Sunday, 16 November 2014

Poppies strive to keep it interesting!

Most teams that are 2-0 up with twenty minutes to go, rattling the woodwork every few minutes, and about to take a penalty would be expecting a nice easy coast to the final whistle.  Not us though.  Oh, no.  Where's the fun in that?  Why put a game to bed when you can force your supporters through the wringer?

So, instead of going 3-0 up and continuing to mercilessly pepper the Aylesbury goal, we managed to invite them back to the party by giving them a goal from another penalty, and reducing ourselves to 10-men in the process.

But as much fun it is for us all to see our players making a game out of matches they are dominating, we really wouldn't mind if they occasionally put the opposition well and truly to the sword, even if this resulted in slightly more boring finishes to our games.  Really.  It wouldn't fuss us if every now and then our games fizzled out into comfortable, even hefty wins.

One thing that was glaring from yesterday's win at Aylesbury, and a number of games prior, was the need for someone in the middle of the park to grab hold of the game and either push us forward or marshal our defensive efforts.  We have had plenty of nominees for this vital position this season, but no-one has yet nailed this coveted role.

At the start of the season, our latest Daventry cry-baby Ross Oulton didn't hang around long enough to earn the spot.  A couple of months later he's out of the door at the Purple Hatters when his pay packet was greatly lightened.  Now he is battling against the drop at Bedford.  Serves him right!

Brett has also filled the spot with patchy results.  He has not been as dominant in the middle as he is currently being at centre back.  Surely he will stay there for the rest of the season?  Or until Henry returns?

Next up is returning feather-weight Messiah, James Jepson, but he seems dangerously off the pace this season, running around it little circles as the games flies past him.

The mighty Tommy Hull has filled the spot a few times.  We are told, by those in the know, that sitting in front of the back four is his best position.  For real?  Good a player as he is he seems  ineffective playing just 5 yards ahead of his usual centre back position.  Weird!

Jonathan Thorpe's severe injury has ruled him out of contention for the season.  Even so, hobbling on crutches, he isn't perhaps our worst option...!

By a process of elimination we have been left with a midfield duo of Gooding and Robinson.  Both are OK players, but better suited to playing alongside a dynamic midfielder, than alongside each other.  Neither of them is "the answer".  Entire games can pass before you notice either one is on the pitch. Perhaps this is why one usually replaces the other from the substitutes bench?  Between them, they add up to one good player?  And now Gooding is having his penalties saved his limited value takes even  more of a nose-dive!

That said, looking at the table this morning - a five point lead and a game in hand, we are doing most things right.  We just don't want to tempt the rest of the league back into the promotion hunt, like we tempted Aylesbury and their poorly handled drum back into the game yesterday!

Wanted: Someone to dominate this area of the pitch.  Apply: R Jeune.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything!

I know we've fallen on great footballing hard times.  Goodbye Rockingham Road.  Goodbye Conference National.  Hello Park Football.  Hello bobbly Latimer Park.

But even in the darkest days of the fag end of Non Park and some of the freezing nights of footballing horror at Steel Park we never suffered the indignity heaped on North Greenford United today.

We may have been slightly disappointed with our gate of 535 today, but spare a thought for the spartan surrounds at the home of "The Blues" as they had just 42 warm bodies come through the turnstiles.


Did this number include complimentary tickets?  God, I hope not!


Assuming a full set of substitutes on both teams and, say five Managers, Assistant Managers, Coaches, Physios etc. on each bench, the playing staff and attendance were exactly the same.


And what if each player has a family member at the game?  Upwards of 30 of the crowd might be attending due to purely familial attachments!


If it came to a scrap between the watchers and the performers, the outcome might well come down to which side the match officials took!


That's not even a coach-full.  We really have to get out of this division as soon as we can!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

They say a picture tells a thousand words....

If so, this photograph from the blog, "Sweet Left Foot" would be saying,

"Ugly sons of bitches!"

Repeated 250 times!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

So, what's wrong with Ash Fuller?

With news that Elliot Sandy and Chris Logan are treading the well worn path back to Latimer Park, the obvious question, beyond, why are we are re-employing players who couldn't win the league last season, is what has Ash Fuller done to be, thus far, overlooked?

Just why hasn't the last main member of last season's squad not made a re-appearance?

Poor personal hygiene?
Didn't leave his phone number with Ritchie?
Took too long in the showers?
Doesn't like playing in front of us moaning buggers?
Thinks red and black stripes makes him look a bit large across the hips?
Doesn't fancy playing out of position?
He accepts he isn't good enough to force his way into the starting 11?

Ash Fuller - not required (at time of writing)
back at Latimer Park

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Kettering 6 LIncoln 0

Today's victory over Lincoln United continued the complete domination of little old Kettering over the mighty cathedral city of Lincoln.  Previously we have treated Lincoln City as our own private bitch, but today we extended this punishment to include their junior neighbours of Lincoln United.

Our painfully one-sided bullying of Lincoln City is odd in as much as we have always been much the lesser team and yet still thoroughly spanked them.  Certainly the stats don't lie.

We first met back in the 87/88 season, back in the days when a team relegated from the Football League pretty much just had to stay full-time to bounce straight back into the Big Time.  Lincoln City, with future Poppies legend Phil Brown very much to the fore, duly spanked the cream of non-league and clambered back into the League.  But not before the mighty Poppies, coming back to prominence under the guidance of Alan Buckley did the double over them. 

