Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen once again from the other side of the ground. So here we are then, this is it, the one we’ve all been waiting for. No need to stress the significance of this match to anyone. If you’re reading these notes, I presume you already understand it. While the highlights of this season so far have been the two El Clasicos in terms of build up and atmosphere, we are certainly coming into this one in a far worse position then we would have hoped for.
For the last few weeks these notes have been full of negativity as we predicted how by the way things were going we seemed to be on course for a similar collapse to that of this time last season. Well…we were right and it’s happened but we’ve had enough of being negative for now. The atmosphere in the CCS after the Mervue game was dim as the final whistle was met with what seemed like complete silence as we all started to come to terms with the fact that this league may be slipping away.
Last week in Wexford, although the result wasn’t the best, those that were there will tell you that it was a much improved performance, not just from the Mervue game but from the last few weeks. The lads tried to play it on the ground as much as they could in windy conditions and if one or two attempted through balls had worked out or if we had just taken advantage of our abundance of set pieces, we would have come away from the South East with 3 points. Our collapse in the last few weeks has notably occurred at the same time as we have lost Salmo from our midfield and while we were all crying out for an adequate replacement during the transfer window, a young winger signed for us on loan from Sligo on the last day of the window. Another winger, everyone thought, not exactly what we need but it turns out Ryan Connolly is also more than comfortable as a central midfielder and if his debut performance down in Wexford is anything to go by our midfield worries may be over for the time being. Something to be hopeful about for the large travelling support making the 3 hour plus journey home.
Athlone may now be two points ahead but as we still have to play them twice before the end of the season, first place is still technically in our hands. This bad run of form started exactly one series of games ago in that disappointing defeat in Lissywollen. That game was a serious kick to our confidence while it spurned this Athlone team to go on a very impressive run of games. One series of games and they’ve managed to gain 11 points on us. It’s now time to put this series of games behind us once and for all.
This same group of players dominated the league for 2/3’s of the season so far. We now have 8 games left starting tonight to turn it around. Athlone are in the best form they’ve been in in years and getting a result tonight won’t be easy but going into this game as underdogs for once may just suit us.
At times when we were coasting at the top of the league some of us may have taken the fact that we were going to get promoted for granted. Now that we have been brought back down to earth with a bang and the realisation has kicked in that we may still be playing in this shambles of a league next season, it is time for the players to stand up and be counted. Promotion means everything to everyone at this club, from big Jim, to the sponsors, to the board, to the supporters club, to the volunteers, to all of us over in Section O and it’s important that the players know that and prevent it from being snatched away from us when at times this season it seemed so close, starting with 3 points tonight. COME ON DE TOWN!
[singlepic id=327 w=420 h=340 float=]
New Section O flags you'll be seeing at the El Clasico.
As we look forward to our third and penultimate El Clasico of the season there is no doubt that the fixture between the two Midland’s clubs has brought some much needed excitement both on and off the pitch to this division. While the fans of both clubs through the years have perhaps at times attempted to talk up a rivalry that may or may not have been there, Athlone’s rise to the summit of the first division along side Longford has certainly turned up the heat in the Midlands. Athlone are in a great run of form at present, form that the club haven’t experienced in many many years and credit where credit’s due to Roderick, he has created a lot of excitement in the Midland’s town. Athlone are a club with a lot of history and are the oldest club in the league, a fact their fans will only be too happy to inform you of. This talk of great history however is all Athlone fans have had to talk about for a long time as the club have only spent two seasons out of the last two decades playing their football outside of the bottom tier of Irish football and haven’t finished in the top half of that bottom tier since 2001. This fact hasn’t stopped some fans of the “big” club from taking the first opportunity offered to them to gloat about their last two weeks sitting at the top of the first division. Football messages boards and social media sites have been awash with fans of either clubs informing each other of their respective club’s achievements and you can be certain that both sets of fans will have a thing or two to say to each other as they meet on the terraces this evening.
This season’s El Clasico fixtures have had it all so far, from colourful and passionate displays by both sets of fans to managers taking advantage of various media outlets to use mind games to their advantage, to a transfer saga that would put the Bale, Rooney or Suarez one to shame (Welcome to Hell Mr Curran!). The atmosphere at tonight’s game will no doubt be something special after another week long build up, let’s just hope the game on the pitch lives up to the expectations. “Oh Roddy is a.....”
Supporters Club/Section O Fantasy Premier League
The Supporters Club along with Section O are running their own Fantasy Football League this year on http://fantasy.premierleague.com/. Entry is €10 with cash prizes being awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places at the end of the season. To enter text 0877619299 or email [email protected] and we will supply you with the code before the 15th August. We have also set up a Paypal account to make it easier for you to pay. The email address for the PayPal account is the same, [email protected] The players are also set to take part so this may be a chance for you to test your skills against them.
We are happy to let everyone know that the new flags have arrived from Poland just in time for tonight’s big game and will be proudly displayed in Section O tonight. We have also received another batch of Section O stickers after somehow going through the last 1,000…that’s right 1,000. The new ones are a different design similar to the new Section O stick flag and are ready and waiting to be stuck around the various pubs, nightclubs and football stadiums of Ireland. If interested, just get onto one of the lads in Section O and they should be able to sort you out with some...we’ve loads!
Tweets of the Week
Off the Ball (Newstalk) @offtheball “We’re going to batter Longford” says Athlone manager Roddy Collins. Consider the #MidlandsClasico officially launched”
Keith Gillespie @KeithGillespie7 “Crucial game this Saturday v Athlone Town. Want to retire from football by helping to get Longford promoted, I will give it everything.
Davy O’Sullivan @DavyOSullivan15 “Weekend can’t come quick enough, looking forward to the biggest game of my career to date #keepthefaith #cupfinal #elclasico”
Chant of the Week
While we are proud to have brought you a new chant every week in our notes each week, avoiding repetitiveness, we are slowly running out of suitable chants for the match programme and club website that won’t get us into trouble. Strangely enough we haven’t included this one yet, which has probably been the most popular chant in Section O over the last two seasons. Once again, please note, some words may have been subtly/completely changed to keep us out of trouble and avoid offense.
“So Hoist up the Red and Black,
Can you hear the main stand sing?
Call on the Section O, we’ll sing on our own,
We all “love” Athlone, we all “love” Athlone
Athlone’s a “truly lovely place”,
We all “love” Athlone!”
Section O Membership
This year the Supporters club are offering a new “Section O” membership to attract younger supporters who wish to get involved. Membership costs the same as the Supporters Club, €10 or €5 for students. We at Section O intend to hold regular meetings where younger fans can ask questions and express their views which can then be brought forward to the Supporters Club.
If getting a hold of the match programme every fortnight to get your fix of these brilliantly put together notes just isn’t enough for you, make sure to keep up to date with all Section O news by liking our page on Facebook or following us on Twitter at @section_o_ltfc! There is also a new Section O….eh “section” on the official Club site www.ltfc.ie, where we will be hoping to add weekly news as well as any fan pictures we can get our hands on.