips!
So, onwards to next week, Morecambe v CTFC, third v first, and hopefully the start of a sustained run at the top of the League- one that will continue until, oh I don’t know, May perhaps? Seats are available on the Alliance coach (and if they look like selling out we’ll hire a double decker!), so give Travel Ken a call on 07843124845 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure you get on! See you next Saturday.