A Flock of Seagulls

Go on, name their hit that wasn’t “I Ran” or “Wishing”.

So, it’s the penultimate Saturday before the proper season tomorrow. It’s all gone a bit quick, hasn’t it? It wasn’t so long ago that the players were (almost literally) wobbling through the front door of the training ground after two months off.

Except for Cody McDonald, who apparently has gone beyond “almost”.

But we’ve had our few days at Celtic Manor (and doesn’t Mike Richardson have something to do with that venue?) without any obvious injuries/maiming/court orders. And we’ve been using the University of South Wales facilities again.

As an aside, I know NPL is going to tie up most of the off-field finances for a good while, but within the next five years or so we’ll be needing to look into upgrading our training facilities big time.

That’s something that we definitely don’t need to be in LBM for, and imagine us having something like what I’ve linked to…

The players are back in London, and we face Brighton tomorrow. Your editor won’t be at KM as the day job calls at Barnet v Ipswich (yes, really), but after finding out this friendly is £15 to stand it’s just as well.

And yes, £22 for Fleetwood’s terrace is a pisstake too.

I refer everyone to previous comments about pricing up PSFs, and I won’t blame anyone for sacking it off because of the cost. Especially BHA fans, who get the “privilege” of paying £20 to sit in the John Green.

They’re playing Charlton on Tuesday at the Valley, and it’s only £10 for them there. Just saying.

Those going tomorrow should see a few more of our new signings, including our latest acquisition in Terrell “Terry” Thomas. We may also see Hanson for the first time, though hopefully he doesn’t join Appiah in having BUPA Frequent Stayer points.

With Cody on the apparent naughty step, we still need to add to the squad, and I think we’ve got four more additions left. Next week is the crunch one, because time is starting to run out, both in terms of getting things over the line** and getting them up to some sort of match fitness.

** – and that particular phrase is being included in the next update of the Football Transfer Cliche Book.

For players too, they now have to start thinking about offers currently on the table, and whether they could find themselves out of a job by August. Up until now, it’s a sellers market, but quickly it becomes one for the buyers.

We’re not going to know how good they really are until about the middle of September. But as somebody elsewhere suggested this week, we’re going back to how we approached L2 with the style of play we’re planning.

And that served us well enough in the first season in L1…

We also found out this week that we get to play Swansea’s lollipop suckers in the Chuckaturd trophy. I can feel the buzz already. TBH, leaving aside all the “B team boycott” stuff, for teams like us it’s just simply a case of taking the money and running.

After all, it’s a tournament nobody turned up to even as it was, and while I doubt if anyone will miss it if it got scrapped totally – the comments by the chairman of t’Stanley illustrate a lot of the reasoning behind it.

Finally, AFCW has given us an update or two on NPL. If you’ve gone past the site within the last week or so, all that’s left now are the two main stands. They seem to be slow in coming down, especially considering how quickly the rest of it was flattened.

I think there’s still asbestos removal to be done, which may explain why there’s an apparent delay of a couple of weeks in it finishing. Should that be the case, I guess we can finally forget it opening by August/September next year.

That said, isn’t the culvert drain underground supposed to be put in before they hand it over to us? This is the kind of information I hope the new micro-website puts up.

There’s still an issue with the webcam, which is what I guess they mean by using “CCTV” to describe it. The latter is what we should have up anyway for security – after all, you don’t want the stock car racers breaking in, driving their MOT failures around and leaving excrement around the place.

The minor alterations to the design seem to be taking a while to get submitted to LBM as well. Is it me or do we still seem in the dark about things like car park arrangements and the like? I assume once the land gets given over to us, and the first shovels are in the ground, we’ll know.

And once the first bit of concrete goes in the ground, then it starts getting really, really real.

It looks like there’s going to be a share issue of sorts. How much that will raise remains to be seen, though the club has to be mindful of people belt-tightening. Unless it’s going to be a way of the richer fans to plough (boom tish) more money into the project without scaring the horses.

Also, no mention of naming rights. I hope that’s simply an oversight.

The usual input-into-the-new-stadium stuff as well. That’s going to be mostly minor, because cost is going to put the kibosh on anything major. On that score, I hope we concentrate on the roof and making it pillar-free, because that will make a difference to the matchday experience.

I don’t think NPL is going to be as bespoke or “different” as many hope it is, because we’re limited by space and legislation as well. That’s why you can forget safe standing, although we’d be best to ensure that can be retrofitted.

Once you take out the stuff that is essential, you’ll probably not have much to play with.

Any supporter-inputted ideas that will be taken up are likely to be frills-around-the-edges, like displaying old memorabilia around the ground, or putting certain types of real ale in the concession stands.

Even the latter may be dictated by economics – there’s a reason why so many other grounds have the usual Carlsberg-whatever selection on tap, and it’s nothing to do with the quality of ale.

An idea like making the club bar members only (or not) will be ultimately dictated by LBM and/or Met Plod, likewise having stalls on that north-south pathway outside the ground.

So while you can get your thinking cap on, just be aware that it’s the equivalent of buying an Ikea flatpack cupboard. You can choose the colour finish and the handles, but you can’t ask for it to be in teak.

What’s going to become clear in the year-and-a-bit leading up to going home, is that there’s a lot more infrastructure that needs to be put in. I get that impression from the club’s OS plea for more IT bods to get involved.

If last season was one where change was happening too slowly, the upcoming campaign may be one where we can’t keep up with it.

The need for the club to go up to the next level has been obvious for a while, and 2018/19 might be where we finally see that. Maybe we’ll be glad of the on-field performances keeping things sane…