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… that was good.

Decent skill, wanting to win, some moments for the crowd to enjoy, and plenty of looking back on the video later today with a mixture of pride and satisfaction.

I am of course referring to the girls and juniors on the pitch at half time. And after Southern League 1 Northern Premier League 1, perhaps we were too hasty in dragging them off afterwards?

I’ve given myself some reflection on this, which is why this is up on Sunday rather than Saturday evening. Though even writing this up now was one serious struggle. I still can’t believe how, well, ordinary we are right now. And in truth, how we’ve been so since Mansfield.

During the game yesterday, I said to the bloke next to me, “I can’t remember the last time we had a turgid 0-0”. On second glance, maybe it was St Albans last season (and ironically around the same time last year). Had it finished goalless, it would have been a just result.

To put the contest in a nutshell, halfway during the first half Sam Hatton tried to trap the ball and pass it forward. He miscontrolled it and went out for an Alty throw. Five minutes later, their #19 slipped over and fell on his face with nobody near him.

It summed up the day.

OK, the doomsday scenario of having Hatton and Blanchett as centre backs thankfully didn’t happen. Although it might have been more entertaining if it had. Have the loanee signings disrupted things that much? I dunno, but if we hadn’t brought them in we’d be collectively moaning that we haven’t got strength in depth.

This time last year, I remember TB pointing out that we were relying far too much on DK producing the goods. He (Danny, not Terry) was playing that run-in not 100% fit, and we were having to rely on a JM who struggled a little bit too. If we’d done the same this season, we would have been looking at Barrow v Cambridge yesterday with more than a hint of concern.

Last time, I ranted on about lack of depth in reserves. Today, I’m merely going to point out that if we want a squad large enough and good quality enough to challenge for the playoffs, we’ll need to spend some serious wonga. Oxford are splashing the cash again this week, and it’s pointless to pretend that we won’t do something similar in the future.

Oh, the game. Well, Derek Duncan had quite a good one, which may explain how bad the contest was. Typically though, he gave away a penalty. I don’t think our full backs are much cop, though I think Danny Blanchett (who IMO is a better left back than DD) suffers from not being Chris Hussey. And I don’t want to be a Hatton hater, but seriously – what is his best position? Though we are stuck with him there all the while Jay Conroy is out.

Some people are starting to have a pop at Nathan Elder, presumably because he’s breaking up the DK/JM partnership. Funny, because when he went off we lost our attacking impetus. Yesterday could have been ideal for Jon Main – shame he was crocked.

If there was one bright spot on the horizon, Luke Moore returned and we looked a lot more threatening as a result. We’ve missed him.

Anyway, we’ve got Crawley on Tuesday at their place. While you await the post-mortem from that, here’s…

Plus points: We didn’t lose. Luke Moore. Your editor totally unexpectedly getting hold of a cheap train ticket to York (watch me now have to work that day)

Minus points: We didn’t win. 3pm to 4.45pm.

The referee’s a…: Seemed to miss a fair amount, though half of it was down to him shielding his eyes from the sun. Oh, and wasn’t it good to see Eddy Grant as a linesman?

Them: Probably should have beaten them, but another team who knew how to stop us sufficiently enough. They do show why we shouldn’t struggle in future seasons, a better performance from us and who knows? Decent enough turnout by their supporters though.

Kudos to their keeper, who did join in with two of our under-8s in a little kickabout just before the second half was about to start. Alas, the two goals  he let in weren’t an omen…

Point to ponder: Could it be that we are a – gulp – mid table side? And if we are, would that necessarily be a bad thing? Being the sad bastard I am, I decided to list out below where we’ve finished since 2002:

2002/03 – 3rd (no playoff, but only because the CCL didn’t have them)
2003/04 – won division
2004/05 – won division
2005/06 – 4th (playoffs)
2006/07 – 5th (playoffs, 3 points taken off us)
2007/08 – 3rd (playoffs, won)
2008/09 – won division

Whatever way you look at it, that’s not a bad run in that time. On reflection, I’m glad the consolidation seasons we were expecting in 2004/05 and 2008/09 didn’t happen. As it looks like we’re being forced to do just that this time around, at least we’re doing it in a high profile division where people give a shit what we do.

Also, could pushing for the playoffs again be the worst thing we can do this season? Don’t get me wrong, if we go in them I’ll be wanting that victory at Wembley. But it’s clear the club doesn’t feel ready enough yet to go down the increased wage bill route. We don’t yet have strength in depth throughout the club, and Oxford taught us how far behind we really are.

