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Nationwide Division One, 02/03/02
Crewe Alexandra
A crash course in Post-Structuralism
By Matt Rowson

Okay, here's a thing. This is the fifth Crewe Alex preview I've done for BSaD. There are only so many ways that you can say "Crewe are a good thing" without becoming a bit repetitive. Now as far as context is concerned, our opponents are labouring down the bottom but, with games in hand and a far better squad than most of their immediate rivals, really ought to be okay. So nothing new there then. As for us, well, the season is over, isn't it? Stonking wins over Norwich notwithstanding, the play-offs have disappeared over the horizon and relegation is a yet more distant possibility, so what's the relevance of this one ?

Such was the dilemma being briefly ruminated in the Estcourt before Tuesday's game. One individual, in between scowling into his beer and expressing a desire for a 6-0 Watford defeat at the hands of the Canaries, suggested a Sartre-based preview. If we don't go to the game, does it actually exist, that sort of thing.

Cue a fifteen-minute crash course on the concepts of Post-Structuralism vs Rationalism over the telephone from my brother. An advocate of the former school of thought, it transpires, believes that there is no global reality external to the individual. In other words, if you don't go to Saturday's game and deny yourself all knowledge of the outcome, it effectively doesn't exist in your reality. In retrospect, I wish I'd appreciated this during the Premiership season, I could have made the Anfield game after all. Fixture lists surely have to be completed by the middle of May, whatever your perception of reality.

Extending this idea further, surely by careful forethought it would be possible to selectively attend games that we'd be likely to win, thereby guaranteeing the play-offs at least whilst simultaneously removing Turf Moor from existence. Equally, a concerted effort might be enough to relegate Manchester United, were it remotely possible to ignore their existence for games against anyone but Liverpool.

(An interesting and not unrelated argument proposed by Berkeley suggests that colour is a similarly transient property... in a darkened room you see no colour and therefore colour does not exist - a red ball is just a ball. Assuming you can see or feel it at all. Someone should tell Rob Styles to open his eyes when reaching for his pocket, perhaps. Actually, it's tempting to suggest that Styles is more a Kant kinda guy... no, sorry, cheap).

Anyway, one of Sartre's more disputable assertions was that "in football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team". Sartre never wrote match previews for BSaD, clearly, else he'd have appreciated that the other side's existence are often a saving grace from a deluge of nonsense such as this one...

Crewe have maintained a relatively settled side recently, despite a run of poor form that has seen them slip to the edge of the relegation zone, their away form particularly poor.

In goal will be Trinidadian Clayton Ince, currently preferred to Ademole Bankole who kept goal in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

Alex's fullbacks have both been struggling for form, a problem put down in part to the lack of serious competition. David Wright, good going forward down the right, is nervous defensively whilst veteran Shaun Smith is noticeably slowing down.

In the centre of defence, Dave Walton has been partnered by Nigerian Efe Sodje, in fine form of late. Rumours of the Nigerian FA eyeing the centre-back for a World Cup role have led to Dario Gradi commenting that players disappearing for internationals is something he can do without and consciously builds his squad to avoid. Main cover in the centre is Stephen Foster, whose aggressive challenge was responsible for one of Stephen Hughes' injuries earlier in the season. He is Alex's third highest scorer thanks to his role at set pieces. One-time favourite Steve Macauley, meanwhile, is on loan at Macclesfield.

In the middle, the steadying but immobile presence of Geoff Thomas has been absent through injury recently. Kenny Lunt provides much of the creativity but is notoriously frail in the challenge. Dave Brammer is the dynamo, and another to impress regularly in recent games. Wayne Collins is in his second spell at Gresty Road following time at Hillsborough and Craven Cottage, and the current midfield is made up by young Welshman David Vaughan, who can also fill in at left-back. Deputies are eighteen year old Ben Rix and Neil Sorvel, another in his second Crewe spell, but Kevin Street has not featured since our game at Gresty Road and Steve Jones is on loan at Rochdale.

An existentialist would argue that if a tree falls in a forest with nobody around to hear it, it effectively doesn't make any noise. Dean Ashton, one assumes, is a disciple of this school, given his tendency to put in the effort for England U19 games and high profile cup games but not, generally, otherwise. Nothing to prove, probably.

Alongside him is another young local product Rob Hulse, whilst the popular and quick Rodney Jack is on the bench and regularly linked to Cardiff. Colin Little is also still knocking around, although he's not featured much recently.

Going back to the game's relevance, existence and necessity, attendance should be mandatory for several reasons. Firstly, it precedes the long-awaited WML bash (and turning up for peripheral events without taking in the main event is clearly moronic, whether it exists in your reality or not). Second, there's always a chance of a repeat of Tuesday's wonderfully unexpected thunderbolt. Thirdly... well, really. In the last eighteen or so years we've experienced a couple of tremendous seasons and a larger number of at best average ones. If relevance was all that mattered, why are you still here, let alone reading this?

And finally, to quote Derrida, "Beyond the touchline, there is nothing...".