Well it’s been a chaotic few weeks, to put it mildly, so chaotic in fact that I didn’t actually manage to get to this game. There are mitigating factors of course and any decent lawyer could get me off the hook at Football Supporters Court. My punishment, if you can call it that, was a complete set of bitten fingernails and an “ice cream headache” from staring at Twitter for 90 minutes without blinking but the important thing is that despite my lack of attendance, the Crows escaped from the island with another clean sheet and all three points.
Things started to go wrong for this fixture in 1995 when someone gave me a job. Since then it’s been a trail of consequence and coincidence that led up to this point in 2018 where work put me out of reach of the joys of Sheppey away on a Tuesday night. Of course, when I originally booked the offending meeting that caused the problem, this date – March 6th 2018 – had no fixture attached to it, so I was very blasé in my approach to the time of the meeting, probably nonchalantly waving my hand while smirking “no, you pick a time, I’m easy”. This approach was fine until someone decided that we should play Whitstable Town at home on March 6th , a fixture originally scheduled for February 10th and moved because the powers that be decided that Town needed to play Cray Valley in something called the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy on the original date. Being from East Sussex we’ve got sod all interest in the Kent Reliance Senior Trophy so we enjoyed a nice day off, but the chain of events that would lead to my non-appearance at Holm Park had been set in motion. Originally, a home game at 7.45pm against Whitstable would’ve been no problem for me, back from the big city with plenty of time to spare (well, probably half an hour or so) and more of a pain in the backside for Whitstable but then two things happened – the weather intervened and caused a League Cup game between Whitstable and Deal to be postponed a few times, and Sheppey had a mysterious “electrical problem” at their ground on the original date of this fixture against the Crows. The League, probably starting to panic slightly, instructed Whitstable to play their cup game on Tuesday and blow out their game with us, and then seized upon the opportunity to slot the postponed fixture against Sheppey into the gap! Still with me?
So, this is all lovely, and I’m sure the fixture secretary was high-fiving everyone in the office when he or she had worked that all out, but the upshot was that there was no way I could get to this Sheppey away game without developing a convoluted plan involving an early start, a series of dodgy train connections and inevitably a trip to Burger King. Of course, I worked on such a plan for a bit but in the end I decided that the nails needed a trim anyway and I could do without the stress of probably getting stuck outside Swale station with three minutes to kick off. In the end, as disappointing as it was to miss a trip to the glorious Holm Park, we got three points and that’s all that matters. Twitter did a great job of keeping me informed and those ever reliable Crow Ultras even managed to post a seven second clip of Jack Turner opening the scoring after 6 minutes, hammering home a corner at the far post. The most striking thing about this clip is we’re wearing our blue home kit with red socks – I don’t remember having to do that last year. The first half appears to have been largely more chances for the Crows until Trevor McCreadie found himself one on one with the keeper and got the break to make it 2-0 to the Crows just before half time. Reports from various sources tell me that Sheppey played some good football in the second half but lacked any cutting edge, with Dan Ellis fairly imperious in the Crowborough goal. Jack Turner was deemed Man of the Match which no doubt means he was a lot busier than we’d like him to be, but the feeling from the travelling Ultras is that the Crows generally played pretty well and are looking more confident as we approach the carnage that is the end of season fixture schedule.
A series of postponements for various reasons since January now means that the games are piling up like buses and we’ve got to fit 15 in before the end of April, including a two-legged League Cup semi-final against the neighbours of Tunbridge Wells. The cup draw is a bit disappointing as an A26 League Cup final would’ve been some occasion, but I guess it means two atmospheric Tuesday nights at the Culverden and Alderbrook to look forward to, with more league fixtures pushed back into April as a consequence. One more burst of bad weather and the situation could get really silly.
My crumb of comfort in all this, as we push for league and cup glory, is that we have a really good squad. If I’ve moaned before about our utilisation of the subs bench it’s only because we’ve got strength in depth and we carry no passengers. With 15 games in 7 weeks, everyone is going to have to contribute and stay focussed if we’re to get the rewards we deserve.
So Mad March continues this Saturday as we travel to Chatham Town, a ground I haven’t been to since I was a nipper, so expect an emotional gushing report as I reminisce and bore you all to death with tales of holes in the fence and jumpers for goalposts. It’s going to be very hard work now for everyone concerned with Crowborough Athletic but we’re right in the mix and it could still be a terrific season with a bit of good luck and plenty of Deep Heat….