Monthly Archives: February 2011

Time And Again

A few quick thoughts about last night.

First, no-one who has watched Wimbledon this season could claim that result was in any way surprising. On another day we might have clicked and won the game, but this result would have come sooner or later anyway, perhaps at Grimsby, although lets face it we could have seen a similar result had we not had that little bit of luck against Fleetwood and York…

Yet Wimbledon currently find themselves in such a strong position because of a consistent knack of bouncing back after disappointments like last night. It’s counterintuitive that such a young side (albeit now bolstered by a few older heads) should consistently show such spirit… defeats at Kidderminster and Luton should have seen a spell of poor results follow, with the Dons dropping to a more realistic position battling for a playoff place, yet that just hasn’t happened, which is a credit to this group of players. I don’t think any of us are pretending they are currently as good as Crawley’s League One standard squad, or Luton’s experience, but they have kept it going for long enough.

 What we all fear is our form collapsing at the worst possible time, entering the playoffs. We should be grateful we have a couple of winnable looking fixtures coming up, the one area we have been faultless is putting away sides in the bottom half. I think I saw recently a stat we are picking up over 2.5 points a game against the strugglers, which gives us a decent base to build a promotion push. Yet promotion itself will be won in games against our promotion rivals, quite literally if it comes down to the playoffs, and it’s fixtures such as last night where question marks still remain.

Expectations, including my own, have been sent through the roof by our consistent results to date. I wonder how much more together we would be if we had suffered a spell of indifferent form earlier in the campaign and were now hovering on the fringe of the playoff places, ready for a big push. That crashing noise you might have heard at about a quarter to ten last night were our title hopes going out of the window, the rest of the season will be about picking up results, getting a finish that will give us a preferable playoff semi-final, and making sure we are ready for May, and as far as I can see that’s not a bad situation to be in.

Mudslide

So what have I missed? Five goals including one on his debut by our new loan ex-Franchise hitman, putting us six points and five games clear of the monied ones… beyond that, of course, I have no idea… I read what passes for a report on the BBC and bought the NLP but that’s it – no skirting the internet all Saturday evening trying to gauge the performance by comments made on a guestbook. And do you know what… I’m looking forward to tonight’s game a lot more because of it.

Tonight’s game is big, with Crawley surely nailed on to beat Southport, if we have any realistic aim of winning the League we need all three points tonight. The points to games in hand ratio is in Crawleys favour at the moment and we can’t let that situation improve. What I want to see is Crawley coming out of their four game home stand in no better position than they are at the moment. That’ll be a huge kick in the teeth for them, and make them realise they are in a battle, and will need to earn their reportedly large wages.

This is a huge ask for Wimbledon. This Wimbledon squad in particular. And I know its far more likely we will find ourselves heading back from Grimsby on Saturday week all but out of the race, but our young players have overachieved all season, why not live the dream while we still can and hope they can somehow battle on for another couple of months?

Last seasons game between these two sides produced one of the more entertaining games we saw as our first season in the division rumbled to a close (a big thanks once more to Fat Frank for his side-splitting performance…), this season it looks more a battle of potential play-off rivals… Off-field problems may yet intervene, as Wrexham fans look towards the bigger picture. Getting away from home may have appealed after taking a hammering at home at the weekend, and you wonder how their players will react tonight. Naturally the Wrexham situation is something I wouldn’t have minded commenting on further, with limited time all I want to say is I regardless of what has passed I hope we as a club will always be willing to assist when asked, no matter who the club is, or who they have been involved with in the past… well, with one possible exception…

Talking of Them, the Broughton situation, or more accurately our reaction to him as a fanbase, should be a lot clearer after tonight. He may have scored at the weekend but this will be the first time the majority get a chance to see the value in the signing… as I mentioned on Friday the jury will stay out a lot longer for him than he might be expecting… while I would have prefered a different forward (or no new forward at all…) now he’s here I will be generally supportive – but reserve the right to change my mind at very short notice should the gamble not pay off (and it is a huge gamble…). Plus from what I can make out there are a few of you out there with no desire to stay on the fence…

All things considered, we are set for an interesting night at the Meadow…

Things Change

So Terry Brown has finally got his man. Or perhaps more accurately, a man. It seems obvious Drewe Broughton wasn’t Terry’s first choice, his very public courting of Danny Hylton giving the game away, but what with big forwards coming at a premium Terry has decided to act and bring the big guy in despite his, erm, baggage.

I’ve always thought we were the sort of club who would happily forgive and forget any previous transgressions a new player may have made, providing their attitude was right and they gave it their best shot. Jamie Stuart has a drugs ban and court appearance under his belt, I haven’t seen it mentioned by Dons fans anywhere. Fair enough, he was a young player when he picked up his ban, and was cleared of all charges relating to his on-field assault allegations (although as we saw last week York fans haven’t quite forgiven him…).

