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Scraping the barrel

OK, it wasn’t pretty. It was pretty hard work and laborious at times. But thankfully, it was SM5 0 SW19 2. And after Friday I think I would have almost accepted a 90 minute scramble off Marcus Gayle’s nob to win us the game.

You could really sense the relief when Fergie netted right at the end. I’m not going so far as to suggest that a weight has been lifted off our shoulders, but at least something from Friday got out of our system. There were times in the second half when CAFC could have snatched one back. Not because I think they were significantly better than we were but because it’s the sort of thing we do. Remember last season?

Got to admit, when Pullen failed to hold onto it right at the end following a corner, my heart was in my mouth and my shit was finding a final resting place in my pants. Can you imagine the fallout had any of it gone in? I’m not joking when I say that could have permanently damaged our season. To balls up one game a week (Chelmsford) is one thing. To then throw another game away (ETU) five days later is unforgivable. To have thrown it away today…..

Thankfully we didn’t. I’ve no idea if the players read SW19’s “advice” willfully dished out to them after Friday, but Fergie might have done. Wonder if he’ll point to the bench this time? Maybe after today I can pass that off as just outright frustration. Things obviously got to a point (again?) after ETU – reportedly the players were very quiet in the dressing room afterwards, as well they should be.

There is one thing that I do want to address though. Today, Tony Finn reportedly had a clash with Stuart Cash and drove off home. Yes, you read that right – touch of the Mark DeBolla there. At least this time Finn wasn’t blocked in. This came after a comment on Facebook by one of our players (and I’ll come onto that later) that the two clashed after ETU. Or rather, Cash “went for” Finn.

Now, I’ve no idea what “went for” means, but I can guess it wasn’t a Blind Date type selection. But it’s not as though Finn was exactly undroppable was he? Especially recently, when you consider that Finn was recently getting slagged off for his lack of distribution amongst other things. Remember what I wrote on Friday about having the players’ bluffs called? Maybe Finn got his on Friday and again today, and you can guess the rest.

If he did walk out just like that, then fuck him. We don’t need players like that. We don’t need any players that will disrupt things at this already tense time of the season. Not too sure why we don’t recall Beckford, but you can forget about DeBolla coming back (you’ll have to trust me on this one). We all know about Jolly. I’m not naive enough to think that our dressing room is all chummy, but if we’re getting rid of whingers, backstabbers and other disruptive elements, then bring on the cull. We should have enough to get that vital second spot, and come the playoffs we need everyone on board.

Oh, and Facebook – are our players who use it thick as fuck? To put messages that should be private on public view (I don’t use FB myself so I’ve no idea quite how it works) is really going to endear themselves to their public I don’t think. Not to mention a passing journo or two. Whilst I would hope the players wouldn’t need to write such messages even privately, when you get a situation like Friday it does make a tense situation even worse. Somebody at AFCW should just tell the players that at the very least they’re on public display, or even better keep them away from their computer..

Back to today. If truth be told, this sort of performance won’t win us the playoffs. We don’t really look like we’d gelled at times. And the less said about Danny Webb’s regression into an invalid old man when he was one-on-one the better. Hatton continues to be as unimpressive as a Franchise fan trying to talk about the history of WFC. And as I keep saying, our defence really isn’t that good.

But hey, we won, and I’m content enough. Satisfied even. I would hope TB now has done what he needs to about who needs to stake their place and where, finds a starting XI and stick with it. Even if it’s this XI that won us the game today, keep them all together and make the others come in and displace them. OK, I’d probably start Rose instead of Webb, and for the life of me Hussey doesn’t deserve to be dropped at all (Haswell and Hussey on the same wing? Interesting…), and I’ve said what I’ve thought about Hatton. And we need a new CB….

UPDATE: Urg, wrote all this up before TB’s comments went up on the OS. Can’t be arsed to rewrite it. Anyway, it’s good that he’s finally admitted in public that we need some cover at CB. Whether that will mean a loan signing or a more permanent replacement I don’t know. Funny thing is, I actually thought our CBs had a better game today.

I do get the impression he’s at the end of his tether though. After all, it is his job that is ultimately on the line, and should we not go up this season he’ll effectively have one more season to gain promotion (OK, I hope that isn’t the case, but if AFCW have given him two years…). The alleged strop by Finn really can’t have helped matters either, and to echo what somebody wrote on the Other Site, our players are semi-pro footballers. They are nowhere near as important as they think they are.

We could do with a couple of days off now, just clear our heads and refocus again. Just think, if we had beaten Chelmsford and ETU, and the champions-elect results hadn’t changed, we would have been three points behind them this evening. I doubt if I’m the only one at AFCW who now realises that.

Plus points: We won. Away. Clean sheet. Banana skin avoided. Alfie Potter. Fergie’s bollock busting runs. Far more effort put in today. Did look promising on the odd occasion.

Minus points: Friday’s smell still lingers

The referee’s a……: Did Danny Webb shag his missus over Easter? The ref really hardly gave him anything at all, especially in the first half. He even missed Matt York’s stamp on him – then again, the referee would have joined in if he had seen it.

Them: Do we still call them Friends of Franchise or not? At times I do wonder how they were ever a Conference South outfit. They battled hard though, maybe felt they could have gotten something out of the game etc etc. Did like their kit though. Oh, and hopefully this game will finally kill off the “Rob Ursell should return to AFCW” comments that pop up from time to time. He may show the occasional glimpse, but I think RS has much more to offer AFCW than he does. Besides, as the Yanks say, you can never go home again.

Point to ponder: Was this the first time I can remember the crowd collectively still smarting from a previous game? I don’t mean the usual moan and gripe all football fans do, I mean a genuine sense of outrage. Certainly did seem everyone I spoke to had that bad taste still in their mouth, and I think at times it showed in the crowd full stop. We were silent for about the last 10 minutes (not that we were exactly venomous for the first 80) and every so often you wouldn’t have been that surprised if a few loud murmurings were to happen. Even now, the reaction is a bit of “yeah we won but we’re still smarting from ETU”. No wonder SC and JG were trying to gee us up…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Getting from SW19 Towers to Carshalton takes me less time than SW19 Towers to KM. Hmm… (2) The bloke behind me excitably yelling “Yes” every time we even touched the ball. To be fair to him, it was the last five minutes of the game. (3) Really, really dodgy 80s music over the PA. Made the Wombelle’s efforts sound like the XFM playlist. (4) Snow. Bloody snow. In March. No doubt it’ll be put down to some bizarre weather system called by global warming, and we’ll all have to pay triple more taxes while our cars get compounded…..

Anything else? If like me you’re into symbolism, you may have noticed against ETU the sky went very black and forboding just before they scored. Before we scored our second today, the sun shone as bright as it has done all weekend. An omen? Of course, some may scoff at such superstition, but then again millions of people have been slaughtered over the years because some book told them a beared bloke came out of hiding…..

So, was it worth it? Compared to Friday, yes it was. Then again, so is rubbing your bollocks with barbed wire whilst wearing a Franchise shirt.

In a nutshell: Glad this week is over TBH

And finally: For those of you back at work after Easter, I put up an article whilst you were away. Enjoy. And finally, after seven months of playing with myself hard toil, the SW19 Archive has finally returned. Yes, it’s not entirely finished, but there’s more of my back catalogue available than ever before. Including some stuff I’ve not released again since original publication date. And a word of advice – if I was you, I would read match reports from our time in the RP. Seriously, just read about how tetchy the mood was around the place for times even before the Jermaine Darlington fiasco, and how many points we dropped from winnable positions. Then tell me we’ve gone backwards since then…