What’s the song we used to sing to other teams? “2-0 in your cup final” wasn’t it? After Parakeets 0 Gulls 2 it doesn’t quite sound so good does it?
Actually, while the previous draws/losses pissed me off immensely (not that anyone noticed), today was more of a mock exam where you realise you don’t know quite as much as you think. No doubt a lot of the post-mortems will wonder why TB didn’t put out a more attacking formation (probably because we would have lost even more heavily) but also plenty of phrases like “learning curves” and “lessons” will get bandied about.
Was it disappointing? Yes, there was more chance of Hillary Clinton giving Barack Obama a blowjob than we were going to score today. Was it men against boys? Yes. Be honest, how many of our players would have got into that Torquay side? As somebody said today, our ex-Conference players proved why they’re not currently playing in the Conference.
Were we unlucky? Had their first penalty not been given then maybe things would have been different. Remember, for the first 59 seconds of the second half we really did come out all guns blazing, so to speak. But they got their penalty, RDS netted and the rest is now history.
Did we disgrace ourselves? No we didn’t. I think considering the obvious gulf in class we did put a decent enough showing for ourselves. What it did show was our limitations up big time, although that’s nothing to be ashamed of. When we’re generally low on confidence, when we don’t have the momentum and when things don’t entirely go our way, we still revert back to last year’s tactic. You know what that is, I won’t bother spelling it out.
Little things like had we remained focused on our last four league games whether we’d be talking about a big upset in the FAT, or indeed how we’d be getting down to Devon on a Tuesday night. But it’s often easy to forget that we’re still learning as a club generally. Forget about the lineage of Wimbledon for a moment and concentrate on this particular incarnation called AFCW. This incarnation has grown from literally nothing in the space of five years, when it was just an idea somebody had in a sweltering meeting room in Wimbledon town centre.
And it’s not like we had a ready made team to produce, nor a set of people who immediately came away from running a football club. Everyone literally had to learn on the job, both on and off the field. Remember, on this particular weekend in 2002, we beat Manchester City at Shitehurst live on Sky. Since that day so much has happened it’s worth a book on its own.
All this in five short years, and on the 2 February 2008 we’re unhappy because we didn’t attack better against a professional outfit. And one that is full time and playing its first non-league season in 80 odd years. If you take that cold line of logic, it’s fucking gobsmacking that we’re even on the same field as Torquay really, let alone thinking we could beat them if it wasn’t for AL and Luke Gerrard missing, or Webb and Jolly not clicking so much.
Yes, we’ve got a lot to learn. But christ we’ve come a long way in five years.
But then, that’s our modus operandi. We’re quick learners, and that’s how we’ve gotten so far so fast. We don’t really think about things like how far we’ve got in such a short space of time. That’s probably why we’ve gotten to this stage already, and right now we’re sitting back, hopefully taking everything we’ve learnt today and use it to our advantage. Without being BBB, most other clubs in the RP would look at today and see it as a cup final and that’s it. We obviously treated it as a big game, a cup final almost, but we also treated it as a taster of what we want to do in the future – and on a more regular basis as well.
Today, footballing wise, was a bit like the Thurrock FAC game a few years ago. Back then there was an obvious gap in class, as Thurrock had a bit more nous, a bit more professionalism, a bit more ability to work opponents and referees, IYSWIM. We learnt from it, and many people would probably make us favourites against Thurrock these days. Torquay had it today as well, and for the first time in ages, we really did look second best.
As for the game, it was a pretty scrappy first half (what I could see of it – and no, I didn’t get in the ground late) and once they got their penalty that was really about it I guess. I am getting quite concerned with our form now, although our first team does get a breather from all the intensity this week at least. Granted, we might be able to do without the LSC on Tuesday, but it should be a good time to let the youngsters show what they can do. After all, look at Chris Hussey.
The goalkeeping situation really is Spinal Tap drummer territory. Our new goalkeeper was cup tied so couldn’t play today. So Butch stepped in again, and it’s clear that our defenders can’t wait to see him return to Norf Lundun. Talk about flapping – just look at how the under-employed Torquay keeper collected what rare crosses into the box almost effortlessly.
Of course, I could be a bit harsh here, a neutral was a bit more impressed.
More on the rammifications of today later. Here’s….
