Sunday, 27 June 2010

Half a dozen positives from today

1 Our 10-year experiment with Lampard and Gerrard can finally be considered complete. It didn't work.

2 I don't have to worry about how to see the Quarter / Semi Finals whilst abroad on holiday.

3 It has conclusively proved that just because you earn £100K per week bullying the Burnley and Hull City's of this World, it doesn't necessarily mean you are a world class player.

4 Rooney can be returned to the wild.

5 I'm going to put my house on who or whatever that bastard Octopus picks for the next German game and retire a rich man.

6 Finally the German's will surely stop bleating about Hurst's second goal in 1966?

Man of the Match - Mesut Ozil

Build up to the Hun clash. Day Three - Now a cephalopod has his say!

Paul the psychic German Octopus has apparently also tipped the Hun to overcome us today. This creature apparently chooses a mussel from one of two containers - one with a German flag, the other bearing the flag of their opponents. This would be bad enough, but the bloody animal was born in England!

His prediction success rate of 80% is worrying. For our prospects today certainly, but more so for the highly paid pundits that the BBC and ITV employ. Not only does Paul predict results better, he is more easy to understand than Emmanuel Adebayor, and better looking than Adrian Chiles.

Drastic I know, but this may be our only hope -

Spanish Braised Octopus in Paprika Sauce

This is a very simple recipe once you have prepped your octopus for finishing -- instructions are linked below. Basically you braise the octopus in its own juices, then cut it into pieces and dress it with a paprika-garlic sauce when it is still warm. This is a variant of a Spanish recipe known as "a la gallega." Any size octopus will work with this recipe, which serves 4 as a starter or tapas.

Prep Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

1-2 pounds octopus
1/2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
3 chopped garlic cloves
1 T. sweet paprika
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 lemons

Braise your octopus as directed in the instructions below.
Meanwhile, put the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic in a mortar and pound it until it is a paste. Slowly add the olive oil, stirring and mashing all the while. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you could use a food processor, but the texture will be different.
When the octopus is tender and still warm, cut into chunks, put into a large bowl and toss with the sauce. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the bowl and toss to combine.
Serve warm or at room temperature with slices of lemon.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Build up to the Hun clash. Day Two - Herr Flick wades in!

German coach Hansi Flick, who, for the comedic purposes of this piece will hereafter be referred to as "Herr Flick" has weighed into the forthcoming World Cup clash debate. Actually, what he said was very reasonable and measured - quite boring really.

Er, and that's all we have.

We'll let you mentally fill out the rest of this article, remembering to include the phrases, "Fallen Madonna", "Big Boobies", and "Flick the Gestapo, no I said Flick the Gestapo!"

If you decide to really go for it, try working in such favourites as, "You stupid woman!", "OOOOHH REEENEE!", "I shall say zis only once", "Good Moaning" and references to a "little tank".

Friday, 25 June 2010

Build up to the Hun clash. Day One - Franz gets Bitchy

Franz Beckenbauer has confidently predicted that the mighty German team will crush the poor Englanders,

"You backward, island barbarians have no chance against a team made up of the cream of the Master Race, with a couple of handy lower class Poles up front who score all our goals..." he almost certainly didn't say.

He also may or may not have added, "For you Tommy, the World Cup will soon be over!"
Beckenbauer yesterday - smug as f**k

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Is there a game on today?

2.30PM The 32" screen at work which is usually used to track the company engineers around the country to make sure they aren't "swinging the lead" has been retuned to BBC i-player for this afternoon's game. Big Brother isn't watching you this afternoon!

Just hope that the i-player is still playing well when several other million people log-on!

Gabby (Surly Cow) Yorath was just speaking to Roy Hodgson who must be a trifle divided today. Being English he would obviously be cheered by a win , but as a high profile Manager a bit of him must be thinking, "If it goes pear-shaped, I could get this job...."

2.45PM Already sick of hearing Hansen's jock accent. Does he and Andy Murray share the same accent - namely grizzly Scottish lowland whining!

2.55PM Kick-off imminent. I reckon our Corby-born colleague will be answering a lot of phone calls today!

3.00PM England in red. Just like the Poppies. Oh dear!

3.01PM Never heard Lawro so animated! He almost sounds awake!

3.04PM No goals. Fabio OUT!!!

