Not tonight Mrs Giggs, there's an FA Trophy replay on

No sign of the cunt. No sign of the ponce. No sign of the one who was ramming his brother’s wife. No sign of any discernible talent, which is why they were beaten like a ginger stepchild that’s just been named Oldham manager. Maybe they were all watching the BOC vs the other BOC on tv, thinking: “ooooh, it was better than this in my day,” and dribbling Bishop's Ringpiece onto their cardigans.

The HOF too, was nowhere to be seen, although his record, in absentia, is played three, won one, drawn two. Imagine how we’ll do when he puts in an appearance on a match day?

This was probably the most enjoyable match of the season so far (no, go ahead, after you) as we controlled the game throughout and no one mentioned the r-word. Players who needed confidence got it, Paxo and Powell dovetailed nicely, there were cute backflicks around the edge of the area and one Zidane-like moment from Iniesta 2, which someone is hopefully turning into a GIF.

Admittedly it was against a team who may as well have had the words “we couldn’t give a shit” plastered across their shirts. Who knew Salford were this big time? Three rounds from Wembley, 11 large worth of prize money on offer and they field a team not much stronger than the one Dover sent in the Kent Senior Cup. The 17-word match report (just over one word per fan) on their website described at as a “spirited”performance from a young side and it was garcons against hommes all right.

Apparently 15 away fans attended and in an outbreak of sanity someone decided it wasn’t worth segregating them, giving the atmosphere an Isthmian League feel that was matched by the standard of the opposition. It felt like 2014 again, when we were playing the kind of team who turned up knowing they were going to get bummed. Adding to the feeling that it was amateur night, the keeeeeepaaaaah was wearing an all amber shirt, which the referee didn’t seem to think clashed. (If only the stewards were so understanding towards innocent shift workers).

After nine minutes Cozy floated in a cross for Inesta 2, who timed his arrive ((c) BigRon, God rest his accidentally racist career) at the far post perfectly to make it 1-0. Muldo went close to a second, Iniesta 2 hit the bar from a tight angle and the only mystery was why we weren’t further ahead by half-time. Salford did have one chance when some weak fisting by DCH left them an open goal to aim at, only for the attacker to show the touch of a Neverland-era Michael Jackson.

The second half was even easier, as Salford repeatedly heaped pressure on themselves by clearing the ball straight back to whichever of our players happened to be lurking 30 yards out. Eventually Romain shot between adefender’s legs for the second and just before the end JR swung in a corner that eventually went in off WDH.

For added nostalgia the next round is at Stockport, where we last played on October 1st 1990. That was another of the great “what if” moments in the club’s history. If we’d won we’d have gone top of Division Four, but instead Mark Beeney was sent off, we lost 1-0 and we’ve never been as high since.
There’s unfinished business from the 80s and the violent replay at Burton to deal with. If we’d won that the semi-final would have been against Dartford, then managed by Peter Taylor.

Yes, the quarter-final stage is when you can get properly tumescent for this competition. Provided you're not busy getting tumescent for the wife of someone who will subsequently extract their revenge via the medium of a bookmakers advertising campaign.

No HOF, No Hassle

For an hour of this match we attacked in the same way Sir Christopher Chope MP might wander round the changing rooms of a municipal leisure centre, with mirrors on his toe caps. Desperate for a glimpse and with no chance of actually scoring.

We probably were lucky not to be two or three down and out of sight, but for the first time since Gravesend away, back in October, we managed to get a point after going a goal behind. It was also the first time since Wrexham that we haven’t been beaten at home and let’s be honest, it’s the first time we’ve deserved a draw.

“We didn’t turn up,” has been a refrain on too many occasions this season. Today John Still literally didn’t turn up and we still drew. The mystery of why he was called “Head of Football” and not “manager” was thus solved, as it’s more expedient for a HOF to head for the West Indies (if that's where he's gone) in the middle of the season than it is for a manager.

Hey, fuck it, who cares? If he booked it before agreeing to to take the job, at 68 how many more chances is he going to get to watch England absolutely Kedwell a test series in the West Indies? Not everyone was happy about it (Disgraceful! shrieked one forum user) and it probably was a missed opportunity to get the ground pumping, to mark the emotional return of the King to manage the team in Maidstone for the first time since 1988. It actually felt a bit like the Walker/Hume era, where one of them would jet off to Cyprus or wherever, but better Still managing via telephone than Wheeler in the flesh, right? And I doubt anyone’s volunteering to tell Hakan he lacks presence on the touchline.

Unfortunately we started like Wheeler was still in charge, a team of strangers still getting to know each other and backing off, against a team capitalising on that whole don't-want-to-support-a-team-owned-by-a-rapist-or-with-a-manager-who-shoves-a-lit-cigar-in-your-eyeball-and-Ched-Evans-up-front thing that's going on in and around Blackpool right now. The new keeeeeeeepaaaaaaah (and yes, we’ve lost count) looked tidy, although his distribution was, as one of our Twitterati generously suggested, shitter than that of a DPD van driver. (This is saying something. Let’s take a brief diversion here to say that in the unlikely event the DPD driver who was zig-zagging in and out of traffic on a Sunday last October, on the A229 towards Staplehurst, is reading this, we hope you drown in a vat of the anchove-sharp effluvium that seeps out of Sarah Gove’s thighs. Cheers.)

Right, yeah, the actual match … Ok, midway through the first half Henry, maybe slightly off his line, palmed a shot on to the bar and was about to gather it when he was clattered accidentally by their striker. That was a let off, but then we fell victim to a bit of macho refereeing as the middle-aged man in the middle pulled rank on the woman young enough to be his grandchild (in certain of the town’s more exclusive residential developments,) running the line. Davies turned a cross into his own net. Fylde celebrated, but the lineswoman had her flag raised, because the attacker putting Davo (what other nickname is he going to have?) under pressure was offside.

Dartford, Whitehawk, Dagenham and now Fylde. “Well whingeing to the referee doesn’t change anything ….”
Yeah, in a dog’s arse it doesn’t. Was he interfering? Would Davo have put the cross into his net if he hadn’t been there? Was he active? Or was he, like Schrodinger’s Paedophile, both interfering and not interfering? From the moment he walked over to her like a double-glazing executive about to confiscate his daughter’s car keys, we all knew how this was going to end.  

0-1 and the familiar feeling of what the French call “le weapons-grade shitcuntage” set in. We survived till half time, wobbled a bit puertos tempranos in the second half and then stabilised, thanks at least in part to Robinson, who came on and showed us what he can do when the ball isn’t aimed two-feet over his head a giant centre-forward.  

