Saturday, 31 December 2011

'11/12 - The fateful account

"It is a bold venture, but the right men have gone to attempt it.”

"Things were not as rosy as they might be, but we keep our spirits up and say the luck must turn.”

“Great God! This is an awful place.”

“I am just going outside and I may be some time.”

“We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far.“

“It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more.”

Fitterest and Properest

Imraan's search for creditable and ethical investors continues with  a couple of stalwart members of the medical fraternity.....

Dr Harold Shipman

For - Always good to have another medical
man on board.  Perhaps we could let the
physio go....?

Against - we have a large number of
older supporters, and we can't afford to
lose any of them!

Dr Evil

For - Looking to invest ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

Against - Always a danger that Mike Myers will
lapse into one of the dozens of painfully unfunny
characters he also plays.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Locum Hokum

The first thing to be said is that any information is better than no information, so to that extent at least, today’s club statement puts a little more detail in the public domain.

Whether it actually helps our cause is a moot point – ‘it would be unwise for me to comment on my dispute with DRC Locums - so you just watch me’ is a novel approach to conflict resolution.

Then we must ask – how much of this do we believe? Some, long past the point of no return, will dismiss it entirely. No one, I suspect, beyond those in his camp will stand by every word. For the remainder, lacking a bullshit screener on their anti virus software, it’s a case of sifting the evidence and trying to decide which bits are credible.

Poppynet’s assembled band of scrutineers will do that very well, but ultimately it won’t make a scrap of difference who’s right and who’s wrong if the football club dies whilst the lawyers wrangle.

Let’s take one part of the statement – the jaw dropping revelations about the full extent of the sponsorship deal with DRC Locums.

If the quoted amount of £1.4m over little more than 2 years is accurate, we are talking about a phenomenal sum for a club at our level. It’s unimaginable that DRC Locums would see a return on that investment even if we got to the Cup Final itself let alone the 2nd Round tie that apparently is part of the argument. So it can only have been a donation, an extremely generous one, which IL engineered as part of the deal when selling DRC.

Now we are told that since the sponsorship was terminated in March this year, over 400K remains unpaid. Again taking the figures in the statement today at face value, that would mean DRC actually did pay a sum in excess of £500K for the privilege of being the main sponsor of a club in the fifth tier of English football over an 18 month period.

No wonder they’re pissed off!

Maybe Ladak is legally within his rights to hold out for the full amount. Doubtless he has been advised he has a strong case. But even with just his version of events to go on, this strikes me as an argument that would end at best in a compromise (and that has probably been pushed back by airing it so publicly) and at worst in nothing.

Now surely is the time for Ladak to swallow his pride and recognise that no one is bothered any more about his endless attempts at self justification. We just want a club to support and it’s not too late to preserve that by encouraging dialogue rather than rattling sabres.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Out of the Frying Pan...

All day I’ve been searching for the best way to describe reaction to the latest news, and in the end it’s the first phrase that pops into your head.

It’s not only conspiracy theorists who are alarmed by the suggestion that our sinking ship is about to be towed to shore by Messrs Hill and Rolls. A duo whose record in football ownership to date is not completely unblemished. Their joint CV reads like a Who’s Who of strife, with precious little there to inspire confidence that these are trustworthy individuals to own a club.

And even better, it’s reported that Ladak will still be around, to guide the new board on important matters like pissing off the last unpaid volunteer who’s prepared to assist, or picking a fight with the world in general.

Come on, did we do something bad in a previous life or something? A joke’s a joke but this is getting silly.

Only with our wretched luck in picking saviours could the prospective arrival of a man with a reported fortune of £200m be greeted with such dismay.

The question begs, if he’s that rich, to the extent he was flirting with taking over Sheffield Wednesday (Premiership potential – slightly more than us) why KTFC? Unless perhaps in the fullness of time it won’t be KTFC but some as yet unknown combination of initials, in the deluded belief that another MK Dons can grow alongside the A6.

And then there’s Rolls, ex Cambridge Utd and Weymouth chairman who again isn’t a byword for happy ever after. Youtube has a long (over 17 minutes) interview earlier this year with a pair of admirably dogged presenters on the BBC Non-League Show, in which Gorgeous George was pressed about his involvement with Weymouth and it’s fair to say it doesn’t allay concerns. Pluckily portraying himself as a football lover who just wants to help clubs in need, and conspicuously avoiding any commitment not to flog off Weymouth’s ground if he could move them n to share with Dorchester, it was hard to shake the feeling we’d heard this kind of smooth blandishment before. About 20 years ago. At least we’ve already lost our home ground and decamped in a different town. Or as George would say, phase one complete.

So if this is the plan all along, and not some ploy to force Lee Thorn to up his offer from £1 (£2?), it does rather have a certain logic. Modern non-League chairman, utterly unconcerned by fan sentiment, seeks like minded outgoing individuals, gsoh, to enjoy forming hybrid football club and shared love of eating out, country walks and making money.

But, as Imraan said when reappointing MM, “everyone deserves a second chance”, so let’s just suspend disbelief and pretend that maybe the mooted takeover is entirely in good faith. How would that be demonstrated by the new regime?

1. A clear, legally binding commitment that the club currently occupying Nene Park will continue to bear the name of Kettering Town FC unless or until it moves to another location by its own choice.

2. Settling all debts in full, especially those owed to local businesses and ex employees who can ill afford to be shafted.

3. Rewarding Mark Stimson’s loyalty under duress with a decent contract, thereby dispelling fear that our death throes will be tainted by association with Garry Hill.

4. An investment in the squad in January that shows a positive intent to keep us in the BSP not run us into the ground.

5. An offer to the Trust of meaningful involvement.

A short enough list. Doubtless missing some important things but a starting point nonetheless.

Fitter and Properer


For - World class 'tasche.
Against - May challenge me for control of the club!
The Daleks

For - Good organisers. And cheap to maintain.
Against - Too many steps at Non Park.

Fit and Proper

It really does pay to dig around in the bins at Non Park, as it is the only way of finding out what's going on at your football club.  Other teams rely on boring methods of communication such as updated websites, but not us. No, we rely on the more creative method of information dispersal of bunging stuff in the bin.

As talks of takeovers and new investors are flying around, we thought we would take this opportunity to investigate further.  After much wading through unopened letters from former landlords, and wading through thousands of agents' CV's and DVD's showing highlights of their "quality" players, we struck gold.

Today we can reveal the names of some of those individuals who didn't quite make the cut with Imraan, along with his reasons for turning them down.

Hannibal Lector

For - Smart guy, could be used to keep website updated.
Against - No one would trust the meat pies anymore!

Pol Pot

For - Would take no shit from the fans. 
Against - Now the Shaolin has gone, his
off-field usefulness would be limited


Friday, 23 December 2011

Will Imraan actually kill the Poppies? Part Two

When you read this thread from Poppynet, the answer to the above question is starting to look worryingly like "yes".

Imraan is infamous for his lack of consideration when it comes to being where and when he has promised.  This is bad enough when letting down supporters, but doing it when the club itself is at stake is unforgivable.

The Thorne's?
Frying pan and fire?
Allowing this petty idiosyncrasy to put the future of the Poppies in even further jeopardy he really is skating on thin ice with the Poppies support. 

Imraan, get you New Year's Eve payday by all means.  Pay off your "investors".  Then be gone.  There are still no guarantees if this happens.  We're still playing miles from home in a money-pit ground Imraan has saddled us with.  Our old home has been barred to us.  We have very little money coming in. Stimson always seems to be on the verge of jacking it in. And relegation looks more likely than not. 

