Red Dwarf was a rather limited concept. There is little scope for plot development when your entire premise is that everyone in the universe, bar one, has died. That’s why they invented plot devices like The Time Gate, a hole in time that, on passing through, allows you to meet yourself as a complete opposite.
It seems we’ve passed through a time gate in non-league football this summer. Big time Charlie, Greedy Matt Green, soberly returned to the small time
as a third choice striker. Ronaldo might have the arrogant swagger and talent to engineer a move to Madrid but Greedy has the only just got the skills to pay his telephone and leccy bills, not Ferarris and be-atches. Nobody ever swaggered to Torquay, unless they were over 80 or on a stag do.
The Conference’s Setanta deal was another genius move by the immaculate Brian Lee. The Conference became a Premier League and TV access came through premium rate pay-per-view. The cameras were allowed into the dressing room so that fans could smell the tactical mind of the manager. “Just fucking launch it, Sean” never had so much meaning. Suddenly football being played on a potato field surrounded by four cattle sheds was supposed to be sexy and its precocious talents, like Greedy, were stars.
But that was in the days when the small time was the big time and the big time was the absolutely fucking gigantic time. Now we’ve passed through the time gate, a more sober world beckons.
For us, Greedy is a good move, a decent third striker who could easily put another 10 goals onto our tally for next season. For the Conference, a re-think is needed. It is small town, localised football but it’s competitive and affordable. If it is sold like the over inflated Premiership it will eventually be found for what it is.
Ah, the duplicity of professional football. Despite Matt Green claiming that a verbal deal had been done and that all his family and friends has been telling him to move to Oxford, he’s gone to where all old Oxford players seem to end up these days; Torquay.
It’s difficult not to appear bitter about it. Rationally he should go for the best deal he can get. Equally, there are plenty of strikers in the world and so signing one with a dodgy knee hardly guarantees promotion. So, we should see this as a set back not a disaster.
It would be naive to think that the autistic loyalty that forces you and I to renew our season tickets should extend to the players. However, if he was undecided, then he should keep his mouth shut. Sadly the arrogance of footballers, footballers who are strikers, footballers who are strikers that are in demand, prevent them from aggrandising themselves at every opportunity.
Is this a symptom of the lack of ambition and/or competence at the club? The fans seem to think so. It’s early days, we shouldn’t expect much before July if the last couple of years is anything to go by, but we do seem to be in a worse situation than we were at the end of last season.
Striking has been a problem for the last couple of years. Last season Jim Smith inexplicably thought we were well served despite having a roster made up of Gary Twigg and a bunch of misfiring duds. This year, we have Yemi alone. Prospects for next season aren’t doomed just yet, but there’s a lot of work to do before August.
No major surprises in the elegantly named ‘retained’ list. Carl Pettefer was always a bit of an oddity; he did that Paul Scholes industriousness really well but neither Jim Smith nor Darren Patterson seemed to like him. Maybe it was wages, injuries or attitude, but something prevented him from being a more permanent member of the squad.
You always knew when Eddie Hutchinson was about to get injured because he started playing well. His eager bluster did little to disguise a lack of quality. He may have been a useful player to throw in at times of crisis, but salary meant carrying a rarely needed footballing Kate Aide was a luxury too far.
Rob Duffy, The Enigma, will no doubt be seen trotting up and down the touchline as a substitute for some aspirant promotion hopeful in the coming months – “Ooh, he scored over 20 goals for Oxford one year”. His defining moment was his one-on-one against Exeter, the moment he tamely rolled the ball into the arms of the keeper was the moment his Oxford career was effectively over.
The Danny Rose brand – Ex-Captain of Manchester United Reserves – fooled many a Kassam regular who would obliquely comment on how much we needed his ‘creativity’. The sad truth is, as small and cute as he looks, he just wasn’t up to the job.
Richards and Blackwood never looked likely to stay long. Jamie Hand was improving and one wonders whether Patterson may have another look at him if he’s still available in August. One must question just how long Chris Willmott’s contract is for. I was sure his name would eventually surface.
The biggest surprise was probably Craig McCallister; who I thought was a useful foil for speed freaks like Yemi and Matt Green. Whilst he was never going to net 20 goals a season, his ability to hold the ball up and link up with the midfield allowed us to control games much better than we did with the sauntering Duffy.
What’s more, I don’t think we’ll keep Matt Green, it feels like his gaze has gone elsewhere already and there’s a long summer and a lot of clubs looking to take a chance on a half decent striker ahead. With only the recently revitalised Yemi staying, but still not fully redeemed, we could start next season right back where we started.