Just in case you need reminding…
Funny how long ago it was, and yet only seems like yesterday.
About 10 months previously, we’d got rid of a fair amount of players (Winterburn and Gage, to name but two), which of course led to a few raised eyebrows. Was that iconic first season in the top flight about to be the swansong, and we’d go back to obscurity a la Swindon and Barnsley?
It’s just as well places like SW19 weren’t around back then, because you could imagine the reaction of getting a new manager in without much top flight experience. At the time, I wanted Malcolm MacDonald in, as he was heavily linked with us (he might have even been the bookies favourite at the time).
Needless to say, the Eyebrows himself came in, with the placation of Don Howe, and we bought in players like Terry Phelan, Clive Goodyear and John Scales. And Terry Gibson. You could imagine what SW19 was going to say about those…
Which is why, 22 years later, I’m trying to get my head around us signing Ks’ Christian Jolley. He’s a winger (which at least might make the diamond formation haters have a bit more hope), and he’s, er, well I don’t know much else about him. The Ks website doesn’t have any pen pics of him.
None the less, he’s described as “raw young talent” by TB on the OS, which presumably means he’s barely out of nappies and will take at least a year to become a starter in the BSP. His photo on the Ks site does make him look like a scaffold pole, although with presumably full time training and the fitness regime he’ll be put under, he certainly shouldn’t be written off before a ball has been kicked in anger.
Anyway, the Ks fans seem to think he’s enthusiastic and willing to learn, which is always a good start. More concerning though is that they think they’ve done very well out of us, much in the same way as we thought we did well out of Aston Villa for John Fashanu.
Yeah, I know.
Again though, we’re being unfair here. Jolley is going to one of a number of these type of signings, young and raw with a good attitude to learn and progress. What we were planning to do this time last season is now likely to actually happen this time round.
Which is all very well, of course, but we’re going to need to sign up a couple of the more experienced players ASAP too. When we signed Ricky Wellard last year, it was done under a backdrop of some pretty long drawn out negotiations. Jolley has been scouted a fair bit anyway, so we have to trust our management teams’ judgement here.
Still, Jolley’s our player now, and like all of our players (except Sam Hatton), everyone wishes him well. Just hope that the shock of seeing a crowd at KM doesn’t permanently damage him 😉
One part of his deal is that he’ll be back facing his old club sooner than we think. Yes, we get to resurrect the not very much missed Ks PSF. Wonder if we’ll get more than 300 people this time?
We don’t know when it will be played, but we are the designated home team this time. In fact, the OS has a list of the ones we’ve announced thus far:
Saturday 10 July Charlton Athletic (home)
Tuesday 13 July Maidenhead United (away)
Friday 16 July Millwall (home)
Saturday 24 July Opponents to be announced soon (away)
Saturday 31 July Exeter City (away)
Saturday 7 August Opponents to be announced soon (home)
Date TBA Kingstonian (home)
For once, it seems like we have a pretty decent pre-season ahead of us. No doubt we’ll have a couple more along the lines of Met Police, but there’s a notable absence of the usual FCUM wankfest we get each season.
Maybe this is a side effect of going full time? The three that jump out at us are Charlton (a first team, too), Miiiiiilllllllllwwwwwwwaaaaaaallllllllllll and a rather tantalising trip down to Exeter. So looks like rumours of a pissup bonding weekend down the West Country were true after all.
Looking at the schedule, one does have to wonder if another game will be scheduled down there. I don’t know what smaller sides play around there, although remember that the club doesn’t want to play at venues where the grass can cause injuries if it can avoid it. Christ, last year we were close to renaming ourselves ACL Wimbledon, and that was at places like Wrexham.
If we do get more of those sort of games announced, they’re likely to be triallist/reserve ones. There may be the odd gem amongst them, so they may be worth going along to. I will be interested to see how we approach these games as a full time outfit now – we’ve already had one closed-door game for triallists, though none further have been announced, and I suspect that we’re not in the business of “wasting” valuable pre-season time with them now.
Back to the first team, and we have an away game scheduled on the 24th. So, we can play the pre-season parlour game of speculating who it’s going to be. Chances are, it’s likely to be a team who we will make a future signing from, and with the usual PSF as payment (one hopes it happens to be a Spurz or West Ham youth player).
But as alluded to above, we seem to have less scope for PSFs now. Conference sides are obviously out of bounds, and playing a Slutton/Tooting type game is now considered too lowly for us. There are some potential CS sides that would give us a decent workout (Chelmsford and Woking, for starters), but other than that, who else? You have to start looking at teams in L2, and will Barnet/Orient/Wycombe really entertain us on their own patch?
There’s also the possibility that the 24th could be somebody from down the M4, en route to our “bonding” session. Trouble is, who? Guess we can forget Reading or the Bristol clubs, and Barf and Newport are in the Conf next season anyway.
Oh, and I forgot Maidenhead. And your editor has realised that he’s at Lords for Pakistan v Australia for that, so don’t expect an SW19 report for that one.
Anyway, pre-season is most definitely under way, with idle speculation and fantasy rumours. Just pray that the inevitable army assault course training planned won’t crock most of our team.
But then, it must have worked once. Look at the team that took to Wembley’s field two decades and two years ago…