The stress & strife of missing a midweek six pointer

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Town fan Nick Judd endures a traumatic Tuesday night awaiting updates from the County Ground... 

Trying to follow a game when you can’t get to the match is a fan's proverbial nightmare. Especially when you follow a lower league club and don’t live in the area.

I found myself unable to go to our six-pointer (more on them next week) against Southend on Tuesday. A win was essential – we slipped into the bottom four after losing narrowly at Leeds last weekend – and if ever there was a game that required as much support as possible, then this was it. Southend were no mugs either, they’d won eight of their last 10. Gulp.

The problem is I don’t live in Swindon, so listening to the local radio station is not an option. I could subscribe to the club’s official service that streams BBC Radio Swindon’s dulcet tones, but choose not to. Times are hard.

This means I found myself relying on texts from people at the game, Sky Sports News’ videprinter (do they still call it that?) or online forums. There’s no logging on to websites in the Far East for live streams of League 1 games.

Two minutes feels like two hours listening on the wireless

People at games can be quite reliable, but understandably they can get so embroiled in the action that their feed of information dries up. I remember a game earlier this year when I had two people giving me updates. Their version of events contrasted greatly, and they were sat next to each other!

As for Sky Sports, just seeing the goalscorers on screen isn’t enough. Were the goals scored against the run of play? Did we deserve it? Are we on top? They give you no indication of what’s actually happening.

Then there are the online forums, which often contain the same users week after week. Some are on there for the same reason as me, they don’t live in Swindon, while others can’t afford to go to the game, they’re working, or just plain lazy.

The problem here is that we’re all relying on information from those listening to the game. And having been on the radio myself, live commentary isn’t always the most reliable source for what’s actually going on, and then it’s being relayed through a third party. 

On the one occasion I’ve followed a game online this season, I found we scored every time I visited the loo. I spent the remainder of the second half reading while sat on the throne in the hope we’d sneak a win. We didn’t. Good book, though (Hunter S Thompson, if you’re interested).

Cox: Three pens in three games for Swindon's top scorer 

It never used to be this hard.

I remember listening to Town’s play-off semi-final second leg away at Tranmere Rovers in 1992/93 down a phone line called Team Talk. Either way, it resulted in my parents receiving a bigger phone bill than Danny Dyer’s character in Human Traffic after he passes out while listening to a bingo line following a night on the sauce.

Still, at least we could listen to the game and know what was happening, even if it didn’t make you feel any less nervous.

I’ve since realised – having been told that it was like watching Brazil in the first half against the Shrimpers – that there’s no excuse for not going. Work, pre-arranged drinks and gigs all pale into significance when there’s the small of matter of survival to be secured.

Live and learn, eh…

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