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Senior moment

Like 230 other stupid hardy souls, your editor popped down to Corinthian Casuals last night for the now-traditional embarrassing Slurrey Senior defeat at the hands of a team four divisions below us.

Thankfully, the bar allowed their products to be taken outside to watch the game, which is just as well. Anyway, here are a couple of thoughts:

– To get the game out of the way, we lost 2-1 in case you didn’t know. They scored with a cracker, then went 2-0 up before the break. We looked stronger (ie fitter) in the second half, but our shooting was pretty wanky and we only managed one goal.

The back line was Turner, Bush, Franks, C-Mac and Hatton, while Jolley played up front…….

– There’s always something not quite right about these sort of games for us. You would expect fringe first team squad members (and in the odd cases, regularly starting first team players) to at least give the management a selection headache, but they never do.

You also get the youngsters, who try hard but are either not quite good enough or are being dragged down by the “why are we here?” lethargy that these sort of games give us.

What is worrying about displays like last night is how much we will still be relying on importing players (be it Knott-esque loans or permanent signings) for a while yet. If you can’t seem to keep clean sheets against (admittedly motivated) sides like Casuals, then what makes you think they can step up to the Football League?

– This does make you wonder whether the likes of Bush, Franks, Hatton and even Turner are just playing out the season with us now. Their game time has become reduced even more now, and you expect a similar result and performance from the LSC game against whoever it is we’re playing.

If so, it puts a question mark on motivation. In a more ideal season, all these mentioned would have had more run-outs in the first team than they have. We all know how the October-January slump changed things, not necessarily for the worse, and as such they got pushed down the pecking order. Look at FF – given a couple of starts instead of Hatton, and both of them are now behind Gavin Hoyte.

Have they, as somebody suggested last night, been told they’re second rate?

– What these sort of games also highlight is what the hell do we do with our second string. As you may remember last close-season, we went down the Development Squad route. Thing is, would we still be better off looking again at the Combination, even if we get just a few games from it? It would be better for somebody like Jack Turner to get a good 8-10 games a season against the likes of Oxford reserves – it’s not the 20+ matches they need but it’s better than them doing nothing.

We’re in something called the Suburban League Premier Division A, and we were playing Surburban League Premier from 07/08 to 10/11. I assume there’s a difference. With all due respect to the teams we play in those games, a Football League club shouldn’t have its second string at that level. You can’t really put the likes of Chris Bush in those sort of games, so he’s kicking his heels waiting for a first team opportunity, inbetween us trying to arrange a few Development Squad games.

Incidentally, I note that our u18s are in something called the Football League Youth Alliance

– For these sort of reasons, I don’t think we should pull out of playing in these Senior Cup games any time soon. Granted, 99% of us would happily sack off the Slurrey Senior if we could find something better for our second string (never forget…), but they are good for our development.

Or at least should be.

You don’t have to go to watch them, and to be fair to those who go it’s quite a relaxing, almost “fun” time. Last night was sodding freezing but enjoyable in a perverse way. And in the case of the London Senior Cup, it’s almost a bit like a badge of honour to do well in.

As a Football League club, we don’t have to enter into these competitions any more, although I believe we were contractually obliged to be in them this time around. Eventually, we’ll pull out of these competitions, which will be a shame as I rather fancy another late season final at somewhere like Harrow Borough or Imber Court. And imagine the pride you would get if our u19s started getting the winning habit.

We’re not the only FL club who enters these Senior Cup games either. D&R seem to give the LSC a wide berth – imagine playing them in an LSC final – but they enter into the Essex Senior Cup. Ditto Southend United. And last night, Oxford United managed to outdo us by going out of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup. And they’re the ones I can be bothered to find out anything about.

So it’s likely we’ll be making the nostalgia trips for a good few seasons yet, and there’s a good reason to utilise them properly. And at least if we ever get Bromley at Hayes Lane we won’t feel guilty about not going.

– Finally, and speaking of those not making the first team, transfer deadline day went with a bit of a whimper as far as we were concerned. No additional forwards players were brought in, and the rest of the Listed Five (bar Max Porter) managed to find clubs.

I think we can safely say we won’t see any of them again. Come to think of it, with the exception of Ryan Jackson I’m not convinced we’ll see any of them play against us again, unless it’s the FAC or a pre-season friendly.

Or we go down.

It’s eyebrow raising to see Mulley back at Handy, because he was the one who many were saying could still make it as a FL player. Going (back) to a part-time club that is in the Conference relegation zone speaks volumes, and you have to think the bulk of the “senior” players who played last night will be following them.

I suppose it must be demoralising if you’re somebody like Mulley who is still relatively young, has had a taste of being a pro in the Football League but is unlikely to reach that height again. Though on the flip side, as said many times on here before they wouldn’t have been Football League players anywhere else.

Last night and Wingate before Xmas does show us how far we’ve got to go to build up the club properly, not just in the first team but throughout the squads. We often talk about the club catching up with itself, and it might take a lot more work than we first think.

But it will be worth it. Especially if it means our u19s can go to the Beaverdome and gub a full strength home side 5-0…