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Nice to be back…

So, League One 3 Premier League 2. An afternoon that promised so little, yet ended up quite an enjoyable one after all.

You obviously have to be very careful not to go overboard with these types of occasions, but anyone looking for a bit of promise from today would have got it.

True, it’s only the first PSF, and the Derek Duncan Syndrome** has to be considered here, but Long made some decent saves, came out of his area and as somebody put it “you get the feeling he could prove to be the matchwinner for some games this season”.

McDonald netted twice, Kwesi will be a handful, Deji looks promising, and it’s good to see Fuller back looking much the same as he did pre-injury. And the much maligned Dean Parrett changed the game in the second half.

** – the Derek Duncan Syndrome is in honour of the player who, in whatever non-league division we were in at the time, looked world class during the friendlies and world cack when the proper games started. An unsung hero who must never be allowed to get forgotten.

Callum Kennedy looks very happy to be here yet again. Lyle Taylor’s new haircut is shit. A lot of the youngsters came on, and while there’s clearly a gap between them and the first teamers, you couldn’t fault their endeavour and their willingness to win a meaningless game. Egan’s goal at the end was pretty decent…

On the flip side, the two loanees didn’t really stand out any more than our yoof. Watch them sign three year deals now.

All in all though, it was a tenner to get in, and people ultimately enjoyed it. I will not entertain comments that the three goals we saw today will be the only ones you will see until October…

Plus points: We won. Nobody got injured. Promising debut for Long. Came back after letting two goal lead slip.

Minus points: Is there any point to this bit, in a PSF against a Prem side where we didn’t get sodomised?

The referee’s a…: Gave them a free kick when their player looked like he dived, but otherwise didn’t notice him. Got feeling his spray had been ill-used over the summer, considering how it disappeared immediately after he squirted it at a free kick.

Them: Perhaps not their strongest side, although many of of them had Prem experience. One wonders how we would have done if Deeney was playing, for instance. Then again, Gomes was in goal.

Was surprised how bad their shooting was, and they didn’t seem to make many subs. Watford seem to have a big problem with their managers in recent seasons, but then this is the club that sacked Slavisa Jokanovic as soon as he got them into the top flight.

Fair few of their support, many partaking in the real ale festival (supporters, not players), and there didn’t seem to be anything untowards with them. Oh, and I’m nicking this bit of genius from their forum:

Underground, overground, Wombles scored three,
The Hornets of Hertfordshire we played crappy.
Making no use of the players we find,
Players that other teams have left behind.

Hornets aren’t organised, don’t work as a team,
Hornets are overweight, not very lean.
Underground, overground, Wombles scored three,
It’s only a friendly.. but this takes the pee!

Point to ponder: Does the signing of Jimmy Abdou before the game ask as many questions as it does answer them? And I don’t just mean why they did it 24 hours after I stated he would never put on an AFCW shirt…

Obviously, he’s a damn good player, and I’m glad that we’ve got him. But it’s a bit strange to sign a one year deal (especially after rejecting an extension, according to the SLP) then immediately go out on loan for the season.

Are Millwall doing us a bit of a favour? I suppose them paying half his wages means we don’t have to fully shell out on him. NA clearly wanted him, and was even minded enough to mention his name in print.

Do we face a Matt Tubbs-esque situation with him, where he can bugger off in January? MTM has passed, and therefore we’re not going to get a “bomb proof” assurance (?) off our boss, though I can’t imagine Abdou getting much of a fee at his age.

Perhaps the question is this – do we need another loanee? To which I would reply – does it matter if we do?

For this upcoming season, and quite a few after that, our aim is to properly build and become a club that belongs in League One. Like we did in League Two before we got bored of staying in a division for too long.

In fact, there’s a lot of similarities between today and NA’s first couple of seasons. We struggled with getting players in back then too, so we had to build our reputation (and piggy bank) before we could get the better quality.

Should we remain in L1 this time next year, we become more established, and therefore can start increasing our all-round quality. In the meantime, it will mean taking on the likes of Abdou and Long on loan, and accept that we may have to replace them sooner rather than later.

But we did that in the past with Tubbs. And Michael Smith. And Charlie Wyke. And indeed with Kwesi and Deji, two players who did well as permanent squad members today.

Will it do much for squad cohesion? Perhaps not, though the MTM just gone suggested that there wasn’t much team spirit last year. This despite all the players being “ours”, which sort-of nails that particular myth down into the ground.

And from the snippets I saw today, Long doesn’t look any less a part of the AFCW setup than anyone else. I guess Abdou will be similar.

As said on here before a bit recently, AFCW is not ready to make a push for the second tier of English football. But building a reputation via the use of decent loan players will help us towards the point when we eventually are…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Our PA system is crap. Seriously, I couldn’t make it out in the Chemflow End – did somebody find an old model from a Tandy circa 1974? 2) A lot of smoke from the new (and more expensive) burger van in the first half. Though I’m told the food is nicer than the previous horsemeat.

Anything else? Yep – the pitch looks really nice. And with pop-up sprinklers, too.

It’s going to be strange having a Prem side looking after that side of things now, especially considering we’ve been the KM landlords since about 2004. But then, it’s nice that it’s starting to feel a bit more “proper” than it has done.

Having two teams on it will be the case again this season (Chelski ladies are playing about 20-odd games on it too), but unlike the previous tenants they won’t ignore the field after a game.

Speaking of Ks, it was still a bit weird seeing the “Kingstonian FC” sign still on the main stand, although I didn’t check whether their honours board or merchandise shop was still around. I expect they still are.

All barriers are now painted blue, and I expect if Chelski decide the red seats in the main stand are too manky they’ll rip them out at some point.

I’m sure some of the more whingy Ks supporters will continue to claim we’re shitting on “their” turf. But just like their equally annoying doggers and stock car racing brethren, this is exactly what happens when you do fuck all to help yourself…

So, was it worth it? Football is back, so I guess so.

In a nutshell: We won the Football Manager Cup.