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A perfect night

August 28, 2016

You can’t beat Friday night football in the summer, walking to the pub in the early-evening sun, joining your mates for a beer and laugh, excitement rising in anticipation of playing the big-boys from down the road, Lightning Seeds and New Order blaring on the jukey to assist the pre-match fervour…

We walk to the ground, Mighty telling us all about the Polish swear words he’s learnt at work, hoping the terrace isn’t too full yet so we can grab the usual spot.

As the turnstile clanks the excitement notches up a tiny bit, there’s that ‘local derby’ feel that we haven’t had for ages, everyone has that extra spring in their step, everyone’s shaking hands, patting backs, asking how you are, we’re all “sound”, “pretty fine”, “well up for this”, there’s a positive energy buzzing around and we’re all feeling charged…

Onto the terrace much earlier than usual, into our normal spots, it’s busy, it’s noisy, we’ve been waiting for this one since the fixtures come out and you know what, we have a chance tonight we really do…

The teams come out, our beloved Brewers, and the twice champions of England from down the A38, both teams stand tall, the late summer sun is drawing in, and the stage is nearly set…

Kick-off, a fast start on the pitch, high-energy off it as noise fills the air, everyone urging, willing and shouting our lads in yellow and black on into every header, tackle, 50/50, counter-attack…

A cross comes in from the right, someone stoops to head it, and it’s gone in!! The ball hits the back of the net up the far end, everyone going from standing to ballistic in an instant, an absolute frenzy of arms legs bodies flying everywhere, what a feeling, what a fucking feeling…

Jackson Irvine you absolute beauty, name etched into Brewers folklore forever, and we’re winning, we are ahead, what a start, keep this up Brewers keep this up…

We counter attack quickly on the ball, scramble back into position off it, throw bodies at every shot, fly in for any loose ball, Chris O’Grady looks simply immense, the midfield 3 performing like a machine, John Brayford looks like he’s never been away, Lucas Akins just stunning…

Half-time and we battle for a beer, Derby fans blatantly chat away behind me pondering who’s on their bench, “Wanchope and Carbonari I think lads..”, they smile and tell me it’s James Wilson actually, on-loan from Man Utd, oooh… but hey, Kyle McFadzean would put Diego Costa in his place the way he’s playing tonight, I don’t even know what James Wilson looks like.

Back to the terrace, time passes fast, every tackle is cheered, every attack roared on, the record crowd producing record noise…

Derby are running out of ideas, the Brewers continuing to frustrate and fight, I didn’t think there was a striker out there to match Stuart Beavon’s workrate, Chris O’Grady’s selflessness is showing otherwise…

“can’t hear the Derby sing, can’t hear the Derby sing, can’t hear the Derby sing we’ll sing on our own…”

Final seconds, Derby corner. Albion sub, Barker for Palmer. Masterstroke by Clough, no other player will want to head that ball more than Shaun Barker, rapturous applause from every single supporter in the ground when he enters the field, enormous cheers when he, inevitably, heads the corner clear…

 We are nearly there, so nearly there, and then yes, that’s it!! The ref blows for full-time, we’ve done it, we’ve actually done it, everyone’s hugging, back slapping, jumping up and down, singing and dancing…

Is this the pinnacle, is this the best night we will know? The way it’s going you just can’t under-estimate this football club, our football club, we have shown that when you provide an environment for people to flourish and develop they will do just that, I’m not getting carried away, survival is still the aim, but wow this first month has exceeded expectations…

I don’t hate Derby, but off course this was a big deal to us, playing the much bigger team from down the road with the much bigger stadium, players on much bigger wages, the much bigger fan-base which includes supporters from Burton – some who are mates of mine and were very complimentary to the Brewers post-match…

Ultimately football just gets under your skin, all the years spent playing Derby in friendlies, in the Bass Vase, in games to mark our new floodlights, we never really dreamt we would play them in a league fixture, and yet here we are, stood on this perfect summer’s Friday night, applauding and singing our Burton Albion players off after one of the best results in our history, unforgettable.

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From → The Albion.

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