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Heaven and Pell

And as we head up to the snowy, bleak North, we do it with one less player…

So, farewell Harry Pell. At least he can now practice basketball with Jack Midson on the south coast.

Somehow, this seemed both inevitable yet unfortunate at the same time. He was increasingly frozen out, playing (and according to some not exactly impressing) in the reserves, and eventually had to spend time in Grimsby.

No, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone either.

Apparently, the Mariners fans weren’t upset to see him return to us, so obviously he must have made some impression. And if that’s happening, then his future with us wasn’t going to be particularly bright…

You forget how long he was here, which may tell a lot of the story. Remember, he was one of the first permanent signings under NA’s reign. And to be fair to him, he started off pretty well – well enough to the point that his performances helped keep us in the FL back then.

The following season, he looked like he spent the buildup to it eating concrete, as he looked bulkier and immensely dangerous. It seems odd to say it now, but many were saying on social media that if he kept it up until that January, we’d struggle to keep hold of him.

Well, that January came, and he didn’t.

There have been some player mysteries over the last three years which will continue to stump some people. One will be Jack Midson’s exile. Another will be why KSL and Chris Arthur left the club. But Pell’s decline will be one of the big ones.

The rumour mill suggested that his fall from grace started when he found out he was going to be a father (at aged 20), and before/after/during that he was caught breaking team orders drinking in a Kingston nightclub.

There was also saloon bar gossip that he was actually one of our highest paid players. Mind you, if the gossip I heard at my last trip to KM was true, Matt Tubbs would be with us permanently.

How much of the above is accurate, we’ll never properly know. But there isn’t smoke without fire, and this whole saga with him has reached its inevitable conclusion.

By the sounds of it, Pell himself isn’t happy at leaving us. To be honest, when he did play he never seemed to do enough to justify a starting place, which may explain why Reeves came in.

Some aren’t happy at his departure, although that’s probably down to hope rather than expectation. The Harry Pell that marauded in midfield went some time ago, and was never going to do it again with us.

It’s a shame, but he moves on. And so do we.

Anyway, the transfer window is going to shut next week, and we get to see the sight of Jim White spunking while sitting next to Natalie Sawyer announcing Aston Villa have signed a midfielder from Lyon.

One name he probably won’t be saying is ours, unless we get a late bid for one of our players. According to NA, we have an iron in the fire, but he won’t be available until mid-February.

So, another loan then.

Not that the squad remaining as-is will be a bad thing. With the exception of the experienced centre-back, which may be the mid-February signing, there’s no real need to do it.

Jack Smith is back in training, for starters, so maybe he’ll be the CB? We do for once have some genuine strength in depth, if you assume the youngsters are capable of playing a few games here and there without much worry.

NA seems happy to play Nightingale again at Morecambe tomorrow, so hopefully he doesn’t suffer the Second Game Syndrome, where he looks like he can’t dress himself without parental supervision.

We have five strikers now (AA, Azeez, DC, Tanner and Oakley), which is something I don’t remember us having since the WFC era. If even three of them can find the net five times rather than one of them getting ten, we won’t be in bad shape.

Reasons to be cheerful? Maybe. If there are, that makes a change from the last four Januarys we’ve had.

Onto other matters. The club released its transport and travel proposals for NPL a couple of days ago, and none of it looks particularly insurmountable.

Obviously, the more people who go by public transport the better, although the amount of on-street parking potentially available did surprise me.

Much if not most of it will probably end up being CPZed further – a lot of it around there is there already – and for those who do drive, chances are you’ll probably have to pay some enterprising soul for the privilege.

Your editor does a fair bit of going to other grounds, and I’m always surprised at how resourceful local enterprises can be. St Mary’s at Southampton is a good example of this – hell, the designated press parking is in a builders yard (which used to close at 1830…).

The Saints don’t want people to drive unless they have to, and I would expect (rather than hope) we’ve picked their brains, amongst others, over this.

So if you are, or know somebody, who owns a bit of parking space in Weir Road, you could make a little bit of money every other Saturday…

The key is public transport, and again – if you go to other grounds (even new built ones) in London especially, it’s surprising how relatively few options many venues have.

Only one I can think of that has more than two stations within reasonable walking distance is Arsenal (Arsenal tube, Finsbury Park and Highbury and Islington). And we’ll not get 11k for most games, let alone 60000.

Brentford’s new gaff at Lionel Road is next door to Kew Bridge station, but beyond that Gunnersbury and Chiswick Park tube are a bit of a walk.

There will be modifications and clarifications, but nothing that looks like it could derail things. And besides, it’s an existing stadium anyway, albeit a shit one.

No mention of park-and-rides though, perhaps we don’t need them?

Finally, it seems our bid has a bit of support from PETA. Now, I know that they’re a bit, ahem, passionate about animal welfare, and it’s tempting to say their initials should say People Eating Tasty Animals.

But when I say “bit of support”, I mean over 14000 at the time of writing. Obviously, their aim is to close down yet another dog track, although when they said:

Unlike the players and spectators of AFC Wimbledon, the greyhounds forced to race do not choose to take part

They obviously didn’t see Nick Roddis play.

Whatever happens, even if we get outright rejection that can never be appealed, it looks very unlikely that dog racing will remain there anyway.

Galliard simply don’t want it, remember they tried to get all housing before “sporting intensification” entered the vernacular, and besides – if they saw any future in it they would have picked them rather than us as partners…

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