And what of Lee Thorne?  He always seemed to us a bit too close to Imraan and "Project Suicide".  However, if he has extricated himself from Imraan's pissing around and is willing to stand up and be counted in the Poppies cause, we can't really do anything  but to rally to his colours, could we?

Mind you, do we know what we would be getting ourselves involved in with Lee?  After all, his brother, Damien was a bit of a terror in his day.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Will Imraan actually kill the Poppies?

With Rocky Road being locked-up, baliiffs sniffing around, Imraan not turning up with meetings with people looking to buy the club, and the few members of staff we had either being sacked or resigning, you have to ask yourself whether Imraan has decided to kill us off.

We know the club generates very little income on matchdays due to a combination of most of us having season tickets, and Imraan running the off-field operation like an early-round reject from "Young Apprentice".  If he is not prepared to even consider plugging the shortfall, or sell the club to someone who will, it is difficult to see how the club can carry on.

All of this brings to mind a couple of statements Imraan has made in the past, which seems a little hollow now.  He has always put great stock in being considered a "real fan", and pointing to his continued investment as evidence that he is in it for the long run. Hmm....

Allied to this stance is the fact that he has always insisted he wasn't another Mark English, and until recently no-one really thought he was.  However, similarities are starting to emerge.  Both came into the club under the cover of former England midfielders.  Both claimed to be paying bills, changing the ground (ok, re-roofing a terrace in English's case), insisting that everything was under control, even as we could all see it wasn't.  By the end of respective reigns both seemed to be trying to, how to put this.....?  Liquidise as many financial assets as quickly as possible.  For English this meant breaking into the fag machine, and for Imraan it would appear to be the slightly classier packing of as many Luton fans into the ground on New Years Day as humanly possible.

Because of the actions of many Poppies supporters back in the early 1990's English didn't destroy us.  It remains to be seen whether Poppies supporters circa 2012 can emulate their predecessors.  One thing is for certain, it's going to far more difficult to pull things around this time, given the state of the economy, the fact we're no longer tied into Kettering, and being at Imraan's mercy.

All we can do at the moment is pray that our Chairman somehow decides to pull us out of our current nosedive, but it doesn't look promising.  A while ago we suggested we would happily take Conference North and Rocky Road for the next 10 years.  Now I'd take Southern League at Rocky Road for just next year, at least keeping us alive for a year longer than we now anticipate.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Remember this?

BBC Sport website, 27 July:

Kettering Town to give Rockingham Road proper farewell.

Kettering Town chairman Imraan Ladak has insisted the club wants to give their long-time home ground at Rockingham Road a "proper farewell". The Poppies are expected to complete a move to Nene Park, the former headquarters of Rushden & Diamonds, who are in administration.

"We definitely need to have a proper farewell game here," Ladak told BBC Radio Northampton.

"If we can do that in this pre-season then we will - but if not, later on."

Kettering are due to entertain a Southampton XI in a friendly there on Thursday (1945 BST) and will then use the venue for women's, reserve and youth team matches.
Ladak added: "The idea is to use the facility as much as we can.

"We still have a lease on it for another couple of years - so unless the landlord says he wants early possession we'll carry on using it."


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Tis The Season To Be Jolly (Yeah Right)

This wretched season already feels never ending, like a bad dream or an interminable series of Strictly Come Dancing, which like our current campaign also kicked off months ago and has been tormenting me ever since, hogging the house’s only decent telly and threatening the end of society itself by feeding Robbie Savage’s already grotesquely huge ego.

So rapidly did pre-season optimism crumble after that fleeting high against Newport, it is already two months since our last win and a month since we were permitted even the most basic human right of the follower of a struggling team - being able to demand wholesale changes!

Instead, in that peculiar parallel universe we now inhabit, players who would normally be chased out of the car park by angry fans are accorded hero status for not yet deserting the club. Apart from the one who has quit the game due to depression! Only the good taste for which Patgod is renowned prevents us from reaching for an easy punchline there.

If this is the road ahead, expect to see more rousing ovations after we earn an occasional point, Pat Noubissie crowned the new “Mr Kettering” because he can trace his Poppies career all the way back to Rockingham Road, and a team composed entirely of youngsters who don’t like 90s music because it’s the stuff their parents listen to.

Meanwhile, in his noble quest for positives to take from every fresh disaster, Stimmo will take heart from the calmness under pressure showed by the Ise Lodge under 7s in the half time penalty shoot out.

Still, could be worse. With the Bath game now out of the way, we can look forward to an easy run of games featuring Luton, Luton, Wrexham and Gateshead. The latter’s trip to NP next month could even provide an answer to that old metaphysical poser – if a team scores a goal but there is no one in the away end to hear it, is it really a goal?

Plus January offers the exciting prospect of real 6 pointers against Telford and Lincoln. Win both of those and, who knows, we could end the month still with daylight between us and Alfreton!

So now is not the time for faint hearts. “We few, we happy few. We band of brothers”. Yes they may be the Ifil brothers, but at least they’re not the Chuckles (not interested in a loan deal, apparently). There’s everything still to play for. The OWS has just been updated to say that Santa’s elves also owe us a load of presents that were agreed in pre-season, and our legal advice is we have a very strong case if they’re not delivered by the 25th.

So with that imminent injection of cash, smellies and colourful knitwear we have every hope of getting the embargo lifted in time to give us maybe an outside chance of finishing at least third from bottom. And then perhaps if Darlo and - who knows -Stockport get the chop at the AGM Cup we may yet do a Forest Green (or, for older readers, Welling).

Happy Christmas everyone!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Goodbye Mr McKenzie*

In a season of curious occurrences, Leon McKenzie's brief Poppies career is certainly up there.  As with a considerable number of players released from the Cobblers, Leon trudged down the well-worn path to the Poppies to eke out a few more footballing paydays.

Despite being almost terminally injury prone he has managed to play a handful of games and grab a few goals.  He has perhaps wisely announced his retirement due to those continual injuries and brought down the curtain on his career with today's game with Bath.

"OOOF!"  How did you enjoy non-league Leon?
I don't want to be a party pooper.  Leon may well be a decent bloke, but the over-the-top reaction to the departure of a player with so few games for the Poppies has left me bemused.  We have had players who have sweat blood in a Poppies shirt for several years who have disappeared without so much as a mention.  Some great Poppies stars have been allowed to slip away without us having the chance to bid them farewell, and yet after less than half a season Leon managed to secure a Poppies testimonial.

OK, not an actual testimonial as such, but one might be forgiven for thinking this is what we witnessed this afternoon.  Captain for the day.  Comes on the pitch with his kids.  Takes the applause and ovation at the final whistle, and receives a guard of honour from his teammates.  In keeping with a testimonial, the game just drifted and bobbled along, and to be honest Leon should have been removed in favour of a front two of KHM and JD with a good half hour to go.  Stimson, I never realised you were such a softie!  Let's just hope Leon doesn't expect to bank the takings today too!  He'll come up against a bunch of belligerent Ladaks!

I hope Leon enjoyed his brief stint with us and has success in his future endeavours, even if his career with us didn't amount to more than the merest of footnotes in Poppies history.

* the other Goodbye Mr McKenzie were, of course, the ace Scot's rockers of the late '80's and early '90's =

They say you never see a poor bookie.....

....and no wonder!  Even when they seem to drop a bit of a bollock with their odds, they still come out smelling of, well, my money!  I hate to think how many of us took a bit of a bigger than normal flutter on a Poppies win against Bath.  But, given the very generous 11/2 odds being offered for a home win I fear a few of us may be looking at a slightly thinner Christmas than anticipated. 

Yes, I know home wins have been as thin or the ground this season as kept promises from Imraan, but still.....surely a practically full strength Poppies could beat lowly Bath, who haven't won away from home all season?

