Playing the waiting game until Wembley…
Ron Smith’s wife is expecting a baby on 29th May, only days after Town’s trip to Wembley. so will Ron manage to travel and watch Town in the play-off final?
Several months ago when we had the news that baby number two was to arrive in late May I remember saying “ah, that’s close to the Play Off final, but we won’t get to Wembley…” So how wrong could I have been..?
As the season progressed the possibility of the final and its implications for me has dawned slowly. From the heady heights of topping the league on January, I was trying to convince myself that automatic promotion was my way out of the situation, but that didn’t last long.
For several weeks since Town were guaranteed a play-off place there was a common understanding with my wife that I wouldn’t travel to Wembley. It was easy for me to laugh off the possibility of the final as it wasn’t a reality, so I could reassure her that I would be available and, importantly in Swindon.
After watching a boxing match on Monday night and 10 goals later the reality hit home. I couldn’t possibly miss supporting Town at Wembley for the fifth time and a shot at promotion. But the real problem was how could I balance my feelings to stay with my wife, or should I make the trip to Wembley. The latter brings with it the possibility of struggling to get back in time for her labour and potentially missing the birth.
So to my complete surprise I was offered an opportunity following the Sheffield United game as my wife said “you can go if you want”. Perhaps she expected I would respond by remaining faithful to her and our unborn child. Instead I failed any test and within seconds contacted my dad to arrange which block we were going to buy a seat in and considering our trainless travel options.
Even now, despite holding an expensive ticket, with days to go until the match and less than two weeks until the due date, I’m still wavering whether to travel. The problem is always the situation remains out of my hands, with our coming weeks dictated by my wife’s body and maternal clock.
While I normally embed myself in football statistics, I’m now preoccupied with the probability of an early than due date birth. According to American research, there’s only a 10% chance it’ll arrive on the due date of 29th May. Instead, the most likely birth date is eight to five days early for a second child, which is helpfully the play-off weekend.
If there’s no sign of my wife going into labour before Sunday then there’s still the question of do I travel or change my mind (again) and stay? Even if I travelled to London there would be the excitement of the occasion and a play-off final, but also the unknown of whether or when labour will start, if that day.
Once inside Wembley Stadium any father-to-be must also consider how to keep abreast of any news. With the age of instant communication long gone are the days of tannoy messages – normally heard at least once a season – to alert the father-to-be “would Mr Smith please call your wife as she’s gone into labour”. Instead it’s my responsibility to check my phone every two minutes to ensure I miss no news, while trying to keep an eye on the match.
Should that message of my wife’s labour arrive mid-match then what do I do? Leave for home, or stay for a while knowing that I’m 2-3 hours from home and I’ll take a chance that it’ll be a while longer until the contractions really start? I’m really not contemplating the angst of being away even longer because of extra time, or penalties, or staying the extra 30 minutes after the final whistle to celebrate promotion.
So as you can image, I’m going to be a mixed bag of nerves this week. I just hope I can be celebrating on two fronts; watching a promotion for Town at Wembley that could give the opportunity to name our baby after the matchwinner and welcome Massimo Smith / Rossi-Branco Smith or even Harry Agombar Smith to this world…
As you can imagine, with all this potential upheaval it’s been difficult recently for Ron to plan content for the site; hence why there’s been no podcast. Normal service will resume next season.