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Gates of Hell

If I was to tell you this whole report took 3 hours to compose, you may not quite believe me. Though it’s not helped by the fact that right now, there’s this song going around in my head. You may never have heard it before, but it’s quite apt:

Could it be the theme tune to this season? Or does it have more impact as a closing number, when the curtain goes down and the credits roll?

OK, it’s possibly unfair to rip us to shreds in the manner we’re doing. We finished 8th (though Chester surviving would have meant we’d finish a place or two lower), and this time last year you would have sold your mother to Fray Bentos to have that. And there’s something telling that we’re disappointed, to put it mildly, that we “only” finished at that position.

But close season is now here, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Case in point : yesterday, for the first time since about 1999, I decided not to go to a Dons game out of choice. Granted, it was a sod of a journey (although I could have made it if I’d pushed…) and there was no way I was paying top whack for the train fare, but for once, I didn’t feel I missed out. And at least it proves we also lose games when I don’t go 😉

It will not particularly surprise you to hear that I went to Millwall against Leyton Orient instead (which cost me £20, instead of £12, for those who want some perspective). It certainly won’t surprise you of my difficulty of trying not to smirk when heading the Franchise score. And needless to say, Millwall showed me what a goal looked like. I’d forgotten what one was, and I’m not being flippant either – it was a genuinely strange feeling to see somebody score in the flesh.

But what will be the most depressingly unsurprising thing to learn is that I didn’t know what our score was until 5.05pm. And barring a couple of text messages that didn’t get answerered (thus further compounding your editor’s paranoia) I had no real desire to find out either. When the muffled tones of Radio Five’s classifieds came through on a radio from an ice cream van outside the Den (yes, really), I just knew. We all knew, especially the 500 poor sods who stupidly bravely made the journey up to Toonside.

“His Name Is Jesus” kindly supplied a report below, which you can read at the end of this lot of blood-out-of-stone rambling. What his report clearly highlights though is how the whole thing has run out of steam. It’s not running on empty now, it’s running on the sludgy residue that will ultimately clog your engine up. Like a knackered boxer who has gone the entire 12 rounds, you can sense we’re trying to breathe up any remaining vapours just to get us through.

And that’s what we’ve now done. It’s over, the season is finally completed. And yes, we do have the LSC final on Wednesday, which for some reason I count as not being part of the season now. It’s going to be fun, and if we lose against the Met, it doesn’t really matter. Though I think we are due a victory, and it’ll be nice to go out on a high.

When the first announcement of players leaving comes out, I think the relief will set in. We’re currently in purgatory, in fact I’ll say we’ve been like that since the Oxford game at the Kassam, where we were shown just how behind we were in the grand scheme of things.

This has been a very mentally exhausting season for us. It does take a lot out of you when you go from preparing for the Weston Super Mares to preparing for Luton. Not just the players, but the fans too. Suddenly we weren’t the top dogs this season. Suddenly we have to book train tickets well in advance. We had to do a lot more mental preparation this season, because of the gulf in class we had to jump up to, so is it any wonder that we ultimately fell short?

It wasn’t just the season ending on AFCW yesterday – a whole chapter did too. I doubt if we’ll sign the likes of Elder or Poole again anyway, but now we will need to be a bit more discerning with our purchases. Our scouting will need to be a lot more spot on. No more Belal Aiutowhateverhisfacewas. No more Graziolis. No more Elders or Pooles or Blanchetts.

On the other hand, the talent pool will be wider now. The “top” part time players that some still think we can pick up are no longer part time – in 2010, Jason Goodliffe in his prime would be earning his living from training four times a week as a pro player. We could do with his ilk next season, and who knows what is being planned in the manager’s office?

We should see less “impact” signings, as in ones that are supposed to come in and cause ripples everywhere. OK, a cynic may suggest that’s exactly what our loanees did, but now we can’t afford to make so many mistakes. Literally.

Anyway, we now get to experience Saturdays without any competitive football. Though come to think of it, that’s been the case since January. SW19 expects to be occupied with all the ins and outs, so this close season will fly by. And then there’s the World Cup….

Over to Jesus :

This is my first ever written review and i dare say my last, my normal verbal reviews take the following pattern ”we won” or since January ”we were shit”.