Perhaps we could have won had we decided to start playing before 4.30, because before then I'm not sure their 'keeper even saw the ball, let alone had to save it!

Such was our non-performance for the first 80 minutes I would seriously consider suing the players for loss of earnings - were it not for the fact that they are likely to be doing the same thing!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

£19 quid to watch Luton! It's a disgrace!

Understandably most people have taken a dim view at the news that adult tickets for the forthcoming game with Luton will cost an eye-watering £19.00.  Well, a dim view amongst Luton fans anyway.  We've all got season tickets!

However, for those few amongst our readership with nothing better to do than wonder where all these enormous £19.00 entrance fees will go, we have found this breakdown, hastily scribbled on a discarded cigarette packet outside the Director's lounge.

£19.00 - Entrance Fee

£7.00 - Police Costs (could be extra if they actually get out of their van)
£5.00 - Rent to Cousins
£3.00 - Imraan's cut
£1.50 - Legal costs for Imraan's ongoing spat with James Caan over the billion pound sponsorship deal agreed with DRC Locums just before he sold up

£1.00 - Jay and Ray's cut

70p - Part payment of JP's Corby wages

36p - Second class stamp so Imraan can post his latest homework to his correspondence course covering rudimentary book-keeping, and suck-it-and-see financial planning
25p - Retainer for Morrell's dubious services

10p - Rent to Pickering
5p - Irthlingborough ducking stool upkeep
3p - Replenishing the toilet paper for the first time since the Direones left.
1p - Player's wages


£18.95 - Imraan's last payday
5p - Big, double layer bin bag for Imraan to fill with money and sling over his shoulder at 5.55PM on New Years Day.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Oh No! You!! Don't!!!

At times like this we need some festive cheer. Something to raise the spirits and remind us of what it feels like to be happy. Let’s face it, Kettering needs a lift.

Instead, starting Tuesday, it gets Neil and Christine Hamilton appearing in Cinderella at the Lighthouse Theatre. Haven’t we suffered enough?

Mind you, after a couple of weeks of making an arse of themselves in front of parties of schoolkids who’d rather be at home with their Playstations, and care home residents bussed in from Burton Latimer, the Hamiltons might equally be rueing their luck. It will feel a long way from the Ritz in Paris and other treats which they enjoyed in the days when hubby was selling parliamentary questions rather than tickets for the Thursday matinee show.

Almost as traditional as panto itself are the wonderful ‘reminders’ that appear under the names of the celebrity performers, to help the 99.91% of the population to whom they mean absolutely nothing. “Tinky Winky in Teletubbies”, “BBC Radio Cornwall breakfast DJ”, “Once appeared on Stars In Their Eyes” etc. Whilst arguably this is unnecessary in the case of the Hamiltons, it would be a pity not to see “Disgraced former minister and his ghastly wife” on the promos.

Any undiscerning punters who attend the show can expect to witness at least some acting pedigree on display. After all, he had a good try at pretending to be innocent, when lying all the way through the cash for questions investigation. There should also be a regulation number of awful lines about MPs expenses and brown envelopes shoehorned into the script until it cries for mercy. Plus, as Baron Hardup, he will at least give local football fans a name they can relate to.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Best of luck to the team today at Gateshead

Crap draw, at the worst possible time,
but all the best for today boys!

There's a Happy Meal in it if you win!

There's always a bright side to any situation

Obviously the Club's present struggles have been well documented, and no one can take pleasure from our precarious position.  It is grim, and there's no getting away from the air of desperate concern around the place.

However, here at PATGOD we couldn't be happier.  Misery seems to bring out the inner-writers amongst the Poppies faithful.  We are being inundated with unsolicited articles (well, three), which we can cut and paste on here, allowing us more free time for Christmas shopping with the missus's.  Hmm.  We haven't thought that one through very well.....

So with the future of the club hanging in the balance (allegedly), we thought we’d catch up with Chairman Imraan Ladak and find out how negotiations are going...... Unlike Trust Chairman, we at PATGOD found our call being taken first time but just as with said Trust Chairman we decided to put the conversation straight into the public domain. So here goes

PG: So Imraan what’s happening with the club now?

IL: Well as you know I’m trying to put together a deal to sell the club and at the moment we have two bidders.

PG: That’s very interesting Imraan....

IL: Arefa quick ring Dunham and tell him that we’ve now got 3 interested parties. You won’t regret this PATGOD the club’s got a great history and under your leadership a great future as well.

PG: But Imraan we don’t want to buy the club we just want to know how negotiations are going.

IL: Well PATGOD owning a football is a great experience, a chance to bond with the fans and tell them that you’re one of them. Once you’ve done that you can pretty much do want you want and they’ll go along with you.

PG: So are you saying that calling yourself a fan was just to get those present at the Wicksteed meeting to go along with the NP move?

IL: No, no that’s not the case at all. To be honest when I arrived at Wicksteed that fateful Friday I was very much undecided about what the right course of action was. It was only when I saw the ground swell of public opinion in favour of the move that I felt we had to give it a go. And of course, that ground swell didn’t include the large number of fans who weren’t able to make it that night. When you add them into the mix it was an overwhelming majority.

PG: But Imraan no one could describe the move to NP as a success?

IL: The move to NP has been a great success.

PG: Now you’re just kidding aren’t you Imraan because it hasn’t been a success.

IL: No it’s been a success. The club now has a secure future with a 25 year lease and I have something I can sell.
Somewhere under stately Ladak Manor, the
Bat phone is ringing!

PG: So how are negotiations going?

IL: Well as you know there are two three interested parties and whilst I don’t want any money for my shares I need to look after Ray & Jay. Obviously as fan first and foremost – did you get that? – I want to sell to the right person but unfortunately Ray & Jay need some cash. After all they’ve put in millions of pounds.

PG: Is that right Imraan, so how much have they actually put in?

IL: Well like I said they’ve put in a considerable amount of money and I’m just glad that we’ve got three serious bidders which means that I can negotiate hard to get the price up.

PG: So Imraan what does the future hold for yourself if you do sell the club?

IL: Well I’m going to take some time out, I’ve promised to take the missus on holiday with the sale proceeds. Do poundland have a travel agency? Then when I’m back I thought I could have an end of season bash with all the players who we’ve given such a fabulous opportunity to this year.

PG: Do you think you’re still ok with them given that you haven’t paid them?

IL: Oh no, lets put that one to bed straight away. It isn’t me that hasn’t paid them, it’s all the people I’ve blamed before and of course now I can add in to the mix John Dunham. I did tell him straight that it was his fault as well as the Evening Telegraph but he said he wouldn’t publish the interview if I didn’t retract it. Well now the truth is out there and I have to thank PATGOD for giving me the platform.

PG: Any final thoughts Imraan before you go?

IL: Yes I just want to reiterate that there’s no personal pleasure in owning a football club.....What’s that? Oh yeah tell Lee Thorne there’s nothing better....

Monday, 5 December 2011

Nathan's Notebook

At the risk of flogging an idea into the ground, Mr Koo-Boothe has been in touch.......

Hi guys

I thought I'd drop you a quick line to wish you all the luck in the world for the future.  I'm sorry I couldn't hang around and at least fill a shirt be a linchpin of the Poppies fightback.

But when a team like my new Spanish one came knocking on my door I knew there was no way I could miss out on this opportunity of a lifetime.  They tell me that I am the final part of their team jigsaw, and that I can be a major player in their continued success.

Here's to the future!

The Benidorm 1st XI can't wait to welcome their new cast member

Sunday, 4 December 2011

We're All In This Together

With some negative people spreading unnecessary and frankly unhelpful rumours lately, we're all indebted to Mr Ladak for breaking his silence and giving us an update on the club’s position.

So what do we know now?

