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It’s four days since we gained our playoff berth, and already the usual confusion and complaining are happening 🙂 Basically, people have convinced themselves that we’re playing Heybridge, and up until this morning we were going to play them on a Tuesday evening. Except we’re now playing them on Monday at 3pm. Well, I say we’re playing them, but we could also play Fi$her instead. Which will be on the Tuesday. Confused yet? Don’t worry, you will be.

One thing we can say is that after much soiling of undergarments, we have walked into the playoffs relatively straightforwardly. OK, we were helped by the slump of Staines, W&H and to a lesser extent H&R. In fact, I can now say this with confidence : once we lost at Ricky, but found that H&R and Staines had lost to lesser opponents as well that day, I knew we were going into the playoffs. You don’t have that massive stroke of luck for nothing. Frankie’s 94th minuter vs ETU merely confirmed it.

So, what of the playoffs? We’ve never experienced them ever. They bought them in the season after we went up into the top flight (presumably to prevent the likes of us ever getting up there again. Nice try fellas) and we’ve really got no idea of how to approach them.

Basically, from what I’ve heard, you treat them like a cup game. The league form really goes out of the window, which is why you don’t press for a team you’ve beaten in the league. Law of averages, and all that. While our aptitude for “big” games has been a question for years, at the same time we’ve handled cup finals pretty well. Mind you, we were the dead certs on both occasions…

Perhaps the hardest game left this season is Harrow. Reason why is because however you approach it is going to be detremental to the PO. Play a full strength side and you risk knackering them out. Play a reserve, and you lose the momentum Mind you, I’ve never quite understood the latter line of logic. Our team will be massively up for the playoff (or at least they should be).

A rest won’t hurt them, an injury certainly will. Are we really saying that we have so little strength in depth that we simply have to play our best squad in the most meaningless game* of the season? I for one would be happy to see Simon Tracy in goal, Justin Skinner, Carl Leaburn, James Blunt, Sir John Gielgud, Colin Jackson, Bonnie Langford and the HMV dog on the teamsheet on Saturday. I will, however, draw the line at Nick Roddis.

* – well, it isn’t meaningless but in the grand scheme of things, we could safely lose it 5-0 for all the difference it will make

So, in the meantime, just chill out. Read a book, listen to some easy listening, whatever will give you a nice bit of calm and serenity. By Monday/Tuesday, you will be a bundle of nerves.

Anyway, two kind souls have sent me Hendon reports. To save bandwidth, you can read them here and here. Enjoy… [SW19 apology : I’ve actually lost them – if anyone has them, please let me know]