Skip to content

Let There Be Light

rochdale13And lo, upon the second day of the eleventh month, ye God of Thunder arose upon the barren heathen wastelands of the North of Mercia and decree his Almighty Power of Light for the nomadic servants of the Yellow and Blue and send Jörmungandr and his northern slaves into the abyss of Hellheim.

Or in other words, Thor finally paid his subs to the Norse Dons and did us a big favour yesterday.

Let it be said though, that whether it was legitimate help from the Nordic Gods, or just a freak of nature, Co-Op 1 Lidl 2 was welcome. Very welcome. Almost written-in-the-script welcome.

I don’t think anyone went up to Spotland with any sort of hope or expectation at all. And if we’re being honest, there are still many issues with our play. It was still too disjointed on too many occasions.

Sometimes I’m still not sure what our gameplan is, or whether it’s simply too complex to implement with the (let’s face it, limited) players we do have. There were still too many times where we just didn’t seem to get stuck in, to use a traditional phrase, and one wonders if NA goes the wrong side of the fine line between being cautious and being negative.

This afternoon though, none of that matters.

We needed this. Big time, needed this. A draw would have been acceptable, but that would still have put us without a victory since September. And when the lights came back on, we were still on the back foot for some of the time.

Your editor watched the goals again on both SSN and the FLS, and they were genuinely good strikes (and what was SM’s shhhing to the Rochdale fans all about? Not that I like players trying to antagonise fans, our included). Frampton’s especially.

When players and fans went mental after we scored, I think there was some pressure released, and weirdly enough I didn’t think we’d lose it after that. In fact KSL could have made it 3-1 right at the death.

NA talked on the FLS afterwards about how much of the game is psychological, and how he got a positive response from the players this week in training. And maybe losing to Oxford last week was a defeat too far?

The players themselves were starting to look like bottlers who just couldn’t get themselves out of the rut they put themselves in, and I guess it really is down to what goes on between the ears.

It feels genuine deja vu to write this, but it was no major co-incidence that when we started to have a go at Rochdale we got some success. Is NA almost scared of putting out a side that takes it to the opposition from the off? It might explain why it’s mandatory we go a goal down every game.

We talk about positivity from the players, but it’s something the management team maybe needs to work on too…

Anyway, this is a good springboard for us now. We don’t have the pressures of the League next week, we’ve got a damn good tie on Friday that could further kickstart us. For the first time in a little while, we can face Monday in a better frame of mind and start thinking about how to improve things.

That post-victory glow is a nice one to have. And we need to have it more often.

While you’re digesting all that, here’s…

Plus points: We won. Away. Coming back. Battling Mother Nature/Thor. Good saves from Worner. Looking more composed and clued up when the confidence was rising.

Minus points: Going a goal behind – it really isn’t funny any more. Still too disjointed and panicky at times.

The referee’s a…: Seemed to be quite pro-us, which is nice. He did manage to miss a handball from one of our players, which should have been a penalty. Was correct in allowing the game to be restarted with one broken floodlight, primarily because we won.

Them: Rochdale proved that there isn’t that much difference between a lot of the division, ourselves included, and it really does get decided who is on form and high on confidence. Their home form speaks for itself, but even so they weren’t really head and shoulders above us.

Wasn’t a bad ground, even if the swinging lights in the ground swung like the feeling of impending doom. £2 for a cup of tea is a fucking rip off though, though I managed to get ripped off even more when I only had £2-10 and was told that “they didn’t have any 10p coins”. Suppose they need every bit of shrapnel they could get for their electricity bill.

They’ve always been the archetypal League Two outfit, although in recent years they have inconveniently managed to get promoted. It wasn’t so long ago your editor covered them at Southampton and won.  Their crowds are lower than ours, I think, and it’s not exactly swimming in money, but we’d kill for their stability.

Chippy outside the away end was nice, even if your editor forgot they still sell gravy up North. Even the players had a quick stop at it after the game, apparently.

Their PA was extremely difficult to listen to, and Satan help us if yesterday required an evacuation. By the time we would have worked out the garbled tones, we would have all been frazzled. Though the steward was thanking us for our patience as we exited.

I didn’t hear it, but apparently Keith Hill’s post-match comments were talking about them not being able to score, and other things that could have come straight out of NA’s mouth in recent weeks. Maybe we could sell them Jack Midson? For a suitable fee, of course. Which leads on to…

Point to ponder: Whither our exiled #10? He didn’t get on again, and this despite his name getting pretty loudly chanted as we kicked off for the second half. It’s looking more and more likely he’ll be gone in January, and one wonders if planning for his replacement is already being figured out.

