On St. George’s day, nobody wants to be the dragon. Everyone wants to be the one left standing, sword in hand, prodding the bloody corpse to make sure all life has gone. Sadly this year we celebrated Shakespeare’s birthday as the dragon, and we were coughing out smoke instead of breathing fire. Though we’d hoped for a different ending, we were finally put to the sword.
We can all point to games where we could have salvaged points – there have been many – but as Robbo succinctly said in his post-match interview, the table does not lie at the end of the season. We’re going down because we’re one of the worst teams in this division, and that’s been proved beyond any doubt.
This match was a pretty good analogy for our season. We started well, took an early lead, but very quickly found ourselves pegged back to level terms. Then our confidence went, the opposition were playing with a swagger that we couldn’t match, and we resorted to a hoofing the ball forward, vainly hoping for something to happen. Then we started making mistakes, and we fell further and further behind. Injuries led to unplanned substitutions, planned substitutions had a lot of people raising their eyebrows and an air of resignation fell across the stadium.
We huffed and puffed but as a team, we really didn’t look like we had any ideas how to get ourselves out of it. There were some poor performances individually, but some very strong ones too. On the poor side, Cody Cropper had a nightmare of a first half (though it was oddly entertaining to watch at times) and was substituted at half time, though it was reported that was due to an injury. Charlie Burns struggled as Cody’s replacement, and any lingering optimistic hopes we had were damned as the goals went in.
On the positive side, Josh Murphy had what I’d say was his best game in a Dons shirt, and will rightly be in demand come the end of the season.
The most positive thing about the day was the reception given to the players and manager at the final whistle. We’d just been relegated, but the fans, players – both loanees and contracted – and manager stood and applauded each other.
This season has been a painful one. We’ve worked so hard to reach the championship, and been found wanting at the first hurdle. The post-mortem has been going on for months already, and will surely continue for a while longer, but for now, we need to lick our wounds, support each other for the final two matches, and finish with a smile on our faces.
I’m gutted, but still proud of what we’ve done this season.
One of those ‘not sure why that was so good, but it really, really was’ kind of evenings. Still buzzing from it a couple of days later to be honest. There were a number of ‘why on earth are you going?’ questions that were thrown my way beforehand, but it was a bit like Saturday, in that I felt I really should be there.
No opportunity for #Coachwars, as there was just the one coach, although I did my best, with #coachwarssoundtracks bringing the best of a series of Desert Island Disc podcasts. Chris Hadfield, Kylie and an author, activist and feminist whose name escapes me all shared their life stories and their record collections, and the journey went quickly.
Hillsborough is a difficult place to watch football. As soon as you see the away end from the outside, it still looks exactly the same as it did in all those news reports from 1989. It’s eerie and I find it hard not to feel like some sort of tragedy voyeur if I spend too long outside there. I took a walk round to the memorial, which I always find a moving experience – this year, with our match being so close to an anniversary, and particularly with the jury currently being out, it felt doubly so. There were messages and flowers from some of the families, which I found difficult to read, so I made my way back to the ground.
We weren’t expecting many of our lot, and it felt a bit like an away match of old – I recognised pretty much every one of the 185 of us who made the trip, and there was just a good feeling about it. We know we’re down (unless something ridiculous happens repeatedly over the next few weeks, but more of that later) and everyone just seemed happy to enjoy the ride while we’re still in the championship.
So we’re relying on a miracle if we’re going to stay up, we rarely score (to be honest at the moment, we rarely shoot), our main goalie is out for the rest of the season, our number two goalie is suspended and we’ve got our academy goalie Charlie Burns making his full debut. Our most consistent defender is on 14 yellows so one more will see him out for the rest of the season. We’re playing a team who have resources that simply are in a different league to us, and who are in the playoff spots. What could possibly go wrong?
Well to be honest, it went rather well, all things considered. Charlie did himself proud, making some good saves throughout the game. Wednesday hit the woodwork about a hundred times, and didn’t seem to have their shooting boots with them when they managed to get into good positions. Wednesday went down to ten men after one of their lot decided to literally kick Johnny Williams up in the air while the ref was busy booking one of their lot for diving (harshly I’ve heard since). Johnny Williams got assaulted by one of their supporters when he got substituted, Robbo intervened to protect him, and all the while, the Wednesday players, bench and fans were getting more and more hot and bothered.
The crowd were getting on their backs, and were we even remotely threatening as a football team at the moment, we’d probably have gone on to win it. Sadly that wasn’t to be, but we knew that a draw would be enough to keep us clinging on for four more days, and cling on we did.
