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Rochdale Principles

It’s either that headline or something to do with Co-Op 99 tea. And I’m too cold to think of anything else right now.

So, the slow trudge towards L1 safety continues. It’s a point, away from home no less, against fellow strugglers and that’s all you say about yesterday.

By all accounts, it was a mixture of George Long and an ability to grind out a result that saved us. True, we went ahead, but predictably, we held onto it as long as your daffodils have held on in this snow.

And when your goalkeeper is the best player in a game you have to get something from, against a team that is below you in the table, it’s not a good sign at all.

OK, losing Darius to his hip again isn’t what you want to hear. It highlights one of a number of our current issues when missing one player removes a lot of the character from the squad.

It’s also not good that McDonald’s toe injury isn’t getting better. Mind you, at least we are able to find the net these days – something you couldn’t have even said earlier in the season.

I note a couple of people there have said we looked devoid of a) a plan B, and b) confidence. Which surprises me, as I didn’t know we even had a plan A.

The confidence thing isn’t inspiring to hear, especially after the way we slumped in February and haven’t got that mojo back. It wasn’t going to be an easy path to survival as it was, let alone with a squad that badly falls short for Wimbledon-esque spirit.

True, we dug in and got the point. But you do fear for us next week at Shrewsbury…

Games are now starting to run out, and Fleetwood on Good Friday will be the next big litmus test (so no doubt we’ll end up winning at the New Meadow and crap our pants at KM). Easter may make or break us, and you hope that we’ve somehow got enough resolve to kick on.

Because that’s something we’ve struggled to do, and not just this season. We practically gave up this time last year, when we could/should have been much higher. This time round, any little opportunity to properly break away has never been grasped.

Hell, we had a good (OK, great) January, which should have seen us relatively comfortable by now, and we all know what happened after that. Even now, I’m still wondering what the fuck went on there, and whether we’re still feeling the repercussions from it even today.

This is why your editor remains 50/50 about staying up, and in truth I will probably be the same up until we play Bury. A final slump in form will kill us, especially as Franchise and others are starting to find results.

That said – one final push for us, one last purple patch will save us this campaign. After all, if you’re going to have one, there are worse times to have it than in the next few games…

Still, we can regroup again this week, and at least we don’t have the horrible backlog of games that our opponents yesterday have. If they get out of trouble with that to deal with, fair play to them.

There is no point in not playing for the win each game now, no matter who it is against. Plenty has been said about our negative tactics already, although I don’t think we’re good enough to play defensively each game anyway.

A better team than Rochdale would likely have beaten us yesterday, and if we do go down, I’d rather see us die trying to stay up in the process…

Anyway, we’ve only got seven more weekends after today to put up with now. The end is in sight, and whatever the outcome turns out to be, at least the worst case scenario is that we rebuild in L2. Not that anyone wants to drop a division, but your football team can go down as well as up.

Besides, the most important news came Friday, with the bulldozers finally – and literally – getting their teeth into the dog track.

Perhaps a metaphor for so many other things relating to AFCW?

But it’s happening. Finally, tangibly happening. Not yet another planning hoop to jump through, or even getting excited at a digger parking up the NPL entrance and nothing more – physically seeing things getting done.

Symbolism, anyone?

Hopefully there will be regular updates/photos of the shithole getting flattened, because loads will be interested in just seeing the next step. Especially for those who can’t get to NPL.

After all, it’s pointing to a brighter future for the club. Off the field, anyway.

I haven’t seen the League Paper interview with Harry Bassett yet, but I notice the club are still aiming for the beginning of 2019/20 as the opening. If they could clear the site in a couple of months, that could be possible.

But looking at the very pictures – it’s a big site when you see it inside too. True, you can demolish things quite quickly, although the asbestos in the roof is what’s likely to slow things down.

It all depends on how much there up there, and if there’s a fair amount elsewhere. If there is, then forget opening before 2020. If there isn’t…

We could ask to move our first x number of home fixtures in 2019/20 away, and play the first game in September of that year. Later than that? SW19 has mentioned that before, and I hope it’s not so readily dismissed.

There’s a few periphery buildings, like the squash court and some of the external entrances that need to be flattened, before the main stadium structure bites the literal dust. In fact, given the roof, you may be driving past it standing up for a little while yet.

Still, it’s all good, and exciting. I did notice there’s a somewhat wistful thread on this speedway forum (which also has a very interesting thread on the whole NPL thing from Taggart’s embryonic bullshitting onwards, which you can find yourself).

I think I said it in the Back To Plough Lane article, but speedway was always the one that I think may have tempered the whole project for many AFCW fans.

And I do wonder if it was ever possible – even technically – for a big consortium to have bought KM from us and made it one big speedway/dogger/stockies venue. It would have been away from the London emissions zone, at least.

Would Chelski have blown them out of the water? Probably, but our opponents would have had the moral highground in trying to at least rescue their pastimes in south west London.

I have some sympathy for the speedway bods right now over the demolition of Plough Lane, but absolutely fuck all for the doggers and stockies. In fact, there’s a few people who I hope are in utter anguish over it.

Why? Because I have a long memory, and I’m a sore winner.

We’ll always get the whinging from the doggers/stockies about how we “stole” the site away from them (we didn’t), that it should have been “saved for the nation” (even Historic England thought otherwise), and how NPL will “now be a ghetto”.

Stop laughing.

When you look at the photos from last Friday, it never hurts to be reminded of a few things in getting to this stage. Some you didn’t even know about until later.

For example, your editor got told something last week about the stockies – apparently, after Javid gave the OK, their North Korea-esque Farcebook page went on a “name and shame” crusade.

Basically, anyone who had a go back at them (namely AFCW fans) were finding their details being passed to MPs and other types, presumably to deliberately slur them and therefore the whole NPL project.

Anyway, it didn’t get too far, they would have had to “name and shame” the wrong person to be on the end of a very painful lawsuit, and that’s not assuming the officials they were aiming at would have spotted something.

They were always cretins, but I didn’t know they were that stupid as well.

So right now, don’t feel too sorry for the doggers and stockies, as they see WGS get flattened in front of their eyes. It was their actions as much as ours that helped send the first digger in last week…