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Morecambe and Wise

Bringing plenty of sunshine this morning…

Recovered yet? Even if you haven’t, I wouldn’t blame you for still being comatose right now.

Though you might want to get your collective tickers checked out tomorrow morning – I’m sure there’s some cardiac-related damage there.

Our games could just as easily feature on a British Heart Foundation advert as they would on Sky Sports.

But another game, another left-it-damn-late result that improves your weekend no end.

I’m not sure if this is the “best” result of recent times, that may be the Oxford or Ipswich outcomes.

But one thing is clear – anyone who leaves an AFCW match before the end is getting half their money’s worth.

Yesterday at Morecambe always had the potential to be one of *those* games – long journey, shit weather, tough opponents.

The sub-300 of us who trundled much too far up North may have felt just a little bit of trepidation.

So you can imagine what it was like when Wimbledon’s finest teenager** netted in the 95th minute.

** – Ayoub Assal > Emma Raducanu. There, I’ve said it.

Annoyingly, I can’t find some of the video reaction on social media that I saw last night, but you can well imagine what it was like.

All last minute winners are great, but there’s something extra special about one in some far flung outpost.

Especially as the journey time up there is about as long as a transatlantic flight.

Those coming back last night must have had that unique floating buzz you get when you’ve experienced something like that.

Yet it seems to be a habit with us.

As said in a recent SW19 update, coming from behind so often is a bad thing too, but last minute goals are a feature of life under MR.

Remember some of the (very) late drama we had last season? Rochdale at PL, anyone?

Well, we’ve continued as we left off, and nothing illustrates our mentality as much as that does.

Imagine being an opposition team right now playing against us, knowing that you have to defend for 95 minutes.

And also knowing that games can last beyond that too.

Coaching wise, that has to be one of the hardest things to remedy. Your players are tiring, and are on the back foot against a team with the bit between its teeth.

Just one final slip, just one little lapse, and you feel like Morecambe fans do this morning. Or like we did after Gillingham.

There’s no “perfect” way to win a game, but doing it like we did yesterday comes pretty close.

We certainly don’t know when we’re beaten. Although as somebody memorably put it yesterday, we don’t know when we’re winning either.

Because, don’t forget, we did take the lead twice.

As good as yesterday (and others) was, there will come a time when we don’t get late drama, and we end up losing.

Our success/failure this campaign will rely on us taking the lead where possible, then holding onto it.

Had we done that at least once yesterday, we would have got the three points.

Oh, and before you say anything – yes, we did take the lead again in the 95th minute and held onto it. But you know exactly what I mean.

True, it would be a bit more boring to talk about this morning, but winning games is never dull.

And what you wouldn’t give for a straightforward 2-0 win next week against Plymouth…

We might fall away, in fact I expect that’s exactly what we will do. But right now, we should be enjoying watching this group.

Yes, it’s only September. Yes, we’re nowhere near the finished article, and yes – a few teams will learn how to suss us out.

But just think of the absolute dirge we’ve been served up too often in recent years.

The mentality shift since MR has come in has probably been the biggest transformation in a number of years.

It’s amazing what a bit of radical thinking, coupled with a will to win can do.

We put in a Restarts Coach, much to the amusement of some of our own supporters, but look at our set-pieces now.

We do have a coaching setup generally that will change things if we start losing games. It might not always work, but compare that to GH’s final weeks.

He was in charge less than nine months ago, by the way. Yet his tenure seems another lifetime.

And our current good form is as much to do with the players themselves.

Sure, they’re young, although if you were to check how many EFL games some have played, you’ll be surprised.

They might not be the most uber-talented bunch in this division, but I think they’re better than many would give credit for.

Yet there’s something about them.

Should we now go on a losing streak, I’m not nearly so worried than I would have been in previous campaigns.

Why? Because I think this lot have enough character in them these days to knuckle down and get that unlikely point which stops the rot.

We could have crumbled yesterday, when we went 3-2 down. But we came away with all three points instead.

Games like this, and Ipswich, and Oxford last week, build character. And when you have that, who knows what you can achieve?

So yeah, we haven’t played ten games yet, and things could go south before long. But maybe they won’t…

Finally, I noticed at the Mario’s Pizza cup game last week how many new faces there were about.

Not just the usual families-with-kids demographic, but groups of young adult lads enjoying our new gaff.

I don’t know what the attendance was, though it must have been no less than 3000. Which for this tournament is pretty impressive.

Assuming they liked what they saw (and at 5-3 they’d be sodding ungrateful if they weren’t), that’s some more new support we’ll be picking up.

On occasions, you hear talk about demographic changes in our fanbase, and one wonders if that will come quicker than we expect.

If only because there’s simply more people coming to our home games now, meaning a higher percentage are “new”.

There’s a general lack of interest in the Mario’s Pizza, aided by a continued B-team boycott**, but if newbies are making these fixtures well attended – what does that say?

** – I have to confess, I’d be far, far more bothered if they shunted PL u23s in the football pyramid than in a trophy where most people don’t give much of a shit either way.

Judging by the turnout by the more recognisable fans on Tuesday, I’m not alone.

The proof in that particular pudding will come if those occasional attendees like watching us on a more regular basis.

If they do, then not only may we already have to think about expanding PL but there’s a knock-on effect with away support.

Many of those there last Tuesday will be looking to get Arsenal tickets, and if they like that then away trips become habit forming.

On average for a game at, say, Morecambe we’ll get about 300 on a Saturday. Maybe in the next few years that will start rising?

Although if they do, watch some of the old guard kick off because they can’t get tickets…

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