The end of last season deflated me; I never expected it to be an easy ride, but nor did I expect to be a Conference team for more than a season. I didn’t think we had a God given right to promotion, when you’ve supported a league club for so long – it’s difficult to get that idea out of your system in 12 months. We are a league club; we’re just in the wrong league. As daft as that concept sounds, its how I feel.
This is not arrogance; hopefully it keeps us on our toes. A league club in the Conference is failing. The point at which we start aspiring to be a league club (rather than requiring the status) is the point at which our standards drop.
The squad has been amended rather than overhauled, there’s been evolution not revolution. This is a good thing; it also looks more solid now the Premiership has-beens have gone and Burgess, the fanciest of all the Dans, has departed to misplace raking cross-field passes elsewhere.
There’s much to look forward to; we are still the powerhouse of the division and we should expect to be battling it out at the top. The season crescendo should involve either promotion or at least the play-offs. It seems inconceivable that we will finish below 5th.
I’m quite looking forward to Aldershot’s return; who offered as much of a carnival atmosphere as the Conference can muster. That and the St Albans game were probably the two most enjoyable games of the season. Generally speaking the games last season were a refreshing change from the slow death tedium of our last few league years.
The other thing to look forward to is ConfGuide, which offers a flood of statistics and information, which can be analysed and cut in any way you want. What’s more, we always look good on it; especially when it comes to attendances.
It’s not likely to be all good; the league has sold its soul to Setanta and we’re the biggest of all its victims so far. We’re already had something like 8 games changed because of them – that’s 20% of our season fiddled around with and we haven’t even started. We’re being tossed around like a rag doll. What’s more, we’re expected to play in the Setanta Shield – which is designed to fill airtime, but just adds games and expense with little or no value.
And, above all for all the enjoyment that we might get in the coming season, we’re still a conference team, non-league. For all the wins and pushing for promotion, we’re still in ‘fail’ mode and that’s just depressing.