Terry Spratt is the name, incessant bellyaching is the game and I have high hopes for bitter recriminations throughout 2002. I really think this could be my year. Obviously the club has taken a massive leap forward and I intend to be with them every step of the way with plenty of aimless and counter productive criticism. As the season grinds on I, for one, am determined not to be found wanting in the whining department.
Just as the players have had to adapt to the pressures of playing in the Premiership, I too have had to completely overhaul my whole whingeing routine. Gone are the days when I could get by with a light vocal warm up on the way to the ground before launching into an unprovoked attack on the likes of Wayne Kerrins, Brian Cottington or Sean Gore. As I listened to my own gripes ringing majestically round the crumbling stadium I was blissfully unaware of the dreadful success the club had in store.
I now have to put in many, many more hours of practice both in front of the television and in the back garden to keep myself mentally right for a forthcoming game. I will sometimes spend up to 6 hours whingeing from the top of a multi-storey car park or some other municipal building just to keep in trim.
Pre-season was the worst. I mercilessly harangued fun loving holidaymakers on a beach in Spain for almost an entire fortnight in June. Sadly, heat stroke got the better of me towards the end and I had to be led away by the authorities. Despite the subsequent delirium I'm convinced that the extra effort will stand me in good stead come May when other whingers may be feeling the strain.
It is therefore obviously very frustrating not being able to put all that rancour into action. Not trusting the car I travelled with my ten year-old to the Derby match by rail. However due to the sheer incompetence of the entire rail network we somehow boarded the wrong train. Four times. The final whistle must have been blown at Pride Park while we were still on a slow train to Uttoxeter. I've seen Fred Callaghan run faster.
To make matters worse, when my lad realised we were going to miss the game he let rip a ferocious verbal assault on the passenger sitting opposite us. Although I was impressed by the clarity of the tirade it really was inappropriate to foul mouth an innocent pensioner and I had to have him ejected from the train. But he's still young and he'll learn.
The Wycombe game was an obvious non-starter so I put in some more whingeing practice in the garden with my lad now safely returned from his Midlands nightmare. With all these postponements it is vital to keep on top of your game at any given time. So we stand in the shed and shout through the window at pictures of Fulham players past and present pegged to the washing line. I seem to remember we were particularly hard on Martin Fearney. Anyway, it's a real fun way to improve your whining. Go on, try it. What are you waiting for?
Now for a couple of late digs on our current mid table slump. We may have two highly respected international goalkeepers on our books but I still feel we need to bring in more experience in that department. Can I really be the only one who longs for the type of assured displays given week in week out by Malcolm Webster? As for the other end, how about signing up that hapless Italian chump from Derby County. At least he seems to know where the ruddy goal is. Happy Moaning.