I had a rip-roaring post (if I do say so myself!) - titled 'Oldest. Ground. Ever.' and referencing, among other things: The Simpsons, Area Action Plans, Maidenhead Rugby Club, Goldie Lookin Chain, Poole Town, two Grannies fighting over the Daily Mail in Windsor Library, the shadow cabinet, X-factor judging panel and Conservative government U-turns - written and ready to go following last Saturday's blue plaque unveiling at York Road.
I was planning to follow this up with another post which concluded that the KSG had 'stopped caring', as seemingly evidenced by ...
- The 'Didcot Disaster' - I am usually up for at least a short blast of vocal support, towards the end of the game, but couldn't be motivated at all and, sadly, I wasn't the only one (leading Mr Logic to go on the defensive ... )
- The recent half-time ejection of a former Bristol Rovers Director from the Memorial Ground, which overshadowed their first home win of the season and has prompted serious talk among Gasheads of petitions, protests and even boycotts
- The fact that interest from others in a £17 return train journey to Salisbury City - one of the few decent away days in the league - was non-existent, meaning that Macleod (M) and I will likely be at another FA Cup game that Saturday ... or at home on the sofa
- The shocking realisation that I couldn't be bothered to continue
an argumenta debate with Educated Left Foot (primarily) on an AFC Conference South forum thread (as some readers will be able to confirm, I would normally go on and on and on and on ... )
As it is, 'Oldest. Ground. Ever.' (and its appendage) will remain - for the moment, at least - unreleased. Only to be used in the future, perhaps, as a bonus track on a Greatest Hits, Live or Commemorative album.
Why shelved? Allow me to explain ...
It came to my attention the other day that GMOSC is two-years-old this month. Over 100 posts and 23.3K page views in the meantime. I have enjoyed writing; people have apparently enjoyed reading. The fact that progress is apparently being made - finally - on the building of a new stand, and that phrases like 'family club, 'contract extension', and 'bad luck, injuries, referees, financial constraints' are now commonly used, in jest, by Magpie fans - indeed, the fact that Drax has his own parody (?) Twitter account - is a source of some pride.
I'd like to think that most people with at least half a brain cell (which, admittedly, doesn't incorporate everyone at York Road ... ) now realise - if they didn't from the outset - that we were royally stitched up (when being ejected at Ebbsfleet, in the first place, and then banned from York Road). It could be argued - with, admittedly, some justification - that I/ we have dwelt upon on Ebbsfleet far too much and for far too long. Hopefully, though, this is illustrative of how unjustly I/ we felt treated; the extent to which I/ we felt hurt and let down by what unfolded.
The ejection and subsequent banning of the aforementioned former Bristol Rovers Director (if not the subsequent public/ online outrage) had some similarities to our situation. There were several posts, across a number of threads, on the Rovers Alternative Forum - to which the former Director in question was a regular and highly-respected contributor - that resonated. None more so than the following line ...
Like others I feel I want to go but, when I do, I feel angry and can't contribute anything positive.
I am opinionated and outspoken by nature (blame my mother!). As such, rather than not contributing anything at all - if I cannot contribute anything positive - then I am likely to contribute something negative (see the D. H. Lawrence quote, further down). However, I have now become rather jaded of peddling the same antagonistic rhetoric. Furthermore, I suspect it likely that people have become as bored about reading the post-Ebbsfleet bad vibes, as I have about writing them. This, coupled with the points above (Salisbury etc.), lead me to seriously contemplate whether it was time to call 'it' quits ...
Those reaching for the brandy and cigars, at this point, should hold their horses, however. For I have been saved! An evening spent watching - with 61 others, including old friend Steve Henson (whom - I hope he won't mind me mentioning on here - has had better years, rather putting things into perspective for me) - the Youth team's well-deserved and rather thrilling 2-1 (AET) victory over Forest Green Rovers in the FA Youth Cup was a sharp but welcome reminder that visiting York Road and supporting the Magpies can be an enjoyable experience.
The fact that it was an entertaining game (as hinted at above) certainly didn't hurt. Nor that it was a match-up between two fiercely competitive but seemingly ego- and histrionic-free teams, refereed by an official who didn't need/ want to be the star of the show, watched by an engrossed and knowledgeable crowd. It was good to see Drax present (superbly dressed in a woolly hat, grey tracksuit and yellow Caterpillar boots) and also to chat with ex-Magpie striker and current Berks & Bucks Youth coach Steve Hale (who did bemoan the lack of MUFC players in the bar afterwards; probably past their bed time, though, Steve!). The not-unfriendly welcome from Steward Jnr (par for the course with him, TBF), the courteous and chatty barmaid, and the restoration of the walls in Stripes (including the fancy dress sponsored walk certificate from Parkinson's UK and the Hall of Fame photos, albeit not in the correct order, and some frame-less) were other plus points.
We have - as per usual, it would seem - a Youth team to savour and, in Sam Lock and Aaron Steadman (both happy, BTW, to chat with us in the bar, post-match), coaches who are determined to see their charges progress ... crucially, to the Maidenhead United first team. Here's hoping
some many will. Brandon Baker-Timms, Ryan Debattista and Jason Belgrave (I - unlike Hale, Henson and the MUFC coaches - thought the latter looked more threatening out wide, rather than up top on his own ... but what do I know??) are just a few - of several - names to look out for. I, for one, would like the Youth team to play on Monday nights more often - as I usually play myself (albeit badly) on Wednesday nights - but I hope to make the next round, away at Cheltenham Town, later in the month. Regardless, I wish them all the very best.
“I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze” - D. H. Lawrence penned in a 1913 letter to Cynthia Asquith. I can (or, hopefully, could) empathise with that sentiment, if truth be told. Perhaps it should be noted, however, that - as per Wikipedia - Lawrence's opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile ... At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents.
Thanks - in no small part - to Henson and the Youth team, the other night, I now fully appreciate it is time for me to 'draw a line under' Ebbsfleet. Not to forgive, necessarily, and certainly not to forget. But to move on.
“To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by a bee.” ~ William H. Walton
“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” ~ Herm Albright
OK, a positive attitude. Here goes ...
The Manager, meanwhile, is seemingly aloof, often foul-mouthed in the dugout, full-of-excuses after a defeat and too loyal to his clique ... but he is a fundamentally talented football operator and nobody better is available or would likely want the job. As aforementioned, the grass isn't always (Dennis) greener.
That'll do for now. Small steps an' all that!
In all seriousness, some may point out that they'd heard all of this 'more positive, going forward' guff from me before. And that would be a fair point. Therefore, as gesture of goodwill - and further to a comment at the foot of a previous post - I will make a fixed contribution to the Link Foundation charity for each league goal that David Pratt scores for the Magpies this season, in excess of the 11 that his namesake Vernon got, one season, in the mid-90s.
I won't be disappointed if/ when he gets a hatful, and my wallet takes a battering.