Saturday, 23 February 2013

Aaaaagh! Not Redditch!

The "Redditch" of
third rate celebrity
Sometimes you can develop an aversion to someone, something, or someplace which you can never quite shake.  With regards to people there's obviously the creepy David Walliams, who even if he swam around the world for Comic Relief, still comes across as a bit too, er, Savillish for my liking.  My "something" that always creeps me out is tattoos, which if I lived to be a thousand, I would never understand why people have them.

As for the place I have an aversion to, well, that would have to  be Redditch.  We previously trashed Redditch in another blog a few years ago, and I have attempted to find that piece and include a link to it here.  However, after unsuccessfully trawling through the well over 650 posts on PATGOD to find it I gave up.  And wondered not for the first time about how badly I've wasted my life.....

Anyway....despite the fact that games at Redditch are usually more than averagely entertaining - including a 4 all draw and the epic FA Cup win there despite Moses missing a couple or penalties, I cannot bring myself to go back there again today.  There is something about the town, the ground and the support which is soul-crushingly depressing.  Has the sun ever shone there?  Or anyone ever smiled?  I have never once trudged up the pitch-black hill out of the ground there without promising myself this would be the last time I would ever set foot there. 

When we won promotion to Conference National and they were relegated into the Southern League I foolishly thought we'd shaken Redditch off for good.  Then we played them in two FA Cup games.  Then we were thrown out of the Conference to rejoin them in the Southern League.  And now, we occupy the bottom two places in this goddamn league, looking like we're going to spiral further down the footballing pyramid, tethered together.  Forever.

All we need now is for them to spank us too and my misery will be complete!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Hardcore only night

Wednesday 20th February 2013.

Make a note of the date.  If you are among the throng gathering at Steal Park tonight, watching a team guaranteed to be relegated in freezing cold temperatures with Barca v Madrid on the television, give yourself a pat on the back.

You are the hardest of the Poppies hardcore.  Congratulations (you nutter!)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

"Investment" be b*ll*cked!

On yesterday's Football Focus, renowned pundit Michael Owen glibly remarked that Leeds United were a club of sufficient size to be "ripe for investment."  The suggestion was that because Leeds cannot drag themselves out of the Championship by their own efforts, utilising the funds they generate on and off the pitch, that "someone" should come along and pump millions of pounds into the club.

For some reason I've never quite managed to fathom, the word "investment" means something entirely different when applied to football.  In the real world, people invest in something in hope that the entity you have invested in returns sufficient profits to make you your money, plus a bit extra back.  Whether one agrees with such obvious capitalism or not is not the issue - we can all see how the theory works.  However, when applied to football, "investment" changes somewhat. 

Another week, another set of dodgy owners.
Now it pretty much means, "Attention any and all dodgy middle eastern businessmen.  We don't care much as to how you've managed to assemble an eye-wateringly large fortune in a country with one camel and a palm tree, but we want you to bring it to our football club and spend it on getting us success.  We want you to pay over-inflated wages to buy in mercenary players and get us up into a division we probably aren't equipped to play in.  We then naturally assume you will continue to fund this investment out of your pocket until further notice...."

As we know all to well, reliance on such "investment" doesn't come without it's risks.  One day you are miserable and bored at your ground of a hundred years, watching football just below the Football League.  Just over a year later you hopful of seeing your team play in Burton Latimer in a division just slightly higher than a kick about with your mates!

One day football will come to it's senses and realise it can employ footballers without making them instant millionaires.  Until then our TV screens are continually going to show swarthy men, walking out onto pitches to take the eager applause of supporters.  They will be showing off gleaming smiles through stubbled faces, looking like they've just been squeezed into a business suit, with a brand new scarf draped over their flabby shoulders.

Being an ex-Poppy still counts?

Westwood then...
If Thomas Baillie is looking for some positives, or even a crumb of comfort from being our seventh manager in the past 18 months, he must have perked up watching yesterday's FA Cup games on the television.  Scowling instructions from the away dug out for Blackburn's win away to Arsenal was none other than possibly our most mercurial half-time orange slicer of all time, Ashley Westwood.

Obviously presiding over the start of the biggest slide a team has experienced in the history of football hasn't counted unduly against Westwood.  It would appear that the mere mention of the Poppies on your CV still opens doors!

....and now. Where's the
'tache gone?

In under 12 months Westwood has gone from being red carded for us against some pointless non-league crud to shepherding his players over to their fans to share with them the delight in knocking out Wrinkled Wenger's team of midfield show-ponies.

What next, Beck leading a team out against Barcelona?  Maison signing a player not solely based on seeing him on Youtube?  Or even Cooper eventually winning a game with Telford?

Sunday, 10 February 2013

A long time ago and a free kick far far away...

So what’s this we hear about Dean Thomas joining the Poppies. Coming in as assistant manager, apparently. Not a bad appointment – after all, he knows all about clubs in hopeless positions, having left the only one in the country who are having a worse season than us! But before Hinckley’s fortunes nosedived he was the best manager they ever had. Correction – the ONLY manager they ever had. He occupied the Hinckley hot seat for so long, all the way back to their late 90s formation, it seems rude that they didn’t name a stand after him, or at the very least a portakabin.

Over the years DT has been out there for what seems forever, occasionally orbiting a bit too close to planet KTFC and causing a large crater.  Before their troubles he took Hinckley from Leicestershire nobodies to the fringe of Conference National.  Along the way we met in a promotion showdown at their place and there was no mistaking who came off best. