Come From Milton Keynes

Wasn’t quite The Style Council song title, but, as it’s a home game, Milton Keynes must come to us instead.

It’s been nearly five years since the Milton Keynes Dons last played here, and that did not end well for us, with them running out 4-0 winners.

We go into game three of the season in sixth place, one of nine unbeaten teams in the division so far. The MK Dons are top after two games and one of three teams with 100% records.

Since our home game on the opening day of the season we have had two away games. The first was in the Carabao Cup against League One Exeter City. We took a first half lead with a much-changed side from our opening day win. But Exeter came back with two second half goals to knock us out 1-2. There will be no Carabao Cup run this season for us.

Then at the weekend we were away at Salford City, who had also won their first game of the season. Again, we took a first half lead, and an excellent first half saw us hit the woodwork four times, but we were unable to extend the lead as our play deserved. And two minutes after half time Salford equalised, and the game finished as a 1-1 draw.

It was a decent away point against one of last season’s play-off teams. In fact, four points from our first two games, both of them against last season’s play-off teams – and teams tipped to be there again this season – is a great start. It took us eight games to get four points last season.

In the last few days Joel Lynch has left the club by ‘mutual consent.’ (As someone who works in HR, this is a term used to cover a whole multitude of sins.) and he’s very nearly the last man out (only three left now) since WAGMI’s takeover. The last couple of months have reminded me of lyrics in New Model Army’s ‘Green And Grey’ – “And tomorrow brings another train, another young brave steals away.”

And speaking of WAGMI, all may not be well in the crypto clown’s world, several posts have been seen showing unrest against the very NFT buying crowd they were so proud of this time last year, with their communications with investors something akin to the communications they have had with the fans.

Tuesday nights are always a bit of a rush to get back from work, eat, and get back to the ground for the game. Especially as I like to be a bit early. Not to get a programme this season (yes, I might have lied about now mentioning it again last time out), but I am early so I can find Steve Leake and get a copy of his third book from him – ‘Tinpot And Proud.’

But I was too late to find him in Redz bar, but fortunately did see him as I walked past the end of the terrace and got my copy.

The MK Dons have a reasonable number of fans for a Tuesday night away game. The team are in all white kits, and after a bit of fannying around the ref blows for kick-off a couple of minutes late. The good thing about early season games is its still daylight at kick off, it doesn’t feel as overbearing.

The first ten minutes of the game are quite cagey, some decent possession play but not much cutting edge. But then the game springs to life, certainly from a Crawley perspective, Kellen Gordon breaks down the right into the box, and his cross is blocked, and Will Wright’s follow up shot blazes over the top of the KRL Logistics away terrace, and probably puts a dent in the away fans’ double decker coach.

And again, a couple of minutes later, another cross from Gordon comes to Liam Kelly on the edge of the box and his shot is just tipped over the bar for a corner. Which is cleared, but the ball is pumped into the box and there are half-hearted appeals for a penalty as a man goes down, but they are waved away.

A few minutes later and there is good play down the left wing, Danilo Orsi gets the ball and holds it up and passes to Kelly, who pings a ball into the box that Nick Tsaroulla gets on the end of. He takes his time and puts the ball in the top corner for 1-0.

Not long after we get another corner. It is certainly noticeable that the players aren’t scared to take a shot like they were last season. It is good to see, after screaming ourselves hoarse last season for the players to shoot. Five minutes later we nearly lose ball two over the west stand, but it hits the stanchion of the middle floodlight and bounces back on the pitch.

A poor pass out of defence is intercepted, and suddenly MK have a two on one, they fashion a shot which Corey Addai gets something on, but it trickles past him slowly and agonisingly into the back of the net and it is 1-1.

Crawley go straight up the other end and get a corner, there is a bit of a scramble in the box from it, and the ball is hacked clear off the line, only for it to be put back in and for MK to win it and break and get a corner of their own, followed by a shot on target.

The last five minutes of the half see two misfired shots over the Eden Utilities stand, and another out over the west stand, also from a MK boot. The multi-ball system implemented for this season is keeping the game flowing though compared to previous years where they would have to dig a ball out of a vault somewhere to get things started again. Someone is too efficient at chucking the balls back over the Eden Utilities stand and we end up with multi-ball on the pitch as well. We find out the blokes who sit behind us and slope off to the bar just before half time were responsible for chucking the second of them back over and onto the pitch.

There are only two minutes of added time at the end of the first half. And we think we are through on goal only for the ref to pull it back and penalise Dom Telford for a foul when he was the one thrown to the ground.

The half time whistle goes, and it is 1-1, and the club turn the sprinklers on at the exact moment the officials and the head steward are walking under their trajectory. That gets nearly as big a cheer as when the MK player just fell over his own feet with no one within ten yards of him. It’s good to see (well, hear) there is different music at half time again.

The second half is only two minutes old when Gordon picks up an injury and needs to be substituted. We are having a decent amount of good, patient possession. And one move ends with a Tsaroulla shot being tipped round the post for a corner. From the corner it is played out up the wing, but some neat play sees the ball played through to Orsi and he slots it into the corner to make it 2-1. I start my own chant.

Ay ay ay ay Orsi.

Ay ay ay ay Orsi.

Ay ay ay ay Orsi.

Scoring goals again.

No one else joins in.

Twenty minutes into the half and we get a free kick out on the right-hand side, the ball is whipped in by Wright and Orsi’s header hits the bar, and the follow up shot is blocked.

There is a bit of a lull, but we pick up again a few minutes later with a decent spell of pressure, corner, long throw into the box, another corner. MK then have a bit of pressure, but we break and have another good attack which ends with a shot from Adam Campbell which goes just wide.

I moaned about Bradford being desperate and bringing on a whole county against us as a sub in Derbyshire, but MK went one step further and brought on a whole country when they brought on their sub Holland (yes, I do know the correct name for the country in the Netherlands).

We have a breakaway and Klaidi Lolos looks to shoot but passes it across to Orsi whose shot takes a deflection and is saved.

The crowd is announced as 3,282, with 505 away fans, which is only forty-nine less than at the first home game of the season, which seemed a lot more crowded than this game did. The sponsor’s man of the match was announced as Danili Orsi, which I can’t disagree with. It seems the sponsor’s might actually be watching the games this season. And there are seven minutes of second half added time.

