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White cliffs etc, part 2

Before I get onto examining England 2 France 0, I suggest you look at this the whole way through before reading on. And yes, I mean the whole way through – no skipping bits, now.

Done that? No, I wasn’t intending to get you excited for a potential fixture that we haven’t even qualified for yet. Instead, I want to point out the bit Jimmy Hill said at the end – we illustrated that there is a gap, as there should be. OK, this wasn’t the Premiershit champions against a non-league side, but this was the kind of performance I expect from a BSS side against a Ryman one.

Looks like my slaggings off of the past couple of weeks had the desired effect. We certainly looked brisker, more assured, and let’s not do ourselves down here – we deserved to win. Granted, AL had to make good saves but even before his first one Tom Davis did do his impression of a rugby player. And no, I don’t mean kicking the shit out of somebody, lumbering around with his head between other mens’ legs and singing dubious songs in the showers afterwards.

We needed this victory. My thoughts afterwards were “job done”. Before the game, plenty of us (myself included) were fearing the worst about this one – visions of a painful, scraped performance culminating in a stomach churning, wind producing penalty shootout. Remember Horsham last season? Well, this banana skin is out of the way, so we look forward to Maidstone.

Well, to be more accurate, a club called Maidstone playing in Sittingbourne (just to counteract the inevitable AFC Norbiton comments). Rumours abound that they might switch this, because their place doesn’t hold too many. Less than 2000, I believe, and when you consider we took 1600+ to Tonbridge Angels last season in the FAT, it could get interesting. If they limit tickets to 600 or even 300, there could be a major issue with AFCW fans passing themselves off as home fans. Their website right now is saying they’ll keep the game at their place, though if that old chestnut of “police advice” comes up, be ready to get those maps out. I’ve even heard the hiring of Gillingham’s place being mentioned, though don’t get too excited yet.

The scary thing is, assuming our atttitude is right and we do overcome Maidstone, we really could have a repeat of 1975 as illustrated above. If that isn’t an incentive, I don’t know what is. Seriously, this should be the best opportunity to get into that magical First Round Proper in the AFCW era. Be honest, you’re thinking a million different scenarioes aren’t you? Lids away is the big one. Leicester is also one that should get the cockles going – remember that Coca-Cola Cup semi final? Or there are some other tantilising encounters. Carlisle away, anyone? Barnet would be a nice once, or indeed anyone like Stockport or Rochdale or any other team like that.

And the Cuntholes as well.

Well, if you’re thinking that, one word to you. Don’t. We could easily fuck up against Maidstone. On paper, we should overcome them (hell, we’ve just knocked out the runaway leaders of the RP with relative ease), but this is the FAC. Anything can happen, and usually does. Next round could well be the ultimate banana skin – when we got KOed against Exeter, we shrugged our shoulders and said it was probably a level too far. This time, we will be favourites and that brings both its own rewards and its own problems. Just imagine the mental slump we’ll have if we lose this one.

But to bring you down to earth, a reminder that we’ve got to kick our league campaign back to life. Yes, we have two BSS games at KM to contend with now – Bishop’s Stortford and Big Spending Havant and Waterlooville. They played at Anfield last season against Liverpool and scored twice, don’t you know. Shame the bindippers netted five in response. And lest we forget Alfie “disinterested” Potter. These games will determine where we go from here. Win both of them and the confidence we saw at the beginning of the season starts coming back.

Anyway, this was an AFCW happier in its skin, and the final scoreline reflected that. The games on the road have really taken their toll, and I really can’t think of any other club who this season has gone longer without a designated home league game as we have. Is it any coincidence that our last three proper first team games at KM have finished 3-1, 3-0 and 2-0? As just said, we’ve now got one helluva opportunity to kick our season back to life. It will piss everyone right off if we don’t take it…..

Plus points: We won. Expected standard of performance achieved. Kept clean sheet. AL. Tony Finn. DK’s goal. All round improving confidence. Banana skin avoided. Some decent play.

