Friday, 29 January 2010
"Get away from me youse Freak!!!"
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Anyway, lolling on the sofa tonight with half an eye on the United v City semi final I sat bolt upright at another example. Stephen Ireland, preparing to come on as sub, peeled off his shirt to reveal... a huge pair of angel's wings tattooed across his back.
I repeat - angel's wings across his back.
Either the combative City midfielder is in fact heralding the Second Coming, or it's a new chapter in what the modern player is prepared to undergo to establish inky bragging rights in the changing room. Because that can only be the motivation for ever more ludicrous skin scribbling - my tat's bigger than yours.
In the school playground culture of football, garish body decoration is the new Page Three bird or flash car. Pretty soon even the humblest semi pro will be decked out like a Maori warrior with little thought for later life, when a dark shrivelled smudge will remind them of bygone days.
Yet even as tats spread like an epidemic across the torsos, lower legs and arms of the nation's footballing finest, there's an odd reluctance to go beyond the collar line or wrist. Come on boys, who among you is man enough to have the Virgin Mary or their girlfriend's name in Mandarin emblazoned across their forehead. Or even sell the naming rights so that every firmly planted header has TOYOTA behind it.
They also have an almost pathological inability to cover the Poppies away games. Last night we were treated to the Cobblers on the radio, and online coverage of the Scum, live and exclusive all the way from Non Park.
And since when did a nuclear missile launching area count as as an archaeological site? I can't recall Tony Robinson and his happy gang of bearded weirdos unearthing an early Bronze Age Doomsday Weapon.
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Judging by the pre-match thread in which various Poppynetters tell an anxious world whether they plan to attend a particular match, so far there is only one confirmed traveller, and unless he's happy with his own company he may yet change his mind.
Let's hope not, after all there must be a particular pride in being one of very few fans to make a trip. I have memories of some meaningless late season games where the away numbers were pitifully few, but never single figures. The Travel Club, although not in its heyday, was still fulfilling its charter of running a bus (or a scaled down equivalent) to every game, and that automatically delivered a cargo of social misfits to the doorstep of many a semi-professional arena.
(There's ample material to be had in describing some of those characters, but we'll save that for another day, when advances in digital effects make it possible to reproduce their likenesses.)
Once, many years ago, a midweek jaunt to Barrow drew a travelling army of four. I recall this because they were featured in a home programme in recognition, and in an age when a hundred or so Fulham fans receive personal thankyous from Roy Hodgson for braving a Premier League trip somewhere recently, the Gateshead One ought to be similarly honoured.
Assuming of course that Roy doesn't mind penning another letter...
The first was a veritable love fest featuring the ever optimistic Peter Mallinger, the ever cadaverous Les Manning, and ever-generous Chris Mallender of Corby Council. They were gushing (literally I fear) over the start of work on the Steelmen's next football ground.
The second story concerned wind farms, of which more in a moment.
The Corby Town piece was short on detail - for instance it didn't delve too deeply into the tendering process which ended up with a Corby director's company just happening to secure the contract of building the ground, or how much the Council had chipped in.
I squirmed, and I hoped any Kettering councillors listening squirmed at Mallender's suggestion that Corby Council stand ready to assist the Poppies with their ground issues. What could he have meant by this? I mean, what more could Kettering Council possibly do to help the Poppies? So far our elected officials have managed to sit very securely on their hands and lumped the Poppies in with every other sporting organisation or business in the Borough. That's right, KTFC means as much to Mr Hakewell and cohorts as such institutions as Grange Infants School Tiddly Winks 2nd XI, or the bloke who sells the ET at the top of Meadow Road.
One cannot help but be left with the feeling that had our ground issues come under Mallender's jurisdiction he would have been straight to the media complaining about absentee landlords and their stranglehold over the town's premier sporting club. No doubt this would have been followed swiftly by a compulsory purchase of the ground and rental back to the Poppies for a peppercorn rent on a 999 year lease.
But, alas, our representatives are so naval-gazingly insular that they can barely drag themselves away from the day-to-day business of grinding what little we have in the way of a distinctive town centre into dust and defecating on the remnants.
The other story concerning windfarms made me chuckle. Whenever it is suggested that a wind farm be set up anywhere in Northamptonshire there is an immediate backlash from an instantly formed group, with a catchy title such as, Cranford Unreservedly Negative Towards Sails, or, Towcester Wives Against Turbine Statues, or my own favourite group, Windfarms Are Not Kosher Enough Rigid Structures.
These groups are made up of the worse kind of blathering Tory reactionaries who believe that electricity is somehow created magically in their 3-pin sockets, and that only a reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher crossed with Adolf Hitler can save their rural idyll from galloping darkies and communists. Arguments about the value of wind farms as opposed to nuclear power stations fall on deaf ears. "How can a nuclear disaster such as the one suffered at Chernobyl possibly compare with Channel Five needing to be re-tuned on the television sets?"
