What a strange weekend this has been. Even though we’ve had postponements before, this past 48 hours has been even odder than usual.
No, it wasn’t down to me thinking whenever people were mentioning Hatton they were talking about young Sam. But as the weather lashed down yesterday, with that rather eery cold feel to it, thing were just outright odd.
OK, Horsham would probably have been off anyway, but even so the great AFCW Conspiracyâ„¢ was in full effect this week. Whether or not the Ryman really would cancel a fixture for us in a big FAC tie (and I hope from next year that is never going to be an issue) is almost irrelevant. Reactions have been a heady mixture of paranoia and outright mistrust.
In the cool light of day, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if the game had got called off Friday. I think though it was down to the Ryman insisting the game was off about 4 days before, which in itself might not have been an issue had Horsham then said that it was down to the pitch being shit. So already, there were two conflicting (or were they?) stories about why the game was off.
Regardless, AFCW appeared pretty pissed off with it all. My own hunch isn’t down so much to the Ryman acting in their usual cack-handed manner, but more to do with us wanting a first team game to get Chelmsford out of our system. Face it, Horsham would have been weakened and chances are this would have been three points to us yesterday. I would guess it’s getting denied that opportunity that has really pissed us off.
This ties in with a comment I read yesterday about us – we’re not performing as well as we should simply because we’ve got the weight of expectation on our shoulders, that we should be out of this league. A bit like Aldershot were. Maybe it’s because of last season’s “fun” that we just cannot abide by anything the Ryman does now. While AFCW themselves have tried to at least warm relations between the club and the league again, the general fanbase wants nothing to do with them.
When you look at yesterday’s results, three points would have sent a message back to everyone after last week. It proved that Chelmsford haven’t won the league yet, and maybe for once we’re not the only side who has to play their opponent’s cup final every week? Time will tell if that’s the case, or it works to our advantage, but at least we’ve had more practice at that.
Back to my point. Yesterday would have been a good day for us with three points, and we got denied that chance through absolutely no fault of our own. Yeah, it’s us being selfish, but that’s the way we’ve got to be now. While things had calmed down a little bit this season, it reared its head again in quite a strong way. It’s not as though AFCW were happy with postponing the game (as some braindead dickwad suggested we should this week).
We all know that promotion is the issue this season, but I think it took something like this to remind ourselves just how important it is. While I can now safely say that we’re far better equipped under TB than DA to do that, the old doubts still remain. Can we catch Chelmsford? Perhaps more to the point, will we bottle the playoffs again?
Perhaps more than ever, we have that mixture of determination and fear. Determination because we want to get out of Turdeyland more than anyone else. And that hasn’t gone un-noticed either. But fear? Fear that we will slip up yet again. Fear of another season in the Ryman (which as I said last week won’t kill us). Fear that the longer we stay in this division the bigger the pressure and/or the bigger the rut we find ourselves in.
The last time we had such an attitude was if anything in the first CCL season. Then, it was a case of showing the world who we were, what had happened and what we could do. At the same time, although nobody ever really mentioned it, there was a real fear that if we’d fucked up everyone would laugh at us and we’d trapse with tails between legs up to Buckinghamshire.
While things are not like that now, the fire in the belly is starting to stoke up again. Maybe it’s because of our history, but I really do think that our fans need something to fight against. Whether it’s moves to Selhurst, staying in the top flight, Dublin, Frenzyville, or last year’s exploits, that’s really what makes us tick. I don’t think it’s in our DNA to sit back and enjoy the football, to be happy at being where we are.
The reactions this week might be petty and a little bit cringeworthy to some, but it’s probably this attitude that has got us this far in the first place.
As for the other RP sides and the FAC, how many people will really be happy to see another side in our division doing well? Can’t say I will be overly upset or fearful for “our” league’s stature if Horsham return from South Wales tomorrow with a 5-0 drubbing.
Anyway, we didn’t play, and that’s that. Which in hindsight may not be such a tragedy. OK, we’re going to get a fixture pileup, and by the time we play Ramsgutter Chelmsford will still be a million points ahead of us. But TB last week was saying how glad he was to have two training sessions to work on our forward line, and yesterday has given him another chance to further work on it.
By the time we go back down to Horsham, our front line might will have an idea of how to play with each other. Jon Main might will be firing, and Richard Jolly might will either be gone or have knuckled down and look like a 30-goal-a-season striker. Marcus Gayle might will be firing for his swansong and Andy Little might will be back giving us confidence again. A bad thing?
There’s a good opportunity on Tuesday to put this week’s training into practice, and I hope we take it. Yes, risking our top strikeforce for a minor competition isn’t something I’d usually do, but I’d prefer to think of the Dulwich game as an important training session. We could almost take the same attitude for the Maidenhead fixture on Saturday, but after last year I’d want to make a real fist of the FAT. Besides, I’m a firm believer that playing higher division sides brings out the best in you.
Risking, say, JM on Tuesday might be better than not giving him valuable playing time. If he breaks his leg, it’s a chance we take. Ditto with Danny Webb, Mark DeB and MG to name but three. In fact, give Danny Knowles a bit more game time as well, it really can’t hurt. We’ll have to wait just before Xmas before we play in the league again (and isn’t a trip to sunny Ramsgutter just so inspiring before Xmas?), but there’s a lot we can be getting on with before then.
Anyway, I’m off to Germany and Luxembourg for a couple of days. Research, and all that. Assuming my plane doesn’t crash I’ll be back for Maidenhead. I just wonder what the next reason to vent our spleen is going to be…..