Wednesday, 31 March 2010
"And it was all set up so nicely for a goalkeeping howler and a massed chorus of "Oh no Nathaniel"
I'm sure we all wish it was 'forever autumn'; when we looked like a team that not only could win a game but also as thought they had met before.
I suppose the least said about 'The Red Weed(s)' the better and here's to a 'Brave New World' once this season has finally done the decent thing and disappeared round the U-bend"
Couldn't have put it better. All we would add is that it was (Thunder)children against men.
Monday, 29 March 2010
No one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinised by creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
Few men even considered the possibility of life beyond Finedon, and yet, across the gulf of the A6, minds immeasurably inferior to ours regarded this Kettering with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us......"
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Ref: "Whistle" Free kick to the cry-baby in yellow.
Mansfield Player: "AAAGH!"
Ref: "Whistle" Free kick to the cry-baby in yellow.
Mansfield Player: "AAAGH!"
Ref: "Whistle" Free kick to the cry-baby in yellow.
Mansfield Player: "AAAGH!"
Ref: "Whistle" Free kick to the cry-baby in yellow."
Etc. for 90 minutes.
Any Kettering fan who has ever had to rely on BBC Radio Northampton for news or coverage of the Poppies, knows what it is like to be unloved. We constantly put up with the pain of being passed over or ignored in favour of other, flashier members of the Northamptonshire sporting family.
We've no problem with being overlooked in favour of the Cobblers. That's fair enough. The station is called Radio Northampton, and the Cobblers are top of the footballing tree in the County. The Saints get big coverage also, which is more of an issue. It seemed that BBCRN only really discovered the Saints when the were winning every week once they'd been relegated a couple of years back. They certainly weren't getting the wall-to-wall coverage they enjoy now when they were getting turned over every week the season before and suffered relegation. Not that promotion or relegation particularly meant anything to the emotionally dead, sickeningly sporting anoraks who watch rugby. Placid bunch of even handed drunkards that they are.
Our problem with BBCRN stems from how they sort their coverage out once they have finished suckling at the teats of Northampton's sporting giants.
Once upon a time, long before online coverage BBCRN could cover one game on a Saturday. And that was invariably the Cobblers. Occasionally us or the Direones got a look in if the Cobblers weren't playing. Then Uncle Max's Midnight Carnival of Freaks-that-defy-the-will-of-God managed to buy their way into the Football League and the broadcasting goalposts were subtly shifted.
Suddenly, BBCRN covered whichever of the County's two footballing giants was away from home on the Saturday. Even though it left the Poppies even further down the list of teams getting local radio coverage (alongside Braybrooke Old Gentlemen XI, and the Aldwinckle Tossing Society), we could see the point to this. The supporters who's team was at home would presumably be at the home game, whereas covering the away game would bring in the vast majority of fans who didn't fancy Carlisle away on a Tuesday night.
This system worked well enough when there was 2 equally placed teams in the County. This all changed, however, when both we and the Scum found ourselves back in the Conference. The Poppies because we thrashed everyone in Conference North. The Scum because they were too sh*t for the Football League.
Now, alongside radio coverage, there is also BBC online coverage. One would be forgiven for thinking that the situation might now be - cover the Cobblers home and away on the radio, and alternate between us and the Scum depending on who was away from home. What could be simpler?
Very soon it became apparent this wasn't going to happen. Oh, sure, when we had big FA Cup games the BBCRN outside broadcast car was present and correct, once they'd successfully asked for directions to Rockingham Road. But when we were away from home suddenly the online coverage was coming from Non Park. And then, when the Scum went to the very grounds where we had visited, and there couldn't be any coverage of the Poppies due to "technical reasons" these problems were suddenly resolved and the good folk of Irthlingborough could rest up in between bouts of bestiality and incest to listen to coverage of their sporting heroes.
This season it has been quite galling to see just how often BBCRN have been covering the Inbreds. So much so that when we finally got on their bloody station (obviously when we played at Nonce Park) the commentators, by all accounts, were myopically pro-Scum. Of course they were - this was the team they'd watched all season!