Wishart, also seemed to find himself, finally looking like the player he was at Sutton. He mugged off some slag in midfield, surged forwards and played in Robbo, whose shot was bundled over the line by a defender who wasn’ t under pressure from any apparently offside attackers.

1-1 and from then on we looked decent. We even head the best of the chances, when Muldo’s free-kick was headed goalwards and tipped onto the bar by the keeeepaaah, but after three months of getting absolutely Graylinged at home it was a relief to see them waste the couple of late chances they created.

We’re on an interstellar space cruiser, due to crash land on a planet made entirely of shit. Such is our shitward momentum that we may not pull out of the dive in time before the craft Rees-Moggs headlong into a world of excrement, but at least the controls have been wrestled from the lunatic plotting a course for the planet core. If we can play like this when the HOF is away, how will we do when he actually makes the touchline?

Tonight we're going to party like it's 1989

Well it’s out there now. In the social media age, the old methods of embargoing a story (“print this and I’ll break your legs”) don’t work anymore, and they certainly don’t work when the club whose manager you’ve half-inched fire a torpedo into your carefully co-ordinated PR strategy.

Barnet’s statement was curt. Braintree’s was a parting “fuck you.” And why shouldn't they feel fucked off?

If you’re younger than 35 the only way you’ll understand what some of us are feeling right now is if Jay Saunders returns as manager in the year 2048. John Still was only our manager for a season and a half, but he built the best Maidstone team most of us had ever seen, won us automatic promotion to the Football League and as a reward was made a derisory offer by the fucking idiots that ran the club in 1989, one so low it forced him to resign. The board wanted an “experienced” manager and hired Keith Peacock, who they fucked over 18 months later.

Still has been proving the bastards wrong ever since, though when he spoke to Stones Live a decade ago he said: “you never know” when asked if he might return one day. It seemed unlikely at the time given that we were on the brink again in the seventh tier and he was taking Dagenham into the third via a Wembley play-off final, and yet here we are.

The only problem with this appointment, therefore, is the timing. Disclaimer: Some of this is first hand, much of it is second hand, even more of it is third hand and some of it is pure surmising, although when this is is the case we’ll say so.
Back in the summer Dawes was on the brink of accepting an offer to join Macclesfield and taking TBB with him, when he changed his mind and decided to stay. Why he changed his mind depends on who you listen to but given what followed almost everyone involved now probably wishes he’d taken the job, except possibly Sol Campbell.

The relationship between owners and manager was deteriorating rapidly and the almost paternal goodwill that had built over seven years evaporated. Other flashpoints occurred. Too many people seemed to know Nicky Southall was getting bombed out before Southall himself was told. The manager allegedly wanted the software used by other every other club at this level (other than Solihull Moors apparently) to monitor player performances the opposition and the club allegedly baulked at the price they’d negotiated.

Against Boreham Wood it came to a head, as the Wood players seemed to know exactly what our players were going to do, before they knew themselves and the crescendo of booing that greeted the Paxman substitution marked the moment when the manager seemed to have definitively lost a significant section of the crowd.

For the first time in seven years regime change became a serious discussion and the directors almost talked themselves into the idea of sacking the manager. They then did so without having anyone lined up to replace him.

In mid-September almost none of the logical candidates were available. Peter Taylor had just taken over at Dagenham and while reportedly tempted, said he couldn’t walk out on them just a month into the season. Still was equally new to his role at Barnet, Chris Kinnear was still hanging on at Dover and Andy Hessenthaler was apparently locked in at Eastleigh. Adrian Pennock was allegedly offered the job only to turn it down and the rumoured applicants were either non-league journeymen like Gary Owers, or men who came with baggage like Garry Hill.

Eastleigh were (we’re told) approached for permission to talk to Hessenthaler, the outstanding Kent-based candidate and someone who, as it transpired, was keener than anyone thought to return to his home county. Here we have to surmise that the club baulked at the cost of negotiating his release and they went back to a left-field option: the 30-year-old Harry Wheeler.

One former employee allegedly warned them: “Whatever you do, don’t employ Wheeler. ”Other comments included “all he did at Welling was put the cones out” and another source suggested that he was an “arrogant wanker.”

Comments like this, however, aren’t exactly uncommon on the circuit and Wheeler had an interesting track record, having won the treble for Billericay. They may have been financially doped, but if he could cope with a chairman that Trumplike and still hold a team together, he had to have something going for him. He was a plausible interviewee, sounded knowledgable and made all the right noises about learning from the likes of John Still. With no one else offering any real inspiration,he was offered the job.

In hindsight this was obviously a mistake, but how many of us, sitting in the directors’ seats, can honestly say we wouldn’t have made the same decision, taking a chance on young manager who’d done well at a lower level?

Just as Napoleon once said he preferred lucky generals, Wheeler, seemed to be a lucky manager, shithouse-ing victories at Braintree and Aldershot. It’s also easy to forget that right up until the Havant &Waterlooville game, Wheeler was, on the face of it, doing a reasonable job.
The alarm bells started ringing after the quote about “ruthless people” being the only ones in life who succeed. It was patently bollocks, but he seemed to believe it. All managers need to release players, but there are ways of doing it. The non-league circuit isn’t that big and word was getting around about Wheeler’s methods. Unlike Saunders, who was astute in using social media to interact with fans, he seemed aloof. He was equally distant with reporters, the kind of people who can do you favours when you need them if you help them out.

The “mess” story effectively finished him. The remark itself wasn’t a hanging offence, (in fact it was arguably an accurate summary of the state the club was in) but the way he shat on so many players and the way he subsequently handled it, through a denial that didn't stand up to scrutiny, was terminal. The club stood by their man but ended up getting an egg bukake.

Experienced managers say much worse than that when the tape recorder is switched off. Even if they’re on the record most reporters will obligingly bury an intemperate remark, on the understanding they’ll be given something else.

He should have gone after Gateshead and by Dover it was embarrassing, watching him lash out at the fourth official. The photo of the players jumping for joy, released on the day he was finally bombed out, was a picture that said ten thousand words, most of them with four letter roots.
Appointing Lewis and Walton for a month was a fudge, but it was a clever fudge, buying time and avoiding the panic of August. They won two games away most of us expected to lose and lost three at home when we hoped for more.

