Winners, losers and the seven stages of sorrow

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HUMBLE pie never tastes good and at this time of year it’s at its most bitter.

I was one of those who said Gary Megson’s sacking was a bad thing and, despite promotion, it still doesn’t seem right.

But you can’t argue with success.

Dave Jones came, saw and conquered Wednesday’s fears and shortcomings and took them straight up at the expense of United.

We’ll leave the Wednesdayites to celebrate; they know how to do that and good luck to them.

It’s Unitedites who might need a bit of help. They lost only one of their last 12 games, promotion form if ever there was any.

The problem for them is that Wednesday didn’t lose at all in their last 12 games.

That’s got to hurt.

With respect to all those suffering real pain and not just the wounded pride of the football beast, there are Seven Stages of Supporter Sorrow that will feel like grief to many.

Stage one - Shock and denial. You still wake up at 3am working out goal difference even though the season is over, the back bedroom needs painting and the lawn is up to the window ledges.

Stage two - Pain and guilt. If only you’d not missed that trip to so-and-so, those lucky red pants might have made all the difference.

The agony of missed chances and defensive mistakes plays over and over again in your head. If only you’d walked to the ground your usual way for the Stevenage game it might all have been different.

Stage three - Anger. They’ve let us down again. Why should I sign up for more of that next year? I’ll take up a new hobby and spend the money on something more worthwhile and less frivolous like time travel research or fireworks.

Stage four - Depression, reflection, loneliness. Probably the worst phase. You think of how your life could have been so different without football. If only you’d taken to bird-watching instead of Blades-watching all that stress and pain wouldn’t be a part of your life. You find yourself sitting alone in a dark room thinking about Tony Currie and Neil Warnock. The family tend to make their excuses and leave as you launch into another inquest as to where it all went wrong. Even your dog is starting to avoid you.

Stage five - The upward turn. You start to adjust to life without automatic promotion. The play-offs might not be so bad. You’ve stopped waking up in a cold sweat from your dream of sliding in at the far post to score in the last minute against MK Dons away. Your family don’t hide any more when your car pulls up and those lucky pants are looking pretty stylish again ...

Stage six - Rebuilding. You find yourself seeking realistic solutions to the striker problem. You can see a way where you might actually be able to afford another season ticket after all. Will another year in League One be so bad?

Stage seven - Acceptance and hope. We didn’t make it this time and they did. So what? We had a great season, we’re favourites in the play-offs, and who wants to be in the same division as that lot anyway? And so on you go, bloodied but not broken and ready, like those red-coated soldiers in Zulu, for the next wave of emotional attacks.

This time it’s going to be different, you say. This time they’ll do it. The cycle starts again and no matter what the next seven days brings, you wouldn’t have it any other way. Would you?