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Trial and error

So, we’ve finally signed Ed Harris, Fraser Franks and Delano Sam-Yorke. Or to put it another way, we’ve signed a local radio DJ, a gangster and a 1970s soul singer.

Actually, considering how long we’ve looked at them we always felt a bit duty-bound to put their names on contracts, didn’t we? Franks was certainly somebody who would have been justifiably aggrieved had we not signed him – he was, IIRC, the only one from that triallist game at the end of last season who was called up again for pre-season training. And despite the fact he has a slight resemblance to Alan Reeves, he certainly has earnt his contract with us.

As they all have, to be fair. I think it was obvious that some triallists weren’t going to make it (the Korean guy), and some looked promising but needed an answer quicker than we wanted to give (Rene Steer). But this has to be the first pre-season in the AFCW era where the triallists have been better than who we have got rid of previously.

We now have backup in two vital areas, namely the centre of defence and up front. And I doubt if I’m alone when I say that I’d rather have Franks and Harris than Mambo on loan. They’re our players now, and not a season-long loanee whose wages would be shrinking the squad. We may think we don’t need them now, but we will certainly need to rotate players come the winter, if not before. And as the Ks game especially showed, it’s not like the new boys aren’t fitting into the first team.

The rumour mill suggests that Reece Jones will be talked with (contract wise) when we’re down in yokel land this weekend, so whether that is a goer or not remains to be seen. One thing did pop out from TB’s comments on the OS:

“I am delighted to announce that I have managed to squeeze some of the Premier League money out of Erik and we’ve increased the size of the squad to 20 players.”

Anyone else having visions of Mr Samuelson in a darkened room right now, muttering to himself about fixed rate interest accounts and shakingly trying to construct a pie-chart on his now smashed laptop? You can certainly imagine the fear on the faces of the security guards, as he gets dragged to our Knightsbridge safety deposit box and is forced at gunpoint to hand over the money.

I’m not suggesting that Erik is prudent with money, but if he’d been WFC chairman in the 1975 FAC run we’d still have the prize money in the bank from beating Bath City.

Some may feel unease that not for the first time, our budget has gotten over-spent. I look at it this way – without wishing to boast too much, if I needed a brand new car tomorrow, I could go out and buy one without having to pay any further monthly installments on it. But I don’t want to, because it would mean dipping into more savings accounts than I would like. I could also buy a decent enough second hand car tomorrow too, at significantly less money, and as I need my own vehicle I would not begrudge paying it. I could save my money of course and not buy a car, but that would seriously restrict what jobs I could take on.

I feel the same way about us going over budget in this way. To this day, I refuse to accept that a club with 3000 attendances, at least half of those with season tickets, and a penchant for merchandise wouldn’t have any money if push came to shove.

What we have and are prepared to spend is for 3/4 decent young players rather than the Crawley-esque marquee player. We’re going to need those 3/4 at some point – we could have told TB not to spend any more money and to keep under budget. But then what would happen if Yak got injured? Christ, we’ve already lost Nokkers this pre-season, so Sam-Yorke coming in is a relief.

And it’s not like we’ve been wanton with the spending either. It turns out that had Gregory not been cleared through a scan, we would have had to get a replacement for him instead of at least one of today’s signings. Because of a bit of luck injury wise (for once), we now have enough bodies in the squad.

Over budget? As long as we can make that up in the season in one way, shape or form, I’m not unduly worried.

One final comment. I didn’t bother putting up TB’s post-Ks interview, because it meant I would have had to do a Ks match report. And there’s only so much I’m willing to do for this site. However, he did mention this in passing – we’ll be looking to play our stiffs against the likes of Reading reserves a bit more next season – by the looks of it, a lot of the bigger clubs are cutting down on their second XI squads, and apparently aren’t entering teams into reserve leagues so much.

Why, I don’t know, but if these sides are releasing some talented youngsters like a fart after a curry, then they must have some seriously high operational costs. Anyway, good for us all the while we’re not in the Combination, but there was this from our manager : in order to actually get to these games, we’re after use of a minibus.

Now, I’ve got no idea how much they are to rent, although a 17-seater costs about £25k. Surely this is one of those occasions where various fan factions could do a fundraising drive – assuming the commercial department can’t arrange some sponsorship deal with somebody that gets us an LDV in the process. This is one of those money-raising exercises that has a tangible goal at the end – in other words, unlike some other fundraising events where it goes to this abstract concept called AFC Wimbledon, you can drive past it on a motorway seeing what exactly your money went towards.

From what I can gather, a percentage of the youngsters we have come from single-parent backgrounds, and therefore arranging lifts to away games isn’t always so easy. If a talented youngster knows we’re going to make it easier for him to get a foothold in the game even by just getting to a fixture, we could have a future first teamer on our hands. As Mark Hughes said when he went from Barcelona to Bayern Munich, he immediately noticed the difference when Bayern gave him a car and directions to the training ground…