WUP 8.3

This article was originally published in the October ’10 issue of WUP, as I pondered my (now abandoned) plans to relocate to New Hampshire, and the quality of media our far-flung fans rely on…

I’m writing this safely ensconced in my temporary home in Kingston, surrounded by black plastic sacks filled with a combination of clean clothes, dirty clothes, kitchen utensils, DVDs and god knows what else, all jumbled together in no particular order, with the pleasant task of finding a home for everything being put off until I finish writing this. It’s just a temporary move, because it looks very much as though come January I’ll find myself heading over to New Hampshire to join Mrs Anonymous Don, currently doing up our US residence and trying to find gainful employment. Naturally I’m looking forward to it, in every direction I look my life in the UK has become less and less appealing over the last few years – career heading sideways (then backwards, then sideways again…), lifelong friendships turning to dust (mainly thanks to the twin evils of women and kids)…

Yet there is one part of my life where everything is pretty frickin’ sweet at the moment… watching the Dons. Some of our football this season has been a joy to behold, almost ridiculously composed considering we barely have a player over the age of twenty-three (we already supply three England C regulars, if any more get called up they may as well play home games at Kingsmeadow…). So while my family, remaining friends and work colleagues first instinct when I told them my plans to move across the Atlantic were along the lines of ‘Good luck, we’ll miss you but it’s going to be an adventure, you go for it!’, the reaction of those who share my love of Wimbledon has been an almost identical – ‘What do you want to move there for?!’.

I’m kind of understanding where they are coming from – the timing isn’t great. At the moment nothing is set in concrete, so mid-January could turn into late-January, which in turn could become February – but I know the missus patience won’t stretch to the playoff final in May. I could face the horrific scenario of the Dons getting promoted to the League and not being there to celebrate, in fact being thousands of miles away. And much as I love my friends and family over the ocean, it won’t be the same. Still, I’m missing my wife more than I thought I would, for a thousand reasons, the overriding one at the moment is that for the time being I have to WASH MY OWN FUCKING PANTS…

I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with myself when I’m over there. I presume I’ll somehow integrate myself into the New England Revolution fan base. Although their supporters group is known as the Midnight Riders, which kind of sounds like a gang of stereotype gay bikers – I’m fairly sure they featured prominently in the Police Academy movies… presumably they meet at the Blue Oyster? I could change the name of the blog to The Anonymous Revs, maybe contribute if they have a similar publication to WUP? Although as my columns are largely self-indulgent it will presumably resolve around regular misunderstandings caused by the mid-Atlantic definition change of words such as ‘fanny’ (embarrassed apologies… police were called… had to sign a register… banned from all branches of Dunkin Donuts… that kind of thing).

My attachment to AFC Wimbledon is becoming more emotional because of the move. I found myself entering the Minithon in a desperate attempt to Do My Bit. I always imagined that in later years I’ll do my stint as a volunteer, now I can’t be certain I’ll ever get that opportunity. So while you roll out of bed tomorrow morning, I’ll be dodging dog poo over three laps of the park. Unless of course you read this on Sunday night when I’ve probably finished/collapsed. Or you found this in a box of your grandparents old stuff in 2067, if so can I just take the opportunity to say how fantastic it is the robots haven’t taken over yet? Back in the present day, I managed to raise a bit in sponsorship, but in reality I’m only doing it largely because I want to be a part of a Dons fundraising event like this before I leave. Although perhaps next year I’ll be running in the sister event in Boston along with a handful of ex-pat FCUM fans…

I’m also hoping the run will kick-start my dream of getting fit(ter) before I emigrate. As those who know me can attest, I could probably do with losing a few pounds before I head to the land of IHOPs and 20 oz. steaks. If you don’t know me, imagine someone who, while by no means obese, obviously has no idea of the concept of ‘leftovers’ – and you’ll be half way there. If I just left without any attempt to shift some weight they’ll be making documentaries about how a crane had to be employed and a wall knocked through just to remove me from my house within six months of landing… I will of course be getting fit the manly way by maybe cutting a beer or two out of my daily diet (I think I’ll opt for ‘the last one of the day’), and perhaps some kind of exercise that involves punching things. I don’t want to come across as being a misogynist so I’ll just say you’ll never catch me failing like certain sections of society seem to – namely eating nought but grapes and celery for three months before cracking and being found sobbing hysterically at 2am on the kitchen floor surrounded by empty cartons of Ben and Jerry’s… well, I won’t fail in that manner this time, at least…

I’m starting to realise just how big a deal it is giving up what I consider my given right to watch Dons games at the ground, in the flesh. Of course its a lot easier these days thanks to AFCWTV and WDON… we can relive the events of a game mere days later just by firing up our computers – hell, we can even watch Dons goals at work (provided the boss isn’t looking… or you work as a bus driver where I presume its frowned upon by Health and Safety jobsworths – such as your passengers). Even as early as the eighties there were individual match videos on sale at the Club Shop, but when I was a kid if you wanted to relive the action you pretty much had to wait for the end of season video. Which lead to disappointment on one occasion as a much-anticipated routing of Norwich was lost to technical difficulties…

Things improved slightly in the Premier League years thanks mainly to Match of the Day’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Dons coverage, and the realisation that regular videos could be a cash cow. I remember being disappointed that my VHS recorder failed to capture the Football Focus rerun of an early season Dean Holdsworth curler into the top corner against Ipswich (you know, ex-franchise Newport manager Dean Holdsworth…), only to find a pre-Christmas video round-up scratched that particular itch. Then a boozy teenage trip to Tenerife coincided with missing a couple of victories that lead to one of the most watched videos in my collection – Seven Deadly Wins. Yes, the production was poor even by todays non-League standards, but the action wasn’t, and on football videos at least that was all that really mattered.

The first few seasons of the AFC era saw two-part season reviews produced, but over the past few seasons we seem to have moved towards regular ‘Matchday Magazine’ productions – a kind of bi-monthly round-up. Yet how popular these are is open to speculation – why buy a DVD for a tenner when you can watch the highlights online, for free, whenever you want to? We were spoiled by the Dons Online website in the early years, but regular linking on the Official website to AFCWTV opens that kind of service up to even the most detached of Dons fans. Naturally it is going to be invaluable for me over the coming years – but what of the future of this type of service? Well, ironically, returning to the League could see things become slightly more problematic for far-flung Dons. Goals are available on the BBC website – but only if you are based in the UK. League clubs provide a video service on their website, but this normally requires a subscription. The day of free internet highlights could be over, sadly just as we (or more accurately, I) begin to realise what a valuable resource they are.

And yet… I could bypass the whole problem by simply not moving abroad start with. I’ve been told about this thing they have called ‘divorce’ which I think might just solve all my problems…

Further WUP articles can be found in the Features Index

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