What a time to make my WDON guest summariser appearance. A throat sorer than Jenna Jameson’s after a hard days work, absolutely crap weather and a “treat” of Low Fat Spread 2 Lard 4.
Fed up? Yes. I’m going to try my hardest and not burst an artery today. Though personally, I’m getting concerned that people just come onto SW19 and watch me explode for entertainment, a bit of the Simon Cowell syndrome if you will. If that really is going to be the case I think it’s best that SW19 ceases publication, on my own health/sanity grounds alone. Not joking either.
No, it’s true. I really don’t have the energy to risk another stroke. Instead, I’ll tell you a little story. For the first time in ages, I was in the KM press box (it’s still as cramped as it ever was) and I decided, straight off my own back, that I would listen to what TB had to say. Typically, I forgot my dictaphone, and my hands were too cold to make copious notes, but his words were “Now I’m off to fucking hang myself”.
Whilst I’m sure some of the kneejerk brigade will right now be hanging him the rope and rubbing their hands with glee, it’s what else he said that caught my ear. We’ve been shit since Chelmsford – no, really? We need a settled side now, especially at the back, and we’ll be using Ramone Rose a fair bit for the run in. Not exactly rocket science.
But the first thing he said – at least, what I think he said – was that we need to go back to basics. Even if he didn’t, he should have done. No, I don’t mean in a John Major way either, although if Rob Quinn gets caught shagging in a Chelski shirt….
But something is now clearly missing. And for the first time this season it’s not just me thinking the playoffs are beyond us now. It was the way people walked out not angry, but resigned. We’ve seen it all before, deja vu all over again, that kind of thing. I’ve waxed lyrical on this a lot recently, but there’s no other way to describe it.
This “back to basics” thing is nagging me right now. Yes, the team needs to certainly do that – it needs to get out of its complacency. I think TB needs to be brave in dropping players regardless of how much they’re paid. If one plays well on Â£50 and the other plays badly on Â£500, drop the high earner. It’s obvious he ain’t earning his keep. Nine goals conceeded in our last 4 games? Remember how we had about 6 games with clean sheets? Seem like another era, don’t they…
But as more worry comes that history is repeating itself time and time again, another pensive thought. If the team has to go back to basics, shouldn’t AFCW itself? No, I’m not trying to shit-stir for once, I drove away today thinking exactly that.
In fact, I’ll tell you something else. I had to come back via Plough Lane/Durnsford Road, and seeing the massive construction going on there. Believe it or not, it doesn’t hurt me as much passing there as it used to. Maybe it’s because the massive carbuncle there now just puts a bit of finality on it, or maybe having OUR honours back in Merton softens the blow a lot. But if we like to think we’re the continuation of WFC, shouldn’t we start acting like it?
No, I don’t mean shunting off AFCW to Corby and alienating everyone in the process, although at times that thought can cross my mind. I mean, how did WFC get to where it got to in the first place? By that I’m referring to becoming one of the top non-league clubs and then eventually up to the highest level in English domestic football. WFC was the most un-prima donna outfit ever to exist in the top flight. It never got covered weekly in a TV show, nor did it get invited to prestige events at the national stadium. It just cocked a snoot at everyone else and just got on with it.
What is AFCW in 2008? A fiercely ambitious club, certainly. But it’s also one that just needs to be seen. It’s a club that just has to ram itself in everyone’s face. It’s a club that never misses the opportunity to say “look at me, look at me. Aren’t I wonderful for what I’ve done?”. And the consequence of that is, people then start to look at you. They start to probe you, maybe in ways you don’t like. Some may not believe entirely what you say about yourself. In short, you invite loads and loads of pressure onto yourself.
And guess what? We can’t cope. We’ve always known we can’t cope, even if we daren’t admit it. It’s very difficult to move a club with 2500 fans onto a level it may not quite be ready for yet. It certainly can’t cope when it’s constantly telling itself – no, constantly winding itself up – that it has to push onto the next level. Then the next. Then the next. This is a club that is so shit scared of failure that it’s stifling success in the process.
