Sunday, 26 January 2020

Just in case his former associates are watching.....

".......we've disguised his features, and his words
are spoken by an actor....."

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Addressing the Elephant in the room that dare not speak its name

As muddy gives way to frozen pitches our turnaround in footballing fortunes faces it's sternest test.  Not from the teams lining up to try to stand in the way of Cox's warriors.....instead from the Achilles heel that is our playing surface at Latimer Park.  Rescheduled and rescheduled, rescheduled fixtures are littering the path between us and our hoped-for mid-table obscurity.

We are now at a footballing level where the ground capacities, facilities, and playing surfaces come under not just more scrutiny, but rules that can result in fines, loss of points and even relegation.  The club is addressing what needs to be done as an absolute minimum to ensure if relegation comes this season at least it will be on footballing terms only.

But, the pitch.....  After a century of being used to the well grassed, easily draining Rockingham Road, playing our games on this glue pot is a big culture shock.  It would appear that the field where we play couldn't be less conducive to a quality footballing surface.  Deep, non-draining clay, topped with a narrow layer of mud does not a good football pitch make.

The number of times the main pitch is used must also impact greatly on the condition.  There are games on it 2 or 3 times per week, every week.  When you start with a suspect pitch, this is not going to improve matters.

This may be an incredibly unpopular suggestion, and seem stupefyingly ungrateful, but can we really still afford to let Burton Park Wanders play on Latimer Park's main pitch?  We're fully aware that were it not for their initial invite to share the facility we would either have gone to the wall, or be plying our trade at Steal Park at God alone knows what level.

As a club we will always be grateful for BPW for offering us a home when we were without one.  They didn't have to do this, but chose to help us at our time of greatest need.  A gesture that won't be forgotten.

From our initial borrowing of the facilities at Latimer Park, the Poppies have improved the facilities enormously.  All the seating / terracing / hard standing / lighting are down to us.  We have even taken over the lease on the ground from BPW, effectively (from what I've heard) making them our tenants now.  Would BPW still be going had the Poppies not done all of this?  Who knows, but it must get increasingly hard for very small clubs to survive in ever more professional leagues.

I'm not suggesting BPW be turfed out of their home completely.  Could not one of the other pitches at Latimer Park be brought up to an acceptable UCL standard?  Before we arrived the club didn't have floodlights of hard standing.  What would be the difference?

Could this be done?  I don't know.  But it is becoming clear that something needs to be happen.  When teams can get games called off against us because they don't fancy the battle it won't be long before the Poppies could be sanctioned by the National League for their playing surface.  Having BPW play on a different pitch is one answer.  I'd be happy to hear others?

Genuine photograph of Latimer Park

(c) Russell Slade c/o Hereford FC

Sunday, 19 January 2020


Official statement on the Poppies website: -

Other than certain Hereford officials, perhaps seeking to hold onto their jobs a little longer, it seems that everyone thought the game should go ahead.  The pitch wasn't great, but was probably no worse than several we've all seen today where games in the Football League took place.  A few cropped photographs of muddy grass to the side of the pitch shouldn't be abiding image from this cancelled fixture.

Perhaps KTFC should be ones seeking compensation?

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Two to Tango

Today's latest, late postponement does not reflect well on the Poppies.  Our pitch, although draining better now than in previous seasons, is still a millstone around our club's neck.  It is a truly horrible surface to look at, to play on and to drain.  God knows how another game called off will hit the club's coffers.

We know all this.  We also know it's all we've got at the moment.

Today's game against Hereford was always going to be touch and go.  If played, it wouldn't have been a game for either purists, or the faint-hearted.  It would still be better than Hereford United's pitch during their famous FA Cup win in the 1970's.  But these days pitches not like billiard tables are heavily frowned upon.

The pitch is shit.  Fact.  However, if the stories already coming out of Latimer Park are to believed, the postponement seems to be as much about the Hereford management not wanting to play as the pitch not being playable.

If this is true, it is shocking.  And enormously cowardly.  It would only benefit Hereford if they could wriggle out of playing this afternoon.  They must have been dreading today.  We are on a roll and they are in free-fall.  A win today would have put us above them in the League.  I just hope that, as soon as everyone turns on the Poppies for this late postponement, the full story of who said what and when comes out.  Few teams fear Hereford anymore.  If it is shown that they bleated to the referee for today's game to be called off, even fewer teams will fear them.  Or respect them.

Ronnie would have played today....

Monday, 13 January 2020

Mo Sebbeh - This Is Your (Poppies) Life

With thanks to Graham James for looking at the enigma, wrapped in a conundrum, further wrapped in tracksuit bottoms, and sat on the Poppies substitute bench, that was Mo Sebbeh.  

