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The dust settles…

And no, it’s not a pun on the ash cloud that better bloody go and not come back before your editor’s holiday in under three weeks (see what I did there? megaLOLz ROFLicopter epicbantz etc….)

So, you’ve finally come off the ceiling? This is where it really sinks in now. This is when you start making initial plans for away venues that up until now you’ve only watched on telly or visited in a previous life.

This is when you take a look at something like the Conference forum and the BBC’s non-league page and that moment when you realise it’s irrelevant. Whatever your moment is when it finally registers we’re in the FL again, it’s a great feeling when it arrives. And if it hasn’t yet, you’ll enjoy it when it does…

For those who have had that moment – now what? In many ways, the hard work starts now. We all know that the club has to put in things like CCTV and police control rooms, so at least we may not get another Haydon v Luton fan type incident. I expect – and certainly hope – the club had this outlay put in the kitty for this moment.

The strange thing is that even with this news, you feel a slight sense of “meh”. It was Michael Palin in his 80 Days programme who said something to the effect of, you plan in your mind what you’re going to do when the big moment arrives, and when it does you act differently.

Preparing for League football at KM should be a moment to saviour, but we’ll probably be thinking what will happen when you want to move around that area. Or what it’s going to do for anyone who fancies a quick suck on a fag behind the proverbial bikesheds (yes, KM will now be a non-smoking venue, thank fuck).

Once this excitement dies down, we’ll probably find it surprisingly easy to get back into League mentality. It was far harder to adjust to the backwaters of the CCL as we like to admit, and to be polite we were totally incompatible with the Ryman mentality. We always seemed most comfortable in the Conference, and by the end of our time there playing Grimsby was water off a duck’s ruffled feathers.

There are a few questions that haven’t yet been answered, like whether we’ll be in the London Senior Cup these days. Personally, I hope we are as they’re a good little reminder of the past, but will also give our stiffs much needed game time. I expect we’ll play it, but I’m not so bothered about the Slurrey Senior, and it would be nice to make a symbolic snub to the cunts who threw us out of it when they knew we had problems but still made us play the Met Police game. And didn’t allow us an appeal or even a chance to reply.

Somehow, you get the feeling we’ll be treated better in the 91 Club.

Still, they’ll be answered in the upcoming weeks, months and years. What has become apparent is how much more, well, professional the Football League seems to be, especially compared to the Conference. Whilst browsing through their website, I noticed this bit of marketing. I would hope our marketing bods would be making initial plans to see if they’re for general sale, because they would clear off the club shop shelves in no time.

There’s been plenty of moaning discussion about our approach to comms. Well, with a bit of creative ingenuity, we could pay half the squad’s wages for a couple of weeks. The FL seems to “get”  that side of things far more than the club has shown thus far, and is food for thought when the next wave of fundraising comes up.

To put that into perspective, the Peledon is trying to raise £7k for our disabled section…

The opportunities that we’ve never had before are there – tie-ups with Texaco, Coral, Thomas Cook, Coca Cola, the Pools (do people still play them?) and of course nPower. OK, the “Real Football, Real Fans” slogan is cringeworthy and more than a little patronising, but we have some damn good avenues to explore now. I just hope the club has the nous and the wit to take them.

Anyway, it’s that time of year again, so it’s the close season cull. Not nearly as brutal as previous years, but still managed to raise a couple of eyebrows. Like last time out, here’s a breakdown of who’s gone and why…

Jon Main: Inevitable since early this season just gone – his penalty miss at Southport and subsequent head drop summed it up. Deserved a send-off and got one, but it was really only that affection for him that made people wanted him as part of the team.  Certainly a symbol of how far we’ve come in three years.

Mark Nwokeji: Never got going, did he? Probably more likely to stay than Main, but never had the love, nor indeed the application to be a permanent fixture with us. Seemed to spend the first part of the season being injured and/or demanding to play, which was never going to work out. When we signed Kaid, it was the proverbial writing on the wall for him.

Ed Harris: One of the two big surprises. He was young and hungry, and seemed to fit into TB’s criteria. His response to getting released was certainly real in its shock. But was it a shock? He spent much of the season on-loan, he didn’t seem to have FF’s versatility and Reece Jones’ promise, and after he played in the Woking FAT debacle, TB said something like “I’ve learnt a lot about our young players”…

Ismail Yakubu: The other big surprise, and somebody who I imagine right now is in complete shock. His post-match reaction from Saturday, when he said how much he was looking forward to return to Underhill, seems ever more poignant now. Then again, he had difficulty training for a lot of the time, and a player who can only play once a week isn’t going to hack it in L2.

Kennedy Adjei: Going back to Ghana, and not somebody who was really good enough for the Conference. After all, if you go on loan to Sutton for a year and most people end up forgetting about you…

Kirk Hudson: OK, he hasn’t officially gone, but he was never really here to begin with. Can’t see a picture of him and TB on the Official Site celebrating signing a permanent deal, somehow.

Delano Sam-Yorke: Who? Seriously, who? I can’t recall him ever making the first team, and all I remember of him is his double-barrelled surname and being forever on loan at Basingstoke. A sign that maybe our reserve system isn’t up to scratch yet.

By the sound of things discussed on Sunday, our reserve squad seems like it’s going to be pulled apart yet again, although it barely kept up with the demands of Conference National, let alone the division we’re in now. At some point, we are going to have to really nail the second string and youth setup down, because we’ll no longer be able to get away with it.

Last year’s squad did well, but are they likely to make the step up? That’s the brutal decision that has to be made, and the club isn’t one to act as a social worker. It made a mistake with Blackman (although was that the club’s fault?), and we’ll be able to get better, more reliable players in now.

As things fall into place, we could get the one thing we’ve needed for a good few years  but was never the right time to have it. Ladies and gentlemen, we may well be enjoying the novelty of an ordinary season…