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The circus comes to town

AKA, you can guess who we’re playing tomorrow…

When we were celebrating all those months ago at Wombley, inbetween the umpteenth pint sunk and whatnot, there was always that nagging bit in your mind about two certain fixtures that we would have to play in 2016/17.

True, you didn’t think it at the time, but while we’ve dealt with playing them at their plastic hovel before, the day was always going to arrive when Franchise would come to KM.

That day is tomorrow.

For a good while now, this site has referred to the whole thing as a circus, and the closer we come to kickoff the more apt I’m convinced the analogy is. Clowns, tightrope walkers, deformed bearded ladies and all run by a dodgy looking nonce with a whip – and that’s just the away end.

But we’ve had about ten months to prepare ourselves for this particular fixture (in both senses of the word) and one now has to wonder how ready we are for it.

We all know how much AFCW itself wants tomorrow to pass without major incident. That’s why it will be probably the most repressive game you’ll ever experience at KM, and at least in and around the ground – you won’t be able to do half of what you normally do.

If nothing untowards happens, as in there are no riots, pitch invasions or anything that will get us hauled up before the FA and/or the High Court, the club will consider Operation Franchise a success.

You can tell how pissed off Erik Samuelson is with the whole shebang, not least because should it go wrong tomorrow – not impossible – he’ll be dealing for at least the next month with the fallout from it.

I suspect we’ve covered all bases we can humanly do with regards to safety and security. Especially in a venue which shouldn’t be hosting league football full stop, let alone something like this. And I’m still convinced if we could have got away with playing this game behind closed doors, the club would have taken that option.

Anyway, we’re here now, and I don’t know if any circus ever tried to have somebody herding cats as an attraction, but that’s what tomorrow is going to be.

Everyone can predict that at least one person will get ejected from the game. If you’re placing bets on that, putting money on somebody getting tossed out before kickoff might be a decent wager too.

Yes, that’s flippant, but tomorrow the emotions will run very, very deep. Probably too deep in some cases. I know at least one person who is going to turn up and decide on a whim whether to go in, and I doubt he’ll be alone.

As said last week on here, the club will do whatever it can to prevent anything major happening, but it cannot stop anything minor at all. Especially with the bars being open beforehand, which still surprises me even now.

Remember the guy who threw the banana at the Port Vale game all those years ago? He was stood pretty near me, and it wasn’t a pre-planned act of assault, nor an open proclamation of racism. No, he did it because something happened on the field and a split second moment of impulse took over.

And that’s what we’re going to see some of in just over 24 hours time.

Make no mistake, this will be the most unique fixture you’ll ever get this season and perhaps ever. This is a rivalry (and yes, it is a rivalry) like no other anyway, but this is the other cathartic moment we’ve all been waiting since 2002 for.

You would hope, for their own sakes as much as anything, that people tomorrow will see the line amongst the red mist and somehow not cross it. Easy to say now, of course, and perhaps we might see more (self) policing than you may think.

People do listen to the likes of Erik when he wants as little grief as possible, so maybe people might actually hold back instead?

It does help not being able to get anywhere near Franchise mutants tomorrow, because many people won’t be responsible for their actions if you could. The fact that they’ve taken less than half their 650 allocation says it all.

And as tempting as it would be to say you wish you could be let loose on them with some brass knuckles and a very good legal team, winning the psychological war tomorrow will be just a big a result.

I want every single Franchise fan going tomorrow to be petrified from the moment they step onto their Sunshine Variety bus, until about four days later when they realise they don’t have to face us until next season.

If they beg their driver to turn round and head back home before they reach KM, that would be excellent to hear. If they turn up at our ground and bottle it, they won’t be missed. And if they get into the ground, and plead with the stewards to let them out again…?

And those who stay in the ground should be kept a sharp eye on, because with all that lot close up together, they’ll probably start breeding…

Yeah, I’m vindictive like that. But remember that these cuntstains rubbed our noses in it until we started climbing up the leagues. Tomorrow is their worst nightmare, especially if we beat them. And they more than deserve everything they get.

But remember kids, you don’t need to throw a punch to leave them gasping for air.

Which is why the most important individual tomorrow may be Neal Ardley. He gambled with the Northampton game to focus on this one, and it could badly backfire if we’re not careful.

Your editor still remembers the absolute stomach churning days after we lost at the Frenzydome, especially when hearing how we simply failed to turn up that day. We have to do that tomorrow, because to soil our pants again will start turning people.

You can sense that mood already, especially after Saturday, and it’s not just another game. It’s impossible to explain to anyone who isn’t an AFCW fan why that is so, and why it goes beyond not wanting to lose to your hated rivals.

Those who know why I’ve said that, no explanation is needed. Those who don’t know, no explanation is possible.

As for your editor, I won’t be there tomorrow. I’ll be in a pub in Dublin somewhere, trying to get wifi or hoping somebody texts me the scores. Why I’m not at KM is a personal choice, but I’d rather remove myself from potentially acting like a 15 year old kid.

Not only that, but there’s a practical reason too – my season ticket is in the Chemflow, and it will be a very uncomfortable place to watch the game. Indeed, you’re only likely to see anything if you’re sitting down, or you’re abnormally tall.

And judging by the sound of it, there’s quite a few doing likewise tomorrow as well. Interestingly enough, they’re mostly around my age, or a bit older, but not old enough to wave their copies of the Daily Telegraph in a disapproving manner.

Everyone will have their own reasons, although as somebody pointed out on Saturday, they don’t need the constant hassle that this game is bringing. It’s going to invoke a lot of memories from 2001/02, at the very least.

With more security than a nuclear power plant, the potential to get caught up in the emotion of it (in a bad way) and just the all-round unpleasantness of the whole day, you can see why there will be a few symbolic gaps.

It’s nobody else’s business if somebody decides not to turn up tomorrow, of course. Nor is it anyone else’s prerogative if season tickets are kept at home for this particular occasion.

Your editor has loaned his out (STTA has it, so he’ll be to blame when he starts the mass riot), but how many with spares simply don’t want to have to answer a stern phone call from the club on Wednesday?

Anyway, that’s all that needs to be said on this particular occasion. We’ll be more prepared for it the next time we play them at KM, and it’s only facing them at NPL or in a playoff final that becomes the barrier yet to be broken.

Many thought this very game would never come to pass, but we’re doing it in a league fixture as well. In that sense, we’ve already proven our point.

But tomorrow, the mantra should be – just win. Even if it takes a 96th minute deflection off Tyrone Barnett’s cock…