Friday, 26 April 2013

Holding out for a hero

Paul Connor.
Steve Guinan.
Two names from the recent Cheltenham Town past who would not feature too highly in those 'best ever XIs' that we all like to pick from time to time, usually after about five pints.
But they are heroes. Players whose names will always crop up when we sit down and look back to those memorable games or days in our history.
Who could forget Connor, much derided by fans back then, swooping like a predator to hammer in that winner against Doncaster to keep us in League One.
We had got there thanks to Guinan - brilliant with his back to goal, but not so great when he turned the other way. Yes it was a cross, but who cares - I still remember the hangover.
So will one of our current crop be the hero tomorrow? Or will we find that hero some 150 miles north at the New York Stadium?
We need to, as we all know that things are not in our hands.
Two more oft-derided names from our past could come back and give us that shove we need back up the ladder - Jeff Goulding and Craig Reid.
Goulding, often mercurial and inspirational, and very definitely frustrating - the true definition of a Marmite footballer, could be the man, as could Reid, a finisher not given enough of a chance in my view.
It's all down to who handles the pressure. 99 times out of 100, Rotherham will win tomorrow (apparently the bookies rate it at about 69 times out 100, but you get the gist), and book their place in League One, and we will face the lottery again.
But there is that one chance. Aldershot are practically doomed. They have to go there and win - they will be going for it, but in turn that will leave them vulnerable.
And what about this for another scenario - Andy Scott, the former Rotherham manager, going back to his old club and scuppering their promotion chances. The plot thickens...
With the recent run of games we have had, I think we have done well to take it to the last day.
After the Gillingham win, we had to go to Exeter and put an end to their play-off chances, which we managed to do.
Last Saturday was hell for me. It was the first game I have missed all season, and I was at my Mum's 80th birthday party trying desperately to be nice to relatives I haven't seen since I was in shorts while being more bothered about events in Devon.
Thank goodness for Twitter, that's all I can say. I couldn't be rude enough to walk around in headphones with the radio commentary on, so that's what I had to rely on.
When news came in of Russ's goal, my son and I let out a little cheer, but as full-time approached I had a speech to make so it was few minutes after the final whistle that I found out  we had hung on.
I am assuming we hung on, anyway. I have no clue how comfortable or otherwise it was, and to be honest I don't care. 1-0, take that and on we go to tomorrow.
I get the feeling that most people are resigned to the play-offs, and if things go out way tomorrow, that will be a massive bonus. I have no problem with that - that's the way I am looking at it.
Rotherham should beat Aldershot. But we have to make sure our attitude is right and that we are in a position to take advantage if they lose.
There would be nothing worse than Goulding or Reid nicking a 1-0 at the New York, only for us to draw or lose - that would be gut-wrenching, and might also be a big confidence knock for the play-offs.
The picture is clouded even more by the fact that Bradford are our most likely play-off opponents. We could play Northampton, but the permutations gave me a headache when I tried to work them out.
So the most likely scenario is three games in eight days against Bradford.
They have secured their play-off spot, and rumblings are that Phil Parkinson might rest a few tomorrow to keep them fresh for Thursday and next Sunday.
We don't have that luxury for two reasons - one - our squad is not big enough anyway, and two - we still have that bigger prize dangling like a tantalising carrot.
As Mark Yates has said, we can't worry about Rotherham, we have to take care of ourselves and do our job properly.
If things are going well, then, and only then, we can take stock of what is happening at the other game.
If they are 3-0 up, then we might be able to give a few a breather ready for the semis.
If they are 3-0 down, then we could be getting ready for a party.
It is good news to see the seats sold out, and with the Bradford contingent also coming down in numbers, it is odds on for 5000-plus crowd tomorrow.
That can only be good for our lads, who deserve that backing. I am hoping for the same noise as we had against Gillingham, even with there being no pantomime villain to boo and hiss at.
That game showed that our crowd can be noisy and hostile when they want to be, and it spurred our team on, so let's have more of the same please.
We fans have a big part to play in what happens to our club over the next 48 hours, or the next three weeks or so.
In the manner of Connor and Guinan, there could be another hero waiting to be crowned...