As the first PSF against Morden United goes from a “bloody hell that’s come round quick” to a tortoise-with-no-legs-and-a-wheelclamp crawl, we get the first surefire sign that the close season is officially over. Yup, the fixtures were finally out today, and if you haven’t seen them, check out the OS.
First impressions? Could be worse, could be a little better. While my views of Ramsgutter generally are well known (cough) this is a game where I think we have to win even at this elementary stage. Not only would 3 points give us that head start over Margate and Chelmsford (who play each other) but it’s a psychological thing as well.
Think about it – all the buildup, all the expectation, the excitement of a new manager, a new(ish) team and by the sounds of things a new ethos as well. How much would it hurt to get checked on the first game of the new season? OK, a loss wouldn’t be catastrophic but even a poor performance will get people rolling their eyes and sighing “here we go again”. We need that momentum to begin immediately, in more ways than one.
And we could certainly build up a nice bit of momentum early. The next games (up until the first real test, Margate) are all immensely winnable – at least, they should be for a team with genuine ambitions for promotion. A cursory glance at the same fixtures last season state that we drew four games in a nine-game span we should have won. You do the maths, and then you’ll realise just how much we need to settle and quickly.
Games of note? Margate away on the 25th September. A Tuesday night as well, and suddenly flashbacks of horizontal rain leap upon me. We don’t meet Chelmsford until the beginning of December and Rickay until October, again it could have been worse. We have the immensely sensible decision by the Ryman (for once) of having Carshalton at KM on Boxing Day then to their place on Easter Bank Holiday.
And then there’s AFC Coldseal at their place last game of the season. Nuff sed.
All this should at least inspire a little bit of confidence. Like last season, our destiny will come down to how we apply ourselves during the season. Last year, we had a mental block when it came to putting teams away, overcome it this upcoming season and who knows? At the risk of having enormous gonads, this league is there for the taking. Does our team have the right sized bollocks to grab it by the scruff of the neck, shake it down and yell “fuck you” into its shell-like?
Well, since the last time I wrote we won’t have either Wes Daly or Steve Goddard. And quite simply, I’m glad. Certainly in the case of Daly, even now I remember the disappointment when he signed an extension. I certainly remember there was a little bit of anger when he foxtrotted oscared to Maidenhead. As for Goddard, I dunno. Good player, lousy attitude by the sound of it. If he’s missing training sessions and is as fit as I am then he’s just a passenger. When he exploded onto the scene last season I thought he would be our Next Big Thing. Sadly, he got better known for having a lousy approach, at least if reports from the reserves are anything to go by. No big loss if true.
When you compare it to Robin Shroot, it makes Goddard’s throwaway outlook even more annoying. This week, RS turned down a chance to trial with Blackpool and stay with us. Initially I thought he was completely stupid, but thinking about it more, he might have done the wisest thing. He’ll probably play regularly, in front of 2500 at least. That’s a good training ground which you would hardly get outside the Conference.
Not only that, but this level now seems to have a lot of League scouts about (our games certainly do). As DJ Campbell and to a lesser extent RDS have proved, if you stand out at this level, you can be picked up by a professional club. Case in point : I hear that Fiston Manuella is on trial at Wycombe* and they might be wanting him permanently. We’re not in CCL/R1 backwaters any longer. That’s why Goddard’s attitude is as much saddening as it is annoying.
* – no truth to the rumour that he’s there on three counts of bestiality
If Shroot and the others know this, it’s good for us in the short term. If they bust a gut to be noticed, we win games in the process. The pressure is on us to keep finding these players, and for a few seasons yet it’ll be intense pressure. We don’t need to build a winning team capable of promotion – we need to build two or three teams worth. Until we can afford to keep the likes of RDS, PL, RS etc, it’ll be what we have to do.
Oh, and we might sign Jake Leberl soon. Much in the same way as Man Utd might sign Carlos Tevez soon.
Anyway, between now and 3pm Saturday will feel like a drag. Let’s hope the wait is worth it…….