1. We’re still owed 150K by a sponsor, and if we get the whole amount, preferably in a great big suitcase, by tomorrow morning, the players will get paid, otherwise they won’t get a penny, which is all they deserve anyway for being so poor.

2. It’s not just Imraan who’s feeling this pain, it’s his fellow investors too. Initially I thought he said Jay Kay, which just made me feel even worse – the Jamiroquai frontman surely serves better than to see part of his fortune disappear because of us. Obviously it’s still pretty gutting that poor Jay and Ray maybe won’t recover the money they sunk into KTFC, which is rotten luck when you consider how much profit can usually be made out of investing in non-League football.

3. Top marks to Imraan, he’s big enough to admit he made mistakes in his detailed planning. There was a slight over estimate, give or take 250%, of how many fans would embrace the move to Irthlingborough. The team failed to win all of their opening 15 fixtures, despite occasionally looking good in pre-season against half hearted opposition. Local businesses, completely against expectations, didn’t jam the Nene Park switchboard with corporate bookings, opting instead to save their cash to keep themselves afloat in a recession. However it was good to see that Imraan had no regrets on the really key decision – his choice of manager. Thank goodness he got that one right!

4. The Conference will be technically in breach of their own rules if they don’t allow us to sign schoolkids to enable us to be hit for 9 or 10 this side of 2012. Imraan has written to them to point this out, and with all the credit and goodwill he has stored up at Conference HQ, there’s no way they’ll put his letter at the bottom of a very large pile.

5. Poppies legend Nathan Koo Booth has moved on. Apparently to Spain, presumably as part of a cultural exchange involving Jamie Navarro. We hope he enjoys his stay at Real Madrid and is just as big a hit.

6. Imraan will sell the club just as soon as the right person comes along with a real plan. Obviously it will have to be an improvement on what's already in place, a tall order you might think. Luckily we have the answer if any prospective buyer is short of writing material...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Just how close are Kettering to going bust?

On one side we have players not being paid.  Money owed to Craw£ey, leading to a transfer embargo, so we can't even register youth players to represent the first team.

Bucket collections to give the players a few bob in travel expenses.

Groundsman not paid.  Rumours abounding that none of the club suppliers are being paid and that winding-up orders are being readied.

Is the rent being paid?  Will the first we know is when we turn up at Non Park to find the gates locked?

We're running low on players, and the thumpings are starting to arrive.

On the other side we have our owner, telling us that once an outstanding sponsorship contribution has been received we should be OK.  This is the same owner who during what may prove to be his last communication with us at Wicksteed Park, convinced us that the move to Non Park would solve all our problems.  We had new sponsors lined up.  We would attract better players.  Off field facilities would fund the club operations.  Amazingly he also suggested that players would cost us less, as they generally wanted more money to play at dilapidated Rockingham Road!

No time to run the club properly, but plenty of time
to f**k around with stupid photographs.
He told us that the annual budget of £750,000 was made up of £150,000 from us via gate receipts, with sponsorship, other "revenue streams", and the Ladak family providing the rest.  Well, with a thousand season tickets (his figure) sold before the kick-off at £200.00 a pop, we did our bit surely?  And another thing, the £200.00 season ticket, whilst being good value, wasn't the enormous bargain the club made it out to be.  Last season a terrace season ticket was £230.00, and even the £30.00 saving on last year's price was soon swallowed up by a £25.00 parking season ticket charge!

Is it our fault the club don't have the ability to secure sponsorship?  If this is the case surely it is down to the Ladak family to plug the shortfall THAT THEY HAVE CAUSED!  Does Imraan intend to finish the Club?  Are we going to lose another capable Manager because of his antics?  If someone else is looking to take on the Club is he standing in the way by trying to recoup some of the money he has spent here ?(obviously not this season)

As a club we have survived numerous chancers, fools and crooks masquerading as Chairmen.  Surely the most financially robust owner we have ever had isn't going to be the one to kill us for want of a few quid? 
He should step up, if not for himself, the club or the fans, at least to keep his online detractors quiet for five minutes.....

Friday, 2 December 2011

Message from Moses

Hi guys.

You're right, the drive up to
York is a journey, man!"
Jus fort id drop you a line to say no ard feelins for the way fings turned up wiz you guys, lol.  I's a big enuff man to admit i'm the best geezer you ever ad at Ketrin, an youll all miss me soon, lol.

dont know much about Yurk City except bleedin long way from home, lol.  I expect i'll be the best player here soon enuff, lol.  Who knows,  may even score another goal befor too long, lol. Peraps 2moro!  Ha ha, lol.

An another fing - I coulda wiped the floor with Marna if I had wanted to, lol.  I coulda took is ass out ANYTIME i wanted, lol.  It may have looked like he was giving me a mutha of a pasting, but vats cause im a peacible guy, lol.  If i wanted i coulda capped his sorry ass, lol.

Gotta run, lol.  Peace, guys!  lol.

Oh, and Imraan, if you reading dis - you still owe me a big wedge, man an I'm more than redy to beat it outta your sorry skinny ass, lol.

Respect, Moses lol.

p.s. lol.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

PATGOD Issue 13 - November 1991

In an attempt to lighten the mood of unremitting gloom hanging over Poppydom we thought we'd take you all back to the carefree November of 1991.  God, that's twenty years ago!

The Gulf War had just ended, leading to generations of blessed peace in that region.

Robert Maxwell plunged into the ocean, leading to the free and fair tabloid press we enjoy to this day.

Cyril Gingell had stepped down as Poppies Chairman, content he was leaving us financially secure for future generations.

Happy days!

Below are a few snippets from issue 13 - hope you enjoy, or at least recognise some of the names!

New Chairman Merv Baxter gets an early
kicking form the PATGOD posse!

Understanding what Peter Morris
is actually saying

The joys of fanzine selling

The End of Robbie Cooke

The Cobblers seek to leave the County Ground
for a bright new future!

The Inaugural Curry Club Meeting

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Wanted - A Saviour (However Disreputable)

When it comes to results I’m a pessimist. Hope for the best, expect the worst. I’ve found it helps to ease the disappointment. But when it comes to the survival of our club, somehow I’ve always believed we’ll pull through. We did it in 1982 – my first but by no means last experience of buckets being rattled inside the ground and crisis public meetings, we did it in ’85 – albeit it cost us ownership of Rocky Road, an unexploded bomb ever since, we did it in ’91 when the unpaid tax liability threatened our future and the following year when English pushed us to the brink that night at Telford.

There have been other times since and numerous before, as the club has been engaged in a perennial struggle to remain solvent for decades. Some might say that ought to tell us something about the viability of a senior non League club in this part of the world. But hang on, this is Kettering (pop 80,000), not Forest bloody Green and if they can hold their own at this level without going pop, and smaller towns can sustain Football League clubs, why do we seem perpetually unable to get by without a sugar daddy?

Hmm, how long have you got? For now the only question that matters is – can we make it into 2012?

Kettering Town’s own version of the Doomsday Clock moved several minutes closer to midnight this past week, with five players leaving in a single day and the rest still standing against the playground wall with no takers. Thanks to the transfer embargo, not even the youth team is an option any more. More’s the pity, because as we know from Poppynet’s excellent Scully, they’ve been so brilliantly coached (by Scully) they’d piss this league and evoke comparisons with the Busby Babes.

As yesterday showed, there is still enough – just – left to be competitive and maybe squeeze out the odd point. The moving reception they received at the end will hopefully sustain them on the difficult trips to Fleetwood and York, when anything less than a pair of painful beatings would be a pleasant surprise. But these boys can’t play for nothing for ever, and any of them could go AWOL between now and January. Plus some will get knocks, others may get suspended – how long until we can’t muster a starting XI and face further punishment?

