I suffer from vertigo. I hate being high up. I get dizzy and panic. I’ve had to get used to heights recently, what with the exploits of my 2 favourite soccer teams, Bray Wanderers and Rochdale. There was no respite this weekend. Bray beat St Patrick’s Athletic to leapfrog them into the sixth place in the SSE Airtricity League and Rochdale was victorious also, moving up to 4th in League One in England.
After last week’s reverse against Finn Harps Wanderers needed to bounce back in style, and bounce back in style they did thanks to a second-half fightback that saw them come from behind to defeat the Saints 2-1. Inevitably Ger Pender got on the scoresheet [his 6th goal in 7 games], getting the equalising goal. Alan McNally got the winner. Both goals came from Kevin Lynch corners, and Kevin deservedly won Man of the Match.
Both Bray and Pats are in a mid-table mini-league, along with Bohs, Sligo and Galway. Finish in the top two of this group of five and you finish in the top half of the entire table. Win this mini league and you get 5th, which would be Bray’s best finish in the Premier Division since 2000-2001’s 4th place.
Bray and Pats, as well as battling it out for a top-six finish, could have a say on the destination of the actual title itself. Pats have to play both Cork and Dundalk and Wanderers have to face the Leesiders in Bray on the last day of the season. It’s great to see the Premier Division so healthy at this stage of the season, with mini-battles going on at the top, middle and bottom of the league. It’s all going down to the wire.
It’s always a great weekend when you get the double. After Bray’s heroics on Friday night Rochdale provided the icing on the cake for me on Saturday afternoon, beating Bury 2-0 and moving up to 4th in League One. 4th in a division of 22 teams is certainly a lofty position.
Rochdale versus Bury is the local derby for this pair. Both sides have been doing well this term, so much so that the League One Manager of the Month award for September came down to a two-horse race between Dale’s Keith Hill and Bury’s Dave Flitcroft [himself both a former Dale manager and assistant to Hill]. Flitcroft got the nod in the end. Perhaps this was for the best as the curse of the Manager of the Month award seems to have struck Flitcroft, who has overseen 3 successive defeats during October, while Rochdale have extended their winning sequence to 7 games [6 in the League]. They also climbed the table for the sixth successive week, doing nothing for my vertigo. I suppose Bury have had the consolation of the unveiling of the Neville Neville stand in recent times to paper over the cracks in their faltering campaign.
With Bray playing on Friday night I was free on Saturday night and so turned up at Tolka Park to see Shelbourne face Waterford United. Shels lost but the game made headlines more for the protests of the fans against the recently-announced move to Dalymount to ground share with Bohemians.
I can understand the concerns of the fans. They fear that Shels won’t survive the move. From the dizzy heights of winning the league and almost making the Champions’ League group stages a decade ago to losing their ground and making up the numbers in the First Division, it is certainly a frustrating place to be. But a phoenix can always rise from the flames; heights can always be scaled again. I certainly look forward to a future where Shels can be great again, making their fans dizzy.