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Now and Den

Well, there’s the motivation for tomorrow – Staines Town away. Ryman Premier playoff, anyone? I bet I wasn’t the only one thinking “please don’t draw out Franchise”…

Of course,we have to get past Milwall first. Before the nerves/excitement kick in at about 11am tomorrow, it’s worth a little reflection on this, the Biggest Game In The AFCW Eraâ„¢ (until the next one).

Is it me or hasn’t there been so much of a buildup this time? Remember the prelude to Wycombe, where we all jizzed our collective Y-fronts at finally, finally, got to play teams we should still be playing? Read this if you don’t.

This time round? Well, apart from a double page spread in the SLP, and something in the Daily Rant, it’s been rather quiet. Perhaps deliberately so. OK, we’ll probably have about 1500 different articles about us tomorrow, all saying more or less the same thing (“haven’t they done well since 2002?” etc). Granted, all publicity is good publicity, but one hopes we’ve learnt how to handle the media attention now.

Speaking of the SLP, and of people learning, I note TB’s comments that he’s pretty fed up of always losing in these sort of ties. In a way, and probably the only major criticism of his entire tenure, he might need to accept some responsibility for that state of affairs. What I’m concerned about tomorrow is that – yet again – he tries to be too “clever”. Remember when he dropped Chris “Coventry” Hussey for the laboursome Micky Haswell for one of the Chelmsford games? We all know what happened there.

You just get that apprehension tomorrow that our back line will be Inns, Judge, Roger Joseph and Matt Everard. With Nick Roddis just in front of them. Purely to confuse the opposition of course, a reason that wears thin after about 15 minutes when we’re 3-0 down. Mind you, the slightly low-key buildup may also be down to the fact our recent form is, ahem, shite…

Hardly anyone is expecting a win tomorrow. Maybe that’s just reality biting, or maybe it’s a realisation that last year we may have been a little too cocky beforehand. A loss isn’t guaranteed of course – as Northwich, Staines and Barf have proven this weekend already – and after our recent rubbish performances we’re due a good game.

What may also help us this time round is the fact that playing a “big” side isn’t quite such the big deal as it was last season. Since August, we’ve already played Luton, Oxford and Cambridge United. We haven’t disgraced ourselves in any of them, despite them all coming at KM. Again, this week has felt a bit more, well, “professional”…

The only real bit of giddyness has been the amount of tickets we’ve sold. Our allocation is about 3400 and that will likely be sold. Of course, it’s our cup final, but should anyone really be surprised at how many we’re taking? We managed 5k to a poorly organised friendly at Wembley, another 5k to Woking in the cup final(s) down there. In the WFC era we took 5k to Fulham, Spurz, sold out allocations at QPR, Soton, Chelsea, Arsenal (on a regular basis too) and indeed took more to the New Den as Palace did at that time.

Granted, talking about how many we take to games is part of the Wimbledon psyche, certainly ingrained in us since 1991. It also proves how much further down the road we still need to go off the pitch too. One day, we will get Millwall again, take as many people to the ground but won’t masturbate frantically over it. When we do that, we would have made one further step into maturity.

Anyway, enough of that. Tomorrow will either be 5-0 to Millwall or we’ll get a credible draw. Come on, a win is as likely as Red Jacket Man making a return, surely………………..?