I feel like I've needed to write this blog for a while, things are just not right at the minute both on and off the pitch.
First of all the news come in last week about Kingstonian ground sharing at Imperial Fields with us next season. I am happy to be helping out another local club and have nothing against Kingstonian, another club with a rich history and it is a real shame that they don't have their own home to play at. Although, I and many others have questions about what is happening to Tooting Bec FC. I understand that Bec will definitely not be playing on our main pitch next season but there is still uncertainty about what will be happening to them. Tooting Bec are a good club run by great people who I get on very well with. I do wish them well and I hope that the great relationship our club has with them is not affected by this news.
There are plans for a changing block and seating to be installed on the back 3G pitch which is somewhere Tooting Bec could potentially play their games and that leads me onto my next point. My only problem with this is that the stadium plans seem very long term and I can't see them being ready for next season. Tooting and Mitcham have been granted planning permission for a new block of flats to be built right by the ground and next to the site. There are also plans for a new facility to be built on the back pitch as mentioned above when talking about Tooting Bec.
If the plans do happen (I'll believe it when I see it), then I think they will be a brilliant thing for our football club. I believe that the idea is for the money from selling the flats will go straight back into the club for building the other new facilities. This all seems like good news and hopefully everything works out for the best.
On the pitch, this season has been dreadful for Tooting and Mitcham, after the London Senior Cup success last season, this season was expected to be a big one and we had high hopes of potential promotion, unfortunately this hasn't worked out at all. We have had 50 players play for us so far this season which is both very inconsistent and very concerning.
The last 2 games away to Staines and at home to Hanwell both ended in 2-0 defeats. Staines were bottom of the league at the time and outmuscled and outplayed us all night, it was embarrassing to watch. The home game against Hanwell was a similar story with us not having a shot on target in either game. To be fair to Hanwell they are a very good team who are chasing a play-off spot, they were well up for it against us looking for revenge for last season’s Cup semi-final so I weren't expecting much going into the game.
There are still concerns that we could get Relegated, we are only 6 points of the drop and the teams that are in the Relegation zone at the minute are Staines who beat us the other week and Guernsey who still have many games in hand and are playing us next Saturday which is increasingly looking like a relegation 6 pointer.
I do hope that we have enough to stay up but we can't be naive as we made the same mistakes the last time we got relegated in the Bostik Premier.
In my opinion it is clear to see that there is not enough experience in this current squad and we are desperately missing key players. The club prides itself on developing youth players and we have a brilliant track record with the likes of Isiah Jones, Hady Ghandour, Abraham Odoh, Sam Forlain and Saidou Khan all playing professional football. It is great to see all these players doing well especially Isiah Jones who is playing week in week out and getting Man of the match awards in the championship. He has become a fans favourite at Middlesbrough, and it won't be long until top Premier league clubs are looking out for him. However, I do wonder how this ethos benefits the first team as it is clear that things are not working at the minute.
I am very concerned that the current model and ethos of the football club is not the right way in trying to get this club promoted and to be sustainable in a higher league. There have been many successful things happening at the club lately with the youth academy, planning permission being successful and the Farm Road project, but as many others have said this success doesn't seem to translate to the first team which in the end of the day is what us supporters care about most at the club.
Monday's game vs Hanwell attracted a crowd of 333, our highest of the season so far. To be fair to Hanwell they brought a fair few supporters with them. There are many new faces at Tooting games but with the way we played on Monday and so far, this season it will be difficult to keep these people coming to games especially with how successful many other clubs have been nearly. Sutton United are now in the football league and chasing promotion to League One, AFC Wimbledon are back at Plough Lane, Carshalton Athletic are doing well in the Isthmian Premier and attracting very good crowds, even Walton & Hersham are getting good crowds this season with 503 watching them on Monday. With all these clubs nearby being very successful, if you are a local floating fan looking for a game to watch, then Tooting would probably be one of the last places you'd look to at the minute.
As many people are aware Sky sports are currently filming a documentary on young footballers in South London. They have been filming at many Tooting games this season both home and away. They've been using microphones during half time talks with managers and even asked the linesmen to move out the way at the Hanwell game. They've also been using drones at games.
Many of us on the Bogend have made ourselves clear what we think about the cameras both vocally at games and also on social media. It's not just our supporters who don't like them, If you ask many of our players they will say that they don't like the cameras following them around and find them a distraction. Another reason why I don't like these cameras is that they give opposition teams extra motivation to beat us. They see the cameras there following Tooting and that gives them the extra will to win. An example of this Is when we lost 2-0 away to South Park on a Tuesday Night. After the game South Park's twitter tweeted how their win was caught on camera and many of their players had tweeted how good it was to win in front of them.
Social media wise Tooting and Mitcham have come a long way in the last few years. The people running our club’s social media have brought this club into the 21st century and I'm really happy and grateful for that. However, in my opinion, the main 2 Hashtags the club use at the minute, which are #ClubOfProgression and #TerrorsTogether couldn't be further from the truth at the minute.
At the moment it seems like all our local rivals including Carshalton and Corinthian Casuals are progressing very well both on and off the pitch with crowds going up and both doing well on the pitch in the Isthmian Premier. Many other clubs nearby seem to be progressing and going places, but Tooting still seem to be stuck where we are, exactly the opposite of what I'd consider a Club Of Progression. #TerrorsTogether is another hashtag the clubs uses on social media, used with the best of intentions but Tooting And Mitcham are not a together football club at the minute.
There is a major split between the fans and the club, and it does feel like us vs them for a lot of our supporters. There also seems to be a big split in our own fan base between older and newer supporters which has turned quite sour this season especially in recent weeks with there being many arguments happening recently about the way the club is on and off the pitch. Tooting and Mitcham isn't a happy place to be at the minute and in my opinion, the opposite of a together football club.
This club has got so much potential with a great ground and great facilities but at the minute we are not living up to it. So after all I've said and moaned about, if you think I'm going to Bedfont Sports away on Saturday you'd be absolutely right.