Stuck In The Middle…..

Thursday, 1 May 2003, 0:00
4 mins read

Home > Story Index >Stuck In The Middle With……Nothing

Back in January this year I sat down, worried and realised that I would be out of the country for three games and that these three games would be so vitally important to us. I kind of hoped that maybe we could be safe before leaving these shores but knew in my heart of hearts that I was being just a little too optimistic on that front – not something that I am particularly known for.
And so cases packed I headed to Southampton on 17th April for a week long cruise aboard the QE2 to be followed by a week in Florida with that strange mouse thing and all his mates. But I had a plan, a plan that would not let me down. Peter Owen persuaded me that the SMS service on the official site was worth it and I took the plunge thinking it’s only for two weeks anyway and at least I get the scores as soon as the games have finished.
Sure enough as the boat set sail from Southampton, a beep beep on the phone and a bit of latest news from the club (god knows what it was about) but at least it was enough to tell me that the service was working. Now all I have to do is wait for Saturday. I have no idea how many of you have crossed the Atlantic by this method but you actually put the clocks back most nights as you cross the world time zones. So as Saturday arrived we were actually two hours behind the UK time. But I had a problem. In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean you don’t get mobile phone signals!!
I could wait for the Sunday news to arrive but that wouldn’t be for another 15 hours or so and I need to know so out comes the guide book and sure enough, as I half expected, the QE2 has an internet service. One quick look at the map and up three decks and into the computer centre I head. Shock number two. One dollar a minute for connection – 65p to us British people. You can ring premium rate numbers cheaper than that – only difference being I’ll pay it to get a football result. So it’s a quick connection, one peep at soccernet, scan all the results and let the reality sink in – beaten 3-1 by Leyton Orient. It’s not enough info for me but at 65p a minute it’s all I am getting.
Now you can call this co-incidence but about an hour after that we have two Swans fans in our cabin on board being sick as a dog. I’d like to believe that was down to the football but I think it is possibly more down to the fact that the boat has hit some pretty rough waters and as well as wishing we had won at Brisbane Road I find myself wishing I’d never seen Titanic either.
But it’s OK we’re playing Exeter in two days and surely even we will win that one. Another hour back on the clock and by 2pm on the Monday I am desperate to know the score. But at that cost you have to force yourself to wait and I realise the benefits of broadband connections at home. 30 minutes drag by and off to the computer centre again where I just scan for our result and disconnect – it has depressed me too much. I wait until the next morning to see the rest of the results and realise the impact that this score has on our position.
So I sit down with the morning newspaper (well more of a newsletter really) and start thinking of all possible outcomes and what we need – and this was supposed to be a holiday??
But at least I can enjoy five days before I have to get more info. New York Harbour at Dawn, Disney World and Sea World make those days pass and at five hours behind UK time it is into Universal Studios with football on my mind. This time though I am prepared. You can call it sad but I have a piece of paper from the hotel with me. It lists four teams – Shrewsbury, Exeter, Carlisle and Swansea together with their current points and opponents for the day. This time I need to know quickly and a call home at 12pm local time confirms that Shrews have lost – the other three win. That doesn’t really help much does it. Reality dawns, a win on Saturday and we are safe, anything else and it is pray for outside help. That occupies my mind more than the shark that is currently attacking the side of the boat. And of course the damned mobile phone that is still refusing to pick up a signal. It should have gone in the Atlantic after all.
Now at least in Florida you can buy that day’s English newspaper so first thing Sunday morning I have a Mail on Sunday and digest for the first time in a week the results in full. And then decide what result I want from the Shrewsbury v Carlisle game – I decide a draw would be nice but we all know that isn’t going to happen.
But all attention turns to Saturday when I think of football. I cannot believe it is coming down to this and make no mistake we all know it is by far the biggest game we have ever played. Preston was huge but there was a nice consolation prize of second division football, same with Huddersfield and Northampton but this time there is no consolation.
I will probably resolve never to book a holiday at this time of year again and if I do then I will micro chip myself to vibrate every time the Swans score or something of the same equivalent.
But at least I am back and ready (not looking forward to though) for Saturday and the trials and tribulations that it will bring. A win and all will be a perfect world and at least we can look forward to Yeovil next season – a loss and, well maybe it is back to the middle of the Atlantic again – but this time I may just forget the boat!!!
Rollercoasters in more ways than one!

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