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The week of hell starts here

Yes I’m back. For those wondering, it finished Lokomotive Leipzig 2 Dynamo Dresden 1 by the way, there were about 40 police wagons for about 100 Dynamo fans. And the ones I saw, well, let’s just say that I’m not hard but I reckon I could beat up most of them….

OK, I was going to write an article on the game, why Lok are doing what we should be doing (a cursory glance at their programme suggests that they have no less than seventy companies who provide much needed Euros to them), but I, er didn’t. I also won’t tell you that a couple of locals thought I was Russian. But what I will tell you is that Lok had been playing shitty recently, kind of grinding out results but not too convincingly. They went 1-0 down and almost rivalled us for shitness, but they came back in the second half with two goals in two minutes, and suddenly looked like a team possesed again.

And if Saxony’s team in blau-gelb can do it, maybe South London’s equivalent can as well?

Actually, it’s all a nice distraction for the legitimate Biggest Week of the Season. By the sound of it, I think I did the right thing giving AFC Coldseal a wide berth. Seems like half the players did anyway, and if it wasn’t for this week’s matches it would have been the less-than-ideal end of season snoozefest we used to have in the WFC days. Remember them? Sadly, I still do.

But so to the playoffs. Be honest, nobody is that confident are they? While we’re hopeful, and we know we can do it, we’re living in not a little fear as to what AFCW will turn up this week. Will it be good AFCW or evil AFCW? The truth is, we really don’t know. That’s what makes playoffs great if you’re a neutral observer and absolutely pant-cacking if you’re not. All that hard work, all that effort, all that stuff you did throughout the whole season really could be ended with a 90th minute deflection off your defender’s arse. There’s a very good argument for having these playoffs as two-legged (even though I fully understand the financial/squad implications involved), but ultimately this is the cruellest, winner take all game(s). Work hard in the season and you still need just that extra bit of good fortune…

It’s for this reason that I’ve got a mixture of outright trepidation and maybe misplaced confidence. We haven’t played well recently. We haven’thave really done ourselves justice in the league. We rolled over and died over keeping second spot. We have definitely underachieved this season, we haven’t really shown the consistency we need. But will it ultimately matter? The reason we’re so fearful is the same reason why we’re so hopeful as well. Think about it – what will hurt more? Us losing with the recent “form” we’ve shown recently? Or us losing when we’ve been on a good run-in to the playoffs?

Defeat tomorrow would suck, and would probably hurt more than even the last two years, but it’s nothing we haven’t experienced before. We’ll dust ourselves down and plan for the more yoof-oriented approach next season. But just imagine us finishing on a high and then doing our usual fuckup tomorrow. Or, worse, on Saturday. That could be a near-fatal bodyblow. If that was to happen it would say to us that no matter what we do, or how well we play, or no matter what winning runs we put on, it’s a roadblock. And a mental one at that. It’s almost saying we’ll never progress, and fuck only knows how morale would plummet.

Yet AFCW right now is a strange one. Perhaps our form recently has quelled some of the usual excitement we normally get before our usual fuckup a big game. I think we were a little bit pessimistic going into the first game against Fi$her, but last season I really do think people believed we could progress. Even when in hindsight the team/manager was falling apart at the seams we believed we could do it. This time, there’s an air of resignation, almost expecting the inevitable…

You know and I know that we’re capable of putting in a barmstormer which I genuinely believe can blow everyone away. Though tomorrow I’d take a scrappy 1-0 win if I was offered it. This season has given us Leyton, Boreham Wood, ETU, Harlow Town and the pre-Torquay slump to give us nightmares. Yet almost forgotten in this oilspill of gloom, this season has also given us Ramsgutter first game of the season, Staines away, Horsham away, Ashford Town away, Hendon home (for the most part anyway), the seven game unbeaten run or the five consecutive league victories, and doubtless a couple of others that have slipped my mind.

It’s almost impossible to predict – actually, scrub that : it IS impossible to predict. So I think it’s just really a case doing of whatever praying ritual you’re into, be it a confessional with your local priest, a quick natter with the rabbi, a quiet word in silence in bed at night, or drinking the spurting blood of freshly slain oxon in a darkened room with a Deicide live album playing in the background (otherwise known as a normal night for your editor). Personally, I don’t believe in god or any of that bollocks, but for once being spiritual won’t hurt. Hell, you’re just as likely to predict the result tomorrow with an ouija board as a form guide.

Every year, when any sort of playoff comes around, the same points are made : league form counts for jack shit. From now on, if you’re lucky, it’s just two cup finals. It doesn’t matter if you win ugly, as long as you do so. I’m sure some bright spark has analysed all the playoff winners from the last 20 odd years and worked out which ones didn’t have the best run-ins. It’s not something we should rely on, of course, but if anything that’s just released some of the tension. The team in the worst position tomorrow won’t be us, but Staines. They’ve basically got to keep their good run going against a side (Ramsgutter) who as we know ourselves are right bastards. As we know ourselves, winning runs can and do end. We’re not on a winning run…..

OK, it’s hope, and some kind of inbuilt protection against how shit we’ve been recently. But we need a lot of that right now. And I think we need to show a bit of hope tomorrow at the ground, although more than a “bit” would help. I’ve certainly noticed a lot of tetchyness at AFCW recently, and I’ve got to be honest that games at KM have really been unpleasant recently (and not just because of the results). There’s a new bit of segregation which in theory should work in our favour (stop laughing), so we can get a bit of atmosphere going (I said, stop laughing). KM is quite simply too damn accomodating for away teams, it’s as though we stand on a street corner sticking our arse out and offering whatever you want for £50. If we’re going to get fucked from behind tomorrow, let’s at least give Coldseal a dubious itch that will cause much grief at the STD clinic….

Anyway, I’ve said my bit, it’s time for the players to do theirs. I’m not WDONing tomorrow (at least, I hope the email I sent arrived) so I can swear for once. But by fuck everyone, just remember how many times we’ve said we want to get out of the Ryman Premier. Tomorrow is the first big chance to prove we mean it. I want to see us bust a bollock or two (whether our own or not is irrelevant), I want to see us put in a performance that makes everyone proud to be a Womble. And I want to see the good AFCW, the one I’ve seen far too few times this season.

Of course, if we play shit and go 3-0 down after 10 minutes, I’ll probably fuck off to the bar and stay there. And will avoid all sharp objects afterwards……