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Stag do

As I sit here right now with four cans of Murphys, in my digs in deepest Derbyshire , with the sounds of the M1 northbound between J28 and J29 reassuringly in the background, safe in the knowledge that I can go to bed at 2am if I choose and not still be on the road, I console myself with the fact that I don’t find winning games sexually arousing.

Because if I did, after Stags 2 Gamekeepers 5, you would be able to hang your entire towel collection on my beef bayonet right now.

This was different to the stuffings we used to dish out in the CCL. They were mismatches, in more ways than one. Even the 5-2 against FGR last season had a bit of meh about it. This one?

Those with longer memories may recall the WFC days, when we played Crystal Palace on Good Friday in 1993, in front of the Sky cameras, and put in a similar performance. I for one will hope AFCW do a DVD of this game, just to prove how good we were.

And we were, let’s not do ourselves down  here. At times, especially during the first half, I sat back in the press box, watching Hatton ping it to Yak who pinged it to either Jolley or Jackson and I thought “I’m enjoying this”.

OK, there was always the thought in the back of my mind that Mansfield would come back at us, and we would show some brittleness. But it didn’t really happen, even when they pulled it back to 2-1. Mind you, us going up a gear helped, and when DK scored his ever-so-slightly-offside third goal, that really killed them off.

Obviously, Moore’s second and Ryan Jackson’s thunderbolt did the trick, and even their late goal didn’t really dampen things. The weird thing is, it hasn’t entirely sunk in yet. Maybe it will as I drive  t’south down the M1 tomorrow. Quite possibly, it won’t.

See, it wasn’t many days ago that we were moaning and cursing playing shit against FGR. Then, we looked leggy, lethargic, clueless and couldn’t wait to go home. Tonight, it was impossible to believe it was the same set of players.

Why do we have such a split personality like this? No doubt Wrexham will be an absolute stinker of a game, but tonight was close to perfect. If it was 6-1 nobody could have complained. Hell, 7-1 or 7-2 wouldn’t have been far out of kilter…

We could analyse it over and over, but fuck it. It was a damn good performance, the kind you hope for once in a while and then walk around in a daze after you actually get it. To quote TB off the record afterwards, make the most of these kind of games because they don’t come around too often…

Plus points: 7.45pm to 9.45pm

Minus points: Well, we let in two goals, I suppose.

The referee’s a…: You know when you’re going to have a good night when the referee is clearly wearing your team shirt underneath his uniform. Put it this way – when the regular referee baiter in the press box is quietly content with his performance, you know you’ll want the same official every week…

Them: You know how in the WFC days we always loved playing Norwich because we usually beat them. Mansfield are the AFCW era equivalent. I have to be honest here and admit that before the game I would have accepted a draw, certainly against a decent enough side.

It’s not they were bad as such, I just think they couldn’t cope with us with the kind of mood we were in tonight. Once we went 2-0 up, they wondered what the hell had hit them.

This was my first ever visit to Field Mill, and I think it could fast become one of my favourites. The three new stands are pretty good, and it was a decent enough view from the sidelines. One for the AFCW stadium planning team, maybe? Hell, they’re even in blue and yellow…

We were clapped off at the end by the locals, in case you didn’t know. Fair play to them, if we ever go up as champions then Mansfield are one of the others who I’d like to see us go up with us. Even if it’s because it’s six guaranteed points…

Point to ponder: Isn’t it nice to win a game where you can safely say it was our best performance of the season? I’ve lost count in the last few years how many times that’s happened – Luton, Kiddie and FGR were all saying that about us in recent weeks, and when we got gubbed 5-0 at York last season, a discussion in the toilets afterwards with a local suggesting that they’d had their best performance in many a year…

And no, that is not as dodgy as it sounds. Well, OK, maybe it was. Especially as I was with our Northern scout at the time…

Anyway, it’s one of those games where I could be picky and suggest something like we should have kept a clean sheet (perhaps we should, but Mansfield are a decent side), or poor Jon Main looks as confident as a virgin in a brothel. But for once, I won’t.

Three’s a crowd: Out of 2699 in the ground, 209 were from us. Those who went, you could be heard on the other side of the ground. Trust me.

In two minds about that figure. It’s a sod of a journey in the evening, and over 200 isn’t bad for this level of football, but part of me does think we should have taken more. The days of taking 1000+ to away games is long gone, although many of them were on our doorstep. 300-1000 seems to be the norm now, depending on who we’re playing and when.

Mind you, 2699 full stop isn’t a lot. Or is it…?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) “We are staying up”. Our fans after about 80 minutes. Funny thing is, before the season started that was our top priority. (2) Our manager admitting that he’d quickly get the mandatory interview over with because he wanted the bar. Who does he think he is? Joe Kinnear? On second thoughts, OGEM used to go to the bar before press conferences. And that is certainly not libellous… (3) Anyone see at the end their mascot running around with a fuck-off big flag trying to rally everyone? Hint – it usually works when you’re 5-2 up…

Anything else? OK, I mentioned about the crowd earlier, but I don’t like this concept of announcing away attendances over the PA. Yes, I know we have a respectable regular away turnout (oh, the irony…) but I can’t help thinking how patronising it is.

Yes, FGR had 31 going to KM last Saturday. And yes, I know that my formative footballing years involved Wimbledon hosting Liverpool and Yernited and Spurz and Arsenal, so to me taking 200 to a venue that is 170 miles one way on a Tuesday evening still feels a bit on the low side.

But even though our 209 were given a nice round of applause (without any obvious hint of sarcasm), I still don’t feel comfortable with it. Anyway, what do Crawley do with this sort of thing? When Luton or Grimsby (or ourselves) go down to the Broadfield and take over, do they announce the attendance as 1…?

So, was it worth it? 5-2. Away from home. Playing well. If I’m happy, then anyone complaining really is a cunt.

In a nutshell: Get out the Hawaii 5-0 music…