Oh man, the season begins in two days and I’m shattered.
Two days gone from Kingstonian’s first ever home game at King George’s Field and certainly from me there is a sense of relief that everything or probably more accurately most things went smoothly. I think the worst thing that happened was mistakenly thinking that I’d broken Corinthian-Casuals’ trusty microphone and lost a piece that had become dislodged. Thankfully I found it…no harm done apart from my heart rate. The last thing I’d wanted was to break something on the first day on the job at a new ground that we’re leasing from another club.
Crystal Palace turned up with their Under 23s squad, not as strong as we thought we had been promised – we never thought a full first team would turn up, that’s never going to be the case these days, but this is the risk you take when you arrange a friendly match against Premier League or Football League opponents. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but one year we expected Queen’s Park Rangers to turn up with a reserve squad and the whole first team arrived…it’s a shame we never got to play them since then. But anyway, Crystal Palace turned up with 22 players, none of whom probably old enough to shave, some not old enough even to have a spot on their face, all of whom had raw talent aplenty.
It was a surprisingly good game, goalless, but entertaining. In patches, Kingstonian looked awfully good, and I think for the first time in my Kingstonian career, and I first joined the club in the summer of 2001, just after the Conference relegation, a Kingstonian manager has a very unenviable job of working out who is not going to make the squad, there are some good players who won’t make it, simply because we need to stick to an agreed budget and even more simply we have a lot of players still with us at this stage of pre-season and we ain’t gonna keep them all happy.
I’m trying hard not to sound over confident, but we will have a squad that we think can challenge for promotion. The problem is that there are twenty one other clubs in our division wanting to stick one on us, and the vast majority will be more than capable of doing precisely that. The game against Brightlingsea Regent on Saturday will be a venture into the unknown, we don’t know our own starting XI (Leigh probably knows, and, quite rightly, he ain’t telling), therefore we don’t know what we’ve got on the bench, we don’t know how good Brightlingsea Regent will be (but they did the double on us last season so we need to assume that they’re a good side), and, most importantly, we don’t know when the microphone man for Kingstonian is going to bust his head open entering the press box when he forgets to duck.
He has a habit of forgetting to duck when it comes to low door frames as demonstrated wonderfully on a holiday earlier this year in Ironbridge when he (sorry, I…) near as dammit got knocked out at the hotel. I thought seeing stars was just a cartoon thing, I can absolutely confirm that it’s not. And knees buckling is not just a cartoon thing, either…
Ah yes, just to prove that no planning at all goes into these blogs, one moan from the Palace game, and it’s part of the reason that I detest home friendlies and don’t look forward to them – people at the game may have noticed that towards the end of the second half, I gave up announcing Crystal Palace substitutions. I had this list of twenty-two players, all had numbers, one K’s player had no number but I knew who he was, but when Palace threw on three players with no number on their back, it was time to throw the arms up in despair and give up. You’d have thought that a Premier League club could afford to print extra numbers on some of their shirts. I mean…come on, give me a chance to do my job to the best of my ability, people…! When one of this trio scored near the end of the game, extra despair was replaced speedily by immense relief when the assistant referee decided to flag for offside. That assistant referee for one instant became my hero, no need for an announcement of “goal scored for Crystal Palace by Mr Blowed-if-I-know.” Either that or I would have given the goal to Vince Hilaire (really good player he was).
So yes, I’m still really very tired from Tuesday. The last seven days of the return of the heatwave was debilitating. It’s not so much the heat, I’m quite sure that Rosey and I have had holidays in Roma and in Bled that were hotter than the temperatures this summer, it’s just a very different type of heat and a ridiculous amount of humidity (and the aircon in our Roman hotel was fantastically good!). It’s the sitting in the armchair effectively in pools of sweat just waiting the weather out and feeling more and more tired and despondent about the whole situation. It’s finding it so difficult to be motivated to do anything, being hesitant to go anywhere (hence no visits to Slough, South Park or Hartley Wintney this pre-season), just feeling so damned upset all the time that there’s a genuine fear that a period of weather-related glumness could lead to something nastier mental health-wise, something that’s been persistent in my life for many years. A fear increased by the fact that it’s impossible to sleep lying down in bed, it’s having to move to the very same sweaty armchair to try and get at least an hour or two of downtime. I slept well on Tuesday night after the Crystal Palace game partly out of exhaustion, partly out of relief to get this game over with, and partly because the rain that night had cleared the air a bit. Last night, no such fortune, despite the temperature not going up significantly.
I’m pleased it’s raining as I write this, but very annoyed with myself that I took my raincoat with me – waiting so long for any type of prolonged rainfall, and the first sign of it, I rush for the raincoat. How very English. Pathetic, really.
Oh well, hopefully I’ll get a night’s sleep tonight or tomorrow and I won’t feel so tired for the big day on Saturday. Bring on the Brightlingsea!