Where to begin? So many emotions felt today including:
- excitement at leaving home to start the journey,
- enjoying the camaraderie of passing and being passed by Swansea and then Reading fans going up the motorway,
- finding the ground and parking within five minutes of the ground,
- feeling aggrieved by some refereeing decisions
- rocking after going two goals down in two minutes, and then three down by half time
- wishing Shane could have scored that goal just before half time
- the Reading first goal, the cheering and shouting as the fans came back to life
- scoring a second goal to bring us right back into it and the fantastic atmosphere that came with it
- almost scoring a third, if only the ball had rebounded more kindly, but it did not
- a sustained period of pressure which we need to make count, but did not
- then the second penalty given to Swansea
- less than ten minutes to draw level – hope fades.
Before the game I was happy to have got to the final, and to win would be a bonus. Besides if Reading could not be in the Premiership then at least Swansea would be (and not Cardiff).
But now I am as disappointed as I ever am when the Royals have lost. I’ve just seen the foul that gave the second penalty and at the time I remember thinking that the ball had already gone away when the defender clattered into the Swansea player – its easy for me to see it that way, but in the heat of the match for the player, its much harder.
Wembley was fantastic. I’ve been there before to watch American Football – but I did not care who won that. Today being there to support you team, and watch Brian lead the team out was absolutely fantastic. 86000 attendance – 40k from each side. Thats more than could fit into the whole of the Mad Stad.
The atmosphere was difficult to get going though. The stadium is in tiers and it was difficult to get an atmosphere going with pockets of chanting fans dispursed around the ground, although for alot of the time except for the beginning of the second half we did not have much encouragement from what was happening on the pitch.
When you go to events like this you try to take it in so that you can recall the feelings but it is difficult to really recreate how it felt.
The highlights will be painful to watch later. When we conceded the first penalty it was on 18 minutes and in a way I was pleased as often Reading need something to get them started. The second goal was a bit of a killer although it happened so soon after the first, and the Royals being late goal specialists I still did not worry. By the time the third one went in – I was beginning to worry that we would concede 3 more in the second half, and what was a good and promising end to the season, playing at Wembley, would turn into an embarassing and unfair reflection on the teams performance over the season.
Thankfully Brian did his half time piece and the second half started very well. I don’t think anyone expected the Royals to get anything from the game by now, so to pull two goals back and almost draw level was an unexpected position to be in. Although we still lost, somehow the performance in the second half, at least restored pride and respect, and made it easier to accept the loss.
So thats the end of that. Its about ten week to the new season and probably only three or four weeks to the fixture list comes out.
I have great expectations of next season. I just hope I recognise the team that Brian puts out in August and that we have not lost too many of our decent players. I am not so scared by that as I was at the end of our first season in the Premiership. Players moving on leaves gaps for others to develop into – Doyle, Hahnemann, Hunt, Shorey, Kitson and Gilfi, were all missed but if their heart is not in it they should move on (Shorey) sooner rather than later, and not come back (Kitson and Little). Players moving on allows new players to come in or through the academy and for a fresh start, and no player is bigger than the team. So if Shane or Kebe do move on, then good luck and good luck to those that fill their shoes.
Well done to Brian and the boys for the season – yet again another roller coaster, which nearly had the icing on the cake this time – same again next year? The last time we lost in a play off final ( v Walsall at the Millenium Stadium), the next season we were promoted in second. I am going to avoid any references to the 1994/5 season play off final (same score line as today losing to Bolton) as I think things got worse before they got better that time.
Good luck to Swansea – hopefully you fare better than Walsall did after they beat us at the Millenium Stadium, and well done to Brendan.