Regardless, our editor asked for a special blow-by-blow account of the last week of the Premiership season, which I deliver below. It is, at best, a distorted recollection of inner monologue from the Crystal Palace match onward. No prizes to be won here; read on, if necessary.
The Palace Match
Monday 3:20 PM
I return to my desk after a meeting to a slew of texts from friends urging a Palace victory. Jerks; they’ll all pay. I used to go to Palace at Selhurst when I lived in London, and I have a sore spot for the club. I even have a signed photo of Finnish weirdo Aki Riihilahti in my old bedroom at my parents’ house. That aside, why does victory feel so unlikely?
Monday 3:45 PM
Watching live updates to a match this important is NOT recommended. I also advise against stifling those guttural, sports-watching noises in your office space. This always sounds worse than you think. It’s better to just let them out and be proud of them; they’re your noises, after all.
I left the office for home at halftime, confident in our 1-0 margin. “They’ll turn it on in the second half, “ I thought; and turn it on they did. Three-nil! Fantastic! By the time I made it home Palace had pulled back level with three minutes to go.
A Premiership fact that will likely go underreported this year: Dwight Gale scored three times against Liverpool this season. WHO?
I don’t often let sports affect me on an overly personal level. I’m a man. This type of thinking is aimless and silly. My fandom for the teams I love – Liverpool Football Club and the Toronto Maple Leafs - is best described as intent. After the game, my wife recoiled almost in terror when I told her what happened earlier that afternoon. “Oh,” she said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” She seemed frightened and said very little for the rest of the evening.
Monday 5:43 PM
Messages from the Northeastern texting circle, usually upbeat, carried a somber tone. The most notable tones of regret came in a text from the editor of the ‘Banter: “I might cry,” it read.
I can’t help thinking that this draw to Palace may stand as a dark spot in the lore of the club. Perhaps I’m being dramatic. Regardless, this knowledge, paired with a series of mystery computer issues and a leaking sink, formed a mighty confluence that I could not overcome. I was in bed by 9:45, with the rattling, unremitting cough of my sick daughter in the next room over, the only comfort at hand.
Tuesday 6:45 AM
I woke up feeling like I did last year when the Leafs lost to the Bruins in that now-infamous Game 7. In this moment it struck me that the teams I love don’t love me back in the same way. If they did, they would win things.
Tuesday 9:26 AM
I’ve been avoiding checking my sports sites. I don’t want to know what people are saying. I don’t want to see the scenarios playing out. Someone’s put together a hilarious Vine, I just know it.
Tuesday 9:28 AM
Checked my sports sites and the first thing I found was this, courtesy of an heartless Spurs supporter (Middle-class diletantes! How’s your manager?). Objectively, it’s amazing, but life hurts right now, thus I must decry its creation.
Wednesday, 2:28 PM
For the first time in my life I checked an Aston Villa team sheet. With Benteke out and Agbonlahor unlikely, the future of today’s game is decidedly GRIM. I’m about to head into a meeting, which is an equally depressing prospect. Villa are crap and there’s no danger of them beating City. The tears, I have no doubt, are soon to flow.
Wednesday at 4:15 PM
Mr. Colleaguefriend, I do not care how the h1 and h2 text for your main page slider wraps on a mobile device. I’ve just accidentally-on-purpose used my own mobile device to check the Aston Villa/Manchester City score while you were speaking, and City have just scored, making the situation around Liverpool’s title hopes all but irretrievable. Thank you for your presentation. I’m sure you’re doing wonderful work.
Wednesday at 4:18 PM
They’ve scored again. What’s more saddening: City going up 2-0 or the prospect of visiting Costco after work with my parents? At one point in my life I was vaguely aware of being an adult, but it’s clear to me now that, like Livvie’s title hopes, this was little more than a dream.
Wednesday at 4:20 PM
3-0. It’s not City I hate, it’s Villa. I’ve never hated them more in my life.
Wednesday at 4:32 PM
4-0. Game over. My hopes are dashed and my parents are here. Downstairs in their car. In front of the building where I work. Fuck it: I’m going to buy a big, cheap brick of cheddar and eat most of it for dinner.
On Sunday I woke up my wife and brought her a cup of coffee. I did this in the hopes that she’d drive me to Scallywag’s for the final game of the season. It was Mother’s Day. I will pay for this, though I do not know when or how. This is the sinister beauty of all wives.
The turnout at the bar was lighter than I’d expected, and there was no real sense of build up; I don’t think anyone there expected anything other than what happened. The only anxiety I felt was over what I’d be having for first orders at 11 AM. I think I mentioned earlier that it was Mother’s Day.
With 30 minutes gone, Samir Nasri’s strike dinging in off the far post felt like a natural final cadence. I felt let down, not because that goal essentially meant we’d lost the league, but because things hadn’t gone to the wire. After the week I’d endured I had fantasies of hair wringing, final-minute drama, but no dice, friends. In reality City were playing West Ham, an only slightly more endearing version of claret-and-blue ignominy than Aston Villa. Even the Newcastle match, embarrassing as it was in the early stages, felt like a formality. Second place it is and will be.
For my part, I’m getting on with life. I’m prepared for similar levels of anguish watching England and the US navigate their respective first-round exits from the World Cup (neither team stand a CHANCE). Beyond that the prospect of the Champions League as part of the 2014/15 season is strangely alien, but more than welcome. The unknown, I suppose, it what keeps us returning. We’ll what happens next, won’t we?