It was supposed to be the culmination of years of work. Dragging the stricken barge that is this club off the reef. But, it was not to be. For 90 odd minutes, through frustration and reminiscence, people for the most part seemed to hold their nerve, despite being 1-0 down to the old enemy, on this symbolic day.
And then the worst thing possible happened. We scored.
The celebrations spilled over the fence, but rather than ending on that note by remaining in the corner, away from the players, some people took it too far. The referee rightly abandoned the game.
Some of the responsible persons have admitted their wrongdoing. Others have not. Some have even tried to justify the events to me personally, knowing that I would not and could not agree with them - and me being unable to give them the forgiveness or validation that was being sought. It is, for me at least, irrelevant. The damage has probably already been done. To what remains of our reputation. To our relationships with sponsors. To the players morale, after finding the equaliser. To the thousands of people who came to see us today, including scores of our juniors and their parents.
In the greater scheme of things, this is not even nearly the worst thing that has happened at South. But it's just another example, of when it comes down to it, not putting the interests of the club first. I feel worst, naturally, for the people who have worked tirelessly to set this event up in the first place. They know who they are. Here's hoping they are not discouraged, by the actions of their friends and fellow fans, by the punishments that will be doled out, by the hard work that may be undone, and the fact that we will, in an important way, have to start again.
The opposing view will be, that I am being melodramatic; that I am not sticking up for my fellow fans; that I am a nerd; that I have a stupid hat; that what's happened has happened, and there's nothing to be done about it now; that it was a spur of the moment thing, a rush of adrenaline, where people don't stop to think. And that's the problem right there. A little self-control, even in the heat of the moment, would have gone a long way.
So much goodwill lost. A right kick in the teeth. Another example of the periodic self-destruction which, to members of both those who are lamenting and those who are defending, seem to agree is almost an intrinsic part of this club. But there is, to be fair, only so much one can wallow in self-flaggelation and misery. Eventually, we must move on. But moving on doesn't necessarily mean turning a blind eye. It's self-centred perhaps, to feel that a great division has emerged between myself and so many of the people I have called friends in these past few years. And yet perhaps, more than at any other time, more than after any other incident, I feel I am at one end of a spectrum, and they at the other.