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A few things

As it’s now officially pre-season as opposed to the long days of close season, a few musings on this sunny Friday in July…

– So, we’ve finally got our second goalkeeper. Well, more accurately we’ve got our second keeper and the one for the u21 at the same time. Was there a buy-one-get-one-free promotion on?

Or are they doubling up as office staff during the week? Guess we’ll know if they were asked to photocopy their own contract and then got told to show the rest of the office how to use it…

Being more serious (I think), these moves may be the most surprising of the lot, and I include AA and Tubbs in that. Not so much their backgrounds – promising youngsters, recommended by one D Anderson – but the fact we’ve got two keepers instead of one.

If we’d signed somebody for the u21s but to sit on the bench for first team games as well, that’s one thing. If we had signed a “proper” keeper to push Worner, and promoted a yoof teamer to the u21s, that’s another thing too.

Getting both in did raise more than a few eyebrows, and suggests there’s still enough in the transfer kitty. I’m not one of those who thinks that Ashley Bayes should be getting first team football, because the time for him to do that was last season. He’s far better off as a full time keeper coach now.

But why two? NA’s comments spell it out:

“Goalkeeper is a position that we want to have a competitive edge in and we did not feel we had enough of that last season.

Hmm – was that a less-than-subtle dig at Seb Brown there?

Actually, you have to think that NA’s mind was made up over the goalie situation a long way back last season, and that was directly (if cruelly) down to our hero at Eastlands.

Cast your mind back to Coventry last season. Remember Seb’s uber-blunder? He never recovered from that, and I think that is what NA is trying to avoid now.

We relied a LOT on Worner a) being good and b) being available last campaign. When option B failed in the FAC, we all know what happened next. If it’s true that both Shea and Worner will be fighting it out in pre-season to start, then presumably NA thinks our current #1 needs competition.

Some argue that goalies don’t need competition in that way, that it puts too much pressure on them not to make a mistake. To be honest, I’m not a goalie nor do I have their mindset, although I would say that it doesn’t reflect well on a keeper if they can’t handle a bit of competition…

– I saw this article this morning, and “brutal honesty” seems to be how we’ve got our transfers in. Well, presumably that and an extra £50 per week as well from a few coins found down the back of Mike Richardson’s sofa.

The squad is finally coming together, and all we need now is a proper left back, somebody else at centre back and perhaps another midfielder. The latter two could be triallists, and if we really don’t sort that out during pre-season there’s always the loan system when the campaign starts.

We do need that final full-back position sorted, and we should have one by the time we go down to the Kent coast a week tomorrow. Apparently our boss has said it will be sorted early next week.

Some will think we dipped out on Joe Jacobson, who has gone from Shrewsbury to Wycombe, but I wonder how many of these names are just wishful thinking by supporters rather than actual grounding in reality.

It’s not like there isn’t going to be another left back looking round for a new contract, and we’ll have to bring back Warren Cummings again.

– At least we’re in pre-season training finally. The close season didn’t seem to drag like it can sometimes do, although I think with all the bollocks from the end of last time out, we needed that long break.

That has virtually been forgotten, or at least seen as belonging to another era.

It’s easy to forget that next Thursday is the Meet The Manager shindig, which is the unofficial start of proceedings again. This time around, I may not turn up so people don’t expect me to write 4000 words on it…

And then, there’s the pre-season friendlies. Is it wrong to admit I’m quite looking forward to them? We’re even playing Sutton again, although this time it’s at KM and is the replacement for the Salisbury game getting cancelled.

Although the u21s are at Canvey Island the same evening too. I can’t be arsed to make a joke, if any exists to begin with.

– The kits got launched last week, they’re here if you still haven’t seen them. And the sooner they update the online shop so it doesn’t look like something from 2005 the better.

Everyone went a bit Gok Wan over them when they got released, although with some of our fans the only thing they have in common with the fashion guru is the campness 😉

Me? I’ll never buy one anyway, and I do think the pinstripes are a pointless addition. But other than that, they look fine. It does appear that it’s grown on people within the last week, and I’ve absolutely no doubt they’ll sell out.

