Friday, 18 October 2019

Blurred Vision

I went to the optician’s today for an eye test. It found I'm slightly short sighted, which makes it harder to see distant things clearly. I was advised this could be an issue when, for example, going to a football match.  Did I want glasses?

My mind flashed back to last Saturday.

“No thanks!”

At the moment, the less seen the better. After a month or two of ‘adjusting to life at this level’ the Spennymoor game punctured any illusion that things are going to get better without a major shake up in personnel.  Against a side that are just solidly mid table we looked smaller, weaker and devoid of any idea where the next goal is coming from. And that was just in the warm up. Bmm tish!

Though we’ve been here before with struggling sides, I can barely remember the Poppies looking so futile so early in a season, with the exception of the Nene Park fallout. However there are still nearly 30 games to go and the chance to re-set under a new manager. Who will it be?  Even the ever reliable rumour mill was finding it hard to cough much up last weekend. Over 30 applications had been received, and they were all, er, from people. Believed to be associated with football.  With some experience of playing the game.  Come on, give us a clue! 

It’s good though that the club are taking their time, after the rather too hasty announcement of Eaden (was that after sifting through 30 candidates? maybe not). This is probably the most important appointment we have made in many years, so let’s give ourselves the best chance to get it right. I hope though, that extra points in the interview process aren’t awarded for being an ex Poppy. “Someone who understands the fans and their expectations”.  Marcus Law had it right when he said that other managers make us a feature of their team talk: keep it tight and wait for the moaning b*stards to turn on their team. And this idea that a former legend will have a special insight – well Man U tried that and you have to say it’s going well.  No, all it gives you is an extra few games before the knives are out.

What do we need? Ideally a magician, an inspirational figure who can turn base metal into gold. On £250 a week plus expenses. But failing that a grizzled old sod with a book (because he doesn’t do laptops) bulging with contacts, who can bring in a bit of experienced knowhow at short notice to shore things up. A modern version of Graham Carr, and no we don’t mean Alan.  

Hello, is that Billy Whitehurst?

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Legends indeed

Last night's Legends evening at Latimer Park was a rousing success.  Gordon, Sean and Jim spoke well and their mix of amusing stories, gossip and glimpses of the Poppies past, kept the large crowd entertained.

These guys still consider Kettering Town to be THEIR club.  No matter where they originated, or who else they played for they all stayed local and stayed engaged with the Poppies.  This is certainly a trait one doubts that modern players are likely to emulate.  In the days where being on the bench for a couple of games has players rushing for the "Exit", it is doubtful many of today's crop will be engaged in this sort of evening 30 or 40 years down the line.

But, what struck me the most the evening was the sense of history and continuity that came from engaging with men who played for us 40 or 50 years ago, and sharing stories that many people in the room remembered and could relate to.  Decades of shared memories of good times and bad times.

It made me consider how we, the current crop of Poppies fans, all to often allow a few bad results to lose our perspective.  KTFC is a living organism, that has weathered much hardship over the years.  How petty do we look when defeat in a single game can tip us over the edge into desperate fury, when balanced against our club being in it's third century of continued survival?  The Poppies are for life, not just for 90 minutes.

Of course, this will all go out of the window if Spennymoor turn us over this afternoon...

Friday, 11 October 2019

Farewell Alex - we hardly knew ya!

Alex Nimely's departure didn't come as too much of a surprise to seasoned Nimley watchers.  When you consider he has never played more than 20 games for ANY of his 11 clubs so far, and hadn't found the net since notching for the mighty Stabaek in Norway almost three years ago, one wonders why we placed so much faith in him.

In his few minutes on the pitch for the Poppies he did slightly less than the last supporter who invaded the pitch and was about as threatening.

So much riding on him.  Waiting for the International Clearance.  Dumping Aaron for him.  Sometimes you wonder how Eaden hung on to his job for as long as he did....

One for a future Poppies Programme Quiz

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Sounds Familiar?

This was how the end of Nicky Eaden's tenure at Nuneaton was reported in the local press a few years ago.....

"....But a run of seven league matches without a win, plus elimination from the FA Cup, has seen Hawkins look to move in a different direction with the club bottom of the National League North"

Eaden's bullet at Latimer Park was reported thus......

"....That shock loss (in the FA Cup at Sutton Coldfield) came after a poor start to the Vanarama National League North campaign with the Poppies winning just two of their first 11 matches"

Eaden's managerial "style" of last-ditch, dour, backs-to-the-wall, just trying to hang-on, was never going to be acceptable at the Poppies.  As a club we have been building steadily for the past five years, and we are hungry for more.  Not be told constantly reminded of how hard everything is, by a Boss with a permanent hang-dog face and miserable demeanour.