Plus points: Didn’t get whalloped. Came out with heads held high
Minus points: We lost. Maybe didn’t do ourselves 100% justice.
The referee’s a…….: And bang goes the theory that refs in the FAT are better. In fact, the way that the ref kept smiling with the Torquay players and not with us, so it’s obvious that……. no, daren’t say it. But really, you sometimes think that refs are harshly treated and then you see the way ones like today’s carry on. OK, not that we would have won with him being onside, but sometimes you do wonder…
Them: Let’s be honest here, they were clearly a class above us today. You can really tell the difference between a part-time RP side and a full time Conf outfit that was in the pro leagues last year. They looked sharper, more focused, didn’t panic, knew how to work the game etc etc. At least RDS made good on his promise not to large it up when he scored. Just proves how much further AFCW needs to go to even think of being on their level. As for their fans, they took probably the most of anyone, though were strangely quite muted. Is it true that Helen Chamberlain got the absolute arse with WUP? Although probably not as much as WUP will get the arse with me after the current front page 😉
Point to ponder: Thinking more of on-field rammifications of today. Does anyone else have that horrible feeling that this game won’t galvanise us for the rest of the season? In hindsight we could have certainly done without BW on Tuesday, and just as winning becomes a habit so does not winning. We certainly need Haswell and Garrard fit again, and I’m getting concerned that we’re relying on JG too much. There is still a way to go, and we don’t have the FAT distracting us now, but having meekly surrendered the title this past fortnight, I’m not in the mood to see second place slip away…
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Me realising just how tricky it is to hold in a much-needed piss for 120 minutes. And no empty bottle of Evian to rescue me. (2) On the way to the game today I saw a bunch of shaven head individuals coming out of the Wetherspoons in Raynes Park looking a little bit, ahem, moody. Was it Torquay’s firm? (3) For those having a go at Fergie, lest we forget his old man died this week. (4) The return of the lesser spotted Viking man from PL days, thankfully standing at the back. No truth to the rumour that planes have to divert around him. Still has his original issue WFC woolen hat from the 80s. Still has the haircut from back then as well, come to think of it
Point to ponder, part zwei: For those with long memories – didn’t this game today have the air of the first time we played Liverpool at PL? Big anticipation, almost like stepping into the unknown and realising that while we could compete up to a point you could see why the opposition are where they are. And we lost that game by two goals as well (and I couldn’t park in my usual place today, just like Liverpool 22 years ago). People may try to compare today with the first ever CCL game at KM, and I did make an on-field link to Thurrock in the FAC, but today was the closest I’ve felt to a League game since 28/5/02.
Anything else? Here’s the other major rammification about today. We got a whopping 4085 in there today, and had it not been for the segregation it would have been capacity. Shows that for big events, our fans do come out. What it does prove though is that KM in its present form is not suitable for anything higher than Conference South football. Forget the seating capacity rules and extra turnstiles here – the amount of people who just could not see in the John Smith side (and presumably the West Bank as well) proves that we are going to have to re-step both terraces and make them bigger. Whether we eventually move out of KM or not is irrelevant right now.
Yes, it’s safe at KM but comfortable? Trust me, it’s no fun having to move around virtually every second to see what’s going on, and if I was of the more casual persuasion I would be less than enthusiastic to pay Â£9 to see the back of somebody’s head again. So while I stand by everything I wrote in the BW writeup about us expecting the earth too much, the club must really start looking into sorting out the stadium.
We’ve had five good years without having to do much to KM (hAE/TE roof and bog repairs notwithstanding), but it’s starting to creak just a little bit. And to be fair the club themselves know it, hence the raffle today. As a club, AFCW is about to embark on a pretty challenging time financially – not only maintaining a strong side that might actually be capable of getting promotion but to build up a stadium to match our ambitions. And once again the question of external investment will rear its head again. A new round of sponsorship for various parts of the stadium? How much do Scottish and Newcastle pay us for the John Smith stand sponsorship? If peanuts, time to (re)negotiate methinks.
Failing that, we could always do a share issue again. I don’t think people feel quite so broke these days….
So, was it worth it? If we win the FAT and Conference in 2013 because of what we’ve learnt today, then we can look back on today and say it certainly was.
In a nutshell: Now we can concentrate on the league.