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Ton of good work

First things first. Quite a few people (and I genuinely mean, quite a few people) have asked me why midweek reports are thin on the ground. The answer is basically I can’t be arsed to do them midweek – unless it’s something major, I like to watch a game every so often where I don’t have to think about how to describe it afterwards.

Now, I can sense the venom in my direction already, so here’s a deal. I’m more than happy to put up match reports for evening games from anyone who wants to write them. They don’t have to be particularly lengthy, or funny, or even concentrating on the game, but it’ll save me having to do it. As for those complaining about a lack of an Ashford report, here’s a very brief one.

We won. They lost. 3 points. Sorted.

Now, onto today. Although I was secretly hoping the game would be off, thank fuck Tunbridge Wells 0 Wimbledon Village 4 went ahead after all. Normally, I find myself writing more and more after FAT games, what a real shame this wasn’t a league game. In fact, even more of a shame when you consider the last time what happened when we went down there. Thankfully, Lee Butcher managed to last the full game….

But fuck it. Let’s talk about the FAT instead. We could bog ourselves down over the RP (Chelmsford won, Staines drew and Hendon lost FTR), but this is a good distraction. Especially if you work on my theory that us playing against higher placed sides makes us play better all round. So put aside the league for this week and concentrate on a possible second trip to Wembley this season

Today was basically the sort of performance where you can forget we’ve scored four. And I don’t mean that in a negative way either. When Fergie made yet another run down the wing and was either blocked, crossed it too hard or just went for another spectacular finish, you silently grrr-ed to yourself. But when Danny Webb opened with a screamer (yes, you read that right), when TA’s attack didn’t really materialise and DeB made up for his saved pen with a goal right on the stroke of half time, for once we could relax a bit.

OK, DeB deserved a hat-trick, and Jolly has discovered his scoring boots again (even if it did go off the post and was a little bit “disputed”). But now we’ve entered unchartered territories. We’ve now reached the furthest we’ve ever reached in the FAT without getting thrown out beforehand. And we’re now the lowest side left in the entire competition.

Barring another oversight in our administration department, we will finally get to face a team higher than us – guaranteed. The beancounters are praying for a home tie for the finances. Me, I want a good, long, Northern away trip. The sort of traditional one that we miss in the AFCW era. You remember the sort of thing, getting to Kings Cross at 9am, praying the trains don’t break down, finding yourself in some inhospitable Northern hovel before taking their heroes on, coming away with a win, with plenty of beer and merriment back towards t’Smoke with us putting the smelly inbreds in their rightful lowly place and finding yourself on the tube at 11pm wondering just how many people are using public transport at that time of night.

Of course, it’ll be some kind of justice for last season if we did get Rushden on Monday. They stuffed Exeter 3-0 today BTW. But there isn’t a Bromley or H&R type matchup now. With the possible exception of Braintree and Bishop’s Stortsford, they’re all pretty much plum ties from now on. Workington and Blyth Spartans are the long away fixtures I so desperately crave (and how fucking kewl would it be to have an evening game at Blyth?), and the rest are all Conf. Aldershot and Ebbsfleet will want to sort us out after last season, and how does Torquay down at KM sound?

What this does prove is that even though we’d rather have been at Oxford today (be honest), people are still into the FAT. As said earlier, it’s a good distraction from the league. In fact, I’ll go one stage further and suggest it’s a motivational tool for the rest of the season. Just think how good it is to talk about playing a Torquay, or Aldershot, or whoever in the next round. Just think how much better it’ll be to say next season that we don’t want Braintree or BS because we played them in the league a few weeks ago.

And consider this as well. If you read the roundup, it says we’re dark horses. Who’d thunk it, eh? A Ryman Premier team getting considered dark horses, and not in a patronising way either. You would expect a mid-table Conference side to get that label, but somebody at our level?

Yeah, it’s an ego boost, and yeah we could easily get brought back to earth come this time next week. But I suggest we use the FAT not as a distraction but more of a trial run. I believe any team ready for promotion does most of the time achieve it. Still a way to go, and with a lot still to do, but suddenly that belief has become a little bolder…

Plus points: We won. Away. Quite comfortably as well. Clean sheet. Young players fitting in better with the older ones directing them. Fergie’s runs. DeBolla. Danny Webb’s goal. Lee Butcher. Having one goalkeeper being able to last the whole game this time

Minus points: JG’s knock. Fergie’s crossing.

The referee’s a…..: Gave more to them than us. Oh well, at least he wasn’t quite as bad as the previous jism guzzlers we’ve put up with recently. Incidentally, a Mr Graham Thorley was a lino. Not the Graham Thorley? Not the “statement of a statement” puppet apologist representative for the Koppout regime in the dying days before 28/5/02? Although Comical Ali had more gravitas than he did, and was a lot more believable as well. Anyway, if it was he sensibly kept very quiet.

Them: I’ve got a theory about a sizeable proportion of TA fans. They’re either rugby union frequenting “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” types, or one-game-a-season numpties. I wonder the sort who did those small time Franchise chants at us (and trust me, they are very small time). And especially those who did the outright odd “What’s it like to have a ground?”. Shame really, as the PA bloke liked us. Their team? Understrength a bit, apparently, and really not much to write home about. Their player getting sent off was justified for daring to touch JG anyway, let alone try and kill him. As for the dickwad who came on at the end, I’m sure I acted exactly like that when I got my first ever pube as well.

Point to ponder: When was the last time we had a delayed kickoff for a Saturday 3pm game? Seriously, I was gobsmacked at the amount of people who turned up to this. Had you said about 1500 or so beforehand, you might have considered it a bit optimistic, but 2281 is almost creeping back to the CCL era. Maybe it’s because we’re winning and it’s starting to look less like a false dawn? Success breeds success, and all that.

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Only a couple of hundred more and it would have been their all-time attendance record. Damn you those who didn’t turn up. (2) Who the fuck is Steve Gilbert? Is he a reserve we don’t know about? A new signing that the OS hasn’t got round to yet? Some bloke who was walking his dog on our training pitch one day and got signed up? Didn’t hear anyone yelling blue murder at him though, so he must have done all right. (3) I am really, really getting fed up of visiting Clackett Lane every time I want a piss/food. Even if I can get 15% off anything I buy with an RAC card.

Anything else? Remember this time last year, when we’d just KOed Gravesend and NorthEbbsfleet United and how much we were looking forward to taking on Rushden at KM. Finally, a big Conf side down facing a hostile (?), bloodythirsty (?) crowd. Remember how you felt when it was taken away from us just like that. What made it worse is that we got the taste for it and wanted more. A lot more. Fast forward to this year, and while there’s outright excitement about possibly facing another Conf outfit, it doesn’t seem such a Cup Final now. Puzzled? OK then. Whoever we draw, we feel we can at least match on the field. Seriously – it might be just me getting carried away, but we have a lot of ex-Conf players who are gelling more and more as a unit and who do look as confident as I’ve ever seen an AFCW-era side.

And if that’s the case, why should we be scared of a Conf outfit? We have the support, and it’s kind of weird that you read around other teams’ sites and they seem to want to play us. Good thing or not, it shows where we should be aiming for at least. Some say they could be happy in the RP for a few more years yet. It’s days like today and Monday that prove to me we most certainly should never, ever settle for that….

So, was it worth it? Aye.

In a nutshell: At least WUP can sell their surplus “Undefeated” t-shirts for a little while longer