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Pre-Hereford thoughts

Your editor will be at Fratton Park tomorrow on scribe duties, so he won’t be at Edgar Street. Although I suspect that nobody down on the South Coast will be quite so interested in the game…

Actually, before I start on Hereford tomorrow, the whole thing at Portsmouth (and Port Vale, come to think of it) could end up having some repercussion for ourselves, albeit indirectly.

If Pompey did go bellyup, could the inevitable AFC Pompey get put in the Conference? I know the purists will argue that they should start in the Hampshire equivalent of the CCL, but realistically that won’t happen. The CCL sides barely coped with us, in truth, and Pompey being at that level would bring complete mayhem. And one wonders whether us being in the CCL forced the authories to rethink what happens if and when an AFC style club with legit big support turns up…

As I understand it, the promotion between the Conf and the Football League isn’t set in stone, so in theory the FL could tell the Conf to accept Pompey and pull up the drawbridge if they refused. A similar situation was reported with Chester, apparently. AFC Pompey would at the very least make Premier Sports jizz their pants, and chances are we’ll be playing them again sooner or later.

Port Vale? I can’t see them going out of business, although if they did the same reasoning above would apply. It would be typical if they did go under that the biggest losers would be ourselves – those six points don’t grow on trees – and it will make this run-in more pant soiling that it needs to be. Although it is a little bit disheartening to know you’ve beaten them twice, they get deducted 10 points and they’d still be ahead of us.

OK, I’m being selfish in all of this when I say I just want us to stay up – and if it means Pompey (and perhaps PV) falling by the wayside, so be it. We lived through 28/5/02, and we came out of it the other side. Even with some lingering paranoia from time to time.

Besides, too many clubs are failing for me to feel sympathetic. Football needs a high profile club to go out of business – not administration but to actually disappear. It might make the authorities finally wake up, though what makes me think it won’t?

(one final thought — has anyone else noticed that they refer to an AFC Pompey type venture as a community club and not a fans-run club now? Is that just a case of semantics, or is that a new way of doing things? I note that Darlington are being referred to that in such a manner, and it makes Mr Choudry’s kite-flying piece in the previous programme even more intriguing…)

So, why have I just written the last seven paragraphs on the day before yet another important game on events elsewhere that may not ultimately affect us? Simple – it reflects our collective thinking right now. Operation Survival must be completed by any means necessary, and preferably by the end of this month. If it means a couple of clubs going out of business, so be it.

Tomorrow is yet another one of those sort of games where you should be a bit more confident than you actually are. They suffered a 5-4 loss at Priestfield on Tuesday, and that can work either for us or against us. Hereford will either be so demoralised that even they couldn’t breach our “defence”, or they’ll use it as a catalyst and spot that we’re ever so vulnerable…

We’ve certainly had the bon mots this week, or at the very least the players (and Stuart Cash) are telling us what we want to hear. And you do want to believe them. But with the first half at Crewe the latest reality check still firmly implanted in our collective minds, you half-expect at 3.44pm tomorrow to be rolling your eyes at yet another “little lapse of concentration”…

It could be different, of course. We might put in what we did at Cheltenham and maybe even find out where the net is too. We’re due a good 3-0 thumping of somebody, although whether we’re good enough to actually get one I’m not sure. Still, tomorrow wouldn’t be a bad time to do so, and we’re going to need all the luck and form we can get until tomorrow week.

How vital is tomorrow at Edgar Street? It’s important, but drawing at Cheltenham and Crewe may have taken the edge off it a bit. Obviously a loss will do us a lot of damage, and puts yet more un-necessary pressure for the next couple of games. But a draw wouldn’t be so disasterous, and would at least ensure we’re still unbeaten.

Of course, a win will do nicely. But that would be too much to hope for…

Needless to say, all the while we’re under Operation Survival, we also have to look at who else is playing to ensure the gaps don’t get closed. Barnet host Rotherham, Northampton are at Cheltenham, Macc travel to Brizzle Rovers, Plymouth host Gillingham and the Daggers are at home to Bradford. Those results could either make us or break us, and there are no obvious bound-to-lose games on there. Ask Morecambe about Tuesday.

We shouldn’t have to keep looking over our shoulder and hoping other results go our way. But we are, and it highlights our lack of confidence at the moment. It won’t be particularly nice, this run-in, and I still expect us to limp home this season in no little discomfort. But I do still expect us to survive.

Not hope, but expect.

Anyway, as said a few times recently, it’s in our own hands still, and we can do ourselves a massive favour in the next eight days. It would be nice to take that chance, because we haven’t done that this season…