It’s a bit nervy, but we don’t really look like conceding, but when one of the MK players goes down in the penalty area there is a sharp intake of breath, but the ref waves play on.

A long ball comes down with snow on it, but Campbell takes it down brilliantly on the edge of the MK area, and his shot just creeps wide.

The final whistle goes, and it is a 2-1 win. There is a little bit of handbags after the final whistle from one of the MK players, but it calms down soon enough. And there is something else playing apart from the Black Eyed Peas. Expanding horizons and all that.

We knew a win would leapfrog us over our opponents, but it has done more than that. We are up to third in the table, just behind Barrow on goals scored, and two points off the leaders Gillingham who picked up their third 1-0 win of the season, and the second on the trot with a Nadesan goal assisted by Nichols. And we play them at home this coming Saturday. I’m sure not many people would have had that down as a top of the table clash at this point in the season. Crawley are in the automatic promotion places. Who would have thought it.

Come on you reds.

Portslade Station Can Do One

Because I refuse to drive the hire car for both my own safety and blood pressure, and for the sake of all other road users out there, I got the train to work today (last Thursday now).

The train down isn’t too bad, change at Brighton, and with a reduced timetable due to strike action, there wasn’t the usual step foot off the train from Three Bridges to watch the one going through Portslade just pulling out from platform one. Though as usual the ticket wouldn’t work at one end, the Three Bridges end this time.

It let me out (this time) at Portslade station. I’m not a fan of Portslade station as a whole. It’s lay out is just fucked up. It would be great if there was a gate into work from the far end of the platform, but I know that one is a pipe dream. But they have barriers and a ticket office in the building you go through to the south bound platform. But there is no ticket machine in there.

To pick up pre-ordered tickets you have to find the ticket machine. It is outside, well away from the ticket office – which makes no sense to anyone – and is out in the elements, so you either get soaked, or you can’t see the screen as the sun is always on it. it’s a stupid layout.

But not as stupid as the platform on the other side is. On the south side you enter/exit through the building. On the north side you are drawn to the building, the path leads there, and there are steps up and a handrail, but it is only a bicycle store. If you get there and find that out you have missed the only entrance to the platform, a ramp up behind more bicycle stands. Once up the ramp, the barriers are in a position where if they were any further west, you would be on Boundary Road. And at a point where you are not in line with a train.

So, I wasted thirty seconds going to the wrong ‘entrance,’ and then the barriers forced me away from the train on the platform. I scuttle to the rear door and press the button, but the door doesn’t open, and I carry on scuttling to the next door, which doesn’t open either. I can see other doors further up the train that are still open, but they are too far for me to scuttle to to get on, and they close, and the train goes without me.

And then the next one isn’t for another forty minutes.


If you are going to have a cock eyed lay out of a station, put clearer signs up and don’t have the main path leading to a building if you can’t get through that building.


I Could Have Been The Bantamweight Champion Of The World

Apologies to Reverend And The Makers of course, and in reality, I could never have been a bantamweight, as the only time I was ever that weight I was far too young to be boxing professionally.

Here it is, the new season is here. It is the first time our first league game of the season has been at home for exactly six years since the 5th of August 2017. Since then, our first game has been away, at Cheltenham, Carlisle, Port Vale, Hartlepool, and Carlise again, and we lost all of those apart from the Cheltenham game.

We are playing Bradford City (hence the bantamweight reference). Our two games against Bradford last season were both draws. 1-1 away in October in the midst of a five-game unbeaten run, our equal longest run of such of the season. Then on Good Friday it was 0-0 at home, just after our other five game unbeaten streak, but sandwiched between 4-1 and 4-0 away whuppings at Mansfield and Barrow. Apart from scraping a draw against the promotion chasing Bradford team, the biggest surprise of the day was it took until the eighty-seventh minute for one of them to get sent off, as they’d been sent out with the instruction to kick anything that moved apart from the ball.

Going into the game we are a very healthy sixth in the table, on the same points as Bradford and only two places behind them. I for one would be happy to take the table at this point and move straight to the playoff games against Colchester. And always worth a screen shot of table with us so high up in it.

The new home kits went on sale at 10am this morning, and for the first 500 kits it came with the option of an arm badge of our new sleeve sponsors Brick Borrow. They are something to do with Lego, and not as I had assumed something related to the government’s house building policy.

The first question for me today was how early to get to the ground? I don’t have programmes to worry about now. As missing out on them at a few games last season due to last minute arrival meant I was usually at the ground before two and waiting for the turnstiles to open. So that early is only required if I’m going to do the new season, new shirt rush, and to have a wander around and see what changes have been made to the Fanzone and elsewhere. And check out the food and drink outlets. As long as they haven’t replaced Pepsi with the evil empire of Coke, I’ll be fine. (I’m not fine, they have done exactly that, so I need to remember to get drinks before getting to the ground from now on.)

As it was the weather making the decision, no one needs to be out extra early in that kind of torrential downpour.

My new season preview may only have been done two days ago, but we have two new signings since then. One on loan from Charlton, and a year contract for ‘an experienced’ striker, who appears to have had more clubs than Tiger Woods, and joins us from non-league. Good luck to both of them, although the small print of the striker signing said subject to EFL approval, which doesn’t sound good.

I need to get organised and print off and laminate a player to shirt number list so I’ve got some idea of who is who for the first dozen games or so, as I can’t just whip the programme out and check. (I will try to make that the last moan about no programme but can’t promise more won’t slip out.)

It did stop raining long enough to be able to walk into town and pick up When Saturday Comes (they were the same as Four Four Two and have us finishing rock bottom, only going down with Harrogate instead of Sutton), back to book a table at the Downsman for the traditional post-match curry, and to get new shirts for the new season, which had the Brick Borrows patches on them regardless. Only for the rain to start again in earnest when queuing to get through the turnstiles. At least the tickets and season tickets for the east marquee have on them for people to use turnstiles 7-12 and not just 11-12 this season.

Saw Al and said hello. Not sure which of the stands he was stewarding today, but we didn’t see him again all game or even leaving afterwards.

Bradford were in all white kits and appear to have been on HGH in the off season, they all looked effing massive. It only took thirty seconds for the first injury treatment of the season as there is a clash of heads between Kellen Gordon and one of the Bradford players. Gordon is bleeding and off for longer, but somehow the ref gives it as a free kick to Bradford, and not a drop ball.

