With last Saturday’s scheduled print run halted on the press when the adverse weather intervened, the creative duo’s latest words of wisdom were seemingly doomed never to see the light of day — but are now featured below on bufc.co.uk.
“It seems so long since I’ve written in this space, but three consecutive away games — two actually played — have left York Street redundant, the only inhabitant being an obese snowman in the car park.
“In the summer, those boffins at Conference HQ sat back smugly and admired their beautiful blocks of fixtures, apportioned neatly on the dates they were destined to be played. Now we’re at that stage of the season where their handiwork is torn asunder by club secretaries, county cups and shields, and the evil will of Jack Frost, fixtures are tossed up in the air and the fixture controllers are sat head in hands, sobbing into their Ovaltine.
“And in that spirit, we’ve had a string of away trips that encapsulated all the emotions of football that keep us addicted, flocking back week after week. There were similarities in that both the games at Corby Town and Colwyn Bay — or ‘internationals’ in a Scottish colony and Wales — saw first-rate Boston performances and last-gasp goals. One went in our favour, one didn’t, but boy, does it keep things interesting.
“God knows what would have happened at Hinckley had it gone ahead — probably would have been a 14-goal thriller played in a Siberian blizzard with a hat-trick for Kevin Austin.
“There were great scenes of celebration in the dying embers of the game at Corby as Ben ‘Whippet‘ Fairclough dipped his head aerodynamically and ran and ran and ran, looking up momentarily to thwonk Conor Marshall’s cross home for the winner.
“It was minute 93, about the same as the winner at Workington, but a whole five minutes earlier than the deciders at Bishop’s Stortford and at home to Colwyn Bay. Like a good deodorant or Bruce Forsyth, United just keep going and going and going, an admirable skill to have if a bit nerve shredding on the Golden Goal raffle.
“Corby’s new stadium just reminded me of a bijou meal in one those fancy restaurants — you’re left thinking something is missing, despite the whole affair being quite expensive — but it was a damn sight closer than Colwyn Bay which, in a demonstration of flawless logic, was re-arranged for Tuesday night.
“Underneath my receding hair, there’s obviously a few screws worked loose because I didn’t, at any stage, contemplate not going on the 378-mile epic to North Wales. It’s the Conference North equivalent of taking a bus to Mordor, if not quite as dramatic. You know it’s a long way when you start needing your toes to count the number of Little Chefs you’ve seen and you eat three square meals en route.
“Mile after monotonous mile was rewarded with an engrossing game, but not the right outcome as United were stung in the closing minutes by a corking goal. A week-and-a-half after Boston had mugged an opponent when everything seemed over, they were left feeling their pockets and gulping down their own medicine.
“What goes around, comes around. It was the universe balancing itself out or something and those fixture controllers would be pleased by that. Up the Pilgrims!”
* * *
“In boxing, Muhammad Ali was known as the greatest. But he also lost five of his 61 fights. That pulsating Ole Gunnar Solskjaer volley at the Camp Nou in 1999 finished off a dramatic comeback and saw Manchester United complete the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble. It may have been the most successful season an English club has ever enjoyed, but during that campaign they were stuffed 3-1 by Sheffield Wednesday and lost against Middlesbrough.
“In 2007 the New England Patriots had the perfect domestic season, recording (as they call it) a sixteen-and-oh! That year, wide receiver Wes Welker recorded the most receptions and Randy Moss set an NFL record with 23 touchdown catches. But that campaign ended in heartbreak as they lost the Superbowl final to, in a twist of familiarity, the New York Giants.
“So what’s my point? Well, even the best have bad days. No matter how high your confidence is. No matter how well you’re playing. No matter whether your preparation is 100 times better than your opponents. Winning is never, ever guaranteed.
“Over the Christmas period, pretty much every British football fan laughed their heads off at Man United losing consecutive games to Blackburn and Newcastle. The reason? Well, in part, because many don’t like the Red Devils’ dominance, some have a habitual dislike of anyone who pulls on the shirt, some loathe manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and seeing them fail is a real privilege.
“But mostly, the laughed because it shouldn’t happen. United have dominated the Premier League and picked up plenty of trophies in the past. Blackburn were, at the time, relegation certs and the club’s fans were staging weekly protests calling for Steve Kean’s head.
“In Britain, we laugh when hubris smacks someone round the face. We cheer when — against all the odds — the big guys lose. Yep, we love an upset. Whether it’s Coventry winning the FA Cup, Coventry being knocked out of the FA Cup by Sutton United the following year, Rocky beating Apollo Creed or Forrest Gump sealing the deal with Jenny — we’ll always route for the little guy who punches above his weight, who defies the odds.
“As shown in my opening gambit, even the best in their businesses can succumb to the little guy. But the greatest teams and sportsmen are the ones who can come back from defeat. Who can — to quote Neil Thompson — “dust themselves down and kick on again.”
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something,” said the great basketball star Michael Jordan. “But I can’t accept not trying.”
“If anything, that quote sums ups United’s midweek defeat at Colwyn Bay. In freezing temperatures, players, managers and staff made the 400-mile midweek trek to the far end of North Wales. There they gave their all, twice taking the lead and being cruelly defeated by a last-gasp strike from distance that may only have found the net one in 10 attempts.
“There, the joy of football was summed up for the Seagulls fans. There the pain of football was summed up for the 50 hardy travelling souls. That defeat brought an end to what some were seeing as the team’s mini-revival.
“The draw with Nuneaton and the late victory over Corby, complete with a switch in style, seemed to suit the club. Fans believed this new outlook could see the side climb the table. Suddenly, defeat at Colwyn Bay made the side look fallible again.
“But today’s outcome and the rest of the season is not defined by Tuesday’s heart-breaking defeat. It is defined by how the club bounce back from setbacks.”