Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Pain, the pain

A home defeat to the Scum has become one of those cliché moments to denote the passing of another season.   It ranks alongside such other, expected, painfully obvious clichés as: -

  • Footage on the television news of pretty blonde girls hugging and jumping up and down after getting 27 ‘A+ Grades in examinations most domestic pets could pass.

  • A live video link to Scotland as the New Year dawns because, for some unspecified reason, New Year isn’t New Year unless fat men in skirts say so.

  • A Pakistani cricket team caught cheating.

  • Any television news story about anything to do with Australia must show the bloody Sydney Opera House and Bridge at least twice.

There really is no point even getting angry about losing at home to the Direones anymore.  What would be the point?  What can we do about it?  Correspondingly, the pain of losing seems less each time, as though we are becoming desensitised over the years of constant disappointment.

Remember those first few enormous beatings we took at the (webbed) hands of the Scum?  They were so overwhelming that most of us went through all the possible permeations of pain and shock over 90 minutes only to come out the other side as giggling wrecks.

Then there was the defeat to everyone’s favourite arse-bandit-Ork, Duane F*ck-Pig Darby, where, even though we had a player advantage for most of the game the sister-fiddling freaks still tanned our hides.  That hurt too.  But the pain was less because we could see that as Clubs, we were heading in very different directions.  They were about to play league games against former top-flight clubs, whilst we were going to be plying our trade against the cream of Essex’s senior leagues.

Last year’s home gumping could be explained away because they were gunning for the play-offs whilst we were treading water after the Chairman had cut funding to such a degree that we were forced to employ the services of “players” of the calibre of Elliott Charles and Champ the Lion.

This year’s loss to a ridiculous own goal, where the Scum barely troubled us for 90 minutes, was accepted with barely a shrug.  Home losses to the Inbreds have become so expected that it was difficult to summon up the effort to even be outraged by losing to a team lacking in any sort of quality. 

And I’m still not entirely convinced that if Abbey had scooped the ball from the back of his net and took a quick goal kick, that we wouldn’t have gotten away with the own goal!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Fascinating Facts about Histon

The player wasn't going to pass the ball on the floor again
Could be a bit of a thin article this time around………….

The villages of Histon and Impington have pretty much become one over the centuries.  The combined settlement could have been called “Piston”, “Pissington” “Himpington”, or “Pimpton” had the residents shown any imagination whatsoever.

Cambridge, apparently, is a small village in Histon.

The population of Histon is listed at a compact 4450, so they could all safely fit into Rockingham Road. 

Histon are unfairly considered a “Route One” team.  “Route ZERO” would be closer to the truth!

The Glassworld Stadium is located close to Impington Moor which was filled with corpses during the Black Death outbreak during the early 14th Century and topped-up with plague victims during the 17th Century.  So, we’re not the only people to suffer there!

Samuel Pepys’s cousin once lived in Histon.

My missus is currently reading a soppy bit of chic-lit called “Crossed Wires” by Rosey Thornton, where the main male protagonist (the “Darcy” of the piece) apparently went shopping in Histon at one point. 

Er, and that is the sound of a barrel being scraped.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

So far, so... mediocre

Don't you just love this stage of the season? The first whiff of autumn in the air and games coming thick and fast, with every one seen as a barometer of our likely fortunes. One win could lift us 10 places in the table. Another defeat could send the doom mongers into overdrive. Once upon a time we shuffled up to Rockingham Road, took our medicine and grumbled quietly as yet another optimistic pre-season gave way to reality. League tables weren't even printed for the first few games. If we were still bottom three by Christmas, the ET's letters page would attract some correspondence. Otherwise, fans relied on that traditional message board - shouting "bloody rubbish" at 4.45. Nowadays everything is immediate. Instant reaction on chat rooms, phone ins and twitter, with opinion seesawing back and forth. Last night was a classic example - Poppies 1-0 down, moan moan moan, Harper out. Poppies equalise - yeeeessssssss, give him time, bring on Saturday. I guess that's what supporting a club does to people - drives them to extremes. Luckily there is Patgod - the voice of reason - to steer a balanced course.

