Considering the fact we won this game, I’m having a job getting massively excited about Eleven Men 2 Twelve Men 0.
Yes, there were some moments of brilliance, just as there were moments of outright ordinaryness. The first 15 minutes looked like a side that had just had Apollo 13 shoved up its arse and the fuse lit.
But seriously, I think I must have walked into 2006 again. Or even 1996.
I can’t get my head around beating FGR simply because I feel I was denied a decent game today. This isn’t a selfish Premiership-esque boo-the-team-off-at-half-time-because-you-are-drawing-sack-the-manager sense of entitlement. Instead, it was seeing a game that was looking promising and then had the life punched out of it.
Simply put, the referee out there should not be officiating our games again.
I cannot think of the last occasion where an official has managed to take the worst excesses of authoritarianism and incompetence and mixed them together. Sure, we’ve had referees who have totally flipped out (Mr Fish). We’ve had the likes of Martin Bodenham, Barry Knight and Jeff Winter in the WFC era, the latter of which proves the adage that the best referees are the ones you don’t hear from.
This one? Put it this way – if he was a Nazi dictator, in charge of sending the Jews to Auschwitz, he would have ended up filling the gas tanks with water.
Missing blatant handballs is bad enough. But when you’re missing elbows that puts one of our centre backs off the field for three stitches, meaning that we’re down to ten men for a good 10 minutes, and when you’re failing to put any sort of control on an opposition that didn’t have much more than brute strength, and when somebody like Gregory is hacked down yet nothing is done but a far lesser offence for the opposition is blown up for….
Oh yeah, and did I mention their #31 putting his head up against DK in a rather aggressive manner? And DK ended up getting booked? Thank god our number nine had enough nouse to know he was being targetted for a red card after that.
I did feel my enjoyment of what should have been a decent enough game was pretty much ruined. When you go 2-0 up that quickly, you can either sit back and give everyone a nervy rest of the game, or you can push forward and net some pretty high scores. We did the former, unfortunately, and cunt in black aside we were quite, well, ordinary at times…
Then again, there were reasons for that. Losing BJ for the football equivalent of the blood bin really didn’t help. It seemed to unsettle us, and thankfully FGR was as cack as their friendly official. Not only that, but having to deal with more stoppages, dropped balls and various minor infrigements was clearly upsetting our stride.
But I reckon our obvious nervousness came down to what happened last week too. Be honest, there was always just a little niggle in the back of your mind that if FGR were to comeÂ back, it would be Workington revisited. And I think the players knew that too. There was only one side with the skill you expect from a BSP side (ie, us), but I don’t think our confidence has returned sufficiently enough to go 2-0 up so quickly, then kill the game off totally.
Those who have watched our last few games, certainly all the ones since Mansfield, will know that we haven’t looked our best. We haven’t really looked like the unit we can be – there’s a feel that we’ve gone back to about late August/September again, where a setback can end up reverberating for a couple of weeks.
Part of that is down to the personnel changes we’ve made. Nobody can argue with the impact Nathan Elder has made, and his link up today with another newbie, Will Hendry, will cause plenty of problems for our opponents this season. But we’ve had situations whereby Glenn Poole comes in, makes an impact then becomes injured again. The jury is still out on Danny Blanchett too, and it’s rather worrying when people are talking about switching BJ back to left back.
Poor Jon Main must be wondering why he’s warming the bench right now (although he would have probably ended up with a broken ankle today), and when you add in Monty’s injuries and the inconsistency of the likes of Kennedy and Godfrey, it’s hard to get any sort of settled side. That’s why we won the BSS last season – we didn’t need to keep rotating. Christ, I think DK deserved lifetime BUPA membership after the 2008/09 campaign…
Anyway, enough moaning. We got three points after all.
Plus points: We won. At home. Clean sheet. Blistering first 15 minutes. Nathan Elder. DK. Will Hendry.
Minus points: Guess.
The referee’s a…: To cap it all off, the officials reportedly cost us over Â£400 in expenses. This despite the fact he came all the way from…………….. Crawley. Was he coming in a limo with finest champagne on draught and a warm goat waiting for him afterwards? Would explain his “performance” if so.
Them: Looked like Hendon, played a bit like them too. Pretty, ahem, physical, and in truth you can see why they’re fighting relegation. Kind of the sort of teams we came across in the middle section of the Blue Square South – should beat them but never quite make it easy.
There was some ex-Franchise contingent in their ranks, including their #31, which explains his knuckledragging stance. Get the feeling we won’t be playing them next season somehow.
Point to ponder: Admittedly, I don’t read the programme as much as I should, but Erik’s rather sobering figure of Â£120,000 per year for total cost of treatment/wages for injured players should focus minds a bit. We’re not in a cheap division any more, and I certainly think that making private insurance at AFCW for players is a good idea – reputations are built like that, and on a more cynical basis we get more for our money if we get them fitter quicker…
But this does beg the question, why do we seem to get so many injuries? I think this is semi-answered by yet another game against brutish opposition where we struggle more than we should – we’re not tough enough. OK, we stood up to them well enough today, but you don’t get the impression any of our lot bar DK and Elder would knee an opposition player in his dangly bits. Our skill level is undoubtedly there, but think about it – how many injuries did WFC get between 1986 and 1989?
Oh, and anyone notice the absence of Mike Rayner today? Guess we can’t afford his overtime.
Meet the manager: Live and direct from the weights room in KM….
Got to say, how impressed I was with TB’s calm and collected approach to the cock in black. He obviously took time out to assess his performance in a rational way, especially when the various dictaphones and cameras were turned on… 😉
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Phillo’s comments just before the game – “Proudly wearing the captain’s armband – Paul Lorraine”. What the fuck was that bit of hyperbole about? A sly dig at John Terry? Or something more…? (2) Seeing the queue for the Luton game afterwards. Which was about 40 people. This was at 5.35pm. Get the feeling your editor might be looking to mug an OAP for their ticket if he forgets to wake up on Monday. (3) WUP on sale today, apparently. I say “apparently” because I didn’t see any on sale, nor did I see anyone with a copy. Was it? (4) Realising our next league game at KM is in March.
Anything else? Yeah. Thinking about the upcoming games we have – Cambridge, Luton and Oxford. Never mind the difficulty of either of them – I’m looking at them and just started to treat them as “normal” games. Remember how you stained your pants in excitement when you found out we were playing Luton first game of the season? At how Oxford and Cambridge coming down was a big thing?
Don’t get me wrong here, I want to go to all three of them (what’s the betting I end up going to none of them whatsoever? That will really lower my mood) but they’ve sort of lost that “wow” factor in a way. I’ve been to Luton before, and Oxford won’t be much different to the Den.
But then, that’s a good thing. You know it’s a big game so the players will be up for it, but losing the awe factor should (in theory) make us concentrate and play like we know we can. We’ll be backed by big followings for all three of them anyway, and it’s quite possible that the odd scalp may well be heading our way…
Also, it comes to something when you look at the next three fixtures, realising they’re all ex-League clubs and just think “well, we’ve got a good chance of beating Cambridge” as though you’re looking through a BSS fixture list. People may believe that these sorts of fixtures prove we’ve “made it”. Perhaps it’s treating them as “normal” may prove that theory somewhat more true…
So, was it worth it? It should have been.
In a nutshell: Here comes the cunt in black, a man you will remember…