Don't forget, if you too want to bask in the kind of adulation Graham is about to encounter as a published PATGOD writer, send us your articles, images, or bank transfers, to the usual contact address.

"The club is delighted to announce the signing of midfielder Mo Sebbeth. Born in Spain he has played for CF Damm, VA Horta, Redditch UnIted and Stratford Town. Mo is available for selection against Alfreton Town on Saturday."

From this important announcement by the club  in mid -September I thought it would worthwhile reviewing his career so far. Although only 21 years old, as so many players now, he has a few different clubs on his CV already. Last season he finished up at Tamworth and played for them in their unsuccessful promotion play-off game against Kings Lynn. He must have been thrilled then when a team in a higher league came in for him a few games into the season. He must have noticed that we had made a poor start and so probably thought that it would not take him long to get a run in the failing team and help his new club turn things round.

Well, he did not feature in that first game against Alfreton Town, so it may have come as a bit of a surprise when on the following Tuesday he was named as a substitute again even though it was a slightly changed team, and a bit of a given to play fringe players, as we were only playing Cogenhoe in the county cup. A slight step forward in the Kettering career did happen though when he replaced Meikle in the second half. He then reverted back to being an unused substitute for the next three games, despite two of them being the awful performances against Sutton Coldfield.  

During the very brief Kinniburgh/Graham regime he did not even make the bench but all that was to change dramatically when Paul Cox strode into town. In just his second game in charge, away at Guiseley, (Oh I wish I had been there) his life changed - forever. We were leading through two goals by Carta which must have emotionally drained him as he was substituted in the 77th minute. Actually the official report actually said that he was "visibly tiring"! So with Cox noticing this he looked at his bench and saw what his options were. He had the new, inexperienced forward Tre Mitford, two youth team players and Mo. It would be cruel to think that this left him with little choice, but he did come on to make his real first team debut, albeit a full month after signing.

Mo - Scourge of Wellingborough
After this 13 minute, plus time added on, cameo performance however he reverted back to his normal situation of unused substitute. By now, just a few games into Cox's reign though, it was probably already becoming worryingly clear to him that the new manager wasn't the biggest ever user of a substitute. The next game though will go down in the annals of Poppies history, and I am sure that both supporters who went to Wellingborough to see us play the mighty Flourmen will talk about it for days to come. Finally, Mo's name was on the team sheet. Not only that but, having not been substituted - that would have been so cruel - in the last minute, he scored.  

I would not have wanted to have been around, however, when someone had to inform him that Senior Cup games are not regarded as "proper " first team matches, and therefore do not get recorded in official statistics. Now I do not quite understand this as any red cards received in these games still mean that suspensions follow as normal - I refer you to Azza's over exhuberant celebrations when we beat Rushden in the final recently. I am however totally in favour of this anomaly though as a few years ago a certain I.Ladak scored in a County cup game and wouldn't have wanted his name on our club's records for all time.

So, despite this virtual goal a game record, he still could not break his way into the first team and continued much more consistently with him being an unused substitute for the rest of November and the whole of December. This in retrospect, despite Cox's now clear potential migraine reaction to the flashing colours of the garish substitute lights, must have been particularly annoying as there were two games when he was one of the only three players that we could muster to watch the games from the bench.

His career (really, can you call it a career here when only 17 minutes, plus the now very relevant injury time, actually counted?) then went into a common Kettering black hole of information. All of a sudden, his name mysteriously didn't appear on the list of substitutes at Brackley. At this stage nothing untoward was suspected as a new loan signing in Harding replaced him, and of course, you can't expect a club to sign someone on loan and not play him can you?

At the next game, at home to Farsley, however, the inquisitive nature of our fans started to kick into action and the inevitable moaning about the lack of communication from the club lead to people wondering about his whereabouts. Then, someone comes on Facebook and states that Mo has gone to Stratford, Now, I think it is safe to say that you cannot always believe everything you read on social media. I looked into the evidence and found it rather mysterious. I first found reference to this fact on the non-league daily website on January 7th. Very strangely, this was the only reference to it that I could find at the time. The NLD's tweet about his move was retweeted by the official Stratford twitter page but they did not mention it independently on their website, and not surprisingly, we made no reference to it either.

So after about 100 days, 13 minutes and 12 games as an unused substitute his stay may be over - or is it?


Well, after further investigations, it seems as if he played for Stratford on January 4th. His signing for them must be one of the least publicised ever. He also must be the least match-fit player ever as well. Not surprisingly he was substituted in the second half - back to his comfort zone! Wonder when we will announce it.