We all KNEW this season was going to the challenging.  We didn't need our new Manager repeatedly telling us this from Day One.  Tell us we'll piss the division, our new ground is practically built, and that we'll sign Ronaldo.  We'll know it's bullshit, but it will give us all a lift.  No, instead, Nicky gave us defeated body language, and a depressing revolving-door team, who did their damnedest to reflect their Boss's attitude.

Steve Kinninburgh and his dog-whistle voice have been given the task of shepherding us through a vital run of fixtures.  In the next 6 games we will play all 5 of the other teams at the bottom of the league.  With 4 of these games to take place at Latimer Park, the importance of the next few weeks can't be overstated.

After these games we have York, Boston, Alfreton and a double header with Brackley lined up.  I'm sure I'm not alone in being happier if we had a few more teams below us in the table by the time we begin these fixtures!

Eaden heads for the exit at Sutton Coldfield

Monday, 23 September 2019

If Music be the Food of Love....

Opinions of musical instruments at football games usually range widely between, "No way", and "No f*cking way". 

A loud drummer serves to do nothing but annoy those close by, and totally dominate any attempt at singing.  A drummer used to come to our occasional big games back in the day, and served only to drown out any atmosphere with his random, inappropriate and LOUD drumming.  The team thankfully made sure that really big games were sufficiently thin on the ground for this not to be too much of an issue.

Last Saturday's frustrating stalemate with Sutton Coldfield was (and I can't believe I'm typing this) enlivened by the visitor's musicians.  Not just a lump of a fan banging a drum with the natural rhythm of a thrashing octopus, missing a few limbs, caught up in a fisherman's net.  No, these guys could....actually play.  

As well as a trumpet player, Sutton Coldfield sported 2 drummers (a'la Adam and the Ants circa 1980) to lend gusto to proceedings.  Even those Sutton supporters not directly involved with the instruments knew their roles within the overall orchestration with additional percussion and vocals, if "vocals" can be extended to include just the word "Tequila!" shouted with gusto.

A quick word of warning to our fans.  Just because we all experienced a reasonable band on Saturday, do not feel you are under any pressure to follow suit.  We Poppies fans have an unfortunate habit of "monkey see, monkey do" when it comes to seeing opposition fans doing something shiny and new.  Sometimes this works out for the best - you'll find it difficult to believe, but PATGOD wasn't the world's first fanzine....!  Sometimes it works out not so well - I still shudder at the recollection of Dave Chuckle, having heard a drummer, turning up at an away game with a cucumber and attempting to replicate the sound of semi-professional percussionist with a large vegetable and any random flat surface.....

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Whisper it Quietly

At 4.45PM last Saturday we managed to hold onto a 2-1 win against "high-flying" Alfreton.  At pretty much the same time our newly-appointed-relegation-rival Bradford Park Wanderers contrived to ship an equaliser to another newly-appointed-relegation-rival, Spennymoor.  We didn't move up the table, but opened up a small gap between ourselves and the relegation zone.

This was followed up with another win against, admittedly lowly Cogenhoe in the County Cup.  Not the toughest opponents in the world, but a win is a win.  And back-to-back wins when struggling are not to be sniffed at.

Hopefully our re-introduction to the world of winning football matches will spark a few more positive outcomes in the weeks and months to come.  The truth is, we have been there or thereabouts in most of the League games this season only for luck to turn against us, 15 minutes of madness, or running out of steam (or a combination of all three).

Perhaps the tide is starting to slowly turn?  Perhaps we are getting the measure of this division?  Or, perhaps we are starting to try to win games, rather than trying not to lose them?

...or perhaps we're benefitting
from selecting our best forward?

Aaron has started 4 games this season.
We won 3 of them....

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

There but for the grace of God

Any medium or long-time Poppies fan knows about suffering.  And the cold, hard fear that comes with being, on a handful of occasions, within a hairs-breadth of losing our club.  This knowledge, does impart, though, a sense of calm when a few results go against us.

No-one minds when fans take defeat badly.  It's a natural reaction.  If we didn't care who won or lost a game, we'd all be rugby fans.  Where some of our fans get out of line is that they believe their personal anger trumps everyone else's.  They seem to think that because they scream loudest at the players, or bravely on social media that no-one else feel it as badly as they do.  Not the players.  Or club officials.  Or the other supporters.  They're wrong of course.  We all feel it.  But some of us can see beyond that day's match.  Club officials need to see beyond the next match, the next month and even the next season.

When a football club has nothing to worry about other than the actual football, a lot of people must be doing a lot of things right.  A football club is a living organism where numerous people put in, mostly unseen effort to keep the show on the road.  Ninety minutes on a Saturday every fortnight is the very tip of the iceberg.

Having peered over the brink more times than any of us can remember, all of our thoughts are with the supporters of Bury today who would dearly love to have nothing more to vex them than a below par performance at the weekend.  Hopefully this serves as a wake-up call this morning for every football supporter who still has their club and wants them to mortgage their future to chase immediate success.