What made the evening so special for me was that we felt united as a fanbase. We were all in it together, we all sang together, we all laughed together and we generally all had a great time together – none of the frustrations and annoyances that have been part of other away trips this season were there, and it felt great to be there together. Thanks everyone.
Come the final whistle, as the other scores came in, it became clear that everyone else had drawn too. That meant that Charlton were relegated, we were still nine points behind the three teams above us, but interestingly, Bristol City had dropped back into fourth from bottom.
Odd as it may seem, there’s still a chance for us to stay up. If we win our remaining three games, and Bristol City lose their remaining three games, we will stay up. While I could easily see Bristol City losing their remaining three games, I really can’t see us winning ours, so it’s not going to happen, but it keeps it alive for one more game. If we win on Saturday and any of the other four lose, then we’re still clinging on, but the Bristol City goal difference means that it really has to be them.
This Just In – Following last Tuesday’s quite horrific challenge by MK Dons defensive maestro, Anthony Kay, MK Dons supremo, Andrew ‘Call me Andy’ Cullen has explained that all that need be done, has been done.
Having been lucky enough to have been within the club media departments, I can announce that they have been working around the clock since Tuesday night and believe they have created a new App, which they have studied really well – or an ‘ology’ if you will, and the club feel they have done their best to appease the Zyro incident.
They are calling it ‘App-ology’, and hope this will be enough.
More on this once we’ve worked out whether this is too clever or not
So that’s it then. We’d always said that if we stayed up by a single goal on the last day of the season, then this would have been a great season. While it’s still mathematically possible for that to happen, it’s not going to happen. We’re relegated. So it hasn’t been a great season.
It wasn’t a good match – we were one down in 54 seconds, and the game was effectively over at that point. With the possible exception of a couple of efforts from JFK towards the end of the game, we didn’t threaten, and never really looked like scoring. Rotherham are not a great side, but Colin has managed to get them playing together and for each other. Their fans were behind them from the very first and they were in this together – players and fans. I doubt they were like that prior to Colin’s arrival and them going on their run, but that’s what happens when you string a run of results together. What we watched today was what happens when things go in the opposite direction.
I’m going to buck the trend here and say that I don’t think it was down to a lack of effort. Those players were trying their best, and as each goal went in, you could see that it was hurting them. They’re not the best of players, but they’re generally good players, though they’ve perhaps been shown up a little at this level. What seemed to be missing today was any sense of team, and any real idea of what they should be doing or how they should play together. It was a group of individuals, desperate to do something to make it better, but with no idea what they should actually do. That has to be down to the manager.
Robbo would not have survived so long in most clubs. The fact that 89 other clubs in English football have changed their manager since he was appointed is testament to that. Maybe if we’d sacked him earlier in the season we’d still be in the championship next season. Bristol City and Rotherham have done alright with that approach. Doesn’t work for everyone of course – just look at where Forest are right now.
But we’re not most clubs. We do things differently. I think Robbo has a lot to learn in management, and I think that he will learn a lot in management. The thing is, I want him to learn those lessons with us. We got promoted together, team, manager and fans, and I want us to get relegated together, team, manager and fans. I want us to rebuild together, I want us to go again together and I want us to work our way to promotion together too, however long that might take. I’m nailing my colours to the mast a little here perhaps, but I want us to do this differently.
I’ve often found things to criticise in elements of our fanbase. There have been a number of situations this season where I’ve found some of our fans’ behaviour more than a little cringeworthy. This afternoon, for the first time, I was genuinely ashamed. Not many people had stayed to clap the team off, but come the moment where Robbo himself claps the fans who have stayed, some fans chose that moment to boo. Boo at half time if you must, boo at the end of the game if you really feel the need – if you’re that way inclined, then boo during the game. But to stay behind, when most have already left, and to choose to boo at that precise moment, when the only message it can possibly give is a very public ‘fuck you’ to our manager, I genuinely cannot understand what could drive someone to do that.
That moment, those few seconds that happen a few minutes after the end of each match, is a bonding moment. It’s the point at which the fans say to Robbo ‘we’re with you’ and at which he says ‘thanks for being with me’. It’s a genuinely significant moment for me. It means something. If you’re not with him, then feel free to make your point in any other way, but that was a truly appalling thing to do. You could see how hurt he was at the time, and you could hear how hurt he was on the radio afterwards. He does not and he did not deserve that. If you were one of the people that did that, then I wish genuinely horrible things on you. If you’re close to Robbo, then please let him know how sorry I am that he had to experience that, give him a hug and make sure he knows he’s got support.