Let's be honest for a moment. The countryside around here is OK, but it's not exactly awe-inspiring. Poets won't weep and piddle their pants for Northamptonshire when it is the wind farm capital of Europe. And if this means that we no longer have to toy with nuclear power or buy coal from Russia, is this not a small price to pay?
Anyway, if the Council secure us a new ground I'm sure that no-one would object if we kill two birds with one stone and attached sail turbines to the floodlight pylons? Everyone will be happy. We've got somewhere to play AND we can be a net contributor to the National Grid.
C'mon KBC - you know it makes sense!
Saturday, 23 January 2010
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
The hard truth is that in the grim last few weeks we looked and felt like a relegation side ourselves, and the implausibly high league position we still occupy is all that remains of the cushion of points which was built up before Cooper's departure.
But at least last night showed that there is still some spirit (and ability) in the ranks, and dampened fears that we might yet do a Weymouth and nosedive out of the division.
Some will no doubt still give the remaining games (except Diamonds) a miss because "what's the point in going - they can't go up into the League". If that was the sole reason for attending a game, the team would have played to an empty stadium until the late 1980s and in the latter half of most seasons since!
What is it with the fickle (some would say thick) Kettering public? Other clubs do not seem to be dogged with such fragile 'support', who can't be bothered to grace the ground with their presence unless there is some incentive on offer beyond simply watching a game of football.
Simply watching a team called Kettering Town playing a game of football is maybe an option we won't always have - and for that reason it's more important now than ever. The smaller our crowds get, the more ammunition to those who say we're a minority interest in the borough, with all that entails.
So well done to the boys for bringing back the points from North Kent and let's hope they can muster a few more performances to keep optimism flickering.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
The only trouble is, we have used up all of our "extremely weird-looking, enormous bald head" photographs on previous editions of "Guy's Blog".
If anyone has a photograph of an extremely weird-looking, enormous bald head, or something similar, we would be grateful if they could forward the link to us and we will slap a Burton shirt on it and stick it on the Blog!
Best get it to us quickly before Guy does something else stupid!
And not by some grudge-wielding rival, or chip-shouldered plastic-jock wanabee, but by someone looking at our situation in a dispassionate and studious way.
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Direones Boss, Just In Edinburgh has a full squad to pick from.
The game will be on provided the snow and ice has all gone of course. And the floodwater has subsided. And if we can find enough people to put into red shirts for the day. Presently our squad list reads, Lee Harper (if fit), and several "A.N.Others". Oh, and if we've actually sold any tickets to our increasing fickle supporters.
With all the negative stuff going-on at Rockingham Road it would be the height of delicious irony if a thrown together Poppies team will finally be the one to beat the Annies at Rockingham Road. That said, I'm not holding my breath either.....
And if we're really lucky, former Scum favourite, Duane Darby may well be the match summariser for local radio!
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Expect the cold winter to continue as we revert to part time football and struggle along on sub 1000 gates. But, from this position it may well be the case that the Club can find its soul again. Become part of the community it had grown distant from when we were being artificially boosted by a single man's wealth. More affordable sponsorship packages maybe, now that every game won't be supported by Imraan's companies. Bring the local companies back into the fold.
What does stepping down as Chairman actually mean on a day-today basis? By his own admission he hardly committed any time to the Poppies beyond writing the cheques. No more money invested? Possibly. But I think he is more likely to find another buyer if the Club is still in this Division at the very least.
I hope reports of him turning on supporters are unfounded. The vast majority of supporters believe he has generally been good for the Poppies. We can gloss over his seeming desperate need for headlines, and inability to ever really follow through on any of his ideas for the Club, because you sensed here was a man who would do anything within his power to bring success to the Poppies, Surely the best barometer of a Chairman?
Lee must wonder what the hell is going on. The only good thing about this is that he is not alone.
The Council & The Ground
The Council really need to stand up and be counted. Are they prepared to let the Poppies slip out of existence? Without Imraan in charge will they continue to take the ground relocation situation so personally?
They should, at the very least, communicate with Pickering, and bring him to the negotiating table. A one line email to Ben's solicitors letting him know that they will never allow building of houses at Rockingham Road should do the trick.
Surely it's time for the supporters to get more involved with the Club. Rightly or wrongly the vast mass of fans have found them distanced from the Poppies over recent years. Too many changes instigated by Imraan have put a lot of backs up. Whether it is the enormous increases in admittance fees, of the whole ticket situation, Imraan has never managed to take everyone with him each time he tried something new.
Well, the safety net of Imraan's money has gone - now is the time for all Poppies fans to do their bit to help their Club survive. We all know they are many ways we can do that extra bit that we might have let slip over the last few years. That extra Klondike ticket. Joining the Trust and the Club 200. Having a pint in the Social Club rather than the bowling club. Little things here and there. We all talk a good talk about how wonderful our support is. Now might be the time to show it.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Whilst the internet has given us many good things such as online shopping to avoid rubbing shoulders with the prols, PATGOD online (!) and access to top quality pornography from all corners of the globe, there has also been a regrettable downside. One of the most annoying things the web has spawned is the self-styled Keyboard Warrior.
