Has it always been like this?

...and so to Reading, and for the second season in a row (Sky must like us, although their description of a 60% full Madejski Stadium as 'almost at capacity' was a laugh), we share the honour of being involved in the first match of the season, after last year's scrap at The Stadium Of Light.  All the national media had been crawling around obviously, giving the impression that Derby County was fielding Frank Lampard as all eleven outfield players rather than just employing him as manager. 

And things could so easily have got of to the most disastrous of starts, Keogh misdirecting a defensive pass after just five seconds which, but for Carson's outstretched leg could have seen us in arrears before most in the crowd had taken their seats.  Keogh earned plaudits as Reading's best provider of chances on the night, lets hope he's 'got that performance out of the way'

Elsewhere, Derby's first 30 minutes gave no indication of the pre-season promise, the whole ensemble appearing as strangers to one another, and Reading's own lack of craft being the only thing that kept the half-time score goalless.

It couldn't be any worse in the second half surely, and no it wasn't, and momentarily it looked like Nugent's fruitless graft in the first half had been rewarded with a classy headed goal, until the linesman waved it off for offside.  Correct decision, but hopefully a pointer for later.

Not so, Derby's defence proved incapable of either closing down a winger or jumping for a defensive header and Boovardsson nodded in for a Reading lead.  Derby fans hearts sank, the soothsayers came out in force as is the way and a fight against relegation loomed.

Just as the least resilient amongst the faithful were preparing for the exit, the game turned.  Another misplaced Keogh pass somehow ended up with loanee Mount, who's hopeful bending shot was somehow administered into the net by Reading keeper Mannone, reinforcing the widely held belief that keepers who wear short sleeved shirts are somehow 'suspect'.  Ron Springett would have been turning in his grave.

So, one-all, five seconds left and SURELY substitute Bennett would heed the gaffer's screamed instruction, regretably not recorded so of course only 'alleged', to 'take it to the ****in' corner' by whipping in what might prove to be the best cross he will deliver in his career, to be met by the head of the soaring Lawrence and from there into the net.  Lawrence ran to the faithful, noticing the tight fit of the new away strip as he failed to remove his top, then collapsing with well-earned cramp. 

And then to the final whistle.  Derby make it a winning start, shoot to the top of the table and the doommongers of barely 30 minutes earlier are singing the team's praises.  Frank has a smile on his face as do we all, and our season is underway.

For those of you who get sick on rollercoasters, don't worry, there's only another 45 rides to go.