It's Christmas Eve and the excitement is building in my household. Can we do the double over Ipswich Town on Boxing Day? Alright, the excitement is really from my girls who are at fever-pitch and doing everything we tell them for once, simply by looking up towards the sky.
Obviously I am too long in the tooth for the excitement of Christmas but I have always looked forward to Boxing Day more, especially when we play at home. The Valley was traditionally swollen with a bumper gate although we don't seem to have benefitted nearly as much since the Premiership days as our star has waned. It was also the one day of the year when you could expect a completely different and lop-sided team to be announced without any apparent explanation although you always assumed it was down to players drinking too much or not having turned up for pre-Christmas training. Results were often bizarre for that reason too...
Defeat at Oxford United on Boxing Day in 1980 always sticks in my mind. We were on a six or seven match winning sequence and bossing the division but were undone by a flat and lack-lustre performance. Thumped 4-0 at Portsmouth in the early eighties. Going down 3-1 against Wimbledon under Lennie. Simon Webster sent off at Ipswich as we were beaten.Who can forget the 5-0 humping we got at West Ham in 2000? There have been some highs too, of course. Beating Palace at the Valley was one that immediately comes to mind but the humbling of Chelsea when Paolo di Canio orchestrated the match and we hit four.
I am expecting a proper performance from the Reds tomorrow and that first double of the season. The Tractor Boys may have recovered under Mick McCarthy but we should still send them packing if we get at them from the off and not wait until the second-half to start looking to win the match. I see Derby on Saturday as potentially more of the same. I will be disappointed with anything less than four points and we need them to right the ship.