The transfer embargo is the thing that is most likely to kill us in the short term. Somehow, we have to get that lifted. Emergency fundraising may do it, but no one should give a penny unless there are guarantees it won’t be siphoned off by the outgoing chairman. If we can keep going until the playing staff can be reinforced, there’s a chance of a longer future. Whether it’s anchored to the bottom of the table after a string of defeats is a distinct possibility, but it’s a measure of how much our prospects have shrivelled that most people would already be content to be kicking off next season as high as the Blue Square North rather than several rungs lower.

But like I say, when KTFC’s future is on the line, I’ve always been an optimist. There are only so many football clubs at a senior level which foreign moneybags can buy, why not pick us up for a tiny fraction of the price of someone you’ve heard of and let us be your plaything. We could be in the Premier League in 5 years! Or, more likely, back where we are now! Come on, pick up the phone. You’ll find that passing our fit and proper person test is a doddle. Right now we’d accept a bid from Pol Pot.

What is the real problem with Non Park? by Toxteth O'Grady

I started to look into the history of the ground. I used to believe that luck (good or bad) does not happen without a reason. People say that you make your own luck but this look back in history proves that areas like the Bermuda Triangle do exist. We should really look into the history of the land that Non Park is built on to fully understand the incredible truth.

Here are some unbelievable truths about the area that I have researched and uncovered.

In 1913 an American called Charles Weston filmed his epic silent film ‘The Battle of Waterloo’ in the area that the ground is now built on. At a cost of £5000, this was a huge amount for a movie in those days. In fact, Weston made 7 films in the same area but it is said that the 1st World War put paid to Irthlingborough becoming the centre of the film industry in the United Kingdom. But this was not the real reason Irthlingborough didn’t become the centre of the film industry.

During the making of Waterloo, three actors playing the part of cavalry men fell off their horses and died while riding over the area that is now the centre circle of the pitch. Similar ‘accidents’ happened during the making of all of his films in this area. His eighth planned epic ‘The taking of Poppy Hill’ never got off the ground as the Actors refused to work in the area deeming it to be the unluckiest plot in the land. The film was later made at Elstree.

On the 28th January 1917, a new Bi Plane (the SE 5a) was being tested in the area. The chief test pilot of the Royal Aircraft Factory, a Major F. W. Goodden was killed as the plane crashed in the area that is now the centre circle of the ground.

In the Second World War, on the 15th February 1945 a B17 took off from the Air force Base at Chelverstone. Soon after take-off it crashed killing all on board. Where did it crash? Yes, you guessed it. On what is now the centre circle of the pitch at Nonce Park.

But we can go even farther back in time for more amazing facts. We all know about the Battle of Naseby. This was the key battle of the first English Civil War. On the 14 June 1645, the main army of King Charles was destroyed by the Parliamentary New Model Army commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell.

Now, riding to take part in the battle were a number of men from Raunds. Amongst them were two young men, friends since they were small boys who had grown up together. As they were riding they crossed the area that is now the center circle and without warning, and for no apparent reason started to fight each other. They drew their swords and were soon both lying down dead.

In 1258 there was a battle in Northampton between King Henry the III and the upstart 6th Earl of Leicester, Simon de Montfort. Three brothers from Ringstead were riding to take part on the side of Simon de Montfort. Again, while crossing the area that is now Nonce Park, there came over them a terrible storm. Others that were close by tell of the sky getting darker and darker. Suddenly, there was a bolt of light, such as had never been seen before. The three men “turned the colour of burnt wood and were smoking for two days”.

Now, sometime in the late 5th / early 6th Century a group of knights from the castle of Camelot were riding through a wood on their way to Tingdene (now Finedon). They had been hunting wild boar to take to a feast that was to take place at Tingdene Hall the next day. As they approached a clearing something made one of the horses start. It reared up and the knight fell off his back breaking his neck. No prizes for guessing where he fell.

It is known that there was a Roman settlement in Higham Ferrers in the early 2nd century (AD). The site has been extensively excavated and it is known that it was of some importance for the Romans. Many important Roman commanders stopped off here on their way up North. It is believed that the first son of Augustus himself stopped off on one of his trips to York.

The Chieftain who ran the site was keen to impress and bid his servants to go into the local woods and find Deer and Boar to prepare a feast for their important visitor.

While hunting, they came across a beast that they had heard of in legend but had never seen before. In a clearing there was a silver shadow that glistened in the morning dew. One of the hunters drew his arrow and fired. His shot was straight and true and he killed the beast.

They took the animal back to the house and prepared it for the feast. The son of Augustus was highly impressed with the feast declaring the meat ‘the most exquisite that he had ever tasted’. They were in a great mood for the rest of the evening speaking of great exploits of the past and of the promise that the future held for their Roman Empire.

All went to bed that night with a feeling of excitement with what the future held for them. Not one of the people who had eaten of the wonderful meat or who had taken part in the hunt woke up in the morning. The servants who were left decided that they should take the carcass of the strange silver furred beast with its one horn coming from the center of its head back to where it had been killed and buried it there.

This they did and I’m sure you can guess by now where the Unicorn was buried.

So is it bad luck that no team will ever succeed at Non Park? You decide for yourselves.

Me, I just believe it’s down to the idiots with no real business sense who make plans without considering all sides of the equations!

Toxteth O’Grady

(No consideration has been given to keeping to all the facts in this story. Some are true, some are not).

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pedro talks to ET:

Pedro has had enough of you nasty people being mean to him on Poppynet, and has found a new home for his "forthright" views here at PATGOD.  Don't be jealous.  You too can have your say!  Just contact us with your well written, expertly argued article that basically states that Imraan has lost the plot, and we'll gladly add it to all of ours!

ET phoned Pedro’s home to get his view on the latest happenings at Rockingham Road:

ET: So it seems you were right that there’d be trouble at Rockingham Road.

Pedro: Have you been on another planet ET, we’re at Non Park now! Yes, I predicted things would turn sour in November; I even have the emails to prove it! It doesn’t make me happy to be proved right because it means it’s yet another wasted season and, even worse, I’ve wasted £200 on a season ticket!

ET: Whoops sorry Pedro, I have indeed been on another planet! So what do you think went wrong?

Pedro: I don’t think anything’s gone wrong, instead I think the whole venture was doomed from the start. Let’s quickly recap some facts:

One club had already gone bust at Non Park. It’s an expensive place to run so anyone going there would have to exploit it better than the previous occupants. But we know Silvio Ladak is a great salesman but useless prime minister. It’s beyond me how he thought we could do any better there than the previous occupants. Doing a budget for a football club is hardly rocket science.

ET: You can say that again, I know all about rocket science!

Pedro: Anyway, carrying on, a budget for a football club is fairly straightforward. The outgoings are easily calculated: you’ve got the rent, rates, ground maintenance, match day expenses etc and of course wages. You can probably calculate the whole budget to at least 10%. The hard bit is working out your income so you don’t spend beyond your means. However, the most important thing is to be conservative about it!

ET: First time I’ve ever heard you advocating being conservative!

Pedro: That was with a small “c”!

ET: Anyway, your point is?

Pedro: I wouldn’t assume that in the first year we’d have a massive income from anywhere.

So we know the outgoings, we therefore know what income we need as a minimum. And it doesn’t take a genius on a spreadsheet to work out what sort of attendances we’d need. If you then find that they’re higher than you think realistic, you have to go back to the outgoings and see what you can trim, really only the wages! Go round that loop a few times and you can see if it’ll ever work or how much you’ll have to fund it or borrow (but beware the markets can turn as Silvio found out!).

ET: You used an odd word in there, at least in the football world, realistic?

