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The rugby went well.

The better team won and now the country is fine. Those annoying economic problems have disappeared, the people all love each other and unemployment has ceased to be an issue.

The nation is united.

And talking of United…

The real big game of the day, the one that mattered more, well… the better team won there too, so that went really well.

Cheer up, Chris. It’ll all come out in the wash, as they say. Apart from the Burnley result, obviously. That’s indelible.

One nil to the… hang on a minute

Another brilliant performance by my beloved Sheffield United last night, full of commitment and hard work, set on a solid foundation of tactical genius, and backed up by 30,000 passionate South Yorkshire voices.

Some say that they could see it coming:

Arsenal have played more Premier League games at Bramall Lane without victory than they have any other ground in the competition (4 – D2 L2).

It was a great night to be a Blade and – for the moment at least – I’m rather enjoying this little Premiership adventure trip we’re on. I don’t know if people who support “big teams” really understand what it is like to have been playing Southend United (no offence, Southend fans) and Tranmere Rovers (offence, Tranmere fans) a couple of years ago and then find yourself playing the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal each week.

I’m in dreamland.

Sheffield United’s Dean Henderson has kept 25 clean sheets in the league since the start of last season; more than any other goalkeeper in England’s top four tiers.

That’s not to say that it’s always enjoyable watching the games. Sure, I’m loving seeing us pitted against the best that England (and often, Europe) has to offer week in, week out, but it still feels like every game is a cup final. That means that the pressure is constantly on and it seems that I am fully engaged, as my watch’s stress monitor showed me:

I love the way you can actually pinpoint kickoff at 9pm.

I feel like I aged 10 years in 90 minutes and I don’t even care, although I will be older than Medusa by the time the season’s over. Last night, only a celebratory brandy was enough to bring me back down from a near heart attack and I didn’t get to sleep until 3am.

Don’t even care…

Best day

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Bit of lie in, a drive out to the winelands up North, some lovely wine in a really unusual setting – themed ‘caves’ set in old reinforced concrete wine tanks – at Klein Roosboom, then onto Nitida next door for more wine and a rather decent lunch. I only took the new 50mm lens out to force me to be a bit less lazy, and some of the shots were quite good, but we weren’t really there for the photography, to be fair. (We were there for the wine.)

This one is of the Rouge Lounge, where the walls have been stained red through years of wine fermentation, and glisten with tartaric acid crystals.

We only got back home at quarter to four and then I watched Sheffield United beat Everton at Goodison Park before lighting the braai for a bit of late steak. With some more wine. Because why not?

There was some top trolling from the traveling Sheffield United fans at Goodison Park yesterday. 😀

For the record, despite all that wine, I still managed a reasonable 5km run this morning. A reasonable one, not a particularly fast one.

And now? More football, more wine, I guess.
Well, someone’s got to do it.

August

My image of Crosspool is the photo for August on the 2019 Crosspool calendar:

Look at that glorious curve on Ringstead Avenue. Just look at it!

This season

Sheffield United kick off their season this afternoon with an away day at Bournemouth. I’m looking forward to it with a certain amount of trepidation, but as a lifelong fan, it is just brilliant to see them back up in the Premier League.

You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to work out that this is going to be a tough season for the Blades. The jump from Championship to Premier League is huge, and while the rewards of being up there are also impressive, there’s no way that  we can compete financially from day one. Our basic aim should be survival, and for that reason, I’m more than ready to accept 17th place or higher if I get offered it anytime soon.

Sadly, I’m pretty sure that’s not how things work.

I’ve made many predictions about football over the years, and been vaguely accurate in at least some of them, so ahead of our big day today, I thought I’d make a couple more.

This season my predictions for United are as follows:

I think that we are capable of giving anyone a difficult time at Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane. Sure, I don’t expect us to win all our home games, but I think we will surprise some clubs when they come to S2.

Of course, I recognise that we are going to lose a lot more games than we’ve been used to of late. And we might ship some serious numbers on occasion too. But we’re playing the likes of the  Champions of Europe this season, not the Champions of the Third Division, and so some reality is to be expected in the dreamland that we find ourselves.

As I’ve said above, I’ll more than happily settle for staying up this season. Given where we’ve come from and who we’re up against, just doing that will be another massive achievement. And anything better will be a huge bonus.

I want us to play every game with the spirit that we throw into every FA Cup tie against the big boys, because every game will be that important and will be that intense. I know that the true fans will happily accept any scoreline if the team have played their hearts out: we do understand what we’re up against here.

I’m just so happy to see us back up in the Premier League and I’m hoping against hope that this is the start of a positive new chapter for the mighty Red And White Wizzzzzards!