Finally, close season has ended.
The long, drawn out days where absolutely nothing is happening gives way to trickles of information from the training ground. A player who isn’t sprinting as fast as he would have liked is deemed to be doomed for the start of the season, trialists are pointed out and cross-examined like a stranger in a village, and all of a sudden the first reserve pre-season fixture is treated like a mixture of the FA Cup final, the last day of the league season and the new day at school.
In other words, welcome to the surreal world of pre-season.
Anyway, we’re officially back into the swing of things now, and finally we have a new signing. Rashid Yussuff, a 20 year old midfielder who got released from Gillingham at the end of last season. He also has the bizzare nickname of Toks, pronounced Tooks. Sayeth TB:
“Toks is 20, and is a highly talented midfielder with blistering pace, great on the ball and predominantly left-footed. He was previously at Gillingham. He can play either left sided midfield or up front. He will add much-needed pace to last year’s squad and we will be looking for him to contribute on the scoresheet as well.
“He trained with the squad on our first day’s training today and along with the rest of the lads, trained very well and looked very fit. This was Stuart and my first opportunity to work with our new signings and we were both very pleased with what we saw.”
According to the ever-reliable Wiki, he’s a tall bastard at 6ft 1. His goals-for tally isn’t special but a bit more promising with regard to his talent, he’s played for England u16, u17 and u18. So he obviously has something going for him – you can’t be shit if you play for your national side, even if Ingerlund fans may argue to the contrary.
As many of you may have guessed, these are the sort of signings I was expecting us to get a few more of this close-season just gone. Yes, we do still need that experienced defender, and the hints are that somebody in the backline is coming this week. Whether a couple more like Toks will turn up is unclear, though one awaits to see who these triallists are.
But I have no problem with Toks coming to us. All round, I think we’re better off generally getting released promising youngsters from League clubs rather than dip into the Ryman Premier, bar the odd long-term diamond like Ricky Wellard.
You can argue about fitness levels, about skill and whatnot, or the “Wimbledon way”, whatever that was. However, there’s also an advantage these ex-League players have over non-league ones. It’s one we saw last year : a lad who has played for Gillingham’s first team, or Charlton, or Bristol City (in Andre Blackman’s case) isn’t going to shit himself by playing at places like Grimsby and Luton.
At some games last season (Oxford away and York away, to name but two), the players seemed a little overawed at the grounds they were at. Those that are still with us this season won’t be so apprehensive this time round, but replacing them with inexperience and hoping they’ll bridge both the on-field and off-field gap is one helluva gamble.
Remember the players we’ve had in the past who simply couldn’t cope with playing in front of a crowd like ours? For some reason, the name Nick Roddis springs to mind here. Can’t think why. And it’s not as though KM is the most intimidating venue in the Conference…
I would be interested to see in the upcoming period how and where we’ll be scouting for new talent. Apparently, we have people looking oop Norf for the next Danny Kedwell or Matt Everard, and from what I can gather scouting systems in that part of the world are often underdeveloped generally. If we can self-generate some more transfer cash, without constantly plundering the pockets of the supporters, we could pick up some legitimately promising talent in the near and long term future.
And that’s not forgetting what happens if/when we develop a proper youth-to-first-team system.
One person who won’t be joining us is Tom Hutchinson. This is a strange one, and something I hope we learn fromÂ – I know that it’s infuriating when the club won’t announce transfers until they happen, but we now know why they do it. We’ll probably never know what exactly happened here, whether we really had offered him a deal then changed our minds, or whether Hutchinson was trying to bounce us into signing him in public. Though it’s clear that it wasn’t AFCW making the noises…
The litmus test here was how many people were upset at him not joining us. The local hospitals haven’t exactly been inundated with a spate of AFCW fans slashing their wrists, and if/when we get the new CB in you’ll have forgotten him already.
Finally, thanks to a couple of people who pointed out where this Hogsmill site is (it’s behind KM). Again, I suspect it’s a bargaining chip for AFCW in negotiations. Something I expect LBM to be aware of, and something I hope is made clear to RBK too…