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Goodbye to 2012/13


Yes, farewell 2012/13. No, I mean it. Goodbye. Sayonara. Auf wiedersehen. Au revoir. Not missing you already. Fick dich. Fuck off and die.

It took a lot of emotional trauma, a lot of nailbiting, too much stomach churning, even more bowel movements, a lot of anguish, much frustration, increasing moments of despair and the odd bit of painful, teasing hope.

But at last, we can say and type the three words that we’ve waited far too long to say for this season.

We are safe.

I have to be genuinely honest here, there were many times this season where I thought I’d never write those words. Indeed, when Fleetwood scored yesterday, the mentally written obituaries were about to put down in print.

But we’re not, and you can thank Jack Midson’s spot kick for that. We’ve had enough penalties in our Dons supporting lifetime that we remember, probably more than most other fanbases, but his one yesterday might have been the most important one of the lot.

When Dickie Guy saved from Peter Lorimer, it was the plucky non-leaguers against the League champions. Cup heroics and all that. Enough has been said about Lurch, and even DK’s blaster at Eastlands was one where it was lovely to win but not vital.

You can’t dismiss the one yesterday as unimportant. Was this the most important spot kick for a while? It means that we don’t have the horror of having to subscribe to Premier Sports or swap the League Paper for the NLP this morning.

That would have been bad enough, but it means more than that. This morning, when your hangovers are clearing (or if you’re the editor of SW19, you’re totally sober but drained from writing two big reports for the Mondays already), it will start to sink in that we’ve jumped across a gaping hole that we could have easily fallen down.

Did we make that step into being – finally – a proper Football League club? Right now, it feels like it. Or at least, on the cusp of being one. One of the factors why this relegation scrap has been so demoralising is that we all knew that if we stayed up, we could finally start the proper rebuilding that we know needs (and will) be done.

To lose out on that next step up would have been even harder to take than going into the footballing equivalent of a pokey old flat with the nonce landlord. It would have been a missed opportunity too far, and one that really would have set us back a few years.

And I shudder to think what it would have really meant to our push for the now vital new stadium.

But you can think about those scenarios from the safety of today. You can think about the debacle of last pre-season. You can remind yourself of the horror shows at Bradford and Burton that we never properly recovered from.

Think of the way that we had to practically have a second pre-season between October and January. Not to mention the thrown away points against Wycombe and Burton and most painfully Port Vale. Think of the mistakes made by MMK and Hussey that almost cost us our Football League place (if you want to boil it down to that).

Remember the goal difference. That horrible festering sore that stood out in a season full of, er, horrible festering sores. Which got blown apart by the end of August and remained with us ever since. And how ironic that goal difference did sort out who went down – but not involving us.

Think of the good run of form we had in March, and how awful it was to then suffer the utter slump we had from Easter onwards. If you’re like your editor then you will remember how horrible it was to look at the L2 table. And remember how you felt when JM and GA just couldn’t quite put it in the net, and when Mangan scored yesterday…

And remember all that as long as you like, because guess what? It doesn’t matter any more.

It’s history. It’s now officially last season – we’re in that odd time called the “close season” where you don’t quite know what’s happening. And you don’t care.

When we talk about pre-season, it will be next pre-season we can focus on, with some proper scouting (hopefully), proper fitness and tactical work (hopefully) and with luck not coming back from those kind of games trying to convince yourself it really is only about fitness and the way we look shit is just rustiness.

Right now, it’s all starting to sink in. You do allow yourself moments like “what if Jack Midson missed?”. Indeed, imagine if we were down this morning. I know many steeled themselves for it, which makes this morning even more of a relief, but you still didn’t want it. At least I can watch Sky Sports News this summer and not have to avert my eyes whenever I see the L2 table.

Plenty has been said about this season. Plenty will be said in due course. In fact, plenty has to be said because I don’t want another season like that for a good long while. It’s not that we’ve been that good since October 2011, and as it will now be our third season in the Football League – isn’t it time we started becoming a Football League club?

SW19 will be doing a fair amount of writing in the near future – grudges and stuff off my chest can’t stay on there forever 😉 For now though, let’s focus on what thankfully was the last game of the season.

There really was something, well, typical about it, wasn’t there? I was in the makeshift press area (as the photo at the top shows), and I think we did what we had to do. I don’t believe we were all of a sudden a good team – we’re a sufficient enough unit but there is/was still a helluva lot “wrong” with it.

It doesn’t matter now, etc etc, but in truth I’m glad it was against a side with nothing to play for (even if for a lot of the time they played as though they did), and who had been on a losing streak. Because there were times towards the end of the first half where if they had better strikers we really would have been “looking forward” to going to Woking next season.

And I think that’s been our problem – because we’re so on edge, we didn’t have the confidence to push on until yesterday, and deep down knowing we weren’t quite good enough for too long in the season, we were never really there this season.

Some of how we played yesterday in particular was very much a by-any-means-necessary without too much of a game plan. But that could describe the whole season, couldn’t it? I use the word “clusterfuck” a lot to describe 2012/13, and I really think it’s an apt word.

I don’t think anyone played badly yesterday, and we were thankfully spared the horror of the fatal error that has almost killed us. It was still too nervy for words at times, we were never going to give the 4-0 gubbing we so badly wanted, and there was never eight fucking minutes of added time.

But I suppose it really was a case of, by any means necessary. And it took a good GA header and a JM spot kick to get the end result we thought we may never get.

Is there anything else to say about the game? To be honest, I’m not sure if there is. It did its job, we got what we had to get out of it, and it’s given us a good memory to file away with the other good memories.

