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All Maid up

Ah, now that was a bit more like it. Well, the second half of Michael Havers 2 Ann Widdicombe 0 was anyway, and suddenly the horrors of our scratch side “performing” last Tuesday was but a distant memory.

Of course, I knew we’d do it. See, unlike Gordon Brown yesterday, we didn’t bottle it. Whereas in previous weeks we’d get the 1-0 lead and try to shut up shop, this time we didn’t. I dunno why, but this time there wasn’t likely to be a last minuter. In fact, we were even treated to a second goal for once – you know, like old times. And all of a sudden, the clouds were less grey, the sun was shining brighter, the October air gave a gentle blust of autumnal warmth and even the Vermin getting their usual favours didn’t dampen the mood. Well, almost.

OK, enough hyperbole, although there was a definite change in mood after the game. People were not only impressed by the result (says he stating the bleeding obvious) but by the passion showed, and perhaps for the first time a real clicking of the starting XI. Why? I dunno, but yesterday we looked more of a team. It’s as though it’s taken us all this time to realise that everything won’t be on a plate, and we have to know what each other is doing. To quote an SW19 reader towards the end, “What am I going to do for the last five minutes of the game? I can’t even moan.”

Perhaps it was Robin Shroot getting a full 90 minutes and for once justifying the hype? I say that because every time I’ve seen him play for the first team I haven’t exactly been impressed. Or maybe it was RB looking fitter (begone, curse) and running quicker than a Franchise fan getting lumbered with a paternity suit. Or maybe, or maybe….

Here’s what I reckon. I’ve just looked at the starting side from yesterday, and in it there were 5 of last year’s team (which went up to 6 following substitutions). In hindsight, although he didn’t have much choice for the most part, I think TB probably got rid of too much of last year’s team too quickly. With the possible exception of Webb, who I think needs a couple of hat-tricks PDQ, the new intake slotted in very nicely yesterday. Which is something I just don’t think has happened at any point this season beforehand.

JG, Finn, Beckford, Mark Beard and increasingly Quinn and Leberl are players I can’t imagine not starting now. I still think Kneißl will be an asset, although he was playing with the stiffs yesterday. And he scored. The rest I’m unsure about. Warner’s gone, Salmon looks like a fish out of water (sorry), Hatton went off the boil very quickly (bit like his arse yesterday, by all accounts). And sorry to say, but I think we will see Marcus Gayle as a cameo at best. By the sound of it, he broke down again in the reserves yesterday, and maybe, just maybe, it’s his body telling him to go back to serve the Lord.

As for Guiliano Grazioli, well……. Actually, I didn’t hear it, but by the sound of it we won’t be seeing him again. I presume his loan spell is up, and quite simply I’m breathing a sigh of relief. I hope TB realises that loan spells like this just don’t work. If Grazioli was on top form then take him on loan, but of course that ain’t gonna happen until we ever reach the Conference. I would have rather played Daniel Webb there, at least the guy tries.

Have we turned a corner now? Yes. But unlike Liverpool for the last 18 years, let’s make sure we’re not permanently stuck on a roundabout. Think about it. But for now, I’m happy. We seem more balanced, more idea of what we’re doing and what we need to do, and indeed building up that much needed confidence so previously lacking. So expect us to lose 3-0 on Tuesday in the worst performance on a football field since Dida at Parkhead last Wednesday.

And whilst we await that, here’s……

Plus points: We won. At KM. First time we’ve scored in the second half at the TE all season. The not-much-maligned Richard Butler. Robin Shoot. Not really looking like we’d concede.

Minus points: Injuries

The referee’s a………: All right for the most part I suppose, although he did appear to have a time lag between a foul occuring and him blowing up.

Them: Took a good 2-300, probably the biggest away turnout for a competitive fixture at AFCW. Only FCUM took more, and certainly more than Eastleigh, Chelmsford and Wealdstone. Sung a bit as well, though of course they were five years late with that chant. Dickheads. Speaking of those with penises on their head, their #7 was a cunt – not only did he hack down Finn but worse of all he made your editor knock his tea over. He’ll be shitting himself now.

Point to ponder: Maidstone took loads. The other teams from memory who have taken a load are Chelmsford, Margate and Wealdstone. Might have missed somebody out but the point still remains. What have they all got in common? They were at one time either a league club or a top non-league side (by that, I mean BS Prem equivalent). If/when we ever play Dover at KM they’ll take as many. Doesn’t that say something about the makeup of non-league football, as in how many teams have slumped in stature? OK, so have we, but we have an excuse….

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Jerusalem on the PA at the end. Why? (2) 1970s World of Sport theme tune on the PA at the beginning. Again, why? If this is going to be a regular feature, can we have the 1970s Big Match theme tune as well?

Anything else? Yeah, England beat Australia in the toffball. I suppose I ought to insert the following phrases: Middle class. Corporate cocksuckers. Grammar schools. 57 old farts. Posh universities. Financial institutions. £500k houses and can’t afford to pay the electricity bill. Perverted public school games masters. Piss drinking. But I won’t.

Instead, a comment. No, not the theory I was told once (by somebody involved in rugby, no less) that women who watch rugby union all speak posh, are completely loaded and enjoy it up the wrong un – although if that is true, I’m going down the Stoop next time I’m free. Rather this : as a sport in itself I’m not that anti-rugby union, in fact I’d enjoy it a bit more if its followers weren’t quite so up their own arses. I can take or leave the actual in much the same way as I can take swimming (ie if there’s a good reason to watch it, I’ll watch it). I don’t get put off by its complexity – hell, I watch the NFL and golf. But something grabbed me yesterday about the big difference between football and rugby union. I genuinely don’t think rugby union fans are as passionate about their sport as football fans are.

OK, I’m not saying that fans of Harlequins, or Leicester, or Bath don’t give a shit how they get on. They do. But think about it this way : if Wimbledon FC was Wimbledon RFC, would we have set up the equivalent of AFCW? Or would we have spent our efforts instead getting the cheapest travel up to Buckinghamshire? Did London Irish fans set up RFC Irish of London when they buggered off to Reading? Nope, they looked at the train timetables to the Majeski instead. Ditto Wasps to Wycombe, Sale to Stockport, Rotherham to Millmoor, Saracens to Watford etc – and we had difficulty accepting Selhurst.

If Harlequins were to move away from the Stoop to, say, Basingstoke, would there be a HISA setting up to prevent it? Or indeed why there wasn’t much of an obvious stink kicked up when the Welsh clubs merged a couple of years ago? And I haven’t started on the Six Nations, which as I understand it are even more corporate wankfests than an exhibition at London Excel. I understand that while there is plenty of Trust involvement in football, and more and more in rugby league, there’s precious little in union. QED?

Yes, rugger fans aren’t dispensated towards the worst excesses like football fans are (we’ll ignore the drinking piss type games and other such jolly japes shall we?). But then, when you consider the above, would you want to be like that?

So, was it worth it? Yes.

In a nutshell: Now, how about a decent run for once?