Drewe Broughton’s circumstances are slightly different. To be fair to him, with the amount of lower division clubs he has represented over the years it was statistically likely he would have turned out for Them at some time. Lets face it, we all know footballers are a little different to your average fan. For us our club is everything. But we all remember that brilliant kid we went to school with (everyone had one), the guy who couldn’t quite remember whether he was supposed to be supporting Manchester United or Liverpool but was first choice when picking teams. Thats what the majority of footballers are genuinely like. Christ, some non-league players I’ve had the dubious privilege of working with have great difficultly remembering which team they are playing for, let alone the opponents or competition. I’m not saying all footballers are thick… it’s just they have a different mind frame to us.

The likes of Danny Kedwell or Sam Hatton might seem to be the living embodiment of our club at the moment, but lets face it, if they had been offered a chance up the M1 before they came to us, the lure of League football would have kicked in, I doubt they would have thought twice about it. The politics of the game are a world away from a life when playing the game and earning a living are all important, especially in a climate when lower division journeymen can’t be sure exactly where their next contract is coming from.

And yet… he has earned money playing for a club we consider to be against everything we stand for. In our world, I can understand feelings would run high. I get why many would feel we would have been better signing someone else, or if no-one else was available, sticking with what we have. Yet he is with us now. A step has been taken, not necessarily a step forward, but a step all the same.

And he will be given a chance by Dons fans, the vast majority of Dons fans at least. But if things don’t go well for him, if he doesn’t find his feet immediately, the support will disappear quicker than you can say ‘The White Nathan Elder’. The aforementioned Stuart fitted like a glove, no-one is questioning the past of a guy who puts in performances like he does… they mans the beast our back four was crying out for (I’m even unsettled being in the same stadium as him)… an example Broughton would do well to take notice of…

The other question relates to what sort of role he will play over the next three months. Is he here simply to take the pressure off Kedwell, to relieve him from the bench and fill in when the skipper takes a well-earned rest? Surely he won’t feature as the wide player in a three, unless Terry fancies taking a leaf out of the Welly mans boots and implementing the Flo Pass? And if we ever need to switch to a 442, wouldn’t we have been better pairing Keds with someone who scores goals like Nwokeji? I really can’t see us going 442 and taking a man out of midfield against Wrexham or Grimsby in coming weeks…

Answers are sure to follow, starting tomorrow at Tamworth… a trip I unfortunately cannot make. Guaranteed the new guy will have a storming game followed by weeks of indifference, leaving all of us who aren’t travelling wondering why those that do are making such a fuss…

Castle Rock

I have found out the answer to the question ‘Just how difficult is it to support AFC Wimbledon without access to the internet outside the workplace?’, the answer to which depends on exactly how much detail you require. For example, the build up to the York game involved me checking BBC text for team news (which I quickly discovered is probably the same as its web-based equivalent, and therefore most likely wrong…). And that was it. I’m outside the catchment area of South London Press, so no newspaper coverage for me.

This has been all well and good, so far. Mrs AD is now back in the country, we have been busying ourselves making our new flat look all nice, so even if I had a broadband connection I doubt much blogging would have been done so far… Unfortunately it seems the delay in getting a phone line will be longer than I expected, and while I have a few irons in the fire I can’t promise much output until then…

But perhaps more importantly, it leaves me in a bit of an information vacuum. Not travelling to Tamworth on Saturday, I’ll be pulling my normal trip of going to the cinema while the game is on. A quick text on the way out should reveal the score, I’ll be able to view a short and probably wildly inaccurate match report as well as the league table on my return home on the aforementioned BBC red button. Then on Sunday if I can be bothered to make it down to the paper shop and hand over actual cash for a copy of the NLP (which I’m becoming increasingly reluctant to do, and not just for the usual laziness/tight-fisted combo). And that’s it for me, until I hit the office on Monday morning…

Which is a shame really, as this is an intriguing time to be a Dons fan. A win on Saturday will see the Dons pull quite a lead over Crawley, ignoring momentarily the million games in hand they have over us. We are doing what I expect of a Dons side, and that is making Crawley sweat for it. I want to be immersed in it, to catch every rumour and morsel of gossip as soon as it hits the grapevine. Who is this new strikers supposedly signing tomorrow? Perhaps I would be as clueless as I am now, but at least scouring the web for possible news and finding nothing would give me the satisfaction of knowing nothing big had happened without my knowledge…

Was it really only ten short years ago that I managed to happily exist without internet, mobile phone, comfortable with just the five tv channels? It makes you wonder what progress will occur in the next ten years? Will we have the ability to watch Dons game live via our  mobiles anywhere in the world? Who knows, and right now who cares… to be honest the only reason I’m writing now is to assure you all I’m not lying in a ditch somewhere…

Heres hoping I find the time to knock out a match report or two next week…

Heard You Were Dead

Still no home internet… I’m having to squeeze this update in between setting up bills at the new place, and actually doing some work – doubly important as I have the next couple of days off. I was actually surprised when I moved in to find Hampton is actually a really nice place to live, and it quickly became apparent this is down to the fact that absolutely none of my neighbours have any interest whatsoever in the football club down the road. As I long suspected, the Beavers are forced to bus in the mentally baffled from other areas…

I am in some ways fortunate the Dons don’t have a fixture this week, this blog has rarely found itself updated during slow weeks, and I’m sure many regular readers haven’t really noticed any difference (although you could be an occasional visitor here and still qualify for the tag ‘regular reader’ of late…). One thing I have noticed is TB’s decision to allow certain players a spell out on loan. The poor quality of opposition in the Suburban League means we have little option but ship first teamers in need of game time out to local clubs in the lower divisions.

