It's only a game, they say, but Saturday night's game against near neighbours Athlone Town felt like more. There was the tense built up led by their media savvy manager Roddy Collins, and our own Section O video. The largest crowd of the season poured into City Calling Stadium on a perfect night for football and though a large crowd of Gardaí were present, the atmosphere was entirely good natured.
On the pitch we seemed good natured too, giving our hosts far too much time and space on the ball. Though a win was vital, it certainly didn't look that way in the first half where the visitors were in command. A deflected free kick left Chris Bennion stranded and with their one goal advantage, Athlone simply grew in confidence.
Like the away game in Wexford, there was considerably more urgency in the second half, but again like the previous week, we failed to score. At least five good chances came our way and some said, it was a game we should have won, never mind draw. But that final whistle was painful. The sound of the shrill whistle seemed to announce the end of our dream of automatic promotion. Our singing, dancing visitors were quick to remind us of our earlier nine point advantage which had now turned to a five point disadvantage.
We've lost our hospital, our army barracks, our VEC to neighbouring Westmeath. The new bishop will probably be ordained there too. And then there was Saturday night. They even had Flancare on their jerseys. Painful.
SALTHILL AT HOME
This Saturday night will see some contrast when we entertain Salthill Devon to City Calling Stadium. After playing host to well over a thousand paying fans for the game against Athlone, Salthill will hardly bring one paying visitor. We've had more than our fair share of sickening results so far this season but that last minute penalty down in Drom still rumbles the pit of the stomach.
But with some very tough away games to come (Waterford, Mervue and Athlone ....all the top teams), it's absolutely vital that we get back to winning ways this Saturday night. Realistically and barring a cock up by Athlone (unlikely), we're now playing for play off spots. No team fears travelling to City Calling Stadium and all teams will enjoy the sniff of blood but we still have a magnificent support. That support was obvious throughout and indeed after our defeat to Athlone. And it's that support that we call on yet again, to come out, stand up and be counted. City Calling Stadium 7.30, see you there.
SUPER SUPPORT GROUPS
It's easy to forget the massive work on going behind the scenes on a daily basis to support Longford Town FC. Section O and Padraig Stapleton have brought a whole new buzz to the scene with their new flags, banners and chants and the video on the website and Facebook is a real professional job that clubs even in England would be proud of. Then there a small and growing army of volunteers helping out at the Car Boot Sale which has now expanded to being one of the very best in Ireland. And because of various and valid reasons, the team behind the counter in the Clubhouse was short staffed and we wondered how we'd cope with the huge influx of fans. But again, a host of volunteers stepped forward and half time, though one of our busiest ever, was a huge logistical success. It's always dangerous to highlight one person but Emmet Ryan does deserve a special mention this week. An avid Liverpool fan, had tickets and arrangements made to be at the Aviva to see his (second favourite) team play Celtic. But when he realised how short staffed his beloved Clubhouse was, he cancelled his Aviva trip to run the show behind the counter...a sincere thank you Emmet.
FANCY A FREE HOLIDAY ?
With autumn fast approaching, couldn't you do with a break away from it all and a free one too? Well two euro is as near to free as makes no difference. The Supporters' Club are running a truly fantastic draw with first prize a travel voucher from Kanes Travel for a staggering one thousand euro. Think of where you go with that. Second prize is a five hundred euro travel voucher with many lesser prizes as well. The draw will take place at half time during our last League home game and tickets are available from any committee member or in the Clubhouse. And as they say, if you're not in, you can't win.
Paddy McGarry is the considerable brain behind the Fantasy Football project for the upcoming season in England. For just an entry fee of ten euro, you can manage your own team right throughout the season and maybe even win one of the considerable prizes on offer. Amazingly, since Paddy launched the project on line there has been considerable interest from England. But with the deadline coming quickly (August 17), you'd want to get your skates on. Call 087 761 9299 or check out [email protected]
PLAYER OF THE MONTH/ WILLIE TYRELL
Congratulations to Willie Tyrell on being July's worthy player of the month . A sincere thank you to the family of our former chairman and dear friend Brendan Turner who sponsored the award for the last two months, it's greatly appreciated. Emmet Ryan presented Willie with his award as the players left the pitch after their warm up. It was changed from just before the game so that the players could maintain their full focus on the 90 minutes ahead of them.
We extend our best wishes to Johnny, our treasurer and Gerry, our researcher and learned philosopher who had recent short hospital stints. Best wishes too to John Joe Nevin for a speedy return to his blazing saddle following a painful crash. However the bold John Joe was at the Athlone game, heavily strapped but in fine fighting form and hooping to be fit to cycle the Shane Brennan Galway-Longford GOAL cycle. And finally, last but by no means least, a huge thank you to Pascal Flaherty & Co, Donald Keogh and Phil Pike for the hugely successful B B Q held at the Longford Arms Hotel last Bank Holiday Monday, after the Car Boot Sale.