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Satanta Shield

Are we back up now? Good. There’s going to be a little bit more upheaval site-wise in the coming weeks I think though, so be warned….

I didn’t write too many notes about losing to Chelmsford last night, though if truth be told I’m not that bothered about losing. I get the feeling that had it not been for competition rules, we would have played a far weakened side anyway, although I suppose it helped us out more as a result.

So, thoughts? Well, without Main and AN Other we look nothing up front. Poor Sully is clearly off the pace and already I’m starting to wonder if he is going to kick in much before Xmas. Not having pre-season has really hurt him, although I won’t go so far as to call him a passenger just yet. I honestly can’t remember who was up with him, but he certainly didn’t stand out. As for Finn, there’s more chance of Paul Merson passing a Ladbrokes than our #11 distributing the ball….

What this has proven is how much we need another legitimate quality striker, and from what I can gather TB is actively looking for one. Whenever talk of a new one comes up, our support does seem to come up with names from the BSS. My own feeling is that we’re looking higher, as in the Conference, for a really pukka one, as good as Main is. I know we signed JM from a side that was in the same division from us, but that was down to sheer luck that he was suddenly available and we had the money.

From what I’ve seen thus far, BSS level strikers aren’t really as good as Main. Sure, there are the odd one or two who could make the step up with us, but perversely it’ll be easier to get a Conf level one than one currently in the CS. Especially if they’re at a Conf side going nowhere, and we can offer a little bit of money and 2500+ crowds every other week.

Since our opening run of results, the game has changed already. All of a sudden, we’re not so keen to consolidate. We really have been given an opportunity to at least push for a decent playoff spot. In the not-so-distant past we would have given our left bollock to keep Nic McD (who I found out last night will always be carrying an injury, so maybe Goldberk did us a favour). Now, we think to ourselves we can get better in.

Just think of the message of intent we would give to the rest of the division if we get the right man in. John Fashanu in 1985 all over again? Does seem that any transfer we do will be more of a Berbatov than a Robinho. The former will cost a lot, but will enhance the team and push it onto the very achievable next level. The latter just screams “Look at me! Look at me! I’ve got loads of money!” and will ultimately fuck things up. That’s probably why we’ve waited a good eight games in before we’re sniffing about.

And yes, it will probably mean another budget buster. I can feel a couple of nervous twitches already. Bottom line is this – can we afford to pay out big money for a single player? Yes. Can we afford not to? An even bigger nod in the affirmative. Last night and the last couple of games have made that last question redundant. The fact that we’re unbeaten in the league, playing well enough yet still looking to strengthen is an admission that we’re nowhere near where we want to be as yet.

This all said, it probably wouldn’t have helped us much last night, as they wouldn’t have played anyway. Think we can now safely say that Sullivan, Godfrey et (Bel)al would be down the pecking order should AN Other come in. Do we have much strength in depth? Our second string defence actually isn’t that much worse than the starting one, although we do have that ability to shit ourselves whenever a cross comes in. Michael Peacock’s injury really didn’t look a good one though. Oh, and what happened to the “three additional minutes” at the end? Bastards…

I suppose I’m relieved that we lost more than anything. Maybe that’s too strong a word, although I did originally put down “liberated”. Maybe I should have kept that, in truth. It reminded us that we won’t have it all our own way, that there are still weaknesses, and also that it’ll remind us of what defeat feels like. Not that I want to make a habit of it, obviously. If this makes us regain some of that focus lost recently, so much the better. Once we realised it wasn’t on telly until the proper Conf sides came in, and it would be regionalised for the whole tournament anyway, the Setanta Shield lost its appeal. Bryco Cup under another name, effectively. Good if you’re not chasing promotion, a pain in the arse if you are.

Actually, last night was strange in more ways than one. This must have been the lowest away turnout in the AFCW era, certainly for a proper(ish) first team. 150 or something, wasn’t it? As was pointed out last night, this is what it must feel to be like a “normal” Ryman Prem side (though I’d go further and say BSS as well). Not many of you, not quite all-conquering, feeling you’re totally outnumbered. Perhaps it’ll train us next season for that long midweek trip in December to Barrow? 😉

What it did do was allow us to roam around Chelmsford’s ground for once. Firstly, their bar is nice. Makes the KM ones look even more manky, and I think if we’re stuck in Norbiton for the foreseeable future, we will need to splash out a bit on making it nicer to have functions in. I note that their functions included Paul Merson (sold out, quelle surprise) and – I presume this passes for high class entertainment in Essex – a tribute night to Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue. As if the originals weren’t bad enough. Still, it got their PA bloke excited, even suggesting that he hoped the counterfit Kylie looked like the real one. Dirty bastard.

Let’s be honest here, they’re a pretty decent outfit. I think we’ll be duelling them for a little while to come yet, certainly. From observing them close up last night, I think they could survive quite easily in the Conf size-wise. They’re bigger than Grays and Forest Green Rovers, although I still think that Newport County are the second biggest side in the regional Conference level.

Unlike the more self-righteous of our fans, I don’t think their funding will cause them grief. Two things might though. Firstly, their ground. Never had the chance to walk round it before, and it’s, well, weird. There’s a feel of lack of permanence about it. Granted, without it they wouldn’t be around, and the view from their ROROs actually isn’t that bad. But let’s face it – it ain’t a football ground. It coped well enough last night, but as our visit there last season showed, when you get over 2000 in there it’s shit. Already, it’s getting a “reputation”, and certainly some of our own fans aren’t bothering this time for November 1. Just ask Ramsgutter what happens when people don’t want to visit you.

Secondly, and this is in reference to future support. Their fanbase is a lot older than ours. They’ve got a fair smattering of kids, including the village idiots standing near us last night. They kept going “England’s number one” to their keeper every time he kicked the ball. Just proves there’s a fine line between having a character and just being retarded. But even with our small demographic last night, we probably had more 16-36 year olds than they did.

Now, one of the problems for WFC in the 80s to mid 90s was that we had very few 16-36 year olds supporting us. Plenty of kids and the old guard, but it’s that demographic that will go along to support the team regularly. And the ones who will get involved at a higher level if the shit hits the fan – just look at the average age of the WISA hierarchy during the Franchise shit, the bulk were under 40. However, because of that lack of bodies on the ground in 1991, our fight against Selhurst was lost from day one. If Chelmsford are to match us, they’ll need to have people who will dig in to hassle their local council over a proper ground etc. Actually, that could apply to a lot of clubs even in the Conference as well.

Anyway, enough “know thy enemy” bollocks. It’s Maidenhead on Saturday. And I can’t be alone in not only wanting a win but a good stuffing as well…….