Champions League Catharsis

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By Jack Magill

How do you get over the disappointment of a Europa League final loss? I pondered this question often over the summer break whilst reflecting on the climax to our incredible European campaign. Like many London based Bears, I opted for the Bermondsey Bierkeller at London Bridge to watch the final.

Arriving four hours before kick-off, the place was already heaving with a sing song underway and a general sense of excitement amongst the punters, which as we know was only crushed right at the end of the evening via the cruellest of ways to settle a football match. Fast forward three months and it was a much lower-key atmosphere at that same bar to enter last Wednesday, space aplenty an hour before kick-off and a total absence of the pre-match noise and excitement of May. The general feeling was one of hope, but of little expectation of a win following the 2-2 draw with PSV at Ibrox.

With an hour on the clock, the opening goal sparked the place into life and suddenly it was bouncing as the realisation that we could qualify started to register. I, however, doubted our ability to hold out for half an hour with Goldson’s brain-fart in Seville still fresh in the mind. Despite the odd scare though, we saw the game out brilliantly with some heroic defending and intelligent play to keep possession in the PSV half.

When the final whistle blew, the feelings of both relief and elation were apparent as the significance of what Champions League group stage qualification means to the club sank in. There were the usual post-huge-win hugs with strangers mixed with soaking in the footage of the celebrations over in Eindhoven. It was about five minutes after the final whistle that the song so synonymous with the Europa League run belted out from the speakers, good old Belinda Carlisle! As everyone partied (including Mick Beale who had popped in), it was then that I realised a lot of the sadness and frustration about Seville had melted away with this result.

We can now look forward to writing a new and exciting chapter in what has been a remarkable European era starting next week, safe in the knowledge that we are ‘back’ after the most difficult period in the club’s history. Now that is how you get over the disappointment of a Europa League Final loss.

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