Looks like we didn’t get stuffed after all. In fact, no matter what way you look at it, Irons 0 Trouser Press 1 was one helluva good result. A trip to deepest darkest Essex, difficult opponents, slightly knocked confidence after Saturday, and Jon Main suffering from the curse of the Player of the Month.
No, we shouldn’t get carried away. In fact, it will be wrong to – there’s still a long, long, long way to go. The league hasn’t fully settled down yet, and we’ve only played the lower ranked teams. At times our defence looked shaky and…..
Ah fuck it. We will get carried away. We are brilliant. In fact, we’re more than brilliant. Arsene Wenger is asking us for DVDs of our games, that’s how brilliant we are. What’s that I hear? A Â£70m bid from Man Citeh for Jon Main? Far too low. It would be an absolute tragedy if they didn’t award the BSS title to us in October because it will make a mockery of this season. How can you call a league competitive with us in it? We’re far too good for this league. In fact, we’re far too good for the Conference proper, and they ought to just promote us to League Two to make it a level playing field.
Where should we plan the route for our victory parade? Around Wimbledon? Maybe take in Morden as well? Quite fancy a free concert at Canizaro to welcome our heroes – it’ll make the piss up at KM last year look like your editor’s house when he’s on abstinence. Promotion single as well? We could call it “In A League Of Our Own”. Or how about an Elvis cover, “Blue Square Blues”? Heard that Katy Perry is up for it anyway. Certainly wouldn’t want to be WSM this Saturday, in fact I’ve heard they’re offering a walkover because they don’t fancy a new orifice……
Actually, even at this early stage you could be forgiven for thinking a tad like this. Generally, our expectations at the beginning of the season were so low that even playoffs at this stage would set the giddyometer up high. But now, you would feel somewhat deflated if we did finish about 10th or even just scrape into the playoffs. Funny how a mere 5-6 weeks ago we would have snapped your arm off if you’d offered us even a lowly playoff spot at the season’s end. Although would you want to go through yet another playoff final?
So, what’s going right? Well, as the game showed last night, we’re not scared to keep playing football. It wasn’t so easy this time, and passing around the back as we are will bite us on the arse eventually. But if you’re going to pass it about, you have to be effective with it, which thankfully is what we are.
But there’s something more than that – our tenacity. We’ve played at two difficult venues in the past four days (yesterday without one of our recognised strikers as well) and came away with four points. In fact, had JG’s head been about six inches closer and Elliot Godfey’s shot been less effimate, it would have been the full lot. Both times we haven’t been at our best defensively, yet we still had enough to come back with, and indeed yesterday I think we had more in reserve if we needed it.
I think I’ve worked out why we’ve got it this season, and it came to me when I heard that Chelmsford only drew 2-2 at Bromley. Last season we knew we kept throwing points away, and that seems to be in the back of our mind every game now. While it’s far too early to say we’re emulating CC’s run from last season, they’re showing early signs of our run last time out. Last season we didn’t half ride our luck, and let’s be honest here – we are fucking fortunate to be in the BSS this season. But for this campaign, we know we’ve had to adopt a different attitude, and its results are illustrated every time you look at the current BSS table.
You can’t buy that attitude. You almost can’t teach it, but you have to ram it through somehow. Having the best players from last season helps, because they went through the mill and know how far they had to go to have that little Blue Square badge on their shirts. But buying the likes of Inns and Judge has also helped. There doesn’t appear to be too many egos about this time, nobody looks likely to storm off in a car at half time or generally be disruptive (watch three players do exactly that now). Could we be turning into the side we should have been last season? Fingers, toes and other limbs crossed.
Questions are now, can we keep this up? If losing becomes a habit then so does winning. Do you realise that if we beat WSM on Saturday we will have already beaten last season’s best run? Last season it was seven games without a loss, and we just seemed a lot more vulnerable last season. We were never comfortable then even when we were on a run, yet I honestly haven’t felt like that this time. While I’m always expecting to lose a game like Saturday’s, you get the feeling that it will be our fault if we let it slip. But then, that’s what confidence does to you.
Perhaps more importantly, we really can get better. While I think we’ve learnt how to deal with set pieces a bit more effectively, our own taking of them isn’t too swift. We need to start being a bit sharper in front of goal (as periods last night and at Basingstoke prove, do that and we really will win the league by February). And I still shit myself whenever the opposition get into our half. Then again, I am paranoid. If we start doing those things, and if the scare stories about pitches getting worse turn out to be bollocks, this could turn out to be one heck of a season.
