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Pre Franchise thoughts

AKA the circus is in town tonight.

Firstly, I’m shutting the comments section until after the weekend (unless we win) because the last thing I want is for a load of windowlickers from Buckinghamshire finding this place, and me having to get the Dettol out.

Although a few of our fans still being deeply obsessed with them doesn’t help on that score.

Secondly, I’m doing the day job tomorrow, so no “proper” report up until Sunday at least. That’s assuming I do go to KM this evening, and something more productive like cleaning next door’s cat shit up doesn’t crop up instead.

As far as the buildup to tonight goes, it’s been remarkably quiet. It’s almost like the boil was lanced in March this year, and a lot of the angst has simply dissipated. That was a cathartic moment, even if you weren’t at KM then, and that does help matters.

This game will always be a grudge match. It’s not a derby, though it is a rivalry (even if many pretend it’s not), and as said on here a few times recently – this is a game you simply don’t play badly in.

The players – and management – know that. Hell, they were aware of it after we went up to the FrenzyDome and reverted to type last season.

Plus of course there isn’t actually much excuse to play badly tonight anyway. We should have beaten Gills, we definitely beat Blackburn, and we’re all saying how we’re getting our identity back.

Which is why NA’s pre-match comments make me a tad nervous.

Nightingale has looked better than Robbo has, which is why his 50/50 injury isn’t promising to read. I hope we don’t change a team starting to come together just for the sake of it – by all means put them off the bench if need be, but this isn’t a night to be too clever again.

Obviously, we still need goals. That’s gone without saying for, well, a year now and again – it doesn’t matter how you find the net, just as long as you do so in the first place.

Other than that, is there really much to say? We know the score on this particular fixture, and this is as “normal” as it’s ever felt.

It’s interesting to note that I may not be the only one who’s finally taken enough Imodium to contemplate going tonight. I don’t really want to hang around KM tonight any longer than necessary, I intend to turn up as near to kickoff as dammit, and I’ll happily fuck off home if we’re 3-0 down after 30 minutes.

The fact I’m possibly likely to go tonight though is something I wouldn’t have contemplated even months ago.

I guess ultimately we all move on. We have to, otherwise you’d just get bogged down in being over-wrought about, well, everything. Us playing them in a proper league fixture is the new normality, so to speak, and it’s almost not quite the big a deal as it used to be.

It will always be hostile, and uniquely at that, but the fact that FGR v Swindon is on telly tonight instead says a lot. From an AFCW point of view, now we’ve faced them a few times, we know how to handle it a bit more.

Maybe not 100% perfectly, but considering it still invokes feelings that no other set of football fans will ever experience, that’s still a notable change.

Granted, there are some who won’t be at KM tonight through choice, and I think that’s a generational thing. Those definitely giving it a wide berth are roughly between 35 and 55 – obviously there are some older who are also boycotting, and of course there are plenty in that age range who wouldn’t even dream of missing this one.

Whether it was because that age range was most directly affected by 28/5 is unclear – my guess is that they were the ones who went to away games as well as home ones, and were more “involved” with the whole anti-Franchise thing from 2001 onwards.

Anyone under 35 was – at maximum – just two years above legal drinking age when our football supporting world caved in, and of course the younger you are the less emotional attachment you’ll have about that day.

Remember, in three years time we will have the first adults who weren’t even born when it happened.

With all that in mind, tonight won’t make or break our season. It will piss us off big time if we play shit and lose, but we have Sarfend on Tuesday to get that out of our system if we do.

If we get defeated, it’s going to be a shit weekend, and then some. But it will be equally wank for the losers of the Old Firm tomorrow, or the Sheffield derby on Sunday. We won’t be alone in hurting, and that’s a sign of an increasing normalisation of this fixture.

Mind you, if we win…