Ten minutes in and there have been signs of life. There have been two bookings already, and the second gives us a free kick in a decent position. Time to see who’s taking over the dead ball duties. Recent signing Will Wright steps up and bang. It’s in. From a direct free kick, the get hell in there. 1-0. He seems to have the (w)right stuff.

The free kick is the only decision to have been given to us. Bradford have had a couple of chances, and we had a couple of breakaways, but with no end product.

Bradford, despite being built like brick shithouses are falling over in even the slightest breeze. There have been three blatant dives to try and win penalties. I’m assuming the muscle mass must affect people’s balance.

We go on a breakaway and the ball comes across to Gordon, who cuts inside, only for his shot to be blocked for a corner. It’s well worked, and it comes out for Liam Kelly to have a shot that is well saved, but it was called back for an offside. Even the Bradford bench are getting in on the yellow card action in the first half booking spree that is going on, with two of their number getting them.

Will Wright also appears to be a long throw specialist, and we win a corner from one of them. It is cleared, but played back in and the shot is just wide. The ref bottles a blatant yellow card for a Bradford defender for dragging down Ronan Darcy on the halfway line. Bradford get the ball back quickly and attack and get a corner and Corey Addai is forced into a couple of decent saves.

The reprieve for the Bradford defender didn’t last long, he hauls Danilo Orsi down near the edge of the area and picks up the second yellow he should have had five minutes earlier. The resulting free kick’s chance is headed over.

Gordon is playing more as an old school inside right and has another couple of shots that end up going wide. As expected under the new directive there is a lot of added time with eight minutes shown for the first half. And Bradford, despite being down to ten men have ramped up their kick the shit out of Crawley players. And just before the half time whistle a Darcy shot hits the crossbar and the follow up shot is saved, and with that the half time whistle is blown and we lead 1-0.

Is that a different song being played? I think it is, even if it is sampling the hook from Bittersweet Symphony. In fact, it appears to be a whole new half time play list, let’s just hope its not repeated at every game.

There are two half time subs made, and it is sensible as we replace two of the players who picked up bookings in the first half, don’t want to risk giving that man advantage away. We get an early free kick on the left-hand side of the box, but it is easily cleared.

We have a lot of slow build possession, as you might expect with a man advantage against a team of thugs, but occasionally we do speed it up and play a ball through, but the shot in the end is invariably wide.

Substitute, Klaidi Lolos looks to be willing to shoot from anywhere, something we were sorely missing last season. And the other sub, the last minute loanee from Charlton, Aaron Henry has a pop as well, and quickly follows it up with another from play after a free kick.

It is a bit nervier than it should be with a man advantage and the play is a bit back and forth. Bradford make a flurry of subs, and one of whom is Derbyshire. Which seems a bit desperate to have to be bringing on a whole county to try and get a result.

There are muted penalty appeals as Orsi goes down in the area after claiming he had his heels clipped. Not long after the first and only ball to disappear out of the ground happens as a Dom Telford shot flies out over the Eden Utilities south terrace after a period of decent play that had forced a rare save from the Bradford keeper. We are having more counter attacks, and the ball is played through to Orsi, but his early shot only hits the side netting.

The crowd is announced as 3,883, with 1,037 away fans, not bad, but the ground does look and feel like it had more in it than that. And before the added time of six minutes goes up, the sponsor’s man of the match is announced as Will Wright.

In added time there is another blatant full-length dive from a Bradford player trying to win a penalty, but their pressure continues until Addai saves and collects from an attempted acrobatic shot on target.

We keep having breakaways where its two on two, or two on one, or three on two, and every time we stuff it up with a poor final ball through. If we can get that right, then then this would not have been so tense towards the end and there would have been a decent goal tally. But as it is the game finishes, and we win 1-0.

The post-match music hasn’t changed though, Black Eyed Peas followed by The Cure. It was a satisfactory performance all round, lots better than much of what we saw last season. Let’s hope we can keep this level of performance up, as it looks promising for us if we can.

The post-match curry was good as well, but ordering it was painful, and we wonder if the Downsman has been taken over by some group of crypto clowns as well.

I don’t understand the league table though. We have the same points, goal difference, and goals scored as Gillingham and Harrogate, but for some reason the alphabetical order has been thrown out of the window and we are showing as down in ninth. The anti-Crawley agenda by the media has started.

Come on you reds.

Let’s Go Round Again

Not as sung by the Average White Band, but a pre-emptor to an Average Football Team.

Another season is almost upon us, and it will be our third season as season ticket holders. Although when I wrote most of this piece on Wednesday night, I hadn’t picked up my season ticket as it was last minute dot com again for having them ready to pick up. They only became available less than a week before the first home game of the season. I did see this week on my timehop that I picked last season’s season ticket up at this time as well, after the first game of the season, but that was away at Carlisle, so it was in time for the first home game. They weren’t ready until the last week in July and I was on holiday.

It really doesn’t seem like nearly three months since the last game of last season, the smoke flare filled away trip to Swindon.

That trip showed up some of the differences in the running of clubs, between well run, organised ones, and the omnishambles we have running ours. They were already selling their season tickets for this season; their prices were in place and sales were open. It would still be another month before our new season prices were set (the same as last season, so surely a decision that could have been made earlier), and another week before they went on sale to existing season ticket holders. Then another two weeks before general sale, all of which compresses the time to produce and have them ready. It would be nice if they were ready sometime before the week of the first game, and ideally before the school holidays start and there is the mad rush away for two weeks.

I saw this in Swindon’s programme. It was four quid, so a pound more than ours, but miles better in content and production. I did moan quite a bit about the quality of the content of the programme last season, but at least we had one last season. One of the summer announcements from the club was they have scrapped the programme. Not moved it to a digital one as some other clubs have, but got rid of it completely. I’m not happy about it in the slightest, and did a long post on the forum and Facebook page about how it was wrong. The reasons were it’s too expensive to produce (raise the price then), and sales had dropped off (which I saw evidence to the contrary of during the season).

We survived being relegated last season by the skin on the skin of our teeth, and since then the revolving doors of players leaving and then joining the club has picked up pace. In fact, it has gone around quick enough that the club could have stored enough power from the dynamo to generate electricity to see us through to Christmas.

