On days like this, it all becomes worth it.
I’ll be honest – I never expected to be writing about Easyjet 1 Ryanair 2. After the wobble against FGR, and the outright cock that was Cambridge eight days ago, this was a likely candidate to be our big expecting stuffing. I believe the expression for such a result is a “bonus”.
Let’s get the churlishness out of the way first : we weren’t at our best. We kept giving the ball away far too often, to the point where I was convinced we had money on 2-2.
Conceding about 60 seconds after we went ahead first time was pretty piss-poor. Letting them head onto the bar in the first two minutes was also pretty shitty. And yes, Elder’s goal was a tad against the run of play.
But then, none of that matters right now.
I’ll explain why later on, but from a footballing perspective, we needed this. Cambridge last week could have proved a watershed moment in our season – we weren’t perfect by any means, but we looked more assured (when we weren’t playing gift-wrapped football) and we didn’t look like rabbits in headlights.
Remember that first game at KM against Luton? Especially the first half? We didn’t know what hit us, did we? Haydon certainly didn’t. But as that game went on, we got better, realised they weren’t this all-powerful juggernaut and the rest was history. Yesterday, we were nervous but for different reasons. I think we would have been the same had we been at Barrow as opposed to Bedfordshire.
At times, you like to think we’ve gone backwards, but we’ve actually progressed a helluva lot since that sunny August day in KM. It does seem that the new influx are settling in now. Elder looks like he’s always belonged here, ditto Glenn Poole, and more people are warming to Blanchett too, even if Ben Judge didn’t always agree with his play…
When we were playing non-keep ball, I did wonder whether it was playing at Kenilworth Road that was affecting the players – nerves, and all that. But most of these players have played at Wembley and the New Den for us. The likes of Elder, Poole, Blanchett and whoever else we’ve taken on recently have played at bigger and better venues in League Two. If our players have had any fear in playing at such stadia, they shouldn’t have.
Maybe they were panicky because of last week at Cambridge? Whatever the reason, they have little excuse now at Oxford on Tuesday. This side can go to these big venues and get results. We may well need next Saturday’s rest if we get another three points at the Kassam, for the sheer shock value alone.
Anyway, for now, sit back and savour this result. We get to do it all again sooner than you realise…
Plus points: We won. Away. At Luton. Danny Kedwell. Nobody having a bad game. Decent away turnout. Coping well under a lot of pressure.
Minus points: Their goal. Constant giving the ball away.
The referee’s a…: Seriously can’t remember anything he did, either good or bad. Certainly not the FGR ref, anyway. Apparently, one of the linesmen looked like Danny Blanchett.
Them: There’s something odd about Luton, and I’m not referring to the fact the local area is like a downmarket Tooting. They’re a well supported club, obviously, and they shouldn’t really be at this level. But you can sense the stuffing has been kicked out of them for a long period of time, and they have that strange we-were-all-right-once vibe that clubs like Wrexham have. Put it this way – if they don’t go up this season, we’ll end up getting promotion before they do.
Not that I’m complaining, of course. For all the help we gave them, they still did fuck all with it. Some classic post-match bleating from their manager, too:
â€œThey have had two shots. To say we had the better chances and more possession is the understatement of the year.
â€œWeâ€™ve had some indifferent performances at home this season but that wasnâ€™t one of them. I thought we were outstanding, fantastic.
â€œHopefully they (Wimbledon) understand that they were second best today.â€
I was in contact with one of our spies this week who suggested that Luton weren’t all that, on the basis of watching them at York earlier in the week. And to be honest, they weren’t much better once we got out of the rabbit/headlight phase in our game against them at KM. Really don’t think they’re as good a side as they make themselves out to be – if their manager was right, they would have forced James Pullen into making a save in the second half. They didn’t. Fair play to TB for slapping him down, and if I was Richard Money I wouldn’t accept a job as a football pundit. He would make Mark Bright look like James Richardson.
