As I’m heading to Southampton rather than Kettering tomorrow, a couple of very quick pre-game thoughts…
– Is it too early to wonder what’s going to happen if we don’t win tomorrow? In the last two weeks, we’ve lost one game where we were pretty bad, got away with a last minute winner in the game we won (and gave away a two goal lead in the process), and weren’t so lucky with the game we drew.
In other words, we’re not playing that well right now.
Obviously, expectations have risen since we were briefly top, but even so you kind of get the feeling the momentum could stall if we don’t put on a good performance. There are a couple of shades of last year, most notably up front : neither Main nor Luke Moore are performing, something that TB himself has pointed out.
Some may find that harsh from our manager, but unfortunately for Main and Moore they are now professional footballers. They train 4/5 times a week, have more coaching than ever before, and therefore the demands on them are higher. As a club, we now cannot afford – literally – to have underperforming players.
To be honest, neither of them have set the early season alight. You could argue that Main in particular is being unfairly singled out because he’s been asked to play wider than usual. Trouble is, last season he was playing in his more natural position yet it took him until FGR away (around this time last year) before he started to net goals. And we can’t afford a second season with that.
Are Main and Moore (Luke) playing on reputation alone? Have the both of them have, if anything, been fortunate because Nokkers hasn’t been fit? Yes, it may be harsh and a little unfair, but this is the professional game now. It’s rather cut-throat…
– Speaking of cut-throat, the first of the Premier (sic) Sports hijacking got announced last night. And predictably, our game at Kenilworth Road has been moved to the Friday. I suppose we could count ourselves lucky that it wasn’t Darlington away on the Friday, and no doubt we’ll end up with Crawley at KM being moved.
There’s plenty of moaning about the contest being shunted about, and if you find you can’t now go it’s a serious pisser. But for anyone complaining that football should be at 3pm and 7.45pm on Tuesdays – where have you been for the last 20 odd years?
I know we’ve been sheltered from games getting moved since 2002, I can count on one hand the non-Saturday-at-3pm games we’ve had (Viking Greenford, Wycombe and Millwall in the FAC, and now I’m struggling), so obviously this is going to be a culture shock for us again. But hang on – in the WFC days we were more than happy to accept games being moved to Sunday/Monday for Sky. “At last, a bit of exposure for us” was the cry back then.
We were hardly holding the moral high-ground back then when it came to the “purity” of kickoff times back then, although these days we’re rather keen to rush to the summit when it suits us 😉 Admittedly, I’m biased about moving KO times because if anything I can get to see more games. That said, if I’d booked to go to Kenilworth Road then suddenly can’t go, I’d be pretty pissed off too.
But we’ll get used to games getting moved for TV, it will just mean a bit of forward planning. Which, incidentally, is another reason why this deal is pissing people off – making forward planning for a Wrexham or Barrow away is nigh on impossible right now because we simply don’t know if it’s going to be moved. If they’ve planned the games and they’re agreed, then at least have the courtesy (or guts) to announce them.
This TV deal has hardly received ringing endorsements as it is, and for those who do go to the games (and therefore make the actual broadcast a little less tinpot), they are now being told to put themselves on tenderhooks. Apparently, one club in the Conference has agreed to moving a fixture for TV, but aren’t officially announcing it because they actually fear a backlash in announcing it. How true it is I don’t know, but the worrying thing for the Conference Board and Prem Sports is, I can well believe it.
And I doubt if there’s just one club in that predicament right now.
Anyway, I note that AFCW has announced they’re showing the Newport v Wrexham game on Sunday at Kaiserfeld. As somebody put it elsewhere this week, “why would I want to watch Newport twice in a week?”
– Finally, tomorrow is Non League Day. Basically, it’s some unofficial thing where because there’s no Prem/Championship games on, and the internationals are now being played on Friday night, there is a whole day where the bulk of football fans in this country have nothing to watch. So the idea is to encourage people down to their local low-level side and give them some much needed revenue.
It’s actually a good idea, but I can’t help wondering if it’s really going to be successful. Firstly, it hasn’t been that widely plugged – I expect the average fan has already made other plans for Saturday which don’t involve football. And if you don’t follow a non-league side, why would you read the NLP?
Secondly, and this is something that I’m not sure the non-league fraternity entirely grasps – in the WFC days when we had a Saturday off, how many times did you go to your local non-league ground? I expect most people only ever went once at most, because for all the talk of friendliness at games etc, and how unlike the Prem experience it all is, it’s still largely shit football.
I know that I went to a couple of Slutton/Ks fixtures back then, but gravitated towards Millwall instead for an alternative fix, because the whole experiences back then were actually quite depressingly poor. And I remember two well known Wombles who toddled off to Croydon Athletic on a day when a game at Selhurst got called off, and said about it “never again”.
Tomorrow should be a bit fuller than normal if you’re going up the M1, but I wonder how many times we’ll see comments this weekend of “I thought they would support their local grass roots side”…?
UPDATE (1330) : Looks like my prediction of Crawley at KM has come true. Additionally, according to the OS, our game at Kiddy will now be moved to the Sunday 26th September and Cambridge at Kaiserfeld will be moved to Weds 29th Sept.
Needless to say, people have already bought non-refundable tickets for the Kiddy train, and the club are looking like they’ll put on a free coach for them – great gesture, although one wonders about the logistics for those who don’t live near SW19, and whether they’ll benefit.
What I forgot to mention above was that this is the real bugbear of Premier Sports – it’s that we’re not making any obvious money out of it. If we got Â£10k per game, you would bite the bullet, but we’ll end up losing that amount now.
One other brief thought – perhaps Prem Sports could show our Kiddy game? I’m sure we’ll appreciate the extra Â£20 they’ll give us from it…