Thursday, 31 May 2012

Hello, hello, hello.....

Phone hacking may not be flavour of the month presently, but without such technology we might never have been able to secure the following exchange between Northamptonshire's Chief Constable and his Assistant Chief Constable -

CC:  "This is devastating news about Kettering Town being demoted another division!"

ACC:  "Quite right sir.  It deprives the football supporting Northamptonshire public of local derbies involving three of our senior sides."

CC: "B*llocks to that!  We were going to make a killing by policing each of those games to within an inch of their miserable lives!

ACC: "Er...right.

CC: "For the Kettering / Corby games we had riot vans, horses, tazers, and horses with tazers lined up.  I had the county helicopter on stand by.  I'd even put in a request for water cannons!  I was going to be the first Chief Constable on the mainland to approve the deployment of rubber bullets!

We could have charged those bloody football clubs tens of thousands of pounds!  But, no, Kettering had to get themselves f*cking relegated into the Southern League!  THE SOUTHERN LEAGUE!!!  We'll be lucky to be able to charge for a police dog and a bloody PCSO for Kettering's games angainst teams like Bideford and St Neots!

ACC: "Surely we don't exist to extort money out of football clubs?  As a Police Service shouldn't we concentrate on protecting the public and solving crimes?

CC: (Big pause) "You've not been here long have you?

ACC (Another big pause)  "No, not tremendously long.  I transferred here last year from another force"

CC: "Didn't think so.  Let me spell a few home truths out to you.  Northamptonshire isn't a particularly difficult county to police.  There's no air or sea ports.  No inner city crime.  No history of wanton violence or civil unrest.  The last terrorist action we were involved in was the Gunpowder Plot!  If it wasn't for Corby at throwing out time and a few pikey's nicking lead of church roofs, we'd all be on the dole! 

ACC: "Yes, but -"

CC: "But nothing.  I'm talking and you're listening.  Alright?  Good.  As we are a pretty nothing county with bugger all going on we don't get the biggest slice of the national police budget cake.  In fact we don't get a slice at all.  We get a few crumbs if we're lucky.  Barely enough to keep us all in espresso machines and crisp blue uniforms.

One day there was a bit of an incident in Kettering town centre whilst they the football team were playing a game over a mile away.  Now, the thugs involved weren't going to the game, or supported either team at the game, but we hit upon the idea of blaming Kettering Town Football Club for the incident and charging them a fortune every time they hosted a game when there might be public order issues.

Since then we've been in clover!  Big FA Cup games!  Local derbies!  Alfreton!  We milked this cash cow for all it was worth and there wasn't a single thing they could do to stop us!  In the time it took to say Police Intelligence we could name our own price!"

ACC:  "Kettering don't average many more than a thousand supporters for home games.  Just how much trouble can there be?"

CC:  "NONE!  That's the beauty of it!  We rake in the cash and there's no threat whatsoever!"

ACC:  "I see.  But should we be seen to be picking on one club.  I mean, I'm sure we police all the sporting teams equally?  How much do we charge The Saints and their tens of thousands of hard-drinking supporters?

CC:  "WHAT!  We don't charge The Saints!  I've got a season ticket there!  My nephew plays for the Under 13's.  Police the Saints?  I've never heard such an idea!  They are the only reason to live in this bloody county!"

ACC  "So we just clobber the Poppies then?

CC: "Absolutely - you're starting to get it!"

ACC:  "Actually, they are due to play AP Leamington next season, who, according to Wikipedia, they used to play against in the 1970's.  There could be some old scores to settle?  It could lead to trouble?

CC:  "Excellent.  You'll go far with that attitude.  I won't cancel that water cannon just yet........"

Saturday, 26 May 2012

(I don't want to go to) Arlesey

“It’s not the despair. I can take the despair, it’s the hope I can’t stand”.

So now at least we know our fate, there is a strange kind of relief.  We hoped (against reality, logic and the evidence of our eyes) that somehow the team would escape relegation.  We hoped that maybe we’d get away with dropping just one level.  But having been through a near death experience, any kind of life is better than none at all, and this may prove to be a line in the sand.

There is no point dwelling on what might have been.  They’re all guilty – Ladak, Pickering, KBC, a cast of other characters going back to those who made the fateful decision to sell Rockingham Road in 1985 for a sum not much greater than the Trust have donated in the past few months. We need to move on.  We need to adjust to the new reality. We are not a non League giant any more. We are not one good season away from the Football League. We have a fractured fanbase, we have precious little support outside a hard core and we are now to be competing at a level below Brackley and Corby . Some might say, that’s not the Kettering Town I grew up supporting – and no, me neither.  I was hooked by the atmosphere, the occasional ‘star’ player, the feeling that we were always on the cusp of being a League club.  But you probably have to be a certain type of person to follow a non-League club in the first place.  If it was all about nice grounds and big crowds, none of us would bother.

