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To say the least, oh, truly disappointed

You, there! Latics! Fuck all the way off! And when you get there, fuck off some more!

A few days before our trip to Oxford City, it was the 30th anniversary of the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley that you could argue we’ve never quite recovered from. For those of us old enough to remember seeing our team playing in the Premiership and at Wembley, it was a humbling experience to be using a portaloo at a ground we were visiting for a league game. It is what it is, and we are where we are. I really, really wish we’d had a better go at getting out of this godforsaken league this season though.

We had plenty of pressure early on, as you’d expect – was it Dallas who hit the post? – but we were bullied off the ball far too easily. Like far too many teams this season, they were allowed to practically stroll through our midfield. It was disheartening, the atmosphere was as flat as any game I’ve ever been at – pre-season friendlies included – and I know I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t face going back in to watch the second half. Not even with Sachdev back in the team.

From the ‘highlights’, I see that Norwood hit the post and put the ball narrowly wide after the break. You can’t help thinking that it was the kind of chance that he would have buried earlier in the season. Mat Hudson had plenty to do and made some good saves, enough that he was named in the National League team of the week. Good for him, he’s been one of our few players who’s come out of the dismal March-April run of games with any credit, but Christ almighty, I wasn’t expected our keeper to be the standout player against the team that are at the bottom of the league, when they had nothing to play for and we were still technically chasing the play offs.

Mellon looked as deflated and pissed off as you’d expect after the game, and I genuinely don’t know whether to be annoyed at him or to feel sorry for him. He said that he told them at half time “you’re in, it’s yours, take it”, but some of them clearly couldn’t handle the pressure. Against already relegated Oxford City. I fucking despair.

Mellon’s clearly not happy with the squad that he’s got, claiming “I’ve inherited this entire group”, which isn’t totally true. We’ve clearly got a lot of players who are underperforming, many of whom are on long term contracts, but fucking hell, isn’t this the same group of players that the bookies made favourites to get promoted last summer? Is this really that poor a squad? How and why have they gone from the great run we went on after Christmas, which looked certain to have cemented our place in the play offs, to not winning in 9 games? To being incapable of scoring against a team that were relegated on March 23rd, and have conceded more goals than any other team in the top 5 tiers of English football?

It's clearly a bigger job to get this squad performing consistently than we thought, and it sounds like there may be a major overhaul on the summer. Mellon seemed to be keen to send a message to the board: “if I get what I need, I know what I want to go and get….you change them [the players] by making them better, or you change them by bringing in better”. The club heavily backed Unsworth, and they’ve backed Mellon. How long they can continue to splash out on signings, when season ticket sales are likely to be down next season, remains to be seen. It’s not sustainable to keep having one of the most expensive squads in the division, and to be the second highest spenders on agents’ fees, only to finish mid table.

If you made the journey to Chesterfield on Tuesday, I salute you. You knew it was going to be shit, you knew our season was going to end with a whimper, and you trekked to South Yorkshire anyway. Fair play to you. Fair play also to the Halifax commentators, who had the brass bollocks to complain about the ‘stodgy surface’ of the pitch. People in mud houses shouldn’t throw mud, lads.

It was a better performance than Saturday, and thank fuck for Dan Gardner, who put us ahead with a thunderbastard from the edge of the area. If only we could give him some kind of anti-ageing potion and a new pair of legs. Him and Hudson have been two of our better players, so it was unfortunate that the Halifax equaliser came from Hudson spooning the ball into his own face. Poor sod.

And…well, you know how it went from there. Gardner gave us the lead again from the penalty spot, we’re a bit shit at defending, bye bye playoffs. A suitably ignominious end to a season that promised so much and delivered frustration, despair and dashed hopes.

Another season on Planet Vanarama, then. Who knows where the club goes from here. Income will be down next season, with the parachute payments stopping, and the academy is no longer viable for us. We can’t afford to buy a whole new squad every year, but this group of players clearly isn’t capable of winning us promotion and Mellon is clear that he isn’t happy with them.

This season has been a huge let down, and there are huge questions to answer ahead of next season. But in response to the hard of thinking in the Irrelevant Element, who've been asking "when are you starting the protests again? When are you getting the coffin and the tennis balls out?" - we'll start protesting again if the club stops paying wages and pension contributions and tax again. We'll start protesting again when it becomes clear that the coaching staff are being prevented from doing their jobs by interference from the owner. If the opening paragraph of this blog prompts the board to ban me for promoting dislike of the club, I'll be outside the main entrance with a banner on Monday morning. Feel free to keep shouting into the void though.

Finally, I have very little to add to the club's response to this week's big football news, except: fuck the FA and fuck the Premier League, the greedy self-serving completely-unfit-to-be-custodians-of-OUR-game shitbags.

Thank fuck it's nearly over. See you in the bar. KTMFF.

Written by Arlene Finnigan. (I still know what county Chesterfield is in, don't @ me) Photos © Thomas Lee Stacey.


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