Nice to be back…

So, League One 3 Premier League 2. An afternoon that promised so little, yet ended up quite an enjoyable one after all.

You obviously have to be very careful not to go overboard with these types of occasions, but anyone looking for a bit of promise from today would have got it.

True, it’s only the first PSF, and the Derek Duncan Syndrome** has to be considered here, but Long made some decent saves, came out of his area and as somebody put it “you get the feeling he could prove to be the matchwinner for some games this season”.

McDonald netted twice, Kwesi will be a handful, Deji looks promising, and it’s good to see Fuller back looking much the same as he did pre-injury. And the much maligned Dean Parrett changed the game in the second half.

** – the Derek Duncan Syndrome is in honour of the player who, in whatever non-league division we were in at the time, looked world class during the friendlies and world cack when the proper games started. An unsung hero who must never be allowed to get forgotten.

Callum Kennedy looks very happy to be here yet again. Lyle Taylor’s new haircut is shit. A lot of the youngsters came on, and while there’s clearly a gap between them and the first teamers, you couldn’t fault their endeavour and their willingness to win a meaningless game. Egan’s goal at the end was pretty decent…

On the flip side, the two loanees didn’t really stand out any more than our yoof. Watch them sign three year deals now.

All in all though, it was a tenner to get in, and people ultimately enjoyed it. I will not entertain comments that the three goals we saw today will be the only ones you will see until October…

Plus points: We won. Nobody got injured. Promising debut for Long. Came back after letting two goal lead slip.

Minus points: Is there any point to this bit, in a PSF against a Prem side where we didn’t get sodomised?

The referee’s a…: Gave them a free kick when their player looked like he dived, but otherwise didn’t notice him. Got feeling his spray had been ill-used over the summer, considering how it disappeared immediately after he squirted it at a free kick.

Them: Perhaps not their strongest side, although many of of them had Prem experience. One wonders how we would have done if Deeney was playing, for instance. Then again, Gomes was in goal.

Was surprised how bad their shooting was, and they didn’t seem to make many subs. Watford seem to have a big problem with their managers in recent seasons, but then this is the club that sacked Slavisa Jokanovic as soon as he got them into the top flight.

Fair few of their support, many partaking in the real ale festival (supporters, not players), and there didn’t seem to be anything untowards with them. Oh, and I’m nicking this bit of genius from their forum:

Underground, overground, Wombles scored three,
The Hornets of Hertfordshire we played crappy.
Making no use of the players we find,
Players that other teams have left behind.

Hornets aren’t organised, don’t work as a team,
Hornets are overweight, not very lean.
Underground, overground, Wombles scored three,
It’s only a friendly.. but this takes the pee!

Point to ponder: Does the signing of Jimmy Abdou before the game ask as many questions as it does answer them? And I don’t just mean why they did it 24 hours after I stated he would never put on an AFCW shirt…

Obviously, he’s a damn good player, and I’m glad that we’ve got him. But it’s a bit strange to sign a one year deal (especially after rejecting an extension, according to the SLP) then immediately go out on loan for the season.

Are Millwall doing us a bit of a favour? I suppose them paying half his wages means we don’t have to fully shell out on him. NA clearly wanted him, and was even minded enough to mention his name in print.

Do we face a Matt Tubbs-esque situation with him, where he can bugger off in January? MTM has passed, and therefore we’re not going to get a “bomb proof” assurance (?) off our boss, though I can’t imagine Abdou getting much of a fee at his age.

Perhaps the question is this – do we need another loanee? To which I would reply – does it matter if we do?

For this upcoming season, and quite a few after that, our aim is to properly build and become a club that belongs in League One. Like we did in League Two before we got bored of staying in a division for too long.

In fact, there’s a lot of similarities between today and NA’s first couple of seasons. We struggled with getting players in back then too, so we had to build our reputation (and piggy bank) before we could get the better quality.

Should we remain in L1 this time next year, we become more established, and therefore can start increasing our all-round quality. In the meantime, it will mean taking on the likes of Abdou and Long on loan, and accept that we may have to replace them sooner rather than later.

But we did that in the past with Tubbs. And Michael Smith. And Charlie Wyke. And indeed with Kwesi and Deji, two players who did well as permanent squad members today.

Will it do much for squad cohesion? Perhaps not, though the MTM just gone suggested that there wasn’t much team spirit last year. This despite all the players being “ours”, which sort-of nails that particular myth down into the ground.

And from the snippets I saw today, Long doesn’t look any less a part of the AFCW setup than anyone else. I guess Abdou will be similar.

As said on here before a bit recently, AFCW is not ready to make a push for the second tier of English football. But building a reputation via the use of decent loan players will help us towards the point when we eventually are…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Our PA system is crap. Seriously, I couldn’t make it out in the Chemflow End – did somebody find an old model from a Tandy circa 1974? 2) A lot of smoke from the new (and more expensive) burger van in the first half. Though I’m told the food is nicer than the previous horsemeat.

Anything else? Yep – the pitch looks really nice. And with pop-up sprinklers, too.

