Jolly Rogered

Kudos to the SW19 reader beforehand who came up with that gem of a headline. You know who you are…

Unfortunately, I know what AFCW is right now as well. After Tortoise Head 1 Gashead 3, the only consolation is that we didn’t lose in injury time today.

But we have problems. Big ones. And the biggest one of the lot is in the form of a question – just where do we go from here?

The obvious answer is “down to League Two”, and at least we’ve only got another eight months or so before we confirm that. Until then, that much-needed victory looks as far away as ever.

We started OK, and Forss scored a wonder goal. But after that, it seemed, well, strange. And strange in a way that I’m struggling to describe right now.

Obviously, they equalised, although we’d been looking vulnerable before then. Plus ca change, as they say in Germany.

After that though, I think it might have been a nailed-on 1-1 draw where nothing much happened afterwards. Brizzle Rovers didn’t look that threatening, although neither did we.

Sadly, the game changed when Forss got dismissed. An idiotic two yellow cards, right at the time we didn’t need it.

Our not-so-flying Finn was lucky not to get sent off against Coventry for similar reasons, and this time we didn’t substitute him in time.

He’ll learn. Maybe.

I’m not sure if we will though, at least for a good while. Mind you, when your goalie lets it bounce over his head, appeared to be pushed and the goal is given (the reaction of our players said it all), you’ve really smashed too many mirrors over the heads of black cats.

Being down to ten men then going behind should have seen us rally. But old skool Wimbledon is dead, and instead it just seemed to knock the stuffing out of us. Maybe if it hadn’t gone 3-1 we might have still recovered, but I doubt it.

There were six minutes of injury time, yet it might as well have been 66.

Really, I think we’ve now run of things to say. This was a game where the buildup was all about how we were going to win it, that it was a matter of when, not if we got that victory.

Looks quite hollow right now, doesn’t it?

Sure, we’ll point to the sending off, and the second goal that possibly shouldn’t have been one. And yes, it’s true that when you’re down the bottom you fall into a barrel of tits and end up sucking your thumb.

But the season is already starting to feel long. Very long…

Plus points: The strike by Forss. Wordsworth back.

Minus points: We lost. Forss sent off. Never recovering from going down to ten men. Deja vu all over again.

The referee’s a…: OK, it really doesn’t help when you’ve got a complete retard as an official. Was it just me who thought the lino signaled for a foul when their second goal went in?

Apparently, they sprinted off the pitch as soon as the full time whistle went. And I doubt it was to avoid the traffic…

Them: Not exactly great themselves, but seemed to do just enough against our lightweight lot.

What annoys me is that with a bit more guile on our part, we don’t have to be vastly inferior to them. Most teams in L1 are like them (no disrespect), and I genuinely think they were there for the taking.

Decent turnout by them, as per usual, and like so many other clubs in this division, they should be a lot bigger than they actually are…

Point to ponder: I wonder what Wally Downes is thinking right now?

After his exploits with us last season, and seeing how this campaign is already matching his second at Brentford (complete with the same budget restrictions, by the sounds of it), he must be wondering why he’s putting up with it.

I saw him (and Bayes) doing the “come on” arm gestures before the game, trying to gee everyone up, and he gets “rewarded” with a 3-1 defeat.

It’s clearly not clicking on the field, despite his best efforts, and there’s definitely been the odd shout at him today for him to quit.

He won’t, nor should he. Take the payoff, if nothing else. But he’s got to be thinking how the hell to get this lot over the line.

True, sticking with the same midfield doesn’t help. Although with Wordsworth back, and perhaps with Sanders being treated with kid gloves, things may change on that score.

He can’t do anything about the dozyness of our backline in too many games though (O’Neill had a shocker today). The weak shots of Folivi, and the rush of blood that Forss has had, they’re also not down to him.

The post-match interview seems a bit like too many others this campaign, though Forss’ reaction says a lot. And yes, there’s some straw grasping here and there, but you tend to do that when you’re in the shit.

No doubt some of the grief he’s getting right now gets through to him, though he appears to be the sort that takes it in his stride.

Whether this was said to me before the Coventry game, or whether it was somewhere online last week I can’t remember, but somebody I know described him as “not getting too low, not getting too high”.

We saw that last season around January, when we were ten points adrift, and he almost seemed unbothered by that. His judgement paid off that time, and perhaps he’s hoping lightning strikes twice?

That said, you can tell when a manager’s stock is declining when his decisions on staff are now getting questioned. We don’t miss Bassey one bit, but was Vaughan Ryan only employed because he’s a mate?

So, troubling times for Walter. Not that he owes AFCW anything anyway, and at times he must wonder if this is the club (or the descendant thereof) he was a major figure of all those years ago…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) The Football Manager/SI sign on top of the Strank Stand, proclaiming “Longest Running Shirt Partnership In English Football”. I know they’ve been with us since 2002, but is that ever? 2) The new scoreboard. Looks nice. Not switched on, of course, so presumably we’re not allowed to actually use it.

Anything else? Some people have deep, meaningful thoughts when they’re studying in a university lecture room, or high on some narcotic. Your editor does neither, so mine occur driving home after a defeat.

Tonight, the topic on the SW19’s ARMY Late Show** is – were we supposed to go down last season after all?

** – other places do podcasts, so maybe this site should have a late night TV show with easy coversation in an intimate environment? Could be quite dull though, at least until somebody gets a crate of beer in…

I’ll shoot that down right away – we stayed up in May because we deserved to. Our major issue is failing to take advantage of that in the summer, which is being proven already and may turn out to have consequences beyond May 2020.

This campaign has managed to be as unenjoyable as the last couple,and it’s only September. Worse, we all know it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better.

What happened today – and in too many other fixtures this season already – is what happens to clubs that get relegated. Either a lack of discipline, a lack of luck, or just simply an all-round lack of quality.

That the question of where we go from here is already being asked (ten games in) is not a good sign at all.

Had we found ourselves in L2 this season, we might – might – have had the very-much-needed public inquest into why. I say “might”, because in truth there’s nothing in AFCW right now that makes me think we’d bring ourselves to do that.

Because we stayed up, did we think it was job done?

As suggested on here after last Tuesday, cutting the budget may have been the club’s biggest blunder in some time. It decided that the problem was the amount being spent, and not whether it was being spent badly.

You can get away with cutting the spending power going down to L2, as relegation clauses in contracts kick in. But not in L1 when you’re down the bottom of the food chain as it is.

And it’s left us over-relying on people who we shouldn’t be. We’re all glad that Wordsworth came back today, but we shouldn’t have to put him in that position to begin with. Ditto Nightingale, or any others you can think of right now.

We need a shot in the arm, for at least one player to become a hero for us, but none of that is on the horizon.

What will make it worse is what somebody said to your editor about this time last year, but is all too relevant today – we’ve got a new ground coming, and we should be buzzing like fuck. But the whole place is flat as a pancake.

I did expect more atmosphere wise today, yet that tailed off even before Forss saw red. Apparently, the middle bar afterwards was as empty as those there have ever seen it.

Neither should be a surprise, and we remain a club that is exhausted yet cannot seem to make enough changes to remedy that.

Maybe this season will finally end up breaking the camel’s back with just one more straw? If it does, you can’t say it hasn’t been coming…

So, was it worth it? I suppose I’m glad I don’t support Watford or Lincoln this evening.

In a nutshell: Wanted : some hope. Please contact the usual address.