Try Not To Remember The Wombles

It’s all a blur, after Tuesday night’s late drama and another loss, we are at home again, this time to AFC Wimbledon. A team that were fierce rivals in the seasons leading up to Crawley and Wimbledon getting promoted to the football league. Since that first season in the league this is only the third season we have been in the same league, and the last time we played Wimbledon in the league was back in the 2015-16 season. We did play them in the 2020-21 FA Cup second round where we came out 2-1 winners.

We go into the game 22nd in the league after just the single point in the first four games. Wimbledon start the day in the same position we finished the league in last season – 12th. They’ve won one, lost one and drawn two of their four games so far.

It had been a sunny morning, which I spent in the library promoting our creative writing group, and it was a trek down to the ground with a big rucksack, but it had become overcast by the time I was walking down.

The new home strip went on sale today, somewhat amusingly to me out the back of the kit man’s van. Now, if we’d have known that we would have pestered him for some when he was parked outside the Crowne Plaza last Friday night in Harrogate. The kit is by Adidas this year and not Errea (the Italian for two sizes smaller than the label says), so the sizes might be a better fit. Despite getting to the ground quite early, they had already sold out of fat git sizes. I tried an XL on, but it would be a choice of wearing the shirt or breathing, there is no way both are happening at the same time.

That said, I was in plenty of time to get a programme before they all went to the hordes of Wimbledon fans that were streaming to the ground as well, learning from the mistakes of last season where I didn’t manage to get programmes for the Swindon and Sutton games from getting there just before kick-off. I also saw Al doing some work outside the ground before the game, helping some random who was walking around with one of last season’s shirts on a hanger from the supposedly closed club shop.

I found it a disappointment that Wimbledon, in blue kit with yellow trim, had no Bulgarian players, or even any Great Uncles. I was also hoping that they would be playing rubbish. In fact, Crawley were playing the most womble like name, not quite Tobermory, but we did have Toby Omole starting. Plus, we were trying the usual triangle shaped passing routines, as if around an imaginary Toblerone.

The programmes may have a lot of small print in them, but who the hell is doing the proof reading of the large print? Stevie Wonder or Helen Keller? Tuesday night’s programme had the quiz on Northampton Town, but with a header of Leyton Orient Quiz. Today’s programme had three to watch, and they were all Wimbledon players, under the heading Northampton Town. And the classic match was out aforementioned 2020 FA Cup win over Wimbledon, which was headed AFC Wimbledon 2 Crawley Town 1, when the score was the other way around. It really is basic stuff.

There is a lot of away support, and the whole of the away terrace is packed, all the way around. Definitely the fullest I’ve ever seen it. (Many years ago, before I became a Crawley supporter, I was in that away stand with twenty-three Southport fans, times change.) Meanwhile in the home terrace there is an inflatable bouncing around the fans. But being Crawley, it isn’t a bouncy ball, but a blow-up doll in the hands and knees position.

That continues bouncing around until the fourteenth minute when Wimbledon’s number seven goes into the area without really being challenged and from a very tight angle manages to squeeze the ball into the net and give Wimbledon the lead. 0-1.

We aren’t playing great, an example of which comes just before the half hour mark. Powell goes to try and win a header in midfield, overshoots where the ball is coming down by two yards, jumps, misses it by miles and falls over on landing, and tries to claim a foul from the invisible player next to him. It is not a stellar performance from our number eight, the only thing he is doing better than anyone else is whinging at the referee.

It had been a quite subdued performance through to the half hour mark, as if the players had something else on their minds, or they were Ful of Ham? The longer the half goes on, the tastier the challenges are getting, and there are a couple of yellow cards out.

There was a brief chant of Super Tommy Nichols, to which I’m wondering that seeing as we are playing Wimbledon, should it have been Super Tomsk Nichols?

The fourth official puts up the board for two minutes of injury time, and no sooner does that happen then there is a free kick awarded to Wimbledon on the edge of the area. Their number 7 was already on his way down when Craig went in with a challenge. The ref bought it, gave a free kick, and booker Craig into the process as well. And just like the free kick Northampton had on Tuesday night from the other side of the area, this one just floated over the wall and into the net without the keeper getting anywhere near it, the Wimbledon number 11 making it 0-2, and pretty much straight after the half time whistle goes.

You know what usually goes here, but only half of the usual happened today, yes it was the same playlist again, but the Crawley players were not out late, they were sent out early to warm up, as it would appear Kevin Betsy was not happy with the first half performance. A message reinforced when they announced three half time substitutes. The way things had been going and the crowd’s feeling were summed up when, what turned out to be the loudest cheer of the match, came when the second of the substitutions was announced as Powell being hooked. Not a good sign. In fact, there were so many misplaced passes that you have to wonder if he was wearing Wellington boots.

There is an improvement in play with the changes, but ten minutes into the second half Wimbledon’s answer to Tom Daley, their number seven is chasing a ball, runs into the back of Craig and falls over. The game carries on, only for the referee to blow his whistle thirty seconds later, give a free kick and a yellow card to Craig, which meant a red, and we were down to ten men. It is yet another ridiculous decision in a season of them. Stop defecating on the officials pre match meal. FFS.

The games carries on and it is pretty even despite us only having ten men, but Wimbledon players are going to ground with the slightest touch, as if they know they’ll get a free kick. Meanwhile for Crawley to get a free kick it requires a WWE style throw to the ground, and even that took a bit of time to give.

It is all a bit wishy washy since we went down to ten men. There are five minutes of normal time left and it is looking like there is the start of a fire drill from the Crawley fans.

The Wimbledon fans were cheering passes towards the end, although I’m sure they were shouting Cholet and not Ole. They have also been passing into the channels (islands – Alderney in particular) all game. In fact, they were definitely in the (Orinoco) flow. There was no sign of them having Bungo playing, although there were many signs of Crawley having Bungle playing for them.

In the last minute of normal time, we get a free kick on the far edge of the penalty area as Nadesan gets kicked in the head. Still not enough to get a Wimbledon player a yellow card. The shot by Tilley is well saved, and there is a corner, and another shot which missed. It is the best period of pressure Crawley have had in the game. There are three minutes of injury time, and there are a couple of more corners, but the final whistle goes, and it is a loss. 0-2.

The PA starts up, and of course it is ‘Boys Don’t Cry.” Again. Stop it. It might have been funny in the six months after the single was released in 1979, but the joke is so old and worn so thin it wouldn’t even be any good as net curtains.

The crowd was announced as 3,890 with 1,352 away fans, so over two and a half thousand Crawley fans, which is good. It was telling however that there was no announcement of the Crawley man of the match, and that the players didn’t make their way over to the east stand to clap the fans, and only a cursory clap to the terrace and west stand.

It doesn’t bode well. Let’s see how much the players are up for the Carabao Cup game against Premier League Fulham on Tuesday. It is due to be another bumper crowd.

And yes, I did manager to shoehorn all eight of the main Wombles characters into this write up.

Come on you reds.

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