Pedro: Yep! The previous tenants averaged bigger crowds than us. There was no love lost between the two sets of supporters so you wouldn’t expect many of theirs to come over to us. It’s 10 miles away and some of our supporters couldn’t or wouldn’t travel.

ET: I travel several light years for each game. And I can.

Pedro: Nobody can predict the future. Haha, very clever!

Anyway, so before the season’s even kicked off, you can hazard a figure at what our attendances would be and you can even band them by the success we might have: play-offs, mid table or relegation battle.

ET: OK, but so what?

Pedro: It tells you how viable the whole thing is and how successful you have to be. You could also have done the same calculation for Rockingham Road (and with the new rent proposed by the landlord) and compare which was more viable.

ET: And...?

Pedro: It tells you how big a risk you can take on your manager! Nuff said.

ET: And...?

Pedro: It tells you if it’s ever going to be successful. Maybe you’ll realise it’ll never be successful and you need to get out completely!

ET: Are you saying that before we even moved to Non Park it would have been obvious to Silvio that he would have to sell up?

Pedro: I’m glad you said that and I didn’t!

ET: But what about staying at Rockingham Road?

Pedro: Well, despite it being a dump, that option might actually have looked better, at least financially.

ET: So why not stay there?

Pedro: Well I thought hard about that because I couldn’t understand why you’d go for the more expensive option. I thought despite the evidence, surely Silvio isn’t that stupid. At the time, the only thing that made sense to me was that it was Silvio’s intention all along to sell it as quickly as possible. Obviously a long lease at Non Park looks better than a short one at a dilapidated Rockingham Road. But, with the benefit of some hindsight, I think Silvio actually went for a shit or bust tactic: hope that we’d do well, gates would be high and sponsorship money would flow in. Putting Morrell in charge made that as likely as someone riding a bike into the sky!

ET: Funny you should say that, I’ve parked my bike in the tree!

Pedro: So we end up being up for sale when things are bad! I wonder how many takers there’ll be. We’re probably stuck at Non Park with a long lease, although I doubt very much it’s anywhere near as long as promised at Wicksteed Park, huge costs and little prospect of these costs being met. By the way, whatever happened to SIlvio’s promise that he would eventually hand over the club to the fans? Ha!

ET: So what do you think will happen?

Pedro: Let’s be realistic about this. The chances of a sale must be very low although a sale to Cousins or the Hills shouldn’t be dismissed and if that happens, well we have recent history to tell us what’s likely to happen! But if we ignore that possibility (and I only do that because I don’t actually think it’ll be any worse than what’s likely to happen), then the club will continue to haemorrhage cash. Silvio won’t plug the gap for long. With the squad being decimated, performances will continue to be bad and attendances will stagnate. Silvio will declare towards the end of the season that attendances are so poor that desperate measures are needed so the name will change (this will be timed as late as possible in order to stop any AFC Kettering 1872). There’ll be yet another re-launch next summer with a bastard club called Kettering Diamonds, maybe even without Kettering in it, with yet another fag packet business plan. But by then Silvio will have lost the trust of nearly all the fans (with the odd exception of those from Graceland) so few Poppies fans will go, the old Diamonds fans won’t be interested as they’ll have spent a year already doing something different, so this new “venture” will flop more quickly than Mr Floppy being asked “is that all?” on his wedding night!

ET: It’ll be that bad?

Pedro: Actually, I think in some ways that’s the “rosy” scenario. I think probably slightly more likely is that we’ll go into administration in the New Year and be wound up at the end of the season! Both scenarios lead to the end of KTFC after 140 years. And that makes me angry! It’s broadly what I thought would happen when this whole misadventure was proposed although the death of KTFC is happening more quickly than I expected!

ET: You’re angry with Silvio?

Pedro: Of course but in many ways I’m more angry with those fans that have gone along and helped this debacle! From the very start project Non Park has been doomed with the eventual outcome being the extinguishing of one of the oldest names in the world of association football. These fans could and should have been able to do some basic sums and work out the likely outcome. For god’s sake, some of them even had access to the figures! They didn’t only go along with Silvio, some of them highly trusted spoke and wrote to the fans, swaying many of those fans who had their doubts to go along with it as the only way. These people had a huge responsibility and duty; responsibility to today’s fans and a duty to all those people of Kettering who had kept football going through 140 years, including two world wars.

ET: And a galactic super war!

Pedro: Eh?

ET: Don’t worry about it, the good guys won!

Pedro: I think a lot of people forgot or didn’t understand that a football club is rooted deep in its local community, especially one like ours. That’s the main, almost the only, reason people go to watch it. Break those roots and with the first bit of difficulty it’ll die. People don’t have the same commitment to something they don’t associate with.

ET: So do you think it’s all over?

Pedro: I think it has to be almost certain unless by some miracle a new sugar daddy comes along. I’ve been saying we’ll be back playing at Rockingham Road next season. Well, I think there may be a football club playing there but I doubt it’ll be KTFC. As for Non Park, I won’t be as stupid as I have been for three seasons now; I won’t be spending any money other than for the games I go to!

ET: So will you be going on Saturday?

Pedro: Of course I will, I need to squeeze what value I can out of my season ticket! But seriously, I’m a Poppies fan through and through. Cut me in half and you’ll see KTFC all the way through. How can I not watch them and cheer them on, especially when there may not be many more chances to do so?

Pedro: Well thanks for talking to me ET. On your bike then!

ET: Don’t forget to phone home Pedro!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Imraan confesses to being completely free of blame

In an admirable move Imraan has come clean to the Kettering public, over four pages of tonight's ET.  Knowing that further rumour and suggestions were damaging the club, Imraan has bravely come out and admitted that the our precarious situation is completely not his fault.  Or the fault of his partner in "bromance" - Morrell Maison.

The rest of us don't escape so easily.  The players.  The sponsors.  Sutton United.  Rockingham Road.  His friends.  Kettering Council.  The 700 fans we have "lost" this season.  The football club.  Agents.  The PFA.  Contracts.  Other clubs.  Adult supporters.  Under 16 supporters.  Executive box sponsors.  The locals.   Schools.  Investors.  York City.  Fleetwood Town.  Hayes & Yeading.  Demonstration against Maison.  Companies.  The international financial climate.  The fanbase generally.  Winter. 

We're not sure what kind of business plan Imraan had in mind at the commencement of "Project No-hope", but from where he has placed the blame, it appears that in an ideal world......

.....We would all attend games, bringing at least one non-footballing friend with us as well as a couple of under 16 year olds.  Presumably we should all then eat a mound of Chinese food upon arrival, and tuck into burgers and chips from various kiosks during the match itself.  The players should be fitter, more disciplined, cheaper and turn in a perfect performance in front of supporters, local school children, happily surprised former Scummers, and hordes of potential sponsors and investors.

Every game should be won easily against teams who shouldn't try as hard as they might, and, ideally, the FA Cup should also be won.  Supporters should be obedient and more plentiful, and the western world shouldn't be in recession.

Oh, and it should be Summer all year round so that Weddings and Events can always be staged in the Kimberley Suite.  Assuming we have the facility to serve drinks.  And the suite hasn't been mothballed.

Sure, all these things would be good, and greatly help our situation.  Equally helpfully Imraan might not have dragged the club to Nonce Park, not offered stupid money to a bunch of ill-disciplined chubbies just because an agent tells him to, not employed the buffoon Maison, actually banked money the club was owed, and basically not run the club like some sort of f**king amateur hobby on the few times he could be arsed to attend.

Imraan has often come across as a bit of a spivvy, shifty, attention-seeking fantasist, who talked a good game, but at least paid the bills HE has run up.  Now he has chosen not to pay those bills.  What does that leave him looking like?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

No Moneyball

Ok so we’re skint. Now what? Perhaps the answer is coming to a screen near you.

