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White cliffs etc, part 1

Ah, Ben Dover 0 Raquel Darrian 0. The magic of the cup and all that. Yesterday was an upset of sorts, because AFCW managed to keep a clean sheet, despite all our hard work in trying not to do so. And on Tuesday, we get to finish the task of going down to crushing, painful defeat.

Last night, I wrote a lot of things that even I have to concede were too negative – I was saying things like how shit it was, how we were the luckiest team that is still in the draw for Monday, how we should be preparing to fight relegation instead of even finishing mid-table in the BSS. And of course, questioning the sanity and mental abilities of any fuckwit who thought it was a remotely decent performance……

After a night’s sleep, I’m not quite so pissed off. But pissed off I still am. Let’s not kid ourselves otherwise – we are lucky to be in the draw for tomorrow. When we almost conceded an own goal after about 2 minutes, it really had Worcester written all over it. At least we managed to get through the first 25 minutes without being 3-0 down this week. The free flowing, devil-may-care sleekness of AFCW in August and early September is now gone, maybe never to return. In its place has stepped up a nervous collection of individuals, chronically lacking in self-esteem and confidence.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Dover are flying high in the RP, they’ll be in the CS next season, it’s a cup game away from home, BSS sides have come croppers this season etc etc. But really, can you honestly, honestly say this was good enough? When we started to pass the ball about, this wasn’t an AFCW side that looked at Dover, cocked a snoot and went to finish them off. This was an AFCW side desperate for a scrap of anything just to get to half time, then full time without conceding. You know, an AFCW side that is playing in the Conference South, with a club and fanbase that is agitating to get into the BSP.

Why have we slumped like this? Have the opening 9/10 games caught up with us? Did TB’s Mananger of the Month and JM’s Player of the Month curse them out? If so, we need a priest and fast – my local one sits in block B, for a donation he’ll do the exorcism. I refuse to accept that losing both Godfrey and Inns has that wide-ranging an effect – if it does, then it proves that our whole team is fragile. Be scared. OK, we helped ourselves yesterday with AL back in goal, but even then there were moments that enduced heart attacks.

A lot of people are singling out Leberl, and to be honest he really didn’t do us any favours again. Maybe he shouldn’t have said this week that he’s got mates down in Dover? Mind you, after last week he’s obviously got a bird up in Worcester. Real shame that I have to talk about a fellow Dons fan like this, but if it’s true he’ll always be injury prone now, you do wonder if his inevitable chop will be long lasting…

But then, nobody came out with too much credit. The reason I didn’t publish last night was down to the last 30 minutes. I think I’m still seething. Firstly, I don’t think we had any meaningful attempt on goal. That’s bad enough, though for some reason I’m still forgiving of that. What I cannot forgive was the wanton way we pathetically gave the ball away on every possession. I’m not joking – it was either pass from Little to defender, defender to midfielder, midfielder to Dover player. Not once, not twice, but every single fucking time. Except the occasions when it went Little to defender, defender to Dover player.

By that stage, it was a case of when, not if Dover would score. With a cunt of a ref (see below) assisting them, whenever they got a free kick in injury time, or when we gifted the ball away like the mugs we are, it wasn’t a case of shitting ourselves but just rolling our eyes and expecting the inevitable. Guys, we are a fucking Blue Square South team, playing against a side a division below us. We should not be panicking like a stockbroker selling RBS shares in the manner we did. Yesterday, Dover smelt fear from us, and that’s probably the worst slap in the face of all.

So, now what? Firstly, we listen to the draw tomorrow, then come out with the old joke that our opponents may beat them. Except right now it’s not nearly so funny. Then Tuesday. How do we approach it? Cross fingers and hope it’ll click? Thing is, when you’re as short on confidence as we are, one semi-decent game never does it. Remember that we played well against Bedford, gobbed off to the world how buoyant we were and got our reality check against Worcester.

Will we drop players? I give my answer below on our strikeforce, and I’ve mentioned Leberl above. But that question was answered by Erith last Tuesday. The best we can hope for is to scrape through on penalties. It’ll be ugly, it’s be a poor way to win, but I’d take that right now.

But i f one thing does give me hope for Tuesday and beyond, it’s this. The faces of our players walking off afterwards said it all – not a smile amongst them. They knew. Whilst last week may have a case of a bad 30 minutes, and therefore “one of those things”, this was different. They know they’re walking on crackling ice right now, and one or two of them must really be wondering if they’ll be out of here before too long. Believe it or not, we do have a chance on Tuesday to make amends. We might even take that opportunity, though what makes me think we won’t?

One thing is certain, I shouldn’t feel this apprehensive against a lower division side…

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Clean sheet. Somehow still in the draw for Monday.

Minus points: Horribly low on confidence. Ability to pass, lack thereof. Defence as per usual. Strikeforce. Jake Leberl.