Still has too many qualities to list here, but one of them was that he was always able to spot a player, like Mark Gall or Warren Barton. This might be too late, but it gives us a chance. And for anyone interested, the last time he managed us was May 6, 1989. We won 1-0 at Runcorn and the team was Beeney, Berry, Hill, Pamphlett, Jacques, Beattie, Golley, Stewart, Gall, Butler, Ashford, with Charlery and Roast the subs.

Selected highlights from the charts on that day? Guns'n'Roses Paradise City at number 40. Don't It Make You Feel Good by Stefan Dennis was at 39. De La Soul, Me Myself and I was at 22, I Beg Your Pardon by Kon Kan at 15, Lullaby by the Cure at 11, Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil at 9 and at Number one? Eternal Flame by the Bangles ...


As royally fucked as a Kia on a Norfolk A-Road.

Match "report" by Innocent 28-year-old driver's Insurance Premiums
Christ. Attending this match was the second biggest regret of the weekend, after seeing Boris Johnson stand in front of a JCB which tragically didn’t kill him. I doubt anyone can have felt as royally fucked as this since a 97-year-old rammed his Range Rover into a toddler at a Norfolk T-junction.

What, too soon?

Before producing this report we conducted a Twitter poll which asked you, the readership, whether you wanted a sympathetic, fluffy report, or full on splenetic rage. The results were conclusive and the will of the people dictates that we go eyeballs out in an attempt to deal with what what we all witnessed this afternoon.

But wait a second. Is that really such a great idea? After a cooling off period, is it right to react with great vengeance and furious anger? Should we in fact heed the words of the Dalai Lama, who believes that if every eight-year-old in the world is taught to meditate, we can eliminate violence in the world within a generation?

FUCK that. The Dalai Lama never saw his team get get beaten 3-0 by the Mongrel MK Dons of East London, who think “our” support is “faaaaarking shiiitt” even though over 2000 turned up to watch this shit, while they brought around 200, or 30 for every club they consumed in that series of entirely unsuspicious mergers that turned them into the Jade Goody offspring a football club where no one has any idea who the fucking father is.

Buddha once said it is better to conquer yourself than it is to win a thousand battles. Bullshit. We conquered ourselves this afternoon all right and I’ll take winning a thousand battles over this feeling any day of the fucking week.

Oooooh why can’t everyone stop being negative and get behind the team?”
FUCK OFF! FUCK OFF, YOU CUNT! I reserve the fucking right to feel fucking fucked off after fucking watching a fucking result like that.

The pre-match rumour was that the Head of Sport Science is going back to Billericay. Nothing personal, seemed like a nice enough bloke, but “Head of Sport Science” is a job title you’d expect in some mid-whack former polytechnic charging £9000 a year for a degree that’ll be about as much use as a stall in Maidstone Market selling novelty Harry Wheeler combover wigs. And as for whether or not we’ll cope without him, do you want to look at the last time we scored a goal that affected the outcome in the last 15 minutes of a league match?

The problem with this team is that they’re good enough to give you a glimmer of hope. They aren’t so obviously fucking awful that relegation is inevitable (there must be at least a five percent chance we’ll stay up) and they’re not absolute cunts either, which robs the casual fan of the ability to relieve the pain of defeat by heaping all the blame on their shoulders. At least Wheeler was so fucking loathsome he offered handy a target for all the pent-up rage.

Most of them can play, some of the time, but hardly any of them play all of the time and they can’t play together, at least not at home. Today they were actually excellent for 21 minutes, but the moment the Guy Ritchie boys scored the air went out of the stadium. This team has a glass jaw. One punch and the confidence vanished. There were three clear chances in the opening 10 minutes and in normal circumstances it would have looked like a matter of time before we took the lead, but these are not normal circumstances.

The goal was clinically taken from a dubious corner and you could see the heads go. We recovered slightly at the start of the second half. Elliot had a one-on-one the keeeepeaaaaah saved but if the first goal was a punch on the jaw, the second went right to the gut. We gave the ball away on the edge of the box, just as it looked like we might force an equaliser. They scored. Walton alluded to the fact that Dagenham &Redbridge & Leytonstone & Walford & Ilford & Fuck Off You Slag FC could afford a striker who earns what four of players are combined, which isn’t bad for a club so bankrupt at the start of the season it was handing round the begging bowl.  

The third was acid in the wounds. We’re the sixth-best supported team in the division and we’re second bottom, because we Jim Thompsoned the managerial situation in August, sacking a manager  without having any idea who could replace him and taking a punt on a man who ran away from the circus and is now back there, the performing seal to an orange ringmaster. We’ve been busking ever since and you can only wonder how we’d be doing if we’d spent the money needed to get Hessenthaler or PeterTaylor.

The deathly silence at the end said everything. No one even booed.

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars,” said Martin Luther King. Not strictly true as you can also see them when someone smacks you round the head with a mallet, which is what this result felt like. Although given that he was shot in the head it’s probably in bad taste to mention it.

Two pints of shit and a packet of not funny, please

Match "report" by Woman With Arlene Foster's Rubics Stuck In Her Teeth


Am I tripping? Did someone spike my Bishop’s Ringpiece with LSD? It’s 48 hours since I was struggling to get my head round the revelation that the evil mastermind behind the latest batch of sinister facebook adverts was the writer from “Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please,” a man perhaps motivated by the bitterness of losing its status as “Shittest Sitcom of All Time” to Mrs Brown’s Boys.

That was already quite weird. Then came Boreham Wood. Was it a surprise to see The Hunter had gone the full Gammon? No. Was it a surprise to see a football club website get “Gammonjacked”? Even though it’s 2019, the answer has to be “yes.” At least when Chatham Town’s site called for Islamic Jihad a few years ago they could claim they were hacked.

How do you even begin to explain Boreham Wood to someone previously unaware of its existence?
2019, when the Suez crisis looks like a garden party and when Boreham Wood are the fourth top story on the BBC website. Not BBC Hertfordshire, not the non-league football section, but the actual worldwide fucking website.

Nightmares are blending with reality. Last night I could have sworn we took to the field and played like a pack of top arseholes for an hour. It was almost as if we were reaping the rewards for busking our way through the summer before hiring a manager who went through the squad like a dose of polonium. Did I also witness John Still make his way to the VIP gantry without a crowd of admirers kissing the hem of his coat and begging him to come home? Was a Klopptastic first-half performance from a direct relegation rival just a figment of the imagination? Why do nearly 2,000 people keep turning up when we’ve got a home record worse than Fred West’s?  

