1. First of all, a confession: I really haven’t seen much of K’s so far this season. I didn’t manage to get to a friendly game, being away for work for the ones I wanted to attend, and busy doing other things for others. More to the point, I didn’t get to Leiston because I was on holiday, and also managed to miss all of the Leatherhead first half horror-show due to spending a delightful two hours on a hot, sweaty commuter train somewhere between Earlsfield and Wimbledon. I even contrived to miss the opening of Saturday’s Met Police game, and in doing so missed two K’s goals. So you’ll have to take the following five thoughts with a much bigger pinch of salt than usual.
2. Anyhow, onto the football, which was glorious. K’s passed the ball well, and with purpose, choosing forward passes at every opportunity rather than the sideways-backwards kind so favoured by modern footballers (and employed far too often by K’s last season). This reflected Tommy Williams’ stated desire in one of the pre-season interviews to be “a little more direct without being long ball”. It helped massively that the two front men allowed this style of football to work: Pico Gomez dropped deep, sometimes so deep he was in central midfield, and allowed the play to be linked from back to front; meanwhile, arch poacher Richard Jolly showed that there is so much more to his game than simply goalscoring, running the channels well and also dropping into midfield occasionally to baffle the Not Police back four. On paper, these two looked like they should develop a really good partnership, and so it’s starting to prove. And while we’re on the subject of strikers, Jake Kempton came on and scored the Goal of the Season, and Ricky Sappleton is still to come into the side – so not a bad day all round.
3. But as much as the two strikers impressed, the headlines will rightly go to the midfield, who notched up 5 goals between them. Before this game, the talk was of an unbalanced side, with too many ball players and not enough tacklers and in there – and not enough tracking back by the wide men either. We probably didn’t learn whether that’s the case or not on Saturday, as Not Police simply weren’t at the races, but what we did learn is that we’ve got some good players on our books. Ty Smith passed the ball well and showed some quality from dead balls (and never underestimate the importance of that in non-league). Peter Dean’s first touch was consistently decent, and he drifted in off the left to worry Not Police’s back four to good effect. The main man, though, was Dan Bennett, who scored a deserved hat-trick from right wing. More of the same please, lads!
4. Non-league isn’t just about the quality of entertainment on the pitch, though, otherwise we’d all have found alternative Saturday afternoon pursuits a long time ago. It’s also about having fun off the pitch, something at which K’s fans have traditionally excelled, but perhaps we haven’t been as good at in the past couple of seasons, certainly at Kingsmeadow anyway. So it’s pleasing to say that Saturday was also a big win off the pitch. There were new songs, and there were some good one-liners. There was a perfect example of the old Kingsmeadow favourite of picking on one opposing player to the extent that he couldn’t wait to get off the pitch: step forward our fall guy, the Not Police number 15, who won’t forget his afternoon in a hurry. And best of all, there was a new (?) group of vocal K’s fans who’d brought along a foam hand, and unknowingly started a trend. Expect to see more foam hands at forthcoming home games – although K’s scoring so many that the chant “foam hand, foam hand, what’s the score?” becomes obsolete might not be quite as common…
5. Finally, and sorry about this, but a dampener on the celebrations. K’s last properly big win was a 9-3 win against Cray Wanderers a couple of years ago. Did that herald a great run? Not a bit of it – the win went to the players’ heads and we went on a poor run of form. So this group of players need to remember that, actually, we’ve only got 3 points from 3 games, and there’s a lot of hard work to do. If they do put the yards in, given the quality on show on Saturday, there may be a few more big entertaining wins to come. Here’s hoping.
Now, where’s my foam hand…?