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Lamb Stew

Now that’s more like it, AFC Wimbledon – Lambs 2 Slaughterhouse 5, and the kind of performance a club at the top of the pile should be putting on.Especially at this stage of the season…

While attention of a certain Conference side playing in Manchester was elsewhere (including some of our own support, and yes there will be something about this later on), what we did up in the cold, drab Midlands was just as important. No, it won’t win the title, but these sort of results don’t exactly make you lose them.

It’s no exaggeration to suggest that this could have been 7-0 or even 8-0. DK hit the bar, missed a one-on-one (and boy, that could have proved costly), and as for their goals….

Look, we’re not perfect in defence, even now. I can kind of understand letting in a goal soon after you’ve scored, but to play like you lick windows for a good 15 minutes and nearly end up on the losing side is not the sign of a title winning side. We are still prone to moments of outright stupidity, as our second goal will illustrate.

When they equalised, everyone just looked around at each other and shrugged their shoulders. Barf, anyone? We really had played so well in the first half, which I think made it even worse. And this is why I don’t believe we’ll win the title, because we are still too prone to fucking it up. It was only a 15 minute period where everything went wrong, but it’s no small matter when you spend 75 minutes putting it right.

Still, along came Drewe B and all was right with the world again. Slotting home cooly from 25 yards out (after some good DK work) is not to be sniffed at. Even if it did appear to go in at 3mph. When we got that penalty, and DK put it away, even we couldn’t have thrown it away by then. Of course, the fifth goal rounded it off nicely…

So, what? It’s another three points on the board for starters. A well earnt three points too, as we were (mostly) in control. Others may have many games (probably too many) in hand over us,  but it’s still better to have the points than a series of 90 minutes ahead. We can’t afford to slip up ourselves, but the chasing pack have to win every spare game to overtake us.

We certainly have confidence and a bit of that all-important belief, which has been missing for a fair bit of this season. It’s why we can somehow throw away a two goal lead and still end up winning by three goals – I wouldn’t have said that earlier this season, let alone this time last year. We look like a team who have come this far and don’t want to let it go without some sort of a fight. Both Crawley and Luton seem to treat us as an afterthought, that we’re only keeping the seat warm for them, which may end up being a good motiviation.

From what we’ve seen, we’ve added well in the transfer window. Why Handy let Mulley go is a mystery, but we’re not complaining. Whereas last year we added for the sake of adding, we do look to have visibly improved this time round, which is kind of the idea of signing players. And these aren’t the young kids we’re getting in either – these players have been around a long time and have seen much of this before.

Anything can happen in this division and probably will. Ask Wrexham fans…

Plus points: We won. Away. Five goals. Could have been more. Ability to dust ourselves down and go up a gear again.

Minus points: No clean sheet. The 15 minutes after they scored their first.

The referee’s a…: Seemed to miss a couple of things, like corners and such like. But we won, so he is allowed to live.

Them: Crap,  basically. Which makes us awarding them two goals still sours what should have been a good day. Their players seemed to spend a lot of time on the floor, except when it was 2-2 for some reason.

Their mascot looked like Louie Spence in a sheep’s head uniform, although more camp. Speaking of which, did their fans sing? Apart from the usual pro-Franchise songs they love to sing with gusto, obviously in homage to our  new #31. Shame we ended shutting them up, which leads on to…

Song Sung Blue: Got a bit claustrophobic, so moved away in the second half, but our lot were on one today. Plenty of Depeche Moding, along with a song about Danny Kendall (?). Something about Mr Bronson’s car, if I recall clearly. Not to mention “Terry Brown’s having a party, bring your vodka and Charlie” – it’s nice that we’re extending the hand of friendship to Mr Koppel after all these venomous years.

The best was saved till last. After the usual taunts, the final whistle was about to blow and we all went “2-0 and we fucked it up”. This is probably my favourite sort of chant – self-deprevating, factually accurate and original. Not to mention that it’s pretty difficult to think of a retort to it…

Point to ponder: Whither Drewe Broughton? I didn’t know until earlier this evening that his contract at Lincoln runs out at the end of this season, so could he also be trying to play his way into our squad for the next campaign? Usual wage thing blah blah etc etc, although we’re fast getting to the stage now where we have to increase our budget if we want to keep this standard of squad.