Hope, evidently. We’d won three out of four, so was it so unreasonable to think we might beat Maidenhead in a relegation 24-pointer?
Apparently yes. We started as clumsily as Charlie Elphicke staggering towards a work experience student. After 10 minutes they scored with a header from a player whose surname sounded like an assassination attempt on a presidential candidate. Within a minute they had the ball in the net again, only for it to be ruled out for a foul and then we somehow equalised via the medium of a left-wing cross from Wassmer, who floated in a miraculously good ball for WDH to head in at the far post.

Game on again. Robbo had a chance he couldn’t quite keep down drift just over the bar, but parity didn’t last long. They were Shipmaning us on the flanks and by the time we reacted we were already Duncan Smithed.  Muldo was roasted like Katie Hopkins hopefully will be in hell for the second goal. Already booked for a shirt tug, he was then sent off for a challenge that on second viewing looked like a free-kick the other way. That was bad luck, but there was no excuse for the vacillation. At 2-1 Mr Freeze was summoned from the bench. Before he could come on they scored again, so he was told to sit down again.

Half-time. A triple change was brave to the point of foolhardy given that we were already down to ten men, but half the team could have been yanked and they wouldn’t have had any reason to complain. Mister Freeze came on and defended like a man still in cryo chamber. 90 seconds after the restart, with no apparent danger, he was mugged by the striker who finished from an acute angle and then started yelling at Ross.

At 4-1, and down to ten men a having-to-cunnilinguate-Arlene-Foster-just-to-survive level of humiliation was on the cards, but not for the first time this season we put up a face-saving and futile show of defiance. WDH scored a thundershithouse after a one-two with Robbo and almost immediately they had a big motherfucker sent off for a headbutt on Romain. At 10v10 with 25 minutes to play a point didn’t seem impossible, especially as Maidenhead backed off and invited pressure.

Iniesta 2 surged into the box but didn’t shoot. He laid it off for Paxo who again didn’t shoot, but took a touch that allowed the keeeepaaaah to block at his feet. Aryan burst into the area and didn’t shoot. And after 20 minutes of hope the rebellion fizzled out and we went back to feeling Goved again.  

How did we get here? It’s a long story. Here’s just one rumour. It may or not be true, but let’s chuck it out there. In the summer Nicky Southall, who has been fairly active on Twitter of late, asked if he was being sacked.“No,” said someone at the club. “We just have to be seen to be making changes.”

We don’t have to make them. We just have to be seen to make them. This translates, more or less, as “we have to throw some red meat to the cunts in the fan base.” And if you’d like to take the concept of cunt-appeasement as a metaphor for these complex geo-political times, please do.

Out of Fritzl's basement, but what happens next?

Match "report" by Show Me On The Doll Where This Man Fucked With Your Head
“Nonce-bastard-cunt-paedo I know where you fucking live me and the boys are coming round to fuck you up you slag!”
Mmm? Oh, just catching up with the facebook page.
What, you want an actual report? On today?
Oh all right then. Let’s do to metaphors what Nick Fandango does with choons in the Spitfire at the end of the season and mix them the fuck up. We’re in limbo. We’re out of Fritzl’s basement, unchained from Hamas’s radiators, on the aircraft to RAF Brize Norton waiting for the debrief and the awkward reunion bunk up with Jill Morell, but still wondering, like Morgan Freeman, if we’re going to make it on the outside.

The paranoia has gone. Volunteers aren’t being told to edit their reports or social media utterances because they sound too negative and the tweet police have stopped counting the likes accumulated by former managers using emojis to lethal affect. (Allegedly). All this is progress. There was even a purge on the facebook group, which was starting to make the Jeremy Kyle Show look like an audience with the Dalai Lama. It’s all coming out, painfully slowly, although Dawes’ interview with Radio Kent barely hinted at the fall out from earlier this season, with Nicky Southall probably saying more in a single, possibly accidental tweet. (There was nothing accidental about that post-Wheeler sacking tweet incidentally, the one that showed the players literally jumping with joy. It says absolutely everything that that came from the official club account).

I turned up wondering if I’d accidentally walked past a gang of the local fash threatening an MP, but it turned out they were wearing hi-viz clothing because they were stewards. Inside the ground the atmosphere was limper than a Gammon’s piece after a 12-hour round trip boozathon to Barrow. The team news was grim, with five players cup-tied, suspended or taken ill, in addition to Turgo, who will apparently be out for a “few more weeks.” Half the season, then?

As performances go this ranks as maybe three or four stars out of five on the “Rate My Shithouse” consumer guide. The goal was great, but for the rest of it we still look like a team wondering when the beatings are going to start again. Jack Richards, one of the released hostages, started for the first time since fuck knows when. Mister Freeze was back and Aryan somehow wasn’t suspended, but the bench was Walton, Strizo and three kids.

Even making allowances for the fact that we were playing without over half the first XI, it was worryingly even. JR dragged an early shot wide. Their player went down in the area in what was either the most sickening dive since Major went down on Edwina, or an absolute Peter Tatchell, depending on the single obscured view you got from a distance of at least 60 metres away. (I can imagine Radio Havant & Waterlooville having a#HotTake on it. Cunts.)

Then, a single bitof quality, as Muldo pinged the ball to the right flank. A bit of Paxmanship saw the ball laid into JR’s path and he drilled it home. Confidence soared for at least five minutes and then we regressed, cunting up an attack just before half-time through a lack of arsehole and allowing them to counter. How the fuck they didn’t score was a mystery but the second half was pretty grim and borderline Wheelerball at times. We had a couple of shots that went straight at the keeeeeeepaaaaah and Aryan yanked one wide, but the three best chances all fell to them and they cunted all three of them up. None of which mattered. We’ve won three in four and we’ll have half a dozen reinforcements back for Tuesday night’s 12-pointer with Maidenhead.

People are moaning about people moaning and we’re slowly returning to normal, or as normal as things can be when you’re on the chopper out of Saigon and wondering if you’ve enough fuel to make it to the aircraft carrier.

"Sharpen the femur and aim for the rubber dinghy"

Match "report" by Trained Gibbon Masquerading As A Media Officer
Do you really want a #HotTake on another fucking defeat, in another fucking Kent derby, this time to fucking Dover? Do you? Really Because I’m fucked if I do.

Here’s a summary. We lost because we tanked in the last 15 minutes. Up until then it was dead even but when Paxman went off we went back to Wheelerball and Dover couldn’t believe their luck. Their substitutions made them stronger, ours made us weaker. The goal was scored from an area George Mac might have been covering had he not had to go off at half-time and it had been coming. The response wasn’t good enough, not enough quality on the box and … yeah whatever. Who’s in the mood to pick over this shit?

