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Rah, rah, rah. We’re going to smash the oiks

Now that was a bit more like it. OK, the DVD of Bath University 1 Scumbag College 2 may not be high on everyones’ Xmas shopping list this weekend (although the Hatton household may be wearing out their DVD player with his first goal…), but at least it’ll be more entertaining than this offering.

First things first. Apologies if this report seems a little on the ring rusty side and more boring than usual. I think I feel a bit like our team right now, as in not really getting going for the last month. Everything I could say about the game is in the NLP report anyway, and it wasn’t even though it was a game massive on excitement. OK, I could mention how shit the pitch was, or how Dwayne Lee has impressed me, or how lucky we were when they managed to hit the post in the first half. Or even Tony Finn’s easier-to-score-than-miss “effort”…

But I won’t.

Actually, as great as it is to win, it’s hard to get a handle on this victory. This was more in line with how we were at the beginning of the season – not so much the games where we almost literally destroyed the opposition, but more of the Braintree away type wins. You know the sort of thing, comfortable enough without making people soil their undergarments in adulation.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the game – I always enjoy a victory – but I can’t help thinking right now we’re about to have a little bit of surgery performed. Dwayne Lee is the first clear example of what we should expect in the not-too-distant future. As yet another late goal conceded shows, and with TB’s comments over “width” this week, a couple of players might be playing for their futures right now. Having our players going on loan isn’t done by accident, either. Worked for Chris Hussey last season, and it does seem like Haswell is more of a liability than an asset. Maybe, just maybe, the promotion push is about to start here..?

Which will make this next bit even more chop slapping. One thing that did grab me yesterday was how many of our own fans are openly saying about how they wouldn’t necessarily want to go up this season. OK, most of that was before the game, but even so it’s an attitude that may well disappoint those in charge of AFCW. True, we’d celebrate like fuck if we repeated last season (or dare I say it, even go up as champions), but we ain’t in Turdeyland now. I reckon that a lot of people may (less than) secretly fancy a trip back to Twerton Park again next season, and not just to get pissed in Barf city centre.

Even after yesterday, there’s been a marked shift towards us being a bit more, ahem, realistic recently. Yes, it always tends to go like that when we’re not winning games, but I’m starting to sense now that amongst a decent proportion of fans, we just want a season off. If we get an FAT run out of it, fine, but could we go through that playoff week again? Would we want to either? Or do I suggest that for this season at least, we may want to just go to places like Barf and Dorchester, have a couple of drinks and a good time without fretting over “needing” to get out of this division..?

I doubt if we could go down from the BSS, but we certainly could from the BSP. And I don’t believe we want to have a season of struggle where we don’t need to. Deep down, we really don’t want to push ourselves too hard, too quickly. Can you imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth if we found ourselves in a relegation dogfight?

Or am I being unfair? Lest we forget that TB (Terry Brown, not Team Barf) knows a bit more about the Conference than most of us put together. We don’t seem to have solvency problems, to quote one Chelmsford fan recently, if AFCW aren’t ready to survive financially in the BSP what hope for everyone else? We should assume that we’ll sign some Conference standard players, and if my recent travels to Conf games is anything to go by – I doubt if we’ll be made unwelcome…

Games like H&R and Eastleigh make us think that another season in the CS is a good thing. A run of wins from now until Xmas will of course change that. And a victory like yesterday just adds to the indecisiveness. Maybe we ought to get promotion this season after all and done with it? I’m sure we can all arrange a trip down to Barf on a spare Saturday….

Plus points: We won. Away. In the league. Not too bad all round. Defence looked a little better. Much maligned Sam Hatton’s elongated toepoke carefully crafted shot. DK’s twist/shot/volley/goal – well worth the £10m. More determination.

Minus points: Conceding yet afuckinggain. Tony Finn’s miss.

The referee’s a….: Well, he was all right. Certainly can’t remember much he did wrong, anyway. Must have been in a good mood for the festive period. Interestingly enough, he was from Woking, which does make me wonder if there was a ref shortage around yesterday. Oh, and when was the last time the two linesmen came from the same place?

Them: Got to be honest and say I don’t share the animosity that some other people have towards them. They seem a decent enough bunch, although a few of them were wearing Munster shirts (the rugger team, and the only side of that sport that your editor even remotely bothers to support). The fact they weren’t much special may be an influence in my views. Actually, it was weird, even from the press box area. Apparently they had no more than 80 followers. Christ, CCL teams had more than that. As for their team, were they really the pace-setters in the beginning of the season? Oh, and their goalie was shit.

Point to ponder: Would it be mere hyperbole if I said that this was one of the most important victories of the season? I’ll explain – until yesterday, my last league game anywhere involving us was that bloody awful Chelmsford game. Looking back at all league games since, that game at MP could have been H&R, or Eastleigh, or at a push Welling. In other words, I really, really hadn’t missed anything. And that’s a major problem – you can get away with having one bad Saturday, or at a push one bad week. But to have your last league victory in October? OK, we’ve had little distractions like Wycombe in the FAC, and next week we’re out of league action again. Success comes at a price after all. But it’s almost like we’ve forgotten how to play a league game…

Three’s a crowd: 607. Which sounds a bit shit until you remember that about 537 was us. Either way, that’s not too bad considering it’s before Xmas, the credit crunch, recent shit form, venue we’ve been to this season, Tony Finn’s shooting etc. To put it in context by the way, Macclesfield took 55 down to Wycombe on Tuesday.

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) What a lovely place Bristol appears to be. Especially the bits off the M32 where Eastville is (where Brizzle Rovers used to play). Must book my next holiday there. (2) How many coaches were around the area yesterday? And I’m not referring to those stood on touchlines wearing oversized coats either. Presumably, something was going on in Barf city centre, because even the park and rides were full. Then again, round there even a broken down vehicle is the cause of great excitement. (3) Seeing signs to the A4 Bath Road and realising I wasn’t at Heathrow airport. How the roadway system has changed in 50 years (4) Barf City bottled beer in the bar. And try saying that when you’ve had a few of them. Must be seriously fucking strange to be a Team Barf fan full stop, let alone playing all your home games at the more established club with less than 100 following you. (5) No home wins at all in the division yesterday.

Anything else? Yeah. It’s quite an interesting concept, the Team Bath one. Those who like US sport will know all about the NCAA, and how it supplies pro teams with all their players. And anyone who’s been to anything NCAA related will know that the standard is high and they’re more fun to watch than much of the pro stuff. And it’s something that I wonder might happen a bit more here in the coming years. By the sounds of it, Barf Uni has some pretty decent facilities (we went there ourselves during the summer), and it’s probably no surprise that they’ve got where they have in such a short space of time. If you think about it, educational establishments would do quite well – many of them have the facilities (christ, we’ve changed from Nescot to Merton College for our academy), funding for them isn’t necessarily a problem, and every Tom, Dick and Harrow Poly seems to have a sports science department.

As stated above, I don’t share the animosity that some hold for Team Barf, and it’s for this reason – at least they’re pretty upfront about who they are and how they’re funded. Compared to some clubs with certain individuals anyway. Universities have never seemed to venture out much into football, presumably because there are enough pro and semi-pro clubs about to bridge that gap. And Oxbridge are snobbish enough to not bother with such an lower class, ghastly sport such as that association football, so many other universities follow their lead. But if they did take it seriously, can we expect to draw South Bank University in an FAT tie one day?

So, was it worth it? Yes, I think so.

In a nutshell: Rah rah rah, we’re going to smash the oiks. Or not, as the case may be…