It was a bit surprising he didn’t start, but if he only trained with us yesterday it’s just as well. And to be fair, he did win over some critics (informal vox popping beforehand suggests some Wombles are very bitter over his signing), and scoring on your debut is never a bad thing. Unless your name is Nathan Elder…

OK, that’s unfair. Him and DK seemed to work pretty well together, which is always a good start. Time will tell on how well he does, and whether he’ll fizzle out like  he’s done at so many other clubs, but he did a lot to help us win today and deserves slack for that. Maybe he could end up being the answer? And if he is, perhaps we should sign more ex-Frenzies…?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Mellotron solo. About three people will get that one.  (2) Have we stopped using Repson coaches? The team comes in a very nice York Pullman one (saw it at Bootham Crescent and thought we were having to hire locally), while the plebs supporters come in Epsom Coaches. (3) Spotted : Steve Staunton, the crappiest Ireland manager since the Free State days. Scouting, no doubt. Unless he was after a job.

Anything else? OK, we are allowed one mention of Crawley today. The picture below sums up everything I would ever want to write:

This was actually taken at Warwick services, around 11.30am, just before 10 coachloads of people from Sussex turned up. No WUM. People everywhere sporting freshly purchased scarves and flags and other hastily produced memorabilia, so much so that there were no less than three of the above photographed village idiots selling their wares.

And as I saw these coachloads of red-and-white scarved daytrippers crowd outside the over-run building, with one minibus sporting a “Team Tubberino” banner done on somebody’s Epson, the question had to be asked – just how jealous was I of them today?

The answer is quite simple. Not a lot.

No, I’m not saying that purely to downplay the occasion. For any Crawley fan who was watching them under Francis Vines, or the 37 who went to the Racecourse Ground, today really was their cup final. Fair play to them, and I do genuinely mean that. But the other 8000 there today were just interlopers, most of whom were adding a trip to Old Trafford as a nice day out, to tell the guests at their next dinner party.

I’m not jealous because I saw two sides of football supporting today, and know what one I’d rather be a part of. The first one was our good selves, 105 miles away from home, having a good sing song, getting behind our team, actually willing us to win and getting the victory. 600+ is  pretty good. We cared about today, that’s why we went.

On the flip side, I saw Crawley “fans” who will no doubt never go inside Broadfield again, if they ever did. Maybe on the odd occasion, when there’s a reason to be seen there. But try waving any AFCW related merchandise at them (such as a programme while passing yet another bus) and all you got was blank stares. You could see them asking the question to themselves : what division do AFC Wimbledon play in?

While this bit of education was going on, R5 was being kind/arselicking, and one of their directors was going on about how this would make Crawley a legitimate League club, assuming they do go up. Look, I know Crawley (the place) a lot more than I should, and it’s real New Town terrain. Those at OT today are the ones who are found in their shopping centre, or hanging around Sports Direct on that street that leads to the big forecourt, or near the Poundland that sells soft porn, or TJ Hughes, on a Saturday afternoon whenever Evans and co are at home.

Yes, they might pop along to the odd game now, but that’s all it will ever be. They are, and always will be, Woking with money. For a proper Crawley fan, to see 9000 “supporting” your side was great on one level but depressing on another. Will they go up to the other Premiership ground in Manchester for a playoff final, if they make it? Some might, because they can go around the Yernited megastore again, but most will have had their nice little trip up North for that season.

While Crawley should be challenging us, anything they do now will be anti-climatic. As the old saying goes, how can you keep them down on the farm when they’ve seen Paris? In our case, we’ve not only seen the French capital but bought a flat in Clichy-sous-Bois as well. There’s that question of motivation from now on – how do you top a trip to Old Trafford?

For us, while AFCW has yet to have a fixture like that, I would bet most of us reading here have seen Premiership WFC at those sorts of places, so for us it’s not totally new. And while it would have been nice to see us at OT instead of them today, I can wait a little while longer. We’ll get there eventually, and it will mean so much more to us when we do.

Yes, Crawley have the money, and the nice headlines at the moment, but as soon as the momentum stops they’ll be back to 1000 people against Tamworth again. You know it, I know it, and deep down they know it too. Think of how “inevitable” it was that Chelmsford were going to over-take us in crowds and stature. Where are they now?

It’s often been said on SW19 that I wouldn’t swap the future of our club for anyone elses’ in this division. While that’s been tempered with Luton and Oxford last season, it’s still a school of thought that I happily believe in.

And from what I saw today, that certainly includes Crawley.

So, was it worth it? Indeedy.

In a nutshell: Would you like mint sauce with that?