Wish I was there

Last updated : 20 July 2009 By Firparkcorner
For many, many years the opening games of the league campaign, or in past times the League Cup, always took place after my holidays were ended.   Not this year!

The first two or three weeks in July were always a safe time to take a trip without risking a clash with the fixture list.  From time to time the odd friendly might have fallen by the wayside if the manager of the day felt it necessary to schedule extra warm-up matches but they were of little consequence.   In 2003, by happy coincidence rather than astute planning, I spent time in the same hotel as the team when they choose to play a series of pre-season games in France.  But a return home for the first competitive clash was easily  accomplished.

This summer things have been very different.  The holiday was booked in the autumn for the usual time slot when thoughts of the first preliminary round of the Europa League were not even a consideration.  By mid-winter it seemed more likely that we would be involved in a relegation struggle rather than fighting for a European place.  

The outlook had changed by the spring when talk of a Fair Play back door began.  A quick check of the Uefa calendar confirmed that the first few games would be out of range.  A mid-vacation jaunt back over the Atlantic for a night's football was not going to happen.

As it happened the marvel of internet streaming saved the day.  Radio Scotland brought commentary on the poor display in Airdrie thanks to a remote desktop connection to my home computer, while pictures accompanied the Welsh and Albanian announcers courtesy of video streams.  The fans chat on the FPC messageboard offered comfort from fellow exiles as we tried to follow the games from afar.

But holidays end and the visit of Flumarti to Airdrie will provide the first opportunity for this 'Well fan to see Jimbo's team in action.  It will be a very different team from the one which finished last season and there will be a new formation and new players to check out.

One pleasant side effect of the early Europa League matches is the elimination of most of the pre-season friendlies.  Thursday's game will have none of the sham which characterises the usual warm-up games.  Instead we should be presented with a Motherwell team determined to score goals and with the help of a decent crowd there should be a terrific atmosphere.

Come on ye 'Well.