Isn’t there supposed to be a nearby tennis tournament on right now?
In case you haven’t figured out what month it is right now, it’s July. Also known as that strange period called “close season”.
At this moment, we should be back in training, eagerly (?) looking forward to whatever non-descript PSFs are on the horizon, before the hard graft of the regular season begins again.
It’s always a strange time of year anyway, but this will be the strangest ever.
It’s even more weird when you consider the F1 season only started this weekend just gone, that a ball has yet to be tossed in cricket and Southfields is a little quieter than normal right now.
Not to mention the Premier League and the Championship are completing their seasons.
I was about to say how strange it was that we still don’t know who’s going up from League One, but given everything else with our division – it’s not.
Your editor was supposed to be covering Wycombe today, but now I’m not, although I want to see them promoted just for the boiled piss elsewhere…
At least we get to visit Northampton next season, Keith Curle and all (can’t wait to see his face on his return to Plough Lane), and it’s yet another game at Stadium:MT where the away fans will be in the majority.
Still, at least we’re officially in downtime. And a further step towards normality when the Scottish fixtures have been announced as I type.
Writing stuff this time of year is always a challenge at the best of times. Players have left, we tend not to get anyone decent in
at all until late on, and we don’t even have the whole counting-down-the-days-until-the-first-game to cling onto either.
Transfers will be different this time round. I expect we’ll be getting in players later rather than sooner, but we won’t be alone in that.
And if the OS interview with Hodger is anything to go by, we’re not sitting idly by.
When last season shut down in March, one of his first comments was that our scouts are going through as much video tape as possible, and it’s good that we’ve been continuing that.
By his comments, GH knows that he can’t over-rely on the yoof again next season. The need for a Paul Robinson/Danny Bulman type has been obvious, and hopefully this season we can remedy that.
That’s easier said than done, of course, although having a new stadium to “sell” to potential players helps.
As does the sheer clusterfuck that transfers are going to be this summer. Some clubs will find their spending power slashed (or their throat-slitting increased) and hopefully we’ll take advantage of that too.
Indeed, I guess Hodger hasn’t been too impressed with the transfer policy of recent seasons, judging by this remark:
“If you are trying to punch above your weight, and you are not competing with Sunderland, Ipswich and Portsmouth on the monetary side of things, you’ve got to be a bit cuter and have the head start on how we do things with recruitment. We have to get that right. It’s something we know we have to get spot-on.”
We all know our transfer budget isn’t the biggest, but at times it feels we’ve been almost negligent in recent years.
So we have to be more clever, as we’ve needed to be since we’ve got back in the EFL, and hopefully is what we start doing from now on.
You would hope with GH and Nick Daws they’ll be able to put that into practice. They’ve got shot of most of the wasters, and are lucky that they’ve got a clean(ish) slate.
We do still have some players, mind you. Last week, Shane McLoughlin was signed up, and he had somewhat of a resurrection under our current manager.
One player who has been offered a contract but hasn’t signed is Anthony Hartigan. Whether he’s holding out for
money a better offer or not I don’t know, but he’s somebody who needs to be a bit careful.
He’s not irreplaceable, and if he starts become a more expensive option than the club think he’s worth, he could find himself at Woking by next season.
Offering him a deal in January, and still not signing it suggests his agent is pushing for more. True, while they should be looking after their clients, a lot of players are going to find they’re not quite so valuable at the moment…
Also in that link just then, where we discover GH’s taste in interior decor, the keeper situation was mentioned.
It’s noteworthy that we can’t afford (or perhaps not willing to pay) for a permanent one, so another loanee is on the cards.
To be honest, I’m not bothered about having another one that isn’t “ours” – a certain Mr A Ramsdale did all right, and to be fair to Nathan Trott he improved.
Personally, I’d like one with a bit more experience behind him, a la Joe Day, because if our back line is still barely old enough to buy alcohol then we need an older head behind them.
Actually, it seems like we’ll be using the loan route a fair bit again. It’s probably more cost effective, especially if we can get some experience out of it.
Or indeed, a Forss-type figure.
I know some will want us to have a permanent shot-stopper, or other players we can call “our own”, but borrowing players may make more sense than ever next season,
True, you can over-do the loans, but some of our best players in L1 have been that.
If you want “one of our own”, we have enough youngsters filling that role anyway. And it’s very easy to spend a lot of money on crap in L1…
Writing things football-related for the first time in what seems like a while almost makes me excited for 2020/21.
I said “almost”.
Of course, the big homecoming is tempered somewhat, for obvious reasons. But last week, we got some more stuff to whet various appetites.
For the first time since the 1990-91 campaign, season tickets are set to go on sale for games at Plough Lane.
Before I go onto 20/21’s prices, I decided to dig out what we were charging in our last season just off Gap Road.
I took this directly from the game on 2nd May 1990, against Crystal Palace**, a game I obviously went to but remember absolutely nothing about, and you have to allow for inflation etc.
** – we all know the last League game at OPL was Palace where Ian “Wright” Wank scored a hat-trick, and the last ever game was against the Eagles in the FAYC, but the last home game of 89/90 was against them too.
Maybe they should be the first ever visitors to NPL? For the irony alone.
Football seemed cheaper then, although if you start using inflation calculators then maybe it’s not so bad these days after all?
As an example – £75 to stand on the West Bank in 1989 would be £188 in 2019.
So yes, £375 to sit/safe stand in the South Stand (and try saying that without your teeth in) may seem quite a bit, but the facilities are far better. And newer.
