Sometimes in football, something happens that just stretches your ability to comprehend. Today, news reaches SW19 Towers of one such happening.
Hampton and Richmond are playing Franchise at the Beaverdome on 21 July.
No, this is not a windup. This fixture is really going to happen.
I’ve got to admit, my first reaction was probably the same as yours. I expect the words “cunts” and “fucking” sprung to mind, if not to mouth. It’s an act of pure provocation, needless to say.
But then, you think about it some more and you just end up shaking your head in outright bewilderment.
First things first. Yes, it is an act to get at us. The Axewounds, from Devonshire downwards, are trying to build this up as them meeting the “real” Wimbledon. Which could be funny, because Franchise have been trying to get away from exactly that – christ, even their official site celebrated 5 years of their club’s (sic) existance.
You can see it now – their nobstain PA bloke giving it the big one about 1988 and Wankie going “Christ, don’t say that in public…”.
Secondly, and to nobody’s surprise, they managed to time it at the same date and time that we’re playing BHA. So any belief the Axewounds had that some of us would go down to sunny Richmond that evening was a bit misplaced. Never mind, next time eh?
There’s a hidden reason for this I think, for understandable reasons too, and it’s actually got nothing to do with us – basically, nobody was giving Franchise any pre-season friendlies, and therefore some favours had to be called in. Wincey Incey is a mate of Devonshire – well, I say “mate”, because Devonshire left West Ham about 1984/85 when Ince was just breaking into the Hammers side.
Perhaps the young and ultra-ambitious Ince gave Devonshire a blow job back then, and is now finally returning the favour? Would explain a lot if so.
But seriously, think about it – a League One side having to resort to begging for a PSF against a Conf South side? Especially one with a shit pitch and one tactic?Â The more I think about it, the more pathetic it sounds. It won’t get either side much money, because it’s not as though the Frenzies are going to turn up. And I am struggling to think of two sets of clubs that deliberately set up a fixture to antagonise a local and more professional rival.
Seriously. No matter what AFCW will ever do, or its fans (and let’s face it, some of our fans have their moments), I am glad we have too much class to ever get down to that level. What’s it proving? All it illustrates is that Franchise are desperate and that we’re still under their skin*. Still, not bad for a pub team, eh?
* – that said, I know people who have to go up to Frenzyville on business, with AFCW car stickers, and get absolutely no hassle whatsoever from the locals. Embarrassment? Secret admiration? Or most likely of all, they don’t really care…
Mind you, it also illustrates everything we’ve ever thought about the Axewounds.Â To be honest, I’d forgotten they existed until this morning, and I think that’s one of the motives for this fixture. “Look at us KFC Norbiton, look at us”. Well done, we’re looking at you again.
Let’s be charitable, it has made their summer that we’re paying attention to them for one more time. Even as they flush down what remains of their dignity down one of those portaloos they nicked from Westminster Council. Can’t imagine Woking acting like this.
I remember when Handy beat them in the CS playoff final how much their fans hated the fact there were too many people at the ground, and that Handy fans were singing rude songs about them. If that was us, we’d still be coming out of our twice-weekly sessions with the Samaritans. See, H&R are ultra-small time. They know it and we know it. And they hate the fact that we know that they know it.
I’m led to believe via a pretty damn reliable source that some in the Axewound camp are trying to push the club forward, but others (most) would rather stay in that Rymanesque Non-League-Family mindset that we all know and love. The latter attitude is more likely to win out, somehow. It explains why they’re having to resort to rather pathetic stunts like this. But then, nothing we haven’t seen before.
I used to hate the Axewounds but I had some respect for them. Now, I don’t even have any respect. As the season progresses, we’ll find them become more and more irrelevant, if we don’t quickly forget them by this time tomorrow. As said earlier, I’d forgotten they were ever about until this morning. And as we play the Oxfords and Wrexhams, we’ll be asking who exactly Richmond and Hampstead were.
What this whole episode proves to me is that AFCW has class and self-respect, and would rather shut down than act in such a manner. Even this weekend, Peter Taylor has expressed a desire to play us every pre-season (probably because he knows that Matt Harrold will always score against us). You don’t get that from respected indivduals if you act with the class and demeanour of a chav on Jeremy Kyle.
So really, we should be thankful to the Axewounds and the Franchise, and should reward them accordingly. I was going to suggest some free tickets to watch us against BHA, but that would clearly halve their attendance and would be wrong to do so. So instead I think we should all club together and give them something that they can appreciate time and time again, and to remind them of what they secretly love about us.
Only thing is, who’s going to televise AFC Wimbledon v Luton…?