1. First of all, a look at the positives from last night’s game:
– A win is a win;
– A clean sheet is a clean sheet;
– Ryan Moss was magnificent up front in every way: he was a constant goal threat but he also led the line with physicality and perseverance;
– Against eleven men, K’s were the better side.
2. Sadly, though, I left the ground last night feeling fairly depressed about where our football club is going this season. And I say our football club, not our football team, because it’s actually the off-field stuff which is beginning to bother me more. 201 people watched Kingstonian v W&F last night, the lowest league gate that I know of – and there were at least 20 Wingate fans in attendance, making it even worse. We need a radical new approach to attracting new supporters to Kingsmeadow, as the current strategy clearly isn’t working. There needs to be some big, strategic thinking at board level, and a proper targeted plan to improve gates over years, not months. Target an average of 400 next season, 450 the season after, 500 after that, and so on – and then review why we haven’t managed to hit those levels. I’m sure there are plenty of fans who would be willing to give up time – and perhaps even some money, given some of us have already offered to chip in for something similar – in order to try to save this football club. I really do mean “save this football club”, by the way – because what’s the point of a football club without supporters? I don’t want to support, and in fact wouldn’t support, a club like Harrow Borough, and if nothing is done, that’s where we’re headed. Having said all of that, my biggest worry is that it may not even be possible to attract a significant number of new fans to games when for £5 more you can watch League Two football in the same stadium. God’s speed to Merton, Dons.
3. The other problem is the general matchday experience at Kingsmeadow, which hardly encourages new supporters to attend, or those who go regularly to have a great time. There’s one major thing we can’t control – the fact that we now play in a three-sided ground – but the others we can have some influence over. I got into the ground at 7:44 last night, to be informed there weren’t any 50/50 tickets because “someone forgot to order the new books”. I’m sure that was an honest mistake by whichever volunteer does this, and I don’t mean to demean the great work they do, but it just adds to the feeling of the club becoming more and more tinpot. Again, as has been the case all season, there was no ale available at half time (it “ran out” after the first couple of half time pints were poured, despite there being four taps available in theory) and again, I was told, “it’s okay, I’ll get you a Guinness”. If the bar staff – and bar manager – don’t realise that wanting a pint of ale and being offered a pint of Guinness is the same as wanting a pint of lager and being offered a pint of cider, then I give up hope. Are the club hierarchy putting pressure on AFCW over this clown of a bar manager? He is directly costing us money. For instance, several W&F fans refused to buy anything last night as all they really wanted was a pint of ale. Worst of all, there seemed to be a toxic atmosphere in the Main Stand last night. The football didn’t help – it was fucking dreadful, no matter what Dowse says, and no, it certainly isn’t hard to play against nine men Alan! – but when there’s only 200 people in attendance, 25 negative voices can be heard very well by those on the pitch. The solution? Not to ban them, or have a word, but to get higher gates and drown them out! It’s as simple as that.
4. The limitations of the current squad were laid bare last night. Dowse clearly thought that 3-5-2 was the way to play against W&F, having presumably scouted them accordingly. To achieve that system, we had a winger up front (Charlie Knight, who did okay), an out-and-out full back at wing-back (Aaron Goode, who actually acquitted himself really well), and our best central midfielder at left wing-back (Josh Casey). If Dowse wants to play 3-5-2, we need at least two players in key positions, something the manager conceded in his post-match interview. But it needs to be remembered that the team which put K’s in a top 5 position by winning consistently earlier in the season played a classic 4-4-2. Let’s not tinker for tinkering’s sake.
5. Finally, it has to be said that Wingate & Finchley were absolutely outstanding in the second half with nine men. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more determined half from a team at this level. Hats off to the nine players on the pitch and the Wingate manager, who organised his team exceptionally well, shifting his lads around like chess pieces as we desperately tried new approaches. How a team can be so brilliantly disciplined one half, and so rash in the other, remains somewhat of a mystery, however…