So, how did the first season as a Crawley Town supporter go then? Well, it would appear that my pre season predictions were a tad on the optimistic side. Crawley managed to scrape into the top half of the table on a very similar number of points to the previous season. However, the cup competitions were woeful. First round exits in both the Carabao and FA cups, and we were out at the group stage of the Papa John’s trophy (which appeared to have lost the Papa John name somewhere during the season). Bottom of the group, but consistent throughout. Three 4-0 losses and the worst record of any team in the competition.
It was a strange season. Crawley struggled for home form most of the season. Their away form was up there with the best in the division, but only those scrapping against relegation had worse home form.
And talking about relegation bound sides, we managed only three points in four games against the two of them. Losing away and drawing at home with Scunthorpe United, those four points being a sixth of their total points for the season. And home and away draws with Oldham Athletic, 2-2 at home and 3-3 away on the last day of the season. That being the second time in the season where we had scored three goals in an away game and failed to win. An early season 6-3 whupping away to eventual champions Forest Green Rovers being the other.
Speaking of the champions we did manager to beat them at home. A result which came during the only season improvement in home from. Our form did improve overall towards the end of the season and with four games left to play we were top of the current form guide in the division. Only to fail to win any of those last four games.
Back in the ‘spoiled bastards’ league the ‘fans’ are still whinging about VAR. What we would have given for VAR at the People’s Pension Stadium this year. John Yems bombastic style wasn’t an official’s favourite, and there were plenty of bizarre and outright anti Crawley decisions during the year. The final home game putting the icing on a very nasty tasting cake. A goal not given when the ball’s a yard over the line, and a ten yard offside not being given for the second away goal of the game deep into stoppage time. The level of officiating at this level is shocking.
Four sending’s off from the bench during the season doesn’t really help matters. And nor does the dickhead behaviour from some of the crowd, especially those in the Ryan Cantor Club Stand terraces.
During the season we had the game stopped, and tannoy announcements made due to racial abuse. Game stopped as they were pelting the away keeper with coins. Game stopped as they’d thrown a flare onto the pitch. Oh, and with a stoppage because the sprinklers came on ten minutes into the second half of a game, I’m sure we were written up and fined numerous times during the season, and picked up a reputation along the way.
Racism raised its ugly head at various points during the season. Early games saw a group of pre-teen screecher monkeys sat behind us, and they were full of it. Calling both opponents and our own black players names was unacceptable. Plus, they were chanting ‘Kwesi Appiah get out of our club’, something which even they must have been grateful he didn’t do. They moved after the third game, probably to the Ryan Cantor Club stand where they would have been more at home.
Then late in the season, just after the takeover of the club by crypto currency backed WAGMI, allegations were made against the manager John Yems, first highlighted in the Daily Fail, and still under investigation by the FA. The club and manager have parted company ‘by mutual agreement’. I doubt if it was either mutual or had much agreement in it.
It is also worrying to notice just how much crypto currency has devalued since the takeover. Surely both of these are only a coincidence.
I think it is fair to say that both Helen and I have thoroughly enjoyed being season ticket holders, and we plan to be next season as well. There is even talk of going to the occasional away game.
It didn’t take as long to get into it as I thought it might, and the chants were easy enough to pick up, and player recognition was quicker than expected. We could just do without the stress when Crawley seem to ease off at the eighty-minute mark of the game and it suddenly becomes like the fucking Alamo by our goal.
I would also question some of our tactics during the season. There was a long phase of hoofed balls. The ball spent a lot of time in the air and there was a lot of head tennis in the middle of the park. Which is fine when you have a tall, well built team to contest such things. But for a lot of games it was like watching hobbits versus giants out there. Just why? We play some decent stuff on the ground.
If we could find a really speedy striker, some of the balls behind the opponents’ defence would reap us lots of one on ones with the keeper, and if they could also shoot, we could get a load more goals. I hope that off season training concentrates on crossing and shooting practice, as out final ball in is dire most of the time, and there is a crazy lack of desire to take a shot, instead fannying about with an extra ten passes. Or the shot being powderpuff. So frustrating when the build-up has been good.
End of Season Awards.
Player of the year – runner up number two.
Kwesi Appiah. He pretty much single-handedly made a top half finish possible with his goals giving us points in October and November when no one else in the team could hit a cow’s arse with a banjo, let alone score. If not for the periods out due to injury he might have sneaked the best player award.
Runner up number one.
Glenn Morris. Lots of saves. He kept us in a lot of games, and kept us in the lead no end all season. But he does worry the hell out of Helen every game when he wanders out to the centre circle whilst we are attacking.
Joel Lynch. He’s been a rock at the back all season, has scored a couple of important goals, and was also good going forward, being instrumental in starting attacks. There was only the dubious sending off against the Port Vale thugs as a downside.
Can only be the age old and very infantile “Oooooooooooohhhhhhh, you’re shit aaaaaahhhhh!” every time the opposing keeper takes a goal kick or free kick. Never fails to make Helen laugh.
Least Favourite Chant
Any of the away fan taunting ones that come out when we are leading at home. (“2-0 on your big day out”, “Can we play you every week”, “We forgot that you were here”, etc.) As they invariably lead to their team’s comeback.
Best One-Off Chant
“Pull Your Shorts Down”. Not something you expect to hear at a game, and aimed at a Forest Green Rovers full back who had some very eighties style short shorts action going on.
Best Home Performance
The win against the aforementioned Forest Green Rovers. Everything good the team could do encapsulated into about seventy-five minutes. (The first five and last ten was the usual watch through fingers fare.)
Worst Home Performance
The tepid draw against Scunthorpe United. There were a few performances in contention, but this one, a week before their relegation was confirmed summed it up perfectly.
Trevor Kettle. Bizarre decisions, and lazy as fuck. In one game when the sun was out, he didn’t move out of the small area of shade provided from the Mayo Wynne Baxter Stand for the whole game. Let the Port Vale thugs get away with murder, sent off Joel Lynch for an off the ball incident he didn’t see and that none of his officials could have done either. After a foul throw, gave it back to the same team to take again.
It waited until the last home game of the season. The ball was clearly over the line, a yard or so, but Stevie Wonder as the far side lino waved it away as not in. Think Pedro Mendes at Old Trafford, but more obvious. The officials had wisely retreated to the safety of their dressing rooms by the time the replay came up on the big screen post-match.
Most Needed Change – On Pitch
Stop high and / or long balls when we’ve got a line up made of hobbit heighted players, and don’t have anyone with out and out pace to beat the defenders.
Most Needed Change – Off Pitch
The DJ. Or at least buy him some new songs. Yes, The Cure are from Crawley. No, “Boys Don’t Cry” playing after we lose isn’t funny.
Al. had to find a way to shoe him in to this somehow.
The new season is only two months away. Let’s get a manager hired sooner rather than later, get the shooting and crossing issues sorted, and let’s make a good start next season.
Come on you Reds.