Monday, 27 December 2010

Memories of another deep freeze

News of yet another postponement means that the year will end with the Poppies last kicking a ball in league action on the 21st of November. Imraan must be regretting not shipping the rest of the squad out on loan until January while he had the chance.

Not the least curious thing about this lengthy hibernation for our Poppies stars is how on earth the club hasn’t gone bust by now. Usually by this time of year our cashflow is so precarious, the loss of just a couple of home fixtures sees our begging bowl status officially upgraded to red.

I’m also worried about Roper. Six weeks of inactivity coinciding with the festive season might be more than even his formidable dietary regime can withstand.

With the ground frozen so hard even the Easter fixtures are in doubt, this is all very reminiscent of what was previously the worst freeze I can remember, December ’81 (a milder version of 1963, for people who still have all their own teeth).

In 1981 the Poppies last saw league action on December 5 when Northwich were the visitors. However, unlike this year that was it in all competitions until the New Year. Our Cup 2nd round tie against Blackpool was postponed so many times, it was actually played on 3rd round day. Rockingham Road next hosted any kind of fixture on Jan 23 against Barrow, by which time the begging bowls were well and truly out, as anyone who remembers those times will recall.

It was a grim winter on and off the pitch. And to make matters worse, there was no Facebook in those days. However did we cope?

But there’s no denying we are in the middle of something quite unusual. However all is not lost. In terms of entertainment value, this year’s blank still beats last Christmas, when my abiding memory of the Boxing Day game against Tamworth is that I could have watched The Great Escape for the 42nd time instead.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Patgod Issue 11 – March 1991

By March 1991 it was starting to dawn on even the most optimistic Poppies fan that our once seemingly unassailable league position was becoming seriously "sailable". From a double-digit point lead at Christmas (the actual size of our lead at the top of the table differs widely depending on how alcohol-fuelled the re-telling of the story is) the pack had reeled us in.

At a time when Barnet boosted their run-in win signings like Paul Furlong (whatever happened to him?), we were coaxing Ernie Moss back out of retirement to lead us to the title with promises of Ovaltine and Werthers Originals....

Even though the general tone of Issue 11 was a bit miffed at the way the season was heading, the brown stuff really hit the fan with Issue 12 when we were all so pissed off that even the fanzine crew fell out.

Here are some other bits and pieces from issue 11 - enjoy!

John Cecil gets hot under the collar about the cold.

Winter? WINTER !!!!!

Call this Winter?

Back in the days (well, 1963) we had winter.

Did I take time off school? Did I buggery.

Did I wear long trousers to school? Did I buggery.

My recolection of that winter at Number 69 Pytchley Road still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

Don't talk to me about chilblains. I had them before I went to bed despite three pairs of socks on during the daytime (four at night). A Vest, two pairs of pyjamas and a jumper had to be donned to crawl between my sheets, 15 blankets and whatever else could be piled on top so that you could barely squeeze your five stone frame through.

Ice formed INSIDE the windows and a trip along the landing to the toilet was not unlike Scott leaving the comfort of camp to find the South Pole.

(And to think, an inside Loo had only just become "all the rage".)

The hot water bottle(s) - dependant upon my older sister being out or not - bought little comfort as they were too hot to put my feet on initially and irritated the chilblains anyway.

Central heating? PAH!

Up at half six and it was a mad dash to get the chair next to the oven to put the feet into (I kid you not). Breakfast of Scotch Porridge Oats and then the dreaded order "John, go and get dressed for school!"

Undressed for school more like. Off would come the sets of pyjamas and on would go the Gery shorts, white shirt and grey jumper of Highfield Road Primary School. (Plus with it being 4 months into a school year I had already kicked the toes out of my shoes).

I would trudge to the bottom of the street to be greeted by Mr. Wooley and his Lolipop stick dressed in his ten layers of clothes and six scarves and have the cheek to declare "A little bit nippy this morning, laddy".

Inside the school made little difference as after morning assembly we would accompany our collective chapped knees and go and sit under Bondi Bunder who would, safe and sound in his bloody warm corridor announce "Dosn't the snow look lovely out there?"

So.............Next time you are peering out at the snow, unable to go to school because the temperature has dropped below 10 degrees, and you have to spend the day in your centrally heated bedroom playing on your PS7 or whatever its called these days (with the option of switching your electric blanket on for a thirty minute siesta if the excitement gets too much) spare a thought for us oldies who really do remember what winter was like.

Oh, and we played a bit of football too.


Saturday, 18 December 2010

A Matter of Life and Death

It goes without saying that the death of Dale Roberts is a genuinely tragic event. For anyone to choose to take their own life when young and with so much to live for is incredibly sad, and poor Dale’s family, friends and clubmates must be devastated.