The referee’s a…….: And here’s one difference between being in the BSS and being back on Ryman League turf. The ref was clearly a member of the same masonic lodge as Turdey. If there was any proof needed that Ryman level refs will forever try to cheat us, it’s this. Two penalties not given, “interesting” interpretations of the advantage rule, when applied to AFCW. Christ, even poor JM was penalised when a defender slipped over. No, he doesn’t excuse our shiteness, but what’s the betting at the next Lodge meeting Turdey and Boon will order him to finish the job properly next time?

Them: Like Chelmsford last season, probably RP Champions-in-waiting already. To make you feel even better, they had four players missing (we had about two, for perspective). They’ve got the infrastructure right anyway, and a decent, legitimate support, though it does show they’re ex-Conference. As long as it’s not at our expense, I’d rather them do well than a snivelling small time whiney outfit like Staines Town. Obligatory comments about it being Kent and therefore a pikey convention, though if they start spreading the gene pool amongst a few Sangatte escapees…

Point to ponder (1): Wither Jon Main? He got subbed yet again, and really looks lower than whale shit right now. There were a couple of times each side of half time where he would have normally dropped his shoulder and forced the goalie to earn his money. Yesterday? A horrible pass and powder puff shot. This was also DK’s worst game as well, and people around me were genuinely questioning whether we should play him. Expensive flop? The trouble is, DK and JM are the best two we’ve got – Belal came on and looked painfully lightweight. Whilst you know JM is good enough to overcome a bad spell, Belal has twice this week manage to significantly underimpress. Maybe we just need Godfrey back? We were doing all right until he got crocked.

One thing which is of concern – if Main and Kedwell don’t click, and one of them has to be dropped, that could cause real problems for TB if he wants to make future purchases. Especially in the current financial climate, we have to get big money signings right, and if TB starts getting a reputation for buying costly strikers that don’t score…

Three’s a crowd: 2710. Not to be sniffed at at all, though was I the only one disappointed with our turnout? Not nearly as many as the last FAC game, although apparently we took more than Oxford United when they went there. Expectations, and all that. One other thing : there’s more and more questioning of attendances whenever we go to a game, although this time it’s not us doing it. Guess this sensitivity is a hangover from the St Albans accusation, which to this day still rankles. Especially as many people at AFCW are involved in accountancy/finance, and wouldn’t take kindly to a suggestion they’re on the hey-diddle-diddle.

I’m always more intrigued by capacities of grounds full stop – OK, all seaters are easy to work out, but I still find it hard to believe that KM for example holds 4500. Dover’s place holds 6500 as well, though it doesn’t look like it does. I think capacities should be recalculated to allow for little things like breathing and moving about, because there is no way I would have wanted double the people in the ground yesterday. As Torquay last year proved – having a capacity of 4500 is one thing, having 4500 in the ground is another….

Point to ponder (2): A cursory glance at our fixture list shows that we haven’t played a league game at KM in well over a month. Come to think of it – by the time we step onto the field to lose to Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday, it will be 35 calendar days since we last had any games on a Saturday at home. And we can’t blame the weather, or postponements – the FAC draws really haven’t been kind to us, and while we’ve had replays and the LSC, they’re not quite the same are they? Wonder if our form has reflected that?

Got to be honest, as much as I like away trips yesterday got quite tiresome. Another motorway, another service station, another traffic jam. And I’m not even playing, so no wonder our players look out of sorts. They weren’t exactly down the road either – Bedford, Worcester and Dover were all 2h+ trips. Maybe WISA should dig out their old “It’s Time We Had A Home Game” t-shirts? Assuming they haven’t crossed out “game” and donated them to Shelter.

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The blonde with the absolutely massive funbags in the seating area. Pleasing to see that the biggest tits weren’t just on the field. (2) Do Dover still play games against Calais? One of our fans had an Allez Calais scarf, which I’m not sure was there to provoke. You’ll be pleased to know that Calais beat Cherbourg 1-0 on Friday night in front of 3572. Perhaps we could arrange a PSF with them? Apparently, they’ve got a nice looking new stadium as well. (3) One of the AFCW top brass/car park attendants asking me whether I still predicted a loss before the game. Hey, I was almost right…

Anything else? This could start becoming a semi-regular feature. After last week’s discovery of Kerrang FM, your French-learning editor was very happy to discover RFM, Inter FM and Europe 1 in his car radio. So we are justified in singing “You’re French, and you know you are” to Dover fans. Quite strange listening to Gloucester v Biarritz in the toffball in a foreign language, though it made it sound better. Anyway, learn this for the replay, all together now : “nous bouvons Champagne, nous grognons cocaine, nous avons ici les femmes . Vous avez des emplois de merde, vous avez le sexe avec votre chiens. Et votre femme est une prostituée”. Though it may need a little bit of vocal tweaking…

So, was it worth it? Suppose it might give our squad another chance to see if they can play properly. Or whether they can actually lose the game this time.

In a nutshell: At least the coffers will be fuller after the replay