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The Score’s On Your Back…


God, it feels nice to saviour something like SW19’s ARMY 4 Royal Navy 0, doesn’t it? After the shit-tips that were Oxford, and t’Stanley, and Northampton, not to mention Hartlepool away…

For once, things went right. For once, things clicked. For once, we realised that the best way to score goals is to, er, have a shot at the target. If you don’t buy a ticket then you don’t win the lottery, as Kevin Keegan once said.

Then again, he also said “ouch” in a layby near the M25 while sleeping in his car. Despite there being a hotel nearby…

Anyway, the headline was a chant from the Tempest EcoHouse End to their keeper (wearing number 40), which kind of sums up what sort of day it was. We turned up and gave a traditional kicking to a side/club that thought it was beneath them turning up.

Whether it was a case of getting the way we (literally) threw it away against Coventry out of our system, or whether we really have been looking to hit a run of form and stop fucking about, it was the kind of performance we always knew we had in us but never delivered.

Yesterday, I think we could count the amount of mistakes on one hand. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was the most awesome of performance, but it’s as though we’d forgotten how to do these sort of games.

OK, Pell’s penalty could have been a lot better, although the way we kept going afterwards was impressive. As was Mo, to be fair to him – he really did make the difference, and being the exception to the SW19 rule that returning players are usually shit.

We got the first goal, we needed the second goal after that, and for once we got it. Inbetween that time, you thought the two shots in a minute from the Pompey player were in, didn’t you? Your editor certainly did, and just proves that even games like this have a turning point.

Your editor saw Sammy Moore’s effort on SSN, and I don’t think the angle of the camera did it justice – it looked a helluva lot better from the press area. And I’m glad Smith got his reward again this week, although this time with the win as a bonus.

And it was nice yesterday evening and this morning to have that post-victory glow. Because even after Rochdale, there was that feeling that we’d got away with the lightning striking and us coming out better.

There have been a couple of times when we’ve won but we’ve been helped by one of their players getting sent off. Yesterday though, there was no caveat to the victory – simply put, we were the better side.

Cup final syndrome? Meh. If that was the case then ours would have been last week against Coventry. I think this was simply down to us working hard and getting what we finally deserved.

Whether we can take that to Bury (weather notwithstanding) next Saturday, and then sort out Daggers the following Tuesday remains to be seen. It would be nice to think we could do that – after all, when we had the same opportunity against Northampton, Cheltenham and t’Stanley, we managed to deliver the most repugnant of shit sandwiches.

Come to think of it, it might be a good time to finally – finally – hit a good run of form. After Daggers, we travel to Brizzle Rovers, and this time I’m much more confident we’ll get something there. Famous last words, and all that.

Not having a game the following weekend may help us, as one of the big problems from last season was a crippling Tues/Sat/Tues/Sat/Tues grind. We’ve got a Sat/Tues/Sat run, but then a break. And one suspects NA and co are clever enough to use it properly this season.

For now, let’s bask in this result for this week. Especially any of our fans who live at the other end of the A3. I think they may enjoy going into work tomorrow…

Plus points: We won. Comprehensively. Framps’ goals. Sammy Moore’s strike. All round solidity. Smith getting another one on the scoresheet. Not letting up after the penalty miss. A clean sheet. Not going behind.

Minus points: Should have been five.

The referee’s a…: Quite a few were slagging him off for being a bit lenient with them for their, ahem, robust challenges. Oddly, I couldn’t see much wrong with his performance.

Them: Portsmouth were one of my least favourite clubs growing up in the Plough Lane days, and they definitely had that air that Luton did in the Conference You know, the high and mighty attitude, the what-the-fuck-are-we-doing-here-in-this-shithole-Wimbledon-are-crap-it’s-their-cup-final mentality no doubt many of you came across yesterday.

Here’s why Pompey are playing shit teams like us : it’s because they spunked every penny up the wall and welched every time they had to pay it. In truth, they’re lucky to still be around, let alone be in the Football League.

And I won’t get into the press facilities at Fratton Park…

Still, it’s a shame that World Cup winner, former Pompey boss and ginger pubed tosser Alan Ball isn’t still around, as I wonder if he would have really stuck his head around the dressing room door yesterday and squeaked about “here endeth the first lesson”, as he allegedly did in the 80s?

Not that anyone would have understood him, bar the residents of Battersea Dogs Home.

As for Pompey in 2013, they really aren’t very good. One of the worst teams your editor has seen play us this season, and perhaps going to the Conference isn’t so far fetched for them?

They’re also “fan owned”, although interestingly it seems that they have a certain percentage of non-fan ownership that shouldn’t (in theory) cripple them. Which may not go down well with some of our fans, but any side looking to go down supporter-ownership routes – usually because things have gone pearshaped – would be wise to look at their model rather than ours.