That said, it’s going to take some getting used to. Next season is going to feel like a groundhog day of early qualifying rounds in the Cup. For every new away ground, there’ll be a Redditch United.  Some of the pitches will make the Glebe look like Wembley, and every team visiting Nene Park will raise their game.  That 10 point deduction will hurt.  Plus there’ll be no more trawling for the scores on teletext or studying the table in the Sunday paper – unless it’s one that drills right down into the minor leagues.  Minor league – that’s us folks.

All this assumes of course that the SLP with a clean slate is where we bottom out. The truth is, none of us can predict how we will fare in this new environment.  A promotion challenge could attract crowds of 1,000 plus – but mid table mediocrity?  And if we start losing money again, it’s difficult to see any future. 

But the sun is shining and for now, KTFC lives on. Maybe we’ll all feel better and ready for the new season after a break.  About 2 years should do it.   

Friday, 25 May 2012

Poppies Year One

That's that then.  George has chosen the CVA path which most knowledgeable pundits had predicted from the moment he arrived.  That said, with our debts at over a million quid, his options were extremely limited.  Although there are still a small rump of our support who cannot understand why any club owner doesn't simply write out a cheque to underwrite the Poppies, the rest of us are well and truly awake and smelling the coffee.

Although several businessess and individuals stand to lose out by the Poppies applying for a CVA it must be said that they'd lose even more were the club to cease trading.  And given that a number of the people owed money were some of the unfit, no-effort "players" who barely went through the motions, I won't be shedding too many tears.  They rightfully would want the money Imraan promised them.  I'd rather they'd played as well as their fees suggested they could, and we'd still be in the Conference National.  I guess we don't always get what we want in life.

Amazingly, Imraan himself is one of the people we owe money too. This would be laughable were the situation not so tragic.  As the crap we are wading through these days is down to Imraan's mismanagement of funds, sponsorship, player contracts and the rush to Non Park it is difficult to see how he has the gall to put his hand out.  I can't recall many times when we supporters get the opportunity to say, "Nah, it's been a bad season, I think I'll have all the money back I spent on tickets, food and programmes.  Hell, I'll even have my Klondike money back too while I'm at it...."

So, what now?  Assuming all goes as GR predicts we will start next season 10 points adrift at the bottom of the Southern League.  And bear in mind this is not the same Southern League we won 10 years ago.  No, these days it is, with all due respect, a piddling little affair. The sort of division where teams like Cambridge City, Totton and Redditch are considered "players".

We've got St Albans's lethal trees to look forward to, as well as Hitchin's bouncy wooden terracing.  We may finally get to see what Bashley actually looks like, and listen to 90 minutes of booing when we visit Weymouth.  Happy days.

We will start next season as Northamptonshire's FOURTH club, trailing behind the shining trio of Northampton, Corby and even Brackley.  However, I'm sure our Caledonian friends from Steal Park won't feel the need to crow about this reversal in fortunes too much......We've pretty much just got Daventry below us now, so we will have to learn to deride them just as soon as we know anything about them!

In the final analysis though, would we rather be plunged into the Southern League, or follow the Direones down the direct path to extinction?  We've still (just about ) got our club.  Whether we continue to support the Club is obviously more of an issue.  It has felt less "ours" the moment we left Rockingham Road, although curiously, as supporters, we have had more direct influence in the past 6 months, and hopefully moving forward, more than we ever had before. 

Some of us don't go to games anymore.  Some will be lured in by the glamour of KFC and park football.  Others will pick and choose games.  Will we manage the 700 figure George has mooted?  This is Kettering Town FC.  If we don't rate gates double that of Corby, you've got to ask, "what's the point?"

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Does anyone like us anymore?

We don't seem to like ourselves much these days.  In our own Poppies-supporting corner our own fans are split between several factions. 

  • There is the not trusting Rolls faction. 
  • The not trusting the Trust faction. 
  • The not trusting that Imraan has gone faction. 
  • The expect-to-be-relegated-out-of-the-Conference faction. 
  • The setting up another club faction.
Desperate, but not
THAT desperate!
And of course, there's Pedro, who bestrides all of the above.

We are also unsure about season tickets.  What guarantee if we buy one that we'll ever get to use it?  That said, what are our odds of playing if we don't buy season tickets....?  Decisions, decisions......

And now it seems that the array of managerial talent vying to be our new boss is starting to thin out.  Looks like thry don't like us much either.  Firstly Coops ruled himself out.  Then Graham Drury chose Stamford over us (!)  Westwood has now decided to rack up a few more fines in Conference National at the home of our permanent whipping boys - Lincoln City (Just read that another of their defenders goes by the name "Nutter"....  Now it appears that Ian Sampson thinks Corby are a better bet and has plumped for Steal Park rather than Non Park.

At the rate we are going it would appear that George will have to start going through the waste paper basket and straighten out some of those CV's he'd previously disregarded!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Northamptonshire finally finds identity

Our county has always had an image problem.  It doesn't really do anything.  It's somewhere others pass through rather than a place they go to.  This has been reflected in the County's branding over the years.  We've been labelled, "The County of Spires and Squires", reflecting the fact that the aristocracy and Church have successfully kept us down over the centuries.
Northamptonshire - Dancing Dug County!
We've been tagged, "The Rose of the Shires".  We've flirted with "Diana County".  Currently outsiders are being welcomed to our fair county with the line, "Northamptonshire - Let Yourself Grow", whereas the truth is more likely to be that upon arrival at Watford Gap, the cry is, "Let Yourself Go!"

