If you think something’s too good to be true, it probably is, writes Saddlers blogger Mark Jones.
I have kept trying to tell myself this about the Mighty Saddlers and our superb start to the season, but so many people are beginning to whisper the same thing quietly that it would be wrong to ignore them – this Walsall team really has the makings of something special.
Sure enough, Tuesday’s defeat to Orient ensured feet are being kept firmly on the ground but even in defeat there were encouraging signs. Never once did our boys let their heads drop, no-one went missing and we kept trying to pass our way back into the game. This is in marked contrast to what’s been on offer over the past few years.
On another day we’d have got something out of the game and not left Bescot wondering quite how we’d ended up on the losing side.
In my many years following WFC, I’ve become accustomed to the club having no funds, resigned to it even, but for me there’s never been an excuse for not trying to play football or for not giving our own a chance. Dean Smith and Richard O’Kelly are putting this right and they’ve also added a real team ethic too.
This has been demonstrated in the way the team bounced back from the defeat at Stevenage with successive wins and in George Bowerman’s late winner at Bournemouth. Hopefully we can put the Orient result behind us in similar fashion.
The quality of our football so far has been tremendous. George Bowerman is rightly getting loads of attention but with a midfield quartet reading Baxendale-Featherstone-Cuvelier-Paterson I’m starting to expect great things.
To get an idea of how well we’ve started, it took until February to register our fifth win last season, and our third away win was at stadium:mt on the final day.
Saturday was a day when Walsall stood firm in the face of adversity. It was fitting that Andy Butler should score at Dean Court; when 22 months ago he made his Saddlers debut in a 3-0 drubbing towards the tail-end of the Hutchings disaster era.
He, more than anyone, has epitomised the progress that’s been made since then. He leads by example and plays with a pride in the shirt that is clearly infectious. It would have been thoroughly deserved if his late effort had gone in on Tuesday.
Interestingly of the current first team only Richard Taundry and Jimmy Walker were regulars at the end of 2010 (and Super Jim himself had only been back a fortnight). Grigg and Paterson had been thrown in at the deep end a couple of times and of course, the then youth team boss was waiting in the wings.
I haven’t really been this optimistic about a Walsall team since the Dicky Dosh era and we all know how that turned out, but January is a long way off so I’ll enjoy it while I can, even with the odd defeat.
We are Walsall, ay we?