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We were top of the league

How does the song go again? Top of the league, we’re having a laugh, isn’t it? After Easyjet 3 FlyGlobespan 0,  I don’t think many people left Bedfordshire last night with much of a smile on their face. There certainly are even less happy expressions after Crawley got their 92nd minute winner against Gateshead…

Personally, I don’t mind not being top again for now. Last night in deepest Bedfordshire we proved it was a false position. One of those nights? Or a team that looked like it started to believe its own hype? I think the term “reality check” came up a fair bit afterwards. Having been all cock-a-hoop this past week, being top, having a few favourable column inches and planning trips to Northampton Town already, the Footballing Gods decided to have a bit of fun.

Apart from the first two minutes, we just didn’t have anything. We didn’t have a plan B (apparently, we played EXACTLY the same way against Barf as we did last night, tactically wise), we didn’t have the requisite experienced heads in there, we didn’t have much of a midfield, or much up front, or any way of getting back into the game.

If we had managed to keep it at 1-0 by half time, we might have got something. Their second goal was helped by Seb Brown getting, ahem, “blocked”, although if we can’t defend set pieces we don’t deserve even a sniff at the playoffs.

Once their third goal went in, that really was it. By this stage I was having visions of 4-0 or 5-0, although to our credit we mostly didn’t let our heads drop.

I say “mostly”, because Andre Blackman did. He got the booking he needed to miss Crawley on Thursday, and to  be honest I don’t think we’ll miss him. Him and Jolley kept getting in each other’s way, and you got the impression when things weren’t going well his shoulders slumped and became a passenger.

As I wrote this, the rumour mill suggests that he allegedly spat at somebody in the crowd. Obviously, we’ll see how this pans out, but it doesn’t get any easier for him, does it? And the sad thing is, most of it appears self-inflicted.

He is still a kid, and while he’s got Championship level talent, if he doesn’t start showing maturity and learn how to suck it up, he’ll be just another sorry statistic of a wasted talent. There are loads of talented kids who are on the scrapheap because their mind wasn’t right. Could Blackman be yet another one? He’s got two years to prove otherwise, assuming he gets that long.

Other than that, I’m not really sure what else to say. And yes, I know I’m a jinx. We must be a good side, otherwise we wouldn’t be top (at least, until Crawley won today). But apart from Histon, I don’t think I can remember us having a good game this season. When things don’t go our own way, we don’t play nearly as well, Luton proved that painfully last night. Still, when I end up in A&E on the day of a game after I get run over outside my drive, the police will have 3000 suspects…

Plus points: At least it was on Premier Sports, so nobody saw it.

Minus points: 7.47pm to 9.40pm.

The referee’s a…: Shouldn’t blame refs when you lose, but certainly had alternative intepretation of the law for their second goal. Maybe he was involved with this morning’s new cricket fix allegation?

Them: Let’s face it, there was a kind of inevitablilty about them coming at us and gubbing us in this manner. We didn’t half steal a victory there last season, and they made up for it. Time will tell if they will go up, they have as good a chance (if not better) than us. They are effectively in September 2010 where we’ll be in September 2011. Apparently, it was their best performance for some time, and it had to be. Just our luck that like York last season, the top performances from oppositions always come against us.

Got to say, Luton really is a shithole. I went for a quick piss in the Galaxy Centre Leisure Complex in the town centre, and it was the sort of place you expect a knifing to happen. A modern-day equivalent of a penny arcade with a bar. Bright. Oh, and it has a tourist info place, which means that Morden will be getting one soon…

Three’s a crowd: Despite Premier Sports buggering up everyone, we still managed to get 633 of us into the ground. Don’t need to repeat again how many more we would have had if it was today – or indeed, if we’d had more than three weeks notice that it was getting moved. Still kudos to those who went and got to watch the game in 4D.

As for the bar/carvery being open for it at KM, of which 300 people turned up,  if we were shunted to a Thursday evening at Grimsby, it would make ideal sense to plug the club’s facilities. Last night though, there was a sense that it was pushing people away from Kenilworth Road who otherwise could have made it…

Point to ponder: Now that Crawley is going to be another biggie, can we please, please leave the whole Steve Evans circus at home for this?  We have a young team that as yet can’t figure out how to avoid distraction, and losing streaks can be as habit forming as winning ones. We did at least keep plugging away at Kenilworth Road, even though we were going nowhere, and that was in part due to a following that was still getting behind the team.

Personally, and I know I’m in a minority of one here, I would like us to forget any stunts for the cameras on Thursday and just get behind our players, who will be mentally hurting today. Winning games is the best way of getting “revenge” (be it real or perceived) after all. I don’t want to sound like an uptight smart-arse, but I really can’t help thinking on Friday morning, I’ll be sitting here in SW19 Towers and be typing “told you so…”

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Clapping the team off as though we’d won 3-0. Go figure. Unless of course we were better than the scoreline suggested. (2) “Could be worse, we could live in Luton”. New chant, started 10 minutes before the end, and reportedly carried on all the way to St Pancras. (3) One “feature” of Kenilworth Road is the houses in the away fans entrance. Apparently, they were originally built for players to live in. There’s a joke in here somewhere, although I guess the satellite dish may cause more mirth, especially as they probably don’t have Premier Sports either

Anything else? Yeah. Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my last article below. In hindsight, I should have split it into three sections due to its length – some people who started reading it on Thursday still haven’t finished it. There is no truth to the rumour that Rabbis all across the world have printed it out and given to their flock to get them through the fasting bit of Yom Kippur…

I’ve made some mental observations over the reaction that I will keep to myself for now. I will say this though : I think the gap between the “activist” fan and the “ordinary” fan is becoming wider. The former is starting to take on a more strident role, which comes with it a lot more intensity. And a distinct lack of humour to boot in some quarters. Although AFCW and its affiliated organisations have never been one to laugh at itself at the best of times 😉

Why I mention this is simple : as you know, I haven’t been to many games recently, so it was nice to get back to experiencing AFCW away from guestbooks and emails. A vanilla fan, if that’s the term you want to use. OK, we lost, but I enjoyed it – apart from the result, it was only the moaning gits complaining about people constantly standing up who refuse to go down the front that annoyed me.

And really, isn’t the whole point of AFCW to actually enjoy it? While Dave Boyle may dismiss that as anti-intellectual, it certainly felt right when we were walking outside afterwards expressing we’d rather live in Mitcham than Luton (probably). At times I get the feeling some people would rather it be the Presbytarian church or some student political party rather than a football club.

As I said in the article, we’re knackered and only really have one big push (stadium wise) left in us. Even if there’s some big decisions for the club to take in the near future, maybe a chill pill or a spliff should be dished out for some people. Otherwise, you just become the sort of fan who doesn’t want us to go up, because it means an extra £60k for the police control room, and we already have a debt of £120k. And really, is that what you should get out of a football club?

Remember, Harry used to say at the end of his programme notes “Enjoy the game”. TB ought to reprise it…

So, was it worth it? £18 for this?

In a nutshell: Second in the league, we’re having a laugh