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And then a boat came sailing towards them, it was a joy they could not believe

What a week, comrades. We'll come on to our chairman's amazing achievement in a bit, but credit to everyone who managed the feat of endurance that was watching the first half v Boreham Wood.


Tuesday was a game of two halves, neither of which were very good. We started in an unfamiliar 4-4-2 formation, and as Micky Mellon was quick to admit after the match, it didn’t work. Maybe Sachdev and Kitching aren’t suited to playing in a back 4, maybe you need ‘proper’ wingers to make it work, but we were awful. Sachdev may have been a fault for giving the ball away for their goal, but it was a fair way out and the midfield and defence seemed to evaporate, and it was a weak shot that you’d expect Hudson to save. It was no more than we deserved.


While we’re on Sachdev, I know he looked poor on Tuesday, but let’s not write him off just yet. He’s 18, he hadn’t played senior football before he came to us, and he’s been playing in a team that, quite frankly, haven’t exactly helped him out when he’s made a mistake. Some of us are old enough to remember that James Tarkowski was ‘never gonna make it as a professional footballer’. Ryan Bertrand couldn’t defend when he came to us on loan, and he went on to win the Champions League. Let’s give him a chance.


We changed shape to our usual 3-5-2 in the second half, bringing on Hobson and Green for Sachdev and Ward. The team had clearly had a bollocking from Mellon at half time – when asked after the game, Fondop said “oh, you don’t want to know the things he said!”. It worked, with Green especially looking lively, and it was a great pass from him (“perfect”, according to God’s Number 9 himself) to set up Fondop for the equaliser. Given how soft their goal was, it was really gratifying that Mikey’s shot off his weaker foot really wasn’t the strongest, and it made it all the more hilarious that he celebrated with a knee slide in front of the 20 (it was never 30, we counted) Boreham Wood fans. Michael. Come on. Is that what Jesus would do?


In a final tactical masterstroke, Mellon brought on the oft-maligned Sheron for the tiring Lundstram, and it won us the game. Maybe. It felt like the momentum was going our way. Fondop (who had made a nuisance of himself all game) won a free kick with ten minutes to go, Conlon put a great cross in, and Raglan headed it on for the very much onside Garner to win the game. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a great comeback and a very welcome three points.

📷 Phill Smith


Also, as an aside, the referee had a decent game, so whichever one of the Athleticos shouted “the referee’s a turbo nonce” in the first half: that was unnecessary and unfair and if you’re going to be silly with the megaphone then you shan’t be allowed to have it again. Play nice.


Mellon made it clear that we should expect more battling, scrappy displays – “I know what we are now”. He took responsibility for getting the tactics wrong in the first half: “I changed the shape, that’s my decision and I got it wrong”. He wanted to try something different and try to be more attacking and entertaining at home, but I’m quite happy to be entertained by an ugly narrow win and Fondop being a shithouse to the away fans.

📷Phill Smith


The real victory of the week, though, came on Thursday. After 64 days, 7 hours and 53 minutes at sea, after capsizing four times, after drifting off course on the final strait because he was asleep (and who can blame him), Frank Rothwell reached Antigua and became the oldest person to ever cross any ocean solo.


He refused to set off a flare (as the other rowers did when they crossed the finish line) because they’re banned at Boundary Park, and he wants to lead by example. He thanked Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenny for their donation and thanked Able Lorry Loaders for their (bigger) donation, and that’s probably the first time they’ve been mentioned in the same sentence. To the surprise of no-one, they struggled to get the microphone off him.


If you didn't cry seeing Frank reunited with Judith, then that might be OK, or you might be a psychopath. I can't imagine how sick with worry Judith, Luke and Su have been the last couple of months. I'm sure most of us can relate to how worried they were when he was in hospital the year before last having major aortic surgery, but a year on and he's in the middle of the Atlantic? On his own? And he's capsized FOUR TIMES? I hope they're having a lovely time in Antigua. My God, they've earned it.

As of 10pm last night Frank had so far raised £288,170 for Alzheimer’s Research UK. What a hero. I know we were owed, but how lucky are we to have the Rothwells? Build a statue. Put a flat cap on the owl on the badge. Rename the ground Rothwell Park. What, too much? OK. But let's give Frank the welcome home he deserves next Saturday.


Safe journey if you're off to Maidenhead today. Having gone last season, I don't feel the need to ever go there again. We'll be going to York on Tuesday, which is an absolutely beautiful place, for Yorkshire. Although Andy insists that York is not actually in Yorkshire, because he is both a smart arse and an idiot. Knows his heavy metal and his 18th century poetry, though. Have a great week. Be more Frank. KTMFF.

📷World's Toughest Row


Written by Arlene Finnigan

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