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It’s hard to think that we had a game yesterday, let alone one we actually won. But then, that’s the season winding down for you. JP has written something anyway, which will come later.

As usual with these sorts of things, something else always ends up taking priority. Such as the DT consulting its members about whether or not the club should bid to be a 2018 Public Training Facility.

Yes, you read that right. Here’s a Googledoc of it for us inferior non-DT members. Read, and digest.

Done that? Good. There may be questions later.

So, what to think? Firstly,  I remain unconvinced that England will actually get either 2018 or 2022. It does have a sense of paranoia about being “singled out” by UEFA/FIFA – in fact, Platini himself has condemned the Italian clubs and Real Madrid in much the same way as the Prem clubs get accused. Although that somehow never fits the narrative you get on this side of the English channel…

Anyway, we’ve been “invited to apply”, which you can read either one of two ways. It’s either a cyncial attempt to curry favour with us by the authorities, or it’s a recognition by them that we’ve done a lot of bloody hard work since 2002 and we are considered worthy enough to be involved. So there’s no guarantee any of this will get past the discussion stages at all.

The big issue here of course isn’t so much the proposal itself – as the blurb says, if Franchise weren’t involved we would have snapped their hands off at the suggestion. It’s the first time since the inception of AFCW that the bluff of the collective DT membership has been called.

What has come through the various inboxes this past 24 hours will make a fair amount of people uncomfortable. For the first time in close to eight years, a symbolic rejection of Franchise and everything they stand for will have a negative effect on AFCW too. If we turn down the offer to apply and England does get 2018, we’ve pushed ourselves out of the party. And for what?

Regardless of what you think of the FA, you could not buy the kudos and exposure that being a public training facility would bring. If we’re still having ground issues by the time any decision is announced, it would be one helluva bargaining tool to bring to the table of the next council meeting. And don’t forget, it won’t be a crappy bit of ground with portable floodlights and a few communal showers either. I quote…

The second type of training site has been created to help to meet the requirement placed on all competing teams to hold some training sessions in public.  It is easier to do this at a stadium rather than in a training facility which is not designed to take spectators.  We have been invited to apply to be one of this second type  –  a public training site.

It’s often forgotten how much of a whirlwind takes place during a big event. Take the Olympics in 2012 – right now, everyone is bitching about how much it costs, how it’s all a big waste of money etc etc. But when it all starts, everyone will get into it. During that time, if the Burkino Faso swimming team is practicing at Morden baths, you’d join in the fun and watch their public training sessions. Christ, ever been to Wimbledon Village during the tennis?

Should AFCW have a World Cup open training session, you’d go to it. And you’d be proud that people are coming to us – us – and not Staines Town. Worth remembering that the teams involved will be the ones who will play at Wembley. You know, Ingerlund’s group…

The trouble with this proposal is that because it has Franchise involved, emotions take centre stage. It’s understandable, of course, but now it’s going to be counter-productive to our development. Even reading the DT’s blurb for this proposal has a bit of a zealous tone to it. Perhaps it’s subconscious, but we’ve all experienced the wounds from it, some of which will never fully heal.

Unfortunately, this does lead to a bit of a blind spot. By that, I mean the use of the word “hypocrisy”, not only in the DT’s blurb but some of the voxpop comments I’ve been reading this past couple of hours. The thinking behind such charged terminology is that we’ve spent so much time lecturing warning people of  the dangers of Franchise that anything we now do that gives them legitimacy makes us hypocrites and without any principles whatsoever.

The truth is, in the real world of football, nobody gives a flying fuck about our “principles”.

If one was feeling slightly narky, one could say that we lost that moral high ground when we joined the FA structure and entered into the pyramid system. Let alone give legitimacy to Franchise by playing in the FA Cup. Where do you draw the line with “principles”? Although dogmatism would be a better term.

At times, our support can be breathtakingly insular, insecure almost. We have to be more than “just another football club”. We have to be unique. We have to tell the world how much we were shafted on 28/5/02. We have to say that we’re a fans club, staffed by volunteers. We have to be a political statement. We have to take the moral high ground. We have to be different, otherwise we’re nothing.

We don’t have to be anything except AFC Wimbledon. We certainly don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Increasingly, I think this need to make a moral stance is to justify it to ourselves, that there’s still an element of self-doubt over the whole AFCW “thing”. It seems most common amongst the, ahem, ideological elements of our support. As I just said, it’s insecurity, though I’ve no idea why people act like it.

You’ll have to take my word for this, but in the wider footballing world we wouldn’t gain any additional respect by rejecting this offer by the FA. In fact, we’ll be looked at as though we’ve just shoved our nob in the nearest bacon slicer. Those who go outside the AFCW bubble once in a while will know that as soon as you mention who you support, it’s always “bet you can’t wait to play Franchise”. Granted, if that fixture ever came about, it would be the ultimate headfuck, but they don’t say it to piss us off. They say it because that’s how 99% of football fans think. Rather than football fans being out of step with us, it’s more like the other way round.

Yes, we’ve got respect for what we’ve done thus far. Yes, Franchise aren’t popular and oppo fans don’t sing our name by accident. But we’re still generally treated as just another football club, and so are they. Perhaps that’s what some of our fans are scared of?

