Saddle Up

Sometimes, things just happen…

I had to leave the online text commentary of Walsall to do the day job yesterday, about seven minutes before Dean “Deano” Parrett showed Lyle “Baby” Taylor how to take a penalty properly.

I shudder to think how many times I refreshed my smartphone after I’d finished, but suffice to say I’ve now used up all my data allowance for this month…

Should there be a game to encapsulate our season, it might be the one at the Bescot yesterday. By all accounts in the first half, it was a turd sandwich. We started off shit, and it didn’t really get much better.

You know the comment about how likely we were to beat Charlton yet lose to Walsall? Wasn’t far wrong, was it? At least until about 4pm yesterday, anyway. But then, it seemed so, well, typical.

So what went right in the second half? I think it was as much a realisation that so many of the squad (and dare I say management?) wouldn’t get back into L1 if the game helped to relegate us.

Never underestimate the power of fear, after all.

Getting a penalty early on helped immensely, even if Taylor should no longer be taking them. Seriously, how many has he missed this season alone? And having had a look at the highlights, we nearly ballsed up the second rebound.

Mind you, the second goal – a long punt from Long and you-know-who on the end of it – was a move of pure poetry. Simple, effective, masterful. Fuck the tippy-tappy Poundland Barcelona shit.

And while I’ll leave others actually at the game to answer this question, from afar it seemed like it was ours for the taking. Which deep, deep into stoppage time, we did.

Parrett seems to have breathed new life into this squad right now. Wasn’t he one of the alleged “bad apples” from last season? Perhaps he never was…

I bet those travelling back down the M1/M6/M40/whatever probably didn’t realise their transport was on the ground, such is the feeling of floating when you’ve had a result like that.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be in L1 next season after all?

It’s ours to fuck up, needless to say, and we’ll need the same attitude for Oldham next weekend. Vault over that particular hurdle, and then we’d better make sure that our likely crucifixion at Wigan doesn’t damage us too badly.

The end is starting to get into view, believe it or not. One or two more pushes may well do it, though I think we’ll be needing something by Doncaster away just to make sure.

It does also help that Oldham and Rochdale both have a game in hand, but luckily it’s against each other on Tuesday. The usual mass brawl and point deduction prediction will do for that.

OK, it’s all better late than never, and of course – we’ve got a lot of issues to sort out in the summer. But as you know, this was the first time we’ve come from behind to win since Oxford at KM on 14/1/17.

If you want to know the last time we won away after going behind, it was at Bury on 18 October – in 2016.

An awful stat, no matter how many ways you want to spin it.

And quite honestly, I’m glad that little monkey is now off our back. One of our many problems this season has been what happens when we go behind, and how the game is effectively over when we do.

That we finally overcame that yesterday proves it’s a mentality issue, especially as we couldn’t have afforded to lose yesterday. The league table looks OK enough at the moment, but think of how much worse it could have been.

Anyway, we’ve got a rest from now until Saturday, and we should fully use it to our advantage. Four more games, four more cup finals, and then we can all take a break from each other for three months.

We’re going to need it.

In the meantime, AFCW can sort out the clusterfuck that are its intended restrictions for season tickets next season. Got your renewal pack already? The one that looks like it was a throwback to the Ryman Premier days?

Good, you know what I mean.

If you don’t, then you should read the bit about “minimum attendance threshold”. Which is basically the club saying if you don’t attend 80% of league games next season without telling the club you won’t be there, you won’t be able to renew for 2019/20.

That’s 80 percent. Eight. Zero.

First things first – I know that the club has issue with some people who don’t give up their seats when they don’t attend. I appreciate that AFCW wants to resell as many as it can, and/or claim the VAT back.

And yes, I know that KM is beyond woefully inadequate now, and we’ve got to put it with it for just two years maximum now.

But it’s simply punishing everyone, especially those who don’t deserve to be treated like shit to begin with.

It effectively means that if you can’t make evening games – and many people can’t – you basically have to attend almost every game at a weekend next season or hope that your mind doesn’t slip if you can’t.

Many older people can’t make midweeks, ditto those who live outside the south east and those who often can’t make it because of work/family. That will be more than you think who are now directly affected by this new proposal.

The fans are being punished for a problem that the club created in the first place.

True, AFCW got caught short a bit when it sold so many STs for a limited capacity area, but it doesn’t exactly give you too much opportunity to release an unused ST to begin with.

Your editor is a good example of a ST holder that doesn’t get to many games. It doesn’t matter quite so much in my case, because I’m in the Chemflow and the club isn’t going to miss my VAT contribution that much in the grand scheme of things.

Do you want to know how many times I’ve told the club I haven’t attended this season? None.

Why? Well, I sometimes get an email reminding me to let the club know – indeed, I got one this morning for Oldham (a game that ironically I stand a good chance of attending).

The first issue is that I “sometimes” get an email – it’s not been unknown this campaign alone that I haven’t received anything along those lines. Technology isn’t perfect, even now.

Secondly, you get one reminder and that’s it. And it’s usually more than four days before the game anyway – as you know, I work most Saturdays but I don’t know if I’ll be elsewhere until Thursday or even Friday.

Yes, there may be an email from a few days previously, but let’s be honest – I forget that it’s ever been sent. You probably would too, and nobody normal is that organised to remember otherwise.

And as minor a bugbear as this sounds – does replying “yes” to said communication make that much sense? Wonder how many reply “no”…

I found out over the weekend that if you wanted to phone the club up on a Saturday, more often than not it just goes straight to an answerphone. Christ, even CCL clubs have somebody who answers the switchboard on a matchday.

So if the club are struggling to get people to tell them they’re not attending, it’s them who should be making it easier.

Still, there’s apparently going to be other methods proposed. Here’s how I would do it – firstly, send out an email more than once. Three times is fine, but it will definitely need to be on a Friday and a Saturday morning, for those who live a normal life.

Put a volunteer (you know, one of those people who offer their free time to help out) on the phones on a matchday if you can’t get somebody on the office staff to work weekends.

If people forget – and they will – send out a “were you able to attend last Saturday?” communication on Sunday and/or Monday. The club might be able to get the VAT back on it, even if it couldn’t resell the seat.

And this might be difficult for some within AFCW to comprehend, but ask people nicely while you’re at it. Don’t lecture them like some old headmaster of a minor public or ex-grammar school.

We’re mostly grown adults, not naughty schoolboys.

But then, if I was doing it I wouldn’t have an 80% threshold anyway – make it even as low as 40% or so, which will sort out the genuine bed blockers from those who simply can’t make it as often as they’d like.

And anyone who is in that situation, deal with them specifically rather than putting a blanket restriction on everyone. And like adults, too.

This is just so un-necessarily antagonistic, and feels like a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. Anyone who is wavering about renewing may use this as a reason to give it up, because it will be too much hassle having one.

Too much stick and not enough carrot.

I expect AFCW will water down these proposals, if not put them on the back burner, because it’s clearly annoyed people who are usually supportive. And given the bolshie nature of some fans, what’s the betting they won’t tell the club now out of sheer cussed principle?

Let’s face it – you probably won’t need an ST at NPL, even in the inaugural half-season. The bulk of those who will buy one are holders already, and I bet there’s quite a few who only have one at the moment just so they don’t have to go in the RyPiss.

If there’s a proper ticket priority scheme in place by then, it will be a better alternative for quite a few current ST holders – your editor included.

Besides, the club will need all the support it can get from now on. Capping ST allocation will still leave about 3000 spare each NPL gameday. Although after everyone who falls foul next season gets barred, it will be about 6000…