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I think this weekend must have been serious pleasure overload. Thankfully, Chelski won (did I really write that?) because United winning would have been too perfect for words. And I would still be floating on the ceiling even now….

Anyway, let’s start off with the older news. Marcus Gayle has returned. Yes, Marcus Gayle, whose last memory I have was him being slagged off at Wycombe by a rather well known (and drunk) Womble, who looked like a guy knowing he was on his way out to better things. Sadly for him, he ended up at Rangers, a step down in anyone’s book.

Now, at about 37 years old, he’s back. It appears TB wanted him first and foremost, obviously because of his approach with the kids (and aren’t there laws against that very thing?) but perhaps as a bit of PR as well. Think about it – what better way to get the fans of your new club onside with the re-employing of a popular player from days gone past? If you remember the buzz you felt when you first heard the news, or indeed the glow you had when the news sunk in, you’ll know that the job has been done.

So, what role will MG play? Apart from cult hero status? Well, he can play upfront (well, duh), or we’re also led to believe he’s a pretty decent centre back. He won’t be as quick as once was, and don’t expect him to play every game. But like Mick Harford, you don’t lose the skill when you get older, just the pace. And by all accounts, he’s well happy to be here, genuinely chuffed by the reception he got at the Legends game as well. How many of next season’s shirts will have GAYLE 11 on them? Although knowing us, he’ll probably get the number 2.

With this signing in mind, attention will turn to who’s staying and who’s going. At the sponsors’ dinner on Friday, not only was MG and TB there, but also Andy Little, Paul Lorraine, Frankie Howard and Simon Bassey. I think we can safely assume that all of those will be in our colours next season (does Bassey count as a squad member?). The apparent retention of AL is certainly a massive boost, as I consider him the best ever AFCW goalie.

One player that isn’t so clear cut is Steve Ferguson. Why? Well, in this week’s freebie Wimbledon Post, there’s a headline with “No Need To Sack Dave”, coming from SF himself. An open barb by SF towards TB? Not really, but here’s what Fergie said anyway:

“I don’t think Dave should have gone. All we’d have needed is three new players to boost the squad and I’m sure we’d have won the league next season. The players wanted him to stay but Dave said he knew it was coming.

“It’s as much our fault for the team not going up”.

Interesting. From comments apparently heard at the Family Fun Day, SF does want to stay with us, and it’s possible that he’s simply pissed off because he’s lost somebody he gets on very well with. Mind you, after his bust-up with Glen Cockerill he probably found this place a godsend. Guess we’ll wait and see on this one.

Mind you, the same piece also has Luke Garrard in it as well. Jist of it is basically he’s gutted DA has gone and that he left AFCW in a far better state than when he arrived (something SW19 agrees with 110%). This was telling though:

“There were too many draws and perhaps the players were not mentally tough enough to win them.”

Interesting again. That quote could bring up so many comments it’s untrue. But I’ll say this – TB’s main task is not to radically change anything, but simply to install the belief that we can win games instead of drawing them. The right noises are being made right now, and with luck they’ll pan out.

One other thing I’m surpised nobody’s picked up on – TB said he was at our Bromley playoff final. Coincidental surely, when you’re linked with a job when the current manager is still there? I know TB and DA are good mates, but even so…. Mind you, DA watched about 4 of our games before he became manager, so if we done what I think we’ve done, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Now, what else was I going to write about? Playoffs? Let’s see, Blackpool beat Oldham. No, that wasn’t it. Yeovil beat Forest. Blimey, that was a good one, Leeds vs Forest next season in the old Third Division. Two previous European Cup finallists in the third tier. Oh my. What else was there? Derby v West Brom? Nah. Shrewsbury v Bristol Rovers this Saturday. Hmm. Hmm. And Hmm again. Rovers beat Lincoln, so who did Shrewsbury beat? Anyone remind me? Anyone?

OK, I daren’t write about Franchise losing because it took three hospital trips, a thousand stitches and god knows how many pints of blood to stitch up my sides after the game finished. And you wonder why it’s taken me 48 hours to write about this? Yes, we all laughed because it’s them. It was their big final and they lost it.

I actually allowed myself to watch the last ten minutes and true, they did throw everything forward. But TBH I think Shrewsbury had the edge, and no I’m not being totally biased. Some of the letters pages suggested how unfair it was that Franchise are out despite being fourth and 10 points clear of Shrewsbury. Well, funnily enough I remember comments of some of their games this season, which all came from very late goals, penalties and opposition players sent off. Very few reports of them actually playing well. In short, they were pretty lucky to finish third.

But on Friday night, their luck gloriously ran out. The thought of them going to Wembley was sickening. Yes, they probably could have mustered 30k, because there are a lot of people would would like to see the new Wembley everywhere. No doubt Wankie would have laid on free shirts, scarves, banners etc etc to make his experiment look like a success. “Look” he would have claimed, “we’re at Wembley and all these people are here supporting us. This proves it was the right thing to do”. Don’t worry about your reaction when reading that, it was pretty sickening to even write that, and it was a hypothetical situation. Fuck knows what we’d felt if they’d won..

But it’s all academic. It can’t happen now, so relax and bask instead. Seems they were pretty arrogant before the game, with their messageboards apparently treating their victory as a given and wondering how many they’ll convince to go down to North London. And how can you not love gloating at this? Really, read that again and just take in the breathtaking smugness of that. How glorious it is to ram that in their faces. How absolutely satisfying it is to have something to remind them for the next few weeks. Or months.