Personally, if it was up to me, I’d take up the proposal and totally forget about Franchise, the FA or any other axes to grind. Cutting your nose to spite your face just means you have one less way of breathing. I want what’s best for AFC Wimbledon, and these sorts of things can only be good for our continued development and respectability.

I just hope others feel the same.

Anyway, enough of that. We did play a game yesterday, and poor JP has been waiting patiently (again)…..

Well that was pleasant.  A day out for the AFCW volunteers, a nice pub lunch and a win! What more could you ask for?

In truth Mercenaries 1 Volunteers 3 was a relative stroll in the park (well more of a field).

It took us a while to settle down and get going, partly due to the squad rotation changes in the team, but once Poole rifled the first goal in, you sensed this was going to be an OK day. Hatton’s calm side-footed finish a few minutes later past a group of players into the bottom corner of the goal past the unsighted keeper showed he can exhibit a touch of class, and gave the Dons the unusual feel of control going into the second half.

That duly came and went with Kedwell getting a free goal when their keeper softly dropped the ball under a half-hearted challenge, before the euphoria of being 3 goals up lead to a total lapse of concentration that allowed Histon to get back into the game in under 20 secs. Cue a few brown movement moments in one’s pants that actually just turned out to be bad wind and in the end, it turned into a comfortable victory.

With Mansfield again trying their hardest to reduce their home season ticket sales for next year by losing AGAIN 0-1 to Wrexham at home, this win elevated us back up to 6th. But don’t get too excited. We are still 7 points off York having played the same number of games now.

In truth any playoff aspirations remain pretty much out of our hands. I reckon we need to pretty much win every game left and even then rely on some losses by York (well we could ensure one by beating them this forthcoming Thursday!) They still appear to be the main target for us. I suppose if R&Ds run comes to an end a la York we could still catch them (York only picked up something like 1 in 15 points during a recent run). And as a total outside bet, given their current form, what chance we could catch Oxford? (OK, I may be joking but when you can’t beat a side the week following their 8-0 loss, you do wonder …)

No, Monday at home to Stevenage – who suffered their first set back in a while losing at home to Luton – will be a much more significant game than I originally thought. Should be a good crowd and maybe a cracker! They’ll be looking to positively get back on track now after that loss, and though we played well in patches yesterday when we got the ball down, the fluidity of the early season still eludes us. Duncan, Blanchett and Poole though did show signs of giving us the attacking option that Hussey gave us before. But that’ll probably change with the squad rotation needs ….

A draw on Monday would probably be a good result and all we could realistically expect but I understand, as I wasn’t there, we did well at their place whilst under team selection adversity. So perhaps that is the reason for the unbridled optimism I was swamped with by Bubble on the coach to and from Histon.

Anyway …

Plus points: A win. A Grand Day Out. Team getting the result they deserved.

Minus Points: Another injury? Duncan came off at the end. Hendry’s booking.

The Referee is a …. surprisingly good representative of his profession. The Histon fans though would disagree. Pretty much agreed with all he gave, even if the Hendry booking was a little harsh. But he’d booked other Histon players for ‘over enthusiasm in the tackle!’

Them: Well apart from the cunt that called TB a prick after he complained about the Hendry booking they seemed ok. Only an 800+ with, I would say, getting on for 600 Dons suggests their season is being represented in the home crowd attending. Financial shenanigans are apparently beginning to take their toll. It looks like the village team that has over performed might be in for a reality check. They play was robust rather than cultured though they didn’t show any of the cynicism of R&D and York.

Point to ponder: If we could have scored the goals we scored today, from the relatively low-key performances we produced against a limited Histon, against the other weaker opposition we have recently played (Barrow and Wrexham) where would we actually be in the table. I reckon another 3 points (conservatively) to the good. So near and yet so far.

Truth is stranger than fiction:

1)     That for another match the players that stood out were Blanchett, Duncan and Poole. I had great difficulty nominating a MotM (but decided on Judge in the end). None of them have had a great press, but as some pointed out, a bit of a run in the team and a bit more time getting into and know the AFCW ways, might have seen them turn a corner. Whether they are good enough to be with us next season is still open to question but at the mo they are doing an ok job.

2)     The pub where the volunteers enjoyed their meal and drink was run by a Grimsby fan that, shall we say, had mixed feelings about that club’s plight. If they do come down it’ll be good for his business to say the least, at least one day in the year. And apparently there is a group of about 20 Grimsby fans that live in Histon. Why? (well it is a pretty village)

3)     Ryan Jackson. Comes on for Conroy and immediately starts hitting channel balls for Elder and Kedwell to pursue. OK, its not pretty football but defending a lead it is effective. It pushes those who are meant to be playing wider forward. Perhaps the likes of Poole and Hatton (playing on the right) need a few more of those to chase!

4)     Winning the coach competition guessing goal scorers, substituted players, total squad numbers and crowd size – I now have a squad ball to match the ’88 squad ball I have. Then winning £10 later in the lottery. Nice.

Anything else? Well, was another substitution of Conroy a sign? Their goal came from an attack down his side and I cannot recall him being anywhere to be seen. Did ok other than that but even as a fan of him, I am wondering if his is a lost cause – even if he hit a hat trick in all the games he plays in before the end of the season!

So was it worth it? Are you kidding? Don’t get to go to many away games, and see us win.

In a nutshell: Job done. One last hurrah against Stevenage, as a sign off for this season?