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Post Handy thoughts

Christ, do I really have to write something about the St Albans Handy game? I think my mental capabilities of doing just that have been drained after writing the Big Tissue last one. Guess this is what it feels like to be one of our players right now.

But I shall dig in and be brave. This was a must-win game that wasn’t, er, won. The only saving grace from last night was that we didn’t have to listen to the PA announcing that H&R Crawley got yet another 99th minute winner.

Seriously, this was awful. Despite a decent shit crowd of 29,943 708 this was flatter than Kylie Minogue’s chest circa 1988. Both on and off the pitch as well. Our passing was shit, our midfield was shit, the referee was shit, the whole vibe was shit. Tony Finn Kirk Hudson is not good enough to start. Neither is Tom Davis were half of them. Way too much has been placed on DK and JM’s shoulders, and we’re now seeing the logical conclusion to that.

All in all, this sucks.

Yet for some reason, when driving home last night…………………….


OK, maybe I can’t get away with lifting the St Albans report from two years ago any longer. Although you can read the rest of it here, and add your own updates.

Make no mistake about it, if you need any more proof that we won’t finish top then last night was it. This was awful beyond belief, even though we have now gained more points at Church Road in one evening than we have in the last two meetings.

Our passing was woeful, our midfield virtually non existant. When Drewe B went off, we managed to look even worse (and for those wanting JM and Nokkers back, if they couldn’t make much impact in games we were playing well in, they would have been completely anonymous last night).

I accept bad days, but they’ve been happening too often now. I guess it’s time to finally be honest with ourselves and admit we are in a totally false position up the top. In fact, I’ll be glad when Crawley finally overtake us, because it may give a few people a much needed reality check.

Are we good enough to go up? The answer, quite simply, is no. There’s too much missing in the squad, there’s that inability to win games like this, and Barrow away, and even going to Luton and get a result. We are a good 12 months away from being at that promotion winning level, and it will need to keep investing in the squad at its current level to get that way.

While we tried to change the game last night, we couldn’t. A team with legitimate promotion ambitions would have figured out how to score against a side that while they tried hard are low down for a reason. We didn’t. I mentioned yesterday that we would have to do some significant further re-building if we go up to L2. It’s starting to be apparent that we’d need to do that in the Conference too.

Apparently, as a Conference side we can’t afford to sign Gwillum permanently. We’re going to have to work out how to do so at some point, because like it or not that’s how you’re going to get promotion these days. We’ve got a good nucleus but we need more throughout the squad, especially in midfield.

The ability to gain promotion relies on being able to get three points when we’re playing badly. Currently, we win when we’re playing well but that’s really about it. Didn’t see Wrexham obviously, but it sounds like we got the result we deserve, and we were apparently still poor for the first 35 minutes against Alty.

OK, we won 4-1 (not 5-1) on Saturday, but there’s still an air of unconvincibility (is that a word?) about the place. Even now, you’re probably going “how are we still top?” whenever you glance at the league table. We’re supposed to kick on and put a run on, yet we never do. And deep down you fear the worst at Grimsby…

We are a good side, which is why I don’t think we’ll collapse like last year. Although if we did then the first real questions of TB’s tenure will start. To fall away as a part time side in your first Conference season is one thing, to fall away again when you’ve gone full time, and been up the top for most of the season is another. The collective patience of AFCW fans hasn’t been properly tested since 2002, and it may yield some surprisingly nasty results.

Which leads us on, not very nicely, to yesterday’s turnout. 708 is piss poor, even if 500 was us. While paranoia about our attendances is hotwired into the DNA of the average Womble, the recent decline is still a bit worrying. 3078 for Alty certainly caused a few alarm  bells, and while I fully accept transportation isn’t great around Hayes, we should have expected a few more for a game less than 20 miles as the crow flies.

It does appear that people are starting to pick and choose games for whatever reason. Obviously, money is tight(er) for a lot of people, but perhaps people are just simply bored of playing opponents like Alty and Handy? These sort of teams, venues and even the type of games you get have been de rigeur over the past eight years, and the trouble is you know what to expect from them before they even kick off.

Alty could have been any CCL/Ryman game, and going to Handy last night felt like a trip to St Albans in more ways than one. Or Hendon. We are still a fanbase with a League mentality, and one that’s going to get stronger if we start attracting more casual fans. These days we get to go to ex-League sides too, so expect us to take 300+ to Grimsby on Saturday – including quite a few who weren’t there last night.

That said, we took 600+ to Tamworth, and whatever Crawley give us you know we’d sell out. Yeah, we’re gloryhunting big time charlies. Sue us. But the CCL era is well and truly dead now : even the nostalgia trips in the minor cup competitions don’t generate that much interest now. Just look at attendances from the Slurrey Senior Cup from four years ago compared to today. Christ, we didn’t even take many more people to the LSC final last year than we had last night.

So, plenty to think about. Perhaps we’re simply starting to get itchy feet again, like we did in the Ryman Premier? And we all know what that did to our outlook. We’ll probably be in this division next season after all, although one has to wonder about Handy. They’re supposedly full time and yet we outnumbered them by over 2 to 1. How do they survive? Perhaps they don’t, and are just defying gravity before the inevitable happens?

This will probably be the last time we’ll ever have a game at Church Road, because they’re finally starting to put up houses there (hence the car park not existing) and they’re moving to Yeading’s old ground. Perhaps they might even get the Yeading fan to finally come along…

As for us, we soldier on. In closing, it’s time to plagarise pay homage again to the St Albans report written a couple of years ago, nine days out. It finished off with the following:

It’s strange, my mood is a bit better now than what it has been, despite us putting in performances that are regressively worse. Presumably, it’s more a case of, we really can’t keep going backwards like we are. In all honesty, I think I’m just waiting for something to happen. Within the next couple of games, something will occur that will prepare us for the title or the playoffs. The worst thing is right now though, we don’t know what it is…