The ex-Maidstone boys got a mixed response. Enduring love for TWM, a wanker chant for Acapulco, indifference to J’ai Raison and a cry of “you judas badge-kissing cunt” to Lewis, which allegedly provoked scenes of an 18-rated nature in the Undrinkable Real Ale Lounge. Cue outrage. How do things normally fan out when you call someone a judas badge-kissing cunt?

That said, what did people expect with Lewis? I didn’t get the adulation he was showered with when he played for us, I don’t get the derision he got on Boxing Day and this afternoon. Did everyone forget the play-off final? He was the kind of player who would do anything to help his team and that included cheating to win two penalties. When he left it was disappointing, but at least we’ll never have to hear that fucking song again. He was all right, but he was no Noel Ashford.

We’ll give you a proper #HotTake on the laughs of the last week in due course but for now let’s leave with this thought of peace and harmony. Over 3,000 turned up. This is some achievement and it included a remarkable 375 from Dover. They sang the “Maidstone’s a shithole, I wanna go home,” song which was just #bantz.

So in the same spirit of #bantz let’s say how great it was to see so many of them presumably making the most of their freedom of movement before their town is turned into a permanently gridlocked dystopia, where gangs of feral children use the sawn up rib cages of their dead parents to slash the throats of starving lorry drivers and where the amputated femurs of each first born child are carved into arrow-heads for the surviving natives to fire at any poor bastard who happens to be passing in a dinghy.

Now note how much work the phrasal verb “turned into” does in that sentence.

Cheers. Happy New Year.

Like administering a lethal dose of barbiturates

Match Report by Charlie Elphicke's Malfunctioning Frontal Lobe
Well here it is, Merry Xmas and not one single motherfucker is having fun. Did the two late goals against Gateshead keep him in a job, or was it just a question of timing? Did he, in fact, have anything to do with those goals, or were the players taking matters into their own hands? Is it true, as rumoured, that he thought he was getting sacked whatever happened at Woking and picked the team accordingly?

A game isn’t over at 3-1, but it is when a team gives up. With five minutes left at “The” Crabble a long ball drifted through to Dover keeeeepaaaaaahhh Mitch Walker. He controlled it and waited. No one came, so he waited a little longer. And a little longer, by which point even the home fans were feeling awkward. It was like the scene in The Office where David Brent asks the old crew if they fancy going for a drink and after an excruciating silence eventually Martin Freeman, played here by Jack Powell, agrees, out of sheer embarrassment.

Powell ran forward and at least forced the keeeeepaaaah to hoon it down field, although it made no actual difference. Dover won the ball back and we went down without a fight. Actually that isn’t fair: there were a handful of players who gave it a go: including Robinson who mullered himself in the act of scoring the opening goal and Worner who stopped it from being a cricket score.

Swaine on the other hand played like a man who'd left his brain in a chryo chamber for slightly too long as he leapt off the ground to lunge at Stewart Lewis with the score 3-1, picking up a fucking stupid red card. You can read too much into the allegation that he was laughing as he went off, but it’s not a strong look for a player who's just got himself suspended. (*UPDATE: having seen the Stones TV footage it looked like a genuine attempt to play the ball).

Wheeler cowered in the back of his dug out. As he had during the Gateshead match, when the players seemed to be doing it for themselves. He walked straight off at the end, ignoring the 300 fans who’d braved Stalag Luft Crabble Away End, Radio Kent, the Kent Messenger and the club’s own tv crew. He may last till Saturday if no one else is available but he’s a dead man walking. Before today I put his chances of successfully turning this around at around five percent. It now has to be close to zero. He’s been found out. There’s nothing there and the only good news is that it now, surely, has to be over.

Somehow we actually took the lead here. Lewis played an abattoir pass, Robbo stole in and poked it past the keeeeepaaaaaaah, who mullered the living shit out of his knee on the way through. Robbo had to go off, which didn’t help, but for the rest of the half Dover looked like the beatable, relegation-zone occupying team that they were. They looked like us in fact, hoofing the ball to the edge of the box and knocking it into the space where precisely no one was waiting for the second ball.

Romain missed a chance a make it 2-0 before half-time. Shields missed another a few minutes afterwards. “If” doesn’t butter any parsnips. On the hour they equalised, from a corner by Liz, who was the man-of-the-match and the best of a solid ex-Maidstone contingent, including J’ai Raison, another midfielder who’d easily get in this team.

From then on we just lay back and took it. They scored again, but the tactics didn’t change and as they only work when you somehow manage to shithouse a lead in any case, at 2-1 down they are absolutely fucking useless. They scored again and we threw in the towel. It was pitiful. Worner made a triple save and then Swaine made his lunge. The final whistle was delivered with the mercy of a vet taking a much-loved family pet into a backroom and administering a lethal dose of barbiturates. (Or maybe just a cricket bat to the skull, to save money. Get used to it.)

“I’m tired of all the moaning!”Oh yeah? Well, I’m tired of people moaning about people who are moaning. If you aren’t complaining about this you may as well be dead from the thorax upwards. You might be a member of a cult. You may be a cult.

The most pathetic sight of all was when Wheeler surfaced, after Dover had scored one of their goals, to tear into the fourth official for not allowing him to make a substitution. The fourth official was a woman. He ignored the male assistant referee two yards in front of him. We’ve already seen the management’s deflection strategies when they tried to blame the KM for “Messgate” but this was an even cheaper shot, as low as Mourinho when he tried to blame his physio.

Some of the players clapped the fans at the end. Some are trying. Some care.
People are saying we haven’t improved at all since he took over. In reality we’ve got significantly, drastically worse and if something doesn’t change we are unquestionably going down.

Kinnear? Please. MacMahon? Never thought I’d be saying this at the start of the season, but he’d do. Pennock? Yes, forget that tweet about the marzipan dildo, this is an emergency. Swallow a megatonne of pride and rehire Saunders? Obviously. Fuck it, get Bill back out there. Get Barry Watling out of the Britelite hospitality area. He might not have managed in 30 years, but how hard can it be? Matt Toms, Mal Watkins, Jason Lillis, Clive Walker. Even Graham Carr FFS. You could throw a lobotomised orang utan onto the bench and he’d struggle to do worse.

Merry Xmas.

"And in the end, you're completely alone with it all."