Friday, 10 January 2020

That was the Decade that was

With the football-supporting corner of the Internet awash with 2010-2019 Best-offs, and other decade spanning statistics, we've tried very hard to resist jumping in and depressing everyone further.  Who needs to wallow in the kind of painful nostalgia that, at best, simply reminds you that you are 10 years older now?  Plus, there aren't many readily accessible websites where you can look back at what has happened to your football club on a week by week basis over the past decade.

Or is there?

Well, the blog you are hastily glancing over at work is now such a historical document!  PATGOD online has now been creaking along since 2009!  Sure, it's not wall-to-wall full of verifiable statistics.  Or, any statistics come to that.  But it does offer a flavour of what a few peeved middle-aged men thought of what was occurring at the Poppies at any given time, and that, in this "post-truth" world, is worth any amount of actual facts....

Was the last decade the most traumatic in our history?  I haven't lived through all of them, but it is difficult to image a 10-year period where so much happened.  Four grounds.  Three relegations, including an impressive two in a single season....!  Two promotions.  More last gasp survivals than a professional Russian roulette player.  Possibly 14 Managers.  15 if you include Imraan....

We came into the 2010's on the back of games against Leeds United where they couldn't beat us in normal time home or away, through, less than 2-years later to losing 7-0 at "home" to Bashley on a day we could summon up only ten players, and barely more supporters.  Since then we have been steadily climbing back to a position in the footballing hierarchy somewhere near where we feel we should be.

Not to blow our own trumpet, but there is some fascinating stuff on PATGOD from the past 10 years.  Some of it is so alien that I'm sure it happened to a different club.  Other stories so fresh it seems like yesterday.  And at times we were such demanding drama queens!  We really had no idea of the amount of sh*te about to be dumped on us at the start of the decade, did we? this in just a couple of seasons
Case in point, our incredible bleating about the lack of potency from our forward line towards the end of 2009.  We had on our books, Moses Ashikodi, Anthony Elding, JP Marna, Damian Spencer, Francis Green AND Danny Thomas.  And all PATGOD could do was WHINE about our inability to completely thrash former League Clubs, and cement our position within the Play-Off spots in the Conference.....

We didn't know we were bloody well born!!!

Within 3-years barely 150 of us froze our bits off at Steal Park watching our relegation certainties lose 7-0 on the coldest Tuesday night in the entire history of everything.  If nothing else, whenever I hear of complaints nowadays, this is the game I mentally drift back to.....Brrrrr.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

What? Who? Eh?

I imagine Paul Cooke really enjoys setting the quiz in the Matchday programme.  Psychopaths are generally happy in their work.  When not wearing his numerous other Poppies hats, it is his job to set a few questions and show some images of old Poppies games and players for us all to ponder and argue over at halftime.  Assuming of course that your halftime isn't fully occupied with watching the substitutes go through a bored warm-up routine, or seeing 5-year old kids dispatch penalties of a quantity and quality our first team can only dream of.

In theory, the quiz in the programme should pleasantly pass a few minutes before the players trudge back onto the quagmire and battle is once again joined.

In reality, the quiz does nothing except make you wonder if you've ever seen the Poppies before.  Four decades of watching the Poppies, and too many years writing about them to safely recall without crying, do not help in the slightest when it comes to trying to answer Paul's questions.  I'm not sure that without the good lady offering several clues for every question, that I'd ever get one right!

And then yesterday.  The day Paul Cooke had his longest, loudest laugh at the rest of us who don't happen to have a room in our homes dedicated to Poppies statistics.  This photograph.....

Seriously?  Who the f*ck is that?  From his kit we know he played for us during the dark Non Park days, but after that.....The answer is (of course!) John Lesley Van Engel, who helped shepherd us through the tail end of our last Conference National season, amassing 114 minutes of action across 5 straight defeats (see - we can also hit the books!) as the chasm of footballing oblivion started opening beneath us.

Numerous footballing websites later and I can offer nothing else about Ooh Jonnie Engel.  As far as the Internet is concerned he played a few games for SVV Scheveningen in a pointless Dutch Cup, then joined us in 2012 for a month.  And then disappeared off the planet.  Or, he's still at the Poppies, depending on which websites you read!

Needless to say, we didn't guess John's identity at yesterday's game.  Our attempted answers included a prettied-up Moses Ashikodi, the guy who played "Jesus" in Madonna's "Like a Prayer" video, and Naomi Campbell.  All equally likely as the actual answer....