After four games we've earned two away draws without playing well - not bad at all, and suggestive that this season we will again be a tough proposition on the road. At home we lost to a good Luton side and were easily stifled by a Darlington outfit that was set up not to lose. A far cry from their last team to visit Kettering 20 years ago, in fact that side could probably still beat the current lot. Anyone can drop the odd couple of points at home - it was the utter predictability of it that causes concern. The team is set up much too defensively by a manager who by his own admission knows how to stop goals but not score them. Boucard and Noubissie are too similar and neither poses a threat. The build up play is pedestrian, giving the opposition time to defend in depth, and JP is too obviously inviting the challenge so he can go down and try to win a free kick. Apart from set pieces, we appear to lack any ideas at all.

On paper it's 90% of a capable squad. Ok, we'd love another Simon Heslop or even someone half as good to give the midfield some thrust, but it's tactics not personnel that are holding us back. Andre could be so much better if he was told to get forward and spray some of those passes behind the opposition rather than sideways. Remember how he was the playmaker against Fulham? Meanwhile the front two need to get within the same postcode, so that when Furlong finally produces that knockdown, his partner is on to it. Not sure about Makofo - didn't pull up any trees in Conf North, Serge by name but not by nature. However, despite what we've seen so far, there are goals in this team. We need Furlong, as Harper's assistant, to blend his striker's expertise with the boss's defensive nous and then maybe there will be something worth watching.

If the season so far has proved anything, it's that lowering the admission prices will only work if there's some entertainment on offer. After the Darlo snoozefest, even charging a quid for kids seemed steep. My lad felt so abused he almost called Childline.

That's another thing, it's not all about results. Had we scraped a draw against Luton despite being outplayed and fluked a winner last Saturday we would NOT all be happy. Least of all Imraan I suspect.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Guess who Radio Northampton are covering tonight....?

"Broadsword calling Diamonds Boy..."
Radio Diamonds, sorry, Radio Northampton will be making the long, arduous trip back up to Non Park tonight for the online radio commentary. That's right, our local station is covering ANOTHER Diamonds home game whilst the Poppies are away from home, providing a potentially larger listening audience.

We looked into the forthcoming fixtures our seemingly one-eyed radio station is due to cover, and lo and behold the Poppies do get a look in soon. Of course, it helps that we are playing the Direones that game.....I just hope that the commentators learn some of our players names so they don't sound too biased when calling all the Scum players by their nicknames, whilst reading our players names off the backs of their shirts.

Radio Northamptonshire - offering excellence in sporting coverage for everyone the length an breadth of Irthlingborough and Rushden.

Still, it's our own fault for not playing Fulham and Leeds every week - games when the Radio Northampton broadcasting vehicle was very much in evidence at Rockingham Road.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Fascinating Facts About Mansfield

Mansfield - "that once romantic now utterly disheartening colliery town" (D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover / Kettering Town supporter, 9.45pm tomorrow, unless we're much mistaken).

Finding interesting things to say about Mansfield is not the easiest gig. Even for a child of the town whose most illustrious son is William Knibb, who wouldn't rank too high in anyone's list of 100,000 most famous Britons. In many respects, Mansfield feels like a slightly grittier, borderline northern counterpart to Kettering - and of course we are linked by one Peter Morris, born in Mansfield in 1943 and rapidly on the way to being reappraised as a cavalier exponent of the beautiful game, compared to the 2010 KTFC vintage.

Mansfield gets a bad press. It has been variously described as one of the worst places to live in Britain, obviously by people who've never been to Corby. Or Rushden. Or Wellingborough. Come on it can't be that bad. Think about what the north Notts area has to offer... Oh ok then.

