Sunday, 29 April 2012

Post season friendlies

As the curtain falls on this campaign, with the only cries of “More!” coming from opposing strikers who haven’t had it so easy since they were knocking them in for the under 11s, we can put away our Poppy bobble hats for a few months and rediscover how it feels to pass an enjoyable Saturday afternoon. With no further fixtures until the first pre-season run out in July, it’s time to smell the roses, go fishing or just sit in numb silence in a darkened room. All fun by comparison!

In the old days, seasons didn’t end quite so abruptly. Often there would be a low key testimonial of some description – a Poppies Select taking on Boston or Oxford United, watched by a few hundred charitable souls with nothing better to do on a May evening. Or there would be a cup final, usually of the county variety, but sometimes a tiny bit less local. About 20,000 claim to have been there the night we beat Hendon to lift the General Motors Acceptance Corporation Cup! And as for the gala finale of the Midland Floodlit Cup, even Pep’s Barcelona never put 8 past Redditch!

And for a spell in the late 70s and early 80s, Rockingham Road played host to a succession of top drawer, end of season friendlies of the type you never see nowadays, before the Premiership came along and seasons extended forever. These were genuine prestige occasions, in which every kid of a certain age would converge on Rockingham Road for a rare glimpse of a moustache or perm owned by someone famous. Kicking things off in 1979 was a Roy Clayton testimonial against Big Ron’s West Brom. I still have the programme and the first striking thing is the date – the 24th of May. Ron must have recalled his team from their holidays for this one.

It was the full gun too, as he would say – with Regis, Cunningham and Robson not a bunch of 3rd teamers and one bloke you’d ever heard of. A year later Man City were put to the test, a slightly less cosmopolitan City than the current version, but again names we knew off the telly, including future Poppy and first ever million pound misfit, Steve Daley. City blew £1.4m on Daley and never heard the last of it. By the standards of the average recent Liverpool signing, he was excellent value.

However the game that stands out was in 1981 when KTFC entertained the European Champions. (NB for younger readers, Nottingham Forest. Ask your dad.) They even brought the trophy with them. Around 5,000 were there to see a real treat. Forest were at full strength and I can still remember the buzz of excitement at the pace of Trevor Francis. However our own Nicky Evans scored twice past Peter Shilton and seemed destined for big things - ultimately ending up at Barnet.

After the game we swarmed around the back of the stand, clamouring for autographs. It was a dog eat dog, survival of the fittest thing – which is why I only got Ian Wallace. Two years later Forest returned, without the cup and many of that team. Meanwhile our fortunes had slipped to the extent that many of the crowd probably hadn’t bothered watching us since the previous occasion.

We didn’t know it at the time, but that was the end of the big post season friendly. In many ways a shame, but at the end of this particular season probably for the best, on compassionate grounds.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Why all sports except football are crap. No.2 Rugby


1  They've managed to create 2 versions of the same sport.  And they're both crap.

2  No-one has the faintest idea of what constitutes foul play, nor which way the ref will give a decision after the whistle has blown.

3  All rugby fans are insufferably smug.

4  Rugby is seen as a friendly, safe sporting environment. This may have something to do with the fact that no one really gives a toss who wins just as long as there are lots of homo-erotic clinches and the supporters can drink themselves into a Guiness-fuelled stupor during the game.

5  I once got caught up in a traffic jam near Twickenham.

Now and again scrums have been
known to get out of hand.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

"Corby Cube is Crap" says Corby

The great and good of Corby, including members of the council and their MP are lining up to give the leader of Corby council a good kick -in over the steaming pile of sh*te that is the Corby Cube.  Seemingly the planners dropped b*llocks everywhere, the architects have been blasted for not building to acceptable standard despite the construction costing some 20 million above and beyond the original costing.  The ruling Labour council is being savaged for trying to keep all the cock-ups and incredible overspends under wraps, particularly during recent elections.....

Amazingly the Cube's construction falls some way short of current fire regulations!


Have they forgotten that this is a town twinned with Nero's Rome?  A place stuffed  full of druggie pyromaniacs?  A town where the charming residents have even manage to burn down the boating lake?

What were they thinking?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Squeaky Bum time at Steal Park

It's brown trousers time as Drury expertly oversees Corby's slide from play-off
wanabees to relegation wanabees.  He may have left the tilt at demotion
just a little late this season, but Graham will still do his best to deliver
Southern League football to the town.

