At the time of writing, it looks like I’m going to FGR tomorrow, so at least you’ll know who to blame when we lose 2-0…
Actually, I’m glad I’m likely to be there, because it’s a ground I’ve wanted to re-visit with AFCW. Yes, that’s true : a few years ago, I actually did some work for the NLP at the New Lawn. Had to go there twice in seven days…
From memory, FGR played St Albans and Stafford Rangers, which tells you how long ago it was. Hardly seems conceivable that St Albans and Stafford were in the Conference back then, but then one could argue the same about Gateshead and Handy today. I’m not sad enough to remember the scores and how they played, but I do remember one game being sodding cold.
So, what to expect from going there tomorrow? Firstly, when you hear people say it’s in the middle of nowhere, they’re not joking. It’s half way up a big hill from the little village called Nailsworth, which from memory has a Somerfields and not much else. Which closes at about 7.30pm. Mind you, Nailsworth itself doesn’t open much later…
Those who went to Twerton Park last season will know that they turn left when they go off the M4. Tomorrow, you turn right from the same junction. And if you’re like your editor, and you hate driving on narrow country roads, you’re in for a treat – it’s at least 13 miles worth of avoiding dips, the odd tractor and country women in 4x4s who like their city counterparts can’t drive the fucking thing. And people moaned about going to Selhurst.
You can if you prefer go up the M5 and drop down via Stroud where it’s only 4 miles of country road and driving. It’s a bit longer but might possibly be safer (and no, I’m not going to make a dubious comment about this). Just remember that if you use the M5 you will come across perhaps the most shittiest service station going, called Michaelwood. It made the Watford Gap (in its Blue Boar transport cafe days) look like a food court at Lakeside.
The ground? It’s nice. A nice view of sheep behind one of the stands, which makes it a favourite for visiting Yorkshire/Welsh sides. They were building the seated area where we’ll be tomorrow, so those who are leg weary after visiting the pub walking up the hill can fall asleep there when we inevitably go 2-0 down after an hour. Haven’t checked the capacity, but it’s likely to be one of those venues where you look at then you realise just how inadequate KM looks in comparison.
I didn’t really mix with the locals, but they seem OK enough. Until they do the usual pro-Franchise shite I guess.
For those in the press box, for a new ground it’s not actually that good. It’s in line with one of the penalty boxes, they didn’t give me any tea/coffee and even trying to get a teamsheet off them was somehow a challenge the Krypton Factor would baulk at. Things may have improved since then, but if WDON sound even more pissed off than usual, you’ll know why.
Oh, and it’s got a mini roundabout when you enter. Yes, really – this place said so. Made it sound like a bad thing too. I can imagine him writing a letter to the NLP – “Dear NLP. I went to the New Lawn on Saturday. Imagine my disgust when I saw they had a specially built mini roundabout. It’s just another sign that Conference clubs are trampling on the traditions of non-league with new stadiums and paying players. When I went to Western Ferret United reserves in 1976…”
And the sad thing is, I don’t think I’m entirely joking.
Which is a bit more than what can be said for Jamie Pullen’s outburst earlier this week. Firstly, unlike what some of our fans would like to believe, I believe JP did actually say that. And it wasn’t a journo looking for an angle too and making something out of nothing – always look at direct quotes in an article like this. If a player says nothing of any consequence, but the rest of the article is made up to be a massive story, then by all means dismiss it as column inch filler.
Take my word for it – a player or manager who genuinely says something profound or meaty is somebody who should be wrapped in cotton wool.
Anyway, leaving aside semantics, I’m both pleased and pissed off at his comments. Pleased because, let’s face it, he’s right. Kiddy was the equivalent of a night in a graveyard, or a Franchise game. KM isn’t exactly Fenerbache at the best of times, but it was shockingly poor by our own standards. Tomorrow will be a noisefest you can bet because of this now…
But I’m also pissed off because he’s fallen into the old footballer trap of expecting everything on a plate. Play badly? It’s the fans fault for not getting behind them and lifting them. Never mind the fact that those watching need a reason to get going. While we were deadly silent last week it would have been nice to have something to get excited about. We didn’t even have the courtesy of that…
I would put Pullen’s outburst out to just frustration, but it has to be said, he has form over this. Granted, he’s been the player who has surprised me most this season (in a good way) – yes, he saves penalties at the right time etc etc. Trouble is now, you can’t help looking at him play and have a twinge of “you ungrateful wanker” towards him. I’m led to believe he’s a little bit of, ahem, “his own counsel” anyway in the dressing room…
Speaking of players who are SW19 targets for abuse, JM scored four goals this week. No, not on a computer game with the cheat mode on, a proper match. It was at Three Bridges in the reserves though, so don’t put your money on a hat-trick tomorrow. From everyone’s point of view, it’s good he knows where the net is. Trouble is, he now needs to back that up with first team goals more than ever.
It seems that not scoring in the BSP may become even more demoralising if he knows he can cut it at the lower level. Beforehand, he could pass it off at just having a bad run of form. It might have been better if he didn’t score anything this week because then he would know he would have an all round scoring problem. And that can be worked on.
Now, he knows he can put it in the back of the net, so it’s not a mere loss of form. If he goes to FGR tomorrow and nets like he did in the BSS, then great. He just needed a goal and the resulting confidence and he’s saved his career with us. And no, that’s not hyperbole either. If he doesn’t though, and continues to get pushed easily off the ball, then his own doubts start creeping in. Why can he score at reserve level but not at Conference? How quick does that realisation that you’re probably not good enough creep in?
This week, JM did himself a big favour by scoring four goals. At the same time, he may well have increased the pressure on him a notch…..