You have two options

Well one really.

The only choice after yesterday is to look at the situation and think about what went wrong, why and how you can try and avoid it all happening again – but what you can’t do is panic.  Knee-jerk reactions would be a quick route to disaster.  We are only 4 games in, one excellent, one promising, one disappointing and one bad.  Perhaps worryingly that represents the timeline too.

I am backing the players we’ve got.  I backed them a week ago after the Wimbledon game and I’ll do so again after Ashford.  Excuses or not injuries cripple you.  Perhaps Deano will be back on Saturday – we need him.  Maybe Grossie will be back we need him too.  We desperately need Carl back and hope he is available next week at Staines.  We also could do with James Gray and Steve Hughes but they’ll be some time yet.

We have a reserve game tomorrow night at Hayes & Yeading where most of those who haven’t played 90 minutes will have an opportunity to state their claim.

Of course the other option is to panic … but that’s not really an option is it?

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Expectations and over reactions

What were our expectations coming into the season?  What were they after the Folkestone game?  What are they now?

We over reacted after the Folkestone game and judging by some of the reactions after yesterday there is plenty of over reaction going on now.  Margate were no slouches.  Someone said they hadn’t started the season well but drawing at home to Chelmsford isn’t bad and losing at East Thurrock looks a bit different after they beat AFC yesterday.  Also interesting that Folkestone won comfortably yesterday at Harlow.

Our injury hoodoo continues with Sean Thomas lasting just 45 minutes.  Peter Dean also picked up a groin problem though hopefully not too serious.   Not much light at the end of the tunnel with any of the other injuries at the moment either – this means we are missing important players, the likes of Carl, Deano, Steve Hughes, Grossie and James Gray.

Let’s remember we are 3 games in – 2 good performances and 1 not so good.

Ashford tomorrow will be an interesting test as they have only achieved one draw in their first three games.  Yesterday it seems they were well beaten at Hastings who we play on Saturday.   No doubt Gavin Bamford will be superb against us and I would ask that instead of barracking him we get behind our team and cheer them on to a good away performance – and a result.

What a farce

The other night I took my wife to see a play called Boeing Boeing at the Comedy Theatre in London.  This was an evening of laughter and fun in the traditions of the best British farces.  I would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes the West End stage.

So why do I mention this?  Well it seems certain events at our football club resemble a farce sometimes as well.  Today we heard from a player who was about to join us but at the very last moment changed his mind and told us – by text message! More than that though I want to explain the circumstances surrounding playing the Hastings game at Earlsmead on 1 September.

I promised that this blog would give readers the opportunity to see a bit more about what really goes on behind the scenes at a football club so let me explain the frustrations we have felt with this series of events.

Before the League fixtures were published we knew Northwood had a home draw on 1 September in the FA Cup (against Uxbridge) and therefore we requested not to have a home league fixture that day.  The company who organise the fixtures ignored this and we were given the Hastings fixture.

Now I am led to understand that lots of clubs make requests to avoid playing home games on certain days, local fetes, weddings etc etc and the rule is to try and avoid this as much as possible otherwise it might make it impossible to ever come up with a list of fixtures.  Fair enough, but given we were up against the FA Cup draw – there was not much we could have done.

Hastings could not play on the Friday or the Sunday (which is their right) so we were told that we needed to find another Ryman League ground to play the fixture at.  We contemplated The White Lion (before Edgware were reprieved) but this was impractical and also talked to Peter Rogers at Harrow.  Peter was happy to help if he could.

We also continued talking to Northwood and persuaded them that moving their Cup tie to the Friday could mean a bigger crowd and a better night.  They decided to go along with this and were happy to move but Uxbridge decided not to play ball.
Of course, from our perspective we pay a fee to Northwood to cover our ground rent.  We do not want to pay more to another club to use their facilities.  We had to do that once at Harefield for the Watford game but this is money better in our pockets than another club.

Our final thought therefore was to consider playing on the Saturday night after the FA Cup tie – but this didn’t work out either.  At this point both clubs agreed to try to play the match later in the season.  Yet here the League wouldn’t help us.  Against the rules they told us, no possibility of moving a Saturday fixture, that this is the occasional peril of groundsharing etc.  No common sense more like.

So we will play at Harrow on 1 September at 3.00.  A home fixture at Earlsmead!  Firstly let me say that our dealings with Harrow, Northwood and Hastings over this have been absolutely exemplary.  This is what I mean about building relationships because each of these clubs has tried to help us.

However it really frustrates us.  We did request not to get a home fixture on this day.  We knew there was a problem and we tried to avoid it – then we came up with several ways of avoiding it.  But rules are rules and common sense does not form part of them.  We will be writing to the league to forcefully express our feelings and request some compensation but we won’t hold our breath.

The night after the night before

Having got back late last night after the game and been out all day today this is the first occasion to jot down some thoughts after the AFC game.

First thing to say is how pleased I was with the way the evening went from an organisational perspective. Just as with the Watford game everything went smoothly and it shows we can cope with big crowds. It also shows us how much is involved and I know that Fingers particularly was knackered at the end – but his efforts in sorting out so much stuff should be recognised.