3.06PM David James holds shot shock. See, he can do it!

3.08PM Bloody i-player keeps refreshing. Grr!

3.10PM Very Poppies-type corner there. 10 seconds later the opposition are attacking.

3.15PM 35 yard free kick...well at least it's a shot.

3.18PM Couple of corners. Oer...!

3.22PM Aaagh! We haven't got time for Slovenia to attack too! James holds second shot. Are these balles getting easier?

3.23PM YES GET IN THERE!!! DEFOE!!! 1-0!

If it counts, even Heskey might, he would have missed it from there.

3.25PM Lawro being sarcy. I've come to the conclusion that no one does it better.

3.26PM Lampard you cock! Have you never heard of the side foot?

3.28PM Gerrard! First touch of a rapi....better not go there.

3.30PM Aagh! Bloody backspin. Slovenian goalie having an annoyingly good game.

3.31PM Some bloody idiot has telephoned the office. Given phone to the Corby-jock.

3.35PM Keep putting those crosses in guys!

3.40PM Doesn't Gareth Barry look like Matthew Fox? - Jack from "Lost"

3.45PM Half time 1-0 up against the "Charlie Browns. Saint Gary Lineker would like a second goal. gee, thanks for that insight!

Just saw the Yanks have another good goal chalked off by the officials! Looks like someone up there doesn't like them. Perhaps the al quaeda are right after all....

Best ever "official" England song? Just because it isn't real doesn't mean it isn't good.

4.00PM Back and DEFOE - NO! Second goal SURELY only a matter of time....

4.04PM Offside? Cigarette paper time. England unlucky.

4.06PM No more phone calls into the office. Just as well really. Either everyone is watching the game of the Tories tax-budget has killed industry?

4.08PM SHOOT FFS!!!!

4.10PM Boss, who is not a Milner fan, is counting his crosses. 5-3 in favour of good ones so far, which is annoying him.

4.11PM Slovenian keeper still bloody annoying me.

4.12PM Rooney! Cow's Arse and Banjo!!!! Damian Spencer would have scored that! Replay shows another good save.

4.16PM Some bloke called "Slack-Jaw Dead-Itch" or something has just come on.

4.22PM We're making much too much hard work of this. AAGH!!! Three quick chances for Slovenia. Phew. Dodged a bullet there!

4.25PM Slovenia shoot wide from 90 yards. I still shat myself!

4.26PM Joe Cole on for Rooney. 5 across middle?

4.28PM James's goalmouth looks like the Somme.

4.33PM Last dozen minutes - it's squeaky bum time once again.

4.35PM Lampard fouled. Now, just stay down for 10 minutes....

4.37PM defoe charges down keeper and gets third touch of the game.

4.39PM Stop the niggly free kicks FFS!

4.40PM Heskey on. Looks like we're declaring.

4.43PM Corner. keep it down this end. D-oh!


4.45PM Upson tackle - I could kiss you

4.46PM Good to see there's another team apart from the Poppies who are shit at keep ball.

4.48PM Final whistle - sweet bliss. bring on the rounds where there are penalty shoot outs!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Under Pressure

As our World Cup campaign awaits its next dramatic twist (breaking news: John Terry forced to stand in corner holding a pile of books whilst rest of team do games), there has been much talk of the England players being unable to cope with the pressure.

Certainly things seem to be bubbling up towards some kind of tyre burst, probably involving Wayne Rooney, an opposing player's chin, and an early bath.

However, how much pressure are these players really under? The great Australian bowler Keith Miller once said, "Pressure? A Messerschmitt up your arse - that's pressure".

To the best of my knowledge none of the present England squad have ever had a German fighter up their jacksie, or indeed been involved in aerial combat of any description outside of their Xboxes.

Pressure - try being Italian, with several daily newspapers dedicated solely to football, 40 million armchair experts armed with conspiracy theories, and barrowloads of rotten tomatoes awaiting the team's early return.

Or Spanish - same loopy Latin temperament, plus culture of sticking the knife into wounded animals and WC record even worse than ours.

Or Brazilian - where anything less than regaining the trophy will send the suicide rate soaring in Sao Paolo.

Or from central America - where one defensive slip could be worse than career ending.

Or North Korea - where just one more seven goal thrashing could tip the Dear Leader into launching a warhead.