It was all summed up best one Monday morning when during a BBCRN broadcast the previous weekend's scores were being discussed.
First of all the pundits paid homage to their wondrous Saints Overlords with a mixture of fawning and mutual masturbation.
Then they praised the efforts of "Sammo" and the Boys.
The Scum were next up for glowing flattery.
One of the presenters then said, and I kid you not, "Meanwhile, in the Blue Square Conference, Kettering Town....." Whoa! Back up there buddy! I think you'll find that the Poppies and the Scum are in the same division (please God this is still true in a month's time!)
Is it any wonder we are so far down the pecking order? BBCRN don't even know what divisions their teams play in. Are we being sidelined because we are seen as a Club with no future? Has Imraan pissed them off once too often? Is Irthlingborough closer to Northampton?
Or are they doing this to get an online fanzine to bite? If the latter - then, bravo.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
Sunday, 21 March 2010
We were literally hopeless, in the sense of lacking any hope. The fans felt it, the players felt it. Not many games go emotionally downhill from a minute's silence, but this one managed to. This is how it feels when there is nothing to play for. Not playoffs, not promotion, not even survival - nothing.
The feeling is taking hold that unless there is some imminent breakthrough in talks with Ben Pickering and/or whoever is advising him, we are condemned to a slow demise - probable expulsion from the Conference next season then a year or two of pointless going through the motions until the lease expires, by which time there will be hardly anyone left watching.
Ben Pickering's position, so far as anyone can know the mind of a reclusive octogenarian, is understood to be that he is not prepared to discuss the lease until it has expired in three years time. If that is genuinely the case, he must be badly advised or utterly indifferent to whether the club exists or not, because by that time there will barely be a club at all.
Not that it will take three years for that to become obvious. Ben Pickering could transform the situation tomorrow by agreeing a rolling 10 year lease, terminable on reasonable notice from the club if we are able to move to a new site. That would satisfy the Conference and the Football League, and suddenly there still be a chance, however small, of qualifying for the playoffs this seaon, and something to play for next season and beyond.
If, however, the 31 March deadline drifts past, it will be clear that Ben Pickering doesn't care whether we go up. Equally, therefore, why would he care when, this time next year, we go down? Or down again the season after that?
But leaving emotion aside, to do that would lack a certain business logic, because if owning Rockingham Road is both an investment and a source of income to Ben Pickering, the value of the site will only increase in the long run, and the income is derived from a 19% share of gate receipts which as things stand will inevitably shrink in real terms next season and beyond.
Assuming he understands the implications, is the landlord prepared to sacrifice personal revenue until 2013, worth potentially many thousands of pounds, just to keep us in limbo? I think we'll know the answer to that question before very much longer.
And if you've read this far without punching the wall in frustration at the paltry sum that the ground was sold for in 1985, less than we made from just the Leeds games this season, well done on your self control.
Friday, 19 March 2010
Above is a cartoon where we continued to mock Ernie Moss for still paying at the advanced age of 39...... See if you can count how many war movies we managed to rip-off for this cartoon. We've counted about 20!
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Ah, those were the days.
It all began so promisingly. Johnson was swiftly appointed as Graham Carr's successor and set out as if determined to prove that he was no long ball merchant despite his previous stint as assistant to John Beck. A succession of flair players were signed up and after just about the most entertaining pre-season ever, with the likes of Tarkan Mustafa tormenting not quite match fit League opposition, even hardened pop side pessimists were licking their lips in anticipation of a triumphant campaign.
A month or two later, attacking full backs Hunter and Nyamah were still rampaging upfield with or without the ball, leaving acres of unattended space. Defending deep meant sometimes staying in their own half, and our goals against tally steadily climbed, often with bulk entries. That led to a shift in style, with the fancy dans replaced by worker ants who ran around and kicked people then got booked again for dissent. In no time we racked up about a dozen red cards whilst meanwhile, defensive flop Hunter was offloaded to Woking who played him up front instead and unleashed a mini scoring sensation.