Match Report by Chris Grayling Makes A Bucket of Pig-Shit Look Like Albert Einstein
Let’s start with a niche reference, because we’re going to get to the depressing stuff soon enough. The last week reminded me of the scene in the Sopranos when Carmine Lupertazzi Junior is on the brink of brokering a truce between the New York and New Jersey mobs, only to say precisely the wrong thing at exactly the wrong moment and nearly reignite a war. Now if you get the reference that’s great and if you don’t that’s also great, although you should probably go away and watch (or stream! Hey, we’re with it!) the box set before reading any further.

Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, who didn’t enjoy Bill’s blog on Friday! It made me feel 17 again, which incidentally is the age I was when I can remember reading it the first time.  

“It feels a bit like Jim Thompson’s still in charge,” said someone who remembered the early 90s, when the tone of the club’s communications was always tetchy and it felt like the few hundred who turned up were always getting bollocked for the imagined crimes of the thousands that didn’t.

You have to wonder what JT would have made of Harry Wheeler. The press briefing declaring him as the non-league’s outstanding manager, followed by the dawning realisation that he had, not for the first time in his life, been sold a puppy. A period of agonising over whether he’d dropped a bollock and then the clinical dispatch, over a tearful lunch in a local brasserie perhaps. And all on the club account.

No, things aren’t that bad. This week we lost one of the men who helped us rebuild, Peter Overton, at the offensively young age of 43. He seldom played in front of crowds of over 400 very when he was a Maidstone player so seeing his name and picture on a giant electronic scoreboard was a slightly surreal feeling. So everything that follows comes with due acknowledgement that while we can all pile in and say how shit everything is, it’s nothing to whatever his family, friends and former team mates must be feeling.

Which brings us to the game, after delaying for as long as possible. Not bad for 25 minutes. We moved it about nicely, survived a couple of scares, the new signing was denied in a one-on-one. And then they fucking scored. A bastard of a goal it’s true, a great hit from long range but could someone have closed him down? Yeah, maybe, but this happens. Credit the forward, put that stat about not winning a game after trailing since August 2017 to the back of the mind. We’re still in it, right?

Well we were until they hit the second thunder cunt of the half about ten minutes later. Another great hit, this time lower and into the bottom corner. And this time the air flew out of the stadium, along with the composure and confidence. The team was booed off at half-time, which was inevitable. The football deteriorated, again and Gateshead just picked us off the third midway through the second half, pouncing on error. Does it matter who’s fault it was?

HW spent most of the half sat in his dug out, occasionally mustering some anger towards the fourth official and at one-point conversing with some of the people by the dug-out. Whether it was amicable or not was difficult to tell from the Elvis End, but there was an audible cry of “Wheeler Out!” from someone who couldn’t have been older than eight, followed by a chant of “We’re fucking shit!” from the gang of predominantly teenaged fans slightly to the east. Kids, eh!?

“Ooooh, you’re being so negative, stop moaning! Can’t you say anything positive?”

Well I’ll say one thing for this team, they certainly know how to flick the switch when down by three goals or more! A mini-revival occurred as Cozy came on and it belatedly dawned on us that attacking in numbers might be a good idea. Hell, we even put more than a couple of people in the box and, fuck my hat, Butch scored his second in as many games. George Mac, maybe the only player who looks like he’s improved in the last three months, scored a second and ... was duly subbed for Mister Freeze.

They started to worry and, hey, that seven-year-old certainly went quiet! Yet one last corner fell to Worner, who headed it well over the bar and that was it. Yet another home defeat, with the two-goal revival probably sparing HW a lynching, a sacking or both (although the night is young).

Wheeler is a manager of his time, sold on promises he shows no sign of being able to deliver. The number of believers is dwindling to almost zero and the equation gets more fraught by the week. Stick with him in the hope things get better, or act now before it’s too late? Admit you made a mistake and change your mind, or double down in the hope things won’t be as bad as they seem at first, second and 37th glance?

In September there were no outstanding candidates for this job. Now there are at least three managers available, sacked this season by Kent clubs alone, who are arguably likely to get more out of this squad, including the man he replaced.

“All due respect, you got no fucking idea what it's like to be Number One. Every decision you make affects every facet of every other fucking thing. It's too much to deal with, almost. And in the end you're completely alone with it all."
T. Soprano.

Merry Xmas.

Have some of THAT Mr Aguero Vinegar Strokes

Match Report by Nadine Dorries' Lobotomist
Enter the world's greatest broadcaster. A man with an aura. A man of gravitas. A man with a voice more suited to Shakespeare at the Globe than mere sports commentary. And what was his line for the ages?

“What a shit pitch!”

Was it #bantz? Or is he the rudest cunt ever to have set foot in the ground?

Let’s give Martin Tyler the benefit of the doubt and say it was just #bantz. If so, that’s great, it shows he has a sense of humour and it means he won’t mind if we call him a “poor man’s Tony Gubba” or a “Murdoch-rimming agent of Lucifer.” It’s fine, because it’s just #bantz you see. Hey, maybe his words were taken out of context. LOL! ROFL! LMFAO!

Good old Martin Tyler. Good old Aguero-vinegar-strokes Martin Tyler. On a night when the EPIAC was still mopping up the fall out from Clowngate he gave us all something to hate, a target for some rage. As grievances go it’s a fuck sight better than, “they wouldn’t let us rearrange the fixture.”

Yeah, what a shit pitch, but without it what would you have been doing last night? Sitting at home texting your “mates” during Leicester v Man City and wondering why none of them replied. “I know, I’ll give Smudger a ring …” Dials, hears clicking sound. "Oh, he must have it turned off...”

Good old Martin Tyler. “His commentaries will give you goosebumps!” Buboes more like. “Vaaaaardy! It’s 11! It’s heaven!” Because 11, right, rhymes, with “heaven,” yeah? Takes a special kind of genius to come up with that. Even Radio Havant &Waterlooville struggle to reach that standard. You see? It's just #bantz! #LovelyStuff

Christ, what an evening. The weather was absolute AIDS. Almost incessant rain and the wind howling in from the Tovil direction. The crowd was poor, the atmosphere flat and the away support negligible. We went with four centre-backs on the bench and none on the pitch, which has to be some kind of record, although in fairness Walton played in the middle of defence and didn’t do badly.

There were occasional outbreaks of football, amid the hoofing, because Woking left enough room for Shields to work with and these are, after all, not bad players, when you actually give them the chance to play. We went 1-0 up when he floated in a cross that looped into the net via a Sheringham-style back header from Iniesta 2. And we held the lead for five times as long as we did on Saturday, but just before the break Greg Luer, who it was easy to forget played for us last season, rolled the ball to their 11, who scored the kind of goal you don’t score on boggy, grass pitches in December. 1-1. Cunt it.