Or even one of the poorer nations, where this rare opportunity to perform on the world stage could be the passport to signing for a European club and earning shedloads.

All our players already earn shedloads. Most of them play for clubs who compete against the world's best already. They live in a cocooned bubble and hobnob with pop stars and pin up girls.

Too much pressure? The real problem is that they don't feel enough.

Friday, 18 June 2010


Rooney, Gerrard, and Lampard get paid HOW MUCH every week to play football? A mistake surely....
Oh, and Wayne, if a Poppies team played half as badly as our National team just did against mighty Algeria they would be lucky to get off the pitch without being lynched, let alone booed.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

PC in HD

A week into this World Cup and how much longer can we endure the irritation? No, not the vuvuselas (tho' mark my words they'll be a five minute wonder on the terraces come August before they all get shoved up somewhere dark and unpleasant). The biggest annoyance of all has to be the daily diet of TV presenters and pundits being painfully required to do a feature in "the townships".

This has mostly entailed (a) trying to hit it off with a bunch of street kids (whilst checking anxiously on the proximity of the nearest security) or (b) looking solemn whilst the interviewee says something meaningful.

Perhaps the lowest point of all was tonight's instant contender for TV Hell, when Alan Shearer was sent into the ghetto as probing reporter in the most bizarre piece of miscasting since Hulk Hogan played Scarlett O'Hara in the WWF sequel to Gone With The Wind.

How Shearer must have longed to be back on the MOTD sofa as he struggled to think of a response through carefully staged encounters with township folk who declined to agree that the World Cup had made things better. His attempt at earnest sincerity might have fared better if a producer had reminded him to stop chewing gum throughout.

But why are we forced to see this patronising garbage in the first place? South Africa has a chequered history - so does Germany, but in the last tournament I don't recall Garth Crooks trying not to make corny puns in a feature on concentration camps, or someone in Japan eight years ago wandering around Nagasaki. Given the choice I think I would rather watch Kevin Keegan on safari or John Motson ironing his underpants.

Call me evil but I can't help but secretly hope that the BBC touring bus, having already broken down once and blown a tyre in redneck Afrikaner country, will get carjacked or shot at to complete its 'authentic' South African experience.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Three Cheers for Vuvuzelas!

I can't see the problem everyone seems to have with the 125 decibel-blasting plastic trumpets being incessantly blown for the full 90 minutes during every World Cup game. We are told that they are a tradition in South Africa - so that's OK by me! Obviously it is a more palatable tradition than most associated with that country such as racial apartheid, being kicked to death by Winnie Mandela's bodyguards, or lobbing spears at Michael Caine.

The Three Cheers for the Vuvuzelas are for: -

HIP HIP - The only people they are bothering are those sad acts who watch EVERY World Cup game, and not just their own country's fixtures. Anyone who settles down with their large bag of Doritos and a 4-pack of Stella to watch such thrilling fare as Honduras v Chile or Paraguay v New Zealand, frankly get all they deserve!

HIP HIP - They drown out the embarrassing England band with their wonderful repertoire of tunes such as "The Great Escape", the old favorite, "The Great Escape", and not forgetting of course, the timeless classic, "The Great Escape".

HIP HIP - Suffering through these horns for the duration of the competition means that everyone will be familiar enough with them come the forthcoming season and beat their owner to a sticky pulp before they enter Rockingham Road.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Bravo KBC!

Not a headline I have expected to type any time soon, but well done to the Council for securing the Halford's Tour Series Cycle Race in Kettering yesterday evening. The event looked to be a success despite the unfortunate combination of poor weather, potential Kettering apathy and apoplectic car drivers who were forced to endure an additional 30 seconds on their journey!

The event was something new and exciting. The very people who moaned about it happening here would have been the first ones to complain about the lack of the Council's "Get up and go" had the event taken place in Corby or Northampton.

Declaring an immediate interest of being a bit of a hobby-cyclist I took a certain amount of pleasure at the sight of angry car drivers, almost purple with rage at having to endure the indignity of following a small diversion. It seems that society's love affair with the automobile has become twisted into more of a "bunny-boiler" relationship. Some car drivers seem to believe that the world of their little steel bubble is all that matters. Their need to park, speed, nudge, abuse and gesticulate when and how they see fit is held as a sacred right that is beyond challenge.