Actually, it’s cheaper to sit in the premium section of NPL (£525) than it was to sit in the let’s-call-it-executive seats of the previous place. And these days you won’t be within smelling distance of Reg Davis.
For that, I can understand those who think we should be charging more for sitting in the good bits of the west stand, although perhaps the hospitality side of things will be generating the income.
For the rank-and-file, the general pricing doesn’t seem too bad to watch football these days. The more romantic/naive may think that we should be reducing prices, but we’re in an era where it costs £17 to stand at Sutton.
Things like football, theatre, concerts etc aren’t cheap, and haven’t been for a good couple of decades, so everything is relative.
It’s most important for the next couple of years not to price out the casual fans. £22 behind the goal and £24 for the standard East Stand isn’t bad for a walk-up price these days.
Remember, we charged away fans £17 for the “privilege” of standing in the RyPiss, and £24 for the John Green.
That’s adult prices by the way, and concessions are cheaper. Indeed, £5 for under-11s (or £3 for the family section) and £11 maximum for under-17s will be a good way of getting the bums-on-seats we’re going to need.
Focus on the youngsters, as Jimmy Saville once said to Rolf Harris.
Perhaps the more important incentive is something SW19 has banged the drum about for a good number of years – the ticket priority scheme.
OK, it’s not called that – it’s called the “Stadium Card” – but it’s a good incentive for those who can’t afford/justify a season ticket but still want to get to games.
Your editor is taking out an ST next season, but in 21/22 it’s the sort of thing I might sign up for instead.
The market will decide whether £30 is a good price, but it’s a good way of flushing out those who will want to use it for one game a season.
I’m thinking away fans here, who will get a good load of seats anyway.
Is it a good deal? If you go to about one or two games a season, then probably not. If you get to about six or seven, then it does start working out better.
It’s not quite a traditional membership scheme, a la WFSC (who remembers that? Just me then…), but it’s something that I think could be developed further, with things like rewarding match attendance etc.
There’s something called “Dons Trust Plus”, which is basically existing DT membership added to the Stadium Card.
I honestly can’t remember whether current DT perks include increased priority to tickets – if they do, you’re basically paying £20 extra to keep the same benefits from now on.
So presumably Dons Trust standard membership – or Dons Trust Non-Plus – has now been downgraded. Which might have repercussions over membership numbers in the future.
Turnout for elections and meetings has never been especially high at the best of times, so it suggests a significant proportion of members aren’t there for the political side of things.
Everyone has different reasons for belonging (or not), but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume many have it for the ticket priority status.
Before, it’s been one of the very few ways of getting up that ticket totem pole without having an ST, but now there’s an alternative.
The Dons Trust Plus scheme is, I assume, for those who will be ST-less but want to remain involved beyond normal fandom.
Maybe those who live outside the UK too**, although I guess they’ll remain DT Non-Plus members instead.
** – one thing I’ve noticed in the last few years. Just about any “proper” AFCW fan who lives outside the UK appears to be a DT member.
But there seems to be quite a few match-day goers with season tickets who aren’t. Maybe proving the point about why people join up to begin with…
Perhaps the most important membership scheme is the Junior Dons, which remains cheap to join (though I’d include it automatically with a junior season ticket).
This is where I think we’ll see the benefit of a new, bigger stadium. The WFC Selhurst days were soul-destroying, but one positive was that we were able to bring in youngsters aplenty.
You only have to look at the demographics at games, and how there’s a relative dearth of those aged between 40 and 55, but the younger age groups are healthy in number.
We’ve lost thirty years of being in our own area as it is, but we’ve lost eighteen of those simply not being able to fit the curious in.
Now, we can. The next time we play a Liverpool, or a West Ham in the FA Cup, we can capitalise on that interest.
KM wasn’t exactly great for adults, and unless you could get seats together it must have been a nightmare for kids.
Never underestimate the importance of a proper family section – especially one that is decent.
As we await the debentures, the move back home inches ever closer. The Instagram account has ever more enticing pictures, though I do wonder why they aren’t ever put on the OS or that Plough Lane website.
While the cladding, roof panels, glazing etc continue on, and the grass looks ever greener, I can’t be alone in now waiting for the other three sides to be plonked in.
We’re all guilty of trying to visualise what the non-posh seats will look like, and this from Whaddon Road could be a good guide.
Once they start going in, that’s when it’s finally going to start looking real – at the moment, it still manages to feel some way off.
It’s hard to believe that it’s supposed to be just short of four months away from formally opening, but chances are it will start literally taking shape very quickly.
I say “supposedly”, because this whole project has had one bump after another. We deserve a clear run now, but whether we’ll actually get it…
Of course, the thorny issue of whether fans will be able to return into grounds by the time it opens remains.
Last week, the club demonstrated something that might be an answer for a number of teams, which looks like something out of some dystopian TV series.
Mind you, that link is from RT, so the replies from the anti-vaxxer/Covid-19-is-fake/Flat Earther/Truther types is quite amusing.
Folks, that’s what happens when you take too much cannabis.
I’m not sure how practical it would be getting 9000 in, unless you stagger it so that people arrive at midday (more food and drink to be consumed in-house).
But as we know, the need to get fans into grounds sooner rather than later is paramount.
So anything that will help do that is welcomed, even if we won’t benefit ourselves until late October.
One thing though – part of that requires a spray, and you do have to wonder what’s in it.
And maybe we could adapt it for away fans, with soap, water and deodorant for anyone north of the Watford Gap?
Except for Franchise freaks, where I’m not sure even spraying them with prussic acid would work…