A lot of the longer established players, and some of the fan favourites have left. All the loanees went back to their parent clubs, only to then get loaned out again somewhere else for this season. Jack Powell and James Tilley went within a couple of days of each other, but thankfully there has been plenty of time for Scott Lindsey to work on who will be the dead ball specialists this season. Unlike the game last season when they both got substituted within a couple of minutes of each other and when we got a free kick all the players on the pitch stood around looking at each other wondering who was going to take it.

A day before the season started last year a plausible starting line up may have been Glenn Morris, George Francomb, Ludwig Francillette, Tony Craig, Jake Hessenthaler, Atamide Oteh, James Tilley, Jack Powell, Ashley Nadesan, Tom Nichols, and Kwesi Appiah. And with a bench of Balcome, Nazeeb, Fellows, Balagizi, Mason, Jenks, and Marshall. None of them survive going into Saturday’s first game of this season. And that’s not including a whole raft (well more like a cross channel ferry) of fringe players to be out the door.

At first it seemed as if there were no replacements coming in. Incoming were thin on the ground. This has picked up over the last few weeks with a new name appearing every couple of days. It is going to be a vastly different team and squad to the one we were used to that sees the new season in. And although the club always announced the new signing as being ex-<insert league club’s name here>, invariably the club we picked them up from were non-league.

To be fair, after last season’s utter shit storm, having a vastly refreshed squad may not be the bad thing that many people have made it out to be.

And if I’m honest the person I feel sorriest for is whoever comes up with the player chants and songs. With only Tsaroulla left of the established songs (there was a fledgling Telford one starting), there is a whole new playlist needed. I can see potential for a couple of new songs, but they are most definitely showing up my age. As I would be disappointed if there isn’t a bit of Modern Romance action going with ‘Ay ay ay ay Orsi’, and I’m not sure whether it should be the Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over”, or Captain Sensible’s “Glad It’s All Over” that needs to be repackaged as ‘Gladwin’s All Over’. But I know it certainly wouldn’t do to be using the chorus of Jilted John’s “Jilted John” for Kellen Gordon as is, but there are so many other adjectives that might be more appropriate than moron for it.

I had high hopes going into last season, and I’m much more muted this season. Pre-season has been interesting. All our games against non-league opposition have finished with us winning 2–1. Our two games against higher level opposition including the four thirty-minute period one against Portsmouth, were heavy defeats. But there are signs of a plan and a playing style, which is more than Betsy ball brought us last year. I’m not going to say playoffs, but I think somewhere in mid table is achievable. And perhaps a few less manager changes in the season might help.

Four Four Two magazine has us to finish dead last, relegation favourites, and going down with Sutton. It’s so bad none of the other team’s contributors to the review section bothered to take pot shots at us like five of them did last season. Our own fan file contributor just said bottom half for us. Which I suppose is realistic.

When Saturday Comes left their pre-season issue until the last minute, it came out today, so I’ve not seen it yet, but as they had us to finish twentieth last season, I doubt they’ll have us any higher than that for this season.

I’m going to go for where Four Four Two had us finishing last season — fourteenth.

As for the cups? Well, I can’t see us doing as well in the Carabao cup as we did last season. Exeter away that early in the season isn’t deal, and I can see a first round exit.

For the FA cup, pretty much anything would be better than last year’s effort, especially with the Sideman ‘trial’ debacle overshadowing the build up to the game, and the non-performance in it. I’m going to go for the third round for us, as hopefully we’ll have a settled side by the time the first round comes around in November.

As for the EFL trophy, I know there is a lot of ‘who cares’, but we did well enough last season and were unlucky not to progress from the group stage. Let’s go a game further this season, eh?

There is always the cloud of the crypto clowns hanging over us. The new kit isn’t due until at least tomorrow, if it is in time then it will be the same as the first batch last season, sold out the back of a transit van. We don’t have a shirt sponsor for the season, it’s going to rotate between various half-hearted organisations through the season. We don’t even have a stadium sponsor again. But there was a big fanfare about County Mall sponsoring the “Goal and Replay”. Which means I’ll see about thirty five percent of that from my seat.

There will be protests, there will be flares (not sure whether the smoke ones, or the seventies fashion disaster are worse), there will be abuse of the lino, and there may even be two hundred fans at an away ground in the middle of winter waving one shoe at the pitch. It may be bad, it may be good, but it is unlikely to be boring.

Roll on Saturday, and for a change we have a home game instead of an away trip to the ends of the earth. Bradford City start us off, so plenty of opportunity to wind Mark Hughes up again, and for at least one set of fans to wish the crypto clowns had succeeded in buying Bradford.

Come on you reds.

Use Some C4 On It

It’s been a while since I wrote anything that wasn’t on our Leicester trip in June, and there’s still lots for me to write up on that, but it’s time for a little blast on random items.

The cat has developed a new habit at night. He waits until the bedroom light has gone out, gives it ten minutes and then screeches at ear splitting volume. I’m not sure where he’s hiding the megaphone he’s using but it needs finding and destroying. So, I haul myself out of bed and go down and open the back door. He’s sat on the chair and looks up all surprised as if to say, ‘why are you here and opening the door?’ he’ll come in, and then runs straight to the front door and miaows to be let out. Little furry bag of shite.

For some reason the radio in the kitchen was on Virgin radio. The announcement I heard when I walked into the kitchen was enough to make your blood run cold. “It’s the Chris Evans show…” NO, not that ginger cockwomble. “..hosted by Tom Allen…” jeez, if ever there was someone who didn’t have a voice for radio, especially at seven in the morning, it’s him. Night-time panel shows are fine, but not first thing in the morning. “…with Cinch.” No, no, no, no, and no again. Is there anyway those jokers haven’t got. It shows just how overpriced their cars must be if there are still solvent with the exorbitant amounts they spend on advertising and sponsorship.

At the end of June, someone drove into the side of the car at Pease Pottage roundabout when Helen was driving. Five weeks later the garage finally picked the car up to repair the damage to the driver’s side doors. And whilst it is being repaired, we have a courtesy car, which we picked up from Enterprise. It’s a Citroen C4. Which accurately describes what it needs putting under it and setting off.

Now, it’s well known that I hate driving, I’m shit at it, and it’s the most stressful thing I do. For the last seven years we’ve had a Kia Venga (on our second one), and I’ve got to the stage where I’m just about competent driving it and I don’t have cold sweats thinking about driving it.

