So, what shall I say about Vultures 3 Hawks 0? Well, it was cold, there were a lot of people and even Tintin Haydon turned up.
Oh, and we played pretty well.
Actually, for once we can justify the post-game hype. While our actual play was similar to parts at Newport and Basingstoke, this was the first sign of an all-round performance from start to finish. Before the game, if you were predicting a tight, keenly fought 0-0 stalemate, you probably wouldn’t have been far out. H&W after all had a pretty decent away record, and if their pre-season spending is anything to go by were considered a team that would be up there or thereabouts at the end of the campaign, Brian.
Well, if they do that, then we should be champions by a long way. Seriously, I’m not sure whether I’ll put last night down to us finally starting to click or H&W being the most disappointing side I’ve seen this season. Probably a combination of both, but it has shown our slump has, right now, been reversed.
It took them a little while to get a foothold in the game, but JM and DK are clicking more and more. Not to mention Hussey, and Kennedy, and Tony “I’ve just signed a new contract” Finn and the much maligned Sam Hatton and…. well, the whole team really. Christ, even our defence looks quite solid right now. Maybe there was a point a couple of weeks ago, just after Dover away, where we looked at ourselves, realised we just couldn’t keep looking like a collection of individuals and pulled our blue and yellow socks up.
It could have been 6-0 and maybe should have been, but I’d rather have three goals for Saturday (see below). What is certainly very real is how we’re coming together a bit more, not only as a team but also as a club. Last night, I had my first butchers at the Main Strank Stand extention and it looked, well, nice. Am I right in saying that it’s the first thing a club called Wimbledon has done in terms of that sort of thing since the 1980s? Or 1970s?
I think it grabbed me last night that we’ve taken a step forward into greater professionalism, both on and off the pitch, and we’re happier for it. We played and beat a much fancied team with some pretty good stuff, in front of a decent crowd (better than some daytime games in the RP), and to return home to discover that Millwall are sniffing around a player or two. OK, it won’t be like this every week, and some weekends this season will suck of shit, but there’s something a bit proper about the whole AFCW thing these days.
Maybe it’s a little almost insignificant (relatively speaking) thing of playing Brum City in the Academy, or simply a misplaced sense of giddyness about Saturday (see below), but last night I felt like I wasn’t watching non-league. Does that make sense? Talking to people near me about extending stands, more in a “to-do” manner rather than a pipedream. OK, playing like we did against a highly fancied team helps that along, but talks of academies playing sides you’ve heard of, sight of academy players kitted out watching the game a la SP days, cartoon image of Haydon getting used for LBM’s anti-litter campaign, that sort of thing.
Last night, we felt like a small league club – big enough not to be tinpot, small enough to be intimate. But then, that’s what we always were anyway.
Of course, SW19 wouldn’t be SW19 without a reality check : we’ve still yet to produce this level of performance away, which will make the difference between us being legit title contenders and play off scrappers. Our next league game on the road might be a good a place as any to kick start that. Remember – we’ve only played a couple of games at das Volkstadion where we’ve been approaching what we should be producing. Start playing like this for the next six to seven games, both home and away, and then we can start getting ahead of ourselves. Remember last season?
And of course, there’s Maidstone in the FAC on Saturday. If there are people out there already discussing who they want in the first round proper, I have four words for you:
Shut. The. Fuck. Up.
Seriously – I really mean it when I say that a trip down to Shittingbourne on Saturday will be ten times harder than last night. Remember the away game at Bedford? And, lest we forget, it was a mere two weeks past that we escaped by the skin of our polished teeth at the Crabble. Make no mistake, we will get no time on the ball against a side that is looking at us right now thinking we’ve already secured Saturday. We all know what that entails, especially with Maidstone being a Ryman club. Already Turdey’s lodge meetings at the nearby masonic hall are full of briefings on what to do if DK is one-on-one on Saturday.
A few little words of advice for this week. We are NOT in the first round proper. We are NOT dead certs. Maidstone are NOT going to let us walk all over them. We CAN lose on Saturday and it WILL hurt if we do. We ARE the big team that is there to be taken a peg or two dow. Do NOT annoy the Football Gods, they hate us and will use any excuse to get at us
Too many of our supporters are gobbing off about playing Franchise, or Lids, or Leicester already. If we go out, I will put the blame solely on you presumptive cunts. I will not appreciate it if you end up ruining my birthday present from AFCW. Don’t get me wrong, I badly want to get a text on Saturday saying we’ve won 4-0 and got Darlington away in the first round. But I’ve been around too long to know how these things can pan out. This is Wimbledon, we can fuck up Saturday very easily.
In short, I hope TB is focusing the players for Saturday because somebody needs to do the same to our support.
Anyway, enough ranting for this week. Back to last night. Can I just say how seriously, seriously disappointed I was with H&W? OK, they’re in a bad run, but for a side that spent a lot of money during the summer, their effort was piss poor. Hope their manager got a receipt for his purchases, I think he needs to take them back. Actually, speaking of their boss, I was a little bit pissed off to hear him claim via the Surrey Comet that
“I would dearly love to have the money Wimbledon do for their budget”
Hang on – didn’t they outbid us for Holloway and Simpemba during the summer? Don’t play the pauper card at our expense while singing that you played at Anfield last season…
Oh, and how nice was it to see Danny Webb back at KM? Complete with goalscoring touch to boot. I think ex-players returning to us (and I don’t mean in a Lewis Taylor fashion either) fall into one of two categories : they either go under the radar and do us for a couple of goals (ref: Savage, Reggie), or they come back with all eyes on them and make us wonder what all the fuss was about. OK, Webb didn’t disappoint anyone with his return, and I do think his clapping on by us was genuine. Helped that we were 3-0 up by this stage, mind you. But really, with Kedwell this season and even Nic McD before him, it did prove that Webb was a panic buy last season.
His return was a lot different to when Kevin Cooper and Rob Ursell returned to us. Back in ye olden days, plenty thought that KC leaving was a slap in the face too far, and as for Rob Ursell, I bet you there’s an AFCW fan out there right now who still thinks that RU should still be with us, and how his skills would be perfectly matched in the CS. At least people have forgotten Robin Shroot now. Robin who? Exactly.
Still, I’m happy enough. Not at Maidstone on Saturday, so if anyone would like to oblige… And please AFCW – if my life is going to get one year shorter on Saturday, at least make sure I can see us in the first round proper sooner rather than later…