Now THIS was the pre-season stuffing I so badly wanted. I just didn’t expect it to be Bonce 3 Barnet 0. Everything that could have gone right did go right. We were due a win and so it came, neatly packaged with a nice little note attached to it saying “enjoy”. I think there were no more than 4 or 5 of last season’s team on the pitch, and quite frankly I don’t think we need to worry. We started off well, piling on more pressure than a giant pressuring thingy, they sort of came back at us. Then their goalie did his impression of Neil Sullivan, kicked it to Rob Ursell who duly obliged around him and slotted it home. 1-0 to us, even though I’d thought that RU was going to fuck it up.
It got better. RU again, dribbling, shanking, measuring, and all the other football cliches. You know how football purists always reckon a goal should only be scored with 40 passes and a 30 yard screamer? Well, they would have loved this one. RU twisted, turned and launched one. A shot, that is. 2-0, and we all went relatively mad. Who says that pre-seasons are shit? Half time came and went, and it sort of lulled a bit. Actually, it lulled a lot. But then towards the end, Butler got fouled in the box – soft looking challenge, but who gives a fuck? – up stepped RU and slotted home past ex-Franchise goalie Shane Gore. 3-0, hat-trick for our new guy, and me wondering when a new player last scored a hat-trick on his home debut.
OK, so it’s only a PSF but I don’t care. Here’s….
Plus points: Thank fuck RU is on a two year contract. Our most comprehensive performance in eons and anyone who missed it ought to feel foolish and fraudulent for the rest of their days. Unless they buy the DVD of it. Looked seriously up for it. And we kept a clean sheet.
Minus points: Were there many? OK, suppose I would like to see Jones B on for longer.
The referee’s a……: Hands up who remembers that young kid who did CCL games in our first season and was really rather good? Well, his was name was Steven Cook, and he was doing our game. And he wasn’t bad, though remembering the rules and applying them for the most part will surely work against him if he ever joins Premiership ranks. It was also his birthday today, a sprightly 21 years old. Hopefully his mummy and daddy gave him a nice pressie, before taking him for his birthday treat down TGI Friday. And who knows, on his special day he might be allowed to stay up past 8pm.
Them: Their first team, apparently, or as near as dammit. I don’t think it would be a prudent move to put money on them winning the Conference next season. No wonder they lost 10-1 to Arsenal in the week, and them delaying the KO by 15 minutes due to a late coach doesn’t make it any better. Plenty – OK, some – Barnet fans turned up, who gave as good as they sort of got. Especially down the hAE. Naisbitt was an ex-Barnet boy, which of course let to some stick from them. As time progressed, and their tails were increasingly dangling between their long body-supporting pins, the chants were more “We want Naisbitt back”. Tough shit, he’s ours. Also, “Are you Arsenal in disguise” and “We’ve only had one shot” was pleasing to hear. Oh, and a Barnet fan had his trousers removed during the first half. Please don’t ask.
Food and drink: It appears that there are now new contractors for the tea bars (and apparently the sponsorship/President Lounge). No idea about the toffs bit – though by accounts what was laid on was pretty dire – but for the scummy working class food kiosks there were problems last season with casually employed people being too casual with their attendance, rushing out to buying rolls at 2.30pm, that sort of thing. So, testing out the hAE tea bar today, it took me about 15 minutes to get a tea. This at the start of the game. Not the best start. No idea about the burgers, presumably they won’t be the home made sort, but sausage and chips seems a welcome addition. They sell them at games in Ireland and are pretty tasty.
Spotted: Well known AFCW fan/volunteer/steward/turnstile operator etc hitting somebody over the head with an empty plastic bottle….
Getting shirty: Loads of the new shirts about, the logo doesn’t have the seductive felt patch these days. It looks OK to be fair, better than the last kit certainly. Big seller as well, most of the current stock seems to have gone. And no, I won’t be buying it.
Point to ponder: Was wondering today just how far we’ve come since even the end of last season. Thinking about it, I really don’t think that our squad last year would have ever been able to win 3-0 against a Conference side. Or indeed even look Conference level. I think I might have to re-adjust my initial prediction of top eight at this rate.
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) How funny was the chant “3-0 to the Ryman League”? (2) Nice relaxed atmosphere before the game. Seriously, I couldn’t believe how mellow it all felt. (3) Mentioned the amount of Barnet fans before, but wasn’t it weird to have away fans, let alone ones who could chant? AFC Wallingford, take note. (4) Anyone else notice the buzz that Jones B gets whenever he gets the ball? Reminds me of Andy Clarke, hopefully minus the nickname of Jigsaw and him being aquitted for beating the shit out of his girlfriend.
Franchise watch: Fresh from sharing seven a room in Iceland – Pete must have been so happy with the hidden video footage of that – they played crackpot (?) NI team Glentoran. Who worryingly seem to have a tie-up with Franchise. That said, relationships between the two could be getting worse. Firstly, a Glentoran player was going to sign for them and then didn’t. And today, they beat the Frenzies 1-0. No idea of the attendance, though I believe that more people go to Sinn Fein meetings on the Shankhill Road than go to Franchise matches.
Anything else? Yeah. Was I the only one to hear Radio Jilly (Radio Jackie. Geddit?) coming back when they offered a Corinthian Casuals prize. It was a ticket to next week’s game against Man U, plus free entry to one game for next season. Except AFC Wimbledon……
So, was it worth it? Why, yes.
In a nutshell: Give the Ryman title to us right now, save us playing the season.