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Wonderfuel Gas

Yay, we won a game and scored some goals. Woop woop etc.

I have to be honest, I didn’t actually expect us to end our horrible record in Wurzleland in quite such a convincing manner.That it could have been about 4-0 by half time, apparently, was both a major shock and unsurprising.

Stunning, because it was a total 180-degree turn from most of the shit we’ve had to put up with this season, but also unsurprising because I think it proved what has been blindingly obvious – just have a go at a team, and you’ll never know what will happen.

Which is what went right yesterday. We stuck with two up front, we went at them from the off, and for the second time in a week we went ahead even before those sitting down got their arsecheeks comfy.

What’s the stat about our results when we take the lead? They’re quite good, aren’t they? I think the players know it themselves, which is why I think we’re quite difficult to beat when we go ahead.

It could have been a lot better, given the amount of chances we missed, though when Forrester netted I think that was practically game over by then.

And it definitely was when Cody found the net again. A good old fashioned punt up the middle, just like the old skool days. Even their consolation goal didn’t seem to induce much pant soiling…

So, what? Well, it certainly proves that two up front and playing without the shackles helps a lot. The squad seem to like this particular brand of football, anyway.

OK, one could give the caveat out that Brizzle Rovers were awful. Their recent record certainly is, although they did beat Northampton 6-0. And Franchise too, so they deserve a big kiss for that alone.

A little bit more on them later. But how many times have we played a side that’s full of whale wank and become a cropper?

There was always that potential for yesterday to be that banana skin, especially given our record down there. Obviously, records are made to be broken, and at least that little monkey is off our back.

This all said though, a result like this does manage to raise as many questions as answers. Like this one – does this make our game at Oldham the most important for some while?

By that, I mean what happens if our newly discovered attacking verve falters at Boundary Park. We’re not going to win every game, lest we forget we only drew against Peterborough.

It would be really nice if we could have a third game in a row where we’ve had a go from the off. In fact, I’ll go a step further and suggest that we need to win up in the North West using this same approach.

Because if we don’t, no doubt it will be decreed that the positive, attacking tactics doesn’t work, and we must go back to the dour, negative bilge that has ruined many a weekend this year.

Repeat what we’ve done yesterday, against Posh (and Rotherham and Gills and Blackburn too) and it becomes much harder to justify reverting back to type. Not impossible, but it would smack of ideology more than ever before if things get changed back.

And that’s what we’re all fearing deep down, isn’t it? Be honest, reading, hearing and watching that we’ve played well, created chances and winning away from home is pleasing. But there’s that nagging deep down sense that it’s still a false dawn.

We’re basically how we were after Blackburn right now, looking to make that next step up that has eluded us for so long. We all know what the next game was…

Are we still feeling the remnants of Plymouth? It definitely changed a few people over to the dark side, so to speak, and things may have changed for good on that score. Even the last couple of games has just produced a lot of “yeah, but we’ve been here before” reaction.

That’s going to take more than two decent results to even remotely shift, and the first bad performance/loss will set things back again.

Mind you, there’s definitely been something in the water recently. The post-game huddle wasn’t at the Memorial Stadium, and one suspects it’s a show of defiance at those who go to home games.

The term “them and us” has been bandied about recently, not just after this game, and I don’t think it’s entirely accidental either.

It can be one of the oldest mind-tricks in the book. There’s a decent documentary about the 1980 USA Ice Hockey Team on Youtube, and there’s a bit where the coach uses his personality to focus his team onto hating him to get them motivated.

That feels a bit like the case right now. While I think NA’s recent complaints about the budget are the stupidest tactic of all (simply because it can be countered in so many ways, all of which makes it look even more like bullshit), he seems to know a lot of people won’t miss him when he eventually departs, and doesn’t care if they like him or not.

Perhaps that infamous Sun article after the Charlton game still resonates even now? Think about it – that was a national newspaper holding up a mirror and telling everyone “this is you, Mr Ardley. This is what you are really like”, and I don’t doubt it stung like fuck.