Mrs HNIJ has thretened to ban me from attending games such is the foulness of my moods, especially when returning from Themepark Kingsmeadow, but as nobody else can be arsed here is my attempt, but be warned -  if you want a pass by pass break down look away now.

Northerners 1 Soft Southern Namby Pambys 0

I along with a few other lunatics went by coach ! To be honest it wasnt that bad save for the person sitting next to me constantly waking me up by turning the air con off and fuckin on every 10 mins. I swear to god at times my part of the coach was like ice station zebra, which when your bladder is suspect does you no favours what so ever (people of a certain age will i hope sympathise) and no fuckin toilet on the coach !

How many light years away is Gatesheeed?  Well i will tell you its a lot ! 2 stops 1 for 30 mins and 1 for wee wees only. all this along with the fact that i knew we would lose just like I predicted we would against Grays,H&Y Tamworth and countless others, but I thought last game the players would go out with a bang and we could end the season on a high.

Well going a goal down after 5 mins to yet another soft goal set the tone i think, anyone who did not go and wasnt on line may think it was a close game (SW19 – like, er, me…). No it wasn’t, we lost 1-0 simply because Gateshead’s front line were shocking. Yes im talking worse than Elder !

It would be fair to say that we should have been 5-0 down at half time but for some comical misses. Gateshead were of course up for the match as they needed the win to avoid relegation, but in all honesty they could have put any team out and got the win. I don’t know what players will remain next season and quite frankly i could not give a toss who we get as long as they show a bit of fight, something that has only been shown by maybe 2 or 3 players

It seems each game we have played since January save for the odd miracle ie Luton and Mansfield, and looking back on those results now says more about the opponents on those days than us

It’s not the losing that hurts though, I am a bad loser. It’s the way in which we have just it seems given up and everything has become predictable, same style of play same formation same lack of plan when things go tits up.

Yes we have finished 8th, yes before the season hands would have been ripped off and we would have danced in the streets for it but fuck me we seem to have thrown it away. Were we good enough to go up this season? No we weren’t but i think we could have challenged more, I dont think the play offs were beyond us at all. Some say we are spoilt by past promotions and some say the start we had was again the team spoiling us !

Well I say bollocks. We were challenging because we were getting stuck in we didnt give any team respect and we were winning or at least trying to win, a feeling I’ve forgotten. Yesterday’s game summed everything up – save for 2 or 3 players, no fight, no idea, no passion and no fuckin shots at goal, and I’m not including the shot that endangered the corner flag.

Gateshead should and could have won that game 6-0 – yes 6-0. Just let that scoreline sink in. I will say it again in case you missed it : 6-0. That’s how bad we were. I wish i could tell you more about the match but once we went 1 down that was it, I knew it and so did the other travelling hoard of Dons faithfull, and it was a case of when  not if they scored again.

But the curse of Elder appears to have encamped there and we were lucky if you can call it that. The youngsters looked quite promising but you just know that next season we will not only be saying that the corners and free kicks aren’t worth having but so are the long throw-ins. Why oh why are we so shit at set plays? It should be bread and butter but its more like bread and drippin.

You are probably thinking we did nothing all match? Well, no, we got forward a couple of times 2nd half and we probably had maybe 2-3 shots and the same number of long throws, that I am afraid is that.

Plus points: Next season has to be better surely to god? The fans yesterday, one word – brilliant. Admitedly most were pissed but at least we were up for it and the singing was fantastic, and I haven’t laughed so much at a game for ages. It was at least to me a promotion party. Add this to the half time sing song at the bar has taken the bad edge off what has been in my mind only an ok season.

Minus points: The 90 mins of shit out on the pitch once again. 14 hours on the coach with a fuckin penguin

Ref: Who cares? Didnt think he did anything wrong apart from getting the match started

Them: Nice enough people, quite liked the ground which surprised me due to the running track, thank fuck they had the curse of Elder

Was it worth it? Was it fuck. Hang on I’ve forgotten the moment of the day which really summed everything up  SONG : CAN WE HAVE A SHOT ON GOAL?

See you all next season. Now fuck off