Having the season ending at Gateshead and realising we’ll be in the same division next season is going to be a bit of a comedown for a lot of people. It’ll be a weird feeling, and one that might dampen moods during the summer. But then, things like that do happen when you’re a proper football club…

Meet the manager: For some reason, I can’t convert this to MP3, so this is it in the original WMA format.

TB talks about Altrincham

No idea whether this will work from the link or not, although I expect TB hasn’t said anything you wouldn’t have guessed already.

Three’s a crowd: 3388, which was more than I expected for such a fixture. Guess a month without a home game does that to you. Needless to say, my local branch of Frederick W Payne made more noise. But then, why does anyone act all surprised when we don’t make a din at home? We were never the loudest at PL as it was, and the most (only?) atmosphere I can remember at Selhurst was during the protests.

Let’s be honest here – a large section of our support read the Guardian or Telegraph, and would be equally at home at Twickenham. Perhaps we ought to start singing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Ground improvements look nice. Never lose sight of the fact though that it’s still only making sure you have a front door and a roof that doesn’t leak. (2) Notice from the programme that the people who served the the rich bastards hospitality section are stepping down. Question : if it saved £40k, if the people who do it did a good enough job and who want to do it enough to carry on with the new contractors, why have they stepped down in the first place? (3) Good to see the club now has an FA Charter.

Anything else? Yes. I bought a copy of WUP yesterday (7.3), and I’ve decided I’m no longer their target audience.

OK, WUP earns a lot of money for the club. Anyone who also puts their neck out publically in publishing (especially in the somewhat incestuous world of AFCW) gets my kudos. And its editors have admitted in the past that it is a hit-and-miss type of publication and that its main remit is to raise funds.

But not for the first time, the content is mainly the following:

1) Franchise FC is bad. What happened on 28th May 2002 was wrong. We hate them and everything they stand for.

2) Trust ownership and the way that AFCW does everything is the way forward

3) I’ve gone to another game but my real point is to tell you how shit it is and how good AFCW is

I’m really not joking – at least 75% of the latest edition was exactly that. And after the first article of that tone, we really do get the idea pretty damn quickly. Surprised it didn’t have an FCUM article in there.

OK, you do get the odd thought-provoking article from time to time, but it does appear that the publication doesn’t really have much else to say Which for the season we’re having is amazing. I get the impression that since the run-in(s) with certain people at AFCW, the publication has been neutered somewhat. It always seems to struggle between being a fundraiser and being an “independent” outlet, and I don’t think it’s ever fully succeeded dealing with that paradox.

I would suggest that it doesn’t go “controversial” for the sheer sake of it either. It’s called faux-outrage for a reason, and it’s also very easy to do badly.

Part of its problem for me is that it doesn’t publish that regularly anyway. If it came out monthly, or once every 5 weeks, it would eventually build up its own regular contributor pool, and as a result gets its own “voice”. Not to mention generating more £££ for the club. As it stands, it only comes out once in a blue moon, and goes down the route of “just say something to fill up space”. For a publication, that’s a killer.

For the purposes of this section, I’ve just dug out two random old WUPs from the vast SW19 Towers library : the WUP For The Cup Premier Challenge Cup Final special, whenever that was, and 3.5, which was about 2006 (in the DA era, anyway).

While not every article hit the spot, and I don’t think WUP has been very good at humour anyway, the earlier ones did at least appear relevant to the season happening. In fact, in the latter one it was bemoaning that there weren’t enough people contributing articles, despite it being the fifth edition of the season. I stopped contributing for various reasons, but one problem I had was that there was nothing I could write for it that was different to what I was doing on here. Duplication equals irritation, and all that.

But if people know that it is coming out each and every month, at least they might put fingers to keyboard and give a different slant to something currently on their mind. True, there’s the very real risk of filler taking up the pages, but I would prefer that to yet more backslapping. Besides, some filler can end up being the most notable bits of work.

I will get the upcoming 7.4, and hopefully it will make me reconsider the above comments. I would rather buy a fanzine than a programme anyway. I just don’t like to read something that I’ve known since 2002…

By the way, if anyone thinks I’m picking on WUP, I’ll say this : in the last couple of months, I’ve picked up two recent editions of fanzines that were an influence to SW19 back in the early years – Red Issue (Yernited) and Gooner (Arse). I was disappointed in both of them, and they have bigger readerships and more regular editions than our own fanzines.

Personally, I think fanzines are dying anyway.  I haven’t read a good printed one for a long while. True, the internet with blogs and messageboards have made the medium a tad redundant, but even so with football’s recent problems they should be thriving? Or perhaps there’s only so many times you can say that football is fucked…

So, was it worth it? Cold, miserable, and taken me close on 20 hours later to come up with this “report”. Guess how much it was worth it.

In a nutshell: Can you give minus figures for match ratings?