Worse was to come as our solitary goalsoring asset, Carl Alford, was sold to Diamonds on deadline day for 85K. Not only were they intent on buying success, it was to be at our expense - a double blow that holed Johnson below the waterline. The dwindling hard core witnessed a run of eight defeats to round off the season, ending with a pair of 6 goal thrashings, with nothing to celebrate other than the sending off of John Fowler, quite possibly the most limited player to don a Poppies shirt in living memory (and that includes Pedro!).
If Johnson was lucky to keep his job after that, his CV grew in greater need of updating when that losing streak swelled to 10, a new club record. His summer recruits carried on misfiring, with a large chunk of the Alford fee wasted on Reckey Carter and Leroy May, next to whom Dylan the Magic Roundabout rabbit paired up with a 56kg sack of potatoes would make a livelier combination. Early FA Cup defeat to Bedworth was followed by a midweek loss to Hednesford and even as he wrote his programme notes it was evident that Johnson knew his time was up. It wasn't so much as a sacking, more of a mercy killing.
Johnson said his goodbyes and no one expected to hear much about him again, yet that CV must be a work of art because not only did he resurface in international football, managing Latvia through their Euro 2000 campaign, he talked himself into a decent job at Yeovil despite being fired after drawing with San Marino. Suddenly it all clicked and FA Trophy was followed by Conference title by promotion to League One and Johnson moved on to revive a bigger sleeping giant with some success there too.
So whatever the future may hold for this one-time squeaky voiced Poppies supremo, he's fared rather better than anyone would have predicted back on that October night in 1996. Maybe there's a moral in there somewhere for us in our present predicament - don't give up, keep believing, and one day maybe we too could be locking horns with a bunch of Italian part timers.
Sunday, 14 March 2010
Friday, 12 March 2010
Obviously the second place any sad-act Poppies fan looked was at Rockingham Road, and see how somewhere we see every week suddenly looks on our pc screens. Not saying that's what WE did, but there are a couple of good views on offer. Our favorites were the view coming down Beatrice Road and the one looking over the wall at the Cowper Street End. That's IF we'd been sad enough to look of course....
What was bloody annoying was seeing my own street. For at least 364 days a year an ignorant t**t from the next street uses our street as his personal parking area for his assorted vans and lorries. I swear to God one of them was left there for 6 solid months one time! There was grass growing on the bloody thing!
Obviously, the day the Google camera van decided to drive up my street it was the one day per year that all his vehicles were in use somewhere, or clogging up someone else's streets. Bugger! The entire world will now never believe me again when I bleat about this dickhead and his parking all over my street. Damn the interweb!
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
The home defeat to lowly former Football League Leviathans, Cambridge United was painful and threw up a number of issues worth delving into a little deeper.
What the hell is going on there? I counted 3 pairs of sky blue, 2 bright yellow, one red and one white amongst our starting line-up. That left just 4 of our players wearing honest to goodness black boots. Has the world gone mad? Doesn’t everyone know that there are only two types of player who can just about get away with wearing wanky coloured boots?
- Premiership Prima Donnas who step-over the ball too much, wear make-up, dive as soon as an opposition player is within 10-yards, and are photographed getting into taxis late at night with glamour models who have left their knickers at home.
- Anyone who plays football on the artificial pitch at the Kettering Leisure Village.
Where are they? How can we take more people to Nonce Park than assemble for a home game? Why are we suddenly down to just our hard core support? We used to get more at home for the visit of all those pissy little Essex teams (who generally left with 3-points) back in the nightmare Ryman League Season. These days we are in the top 5 of the strongest ever division outside of the Football League. So why the apathy?
I hope it’s not down to the ground situation. Do people really not come along because it would appear we can’t be promoted? If so, we wouldn’t have ANYONE at the ground for most of the previous 138 years!
Is it the pricing and ticketing? Possibly. No matter what anyone says, upwards of £16.00 for football at this level is a bit of a joke. And queuing twice just to give half a dozen turnstile operators an easy job, (and stop the odd one allegedly dipping their hand in the takings) is a pain in the arse, and totally unnecessary.