Sport - Mansfield Town FC enjoyed 77 years in the Football League. "Enjoyed" may be stretching it a little, perhaps, but in that time they built up a fierce rivalry with, ahem, Chesterfield. The Stags versus the Spireites. For some unknown reason, never mentioned in the same breath as Rangers v Celtic. And then there's Rebecca Adlington. Like her home town, some people have been unnecessarily cruel about Rebecca. Not us - without that gigantic hooter ploughing through the water like a ship's prow, Britain may not have celebrated double gold in Beijing.

Entertainment - "Ma Coo Ca Choo" crooner Alvin Stardust lived in Mansfield as a child. As did one time coke sniffing Blue Peter bad boy Richard Bacon.

Transport - Mansfield is the northern terminus of the A38, the longest A road entirely within England. That fact alone would have caused sexual arousal to certain occupants of the back row of the Travel Club bus once upon a time. And that's before the money shot was achieved with the news that - until fairly recently - Mansfield was the largest town IN EUROPE without a railway station. Holy mackerel!

Beer - Mansfield Bitter, an apt description both of the product and the reaction of consumers who supped this watery slop when it was the mainstay of the Poppies Club.

History - Mansfield lays claim to a Robin Hood connection. As does Nottingham, and Retford, and Doncaster, and indeed any settlement within a 50 mile radius. And judging by Russell Crowe's accent in the recent remake, Norwich, Newcastle and Tipperary too.

PATGOD - your essential travel companion.

Cooper Versus Cooper

A new Cooper side against an old Cooper side. How else did we really expect Saturday to go?

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Return of Cooper

Mark Cooper will be bringing his new team of players who were, "too shit for the Football League" to Rockingham Road tomorrow.  So, what can we expect from Mark's return?  Unless he has developed a sudden cavalier streak we should expect Darlington to be feisty, physical and a bit niggly.  A bit like Mark himself (in the nicest possible way!)

Come to think of it, it has just occurred to us that most Poppies teams over at least the last 20 years reflect their Manager's personality... Think about it -

Lee Harper's Poppies seem a bit big and slow (again, in the nicest possible way....)
Graham Westley's stint saw us become tediously defensively minded.
Morrel Maison's team was similarly cavalier and, well, black!
Kevin Wilson's teams were dour, workmanlike and niggly.
Paul Gascoigne's time saw us as schizophrenic as the Boss!
Nicky Platnaueur and Dominic Genovese's Poppies were palpably not up to the challenge.
Carl Shutt's reds were excitable when on top but lost focus.
Peter Morris produced dull and implacably grinding teams.
Steve Berry caused the arrival of a briefly exciting and capable team.
Gary Johnson's team was bouncy, exciting and terribly naive.
And Graham Carr's squad was bald, northern with a camp comic as a son....

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Christie

The Good

For Luton - They looked big, strong and played with nerve and an assured first touch. They knocked the ball around well, closed us down quickly. And if Diver-Homer could keep the ball down, might have scored 6.

For us - Our team’s kit finally turned up.

The Bad

For Luton - Unfortunately for Luton they only get to play us once more.
"Got him!" shouted Christie

For us – We looked ponderous, heavy legged and lacking much in the way of guile or threat.

The Ugly

For Luton – White and orange? What’s that about?

For us – Christie’s needless shove on the Luton left back. I really hope the club don’t try to have the red card overturned because a video replay will only get the ban lengthened for wasting the FA’s time. Christie’s action was as dangerous as it was undisciplined. He could have seriously hurt the Luton player, as well as the ball boy who was close to the action.  Stupid.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Fascinating Facts about Luton

Above and beyond the town’s fascination with hats there are many, many interesting things about Luton.

It was the birthplace of funky, hip and happening 1970’s film director John (Saturday Night Fever) Badham, who took the activities of an average Saturday night in Luton and relocated it to New York with stunning accuracy.  In fact the average Saturday night in Luton is still considered incomplete without wall-to-wall 70’s music, white flares and rather gay dancing.