Merchandise wise, our sales/takings beat Brentford, Colchester and Leyton Orient apparently, and supposedly even match Watford’s. Even if that’s just on a technicality, that still shows how many people will buy stuff.

And the real test for the Admiral kit will be the quality of the merchandise. Those with better knowledge of this sort of thing than me always remarked how poor in quality Tempest were, and from memory the WFC Admiral shirts were some of the best made.

People never buy crappy merchandise for long, so a nice shirt will persuade people who may otherwise waver.

The training kit doesn’t look too bad, as it goes, and one hopes having a proper sportswear company doing it will help it sell. We needed a change for a good long while, and with luck Admiral will deliver.

And it has put the kit design competitions into the dustbin of history where they belong. Let’s be blunt here – many if not most of the designs chosen this past decade have been crap.

While I don’t like the pinstripes, I will get used to them, and otherwise the shirts looks the part. Compare to the pigeon-shit splodges we had a couple of years ago, or how horrible this looked and there’s no comparison.

It was a classic case of fans over-estimating their ability to design and choose shirts, and Tempest over-estimating their ability to make them properly. It never properly worked, and the new designs showed how you can’t trust the supporters in everything

– Finally, your editor did manage to get to the outline plan exhibition for NPL on Tuesday, and to be honest the professionalism of it looks blinding. Nice to look at, and for the first time in 22 years it looks closer than ever.

There’s still a long way to go, of course, but what struck me was the following : if you ignore the professional NIMBYs who complain if somebody leaves a dustbin out too long, the two main concerns are both fully surmountable.

The flood plain issue has a great deal to do with blocked drains as much as it being on a flood plain, apparently. I believe that would come under “remedial work”, which let’s be honest – we’re going to have to do a fair bit.

Or to put it another way – if you think KM is shit now, it’s a lot better than when we first took it over.

The other concern seems to be the one that some of our fans wonder about too – transport. It’s pretty bloody obvious that the less cars you have around there the better. The plans currently have on-site parking spaces for staff/players, disabled and that’s about it.

There will inevitably be some provision needed for those who want/need to park up as close as possible, but I get the sense we could cut the amount of cars down to very low levels if we needed to.

I’m in no doubt whatsoever that just about every bit of street parking within a 1/2/whatever mile radius would be Controlled Zone Parking, and while there are industrial sites around that could be used for parking, they can be out-of-bounds if need be.

We can bring up park-and-ride schemes here – Merton College in SM4 (which the tennis uses) and even KM are two such sites, and that’s off the top of my head. That’s 400 spaces elsewhere that you don’t have to supply around the stadium, and I’m sure some clever dick will work out how many industrial units around PL and Durnsford Road that equates to.

I’m in no doubt there’s going to have to be a fair amount of hearts and minds over this, because we cannot assume that just because “the local residents” aren’t snarling in the streets about us they’ll automatically welcome us with open arms.

But get the transport bit in particular sorted, and that will go a good way to placating those who need it.

One must be wary of the local residents association, naturally. Even if it’s metaphorically on the payroll of the doggers, doing virtually everything like an obedient greyhound, and even if the handful I saw on Tuesday looked every inch the NIMBY from a mile off.

The hardliners are exactly that, and every council knows about their own particular bete noirs. Though it has to be said, nothing in London would ever get built if those who complain got their way most of the time.

My own gut feeling is that most residents aren’t anti-us. They can be persuaded at worst to tolerate us for every other Saturday and a few midweekers over a nine month period. That may not be the same as explicit support, but we simply need little outright objection to get back home.

If it means changing some of the plans, then fine. We’re not going to get anything without concessions to the local residents, and this was the whole point of the exhibitions this past week – to get feedback, to see what residents want (and don’t want), and then to add it into the planning submission.

Better to know what you’re up against now, rather than find out when the crunch really comes…