"Thou Shalt Not Inconvenience Car Drivers" is, as we all know, the unofficial 11th Commandment. Also covered under this commandment are such noble sentiments as: -
  • Car sharing is for poofs! DRIVERS DON'T SHARE CARS!

  • Little Thumberlina and Tristran MUST NEVER have to walk the half mile to school, when Mumsy can take out the 4X4 and end up parking in the middle of a busy road while her kiddies waddle through the school gates.

  • Thou shalt not suffer the indignity of walking to the corner shop when you can drive there in your comfy carpet-slippers.

  • Thou shalt drive to work regardless of how close your workplace is.
The interesting thing is that although the internal combustion engine is an intoxicating narcotic, it doesn't take us very long to get it out of our system. All those people at the cycle event seemed perfectly content to get around on foot or on two wheels. No one seemed to miss the ability to stick two fingers up at their fellow pedestrians and then run off!

Remember last Winter? When we were all snowed in and the people you passed in the street were happily chortling "Good Mornings" through beaming smiles? It didn't feel unusual to chat away to strangers. People, who a couple of days earlier would have chased you down and battered you into submission with their fists if you cut them up at a roundabout were happily falling over themselves saying "No, after YOU", to everyone they met.

A short time away from our divisive automobiles and we all briefly became human again. Thankfully the Winter has gone, and the cycle race has packed up and left town. Now we can all go back to hating each other and cheerfully running everyone else off the road.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

If you know your history

We know the Poppies have history. Not much of it good or even memorable, but history nonetheless. For one thing, we all know that the Club was formed in 1872, which was an otherwise slow year for news if a few minutes of trawling the Internet is anything to go by.

Sporting news is dominated (after the Poppies formation of course) by the first recognised international football match, between Scotland and England (for full match report see here - There was also the first FA Cup Final between the Wanderers and the Royal Engineers.

In other news, Banbury was almost hit by a meteorite, the abandoned Marie Celeste was found drifting in the Atlantic, and Dracula was defeated by his arch-nemesis Professor Van Helsing (at least according to the pre-credits sequence of the Hammer Horror film about Dracula from 1972, helpfully titled "Dracula AD1972". The "Big-Man" is seen here with the fullsome Stephanie Beacham.

We all know other bits of our history. including the big stuff about Tommy Lawton, shirt sponsorship, Big Ron and of course Sam Banya. But other than the part of our history we live through and the few, well known high points, what do we actually know?

The answer is - not much. There is no definitive history of Kettering Town FC for us all to read. There is no reference source for all the data which makes up everything the Club has ever done. No-one has quite worked up the nerve to quit their job for a couple of years and settle down in front of the micro-fiche at the Library with back issues of the ET, a freshly sharpened pencil and a note-pad.

Bits and pieces of our past are being collected, archived and displayed by the Trust, but how much more is unknown and lost forever? It's not as though we are a famous club like Manchester United, where, I imagine, a few key strokes on the Internet will give you all the information you would ever need (all, no doubt diligently collated by their hardcore London and the South East supporter associations!)

All of which leaves us at the mercy of evil bastards like Paul Cooke. His simple question on Poppynet about our 20 all-time goal scorers should have proved no problem to the Poppies-hungry Internet hoards. But, a couple of weeks later we have still only 11 of the 20, and no sign of any more guesses from the stumped online community. Of the 11 thus far named, I have seen 5 of them in the flesh (so to speak), but doubt very much whether I would have witnessed Poppies-heroics from any of the missing ones, and consequently, can add no more names to the list.

Paul hasn't yet seen fit to fill in the blanks in the Top 20, and who can blame him with 23 league matchday programmes and several (!) FA Cup programmes on the horizon to fill with articles over the coming season. A profile on each of the twenty scorers could fill a page in almost every league programme in 2010-2011!

Monday, 7 June 2010

England Expects

I guess it must be an age thing. Four days to go before the World Cup gets under way, and I've yet to so much as glance at a wallchart, let alone get that pre-Christmas tingle that I used to feel. Yes it's the World Cup, you can't pass a petrol station without being reminded of it, and England flags have been fluttering from car windows for weeks already - so obviously at least some people are getting very excited. But the prospect of saturation football coverage for a month isn't the giddying thrill it once was - maybe because anyone with a Sky dish can get that all year round. And as for ramping up the national fervour, I've seen six World Cup finals featuring England and six times felt heartbroken at our exit. No, correction, proud in '90, wondering what might have been in '82, '86 and '98, and the less said about '02 and '06 the better ("first half good, second half not so good"). I'm not sure my reserves of undying optimism have much to spare.

