New Year’s Eve and The Blues travelled to Lowestoft – just about the furthest possible destination and one that had some fans questioning just who comes up with the fixtures list! In fairness, Lowestoft were either going to be at home or travelling a fair old distance themselves, which they did the previous season, so I guess it all evens itself out over time. I wasn’t able to make the game – central heating issues and the death of our gas oven meant a trip to the shops to get parts and order a new stove 😦
When Lowestoft visited Wingate and Finchley in the early matches of the season they were mugged – two quick goals and a lot of defending by the home side. This time they were ready and able. Lying second in the division and very likely to finish top – I understand from the official report that they took hold of the game and may have been disappointed not to have won by more than the 2 goal margin at the end. It’s fair to say that we didn’t expect to get anything better than a draw at their place and the fans were ok with a losing scoreline that was not embarrassing.
Bank Holiday Monday saw The Blues back on home territory to face Wealdstone. We defeated them with 10 men back at the start of the season. Since then they have turned their season around and got some good results on the board. They have also brought in some loanee’s from Watford FC to bolster the team and their line-up included two of these.
I have really struggled to find words to cover this game… It seemed pretty even in the first 20 minutes and then Wealdstone scored from one of those weird moments when nobody seems to be able to see where the ball is. A long throw into the area bouncing over a sea of players and the guy on the far post gets a free header to put it away! I’d like to blame the low sun in the players eyes… but I’m not sure even that holds water 😦 After that it was one way traffic. Bobby pulled off some great saves and frightened Wealdstone’s Fitzgerald into missing a penalty but it was only a matter of time before they got a second and the teams went into the break at 2-0 to the visitors. Even before then though, I was passed by a Wingate regular who muttered – ‘If they can’t be bothered, I can’t either’ – that really sums up how bad it looked to the fans 😦
The second half was worse – though I did have a light hearted chat with Wealdstone’s photographer shortly after the break, which at least gave me something enjoyable to do. Wealdstone ran amok and scored 3 goals to make the final score 5-0 to the visitors. It was a performance that left some of the home supporters seeking the warmth of the bar sometime before the half was over whilst others just left. Another regular said to me ‘I’m not coming over here to watch this… ‘. Of course, he will be back next week, but not for many more games with the current quality of play exhibited by the team. The gut feeling was that the team lacked motivation or the will to do well. I don’t know what Harry would have thought – puffing on his pipe – just as well he was away!
Retiring to the bar on such a night is always an option. It’s the place where the hardened fans get to discuss the issues that they see with the team and the management set-up. I think the one thing the fans were unanimous upon was that the keeper was blameless – 5-0 could very easily have been 10-0 were it not for Bobby’s efforts. Our thoughts turned elsewhere and long discussions ensued. Questions were asked about the level of consistency – a good performance against Bury and again against Hendon followed by the absense of anything resembling teamwork against Wealdstone. It led us to ask what is going on at managerial level in the club. This season we have a Manager, Assistant Manager and a Coach – is there a clear message being sent to the players by that structure? A Unified Chain of Command as the military would word it. Or are different messages being received from different people in that management chain?
A number of the players who served us so well in the previous two seasons have found themselves sidelined during this campaign and have drifted away – the latest to leave being Paul Wright who put in some steadfast performances at Left Back last season. The fans are asking why these players have been sidelined? We asked about David Laird – often a great foil to the pace of Leon Smith up front with the ability of flypaper to stick a ball. Often unavailable – you can’t run a team like that – was the response. But why is he unavailable – because he’s not getting regular first team football and he’s understandably looking to get football elsewhere.
It feels that the management have been gently easing players out of the squad to bring others in – supposedly strengthening the squad. The trouble is that few of the fans can see any sign that the new players are better than the ones they are supplanting. On top of this (one of the problems for managers of non-league teams) – it gets back to the fans via indirect routes that players are unhappy with the way that the manager praises players who have not had a good game, leaving those that did have a good game bemused and slighted. The overall effect is that the team is not really a team. Why oh why has it been allowed to come to this and why couldn’t we keep as many of the previous season’s players involved as possible?
I Don’t know what the Chairman thinks but he did spend a long time talking to the Manager and he did express his disappointment to us on the way out afterwards
There is a great deal of unrest among the Wingate & Finchley fans at present… 😦
All thoughts expressed are my own and do not represent the views of Wingate & Finchley FC.