Skip to content

Grand Old Dukes

There will be scant mention of you-know-what until you-know-what actually gets confirmed. Well, not until the end of this piece…

So, we’re in the next round of the FA Cup. No, I don’t quite know how, either, but at least it was good entertainment for ESPN. Even if the skill was a little bit lacking.

If I was a York fan right now, I’d be wondering how the hell my side didn’t go 3-1 up into the break. Even without Seb helping them out for their first goal, it was only going to be a matter of time before they would be going ahead.

In his post-match press conference, NA mentioned about how we seemed to play with a lot of fear to begin with. Certainly making seven changes didn’t help matters, and it did have that slight feel of a JPT first round type squad.

Hell, even MMK started.

We’re undeniably going to have to play better on Saturday in a game that really matters, but then again with the amount of miles we’ve done since the 3rd November, I suppose we were entitled to a bit of fatigue.

Perhaps we might be a tad harsh, putting it into context? That with our rather thin squad we were still able to rotate enough to get through the last four games with only one defeat says something that might be quite promising.

Some have undeniably stepped up to the proverbial plate – Charlie Strutton, for example. Is it true he was actually recommended to the club by one Sir Harry of Bassettville? It was certainly strange that we signed him, then seemed to disappear (and we never were quite sure if he was injured), and then all of a sudden is winning MoM awards.

Maybe he’s our first WFC-esque hidden gem? Or maybe he simply can only play against York? Perhaps when he was a kid somebody did something to him with a frozen Toffo* bar and has since held repressed psychological anguish that can only be released by playing the Minstermen? Would explain a lot.

* – for you youngsters, Toffos were a toffee bar made by Rowntree Mackintosh, who were/are based in York. Now disappeared from sweetie shelves up and down the country, though still available in the Middle East for some reason.

Whatever, it’s good that we’re starting to find the net again. Four goals last night, and three on Saturday (in a game that was far more significant yet criminally under-reported) is going to help us progress.

It might be too early to suggest we’re seeing the green shoots of recovery, but at least we’re getting some idea of what we have and what we need to do. Needless to say, if some are proving their worth under the new boss, some clearly aren’t.

Take Seb. A game without our goalkeeper making at least one costly error is like Cain without Abel, or taxation without representation. Or fire without heat. Or Journey without Steve Perry.

The worst thing about his “punch” for the first goal was that it was predictable. And I know the guy is still a proverbial toddler when it comes to goalkeeping, and there’s a sizeable question mark about the quality of coaching he’s receiving, but it’s now happening too often for it to be a blip. And it’s making us having to chase games when we shouldn’t be.

N&N have some serious thinking about what to do with him right now. There’s a good case to be put forward for getting in an experienced keeper, though what you do with SB in the meantime is unclear. Drop him? Play Ruiz? He wasn’t much better against Northampton though. And as we found out through Jack Turner’s constant whining on Twatter last season, trying to put a keeper on loan is a difficult one.

One suspects the keeper position is another thing we ballsed up in the summer…

Jolley didn’t seem to do much, and chances are he’ll be giving interviews to the Non League Paper by February. I’m sure you can think of others who you would put on the “out” list (although I have to say, Warren Cummings didn’t look such an automatic candidate to be on that last night).

With all this in mind, we have reasons to be cautiously optimistic. As those who have read the Daily Star and/or the Times this morning may know, your editor was doing proper work in the press box last night, and I got to listen to the first post-match interview up close to NA. What struck me was how he seems to know what he wants to do, even if his hands may be tied in part.

Or at least he has that assured tone which our previous manager (and he was there last night, more on him a little bit later) never seemed to have, especially in the last couple of seasons. The link seems to have gone now from the BBC website, but after Saturday NA was mentioning that the players were doing what he was asking them to do, insofar as getting into certain areas of the pitch. Suggesting that he was putting a lot of thought into what he was trying to achieve.

What struck me most of all though, and I’ve really tried to avoid mentioning THAT hypothetical game, is how he played down the second round. He actually did say on ESPN that it was a stepping stone to the third round and not much more. Obviously, not in such a disrespectful way as I’ve made it sound here, but those who are expecting evangelical-like condemnation from him over THEM may be disappointed.

One suspects he would prefer Cambridge City to win tonight simply because he could do without the circus that will undoubtedly surround you-know-what. He’s not going to get caught up in it, or at least he’ll try not to, and some have suggested that the players themselves want to prove themselves against you-know-who.

He was quite non-committal about it when he was directly questioned over it at Meet The Manager. And I think that shows a typical attitude of a professional in football that deep down irks a few of our supporters – they don’t share the hatred.

But then, should THAT fixture happen, we’ll need some cool heads – perhaps people who are “distant” from it. Let’s face it, some of our supporters are going to get hyper wound up by it, and will (deliberately?) let their emotions do themselves a lot of damage over it. If NA and the squad treat it almost as AN Other game, then we’ve got the right guy in charge.

Having seen TB doing the ESPN punditry last night, I wonder how he would have handled such a game? I wouldn’t want to speculate whether he would be somebody who got carried away with it, but at the risk of being accused of bashing him – I’m glad we’ve got the current guy in charge for such a potential fixture.

Actually, seeing our ex-manager there last night was a strange one. I don’t know what it was, but seeing him walk off afterwards with Ivor Heller, he (well, both of them) seemed a bit subdued. Certainly without a spring in their collective step, but maybe it was just late.

Others noted that demeanour on the broadcast (along with a “he’s aged” comment), although whether it’s because TB was nervous or he had this bug that’s been going round, or simply it was literally a place he might not have expected to be in so soon.

I wonder what he was really thinking last night? Especially when Byron came on and scored. Obviously, the circumstances in which he left could – and should – have been a lot better, and I continue to think the top brass should have acted far sooner. Because of that, him being there might have been a bit more, well, awkward than perhaps it should have been.

But it was another little bit of closure, and we can now move on from that particular chapter. After all, it might not be the last time we do that this year…