First day reactions

January 1, 2000




Rovers fans and players celebrate at Wimbledon on the opening day


After all the anticipation, hopes and dreams of pre season it was good to be up and running on the first day.

According to there was plenty of potential for fairytale throughout the opening weekend of the Football League. Various national media outlets sent their willing staff off around the country, with the two main stories of the day involving comebacks;

“AFC Wimbledon briefly threatened one after clawing back a two goal deficit at home to Bristol Rovers before succumbing to a late penalty, but their presence in league football is already one of the biggest comebacks in the sport’s recent history. Brighton and Hove Albion kept going until the 98th minute to achieve the perfect start to life at their new Amex Stadium despite falling behind to Billy Sharp’s opener for Doncaster Rovers.”

The site goes on;

“They were both gripping occasions, but life for supporters of both Wimbledon and Brighton has been pretty peachy for at least twelve months. This was a day they had been anticipating for some time.”

Very true, but Bristol Rovers were there too and with all the activity over the last couple of months, we were anticipating as well.

My view is that the opener was a difficult game given the occasion and not one that many in League Two would have wanted but we went there to play a game of football and to come back with the points; we did that, and all credit. Having said that 1 understand the sentiment; many think Wimbledon supporters were hard done by nine years ago, but it is a piece of football history now and what they have achieved with such grit, determination and ambition will remain essential reading for football historians for many years to come. I hope they continue to do well.

Surfing around the official club websites after the opening games of the new season 1 had to start with Wimbledon. In a post match video interview Dons manager Terry Brown was clearly disappointed with the performance of his team and thought that they defended badly for the goals conceded. That’s as maybe, Terry, but looking at the stats Rovers had by far the best chances on goal so perhaps overall your team did not defend too badly; decent performance from the goalkeeper I thought.

For Rovers part, manager Paul Buckle said,

“It was exciting and I think we deserved to win today and I’m pretty sure that will be borne out by the statistics because we had far more attempts on goal than Wimbledon.”

My sentiments exactly.

Much fancied Crawley were held by a late Port Vale goal at Vale Park. On the official Crawley web site Reds’ manager Steve Evans declared himself disappointed witb sharing the points in a 2-2 draw, citing the sending off of John Dempster as the main reason his team conceded an injury time equaliser. Going down to ten men does not always give advantage to the other team, as we know all too well. In the event Vale boss Mickey Adams thought it was a great comeback by his team. Like I said, it is not always easy.

Another club predicted to be there, or thereabouts, come the end of the campaign are Shrewsbury Town. Home to potential drop dodgers Plymouth, they were expected to kick off the season with a win. However Argyle grabbed a late equaliser to nick a draw. Shrewsbury’s Graham Turner reacted;

“If that is the level of performance that we can expect from the players, then we won’t be far off.”

Got to win your home games, Graham; having said that, you don’t win promotion or get relegated on the first game. Peter Reid is clearly worried;

“With our lack of strength and height up front it was difficult for us.”

All credit for a very good away point then, against the odds it would seem.

The outcome of the Italian revolution at Swindon is a little uncertain in the eyes of many, however the Town got off to what appeared to be a flier at home to a young Crewe side. Following the 3-0 drubbing Dario Gradi conceded his priority is to bring in a defender at Gresty Road. The Crewe manager is concerned about the cover he has at the back. He says;

“We will definitely do something before the deadline.”

Watch this space!

Back to the game at the County Ground and Gradi was surprised by Swindon’s direct approach;

“I was expecting some magical weaving patterns from an Italian manager. They were quite direct, but well organised. They played like a Fourth Division team and hit the channels.”

As for Paolo Di Canio’s comments;

I want to be the best, if I sell apples I want to be the best apple seller, if I sell cars I want to be the best car seller.”

Think I understand Paolo. I suppose if you sold three cars on your first day at work and your nearest competitor on the day sold none you would be pretty pleased with yourself.

As I’ve said before, it really is a funny old game.





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