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Hastings Direct

Firstly, thanks to everyone who kept saying to me what a load of bollocks my last report was. I know I can always rely on you guys to give your feedback honestly.

Secondly, I refuse to make any 1066 references, so you’ll have to make do with Rye 1 Wheat 3. This was effectively the proverbial cold November’s day away from home, where title ambitions can meet a cold and rather painful end. Come to think of it, it was literally quite nippy as well. It’s these sort of games that really do make or break a season.

It was about 25 minutes in yesterday, when we were 1-0 down, playing as well as we did against BW/Leyton (oh, those flashbacks) when I honestly thought we’d blown it. Not for the game, but the season. Think about it – we went from a confident side to a gibbering wreck in the second half against Coldseal. On Tuesday, we not only shot ourselves in the foot but broke our arm, dislocated our neck and severed our gonads for good measure. And yesterday, when Hastings were first to everything and looking more likely to add a second, I could sense our season collapsing before our very eyes.

When we pressed forward though, and when Main got us that penalty (and DeB scored it), something more than the game got salvaged. Our confidence levels were declining quite a bit, and had we’d lost yesterday I’d shudder to think the reaction. Is it possible to see a team literally lift like that? If you can, we sure as dammit came close to it.

At the risk of sounding like a non-league manager, these sort of games really are all about character. It takes a team with that character to overcome a set of three games with relatively little self-assurance, and to play pretty shit in the first half hour to win quite comfortably in the end. Especially away from home on a cold Saturday in November, great leveller, team spirit etc etc.

OK, I’m taking the piss a little, but last year this would have been a draw. See, last season I don’t think the team quite had the bottle (if that’s the right word) to have taken the game and turn it to our advantage. I reckon it was this flaw that cost us the playoffs twice in a row. This season? Well, we started off poorly, and that’s why Chelmsford are well ahead of us right now. But it’s a shame that we can’t replay those early season games again because this time I think we’d win them. In fact, I think we would have won the Tonbridge game had it been played yesterday IYSWIM. I have my theory on why that is, but you’ll have to read on to find it out 😉

I’d like to talk about our striker now, a main man who has invited many column inches and a highly charged barometer of our success. Yes, needless to say, I’m talking about……………………………………………….. Danny Webb.


Whilst all the attention has been on Jon Main (who I have to say is somebody who should be playing League football within the next couple of years, if not before), it’s ironic that his signing could be the catalyst for Webb. I’ve got to say I was in shock when he scored twice (and OK he did get a bit lucky with his second, not that he didn’t deserve it). But his first was a typical striker’s goal and taken as well as anyone on that pitch.

Is Webb winning people round? Yes – slowly. While the guy does have a Gary Blissett-like tendency to mistime his jumps (although if any of our players could jump, run, cross and score to perfection they’d be in League football), and referees clearly hate him, he is starting to overcome a very painful loss of scoring confidence. He’s notably improved since DeB and now Main are here – QED? I’ve noticed more and more people are saying that Webb isn’t the Leaburnesque donkey, that he does make a damn good contribution and now he’s even scoring goals. Maybe TB knew something we don’t?

Of course, some will never give him any credit for anything. Remember Bulldog, the NF publication beloved at Stamford Bridge* in the 1970s? That had a league table where they removed goals from black players. Sometimes I think that Webb is suffering a bit of that level of treatment – apparently some people yesterday reckoned that Webb’s goals were “soft”.

* – was it ever sold at Plough Lane? We’ve always seemed to be virtually immune from political extremism, although of course in them days it was far more “acceptable” to belong to something like the NF or ANL or whatever. I doubt if we didn’t have at least one fan who was (and still is) into that sort of stuff. Something worth remembering for those who think the fire has gone out of public life and everything is too centrist these days

Now, I’m fully aware that Webb ain’t RDS, and I’ve got to admit that for me, the jury is still out on him. But for fucks sake, give the guy some credit when it’s due. It does seem some are determined no matter what to give him no credence whatsoever – a bit like twisting events to suit a particular viewpoint, if that makes sense. In other words, if Webb scored a hat-trick yesterday with a penalty, a shot from 30 yards and an unstoppable piledriver at the end of a 15 pass move, certain individuals will say the first goal wasn’t a real goal, the second effort was a fluke and the third one would have been taken far better from Main/RDS/RB….

Is Webb our best striker? No. Is his place most under threat if/when somebody “better” comes along? Yes. Does he try hard? Yes. Did TB sign him because according to the Yeovil manager he was one of the two best finishers at the club? Yes. Did his goals win us the game yesterday? Yes. I can’t help feeling that some people would be more willing to accept the draw rather than admit that Webb scored twice yesterday. They might like to proclaim themselves excellent judges of character, that somehow we should have broken the bank to keep RDS or even RB, and that they know much more about who we should/shouldn’t play, even more than our managerial staff. Personally, I’d rather call them cunts.

For those of us who aren’t in that above category, enjoy….

Plus points: Win. Three points. Away. On a cold November afternoon etc etc. Jon Main. Webb’s goals. Way we came back. Some of Finn’s crossing. Managing to put Tuesday behind us.

Minus points: First half hour. Defence at times. Rob Quinn going off (anyone know why?)

The referee’s a………..: Bit of a cock wasn’t he? OK, he gave us the penalty in the first half but decided that was our lot.

Them: Well, they certainly threw the kitchen sink at us as their manager was hinting at before the game. For about a good half-hour it did work though, and does still highlight deficiencies in our back line. Their ground is an interesting one, it looks like it used to hold speedway or greyhounds or something like that in ye olden days. Bet it was quite big back in the day. As for their cheerleading ensemble, well, urm, yeah. I know what made me uncomfortable watching it – too many Queen songs as the musical accompaniment. That’s what it was, how could it be anything else?

Point to ponder: Is it any co-incidence that we looked far better playing once the defence looked confident with our goalie? We’ve over-analysed Tonbridge to death, and for a while yesterday our defence looked a bit Pirelli-marks-in-the-toilet. But as the game went on, and our defence got more used to Danny “Tony” Knowles (and can I do my filthy joke about Knowles lining up a long pink? No? Aw..), it looked almost like AL was back in charge. And they always reckon that with a decent goalie, you’re half way there already…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Danny Webb scoring twice in one game. Has to be repeated again. (2) Hastings is the home of television, apparently. Basically, John Logie Baird resided there and I presume that’s where he produced his first televisual signal. There is no truth to the rumour that the first image ever broadcast was a repeat of Only Fools and Horses. (3) Hastings fans doing a conga at the end of the game. Bless them. Moved a bit better than their forward line though.

Anything else? Yeah. Was it me or was Hastings a lot nicer to visit this time round? Last time I remember a high proportion of local chavs dragging themselves out from their gutter and showing distinctly how they can gob off but typically just can’t take it when they get it back at them. This time, the atmosphere was a lot nicer, and a bigger crowd as well. Wonder why they didn’t turn up this time? Perhaps they discovered their local newsagent was doing a new line in National Lottery scratchcards, so spent their giro on that. Or maybe they were too busy discovering who their real fathers were. Regardless, their presence was certainly not missed.

Incidentally, you could take beer onto the terrace yesterday and there was no trouble. Ditto at Folkestone and bar one prick this year ETU. Why does all hell break loose when the same happens at Hayes Lane?

So, was it worth it? Yup

In a nutshell: Danny Webb, woah. He cost us 50 bob. He’s got a proper job. Jon Main, woah. He cost us 20 grand, he’s sitting in the stand….