And like the season just gone, let them remain as memories………

Plus points: We won. JM’s penalty. GA’s header. Coming back after going 1-1. The celebrations at the end. The realisation that this season is finally over.

Minus points: Letting in the goal. Still too nervous till the final whistle.

The referee’s a…: Should get plenty of hate mail for putting on five more minutes of injury time than was healthy – our collective life expectancy has gone down by two years thanks to him. Gave us the penalty though.

Them: I like Fleetwood, as they are Crawley without the attitude problem. Apparently, they pick our brains a lot about how to adapt to life in the Football League. For their sakes, I hope they do the opposite in their second season to what we did in ours.

To be fair to them, they came to knock us off their perch – they could have easily stepped back and let us rampage through them. Maybe they were on a bonus? Oh, and one of their fans was dressed as Bananaman – one thing you can say about our run-in, it was so tense people forgot the fancy dress this time…

Point to ponder: Do you get the impression the person most pleased when the final whistle blew was Neal Ardley? The guy was left a mess that would have tested a lot of experienced managers, let alone ones with no actual pedigree in managing senior players. There must have been times this season – and yesterday – where he must have felt that no matter what he tried it just wasn’t going to come off for him.

If us being constantly bottom in January/February was demoralising for the supporters, it must have been living hell for him. And I’ll be honest here, I had very big doubts about him after we lost to Chesterfield.

Whether he would have really been the right man for us in the Conference is now thankfully academic. He has done what he was brought in to do, and that was to keep us up this season. He has certainly earned the right to rebuild us in the summer, although it’s best for all concerned if what he does is scrutinised a bit more than the previous boss.

He has made comments this week just gone about the mess he inherited being worse than he thought, and one wonders if he’s going to start being more explicit about what he actually had to deal with? And while some may find that distasteful and disrespectful, with what he’s had to put up with – could you blame him if he spoke out?

Your editor was in his press conference yesterday, and the impression I got was that he’s not a loudmouth, but he’s a very steely character. I don’t think he’s as “matey” as TB was, though that’s certainly no bad thing, and it did feel as though the guy knows he now has a damn good run to start doing what he wants to do.

There was also another interesting observation by a guy who writes for the Sun who I know quite well, and somebody who’s pretty experienced at these sort of things – he reckons NA is a “good talker”…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) We are safe. (2) The sight of an SW19 reading wino drinking out of a bottle of rose afterwards. Literally, the bottle. Despite their fierce provocation I remained alkoholfrei yesterday. Anyway, bet their head hurts this morning. And their arse 😉 (3) Coming to terms with the fact that this season is finally over.

Anything else? Just about everything that has been said has already been said, here or elsewhere. But there’s one more thought about this season just gone. There were genuinely few high spots.

I could name Southend away and the relief at the final whistle yesterday as two of mine, but I’m genuinely struggling to name many more. Those who go to more games than SW19 might be able to name the last minute winners that kept us up (and by fuck, if we hadn’t had got those….) but even so they don’t seem so much highlights as moments of relief.

In his autobiography, Tony Cascarino said that scoring goals was more akin to wanking than shagging – it was a relief when he scored and not orgasmic, because scoring goals was his job. And I suppose that’s the best way to sum up this season – relief.

OK, this has been one long handjob of a season, but it hasn’t been fun. And football is meant to be exactly that. And while the club needs to learn many valuable lessons it also needs to be minded that you’re suppose to enjoy coming to games.

We’re happy now, but it has been a horrible grind. And I guess a lot of that has been that as a supporter base we rather enjoy being in the Football League. And because we were literally 20 minutes away from losing it, it made it very uncomfortable.

I doubt if I’m alone in wanting a good couple of months without a game to ruin my weekend because I have got fed up with too many self-inflicted wounds. When NA starts sitting down tomorrow and finally gets the carving knife out, I do believe he’ll be remembering the horrible journeys home for too many times this season.

We can reasonably expect many players to go (though perhaps not as many as last season). Though you would expect us to try and snap up Benno and perhaps Sully jnr as well. It’s worth remembering that with the players we got in January, all bar Hussey were ones who had no previous connection with the club.

And they were generally better, too. A lesson there, methinks.

Who knows who will come in? We can make semi-educated guesses about who’s to leave : you would expect Seb (allegedly on £1500 p/w), Ruiz, Louis Harris, Warren Cummings, Darko, Stacey Long, and one or two others I’ve less than criminally forgotten to be looking elsewhere for clubs.

There will be the inevitable surprise departure (for some reason, Sammy Moore springs to mind here), and hand on heart I don’t expect GA or Meades back. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Dickenson type player – if not the man himself – signed up, although I would be a bit wary of any rumours of Danny Kedwell returning.

And to be honest, like all returning players, I think we only do that to placate fans rather than improve the squad.

Hussey has apparently said his goodbyes on Facebook, and to be honest I think we can do better. Strangely enough, I would expect Osano and MMK to stay, if only because they could be useful squad players (especially if they still have one more year left).

Unlike previous seasons, I really won’t be upset to see any player leave. Perhaps at a push Midson, but very few after that. I guess that’s what this campaign just ended has done to us, it’s worn us down to the point that contempt was starting to creep in. And with the amount of times we seemed to underachieve, that’s pretty understandable.

We’ve waited a long time for it to get to this stage, as far back as September if truth be told. I guess it will sink in more and more not only that we stayed up but also just how bad things really were.

And we have an absolutely golden couple of months to start the modernising that this club so desperately needs. Let’s not waste it…

So, was it worth it? The game? Yes. The season? Hmm…

In a nutshell: Dear 2012/13. Kindly fuck off.