Edgar Street or the Emirates?
By NNFox
Wednesday 14 Apr 2010 09:24:00
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So the domestic football calendar heads into its final stages and the former Best League In The World™ looks set to culminate with the blue poshos deposing the red lot that have been top dogs for a while now. Remind you of anything? I tend to avoid most journalism surrounding the Premiership’s elite for fear of being brainwashed into actually believing they are anywhere near as good to watch as Barcelona. However, I’ve seen one or two pieces making the obvious parallel with the world of politics.

To me, the Championship play-off race would ideally present a far more interesting analogy. The red lot have been doing well for a while. The much-maligned contenders in blue look set to mount an unlikely challenge. From leftfield, the Welsh nationalists provide two interested parties while a clearly deranged bloke leading an orange-clad mob is also showing some curiosity in proceedings. But let’s move on rapidly from a reimagination of Ian Holloway’s Blackpool as the Monster Raving Loony Party so tenuous that I felt the need to explain it in full.

The most fitting electoral comparison of all for me at the moment is that old chestnut about turkeys voting for Christmas. We are all told we are desperate to reach the promised land™ of the Premier League (in fact, that one might not deserve the ridicule of the trademark sign given what has happened to Crystal Palace since Moses left – there might be something in it). But is it really what we want?

 Personally, I’m not totally convinced. I found last season to be possibly the most enjoyable I’ve ever experienced. Some different venues, a few terraces, friendly grounds (hello, Millwall!) and, perhaps most of all, a welcome lack of national media coverage – League One had it all. Plus we seemed to win at a canter most weeks, which made for a nice change after years of mediocre Championship “entertainment”.

By the end of the first away game of this season at Ipswich, a goalless draw between two teams desperate not to lose, I was missing the third tier already. In what seems like no time at all, we are back in the closing stages of the season and looking at another opportunity to gain promotion. I still don’t think it will happen, but we’re fifth with three games left and we have to face up to the possibility.

Nagging toothache weakened my decision-making sufficiently to result in sitting through Chelsea bore their way to a 1-0 win over Bolton on ESPN on Tuesday night. It didn’t have me gripped to the edge of my seat and, perhaps more importantly, it certainly didn’t render me desperate to experience Premiership football every weekend. Bolton were denied a couple of penalties for what looked like fairly obvious handballs by those paragons of virtue Didier Drogba and John Terry, succumbing to a routine Nicolas Anelka goal which was created for the £15million striker by the aforementioned £24million Drogba.

Of course, all leagues contain teams who were assembled for greater amounts than others. We were able to bring in a succession of loanees last season from the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool which was a luxury that the likes of Yeovil and Hereford were largely unable to replicate. Last summer we purchased Richie Wellens from Doncaster Rovers, who had enjoyed a fine first Championship season themselves, for a seven-figure fee. I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite, but the figures involved in football at the very highest level still stick in my throat.

The thought of missing out on the top six now is a fairly nasty one and I’d hate to miss out on a trip to Wembley by virtue of City losing a play-off semi final. I’d also hate to see City defeated at the famous stadium on May 22nd, so I suppose by process of elimination I want to see us in the Premiership next season. 

So why does the prospect seem so unappealing? The answer lies in part with City’s trip to Peterborough last Saturday. Standing on that terrace at London Road, albeit in glorious, mood-improving sunshine watching a crucial victory, a lot of us were far happier than Larry. We were also about as far removed from the Premiership experience as is currently possible in the top two divisions of English football. Leeds fans may disagree but I’d take Edgar Street over the Emirates every day of the week. Any chance they could stick us back in League One as a reward for thrashing Forest in the play-off final?

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