… the team has just got back from Barrow.
Well, presumably we have anyway. Knowing us, we’re probably still on the M6 north of Birmingham.
So, we’re still in the FA Cup, and we held our nerve by going through on penalties quite comfortably in the end.
Shame about the previous 120 minutes, which seemed to damage the mental health of those listening and watching it.
I know this competition – especially the first round – has so many nostalgic memories and a romantic tint to it, but last night was what many games in this competition are really like.
It didn’t help that we made so many changes (including, intriguingly, Tzanev rather than Trueman), although we should be thankful it was a much changed Barrow team too.
Other than that, there really isn’t much else to say. We didn’t lose, we’re one game away from the third round, and we’re clearly lacking much firepower if Piggy isn’t playing.
Ollie Palmer started for the first time, and by the sound of it he still needs to boost his fitness up.
I’m not sure where Roscrow has gone, presumably just waiting to hear whether he’ll be on loan to Woking or Leatherhead.
We were victorious in deepest Cumbria, but you can’t help feel the biggest winners from last night are Crawley.
A trip between London and Barrow takes it out of anyone at the best of times, especially with extra time and penalties to boot.
Since we returned from the lurgy, I think it’s going to end up something like six games in two weeks.
I’m including Peterborough on Tuesday (6pm kickoff again, deep joy) and Brizzle Rovers a week tomorrow.
If we come out of that relatively unscathed – and with a third round FAC tie to look forward to – then we will have done very well indeed.
It’s hard to believe that Sunday will be the second time we get to step back onto home turf again.
The Doncaster game seems ages ago now, and it’s going to be odd settling into a place that is not only ours, but permanently ours as well.
As an aside, here’s a fun fact : when we kick off on Sunday, it will be the first FA Cup tie played at Plough Lane since Aston Villa on the 9th January 1991.
Your editor was there that evening, and I was mentally preparing for the second replay at Villa Park, before Alan Cork popped up with his gloves.
Last night gave me so many vibes of that very evening, though not always in a good way.
Sadly, there won’t be any supporters in to see it, although the big news this week was that fans will be let into games now.
In some instances, anyway.
As you know, if you’re in one of those pox-riddled areas like Kent, you’re in tier three so you won’t be allowed near a ground.
London is in tier two though, which means – in theory – we can allow up to 2000 people at games again.
In practice we’ll have to wait, because even before the latest round of restrictions Joe Palmer went and poured some very ice cold water on things.
Actually, news that no paying punters can enter PL until January isn’t really much of a surprise – especially for anyone who’s been outside our new gaff recently.
Your editor has passed it a couple of times this last week, and it’s all still fenced off with plenty of work going on.
Those lucky enough to go inside the ground say that it’s nowhere near ready for fans either.
When you read that article though, it proves what a headache this all is to organise.
We’ll need to hold a test event anyway, but will we have to hold another one when full crowds are allowed back in?
It doesn’t help matters when it’s not been handed over by Buckingham yet.
I assume that the rent we were paying to QPR was more than we wanted to, hence the mad rush to resume life in SW17 as soon as it was possible.
If we had been at Loftus Road, getting in 2000 people wouldn’t have been so much of a problem.
That’s another thing which will give the club headaches – once 1000 then 2000 can enter, who gets to go?
We’re going to have to have ballots, and tune out those complaining they’ve missed out.
Because there will be some (many?) who will think PL shouldn’t reopen until all fans can go.
It’s something we’ve got to live with for the remainder of 2020/21**, and we should count ourselves lucky some can get in to begin with.
** – said it before, will repeat : while I’ve always felt crowds would return this season, I’m not sure we’ll see full houses again until next August.
That said, I didn’t expect them back in 2020, and was veering more towards February/March when to be blunt, the population would be sick to the back teeth of restrictions by then…
Will it be unfair if debenture holders get the first dibs? Yeah, probably. But that’s the reality we’re dealing with right now.
What I would hope we do is that priority is given to people who have paid their dues – their loyalty should be rewarded.
I expect many who have the debentures are in that category anyway, but there will be plenty who won’t be. We must look after them as well.
Those who are about to start supporting us can wait until next season.
This all assumes that fans will still be allowed back in January, as I fully expect Lockdown v3.0 to be in full swing.
It’s the price we’ll pay for letting people have Xmas, after all.
That said, if the most vulnerable are going to be vaccinated by then, that will reduce a lot of pressure on the hospitals. Which hopefully will mean no more house arrest.
No, it’s not ideal, but we’re in the same boat as everyone else right now. At least with a limit of 2000 most of our support will be able to see at least some games.
I know there’s a tendency among lower league supporters to think that anyone supporting a PL side is only a gloryhunter, but imagine being Arsenal with those limitations.
Make no mistake though – it will be much better with even just 1000 people in the ground. Those who watched the Norn Iron Euros playoff will have felt that.
It will be an emotional day when the first PL game in 30 years is open to supporters, no matter how few will be allowed in.
It’ll be different though, although I’m glad we’re at a proper venue now. Imagine having to sort out 2000 people at Kingsmeadow?
Actually, I say it’ll be different – it will be for most of us. For Franchise, it will just be a regular game…