You didn’t expect SW19 to let this year slip by without notice, did you?
Three point deductions. Playing Franchise and losing to them. Playing Franchise again and finally beating them. Signing BMO and Tubbs and getting excited. Losing said excitement after ten games. Seeing Charlie Sheringham play in an AFCW shirt. Seeing Charlie Sheringham score…
A large part of 2014 has been pretty underwhelming, to be blunt. And not just the bit between January and May. That said, after going for so long without winning in the last month of the calendar year, winning four out of five games in it is a bit of a shock.
I guess Mansfield really was the blip for once.
By all accounts, we were very good against Pompey and Exeter, and it’s pleasing that the buildup to next Monday hasn’t been hit by players not going for it and forgetting L2 is still our bread and butter.
Make no mistake, it could have easily been 0 points from 12. That it’s 9 is credit to the professionalism of everyone that has suddenly come into life.
OK, one can be cynical here and suggest it’s down to the players wanting to start against Liverpool. And if/when they knock us out, our form will be very interesting to look at.
But is it in danger of coming together? It’s never properly clicked since getting into the FL, although those with longer memories will know that when we were in the Conference South, we had yet to kick into gear around this time of the season.
Actually, reading that table is interesting for so many reasons. Firstly, I forgot just how much we clawed it back from Chelmsford (who I don’t think ever recovered from that, to this day).
Secondly, it really was only six years ago. Mind you, from the same site, the team we beat last Friday were sitting pretty comfortably in the top flight. I’m not sure what was more dramatic – our rise or Pompey’s fall.
Thirdly, and along similar lines – who would have thought that not one, but two teams in that Conference South table would be in the Football League on 31/12/14? Though I bet many would have said Chelmsford and not Newport would be the other one…
Obviously, L2 isn’t the second tier of non-league football, although maybe we’re finally twigging that this division is a much of a muchness, and we might be overestimating a lot of it.
Some would argue that the absence of Sir Beast of Modeon has in fact improved our style of play. It’s certainly forced us to be different, although I’d much rather have him start on Monday than not.
It does of course make the transfer window for January interesting – I’m not sure if it opens tomorrow or starts on Saturday, though I imagine we’ll take our time over what is needed (bar the obvious loans that need sorting out).
We’re getting plenty of speculation about Tubbs already, and it will only grow louder this next month. If we do lose him, it will be either because:
a) somebody wants to buy him, and they’re prepared to pay his wages, or
b) somebody will offer AFCB a higher percentage of his wages than the 25% or so we pay.
The second one will be the big pisser from our point of view, and would make the “not bombproof” comments made pre-season look even more like “wet paper bag”.
Even so, it all rests with Tubbs himself. He’s out of contract at the Goldsands in the summer, he’s going to be the wrong side of 30 so his next move will be his most important one.
He needs to be in the proverbial shop window, and he’s got a very high profile opportunity to do that on Monday. Would he be in a better place at Fratton Park to do that than with us?
How much money do Pompey really have? They should have more than us, but it’s worth remembering they’ve just finally got their obscenely high wage earners off their books, and paying £2.5k a week for someone who isn’t theirs may affect their sensibilities.
Obviously, if somebody comes in with a decent deal for Tubbs, we’re going to lose out. Unless it’s us making the bid, that is. I still expect him to be in a Pompey shirt by the 1st February, but stranger things have happened.
Of course, that might not be the strangest news story to come out recently. With luck, next year will be the big one, and if you haven’t written to Merton yet, do so.
The news yesterday that Chelski are in preliminary talks to buy KM should NPL happens is one we really didn’t expect. Especially as it’s the sort of thing you would assume would happen after applications are accepted, and not before.
Initial thoughts were that there’s obviously a fair bit of confidence that NPL will happen, and reading even a smidgen of our planning application shows how deeply professional it is.
But we’ve already got what looks to be an answer to a side question if we get the go-ahead. And to be honest it’s one I wouldn’t have predicted.
On many levels though, it makes sense. Chelski will pay us a lot for it, rather than the 15 centimes and a packet of Quavers from 1998 that Kingstonian would offer us.
We’re going to need as much money as we can from KM, we literally cannot afford to be a soft touch, and we will need to stop “doing the right thing” becoming “selling ourselves short”.
Ks can’t afford it, and will probably never be able to. Fulham have Motspur Park. RBK wouldn’t find it easy to buy it back off us, and I don’t think selling it for housing will go down well with anyone.
The Chelski yoof (and doesn’t that sound a dubious term, given their hooligan past/present?) currently play at Aldershot, which I think matches us playing at Merstham in its inconvenience.
Not to mention that as a minor-league stadium, KM isn’t actually too bad. No good for anything above Conference level, as we well know, but unlike Citeh’s reserve stadium it’s already there and possibly awaiting new owners within the next couple of years.
I’ve no doubt a certain D Barnard has had a hand in this, and maybe their PSF was them initially measuring the curtains. Perhaps literally.
Still, it would effectively be us washing our hands of the place we’ve called home since 2002. Whenever discussions about the post-NPL future of KM arise, there’s always been an assumption that we’d struggle to find a buyer, so therefore we’d put our youth teamers etc there.
Would we need KM as a secondary venue though? The answer is, probably not. Our academy and youth development could just as easily play at Walton Casuals, or even Tooting and Mitcham, and if we did get a big FA Youth Cup fixture, there may well be a suitable venue currently sitting at LBM’s planning office…
Maintaining KM as it is takes up resources, and if we’re to look after NPL as well it’s an un-necessary expense. It’s best to let Chelski pay us the money, and they can take over the maintenance, paying the leccy bill, insurance, pitch maintenance etc.
They can afford it.
There is the thorny issue of what happens with Kingstonian. It was telling that within half-hour of the story breaking, there was a thing on the OS about how nothing has been signed etc.
When these sort of things get leaked in this manner, it’s more a case of when, not if. And to be honest, I can’t see any other buyers for it.
But it’s pretty inconceivable that any future sale won’t include the fate of Ks decided. I honestly can’t see us cutting them out of any change in arena ownership – that would be a PR disaster if nothing else, and we’re more sensitive than most to that kind of thing.
Remember, if NPL happens there will be the usual narrow minded idiots who will accuse us of killing off greyhound racing. Just like some still believe that we fucked Ks over. You know, despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s best not to give them ammunition over something we do have control over.
What happens to Kingstonian if Chelski takes over is of no concern of ours. If they get kicked out, it’s the Premier League side who become the bad guys, and they’re used to that tag anyway.
And to be totally honest, I wouldn’t really care. No, I don’t want to see Ks shafted – been there, done that, it hurts like fuck – but considering we’ve been with them for 12 years or so, I don’t have much of an affiliation with them
I don’t think too many of us do either. Not a hatred, nor even an intolerance, they just don’t register. I’m sure a few will blame us for it, but at AFCW home games you would be forgiven for thinking we’re the only team that plays there.
How many of our fans go and watch them when we’re not playing? A handful, if that. More have an affiliation to Sutton, although that in itself isn’t a massive one.
Then again, I don’t think as a fanbase we have much love towards the sort of teams we played in competitive fixtures not so long ago.
Still, the arrangement in a business sense has worked well since 2002, bar a few tensions along the way. If we do get the go-ahead for NPL, and we get a definitive time scale, watch the impatience with KM’s limitations skyrocket.
Anyway, that’s 2014 out of the way, here’s hoping that in 2015 we’ll be getting what we’ve really wanted, needed and deserved for far too long.
And I don’t mean three wins in a row…