Liverpool came from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona at home in a European Cup semi-final and Tottenham Hotspur came from 3-0 down at half-time away to Ajax of Amsterdam to win on away goals in the 6th minute of added time. Being English teams, both comebacks were declared to be about character. Especially since Arsenal and Chelsea won their semi-finals to create the first instance of all contenders in both European finals coming from one country – England. Except, the teams are commendably international – perhaps Spurs having the most English internationals; none of the team managers are English and 2 of the clubs are foreign owned. I’ve followed Tottenham since I was 7, first saw them when I was 9, and they became my 2nd preference when I was 11 and old enough to watch Salop on my own. I from time to time refer to Spurs as Tottenham Glassjaws and had resolved not to listen to the Ajax game cos I knew there was no point. So guess who I think will win the Liverpool final! (And I was at the 7-0 thrashing in 1978.) So what to celebrate? That Deli flick, yes. But that Liverpool corner. That I did hear, or kinda didn’t, cos the smug commentators, who were soon to point out that Barcelona defenders were sleeping, missed it as well.
A disappointing game, with few clear cut opportunities created. Kinda mixed feelings about Walsall going down, cos that’s another Midlands fixture gone. Meanwhile, my sister was acknowledged for her interest in the club in the programme.
Pleased to see Salop have avoided relegation from League 1 with a point at Coventry. Last season, we could have won promotion at Wembley against Rotherham – who got relegated back down again yesterday. Meanwhile our manager left with 2 of our best players to Ipswich; he lasted a few months, but they have been relegated. Meanwhile, we took the Macclesfield manager, who seemed to buy wisely, but failed to win matches, critiquing his own team selection every time. Decent guy, but he was replaced by the Wrexham manager, whose selection decisions could also be questioned, but some further smart signings and we had some amazing away games – wonderful memories of Stoke and Wolves. But some hopelessly poor motivated home setbacks such as Oxford last week. But we’ve survived, and we’ve had a season of some glory and some memories. And when you’re 3rd tier – perhaps that’s what it’s about.
Seven banners shown last night before the Derby County derby, showing 7 Nottingham heroes – Brian Clough, Robin Hood, DH Lawrence, Alan Sillitoe, Helen Watts, Eric Irons and Ned Ludd. Meanwhile there was another banner across the stand celebrating Garibaldi of the red shirts fame that inspired the founders of the football club and their choice of colours. Quite a radical choice – and not including often cited Albert Ball, Jesse Boot, Paul Smith, and less often cited Peter Mansfield and Stuart Adamson. – Forest won the derby 1-0, fine, though it turns out my Mum’s Dad supported Derby County after he moved there from the Black Country before WWI. – BTW, as explained elsewhere on the site, Forest played at a 10,000 stadium called the Town Ground, being the Town Arms pub win the city side of the Trent Bridge – home of the first crossbars used in football. When they chose to expand – at the end of the 19th Century, Nottingham was celebrating being made into a city, so it seemed obvious to call the new ground the City Ground. Back then the city boundary took in part of what is now regarded as West Bridgford, and only became part of Rushcliffe when a land swap gave the city land to build Clifton estate as well as Wilford village and Ruddington Lane in (circa) 1954).
Salop went 2-1 up, the first cos Wolves didn’t attack a cross, the second cos their goalie mis-read a shot (I thought there was a deflection but perhaps not). Salop couldn’t hold out, but the second Wolves goal should have been ruled as a foul. Salop never got to grips with Wolves’ right winger. Still the boisterous Wolves fans were reduced to a tepid “C’mon Wanderers”. I think they reduced the price of the tickets; whatever, the ground was nearly full. Tied in with a pleasant visit to “Made in Thai” – a good night out.
Two excellent goals without having the possession, against a tier 1 football club, and 20 minutes to hold out. But it couldn’t be done as Salop couldn’t stop Wolves crossing from the right wing and there were too many to not make mistakes against.
The second Salop goal came after the manager sent the corner taker a note. The resultant cross led to a stooped power header in the six yard box converted in a style akin to Manchester City in January 1979. Slightly bizarre to see the glory of it all diminished by protests of the ref awarding 6 minutes added time; but the ref had been wise to extended time wasting by Salop, especially our goalkeeper who otherwise had an excellent game. Indeed, they kinda all did – the FA Cup and the motivation of playing tier 1 players bringing out something special. Just kinda want it in the league.
A powered placed shot to the far corner of the goal; a run at the full-back leading to a penalty and a nutmeg pass on the other wing that led to a forward able to score from 6 yards. Three magical moments leading to 3 goals and the best comeback I have witnessed away from home by Salop since Huddersfield 1984. Stoke were still 2-0 up as the final quarter started, and whilst they hadn’t been brilliant – winning a competition to kick the ball straight out the most often in the first half – Salop had contrived to make soft mistakes at the back – conceding 3 goals, save for the own-goal when Stoke were ruled offside. A switch from 4 at the back and a diamond in midfield apparently explains why Salop did better in the second half; that and a dressing room instruction to rob the ball off Stoke players more. Had we won the play-off at Wembley, we could have been in the same tier as Stoke and I was envious of their forthcoming fixtures, with so many Midlands clubs being in the second tier this season. But otherwise I thought I’d wasted my evening until that powered placed shot. Instead one of the best away trips ever. Wolverhampton – we’re coming for you.