Back-to-back games at the Exacta give us a great chance to build some momentum when it comes to attracting support. The place looked packed last week, and hopefully many of the same faces will return to back the Blues today. Last week, two questions were on everybody's lips as kick off approached. Firstly, would we break 3,000 and secondly, (as that rather irritating Alexandra Burke song rang out around the stadium) how exactly does one "trip trop", and why do they need to put down their cup to do it? Whilst the answer to the second question turned out to be "forget it, I don't even want to know", the first question was still being debated well into the second half, before Cleggy announced the figure of 2,713. Not quite there yet, so keep inviting your friends.
Nevertheless, 2,713 - which coincidentally is also the number of times that the average British youth misapplies the word "random" in any given week - is a fantastic figure. It must be remembered that even in the Football League we struggled to command such attendances. The mixture of an enjoyable side to watch and a general feel-good atmosphere around the club makes the Exacta a great place to spend your Saturday afternoons.
And whilst home games are undoubtedly fun once more, I also want to take the opportunity to encourage you to take in as many away games as possible. Admittedly, you can't use the "it's all club funds" line to justify spending your money on these games, but it is worth it. Ossett Albion a couple of weeks back were just the latest club to give us a warm welcome. I've opined previously in this column that one of the consolation prizes to having been demoted to this level is all the new teams we get to meet and I truly mean it, as it's been refreshing to visit new grounds, meet like-minded people following their local team on a drizzly afternoon. It's football shorn of most of the overtly-capitalist agenda of the professional leagues. There don't seem to be any owners, board members or customers. Just players and fans. Maybe I'm romanticising it a little, but I'm feeling a definite sense of community about both this league and our club.
Onto today, and off the back of a 4-0 victory against Skelmersdale, our boys should be feeling confident. Durham come here in good form, though, so there's no room for complacency. There is, however, plenty of competition for places. New signing Jimmy McCarthy set everyone's tongues wagging after his goal last week, which was cheekier than a Cockney version of the Cheeky Girls. With Sarcevic, Wilde, Wilson and Howard all in top form in the starting line up, Alex Titchener on the fringes and Robert Hopley using his chance at Ossett to grab a goal and an assist, there's a number of players striving to get into that forward line. It's an odd thing, competition for places. You don't really get it in normal jobs. I've never spent a few weeks on the sidelines in the office, waiting for my chance with the photocopier so I can prove myself. When my colleague Tim was off work recently following a bad ankle sprain, I didn't see this as a chance to assert my credentials. I'd hate to have to do his job.
Whilst undoubtedly good for the success of the team, it must be a real conflict for the guys involved. At no point, you would hope, will Hopley be hoping that Wilde breaks a leg, but he will desperately be wanting to be ply his trade in the first team. McCarthy won't celebrate if the team put in a dreadful performance, but he will be gagging to get on the pitch. Team sports create this dilemma between wanting what's best for the team, and also wanting what's best for oneself. It's a bit like wanting the girl you love to be happy, but only so long as she's with you.
I'll sign off at this point. If next week you find that Rob has replaced my column with one written by someone fresher and wittier, then you can deduce that competition for places is prevalent in more areas than perhaps you would realise.