From picking the car up, I drove to Asda, and then home, four miles maximum. Four miles of pure hell. I’m not adaptable when it comes to driving, it’s far too complicated to drive without having everything changed on you. And in the hire car everything terrifies me. Everything is too small. The wing mirrors aren’t much bigger than postage stamps. The rear-view mirror wouldn’t be that bad, but the view is out the ridiculously small rear window. Between the three of them, there is hardly any view behind you. Which makes the bloody thing impossible to park. No matter how I adjust the wing mirrors I can’t see what’s behind me, and in order to sit in the driver’s seat, the seat is so low to get my legs under the steering wheel that I can’t see the front of the car.

Then there are the pedals. The brake and the accelerator don’t move very far for full action, a couple of inches at most, whereas the clutch moves about a foot from top to bottom. You need two different length legs to be able to drive it. my right leg is at full stretch, and my leg knee is up around my ear somewhere. And there isn’t enough gap between pedals. I kept failing to deploy the clutch because my foot kept hitting the footrest next to it before it wasn’t fully down. And then when braking I’d step on my left foot trying to deploy the clutch at the same time. That’s when the very harsh brake isn’t flinging you through the miniscule front windscreen.

The gearstick is a lot higher up, and the action required to pull the sleeve up on it to engage reverse must have been devised by a sadist and can only be done successfully if you are a contortionist. Although you are taking your life in your hands reversing as due to the useless mirrors it is all guesswork as to what it behind you. And the display is off putting, it’s a flush, flat digital screen that is too big, they need to swap the sizes with that and the wing mirrors.

Helen drove to work this morning. Needless to say, she was fine and really liked it. Apparently, it is really comfortable. I’m assuming she must have been in a different car to the uncomfortable painful seats that I had when driving yesterday and being a passenger this morning. Everything aches after half an hour in it.

And then I get into work, and someone had used my desk. Which is fine if they leave it as they found it, it is a specific DSE set up. It has a hub that links screen, keyboard, and mouse so you just need to use the one USB port on your laptop to link it all up. But whichever moron was sat at my desk unplugged everything from the hub, I’m assuming to plug them in separately to their laptop. And I could do without having to reset everything on the chair as well.

I really am a grumpy old bastard.

More Mindless Mumblings

We went to the previously postponed ‘Tea And Tales at The Mill’ on Sunday. It had been part of March’s WORDfest, I’m not sure where the three intervening months disappeared to.

Now, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but being read original versions of Grimm’s fairy tales, and HG Wells in front of a rotating mill wheel probably wouldn’t have been the first thing to spring to mind. It also pointed out how we take Disney versions of fairy tales to be gospel. Pigeons instead of fairy godmothers, cutting off parts of feet, they didn’t appear on screen in Cinderella.

But it was good, and the location is an unusual one to do this sort of thing, perhaps somewhere to bear in mind for next year’s WORDfest for the writing group.

Afterwards it was across country to the Plough for food. Only for them to be fully booked. We went to sit on the bench opposite the pub to check out alternate locations for lunch, only for one of the blokes from the pub to come out and say they could squeeze us in in five minutes time. Nice. Glad we sat down to work out where to go instead of doing it on the move.

There were a couple of old dears having Sunday lunch in the corner of the pub. I heard one say to the other that she didn’t drink. I suppose it could have been non-alcoholic wine in the large glass she was guzzling from.

They were also talking about going to Ibiza. We were laughing at the images that was conjuring up. The ones of some poor lad waking up the morning after with someone’s granny lying next to him. For some reason Obie Trice’s “Got Some Teeth” springs to mind.

Elsewhere I could hear one of the blokes from the pub telling another table ‘you can have double cabbage next week.’ I’m going to assume they actually want double cabbage. As to me it sounds more like a threat or a punishment. I’m tempted to run screaming from the pub. “NO, please don’t make me have the double cabbage. I promise I’ll be good from now on.” Or it sounds like something the old dear might say to the young lad in Ibiza. “Thanks for last night sonny, you can have double cabbage later.”

Single cabbage was bad enough, at least I could get rid of the case with the syrup pudding, which came in enough cream to float a battleship. And it still wasn’t as large as Helen’s sticky toffee pudding. At least we’d got a few miles to wander home to walk some of it off.

Another Saturday Morning Musing

Another Saturday, another morning heading into town early before writing starts. I’m sat looking out of Maccy D’s window as I usually do, and what do I see? Nothing really, it looks strange out there. There isn’t a single market stall to be seen anywhere up and down the road. I know the forecast is for it to hit thirty degrees at some point today, but surely that shouldn’t have scared off all the market stall holders. They are usually up and running, or just setting up as I sit here gormlessly eating breakfast.

Perhaps they are feeling as sluggish as I am. It isn’t just the heat though, it’s the pollen. Early June is the worst time of the year for it for me. I’m on four antihistamines a day at the moment and they aren’t really touching the sides. I’m waking up wheezy as all the phlegm is settling overnight and it takes a few hours to clear it. Sometimes only just in time to go back to bed and let the next lot set in.

At the library I go to the toilet. Someone tries the door. Then they stand outside moaning how long they are waiting (thirty seconds after they tried the door). Then they ask a passing librarian if the door is locked and can it be undone. I recognise the voice as being someone from the writing group. I give the impatient bitch the filthiest look on the way out.

The session is being taken by a relatively new member, and it is a good session, but having part of it to be three minutes meditation to clear the mind before writing wasn’t the best idea with older males in the group. I fell asleep in the meditation period and when I flinched awake, I was in no fit state to write anything. At least I wasn’t the only one in the group to nod off.

I’m blaming the heat and the four a day (ended up being five a day on Saturday, which I’m sure anyone who knows me will attest to the fact it wasn’t going to be fruit and vegetables) anti hiss-at-mes.

At the end of the session one of the other newer members of the group properly freaked me out. They came over to me and told me that I was channelling the spirit of a dead Japanese author who wanted to use my voice. I didn’t take in who it was, as I was disconcerted by the message and the eyes of the partially sighted person telling me. Then it was hair cut time. As quick as the barber could dry my hair with the hair dryer, my head was making it wet again due to the heat. But I have much shorter hair now, and it is a lot cooler (not in the slightest bit hip though).

