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.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Who will rid me of this turbulent Alan Green?

Alan Green.  Loves Spain.  Hates England.

As if the drive back from Sutton wasn't grim enough we had to sit through Alan Green's commentary of England against Spain. Alan, we all KNOW that the Spanish players are more technically skilled than ours, and we KNOW that their team is better than ours.  But does it help anyone to hear you bleating about this for EVERY SECOND OF THE GAME?  Listening to him whine on and on you were left wondering why any England team should be allowed on the same pitch as these Spanish demi-gods, except for asking for autographs.

He was ably supported by the equally grim Danny Mills, who spent half the time slagging off everything to do with English football, whilst touching himself up every time Iniesta as much as called for the ball.  This was Danny Mills, the former Leeds, Charlton, Man City, and amazingly, England fullback, not the happy-go-lucky long-limbed forward who played at Rocky Road last season.  Mills criticised everything to do with the English game from schools through to the national team.  Apparently we do EVERYTHING wrong in this country.  Curiously though, he didn't detail exactly how he tried to change this state of affairs whilst he was a top level player.  He didn't tell us about how he took extra training to practice his first touch, or used only his weaker foot in private sessions, or did extra fitness work.  I'll wager he knocked off at the end of a couple hours jogging in the morning and spent the rest of the day drinking, playing snooker, banging WAGS or getting tattooed, just like the players do now.

Danny Mills - not a big fan of Robbie Savage,
but would happily bend over for any member
of the current Spanish squad.

We all know that English football could be improved.  Overall it would be better if all the money generated by the game wasn't pumped straight into the bank accounts of surly foreign multi-millionaires, and English players could actually control a ball.  But I think Messrs Green and Mills overplayed their hand s omewhat.  Particularly when they broke off from their unstinting praise of all things Spanish to mention that despite 97% possession they hadn't actually managed a shot in the first half!  Oily little tykes fiddling and farting in midfield is all well and good, but in this country we also like to see the odd shot on goal (this goes doubly at Kettering!)

I don't think I've ever heard commentators get so peevish at an England goal as these guys did when Lampard scored what proved to be the winner.  The upshot of their sniping was that they thought we supporters would be happier losing but having lots and lots of lovely possession, than winning.  Proving once and for all that these guys really have no idea of what it is like to be a football supporter.

Still, it took my mind of the Poppies for a while, so at least the commentary served an inadvertently helpful purpose.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

One season, one plughole.

If we were to be honest, the team's
body language should have given us a clue
as to how things were likely to go
Forget for the moment our inability to beat a moderate lower league team today, or even really threaten to beat them.  If you can.  We were never going to win the FA Cup, and we're still a fair few goals ahead of Aston Villa in the all-time FA Cup scoring stakes.

The biggest fall out from today's capitulation at Sutton is that Imraan's mid season budget cut will hit us earlier, and harder than usual.  However, unlike the last few seasons when Imraan pulled the plug, there are more issues now.  For one we are only just above the relegation zone.  There isn't room for many more bad days at the office.  The season is ticking away and we aren't showing any signs of making inroads towards mid-table.

If Imraan manages to prise any of our thunderously under-performing "stars" out of their comfy contracts, will he look to fund Stimson's preferred replacements?  Probably not if Non Park costs as much to run as we all fear.  What then?  A conveyor belt of disinterested loanees?  Our oft-mooted youth players?  Should we all take our boots with us?

And where is Imraan?  Do we believe that he and Morrell, as well as his humourless attack-dog Lee Thorne are really all beavering away behind the scenes on "Project Non Park?"  More likely that Imraan is up to his neck in a new venture (don't want to use the word "hobby")  Morrell's probably selling dodgy time shares somewhere, and Thorne is no doubt grumbling down the phone to one of our dwindling group of sponsors. 

Now watch as Sutton get a plum draw in the next round just to top things off.....

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Poppies Banned!

....from England shirts for this Saturday's humbling at the hands of Spain.  FIFA have announced that the referee will be instructed to not begin the game should the England team take to the field with a Remembrance Poppy motif on their shirts. 

The Toblerone Tomfoolery of 1498. 
Ample proof of the pointlessness
of Switzerland
Sepp Blatter has personally announced, "Being from a country that has not known conflicts since the great Toblerone Tomfoolery of 1498, and the Cuckoo Clock Kerfuffle of 1522, I can't see what all the fuss is about."