As 2 years ago I enjoyed meeting the AFC guys. I enjoyed a very interesting conversation with Eric Samuelson (who was pleasantly surprised about the lack of any requirement to wear a tie) about some of the silly money being paid by 1-2 of the Essex clubs in our league – suggestions of budgets over £10k a week. I think I’m able to mention (Eric told me the AFC budgets are all published) that to put last night’s game in perspective the AFC budget is nearly three times the size of ours.

I also entertained a friend Simon Johnson, who is Director for Corporate Affairs at the Football Association. Simon told me that 24 hours later (this evening) he was in charge of welcoming Gordon Brown, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Franz Beckenbauer to Wembley for the England-Germany game. Hopefully he enjoyed the cut and thrust of the Ryman League as much as sitting in the Royal Box, not to mention his journey home with Tim, Trevor and Jez.

Another good performance – what might have been if Jason Norville had marked his debut with a first minute goal instead of hitting the post? And when was the last time a Wealdstone team was applauded off the field after a home defeat?

I also enjoyed reading Terry Brown’s comments on the AFC website. I believe we are building more and more relationships with clubs at present and this is very important for the future.

Also some great pictures around.  As well as Attic’s we were also happy to welcome Jon Hall who took some lovely shots of the evening, really capturing the mood of a big game as well as the action.

Finally though after the dust has settled one is still left with some frustrations. We realise we still need bodies to help for so many things. Please please help – maybe to help get people to sponsor player goal and clean sheet sponsorships, maybe to help fill the kit grid. Let me know by email or on Saturday if you could help us – and help us maintain our momentum.

Two performances don’t make a season but we have set a standard. There is real optimism around the team – for the first time in some time, but let’s remember that if we want to keep improving it costs. And reread the third paragraph if you want to know what we are up against.

H

Catching the eye

Could it be that our excellent win on Saturday has made people in high places sit up and take note?

I got a call tonight from someone saying they will try and be at the game tomorrow.  The  person is a very high ranking official at the FA (not Steve McClaren).

I hope he comes and enjoys it – it is just a shame we have so many injuries!

AGMs will never be the same again

I mentioned on a previous post that we are making an appointment for someone to take on responsibility for the financial side of the Club.

Having advertised internally and externally we actually had three people come forward for the role of Treasurer, and as a result we are delighted to appoint Barry Benveniste to take the role on.

In sketching out what we wanted for this role we saw three priorities:

1 – responsibility for all aspects of our financial operations (working closely with the rest of the Board and the manager)

2 – budget / forecasting / accounts

3 – challenge all aspects of our financial issues and look to improve the processes we have (where we have them)

It will not be a quick job and there is much to do.  But I have spent already plenty of time with Barry already and I am very confident that over the coming months he will achieve important things for us in these 3 areas.
The real issue I suppose is who will ask the questions in the AGM in the future?

H

oh dear oh dear

Injuries are mounting up.

Add to the list on the last post, Fergie is very doubtful tomorrow and so is Steve Hughes who got a kick on Saturday on his knee.  Could be down to the bare bones tomorrow night.

‘Old’ Stones show the way

Interesting item on the Stones Forum showing how well some of our recent stars are doing elsewhere.

Jermaine starring for Leeds and scoring yesterday is great as is Marvin scoring a second goal in the Blue Square National for Woking in successive weeks.  I suspect Marv may be next into the league – click on this link and take a look at his goal from last week.

It shows what awaits those who believe in themselves, work hard and make themselves the best they can be.   Given the young age of most of our players I suspect there may be some of our current players that we will watch on You Tube or Sky or wherever.

A great start but at what cost?

Let’s make this clear – it was a great day in Folkestone, a tremendous performance throughout the team thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who went down there and we are all looking forward to the big game to follow on Tuesday.

But it is interesting looking beyond the result itself and as I promised when I started this blog I will try and give you a peek behind the headlines.

Firstly injuries.  I think during pre season GB saw the first choice centre back partnership as Marcus Gross, James Gray and Carl.  After Grossy limped off yesterday all three are now out for the next fortnight or so.  Young Alan Massey has been great for us as were Fergie and Graham Hall coming in yesterday but we are short here.

The other issue is that believe or not yesterday actually costs us significantly in win and goal bonuses. We’ve not been used to paying these bonuses out that often recently and whilst obviously having this ‘problem’ means we are winning it shows how the players can put the pressure on the club by enjoying a successful season.

As with so many of these things anyone who can help by sponsoring a player’s goals or clean sheets will be helping us out – and if you do get involved…and it ends up costing you then at least you can have the satisfaction that we are being successful with more good days like yesterday.

Of course many of us gave in predict a score forms yesterday – thanks for that – I bet not many got three points!

H

Here we go

The summer is over (did we ever have one?)

All roads (at least the M20) lead to Folkestone tomorrow.  For all those going down, be they players or supporters let’s hope for a great day and the first 3 points of many.

Be positive, get behind the team and sing them up the league!

See you there.

H