Naturally Jack Turner needs game time in order to progress, Ed Harris moving temporarily has betrayed the fact Fraser Franks has finally edged the battle between the two. But its Nwokeji that is the really interesting one. A striker, scoring goals and in form, the fact he is being allowed away suggests we might be seeing some action in bringing in a new striker once we have passed 18th February, the day we can sign a player and still have them available for the playoff final.

Perhaps at some point in the future I’ll get my broadband back and might find time to talk of such events in greater depth…

One Speed Gearbox

I hate moving house. Hate it. And who could blame me, as I prepare for my fourth move in less than two years… hopefully the last one for a while. And contrary to rumours being spread (rumours, admittedly, that I started myself thanks to my overly dramatic announcement in a late 2010 issue of WUP…), I am actually moving to Hampton. That’s Hampton, Middx, otherwise known as Trumpton, definitely not Richmond, a mere well-aimed stones throw from Beavertown. While this won’t be news to regular readers (both of you), the move to New Hampshire was called off pre-Xmas. It was the economic climate that lead to a last-minute change of plans (although the actual climate at the moment isn’t much better – its rare that ‘snow falls in place that gets lots of snow’ becomes newsworthy even in a slow UK media week).

While I’m on the subject, and to add one of those annoying ‘almost forgot’ paragraphs that was obviously added well after the main body of the article was written and therefore doesn’t quite scan, my moving house business means the Anonymous Don response to whatever happens on Saturday, in the absence of broadband (or any type of internet connection), will have to wait until Monday… I know, I know, no change… 

It will be at least three years until I try to emigrate again, which means I have a good three seasons of watching the Dons. Right now that sounds more curse than blessing. Actually I did consider finally making the trip up to Kitkat Crescent on Tuesday before sanity (and the requirement to ensure food is on the table come the end of the month) took hold. Its become the one ground I HAVE to visit at some point, the holy grail, even more so after my two abortive attempts at the original fixtures this season and last, and if anything as a true football geek the fact we seem destined to always take a hammering at York has added to my desire.

Ever the optimist, lets examine the positives of last nights ‘performance’. We didn’t concede five for a start. We actually managed a goal this time around. As far as I’m aware no Dons fans were labelled ‘wankers’ by a Don, goalkeeper or otherwise. And… it makes a great deal of sense to allow our rivals to run away with the victory, lulling them into a false sense of security in order to nick a victory in the return a week on Saturday.

And now the negatives… well I haven’t got the time or inclination to list every gripe of those actually in attendance. Lets just say if you thought your mood was low after last weeks second half capitulation at Bath, this Wednesday took it to a whole new level. I was actually in quite a good mood on my way home from work last night, my head full of dreams of us winning comfortably, before going on to put up a decent fight against the Crawley machine for the title, keeping Luton at arm’s length and finishing a comfortable second.

In reality a glance at the table this morning suggests we’ll be lucky to finish down in fourth. And yet… This Dons squad have bounced back before. They bounced back after a heavy defeat at Luton. They went eight games unbeaten following a dismal reverse up at Barrow. And they have the ability to do so now. Our schedule over the next month or so is starting to look a little more realistic, albeit we face a number of genuine playoff contenders in that time. The Saturday/Tuesday/Saturday madness is calming down once more. A win on Saturday and the York debacle will be forgotten.

There are of course reasons for the defeat. As mentioned after the Gateshead game I consider it a near miracle that we managed to go the whole month of January without defeat. Fatigue was bound to catch up with them. These are reasons, rather than excuses, as some have suggested. The difference being if we were trotting those lines out with an expensively assembled squad struggling in lower mid-table, rather than a genuinely talented group of youngsters brought in on a comparative shoestring. I sometimes read back through the WUP guestbook and have to double-check to make sure I haven’t navigated my way to the Cambridge forum in error…

I suppose my badly made point is… and I know it goes against the naturally pessimistic nature of football fans in general, and Dons fans in particular, but we aren’t having a bad season here. Yes we seem to lack a Plan B on occasions. There certainly doesn’t seem to be enough bite in midfield for my liking, and despite Jolley’s goals of late we are desperately reliant on Danny Kedwell. We are also have the incredible good fortune of possessing perhaps the biggest goalkeeping prospect outside the Football League, in my biased opinion. But how many of us would have suggested we would be averaging nearly two points a game after the thirty game mark?

I would love to be able to analyse our strengths and weaknesses in detail, later in the season I might get my chance. Perhaps acknowledging the general malaise REPD referred to over on SW19 earlier this week relating to the strength of Dons related writing at the moment, I’ve got to admit with only limited time to write I feel no shame in admitting I’m going to concentrate on the positives. Let’s at least wait for us to fail before we start the inquisition.