Now, all of our scrabbling around for a suitable legend has been sorted since Ashleigh & Pudsey from Wellingborough swept all before them on the Britain's Got Weirdo's stage.  Now, finally, Northants is on the map!  No longer are we a third rate county in a third rate country - we've arrived!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Keeping up with the flurry of activity at Non Park

I guess life at the Poppies ISN'T
always a roller coaster!
  • Manager still not appointed
  • Season ticket offer extended due to lack of interest
  • Imraan still not quite out of the door

Check back next week to see if the bins have been emptied, or the milk delivery cancelled for the summer!

Monday, 7 May 2012

Manager of the Year Award

There was a surprisingly large field for this award, even for a Ladak club.  The nominees were: -

  • Morrell Maison (laidback, no ability, mate of the Chairman)
  • Mark Stimson (scared looking, defeatist, glad to be gone)
  • Mark Cooper (needs the guarantee of huge funding, CV losing its lustre, bailed out)
  • Ashley Westwood (turned up one day and got the job)

Unfortunately no completed voted forms were returned, so, by default the award reverts to Marcus Law.

Maison and Navarro enjoy a spot of friendly horseplay
just days before they turned our lives into sh*t.

Just how many things can be wrong with one photograph?

Wrong manager
Wrong player
Wrong expressions
Wrong kit
Weird hand gesture from Navarro
Photograph over exposed
Photo is on the piss
Wrong compostion - is Morrell really a foot taller?
Wrong ground
Wrong location
Wrong blue seats on the "KTFC"
Wrong weather (needed more rain to prevent drought)

Player of the Year Award

So, Sol beat off stiff competition from the likes of Jon Challinor, Steve Meecham and Tom Williams to land this season's POTY award.  We trust the award itself will soon take pride of place in the Davis privvy. 

Sol's main challenges for the coveted title of best player from a season we are going to try our damnedest to forget were Laurie (goalie in season we let 100 goals in), Marcus (had to be dragged back from Mansfield), and Dave Bridges (who achieved 3 successful passes all season).

As awards go, being voted the least bad performer over the last season is the footballing equivalent of being on the shortlist of best lookout person on the Titanic.  Not exactly something to brag about, or reflect upon as a career high point in the years to come.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Sad Statto Alert!

Presently the Poppies sit proudly on top of the all-time Conference league table with a whopping 1500 points.  The full table can be seen here: -

The most obvious thing to note, is that barring a season of almost Biblically proportioned horror, Kidderminster will soon overtake us (in fact, it could be as early as the first game!)  If only I'd known this I'd have backed their attempt to go up via the play-offs this season, thus preserving our table-topping status.

Kiddy will also soon breeze past our record number of home wins, which we sportingly chose to barely add to over the recent capitulation campaign.

I looked further down the league table to check the progress of various other pretenders.  Bugger me, there's Telford sniffing around!  If you add the records of the old United and the bunch of whinging, teenage w*nkers that makes up the AFC version they are only 90 points behind us!  If they get promoted next season even they might go past us (a long shot I'll grant!)

All the other dross that make up the current cream of non-league football will need another 10-15 seasons at this level to even get close to us, so we've no need to worry there.

Plan of Campaign moving forward therefore: -

1  Get back up as soon as possible
2  Hope Kiddy are wound-up in the next few weeks, with possibly last season's results expunged!
3  Hope Telford don't become a good team out of three will have to do!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Cry God for Woy not Arry

So far as I can tell, there are two camps regarding Harry Redknapp.

1. The London based media and cosy sofa-dwelling pundits, who invariably refer to him only as “Harry” like he’s a national treasure, and spout endless guff about what a character he is – based on little more than his willingness to always be interviewed (making their jobs easier) and crack attempted quips about his missus or fish and chips.

2. Sensible objective types like you and me, who judge him instead on a record of one trophy in 30 years, very nearly bankrupting Pompey in the process, and an apparent inability to make do with what he has, instead clumsily tapping up players via the press by talking about how much he “admires” them and either buying or selling Peter Crouch in every transfer window. Oh and we still think he’s a bit dodgy – no smoke without fire and all that.

Thus the F.A.s decision to go instead for Roy Hodgson gets no argument from this particular armchair expert. He may not be absolutely the right man, but he’s not the wrong man. Put him next to ‘Arry and compare his record and the only area in which he is outpointed is the lack of supposed charisma. “The players want Harry” we were told, when Capello resigned. The players (Lamps, JT, Wazza and the rest of the serially underachieving pampered losers) forfeited their right to any say in the matter when they couldn’t beat Algeria. Keegan had charisma and he ended up resigning in the toilets.

At least Redknapp won’t be disappointed at being overlooked, having apparently not thought about the England job at all, not for one little minute. Yeah we believe you.

A sad night in the Redknapp household. Harry's the one on the right.