Of course, this being Pompey, they’re bound to have yet another financial crisis before long. And no doubt they’ll try and wriggle their way out of that, too.

To be fair to Connolly and Wu-Tang, they seemed appreciative of the applause beforehand, and one wonders what they really thought of the events up to and including 28/5/02? Though I accept that the vast majority of footballers say what they’re told to say, and as such I can dismiss any ill-judged comment made by any player back then.

They had a trumpet player who was consistently out of tune – so bad it was almost funny. Oh, and it was also very funny sitting in front of the away directors and seeing one of them getting very, ahem, animated…

Point to ponder: Was it me or was there a bit of a tense atmosphere before the game? Or at the very least, one that wasn’t particularly relaxed? We all know about the limitations of KM, and there was the sight of some Royal Borough of Kingston environmental official types walking around the place at half time.

Oddly, we seemed to handle Coventry just as well, although there were officially 1000 less last Friday week. I don’t envy anyone trying to steward the ground when it is almost literally tight to capacity, and I bet everyone is glad there won’t be similar games needed this season.

Bar playoffs/Fleetwood last season type fixtures, of course.

You have to wonder if things will become stricter at the ground now, especially if it starts clamping down on latecomers. I can’t remember if yesterday was designated all-ticket anyway, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t. And at least you could knock 100 off the amount for sale just to make things a little bit easier.

Looking around the ground from the press area, it’s interesting that we give half the YGT to large travelling away support yet it still doesn’t look enough. Thankfully, it sounds like infiltrators into the home end were kept to a minimum, although if they’d scored…

And yes, I still think our ticket stubs look shoddy and amateurish, and something out of the CCL era. Maybe next season?

One has to wonder, if NPL becomes a reality in 3/4 years time, what we do with KM in that meantime. I can’t think of a cheap way of doing the YGT without feeling that it’s a lot of money for something getting less than 5 years usage. And it’s not like Ks will pick up the tab.

In hindsight, maybe the club should have done that first and keep at least a semi-OK terrace in the KRE open. I know it was down to cost and some other reason, but perhaps it wasn’t as much hindsight as one could claim…

Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) 8/11/03 – Portsmouth 6 Leeds United 1, PL. 15/11/03 – Cobham 0 AFCW 4, CCL. Yesterday was 16/11/13… (2) NA getting soaked by a sprinker before the game. In a perhaps unrelated incident, he sent Simon Bassey out to do the post-game interviews. (3) Yesterday’s playlist was paid for by a long standing fan. Anyone any idea of how much he paid? If so, there could be some SW19 potential….

Anything else? I wonder if we now finally have it within us to put on a proper run? As said earlier, we could have done that when we faced three out of the bottom four in upcoming games. And we all know how well that turned out.

It appears that we’ve found a formation that works for the most part, that doesn’t need tweaking majorly, and we have options as and when we do need them. We are, as Framps said yesterday afterwards, a work in progress, but at least we’re looking like we are progressing.

And isn’t it about time we did? The first two FL seasons were mixed to say the least, and the third season in the AFCW in the 91 Club really has/had to be a make-or-break one.

While we’ll have blips and slumps of form between now and May, we have proven that not only can we start well, but when things do go to shit we have enough to get out of them at some point.

True, it was no co-incidence that Framps and Benno returning has meant an improvement in performances and (most importantly) results, but we’re now starting to do what proper, bona fide League Two sides do.

And it’s taken a long time to become that. Look at that stat mentioned earlier about us beating Cobham a week after Pompey beat Leeds. That’s still AFCW being an embryonic club rather than just a team.
But that doesn’t matter, nor should it. One could continue to use the “look how far we’ve come in a decade” thing as an excuse, but it’s one that really sounds quite desperate to make these days.
Yesterday, and at Rochdale, we did what we should be doing if we are serious about being a L2 club at minimum. In fact, yesterday was a bit of a watershed – we played a side who were eight divisions above us a decade ago, and we pretty much stuffed them in a League game.

And more importantly, it wasn’t us pinching ourselves and saying “fucking hell, we’re playing Portsmouth”. It was more a case of “take that you arrogant fucks”. 
It was said plenty of times last season, and on occasions during our recent slump, but AFCW should be a mid-table L2 club. Our crowds are average for this division, the money issues are dictated in a large part down to ideology rather than practicality, and it may interest you that Oxford also put in a u21/development squad for the first time this close season as well.
We’ve taken two years and a lot of grief to get to this stage, but yesterday we probably became a League Two side without thinking about it…
So, was it worth it? Damn fucking right.
In a nutshell: *insert joke about seamen here*