Well, that was a waste of time, money and effort…

And to think I got out of bed early (OK, 10am) to prepare for a game that got called off about an hour later.

There were rumours this morning that the game could be in doubt, which eventually got confirmed by our OS. You can sense a real pissed-off mood in the AFCW camp over this, and I don’t blame them one bit.

After I published this about 2.55pm today, somebody on Twatter posted this (along with a comment that one of the Eastleigh players said it was unplayable too). That looks like some awful indoor league thing from 1980s America, and probably as bad on the knees too.

Still, not a good situation. Firstly, it fucks our pre-season preparation up a bit. We were going to give our two trialists a run out, and now that won’t happen. I know there’s a training session instead, but it’s not really the same as a proper game.

It doesn’t help that our next PSF is this time next week against Watford. Arranging a game at short notice could prove to be very tricky, unless we somehow find somebody who’s willing to play behind the proverbial closed doors.

Secondly, it does remind you of the tinpottedness of certain clubs in non-league. I have to admit, after the last time we went there I’m surprised we organised something with Eastleigh, so to find out they only relaid the pitch this week perhaps isn’t a surprise.

It’s not as though we were even told about it. We found out (presumably by chance) via their local paper, and I expect Eastleigh believed we wouldn’t notice until we got there. Then again, giving our past dealings with them, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Needless to say, they’re claiming the game was playable, and are implying we didn’t fancy it. Yes, because obviously it’s our fault for not wanting to play on a surface that could give our players injuries.

And if you notice the bit where they claim it would have gone ahead if it was a Conference/FA Cup game, I give you Neil Lennon when he was Bolton boss. And reading around, it seems that they’re having the piss taken out of them by other Conference fans…

AFCW are 100% in the right here. It’s not our responsibility to have a playable and safe playing surface away from KM. If Eastleigh knew that it was going to be this late in close season, they shouldn’t have agreed to host the friendly to begin with.

Nor should we run the risk of potentially damaging injuries. Here’s something your editor found out many years ago – the reason we don’t arrange PSFs with a lot of clubs we faced in non-league is because of their quality of pitches.

Or rather, lack of it. And that was the case over a decade ago, so with our players being full time (and us having to foot the wages for them regardless of injury), we’re really not going to cause ourselves any more issues.

Trust me, if AFCW called today off, then so would have everyone else above us in the pecking order of English football. At least it now shows why we tend to play the same teams in pre-season – the games are likely to be on, for a start…

Anyway, we move on. Meet The Manager was last night, and picking up snippets here and there, in bitesize form :

— Callum Kennedy is back. Again. Third time in about three years, isn’t it now? I suppose when he escaped the madness at Brisbane Road and went training with us, there was always that likelyhood of him getting to look at our car park again.

As the Eagles once sang, you can check out but you can never leave.

TBH, I wouldn’t have minded keeping him in for the initial L1 season, though he left after Wombley to get first team football. That said, it is another old player rejoining (which may tell its own story about our transfer dealings at the moment), and I do question whether he can make the step up to L1.

As a squad player though, I don’t think he’ll be worse than Kelly or the other centre back we had but got shot of. I don’t doubt he’ll be relatively cheap, and judging by the reaction of those at KM yesterday, he’s a popular (re)addition.

One thing is clear though – if he’s gone at the end of this upcoming season, we just have to wait until 2019 before he returns again.

— The impression is that we haven’t nearly done all our transfer business, and the bigger guns we’re aiming for are yet to come. Again, usual disclaimers about not announcing signings until the cheesy OS photos are up apply here.

It’s just the usual case of playing cat and mouse with players and agents, especially as the season opener draws near and mortgages start needing to be paid.

— Will Nightingale needs a bit of game time, and because of the new loanee rules a 6-8 week spell at a Conference club seems on the cards. If we could loan him out to a L2 side, I’m sure we’d do that, but as we know we’d lose him for half the season if so.

Christ, we lose him for 50% of the campaign when he walks on a pavement crack as it is.

