1. A clarification
Back in darkest August , we happened to get royally bummed by a Peter Crouch inspired Stoke City. We were slightly peeved by this but, as they were Prem All Stars and we were 4th Div sticklebacks, we took the defeat on the chin and just felt happy we’d seen the Welsh Pirlo doing his thing at The Lamex. Anyhoo, one comedic moment stood out in the form of Glenn Roeder. Taking up his customary stance in the dug out in the 64th minute, he had the unmistakable physical appearance of Father Ted in the episode when he was remotely controlling Father Jack Maguire around the pitch in the over 75s football match, concealing said remote control with the liberal use of prosthetic arms. It made us, and at least one other person, chuckle so much that The Daily Stevenage posted a pic of Ted and Dougal on twitter, but we said it was Roeder and Sarlly. It was an in-joke that made us laugh and nobody else, but it drew the attention of one half of the BBC3CR commentary team. A man we love and admire. A man we’d jump over Jack King to share a bed with. But he wasn’t happy with this perceived attack on our management team. Quite rightly. So we would like to clarify that it was nothing more than a hilarious gag that only we found funny and we’re sorry that we sent you emojis of a peach and an aubergine in response to your criticism.
2. An admission
Having said all that, there were times during the tail end of last season and the first few months of this season when we were questioning whether Sarlly was the right man to be steering HMS Stevenage through tricky inland waters. Two performances at the start of his tenure (specifically Cambridge and Exeter at home last saeson) had us foaming at the loins for his attractive passing football. We even lost the second of those games in a customary smash and grab by our six-fingered country cousins. But things then went a little stale, I suppose. Now our questioning was never more than that, and we tried to remain as objective as possible. We leave it to Kent-based investment bankers to organise hate campaigns and lynchings. But our inability to jump as high as the opposition at countless set pieces was starting to get a little tiring. After all, we’re all getting old and when your only excitement in life comes from tuning in to the latest episode of The Shuttleworths on Radio 4, you know that life needs to be grabbed by both sticky hands.
3. A revelation
So what went right?
When Malcolm and Angus Young formed AC/DC, they were no doubt on to something. They had the raw ingredients. They had potential. They had ability. We’re actually guessing all of this; we weren’t actually about in Sydney in 1973. For all we know they might also have been spanked by Donny Rovers at home. But they needed to recruit Bon Scott before they started to become a fully formed package. It still took them a further 5 years before they released their magnum opus, Highway To Hell. Darren Sarll has taken roughly 12 months to achieve similar things.
So who is the Bon Scott of Stevenage FC? That is not an easy question to answer as Bon comes in many guises. Firstly, there’s our style of play. We’ve been screaming out for years for us to close teams down and to win the ball back. It’s taken perhaps 5 years to see it happen with regularity, but it’s now happening. Regularly. Once we’ve won the ball back we’re keeping hold of it. We’re playing it around in neat little triangles; like the sort you used to see in Mayfair before fashions changed. We’re not lumping it forward at all costs. Unless lumping it forward is the right thing to do. Cos we’re playing with intelligence. Attractive and intelligent? We’re making ourselves blush. Our high pressure game also results in mistakes by the opposition. Goals since Xmas against Newport (Godden), Grimsby (McAnuff) and Wycombe (Pett) are the evidence of the gains to be gotten from exploiting these errors. There must be others but we’re too lazy to research it.
But what of the personnel? At the forefront of this new style of play is undoubtedly our midfield. Charlie Lee – a player we at The Daily Stevenage have more than once shrugged our shoulders at in a Gallic way – is absolutely phenomenal in the holding role, protecting the back four, breaking up play and distributing passes with abandon. Three months ago we were publicly saying that we couldn’t care less if Tom Pett never played for us again. We were bloody stupid. Steven Schumacher? Jobi McAnuff? Just picking up their last pay checks before opening up a used car lot off the A505. Except, they’ve started running around like teenagers. And McAnuff is literally everywhere. Back in the old days, Wezza would get our wingers changing wings every 10 minutes – McAnuff doesn’t care for all that contrived nonsense. As a result, our midfield is fluid. It’s more organic than one of Prince Charles’s overpriced biscuits. And feeding off this drive and creativity: Matthew Godden and Benjamin Kennedy. Let’s enjoy them while we can, cos they’re both going to be playing at a much higher level soon. And as for the defence, well it can defend again. No doubt because of the added protection of what goes on in front of it and, as they say, the best form of defence is attack, but because it has the confidence to be able to defend; to leap as high as the next man. And because of Jack King. Surely his name is the wrong way around? We’re as heterosexual as the next man, but we’d happily slug it out with Deano for his affections. And I’m not even going to mention Chris Day in all of this because what’s to say that’s not already been said?
So yeah, things are pretty bloody positive at the moment. Let’s just hope they don’t go the same way as Bon Scott.