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The circus moves on…


I’ll repeat that again for the hard of reading. Ouch.

The fact that I could easily sum up today in one singular “ouch” suggests that this whole thing went off much better than it had any right to. No, I chickened out and only watched two minutes worth on a Toshiba telly in Ashford (Kent) today, but the general consensus seems pretty unanimous.

We came. We saw. We lost. But we won.

As far as losing goes, this might have been the “best” way to do so. To sound like we played very well, only to be denied right in injury time by a (and I quote) wanky goal is the type of thing that gains you sympathy throughout the whole footballing world.

It happens to many teams, from the likes of us to the biggest. It hurts like fuck, but you ultimately have to take it on the chin. Even if who you get it from sticks not only in the throat, but the gullet and anal passage too.

But we move on. And we’re now in a position where that’s a very good idea.

The major psychological hurdle has been vaulted over now. We’ve gone there and despite the gap in the quality of the sides gave a pretty good account of ourselves. We no longer have to deal with the “what if we face them?” trauma of, er, facing them, because we’ve now done it.

We got over that hurdle, and we handled it pretty well, by the sound of things. OK, there might be a couple of stories coming out which we don’t know about yet, and doubtless they will try and ramp and overhype any little happening so it looks like we were trying to rape everyone who lived in an MK postcode.

As far as I know we haven’t assaulted 12 year old girls (as Charlton allegedly did yesterday), nor have we bricked any coaches (as Burnley supposedly did to Blackburn today). Or indeed anything like that. I expect to hear that somebody threw a punch, or a pub got rearranged, but considering the volatile nature of the fixture it seemed to go off pretty sedately.

I don’t really speak much about their customers, but they seem to have either a mental age of 12 or an actual age of the same. They do remind me of the hardcore fans you see at minor sports like ice hockey, or even some of the special cases we saw on our non-league travels. Not the sort of people you want to sit next to on any sort of journey, even a quick trip on the bus.

And yes, it hurts that it’s them who have got some bragging rights right now. But one unintended consequence of this very fixture is that there’s a bit of me that wants to play them ASAP again. To ram that down their throats, to point out to them that we can beat them on the pitch as well.

I never thought I would ever write that, but I just have. And I mean it, too. Imagine us winning there today? The coaches back to London wouldn’t have been needed, because we would have floated down there ourselves. And imagine how much of a stomach punch it is because you know we have to wait for another go next season (if we stay up) to right this particular wrong.

You could be a Brighton fan right now, licking your wounds after losing 3-0 at Selhurst yesterday. Imagine being a Hibs fan at the Scottish FA Cup final last season, not only losing 5-1 but to Hearts as well. We got spared that sort of humiliation today, and that’s the best losing result we could have had.

Make no mistake, this has become a rivalry now, something I don’t think we ever properly had in the WFC or AFCW eras. I don’t buy the notion that Franchise will go belly up, because somebody will always bail them out (Red Bull MK, anyone?). They’re always going to be with us, unfortunately, so we might as well make the best use of them.

This cup run has netted us around £100k, possibly more. Despite today’s efforts from the players, NA must be given as much of that as possible to strengthen, so that we do stay up, that we don’t waste what we showed today.

There’s no excuse for this squad to go to Barnet and fail to put on a similar performance on Saturday. In fact, today was the easiest game we could have had in a while, simply because of the occasion and tournament it was. What NA needs to do now is to give the players tomorrow off to continue to hurt, then start showing them what they did today and tell them they can do it in the League.

Barnet should be shitting themselves right now if they watched that, and we should be providing the toilet paper when we meet at Underhill. That’s how you stay in this division, and for once I want the players to prove that this isn’t just a flash in the pan.

I’m awaiting people who went to the Frenzydome to come in with their thoughts of the whole experience, and as said earlier I couldn’t bring myself to watch the game even on telly, so I’m a bit limited in what I want to say right now. I will say this though – today, AFCW re-invented itself.

It took this particular game at this particular venue to reboot the whole AFCW “thing”, but I get the sense that people have found their mojo again. It might have been a (re)awakening that the only way we’re going to prove to the outside world who we are is to get on live telly, push up the table and get some high profile scalps.

Nobody bar ourselves cares that AFCW is down the bottom. Nobody bar ourselves will care if we go down. Today reminded me of the playoff final at Eastlands in quite a few ways, and it perhaps should have had the same result. Back then it was a realisation that for the club to make its point, it has to be winning games and being up there. That we couldn’t really start to prove who we were until we were doing it in divisions that people cared about.

When we sit down this week and work out where we go from here, we should look at Barnet, then Rotherham, then Port Vale and Northampton over Xmas and say to ourselves what we need to do. Then look towards January and up until May and figure out how to push away from this shit, and that may be the best legacy of this whole situation.

I’ve got to be honest here, I did get a bit of a kick about us being on network television today. The thought that there would be people in places like Stockport and Weston-Super-Mare and Lincoln settling down on a Sunday lunchtime to watch us was a good one, even if the circumstances weren’t. I hated the fact we lost, especially to them, but I liked hearing that we gave it a damn good go and were unlucky.

And isn’t that all we simply want from our blue-with-yellow-trim shirted heroes? As somebody elsewhere put it, this time last year we reached the second round and waved the white flag at Valley Parade. Different circumstances, but I hope the players now realise just what they’ve got with us.

A few other brief thoughts. How much do Franchise rely on Wankie? Not financially, but just generally? Far be it from me to ever suggest anything bad happen to him involving a rabid police horse on viagra and a greased up Eccles cake, but if he wasn’t about they would get far less publicity than usual. Though he does look his usual weird, slimy self. He reminds me a bit of Martin Clunes’ retarded cousin.

Still, they’ve got their publicity, and the problem for them is that it usually comes as a bundle with ourselves. They didn’t even get the big draw they wanted – Sheff Weds might be a big and proper club, but it’s not going to get them and Wankie 1/1000000th the publicity they’ve had with us this past week. And they could very easily lose that…

Is it true they introduced Drewe Broughton as an MK legend? Jesus, he played more times for us than them, and at least he managed to score with us once or twice. I suppose he needed the work.

I don’t think I’m particularly fussed if they keep the “Dons” name or not, it’s obvious they’re not going to do it all the while some of us are begging them to do it. I suppose seeing their corporate looking banner and thinking how they’re simply trying too hard made me realise that.

On a similar point, I think I’m starting to get annoyed by the “AFC” prefix now, as it seems to be used as a way of labelling us a different club from WFC. I wonder if that is starting to run its course now – yes, I know the argument is that it’s a reminder of why we’re here, but do we really need reminding any more?

I don’t expect that to change any time soon either, though perhaps if the new stadium happens it will be the perfect time…?

Finally, I haven’t heard too much in the way of what chants were sung, but “Where were you when you were us?” sounds rather cutting and to the point. Oh, and if you need one incident to sum up this entire thing, apparently the Frenzies were denying a man entry into the VIP bit beforehand because nobody recognised him.

His name? Bobby Gould…