1.12.2002 First of all thanks for the many messages of support and encouragement to keep posting. Thanks to the site admin team for creating the link to previous postings, I'd also like to thank my mother and father who made me possible, to my wife and son for preventing me from becoming a rich man, to Ronnie Glavin, to my dog who keeps me company all day, to my keyboard for... Oh yes the game. TT does a good job of posting comprehensive match reports that document the main events of the day on the pitch, so I certainly don't intend to step on those particular toes. I will simply pick the highlights from my own day, which started with the usual slight (!!) hangover from Friday nights excesses, but two cups of coffee and a couple of distalgesics started to improve the outlook. I'm impressed by the logic of the drunk when talking about his teetotal counterparts - "it must be terrible to realise when they wake up, that that's as good as they are going to feel ALL DAY". So after an hour or so of video watching whilst laid in bed, match day Saturday started, as usual, with a trip down to the market to buy the mother in law some eggs. These are free range, and she swears they are the nearest to 'old fashioned' eggs that she has come across. I think the real pull is the price. At 60 pence a dozen they are a bargain, and as she does a lot of baking they are an invaluable commodity, and must save her at least 30p per dozen compared to the supermarket. Old people never cease to amaze me with their capacity to cut the cost of their shopping. My mother in law is prepared to drive miles if she finds out that a particular supermarket is selling dried peas at 3p below the nearest competitor, sometimes buying two packets to make the saving really worthwhile. But I would'nt swap her, nor any other member of my family, who collectively constitute a wonderful support system for me. Then it was the drive down to Barnsley, about 60 miles from the Yorkshire Dales, where I am so lucky to live. On the way we called into the Tong Garden Centre outside Bradford. We were interested in buying a garden bench. A step inside the door brought about the swift realisation that perhaps a garden centre at this time of year is not the right place to be looking for anything to do with the garden. It was wall to wall Christmas. If I had wanted a six foot illuminated sledge, complete with snowman, to stick on the roof of the house, it would not have been a problem. Indeed I could have chosen from a simple one coloured sledge, through one colour with various combinations of chase, flash and flicker options, on to multi coloured with a wider range of options, through to the deluxe version which included a reindeer with a flashing red nose, and a snowman with several prerecorded messages, including 'HO Ho HO MEEERRRYY Christmas', 'Jingle Bells' and 'Have you got the receipt for this pullover - it's too small' that play randomly to help you feel ever more in spirit with the season. I enquired at the information desk if they had any benches squirrelled away in some far flung corner of the place, but the young lady on the desk, with just the merest hint of a pitying look, said 'NO', and then, just in case I hadn't realised, she pointed out that, ' We carry more Christmas stock at this time of year'. Better now than at Easter I suppose. My wife and I are not the sort of people to be sucked in by such obvious commercialism. So pausing only to pay for the two foot, five point star with multi coloured lights and seven flash settings - indoor use only - we left to continue our journey. Next stop my wife's Auntie to drop off some Christmas presents, and have a quick cuppa and delicious home made scone and jam, followed by a read of the Barnsley Chronicle. Then on to my mother in law's. Now TT and his gang meet up in the Outpost for a few bevvies and a chat about the game, which may have it's attractions, but they pale into insignificance compared to a plateful of mum's meat and tatie pie followed by apple pie and cream. Then it was onto the game, ticket collected from the Box Office and into the Executive Box in the East Stand Upper tier. It's called the Executive Box so that you don't feel quite as ripped off about paying more for your seat, which is exactly the same as all the others in that stand - which reminds me - Why do we sit in something called a stand ? We could start a new trend by renaming the East Stand the Peter Doyle Sit. A quick chat with B and S plus son and fiancee on the way to my seat in the sit and the match was underway. Iain Dowie was a big uncompromising player, and his team reflected both him and his style of play, apart of course from the token dwarf, as Stumpy Sheridan returned to Oakwell to a good reception from the fans. It never ceases to amaze me that, no matter what combination of players we put on the park, we always appear to be physically far less developed than our opponents. Again today I had a feeling that it was men against boys, but we started quite brightly, and Sheron was at the heart of all that was good about our early efforts. Against a team that were unbeaten away from home, having conceded only five in nine and winning five in the process, we were arguably the better side, and a couple of goals then would not have flattered us. But then again Oldham were showing enough up front to worry our centre backs on a dodgy pitch in very heavy rain. They scored first after a free kick awarded against Mulligan for a challenge on the linesman. The ball was swung across from the left wing, and the reds defender -either Betsy of Gibbs (I can never tell them apart) slipped as they were about to be knocked off the ball by the big centre forward, who rose unchallenged to head the ball through a ruck of players and into the net. Pausing only to check his underarms for BO, he returned to the centre circle, followed, at a cautiously respectful distance, by his team mates. Not good then. But better was to follow. A thunderous strike following a smart turn by Juan Sebastian Sheron and the reds were level again. Chronology has never been my strong point, but I think it was then that another good piece of work by Sheron created a gilt-edged chance (that's journo speak for 'I could have knocked it in with me [email protected]') for Gary 'aren't you glad to have me back' Jones, who put the ball wide from about nine yards, or 8 metres for our younger readers. Another clear cut opportunity went astray, leaving us 1-1 at half time. The general concensus was that we were playing better than recent home games, possibly due to the fact that Shaun Doyle was giving the half time team talk. On then to the second half, when after another bright opening there were periods when we were under the cosh.When Oldham substituted the centre forward with the hygiene problem I was quite content, as he and Wijnhard had threatened our defence all day, and I thought they'd decided to settle for the draw. Menacingly, as it tuned out, the programme notes about the oncoming Chris Killen read 'A youngster who is often thrown into the fray late in the game if the Latics are looking for a goal, he has responded with three vital strikes this season'. Oh excretia !! Not long afterwards he got on the end of what seemed like a fairly inoccuous cross, while under challenge from a couple of Reds defenders and Marriott, and the ball literally trickled over the line into the far corner of the net. Another home defeat then. But no, the best was yet to come. Dyer took control of the ball in his own eighteen yard box and ran upfield beating off challenge after challenge before rounding the keeper, turning his back to goal, doing a few bounces of the ball on his knee before scissors kicking into the back of the goal to the disbelief of the extatic crowd in the Ponty End. Well possibly, though I'll not know until I see Goals on Sunday cause I'd already left, and was just going past the end of the East Stand when the roar from the crowd, confirmed that I'd got it all wrong and the match wasn't a lost cause after all. Conclusions? Well don't leave early is the obvious one. Hodges must be close to getting the job full time as the players are certainly playing better than under Parkin. They seem more together, and prepared to work as a team. I mused on motivation as a concept. Why is it that some people can engender it and some can't? I have had three consultants who have treated me at various times over the last six years since my original diagnosis. The first I hold in almost God-like awe. I have never had a conversation with him that has not left me feeling anything but more positive and optimistic. But he is in Birmingham, and I only see him when I need surgery. My local treatments are carried out in Leeds, where the consultant has entirely the opposite effect. Whenever I speak to him I come away full of doom and gloom, and I have to struggle to try and remember that Positive Mental Attitude is the order of the day, and essential if I am to stay strong. They are both equally well qualified, and absolutely committed to giving me the best possible chance of a long life, but the feelings that they generate in me are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. The jury is out on the third one, though the initial visit, as already mentioned, did not go well. But having painted the worst possible scenario, he was then quite optimistic about getting me onto a new course of treatment that has been trialled with good results to date. So without jumping through hoops I am cautiously optimistic about the future. And after today I feel the same about BFC. Thanks for a good day out lads. A win would have been nice, but the entertainment was great.