His Chairman is slightly less keen on games against Arlesey and Frome rather
than Kettering and Darlington and has publicly announced his determination
to stay up.  "We must stay up!  If only to get our one big gate next season
against Kettering.  Who knows, we may even break through the magic 300 figure!"

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Barrow match in pictures.....

...because frankly we can't be arsed to write that much about it!

"Hand it over, hand it over! sang the turnstile operator.
"With absolute pleasure", I replied!
"I'm glad to be rid of it!"

Off went the smoke bomb, the red mist causing the
scenes of pandemonium you see here.

By the way, if you've ever wanted to know
how Ashley Westwood views the world 90% of the time,
I would imagine it would be much like this!

And after 90 minutes or grinding tedium we thank what
remains of the golden class of 2011-12 for their efforts,
and wish them well for the future.  Those few who
actually have a future in football that is.

We had eventually hung onto a draw against a mediocre
Barrow team, barely going through the motions,
who had lost their last 25 games (more or less)


We all draw a line under the season and rush back to Kettering PDQ. 
Even though the club is contractually obliged to fulfil a
meaningless fixture at Darlington next week, we're all more
than happy to call it a day.

In the middle of the photograph are my usual, losing
Klondike tickets.  Half a lifetime buying tickets - never won it! 
Imagine my delight when the winner is announced as proposed
new owner George Rolls, who has been here all of five minutes!


Desperate to wring some last value out of this season of hell
we descend upon the club shop and hoover up all
the cheap, pointless tat we'd resisted all year long, leaving it
resembling a particularly sorry-looking Soviet era supermarket.

Roll on next season!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Why all sports except football are crap. No.1 Formula One

"It's my sport, GIVE ME MONEY!"

1  Not a sport at all, just glorified adverts going too quick to see, driven by arrogant shites.

2  The entire "sport" is owned by a tiny, weird-looking troll.  How does someone own a sport?

3  Said troll would gleefully allow Hitler's Nazi Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union to host races just as long as they gave him a big pot of money.

4  The troll's missus is patently out of his league and were he poor wouldn't have looked at him once, let alone twice.

5  I got struck in traffic once near Silverstone!

Has this been the worst season in living memory?

Short answer - yes.

Slightly longer answer - yes, of course it f*cking has been!

More considered answer -

Although it feels like we are getting relegated every other season, in real terms we have barely suffered a handful of relegations in my Poppies supporting lifetime.  Precious few promotions either, but that's another blog entirely! 

Back in the early 1980's, just after a unified national non-league top division was set up we were the perennial Forest Green Rovers of our day in so far as always seemed to just avoid relegation.  We managed it by finishing just above the relegation zone, unlike FGR who magically seem to be major beneficiaries of the end of season Conference Cup whenever they fill one of their accustomed bottom four places.

These seasons were grim, but we had Frankie Murphy to offset the gloom and keep us warm during the cold, cold winters.  We owned our ground.  We never actually went down!  After that we achieved numerous top 5 finishes, which these days would have meant a two-leg beating against a former league giant, but back in the 80's and 90's meant bugger all to anyone.  We even sacked managers for finishing near the top of the table! 

Peter Morris's fateful return ended up with him consigning us to the drop for the first time in a generation, but even then, under Shutt we almost pulled off the FGR, Great Escape.  And, as we bounced straight back in breathtaking fashion the following season, it seems almost like we were never actually relegated!

The 2002-3 relegation was a much grimmer affair.  A season of sustained struggle, total capitulation and highly paid players barely performing.  Sounds familiar?  This horror show was then magnified by our slipping into the repellent sludge that is the Ryman League and spending a year flailing around like a dying mammoth trapped in a tar pit, whilst pygmy teams we'd never heard of jabbed us unmercifully with their spears.  Thankfully we somehow managed to finish sufficiently close to halfway up the league to be "promoted" into the newly formed Conference North division. 

From there, boosted by Imraan's big bucks, savvy business acumen and excellent organisational skills (note - two of these may be lies) we eventually managed to beat down all the little part-time teams with our squad of highly paid ex, and future Football League stars, and get back into the big time of Conference National.  And that should be the end of the story, with us back where we belong.

If only.