Not for the first time, today we went ahead then they went ahead and then our heads dropped. And then they rose again and dropped immediately afterwards. And stayed dropped. Today proved once and for all we have a terminal illness at AFCW and one that just cannot be cured. Yes, we’re second, but for how much longer? Sack TB? Yeah sure, why not. Let’s get some fresh ideas in, a fresh approach to the club. Er, hold on, wasn’t that what we were saying last year? I won’t mention it again, I’ve gotten bored of mentioning it for about the last 200 times. And people constantly doing that are doing my fucking head in.
But I will ask if the approach of AFCW is causing us damage. Not on the field, but off it. Are we collectively showing just how utterly naive we really are in running a football club? Yes, I’m sure we manage ourselves well on a business setting but are we doing the right thing football-wise? The people who run AFCW are collectively accountants, management types, a few trade unionists here and there, that sort of setup. I ask, are they trying to run AFCW like a management consultancy firm or a branch of USDAW? Are they using man-management skills that you can get away with in an office yet actually cause great problems in something like a football club?
I don’t know, I’m only guessing here. I know I shouldn’t say this but I’m actually quite looking forward to the close season now, and I’m not sure if us going up or not is going to change that. Sure, I’d love to go up, but like last season I’m getting fed up of the constant browbeating that is everywhere you turn right now. The club was at it again today, with its big mock-up posters with MG/TB on them, telling any passing punter to JOIN JOIN the Dons Trust, or BUY BUY your Golden Goal, or SIGN UP SIGN UP to the Dons Draw. Assuming of course you haven’t CHOSEN CHOSEN your new kit so you can BUY BUY the new strip when it comes out.
Pretty intensive stuff isn’t it? Especially when it’s helped by a nice bit of hysterical screaming like IT’S YOUR CLUB or an insinuation thereof. I really could notice the intensity of AFCW generally today. If the poor average fan is getting an in-your-face bombardment almost before he’s even got off the bus, what’s happening in the football side? I mentioned it a few months ago, but it’s even more relevant today. I would have given TB a three year contract rather than a two year one. The reason why I say that is because if TB doesn’t succeed this time round, he basically has one year to save his job. And if he’s constantly getting told to get us up at all costs, of course things are going to break down. Especially if you consider that if we finished second but don’t go up the season will have been seen as a TOTAL DISASTER. We are not mature enough as a club to handle that additional pressure.
AFCW needs a new approach. If, and this is purely an idle thought on my part, there is undue pressure on our players and staff by our club, IT MUST STOP RIGHT NOW. AFCW will forever underachieve if it’s under constant fear of failing. And again, purely an idle thought on my part, if there is external pressure on the squad and managers where there should not be, IT MUST STOP RIGHT NOW. Times are fraught enough in the dressing room as it is, without a club barging in and telling its main business section it’s a failure if it’s not promoted at the end of the season. From now until the end of the season, TB must be allowed to do his job. SC must be allowed to do his job. The players should be allowed to do their job. If they are, and they fail, it’s their fault and theirs alone. But if there’s any external pressure that isn’t necessary, or isn’t warranted, go and do one right now. You’re not helping. And you certainly won’t help us getting promoted.
Were Horsham beatable today? Of course they were. Was it our fault we let them back in? Of course it was. But when the latest post mortems finish, just ask yourself what hasn’t been examined with a fine comb……
Didn’t write too many notes, obviously, but….
Plus points: At least we’ll be at the same level as Sutton next season.
Minus points: Everything. Again.
The referee’s a…… : Actually, he seemed quite a friendly bloke in the changing room area afterwards. Even shaking a couple of hands, and a comment of “see you in the Conference South next season”. And no, he wasn’t taking the piss or shaking the hand of a Horsham official…
Them: As usual, had a number of players out and did what we can’t do. Depressing ain’t it?
Point to ponder: Is there one?
Truth is stranger than fiction: Just your editor doing 90 minutes as guest summariser on Radio WDON and not swearing once. Tell you what, I hope I didn’t sound as nervous as I felt. Seriously, I’ve never had to talk for a set amount of time and make it sound remotely intelligent and with no re-recording available. Still, I might be invited back next week…
Anything else? Yeah. RS is in the Norn Iron squad for a tournament in Portugal. Bet he’ll be wishing he’ll stay there at this rate.
So, was it worth it? No
In a nutshell: Fuck off.