WRITING a regular column about a football club is very much like running a marathon or drinking beer on a stag do – it’s all about pacing yourself.
You have to try to detach yourself from a desire to see them doing well and keep hyperbole and unrealistic expectation on the terraces where they belong.
When it comes to Newport County’s faithful following – previously around 800 in the Blue Square Bet South, a figure at least doubled now County are at Rodney Parade and in the Conference – I share your passion and mentality, just for a different team. When it comes to the Exiles, my assessments are made with the head, not the heart.
Pacing is key. There is no point me saying after three weeks of the season that County will finish here or there or can achieve this or that and similarly, I do you a disservice in falling into the pit of despair and doom and gloom that comes with a sticky patch of bad results.
But here we are, now officially into the final third of the season with Newport having just 15 games left to play. The time for a full and frank assessment is now.
And the news is better than surely any of us could realistically have expected.
Newport County remain contenders not just for promotion, but to win the league.
Think about that for a moment. A year on from nearly getting relegated and enduring the most dismally dull and depressing home (league) campaign at a lifeless athletics stadium, Newport County AFC are among the favourites to win the Blue Square Bet Premier.
And Luton Town are not.
Newport County will this week announce that they can meet the criteria for a place in the Football League due to their modern stadium in the heart of the city. Mansfield Town might not, having requested an extension to try to secure a Field Mill future.
Not in my wildest dreams did I see this coming. But County haven’t fluked it, they are challenging on merit and they could get promoted this season.
Now, before I’m accused of – shudder – offering an opinion, a reminder of a couple of things.
This is a column. Argus football writer Michael Pearlman gives his take on the world of sport, that kind of thing.
Secondly, you can trust me when I tell you I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this subject. It’s kind of an occupational hazard. Those thoughts drown out Robbie Savage’s banalities and shouting over his callers on the radio during those long trips home from away days.
Newport County are the real deal, they’ve proved it to be so and the remainder of the campaign will be unbearably tense as they bid to be the last team standing at the summit of the Conference.
They have the quality, they have the manager and they have the fan base. This is turning into a very special season and tense as it’ll be, we really should try to enjoy the rest of it.
Speaking of enjoying yourselves, I bet the Capital One executives had the time of their lives at Wembley on Sunday.
Some people have commented that the new sponsors of the League Cup were probably gutted that their first final ended up being Swansea v Bradford. With due respect (which we all know means the opposite) those people are blithering idiots.
What an unbelievable boost for the competition. An almost perfect final. It tugged at the heartstrings like this year’s tournament had been directed by Steven Spielberg.
So much for money taking the unpredictability out of the beautiful game. If you bet on a Bradford v Swansea final at the start of the season, you are Biff Tannen and you procured an almanac before taking a trip in a flying DeLorean.
I know that I’m fatigued with no one other than Chelsea, the Manchester clubs and Liverpool ever winning anything and I never thought I’d see a fourth tier club making a major final. It’s simply incredible.
In the end Swansea won by the biggest margin in League Cup final history in their centenary year, with their greatest ever team and manager (sorry Tosh).
What a season for Welsh football!