While watching England pull off a massive shock in defeating Spain in Seville it occurred to me that the word ‘bravery’ is a much used - and abused - term when analysing performance in games.
For people who like their football of the ‘blood and thunder’, ‘take no prisoners’ variety, the word implies blood soaked bandages dripping onto bright white shirts as their side battle against the odds in a bid to grind out a favourable result.
But as meritorious as such performances are, real ‘bravery’ in a footballing sense is much more than mere brute force and battling against the odds but also about having the courage to use your intelligence to prevail; it is about taking chances, wanting the ball, being prepared to fail; it’s about accepting the fact that you might end up with egg rather that blood on your face.
That’s what really impressed me about England’s performance, certainly for the first half, and had they carried on in a similarly brave mode for much of the second half and attacked, effectively as a way defending, I’m sure they would have got over the line far more convincingly than they eventually did.
And it reminded me - unfortunately - of our reversal against Holbeach United in the FA Vase where we somehow contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
From Fran Constancio’s Academy right up to the first team our philosophy from day one is to be ‘brave’. We know that at all levels of the club we do not have the best nor the strongest players but we do want to try to help them to become the most intelligent.
What our game against Holbeach showed was that we are a team that when it plays the ball to feet, distributes it quickly and intelligently and then creates the space with runs then we are at our best.
But when we decide - as we did for about an hour - to play it long, forget about the second ball, effectively panic, play into our opponents’ hands, then it becomes patently clear that we are still very much a work in progress. We need to be brave even if it means we end up making mistakes.
But we move on. On Saturday we travel to Stotfold and on Tuesday it’s another derby when Biggleswade FC call in the Beds Senior Cup. See you there.