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Inwards and upwards

This time last week, I did wonder if I would be finally moving on with a certain game just gone. And for just one more update, I will publish what an SW19 reader sent me – thanks to DMI for this.

Back after the second line break.

Random thoughts following MK Dons vs AFC Wimbledon (from a Wimbledon fan since 1985):

The most highly charged atmosphere of any game I have ever been to – a cocktail of tension, aggression and good old-fashioned unbridled hatred. It was awesome I have to say. Pure adrenaline for 90 minutes. I don’t think that the denizens of MK (especially those nearest to the away stand) knew what had hit them.

Catharsis achieved? I feel cleansed as a result of the game. I have got rid off so much negative energy that I think I can finally put the past behind me. This is perhaps where I think those at the game have missed out.

Put simply – I no longer hate MK Dons – not the fans, the players nor the management. In fact I feel sorry for them. I don’t envy what they have. A sterile stadium in the middle of a sterile shopping centre?

What we have is way better. I will never forgive the powers-that-be nor the commercial principals for what they did, but I can no longer blame the fans or the coaching/playing staff.

For the first time, I am ready to move on and it is such a good feeling. I am so proud of the club we have and I no longer want it to be defined by what it is not or who it is not. Let them crack on quite honestly.

I think Sunday was epoch defining in terms of AFC Wimbledon and its relationship to the wider football world. The watching world saw us for what we are and liked what it saw, but I do not think we will get plaudits if we are still banging on about this in 12 months time. It is our tragedy and always will be, but I think it is for us to bear alone now.

Our players – they did us proud. The first time they have truly delivered in a game of that profile? To a man, they were immense. And Jack Midson’s goal? Wow. What a rush. Maybe a more adrenaline-charged moment for me than Kedwell’s penalty and Sanchez’s header. Genuinely. If Gregory has scored when through, then I think I would still be talking, teary eyed, about this match with my grandchildren.

Speaking of which, can we drop Sanchez as a legend now? Seriously, the man is no more a fan of AFCW than Karl Robinson (in fact, the latter was more gushing with praise about us).

Like it or not. MK Dons exist and are going no where. We can pretend they don’t (and that Narnia exists) but they do (and it doesn’t).

I think we have crossed The Rubicon…and it was ok. No one died.

Reading the above, I don’t think I’ll be so glad to see* us step onto the field at Underhill on Saturday.

* – no, I won’t be seeing us do that, because I’m at Peterborough v Middlesbrough. Which will be as cold as it sounds.

Contrary to popular belief, his site doesn’t really write too much about Franchise, at least not since 2005/06. I guess I’ve written more about them in the past fortnight than I have done for the last six years. Back then what they did defined us as much as anything we did on the pitch, though that was as much down to our lowly position and the lack of influence we really had.

In fact, for most weekends they totally slip off my radar. And until we face them again, I don’t think I’ll mention them again except in passing. They just simply cease to be relevant. And just as I couldn’t wait for Sunday to finish, I now can’t wait to start writing about real football issues again.

It might have been tempting to say that we needed a midweek game to move on quickly from this, although for the most part I’m glad we hadn’t had one. We’ve needed the mental cleansing this week has given us for a long while, and I don’t think us playing in the week would have helped us.

We have had a fair amount of (usually self-inflicted) issues to deal with for the past two seasons, and it’s been quite refreshing to sit back and reflect that we can relaunch ourselves.

Be honest, you’re also looking forward to the Barnet match. It’s undeniably a massive test, and if the players then fail to perform after this past week then they will have no business being League Two players.

There are now no more distractions. Every first team game now is a Football League game, and the priority is to put proper runs of form together to get us safe. This is a critical month for the squad, because they’ve run out of excuses.

The remainder of 2012 will determine how much we need to do in January, and how many players NA has to get in. It’s always been the case that the less we need to bring in the better, because we can sign less quantity but better quality. We talk about the fans needing to move on, and the current players do too.

Our squad has to now decide what it wants to be, before the decision gets made for them. Do they continue like they have been before last Sunday, making dozy clangers and looking every inch the non-league journeymen? Or do they want to stay and become our new set of heroes?

Hopefully, that’s what NA has been trying to drum into them this week. and one suspects he’s found the whole circus quite irritating.  They have shown signs that they can do it. There is a bit of confidence now that has been painfully lacking this last twelve months. If they throw that away after this one final chance, they have no complaints.

One hopes the plans about what we do in January are being formulated right now (I say that because that apparently wasn’t the case last season). Whether that means Mambo will stay or go back to Charlton – and this from their OS seems to leave the door slightly open  – and whether we convert the likes of Antwi into full time players, we don’t yet know.

I expect Sully will stay with us for the whole season now, renegotiation with Doncaster notwithstanding, as I imagine he’s going to start taking more of a senior role. I don’t know whether I’d still keep the likes of Gregory as we do need to cut down on the amount of loanees we currently have. We might need as many spare places as we can get come March.

That’s for the future. Like the FA Cup game, the previous three piles of shit contests are history. We will obviously have to wait until Saturday to find out, but we might have got lucky – discussions about who we keep/sell aside, we may have got the chance to reboot the whole squad’s mentality before the real damage sets in.

It got mentioned in the last update, but people have become re-invigorated again because of the cathartic events of you-know-what. This week has felt different, and it’s a nice form of difference.  For once, there is a bit of genuine belief about Saturday, and I am struggling to remember the last time I could honestly say that.

And if you like your ironies, wouldn’t this be the biggest one of the lot? The game none of us wanted to face could end up being the one that “saved” AFC Wimbledon.

No doubt with all this said, we’ll lose 2-0 now, with the usual simple mistakes by mentally weak players. This is what we’ve been for the past couple of seasons, after all. But if we do, at least we would have had one week recently where we were chomping at the bit to play.

But then, we’re owed nothing less.