Skip to content

Head of steam

Well, that’s one way of getting the Chelmsford game out of your system I suppose. The only negative I can think of after Conference South 0 Turdeyland 2 wasn’t a league game. But then, that’s what going to happen every time we play an FAT this season.

Let’s face it, this was probably the most complete performance this season so far, and against a team higher up as well. Yes, Maidenhead were crap, but for the most part we made them look crap. I’m not joking when I said this could have been 5-0 – the usual problems up front just kept it down to two, but I seriously doubt they knew what hit them.

Whether it was the two week wait to get back into proper action I don’t know, but we looked like a team with a point to prove to a lot of people. From JG’s last ditch tackle on their forward when it was still 0-0, to MG’s opening, to the way we just kept pressing even after 2-0 up, this was a kind of “fuck you” performance.

Excited? Suppose I am really. I actually want to do well in the FAT (though not at the expense of promotion) simply because of last season, and I think we’re owed a bit of luck. Last season we kickstarted our season because of what we did, and this season will continue to prove just how easy it will be to play the next level – and just how difficult it is to get up there in the first place.

Still, little bit more on that later. People were singing “we’re proud of you” at the end today and they meant it. In fact, there seemed a rapport between us and the players that I don’t remember having for quite a while (even during the points fiasco last season). It’s obviously far too early to say what effect this one game will have on our season, but if we start gelling into the all-conquering outfit from now that we all know we’re capable of, 15/12/07 may be the day we first saw the real glimpse of it.

Obviously, the main thing that will stick in peoples’ minds will be Marcus Gayle’s first goal in the AFCW era for us. Had he scored 30 seconds earlier I would have been celebrating in front of the hardcore MU support. I’m fucking hard, me. But none the less, his rise to prominence recently seems to coincide with what we’re doing as a whole.

Remember, he came to us with an absolute fanfare and a half, and then he never really got going to begin with. Bit like us I suppose. He made a bit of a comeback, then broke down again then came back etc etc. But once Mike Rayner figured out how best to deal with him, he really is starting to show what we hoped he would.

No, he hasn’t got the pace these days. If he had, he’d still be in pro football. But it seemed that whenever anyone else wanted to know what to do, they gave it to MG to show them. It’s the Mick Harford syndrome – you wish he was fitter, but by god you can see just why he stayed at the top for so long.

Maybe, just maybe, things are starting to go our way a little? Chelmsford lost, and while Staines are coming on the inside a bit we’re starting to show promise ourselves. Last year, H&R started off poorly and ended up as champions. There’s always a team who starts off slowly yet ends up with the top prize. Maybe it’s Staines, or maybe Billy Rickay are about to start a spurt? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s us……………?

We’ll wait and see. There’s a helluva long way to go even in December. For now though, enjoy today’s result and while you await the next round draw feast upon this…

Plus points: We won. Comfortably. MG scoring first goal in AFCW era. Danny Knowles looking more and more commanding. Defence. SF.

Minus points: Should have been at least 5-0.

The referee’s a…….: Like most of them in the FAT, they seem quite competent. Not too sure how he handled a certain incident towards the end (see below) without pinching himself. Or indeed giving out any bookings.

Them: I can see how Horsham stuffed them 4-1. Quite simply, if that’s what Conference South standard is like, it just confirms what we already know – getting out of the RP will be a lot more difficult than getting in the top ten of the CS. OK, they were quite quick on the break, but we handled it in probably the best defensive performance I can remember for a while. They have problems, which is a shame as their manager is probably my favourite interview subject. They really did seem like they were playing for the draw 2 minutes in….

Point to ponder: Doesn’t today just show how much we need to get out of the Ryman ASAP? It showed a complete lack of gap between where we are and where Maidenhead are. Actually, I’ll go one step further and suggest that they would be RP strugglers on this showing.

In all seriousness, doesn’t this just illustrate the perverseness of the CS/RP structure? Teams promoted from the RP seem to do quite well – H&R are third as we speak. Likewise, when Carshalton came down you would have thought they would be up the top. They’re distinctly ordinary. If Maidenhead, or Sutton come down this season, can you really expect them to rival an AFCW/Chelmsford/Staines outfit? Think we can all make an educated answer on that.

There’s a case to be made for two automatic promotions and one playoff from our division (and the Southern) to the CS. You could perm about 10 clubs from our level, replace the bottom 10 of the CS and that division would probably be a lot stronger. I can’t remember the ins/outs of the restructuring, but somehow this bottleneck at our level needs to be resolved.

Billy Big Bollocks? Not really. I know some in AFCW are saying that if we get promotion we’ll go for a back-to-back promotion the next campaign. From what I saw today, that isn’t that far fetched to do. I guess this just adds to the pressure cooker in the Ryman, because we know we can perform at the higher level. To quote a comment made at the game, “if Basingstoke are 7th, this league must be shit”.

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The barmaids. Perhaps not quite on the outright filth scale as the Harrow Boro ones, but still worth watching them pour out a creamy head. All of them wore S&M issue belts as well…. (2) Less people than I thought there would be today. Xmas shopping surely isn’t that exciting, is it? (3) No Danny Webb. Reportedly had a bit of a Jolly moment against Chelmsford, so maybe he’s in the doghouse. (4) One individual out of the mutt masonette is Richard Jolly, who’s clearly back in favour. Perhaps a little ring rusty, although I don’t think he needs anyone to tell him that. And if they did, he’d only put his fingers in his ears again. (5) Who were the TV camera crew from?

Truth is stranger than fiction – Saturday Fight Night special: Deserves an entry all on its own. Towards the end of the game, when Fergie missed, my attention was drawn to a little kerfuffle on the pitch. Now, off-the-ball incidents aren’t exactly rare, and in the back of my mind I wondered which of our players had decided to slightly sour an otherwise decent day. What I saw will be one of the funniest incidents of the season – their #3 and #5 were really going at it. And by that, I mean having a domestic on the pitch.

Do you remember Graeme Le Saux against David Batty? Or Kieron Dyer clashing with Lee Boywer? It was kind of like that. It actually took one of our own players (can’t remember who) to literally get inbetween them and keep them apart. It didn’t seem like a sudden flashpoint either, because the #3 (who played shit BTW) really walked around afterwards about to clout the first person to say the wrong thing to him. Wonder what was said? A frank discussion on the defensive qualities of Maidenhead? A passionately held debate on whether Gordon Brown should have gone to Lisbon a bit earlier? Or was the conversation something like, “here, you know that Xmas party we had last night when your mum turned up. Well, urm, I shouldn’t tell you this at this very minute but, er, she doesn’t just use mouthwash to gargle…..”

Anything else? Well, they had two ex-Vermin playing for them. Both were gloriously shit, and one of them was even heard to say “fuck off” to our fans when we reminded him just what we think of his former employers. See, when you ingest the Wankelmann man paste you are forever diseased. Only playing for AFCW afterwards and repenting your past sins can cure you.

Oh, and Wes Daly apparently played today. I say apparently, because I’d actually forgotten he was against us. Must have made an impression then.

So, was it worth it? Yup.

In a nutshell: Now, how about a long Northern away trip for once?