THERE are a handful of words that make me retch a little – moist, cubicle, pubic – parts of the English language I’d be happy to bury alive.
Now I can add to that ear-torturing list two new entries, two words that have performed a military-style coup on the day-to-day discussions in Swindon Town households over the past three weeks.
How I wish the phrase ‘transfer embargo’ would pack its bags and hot-foot it out of Wiltshire for good.
Yes, it’s hypocritical that I’m bringing it up yet again so all you pedants can rest easy, but it’s worth saying.
Whether it’s fans questioning how it happened in the first place, critics searching for someone to blame or Paolo Di Canio endlessly using it as an excuse/reason (delete as applicable) for a downturn in form, it’s fast becoming a constant irritation.
Like the avian dawn chorus on a hungover Sunday morning. If only someone would pull out the metaphorical 12-bore and shut the damn thing up.
To the best of my knowledge, the embargo came about through a series of misunderstandings and miscommunications.
There’s no one specifically to blame, so pointing fingers right now is a pretty futile exercise. The manager can publicly demand answers from the board for as long as he wants.
In my opinion, if the long-term sustainability of the club is risked by pumping in mindless equity then the powers-that-be are right to be wary and steadfast in their position.
Equally, when a budget has been exhausted, it cannot be expected that investors happily return to the ATM, punch in their pin and hand over wads of cash.
I agree with Di Canio that, in any normal club, in any normal season, a manager ought to be allowed the flexibility to bring in new faces to cover for a series of injuries to critical players.
I agree with Di Canio that not being able to sign a central midfielder, a utility defender and a striker will hamper the chances of Swindon making a run at the League One play-offs this term.
Blimey, I even agree with Di Canio when he says he did not act the spoiled child for several weeks after the embargo was lumped on the club.
But I don’t agree with going on record, in October, when you’re sitting seventh, to say permanent damage has been done to a team’s chances of making the top six.
While we have all grown to appreciate his honesty and passion, did no one else feel a bit let down by that comment?
Is it conceding defeat when the race has barely even started? Was it not like coming off the blocks a nanosecond late and throwing the baton to the ground in disgust?
Personally, I don’t expect promotion this season and I didn’t go into the campaign thinking a play-off spot was a foregone conclusion.
I predicted Town would finish sixth but I’m sure my judgment was slightly tilted by an 18-year association with the club and a good old-fashioned dollop of red-tinted bias.
So to see the team perform to the levels they have performed at times this term, and recording the results they have as a consequence, has been nothing short of sensational.
We haven’t had Championship football at the County Ground for 12 years. In the same period of time you could sail around the world 91-and-a-quarter times, watch Das Boot 21,467 times consecutively or fly to Neptune with a 12-month pit-stop on Mars. It’s a long old time.
So why kill a fanbase’s hopes of returning to the promised land before the Christmas lights have even been yanked from the back of the bedroom cupboard and dusted down?
Maybe it’s a distraction tactic. Maybe it’s deflecting negative press in an effort to shield the Robins squad. Maybe it’s a miscalculation.
Whatever it is, it’s deeply depressing.
CREDIT DUE TO ROSCO’S CHAMPIONS
THIS week’s column would not be complete without a hearty vote of congratulations to the Swindon Robins for ending 45 years of hurt with a brilliant aggregate victory over Poole Pirates in the Elite League grand final.
Speedway is full of characters and personalities, not least Alun Rossiter, the Robins boss who has turned the fortunes of our local club around in the 12 months since his return from Coventry.
In a difficult economic climate it is hard for non-mainstream sports to compete for audiences but there is a core of support up at Blunsdon that have received their just rewards for persevering throughout so many years without a trophy to cheer.
I’ve been told Rossiter and co-promoter Gary Patchett will be at Swindon Town’s Capital One Cup clash with Aston Villa on Tuesday night – let’s get the Elite League trophy down to the County Ground and onto the pitch and give them the recognition they deserve.
Two sets of champions from Swindon in the space of five short months! That must be some kind of record.
MAKING EMILE OF IT
SO, viewers of Australia’s A-League had the joy this week of tuning in to “Heskey Cam” when Newcastle Jets beat Melbourne Victory 2-1.
It’s a bizarre notion, watching intently for an hour-and-a-half as a past-it ex-star tries to recreate his former glories Down Under.
I didn’t get to see the programme, I opted to stare into space instead, but it sounds as though it ought to have been presented by Ant and Dec.