A dose of the Trotts

2018 has already become a very strange year…

If your post-NYE hangover has affected your grip on reality, I doubt it will be helped by South London 2 South Essex 0, somehow.

As it’s still just about the holiday period, I will be nice and break it to you slowly and gently – yes, we won. Yes, Trotter scored and played well. And yes, Soares netted the second as well.

You have the rest of the week to process that information. You might come to terms with it about Friday.

For those more sober right now, did we have an early Epiphany? Did AFCW make a New Year’s Resolution, and decided to go on Facebook and post some superficial trite like “New Year, new me”?

Like all such things, they tend to last for a couple of weeks before you go back to being a lazy slob again. For now though, it’s worth enjoying…

Today was a mixture of things – an awful opposition, the prospect of Wembley next Sunday, the realisation that the transfer window is now open, and perhaps an increased awareness that we are still in relegation trouble.

Given the way this game started, it seemed very flat. Quiet, too – hearing not only the players voices but those from the Rypiss too. To be fair, we weren’t bad, but something was missing.

Which is why us scoring was a shock. Not just because we found the net, but because it one of the much-maligned Three Wardrobes. Step forward one Liam Trotter, who nearly managed to miss it from about ten yards out fired home with aplomb.

Normally when you score, you applaud, or cheer, or have a bundle in a fit of excitement. However, people were genuinely turning to each other and (possibly literally) pinched themselves. What is this sorcery?

It all felt a bit surreal, that one of the players who isn’t the most popular found the net. More than that, he actually had a decent game. Christ, play well against Spurz next week and he’ll be signed by QPR quicker than you can say “carthorse”.

The second half came, and so did more surrealism. The second of the Three Wardrobes, Thomas Soares, got his head to it and thanks to the Southend goalie fucking it up doubled our lead, and doubled our bewilderment.

Oh, and it was an assist by Abdou. Just in case you thought this day couldn’t get weirder.

We slipped back a bit, and getting a third appeared beyond us, but it really wasn’t in much doubt this afternoon. And you can’t ask for too much more than that, especially as every point matters right now.

So, what? I have to admit, when I heard we changed the squad around a bit, I feared the worst. Though to be fair, it didn’t look too bad a unit after all, after some initial shitting of the pants in the opening period.

The goals practically killed the game off, in our favour for a change, and it was all quite comfortable in the end. And when was the last time we’ve said that?

One swallow, and all that, but at least we managed to have the first decent game since Bradford. We won’t stay up if we have one good result in five, but we stand a better chance if we have one in four…

Shall we?

Plus points: We won. Clean sheet. The Three Wardrobes. Coping well with the changes. Didn’t look like losing.

Minus points: Francomb. Is Long injured?

The referee’s a…: Nobody planted an explosive device under his car afterwards, so he obviously had a quiet game.

Them: If we do go down this season, when you consider that many teams in L1 aren’t much better than Southend were, it’s going to piss me off even more than is healthy.

Seriously, they were shite. They might have had a chance or two, although the only one I can think of was Long palming away from a corner. And even that looked like one for the benefit of the cameras.

It merely confirms the long held belief of SW19 that most of this division isn’t all that, and it’s a case of small margins and just “doing it properly” that keeps you in this division.

Decent turnout by them, though they too seemed to have the aura of those who enjoyed last night a little too much. Amazingly for people from Essex, they were quiet for as long as twenty seconds.

I think we’re a bit like Southend, size of club wise. Not tiny, has the potential to go higher in a good period but lower in a bad one. Bit like Swindon, or Bury, or Gillingham, or Chesterfield too. There are worse groups to be in.

Point to ponder: Have we finally realised that we’re entering shit-or-bust territory now? We are starting to get to the stage where things properly need to start happening, because we won’t get another chance to alter the squad until it’s too late.

The business end of the season isn’t that far away, and having a look at how many games we’ve got in February alone (seven games in the month) this is where you really need to start hitting form.

I know what the insinuation is when we hear the management team aren’t looking at the league table, but I bet the players do. And they too aren’t inculpable in our current plight.

There was a definite sense today that we were trying to a) get the second goal, and b) hold onto a clean sheet. There was genuine effort, and I hope it’s because we’ve stopped putting our heads in the sand.

As said many times recently, we’re 50/50 to stay up, and games like today prove that as much as the Pompey/Wigan efforts. Amongst many things, perhaps one major problem has been attitude…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The t-shirts looked nice, and it’s better to fundraise using tangible items than just the usual “gizza yer money”. Slogan on the back seemed to spoil it a bit, and as well-made as it seemed, £20 seemed a little bit steep. 2) Speaking of expensive – since when did they put a cup of tea up to £1-80? 3) Mikey T calling the carvery as the “hospitality restaurant”. In other news, a park bench on Kingston Road has now been called a “lounge”.

Anything else? So, Spurz at Wembley on Sunday. A free hit, basically, and something to look forward to regardless of result.

Obviously, you don’t want to see us get gubbed 6-0 by their kids, because the knock to the confidence could be fatal. Equally, history suggests a great result in the FAC doesn’t necessarily translate to an improved League form.

But it’s a day out, and one to be enjoyed without having to worry about other teams getting wins.

I don’t doubt the players were earning the right, so to speak, of making the starting eleven today. From their point of view, these kind of fixtures don’t come around too often.

That said…. maybe because many of us have spent 14 years of our football supporting life watching Spurs play WFC in league fixtures, or because we’ve been successful in playoff finals as AFCW, or even because we’ve faced Liverpool at KM two years ago anyway – it’s not the once-in-a-lifetime event that it may be for other clubs.

People are excited about it though, although two things to mention. Firstly, the club’s CRM hasn’t covered itself in glory – your editor was told only today that a few people will be going in the Spurs end because they found our system too difficult to use.

Apparently improvements are due soon, though too late for some.

Secondly, some are complaining that we set the bar too low for the ticket prices – if it had been £15 or £20 then we would have got more money out of it. Personally, I’m glad that for once we haven’t gone for the money.

I’m not sure if we would have made significantly more cash putting it up to £15 or £20, because for a Prem Club, the FAC at home against a struggling L1 side is a tough sell unless it’s very cheap. A tenner sounds reasonable, and it fills a seat that otherwise wouldn’t have been.

And that’s not just Spurz fans – I bet we might have struggled just a little to sell out 7000+ if we have been charged double. People don’t have as much income at the moment, especially after Xmas.

Plus, it’s actually a good thing to do from a PR point of view. You can’t go around shouting “Make football affordable” then complain when somebody does. Tickets are expensive most of the time, so making it cheap for this is simple goodwill.

Or if you prefer, giving something back rather than just piling-it-high-and-price-it-even-higher. Something the club doesn’t do enough of.

All right, so we might lose out on “vital” funds, although that’s up for debate, but I’d rather us save the money we make and not have to spend it as soon as we get it. We’ll need it more in the coming months and years, and anyway – if you feel that strongly about it there’s always the option to donate the extra money you think Spurz would have charged.

Oh, and your editor will be at Heathrow terminal two departure lounge when it kicks off. I have exceptional timing…

So, was it worth it? I would think so.

In a nutshell: 100% record in 2018.