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2014/15, a few memories

May 23, 2015

Some memories from an unforgettable season…

Dagenham at home. Jamie Cureton poachers the Daggers ahead, we toil in vain for an equaliser. Rowett brings on Palmer and Harness; the young guns. A slightly overweight looking Billy Kee joins the action too. All 3 are instrumental in us turning the game around, winning 2-1 late on after Harness wins a penalty. Stocky Billy bags a brace. I preferred stocky Billy to slimline Billy anyway…

Mansfield away. Over 500 travelling Brewers create one of the best atmospheres I think I’ve experienced at an away game. ‘Dale Cavesi’ has become the sound of the season. Reece started drumming away at the start of the second half and a chant you’d expect to peter out after a few minutes just grew louder and louder… Jim Smallman, comedian and football groundhopper, summed it up in his blog (http://thefootballneutral.com/);

From the very instant that the second half kicked off until the very end of the game, the Burton fans were singing, jumping up and down, dancing and looked like they were having the best time possible.  Honestly, I’ve never seen such stunning away support.  You always expect the travelling fans to be loud and proud, but these guys were having the time of their lives.  They were closer to the PSV fans that I watched at Ajax last year that anything I’ve seen in the UK.  Hats off to them.

I remember seeing a little lad stood at the front not even watching the game, he was stood facing us lot at the back of the stand. He was joining in with the singing, dancing around on the spot, looking like he was having the time of his life, and that’s what it’s all about. Our support went to the next level that day.

On the pitch, Alex McDonald gave us the lead with a shot that took about 17 deflections before Callum McFadzean scored in the 2nd half sending us mad in the away end. The game got dirtier and dirtier as Mansfield took “getting stuck in” to a different level. It was a travesty that we ended the game with 10-men after Robbie Weir objected to getting stamped on. Some would call Mansfield physical, I’d call them dirty bastards.

There was the League Cup run. We looked so comfortable against Wigan, and as for QPR, wow. I watched the highlights back and had forgot how many chances we had! Marcus Harness was sensational against a strong QPR side and gave Clint Hill a torrid time. McGurk won it, a big-game goal from a big-game player.

This was a big deal, beating a Premier League side for the first time. But as the players walked off routinely at full time, it made me think we really do have a proper set of professional’s here. They’re not getting carried away with this, it’s just another good night’s work – testimony again to the squad Gary Rowett put together.

Onto September and Portsmouth at home. Had a great night out with Luke and a few Pompey mates of his, Callum, his Dad, and Steve, as we did a tour of the town centre pubs. Great lads who follow Pompey all over the country, hopefully we’ll meet up again soon.

Next day and nursing a slight hangover I witnessed a great win in the September sun, live on the Sky cameras too. We looked simply unbeatable.

Rowett left us. Inevitable in the end, but still sad. The job he did in turning us around from strugglers to contenders was fantastic, I didn’t see that coming when he was appointed.

Would the season now fizzle out? Anxious times…

Gary Megson drives past me in a white BMW down Wetmore Road – I swear it was him! I even put £20 on him being the next manager… It’ll be £20 I never get back.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is appointed our new manager.

I’m unsure. Does he know the lower leagues? Will this work?

Wycombe away. I watch it down Holden’s.

No Sharps or Bell. Palmer and Lenihan start centre-mid. We’re wearing Wycombe’s socks due to a mix-up.

But we win 3-1.

A strong performance and a brilliant result, the JFH era starts in style…

Luton at home, an absolute battle between 2 very good teams. Phil Edwards scores one of his important goals and we remain resilient to see the game out. A big win.

Fast-forward to February 7th, Cheltenham away. I’m moving house, Holden and me assembling a wardrobe as Albion dismantle the Robins.

That 3-1 win reminded me of when we beat Gainsborough 1-0 around the same time in the Unibond season. That night my Dad said that’s it now, we’ve gone and won there today, we’ll do it! And I got the same feeling after the Cheltenham away game.

Archie James is born on 19th February, and 2 days later he’s sat with me as Nasser El Khayati scores his first Brewers goal as we rack up another away victory. Luke got me a programme and Marv gave his match ticket from the game for Archie, a memento for him when he’s a little older – just hope he likes football!! Nice touch from Luke and Marv, thanks again lads.

The Southend game is my favourite home game of the season. At half-time I was stood despondent on the terrace. Southend had been all over us. Fortunately for us Mclaughlin saved a Corr peno; unfortunately for us Corr managed to score soon after. Robbie Weir then got himself sent off.

I couldn’t have predicted that 2nd half. Palmer levels it, and despite being a man down we’re looking good, causing Southend problems in a role reversal of the first half.

Just as we’re about to settle for a point, Nasser produces one of the moments of the season. It was bedlam behind that goal when his placed shot found the bottom corner, absolute scenes, one of the celebrations of the season!

This team just kept surpassing expectations.

Another thing I took from that night – when we signed Nasser, I watched a 10-min youtube video of his highlights. As some hip-hop track effed away in the background (you may want to something a bit more PG, Nasser!), he jinked, dribbled and left Dutch lower league players for dead. He looked very skilful, but would League 2 defenders put up with this? How would he react to some strong challenges?

As Nasser grabbed a Southend player by the throat in the aftermath of Robbie Weir’s red card, I put those doubts to one side.

