January 1, 2000
What an odd start to the season. At the time I started writing this article it couldn’t really have gone much worse. Falling from the heady heights of winning seven out of eight pre-season friendlies to conceding 6 goals and scoring two in 180 minutes of league football had been painful. Or should I say more painful, after all there has been a lot of pain around for the last six years…
It was only natural to look around for a scapegoat at times like these. I certainly had. But don’t worry, whatever your persuasion you can read on because I am not about to wax lyrical about the benefits or lack thereof of the current board regime. Plenty has been said on that topic already and will no doubt continue to be said.
No, my scapegoats have been a little closer to home and significantly less dairy related. It is amazing how when you are stuck on a train from Peterborough for five hours after a 4-1 thumping you begin to look for recurring events that are consistently happening in tandem with Rovers poor performances. Were there any events, people or places that I could think of that seemed to consistently affect our performances? I had to dismiss the rising and setting of the sun as just a little too frequent a comparison, even Rovers couldn’t manage to lose a match every single day of the year. Although it sometimes felt like it.
Previously I had left the country to live overseas, thinking that my personal presence at matches might have somehow been having a negative effect upon the team. My selfless exile in antipodean climes served only to force Ian Atkins upon those of you who had the will to remain. For which I can only apologise. Two years of managerial excuses and cricked necks on the terraces seemed like enough punishment for anyone, so I returned in the hope of a new beginning.
Strange things began to happen which I took as a sign that our fortunes may soon change. Scottish teams started doing well in Europe. If that wasn’t a sign that the impossible was achievable then I didn’t know what was. Still Rovers toiled to no avail mired in the bowels of the football league beast, seemingly oblivious to the changing fortunes of those around us. Desperately last season we made a short-lived break for freedom to the next level, only to come crashing back down to earth again.
As the train finally pulled into Edinburgh station another option presented itself to me. It struck me that my relationship with my girlfriend had lasted a mammoth (for me!) two years and in all this time she had never once seen us win a match. Granted she had only been to six games, but in the bemused state I found myself in after a 4-1 opening day drubbing and a couple of cans of Belgium’s finest it seemed a less tenuous link. Could it be that she had somehow influenced our form over the last couple of years? What could be done to remedy this situation?
Splitting up was out of the question. For starters we live 30 miles from Edinburgh station and she had my car keys in her pocket. Even beyond that it seemed a little draconian to take my superstition that far. Another highly plausible theory bit the dust.
Then it dawned on me what the problem was. Whilst overseas I had bought a new surfboard, made especially for me in the blue and white quartered livery of our famous shirts. Since delivery of this board our form had been very average, if not poor. So a year on from its purchase and with the contents of a small Belgian brewery in my stomach I took the difficult decision that the ‘lucky’ board was now surplus to requirements. Not because I didn’t like it, but because it was so obviously jinxed. All the while I still had that board, we kept on getting beaten. It was like losing a leg selling that board, but it had to go for the greater good.
So it went on to ebay last week and was sold for the princely sum of £291 to a guy from Exmouth. During the bidding process we had slumped to our 2-1 home loss to Wycombe – not an encouraging sign. Still, the board finally sold on Friday night and on Saturday I eagerly awaited the final score to come in from the Mem to validate my superstitious theory. And of course it did. A 1-0 win against Grimsby and a much improved performance.
Now some would say that one game is not a very large statistical sample to base my theory on, but I prefer to point out that one out of one represents a 100% record since I sold the jinxed board so I must be a genius.
Anyway, the surfboard has gone and I am quietly confident that it was this small piece of blue and white foam and fibreglass that had been holding back our progress as a club for the last year. The guy in Exmouth got a bargain at £291, but it will be me who got the bargain if Rovers really do manage to up their game now it is gone.
And by the time you read this Milton Keynes will probably have given us a better idea if I was right or not…