Hard to believe the season’s over isn’t it? Went so quickly, and I just don’t know where the last 9 months have gone. I hope these World Cup/Euro competitions don’t intrude too much in future, I still remember the trips down to Soton in May, when all seemed OK with the world. If only we’d known, eh?
Still, we have the WC to look forward to. Italy will probably win it, as nobody has predicted them as potential winners. Or France, come to think of it. Brazil will have a stinker in the final, Ingerland will join Spain in the “Biggest Underachievers” category yet again and everyone will love Trinidad and Tobago and/or Australia. Me, I’m looking forward to the long awaited Germany v Poland clash. The game on the pitch could be exciting as well.
What – you mean there’s still at least two games left for us? Oh yeah, some sort of playoff thing going on. Oh, ignore it. It’s not that important…
Actually, I’m approaching the next week with a mixture of excitement and pure abject fear. Excitement because it’s the first competitive game in AFCW history that is genuinely groundbreaking. You could claim county cups as important, and FAC games against Thurrock and Stink Albans as well, but this is different. I can’t recall the last time there was a buzz like this around AFCW. First ever game at Sutton? Maybe, but that was a sort of post MK release. Now, this is proper footballing achievement.
OK, if we lose on Tuesday, it will hurt. If we win on Tuesday and lose Saturday, it will fucking hurt. We have after all gotten this far, and now we want to win it. We will come back next season a lot stronger and a lot wiser if we lose in this next week. If we do get defeated, this season won’t have been a failure.
And remember – Fi$her could beat us. So could Heybridge and so could H&R. We are not there yet : we could fuck up with 30 seconds of madness, or 90 minutes of dross. It is that fine a line. If we win on Tuesday, don’t get cocky for Saturday. You know what a bunch of arseholes the Football Gods can be.
That said, even if we do go out now, we can justifiably look back and see how far we’ve gone. Despite too many draws, we still finished comfortably in the playoffs. I have heard a couple of things this season that, you know, “through the grapevine” some of the players attitudes aren’t the best. Well, right now I can’t fault any of them. I haven’t been to the last two games, but you can sense for the first time this season a little bit of positivity about. Even by the photo above, you just sense that there’s a bit between our teeth. Whether it’s cruel false hope or something genuine, we’ll know by this time next week.
Anyway, enough pessimism. If we win Tuesday I’ll ensure you will want to hang yourself come Saturday. I know that you’re really chomping at the bit to read the Harrow Boro report from the SW19 Bureau, so here it is. Sadly, no mention of the HB barmaids…
Right! The important stuff first. Tuesday night football will be at Champion Hill, courtesy of Fi$her throwing (?) a 3-0 lead at home against Chelmsford whilst the Swifts soared to a 2-1 victory away at Sluff! Unlike many, both this writer and my esteemed Editor (copious tipping of brow) were predicting the Fish as playoff opponents on the WUP GB. So, perhaps a suitable antidote to the incredulous, Ryman-Police-Heybridge indecision last week that made the FA look like they could choose the next England Manager.
Wimbledon New Boys 2 Harrow Old Boys 1 certainly was a welcome antidote to the seasonâ€™s pressures. It had that surreal feel of an end-of-season game at Selhurst, with nothing to play for, except now everyone is enjoying themselves.
End-of-term proceedings kicked off firstly with a parade of the younger teams associated with AFCW; then the Junior Dons Player of the Year went to Andy Little (must mention as my daughter was involved Ed!); Reserve Team Player of the year was young Joe Paris; then there was a bit of football; another presentation, this time to Matt Everard by the club; another bit of football; and finally two more presentations: the WISA Player of the Year to Andy Little and Playersâ€™ Player of the Year to Wes Daly. All worthy winners. Oh and then the customary Lap of Honour by the Players (see below)
The football stuff smacked of real pre-season fareâ€¦or should it be strictly post-season. HOB tried hard but you just felt we always had plenty in reserve. Paris was given his league debut; the back four started as Brennan-Sarge-Woolner-Paris with Lennie behind them. Upfront we used Butler and Batts. We had the better of the first half though HOB nearly scored, via a ricochet, which sold Lennie short getting to the ball, but Sarge cleared off the line and Paris tidied up.
