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Donkey Derby

Well, either that headline or a reference to sucking on some Blackpool rock…

So, we’re back to being shit again. Although if there are mitigating factors to be had for Blackpool Tower 1 Brown and Root Tower 0, then it was the two minutes of madness that cost us.

Not that I think we should have put ourselves in that position, mind you. The annoying thing is, we were doing all right up until then. Not spectacular, but in all likelyhood getting another 0-0 draw.

Which makes their goal ever the more galling.

I guess Sky Sports are trying to tell me something when they tell me there’s an “Invalid Authorization Response” whenever I try and click on the video, but yet again, it’s a succession of poor clearing and even poorer tackling that costs us at least a point.

Of course, Abdou then gets red carded a minute later and the rest as they say…

Actually, it shouldn’t have been like this – I still think with a bit of forcefulness and that kind of thing, we could have maybe got back into it. You know, traditional Wimbledon style, and all that.

But after writing that something was wrong after Fleetwood, I think I worked out (partly) what that something is – we have little belief we can score a goal again.

You get blips, like us scoring twice without reply against Donny last weekend. And boy, that feels a long time ago this minute. But this isn’t a new thing, and something that suggests a wider malaise.

Stats are often mis-used, and often make the wrong point, but the following ones don’t – remember kids, until we played Shrewsbury on February 19th this year, we did not score a goal away from home since British Summer Time in 2016 ended.

While writing that, I was reminded of the mocking chant at Sheffield United when we had a late effort that went ten yards wide – “we’ve had a shot” was sung by people who knew what they were seeing was complete horseshit.

Whatever you do, only dig out the SW19 report on that after you’ve read this. I’m not re-writing everything below…

If things haven’t changed that much throughout the whole of 2017, one has to wonder how long before the patience finally snaps. We’re a tolerant bunch of fans, perhaps too tolerant, but even we have our limits.

All this isn’t to mention that we scored just three times – all in one game – in the last nine games of last season. And this campaign? Three goals in five games do you? I don’t count the cups, although even we should be able to score against Barnet…

So our lack of goalscoring isn’t just “one of those things”. It is not a lean spell for our strike force. It is not down to “bad apples”, because they’re gone from the squad and it’s still the same old shit.

You cannot rely on just one chance – McDonald, where the goalie did well – once in a while to kick us on. You win games by creating more attempts and having a fucking go on goal.

It is a fundamental problem that has failed to be addressed in a good long while, and right now I don’t know how we rectify it. And deal with it we must, because we will get relegated if things continue as they are.

And have been for close to a whole calendar year.

Seemingly going out not to lose games, rather than win them, doesn’t help. Saturday was a great example of that – Blackpool weren’t all that, but it was hard not to think that when they went ahead, they knew the game was won.

Do the players know this? Even in the first half, there was a lot of elaborate passing, one pass more than what there should have been in the circumstances. Maybe their own competitive instincts are being stifled, and once that happens it’s not easy to turn that back on until it’s too late.

The last time we won a game after going behind – and yes, I was sad enough to research this – was Oxford at KM last season. That was the 14th January, by the way, so you can do more calculations on how long ago that was.

One final thing – I don’t believe we should be thinking about relegation, because individually our squad isn’t too bad. But you can’t say we look like a team…

Plus points: The sea looked nice.

Minus points: 45 minutes of football. Genuine sense we don’t have a clue when it goes wrong.

The referee’s a…: Seemed to give Blackpool things that we didn’t get, though was correct in sending off Abdou. The bastard.

Them: Didn’t think they were significantly better than us at all, but not for the first time knew where the net was when it mattered. In truth, they should have won by about three or four late on, when our defence decided that a pub on the seafront was more preferable.

On the flip side, they deserve minus marks for playing “Glad All Over” after they scored.

Blackpool is a club that manages to capture perfectly the zeitgeist of the town it represents. Its golden era was many decades ago, it has a sense of decay around it despite it getting spruced up** and yet still has its moments.

** – I imagine Bloomfield Road will be how NPL looks, but it’s clear the stadium isn’t particularly well looked after. There are large specks of rust around, quite a few scuff marks if you looked closely, and has all the TLC you expect in a twenty-year old Travelodge.

