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If you had scanned the Bloomfield Road home crowd after Blackpool's 2-0 win over Blackburn on Saturday, you may have spotted a lone miserable face in a sea of Tangerine euphoria. That was me; traitor and solitary sell-out. The Guy Fawkes of football fandom.
It's an uncomfortable experience to sit in the home section when you're an away supporter, but one many football fans suffer at some point. Perhaps the away allocation sold out before you could get your hands on a ticket, or you're visiting friends and want to watch the match with them (which was my reason on Saturday). Whatever the circumstances, you know there's a good chance it's going to be an unpleasant afternoon.
Of course, as a Blackburn fan I was even more certain of unpleasantness following a rotten run of three defeats in the last four matches, and it was hard to join in with the bubbling excitement of my Blackpool-supporting friends in the car on the way to the ground. After a miserable two years at Rovers, it was strange to be surrounded by people who were actually looking forward to the match and part of me longed for the bitterness to which I've become accustomed.
But whether it was the sea air or the infectious humour of my companions, I gradually grew more optimistic when we reached the stadium. "We're a football team. Sometimes football teams win," were my thoughts as I found my seat next to a buoyant young chap dressed head to toe in orange.
"It's tangerine, not orange," my friend reminded me. Going behind enemy lines is a perilous business and if suspicions were aroused, I was aware that I lacked the lingo to survive in hostile territory. A misguided celebration of Nathan Blake's late consolation against Manchester United in 1998 had taught me that lesson, with my dad suggesting a hasty exit after one United fan in the vicinity kindly advised that we "F**k off". We were relegated that season.
The Blackpool fans seemed a decent bunch, though, and an old man sat on the row behind offered my friend and I a mince pie before kick-off. "This is wonderful," I thought. "Tangerine is a nice colour, Wonga do offer a reasonable APR on their payday loans." The Blackburn fans huddled in the far corner had come up with a hilarious new song for the hosts, but neither could I work out the words from across the pitch and nor did I care as I chatted with my new comrades about how Tom Ince was going to tear Rovers apart.
There is an unavoidable guilt that accompanies such traitorous acts, and it was signalled by the sound of the referee's whistle. Blackburn started well, the confidence around me dissipated and soon I felt as conspicuous as the Blackpool Tower in my eager anticipation of an early goal for 'them'. Suddenly I wanted to know the words to the 'sex with donkeys' song.
"Should've scored that," I remarked as Jordan Rhodes went close, purposefully avoiding the 'we'/'they' that would have caused a few angry looks/made me feel dirty. It wasn't going to be an easy 90 minutes.
Shortly before half time the inevitable happened. Despite bossing the game until that point, Rovers failed to close down the Blackpool winger (I'm not sure of his name), whose cross reached the striker (again) for a simple nod home. And then, the grubbiest feeling of all; I had to stand and clap. Cheer, even. Scream "Blackpool are the greatest, Rovers are rubbish."
"Follow the ball, follow the ball," I sang with the jubilant home crowd as the first half drew to a close. A dig in my ribs. "It's 'Come on the Pool, come on the Pool'," my friend whispered. That would explain the odd glances, but at 1-0 I was beginning not to care. A sad fish (picture a turbot) in a happy pond.
Whatever Henning Berg said at the break, it failed to inspire Blackburn and the second half was one of the worst performances I've ever seen from a Rovers team. My enthusiasm to fit in swiftly disappeared. I didn't even bother to stand after a second goal secured the result, and with ten minutes remaining I no longer feared the celebrating home fans lashing me out of Bloomfield Road like a donkey on the pleasure beach.
Misery loves company, and at full time the away end looked more appealing than it had all afternoon; a haven of warm, comforting anguish. Not only had we lost, but I had sullied myself with my actions. I was more alone than the lonely Udinese fan, Arrigo Brovedani.
"We want our money back, we want our money back," sang the Blackburn fans as the home supporters skipped out of the stadium. Fat chance I'll see my 20 quid again.
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.