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Maybe it’s because it’s been due since October, or because we’re psychologically as close to safety as we have been, or we’re demob happy, or whether the opposition really were that shit, but thank fuck for Truman 4 Marstons 0.

OK, it might have flattered us a little bit, we looked pretty shaky at 1-0 up, and for the second half period up until we scored again we looked to have gone back in our shell. But isn’t it so nice to have a game like this once in a while?

No ruined weekends thanks to yet another defensive fuckup. No “yeah but…” caveats over the win, a la Crewe and Gillingham. Not to mention the post-traumatic stress disorder that occured after Dagenham.

For once, a nice weekend awaits.

We might have known our luck was in for once when we didn’t concede after 20 seconds when they hit the bar. Obviously, Luke Moore’s cool finish helped, but we seemed to go off the boil again. And I do question what exactly we do in half time team talks, because yet again we have an amazing inability to play properly for both halves.

Make no mistake, our second goal won us the game, because it could have got pretty dicey had it still been 1-0. We were still shitting ourselves whenever they came forward, and again I’ll say it – a result like this doesn’t change anything we need to do during the summer.

But we scored it, and even Byron Harrison had a good game for once. It was that kind of day. Mind you, even he couldn’t miss from six inches out…

This result has done us a lot of favours. Firstly, winning 4-0 at home is always good. Secondly. it is a much, much welcome three points and now puts us within that elusive 50 point mark. While we’re not mathematically safe yet, it certainly helped.

But most importantly, it’s put us psychologically at ease.

Make no mistake, we had to win today, because I really don’t fancy getting points against Crawley, Southend, Torquay and even Barnet. It’s possible we still might go on yet another slump of form, but this time we should be safe. And by then, it will be like the first Conference season when we were just waiting for the end of the season to happen before the demolition crew came in.

Obviously, an unlikely win at Roots Hall or (even better) Broadfield Stadium would be one to really gloat about, and we haven’t had too many of those this season. But things went well full stop for us. OK, Daggers winning might have been an issue, but Hereford lost and Northampton played out a stalemate with Plymouth. Add to Barnet drawing with Macc, and we’ve done ourselves a lot of good with this win.

We do need to keep the mentality of getting wins (or draws) where we can, though. We may have seven games of the season to go, as do the bottom four, but there is still the niggle that we can lose four and two teams down the bottom can suddenly start winning a couple on the spin.

But this evening, we’re in a better place.


Plus points: We won. Without conceding. Looked assured after we went 2-0 up. Byron Harrison.

Minus points: Quite nervy when it was 1-0.

The referee’s a…: Gave us some, gave them some more. Typical stuff, really.

Them: If Burton have any decency, they should offer to withdraw from the Football League by Monday morning. They played us, they failed to win, they let us score four goals (and Byron Harrison getting one…) and worst of all, failed to net against us. No team in the 91 Club can go through a game without putting one past Seb Brown, so it is clear that they are completely at the wrong level and should be willingly applying for the Conference North.

I jest. I think. Actually, if I was a Burton fan I’d be a bit worried at the way their heads dropped after we went 2-0 up. I don’t think they’re a bad side, relatively speaking, but like Lincoln last year once the belief of winning games goes, you’re in serious shit.

Remember how you felt after Plymouth (sorry to bring that up again), insofar as you really did wonder where we went from here? That’s how Burton appear right now. I know we talk about us losing four games on the spin and getting dragged back into the shit, and we’re certainly still capable of that. For our hapless opponents today, they’re three defeats away from the drop zone, and while the other teams have to catch them up with a recent record of eight straight losses that might be easier than you think.

Still, we had to  beat what was in front of us, and they showed a bit of promise inbetween it being 1-0 and 2-0. 204 of them turned up, which is decent enough (even if your editor still doesn’t like away attendances announced in such a manner).

Point to ponder: Seriously, why couldn’t we have done that as far back as November? It does make you realise how bad things got when you’re struggling to recall the last time we had such a result as this. Maybe the Cheltenham 4-1 earlier this season, when we were still buzzing from Eastlands?

As said earlier, we’re not totally safe, although it’s now got a fair bit harder for the teams to chase us. All of which is going to start to answer a question that SW19 idly posed an update or two back. What will happen should we find ourselves safe with still a few games to go?

We could be starting to find out summer plans already, if the likes of Wellard are getting runs out. I would certainly hope that the likes of Jack Turner and Brendan K are given games to play in, without us needing to win them. There are still a lot of players fighting for their future, or at least should be, and in some cases it may be too late for them anyway.

Could we see a more relaxed approach to games? Or is it possible that we may start to see things winding down…?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) The dance performance thingy outside the main bar beforehand. We get the best entertainment at our games. (2) General feel of a pre-season/end-of-season game, complete with people standing outside drinking and no desire to go into the game. Come to think of it, that applied during the cold winter months too. (3) How nice it is that we don’t have a Tuesday game. We need the rest. (4) Now that John Smiths will no longer be sponsoring the, er, John Smiths, who should we put in its place? Sanatogen? Saniflo? FW Paine?

Anything else? I’m sure you read Erik’s programme notes on putting the prices up, which may well explain why we’ve yet to hear about season ticket prices for next season.

To be honest, I’m surprised it’s taken that long. I haven’t found (OK, haven’t bothered to look for) what we used to charge way back in the Ryman, but I expect it’s not massively different : true, standing on the TE has gone from about £10 back then to £15 today, but when we’re still charging £2 for under-16s, it’s yet another aspect of the club that hasn’t quite moved on.

Being affordable since 2002 has helped us keep fans who would otherwise struggle to justify paying £15+ for some of the levels we’ve been at. And a couple of quid for kids obviously has an affect. But it’s now reached the point where you would’t necessarily watch AFCW because it’s cheap – as our average attendances suggest, people will watch us because we’re in the Football League.

And it does appear that the club realises the need to be in the FL over-rides any need of being “affordable”. Namely, we could keep cost of entry down to £13, but we’re not going to get many people if we’re one of the richest clubs in the Conference as a result. The wages of L2-level players may be stupid, but until they go down across the board we and every other team have to cough up.

I’m sure if you sit the top brass down on a quiet summer’s afternoon and ask them to list what they found out about the FL that they were unprepared for, the amount of money we need just to function will be one of the top answers. Think of contracts, and who we had to get in just on loan, to see what I mean. And obviously we can’t keep asking Mike Richardson/Ian McNay/Paul Strank to bail us out every season.

Question is, what will the fallout be? In truth, there probably won’t be too much of one – the desire to be a FL club is one all too real and very, very deep. For all the talk, our fans can be quite pragmatic when it comes to stuff like this. There will be the few moaners, but we’ve tasted life in the 91 Club and we rather like it.

More to the point, will it reduce attendances? It probably will, but not by much – those who want to go will, well, go. And just save a little bit harder and maybe do without the extra pint or two of beer per day/week. Those who won’t go are likely to find other excuses not to go if the prices were the same.

Obviously, you can’t whack the prices up too much, and even raising revenue in this way will have its glass ceiling. I wouldn’t be suprised to see things like catering and merchandise take a hit, and there’s a need to up our game on the commercial side some more, too. But let’s be honest – you’ve had a good decade of cheap football, and you can’t really complain now you’ve got to pay more for it.

And besides, it will piss off the smug bastards who got Five Year STs at Ryman prices..

So, was it worth it? Yes.

In a nutshell: We are (probably) staying up.