Robert Cullen says that while rovers fans may be more hopeful than ever of success, nothing will be taken for granted just yet.let’s start with a bit of Rudyard Kipling. specifically the following two lines. ‘If you can meet with triumph and Disaster.
And treat those two impostors just the same.’ triumph hadn’t come to the showgrounds for many years, and her return two years ago was greeted with a cup of tea and spoonful of scepticism by many Rovers fans who had loved and lost before.
We welcomed triumph, but always waited for her to call us. We didn’t vocalise our aspirations for fear – like a boy blowing out his birthday candles while making a wish – that they wouldn’t come true.
And yet here we are, top of the table and six points (and a game in hand) clear of our nearest rivals, the ‘surprise package’ Drogheda United. It is more than Rovers fans could hope for, and certainly more than they were willing to wish for in this stage of the season.
Rovers have built this cushion off the back of victories like last Monday night in the showgrounds. Bottom of the table Dundalk had only three wins from 22 games to their credit before coming to sligo and caretaker manager Darius Kearns knew a serious drubbing was on the cards.
He must have breathed a sigh of relief then when Mark Quigley limped off the pitch just before the half-hour mark. the former Dundalk striker had already given Rovers the lead in the 10th minute with a superb low strike from a quick counter-attack. He was knocking the ball about so much a hat-trick looked on the cards.
It was not to be, though, and with Alan Keane also exiting the game through injury, Rovers looked momentarily shaky, but the mark of champions is composure and Rovers quickly regained theirs.
Another goal shortly after the restart and a third in the dying embers of the game left Rovers fans departing the showgrounds (all 3,200 of them) very happy.
And yet one of the most telling moments of the game took place not on the pitch, but in the stands. At one stage, prompted by the ever vocal Forza Rovers, a chant of ‘stand up for the Bit O’Red’ echoed around the stadium.
Other teams, those drunk on the champagne of success, would shout ‘stand up for the Champions’, but not Rovers. We have the confidence in our side to achieve success. We have witnessed the frailty of our many rivals.
But don’t expect us to cheer like champions until we are champions.
It is no disrespect to the present players, manager Ian Baraclough, the many men and women who make up sligo Rovers FC, it is simply this: ‘We welcome triumph. We enjoy triumph. But, until triumph turns up at our door with a bottle of bubbly, we won’t embrace her.’