SPORT TALK: Playoff blues again

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Don’t you just love the end of season football league playoffs? Well, no, I don’t actually.

I’m sure neutral fans are gripped by the thrills and spills of the promotion rollercoaster finales, but for a Nottingham Forest fan the playoffs are associated solely with utter dejection – more Fawlty Towers than Alton Towers.

On four occasions now my beloved Tricky Trees have qualified for the playoffs and not once have we even got through to a Wembley (or Millennium Stadium) final.

This week’s latest playoff failure came at the hands of a stylish Swansea side, but brought the usual sense of ‘what might have been’ to mull over all summer.

I’d braced myself for the worst after we drew a blank against a ten-man Swans side in the first leg at the City Ground but there’s always that faint whiff of unfounded hope that takes hold come kick-off – and builds you up for another inevitable disappointment that duly came with a 3-1 defeat.

To the television companies and non-fans the fact we hit the woodwork several times, saw Marcus Tudgay miss a sitter and were denied a late penalty for a handball in the box all made it “dramatic” and “unlucky”.

For us, it probably just made it worse.

That the final, killer blow was delivered by midfielder Darren Pratley – a player we became slightly obsessed with trying to prise away from South Wales last year – was a cruel twist that merely topped off a miserable night.

Still, this was an improvement on previous playoff encounters.

We’ve previously crashed out to Sheffield United, having led 2-0 in the away leg, been trounced 5-2 at home to Yeovil after beating them 2-0 in the away leg and last season fell foul of Ian Holloway’s buoyant Blackpool (I suppose they really ought to be the best at rollercoasters).

The Yeovil game was shocking, embarrassing and unbelievable in equal measure and left even my big mouth speechless for several hours.

At least we were not humiliated in front of the eyes of the viewing public this time around.

And, while we’re on the subject of looking for crumbs of comfort, it was better to at least qualify for the promotion showdown than fail to make the Championship’s top six at all.

Once the disappointment fades I’m sure I’ll take great delight in finishing well above our nearest-and-not-so-dearest Derby County – and the 5-2 home win against the Rams was a massive highlight for the season and a far cry from the tactically inept dross served up under the miserable stewardship of hapless pair David Platt and Gary Megson.

Fiery Glaswegian boss Billy Davies is not far away from creating a side that could win us back a place in the promised land of the Premier League – a couple of clever signings in the summer and then maybe next year will be our time.

But then, that’s the hope talking again...