Columnist Lee Hale takes a look at Walsall Football Club's recent fortunes.
Columnist Lee Hale takes a look at Walsall Football Club's recent fortunes;

One thing the footballing life of a Walsall fan can never be called, is easy. 

Here we are just over mid-way through another roller coaster season, halfway through January no less, and yet pleasantly this ride seems to be hitting a lot of highs!

The season began with the usual mix of optimism from some, but I'm sure that even the most hardcore believer would not have imagined the position that we find ourselves in right now.

The season began brightly with some top football and some great results home and away to match. Followed by the disappointing, if not unexpected slump, which saw us go a painful 17 games without victory.

So began the statutory "The manager needs to go", "League Two here we come" and the age old favourite "Bonser is killing the club".

Yet fast forward through an extremely merry Walsall Christmas, and a very happy new year, and here we are just two points off the play offs (albeit with a lot of teams around us having games in hand) and more importantly, 18 points away from the relegation zone!

Some fantastic performances recently which have seen us do doubles over Milton Keynes Dons, Portsmouth, Preston North End and now perhaps the most impressively, the previously unbeaten in 17, Bournemouth. (We didn't do the double over anyone last season!!)

That rare thing called optimism is flowing freely amongst Saddlers fans young and old, and play-offs are being whispered in highly cautious tones.

I for one would love to entertain the idea of a play-off push, but first (and possibly a little over cautiously) I want the guarantee that relegation will not rear its ugly and currently unlikely head.

Yes, we are just nine points from the 'magic 50 point safety mark' and it would take a slump of monumental proportions for a dogfight to even become a possibility, this is Walsall FC after all, I may be over cautious, pessimistic or a depressing realist, but who knows.

On the other hand I am undoubtedly as happy as the next Walsall fan, the last thing I want is for people to think I'm not pleased, or that I'm expecting us to mess up, that isn't the case.

The change in fortunes has undoubtedly elated, as well as shocked us all, the emergence of Febian Brandy as a class act, the massive improvement in Will Grigg, (and if you spend much time on Twitter/Facebook, the emergence of certain person's extremely lucky scarf!) have all undoubtedly had an effect.

The optimism isn't just about on pitch performances either, the long term deal signed by top prospect Malvind Benning, Sam Mantom's swift signing of a permanent deal after his release from Sandwell, and Deano's clear rebuff of cup rebels Bradford's approach for Captain 'Butts', are all putting smiles on faces.

All in all no matter how begrudging some may be, it feels very good to be a Saddler right now! The only question that I cant keep off my mind is, if we hadn't gone 17 without a win when we did, where on earth would we be now?!?.

So regardless of where we are come May, be it, sitting comfortably in mid-table or making a brave attempt at play off success, let's just do what all us long suffering supporters should be.doing right now, ENJOY IT!!!

By: Lee Hale
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