As we prepare for the biggest matchup of our season – and no, I don’t mean H&R on Saturday – I’m reminding myself of my old GCSE history lessons about the art of propaganda. Not quite so much what is presented to the masses, but the importance of timing. If you ever go here on your travels, you’ll soon twig that with the right poster in the right place at the right time, power suddenly becomes a lot easier to grasp.
So what has this got to do with AFCW? Well, after Tony Blair’s intervention yesterday, quite a lot.. OK, Blair probably doesn’t know what AFCW is, he’s effectively yesterday’s man anyway, and those of us who remember 1990s WFC may be a bit wary of McDonagh. But in the context of things, this couldn’t have come with better timing.
I couldn’t have been the only one last week thinking that we were doomed. In fact, as I alluded to last Saturday, I have never seen an AFCW crowd so down after a game. Then, we knew our season was over. The 18 points were to be deducted without so much of a fight, and our season was about to whimper and die. We had took a couple of knocks in the propaganda wars ourselves – witness the threat to Turdey and (although I didn’t read it) a couple of puff-pieces in the NLP about the Ryman fuhrer chief. The momentum was definitely going against us.
Now all of a sudden the vibe has changed. By Sunday night, all being well, the petition will reach the 10k mark. That is more than what Alty got. I’ve no idea of this EDM but plenty of MPs have apparently written back submitting comments to the FA (more on that in a sec). And with the PM’s intervention yesterday, Turdey is now acting a little bit rattled:
“It’s a pity that Mr Blair has entered into such a thing when the Government sets rules that people have to work. The rule has been approved by our clubs. I regret that a politician of that standing should make such a statement.”
According to the local Guardian, anyway. Which is a bit of a departure from the Ryman’s vow of silence over this before. We’ll leave the rules bit to the QC, and lest we forget it’s not the rules, it’s the punishment, something I think even our own fans forget. Although even the “rules” thing isn’t as straightforward as Turdey claims, apparently.
I’m going to write these words for the final time, for anyone confused, ignorant or just outright forgetful. If we had failed to get ITC even a year ago, we would have been fined a couple of hundred quid and probably no points deducted. That is what we’re fighting. It’s gone from a sensibly applied rule to a very badly written one, one that offers no contextual punishment. One that could have only come from the cackhands at the FA. If this rule was written in the real world, it would have been torn up long ago.
But then, this is football bureaucracy. A body that thinks “real world” is a Spanish football team.
One interesting thing that has popped up, almost un-noticed, is that our appeal will be held “independently”, at least according to a couple of MP replies. Did somebody say 3 men just then? Is that significant? Well, I dunno. I assume that now with Blair’s intervention the FA must be thinking “hang on”. Remember, they need government support for the WC 2018 bid. Will this work in our favour? Guess we’ll see come Tuesday.
The bottom line of all this is that there is nothing more we could have done. The fans and club have collected so many previous cases where rules certainly weren’t rules. We’ve organised petitions and EDMs. They may be minor weapons, but they’re still weapons. But just as importantly, we’ve got a grip on the propaganda war. Put it this way, when R5 gets Erik Samuelson on to talk about the West Ham situation, it’s obvious that he’s conducted our public campaign brilliantly. It could have gone wrong for us, especially after the Turdey threat. But it didn’t.
We’ve also found out a lot about peoples’ real characters. We’ve found out how strong the collective mettle of AFCW is in some serious adversity. And it is good. We’ve also discovered about how non-league football really operates behind the friendly facade. That ain’t so good. The attitudes they hold are why they’re always destined to be backwaters, why they’ll always struggle to attract floating fans or disgruntled Prem fans en masse. Ever wondered why non-league attendances never really skyrocket for international weekends? Prem fans have twigged the same thing we’ve twigged…….
Will all this get our 18 points back? Dunno. If it does, that’s our season relaunched. It would be the John Fashanu signing of 2007. If it doesn’t, we can simply write this season off, and prepare for next year. And yes, we’ll get the RrRs brigade sneering at us. That will just make us more determined to wash ourselves in their blood next season.
As for our relationship with the likes of Turdey, regardless of result, who knows? If the Wealdstone saga is anything to go by, expect “sudden” ground inspections of KM next season. That is, if we’re still here……