Bits And Bobs And Odds And Sods

No real coherence to this, just lots of bits and pieces to have gone through my mind or to have attracted my attention in the last few weeks. Random streams of things that have happened. Which apparently is perfectly acceptable for book chapters if the book I’ve just finished reading is anything to go by.

I went into the canteen to get breakfast at work one morning only to be accosted by a chugger. Who authorises this kind of bollocks? What the fuck is a charity mugger doing in the building harassing staff going for breakfast.

And speaking of the canteen they are now locking it at 4.30, so there is no chance of nipping in for a quick destressing session of smacking the pool balls around the table as hard as possible.

Then I got shouted at for going in the wrong set of double doors. Screeched at that it is dangerous to go in the exit doors. Not half as dangerous as nearly snapping my wrist trying to go in the in doors only to find a different one of the double doors is locked each day.

We took the car in for a service on Manor Royal and therefore decided to go to Charlie’s deli for breakfast. Before leaving I went to use the facilities. Only to find the toilets were behind a door marked staff only. Then there were big signs in the cubicle ‘turn lights off when leaving.’ Which is fine but the lights weren’t on. No switch inside the cubicle, and not on the wall next to the cubicle on the outside. I did find it; it was on the opposite wall behind where the door opened. Came to wash my hands only for the pump and nozzle not to work on the soap, and had to unscrew it. It was like an alternative version of the Krypton Factor – The Shitpton Factor perhaps.

It was the second time we’d been to drop the car off as well. We had gone the previous Friday, only Helen was a week early. No, really.

From there we took the bus to the stadium to pick up away tickets for the last game of the season and then another bus to Horsham. May have been a bit of a magical mystery tour, but at only £2 each per ticket it’s a lot better value than getting the train. Plus, we see things we don’t normally notice when driving.

The thing is about the bus is it keeps saying to tap on and tap off. Now that may be fine for someone like Helen who has done tap dancing classes, but it’s a bit more difficult for someone like me who hasn’t.

We were in the Comodor in Horsham. A woman comes in and sits down and then tells her other half to get menus from the table behind him. He points to the menu on the table next to them that was in reach. But she moans there is only the one there and loads on the table behind them. He gets up to go and get one from the table behind him only for her to take the one off the table next to them anyway.

Helen went out straight for dinner after work on Thursday. I was going to do some writing, get myself something to eat and pick her up to go home. Writing went out the window as the never-ending shite of work kicked in. looked up and it was getting dark outside and nearly 9pm.

Four-day weekends are just not enough. Where is that lottery win?

Got an e-mail from the new DC pension providers so I logged in. I don’t know whose decision it was to go with Legal & General, but they need a slap. L&G and shite. In two years, with their fees, they’ve managed to shrink the investment pot by nearly a grand, an over 3% loss. I could have put it in an ISA and got 4% and would be 7% ahead of so-called investment experts.

They call themselves investment naturals. Yeah, natural fucking idiots.

We’re running out of wall space for all the pictures we have. Not sure how it came to this, but have three large pictures to go up and no obvious places to put them. Going to end up with them at knee level at this rate.

I’m also running out of space for books and all the copies of my writing. I sold a batch of records, and the space went almost straight away to books hidden in boxes under the coffee table, and there is still another box to go.

Ah, yes, selling records. I haven’t sold anything on eBay for a couple of years. So got a shock when I went to this time. I had to give loads of additional information. They don’t allow me to receive payments by PayPal anymore, only direct deposit. Had to provide bank details, inside leg measurements, and more. I had a winning bid, and the item was collection only. They paid. eBay held onto the money. On collection I had to download the app and put a code in from the buyer. Still said payment would be two weeks. I was fuming. They then sent me an e-mail to say they needed to make micro deposits to my account and for me to validate on eBay how much the payments were for. And that they would send the payments in 3-5 working days. Two days later they did pay me despite what all the additional messages and e-mails had said, and then I looked at the fees which were more than 13% (over £50). Once they paid, I closed my eBay account and I’m never using the robbing bastards again. Three days after this and the microdeposits came through. That’s five pence they won’t be getting back.

I’m used to shower gels, shampoos, etc. having fruit-based mixtures, or botanical, or flowers, or combinations. So, things like orange and bergamot, tea tree, peach and honeysuckle. But not so much herbs. The shower gel in the Holiday Inn at Swindon was parsley stem. And it really did smell of it. About thirty seconds into the shower, I smelt like someone had put too much garnish on their rice. I was walking around all day getting whiffs of parsley for fucks sake.

Then at breakfast the next day, on the table next to us was a big soft toy shark sat in a chair, and a smaller grey T-rex plush on the table. We assumed it was someone with children. No, a middle-aged woman wearing a mask came back with various plates of food and arranged them on the table with the soft toys and proceeded to take photos of them. Now I’ve heard of kids having dolls tea parties, but it is the first time I’ve ever heard of someone having a shark and dinosaur breakfast party. When the woman sat down to start eating, she was humming, or maybe singing, to herself, a low rumble that sounded suspiciously like she was attempted whale song to the shark. The staff were wide eyed and had disbelieving looks as she was feeding Danish pastries to the soft toys, and the look on their faces was making Helen laugh so much she couldn’t finish her breakfast for laughing. I was thankful I had my back to it all.

Shall We Forget All That Happened?

If I were to say that this season didn’t live up to expectations or didn’t quite go according to plan, then you would know that those words were somewhat of an understatement. If I said it was an absolute shit storm, then that would be very unfair to shit storms.

Pre-season there was optimism. Signings were made, there was a new manager, and a lot of goals were being scored by us in pre-season friendlies. (Although to be fair, there were quite a few being let in at the other end as well.) The playoffs looked possible, albeit that wasn’t a view shared by the football magazines. Four Four Two had us coming fourteenth, whilst When Saturday Comes had us finishing twentieth. Perhaps they were being kind, and it may be easier to see from further away.

The wheels were coming loose before a ball was kicked in anger. Stalwart keeper Glenn Morris was shipped out on loan to Gillingham, and then the WAGMI wombats released a ‘hype’ video which slagged Carlisle off. It didn’t go down well, and not just with Carlisle, but our own fans as well. We started with an away loss and followed it up with a home loss and became the strongest team in the league – holding the rest of them up at the bottom of the table.

