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INSIDE THE HELMET
It is, of course, incredibly easy when things are going well. When it is multiple high fives, hearty handshakes and pats on the back, life goes swimmingly. Bounces of the ball, referee’s decisions and touch judge interventions are all just shrugged off with a ‘you win some, you lose some’ philosophy. But when it’s going pear-shaped, everything takes a darker edge. Words and phrases like ‘pathetic, ‘ridiculous’ and ‘it’s a conspiracy’ start being heard on the terraces and blame, with all its surly belligerence, looks for somewhere to settle.
And that is where the Blues find themselves. Fathoms deeper than ever before, choking for Greene King IPA breath after a four game start that has stuck a hand on their head and held it there. Swimmingly? Did we ever learn how to swim?
For Blues supporters this is unchartered water. We, perhaps unsurprisingly, had got very used to things coming easy. With confounding simplicity, a team who shouldn’t be able to, was. It drove our money-plundering neighbours mad. They were spending millions and yet, we were beating them where it mattered. I once had a conversation with a Pirates fan who was seriously considering a surprise daytime visit to catch the Blues training, so adamant was he that we weren’t a part time outfit. But sport is nothing but unpredictable and off the back of what was arguably our best season since Mike Rayer took over, we now stand 10th in the table with only losing, try scoring bonus points to our name.
Vince Lombardi, the legendary American Football coach, once said that “It isn’t about how many times you get knocked down, it’s about how many times you get back up.” And boy, does it hurt getting back up at the moment. But that is what the boys will have to keep on doing. And so will we, as supporters. We will have to keep believing, keep trusting that everything we do, and have done, works. We have to believe in the personnel we have, in the ethos that has served us so well, in the game we love so much.
Often in sport, the pressure that tells is not that which is exerted from without, but within. Lombardi knew that if his quarterback was having a tough time finding his receiver, he was getting ten times more trouble from ‘inside the helmet’ than any defensive line.
On Friday night, Mike Rayer’s testimonial kicked off in style, with a wonderful evening in the Blues' marquee. The special guest was rugby legend Phil Bennett, who spoke superbly about what it meant to be involved in the game. He talked about camaraderie, union, friendship and the rugby community doing things that very few other sports could do. He also paid homage to what Bedford has, not just in Mike, but what Mike stands for. What the Blues have is really quite unique in the professional world in which we now exist. And that uniqueness, that genuinely enviable quality, comes at a price. Maybe this tough start is that price…
Rayer himself, in his speech at the beginning of the evening, eluded to the fact that, if you like, ‘in his own helmet’, times were tough; tougher than perhaps they’d ever been. Lombardi would have said ‘simply believe in the ability that has brought you so far, trust in your QB to re-find his receivers'. We should do too.
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