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Here we go again…

August 1, 2013

Pre-season 2000; I was 14 years old, bursting with excitement for the season to begin. Dad had decided I could be trusted to go to the away games without him, so me and my good mate Micky got booked on the Supporters Club coach for Newport away.

I spent part of the 6-weeks holiday in a totally productive manner. I bought a St George’s flag and busied myself with a marker pen until B A F C were drawn into each corner, with ‘Burton Albion’ across the middle, with, and this is the best bit – the yellow Billy Brewer badge bang in the middle, cut out off an Albion FA Cup flag I had bought before Kingstonian away.

And believe me, when I say B A F C were drawn into each corner, I mean drawn. With my ruler out marking the outline, I paid the type of attention to detail on my flag that Rowett puts into his signings. Neil Buchanan eat your heart out.

A masterpiece. (I still wonder where it got to.)

I can still remember the Friday night before Newport away, I was literally as excited as a kid on Christmas eve.

My Albion white away-top (best away top we’ve had!) was hanging up, my money carefully set aside for my trip ‘abroad’.

I just could not sleep. Travelling away without my Dad, I felt all grown up. After finishing runners-up to Boston the season before, this season promised plenty. We had to win the league, didn’t we? We had the strongest squad, some of the best crowds below the Conference, this was it, our best chance yet of promotion…

It was a baking hot summer Saturday.

I can’t remember much about the journey down, but I remember being mightily unimpressed with Newport’s Spytty Park running-track ground.

The Newport fans congregated in the big main stand with the Albion fans opting to top up their tan’s on the open terrace opposite. I hung my flag up, and hoped it might appear in the backdrop of one of the Mail’s match pictures.

Wearing the white away strip (again, the best away top we’ve had!) and with Phil Starbuck and Aaron Webster leading the line, we were awful.

The bits that stick in my head are thinking “what a waste… why isn’t he playing?” when seeing Anton Thomas kicking a ball around on his own at half time (his departure was imminent), then Newport scoring just 15 seconds into the second half… Before late on, Phil Starbuck squaring a ball across the 6-yard box, and Newport full-back Darren Robison attempting to smash the ball forward from the back-post… but mis-kicking into his own net.

Relief, we got out of jail that day because we didn’t deserve anything.

This Saturday it all starts again. Micky, Reggie (who was also at Newport under the watchful eye of Dave and Veronica!) and me getting the train to Cheltenham.

I have to be honest, I don’t have the same excitement I had way back in 2000! With such a busy summer getting married, honeymoon-ing, lots on at work, the pre-season seems to have just raced by… then again the pre-seasons are getting shorter and shorter.

I know though that when my alarm sounds on Saturday morning I’ll be buzzing with excitement, ready for another season of trials and tribulations with my beloved Brewers.

On the first day of the 2000/01 season, we expected and hoped for league success. We ended up runners-up again, Margate just beating us past the post as we drew too many home games.

Coming up to the start of the 2013/14 season, I’m not 100% sure what to expect?

I do like to be positive when I can, but I think ultimately I’m a realist – I like to look at the facts first, such as when I defended the signing of Michael Symes.

And being totally realistic, when you’ve lost 2 of your strongest players and top goal-scorers from the season before and are unsure how well the new signings are going to settle in, it will only be the extremely optimistic amongst us who would expect us to better last season’s 4th place.

If I had to bet on where we’ll finish this season, I’ll say between 7th-10th. Yet again it’s a fiercely competitive league with, yet again, some massive teams who will see nothing else other than achieving promotion as a successful season.

Off course Rowett and co aren’t going to be complacent and just settle for mid-table, I think on paper we’re more than capable of the play-offs, it’s just very hard to predict what will happen in any of the Football League – barring the Prem.

Off course we could easily go and finish top 3; then again we could do a Torquay and follow up a successful season with a relegation battle, it’s that type of league and even Mystic Meg would have trouble predicting it.

Looking to Saturday’s game, I’d have settled for a point with our strongest squad available. But with Diamond, Bell, Howe all out and Kee a doubt (though I’ve heard he got through the last training session with no problems) you start thinking we’ve got our work cut out against one of the league’s top teams.

I think we’ll line up with 1 up front, possibly Reed or Weir playing off Symes, with young Matty Palmer making his first league start… but then again, what do I know?!

If we come away with a point, I’ll be happy.

Whatever happens this season, promotion challenge, mid-table boredom, or relegation dogfight, as long as I see my team giving 100% (as the cliché goes!) then I’ll be happy.

5th season of the Albion being a Football League club… beats Spytty Park in the Southern Prem. Even if my flag did appear in the backdrop of one of the Mail’s match pictures.

Here’s to a successful 2013/14… UTB


From → The Albion.

One Comment
  1. Good luck lads, promotion this time around.

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