Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Status Anxiety

I've heard plenty of people complain about our collapse in stature this season, from general chat on messageboards about having to play "pub teams" to fans at away games complaining about the stadia we now visit regularly, and although I see the latter point to an extent-it was a bit of a culture shock to go to a proper big stadium again last Saturday-I don't agree. I tend to see it as what we deserve; we've collapsed over the last couple of years for a variety of reasons, so we've no scope for complaint or surprise about our diminished circumstances.

Until now.

What I'm about to say will sound awful, and I apologise in advance. It doesn't represent the rational part of my brain, but I've got to admit I'm really feeling it. I'll be really upset if Eastbourne Borough finish above us this season.

I must quickly say that this is in no way intended as a slur on Eastbourne. They are one of the best-run clubs I've ever encountered, and deserve every credit for their success-I hope it goes on for many years to come. Equally, I've no grudge against them on the pitch-they were rather better behaved than some sides we've come up against and thoroughly deserved to beat us when we went down to Sussex this season.

The thing is, the thought that a small club with a tiny fanbase and a history embedded several levels below The Conference can consistently outperform us to the extent that they get more points than us after forty-six games suggests something has gone seriously awry this season.

I can live with Histon doing it, although they're probably an even smaller club than Eastbourne. After all, they've already established themselves as play-off contenders last season and thrive through their long ball approach, which is a pretty effective way to get the best out of limited resources. No, Eastbourne is worse because they play football the right way, and if they finish above us they'll have shown they can play the way we want to and do it better on a fraction of our resources. And that'll be the greatest humiliation of them all as far as I'm concerned.

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