Farewell League One, I’d say it was nice knowing you. But it wasn’t…
It was all but confirmed after Fleetwood last week, but, we’re finally and officially down. And no flowers, please.
To cap it all off, we even managed to finish second-bottom, behind Doncaster.
There were no final great escapes this time. No pulling back from ten points back this season. No bounce in February, no other teams helping us out.
And no Covid rearing its ugly head to bail us out when nobody else would.
There’s something fitting at the farcical way Going Down 3 Staying Up 4 transpired though, as though it almost was this wretched season in a nutshell.
Half of it was complete horseshit, yet we also some glimpses of what we could be, but ultimately fell too short.
And we ended without a win.
You can do your own research on the stats, but I think there was more a resignation today rather than a passionate call to arms.
I’m not going to blame people if they want to sing “Womble Til I Die” as the players trudged off with a lap of (dis)honour.
I see that more as an act of “we’ll be back” defiance.
But I also expect some of it is because we did actually try. Both in the game today, and in the season in general.
It’s not the players’ fault that they’re shit, they were let down by the Process as much as anyone else.
They were hung out to dry themselves. When they needed leadership most of all, Mark Robinson and co almost abandoned them.
It’s why I don’t blame Mark Bowen either, and I hope his future is decided much sooner rather than later.
But we’re relegated, and it’s completely deserved.
Thankfully, we were spared Franchise rubbing it in with automatic promotion, but right now we’ve got to take this on the chin.
Since 2002, we’ve had a helluva upward spiral. Today, it’s the other side of football supporting, and it will suck of shit.
I don’t think I can be bothered with the game, queuing up for the half time cuppa was the highlight until the second half.
To be fair, and it might have been one final salvage of pride, we did fight back through Rudoni and Assal.
It’s a shame we’ve probably seen at least Jack in an AFCW shirt for the final time. Which may also explain why many might have stayed behind afterwards.
He won Player of the Year, and Young Player of the Year, and deservedly so.
The rest of them aren’t worth bothering with any more though. Many of the others will be gone as well, and they won’t be missed.
If I was to sum up the post-game mood, I think it would be that – relief.
Relief it’s over. Relief we can move on. Relief that our weekends aren’t going to be ruined at least for three months with the football.
We know there is a lot that needs to be done, in a short space of time as well. I’d even start it tomorrow, and fuck the Bank Holiday off.
And when we do, it will feel like we’ve moved on already.
Plus points: At least we found the net three times. Knowing many if not most of this lot are off.
Minus points: We’re in League Two. First half. Realising exactly why we’re going down.
The referee’s a…: Did he do much wrong?
Them: Accrington have long been a club we should point to, in terms of staying in League One with not much resources.
They were taller, stronger, faster, and had a nous our lot could only dream about.
Deserved to go 3-0 up, and did well after that considering they were mentally half-way to Majorca on their post-season pissup by half time.
Granted, football gravity will get them eventually, but why do they get it so right and we’ve got it so horribly wrong?
It’s attitude. Stanley have a pragmatic approach to football, while we’re enchanted by gimmicky ideals.
Dare I say they’ve got a working class mentality?
They appreciate working hard, getting their hands dirty, and learning how to do welding and using a lathe.
The only time we come across a lathe is when it’s the answer to that day’s Wordle puzzle.
Accrington Stanley are everything AFCW should be, and more. It’s quite fitting that they were the last team we beat, and the team who eventually sent us down.
300 or so of their fans in the smoke, and I don’t doubt they thought the very early start was worth it.
Point to ponder: I’m going to publish and be damned over this, as this will no doubt age badly – would you keep Mark Bowen if he wants to stay?
I’ve noticed quite a few say they wouldn’t, and to be honest I’m not sure why.
There’s a couple of reasons why I think he should be announced permanently as soon as possible (I’m not bothered if there’s a formal process in getting in a manager right now).
The main one being what I’ve just said about t’Stanley.
MB is a bit of an old skool manager, who has more contacts than anyone at the club put together.
He has that pragmatism we would kill for, almost like he could be a manager of Accrington in another life.
He knows how to play the media, he was already making noises about next season in the SLP on Friday, and he gives the very real impression he knows what we need.
Granted, we didn’t win under him since he took over, and this seems to be the main reason why some want us to look elsewhere.