"Are World Wars necessarily a bad thing?  Provided you manage to hide your cowardly arse when the fighting is happening of course.  The Swiss economy is built upon uncollected Nazi gold!  However, I'm sure we would look more favourably upon their request if the English FA could find their way clear to financing a couple of my personal "projects" for the betterment of some losers somewhere", he added.

We have yet to hear whether Kettering Town will also be in potential trouble for wearing poppy emblems on their shirts ahead of their trip to Sutton this coming Saturday.  News will be reported as we get it.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Olympic Committee taken to task by Corby

The news that the Olympic Torch is due to visit several sites in the County has been greeted with joy by most inhabitants, but met with dismay by the Corby Olympic Deliverance Sub Committee, headed by Jock Caber-McJock.

"We're no happy that the torch is stopping anywhere in Northants other than Corby.  If it only came here, we could have it for longer."

Jock added, "We've got a big swimming pool, a year old, big square building that only needs a wee bit of renovation, a handful of shops and half a new football ground being opened by one of the top 50 teams in the country - Rangers.  Why would they want to take the torch anywhere else?"

"In fact, we're a bit miffed that the entire Olympics isn't being staged in Corby!  We're not used to being denied anything!  I mean, what does London have that we don't?
London City?  We're appealing for City status!
Olympic Stadium?  Rockingham Triangle!
Wembley Stadium?  Steal Park!
Velodrome?  Danesholme Cycle Lane!
Wembley Arena?  Rangers Supporters Club!
Sailing Venue?  Corby Boating Lake!
Canoe Centre?  River Welland!
Accommodation for thousands of competitors and visitors? The new Premier Inn in Oakley!
Shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks?  A night out on the Exeter Estate!

Scotland's most attractive woman has
backed the Corby Olympic bid!

"There's still time to change the location before next summer!  C'mon, we can do it if we all get behind the Corby bid!" added Mr Caber-McJock as the men with white coats inched forward.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Q - When is a stone wall red card only a yellow card?

A- When the foul is committed by a player who doesn't play for Kettering.

"Take that you Poppies!"

Being Kettering fans we know a thing or two about red card offences.

Whilst we impatiently wait for our 10th red card this season, we all assumed we'd be able to enjoy seeing an opposition one for a change when one of our boys was chopped down by one of Southport's short-tempered thugs yesterday.  As red cards go, it was one of the easier decisions for the reserve ref.

Lashing out and kicking a player into the air, off the ball is generally acknowledged as a stone wall red card - just ask Wayne Rooney.  My assumption when seeing the yellow card brandished was that the newly appointed ref had simply not pocketed the red card before taking over - no other possible suggestion came to mind!

In fact a quick look at the legal definition of Common Assault would suggest that even a red card might not have been sufficient-

Common Assault, contrary to section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988

9) An offence of common assault is committed when a person either assaults another person or commits a battery:

An assault is committed when a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to apprehend the immediate infliction of unlawful force. (Archbold 19-166 and 19-172)
A battery is committed when a person intentionally and recklessly applies unlawful force to another. (Archbold 19-166a and 19-174 to 19-175)
It won't get us a point for yesterday's efforts but at least it would be amusing to see their animal banged up for a few months!

Friday, 4 November 2011

True Heroes

We hope the club do not make the mistake of last year and forget Remembrance Sunday.  There surely can be no dispute about honouring men and women who have given their lives to give us liberty, and protect our country from real threats of occupation. 

Whatever one thinks of our country's military actions abroad in the past decade where wars seem to be fought solely to ensure Uncle Sam can keep putting his foot on the gas pedal, a few moments silence to remember those who have fallen for us cannot be too much to ask.

Just this week the story of the WWII Operation Frankton (dramatised in 1955 as The Cockleshell Heroes) featured on television.  What was not commonly known until this programme aired (at least to me) was that  one of the men - Marine Bill Mills, hailed from Kettering. 

Along with most of his comrades he perished during the operation, in his case by firing squad after capture.  Bill and his colleagues performed the kind of heroics we can barely imagine in our modern age, when not being able to use your Blackberry for a couple of days constitutes a crisis, and sportsmen being paid a million quid a month are considered to be heroes.

It was desperately saddening to hear this story on Radio Northampton followed by news that a brave individual had climbed into the aviary at Wicksteed Park and mutilated a couple of parrots.  The sick bastard.  Are we so lacking in decency, and devoid of purpose that our society has fallen so far from the levels set by the example of Bill's generation?  What a world!