There was respite with a decent win against League One Bristol Rovers in the Carabao Cup (soon to be followed with another against Premier League Fulham’s reserves), but my first away trip, up to Harrogate saw a dreadful 0-0. League performances were not matching those in the cups. Kevin Betsy’s style of play may have worked at youth level, but it wasn’t suited to League Two battling. And after much clamour for it to happen, he was sacked. Lewis Young took over as interim manager and our results improved, but WAGMI saw something in the stats that made them go and take a gamble (yes, I went there) on Matthew Etherington. Not helped by being able to play Tom Nichols, who had been presold to relegation rivals Gillingham and WAGMI didn’t want him getting injured, that management tenure lasted three games before they parted company. Which meant Darren Byfield was caretaker manager as we played Stevenage the day before New Year’s Eve. He was joined on the bench by Preston Johnson, which considering the other co-chair Eben-ezer no good, had put a whole load of Ill-advised tweets up during the day didn’t go down well. Especially as it was obvious who the three senior players he was on about (but didn’t name) as they didn’t make the trip.

The mood at the game was ugly, but it was an amusing spectacle. Stand up if you love Crawley, sit down if you love Crawley, stand up if you hate WAGMI, sit down if you hate WAGMI, shoes off if you hate WAGMI, at which point I looked to my right to see three hundred Crawley fans waving at least one of their shoes/trainers in the air. The Stevenage stewards looked worried at the chants of ‘I know you won’t believe us, we’re coming on the pitch’ and ‘Preston Johnson, we’re coming for you.’ The pitch invasion didn’t materialise, but instead the fans were surrounding the team coach and the chant was ‘Preston Johnson, we’re waiting for you.’ They had a long wait as he was spirited out of another exit, and he didn’t appear on the bench at the next game away at Newport County.

January saw Scott Lindsey appointed as manager (and he’s survived to the end of the season). And he helped us to survive the threat of relegation. A lot of January games were postponed for various (and sometimes quite dubious) reasons, but it gave him more time to get used to a changing squad. A lot of the senior players were shipped out, including the three ‘not’ mentioned in the tweets. Teams recalled their loan players, and some of the fringe players were moved on. Part of the reason given for Tom Nichols’ sale and the moving on of older players was that they were looking at having a younger squad. Only for that to be trashed as after the transfer window closed two out of contract players were signed, both of whom were in the later half of their thirties.

It was around the same time that the long running investigation into previous manager John Yems came to an end with him being found guilty of various racism related charges. The FA then appealed the sentence as being too lenient, and they got a heavier one on appeal.

WAGMI out demonstrations and chants were the norm for the latter parts of the season. The longer the season has gone on, then the more withdrawn WAGMI have seemed to get. Ducking out of meetings with the CTSA, and comms have been poor or non-existent. A prime example being hugely unpopular acting CEO Chris Galley’s departure from the club happened on the 6th of April but took two weeks for it to be announced.

At the end of the day for the fans, the most important thing is to get results on the pitch. Yet with all the manager changes, what has been interpreted as WAGMI interference with team selection, bizarre transfer policy, and the constant upheaval, the performances haven’t been great. But the fans have got behind those on the pitch (with the possible exception of Caleb Chukwuemeka) and have supported them in larger numbers, both home and away than in previous seasons.

Off the pitch has been more chaotic. WAGMI have tried to improve various things. There are more food outlets and a Fan Zone, and the training now takes place on grass (which doesn’t seem to have helped with injuries) and a scoreboard finally (even if I can only see about 35% of it from my seat). However, the OTT USA style pregame videos haven’t worked. There was the Sidemen debacle, scouting players at a charity game to potentially play in our first round FA Cup game – it didn’t happen, but laughingstock was being bounded around a lot more now.

And the attempted improvements have an uneven feel about them, and don’t really address matters that should be obvious. The canvas at the back of the east marquee needs replacing (or perhaps the whole stand does). And the two turnstiles in the southeast corner just can’t cope with the larger crowds we are getting. It was obvious after the Fulham game with queues back to Redz Bar and hundreds getting in after kicking off that more was needed there. But it hasn’t been looked at. Against Harrogate in the second of the two for £2 games people were still queuing to get in half an hour into the game. The terrace and west stands have four turnstiles each and don’t have the same issues. And as for getting out it is lunacy, it’s ten minutes after the other two stands have emptied before we get out.

One of my particular bug bears is with the programme. It is a bit of a shambles and has been all season. Issue numbering (same issue number for different issues, and then a gap of three numbers in the middle), the results page and its labelling is random, lots of games that don’t have the scorer marked. Issue one had a league table in it, but only the top twenty teams. It was dropped for issue two, which probably was good if it were going to stay the same size, as we wouldn’t have appeared on it most of the time. Sizing issues affected the great retro reds section. Titles were carried forward from one issue to the next with different text beneath it. Having the squad listing on the back should be easy to manage, but Anthony Grant played in the last nine games but still didn’t make it onto the programme. Surely the ability to size a page and proofread should be a basic skill for someone putting a programme together.

Anyway, enough moaning from me, on to what would be my team of the year. I have gone with a 5-2-3 formation. I have looked at anyone who has played for the side at any point during the league season. The keeper was the most difficult choice for me, but I have been swayed towards the end of the season with his penalty saves and have gone with Corey Addai. Three central defenders – Dion Conroy, Harry Ransom, and Joel Lynch, two wing backs – George Francomb and Nick Tsaroulla. Two central midfielders, Ben Gladwin, and James Balagizi, and then Aramide Oteh and James Tilley playing just off Tom Nichols. Yes, there is no Jack Powell, the club’s player of the year. He has scored some good goals and has really gone on a charm offensive and interacted with the fanbase well, but he’s been far too patchy and lightweight at times.

What we could have done with all season is more pace, we haven’t been able to beat teams going forward, and have been skinned at the back far too many times. And the other thing is, JUST FUCKING SHOOT, stop trying to pass the ball into the net, take a shot.

And breath and onto next season.

Come on you reds.

When The Red Red Robin Goes Bob Bob Bobbing Along – Shoot!