Second half and we decided, mentally, to stay in the dressing room. Three minutes in, a free header from a corner and 6 Dons players standing around couldnâ€™t prevent the goal. Sort of familiar. So familiar I donâ€™t think the crowd noticed until Phillo announced the golden goal time.
So we went up a gear, took an ill-looking Ursell off for Barnes, and re-organised to attack. Two excellent crosses â€“ both so good our attackers failed to get on the end of them brought the goals â€“ a cross by Garrard evaded everyone but the keeper spilled it trying to smoother it and Batts was there at the back post (for once) to ram it home. The second, a Brennan free kick lead to the keeper spooning his clearance/punch out which Barnes despatched back on the volley, at the top of the bounce fully 5ft in the air. Well, thatâ€™s one DonsOnline really missed.
After that it was really just playing down to the whistle so the tempered celebrations could beginâ€¦. And most of them revolved around the following:
Plus Points: Barnes goal. The win. No pressure. Joe Paris debut â€“ a good footballing brain but needs the brawn! Steve Tyson, another debutant, getting on. Two youngsters showing that there is life after the reserves. Sargent being awesome, particularly as he played most of the game with their No 9 arm around his neck! Everyone feeling happy!
Minus Points: Canâ€™t think of anythingâ€¦. oh except the pitch. Very random bounce as testified by a throw-in by Garrard to Barnes which, at his feet, pitched and bounced over his head like a Kumble googly (can we mention cricket on this site ed?) (SW19 – yes, unless it’s Middlesux CC). Could it be a disadvantage if the final comes back here (football gods note â€˜ifâ€™)?
The refereeâ€™s a â€¦. Hmmn. A highlight in the first half was the bumpy pitch claiming him as a victim as he tumbled. But when he bowed as he got up to the laughter we should have realised he was a bit of a â€˜star-seeker.â€™ Proceeded to interfere more as the game went on until his ultimate attempt at upstaging was doing his warm-down through, in the opposite direction, to our players doing their lap of honour. Crass timing is a polite phrase that comes to mind.
Them: Well, not one of the most unfriendly teams we have seen at KM. Tried to play football but woeful in front of goal which explains their position in the league.
Truth is stranger than fictionâ€¦ Not sure these are all truths butâ€¦.. (1) Was it a lap of honour? I mean we havenâ€™t achieved an honour yet to honourâ€¦struck me more a lap of achievementâ€¦so far (2) What was the significance of Phillo playing Lionel Ritchieâ€™s “Sheâ€™s three times a lady” when they presented the award to Wes Daly? Is it his Karaoke special or something? (3) Why do we seem to play better when we know second half weâ€™ll face the Tempest End? (4) Will we ever see a team of officials rather than Prima Donna referees? (5) The phrase â€˜wetting your whistleâ€™ meaning washing your blowing instrument after you have fallen over in the middle of a football match! (6) Realising the tenacity of Butler R being imbedded in Curley S â€“ just need to curb the over enthusiasm (7) Didnâ€™t notice Woolner on the pitch though selected â€“ good or bad? (8) The queue for the playoff tickets after the game was actually longer than that for the menâ€™sâ€™ toilets at half time!
Franchise watchâ€¦. Awaiting the final RLP results, Phillo kept us entertained with the news that Tranmere (who famously lost to Franchise last season allowing them to escape relegation) had beaten them this year 2-1 at the Hokey Cokey. And poetically they had scored their winner in the 89th min (the same time Franchise scored last year). Probably got the second biggest cheer of the day
Play off victimâ€™s watchâ€¦ The only outstanding result of interest was Billericay at home to Hampton & Richmond. The Essex boys held the advantage at half time, 1-0 but H&R ran out eventual winners 2-1. So they make the playoffs. Now is that good news or bad news for us? Only time will tell.
So was it worth it? Well, it beat wallpapering the garden at home, though some thought that preferable at times in the first half.
In a nutshellâ€¦ Would you really prefer to be contemplating next season in the Ryman Premier League right now? No, didnâ€™t think so. Bring on the Fish!