After all, they were in the top flight not so long ago. Imagine the seafront when Yernited or Liverpool were in town…

Speaking of Blackpool itself, if you ever want to see Northerners on holiday, but you can’t bring yourself to go to Magaluf, just drive up the M55 on a sunny day. There was even some old geezer calling out bingo on the seafront, with a smell of urine that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Rygas.

Like many UK seaside resorts, it’s obviously a shithole, but I think that’s what attracts the orange tan brigade there – there’s something nostalgic and kitsch about it, even if it does have as much class as the KM back bar pre-refurb.

Point to ponder: Perhaps another reason why our firepower is so wank – just why are we so fucking slow? I know it was a bit warm on Saturday, but at times we were pedestrian. Actually, that was too quick for some of them.

Seriously, some of our fans were yelling for our players to move when we had throw-ins, and it really was painful to see it in the flesh.

This was even more apparent yesterday at Pompey (which is why you’re reading this suicide note of a report today rather than yesterday). Pompey are the only team in L1 to have had less shots on target than us – no WUM – but they and Rotherham do stuff we didn’t.

When there was a free kick, or throw in, they were being busy. Our lot would have just stood there.

Do we have problems with fitness? If not, are our players being over-coached and micro-managed again? If that’s not the case either, then what? Like our alleged goalscoring, that too has been an issue since a lot of last season too.

I note that NA said the following after the game:

We have to play with more quality, be fitter, stronger, and more dynamic. There are so many things that we need to be better at. It has to come from within – that intrinsic motivation in the group to do even better – and we have to win battles.”

Maybe the players don’t believe enough? If so, that’s a motivational problem that should send the alarm bells ringing already. As stated above – we’ve got rid of the supposed “bad apples”, yet we still look less of a team. The root cause of that has to be somewhere…

Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) A poster for the World Black Pudding Throwing Championship on the approach to the ground. One assumes it’s England’s version of road bowling. 2) The guy who puked up two rows behind me. Drink related, and not related to the game.

Anything else? Yeah, I wasn’t entirely sure of the anti-Oyston stuff coming from some of our fans during the game.

Look, they’re cunts (the Oystons, not our supporters), they’re fucking awful owners and they continue to do a lot of damage to Blackpool. And I know our lot were trying to send solidarity and all that, but it just seemed a bit out of place.

I believe the young people call it “virtue signalling”. I think we were trying to be supportive, but ended up pissing in the wind.

Some of our fans were bewildered as to why there was little reaction from the home support. I guess that those in the ground are the ones who simply avoid all the political stuff, and just want to spent their Saturdays watching their team.

I saw a quick glance of a flyer from their trust outside, and it went something like “we know some people want to just support their club”. Basically, those who give a shit about the Oystons and want to do something about it aren’t in the ground anyway.

And this is always the problem with protests in football. Depending on what the issue is then for a while, they work, but they need a quick resolution. Otherwise, when they drag on, people remember that they go to football for entertainment and for the social side of things.

Those Blackpool fans sitting there on Saturday were much more interested in them scoring against us than anything to do with their owners. They probably know that they’re being shafted, but when it goes on for too long, and it doesn’t seem to make any sort of difference, you end up shrugging your shoulders and move on with your life.

I guess similar will happen at Coventry, if it hasn’t already. At some point, protesting against a situation ultimately becomes futile, and many will just think “what’s the point?”.

And I think that would have happened at WFC if that had dragged on beyond 28/5/02. We were fortunate (?) that at least there was an end game and we could usher in the AFCW era. But what would have happened to us if we went 5 years, or 10 years, or even 20 years without a resolution?

Put it in those terms, and you can understand why there was so little reaction from Blackpool fans in the ground on Saturday. Maybe things will change up there if Bloomfield Road was under threat, because then it directly affects the ordinary matchday goer.

But should we play them next season, or the season after, one suspects things will not have changed too much…

So, was it worth it? I haven’t the heart to answer that.

In a nutshell: Insert comment about donkeys on the beach here.