Moneyball is the movie of the book which tells the story of a Major League baseball coach, Billy Beane, who was faced with the problem of how to compete with a small budget. Already starting to sound familiar?

Aided by a computer nerd who had no preconceptions about baseball, Beane found the solution was to study player performance data in order to identify what was really important, rather than what traditional wisdom said was important, and then find the cheapest players who could supply those things.

Quite often these players were slightly overweight, or slow, or generally thought to be too old. BB ignored that if they could still get to first base or slug the ball over the fence often enough.

The results were spectacular, with Beane’s team, the Oakland A’s, twice reaching the end of season playoffs and at one point winning 20 games in a row.

Plus he gets to be played by Brad Pitt in the film, which is not likely to happen to, say, Steve Bruce.

The Beane method used statistics to find the best players for the least money. We, on the other hand, tried the Mr Bean method, using agents to find the worst players for the most money.

So Stimson could do worse than take a leaf out of the Moneyball book. Of course baseball is much more suitable than football for the sort of micro analysis that reveals that Player A has a better strike rate to three decimal places than Player B. Baseball sports coverage is just a sea of numbers. Here we value attributes like “wanting it” or “getting stuck in” which aren’t as easy to quantify.

However, by looking beyond miles on the clock, a few dents on the bodywork or a suspicious banging noise under the bonnet we have found some gems in the past, and out of necessity it’s time to do it again.

Here’s a Moneyball XI of our own.

1) Lee Harper – quick pass the Ralgex, Lee’s back’s gone again. But a top keeper to the very last.

2) Graham Reed – League days behind him but 120% commitment and possessor of a moustache that no one dared criticise.

3) Arthur Mann – was older than most people’s grandad and almost certainly the last Poppies player who saw a Zeppelin, but what a cool customer in the left back slot and rarely exposed by opponents half his age.

4) Ian Roper - man boobs and a fuller waist than the last 5 winners of the World Professional Darts Championship, but bags of experience, guts and know how.

5) Big X – a cheapo graduate of the noted Redditch Utd academy, this dreadlocked siege engine was loved for his rampaging runs that resembled a small giraffe galloping through a shopping centre.

6) Rob Taylor – picked up for nothing, and being a student was paid £1 an hour yet was a midfield star for a couple of years.

7) Dougie Keast – from Shepshed obscurity to a decade in a Poppies shirt, and never let anyone down.

8) Brett Solkhon – limited yes and past his peak certainly, but are we likely to find anyone more up for the challenge?

9) David Hodges - he’s fat, he’s round, he weighs 200 pounds. One of Graham Carr’s left field picks, signed from God knows where, this lumbering specimen netted several times in a short spell, including one at Wycombe where we inconvenienced their title procession by inflicting their only home defeat of the season.

10) Frankie Murphy – the greatest player Desborough ever let go - a scrawny, unathletic character who was a marvel and would be worth about 500K today.

11) Ooh Johnny Graham – plucked from Leicester junior football, he nudged, tapped and bobbled his way to 15 goals a season without ever looking like he quite knew how.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

I coulda been a contender!

At the age of 7 or 8 as we were trooping off a muddy football pitch at Grange school (well, actually it was the playing field behind Avondale school), Mr Baines called out to me to say, "You in the yellow socks, I'll be keeping my beady eye on you!"  These days he would have been in police custody before the day was out after a quick call to Childline, but back then I assume, and hope he was referring to the excellent game of football I'd just played.  And the "yellow socks" were a pair of Leeds United away strip socks of the early 70's vintage with the blue and white stripes at the top.  I have no idea how I ended up with them - I had no footballing allegiance at this time and my father was a died in the wool Man Ure fan, i.e. he never visited Old Trafford.  More than likely they were a hand-me-down from a cousin or uncle.  You know, the sort of thing we did in the past, before kids demanded all the latest designer labels that their friends have, or Facebook told them they must own.

Nothing came of it though.  I never got to play football for the school team.  However, just a couple of years later I was captain of Grange cricket team.  Partly down to talent, even though we had a future County player in our ranks, but mainly because Mr Baines had just joined my father's cricket team and fancied batting above number 11 at some point!  It still didn't get me a game of football, but at least I caught the eye sufficient to be mentioned in despatches.

Moving on several years and I was part of the all conquering "Oakley House" at Kettering Boys' School.  "Oakley House?" you ask?  Well, back in the late 70's the Boys' School still held to the old ways and divided the pupils into four different groupings for sporting events.  Somehow every single boy with any discernible sporting ability seemed to have been put into Oakley House, and we wiped the floor with everyone at cricket, rugby, athletics and football.  The other houses of Deene, Kirby Gryffindor were on the receiving end of fearful beatings at the hands of the dynamic Oakley heroes.  Yours truly played well enough at right back in the footballing team, although, truth be told, as we usually won by double figure scores I wasn't unduly stretched.  In fact, against the impossibly poor Kirby House I'm not entirely sure I kicked the ball all game!

Also during my time at KBS I scored a goal during a games lesson where I picked up the ball on the corner edge of the box and curled it into the top corner of the net.  Yes, you Henry Gotchers, WE had nets,even for mere Games lessons!  The goal wasn't intentional.  Never one to push my own plate up I had meant the effort as a cross, but what the hey, it flew in and I was happy to take the plaudits.

"C'mon you Helmets!"
That was it football wise until my late 30's when I joined in with some mates for a Thursday night kick around down at the KLV.  I spent 99.9% of the time playing in defence, but on one sparkling occasion I joined in an attack where, in one sweeping move, I dummied one man, laid off the ball with a back heel, AND was there at the end to sidefoot the ball home.  Wallop!  Take that!

At this time I was also playing 'keeper for the infamous "Shiney Helmets" in the KLV Sunday 7-a-side league.  With the likes of myself, Justin Lovegrove, Jon Dunham in the team, we were certainly not on the dainty side!  However, I can remember making at least a couple of saves that could have almost been considered world class, even if I say so myself! 

One involved tipping a ball around the post from practically point blank range, whilst another of note was getting finger tips at full stretch to a ball all but in the top corner of the goal.  I may even have punched the air and high fived my teammates after that one!  After I managed to prise myself my broken body off the rock hard floor that is!

So, why I am running through my rather meagre collection of footballing memories?  Well, it struck me that in this Youtube age when players can get a professional contract based upon a slickly put together montage of their best bits of play, backed with an appropriately rocky music track, that I missed a trick!  If only someone had been on hand to film these half dozen moments of football finery I could have caught Imraan's / Morrell's eye, signed a professional contract at the Poppies and, as we speak, been angling for a move to Brackley, or even, God forbid, Corby in order to not dread payday!  Ah well!

It's Not Me, It's You. And You. And You.

According to the UK Young Rich List compiled annually by the Sunday Times, Imraan was worth an estimated £6 million by 2008. Not bad going before hitting your 30th birthday, an age when most people are still trying to scrape together a deposit on a house, or consolidating their various debts into one manageable loan.

By 2010 Imraan’s business was reported to be forecasting annual turnover of £80 million despite the recession. This was around the time he flogged a massive 90% share to that bloke off Dragon’s Den, who usually gives the impression that he’d sooner part with his gonads than sink money into a risky venture.

So we have to assume that Imraan has a very smart business brain, though obviously not nearly as clever as Roman Abramovich, who went from rubber duck salesman to mega billionaire in ways that I’m sure he would have no problem with discussing.

He is certainly, when he chooses to be, a very effective and skilful communicator. Imraan’s public statements are usually extremely well crafted. In the days when he posted on Poppynet as Official KTFC (as opposed to various suspected other nom de plumes), it was impossible not to admire his ability to make everything he did seem perfectly reasonable.