Although previous relegations hurt and at the time seemed like the end of the world, none of them compare to what we are going through presently.  After a season of unremitting shite, served up by supposedly quality players, where our club has been run like a hideously bad joke, we are going down to the Conference North.  At best. Where at least 2/3 of the teams are waiting to beat the crap out of us for what we did to them the last time we were there, and the denizens of Corby are already whipping themselves up into an angry, bestial sexual frenzy at the thought of finally being back in the same division as us.  We will be playing miles away from home at Non Park.  We are still hideously in debt.  Imraan still hasn't quite got around to leaving.  The man looking to replace him has a certain...reputation.  We have no Manager yet in place, and almost certainly no players.

It really is difficult to see how it could be worse!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Short History Of Goal Line Controversy

With debate again raging over whether the time has come to introduce goal line technology, Patgod looks back over the knotty history of this potatoey hot thorn.

The first recorded goal line incident was in the annual Ashbourne Shrove Tuesday game in 1628. After 9 hours of mass brawling and associated bodily harm, the ‘Up’ team managed to move the ball to within inches of the ‘Down’ goal. One final push saw a goal claimed but the linesman was unsighted by several hundred people being in the way, and the goal wasn’t given. As a consequence the Up team beat the poor linesman to death and forfeited the match.

Arbroath’s 19th century defeat of Bon Accord in the Scottish Cup is remembered for the record 36-0 scoreline, but a lesser known fact is the post match claim by the Bon Accord boss, Finlay Dalglish, that the game turned on his side being denied a perfectly valid goal. How the officials didn’t see it is beyond me, he said, adding that at 1-23 they would have been right back in the game. He called for the introduction of the new marvel of photography to settle such issues once and for all. However, as this would have required everyone to stand absolutely motionless for 5 minutes waiting for the flash each time the ball threatened to cross the line, there were fears that it would slow down the game.

Bon Accord go so close

Apart from a notorious incident at Christmas 1914 (the ‘did it cross the Siegfried line’ controversy) the issue receded for the next few decades. This was partly because the heavy rain soaked leather ball travelled so slowly across the glutinously muddy playing surface, disputes were rare. And partly because the football phone in had yet to be invented.

However then came the World Cup Final of 1966 and the daddy incident of them all, as Geoff Hurst’s shot hit the bar and... and...? Everything rested on the view of the Russian linesman. On the one hand, it did happen very fast and he couldn’t be entirely sure. But then he remembered Stalingrad.

Quit complaining Fritz – it was clearly in

Such incidents continued to be regarded as part and parcel of the game until round about 2005, when all Premiership managers became contractually obliged to review every non-win through the filter of refereeing errors that cost them the game. Then Germany got their own back when a Uruguayan linesman (probably the descendant of an escaped Nazi – we’ll check it out) failed to spot Lampard’s would be equaliser.

Ever since not a month has gone by without a similar incident rocking the world of football to its foundations, meaning that either match officials are collectively inept, or the world of football is quite wobbly. Stand by for robo-ball, with an embedded chip that pings a signal to the ref if it crosses the line. No uncertainty. No ‘we wuz robbed’. How boring.

Police getting half-a-bar at thought of big local derby

Roll on the Summer!
With only a few days of this miserable season left to endure we are all looking forward to doing something more meaningful, and perhaps enjoyable with our Saturdays for a while.  Such as standing in a bowl of cold sick and jabbing 6" nails into the flesh of our upper thighs.

Our local constabulary will be spending the next week or so feverishly praying that Corby Town do not manage to f*ck up and get themselves relegated.  Already they are drawing up plans for the policing of the first league derby between the Poppies and the Plastic Jocks since Gene Hunt was a constable.  The same organisation that managed to blow-up a birthday drink between a handful of Alfreton fans before a game against Kettering into a faithful reenactment of the D-Day landings are creaming their pants in anticipation of visits from the steal men.

One officer, who did not want to be named (PC Ellis No.7498), has told us, "We're all like kids on Christmas Eve back at the station".  He added, "Usually, based on the  money we make out of Kettering we all look to get extensions built, or take the missus on a world cruise at the very least.  By my reckoning, policing Poppies v Corby next season will just about get me a new house!"

He then added, "And if we can pretend that it's likely to kick off between Poppies v Brackley, I reckon I'll be in a position to retire in a couple of years!"

Monday, 16 April 2012

Home Sweet Home

The missus and I attended the first half of the Ryan Kirk Memorial Match on Saturday and it was good to see so many people turning up to pay their respects to Ryan, and, as it became apparent, to Rockingham Road too.  From the moment we entered the ground dozens of thoughts and feelings jostled with one another to be experienced first.  The thought that surfaced first was wondering how a family can come to terms with the loss of someone with literally their entire life ahead of them?  Thankfully it's not something I've experienced.  One can only admire and feel humbled by the way Ryan's family have appeared to bear their loss.

