Almost away

Cod Almighty | Article

by Alistair Wilkinson

7 September 2010

I love being a football fan. I love to bear a grudge and I love the short memory. I love the anger and the forgiveness. I love the embarrassment and the pride. I love the illusion and the reality.

Histon and Luton summed up this equipoise perfectly. I left the ground after the first of those games even more deflated than after Hayes & Yeading. Histon were a poor but well organised side who created chances throughout the game. It was too easy as they carved us open to give Croudson some headlines that embarrass the rest of the team and the supporters.

An example of performance over result, entertainment over goals, it was a Ceefax performance. Too early to take a table seriously, but a performance like that leaving us three points off the top is ridiculous. I go to watch Town to get away from life for a couple of hours; they're my mistress, my escape, the season ticket the rent on the flat that keeps her sweet. If we're gonna play like that I'd rather spend time with the kids.

Enthusiasm. Histon had it. Hungry and full of desire, they threw themselves at us and even outplayed us to make a mockery of Woods' fear of power. There was fear, alright: either too much or not enough. We were disjointed and nervous, lacking in ideas and stunted. Impotent.

It's not the results that make me question, but performances - and the way they join together to form a long line of shit that stinks, stinks all the way back to Lawrence. Lawrence to Histon was the road map in my mind on the way home on that bank holiday Monday. My optimism drained, I changed from hoping the team to be naive to knowing them to be complacent. This was cold, hard reality.

Success this season won't come from three or four results against top sides: it'll come from 15 or 20 against the bottom 15

And then Luton rescue the illusion. The scene was set: an injury crisis gives us a young debut keeper and two centre-halves yet to perform well as a pair; the three of them faced a big, powerful side that threatened to brush us aside in the first ten minutes. Those three seemed to lead us on with their do-or-die attitude. Great stuff to watch, to sing to, to cling to. End-to-end stuff at times as Luton always threatened but the second-half performance was one of those that should keep us warm in the coming months.

Yes, we still looked shaky in midfield; yes, we didn't create many chances; and yes, Peacock still can't turn. But that was the top fixture of this division's season and it lived up to it rather well.

It does highlight our biggest weakness this season and God knows how many seasons before. That we can't raise our game against the lesser sides is about as surprising as Wayne Rooney's alleged sex habits, but it's a concern nevertheless. I wanted to come into the Conference with a belief that we were entering the new, the novel, the exciting. I wanted it to be exotic. It's turning out to be about as exotic as a flat tin of Lilt.

Failing to raise your game against lesser sides, in a division that contains pretty much nothing but, is at best a thorn in the side of a burgeoning team. At worst it's a safe bet that the season is going to crumble. We need to improve our professionalism and get the job done against Fleetwood, Eastwood and all-the-other-wood. Success this season won't come from three or four results against the top sides: it'll come from 15 or 20 against the bottom 15.

But I'm happy this week. The second double home fixture brings in six points and one good game. I'm happy to continue with the vagaries of life as a football fan as I realise that as nice as that is it's still only seven points from four. Would I swap the better performance against Hayes and up it to 10? Well, that's my illusion - and happily it has nothing and everything to do with the reality.

What's your take on Town's, um, interesting start to the season? Use the Cod Almighty feedback form to share your views.