We stewed on that during the half-time interval and then a minor miracle happened as Jake Cassidy scored an actual goal, turning in a Wishart cross to make it 2-1 and restore peace and harmony to the stadium. It all went quiet. We wasted time. Their number 10 gave someone on the touchline a single-digit wave. Maybe it was just #bantz?

And then they fucking equalised. We give the ball away, the clearance falls straight to their sub and he fucking scores. From then on we looked like we were more likely to lose than win. It drifted to extra-time, Worner made a great, low-one-handed save in the first period and we hung in there until eventually Shields’ quality told. Maybe we should try and like, get the ball to him more often?

A little Cruyff like jink, a floated cross and a classic WDH thundercunt of a header and it was 3-2. After being on top for the best part of half an hour the goal psychologically maimed Woking and we probably should have scored again in the five minutes that remained, but never mind. We were good enough to beat Woking, after 210 minutes of football and as Harry Redknapp once said, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Or was that Gandhi?

Gandhi also said “a man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” This is, demonstrably, bollocks, but let’s not get into that right now. In the spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness, HW even did the post-match interview and while he could still do with a few tips from his assistant, at least it wasn’t excruciating.

Of course, if you want a real expert, Tyler’s your man. Grab him on the corridor and ask him how he manages to stay ahead of broadcasting titans like Champion and Drury. Will Sky pension him off before the circuits in his brain fail and his inner Scott Porter emerges as he says: “What a shit pitch!” during a live commentary from Wembley?

That’s just #bantz, Martin. Ho. Ho. Ho.
Cheers. Merry Christmas.

Trapped in a self-shat bed?
It's the Woking: Generic Preview Bollocks

A beleaguered blonde leader with a dodgy comb-over lies in a self-shat bed, trapped by his own bombast, his popularity tanking, wondering if there’s any way out and blaming everyone but himself. What a clusterfuck. What a shit-shower. But let’s put aside geo-political considerations for a moment (what, too subtle?) and reflect on the current state of that most powerful force for humanity in the western hemisphere, Maidstone United.

Christ, what a week ladies and gentlemen.

Isn’t great so many people care about us? Isn’t it great we have the pulling power to cause a social media meltdown? Isn’t it great that the numbers of people who give a shit are now into the thousands?

Want a facile, generic anniversary comparison to lend some perspective? On the equivalent weekend a decade ago we were freezing our tits off at Canvey Island in front of 316 people, shithousing a 1-0 win thanks to a Roland Edge free-kick that caught both the wind and the keeeepaaaaahhhh off guard.

This festival of “giving a shit” couldn’t have happened without the men who built the ground. The owners are literally the reason you’re reading this. They’re also human and all humans drop bollocks every now and again.

They don't drop many, but there's a strong chance that the question being asked in that boardroom right now is: Have we dropped a bollock? Or it might be: Just how big a bollock have we dropped? And from what height? What is the splatter rage? Was the bollock dropped in the summer? If so by whom? Or was it in September? Are we in fact struggling to move because of all the dropped bollocks, rolling around JWW like rabbit droppings in the bottom of a can, or is the just a gigantic over-reaction to an innocuous interview?

The conventional wisdom about HW is that he “talks a good game.” He’d probably sound good in the middle of a round of interviews conducted with uninspiring candidates with chequered cvs. He sounded convincing when he was unveiled and he was similarly plausible in the corporate videos.
And yet this week we witnessed the biggest car crash of an interview with any Maidstone manager since 1991, when Graham Carr accused the fans of being “amateurs” at a professional club and what was left of the fan base came to the conclusion that Carr was a top arsehole.

Well, Carr was a top arsehole, in the Iain Duncan Smith class. Almost everyone hated him and one of his few defenders later told me this was because he had a “misunderstood sense of humour,” one he evidently bequeathed to his side-splittingly hilarious son. Yet even Carr had the sense to make his remarks a couple of decades before social media was invented (try not to overthink that one) and he was usually sensible enough to avoid slating his own players.

Wheeler, in two sentences, has managed to alienate almost the entire fan base, the previous players and management and a number of players who he’s still nominally in charge of.

“I think you see probably by the amount of players that went out to teams in the league below and they’re now not playing. I think that gives you an idea. The majority that went out are now not playing or clubs are asking to send them back, so you see what a mess it was in.”

Who does he mean? Loza, who just scored a hat-trick for Woking? Wynter and Coker at Dartford? Efete at Bath? Richards, injured at Tonbridge and back as ballast for the bench so we allegedly don't look too Mickey Mouse for the BBC cameras?

Imagine being a past or present player reading that. The first reaction has to be: “Has he just called me a cunt?”
You don’t want to overreact, so you read it again. “Yeah, I think he’s just called me a cunt!”
You text your erstwhile team mates. “I think he just called me a cunt!”
You DM your old manager? “Did he call you a cunt too?!”
You snapchat your mate who’s out on loan. “He just called me a cunt!”
You think about putting something on social media. You type out the words: “Has he just called me a cunt?” but you think about the fine and end up deleting it. Probably sensible.
Someone else can start it. Someone who won’t get fined.

Enter The Brave Brit, putting his virtual head where others won’t put their virtual feet. The pile on starts with a quote about leaders taking more than their share of the blame when things go wrong and less than their share of the credit when they go right. Too subtle?

BOOM, Dawes goes in with one word and a clown emoji. He’s barely said a word in public since getting mutually consented out of a job, but in just nine characters he sets off a chain reaction. Player after player hits the like button. Reece “The Guvnor” Prestedge, released in the summer remember, defends the man who was in charge at the time. Even Seth, known to be one of the nicest human beings alive, seems stunned. Nicky Southall joins in, with a Tweet about Freddie Mercury writing a son called: “The Great Pretender.” Technically this is untrue, he covered a song made famous by the Platters and written by their manager Buck Ram, but you got the point. I made the mistake of listening to the Roy Orbison version and thought, Christ … a great song, but overwhelmingly sad.

Are we all piling in too quickly? He might just be a young man struggling to cope in an unforgiving industry. And yet like another beleaguered leader in a self-shat bed, he’s in a position where no matter what happens tomorrow, he’s damaged.