Tranmere’s Prenton Park gives you a great view of the action, and it was one of them memorable awaydays as McCrory, Akins, Nasser (my new hero!), and Mr OG gave us a 4-1 away victory in the Merseyside sun. Jon Mclaughlin saved his 2nd penalty of the week as his strong form continued.

Carlisle at home was the definition of that great cliché “rollercoaster of emotions.” There’s not been many other times I’ve gone to a game so sure of an Albion win. Danny Grainger’s stunning early free kick see’s us behind, but there’s plenty of time for us to rattle a few in.

The game soon settles into the rhythm we all expected of constant Albion pressure, as Carlisle time waste at any time-wasting opportunity. But the problem is when we shoot, their ‘keeper is saving it, and when he doesn’t save it, the bar or post is in the way.

This remains the case well into the second half. Carlisle also delve deeper into new levels of time-wasting. My favourite was a floated ball, not hit at great pace, hitting the back of their players head and him going down wanting treatment. You had to be there to believe it.

Edwards and McCrory became extra wingers as we seemed to go back to 1953 and played the 2-5-3 formation, but still the ball would not go in! Pure frustration in the terraces, but relief as we won a late peno…

I felt sick with nerves as McCrory stepped up. The ground fell silent. McCrory hit it low, to the ‘keeper’s left, but he’s done it again, the ‘keeper is down quick and with a strong arm he saves the ball, heads go into hands and I actually feel gutted, like I’ve been hit in the stomach, this is unbearable…

In the 98th minute the ball is bouncing around the Carlisle area, Denny Johnstone doesn’t seem to strike the ball cleanly but that doesn’t matter as the ball finally falls into the corner of the net and we can all finally celebrate the equaliser, it’s a release of pressure and a feeling of relief, I walk home with no voice left and feeling like I’ve played 98 minutes myself.

Onto Morecambe… it was all rather calm, like it was inevitable we would go up. It didn’t have the ‘cup final’ feel of Torquay in the Conference. I kept my nerve pre-game to win the Holden Travel winner stays on Pool comp, Stacey also defeating Holden and Sam as they sulked in ‘Losers Corner’.

The sun was beating down at the Globe Arena and the Albion attacked at will. The Morecambe defence must’ve had us on their accumulators as they kept passing the ball around the back, playing totally into our hands as our quick tempo saw us steal possession time and again.

McCrory missed his 2nd peno in a week, but the pressure didn’t let up and Akins struck us into the lead. 2nd half and Akins stepped up to make it 2-0 from the spot (I don’t think Damo dared volunteer for that one) and it was gearing towards party time… Morecambe scored a consolation, and at full-time it was quite surreal as we had to wait for confirmation that Wycombe hadn’t won.

It was all getting quite confusing as we kept checking the table and using our calculators and abacus’, but finally the news came through that we had been promoted! The team came back out, songs were sung, champagne was sprayed, hands were shook, and a fantastic time was had by all, WE ARE GOING UP…

But we still had to win the league.

Cambridge away. I’m dressed as Batman, my brother Dav is Robin. He’s in the stand though, whilst I’m over on the terrace.

I don’t think any of us expected 1,300 tickets to go so quickly! Thankfully Cambridge sent us some extra terrace tickets and I could make it. Last time I went to the Abbey, Cambridge defeated us in the Conference play-offs Semi’s, so there was a score to be settled…

The stand looked brilliant packed full of Albion in fancy dress, the noise was also great and we did our bit over on the terrace too.

Beavon’s header was a fantastic finish, but Cambridge got back into it and as we trailed in the second half with 10 men, we were just thankful Plymouth were helping us out at Shrewsbury.

Then Phil Edwards smacks one in from what, 25-30 yards, right into the top corner, to send us all ballistic, everyone charging down the terrace and me only just managing to stop falling on my arse. What a way to end the season!

But the Albion aren’t finished just yet, some more Nasser trickery leaves the Cambridge defence flat-footed, before the ball finds its way to Kevin Stewart who simply taps-in from close range. Another mental goal celebration, great scenes, and another memorable victory to top off this stunning season!

The full time whistle goes and we’re champions, I’ll never forget Big Bird (Dan!) clumsily running onto the pitch, and Dipsy the teletubbie charging past a steward’s grasp like Jonah Lomu, it was all in good nature and everyone was just simply elated.

The players celebrated with more champagne, as we sang and celebrated some again, faces full of smiles as more memories were made.

When I heard we wouldn’t receive the trophy at Cambridge I was quite gutted, but it did mean Mel and me got to take Archie to the Pirelli stadium for the first time to see the players lift the trophy.

Okay so he slept through most of it, but at least he can say he was there! And I’ll be honest and get a bit soppy, for me to see the Albion lift the league trophy as I was stood with my son was a special moment.

Jimmy grabbed the microphone and thanked us all for our support, and I was stood thinking you just couldn’t imagine this type of thing happening way back in the late 90’s when we were Doc Martens and Jimmy was Premier League!

All that remained was pictures with the trophy which we duly got the following weekend, another great touch from the club allowing us the chance to do that.

I told Archie he’s had his picture took with more silverware then Wayne Rooney has this season, not bad for a 3-month old lad.

2014/15, a very special season.

.Champions!

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From → The Albion.

One Comment
  1. Brilliant season for your boys. I won’t say I told you so but I did tell you so. I give you two seasons before Burton grace the championship. You’ll pass Rowett’s sorry mob as they go down! 😁

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