The next time we met in the league action, Lincoln had just tumbled out of the League again, and we were having our monstrous season of horror at Non Park.  Under the fine leadership of the likes of Imraan Ladak, George Rolls and even Helen Bloody Thompson, we managed just 8 wins as we finished rock bottom of the Conference.  This small handicap didn't stop us from doing the double over Lincoln City again. 

Four league games.  Four wins to the Poppies.  Six goals for, and none against.  We'd happily take that record against anyone!

Lincoln City had better luck against us in the FA Cup in 2008.  Just as the Poppies were cruising to the accustomed victory, bugger me if Lincoln didn't score a goal to force a replay.  The Poppies were so shocked at having to pick the ball out of their own net against the Imps, that City stunned us again by scoring first in the replay at Sincil Bank.  Of course, we couldn't let this situation stand, and as soon as we got over the shock we duly scored twice and normal service was resumed.

Given how their illustrious neighbours are so firmly in our back pocket, Lincoln United really shouldn't feel too bad at bowing down to the Poppies.

This city genuinely, and rightfully
hates our guts!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The best a Man(ager) can get?

Saturday's defeat at home to Uxbridge seems to have been the final straw for a number of our supporters.  Coming so soon after the painfully lacklustre non-performance against Chalfont in the FA Cup, some Poppies fans have been pushed over the edge into demanding our Managerial Duo be sacked.

Anyone looking in from outside the seething cauldron of passion that is Poppydom might raise an eyebrow as to why supporters of a team that is top of the table, with most wins, least defeats, most goals scored and least conceded are screaming for managerial blood?

One of the problems Machin and, seemingly, particularly Baillie seem to have with their detractors is that they were slipped into their management roles too easily.  Many fans indulged in far too much wishful thinking when it came to appointing Thomas's replacement.  Why they thought a part-time position at this lowly level would appeal to the likes of Marcus Law, and who knows who else remains a mystery.  Even through we all know Kettering Town FC is by far the greatest team the World has ever seen, we play in a glorified park league.

And it would appear we are looking for a very specific kind of manager.  It is a given that they must win every game.  They must also do it with elan.  Opposition teams must be battered for fully 90 minutes, begging for the ref to stop the contest.  The Manager must spend the entire game being "tactically brilliant" and using just the right amount of verbal encouragement at exactly the right time.

At the same time we want managerial perfection we are happy to endure some extremely moderate efforts from some of the players, who, at the end of the day, are the ones on the pitch to actually win the game.  Is it the fault of Management when players don't try?  Or can't pass a ball properly?  Or take crap shots when they should pass?  Or miss open goals?

If Ritchie bowed to pressure to remove Scott and Thomas he will be faced with an enormously difficult task.  Not only will he have to find the managerial equivalent of a hybrid of Cloughie / Ferguson / Mourinho and Big Ron, he will also need to find a compelling reason to tell the candidate why the club are looking for a new supremo even though they are on top of the league.  How is the new man going to top being, er, top?

Some Latimer Park patrons won't be happy until the club's
new facility is put to good use.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Football's Coming Home?

So there’s a chance. It may not be a big one, but there’s a chance. To even have a glimmer it’s better that it’s now and not a year or two years ago, when just surviving to play another match was the goal.  The Pickerings have had plenty of time to weigh up their prospects. Is the site really an attractive proposition for developers?  Let’s hope not.  The cost of demolition would presumably have to include undoing the levelling of the field back to the original gradient , no small job.  A noisy bowling alley nearby. The old Indian burial ground under the pitch (go start a rumour, what have we got to lose).  

If nothing else, these past three years have done wonders for managing expectations.  Far from looking around Rockingham Road during quiet passages of play and reflecting how shabby the old girl looked, most of us would gladly take it now with two sides closed on safety grounds and the players emerging out of a portakabin in the corner. That’s not to underplay our gratitude to BPW and Corby for acting as a life support machine since 2012 – we will always be thankful – but as long as the wrecking ball and digger stayed away from Rockingham Road there was always a faint hope -  very faint perhaps – that somehow we might return.  The road signs to a football ground are still there…

It will come down to sealed bids so emotion and sentiment won’t count for anything. But just suppose KTFC repossesses Rockingham Road. Imagine the impact. Ownership restored after nearly 30 years, and in the era of lottery funding and grants for development of community facilities.  An initial period of roughing it leading eventually to phased redevelopment, starting with the prime end on Rockingham Road itself – where better to situate the facilities to generate year round revenue – a bar, a gym, a place to eat?  Isn’t that a better bet than corporate boxes which any club would struggle to fill, to watch non League football.  Diamonds had a whole pitch length of them – before the crash. But we’ll take a few spare parts from Nene Park while they’re still available.  And if we can still attract 600 to Latimer Park to watch Tier 8, surely more to RR if the admission pricing remains attractive.

Leaving aside the absence of a realistic option, do we really need an out of town location with a 3G training pitch and megastore parking.  Do Stevenage have that. Do Cheltenham. Do Kidderminster. They all seem to have done ok without them, by being well run, by progressive ground improvements, and without being somebody’s vanity project. At the moment we might not be aiming that high, but a return to Rockingham Road would raise the ceiling. So light a candle, say a prayer and promise to be a nicer person if this one wish is granted.