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Gordon Bennett

As we face those from the other side of the Severn tomorrow, the big news of today isn’t Poundland buying 99p Shops, but something more than that.

Your editor will be at KM tomorrow.

As a supporter.

No, that’s not a WUM. Instead, that means your Saturday evening/Sunday morning filled up with a shit photo, and a complete inability of your editor to identify any players or indeed any match action.

Or in other words, no different than at any other point since 1999.

Anyway, my knee is still giving me grief, so I might spend half the match trying to get into the disabled section. And no, that’s not a reference to our back line…

And on that topic – Alan Bennett is leaving AFCW.

That he’s returning to Turners Cross is no surprise at all, although the timing of it may sound a bit odd. That said, CCFC’s league campaign kicks off next month (summer football in Ireland, don’t forget) so timing wise it makes a lot of sense for him.

He trained with them in the summer, apparently, so he’s obviously making the move back home now before his body finally breaks down.

As far as it goes on this side of the Irish Sea, it’s a shame, but it’s merely happening in February 2015 than May 2015. He is only a bit-part player now, and NA is clearly preferring the yoof at the back.

But without him, we would probably be back in the Conference today.

I’m sure you all remember when we signed him, in one of the most important transfer windows I can ever remember. Hell, probably the one with the most significance and urgency.

I am fully aware that some readers have just come off a painful and highly emotional three year therapy programme about watching our defence that 12/13 season, so I apologise for making you relapse.

But we were lucky that Cheltenham cancelled his deal, like we have just done with him, and that he was willing to come to us. Sometimes, you get that stroke of good fortune, and by fuck did we need it. Remember, it was MMK and Pim Balkenstein* as our central defence.

* – as an aside, I know MMK tends to end up being the scapegoat/figure of fun about one of the worst defences in pro football I’ve ever seen (and that is genuinely no exaggeration), but shouldn’t the Dutchman be getting more brickbats?

Remember that he was brilliant when he was on loan, but Brentford obviously knew something we didn’t. I wouldn’t say we were conned by them, but by fuck did they do well out of our naievity. Especially TB’s complete lack of understanding about defences.

With MMK, you could at least say that he was a Conference level player in League Two. Balkenstein should have been far better than what he turned out to be – at least, when he wasn’t making yet another trip to the injury table…

There were many changes that mid-season, but Benno was one of the most important ones. OK, he wasn’t the quickest, but he knew how to use what he did have.

We stayed up, as we all know, and he has played a good part in making our defence one of proper L2 standard. It was a bit of a surprise when he was kept on this time around, although that was down to a clause where we would re-sign him if he played a certain amount of games.

I guess he always knew that his career was coming to a close, as he was taking sports journo courses, and when Barrett pretty much usurped him as the old git elder statesman this season, that time has now come.

It will be a shame to see him go, and he’s clearly going to get a damn good reception. He deserves one. We’re not going to get a cameo, although maybe that’s just as well..

He came in February 2013 and leaves in February 2015. Which is where we are today. Keeping faith with the youngsters is a risk, especially as we’ve now lost three genuine players of experience.

Barrett is back home at Southend, Benno is going back home to Munster and Framps is making the treatment table his permanent residence.

We’ve got the lesser spotted Phillips, assuming he doesn’t head back to Aldershot, or Smith, and that’s about it. Ideally, you’d wish that Framps wasn’t so injury prone, but like Benno we’re going to have to move on from him.

Mind you, the current young crop at the back don’t sound too bad (watch them have absolute stinkers tomorrow and at Burton). By all accounts we’re not talking MMK/Pim levels of shiteness, and anyone who comes in may need to play backup.

That’s assuming we get somebody in, that is. On the OS, NA has said that we’re “well covered” at CB, so he is obviously happy – for now – at what we have.

It would be better if the youngsters can see out this season without an older hand keeping an eye on them, although I still don’t think we won’t move for anyone if February suddenly starts getting very tricky.

I’ll be glad to see the back of this month already, and if we can get through it relatively unscathed, we can justifiably call it a good season. Though hopefully we don’t need to re-sign Benno to keep the goals out…