The other thoughts were the ones shared by everyone else who wished we'd never left Rockingham Road.  Sure the place seemed even more ramshackle than it did for the pre-season friendly against Southampton.  The terraces looked dishevelled and sad.  The stand looked to be festering.  The bar was dark and uninviting.  In almost every measurable way Non Park is a superior sporting arena.

Except it's not OUR ground, and for anyone of my generation, or even a generation either side of mine I suspect, it never will be.  Non Park is a ground with too much baggage, too many rooms, too costly to upkeep, too sterile, and too far away from Kettering.  The effort needed to generate the income to maintain Non Park makes you wonder what is the point of being there.  If 80% of what the club needs to drag in simply pays for the stadium, you have to ask is this better than earning a lot less and keeping the Poppies where they belong?

Whilst Rockinhgam Road exists, somewhere in the back of my mind I still can't shake off the belief we'll be back there one day, and look back on "Project Non Park" as some kind of temporary nightmare.  £164,000 rent PLUS running costs often (probably inaccurately) quoted at £1,000 per day for Non Park, against probably £70,000 per annum plus a brolly for standing on Cowper Street for Rockingham Road.

Three terraces.  A main stand.  Floodlights.  Changing rooms.  Public bar.  Rocky Road has all these.  At our level, what more do we need?

Rocky Road, still fit for purpose? 
With thanks to for the photograph

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Soup, Steam and Stuffing

In the classic zombie flick Dawn of the Dead, the walking stiffs converge on a shopping mall. Inside one character says, “What are they doing? Why do they come here?” Another responds, “Some kind of instinct. Memory of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives.”

And in a similar spirit 53 Poppies shuffled up to Aggborough to watch our penultimate away match. We couldn’t quite remember why we were there, some buried memory of happier times? Perhaps it was the soup.

Anyone looking at the result would conclude this was a regulation hammering to add to our collection this season. However for half the game this latest contender for worst Poppies XI in recent memory actually put on a pretty decent show, watched in silence by the home crowd and probably earning the Kiddy team the mother of all half time bollockings.

Clearly intent on not wasting any decisions on a doomed side, the ref awarded Kiddy the softest of penalties to cancel out Ben Ford’s opening strike. Less obvious dives generally earned JP a booking. No one expected us to hang on to our lead, but to snatch it away so clumsily seemed a little rude. After the break normal service was resumed as the scoreboard rattled up, at times too fast for texts to be sent before another flew in.

And so a game which was evenly balanced until halfway ended up with one of our worst ever scorelines at this level. The Kiddy fans clapped and sang along on cue like kids at a bloody Gang Show, and gave each substituted player an ovation like he’d won the World Cup, rather than belatedly bullying a team containing Max York.

In the away end, no one walked out early or got steamed up. If you wanted steam, there was the occasional puff from beyond the new stand – and none other than Thomas the Tank Engine chuffed by as we wandered back to the car. Though after the last 45 minutes of football we had experienced, it would have been appreciated if he didn’t look so sodding happy.

All right there's no need to gloat

Friday, 13 April 2012

When is a rumour not a rumour?

...when no-one talks about it on Poppynet!

We all love a good, unsubstantiated rumour don't we?  One of my favourites was the one about Peter Beardsley coming here because someone thought they saw him at the train station AND our Chairman Peter Mallinger was formerly on the board of Newcastle.  Two and two made four, surely?

However, for the third time in reasonably rapid succession I've heard the name of Max Griggs mentioned in the same sentence as the Poppies.  The first instance was in the delightful environment of the toilets at Telford when a couple of old stagers were discussing this rumour.  I ear wigged the conversation partly because I love a bit of tittle-tattle, but mainly because they held the conversation across me at the urinal! 

Subsequent to our tax arrears being paid off I was collared at work by a guy from Finedon who said that it was common knowledge in that bustling metropolis that Griggs was behind the clearing of the bill.

And then, a week ago my Father, who is less interested in the Poppies than Ray and Jay combined, told me he'd also heard that Griggs was involved behind the scenes at Non Park once again.  My old man used to work at Whitworths in Irthlingborough, so he may know a thing or two!

