Be honest. Who didn’t go to Queens of the South 2 Cocks of the North 0 and have at least one flashback to the late 1980s? You know the sort of thing – away fans packing out the local pubs, sirens going off everywhere (though for ambulances at Kingston hospital this time), a contest full of anticipation and a stuffing of a big side on the pitch.
Well, OK, that isn’t quite the way things are right now. The venue is different, the teams are effectively different in one way shape or form, but I have to say this must be the most enjoyable PSF I can ever remember. And I think that’s because it didn’t feel like one.
True, there weren’t so many of us there than for a league game (probably because it was a friendly in holiday season), but at times you could have been forgiven for thinking that something proper (and I don’t mean the Supporters Direct cup thingy) was at stake. Why? Dunno. Perhaps it was a backlash after Fi$her, or just simply it was a side that will mostly start against Ramsgutter.
We certainly looked settled, even though it did take a while for our defence to perform. In the beginning I was having horrible premotions about us being 3-0 down by 30 minutes and all the pre-season optimism getting sucked out of us. Bit like some of the reactions after Tuesday at Fi$her. But as we all tell ourselves, these sort of games are where you sort our your weaknesses, and not a league game.
If truth be told, we should have won this 5-0. Hatton had his penalty saved, Webb had two chances blocked, Finn’s beaut of a curling shot was palmed onto the post. Spot the common denominator : yup, their goalie. Deserved his MOM and quite simply I’d have him challenging for AL’s gloves rather than Seuke. That little disappointment aside, at least we’re getting into positions to shoot and score now.
Assuming we don’t suddenly go backwards, and we click, there’s going to be some right bloodbaths next season. Remember last season when there was that underlying belief that somehow, it would still click and we’d motor on upwards? And remember when apart from Slough 9-0 it didn’t happen? I don’t want to tempt fate but perhaps we’ll realise that next season? The early signs are there.
The game? OK. They started off well, we got back into it. We got a penalty which Hatton took but their goalie saved. Some drink breaks. Middling around a bit until Webb got his head on a cross into the net. 1-0 us. I went to get a bottle of drink (more on that later) and just about saw Finn slot in for his second. 2-0, game effectively over.
Second half, increased attacking prowess. Webb shot a bit meekly at their goalie. Finn unleashed an absolute curler which was tipped onto the post. FCUM looked as sweaty and uncomfortable as Chris Langham going to get his computer repaired. Job done.
Got that? Excellent. Here’s….
Plus points: We won. No goals conceded. Webb had his best game for us. Jason Goodliffe. Defence looked solid when it settled down. Not being fragile when going in for challenges. Look more confident than last season.
Minus points: Their goalie. Should have been 5-0. Realising it’s only a friendly.
The referee’s a………..: Did he do much wrong? Probably. Anyone else think the lino looked like Mark Walters’ kid brother?
Them (part one): They’re the sort of level we need to test ourselves against. Give or take a couple of places, they’re a typical Ryman Prem mid-table outfit, although a lot less niggly. Think a Horsham or a Folkestone. Their #7 was a Paul Scholes lookalike, and they had R Giggs on the bench. Hell, this really is like watching a smaller version of Yernited.
Point to ponder: Doesn’t “Terry Brown’s Yellow Blue Army” slip off the tongue a lot easier?
Them (part two): This was the first time I’ve come in direct contact with the FCUM phenomenom. Now, MUFC PLC and the daytripping gloryhunting brigade are basically a bunch of cunts. What isn’t so widely reported is that the hardcore United are actually quite a sound bunch. At least the ones I’ve come across anyway.
So, what do I think of FCUM? Well, the FCUM fans there yesterday looked like old Stretford Enders who were probably calling for Brian Gayle’s blood when we beat them at OT in 1987. Or there in the week before the Cup Final. These days, those sort of blokes with their kids can’t get into OT on a regular basis, and even if they could they wouldn’t be welcome amongst the sit-down-shut-up brigade and the Japanese tourists paying Â£1k for a ticket and spending double that in the Yernited Megastore.
Hence FCUM. Long term, I’m not too sure what their aim is. With us, it’s get back in the League and fuck up Franchise in the process. What’s theirs? But for now, I’m not too sure if that’s relevant right now. They’re there because after years of corporate brand United, Martin Edwards, Sky TV takeovers, kickoff times, rising prices, the Glazer takeover was the final straw.
WFC getting shunted off to MK was the final straw for us, although that was a more definite action. The question is often asked, why don’t FCUM fans go and watch Altrincham? The answer is, why should they? What many people don’t realise is that I could have gone to watch Sutton or T&M post 28/5 but I didn’t because they’re not my team. Much in the same way as Brentford or Leyton Orient aren’t my team. Likewise, why would the disenfranchised United fan want to watch Alty when they’re as much his team as Manchester City?
So my view on FCUM is, more power to them. No, they’re not big United, but they’re as close as dammit. They’re still fans of Manchester United Football Club, but they’re not fans of corporate Manchester United (the very outfit who are now forcing season ticket holders to buy cup tickets as well). Basically, they just want to watch affordable football again on their terms. Maybe the concept doesn’t make sense in the cold light of day, but on a warm sunny day in SW London yesterday it made perfect sense to those in red.
Of course, if they beat us in a proper cup game I reserve the right to call them Glazer-sucking pseudo-Scousers who abandoned their team.
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Us playing United and having three sides of the ground to ourselves for once. (2) New caterers I believe. Who charge Â£1.20 for a bottle of coke/water. Sorry, but that’s a fucking rip off. Especially as you can nip at half time to the nearby newsagent and buy a decent sized bottle of Volvic for Â£1. Also heard mixed reviews about the burgers – some liked them, some spent the rest of the evening in the bog. (3) Speaking of toilets, aren’t the ones in the TE nice now? Very poshe and modern looking. All we have to do now is keep them maintained. Best keep them locked and tell people to use the field behind the TE.
Anything else? Yup. Big shame of course is that DO aren’t doing the games any more. While there was a video camera there, I can’t see them rushing to put highlights up by this lunchtime. There’s a horrible gap now in our viewing pleasure – DO would obviously like to watch more games as fans now, and it’s something I can definitely sympathise with.
Trouble is, Turdey TV is on its way. Or so we’re led to believe anyway. The problem is that the whole thing has gone very very quiet – all mention of it was taken down from the Ryman official site, which when you consider it’s supposed to be a massive thing for the league is very, very odd. There’s certainly nothing mentioned on any club sites or messageboards either, and somewhat predictably the whole thing is already turning into a farce.
Rumours abound that us and Chelmsford withdrew from it. If true, that’s the business plan fucked already. Maybe the production company has pulled out? If they are still going ahead, their product is already seriously weakened – check out this for the rather scary number crunching. And if it’s a poor product (which their current Unibond service is believed to be) there will be a lot of unhappy clubs.
While I don’t actually think the concept is a bad one (and we’d love it to be available this morning), as usual with this league it’s surrounded by the stench of secrecy and the whiff of incompetence. And yet another reason why we want out of here ASAP…
So, was it worth it? Yup.
In a nutshell: Bring on the big United….