I’m angry, well hurt really. People say “well promotion was the aim anyway, that’s what matters” and “you’d have taken promotion before the season” but that just makes me more angry. If the point is not coming first then what is it? Seriously, why do we bother, with any of it? If it’s not the point to come first then why give out medals for doing so? Why did I spend years of my youth pouring over an embarrassingly sparse and almost contradictory ‘Honours’ column of our club, wondering what it would be like to see a team who were good enough to add their names to such an important list.
Try telling the 10 year old me that it doesn’t matter if we finish first or not. I could almost see some logic in that if we were one of European footballs fallen giants and getting out of the bottom division were merely an inconvenient but necessary step to getting back to where we should be.
The fact is we are Doncaster Rovers, this IS our level, here or hereabouts is where we have been for the last 60 years generally speaking and I can’t recall a single moment of the 80’s or 90’s where I wouldn’t have gladly offered any limb of your choice for the chance to be crowned champions of anything. This appalling attitude of ‘it doesn’t really matter’ is symptomatic of the sickening arrogance that runs through the game these days, a game where even it’s most average exponents earn money that would change the lives of most us.
I would love someone will the opportunity to do so, to ask Darren Ferguson to justify his part in this embarrassing conclusion to the season. To ask him for his thought process over recent weeks. Why he has made consistent changes to personnel and shape when all the evidence screams it was unnecessary? Ask why last week when a win would’ve put us in charge of winning a trophy he lined up with one up front at home? Ask him if today, in what was basically a cup final, he could honestly say that replacing McCullough and Coppinger made our team stronger, and if not – as is so painfully the case, why did he do it? Why did he treat the competition and paying public with such contempt as to withdraw our two best players. I knew then that it was game over. I’m angered by the fact the we simply acquiesced to defeat and snatched it from the jaws of victory.
The most alarming point of the day was that in going behind there was no angry reaction from the players, no desire to change things, no kick up the arses, no hurrying to restart play, no will to win. I’m not saying they don’t care, of course not; I’m saying that at some point over the last few weeks it became acceptable not to win. It became acceptable during Paul Dickov’s reign, it became acceptable during a three month spell under Ferguson last year and it has become acceptable once more. The general malaise around the club has returned and it makes me feel sick. Let’s all feel relieved this season is over, if we still had 10 games left I wouldn’t back us to make the play offs.
I hope all concerned with the club enjoy their summer holiday and return determined to right the wrongs of the last month. I will spend the next few months trying to convince myself that next year will be different because we are back in League One, but the fact will remain that we blew it. We blew the chance to win something, to add another piece to history, to our history. Doing just that meant something to me and it hurts that didn’t. The first time that it doesn’t, the first time ‘I’d take’ second best I’m packing it in, when that’s acceptable then what’s the point?