I sensed a fair amount of tension amongst the travelling Addicks yesterday at Brentford's homely Griffin Park. Conversations of a similar theme carried freely in the cramped, but strangely cosy conditions of the stand the locals affectionately call 'The Wendy House'. I don't think it was so much to do with the numerous players unavailable through suspension, injury or illness, I think it had more to do with the uncomfortable feeling of the East Anglain pairing of Norwich & Colchester breathing down our necks with what appears to be considerable growing confidence.
Parky suggests Leeds can be caught. He is right, they can. But it is much more likely, at this stage of the season, that it will be one automatic place from the 3 teams directly below Leeds United. But which one? I noted that some Leeds fan sites see Norwich as their main challengers, which is a tad harsh on the Addicks considering we've maintained a top 2 position all season.
I have in no way lost faith that Parky and his battle-weary charges have the ability to cope with this pressure. The team, in the last few games in particular, have certainly shown the stubborn determination, desire and never-say-die attitude required for such a challenge, and I doubt many would question the skill levels spread over the team. But none the less, the fact is, we are entering a very nervy second half of the season. The stakes are high....very, very high! Should we not gain promotion at the first time of asking, especially given the perilous financial situation at the club, I fear the future will take a very dark twist.
After the game yesterday I joined my wife and two kids at a friends house, where a post-Christmas gathering was in full swing (yes, I should have been there with the family.....I know in my heart I should have been there!!). I tried to explain to a chap as to why I felt uncomfortable despite his comments stating "you're second, what's the problem?". I likened it to having a complaint that required surgery. Occasionally you are able to forget about the pain, and enjoy yourself with hope and belief. Then, for no apparent reason, your mind torments you with a lingering doubt that the impending surgery will not be a success, and that there will be a long road to recovery. He stared at me blankly. I felt stupid to have even attempted to explain my mind state.
Anyway, hope always dies last, and without hope you will have nothing.
So I remain hopeful........