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Cray me a river

In the rampant commercialised world called English football, even the FA Cup has suffered from teams putting the wishes of accountants against those of fans, and are far more willing to let bank balances instead of glory take charge. Witness the weakened sides even Championship teams put out these days.

Because of this, the chance of an upset becomes even greater. And even in this, the first qualifying round of football’s oldest cup competition, when an upset happens it only adds to the Magic Of The Cupâ„¢. Yes, Wanderers 2 Royal Engineers 6 was an upset to rival those of Hereford against Newcastle, Altrincham against Brum City, Slutton against Coventry and some team who beat Burnley in 1975, drew at Leeds in the next game and went on to win the trophy in 1988. Forgot who they were though.

Actually, it wasn’t really an upset, and on paper it’s the kind of result you should expect. But considering the season we’ve had thus far, it is a bit of a cup upset. Not so much us conceding two goals, but us netting six in the process.

Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first. Our defence is shit, the way that they scored their two goals shits me up. And I can’t even blame Steve Butler this season. Indeed, when they got both goals, I have to say that we looked as vulnerable as a Northern Rock shareholder. And they were a Ryman One side, and worse than a lot of teams we’ve struggled against.

But hey, enough of that – even SW19 knows when to tone down the dark side once in a while. We did win 6-2 after all, and sometimes you can be a bit too determined to find faults. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, yes, it wasn’t a side in our division. And yes, there were a couple of times I swear that AFCW had told our side to get a draw so we could get money for the replay*. But christ, shall we be just a tinsy winsy little bit positive today? Last time I looked, it wasn’t a crime to actually be happy with a victory…..

* – note to AFCW top brass. This is a joke. Even I’m not that cynical. Well, almost.

This was the footballing equivalent of playing a computer game, struggling with a high level, putting the skill level back down low and ripping a new arsehole as a result. Well, I assume that’s what happens with computer games (twas the case when I used to play old Speccy games), but the reaction at the end was more relief than anything. Relief in knowing we can do it. Relief in knowing we can find the back of the net. And relief in finding out that maybe, just maybe, we can win games. Right now, we need that bit of confidence to start flowing again, and that’s going to help us a lot more than constantly saying that we shouldn’t have played one up front today.

OK, caveats on today aside, what was different? I dunno, although Webb didn’t start and RB did. No Jolly as well, obviously. I’m unsure whether it’s because we faced a weaker defence, we had a more confident strike force or whether we just needed something to go right and it did. But this was the best team performance I’ve seen since Wealdstone second half. And yes, I know that ain’t saying much…

There was a comment from one of our players during the week that recently, we’d been turning up to games expecting to win 6-0 then reacting badly when we weren’t. That attitude didn’t seem that prevailant today – a disallowed goal (complete with applause, presumably ironic) and heads could have gone down. They didn’t. When it got to 2-1, we could have easily drooped our heads, allow them to net a second and then hold on for dear life at very best. We didn’t.

Maybe things reached a head recently and from then on we’ve started to actually work? OK, the not-very-private spat between TB and Jolly could have been kept under wraps, but in a way the vibe seemed better when it finally happened. It was almost like a rather nasty little fart had finally been vented out, and while the smell may be cabbagy at least you’re not walking around wondering when you’ll next follow through.

Now, I’m sure you can find your own similies, but you can’t help notice that things were less fraught this week. Certainly something that I think helped us today. Had we even drawn this game I’m not sure if there would’ve been a mass hiding of sharp objects around SW19, let alone losing. That could be down to us not having a game during the week, and a week’s rest was certainly enough to just recharge the batteries a bit.

Granted, none of this will matter if we revert to type against Heybridge and Margate. Two of the hardest games we have had on paper, although knowing us we’ll probably now win both 4-0 and wonder what the recent fuss was about. But we can afford to be a little bit more confident and less anxious this week. Who knows – if the 78 game unbeaten run was ended at Cray, who’s to say another run will start right now?

While I’ve now guaranteed a 3-0 loss next Saturday, here’s….

Plus points: Finally knowing where the net is. Six goals. Beckford and Finn. Good to see RB back. Looking a lot more relaxed and – dare I say it – confident. Pulling further ahead as and when required.

Minus points: Absolute shit defending for both goals.

The referee’s a…….: Hmm. He could certainly kick the ball better than some of our players, although I’ll leave further praise at that. Incidentally, the evil AFCW despising Ryman League Turdey arselicking of a cunt referee we had last time we were at Hayes Lane, one R Ganfield, was apparently a lino at a Prem game yesterday. And no, it wasn’t the Chelski game.

Them: Actually, they didn’t annoy me today at all, although I don’t know if that’s because there weren’t that many of them. Had we’d lost, expect me to have called them Bromley’s little chavvy brother, smoking weed at 7 years old and stealing cars when they were 9. Seriously, they were clearly expecting Bromley to boost their attendance and obviously they weren’t interested. Apparently were a little bit confident of beating us beforehand, so there’s a message for all you snivling RP sides calling us an easy win right now. Oh, and they come out to “The Wanderer”. Wonder what we should come out to, on recent form?

Point to ponder: Not that I want to cause any unrest in the AFCW camp, but do our players not want to pass to Webb? It does seem that they either don’t like him or just don’t think he’s good enough up front. Speaking of Webb, it has to be said that he did look a little bit sheepish when he scored. Perhaps it was just relief? Or maybe embarrasment that he nearly fucked it up….

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Being directed to a new turnstile the other end of the usual one (for those who know Hayes Lane), then finding you could walk back to whence you came. Even more weird, other AFCW fans were able to enter the usual turnstiles…. (2) Speaking of Bromley’s ground, have they put seats in the end opposite to the one we normally get? Well, benches, anyway. Perhaps Goldberk is going to make it an all seater stadium. (3) I’ve no idea how strictly enforced it was, but today you couldn’t take alcohol onto the terrace. Result? A pleasant (OK, half dead) atmosphere with no hint of people acting like dicks. Q, E and indeed, D?

So, was it worth it? Yeah, more or less.

In a nutshell: Now, let’s do it for league games, shall we……..?