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Last-gasp Home Defeats To Bristol City

Eddie Hitler

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Tom Fordyce's blog:

The crying game, and how to survive it

The glory game? Not for most of us. A fortunate few might be celebrating championships and cup wins, but for everyone else the last few weeks of the football season bring nothing but worry and dread.

Titles are lost. Relegation looms. Play-off places wink suggestively and then rudely rebuff advances. Sport, the love of our lives, becomes not so much a fickle mistress as an adulterous partner with the morals of an inebriated long-distance sailor.

Trapped in this abusive relationship is the humble fan, powerless to influence the very thing that exerts so much control over our happiness.

Can anything be done to alleviate this awful tension? How best to cope with the grief of season-ending defeats, with the anguish that accompanies an inexorable slide from mid-table obscurity to near-certain relegation?

Beset by footballing fears, desperate for answers, I sought out Phillip Hodson, fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

"As biological creatures, we need to oscillate between tension and relaxation if we are to survive and thrive," he tells me. "The problems start with tension that's never relieved. When you're anxious about an event or outcome, like the position of your football team, the tension is 24/7."

Last-gasp home defeats to Bristol City should never lead to sleepless nights for anyone but the players involved, but such is the lot of the loyal supporter.

"You can't control the external event, but you can control your reaction to it," advises Hodson. "One of the easiest ways of doing that is to take some fairly vigorous physical exercise. That will make you tired, change your breathing, make you hot and then cool down, and that takes you into the phase of relaxation.


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