As an Espanyol fan living on the doorstep of a wildly successful Barcelona I know better than most the pain of defeat especially when compared to the euphoria of victory.
I also know, however, that sometimes, as enjoyable as victory is, you learn so much more from a reversal than you do a triumph.
Last year was a very difficult year for our then under 16 side that was built from scratch and I will always be eternally grateful to the coaches and the players that battled on through the toughest of times. They came through battered but unbowed and have now, as I always knew they would, turned the corner.
The under 17s now have a new coach in Marc Farrell who is keen to make this work because from the beginning he has understood the philosophy of the club and we are looking to create a side that is competitive and that can graduate to the under 23s and then to the first team.
Emma Boyd is the team’s wonderful secretary who makes sure everyone is happy and keeps the ship afloat with her kind words and no nonsense efficiency.
Last week we played a friendly that we won 2-0 and what is most obvious is that finally our message is getting through and we now find ourselves with a queue of people waiting to join us. Things are looking up and I am as proud as Punch.
And talking of proud, both the club and our coach Cristian Colás personally received calls from the chairman of the Spartan League congratulating us on our performance against Hitchin in last Saturday’s FA Cup match.
We never looked like a side two leagues below our opponents and despite the worst possible start that saw us going two nil down after just 10 minutes fought back to 2-2, at which point there was precious little to separate the two sides only to concede two further goals in the second half to a Hitchin side that was just that bit more efficient in front of goal.
We showed that we can compete at a higher level and also that we have the ability to fight back from adversity and above all that everyone is raising their game and making the right sort of progress.
Alfie Long and Joan Garzon have given a shape and positive identity to our under 23 side which has led once again to a large number of people looking to join our club.
There is a structured training, a style and also a path towards first team football and the hard core of the side is made up of players that we would hope to see progressing into first team football.
I am delighted to announce that sponsorship deals have all been renewed although anyone who feels that they would like to back one of our Academy sides would be cordially welcome to contact us.
This weekend sees us travel to Whitton United tomorow (Sat) in the FA Vase before we get back to league matters when we visit Welwyn Garden City on Wednesday night.
See you there.