In days of yore, when the pass back to the goalkeeper was allowed (or rather when the goalkeeper was allowed to pick the ball up from a back pass), I didn’t mind the cold weather games so much. From my teens to my early forties, it was just a case of putting on one or two extra layers and off to the game I went. By the way, it was also in the hope that I didn’t need the loo because suddenly needing to go whilst wearing all these layers was a bit of an issue.
These days, I’m not happy in the cold weather. The older I have got, the less content I have been and frequently I’ve been sitting in the stand and wondering what the heck I’m doing. I reckon this first started during my waning days as Under 18s team secretary when the team was so bad that a five goal mauling was deemed to be a rather good result.
My mind always goes back to one game, which I went to instead of a first team home game at Kingsmeadow – I was the hon sec and there was no-one who could cover that job, especially when the game was away to Woking on a pitch just outside of Fleet that had previously been the home of Farnborough North End (a web search tells me that this may have been Cody Sports and Social Club, I think that I vaguely recognise it from the photos).
So freezing my butt off watching a Kingstonian XI (only eleven turned up for the start and I think one more arrived near half time…) getting thoroughly crushed by a Woking team that didn’t even need to go into first gear, they could have stayed in neutral and been better than us, was in retrospect a bit of a catalyst.
A catalyst for a number of things, I think my desire to be so closely involved in under 18s football possibly died or began to expire right there at that away game against Woking and has never returned (there are more reasons but I’ve talked about them before and will leave at that for now), which is a damn shame given the undeniable joy that under 18s football has given me over the years (hey, I’ve been partly responsible for a team that’s won a league title with a win at Gander Green Lane, it doesn’t come too much better than that), and my being able to put up with cold weather began to ebb away as well.
Sometimes if the football is good enough, then this definitely takes the mind off the weather, but when it gets a bit flat then the mind does tend to wander, too many checks are made on the interweb as to how Liverpool are getting on (well, this is true in my case) and one starts pining for blankets, duvets, televisions and warm food, etc., etc.
Unfortunately, the abiding memory of Wednesday’s home game against East Thurrock United was one of how cold it was and how nice it would be when the game ends and we can go home and get warm again. It wasn’t the best of encounters and very unlike the highly exciting 3-3 draw we had last week against the same opponents at Rookery Hill. The undoubted men of the match were the two goalkeepers, who both made fine saves to keep their opponents out, but almost all of the outfielders had one of those days when not a lot seemed to work, not many passes would stick and the ball would be given away far too much. So while there was a smug satisfaction that Liverpool had indeed won again, when the final whistle went at KGF, it was a case of pack away the stuff as quickly as possible and leg it in the direction of some increase in the temperature.
So, it was one of those evenings. We had tons of possession but wasn’t really able to do much about it, whenever we did breach the Rocks’ packed defence, the East Thurrock goalkeeper performed heroics, one flying save high to his right is still fresh in the mind a couple of days later. After the 3-3 draw at Rookery Hill and then the superb 3-1 win at home to a good Carshalton Athletic team, not to score was a bit of a disappointment. Had we managed to get one, that would have forced the Rocks to come out and play and leave space for our wingers to cause havoc, but that’s only me speculating, after all, we thought we had probably done the biz at Rookery Hill to lead 3-2 after being 0-2 down but then went to sleep at the very end and finished with a draw.
I think one thing that has been proven by the reaction to that result is actually that it shows that we’ve come a long, long way since the end of April last season. This time last year we had just embarked on an epic losing streak, punctuated by one draw at home to Carshalton Athletic (who then went on to finish second, go figure…) in Dean Brennan’s first match of his cup-of-coffee-length K’s career and a victory at home to Enfield Town under Kim Harris, who, despite the results did a fabulous job given the diabolical hand he had been given. So, this season to be disappointed with two draws against a team that last season was in the National League South is quite remarkable if you think about it in a sudden fit of normalcy.
Remember at the beginning of the season my number one ambition was to win a game. And then it was to win an away game. And then when the first win was away, it was to win a home game. That’s all. A nice cup run was going to be appreciated if it happened, but we failed in that ambition as we had two epic cup runs instead…
Ambitions were also to have fun watching Kingstonian again (tick) and to watch a team with the type of player with the type of work ethic that I adore in footballers (ultra tick). That was it. And with the standard of player that we’ve got, it’s not very likely (touch wood) that we’re going to be in a relegation fight, it’s not that likely that some of us will be watching to see who is winning the Combined Counties League, etc., to see who might be potential opponents next season…(looks at that particular league table, darn, that’s close…), that’s if relegation would even keep us in the Isthmian League. You never know, but this is a season in which we continue to look up instead of over our shoulder. I don’t really think play-offs are likely, given the amount of games we have to play in a short period of time (experience tells me that points in the bag are most often more better than games in hand) but again you just never know.
All I do know is that my number one ambition for this season is to get a good result tomorrow afternoon at Bognor Regis Town, and if we don’t get one then it won’t be for the want of trying. After tomorrow, I’ll come up with another number one ambition, which will probably to get a good result against Horsham on Wednesday…
Random fact to end – I mentioned the pass back rule right at the beginning of this unplanned-as-usual gurgling, Liverpool have not won the league since the current pass back rule was brought in. I’m not counting too many chickens, even with a nineteen point advantage, but there’s a chance that this fact might just be put to one side. Or at least, I really hope so (#not-over-yet).