I've no idea if anyone else has heard this rumour.  I'd have thought if it was a well circulated whisper that there might be a 100+ post thread on the supporter forum by now with the usual suspects rubbishing it, or applauding it, or demanding Ladak's nuts on a stick.

I only mention it now after hearing on Radio Northampton this morning that Doc Martens are making money hand over fist again.  Are they looking to waste another wedge on whoever happens to be in their old ground?  Is Max getting itchy for glory again?  Is George Rolls more persuasive than we thought?  Am I pissing in the wind?

Does anyone know?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Well, at least it boosts the coffers.

Presumably before the next match the club will be making the next raffle draw, to see which supporter gets to play in the last few games of potentially our last ever BSP season.

Max York - fair to say has
enjoyed his stint in the team
more than we have.
The previous winner of this novel raffle, Max (Power) York, where someone with no discernible footballing ability is snatched away from the terraces to get a closer look at the action, has enjoyed a good run, and will have lots of stories to tell about the behind the scenes goings on at Non Park, as well as vivid memories of almost kicking the ball at one point.

If you want to buy a ticket for the next prize draw there is still time to contact George at his usual email address.  Please ensure that you specify whether you are looking to play for or manage the team, as the names go into different hats for choosing.

Big job for Rolls

I certainly don't envy George's summer.  Trying to get Non Park to make money rather than swallow it.  Appointing the perfect manager.  Trying to tempt more than a dozen people to renew season tickets.  Trying to coax more than a few hundred people to continue to travel to Non Park next season, and meeting their unrealistic expectations of challenging for promotion.  Getting insurance in place given that Corby Town will be visiting (unless they helpfully stumble to relegation). 

While the rest of us spend the summer sorting our our ever growing collection clothing, what with a plethora of Trust T-shirts, retro Poppies shirts as well as former player kits, George will need to re-energise a football club from top to bottom, because there are very few supporters looking to the future with any enthusiasm.

George Rolls.  All smiles now, but let's see if we still get to
 see those pearly whites in a few months time

Postpone the Class War!

There I was, just about to wade into the ridiculous annual, smug, bore-fest known as the Boat Race, and bugger me,if it doesn't suddenly becomes interesting!  Fingers poised over the keyboard, ready to list all the usual leftie rubbish about the Boat Race, such as seeing all those smirking Pims-swigging Henrys, with their wearing-it-for-a-bet blazers and improbably large adams apples.  The exotic crews with names like Pilchard Jerusalem, Flickers Knobjockey and Raffles Frankenstein III.  Wondering how the same two teams had made it to the final yet again?

The Boat Race.  Invariably as interesting as this,
and then, suddenly......
Worse still, there was the hours and hours of build-up to the "event".  Claire Balding seemingly interviewing anyone and everyone on the towpath.  James May and Oz Clarke drinking their way up and down the entire length of the Thames.  There were also the lengthy flashbacks to previous encounters of note. 

It seemed the BBC couldn't pad the programme out enough.  I'm sure it wasn't always the case.  I seem to recall many years ago, when the Beeb could still show real sports, the Boat Race got the coverage it deserved.  In my mind's eye I can see Dickie Davies interrupting the post race interview with Lester Piggot from Chepstow, to inform the viewers that the Boat Race was already underway and we were going to pick it up at the halfway mark.  If any commentator was given the race to cover, he was never entirely sure which team was which, and certainly didn't hang around to interview any of the wheezing participants afterwards.  No, it was straight back to BBC Centre and coverage of the Darts.

This year it was different.  Whilst we all meekly drifted over to Non Park to watch our heroes casually succumb to relegation, the Boat Race suddenly become fun for the first time in 762 years.  What with a one-aussie mid-Thames protest causing a hold-up, then a mid race clash of oars, which looked like developing into a full scale cutlass-waving broadside, through to a collapsed competitior being hauled out of the boat at the end, the race was at least dramatic. 

Whilst our players were sleepwalking towards derby games with Brackley, our brainiac leaders of tomorrow were probably slugging it out in winebars the length and breadth of the Kings Road.  A much better spectacle, I'm sure you'd agree?

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Westwood gets personal as Poppies fade away

All credit to the diehards who will be there to the bitter end against Barrow, but I cannot face the sight of Nene Park any more this season and think therefore that page 23 in my season ticket book will remain as intact as all the special vouchers for big cup games at the back. Love the optimism of going to the trouble of printing those – almost as good as the days when in our programme, the date of the FA Trophy final was faithfully recorded. Just so we could take care to keep the date clear.