It’s going to be strange having a Prem side looking after that side of things now, especially considering we’ve been the KM landlords since about 2004. But then, it’s nice that it’s starting to feel a bit more “proper” than it has done.

Having two teams on it will be the case again this season (Chelski ladies are playing about 20-odd games on it too), but unlike the previous tenants they won’t ignore the field after a game.

Speaking of Ks, it was still a bit weird seeing the “Kingstonian FC” sign still on the main stand, although I didn’t check whether their honours board or merchandise shop was still around. I expect they still are.

All barriers are now painted blue, and I expect if Chelski decide the red seats in the main stand are too manky they’ll rip them out at some point.

I’m sure some of the more whingy Ks supporters will continue to claim we’re shitting on “their” turf. But just like their equally annoying doggers and stock car racing brethren, this is exactly what happens when you do fuck all to help yourself…

So, was it worth it? Football is back, so I guess so.

In a nutshell: We won the Football Manager Cup.

12 thoughts to “Hornblower”

  1. Thanks for the great report

    Did we look like we’re moving towards playing more ‘football’ and less hoof-ball? I presume Egan looks slightly better if so

  2. Good performance against a premier league squad.
    You mentioned in your report that you only paid a tenner to get in.
    I sat in the John Green Stand, my normal match day seat.
    I was charged £18 to get in, and paid a further £7 each for my 2 Grandchildren.
    Was this a designated end for Watford supporters for this game, and did I miss the ticket advertising for the game advising of this?
    There was no signage at the entrance to the turnstiles with the match day pricing.
    Rip and off springs to mind if not!!

  3. Is this a world record for you to get a report up Rob?
    Decent oppo and decent performance.
    Looking ok at the mo for next season
    Can we ask more?
    Give trialists at least one more game
    Youth could possibly bail us in a real emergency
    Nice beer festival too 😊

  4. Firstly my apologies to the editor for not getting back to you with an update on Abdou, appeared we’d been gazumped very late on and I was stuck on the golf course all day when the chatter lines were suggesting we may get him after all. Seems there is very little difference to us in cost whether he signed or came on loan…. so I’m no help in explaining the odd structure of this deal.

    Secondly can I add my violent agreement to Wendover John, £32 for me and the kids for a pre-season kickabout is a fucking rip off. Whatever trouble Mike Richardson is having we don’t need to try and make up the shortfall in one game. We may have got a few more through the door with sensible pricing and ended up with happier fans and the same receipts overall.

    As for the game I thought we looked excellent up front and at the back. McDonald showed his qualities, at 31 he won’t race past defenders and slot home very often but he’ll regularly be in the right place to put chances away.

    Deji looked his usual assured self, always seems to have time on the ball – a sign of his calibre. He adds pace in defence that we’re short of (as Robbo enters his 50’s) and I’ll be very comfortable with 3 at the back when he’s one of them.

    In midfield I agree with Rob, I don’t think either trialist will get a contract. I’m delighted we’ve signed Abdou, definitely a starter but I’m not sure he’s the ‘first name on the teamsheet’ signing (tbc). If there is another high quality addition to come we may not be in for the relegation dogfight many are suggesting.

    1. Abdou is the ‘first name on the teamsheet’ signing. That increases the chances we’ll give one of the trialists a contract but personally I thought Hartigan looked better than both of them.

  5. We didn’t sack Slav – he was out of contract and left after a deal could not be agreed.

    Probably did us a favour by beating us as it showed we still need to bring in a few more players in defence and up front.

    Anyway good luck for the season wirh 2 ex Hornet favourites at the helm!

  6. Anyone worried about lack of height in our forward line? could be a problem against teams with big lads in their defence.

    Overall a good workout, good to see Parrett getting ‘game time’, goalie looked OK, although needs to work on his punching (or catch the ball). First goals since end of March! Let’s not have a goaless repeat this season.

    Only £12 for us olduns and get a seat in main stand, excellent value.

    1. LTB is around 6’1″-6’2″. That aside, we don’t have anyone over 5’10”. Could be a concern, but it looks as if we may have a lot of pace to compensate for that. So long as we aren’t going to get bullied by the more physical sides.

      1. We’ll get Tom Elliott back in Jan with him still unable to break his Millwall duck… 😉

  7. Nice report, thanks!

    Does anyone know what has happened to our groundsman? I think he did an admirable job in the circumstances. Is he staying on to learn from Chelsea’s ground staff? We will need someone at NPL and this would be a great chance for him to learn.

    1. Richard is no longer involved but did an admirable job given the facilities available to him. Total new ball game now Chelsea are involved with professional equipment to include stitching in artificial grass in the goalmouth area and the linesmen’s runs. It will need a team at NPL.

  8. All in all a decent afternoon.
    Long looked reassuringly solid (forgiving the odd dodgy punch). Definitely commanded his box well. Deji was old-school class, right down to the absent shinnies.
    Our first goals since Noah’s boat dried out were a welcome sight. Let’s hope McD carries the poacher’s instinct into real matches.
    Yes, if you wanted a seat (always!), it was pricey for a PSF but did you see those sprinklers?!
    Feeling positive.

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