Non-wicket taking, one-trick pony, ex-County spinner, Monty Panesar also hails from Luton.  And the way his career is heading, he may well soon be playing for them too.  If they have a reserve side.

“The Rules of Luton” was the title of an episode of the great TV series from my youth – Space 1999.  The “rules” in question referred to the protection of all living fauna and flora on a distant planet under punishment by death.  The real rules of Luton of course relate to the supporters right to storm the pitch and hurl objects at the opposition players if their own team is losing.

Eric Morecambe was the Club’s most famous supporter, choosing not to support the team of his birth, despite borrowing their name.  Ironically Luton and Morecambe’s fortunes since the comedian’s death in 1984 have taken almost exactly opposite directions. 

Morecambe have risen from from Division Two of the Lancashire League to League Two of the Football League and now play at a shiny new stadium.  Luton Town plumetted from the old First Division, with games against Liverpool and Manchester United,  to non-league oblivion with games against the like of, well, us.  They still play at their ramshackle old ground which they share with the back gardens of the local residents.  Even Eric would struggle to make all that sound funny.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Get Shirty

Us average Joe football fans may not be able to grasp the full complexities of running a football club.  Concepts such as player contracts, loan deals, league registration and appropriate bung levels are probably all well beyond our grasp.

But we'd like to think that the task of ordering football kits is one we could take a reasonable stab at.  Click online, choose colour and style, choose quantity, and hit "enter".  Why then is this one area the Poppies cannot seem to get right?  As far as we can tell, on the day the new season starts, neither players or supporters have seen hide nor hair of our new kits!

Surely the boat carrying these precious garments all the way from China's finest sweatshop hasn't got caught in a typhoon again?  How unlucky would that be!  Perhaps next year we shouldn't wait until July, and of course the typhoon season in the South China Seas to actually order our kits.

As much as we mock the Direones (and enjoy doing so), they were playing in their new Argie-bargie kit at the end of last season!  OK, the kit disgraces decent society and God.  It is also, obviously, an affront to the memory of those who served in the South Atlantic almost 30-years ago.  But at least the average inbred has the opportunity to spend the money he raises from scarecrow duty on acquiring said garment.  He can proudly wear it while cosying up to his sister, and his club get to bank the profit.  Fair play to the web-fingered freaks.

In the meantime, what are the Poppies doing?  Hoping the kits arrive before the first home game on Tuesday?  Desperately hoping they will be able to iron the names to the back of the shirts early enough so the players don't suffer 2nd degree burns?  Will we have to pick players based on the shortness of their surnames?

Why do we keeping shooting ourselves in the foot like this?  Do we enjoy looking a bit "Mickey Mouse?"

Friday, 13 August 2010

Radio Northampton shows it's true colours

A new season dawns.  New kits.  New scarfs.  New players trying their best for their new teams.  Old supporters trying out new grumbles.

Thankfully over at Radio Northampton they don't go in for all this "new" malarkey.

No, at this publicly funded organ of the British Broadcasting Corporation they like to stick to the old ways.  Consequently this Saturday the live radio coverage comes from Sixfields, and the online coverage comes from Non Park.  That's right, the radio car is making the extremely familiar gargantuan 17 mile trip back up the A45 to cover everyone's favourite collection of creatures forsaken by Man and God.

Never mind that the Poppies are making a 200+ mile away trip to Gateshead, and it might be nice for the local broadcaster to cover a game the vast majority of supports can't get to.  Never mind that pretty much everyone who has even the slightest interest in The Direones will be at their game.  Never mind any pretence at having a public service remit.

It's not even as if Radio Northampton can trot out the old cliche that the ground the Poppies are visiting doesn't have the facilities to allow them to broadcast.  We're pretty sure the Gateshead International Athletics Stadium has some rudimentary broadcasting facilities....even though they probably pale alongside those on offer in Irthlingborough.