Minus points: A few little niggles in defence still. Tom Davis’ miss. Tom Davis’ fifth yellow card – dickhead.

The referee’s a….: The same tosspot who did us on Saturday. Still, he turned down a penalty for them, so maybe his Lodge meeting got cancelled on Monday.

Them: Fair play to Dover. It’ll be criminal if they’re still plying their trade in the RP next season, and they brought the third biggest turnout to KM, behind Torquay and FCUM. Certainly putting their money where their mouths are, which puts a few other gobby sorts to shame. Just wish we treated them a bit better (see below). But in all honesty, this was reasonably comfortable in the end for us – still looked a decent RP side but they are a RP side. Not a BSS one. They will need to do what we did and make a few tough transfer decisions should they go up. Certainly, they missed their best chance on Saturday, and a BSS level outfit would probably have finished the job in the replay. Oh, and who remembers Andy “stinks of piss” Hessenthaler playing against us for Watford and Gills? No, me neither. Apparently got involved in an “incident” with Luke G, but moved too slowly to get red carded…

Point to ponder: Wither Jon Main? A livelier, happier looking one last night, certainly. When he shot at the keeper in the second half, and pounced around afterwards, you could see the frustration. That was a JM who knew he was playing better than the last month and felt he deserved better. As for DK, after he struck for our second goal, the delight on his face said it all. In fact, if you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Setanta profile on us from Saturday. He looks part of the squad anyway, and maybe he started silencing some of the doubters. Not that SW19 would ever do that….

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Realising we are only 90 minutes away from THAT possible game. Got to get there first, and I don’t just mean beating Maidstone. (2) Everyone seemed in a good mood before the game. Wonder if that vibe helped? Makes you think, especially as people seemed glad to be watching a game at KM again. One thing though – I hope we don’t start relying on our home form for the rest of this season.

Anything else? Yeah. Apparently, there were some problems in the away fans section. No, there wasn’t any violence or even a few words said (although allegedly a hole was found in the wall of the JS, Dover section). What reportedly happened was a power cut that took out the catering and the lighting around that section. Couple that with some alleged comments that the stewards didn’t know whether it was segregated or not and by the sounds of it we didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory.

Think the time has come to be honest with ourselves here – in its present form, KM is not suitable for higher levels. Torquay proved that last season, and if we want to keep putting our fans in the WB end, then we’re going to have to pull our finger out, get this sodding perimeter lease everyone is on about and start doing something. Right now, it looks like neither one thing or t’other, certainly in terms of segregation. You either have it, and do it properly, or you don’t. This may be unpopular, but maybe it’s time to abandon putting the away fans at the side and start giving them half the WB end like we used to? The current setup works if there’s less than 100 there, but any bigger than that and we always seem to hear of problems. Even without power cuts…

Why am I mentioning this by the way? Simple – too many of our fans seem rather too happy to point out faults at every single away game. No doubt when we go to Maidstone they will immediately pipe up about why the opposition doesn’t issue tickets, or the lack of toilets/catering etc. It’s pretty tedious, and just reinforces the BBB tag. I’m afraid that too many of our fans like to lecture in a condescending manner, especially against the majority of other clubs who are simply coping as best they can with our influx. I’m all for vigilance, but too many of us like to act the big “I am” and arrogantly boss others around – while passing it off as “trying to improve things for other teams”. Bullshit. As last night showed, we ain’t as perfect as these people like to portray us. And themselves.

Also, while I’m here – I don’t know what it is right now, but my own experience of KM’s organisation seems to have gone downhill recently. Anyone who does any work in the press area will know what I mean insofar as collecting passes for it – a previously good system changed into a poor system, and one that is badly executed to boot. If we want to start entertaining bigger sides with more exposure, and show the world how professional we are, we’re doing a very good job in shattering their illusions.

So, was it worth it? Yes.

In a nutshell: Don’t forget we’ve got Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday.