Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Best moment of the year.

Memory is a strange thing. What we remember and what actually happened are two different things. 

In my mind, the goal that grabbed a last second draw against Southend was Curtis Tilt's magnificent overhead kick. The fans who flocked on were drawn by magic of a goal, the quality of which symbolised the once in a lifetime nature of the occasion. 

In reality it was a scruffy moment, in which a Southend defender diverted a fairly harmless header from Tilt (at least that bit is accurate) into the bottom corner of his stranded keeper's net. The goal couldn't really have been less befitting of the occasion if both teams had met up at Squires Gate and tried to work out what the ugliest way to end the game could be.  

The overhead kick was, in fact, against Plymouth Argyle about 3 weeks later. 

The mind does strange things. 

What matters is that it felt like an overhead kick, the most scruffy, 'league oney,' lucky, rubbishy goal you could think of, felt like a run from the half way line, mazy, jinking, several one twos played and then a stunning overhead finish. 

That day was magic. It was one of the all time great days. It was the start of another love affair that some of us thought we might have lost the taste for, the rekindling of a flame for some, the release of hurt and anger for many. There's been many, many words written about it but to walk back into a football ground and know it was no longer mired in toxicity and bile was magical. If the word 'magic' has any meaning, this was it. 

Football is a stupid way to spend your time. It kicks you in the face. In a world of guaranteed quality entertainment via a million channels of the golden age of TV, of virtual reality headsets taking us to the past, the future and every other world we could imagine, football makes little logical sense. 

What makes it worth it is the moment when it goes your way for once. The moment of sheer unconstrained release that a last minute equaliser in a full ground brings, the sense of raw throated joy and the strange, exhausted elation on the way out the ground. 

If I'm honest, I'd all but forgotten what it felt like. 

If I'm honest, I'd all but given up on the mighty.

It wasn't being shit, it wasn't the fall from footballing grace, it wasn't the calamitous reigns of jokers like Lee Clarke or McDonald's tactics of elastication. 

I don't mind being shit, it's going to happen sometimes. I don't even mind terrible managers or hopeless players, at least you can hope for better. I'd grimaced through Hendry, frozen on the terraces watching Worthington servimg up dross. I'd loved the against the odds scrap of King Billy's teams clinging to Division 3.

It wasn't even so much about the 'helpful' storage of club funds in other bank accounts in case the club might need them later or the outright farce of the Riga Revolution. Football is full of con men and shady characters and we've always known the fedora wearer was in it for himself. 

It was the criminalising of the supporters, the horrible, petty inability to rise above what was at worse, playground name calling and at best, genuine heartfelt concern for the best interests of the club. The abuse of power, for powers sake. The destruction of lives, just because they could. 

That's what cut the thread. We weren't just an eccentric club any more, not just penny pinching, frustrating, . We weren't just run by meanness or greed. This was something more. 

Going to away games, not knowing if I was happy or not when we scored. 

Losing interest in going to away games. 

Losing interest in even putting the radio on. 

Losing interest in even looking up the score.

Then, that day in March it all changed. 

There's been thousands of better games of football this year, there's been moments that take the collective breath away (Liverpool's comeback against Barcelona for example) but none of them match a misremembered scruffy own goal in the last minute of what would ultimately turn out to be a pretty meaningless game. 

None of them were as important as that moment. 

None of those goals breathed life back into the corpse of a club. 

None of those games were a collective remembering of the strange magic that football can work on the soul. 

Nothing else that happened in 2019 can even come close. 

I can't even imagine how it felt for those who fought so hard to make it happen. All I did was stop going. Some people did so much more. Some people gave up so much to fight the good fight. There it was, right there in the last seconds, everything you fought for. Limbs, primal screams, on the pitch, tangerine!!! 

Taylor Moore. Take a bow. I will misremember your mistake forever. 


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