Snow Joke


I’ve wanted to use that headline for ages. I don’t think the game was a joke as it happens and full marks to the club and the ref for getting the game on. I think too much is made these days about snow and the playing surface. If this had been Man U vs Man City, then perhaps the game wouldn’t have gone ahead, but this was the scrag end of a game, between two middling clubs, at the scrag end of a non-league season. In the olden days we played in much worse than that.  When I was a lad…

As long as the conditions are the same for both teams then bring it on I say, certainly brings out more facets of the game, such as who can hoof the ball whilst not slipping on his arse, and that sort of thing.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game, I had a great afternoon, and having not seen the team play since the Hyde debacle due to work commitments abroad (I’ve got a lovely tan now – Buckle, mine’s natural) I can certainly see some improvement – mind  you – anything would have been an improvement on the Hyde game. There’s a  degree of defensive discipline that there wasn’t before. You watch where the centre half not on the ball goes, when his colleague is on the ball, it is little things like that which make a big difference over a season, and I guess there’s more to come.

Having been at the bottom, the nadir of our history, we are slowly, very slowly, climbing back up the other side. Small steps are what we are taking, mind  you yesterday small steps were the only thing you could take if you didn’t want to end up on your backside.

JohnStill said that we are building from the back and they certainly looked a more effective defensive unit. LRT actually looked like a left back (presumably he has a JohnStill boot-shaped bruise on his derriere) McLumpy looked composed and in charge, Goodman less so but still good and Simon ‘I was a right back all along’ Ainge keeping out our Ronnie. Ainge linked up well with Dave Martin on the right, and when he swapped over, with Jake Howells, who, corner taking aside, looks to be getting back to somewhere near where he would have been, but for Brabin and Buckle’s incessant tinkering.

Tyler barely touched it, and when he did he threw it out as often as he hoofed it.

I liked the look of Taiwo. Seemingly amazing to once again have a central midfielder who can put his foot on the ball and pass it along the floor to other players, bringing them into the game and getting an attack going. We have been frighteningly short of this basic requirement for a while now. Presumably JohnStill will introduce other fundamentals such as crossing the ball to a player in an orange shirt and heading the ball on target at some point too.

Joking aside, there are some signs that things are slowly coming together, and I suspect had Shaw’s excellent cross to Wall have gone in, it would have been the first of many. As ever, we still lack that final piece of the jigsaw: regular quality balls in, and someone to stick the ball in the old onion bag. Perhaps because of the conditions yesterday it is unfair to criticise too much, if at all. One thing I did notice yesterday was how Rendell was less keen to get stuck in than John Shaw had been. Though Scott is a small striker trapped in a tall man’s body I suspect JohnStill would have noticed it too.

Jonathan Smith ran around like a mad thing and had a good game. He had five midfielders up against him and did his best to win the ball from each of them.

JohnStill says he now has an idea of those he wants to bring on his journey – though he is still keen to tinker with the team to confirm his thinking, plus is looking forward to finding a strike partnership.

I’m wondering about Stuart Fleetwood. He is out of contract in the summer, and I think has indicated his willingness to stay. He has a hernia at present, but has opted out of having the op he needs until the close season. There must be a reason for this – perhaps it is to give him the opportunity to prove himself to the manager? He wasn’t on the bench yesterday- so not quite sure what is happening with him.

Looking at those not playing yesterday, and bearing in mind JohnStill says he knows who is staying and who is going can we draw any conclusions from the omissions? Is JJ for the chop? Mendy? Thomas, Richards, Spiller, Taylor, Watkins, Kovacs even? It will be interesting to see. Once again the summer will see the revolving door of one manager’s hopefuls become another managers discards. Can’t be much fun for any of them – presumably all but the youngsters have mortgages to pay and mouths to feed.  Thomas is an interesting one – signed by Buckle with the board’s blessing immediately after the FA Cup windfall, he may or may not be our highest paid player. If he doesn’t feature in JohnStill’s plans, that’ll be a hell of a pay-off and more money down the drain – though I’m just guessing of course.  It’s not for me to say, I don’t know anything of his contract. This all pure indulgent conjecture based in slim evidence, so we’ll leave it there.

He hinted that he might try and get Goodman back for another season – Goodman didn’t sound as keen – using the phrase ‘another club’ next year if not in Millwall’s plans.  He has also hinted that there is another player in the pipeline who may be coming in shortly or in close season. We live in interesting times.  Our piss-poor position is a blessing in disguise – it gives JohnStill a series of practise matches to both inform his opinion about the squad he inherited and the players a seven week long job interview.  Unlike last year there is no race for the play offs, no instant gratification required. The long, slow process of building a team to get us out next year, or the year after has begun.

Looking back, it could all have been so different. How close have we been to going up? But for Jason Walker (remember him?) heading against the post in the dying seconds at Manchester, or chipping his penalty up the middle, or that shocking offside goal that York won with last year. I’ve said it before, if it wasn’t for bad luck we’d have no luck at all. But, if we had gone up then, under Brabin or Buckle, was the club really at peace with itself? It would have been lovely not playing park teams any more, but were Brabin and Buckle really the men to take us forwards and upwards? As I said, you never know, it may have been a blessing in disguise, hard though that is to stomach right now.

But they say good things come to those that wait. We’ve been waiting (im)patiently for four years, it will be five or six years before we go up – but go up we will. We might even pass the likes of Wimbledon, York or even Plymouth on their journey back down. Who would have the last laugh then?



By the way, I’ve been wracking my brains over these past few weeks, trying to work out who JohnStill reminds me of. I’ve got the answer below (apologies to both):

A Sontaran                                                                              JohnStill


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