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Playing with the stiffs

merstham_PSFIt really has to be pre-season, as your editor was glad to get out and watch some football involving AFCW.

Anyway, I popped down to the hastily arranged game at Colliers Wood United, against Merstham. Or to be more precise, Merstham’s mostly first team. We lost 4-1 by the way.

Although the scoreline itself didn’t really reflect procedings. Firstly, it was 1-1 until about 10 minutes left, when I think tiredness set in a bit. Either that or the intent to make the reserves like the first team is going a bit too far.

There are some players coming along nicely, although typically your editor didn’t recognise any of them. I think TJ, Josh Orlando and Matty Holmes (?) were playing anyway, and I do expect a couple of them to be on the plane for the Isle of Man pissup pre-season tour.

There were a couple of people there, including one T Brown. Who I think was quite impressed with some of the standard of passing at times. It’s pretty clear that the intention is to get the entire squads playing to a certain ethos – that said, I wonder how many of those playing tonight will make the ultimate step up to the first team?

You may see one or two make that great leap upwards, but as seems to be the case right now, the most skillful footballer at the ground remains our reserve team manager. Seriously – you look at Marcus Gayle and some of the others and you realise just how good he really was. That said, some of the kids on display are, well, kids. Seventeen year olds, in other words.

It would be good to think though that we’re starting the traditional Wimbledon way of finding players through our ranks again. Especially as the players we’ve bought in are youngsters themselves. Just imagine getting in Ricky Wellard not from outside but from our youth team. I think that’s another part of the great Learning Curve we’ve still to re-experience – the joy we’ll have when we get the first breakthrough star of the first team who was with us from a wee nipper.

While I think we’re not going to fully realise our potential in reserve until we (eventually) join the Football Combination, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the stiffs a bit more now. And not just to save massive embarrassment at Slurrey Senior Cup games when you don’t know who most of the players are. It’s going to be more of a squad game, and you get the sense the club are really wanting to make this setup work.

Incidentally, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – this was played on a secondary pitch behind the main CWU pitch. A reserve game in midweek in pre-season in non-league is ultra-hard core. Even down to the lino having a crafty pre-game fag…