Goodbye to 2017/18

Farewell. Adieu. Auf wiedersehen. Begone. Fuck off…

What a season just gone, eh? At least Staying Up 2 Going Down 2 was a somewhat fitting end to it – a decent first half performance, a change (albeit enforced) to one up front, and we almost lost it at the end.

Who knows what Taylor and Appiah together would have done? We’ll probably never know now, although we wouldn’t have known anyway.

Games with nothing to play for always have that air of post-season friendly about it, and the weather could have easily been a July kickabout. Which is why you won’t read too much about it.

All you need to know is that Appiah scored, and that Lloyd Sam does exist and he’s not the modern day Kjetil Waehler.

Instead, everyone could get to play the usual “guess who’s going” contest that is more relevant than the actual game in front of them.

We can assume that Robbo is off. Kennedy possibly too, although he’ll be re-signing again just in time for the first game at NPL. Maybe even one (or more) of the wardrobes, two of whom were conspicuous by their absence?

Ditto Forrester, though I think he was always heading back up to Sevco anyway. Long? Unlikely, especially if it’s true that Sheffield United are paying the bulk of his wages.

Which leaves the two elephants in the room. The rumours about Darius still won’t go away, especially as he’s out of contract and is good enough to get a better deal elsewhere. It’s no co-incidence that our better runs of form this season featured him at centre back.

And then there’s Taylor. Or to be more accurate, the injured Lyle Taylor. His going-off on Saturday was as strange as it was painful – falling down with nobody around him, and Bury players signalling for the physio is never a good sign.

I doubt if your editor was alone seeing him stretchered off and the first thought was “that’s his move scuppered”.

Depending on how bad his injury turns out to be, needless to say. If it’s just a rolling of the ankle, it won’t need much more than rest on it for the close season. Those sort of things don’t prevent transfers these days.

If it’s more than that, we’ll likely have him for next season. Though not in the best circumstances…

Then again, if he did stay, it will only be because nobody else comes in for him. And I find it impossible that he wouldn’t be in demand, even if it’s another club in L1 like Portsmouth or Luton.

Perhaps his injury may focus his mind even more on knowing that careers are short, and there won’t be many more opportunities for him to make a big wad of cash elsewhere.

Contracts are being looked at tomorrow, apparently, and I think it could end up being quite a brutal cull. Though some will argue it won’t go far enough…

Plus points: The season is over

Minus points: Taylor’s injury. Knowing we probably won’t see the few bright spots again in AFCW colours.

The referee’s a…: Checked my notes from Saturday. I didn’t suggest his parents were unmarried or that he performs unspeakable acts on pigeons, so he did a good job.

Them: Playing Franchise in L2 next season (stop laughing), and it showed. Mind you, wasn’t half their squad youth teamers anyway?

Always odd to play a team that’s gone down, especially if they end up putting a decent fight of it. Imagine being a Bury fan and seeing them do what they failed to carry out for most of the season.

Speaking of Shaker supporters, less than 300 of them but quite simply I don’t blame them for staying at home. Christ, I wouldn’t have blamed any AFCW fan for giving Saturday a miss either.

Point to ponder: Whither Neal Ardley?

When he relaxes on holiday with Paul Robinson this summer, he should be very thankful he wasn’t at any other League One club this campaign.

Let’s be honest here – he would have been out of a job at many clubs in our division around October/November time. He would have definitely been elbowed at just about the rest of them after the Northampton debacle in February.

And I would extend that to quite a few in L2 as well.

He hasn’t had a good season, a lot of that his own making, and he clearly felt the pressure going by some of his post-match comments over the season.

Why he decided to go with tactics that didn’t work, especially with a squad that seemed to be recruited by throwing a dart at a board and picking where it landed, only one individual could answer that.

He seemed hostile to anyone who dared question it (before going and doing what they suggested anyway), and seemed to think he knew best when he clearly didn’t.

But he’s got another chance with us. Perhaps one of the final ones, too.

Given the likely departures this week, and the, ahem, underwhelming transfer dealings since we’ve got into League One, it’s not going to get any easier for him – even with an supposed increased budget.

Which in itself was one of the big annoyances, the constant bleating over poverty. Even those supportive found that an irritation, and if you’re pissing those people off too…

If I was our current boss, I would be well aware I wouldn’t be able to get away with the same approach next season. Patience wore very thin at times the last nine months, and it will always be just under the surface from now on.

Neither manager or hierarchy found the criticism easy this season, although it’s mild in comparison to other clubs. If there’s another poor start next season, or another poor transfer window, or another bodged attempt at trying to be too clever with tactics – it will simply start up again PDQ.

And even this club has its limits of tolerance. Just ask Terry Brown.

Ardley has to properly learn from his mistakes, not just give lip service to doing so, because it’s not just AFCW that faces a crunch 2018/19 campaign with the move back home.

I don’t doubt he’s ambitious, and that he sets himself high standards, but perhaps the window of opportunity to follow the likes of Dean Smith and Gary Rowett upwards is getting ever smaller?

He can claim he kept AFCW up this season “against the odds” (yeah, I know), but managers find it hard to shake off the “strugglers” tag amongst future employees. After all, if you want somebody to push your club on and you’re not in League Two – why would you pick NA…?

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) 17h30 kickoffs suck. 2) The “Franchise burger” outside. Shouldn’t it be stolen from McDonalds and have added E.Coli to it? 3) The queue for the bars, which I bet cost the club more money than any number of ST holders not turning up. Mind you, if it’s true that there were as many servers in the back bar dealing with the hospitality as there were for everyone else…

Anything else? Yeah – that “I Can Taste Onions” sticker which has been seen in various places this last few months. What is it suppose to mean, again?

Is it a reference to catering at some away ground (or KM)? An obscure euphemism that perhaps I shouldn’t know about? Somebody trying to be as avant-garde as Ardley is with his tactics?

Whatever it means, and whoever has been producing them, they’ve been a bit liberal with it. I’ve seen it at KM on occasions, but it’s also been around various parts of Morden (and presumably Wimbledon too), and when you go onto the A3 south by Tesco in New Malden as well.

And speaking of supermarkets – one has even been seen at the Sainsburys car park in Cobham.

Actually, somebody has definitely been busy with their printer- the above-aforementioned Tesco has a different one in its car park (special prize of a banning order from there for anyone who can locate it. Hint – it’s on a pole/bollard).

The Banksy-esque “We’re a family club” has been spotted around Wimbledon Chase as well. And is it true there’s a Franchise related one doing the rounds?

It’s all vandalism, needless to say. And whoever is doing it is very naughty and should be openly discouraged. Even if it’s not actually on anyone’s private property.

Mind you, there may still be a WISA “Bring the Dons Home” sticker still in the bogs at Milwaukee Amtrak station from the early 2000s, which “mysteriously” appeared there around the time I visited…

So, was it worth it? This season? Not really.

In a nutshell: Roll on the three month break.