Pint of Guinness

Admit it, we’ve needed a few of those in the last ten months…

It’s hard to think that on this Saturday morning, in the quiet time we call the close season, that just three weeks ago today we were cacking ourselves over Bradford.

The club feels such a different place already.

True, there may be more to come on the “out” list, but finally we can start getting used to some new players. And we’ve already started on that.

So, welcome to AFCW Nesta Guinness-Walker. Crazy name, crazy guy…

Anyway, he’s a full back, and he’s highly regarded (aren’t they all?). And he’s from the Met Police, which may raise a few eyebrows.

That said, these are the kind of signings I expect us to make from time to time. Obviously, we shouldn’t be filling the squad full of those who have been in semi-pro divisions.

But he does at least tie in with the old Wimbledon ethos of trawling the lower reaches and finding gems.

Whether he makes that step up remains to be seen. He’s got yoof on his side – he’s 19 years old – and he was apparently wanted by two Premier League sides.

In those two cases, I guess it’s the usual hover-up-anything-that-moves approach, that ultimately scuppers too many careers. So already he’s had good advice.

A couple of interesting nuggets from that OS writeup. Firstly, Walter is back from holiday, so we might be seeing more signing announcements before too long.

That said, does having lunch with him mean a few cheeky pints down the local boozer? Or a quick trip to the local greasy spoon for a couple of bacon sandwiches? Mind you, if it works…

Secondly, and more importantly, we seem to be doing more nurturing of future signings than we appear to have done previously.

NGW was on trial here at the end of this/last season, and obviously we must have rated him because he turned up for the Brizzle Rovers game.

Those kind of things sway players and their representatives. Make them part of the group even before you sign, type of thing.

Signing players is a competitive business, even with highly regarded non-league ones. And as we’re often told, we don’t have the buying power of other clubs.

So we have to make ourselves more attractive in other, less-monetary ways.

Is somebody like NGW going to get a fair crack of the whip? These days at AFCW, he’s more likely to.

While I doubt he’ll be first choice, under W&G players like him will get more of an opportunity. It’s not like he’ll be the youngest of our first team starters, let alone the entire squad.

And for some, that opportunity to become League One players – and yes, it remains good to write that – is enough.

They’re the ones you want with us anyway, the ones who aren’t going to be tempted by a bit-part role at Chelski.

NGW may be an inspired signing, or he may turn out to be a complete flop. But he’s got the chance to be a professional footballer now…

Actually, attitude goes a long way, especially at this level. Which is why Will Nightingale signing a new contract is significant.

I won’t go so far as to suggest he’s like a new signing, because you tend to call players crippled by injury the season before that.

But we really noticed his presence in the latter stages of the season, and arguably helped keep us up.

From a cynical point of view, everyone (club and player) is banking on cashing in a lot better with another season under the belt in League One.

Could Will play in the Championship? Possibly, and if so we’ll need to start making sure we finally start get the financial rewards for it.

After all, if Charlton lose tomorrow there’s a good chance a second-tier club will pounce for Lyle Taylor. And the Addicks won’t let him go for nowt like we did.

The days of our semi-pro attitude must come to an end PDQ, and hopefully we’re about to start seeing it…

Anyway, that’s it for the time being regarding transfers. We’ve made two decisions already, and we haven’t even had the playoff finals yet.

Today we see whether we get to go to Scouseland or south Wales next season. Then, tomorrow, it’s whether we get to go back up to the North East or not.

Personally, even though it’s a much closer away day, I want Charlton to go up. This is for professional reasons and nothing more.

Either way, it’s times like these I’m glad we don’t have an extended season right now. Imagine the old days of having a relegation playoff place this weekend…

True, if you’re directly involved in them playoffs are equally exciting and pant-soiling. The three teams who win at Wembley this weekend are going to have one seriously great summer.

Indeed, I believe those who say winning in the playoff is better than getting promoted but finishing second. At the very least, you do get to lift a trophy.

Who do I want to go up out of Tranny and Newport? Preferably the Wools, on the basis it gives your editor an excuse to take the weekend off and go to Liverpool.

Mind you, if Casnewydd go up, I wouldn’t mind quite so much. Reason why is that while our rise from the literal backwaters remains impressive, they’ve also had to come up the very hard way.

Even if Rodney Parade is a bit of an, ahem, interesting venue.

You can start planning next season’s trips once the fixtures get announced. But the big news this week was this – we’re playing two games in Germany.

Yes, no more “week bonding” sessions in south Wales, or split-matches against Reading and whichever other half-interested Championship team decides to turn up.

Something genuinely interesting this time round.

I’m sure many have already booked their trips to the Frankfurt area. Your editor has (though I’m having to fly into Dusseldorf airport thanks to Avios).

Both Kaiserslauten and Kickers Offenbach aren’t small clubs, but both have fallen on some pretty hard times.

It’s the equivalent of, say, Sunderland or Bolton going down to League One. And as we all know, that’s not likely to ever happen….

Oh.

As AFCW, we’ve never really had too many of these type of PSFs. The Isle of Man and Monza are the only two that spring to mind, so hopefully this becomes a more regular thing.

I know WFC used to go to Scandinavia back in the 1980s, usually to gub some bunch of IKEA workers 14-0 (with somebody like Mark Fiore netting about four goals).

Plus for the squad members – it’s a bit different scenery for them too. I know we used to spend a couple of days near/in Celtic Manor in recent close seasons, but the lack of games down there was always notable.

At least they get to “bond” and more importantly play games in a different environment. And perhaps another change of ethos in the way we do things.

I reckon this away trip might have a fair few of us going over. It’s a nice break, watching football and in a part of the world that isn’t difficult to get to. Even if not necessarily the cheapest that time of year.

Your editor has been to Frankfurt a couple of times, and it’s your typical big German city. The bier is unsurprisingly nice, the transport system usually works, and from memory feuerwursts were lovely.

And for supporters – it’s nice that we’re getting something like this.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always had pangs of jealousy when you got to hear other clubs having jaunts up to, say, Scotland or the odd tournament in the Netherlands. Especially while we’re hosting Reading for the umpteenth time.

One of the reasons we didn’t do tours was – supposedly – cost, though if that’s the case one wonders how we’re funding this particular trip to Germany.

If the finances were the issue, of course.

So while it’s obviously two fixtures with a very specific purpose, it’s nice to break out of that pre-season routine we’ve been stuck in for too long.

And yes, I know most of you will be expecting an SW19 report by about 8pm after we play Kickers…