OUCH! I am off work today, Friday, after I stood on a nail that went right through my shoe and the middle of my right foot.
I had to bathe it yesterday – after a half hour wait as I was working in Rye – and my fiancee Simone had a good look at it this morning and she says the bruising has come right up, which is good news.
Clive has told me to bite the bullet and play against Bashley tomorrow – and I reckon I probably will. I’ve got to let him know tonight but the signs are good, seeing as the bruising has come through.
I played with injured ribs before so hope that this won’t prevent me from helping us get three points tomorrow.
It was a very busy Bank Holiday weekend, where we churned out another couple of wins, but the hot conditions took a lot out of us.
I noticed some fans had criticised our performance against Ashford on Monday. We know it was a bit flat but, having just played a game in baking conditions at Lymington and New Milton two days earlier, it was tough to play another 90 minutes in boiling weather at Crabble against a side that was up for it.
Sometimes you go into auto pilot. The Ashford game was never going to be pretty and it was all about getting the three points, which we’ve done – and over the two games we’ve not conceded a goal. So we’ve done really well.
It was long trip down to Lymington. I was up at 7am and had picked up the coach at 8.30am. So it was another early night on Friday. As a Dover player, it’s important to prepare properly for games so I always take it easy the night before a match. Simone and I watched Coach Carter.
On the coach the next day, Dale Skelton and Dean Readings were cutting out people who look like Dover players. So there was Janice from Coronation Street, who looked like me after having a skinhead, and then Sloth from the Goonies, who looks like Dean Readings.
Lee Spiller was taking the mick out of Deano – and the sounds he makes. Deano makes noises without actually speaking – that’s the way he is. It’s an “urrrrggghhh” kind of sound.
We then took a look at our Dream Team league and I got a lot of stick because I’m bottom despite having Roy Keane, Steven Gerrard, Alan Shearer, Jermain Defoe and Jose Reyes in my side! Daniel Braithwaite is top and Deano is second at the moment.
Long trips do build up the team spirit but it can make the day an uphill task. When you’re sitting on a long journey, you can get bored and the body becomes a bit stiff.
Then you get off the coach and you arrive at a ground, which is not as nice as Crabble and facilities which are very basic. It can be a bit of an anti-climax because it’s easy to look around at these grounds and feel a bit down. That makes it twice as hard to get yourself up for an away game because the pitch is terrible and you’re feeling stiff.
But Clive gets us up for the games, as he is a top motivator, and then there’s people like Spills, who will do silly little dances, muck about and get us all in a good mood.
When you look at these grounds, it makes us think that we’ve got to get ourselves out of this division – and back up the pyramid so we can start playing at some decent stadiums again.
Seeing the Dover fans at the away games helps motivate us too – we see all the usual faces and we go out there to do the business for them.
The refereeing at this level is a bit different to what we’re used to. I put in a challenge in the first half at Lymington, which saw me win the ball – but the ref told me that if I did that kind of tackle again he’d book me or send me off, which was a bit of a surprise.
Then, I did the same challenge in the second half and got booked. Three players were sent off in a game, which wasn’t that dirty. Nicky Humphrey was very unlucky to be shown a red card late on. Sometimes refs level things out, if they’ve sent off someone from the other side.
I do believe some refs get excited when they get a big club like Dover Athletic. I also think that they’re being watched by referee observers and they’re keen to impress so they can fast-track themselves into the Conference.
It’s a tough job for referees but the game has become almost a non-contact sport nowadays, which surely isn’t right.
With the defence looking good, it’s great to see Craig “Concrete Head” Wilkins on fire up front. You just know that if you stick a cross in, Wilko is going to get on the end of it. He’s superb and I’m glad he is fit again. Wilko helped me a lot when I first came into the side. He’s a lovely bloke and a class act.
After the match last Saturday, we had a laugh on the coach again. Everyone was in high spirits. We all pretended we were being interviewed by Tom Crawley on camera for the website’s DAFC TV. Tony Browne kept hogging the spotlight – not letting any of the other lads get a word in edgeways.
He’d say: “I should’ve crossed the ball a bit better for the first goal.” but would big himself up if he did something good in the match. “I’ve made a superb sliding tackle to rob the ball off their striker, got up, dusted myself down and sprayed a 40-yard pass up field for Tommy Tyne to hammer the ball home!” Stuff like that.
We were pleased with the three points on Monday. The boys looked solid and we were always the better side. We made sure that we finished the game with our noses in front.
In between games, I’ve been chilling out at home. I’ve got a six-week old baby girl Briseis and little puppy Razor. Simone and I plan to get married within a couple of years. We’re both saving up really hard to give ourselves a nice wedding abroad.
When my little ‘un was born I was on fire in front of goal but since her birth my run has been dry. As a defender I won’t get too many goals – so my main target will be to keep clean sheets.
So now we’re looking to do the business again down at Bashley. Fingers crossed, I’ll play and we’ll be top of the league at quarter to five.