So farewell Blue Square Premier – it’s been fun. Or at least it was for most of the first season and the first part of the second. Looking back, it stopped being fun pretty much the day Cooper signed off with a win at Cambridge Utd. Tomorrow’s trip promises to be a slightly less jubilant occasion. Not that things would necessarily have turned out much different if Cooper had stayed. Leeds would probably still have overwhelmed us in the replay, so no potential jackpot tie at Old Trafford. The lease would continue to have run down with Ladak still at odds with the world in general. Diamonds would still have folded. And we’d still be at Nene Park now. Cooper wouldn’t have lasted that long – no one could with Ladak, for one reason or another – and with Ladak at the helm we’d still be in the shit.

The one appointment since he got pretty much right was Marcus Law and maybe if he’d been retained, with the budget that Maison wasted, we’d be sitting at least in mid table now. For all the ex League clubs crammed into this division, there really isn’t a lot of quality around. Luton and York took us to the cleaners twice but everyone else has just looked slightly better than ordinary. Or maybe they knew they didn’t have to play to their potential to beat us, and did just enough whilst keeping something in reserve? That was certainly how Alfreton seemed to be playing it. Yes Alfreton, treating us like Djokovic easing past the world no 98 in the first round.

Still, it could be worse. Yesterday it took Mansfield all of 13 minutes to open the scoring, which represented about our third best start to a home game all season. And in the first half their keeper was certainly the busier. He untangled a knot in the corner of the net, attended to some nasal grooming, solved a Sudoku and filed his tax return – so all in all a very busy spell for the Stags custodian. Plus nearly 900 of their fans parted with good money to watch this spectacle, which will help meet the NP running costs for at least another week.

Now that we’re down, could Westwood finally abandon his ‘spin the wheel’ approach to selection and give some of the under 18s a few games. Is there really any point in seeing more of the hapless York, who couldn’t look more at sea if he was adrift in a slowly deflating dinghy, or Van Engel – a poor Dutch version of Danny Mills, who is now a poor English version of himself. Westwood too can sit things out, having added to his individual red card collection having been sent off for what he described as “personal reasons”. What, like having a secret rubber fetish? The mind boggles.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Who's next for the Poppies hotseat?

As both players and supporters see out the last few games in an obvious state of disinterest, with only the carrot of keeping Bath City below us to spur anyone on, the club are sifting through CV's of men desperate to be the Gaffer for at least a couple of months. 

Quite why anyone looking to make a career in football would waste the escalating cost of a stamp on applying for the Poppies job is anyone's guess.  You certainly wouldn't leave a job to come here.  You might take a couple of months off from your day job to take over the Poppies, secure in the knowledge that you still had a real job to go back to. 

The names of a few of the quality applicants have leaked onto the interweb.  There's the usual suspects, such as Julian Dicks and Eddie McGoldrick.  Poor old John Beck has applied for the job for what seems like the tenth time - leave it John, have some pride for heaven's sake!

A couple of more wins, and Westwood might have been a shoe-in, but recent performances, excepting the viral advert for Betfair, haven't impressed.

There's talk, as ever of Cooper returning, although his abandoning of us this season has left a bad taste in the mouths of many supporters.  His reason for "stepping back?"  Imraan had promised something that he didn't deliver!  Wow!  Never saw that happening!  Who'd have thought it?  Poor old Coops.  How was someone who only worked for Ladak for three and a half years supposed to guess that he couldn't trust the guy!

The smart money is on Rolls appointing someone he has worked with for, so don't be shocked to see a manager with either Weymouth of Cambridge on their CV featuring on the back page of the ET, holding an upside down KTFC scarf above his grinning head.

As ever, time and the usual Non Park leaks will tell.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Come On Catering

Antonio our chef has prepared the following menu for the next home game:

Aman pea soup

Dover Sol (served with a noubissie of rice)

Strawberry Ifil

Wine: Vin de Maison (nutty, with hints of waffle and fruitcake)

Plus – take advantage of our April Early Bird offer to pre-book for next season:

Thin pickings


Ship’s biscuits

Wine: Chateau de Biohazard (not to be ingested internally, but clears drains fast)

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Stockport - then and now

As the Poppies did their best to help Stockport County avoid a third consecutive relegation by gifting them 6-points this season, I thought I'd take a quick look at the two teams we put out against them.  The first game against County was played many months ago after the euphoria of our last gasp win in the opening fixture against Newport, whilst yesterday's game had all the hallmarks of an end of season fixture obligation, where we weren't even playing for pride, contracts, or fun.  Let alone points.

