Every emotion possible ran through my veins this Saturday afternoon. As I made the short trek home from a rotten morning at work, and saw a few Albion shirted individuals stewing in the afternoon sun, I pondered on the multi-tasking of the hours ahead.
I have a facility to watch the Test Match online. And the longer form of the game of Cricket is my preferred suitor. England were batting, and up against it, although I had chosen not to look at the score since lunch. As soon as I got in the screen of the PC took me to The Oval and a score that reflected a second innings effort that was unlikely to come close to saving the match. Still England has The Ashes in hand, regardless.
I had decided that I would watch the Test Match, but listen to the Albion commentary through the headphones via the digi radio. I noticed that, online, the BBC had began to feature the text updates of all the other Championship matches, but not ours. I couldn’t understand why. Perhaps the cuts are already beginning their bite. That wasn’t the reason.
It would be unfitting to continue without further exploring this reason, although few will be without knowledge. At twenty past one a Hawker Hunter jet, performing for the Shoreham Air Show, had crashed into the A27 a road that runs near the event. There was talk of major disruption, inevitably, but this is irrelevant when the considerations of such horror settle upon our emotions. I knew such a road would be very busy at the time, and that bad news would soon follow. It has.
There are believed to be a number of folk who have lost their lives, including, whilst talking of all things Albion, a young man who was involved in the fundraisers for the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund- a wonderful charity set up in the memory of an Albion fan who lost his life during the 9/11 attacks in New York. Like Robert himself, this young man has had his life ended in tragic and unforeseen circumstances. It has since transpired, from a club statement, that an employee at the training facility has also died. This life just seems so unfair at times. I also understood that coaches taking Albion fans to the match had not missed the accident by much. This greatly disturbed me at the time as the quickening of feelings about a tragedy is facilitated by a connection, however tenuous. It’s easy to become immune to the constant stream of bad news that the proliferation of media sends through every avenue of technology. Not today. RIP to all those who have lost their lives. And deepest sympathies to anyone connected in any way to them, as well as warm wishes to those who must have suffered through injury or shock.
The match started at quarter past three, and the Test Match was winning the battle of the sports. At least it would be for the last time this summer. I guess that the lure of an Ashes Test Match will always usurp all else. Despite England’s struggles, the newly appeared text commentary was enough. A puncturing of the dismal resignation to the demise of England’s finest occurred at about ten to four. An azure blue block of excitable appeal appeared in text line of the match commentary. GOAL! read the top left hand corner. It was for the Albion.
Text commentary on the BBC pages is a way of submitting yourself to a voluntary form of punishment that merely ups the cardiac rate. At least on the radio one can sense the build up, the crowd noise offering an almost visual representation of events on the pitch. The commentary on Radio Sussex is a good representation if comments in North Stand Chat post match are anything to go by. As the second half started I decided it would be best to go wholesale with the tranny, as things would start to feel tenser. Especially as Albion were struggling to finish off what will ultimately prove to be weaker opposition this year. The closer the end of the match gets the harder it becomes to listen to because, despite the pleasant view from my window, it doesn’t offer a view of the action. My mind is trying to create the image being portrayed by the voices through the little black piece of magic, and it’s always one of fear that all will turn sour, however much those voices suggest otherwise.
I listened to the radio for most of the second half, absorbing the animation of the crowd, and feeling sweet content as an Albion player made good use of the ball. Chances came and went and slowly tension rose within me. Into the final stages and my intense concentration on every word, every AMEX noise, is at its peak.
So as the mind keeps it’s imaginative ponderings, and the eyes watch the clock, we enter the last ten minutes- still 1-0. The ‘As It Stands’ table has us in second, and the other matches have finished. Ipswich Town away is first v second, for now- although not being there is something I have long since resigned myself to. Can we hold on ?
The blood pressure rises as the anonymous voices talk of Blackburn Rovers venturing the edge of our defensive compound. The cross rises in, the heart rises to the mouth, the ball rises to the top of the netting- the netting on top of the goal. You didn’t think they’d equalised did you ? Now you know what it’s like……
As the scoreboard is no longer disturbed, the final whistle brings the ritual of the usual restrained punch of the air- 1-0 to the Albion. Actually I haven’t developed any rituals for this new method of following the Albion. Perhaps the back end of the broadcast for this Tuesday’s match at Walsall (I’m at work for most of it) could provide a new pattern of obsessive behaviour. Although I tend to pop in and catch it at my old Dad’s. He loves a bit of the Albion too- although he is not so besotted in quite the same way as me……