When we were 1-0 down, and we were looking as impotent as somebody getting IVF treatment, I really did think that NA’s stubborn-ness over our 20+ goal a season man was costing us points and reputation.

But then, we went on to win without him.

This apparent freezing out has gone on too long now for it to be a mere blip in the relationship. Something is awry, but the big problem is we don’t really know what goes on.

If anyone reading this knows any Oxford fans, it’s worth asking them about Midson when he was with them, because from memory they didn’t have a particularly high opinion of him. Perhaps we’re finding out why?

I remember when he got sent off against, ironically, Rochdale in the dying days of the TB era, and our ex-boss seemed to make an apparent sideswipe at him for doing so. Midson wouldn’t be the first or last player who is possibly a pain in the arse, so why alienate him?

Unless he’s showing exactly why he’s a journeyman footballer, and his time with us is simply running out now. His Twitter bio is interestingly worded:

Professional Footballer, Tennis / Sports Coach. Currently playing for AFC Wimbledon. Also a Herbalife distributor.

“Currently playing”, eh? Hmm..

There’s no indication that he’s injured, and we won’t ever know unless somebody breaks into our physio’s office and nabs his records. Though it’s interesting that he doesn’t even play in development games to keep his sharpness up.

The management believe that Sheringham will start scoring goals. Or more accurately, is more likely to start scoring them. I’m not sure about Smith, although he is still learning his trade and he’s being asked to do a job that more experienced players have failed at (see: Harrison, Banjo).

Strutton will probably be back in the Conference before long, which leaves us with some “interesting” issues up front for this season. But it’s becoming apparent that Midson won’t be part of those plans. Which will be a shame but we’ll move on.

Although your editor is still convinced that NA wanted Gary Alexander in the summer and didn’t get him…

Weather with you: I cannot put into words how epic/awesome/pantshitting the lightning strike was. Thanks to the power of modern technology and social media though, somebody filmed it from inside the hospitality suite.

Obviously on their side 😉

Needless to say, the music was suitable – Travis’ “Why Does It Always Rain On Me”, together with the Smith’s “There Is A Light”. Although I think those lyrics just apply to the North West in general.

We’ve had similar battles with the elements before, needless to say. Who can forget Redbridge when we had the evening game with the rapidly descending mist forming? I still have that Johnny Nash song in my head. And who could forget Notts County in the FAC……?

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) That lightning. Seriously, it was something else. (2) My last away game before yesterday was York. I doubt if I’ll be going to Bury though, so you might as well cancel your train tickets. (3) On a musical theme, Rochdale did like its Mancunian based music, didn’t it? Although it did also play some better stuff like Green Day. (4) We got past the 19 point mark. This is where we were last season the game before we got past the same points tally. Note the date…

Anything else? Seeing NA’s reaction at the end, winning this really meant something to him. Giving it the big one, and going to the crowd and shaking hands is something he’s done before in similar situations, and you can bet he was enjoying the trip down the M6 last night with his chippy supper.

For him, this can’t have been a fun few weeks, because he must have felt it was last season all over again. And worse for him, with it being his team and his stamp all over it, he had nobody else to blame this time.

We would have had to sell a kidney to get his real thoughts on last season, but I wonder what he was thinking for the last four weeks? He can finally start looking upwards again, and having a no-pressure FAC tie this Friday is quite good timing.

It would be tempting to over-state the importance of yesterday’s win, but if NA was noting a more positive frame of mind in training last week and we still didn’t get anything, then he would have started to wonder if it wasn’t going to happen for him.

Recently, Notts County sacked Chris Kiwomya after about eight months in charge. He would around the same era as NA, although he’s 3 years older, and it does show that the new breed of manager is even more perilous in job security than ever before.

While NA is and will be safe for a while, as said in the last SW19 update he must have been close to at least starting to look over his shoulder. Hopefully, we can put this shit run of form behind us and properly starting to play again.

Before the slump happened we were about to face three of the bottom four at that time – we got one point out of all of them. It was a wasted opportunity and one I would expect everyone to have learned from…

So, was it worth it? Of course it was. Weather affected games are immense fun, especially if you win.

In a nutshell: Thor is a Womble, Thor is a Womble, la la la la…