For a sport that is often criticized for being boring and lacking in dramatic flair, comes a match that had all of that and more. Nearly a fortnight ago, a pivotal match in England's lower leagues ended in a fashion that had one town toasting in jubilance and spilling Pimm's all over their tracksuits, another cursing the name Marcello Trotta while spilling Pimm's all over their tracksuits.
Unlike supporters of Premier League clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea - clubs that have realistic ambitions for continental tournaments and winning domestic cups - fans of clubs like Doncaster Rovers and the Brentford Bees have very little to look forward to each season, with an often unrealistic goal of promotion as a most desired result. Promotion to an above league is a point of pride, but also a point of growth, as television deals allow newly-promoted clubs to spend more money on transfers, their academies and stadia. Playing in England's League One, one rung below the Championship, and two below the Barclays Premier League, Donny and Brentford were scheduled to battle on the final day of the season, with the league's top two sides claiming automatic promotion to the Championship, and teams 3-6 playing in an aggregate format to crown the 3rd promotion spot.
Let's travel back to Saturday, April 27th, at Brentford's Griffin Park, on the Western outskirts of London, on the same M4 we've all taken to visit the massive IKEA in Bristol. The winner of the match would gain automatic promotion, while the loser would be forced to enter the playoff, which is a guarantee for nothing but sleepless nights and soiled tracksuits.
Seen here, Brentford (in white and red stripes) are awarded a penalty in the 4th minute of stoppage time. After some heated discussions, nay, arguments between several Brentford players, Marcello Trotta steps up to take the penalty, surely sending Brentford up to the Championship. Trotta strikes the ball with plenty of pace, but the ball rises and smashes the crossbar, leading to panic in the box, before a Doncaster player perfectly executes the footy version of an outlet pass, and well, the video tells the story.
For some context, if you've ever been to Doncaster or seen an episode of Emmerdale, you'll know that it's a town that pays tribute to the past with its simpleton ways. Far from the hustle and bustle of London and the City, Donnies are a people that love their football nearly as much as they love their tracksuits. This makes the moment captured above an even greater one; a town revelling on the brink of football disaster, only to be saved by one man's inability to convert a penalty.
While I've long since tired and learned to ignore those who think football is a boring sport, you're entitled to your opinion, regardless of how ignorant it may be. However, I dare you to call something like this boring; where an entire town is bracing either for success or disaster, identifying with players they see at the local Tesco's and pumping gas into their rusted Peugeot's, and men whose prodigious careers have stalled, leaving them in the lower leagues, always looking up and always in the shadow, metaphorically in much the same way the rest of England sees London.
As a postscript of sorts, Brentford defeated Swindon Town in penalties following a two-match promotion semi-final, and have booked a trip to London's famed Wembley Stadium for a one-match, winner take all with Yeovil Town on Sunday, May 19th.