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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Playoffs: Agony/Ecstasy

This is reposting of an article I wrote last year after Blackpool put us out the playoffs underlining my disbelief but acceptance at what had happened, and talking about the bittersweet nature of the playoffs. This was written for Soccer24-7, and since then we started Forest 24-7, so I shall give this it's rightful home



They say the best way to go up is via the playoffs. The feeling of euphoria of navigating these most tricky of matches and the success of an on the day success makes it a day like no other.

As a Nottingham Forest fan I think it is something I am starting to doubt we will ever experience.

Three times now we have qualified to the playoffs and three times we have failed in the semi finals. A strange aura of acceptance seemed to emanate from City Ground last night.

Like we all sort of expected to be defeated, despite having a wonderful home record, finishing above Blackpool in the league and arguably having the better team on paper.

This is the wonderful unpredictable nature of Football though. A team who have a wonderful home defensive record (indeed 12 hours without conceding a goal) and we go and concede 4, and I won’t take anything away from Blackpool, they deserve to be going to Wembley.

It’s been a day now; it still doesn’t make the bitter pill easier to swallow. I saw the goals earlier, and it remained difficult to watch. When we lost to Yeovil in the playoffs in much more dramatic and self destructive style, it took me fully 2 years to be able to watch those goals again on Youtube. And even then it was painful.

This time it is easier to take in. Maybe because we didn’t have the two goal lead from an away leg. Maybe because this season we have been far better than any of us expected, whereas in the League One playoffs we had much higher expectations.

Some have said the playoffs are merely unfair. A way from the football league to stretch the season out and mil more money, but consider the three Forest games and each one has been utter excitement, in which the game takes many twists and turns. Seldom is it a mundane one goal in over two legs match.

For instance, right now I am watching Cardiff v Leicester. The first leg may have been just a single goal, but this second leg has been exciting with goals flying in and shots rattling the woodwork or with great saves, making it hang in the balance so finely.

My brother last year managed to attend the playoff final when Sheffield United reached it and lost to Burnley, my brother I should add is a Sheffield United fan. He said that losing in the final is worse than whatever I can feel now. It’s the worst game to lose in football was his contention.

Maybe it is, I’d almost say I would like to know. The one main way we had of comforting ourselves was the fact it’ll save £100+ each for not having to buy a ticket, get the coach/train/car etc down to London and then the other associated costs of beer and all that jazz. It’s scant consolation.

We all knew we’d prefer to have “wasted” that money and lose at Wembley than the semi finals which have become our graveyard.

And this is the beauty of the playoffs.

It can be torture, it can be ecstasy.

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