The hounds are already out in force all over the web, calling for Robbo’s head, and suggesting that just about anyone would be an improvement. With any luck, things will settle down a little before anyone makes any decisions about what happens next.
The social media world is currently full of people saying that they won’t be renewing their season tickets. If that’s you, then I’d suggest that football, or at least lower-league football isn’t for you. Thanks for the money while you were coming to games, but I don’t think you’ll be missed. That’s not what this football thing is about.
I’m feeling very low tonight. It’s just a game of course, except it’s not and we all know it’s not. But we’ll be back, and I’ll be back, and together, we’ll have great times. League 1 was always great fun, and we’ll have great fun there again.
Maybe it will be the turning point. The start of the fightback that sees us cling on to championship survival on the last day of the season, as the ball goes in off of Lewie’s face in the 93rd minute against Forest. Maybe we’ll look back on today as the point at which we started to regain our confidence and play the football that we know we’re capable of.
Or maybe it will just be the day that confirms what most of us are already expecting. We’re not good enough to stay in this league, and will have to start again in League one next season.
First of all, it’s settled in relation to Dougan or the Shirt. Dougan wins – on that showing, there really isn’t anything to hate about Wolves, so my childhood traumas can be put to one side, and I can get on with just ignoring them 🙂 Though I do want to read the book again – does anyone have a copy?
It started well – a Wolves own-goal (though claimed by Mickey Naynard of course) in the fifth minute and we were looking pretty good. Passing the ball around with a bit of confidence and swagger – Caruthers looking sharp and doing relatively simple stuff well, JFK looking fit again. Daniel looking like Daniel does when he starts, which isn’t generally that good, but you can’t have everything I guess.
The first half was pretty good, and results elsewhere were going for us, so it was a relatively relaxed group of us that met in the bar at half-time, even if we weren’t feeling over confident that we would hold on.
The second half went how we’d feared – we started sitting back, the confidence went, the passes started to go astray, and we all knew what would happen next. They scored. And then they scored again. And I think at point, even those of us who’ve been remaining confident and positive knew our fate for the season.
Highlight of the game was playing ‘Daniel? Go Long!’ ((c) the Friends episode with the Geller cup) every time their was a corner or a free kick near either box.
I get a bit cross at times when people say that Robbo doesn’t have a plan B. First of all he plays a formation that allows for an enormous amount of flexibility anyway, but in recent months he’s gone well beyond that. He’s had our team of passing footballers digging in, time wasting and grinding out points, which is exactly the right thing to do at times.
There are times though, when Robbo doesn’t seem to act in a way that’s appropriate to the situation we’re in, and with the substitutions tonight he excelled himself. You’re 1-0 up after half-time, and you’re really under pressure, but you leave Revell, who seems to be the one guy able to hold the ball up and win things in the air at the moment, you leave him on the bench until we’re 2-1 down. You have Jonny Williams and Bowditch on the bench, each of which provides attacking promise and options, yet they don’t even get on the pitch. And Jay Emmanuelle-Thomas does? In what universe does that make sense?
It’s not over yet, but it’s close. Defeat on Saturday and we really will be dead and buried of course, but if we can keep it alive, then there will still be a little bit of hope, and we know what can happen with just a little bit of hope.
I think I said this at the weekend, but we don’t have the psychological strength to win a match at the moment. Wolves weren’t very good. They really weren’t. We were good enough to beat them. But we weren’t strong enough to beat them. And I really can’t see that changing.
So bring on the Millers on Saturday and let us see if we can bring Colin’s run of form to grinding halt. If we can do that, we’ll just have to wait and see for a little bit. If we can’t, then at least we can sit back and relax, because it will be over.
Derek Dougan. He’s what springs to mind when I think of Wolves. Derek Dougan. I also think of Winkie (as a supporter), one-time Dons Season Ticket Holder and one-time MooCamp radio Show guest Wolfie Oz (because he hates being reminded of it) and Steve Bull (as a former player). But it’s really Derek Dougan that epitomises everything to do with Wolves as far as I’m concerned. He wrote a book you see.
I can remember the cover – it had a picture of Derek Dougan on the front of it, in a Wolves top oddly enough, and I was probably nine or ten when I bought it from a school jumble sale. It was an autobiography, and told all about his life and his time as a footballer, and I remember being really inspired by it. I wanted to be a footballer. I didn’t want to be Derek Dougan (that would have been ridiculous – he played for Wolves ffs) I wanted to be Liam Brady – but I can remember reading about just how glamorous the life of a footballer in 70s England really was. Which I’m sure by modern standards it can’t have been. He had a great tache though, though oddly I’ve never wanted one of those. Even though I’ve got one now, but that came with a beard, so it doesn’t count. I have no idea what I’m talking about.
