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Pat Baldwin: It's never a comfortable ride on football's rollercoaster

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 02, 2013

Would you try to jump over this man for £50?

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What a difference three days can make in football: from the sheer frustrations of our defeat to Burton last Saturday to the utter elation of a fantastic win against Port Vale on Tuesday.

This rollercoaster ride of emotions is what makes me hate the game at times, but it is also what has made me love it more than anything since I can remember.

Whether you play the game or support it, the fundamentals are all the same. It's losing that opens the floodgates of debate and it is the pursuit and act of winning that feeds the addiction.

Being a player of the game from such an early age has prevented me from ever fully understanding what it's like to be a complete fan of one team. Sure, I grew up supporting West Ham, like the rest of my family, but all I have ever been interested in is playing football.

However, I can imagine how frustrating it can be as a supporter to watch your side lose on a Saturday to a team that is lower in the league than the team that you beat the following Tuesday.

If any fan is as frustrated at losing as much as myself and my team-mates get then I can completely understand the emotions you go through. A win or a loss can completely shape my mood for a good few days after.

You just need to ask my wife, Alex, about how bad I can be after a loss. In contrast, if we win, life couldn't be any better. It can be a very tiring game to be involved in but I wouldn't change it for the world.

When it comes to dealing with a defeat, I am sure everyone is very different. Personally, I am a simple creature. I will get home and not want to talk about the game nor do I want to watch any football on the television. It is probably the only time I will ever watch any other sports.

Conversely, if we win, I can't get enough football. All of the results will be checked and Match of the Day will be the highlight of the evening. I hate to say it but football really does dictate my life.

The mood on the team bus after a game is a clear indicator as to whether we have won or lost. On Saturday, after the Burton game, the bus was very quiet with only a few hushed conversations about what happened.

If you compare that with the journey home on Tuesday night, the mood couldn't have been more different. Flynny brought our sound system that we listen to before games on to the bus, to play his iPod. We even gave young Jake Gosling a go with his own iPod and I have to say, it was surprisingly pretty good. The atmosphere was great; just how it should be after a win.

I have been watching a lot of rugby recently. It is not a sport that I can say I have been an avid spectator of but I do enjoy it at international level.

The Six Nations has been very exciting and it is incredible to see the players smashing into each other. They are huge. You would not catch me on a rugby pitch in a million years.

I remember meeting Lawrence Dallaglio once, back when I was in the Chelsea youth team. He had come to the training ground to do some sort of advertising campaign with Gianfranco Zola.

They were due to do a photo shoot together out on the pitch that was closest to the pavilion. Lawrence was standing on his own waiting for Franco.

Myself, our kit manager, Arron, and the rest of my youth team were standing by the door to the pavilion, starring in awe at this man-mountain. Arron decided it would be funny to dare us to run and jump over him and assured us that whoever did it would get a handsome sum of £50 each.

Me, being the idiot I am, agreed, along with three or four others. What was the worst that could happen?

So Arron gave the count of three and off I went, sprinting the 20 yards or so towards the biggest man I had ever seen.

He was turned away from me so, naturally, I jumped on his back. Obviously, being slightly surprised, his natural instinct was to fling me, head first to the floor. As I regained my composure, I looked back at the laughing assembly that was my so-called team-mates to discover I was the only one to have taken up the challenge.

Thankfully, big Lawrence took it in great spirits and I did get the £50, so all's fair in love and war.

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