1. It’s been a long time since I’ve written one of these blogs – no doubt a fact that’s delighted the vast majority of you – but a much-needed K’s victory at Enfield has inspired your correspondent to pen five thoughts. It would be easy to blame a busy life and too much work for the absence of activity on this site for the past few months, but the truth is that K’s dire form has been the main contributor. Firstly, it’s not much fun to go and watch a dismal defeat and then sit down and write about it; I’d much rather forget about the whole experience the minute I eventually get home from Leatherhead (or wherever). Secondly, I haven’t even been to that many games recently – and I’ve missed some of those on purpose. For somebody who has already been to Lowestoft away and Bognor at Worthing on a Tuesday night this season, this is quite a big deal; in fact, thinking about it, this is the first time I’ve deliberately stopped going to K’s every week for about a decade, previously only missing games for other events or work. We’ve regularly been dreadful in the last decade, and we’ve had spells playing even worse, but in my view watching K’s has never been as depressing as it has been since November. You can’t feel a bond with a team that changes every week, up to 68 players now this season; it’s hard to feel like cheering on the new right-back every week when you know the manager has released a club legend in favour of a revolving door; it’s impossible to get excited about a “great new signing” as trumpeted by Dynan when most of the players we sign who aren’t on loan seem to be his overweight mates; I’m still fuming at the board agreeing to spend thousands of pounds on two players from Whyteleafe who are both now playing back in the pub league; I can’t stand having to buy a train ticket at Vauxhall to go outside the M25 on a long journey when K’s look like never scoring again on a pitch resembling the Somme; I hate that Sutton are fighting for promotion to the football league while we’re trying to avoid the trap-door to the Ryman One South. For the time being, I’ve just had enough. That doesn’t mean I’m not supporting the club – I’ve already done my bit this season – but I can’t motivate myself to go every week. But a big away day, you say? A few pre-match pints and a good sing-song? I’m there…and so I was there at Enfield and I’ll be there at Dorking and I’ll be there at Margate. Even K’s on-pitch performance can’t ruin a well-planned away day.
2. It looked very much like K’s wretched form was about to continue on Saturday. An already make-shift line-up with winger Yao at right back became an even more lop-sided eleven after only a couple of minutes when K’s only enforcer, Marvin Elliott, was forced off and replaced by nimble wide-man Connor Hunte. This left the K’s travelling contingent – and probably the K’s players, in all fairness – scratching their heads and wondering what system we were trying to play. At times it looked like 4-4-2, at times 4-2-3-1, and at times a narrow 4-3-3. A kind interpretation would be to give Leigh Dynan the benefit of the doubt and say that we were playing with the kind of tactical fluidity normally only seen at the highest level; equally, it was impossible to escape the conclusion that the players looked like they’d never met. K’s were 1-0 down and floundering against an Enfield side who looked cut out to play in the heavy conditions, boasting a big target man and two no-nonsense centre halves.
3. Then suddenly everything changed. Connor Hunte took a good first touch in the inside right channel, turned his marker neatly, ran with the ball for 5 yards and then slammed a left-foot strike from 25 yards into the far-bottom corner. It was a beautiful goal, made to seem even more out of place by both the appalling conditions in which it was scored, and K’s performance up until this moment of magic. The goal galvanised the patchwork Kingstonian team, and for the rest of the first half the game was relatively even, albeit with both sides struggling to play on the churned-up pitch in the freezing cold rain and wind. Enfield went closest to scoring when Michael West stupidly gave the ball away attempting an ambitious turn 25 yards out, with the recipient of this good fortune hitting the post, but the teams went in level with the travelling support in good voice.
4. After another excellent pint of Redemption Pale Ale at half time (only £3.30 a pint, making up for any semi-professional drinker the steep £11 entry to watch semi-professional football) the second half resumed in the pouring rain, with the pitch getting heavier and heavier. Your correspondent was already in high spirits – and not just from the pints of Redemption – as an absolute weapon of a horse, appropriately named Kalashnikov, had scored in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. The day already paid for, it looked like it really was going to be my lucky day as wave after wave of Enfield attacks were somehow repelled, either by the woodwork (twice) or by Rob Tolfrey (more than twice). K’s then broke down the right via an energetic run by Yao, who slipped the ball down the line to West, and his perfect cross was turned in expertly by arch-poacher Andre McCollin. Ooo yeah! Tolfrey then made two more superb saves before Jerry Amoo, on for the goalscorer, looked to be brought down just outside the box, but the ref pointed to the spot. Amoo dusted himself down as best he could in the conditions, and took a poor penalty which Enfield keeper Taylor McKenzie managed to let in. McKenzie had a wretched afternoon, conceding three goals without making a save, to add to the four goals he’d conceded to K’s in the reverse fixture. When this was pointed out to him – along with the indisputable fact that he might have got down better to the penalty if he were carrying slightly less excess baggage around the middle, shall we say – he responded by offering the behind the goal fans a fight in the bar after the game. Cue many deserved renditions of “we’re in your head”! If Carlsberg did non-league goalkeepers…
5. Enfield Town offer an example of a success story that K’s can emulate. A famous club (check), forced out of their historic home (check), eventually managing to return to an athletics ground within Enfield owned the council, after raising money to help to convert it into a decent football venue. The bar is brilliant, and somewhere any fan would go out of their way to spend an hour before and after games. There are covered terraces behind each goal. It’s possible to walk there from the town centre. What more could anyone want? I am in favour of using our £1 million on Cor-Cas under certain conditions, namely that we are full 50% partners in any scheme and future ownership of the facilities. But it always has seemed very odd to me that the Kingsmeadow athletics track is simply dismissed out of hand as a solution, especially when serving Kingston councillors are trying to tell the club that there is a desire within the council to make it happen. The inside lane of the running is always the same length, so the space inside the track is always the same size in total – it’s madness to suggest this as a sticking point when there’s a million quid to spend sorting things out. It’s more about: a) whether the £1 million would enable us to get *all* the facilities on site we would need to make the ground a good place to watch football, including a good bar, and b) whether a 3G pitch can dovetail with javelin, hammer etc. I don’t know the answer to the last question – but if that’s an insurmountable problem, why don’t the board members tell us that? It’s impossible to escape the conclusion that no serious thoughts have actually been given to the athletics track solution. When you spend an enjoyable afternoon at Enfield Town, that becomes ever harder to understand.
K’s Player Ratings: *Tolfrey 9*; Yao 7, Phillips 6, Bartley 6, Musungu 7; Elliott (Hunte 7), Ciardini 6, Beere 6, West 6; McCollin 6.5, Cundle 6