The other thing that I think of when I think of Wolves is my mum, and her desperate attempts to do good when I was younger. Having asked for an Arsenal top repeatedly, my poor mum used to buy whatever football related clothing she could find, and I don’t think she ever understood the difference. One of the most legendary purchases was a ‘Wolves Gold’ football top. Not an actual Wolves top, but clearly Wolves colours, which as a young Arsenal fan, was difficult to say the least. Though not as bad as the claret and blue tracksuit, but that’s for another day.
Anyway, the thing about Wolves for me is that I’m torn – I like them as a club, I loved Derek Dougan’s book, but I had to wear that damn top, so I despise them too.
As far as the game goes, we’ve confirmed that Dave Martin is out till the end of the season, and it’s now been announced that Rob Hall is our for 6-9 months – poor lad – get well soon. Will either of those make a significant difference to the remainder of our season? No idea, but they add to the excuse bank.
There’s a feeling of resignation around the support at the moment. Not so much to do with recent results, but more to do with what seem like the impossible odds against us putting the sort of run together that would keep us up. Stranger things have happened of course, and if we manage to get a win tonight, and results elsewhere go our way, then the great escape is back on. Particularly with Rotherham coming to stay on Saturday. Very doubtful though – the teams around us seem to have found a second wind, while we just look out of breath.
Part of me wants it over, because the hope is painful, but in reality, I’m going to keep being positive (I have a feeling I don’t sound very positive right now 😉 ) until the enlarged woman has serenaded us all.
If ever there was a great day out ruined by the football, then this was it.
It started well – a beautiful sunny day in Milton Keynes, lots of coaches lined up outside the Arena (AKA the Semi-Colon) and lots of Dons fans milling about. The wonderful people at Piglets’ Pantry had laid on free brunch for all (not sure whether that was a marketing exercise from them or if it was funded by the club – probably a bit of both) so having grabbed a sausage roll and a Coke, we climbed the stairway to Coach 10.
Coach trips are never the most entertaining thing, but twitter wars can raise the boredom threshold a little – #CoachWars and #CoachWarsSoundtracks kept us going a little, spread to Facebook and at one point had representatives from about half of the coaches, all talking bollocks about how great their coach was, and the rubbish/cool/odd music they were listening to. Coach 10 won. I love being a grown up 😉
For those of you who aren’t up to speed with the charitable element of the day – we had nine people who had walked the entire way from Milton Keynes to Fulham, and two who had Kayaked, all raising money for Willen Hospice. The original plan was to raise £1,000, which then became £3,000, and then £5,000 as donations flooded in. All along the journey, we were getting updates through Facebook and Twitter of the progress that the Walkers and Kayakers were making, with each group making the final stages of their three day journeys as we relaxed into our air-conditioned seats. Everyone was due to meet at the statue of Johnny Haynes at 2:00pm, where the participants could receive our applause, meet Winkie, and the rest of us could bask in the reflected glory of those who’d done simply amazing things to get there.
Winkie was late (as usual ;-)) but not that late – much applause was applauded, great photos were taken, and many hugs were hugged. It’s quite incredible what some people are prepared to do to raise money for others, and I applaud each and every one of you.
So into the ground then – nice and busy, and there was an atmosphere building, both in the bars and up in the stand. The stewards were insistent that everyone went up the right stairway for their ticket, which in my experience never bodes well for a nice relaxed afternoon. If you’ll allow me to rant for a while, this sort of stewarding ‘control’ always seems to be more than a little futile in a football environment. The aim presumably is to ensure that everyone sits in their designated seat, but unless you’re in an environment where every seat has been sold (and I think we can safely say that’s not likely to happy very often for us) I honestly can’t see a single point in it. It’s not the theatre, where you’re able to choose a specific seat – you’re given the next one off the top of the pile and you have no choice in where that seat is. If everyone did sit in the seat randomly allocated by the order in which they bought them, you end up with friends separated, people wanting to sit in with those wanting to stand and vice versa, people wanting to sing in with those preferring not to and vice versa. There are no security implications either, because no club has the faintest idea which tickets are allocated to any individual. Frankly it’s all a bit daft.
Anyway, the atmosphere rocked – we were on good form in the stands, though almost nothing could be heard from the Fulham crowd except for the sound of 10,000 cardboard ‘clackers’. I should point out that while a lot of people were loudly proclaiming how plastic the clackers were and how we’d never do anything like that, we would and we have. The Morecambe game at the end of the JPT/Promotion season was awash with them, and plastic as they are, they were rather good on the day, and when accompanied by pretty continuous chanting they sounded great. On their own though? A bit crap really.