— Apparently Poleon got likened to being a bit of a “bighead”, and there were a couple of other players with some lousy attitudes in the camp. An implication being that a certain player now at Port Vale was another one too.

Though Tom Elliott certainly wasn’t one of them.

NA seems to be wanting to bring back the team spirit, which might have been an admission of how bad our transfer dealings were this time last year. Time will tell, but it appears we’ve done better on that score already.

— Bayes wanted to keep Shea, Ardley over-ruled him with Long. Also, we weren’t the only L1 club after him (Scunny, Northampton and Pompey also wanted him), so it might end up being a good decision after all.

I reserve the right to change my mind when he drops the ball into the net at Scunthorpe next month.

— The yoof aren’t physically ready to play in L1, although it was stated that NA seemed at his most defensive when talking about them. Should we remain in this division beyond this season, one will be interested to see if they eventually bridge that gap that gets widened every time we get promoted.

— And finally, the new Puma third kit got launched last night. Like the “bruised melon” effort from last year, I think it will look better in the flesh, will grow on people and will inevitably sell well.

This time next year, it will be all Puma branded. Mind you, I liked Admiral, though as they’re both part of the same company it does seem that its relaunch hasn’t caught the imagination of the sportswear buying public.

After all, apart from the odd display in Sainsburys menswear section, did you see any Admiral branded stuff outside of AFCW?

Still, Puma made good kits in 2000/01, and I like the fact we’ve got a “proper” jersey manufacturer again. Anything was better than that Tempest shite, and while I know it was run by an AFCW fan, you really notice the all-round quality when you compare even the Admiral shirts to what we used to have.

And no, I’m not going to buy one…

7 thoughts to “Oh.”

  1. Hi,

    It’s a pity that the pre-session does not kick off today. I guess that we will have to accept it snd proceed on from here.

    It’s nice to see Kennedy back at the club. I think that he will establish his claim on tge first team place, though it seems likely that he will be a useful utility player whom the club will rely on in time of need.

    I think that the club needs a few more additions to be ready for the upcoming new season.

    I wonder whether there will be more departure such as Taylor etc. If this happens, I rather it occurs now than later so that there will be ample time for his replacement.


  2. I quite liked our Tempest stuff. I still have a shirt from, I think, about 2007 with the massive plastic sponsorship disc in the middle. Like walking round with a dinner plate stuck on your stomach. Brilliant.

    1. I have the stomach plate too. Gets a bit sweaty in the warm weather though

  3. Ardley’s now been manager for a long time. Usually managers who don’t play youngsters complain about being under pressure to get short term results, something Ardley isn’t really under. Thus I’m very doubtful we’ll ever see him bring on the kids for more than the odd game.

    Reckon 80% of managers are this way then maybe in the other 20% you get the Ferguson, Pochettinos etc who bring on young players. Ardley’s in that 80%.

    Listened to some of the Meet the Manager someone kindly recorded & put online. It explains a lot of his thinking but not sure he really understands players. The stuff about Dean Parrett was most revealing. Rather than accept the player’s limitations and try & get out of him what you can, Ardley goes on at the player to change his character. It’s like getting the person in the office who can’t stop chatting to shut-up. It just doesn’t happen. You’ve got to give them a job where they can talk to their hearts content.

    With this in mind, it sort of makes sense now why we signed so many duds last summer. Barnett was never going to change. Poleon probably was only going to be kept in check by playing & scoring. It shows up where Ardley’s faults are as a manager right now. Think he needs to improve himself for the club to go up a level whilst he’s our manager.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I totally agree with you. I feel that Neal is just too cautious in his approach. He needs to have faith in his academy graduates and field them in the first team. Tom Beere is one such academy graduate whom I feel that Neal should have given more first team opportunity. It’s a pity that he has been let go.

      I feel that Neal should be more daring and gives these academy players more chance.


  4. Pleased to see Callum back at the club – met him randomly in Shoreditch once and was a decent lad. I also felt sorry for him falling victim to the Akinfenwa ego over the Wembley PK, so will be happy to see him back in a Dons shirt.

    More good signings please!

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