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Nil by (Ply)Mouth

Not the result we wanted going into Wednesday…

I have to admit, the only thing that surprises me about this result is how unsurprised I am by it.

While the week before yesterday wasn’t entirely hubristic, it did feel like we were heading for a fall.

What was it – just one loss all season before this weekend?

To be fair, that’s not a bad return by anyone’s standards, especially when it’s been eight games in. Two defeats aren’t going to kill us.

Granted, we’ve come damn close to having a worse record (think Ipswich), and we’ve come from behind far too often.

But yesterday, that luck finally appeared to desert us.

Most of you were at Plough Lane, and I wasn’t, so you can fill in the details of the match yourself.

I don’t know whether reality finally hit us, or whether it was just one of those days, but one senses the tough stuff starts now.

Most, if not all of us expect to lose at the Emirates, and if we’re not on form it could be quite painful.

That leads us to two more away games in quick succession, and we could genuinely find ourselves with four losses in a row before you know it.

It’s the first real test of the season coming up – how to deal with the momentum going against you.

Having Palmer out with a (convenient for Wednesday?) calf injury didn’t help, and I note Pressley didn’t impress many.

Not all loanees from Premier League clubs work out, and one wonders how long we’ll end up giving him?

That’s maybe a bit unfair, some have said he looks fitter now, and perhaps he just needs that one spark to push on.

But already it seems we miss Palmer when he’s not available.

Other than that, we dust ourselves down and move on. Defeats happen, and it’s something we’ve thankfully not experienced too many of recently.

This was the first time we’ve lost at Plough Lane since Palace beat us 3-0. An actual loss, and not the proverbial defeat Gillingham was.

No, I’m still not over the game on the 17th August.

Really, there’s not much more to say. I don’t doubt MR will be making our players knuckle down again.

Welcome to hard work, as the banner at the training ground says.

It wasn’t a particularly good weekend all round at AFCW, come to think of it. Last night, there was this club statement for starters.

While we’ve never had much of a reputation for racism, you’ve got to be pretty naive to think we’re immune from it.

Reading that it was “a couple of individuals” does make it sound quite vague though, unless they know more than they say.

Should they prove it – that’s at least one individual who won’t be back at Plough Lane again.

Then again, we’ve had a weekend where there’s been two arrests of Birmingham City fans, and another incident at Kelty Hearts in Scotland.

Oh, and at Luton v Swansea too, which is where your editor was yesterday. And the fallout of that is why this very piece is later than normal.

I’m not sure if there’s much more anyone can really do about racial abuse from individuals, to be honest.

You’re always going to get people who simply don’t like others on the basis of their skin colour.

And you’ll equally find them in a museum, or on a countryside walk on a weekend, as much as you will in a football stadium…

Finally, it seems the continued saga of the tickets continues on. The STs might finally be sorted, but it’s still otherwise cack.

Empty seats + people reportedly unable to get tickets + Plymouth fans in home end = usual clusterfuck.

Removing obvious non-AFCW fans from the database isn’t an easy task at the best of times, though us attempting to do it would likely crash the whole system.

But this weekend was the first time your editor wasn’t at Plough Lane v2.0 for a game, and I got to test the ticket return system.

I assume we actually have one, right?

I’ll be honest here – I only half-checked to see whether it was possible to return my ticket for the Plymouth game.

I had other, better things to do, and I wasn’t going to waste time seeing if there was a link that I’d missed.

True, there’s the added complexity of the debenture holders, although I can’t see why any semi-competent database system couldn’t handle that.

But the club doesn’t make it easy to fill otherwise empty spaces, and it just feels we’ve gone backwards from even the KM days.

We had the email reminders back then. True, it was Heath Robinson and they only appeared once on a Sunday (when most people forgot about it soon afterwards), but it sort-of worked.

We’d kill for that level of communication now.

We all know the organisation of the tickets is such that if it was a pedestrian at a zebra crossing, it would be wondering why the cars keep stopping.

But does the club actually want to fill the seats of the non-attendees? If it does, it’s doing a piss-poor job of it.

It’s as much to do with the age-old problem of comms again. True, a returns system needs to be simple, easy to find on the website and quick to use.

The more complicated it becomes, the faster people give up on it.

Yet where are the email reminders? Or the OS updates asking non-attendees to let the club have their stub this weekend? Or SMS messages, if you want to go properly old skool?

People have 1001 other things to do than constantly check on various social media outlets to see what’s going on.

This is heresy to mention in a few circles, but some fans don’t even think about the club until a matchday.

Yes, really.

I wonder how many people didn’t return their stub yesterday because they felt AFCW didn’t want their ticket?

More than you think, I reckon. And now seeing empty seats not only affects the bottom line, but looks shit on the telly too.

I’m not on Facebook, bar the one minute per week I spend updating the SW19 feed, but apparently people use it to buy/sell spares.

That’s something which has been borne out of necessity, but it shouldn’t have to exist in the first place.

Many won’t touch social media full stop, understandably, and so they dip out if they’re after a ticket.

Plus, there’s the issue of trust. Buying and selling privately has very real risks, and not just because one party could do a runner.

Who would you trust to buy a spare ticket from? AFCW? Or Sid Snot from Mitcham on Facebook?

On second thoughts, don’t answer that one…

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