If anyone took any account at all of what the Press say, then falling out of the League is an experience akin to being forced to endure a weekend getaway with George Osborne. Quite simply, it’s “The End” as The Fast Show’s resident artist Johnny would have opined. Hence, the early occupants of places 91 and 92 (not 71 and 72, I’ll stress to you) won’t be feeling too good about themselves this early Autumn. Cast your mind back to 2005 and the north Londoners were roaring back into the Football League, 12 points clear of Saturday’s opponents. The following May, and the Bulls were to join them after a play off final win over Halifax. Before that, neither side can be said to have a long tradition of big league status, but neither may possess the energy to launch back if they fall again this time.
Recent results bear this out. The visitors have garnered just one point at Edgar Street and have endured successive home batterings by Southend (1-3) and Stevenage (1-4). Their only win came on the opening day of the season at Lincoln, a fiesta day for students of England’s rural communities. Manager Simon Davey has been afforded the “dreaded” (no other word can be used) vote of confidence from Vice-Chairman and ex-local television presenter Tim Russon, a man who sounds more like a local cattle dealer, and a revamped squad will do well to justify the pre-season expectations of our seasonal preview man Greg Davies. Summer acquisitions Joe Colbeck and Sean Canham are taking time to bed in and the sight of former player Lionel Ainsworth turning out for rivals Shrewsbury will stick in the throat.
Since our last analysis of the Bees a fortnight or so ago, Mark Stimson’s charges have conceded four twice – at Wycombe and at home to Rotherham – tough matches for sure, but coupled with that still sore feeling from the 7-0 whacking at Crewe, and the goals against column resembles Vince Cable’s national balance sheet. The boss, a disappointment in his previous spell at Gillingham, has brought in Izale McLeod and Grant Basey from Charlton. The former looked potent back in 2007 for Franchise FC but injuries, in particular one he picked up while out on loan at Colchester, have stunted his development. As for Basey, the man they call “Count” – probably – has looked all at sea whenever I have seen him. The 7 times Athenian League Champs look on for a season of struggle.
Earlier this year, both these clubs replaced their then helmsmen with returning managerial legends in caretaker roles. Graham Turner and Paul Fairclough both steadied their respective vessels and the looming presence of fan favourites in the background will be making both incumbents feel nervous. A draw that would cheer neither club looks likely.