So County lost out to FC United in the FA Cup on Tuesday, a situation that’s not so shameful in itself, but if you add in the fact that we were 3 goals up in the home tie, and were playing against nine men in the replay, it really doesn’t look great, in fact, it was appalling.
The immediate backlash to a result as bad as this one is frustration, anger and bitterness, feelings that are often directed towards players, coaches and other supporters. All valid reactions and completely understandable in the circumstances.
Stories were emerging from Broadhurst Park on Tuesday that supporters were fighting and arguing with the players as they came over the thank the County faithful for their support. Some fans on social media were even asking for Gannon to resign pitch-side, in Ian Bogie-style after the final whistle.
Jim Gannon has not spoken to the media since the end of the game, and perhaps rightly so. A man often known to run high on emotion when it comes to County must have been hurting after a result like that, and confrontation with some difficult questions might, in the heat of the moment, have resulted in the revealing of things better left unsaid.
If you take a step back from the result and performances of the last one and a half games, you might see a team that is one point off the play-offs, with a home record to envy and a manager that is not going to give up or walk away (if you ever think of taking managerial stability for granted, just ask York, Darlington or Southport supporters).
In Jason Oswell, we have a 25 goals-a-season striker that will act as a focal point for our promotion push. In Warburton, we finally have a second attacking player that reliably chips in with goals. In Duxbury, Ball and Minihan, we have impressive, young players that will no doubt, play in higher leagues in the coming years. In Hinchliffe and Ormson, we have two of the strongest goalkeepers in the league. We’re in the sixth tier, but it’s really not all bad, County fans.
On Tuesday we looked lost, with no attacking threat and Gannon will clearly be worried about how we play if Oswell and Warburton are both injured. But perspective is needed, we were without four of our best players and whilst not scoring against nine players is always unacceptable, we are actually the fourth highest scorers in the league behind Blyth Spartans, Spennymoor and Harrogate.
Speaking with my own voice now, I firmly believe that Jim Gannon will get us out of this division, one way or another. He’s qualified to UEFA Pro licence level (something which is a rarity in non-league football) and has experience in the top eight divisions of English football (besides the Premier League). He is a great manager and knows what needs to be done.
Making mistakes is part of football, and if players and management learning from an embarrassing loss in the FA Cup can result in even three extra league points come the end of the season, i’d snap your hand off for it.
I’ll end by looking 10 years back in time, Thursday 27th November 2007 and County have just been knocked out of the FA Cup by Staines Town FC. At the time, 59 places and three divisions separated the two sides. County themselves were struggling in 17th place in League 2 and many supporters were asking for Gannon to resign, only 18 months after he helped us escape relegation.
Fortunately the board held their nerve and later that season, we won at Wembley to secure promotion to League 1, to play the likes of Leicester, Leeds and Huddersfield.
I’m not one for fate but could the same thing happen this year? We’ll probably have to swap Wembley for a more suitable play-off venue like Salford City’s Moor Lane or Spennymoor’s Brewery Lane, but with six months of the season to go and County sitting one point outside the play-offs, why the hell not?
Courage and faith, County fans.