You see, this defeat rankles with them because they know our reaction to it. Us laughing at them hurts them, because they know we have the upper hand on them. Sure, they claim that we’re two bob, that we’re a pub team. But if anything that hurts them more. They want to be taken seriously but their failures just reconfirm that we’re right, and we always will be right at their expense. Did Martin Allen really do a teamtalk this season with the words “Let’s stick it to those AFCW bastards”?

In effect, we’re the jilted ex-lover who they want to see disappear but keeps popping up to fuck with their head again. No matter what they do, they know we have the child paternity document on them, and we’re not afraid to bring it up again and again. We know that half the reason Franchise didn’t hit the ground running was because of our efforts with AFCW and the anti-franchise stuff. When we boycotted SP after 28/5/02 the momentum was lost forever. The first game of the brave new MK era was played out to a crowd of less than 1000. The NOTW lampooned them, perhaps fatally.

Had they gone up to MK immediately in front of a full house (which let’s be honest, they would have got for that one game) things would have been different. But they lost the momentum straight away, and we’re a very large reason for that. The first post-28/5/02 battle was lost by Franchise, and they’ve never really recovered from it. They’re very insecure, hence the arrogance. And we happily prick at that insecurity every single time they fail.

This is why we should never get over it. Granted, we can move on more or less, and we concentrate on AFCW these days and not bang on about anti-franchising every single second. But every so often, the old wounds re-open. And that’s nothing to shy away from. There’s no point in being all politically correct over this, thinking it makes you a better fan by pretending they don’t matter. Of course they matter. Liverpool matter to Man United. Rangers matter to Celtic. Bristol City matter to Rovers and Exeter matter to Plymouth. Football is tribal by nature, that’s why the Fans Stadium (spew) concept totally failed. Think AFCW should formally drop that now, even the new AFCW hoarding outside the Main Stand doesn’t feature it.

The truest words ever about football supporting come from Danny Baker – “It’s not so much about us winning, it’s about them losing”. Never be ashamed to reserve your bile for Franchise when appropriate. Never.

Any more anti-Franchise comments? Hell yeah. This is actually worse for them than you realise. Remember my “momentum” comments just then? They needed promotion more than any other club – they’re running out of money (Wankie is apparently on his own next season regards funding), they needed to justify their constant free tickets by actually doing something. And they could have been in the same division as Luton next season. Now, wouldn’t that have made a merger a lot, lot easier?

Yes, there was talk of a Luton merger a couple of months ago, and apparently Wankie refused to comment over it. Hmm. Another rumour is the fact that MK-based Red Bull might be looking into buying them up and rebranding them as Red Bull Franchise (a la Salzburg and NY). Whether a club that got into the playoffs despite their Modus Operandi is what they’re after I dunno, but I would guess they’re cheap to buy now. TBH they probably would do a lot better with their money. But it would guarantee to scrub out any respect they might have somehow earnt.

Right now, there are some who buy into the myth that Franchise have done well against the odds. Make them Red Bull MK and they really will finally look like a franchised outfit. Just reading that very name is wrong on so many levels. There’s a level of commercialisation that the average football fan just can’t stomach, and that’ll be it. Remember how much shit the new Liverpool owners got into when they referred to the Anfield side as a “franchise”? And isn’t respect and “acceptance” what Wankie and co wanted all along? Apart from the new Asda supermarket?

Also, don’t you just want the Daily Mail to come out with the headline “Red Bull Gives You Cancer” a week after Red Bull take them over?

I’m sure I could write tons more, but I now have a memory blank. I’ll finish with their pitch invasion. Yes, their brand spanking new ground (don’t laugh) should be closed off for that. And yes, a heavy fine and points deduction as well for invading the pitch and viciously assaulting an opposition player. Sorry for putting that in bold, I really can’t think why I did that.

No, they won’t get docked anything. It’s a long held belief of mine that the FA and FL want Franchise to succeed. Why? Because long term, the authorities want a top division with no promotion or relegation (can’t have the likes of Colchester in there). Now, this will mean some well-populated areas may never see top flight football. So why not move Fulham to Cardiff to create South Wales United? If Bolton struggle, why not move them to West Yorkshire? Far fetched? Hey, ever looked at the Magners Celtic League? Or the way the NRL was structured? Don’t think it’ll never happen, global TV rights are easier to sell when you can guarantee popularity of a team.

OK, enough conspiracy theories. But the point still stands though. You do have to admit that Franchise will probably get off lightly. Didn’t those pitch invaders look like they’d found Wankie’s secret medicine cabinet? We all knew they had absolutely no class, and finally they proved it on TV. We throw a bin or a can and all hell breaks lose. Doubt that Wankie will ever ban them, he probably thinks that having a violent element merely proves to everyone that Franchise are a “real” club now. Let’s hope the police horse wasn’t too injured when it stepped on that junkie’s head.

Finally, spare a thought for Wankie. His outfit really could slump now, they practically had one season to boost themselves and now it’s gone. Dreams of Wembley with a large following, one or two of them even knowing what a football is, simply gone. Success in the dust. And just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, on the very same day his side lost he goes and reads this…..