I keep reading that the squad is fitter. If that's true, why do we make so little impact in the final 15 minutes? Since September we've scored three goals in the final quarter of an hour, if you disregard goals scored when we were already down by three goals. We've retrieved a single point from a losing position. The man from The Daily Express waded in with a stat: Goals scored by players signed = 3. Goals scored by players released = 9. You're in trouble when you're on wrong end of a twitroast from a news organisation that lives off dead princesses and abducted toddlers.

Are things really going against us? Well the Romain red card at Havant was a joke, the same player had a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out against Eastleigh when it was 0-0 and Barrow got away with playing rugby. Against that the winner at Braintree was the result of a “charitable” decision in injury time and we rode our luck at Aldershot. We might be a point or two down on where we should be, but that’s all.

Then there's the question of motivation. Treating every opponent like a "top, top" opponent.

“I’m not going to lie to you, our focus is fully on the league but it’s something we want to do well in and it will be a nice break for us.”
You can't imagine Russell Crowe yelling that on a hillside any time soon. It's a bit Allardyceian, but then we had that after the Oldham game.

Here's an opinion, and that's all it is. In an industry like this, after an interview like that, he's lucky he's got a chance to redeem himself tomorrow. Now would be a seriously good time to start that winning run we need.

Otherwise, as Woking's most famous son nearly sang, you've shat the bed, you'd better lie in it.

Zinger-free, fence-sitting match reportage

Match Report by Joss Ackland's Spunky Backpack
During periodic spasms of boredom I’ll go to the archive, select a random year, see if we had a match that day and if we did, read the report. It’s fine, it passes the time and more often than not it gives a pleasant feeling of nostalgia, which is harmless as long as you don’t fall into the trap of thinking everything was better 16 years ago.

On Friday it was the 2002-03 season and the anniversary a Kent Senior Trophy tie with Crockenhill at Bourne Park. The official gate was 265 but in reality it was almost doubled by a contingent from one of the Vinters clubs. We won 6-0, everyone seemed to have a good time and it’s probable that a fair chunk of those present were also there yesterday. A pre-match conversation with a fellow veteran of that era went as follows: “Is there any part of you that misses those days?” And the answer was,with the single caveat that you at least knew you’d get an uninterrupted view, an emphatic “no.”

Ten years after reforming,2002-03 still felt ground zero, even though we were the featured club on Football Focus’s Road to Wembley. Saturday was a/an (delete according to which century you live in) historic occasion for a number of reasons. The first FA Cup second round tie to take place in Maidstone since 1987 (Kidderminster Harriers). The biggest crowd for a competitive game at this venue. The first time a 3pm kick-off has been broadcast internationally, from Maidstone and the first time we’ve actually hosted Football Focus, which I don’t normally bother with, but is pretty inoffensive when compared with the titanic robo-wank that appears on Sky and the cervical smear test that is “Premier League World” on BT. And Dan Walker might not be Des Lynam, but he’s not a massive arsehole and as this is 2018, the epitaph “not a massive arsehole” is almost something to aspire to.

It was slick,professionally managed and gave a great account of the club to the outside world. Oldham fans were impressed, saying it was better organised than many league clubs. And then we kicked off and the hope slowly flickered to nothing.

It was fairly even until they scored their first goal, a tap-in after the ball was knocked back into the danger area from the byline. From then on it was a struggle and we were reduced to hoping we’d shithouse something from a set piece. Given how fucking terrible some of these were it was no surprise that didn’t happen. Romain did astoundingly well to create a chance for himself out of fuck all when he made a yard of space and eluded four defenders, but the angle was against him and the keeeeepaaaah blocked his shot

The second goal, six minutes from time, illustrated a lot of what’s wrong with our current approach. Cassidy, supposedly a striker, was playing so deep he ended up bailing out the defence by dropping back to make a clearance. Unfortunately he was so deep he played Oldham’s attacker onside and they scored via a deflection off Sir Tom. It says something about the level of expectation that a groan went up when five minutes of Sir Alex time was signalled. It had become an ordeal to be endured instead of a great occasion. Iniesta 2 actually went close in the added time and Muldoon came on and hit the bar from about 35 yards out with the last kick, but something weird is happening.

In the space of seven days, one hour and 55 minutes that elapsed between kick-off at Havant and the final whistle v Oldham, the reasonable optimism generated by the Wrexham draw has vanished. Terms like “clown” are being chucked around. People are already openly questioning HW’s position. Some of the criticism isn’t justified. Saying get rid of HW now before he“destroys the club” is an overreaction: we’re built to withstand a bad managerial appointment or relegation and it’s too early to say this will end as either. With the cup-tied players available we should be a different proposition.

On the other hand,the critics aren’t the usual nutters. It’s interesting how few people are willing to jump in to defend him and as premature as it may seem, he’s invited some of this pressure. Saying we maybe need to be even more direct invited incredulity because the football,frankly, is fucking awful to watch at the moment. We used to, quite regularly, boot the ball up field for the big man, Jay May, Joe Pigott, Delano etc. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but there was at least someone up there and someone playing off him for the knock-downs. Now we’re playing in a rugby style, sometimes lumping it to an area where none of our players are near, kicking for touch and trying to pin them in the corners. You can just about get away with this when you win. It worked at Barnet and to an extent at Gravesend, but it’s grim enough to watch so if you’re Romain,running for 90 minutes while almost permanently marked by at least two players, it must be bloody awful to play. And we have scored the odd goal in the past through little “ticky-tacky” passes.  

There are other things. We used to get “mugged off” because we weren’t streetwise enough with referees. Now there’s a risk we’re goingtoo far the other way. Players are getting deserved bookings for stupid fouls, shoving their opponents in areas of the pitch where there’s no need to. It’s already costing us in terms of suspensions and do we really want to cultivate a reputation as a pack of Hendon-style arseholes?

The manager in 2002-03 was Jim Ward, who knew how to deal with fans, reporters and a chairman who had previous for sacking managers at half-time. This bought him time when things weren’t going well. He was working at Kent League level, but it’s easy to forget, when Football Focus is beamed live from the Spitfire, that this is still a non-league club, where people feel they have a direct connection with the owners, managers and players.

HW comes across as someone who’s already managing a league club. When a manager says he’d take a league win at Barrow over a cup win over Oldham, the first reaction is, really? You’d swap the chance to play a top-flight side and with it the chance to generate enough money to potentially fund a squad that would comfortably keep us up and make a promotion push next season, for three points in front of 100 away fans at Barrow?

The second reaction is: if that’s the case then you’d better beat Barrow.