Football-wise, we weren’t good. We looked like a side that was low on confidence and low on ideas, and we were lucky to go in at half-time on equal terms. Fulham hit the post, and while they didn’t force any/many saves from Cody in the first half, they had enough opportunities that they should have. It was good to have JFK back in midfield, but he looked a little sluggish, which wasn’t too surprising for his first game back.
Halftime entertainment was provided by the daft racist behind me who, when asked by another fan to rein in his ‘Abdul’ related shouts at the steward got all hot and bothered. His insistence that the rest of us who were taking an interest should ‘turned round and watch the game’ seemed to be unmoved by the fact that as it was halftime, there was nothing else to watch. To be fair, his mates seemed a little embarrassed by him, but weren’t able to or interested in calming him down (which is always a sign that perhaps you’re hanging round with the wrong people 😉 #justsaying). One of their group suggested that it was none of our business, and that we were ‘grasses’ which was the first time I’ve found myself in the middle of an Eastenders episode at a game ;-). Another of their group very politely suggested that I shouldn’t do anything to ‘wind him up’, but to be honest, if being asked politely to calm it down and stop being racist towards the stewards winds someone up, then fuck him. A storm in a teacup of course, doesn’t mean anything in the wider scheme of things, but an indication of something that we’ll have to deal with as a fanbase. I’ve got a lovely photo of the guy in question if the club are interested.
Second half – we conceded, then woke up a little bit and looked more likely to score for a while. Then we did. Then we looked more likely to concede again. Then we did. We did look more threatening in the second half, but the same old defensive frailties that have haunted us all season were on hand to make Fulham look like world-beaters. The lack of goal threat that has haunted us all season was again on hand to make Fulham look like defensive masterminds. No idea how that bloke who scythed George down stayed on the pitch – a straight red in any other game I’ve seen this season. Wouldn’t have had a bearing on the game in any way though.
Robbo suggested in his post match interview that we deserved a point from it. We didn’t. They could have had three or four more in the second half, were it not for a great performance from Cody, and we very rarely came close to threatening their goal. We’re not psychologically strong enough to win games against the teams that we have to be taking points from. We look lost.
It’s not all over of course – the teams around us are down there for a reason, and while some (well almost all) of them are having some form of resurgence, it might not last. We’d still have to produce the sort of consistency over the remaining matches that we’ve been unable to muster up at all this season, and I can’t see us doing that, but I’ll remain positive until it’s mathematically impossible for us to stay up.
If we do go down, we’ll brush ourselves off, whinge for a bit, then get back into it and enjoy league 1 again.
The one really sour point (other than the football) was hearing that some of the walkers had been denied entry into the game, having walked 54 miles to attend it. I can’t quite imagine what that must feel like for them, and I really can’t understand what Fulham FC are doing to let something like this happen. Complimentary tickets that were provided to the Walkers by Winkie and Andrew Cullen were said to be fakes by the stewards on the gates. Personal intervention by Andrew Cullen helped out with some of them, but others ended up back in the pub, missing the match that they’d put so much into attending. Poor show Fulham – very poor show. Something significant needs to be done to make it up to the fans in question, AND something significant needs to be done to support the charity in question.
All in all, a great day out, marred slightly by an angry racist and the Fulham stewards attitudes to the walkers.
This Just In – in what has been described as one of the most hypocritical attacks in recent memory, disgraced Olympic sprinter and drug-cheat Ben Johnson today launched a blistering attack on Karl ‘Robbo’ Robinson’s handling of the Samir Caruthers PissGate story.
In a plea published in today’s Milton Keynes Citizen, Johnson claimed that the Dons were ‘the most unpopular side in the UK’, that Caruthers was a ‘Disgusting Juvenile’ and that the Dons were allegedly ‘a family club’.
The MooCamp says “We won’t be lectured on morality by a disgraced drug cheat, so how about sorting that out first Mr so-called Johnson? If you’re keen to have your views taken seriously, then how about popping back in time and not cheating in the 1988 Olympic 100m final first eh? Get your own house in order Mr Johnson, then, and only then, you can come back and have a go at our fine urinating lads.”
We’d also like to gently criticise the lack of consistency used – reference to both Milton Keynes Dons and Milton Keynes Football Club in the same article breaks all established rules of franchise bashing.
(The reference to ‘splashed’ in the first sentence was quite funny though)
More on this once we’ve established when he moved from Canada.