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Quarantine Life

Perhaps we should get COVIDed up more often?

So, after what probably has to be one of the most boring fortnights football-wise for some time, we’re back.

And not a bad way to mark our return either.

Yesterday may have been a little bit smash-and-grab (I don’t know, I refused to pay £10 for the game, and I’m usually somewhere else as it is), but you will never beat that feeling of a last minute winner.

Especially away from home, and the only thing missing is of course nobody there to see it.

If we could have gone, the journey back would have been one of those ones you still remember long afterwards.

Plenty of alcohol, not much social distancing, and more than the odd incident in a public convenience in Leicester.

And that’s just from those driving back.

It was a decent goal too, from the buildup to the turn-and-shot by Chislett. And even we couldn’t let it slip from then on.

Hodger was understandably happy afterwards, and this can’t have been an easy fortnight for him.

Sure, there would be the usual preparations over Zoom, but even so – only having two small training sessions beforehand** isn’t ideal preparation.

** – though am I alone in thinking:

a) we weren’t in 14 day quarantine after all, if the diseased lot came in on Tuesday, and

b) there was a risk of them spreading it further if there was still some remnants of it about?

Mind you, if we can go away and win in the last minute with hardly any pre-game preparation – just what do we do on the training ground most of the time?

There are many good things that such a win has, but one of them is that it buys us a bit of breathing space for this week ahead.

A game yesterday and one on Tuesday is one thing, but to then have to go up to Barrow on Thursday is another.

I’m really not sure why this couldn’t have been at the weekend, and just move the second round tie to a spare midweek.

Mind you, at least they’ve had the decency to move Barrow’s game with Crawley game to the Sunday.

But winning yesterday reduces the pressure on the need to get a result at Gillingham, as we’re going to need squad rotation aplenty.

It would be typical if after a fortnight off we end up not only winning at Priestfield, but find ourselves in the FAC third round draw on Sunday evening.

Although I suppose the best thing that could happen is a further outbreak of the Rona at a certain EFL club in Kent…

We have (for once?) learned about the whole free agent thing, which is why we metaphorically swooped for Ben Heneghan last week.

I know that our transfer kitty has looked pretty anorexic in recent years, but there’s still some decent talent about looking for work – especially right now.

Henners (which is bound to be his nickname) is a “no nonsense defender” apparently, which means he’s more than happy to clear it into row X if need be.

Even if there isn’t a row X in the stadium.

And we’ve needed somebody like that for a good while. We’ve let too many games slip this season because of a feebleness at the back, and maybe he’ll be another part of an intriguing jigsaw getting put together?

Hell, somebody apparently on Quest last night suggested we were “under the radar playoff candidates”…

It’s taken a few seasons, but we’re looking – finally – like we’re a decent enough mid-table outfit.

We’re twelve games into this somewhat bizarre season and it’s proving that we’re both hard to beat and are managing to score goals.

If Piggy doesn’t find the net, at least people like Chislett are doing that job for us.

It can still go pearshaped for the rest of 20/21 and we end up in League Two next season after all, but it feels a little bit different this time around.

I guess the 4-4 against Plymouth put paid to any ideas of us being swashbuckling this season, but you can’t deny it’s turned out well since.

And after what has been a very trying time – since we’ve got into L1 if we’re being totally honest – the yoof teamers winning a trophy adds to the sense we’re going in the right direction.

It was a nice touch being able to watch them win via a live YouTube stream, and hopefully one or two manage to make it into the first XI.

One suspects the Rotherham goalie that evening is still having therapy for the goal even now.

Back to the first team, and our home form remains our problem. Though considering we’ve only played one game actually at home this campaign…

Yes, that still gives me goosebumps writing that.

Since the grand semi-reopening of PL, we haven’t set foot in it since – at least for a competitive game.

If we do the business at Holker Street the Progression Solicitors Stadium on Thursday, then we will get to welcome Crawley for the first weekend game in Merton in 29 years.

If not, then our next game is Peterborough on Tuesday 1st December, with the user-friendly kickoff time of 6pm.

Maybe there won’t be quite so much rubble there that evening.

The only real little disappointment is that we won’t be able to use SW19 as our postcode, at least not if we’re using the offices at PL as the mailing address.

For obvious reasons, our history and sense of identity remains a sensitive subject, more than at just about any other club, and playing back in SW19 is another bit of that symbolism.

That said, it’s a minor irritation, if you can call it that, and people will associate us more with Plough Lane and Merton rather than it being SW17.

The old dog track was that, and if you go to Dees next door or across the road to Lidl, they say they’re in Plough Lane, Wimbledon.

London is a strange thing for postcodes – if you go to watch a game at Arsenal (when you’re allowed back in), you go to Arsenal station and you turn right rather than left these days.

Yet Highbury stadium was in London N5, and the Emirates is in London N7. Despite being the same vicinity.

There’s a way round it if it’s really going to be an issue, with a separate office in SW19, but most people won’t pay that much attention to it.

And it’s not an AFCW/WFC issue either – if Hammam had the guts to move us back home, we’d still be in the same position.

Metaphorically. And literally.

And no, I’m not changing the name of this place to SW17’s ARMY. If I can call it that when we’ve been in SE25 and KT1, I’m certainly keeping it when we’re back home…

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