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Rowntree Mackintosh

As we continue to lick our wounds from recent games, we have York tomorrow…

It might be a bit alarmist to suggest that our season hinges on how we do against the 91st best side in the Football League, but after Morecambe, there is a definite knock to the confidence.

For that was a game that teams with legitimate playoff credentials win. You’re not supposed to even draw them, let alone lose.

OK, our luck was starting to desert us, and fatigue was always going to be an issue. But even now, the outlook has definitely bleakened just a tad.

Take tomorrow. We should win, because York really are that crap. And if I’m being honest, I think we will win – even if it turns out to be an unconvincing one.

That might not be enough to get the giddyometer fired up again, bar the dangerously optimistic, because it’s hard not to think that psychologically the tide has turned against us a bit.

It’s odd that when you look at the league table we’re a win away from seventh, but right now it doesn’t feel like that. I think that’s because Morecambe reminded us of a major faultline within us that still exists.

And that might also explain the low expectations for tomorrow as well – struggling, shit team comes to KM and gets a morale-boosting victory. You’ve read that script before…

There’s still plenty of football to be played, even now. But L2 is fast looking like it’s a big race for seventh – from Wycombe right down to even Exeter in 14th.

Sadly, that now pretty much rules Barnet out, although it would have been very funny if they’d somehow taken the last playoff spot after my throwaway prediction.

A cursory glance at the remaining fixtures suggests that a lot of the teams between 7th and 14th still have to play each other, and they’re not all going to be draws.

So I think that the realisation this week has grown that we’re becoming outsiders for the playoff race. Obviously, it makes things much more interesting for the next month, but compare it to just four weeks prior…

One wonders if the squad secretly feels that’s the case as well. We’ve had Francomb this week saying “stick with us”, although to be fair – footballers are never going to say “we’re fucking shit” on official sites.

There have been reinforcements too. We know about Rhys Murphy, and yesterday we added Darius Charles to the playing roster.

He’s a centre back, and we need one of those urgently regardless, and he’s obviously quite good. The trouble is, he’s been out for about a year after a broken leg.

Remember how TB used to sign players with fitness issues? It turns out that Charles has had about one u21 game before we swooped, and throwing him into L2 action seems a bit of a gamble.

Perhaps there’s even a slight whiff of panic as well? We’ve struggled to get in a CB since Osborne got crocked, and it finally bit us on the arse last week.

More importantly, the emergency loan window closes next Thursday, so we had to get somebody in PDQ anyway. As it transpires, Burton can recall him after 28 days, which could leave us without him for the last five games of the season if they took it up.

That’s assuming of course he is a signing to get us over the line for the playoffs. This bit from the OS didn’t escape without notice:

“I’m really pleased,” said Charles during an exclusive five minute interview with Dons Player at the training ground. “AFC Wimbledon is a great club and not far from my home and it’s a pleasure to be here.”

“I believe there was other interest, but it was an easy decision for me to make if I’m honest. I know a few players here and I know Ashley Bayes (goalkeeping coach) and Neal, so it was a really easy decision to make. “

Bold bit mine.

Like possibly Osborne, and like possibly Murphy, one has to wonder if this is a signing with half an eye on next season. He lives locally, knows a couple of people here, and defence is something we’ll need to work on during the close season.

Plus, if Burton go up to the Championship, he’s going to be surplus to requirements up there. He’s the sort of signing I would expect this summer anyway, especially if we won’t have to pay Akinfenwa’s Nandos bill any more.

So while nobody will publicly admit it, it does feel that planning for next season might be starting already. Personally, I don’t think AFCW is ready to go up anyway, as we’ve only just figured out how to be a L2 club, and the playoffs might just be a little beyond us.

Speaking of planning, it appears that Boris will finally give a decision on NPL next week – all the necessary paperwork went in on the 8th March, so everything was done close to the chest.

I can’t remember/find out when the doggers were formally told to sling their hook, but that was about a month ago IIRC, so the timing may not entirely be a co-incidence.

While rejection seems pretty unlikely, there’s always the possibility of delay on it. Brentford had to wait a little while longer as well, while Spurs was a bit more straightforward.

That will be annoying from our point of view, though given the complexity of this project it might not be a surprise if it comes. It’s something we’ll just have to bite the bullet over.

The impression I get from the ITK types is that they’re just relieved the whole thing has finally gone in – and tellingly, nobody seems unduly worried.

As it’s planning, it’s all down to following rules, laws and whatever else planning officials like. The sums seem quite a bit, but don’t forget that especially when it comes to stadia, nobody pays out the whole amount in one go.

I don’t see why it will affect our survival, or indeed progression in the Football League, especially given how budgets in L2 are often a red herring, although I suspect there’ll be a bit of belt-tightening.

And that is why I think a lot of things the club could/will be doing right now are on hold until the construction is well under way.

I’ve only briefly flicked through it, but a couple of things. Firstly, if they want to cut the costs of £500k for demolishing WGS, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of us willing to, ahem, “assist” 😉

Secondly, they’re mindful that because of what it is, selling the flats might not be so easy. I’m not sure about that – if anything, I can imagine a fair amount of our fans buying simply because it’s next door to NPL.

A great percentage of our fanbase could afford to buy them without the affordable housing aspect of it, and perhaps some may even pay more for the privilege of its location.

With the amount of wrangling over money, you can see how these things take up so much time. There is something eyebrow raising when somebody quotes a figure and there’s a roundabout way of saying “fuck off, we’re not paying that unless we have to”.

All in all though, it’s getting to the time where things actually start getting properly done. Less abstract, more real. Given how this project has gone so far, I suspect we’ll be OK with Boris, but of course you never know the mind of a politician.

I just hope, given recent events, we didn’t put an EU flag on the front page of our submission…