So on the eve of our latest attempt to win the damn thing or at least trouble the scorers in the latter stages, I find I'm struggling to actually care that much at the moment. The last affair, in which we barely mustered five minutes of decent football in five games, still seems all too recent. And for all the talk of a new discipline in the camp under Capello, that just reminds me that our nation's finest seem to have a collective mental age of 14, and if the stern games teacher doesn't keep them in line, they'll be flicking splatterbombs at the board and swapping tatty porn mags in no time.

And that's why - if I'm totally honest - a tiny bit of me actually doesn't want England to win the World Cup. The sight of the squad posing on the steps on the plane about to carry them to South Africa made me realise (a) I only actually like about four of them, (b) I didn't recognise at least three of them and (c) a more criminal looking bunch of dullards it would be hard to find.

Just imagine if - IF - we were to return with the trophy. For starters, Radio 5 Live would self combust. Several players would cash in with hastily updated autobiographies before the wheels touched down at Gatwick. John Terry would put his shirt on eBay. Jermaine Defoe would declare himself a god. Every member of the squad, plus Beckham and Posh Spice, would get an MBE and a couple would get the full royal treatment (arise Sir Wayne of Croxteth). Lord Stevie of G would get a minor government role. The only saving grace would be that everyone would still hate Ashley Cole.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Let Yourself Grow - My Arse

Since time immemorial, Northamptonshire has suffered from an image problem. Not so much that it has a bad image, more that it doesn't have one at all. Asked to describe what Northamptonshire is famous for, the average Joe would struggle to name anything, unless it was Watford Gap or Silverstone. A motorway service station and a disused airfield.

In the 80's, noticing that other counties were starting to rebrand themselves (Dorset... Thomas Hardy Country, Sussex... 1066 Country) our civic leaders considered "Northants... Prince Charles's In-Laws Country" before opting to trade on the county's royal heritage from further back, and henceforth we were "The Rose of the Shires". A message that arguably lacked immediate visual proof when approaching Rushden on the A6, but the Tudor emblem did serve as a handy guide to South African cricketers en route from Heathrow ("ach, thet's the bunch I'm playing for").

But of course it was only a matter of time before someone decided it was high time another chunk of public money was thrown at freshening things up. And so, motorists approaching the county's borders are now greeted with the message "Northamptonshire - Let Yourself Grow". With the 'grow' artfully highlighted in green to signify - what? green spaces? eco awareness? territorial expansion? (are we planning to annex Rutland?).

Needless to say I hate it. How could any sane individual look at that slogan and think "Brilliant! That makes me proud of my native county!" or "Fantastic! I must move there at once!" There should be a sick bag dispenser 50 yards further on.

Mind you, I hated "The Rose of the Shires" too. I just hate rebranding full stop. I like things just the way they used to be. I hate it when football clubs modernise their badges, or sell the naming rights to their traditional grounds. I hate squad numbers on the back of cricket shirts, or massive sponsors logos on the front. I like things to be simple and honest: "Northamptonshire - Honk If You're Just Passing Through".

"Welcome Home -

Come on in, and close the door!"

With the news that a number of former Poppies are returning to Rockingham Road like human-shaped, red-shirt-wearing homing pigeons, we wondered who else amongst our rejected former heroes might be next?

With Tommy, Luke and Iyseden all returning to the Elgood's coop, speculation rages over whether the likes of Johnny Graham, Carl Alford, Roy Clayton or even at a push, Jason Lee might be coaxed back to lead our attacking line in the upcoming season.

Perhaps Big Ron will reappear to offer help and guidance from the sidelines once more?

Or Morrell to cuff a few of the players?

What about Big Cyril lending his astute business acumen?

Or Peter Mallinger waving his patented begging bowl?

The options seem endless!

However, it remains to be seen whether the invitations to return to Rockingham Road will be accepted by the hundreds of supporters who had also ventured to pastures new over the last couple of years.