Monday, 10 May 2010

Ups and Downs

So Leeds scraped into second place in League One, contrary to my prediction. It wasn’t an additional Leeds success that made the difference, but Millwall’s defeat at Tranmere in the penultimate round of games. So despite a loss at Charlton, Leeds were left with their fate in their own hands on Saturday. They still nearly blew it. I watched Sky Sports ‘Soccer Saturday’ throughout a tense afternoon, with no internet diversions to relieve my worries ( see below ). Jeff Stelling gave a great example of the footy fan’s Saturday life, going through the tortures of Hartlepool’s last-day battle for survival, as their fate was left in the hands of others ( Exeter and Gillingham ). Meanwhile, Leeds managed to concede a goal and have Max Gradel sent off before Jonny Howson and then the fan’s regular pantomime hero / villain, Jermaine Beckford, managed to bring home the necessary victory. Things went ok in the end for Jeff and for me, so a happy ending.

I will admit to never attending a League One game. The second relegation suffered by a team I had only recently watched in a European Cup semi-final was a step too far for me. I’ve preferred the occasional less stressful visit to Conference games at Burton. I didn’t attend one game this season, probably only the second time that has happened since my first visit to Elland Road in 1974. But I should be able to find a few Championship games worth a visit next season.

Down at the Pirelli stadium, Burton saw its first ever major incident of crowd trouble. I regularly struggle to understand the mentality of fans. Grimsby came into the final game of the season with their league survival dependent on others. Their travelling support must have known that they were probably about to be relegated. Their actions were indefensible. I hope they ( and Luton ) start next year’s Conference season on -20 points. I’m fed up with huge points deductions for financial failings and a slap on the wrist for crowd violence.

I pay a monthly sum way in excess of the market rate for internet access to AOL. I do this because, whilst hearing plenty of horror stories about others’ problems, my own line has been trouble free for many years. Last week, my speed dropped drastically, and I was forced to contact AOL to resolve the problem. This developed into a four hour three-way conversation between Lichfield ( me ), somewhere in India ( AOL ), and somewhere else in India ( Belkin ). Result – I’ve totally lost connection, and AOL and Belkin both assure me that the problem is the other’s. The whole experience was one of the most depressing I’ve encountered – I’m not tolerant of any situation where I feel helpless. I’ve today spent £80 on a new modem to resolve the issue. I shouldn’t have to, but if it works I will have avoided the stress of more helpline hell.

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