AFCW is an insular organisation (and let’s not pretend otherwise on that score – why else do so many people seem to want ex-Wimbledon people involved in everything?), and it doesn’t really like “outsiders” having a look at what it does.

Especially when it’s not 100% positive.

So you can imagine that something not inaccurate and quite powerful from an external party had the same effect that being publicly scolded has. A few egos have clearly got dented, a few arses have been slapped, and not before time too…

Actually, AFCW could do worse than do a case study on yesterday’s defeated foes. Brizzle Rovers are a prime example of what happens when a club with potential fail to fulfill it, and with an inability/refusal to keep refreshing it and moving on.

The Gas could be us in about a decade if we’re not careful. No, I don’t mean their stadium project falling flat (hopefully not an omen…), but what happens when you get into a rut and never get out of it.

Because of it, they went out of the Football League for a season, had the momentum to get back into it (and into L1 too) and suddenly they’re hitting a brick wall again. Their reboot as a club didn’t last too long.

I found this from their boss before the game interesting, because I’ve heard the odd one or two comments along those lines relating to AFCW recently. And some of what Clarke said could have easily come out of NA’s mouth in recent weeks.

I am surprised he didn’t mention budget, but it’s never a sign of a healthy club when managers start making those sort of observations.

Our situation is slightly different, though we do still have a non-league mentality in places that needs to be smashed apart. When people complain about the results, or style of play, or infrastructure of AFCW, they’re simply wanting the club to improve.

Anyone who says “I’m happy to have a club”, or moans about people “wanting instant success”, should be forced to put on a Bristol Rovers shirt and see what their attitude eventually leads to.

Oh, and before anyone says it -no, I’m not related to their previous owners…


  1. Woodside Don Woodside Don

    I was there yesterday and there was a post-game huddle which then broke immediately into acknowledging the fans before heading back to the dressing room . Ardley also acknowledged fans singing his name. I think this ‘them and us’ narrative is getting a little overblown considering there seems to be no evidence for it.

    • I’ve definitely noticed something though – it’s quite subtle in a lot of ways, but it’s there.

      Maybe not outright hostility.

  2. Malman Malman

    Very good read Mr Editor.
    Damn right – smash this non league mentality to bits.

    I’m still amazed at the cunning stunt that Neal pulled yesterday, playing Cody up top with another striker. And again it paid dividends. Whatever Neal is paid, its not enough, that was awesome.

  3. Canberralover69 Canberralover69

    I was there and it was a great performance. I think my quote of ‘we look like a vibrator on viagra’ was there to be seen by the 400 of us that travelled down. Next two games v Oldham & Walsall I would be happy with 4 points from those and to carry on in the vein of yesterday.

    Still not sure about the effectiveness of Trotters Independent Traders (TITS or Trotter, Soares and Abdou !!) in the middle but it was pleasing that Hartigan got a run out in the middle of the park and hopefully before long Ardley and the management will work out it’s worth giving him a go again in the starting xi ahead of one of the TITS before he ends up going the same way as Egan (who didn’t even make the bench for Sutton yesterday) !!

    COYDs !!!

    • Bazzadonboy Bazzadonboy

      Egan was on the bench and came on for last 15 mins according to their website!

  4. Old Isthmian Old Isthmian

    There isn’t anything wrong with “I’m happy to have a club” the problem is when it becomes “I’m happy to have a club so I’ll put up with a load of crap”.

  5. ignatius ignatius

    There was certainly no them and us before during or after the game. The team including Ardley took pains to come over and spent longer than usual with the fans. It must be so subtle to you that it’s non-existent. Just because one person knows a lot of people who won’t mind if he goes, doesn’t mean the rest of us do ! In fact it probably says more about the company you keep ! I’m glad Neal doesn’t care whether people like him or not – I would be worried if he did.

    It’s very easy to say that the budget argument is bullshit but I haven’t seen an article on here that takes it apart line by line especially as you say this is a simple matter. Perhaps you could get Erik to go over your figures with you before you publish ?

