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Closed season

Another close season Sunday, another excuse for SW19 to get updated.

The big news right now is of course RDS’s signing. Or rather, lack of it. About a week ago, everyone was hanging on the various wires awaiting the big news. Would he stay and make himself a hero next season? Will he go and make that one final chance to become a pro footballer? The wait was agonising.

And guess what? We’re still waiting. It seems like the decision to stay with AFCW (decent offer, good crowds, guaranteed employment from Croydon Council) or try his luck in the Conference (fulfillment of a dream, decent crowds, probably more money) is a bit harder than first believed. Even more confusingly, RDS has himself stated he has no problem playing part time.

It seems we’ll finally get an answer in the next couple of days. Unlike Wes Daly (who’s hesistancy seemed a bit more disrespectful, on the basis that he wasn’t as good as RDS or PL), RDS isn’t getting the same “make your fucking mind up” treatment. That said, he’s got to make a decision soon, I doubt if TB wants to spend more time searching around for a replacement than necessary. If RDS stays, then great. If not, we still have time to do something about it. One thing we cannot do is let this remain undecided until this time next week.

To be fair to RDS, it is a big decision. Especially as it’s rumoured Torquay are after him (they’re also after AL as well, apparently). Now, a League club the previous season, with presumably a fair wedge to spend has got to be tempting, although to move down to the West Country is a bit of an upheaval. What if his tendonitis gets the better of him? What if he’s simply not good enough to play regularly? Remember Shane Smeltz at Halifax?

I’ve no idea whether Woking, Aldershot, Crawley or Gravesend and NorthEbbsfleet have also bid for him. If they have, that’ll make his decision a lot easier I would imagine. But if the only serious money offer is from Torquay, then suddenly it does become harder. My own feeling is that he’ll bite the bullet and take the professional plunge. And TBH nobody would begrudge him if he did.

While that will make our task just a little less easier next season (although Richard Jolly will probably step up to that plate), in a way it does suggest we’ve got something. Should RDS go, we’ll have two players who are earning full time wages in the Conference. Perhaps for now we could be a stepping stone? Lower level, respected manager but still in front of crowds well into the top 7 or 8 in non-league. While it’s best not to get too attached to those players, at least we’ll get them for a while.

And if RDS stays, then that does pay massive tribute to our viability. Think about it – a player good enough for the Conference rejects a step up to remain with us. Maybe that means we can keep players after all, which again won’t hurt our promotion pushes. Plus it also suggests that we wouldn’t have such a problem with mercenaries (something I think big spending Chelmsford might have), which again promises better team spirit. After all, if they’re there for the money, why should they bother when the going gets tough?

Speaking of players leaving, since I last updated both Jermaine Darlington and Chris Gell have left. If truth be told, after the initial disappointment of JD, I don’t really think it’ll have much affect beyond strength in depth. Despite our inability to fill in his forms correctly, I think we got the best out of JD. From what I can gather, he wanted to keep fit and still play football while he built up his business, and I presume he wanted to concentrate on that now. Granted, losing an experienced old hand is a bastard, but we do have Marcus Gayle…

As for Gell, I bet you’ve forgotten him already. OK, bit harsh, but if you go on holiday to Cancun without leaving any sort of contact number – especially when you’ve got a new boss – don’t expect to stay for long. Especially when you have a reputation for that sort of thing. By the sounds of it, TB reckons Gell was expendable, because RDS is getting a lot more time to think about his future. Anyway, those who want to see what he’s up to, he’s now in the hands of the Met Police. And no, he didn’t get into trouble when he was away…

You probably know about Tony Finn and Karl “Don’t Call Me Darren” Beckford joining us. Both highly rated (aren’t they all?), and it seems like Rob Quinn will be our first choice ballwinning midfielder. Oh, and Kevin Cooper is now player/assistant at Cove. Expect him to be manager of Fleet Town next week.

Anyway, the close season still crawls along too slowly for my liking. No doubt when RDS finally makes his mind up we’ll know that pre-season has started. Perhaps by August we may even know what the fixtures are…..