But have people already forgotten the absolute shit he took over?
It’s not his team, and he wasn’t even able to bring in anyone to stop the rot as a late gamble.
Never mind having to score goals with Sam Cosgrove up front – he also got left the French lad to do the same, a player only here because the previous boss absolutely shit himself.
Osei-Yaw wasn’t even on the bench today. We’ll not see him again, I reckon.
Add to that a squad that was in a bad place mentally, and I don’t too many would have done much better with us than he has.
That’s why I don’t understand why his team selection today got so much grief beforehand. It’s not like we were level on points with a -2 goal difference.
If we were, today would have been a lot, lot different. But then, we wouldn’t be in the position we’re now in if he could have done any more.
Sure, he’s made mistakes, Crewe away being the obvious one, but show me a manager who doesn’t and I’ll show you somebody who isn’t a football manager.
There is a very long list of problems at AFCW, but Bowen and Eddy Neddy are way down near the bottom of it.
You’ve got to give him – or somebody with similar experience if he’s not staying – the chance to rebuild an awful squad that has just gone down.
I get the feeling he’s smart enough to be talking to players already on the quiet, and has been planning what to do next season for the past couple of weeks.
His post-match interview at the end might give an idea of where we’re heading:
“The players have got to be ready for a long hard season. The mentality has to be better. And I’ll say it now – I see AFC Wimbledon as one of the favourites to bounce back. We’ve got to embrace that and really grow in confidence.”
*We’ve* got to embrace that. Not *they’ve* got to embrace that.
Bowen does know the players more now, he’s already said the club have told him who’s out of contract and who isn’t. That’s worth a lot when you’re needing a big rebuild.
He might not want to stick around, although judging by his comment there he sounds like he does.
But we’re not in a position to tell him to fuck off because we’ve gone down under him.
It’s like Gillingham sacking Neil Harris this evening too – they could do, but they’d be equally dumb to do so…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) Tried the in-house catering. The pie was fine as it goes, but there’s no way I’m paying £3+ for a bag of chips. Even if they’re twice cooked. 2) Why is the PA in the south stand rubbish? It’s distorted and muffled, as though it’s from the original Plough Lane. 3) Home fans allocated some of the away end. Planning for next season…
Anything else? If you’re 30 years old or under, this will be the first time you will have experienced relegation.
Indeed, anyone under 50 has only dealt with it once before, in 1999/2000.
If you’re wondering what the next couple of weeks/months will be like, don’t worry. You’ll get over it quite quickly.
When the new manager is announced, when the first players are released, “this season” already becomes “last season” at a stroke.
And AFC Wimbledon becomes a different place.
No, we’ll lose out on Derby, Charlton, Pompey, one of Sheffield Wednesday or Sunderland, and Plymouth in the League.
But away days at Leyton Orient, Bradford, Swindon and whoever doesn’t go up in the playoffs are enjoyable if we look like we can win a game.
It’s weird, but you do put it in the back of your mind once you get back into the swing of it again.
I can only speak for myself here, but I had more fun in 2000/01 watching WFC than I had in the five previous years.
Why? Because it was a grind watching us struggle week in, week out, and we became more competitive.
Assuming we don’t try and repeat the Process, and let people who know what they’re doing take control again (a very big assumption, admittedly), we can’t fuck it up any worse than this season just ended.
And AFCW is not immune from going down after all.
Since Wombley happened, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Luton, Coventry, Blackpool, Bolton and, yes, Franchise have all played in the fourth tier.
Plus, we’re going to be one of those sort of clubs lumped in with the likes of Gillingham, Tranmere, Swindon, Bradford and Bristol Rovers.
Clubs who may not be able to bounce back straight away, but will be expecting to push upwards again.
They’re not bad company to keep.
So yeah, going down is shit – especially in the manner we did it this season. And it’s nonsense for anyone to play it down by dribbling they’re glad we have a club.
Most teams get relegated at some point, and we’ve finally become a proper club again.
Of course, if you want other people to blame, anyone over 55 will have seen every single relegation involving Wimbledon in its entire history.
So it’s entirely their fault. You can burn them all at the stake at the Family Fun Day…
So, was it worth it? Give you two guesses.
In a nutshell: Goodbye 2021/22. I despise you.