And won’t the ground pictured above look great with fans in next season?
So, ladies and gentlemen – that’s it. It’s over. Done. Finito. Departed the station. Flown away. Fucked off.
Or in other words – we’re safe at last.
Yes, I know we’ve still got Lincoln a week today, but guess what? It doesn’t matter.
There’s no more Most Important Game of the Season (TM) this campaign, no further rewashing of undergarments required.
Christ, I even trust AFCW have finally worked out how to avoid three-point deductions for failing to tick the right box when signing players.
It’s somewhat fitting that our L1 survival (and that’s so good to write) came with us stumbling over the finishing line, after one final push of immense proportions.
There seemed to be something a bit inevitable about losing to Portsmouth, a team with realistic aims of the playoffs.
But that just proved how important Tuesday against Rochdale was, and how Piggy’s 96th minute strike proved to be.
There were plenty of other last minute equalisers, or winners, that helped us survive, but that might have been the most important of the lot.
As for yesterday, it might have been fatigue, or simply one of those games where they were better than us.
Although having seen the goals on SSN this morning, only their second was down to any real quality on their part.
In a way, I suppose I’m glad that we’ve done the football equivalent of sprinting the last mile then collapse in a heap after passing the finishing line.
As great as the run was, the last two games in particular still show that our defence needs a lot of looking at in the summer.
We should not judge this squad on our purple patch, but for the whole season. We have work to do.
There’s a rather interesting couple of interviews with MR, which I’ll get to later, and might shed some light on what to expect.
But right now, you don’t need to think about it just yet. AFC Wimbledon will be in League One next season and that’s all we wanted.
No small congratulations are in order to Robbo, his coaching team (guess we didn’t need the assistant coach in the end?) and yes – the squad members too.
This was the same lot that was (almost literally) on the floor in the latter stages of the Glyn Hodges era.
As it turned out, they needed somebody who could not only get in their heads, but make them believe games weren’t lost before they stepped on the field.
And the club itself should be praised for taking the risk on somebody who was, after all, an Academy manager.
Maybe first team experience isn’t quite the be-all-and-end-all? Some other clubs have done well with putting in Academy bosses too.
We can allow ourselves some self-congratulation, because this is a genuinely impressive achievement.
League Two looked inevitable in January and February, and many were saying that we weren’t winning the games in March that we should have done.
Though as SW19 kept saying at that time, every point is vital at that stage of the season, no matter who it’s against.
And even the most optimistic types were wavering in their belief after Easter Monday.
Your editor has just dug out the Fleetwood report from that very day, and while I don’t regret anything I wrote – it’s interesting to read it back now.
You can digest it yourself, and see how wrong I (and you) got it. But these two bits at the end jumped out at me:
Too many people at the club talk a good game, but never do anything about it afterwards.
Excuses have finally run out, and it’s now time to put up or shut up.
I don’t know if anyone within AFCW itself reads this place, and I’m not sure if they should anyway.
But I hope those very words played even a 0.0000001% part in our ultimate survival.
Beating Accrington 5-1, then Ipswich 3-0, then Swindon 4-1 and following that up with the most impressive result of that winning run (Oxford 2-1) was us walking the walk.
Maybe we realised what we were throwing away after Easter?
In the AFCW era, we’ve almost always got the result(s) we’ve needed at the most opportune time, and that’s what we did in the past four weeks.
Nine games in a month is a killer, but it was also the best time to pick up some momentum.
I can almost forgive them for stumbling yesterday, because that is a very hard thing to do for any team.
I’m just glad that Doncaster and Blackpool helped us out, because I’m not sure we would have got through next week.
It’s natural for thoughts to already turn to next season. If this is the first time you’ve dared to peek at the bottom of the Championship/top of L2, I don’t blame you one bit.
Let’s look at the division where Swindon, Brizzle Rovers, Northampton and Rochdale will be in next season first.
Cheltenham are up, and that seems to be a semi-popular away day. Cambridge are doing their best to avoid playing us right now, and Bolton fans reacted well to their defeat yesterday.
I suppose for away games, and those who will take plenty to PL, you’d want the current top three to secure the automatic spots.
Playoffs? Anyone but Tranmere, really, because the way they keep blaming us for them going down last season makes me roll my eyes.
Their piss getting boiled would be worth it, especially in that not-even-proper-Scouse manner.
Apart from that, there’s nobody new or, if we’re being honest, exciting. Although Morecambe going up would be funny.
Salford could still do it, and that would be a club who will get our self-righteous faction all hot and bothered…
As for those coming down, it’s hello Wycombe again. Unless they somehow turn around a massive goal difference.
Wonder what Peterborough fans are thinking at this moment, knowing Posh are taking their place?
The big one is either Sheffield Wednesday or Derby. Or even both, if Rotherham do the business on Tuesday and next weekend.
Imagine either one of those in SW17 next season with crowds?
But when fans return home next season (unless some miserable cunt scientists decide that the Covid vaccines don’t work and we’ve got to social distance for another decade), we’ve got some gooduns to look forward to.
Aside from those mentioned, we will host all bar one** of Sunderland, Pompey, Charlton, or Oxford. We are definitely hosting Ipswich, Plymouth and Wigan.
** – unless Lincoln or Blackpool go up. And both those sides would take a fair few to us too.
True, we won’t get decent away attendances all the time, and we’ll get some small away turnouts. Fleetwood, Burton and obviously Franchise spring to mind here.
But whoever we play, I don’t think it’s going to matter once we’re back in the ground.
Which does beg the question of who will be wearing blue-with-yellow trim shirts when 2021/22 starts.
Our Head Coach made some interesting comments on the OS. By interesting, I mean his intention to set higher standards for next season.
He clearly has an idea of how he wants to play, what identity we have, and that “celebrating survival” is no longer acceptable.
Wonder if that is a little dig at the club itself, that has often seemed to be happy in that mindset?
His remarks in the SLP might be a surprise if you’re expecting a massive cull this summer.
We need to boost our defence up, and there’s every possibility we’ll need to replace Piggy, Dobson and Longman.
But he clearly has faith in the younger members of the squad, and those who have been in the first team have definitely stepped up.
Can you honestly say we’d do much better replacing Tzanev, Rudoni and Assal this summer? I hope we’ve got them all on deals.
I’m sure our Head Coach isn’t happy with yesterday, he certainly thought we could have done better against Rochdale too.
I don’t doubt he’ll push the players hard again this week, if only to set down a marker for those here next season.
But he must have sat down at some point this weekend, alcoholic beverage in hand, and at least be partly pleased at being a L1 manager through right.
And we all should be happy with what’s been achieved, because it certainly wasn’t comfortable.
As somebody elsewhere said yesterday, it feels like we’ve pressed the reset button.
I’m sure we’ll forget we’re playing Lincoln until the morning of the game, and that’s a great position to be in.
There will be lots to do between now and the time next season starts, and we’re probably planning that already.
We can take the summer off, and start getting back to whatever normality we’re allowed to have.
Many will be looking forward to three months of not seeing the team ruin your weekend, or soiling your pants beforehand.
Me, I’m just looking forward to not having to worry about the next seven days…