With season 145 only a few hours away, what can we realistically expect from 2017-18?
Firstly, we must hope that our new kits turn up! We must be singly unlucky with our Far East purchases, as they always seem to be entrusted to the least sea-worthy vessels. In a rapidly shrinking world our chosen shippers cling to a decidedly old-fashioned, ponderous working method. No doubt replete with sail-ships, press-gangs and sodomy.
Assuming the kit arrives and our players and (God help us) supporters aren't naked, what else should we be looking forward to?
Although by no means the top of the list, we can only hope our unwieldy website gets some sort of update. The player section could do with some serious work. Either that or most of our players were actually born on January 1st 1970. It is more than a little dispiriting that this date is the default date on the system, presumably set thus as it is so far in past. Black and white telly. 3-day weeks. Pre-decimalisation. Dinosaurs. Some of us remember 1970, albeit hazily.
Re-ordering a Season Ticket online this Summer was a task more befitting the Krypton Factor than Kettering factor. Cutting, pasting, copying, guessing. The Club really must make it easier for us to open our wallets and pour our cash into their coffers!
Not that the Club isn't trying to encourage us to part with the readies in other areas. What with "Sort the Pitch", "The 12th Man", "Poppies TV Fundraiser",we're all likely to be paupers in no time at all. Pause for 5 minutes in the bar too close to Martin Bellamy and you find that you've sponsored the following Saturday's game! Once you enter the ground you are relieved of whatever money you have left in purchasing some Klondike tickets. I'm not sure what they are exactly. I'm told these pieces of paper are some form of raffle, where you can win something? I've heard this rumour, but have yet to see any hard evidence.
And what might we expect to see on the pitch in front of us. Other than dust blowing off it if it hasn't rained for an hour, or splashing mud if it has?
We have signed some players who may or may not improve our performances over last season's efforts. Most of them, if the website is to be believed, turned 47 years of ago on New Year's Day, but let's not hold that against them...! We all know that the club is missing a f*ck-you central defender to bully the rest of the back four and the opposition. Who knows, if Ollie Thorne ever (re)gains any sort of fitness, he may be the man? If....
Marcus Law may have an interesting first few hours / weeks / months this season. Not quite Arsene Wenger interesting, but still could it could be tasty. Some of our more forthright, internet-savvy supporters will see a conceded corner as enough excuse to dispense with Marcus' services. Others will be more patient, and give him until the first goal is chalked against us before demanding his head.
The opposition teams look tougher this season than last. A number of clubs have, "money behind them" if the dark rumours are to be believed. And among the newcomers is Hereford FC, the lastest phoenix from a club that made very little effort to save itself, and now strut around because they've won a couple of lower divisions. Some of their supporters have been particularly repellent with their "banter" on various Facebook Southern League sites. Others of their fans have also let their newly-discovered enthusiasm spill into aggravation at games too. All a bit obvious and "Big Time".
They seem to have conveniently forgotten their previous incarnation were, at best, basement Football League fodder, and at worst, bitches for the likes of moderate Poppies teams of a decade and a half ago. Getting relegated out of the Football League once is bad enough. Twice? Smacks of carelessness?
Now their new club has beaten a lot of village sides some of their supporters seem to have got a little ahead of themselves. Are Hereford likely to challenge for the title this season? Given the relative size of their club and support, they certainly should. Are they a giant club in front of whom we should all tremble and pay homage? Of course not. Can a lot of their success be down being able to use Edgar Street, rather than ground-share at a "tin-pot" ground some miles away? Absolutely! Had Hereford achieved the same whilst playing their home games, at, say, Gloucester City or Worcester they would perhaps have earned the respect they seem to be demanding.
We'll get to bask in the glory that is Hereford when they come to Latimer Park on November 11th, when, no doubt, our reduced circumstances will cause great hilarity to a club who easily surrendered their entire history and managed to reform at their former home, rather than find themselves turfed out into the cold.
10 months of fun and frivolity lay ahead of us. Football? We put up with it just enough to keep coming back for more until we find something better to do with our non-Summer months.