Away day number four of the season for us, more than we might have envisioned at the start of the season. It is the final game of what has been an absolute clusterfuck of a season for Crawley Town. Safety, and therefore another season in League Two next year, was confirmed by the 0-0 draw against Walsall in our last home game of the season last weekend. A point which meant Hartlepool could no longer catch us. And which should have been three points, but in a now traditional last home game of the season screwing over of us by officials they didn’t signal for a goal in front of the home terrace when the ball was over the line. Granted, it wasn’t as blatant as the one against Leyton Orient last year, but still, they should have gone to Specsavers.

The away trip is to Wiltshire, and specifically to play Swindon Town. A game our manager Scott Lindsey would love to win after leaving them earlier in the season under somewhat of a cloud. In addition, club captain Ben Gladwin was another January acquisition for us from them to go along with the summer signing of Dion Conroy. So, there shouldn’t be any lack of a will to win from our lot. Although, by the same token I’m sure Swindon would like to get one over on their old boys as well.

And they will be looking for some revenge over us after we beat them earlier in the season. That was the first game of Matthew Etherington’s short lived chaotic stint as our manager, and at the time Swindon were in the playoff places. A heavily deflected Nick Tsaroulla effort and Jack Powell’s ‘wonder’ goal from near the halfway line with the Swindon keeper stranded saw us win 2-0 in what was a rare clean sheet for us. It was a game that led to a poor run of form from Swindon that saw them drop out of playoff contention and part company with Scott Lindsey.

The match report for that game is below.

The game is a 12.30 kick off on a Bank Holiday Monday, which is a ridiculous time for a game of football, mainly due to being bumped from the Saturday because some bloke with big ears is getting a new hat in London.

Saying that, ridiculous kick off times may become the new normal. The new Sky Sports deal with the EFL had headline figures of 236 League Two games to be televised per season. That is just over five per set of fixtures (46 * 5 = 230). Which, seeing as there will be the same amount of League one games being televised and double the number of that for Championship games, it will see the standard 3.00pm on a Saturday and 7.45pm on a Tuesday fixtures disappear. Friday night, 12/12:15/12:30/12:45 Saturday lunch time, 5:15/5:30 and 7:45/8 pm Saturday evening games. Multiple time slots on a Sunday, and then midweek fixtures played any night of the week. It is going to be carnage. If all teams were equally covered it would mean they would be on TV 20 times a season. I’m hoping that isn’t the case and that the number of games quoted is going to cover the whole of the five-year period of the contract and not every year. Granted some teams would get covered more often than others (Wrexham spring to mind), but there would probably be a minimum of 10 games disrupted by TV.

Helen and I had travelled over to Swindon on Saturday evening and had spent Sunday wandering around the town. It’s not as bad as it had been made out to be. The ground is by the Magic Roundabout, which looks a counter intuitive nightmare, and would be permanently blocked by crashes in Crawley. We got a bus up to the ground from the hotel we were staying in, and we saw the three supporters coaches come roaring past us as we were at a bus stop.

We were seated up quite high in the away stands, the highest up I’ve been for any normal game of football in nearly twenty years. The last time being when I was dragged to a Southampton away game at Blackburn when I lived in Manchester. The most memorable thing about that game being the thirty or so kitted out Blackpool fans who turned up. They were there to cheer on Brett Ormerod who had moved to Southampton from Blackpool that year.

Being nice and early we got a decent seat, and I got a programme. I was really impressed by it, it’s a really good programme, despite big ears being on the cover. There are many lessons that could be learnt. The piece in it, and the announcement of tribute to fans who had died during the season was a nice touch.

Crawley are playing in white shirts, black shorts, and black socks. Meanwhile off the pitch, despite a more vigorous search team on the way in the first of the red smoke flares is let loose by the Crawley fans. And the national anthem is played. Almost as if something happened this weekend.

Crawley definitely settled into the game quicker, with lots of possession and some nice interplay, but as with so many other games this season, the final ball is letting them down. Another ongoing theme of the season is the seemingly biased decision set by officials. Swindon are getting every 50-50 decision, and most of the blatantly 100-0 ones as well.

The away support is loud and raucous and is all we can hear. Plenty of taunting going on as well. After being comfortable for 39 minutes, a ball is headed on and Charlie Austin beats the last defender for pace and slots the ball in and it is 0-1. And having been the target of some of the taunting he classily celebrates by taunting the away fans.

A couple of minutes later and it isn’t getting any better. Ben Gladwin gets a booking for a silly foul, and it lines up Swindon for a free kick from about thirty yards out. Which the taker smashes into the top corner leaving Corey Addai no chance and us 0-2 behind.

Two added minutes are played at the end of the half and the half time whistle goes with it being 0-2. There have been a few more smoke flares during the half, and the police have been filming the fans, the fire marshals have been up a couple of times and the lead stewards have all been having conflabs with lots of pointing up at the Crawley fans. One of the chief stewards looks as if he is going to bust a blood vessel with the stress of it all.

The second half is only thirty seconds in and Swindon waltz through our defence again, but Addai saves and the follow up shot goes wide. At the other end we get a free kick in a similar position to the one Swindon scored in the first half. It is tapped sideways for Tom Fellows to smash goalwards, but it is saved by the keeper. It is recycled a couple of times and then Ashley Nadesan gets a shot away but straight at the keeper.

On the hour mark Tsaroulla drives into the penalty area and is tripped, and we have a penalty. Dom Telford stands over it. And scores, and it is now 1-2, and it triggers another red smoke flare. I hope they bought them in bulk to reduce the cost.

Five minutes later and it is Swindon’s turn to be awarded a penalty. It did look suspiciously like Johnson got the ball. Saved. Addai does it again, a second penalty save in the last few games, and it is still 1-2.

The stadium announcer announces Gladwin being subbed, only it appears our bench wasn’t ready to put Anthony Grant on, and it is another five minutes before the substitution is made. We have some very slick play down the left-hand side and the ball is crossed, but the shot and the rebound both are straight at the keeper before it is hacked away.

Four minutes of added time are announced, and the crowd is 10,450 with a magnificent 528 Crawley fans. The game kind of fizzles out and the full-time whistle goes for a 1-2 defeat. The latest in the string of smoke flares takes longer to fizzle out, and the players come over to applaud the fans the fans applaud the players, and a lot of match shirts are given away.

And so, the season is done. We finish twenty second, a massive three points clear of the relegated teams. Time to head off back to the hotel and the car to do the drive back to Crawley. The 2022-23 is a wrap. Roll on next season.

Come on you reds.