Kingstonian returned to competitive action on Saturday at a very different Whitehawk that I first visited a few years ago. My one previous visit was the infamous floodlight failure game that saw a K’s 2-0 lead with fifteen minutes left annulled and we had to replay the match – I didn’t go to the replay, we predictably lost. There was a lot of anger flying about on that evening when the lights went out, the whole thing left a bitter taste, though in retrospect I understand the league’s decision not to uphold the result – that season Whitehawk were scoring and scoring and scoring, who is to say that they wouldn’t have scored at least two goals in those remaining minutes? Anyway, it was a long time ago, let’s move on.
The Whitehawk I visited on Saturday was a pleasant place to watch football in, very picturesque behind one side of the ground, complete with a chalk hawk carved into the hill. If you get bored of the game you can look at the top of the hill and spot people on horseback trotting along, someone sat halfway up the hill to watch the first half (but didn’t stay for the second half…). We were greeted after going through the turnstiles by two sweet miniature labradoodles (I did have to be told what they were, I’m no expert in identifying animals…), the burger that I wolfed down in the clubhouse was one of the very best I’ve eaten. And they had chipotle sauce as well, lovely stuff! The weather was really nice, sunny but not too warm, and I loved it when the Whitehawk microphone man forgot that he was still on air when we had a penalty shout near the end and an excited “No way!” boomed from the speakers, a complete accident and I found it very amusing (and quite forgivable, it happened in a very exciting stage of the game).
As for the match, I would say that there has been improvement again, but once again we couldn’t finish the job off properly. We got away with it in our win over Bishop’s Stortford, but we couldn’t against the Hawks on Saturday. The culprit was our inability to cope with vicious inswinging corners, usually into a jam-packed six yard box, often dispatched with great accuracy right underneath our crossbar. We had several chances to sort ourselves out, numerous warning signs but they weren’t heeded and Whitehawk got an equaliser in the 88th minute from one of these corners – most of the time it needs a goalkeeper to clear space out (he will almost always get a free kick given in his favour), but often there was no room for manoeuvre and the punishment duly came.
It was a frustrating end to an encouraging performance from the K’s, who are beginning to look a bit more like a team. We led for most of the second half thanks to a clever goal from Elliott Buchanan, who somehow managed to do a 1-2 off a defender and rifle a shot home from the edge of the 18 yard box. Elliott is still looking sharp and we are still guilty of not giving him enough quality service – just give him a half chance and he’s more than capable of putting it away. Overall, the workrate was excellent but we do have the tendency to get lost in the final third; all too often we carve out some good chances or start on the way to creating something with good potential but the final ball is often disappointing or a wrong decision is made – whether it’s a confidence thing I don’t know, but (and how we go about doing this, I haven’t any idea) we need to start showing more ruthlessness in that final third and quit making these infuriating individual errors at the back.
So yes, K’s are improving, in my opinion. I would agree with someone who says it’s not quick enough, but recently we’ve had consecutive fine displays from the centre of midfield, where Shaun McAuley and Aaron Lamont are increasingly looking like the players we thought we were getting when we re-signed them, I liked watching David Fitzpatrick on the wing on Saturday and I’d like to think he’s a good addition to the squad, I think James Daly is going to start flying when he scores his first goal for us, and the general attitude of the squad looks far better than it did a few weeks ago. The next two games are really big ones, however, we face league leaders Tonbridge Angels on Wednesday and then play-off zone dwellers Folkestone Invicta on Saturday, both at King George’s Field, two games from which we need big performances and big results.
Not improving, however, is the Kingstonian communications officer. I am finding it very, very difficult at the moment, both physically and mentally. The mental part is a regular feature of my life, I do struggle mightily with depression, though the idea of chucking myself off Beachy Head is not an appealing one so I don’t suffer anywhere near as badly as some unfortunate people do, and recently there’s been a decent amount of anxiety in the brain. I am constantly fighting the urge to not do anything, to not travel to places, to avoid areas where there could be lots of people, to concentrate fully on the smallest bad thing that happens on a trip and forget all that went well. In recent weeks this has been compounded by a painful back which is making me even less mobile that I usually am; two nights in Brighton were rendered very difficult by constant pain from the back (this is something that’s been going on since June but in the last week or so it’s worsened badly) and anxiety about walking amongst crowds on the seafront – it all just felt really too loud and I wanted so much to hide. I am not sure how we went to Whitehawk for the match, Rosey and I were discussing about going home and suddenly there we were, parked outside the ground and listening to a Rush compilation whilst waiting for the turnstiles to open.
It’s becoming a “watch this space” type thing, in that mentally and physically I feel so bad at times that I have this need to get away and leave everything behind. Not quite everything, as I want to take Rosey with me wherever I get away to. I cannot cope with life at Kingstonian FC at the moment, I have this urge to give up everything to do with the football club. The last two or three home matches have seen me have these overwhelming waves of hopelessness and discomfort that have eclipsed anything I have felt before. The move to King George’s Field has been so much more difficult for me than I ever even remotely envisaged (not blaming anybody for that, before anyone multiplies two by two and gets five), the football up to now has been disappointing (but, as I said before, I feel this is slowly beginning to improve), I don’t feel that I’m doing anywhere near as good a job as in previous seasons and there’s nothing I can do about it as I feel unable to do anything about anything because I feel so [several expletives deleted]. What I want to do is to throw myself into the club like I used to, but the energy levels are getting lower, anxiety levels are getting higher, pain levels are increasing, bitterness is increasing in many ways and I feel like I’m a liability. Truth be told, I really don’t know what to do…
Right, time to see if my back can cope with a walk around the corner…