Top marks to their PA, calling us the real Wimbledon, and their fans who joined in – and indeed, started – a fair amount of anti-Franchise chants. We need to learn “they’ve got no history” for future games. Was very, very funny looking at the reaction of those in the Executive Box stand when they scored – the more people try to be Danny Dyer, the more they look like Larry Grayson. Oh, and their mascot looked like it belonged on a police register.
Point to ponder: Whither Jon Main? Seriously. Previous SW19 entries have mentioned about players not playing being “looked at”, IYSWIM. JM must be wondering if he’s going to be in that category soon. Trouble is, Elder and DK are scoring themselves now, and they’re both physical brutes in the way that Main isn’t.
Then again, Jay Conroy wasn’t getting much action, until the second half anyway. Maybe they’re both being kept fresh for the run-in?
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Getting wished luck over the PA on the 1pm train from St Pancras. Hopefully the announcer wasn’t a Franchise fan. (2) Walking through somebody’s back garden to get to the away section. Seems to be a rite of passage when going to Kenilworth Road, in both senses of the word. (3) Having 28″ legs and still having to sit open legged because of the seats in front of me. No wonder Luton have tried to move for the last 20 years. (4) Was it true that at least two members of an alternative AFCW publication were enjoying the corporate hospitality? Expect the next issue to have away guides lamenting the quality of vol-a-vent and reception areas in grounds. (5) First away win since Salisbury in December. No further comment needed.
Anything else? It’s funny how in the past we used to mock teams for treating victories over us like winning the Champions League. Some revelled in our victories and were pretty open about it, others did the same and pretended it wasn’t so important (whilst bringing out DVD box sets and commemerative mugs in the meanwhile).
With this result, we’re doing the same, right?
In a way we are. Remember, we went to Luton Town and won. Not Luton United or some confusingly named outfit that we’ve encountered in the past. The Luton Town. The one of Eric Morecambe, and Nick Owen, and WHL in 1988 (with similar scoreline) and Mick Harford and 30 point deductions. And the Luton Town who were in the Championship in 2006/07. The same season that brought us Darlogate and a 1-0 loss to Bromley in the Ryman Premier semi final, which turned out to be DA’s last season.
Yes, we’re all going to be downloading the highlights if/when they come up. If only to see if DK’s solo effort was really as good as we thought it was at the time (and also to see how much Elder’s goal went over the line).
But then, was it our cup final? Or does the very real joy yesterday tell us something else?
During the game, a thought occured to me. Twenty years ago, this could have been a top flight fixture – correction, it was a game in the highest echelon of English football back then. Certainly, there were plenty of “I beat the away ban” type comments about 😉 What this game, and victory, illustrates is the whole AFCW “thing” and what it really meant.
Yesterday was WFC circa 1990. Hell, it was WFC full stop, at least until Hammam, Koppout and the Nogs turned it into political warfare. Perhaps that’s why this game mattered – it wasn’t our cup final at all, it was just an ordinary league game between two possible playoff hopefuls. Even down to the banter between us and Palace/Sunderland fans at St Pancras after we got off. That was old skool – it something that just felt forced when we were coming back from places like Boreham Wood and St Albans (two places ironically passed on the train), and felt all too natural this time around.
When other teams celebrated their Cup Final against us, it really was a case of a rare shot of glory for them. For us, this is likely to be a regular league fixture from now on. We’re playing Oxford on Tuesday, and we’re all thinking now on whether we can stop giving the ball away this time, and whether we can repeat yesterday’s scoreline. This following on from Luton and Cambridge, three fixtures a year ago would have made people soil their pants (in a good way).
People may feel that treating these games as regular fixtures is being blase and dismissive of what we’ve achieved since 2002. Me, I think it’s the best compliment we could ever pay ourselves…
So, was it worth it? Indeed.
In a nutshell: White Hart Lane 88 revisited…
And finally: While finishing this off, I just found out that a Danish consortium is claiming it’s to buy out Chester City. Or rather, some MyFC type venture. Guess we’ll wait to see what happens, but no doubt the Conference board will be using this news to justify their inertia. If it does take place, let’s see how long it will be before we hear more tales of financial grief from the Deva…