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April Fools

Thank fuck I don’t have to write “March 2009” any more.

No, there wasn’t an Eastleigh report. I was at Barnet, and nobody bothered to step up to the plate to do one for me. Surprisingly, for once nobody moaned at there not being one by 5.01pm. Though I expect everyone was still seething over their first “goal” which was a premature April Fools joke. And not a particularly funny one at that.

In a way, I’m suppose I’m glad there wasn’t anything to read. A must-win game where we lost, H&R yet again scoring winners with about 3 minutes left, Inns getting sent off and THAT goal. I can’t recall AFCW ever doing something like posting a slo-mo of the handball on the official site. Will it backfire? It’s not like people will suddenly change their perceptions of us by doing so, and our form isn’t good enough to make it one of Rafa Benitez’s “facts” type rants. You remember, when he came on with that bizzare press conference he did and the Scousers suddenly found they were slumping…

It’s clear that AFCW themselves think “fuck it”. Posting it up is a clear ruse to rouse up our support for Saturday and beyond. And something I support 200000000000000000%,

Since I wrote that, the club have taken it off the OS. Spoilsports. Still, it’s got attention and people have had a little jolt up their arse over it. Job done, I think. It’s not as though it won’t be back, because the usual highlights package will be up tomorrow. Me, I would have kept it on there…

Even so, the point still stands. Why should we constantly allow ourselves to be the doormat because some people are obsessed with “doing the right thing”? Cheats prosper, especially in non-league football. So let’s get nasty, but clever with it. Have “sudden” power cuts to the away dressing room at KM. Do subtle in-yer-face at referees, make them know what will happen if they fuck up at our expense. All the top teams do it. If you’re feeling particularly vindictive, try getting hold of the H&R players contact details and put them on child porn webrings. Though I suspect some of our more, ahem, passionate fans think that’s the case already…

Now, I don’t buy into this theory that such a goal will cost us the title – Welling at KM, Worcester away, CCFC away, the month of March will have all played their part if it came to it. But sitting here in the lull between the storm that calls itself our run-in, I’ve noticed something I haven’t really seen for a while. Basically, people are no longer fearful or apprehensive as they were. They’re pissed off. They’re pissed off with the manner of our defeat on Saturday. They’re pissed off because they feel that the Football Gods are conspiring against them. And they’re pissed off at how outright shit we’ve been last month.

See, I’m writing this today because as far as I’m concerned it’s a new chapter for this season. Calendar months always seem to do that – it shouldn’t make sense but it does. We are now in the business end of the season, and I mean the real fuck-up-now-and-you’re dead period. Let’s go through the blatantly obvious…

We are not championship material right now. The initial reactions after Saturday were that we were poor, off the pace, looking like we just wanted the season to end. What’s that sound? Choke choke choke choke choke – it sounds like an old car but is in fact AFCW’s usual run-in. Last year we did exactly the same, and I don’t remember the season before that being much different.

Yet in the space of a few days, that’s changed. People aren’t thinking about how poor we’ve been, they’re thinking about getting back on track. Refocusing, if you prefer. It’s almost as if the outright shit that we were “treated” to from Eastleigh/Welling/St Albans/WSM (I don’t really count Havant as we were due that performance) didn’t happen. It’s anger. It’s frustration. But it’s also a wakeup call.

Continuing on the statement of the bleeding obvious, at least it’s shut the gobshites up who kept mouthing off about “WHEN we win the league”. Best cancel the champagne, eh? It’s one of sports unwritten rules that if you act like a mouthy twat with still a lot of the season still to go, your arse gets bitten. And especially at this level where (trust me on this) the reaction of people filters through to the players a lot more than you think. For a lot of last month the team played like they’d already won the title, helped by all the braying that was going on. Now, we’ve had to refocus on getting even a single point. My advice to anyone who’s tempted to act the cunt should we have a decent weekend is this – keep your head in your arse until the season ends. We’ve got a title to win, and your silence will help us towards that. Humility doesn’t hurt.

There’s more. Even now, it’s still in our hands. It’s a lot tighter than it should be, but it’s still up to us to finish the job. Remember, H&R do have to keep winning, this month more than ever. Yes, I know that’s exactly what they’re doing, but this is where we can apply real proper pressure on them, which we hadn’t exactly done last month. Recently, they’ve been under little testing circumstances whatsoever – though when they have had an opportunity (Newport springs to mind) they have fucked up. Let’s not forget that. Alan Devonshire has constantly stated that he’s not interested in what we do, just how they do. And that’s why they’ve been getting an unhealthy amount of last minute winners.