Was Tuesday’s attendance hit by the glamour of Champions League football on the telly? I wouldn’t have thought so until last week, but now the dullards at the North Northamptonshire Development Company want to rebrand the area “North Londonshire”, who knows, maybe we’re all Arsenal fans now?
Whatever the reasons for our lack of numbers, isn’t doesn’t exactly scream out, “C’mon Council and Pickering! It would be an offence to God and Man if you allowed this mighty Club to fold!” does it?
We can only assume that Cambridge United have a special dispensation from the League to be allowed to use any part of their body when controlling the ball. Otherwise it would mean that the referee was completely blind as he waved away handballs time and time again. And the way he chased the Ref around the pitch, Abbey seemed to suggest their goal also came from such an amendment to the rules that the rest of us weren’t let in on.
More obvious to everyone in the ground was the moment in the first half when one of the Cambridge defenders rolled the ball around his upper body and arms for what seemed like several minutes like some sort of party trick. “Play On” waved the Ref once again.
Thanks must go to the Cambridge supporters for turning up in decent numbers to stop the gate looking even paltrier than it was. Not quite as many as they had last year when we were practically herded into a pen inside our own ground, but still pretty good. It was funny hearing them bragging about “staying up” though. It doesn’t seem that long since they missed out on a play-off spot to get into the Premier League, and now they are happy to squeeze a win out of little old us to prevent them sampling the delights of away trips to Maidenhead and Dorchester.
We all know that football was invented simply to drive us all insane, but does the game have to kick us in the head every week? Cambridge No.10 Danny Crow spent 99.9% of the game whining and rolling around on the floor after imaginary challenges. The other 0.1% of the time he was scoring their winner and charging around the pitch like an all-conquering hero. Why, God, why? If we had to lose to a single goal, why did that dick have to score it?
No one can say that the players aren’t giving their all. Even Greg Taylor, who has been working through some nightmarish performances in the past few weeks, is at least giving it everything.
A little more creativity in and around the Cambridge box, and better finishing and we would have been out of sight by halftime.
Lee is at least trying to coax actual football out of the players which is always to be applauded. Imagine though, a non brain-dead version of Moses Ashikodi (difficult I know) playing up front in this team. That would be most agreeable, as long as he doesn’t take our penalties of course.
Monday, 8 March 2010
Saturday, 6 March 2010
I know we are supposed to think about the recently departed recipient of the silence during those 60 seconds, but I tend to spend this quiet period thinking how loud the traffic is on Rockingham Road, or how noisy people coming through the turnstiles have suddenly become, as well as hoping my phone doesn't start ringing.
Earlier today there was a minutes applause for Keith at the FA Cup game down in Portsmouth. I couldn't decide whether the silence or the applause was the more fitting as a mark of remembrance. I suppose it depends on the context. Obviously the anniversary of Armistice Day would be unseemly with people vigorously applauding, but you can see how a popular footballer could be given an appropriate send off with one last round burst of cheering and clapping.
I knew, deep down, that we would go the silent route at Rockingham Road - this clapping malarkey is so Premiership! There is also the issue here that there are large swathes of our support who have never applauded for a whole minute in their entire lives! Some of our more miserable brethren (I'm looking at you, top of Britannia Road terrace), haven't applauded that long IN TOTAL during their Poppies supporting careers! The shock of applauding for so long may be too much for them, and they might expire.
And then we would be back where we started!
There is less than 4 hours until today's scheduled kick-off at home to Grays. The weather section of the BBC website suggests Rockingham Road should be basking in temperatures as high as 8 degrees Celsius, with the possibility of a little light rain.
So, what will cause today's game to be called off?
Blue Square Betting has the following odds: -
2/1 Waterlogged pitch from sudden downpour
3/1 Frozen pitch from sweeping storm blowing straight down from the Artic Circle
7/1 Either Poppies or Grays going bust in the next hour
15/2 Plague of Frogs
10/1 Everyone forgets the game has been rearranged for this afternoon, and no one turns up
12/1 Everyone remembers the game has been rearranged for this afternoon, and no one bothers to turn up
20/1 North of Kettering struck by meteorite
25/1 It's much too nice a day to waste at the football, let's all go to the coast!