Oh, and Hussey’s free kick. Nuff sed ….
Plus points: Win. Away. In Essex. Clean sheet. Kept going. Kept playing football. Looking like a team. No Manager of the Month curse. Chris Sullivan looks useful. Decent passing. Bit of bite as well. No late goals (tell you why in a minute).
Minus points: Defence in first 15 minutes. Can’t put away corners/periods of pressure. Tony Finn’s gob.
The referee’s a…….: Tit. Mind you, as I just said, Finn needs to keep quiet a bit more – I can sort of understand getting sent off for kicking somebody in the bollocks, but we’ve improved ourselves no end by our discipline. For Finn to seriously risk a red by whinging like a Walton and Hersham fan just pisses everyone off. Look, if the referee ain’t going to award you a free kick for a two-footed lunge, he certainly won’t like you moaning about it. Life’s a bitch and then you marry one. Oh, and you’ll be pleased to know I got an email this week from the guy who refereed the Bromley game. Got the feeling he was a little bit miffed that I didn’t slag him off….
Them: Despite their record, I can see how they drew at Chelmsford and stuffed Team Taxpayer. Indeed, could have had three goals themselves in the first fifteen minutes. Once we settled down ourselves, we did outdo them by a long-shot on the skill and technique. Funny to think that a mere couple of years ago Braintree were miles ahead of anyone else in the Ryman. Looks like another team on the move in the future – although with the current housing market, maybe another outfit that perhaps won’t think it through entirely properly (ref: Horsham).
By the sounds of it, their manager was a cock – he seemed very keen to waste time at 0-0 with slow returning of balls etc. Then when we went ahead, he got all uppity, as though somebody had just told him he had ten minutes to live. Strange that. Apparently even had a row with TB, slagging him (and us) off for daring to slow the game down when it was nearly time. Oh, how disrespectful of us. We should be deducted a million points and sent back to the CCL. We must have been exactly like East Thurrock United then, a side who when we played them was managed by….. er …….. the current Braintree manager. No wonder Inns Davis went up to him afterwards and called him a cunt. Mind you, after looking at the table I bet the ambitious Lee Harding (their chairman) was saying similar to him afterwards, and it wasn’t for signing Grazioli….
Point to ponder: I said I’d mention about late goals, and why I’m glad we didn’t score any. Scoring late on can only ever be a bonus and never something you do as a tactic. Last night, we scored after 69 minutes and I think we played better as a result, because we were less agitated about having to net late on to win/draw the game. If winning and losing becomes a habit, then so does scoring at the death. At some point, you won’t get an 89th minute leveller, and you’ll be spending half the game beforehand relying on that. Me, I’d rather kill the game off after seventy minutes, preferably with about three goals in our favour. Does the ticker good…
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Realising we only have to make about four (league) trips to Essex this season. Also, when I got to Clackett Lane at 2330, it was deserted, all bar WH Smith was shut and the cafe didn’t have any food. Guess since I don’t have to go to Kent/Essex for the hundreth time in a season their profits have dropped by 80% (2) “Get your tits out number 2” – us to their right back. Sadly, he was male. (3) Speaking of our turnout, over 600 there (and one source reckoned 800). That is not bad at all, considering it’s an evening game and at a ground many have been to before. Success really does breed success. (4) Me thinking what a real pisser it would be if we’d lost.
Anything else? Yeah, the Surrey Comet report linking Marcus Gayle back to us for the reserves. At the risk of getting taken to a Shropshire mansion, shot in the back of the head and having the house set on fire, am I the only one a bit unhappy at reading this? I should explain these comments of sacrilege. I have absolutely no problem with MG returning if he’s the right man for the job. But this AN Other must really think he hasn’t got a chance now – the general fanbase will want Gayle back at KM because he’s “one of us”, and he may not necessarily be what we need. AN Other is just going to be looked at and people will say “yeah, he’s good but I wanted Marcus back”. This position up for grabs is far too important to bring in a “name” for the sake of it being a name, especially as MG’s managerial experience isn’t all that. If Gayle is the best coach for this role, then I will approve of it 1000% and then some. Just can’t help thinking we may have burnt a bridge already…
So, was it worth it? Victories in Essex always are.
In a nutshell: Now watch WSM do us on Saturday.