My dad is a Wolves fan and tells a story about a famous FA Cup game against Manchester United. He talks of a moment of sublime skill which caused the crowd to pause as one before reacting.
I thought it was one of those ‘dad-stories’ – crowds don’t pause in unison. Or so I believed until 1996. The game was against Blackpool and, like now, we were on a charge. Blackpool were in one of the automatic promotion places, although at that point our goal was really just the play-offs.
Collecting a ball 35-40 yards out, Joey Beauchamp controlled a clearance, looked up then struck a looping volley into the top right hand corner. The video doesn’t capture it, but there was a split second of beatific calm. Then, of course, the place exploded. It was the moment at which a good run became a promotion reality.
Yesterday, 94 minutes, and it happened again. Nelthorpe picks the ball up on the left. Turley throws himself to the ground and buries his head in his arms. The ball is floated in, Constable just about directs it goalwards. There was a moment of silence. That couldn’t have gone in. Nothing works that perfectly. But it did and the place, again, exploded.
“Do you believe?” asked Jerome Sale like Noel Edmonds asking a witless twit what his strategy was on Deal or No Deal as though there is skill in choosing boxes. Yes or no, what does it matter?
Well, according to my trusty prediction formula – everyone draws their games against the top 10 and wins all others (currently 70% correct) – has us ending two points behind the play-offs. If we’re to assume we need to win all our games, then we will actually finish on equal points as Stevenage. Who have a worse goal difference.
Do I believe. Well, I might as well, because at this stage there’s no point in not.