So, how did the Poppies of August 2011 compare to the Poppies of March 2012?  Well, let's start with the off field team.

August 2011 saw the winning partnership of Ladak and Maison, who could effectively sell sand to the Arabs, snow to Eskimos, or even Non Park to Kettering fans.  Unfortunately, once you got past their oily sales patter, neither of them could run a bath let alone a football club.

Now our leadership is in the hands of Rolls and Westwood.  George is intent on getting the "Venue" to generate income to sustain the club (good luck with that, because everyone is looking for a few dowdy rooms, with no heating located just outside the middle of nowhere!)  As for Westwood, he turned up at the ground one day and was put in charge because he's a nutter with scary eyes.

What about the teams?

We had Laurie Walker in goal for the first game.  Laurie seems a game lad, and may actually become a good keeper when he learns to use his large frame to dominate his area rather than look shell-shocked all of the time (hardly surprising given the season we've just had).  For the return game we welcomed back Kelvin Jack.  Not sure what he's been up to since he was last here, other than have the local pizza parlour on speed dial, but pulling a muscle with his first kick of the day summed up his contribution.

Our back four for the first game was a couple of Ifils, Taft and Davis.  George Taft reacted so badly to being booed for taking long throws that he opted to go on loan, and commute to Karlstad BK in Sweden rather than travel the 25 miles to turn out for us.  Unfortunately for George we were used to the enormously successful throws of Exodus, with his one half assist from 487 throw-ins.  Phil Ifil was still struggling with the summer weight that Maison's easygoing pre-season of ice cream and fairy cakes had mysteriously caused.  Brother Jerel looked a class act, and yet we always seems to concede bucketfuls of goals during the few games he isn't suspended.  Davis was busy eyeing up the ranks of defenders on our bench such as Sangare, Koo-Boothe, Navarro and even Kelly, who won the previous season's player of the year from left-back, and wondering if he'd get many more games.

Yesterday's back four featured Manager Westwood, who started the season attempting to guide the Cobblers into Non-League.  Alongside him was Jerel Ifil, still watching goals fly past him as he sees out the season.  A baffled Sangare, flitting between a mystery midfield role and filling in along the back four, wondered why the hell he left York City.  Oh yes, now he remembers - the stack of cash promised by Ladak and Maison.  D'oh!  Making up the foursome was Davis, still looking to the bench, only now he's hoping there is someone who could come on and give him a break.

Our midfield at Stockport was the potentially title chasing Kelly, Challinor, Verma and Marna.  Within weeks Challinor had disappeared into the black hole of York City's reserves.  Marna had taken his lazy wandering and cracking right hook to join the thirty other ex-Poppies at Tamworth.  Kelly and Verma both briefly escaped to Mansfield, only to be dragged back to Non Park in their Stags training tops, grasping their MTFC towels, screaming like kids being taken off a beach.

The midfield for the return game was the slightly less stellar grouping of Ralph, Kelly, Noubissie, and Van Engel.  Kelly is still holding on to his rather threadbare Mansfield training top.  Noubissie, the current "Mr Kettering", still hankers for little square passes to Andre.  Ralph is playing through the loan spell from Posh to the Poppies that all their reserve and youth players are contractually required to undertake.  If nothing else, Van Engel offers overwhelming proof that not all Dutch players are world beaters.  Or in this case, even Stockport beaters.  It also suggests that Dutch Non League football is probably as poor a standard of football anywhere where both teams own their own kits.

Our front two at Stockport were the mercurial Ashikodi and semi-crippled McKenzie.  One of them is  now lost to decent society in a Victorian built hell-hole full of criminals, thugs and other low-life characters, keeping his nose clean and serving his time, whilst McKenzie has been sent to prison.

Our attack yesterday was Wyke, wondering who the hell he had pissed off at Middlesbrough to be farmed out to us, and Gray, who appeared from nowhere, and, if lucky will be allowed to escape back there once we've finished grinding him down.

Ah well, if we can't get excited about potential trips to Vauxhall Motors and Solihull Moors, at least Stockport supporters may not have to dig out directions to yet another division next year.  Unless, of course they bugger up the rest of their season, in which case, they'll be trying to work up the enthusiasm for derbies against Droylsden, Altrincham and Stalybridge, whilst wondering what tin-pot league they'll get relegated into the following season.