There has been much outpouring of sympathy on Poppynet and no doubt all sincere and heartfelt. But at times like this it’s hard not to reach for the clich├ęs and the inevitable phrase that kept cropping up was “it puts (insert word here) into perspective”. Yes it does that all right. But when did things get so skewed that it takes a player, who happened to play for Diamonds, to actually die for such things to be said?

I’m old enough to remember when the Poppies crowd was noisy and passionate yet the game was not the be all and end all. Opposition players were given friendly stick and would sometimes respond with a smile or a comment that earned a laugh. This isn’t a slice of a bygone black & white era, I’m talking about the 1980s. Yes we sang that we hated Worcester City, we hated Yeovil too (and Barnet) but the thing is, we didn’t really hate them , it was tongue in cheek.

Somewhere along the line the tone changed from humour to abuse, just gutter stuff that even now some defend as “banter”. Perspective went out the window and every opposition player within range – and particularly the lone target between the sticks – is routinely insulted like he’s a threat to society. Dale Roberts no doubt copped an earful at the Cowper Street end just a few weeks ago, perhaps from some of the same people who now go on line to praise him.

The proposed flag tribute at Nene Park is a fine idea and it would be better still if somehow, having regained a little perspective, we could hold on to it for a while.

Latest Club News

It’s been another exciting week at Kettering Town and here’s just a few of the highlights.

With Christmas almost upon us, the Poppies have yet to drop a point in the League since mid November!

Hopes of an FA Trophy run all the way through to the 2nd Round Proper were dashed when the Poppies met their match in mighty Chasetown (pop 3,581) - but not before taking the tie to extra time in a replay! Well done boys we’re proud of you!

Marcus Law has strengthened his squad with another quality acquisition from the Evo Stik League First Division South!

Business is booming in the Poppies club shop, as fans snap up festive bargains like the current squad’s actual kit for a fiver each and the club shop itself for £10!

Former legend Roger Ashby has rejoined the club! For those fans too young to remember , Roger holds the Poppies appearances record and kept close links with the club by pinching all our best players when in charge down the road!

Happy days at Rockingham Road!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Fascinating Facts About Chasetown

Believe us we tried. We trawled trough dusty ledgers in public libraries. We put a team of researchers on the job. Hell we even googled it. Eventually we had to admit defeat. There are no fascinating facts about Chasetown.

The most we have been able to discover is that Chasetown (a place no one's heard of) is an area in the town of Burntwood (come again?) which partly lies in the parish of Hammerwich (where??).

And we thought parts of Northamptonshire were obscure.

But before we dismiss Chasetown as Nowheresville UK, it's worth noting that it boasts the first church in the country to have electric lights.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

1137 for 6 dec

Should your spirits need lifting at this latest darkest hour for KTFC, breaking news from Australia.

After their spanking in the 2nd Test, Shane Warne is rumoured to be on the brink of a dramatic comeback. The selectors are looking for a nurse with access to free cheeseburgers to clinch the deal. If that fails they will turn to their reserve option, Richie Benaud - on current evidence the 2nd rated Aussie spinner.

The 2nd rated Western Samoan spinner would have fared better than the brilliant new Simpsons character Xavier D'oh!erty (face like Cletus, strike rate like Mr Burns) who fed England countless runs in the first two Tests.

When Cook and KP weren't smacking him around they were feasting on the seamers, who try as they might looked about as nasty as Christopher Biggins. Even the sledging was weak. Whereas McGrath could reduce a pom to bedwetting with a well aimed jibe, Johnson's best shot appeared to be "you... you... IN FORM BATSMAN you!"

Steve Waugh with his slitty eyes could carry off the gunslinger thing. This lot look like the schmucks who get dunked in the horse trough in the comedy saloon brawl.

But to their credit the selectors are refusing to panic.

Australian XII for the 3rd Test:

Shane Watson
Mad Max
Ricky Ponting (c)
Dame Edna Everage
Clive James
Don Bradman (deceased)
Kylie Minogue
Crocodile Dundee
Dannii Minogue (wk)
Red Back Spider

Gazza reaches lowest ebb

Not only did Gazza only just miss out on going to prison today on drink driving charges, but NONE of the online reports mention his legendary stint at the Poppies.  Gazza'a star must have well and truly waned when he is no longer considered worthy enough to be mentioned in the same breath as the Poppies!

Not quite as sober as a Judge

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

When Football Came To Kettering

Destined for numerous stockings come the 25th
As we all wait for news of when football will leave Kettering along comes Mel Hopkins and Bob Brown's well timed new book about the origins of football within the town. 

As most people associated with the Poppies know, Mel has been working on a history of the Poppies from about twenty years before the Club was formed!  We reported on Mel's efforts during the original PATGOD run a couple of decades ago.  Thankfully it would appear that Bob Brown has put a rocket up his arse* and the results of their joint labour is now available to buy at various locations around town and hopefully beyond.