See, they don’t have 42 cup finals a season to contend with. The average CS game not involving us (and I’ve been to more than a couple) are relatively low-key affairs compared to ours. But if we start winning games again, we’re saying to them to perform when it really matters. You want to take the top spot? Fight us for it (and that means we have to fight as well, by the way. Not do our usual surrender because we don’t really fancy it). They may still keep winning, but they know they also can’t afford to slip up. If they have an April like we had in March, they’ll be fucked for the playoffs too. And let’s not forget Eastleigh not only breathing down our necks but theirs as well. Nobody in the top three can play silly buggers now. One hopes our month of madness is out of our system…

Yes, the pressure is still solely on us. It’s on AFCW every single day of the year to perform. If nothing else, we should be used to it by now, and we should have the mental strength to play just those five remaining games and get wins out of them. Or at least match H&R and Eastleigh every single game. I spoke some while ago about the demoralisation principle, whereby our own results will have a mental affect on those chasing us. Well, if we start applying that the others find out they have a handful of games left to catch us up.

The most blatantly obvious factor isn’t perhaps so obvious after all. If we’ve slipped six points in the space of nine days, it just proves that there’s still many a twist and turn to come. There is at least one major one to happen, probably two. It could be an unexpected loss, a last minute penalty, a goal off a defender’s scrotum, you name it. And not necessarily at our expense, either. Something is going to happen, though what it is we don’t yet know.

We are certainly due a good run of form. We’re not a bad side, far from it. But we’re a side that has been kicked in the mental bollocks a lot recently, and the self-doubt has started to take hold. Should we beat Team Barf on Saturday, and that won’t be easy, the rot has stopped at least temporarily. If we don’t though, I shudder to think what will happen. It could destroy us mentally for this season – never underestimate the psychological damage seeing your name not at the top after working so damn hard for it at such a late stage.

Given the way this season has gone, one does suspect we’re on the up. Again, people are a bit more buoyant since Eastleigh than they have been since after the Chelmsford game. Against Welling and Eastleigh, when the chips were down, we really did go for it. A bit of luck here and there and we would have got two extra points. And how we could do with them right now. I think that’s what’s giving people hope – you know that something is coming up for us. If you’ve watched football for any proper length of time, you get that sixth sense. People’s reactions this week, including Elliott Godfrey, point towards that a bit.

It’s perfectly possible that Team Barf will be yet another game like Welling or Eastleigh. It’s also perfectly possible that it could be settled by a last minute penalty by Jon Main. But don’t discount an absolute stuffing by us. We’re due a win at some point. We’re also due a good performace. But somehow you think somebody is going to “get it”. You know the kind of thing, if it was a movie ordered by Jacqui Smith’s husband, it would involve extreme double anal fisting. We need results and quick. But we also need to make somebody wince in the process.

Guess we’ll wait and see. We must work a million times harder than we have done this season. Strangely, we might be better off dealing with a three point advantage than a nine point one right now, because we have to focus. I can’t help thinking that February and March were such painful months because we were having to dig deeper than deep but with no obvious finishing line in sight. Well, now it is. It’s tantilisingly close. Yet still a bit too far away to get the maps for Oxford out.

Still, in the run-in we’ll now have Rocky Baptiste to help us along. Got to say, I was hoping for backup in the centre back position, now that Inns made a stupid comment at the wrong time and Jason Goodliffe needs three weeks recovery after every game. I don’t really fancy Michael Peacock having to get thrown in at the deep end. But at least Baptiste’s signing is a real statement of intent. OK, he’s 36 and perhaps not had his best season, but then DK was doing pretty badly at Grays before he joined us. No doubt the words “John Fashanu signing” will have already been uttered. One only hopes it isn’t the Aston Villa version, that of a broken down lump of muscle that moved for just one more big pay day.

Interesting that TB has gone for him, and not just for the following comments:

“I specifically targeted players who are experienced and could come straight in and deal with a cup final atmosphere – in other words players with experience and a big match temperament.”

Is DK’s season over? Or to be more accurate, is playing him for 90 minutes for five more games of the season out of the question? One has to wonder that, although even if we can get Kedwell as a supersub will at least give us some more options.

At least it proves we’re not fucking about….