Once upon a time, if you wanted to have a go at someone you pretty much had to walk up to them and prod them in the chest whilst verbalising your issues. As time went by we became more civilised in these matters and resorted to written arguments, printed on paper and distributed. The original paper-based PATGOD was a vehicle for such activities. And if someone had an issue with anything written they could walk up to the person selling it and argue their point-of-view. And, if they happened to be the Club Chairman or Manager, they often did.
One by-product of this kind of face-to-face exchange is that you thought carefully about what you wrote before committing it to the printer. For example, everyone KNEW Mark English was as dodgy as a 5-day old pack of prawns left open in the sun, but you had to tread carefully around stating this as an outright fact. Bigger crooks than him had hid behind the libel laws for many years. At the time it was annoying, but at least it made you think ways of phrasing your criticism or seeming to temper your accusations through the medium of attempted-comedy and cartoons.
It is perhaps unfortunate that the modern commentator, hidden behind an anonymous pseudonym has no such compunction. Secure in their parent’s spare room the Keyboard Warrior is King of all he surveys. He knows all and tells all. His opinion is the only opinion. His worldview is the only worldview, and all others must bow to his will. And one day very soon, he might actually speak to a girl.
Online forums burn with his poorly punctuated words and opinions. Trivial discussions become weighed down with crushing decrees from on high. And varied opinion is replaced with abuse, threats and barely understandable text-speak.
Presently, Poppynet is under attack from a pack of fearless Warriors, augmented with disgruntled former club employees, and other axe-grinding hangers-on. Rumours and opinions are treated as hard facts. The Chairman is being hounded by a vociferous minority of brave Warriors, who seem hell-bent on forcing him out of Rockingham Road.
None of them can suggest how the Club might actually survive such an event, beyond a few vague suggestions about reconstituting the Club at a Sunday League level. Unfortunately, the survival of the Club post-Ladak would take a good deal more effort than griping into your PC, ordering pizzas online and arguing the merits of Kirk versus Pickard with a 10-year old kid in China. It would take real efforts in the real world, which is not a place the dedicated Keyboard Warrior visits too often.
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
Former Poppies Boss Mark Cooper continues to ride his luck. Fresh from umpteen last minute goals when manager of Kettering, and several whilst the Posh boss, he has managed to avoid a potentially embarrassing tie against his former charges.
Well......IF we'd beaten Leeds, and then, IF we'd turned over Man Utd on their own patch (not entirely beyond the realms of extreme possibility after watching their tie last weekend), AND IF Peterborough had won at Tottenham, we would all have been off to London Road for Round Four.
We reckon we would have given his Peterborough United, shorn of the defensive sturdiness of a cup-tied Big X (!) a run for their money! That's if we had eleven players to pick from of course.
"Phew, dodged a bullet there!", says a relieved Mark Cooper
Sunday, 3 January 2010
Rooney - cost £25.9 million pounds. Has scored 25 times for England. Goals against Leeds Utd - zero.
Giggs - Almost 600 appearances for Man Utd, scoring over 100 goals. Current BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Goals against Leeds Utd - zero.
Owen - Cost £25 million in transfer fees from Real Madrid and Newcastle Utd. Has scored 40 goals for England. Goals against Leeds Utd - zero.
Valencia - cost £16 million pounds. Has represented his country 40 times at full international level. Goals against Leeds Utd - zero.
Ian Roper - cost the Poppies half a bag of training bibs. Currently the heaviest man to ever play professional football. Can't see without his glasses on. Goals against Leeds Utd - one.
Did someone once say that football was "a funny old game?"
Friday, 1 January 2010
Do you remember the return on Anthony Elding at the start of November, and his ghosting in to head home after 4 minutes against Wrexham? I hope you do, seeing as this is the last goal we scored at home in the League from open play!
Since the we have endured a mind-numbing 536 minutes (plus injury time) of home league action without us rippling the net from anything but a couple of penalties. To put 536 minutes (plus injury time) into perspective, if you'd decided to have a bit of a Lord of the Rings marathon, and slipped The Fellowship of the Ring, into your DVD player just as Elding scored against the Taffs, you would now be watching the end credits of The Return of the King, whilst awaiting our next league goal at home from open play. Ouch! That'd hurt your arse.
In the same time that it took for a scared bunch of Hobbits to bring down the defences of the most evil Empire in the history of Middle Earth, we have been unable to lower the colours of the rather less impressive defences of such mighty teams a Kiddy, Hayes & Yeading, Salisbury, Barrow and Tamworth.
And with Diamonds and Cambridge coming up (against whom our home records aren't exactly stellar...) don't bet against a revisit to this article featuring the specially extended editions of the Lord of the Rings films!
"Bugger me! I was clean-shaven when Elding nodded-in against Wrexham!"