You found yourself nodding your head at the sheer justice of his complaints against the Council, the Pickerings, the Conference board, the Football Association, ITV, the PFA, sundry other football clubs, managers, companies and organisations with which he was in dispute, various disgruntled ex club officials, employees, players & volunteers, certain small nations in central Africa, the organising committee of Crufts, and Felicity Kendal.

In the space of one evening at Wicksteed Park, he managed to persuade a substantial majority of his audience that Kettering Town’s long term interests were best served by moving to a more expensive stadium in a different town, because the commercial opportunities were so much greater, sponsors would be bidding against each other, the club would fulfil its destiny and we’d never be poor or sick or lonely again.

Had he kept talking for half an hour longer, he’d have convinced many of the same people to have MUG tattooed across their foreheads and parade naked through the streets of Irthlingborough.

So it is perhaps fair to make the following assumptions:

1. Because it’s generally accepted that happy staff produce better results, the meteoric rise of DRC Locums was probably not achieved by regular bust ups, barmy appointments, scattergun departures, telling them they’re all crap, and docking their pay without telling them.

2. If the latter isn’t true in the case of KTFC at present, Imraan would be very quick to put the record straight.

3. But even if it is, he was entirely justified and the miserable underachieving buggers should be thankful he doesn't have them whipped.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Imraan - you are a genius!

Why waste good money on groundsmen and all their unnecessary paraphernalia!

Sometimes Imraan is so far ahead of the curve that it makes me dizzy!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Imraan makes us a laughing stock (part 17)

For the third season running it would appear that our owner's skillfully constructed business plan for the season has somehow stalled before we all start Christmas shopping.  What's worse, even his most vociferous supporters kinda sensed this was coming.  Again.

It's clear that the players aren't doing the business, although withholding their wages, and suggesting they piss off, isn't likely to encourage them to perform better.  We've no idea what attendances Imraan was expecting, except to say, probably more than we are getting.  Everything at Non Park is turning to shit.  So, the million dollar question is, who's fault is this amateurish chaos?

Sorry, but step forward Imraan Ladak.

The expression about where the buck stops is decidedly accurate in this case.

  • Who couldn't strike an equitable deal with the admittedly greedy shits of the Pickering clan?
  • Who was it who dragged us down to Non Park, despite this money pit finishing off another club?
  • Who has negotiated a rent with the man who destroyed the previous tenants?
  • Who appointed Morrell?
  • Who agreed all the new signings, and offered them the salaries they are now apparently not worth?
  • Who instinctively believes everything football agents tells him?
  • Who signs players on 2-year contracts based on a 2-minute Youtube show reel?
  • Who insinuated at the Wicksteed carve-up that oodles of outside sponsorship was all but signed-up?

Most Poppies fans have given Imraan a lot of leeway during his tenure.  We were in Conference North, going nowhere when he came along (a bit like Corby, except with fans).  He has bankrolled a few good seasons.  He and his family have invested heavily in the playing staff (generally to the detriment of everything else at the club).  But let's not kid ourselves for one second that they have invested enough to be challenging for promotion.  They haven't gone all "Crawley".

Sad to say, but if we were offered the exact position we were in before Imraan and his less than stellar operation came along, most of us would gladly take it.  Most of us have generally see Imraan as a smart businessman who occasionally gets carried away in his football dealings, but it could be that we've all been wrong.  Perhaps he is a bit of an amateur who has got lucky enough times to carry the day.  Nothing about his running of the Poppies leads one to suspect hidden business acumen.  Just the ability to talk a good talk and the finance to almost back it up.

Unfortunately finance is what it's all about.  Imraan gets the benefit of doubt because he (hopefully) pays the bills.  But let's not forget, he CHOSE to become the Chairman, he CHOSE to shell out to make us full-time on part-time attendances.  He CHOSE Morell F***ing Maison to be his Manager! He CHOSE to drag us down to the banks of the Nene.  No one ever put a gun to his head and demanded he fund our footballing dreams.  He volunteered.

Poppynet is awash with people with axes to grind against Imraan. But you've got to ask yourself why are there so many of them, with seemingly more swelling their ranks daily?  Are they all clashes of personality?  Or is Imraan such a crummy boss that it is impossible to work for him for any length of time?  The opinions of several dozen players, a handful of office staff, and at least a couple of managers would seem to suggest this.  Does any former employee have even a remotely positive thing to say about him?  I've yet to hear it.

Will the club pull out from this latest self-inflicted nosedive?  Will Imraan ever answer his phone?  Is Cousins prepared to let another club go to the wall to keep him in readies?  Will Moses ever write anything on Twitter that doesn't make him look like a whiny 5-year old bully?  Will Non Park ever feel more than a rented, temporary facility?  Will the pitch ever get rolled or cut again?  Will all the players leave?  And, would we notice the difference?

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Cup That Jeers

We’re out of the Cup. Again. This is getting to be an annual event!

I wasn’t at Sutton. It clashed with a long standing trip that I booked and paid for months ago, before the fixtures came out. I now realise this is what’s known as dodging a bullet, because rather than having to witness our exit in person, I was insulated by distance and even the expletive-loaded texts of my reporter on the scene spared me the full horror.

I say horror, but why should we be shocked, or even surprised? There are two certainties in life – taxation, and death. Next comes that near certainty – our FA Cup hopes will meet a disappointing end. It was ever thus. Until 1960 we had never beaten a League side since ‘League’ meant Leicester Fosse, and everyone was hoping for a home draw against Newton Heath. Since then we’ve only had a handful of Cup runs that threatened to put us in the hat with the big boys, some over a decade apart. In between there were an awful lot of early exits (some very early – remember Wisbech in the 1st qualifying round anyone?).

My point is that going out of the Cup in less than glorious style is for us, given our particularly long association with the competition, nearly as old and familiar as the Cup itself. Even in those years when we made it to the main draw, some of our defeats to League opposition were far from heroic. I still shudder to remember the pastings by Swindon and Cheltenham, and the flops against Plymouth and Wrexham in front of the Sky cameras. Others count as missed opportunities, like when we lost at Harry Redknapp’s Bournemouth in a replay after leading 2-0, or the day over 6,000 witnesses at Rockingham Road saw Shoey’s almighty clanger against the Cobblers.

At least in those years we got that far. My memory is stuffed with earlier traumas... Hinckley United, Stafford Rangers, HASTINGS! Even Cooper’s eventually unstoppable promotion team were derailed by Solihull in the qualifiers. All these defeats hurt, in fact during the long years when we were completely off the national FA Cup map, they hurt an awful lot because the Cup was the only way a club at our level ever attracted any wider interest, or even got its result on the radio.
And even in those days there was money to be made from a decent run, and as we were nearly always only a fortnight away from not being able to pay the players or heat the communal bath, that also mattered.

But unless time has healed the wounds I don’t recall there being such an outcry as following our defeat at the weekend, to a side only 7 places below us in the pyramid. Is this just another sign of the times - where once such things were accepted with a resigned shrug, now twitter bile is on line before the players have left the pitch (sometimes not just from Moses) and people rush to their keyboards to outdo each other in dramatic predictions of doom.

If we’d lost to Leatherhead I could understand it more, but when exactly did this motley crop of Poppies acquire the status of form horses or renowned cup fighters? I can’t imagine a team more ripe for a going over by motivated opposition than this lot, who manage to click - albeit modestly - about one game in four and the rest of the time are as disjointed as the pre-season scratch side they mostly remain.

So life must go on. Sutton Utd will have the televised clash that ITV are gagging to give them, and we’ll have many more disappointing days like this in the future.