For so long I’ve been hiding behind a smoke screen when it comes to the big ‘R’ word. A new manager would of course keep us up, the revolution would begin slowly and we’d be a mid-table football club come the end of the season. That was my thinking on the turn of the year and particularly after the Shrewsbury and Morecambe games where results were excellent and the corner looked to have been well and truly turned.
Even after a 5-2 home defeat I still saw some positives and thought that Southend just had too many good players. We would beat Barnet and everything would be rosy again, we’d be escaping the bottom two never to look back again. Those claret tinted glasses are nice to be behind at times but sometimes they also mask an inner dread of what could be to come in May.
After taking the lead against our fellow strugglers from north London I was doing that thing where you start chanting in your head ‘we are staying up’ and again began to plan a relaxing end to the season where we would collect the points required for that old mid table obscurity position. Then it all started to go wrong.
As soon as Barnet came out and levelled the scores just after half-time with a simply unstoppable shot from Mark Byrne the sinking feeling began. It’s incredible how your mind can change so quickly and feelings of joy and heighty ambitions of a 17th place finish can turn into nervously checking the Conference results out to see potential derbies next season. But the acceptance, following Ricky Holmes’ deserved winner, sunk in by the time full time came around and under a blanket of bad refereeing decisions came the facts that we’re simply not good enough.
I’m not going to give up on our league status but I’m starting to actually see that there’s a real chance of the drop. I didn’t come to this point last season at all despite the problems back then and this is the first time it’s actually happened this time around. Be it the time of year or the amount of games running out I simply can’t see a way out.
For the last two seasons 48 points has been the total points amassed by the team just avoiding relegation in 22nd place in League Two. The Cobblers have 21 points with 19 games to play so need to theoretically pick up another 27 points in order to stand a chance. The fact that we’ve won just one league game all season at home doesn’t fill you with confidence that it will be achieved and neither do defeats like this one against teams that we are chasing.
I don’t want to be a doom monger and become what I hate. When I do attend games I will give every ounce of support I can to try and help the cause but I have accepted that we’re in big, big trouble. I want to see a light at the end of the tunnel and say that this and that will change. All in all, I want to be sitting here come May and saying how wrong I was.
As my marvellous inspirational poster of a photo says, we must invent a hell of a ladder to get out of it!