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The End is Nigh

No, not the Labour party’s future after their Hartlepool arse-kicking, but the 2020/21 season.

Enjoyed this week without a game or anything else to worry about, AFCW wise? I have, and I bet most of you feel likewise.

Since we secured survival, it’s almost as though the season itself is now over. Normally, the regular season seems to end on the May Day bank holiday weekend.

But we’ve had a rarity this season, namely being able to take a deep breath, detox ourselves and cast half an eye towards next season already.

It’s not finished, of course, and we still have a trip to Sincil Bank on Sunday.

From our point of view, this game is a dead rubber. It isn’t for Lincoln, because they’ll be looking for home advantage in the playoff second leg.

This weekend will be a tough game again, perhaps even tougher than Pompey was. But it doesn’t really matter.

Sure, there’s pride, and you don’t want to end the season on a low. Although there’s every chance that will happen.

No doubt you’ll have forgotten about the result about five minutes after the game has ended.

That’s if we lose, mind you. It would be typical if we won on Sunday, because the pressure is off us to get a result.

Victory would make the final League One table look better from our point of view, especially if Plymouth lose at Gillingham.

If we could finish at least six points clear of the drop, that would be a very good conclusion to this strangest of campaigns.

We’ll find out what happens after this weekend, but it does seem that we’re going to put out a full strength side.

Part of the thinking I guess is that there’s a three month break away from competitive football on Monday, so one more game won’t hurt them that much.

Watch our best players now get injured.

That approach does seem in keeping with MR’s attitude though – no letting up in standards that are being set ever higher.

I don’t doubt he’s already making mental notes for next season, certainly on the training ground this week and on Sunday.

Which will need actioning straight after the final whistle at Lincoln. It seems like next week is when the all-important plans for next season get discussed.

We all know Piggy will be a free agent, and I expect Sunday will be the last time we see him in an AFCW shirt.

More startling is finding out that Tzanev, McLoughlin and Terrell Thomas are out of contract too.

I expect one of the first things MR will say to Joe Palmer is to immediately make offers – especially to our Bulgarian Kiwi.

That’s if we haven’t already penciled that in.

Pigott will likely be much harder to tie down, especially if a team like Pompey or Ipswich start sniffing around.

As we know from bitter experience, and to play on the triangle concept – a striker can be good, cheap or available. Pick any two.

I think we’re in for an interesting summer transfer wise, as not only do we wonder about ins/outs, but the first signs of the new approach to signing players.

In that SLP interview, Robbo was keen to push the playing culture at AFCW being a major plus point, and that might sway a few wavering players after all.

The existing squad clearly buy into what’s being attempted, as our L1 survival has already shown.

And most importantly – we have a playing culture now. Something I’ve never been convinced has been the case in the last few years…

To move that next step up costs money, needless to say. While constant whinging about the budget is thankfully long gone, cash remains king.

Like many other clubs, we’re currently short of funds, which explains the season ticket pricing.

Before I go onto what’s on offer, read the OS blurb. Then come back here straight afterwards.

Done that? Good! Stop what you’re doing, and make a note of how many exclamation marks there are!

That’s right! You are guaranteed to get a headache after reading just three paragraphs of saying the same thing!

You don’t have to dream any longer, because you – our special fans – can get to look at our sub-tabloid tone and words.

This is where it gets REALLY exciting! It will take ages to get to the point of the whole article! With more exclamation marks!

Think about where you would have been 25 years ago reading this! You would have given up!

How do you make sure you have to scroll down to get to the point? You press the arrow keys and hope you don’t miss us selling 25 year season tickets at £10,000!

Best of all……….. you get the idea.

I’ve written SW19 since 1999, with literally hundreds of thousands of words, and I think I can count on one hand the amount of exclamation marks I’ve ever used.

I hate myself.

I’m not exactly a marketing guru, but reading the club’s prose was genuinely painful to wade through.

I bet a lot of people had given up even a quarter of the way through. And you can’t blame them.

Whether it’s trying too hard, or we’ve let a ten year old on work experience write it, I’ve struggled to go through that without getting a headache.

The club needs a lot more positions to fill, and somebody who knows about copy writing should be very high on that list.

Anyway, you might have been able to work out that for £10k you can have a 25-year season ticket.

I suppose it’s a sort-of debenture, getting in money during the summer when we’re financially running on fumes.

As an idea, I don’t think it’s a bad one. It’s just that the sort of people who can drop £10k on it won’t be alive by the time it comes up for renewal.

Maybe the club is banking on about ten or twenty people being in that position? £100,000 over the summer would help, although it does mean that AFCW won’t get their ST money in future years.

If I had that sort of money, I’d want more than being able to leave it in my will though. Maybe special lounge privileges or some other proper, tangible appreciation of my support.

I don’t think we’re very good at that side of things, to be honest, although the printed “thank you” to all NRST holders this week was a nice touch.

As for the poor people looking to buy their first ST at Plough Lane since 1990, for obvious reasons I hope prices are frozen or at least not risen too much.

The NRSTs for this season just gone were always a risk, and in effect a donation. But we expect to attend in 21/22, and there will be many who have gone through the financial wringer.

Yes, AFCW needs money, but so do a lot of our supporters. They’re not cash cows.

Finally, I note that the perimeter wall outside the east stand is finally being dug (apologies to Mr Armfield for linking to his Twitter without me asking).

And no, they’re not daffodils in the deep hole on the left.

By the look of those foundations, it’s going to be quite a sizeable wall, and it’s one of those things that if done well could round the whole thing off nicely.

One assumes that the rest of the stadium is virtually complete. Or as complete as it needs to be right now.

Oh, and the north/south street is already named as Greyhound Parade. That sneaked through without anyone noticing.

Not that it particularly bothers me. While the doggers and stockies were masters of their own downfall, it’s good PR to name something along those lines.

We can’t complain – we’ve got Bassett House and Cork House to name but two on the old PL site.

I assume the new stadium road will be suitably renamed? Banger Boulevard? Speedway Street?

Although if we really want to pay tribute to one of the big drivers behind us returning home – Paschal Taggart Terrace…

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