Covering the first 28 years of the Club's existence, and about as many different playing fields, the guys recount the backdrop to the confused formation of the Kettering Football Club.  In those long-ago days there was almost as many different versions of football as there were teams, and the schism between rugby and football had yet to fully happen.  Everything was in such flux that teams and probably rules were likely to change at least twice during the half-time oranges!

The book is a phenomenal achievement, marrying mind-boggling levels of research, an easy reading style and lots of photographs of men with big moustaches.  And it's about OUR CLUB!  It is one of those books that you always see people writing about other clubs and you always wished someone would do it about the Poppies.  Well, now they have!  No self-respecting Poppies fan can afford to be without this book.  Rush out and get it NOW! 

* this is purely guesswork on our part.  If could just as likely be the case that Mel was just about to go to the printers when Bob turned up!  Yeah, right!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Tick Tock...

And so we all continue to wait for the announcement. You know, the big one. “All rumours will be laid to rest before Christmas”. What, all of them? The parentage of Prince Harry? The sexuality of Sol Campbell? The real reason Abramovich is so rich despite resembling an albino chimp with a double digit IQ?

Opinion is divided as to whether what we’re about to hear will be good news or bad. Optimists speculate that a deal has been done to extend the lease or buy the ground. Everyone else fears the worst.

Well you can’t blame us. It’s hard to escape the feeling that something unpleasant is brewing. Little clues here and there, like the new boss seeking to lower expectations, wages being slashed, players being offloaded and backroom staff departing.

Chancellor Ladak has conducted his own Emergency Spending Review and at this rate we’ll soon be kicking off at 2pm to save electricity.

Of course we’ve been here before in more ways than one. Mid season budget cuts are nothing new at KTFC. No season under Peter Mallinger was complete without an early winter spending cull. It became as reliable an annual tradition as the switching on of the Christmas lights – or switching off in our case.

And Ladak also likes to trail his big announcements in advance. This time last year it was “six weeks to save the club”. Never did hear how that ended. Still, at least it wasn’t “14 hours to save the earth”.

It’s not impossible that there is an element of egotism in this. If we really are up shit creek, why not just say so. Give it to us straight doc – how long have we got? Unless there is something going on which can’t be made public now but will be soon. The rumours which will be laid to rest. In no particular order:

Groundshare at Corby.
Merger with Corby.
Groundshare at Diamonds.
Merger with Diamonds.

Groundsharing would appear to be a plan with little future because Conference rules prohibit member clubs from sharing a ground outside their borough.

Peter Mallinger of course proposed a Corby merger over a decade ago, so we can guess where he stands on the issue. The recent Diamonds takeover might have ended any interest there in a merger, but who knows.

If it’s to be a merger with Corby or Diamonds or Rothwell bloody Corinthinians, it will amount to the same thing – the end of Kettering Town – one of the oldest football clubs in the country (and therefore the world) after nearly 140 years.

A merged club playing in Kettering would be hard enough to contemplate. A merged club playing somewhere else would just be utterly alien. It would mean nothing to the likes of us but maybe that’s not important any more.

Football clubs are just business commodities for the modern breed of owner. The owner of a business doesn’t care where the customers come from. Move the business to another place, get new customers. Doesn't matter if they’re different customers so long as there’s more of them. It worked for MK Dons and if your mind operates that way there is a certain logic.

Mallinger has switched his loyalty from Newcastle to Kettering to Corby, and once compared the football spectator’s choice as being similar to deciding to shop at Tesco rather than Sainsburys. Ladak bought us having considered numerous alternatives and it’s unlikely he feels any particular affinity for the town of Kettering – why would he, he’s never lived there. Plenty of people who do couldn’t give a toss about the place.

So whatever the news we’re about to hear, I’m not pinning my hopes on anything too sentimental entering the equation. It would just be nice to know so if necessary we can get on with ordering the flowers and sorting out the headstone.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Who wants to host the World Cup anyway?

Who wants hoards of fat Germans with drooping moustaches wandering around our streets, breaking wind and being all smug?  We can do without stuck-up Frenchies over here affecting an air of superiority because they like eating parts of animals the rest of the world steer clear of.  And, spare us the coach loads of obnoxious Yanks shouting "U.S.A." and using the word soccer.

Give the World Cup to the shittiest places in the world FOREVER, and have done with it! We've already made a start....

2018 Mafia controlled Russia
2022 Al Quaeda controlled Qatar

and then....

2026 Communist controlled North Korea
2030 Back in time to Nazi Germany
2034 Mordor
2038 The post apocalyptic remnants of Irthlingborough, in a joint bid with the "city" or Corby (always makes me chuckle!)

Never a Dull Moment

It's that time of year again.  Gates not up to 3000.  No money coming in from an FA Cup run.  Time running out on the ground.  Players and staff leaving.

Time to do the introductions once more.

Shit, this is fan.  Fan, this is shit.