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**New signings alert**

Just when we thought all was lost, and just when we thought we could switch off for the summer….

So, welcome Chris Arthur and Barry Fuller. Two signings at a time when we weren’t sure if we were getting any.

Fuller is the one that grabs your attention, needless to say. He’s a proper right back, he was released from Barnet (and tellingly, the one Bees fans seem to regret letting go most of all), ex-Gills and if his photo is anything to go by, somebody who looks a bit of a nasty little bastard.


NA is obviously glad he’s got him, referring to him as a tough tackler and all-action. Which means he’ll be the one who opposition fans will hate when he gets sent off for a late tackle.

But it’s pleasing that he’s the kind of signing you hoped we’d get in, and it does thankfully suggest that we’re not repulsive to potential players. Which when you’ve let go so many and up until today not got any in, does play on the mind a bit.

You get vibes with players, and the ones you get with him seem to be promising. Character? Check. Quality? Check. Knows the division? Check. Looking forward to seeing him play already? Check.

No doubt he’ll be a big flop now.

As for Arthur? He’s 23, from Havant, used to play for Rotherham and Northampton, and he’s a left-midfielder who can play at left back too. Oh, and as that picture in the link will testify, he’s a bit of a brick shithouse.

I think NA is aware of the reaction when he mentions he’s not a high-profile signing, and it seems that he’s more likely to be a utility/squad player rather than a guaranteed starter. At least initially. He has been described as an “emerging talent”…

His signing seems to be more underwhelming (and it’s a NA trait to announce that sort of player before the more eye-catching one). That said, all he needs to be next season is good enough for League Two.

I expect we’ll see quite a few of these type of “emerging talent” signings, in positions where you can gamble a bit more with that. Neither Arthur nor Fuller will be the last players coming in, and I imagine whoever joins us next will be one of those two types of individuals.

Arthur is the proverbial rough diamond, the one who will start some games but not others, while Fuller is bound to be a regular. We’d like more of the latter, but with the former you can rotate them a lot more. When NA suggested last season that Seb had played a lot of games for somebody his age, it showed his thinking about that age of player.

That said, the reaction of the Northampton fans to Arthur isn’t promising…

As the last SW19 hinted at, it’s important to get your system right first and foremost. As long as Fuller, Arthur and any other new signings are solid enough, aren’t prone to silly little mistakes and can do the proverbial job, I’ll have no complaints.

Remember – we had heard of Pim and Chris Hussey, and neither of them were anywhere near as good as we wanted/hoped they would be. A lot of NA’s criticisms from last season stemmed from the players not following instructions and being nowhere near fit enough. That might be all we need from both of these two next campaign.

Obviously, we’ll need the Bennett type signings as well, and we’ll be playing the long-drawn-out game with them – our boss said how surprised he was that Fuller got released, and remember that we got Benno after the transfer window shut. So it pays to be patient.

But we’re getting to see NA’s approach to the transfer market now he’s unrestricted by not needing to win games. I’ve no doubt he would prefer an “emerging talent” rather than somebody over-the-hill and looking for a payday.

And no, I don’t mean Gary Alexander.

Should anyone be surprised if he did? Look at his background, and think of how “scientific” he is. I have more faith that he’s actually thought about these signings, what he’s going to do with them, how much he’s going to use them etc. Neither of them may work out, that’s the risk of every single transfer, but equally both could be battling it out for POTY next season.

It’s important that there’s a plan involved here. I’ve no doubt that most if not all signings will come under the “who are they?” category, but then we had that in January.

All this comes  on the 11th anniversary of you-know-what. To be honest, I was in two minds whether to write something, because commemorative date aside, I’d honestly forgotten about it.

You do have to wonder if this date matters as much as it used to. By that, I mean whether there’s much point in looking back like one has tended to do on this day. Maybe in a bit of pinching oneself over where we were just over a decade ago, but beyond that?

After reading what SW19 has written on this date over the past decade, a lot of it does seem to focus on Franchise and how far we’ve come. This time round, in 2013, that’s no longer the case. We’ve now faced Franchise, and we got to fart in their face.

Last season did a lot of things, primarily it made us more cynical and re-focused in a new direction. To save you searching, here’s a quick breakdown of all the reviews I’ve done on this day since 2002:

2002 – people’s enthusiasm had been renewed. We hate Franchise.

2003 – we still hate Franchise. Club needs to mature a bit more.

Didn’t bother doing anything for the next few years, then…

2008 – finally escaping from the Ryman. Still hating Franchise, but controlling that anger more.

And again gave it a rest until…

2011 – back in the Football League. It really did take 9 years. Oh, and fuck Franchise.

2012 – ten years old. Aren’t we wonderful?

There are some things I will have written that I read back right now and cringe at. And that’s just in the above comments about Chris Arthur. But even just flicking through them I’ve sometimes found myself growing weary of this anniversary.

That may sound odd, but it’s also understandable. Franchise are no longer something I think about even a fraction of the time, unless it directly affects us. Or if they’re doing not at all well and I have a damn good laugh at them.

But even talk about where we’ve come from seems like we’re trying too hard these days. I don’t think anyone says “you should remember where we were 10/11 years ago” any more, because it now just means you’re skating over the issues. Before, it used to be a reality check, a valve to stop anyone getting too far ahead of themselves.

Now? We think about last season instead and the need for a new centre back.

Actually, I think today isn’t irrelevant after all for reflecting like we tend to do, because of one very good reason – it serves as a reminder that many chapters of AFCW finally got closed this past 12 months.

The whole Franchise thing changed forever on the 2nd December 2012. You may still think about them, but mainly in terms of revenge. The bubble of success finally burst last season, and the saloon bar talk is one of infrastructure and “doing it more professionally”. To just be happy to have a club finally died in the water.

Last year I mentioned footballing puberty, and we’re truly under that now. We’ve got the first signs of acne, the initial tufts of bum fluff and your voice has done uncontrollable things. Though some will argue we’ve been excessively wanking since 1st June 2002 😉


Whether you like it or not, it’s no longer your grandfather’s AFCW.  There are new challenges on the horizon, new obstacles to hurdle over. Not so much against modern football but adapting into it. We may even start paying for agents. The three man commission will never be irrelevant, but is it just history now?


While you mull that over, I just hope AFCW don’t make any more signings today. I’ve done enough rewriting as it is…