  6. Jampot Jampot

    Still in shock of the result. .. thought my wife was winding me up.
    The twin towers of Northampton and Bristol Rovers in one season. When did we change to the 2 up front and why?
    Seems to work but I share the fear of change just for change’s sake.
    Good goals on the highlights but I hope LTB doesn’t back heel every game; before this, on 2 past occasions it had lead to opposition goals.

  7. R Don R Don

    Amazing the difference between playing 2 defensive midfielders and an extra attack minded player, as opposed to 3. Learn from it NA and it’s all love.

  8. Slow Train Slow Train

    Good performance and exactly the sort of result we needed to balance the books from a couple of previous disappointments. I think Tuesday will be a tougher proposition but now we have a bit of momentum I’d be surprised if we get beat up there (for those that like a flutter 11/8 for us in the draw no bet market is good value).

  9. Paul Paul

    Saying that budget is not a major factor in success is equally as delusional as NA always blaming it. It’s well documented that all things being equal that money wins in the end.

    That’s no to say that you can’t be successful on a smaller budget. Or that there shouldn’t be extra credit when you achieve that.

    NA has generally done well in outperforming the wages table and it’s a valid kpi the club use.

    BUT the way he is referencing it these days is tiresome and reeks of excise making . Despite the sniping re trotter he has put. Decent squad together.

    The problem is his negativity, ultra cautiousness, stubbornness and too clever by half league 1 Barcelona approach.

    Rather than sniping at the fans and mentioning the wages bill very time we have a sticky patch NA would be better advised to stop tinkering, use a simple 442 and play for the win at all times. Take that starting 11 and stick with it until at least Xmas

  10. TheDon TheDon

    Yep, that was an enjoyable awayday. Didn’t seem much wrong with the team spirit yesterday and have to say I’m not really that bothered if NA has improved that through creating a siege mentality – as long as we keep up the recent improvement on the field I think most will be onside. Was encouraged that we kept going forward in the second half as have seen too many games in the last few seasons when we have only pushed on when chasing the game – maybe a lesson has been learnt? Oldham are on a bit of an upturn themselves, hopefully we’ll adopt the same positive tactics but a draw up there will definitely be a good result on Tuesday.

  11. James James

    It’s amazing how good we are against teams from the South West. Being based in Bristol I’ve taken my boy to four south west away matches in the last couple of years plus Plymouth at Wembley. His total experience of watching the Dons: W4, D0, L1.

  12. Funky Fazza Funky Fazza

    got loads to say but to be honest….I can’t be arsed and would end up just ranting anyway so all I’m going to say is let’s hope we’ve finally come out of our bad run (for whatever reason(s) you want to put on it) and we can now look forward to a good string of results for many games to come….

  13. Hong Kong Garden Hong Kong Garden

    I’m still in shock at how we didn’t win that 8-0, we battered seven shades of crap out of Bristol and delivered another defensive / goalkeeping masterclass. Their goal was a fluke.

    I’m only moderately surprised with our spectacular performance, we have played well in six of the last seven matches and consider Plymouth a blip. This result was long overdue.

    To be honest, I’ve seen enough this season to believe we are better than our league position suggests. I am confident of another good performance against Oldham.

  14. Pembrokeshire Womble Pembrokeshire Womble

    At the third attempt this season, I’ve seen us score a goal, and win points. Marvellous, Left the memorial Ground trying to remember the last time I saw AFC win on the road, I think it was Plymouth away. What struck me during the first half was how utterly shambolic the Roverrrrrrs midfield and defence were. The fact that we only scored two, as wonderful as that was, was alarming at the same time. After five minutes, open goal and the shot clears the bar? We got away with being incredibly wasteful , which against most teams in this division it would have come back to haunt us. Very happy with the attacking intent, loved the atmosphere. First time I’ve seen us win at Brizzle in four attempts. Now I need to find a map…how far is Oldham from Haverfordwest?

  15. Railtrackdon Railtrackdon

    Rainy day in West
    4-4-2 gets the result
    Don’t change it Ardley

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