Monday, 9 August 2010

High level decision taken to stop polishing....

Corby is welcomed to the real world -


Original plan, and updated vision

Fascinating Facts about Gateshead

With the start of the new season less than a week away, and our expensively assembled 7-man defence due to keep a clean sheet any month now, we thought we'd launch our new "Match Preview" section of PATGOD.  The intention is to run this item prior to each game, but we'll see if we still fancy it when December comes and it's a long away trip....

However, don't expect too much in the way of facts, figures and football statistics, not, given our reputation for in-depth analysis, that you probably were.  No, the PATGOD Fascinating Facts will lean less towards games played, games won, blah, blah, and more towards stuff like this -

Gateshead was the famous location in Get Carter where after telling Corrie's Alf Roberts that he was out of shape, Michael Caine went on to bully him some more by throwing him off the multi-storey car park.  We're not quite sure what shape Alf would have needed to be in to survive the fall, but feel sure that he didn't quite measure up. 

Alf went on to have a long career as a moaning shop-keeper on the Street, whilst Michael Caine went on to scrape the bottom of the barrel in some real cinematic stinkers prior to winning an Oscar and being hailed as one of our best unblinking, screen cockneys.  Nowadays he divides his time between acting in L.A. and complaining in London that he has to pay taxes like the rest of us chumps.

One time Poppies manager (almost literally) Paul Gascoigne hails from Gateshead.  Once the best player of his generation, these days he offers sympathy, a blanket and a half a can of Tennants Extra Strength lager to wanted murderers immediately before they eat a shotgun.  Apparently his team talks used to have a similar effect.

Gateshead also benefits greatly from not being Newcastle.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

What a difference a week makes....

Scoring goals gives me a fierce hunger
Last week this pair of chubby frontmen were going to usher in a double-chinned championship charge at Non Park. Since then Rene "The Pizza" Howe has indicated that he would like to eat the pies at a League Club, and Lee "The Kebab" Tomlin has chosen to sign for the Posh.

No doubt, as is the way with Peterborough, he will spend the next 3 seasons being loaned out to clubs the length and breadth of the country, playing the odd game and finally tipping the scales at 20 stone when he arrives back at The Direones with his tail between his legs.

Friday, 6 August 2010

So, what has this year's pre-season build-up taught us?

With just one pre-season game to go against a Hinckley United team that has been raped of it's star players, as well as Andy Hall, by Corby, just what do we know about the Poppies vintage 2010-11?

  • Firstly, we know, given the, ahem, dimensions of our returning heroes, they have enjoyed a very good summer.
  • We know that most of our signings didn't have to check our location out on their sat-navs before coming here.
  • Even in a tracksuit, sitting in the stand, Moses looks our most potent goal threat.
  • 'onestly Gaffer, ze plane was, how you say, delay. 
  • We know we can beat ANYBODY, providing they are French trialists or the Chairman's XI.
  • We are left with the distinct impression that JP goes like a bunny.
  • Ashley Westwood looks angry and humourless.
  • Brett looks a bit more ginger than when he went to Corby!
  • We are probably still going to be playing in red, but this is yet to be proved.
  • Supporters without season tickets will still have to queue twice to get in.  An idea that hasn't miraculously become a good one since last term.
  • Most of Rockingham Road still appears to be standing (we'll check again after the visits of Luton and Darlington)
  • Imraan's taking a big financial gamble on us this year, which hopefully he will see through....

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Poppies Win Pre-Season Friendly Shock!

Poppies 3
"We few, we happy few, we band of Poppies"
Unknown quantity, age and quality of French footballers 2

Charles De Galle, Louis Pasteur, Napoleon Bonaparte, Joan of Arc, Jean Paul Marna, The amorous Skunk in the old cartoons where a female cat accidentally gets painted with a white stripe making her look like another skunk, and stumpy little Sarkozy - your boys took a helluva beating!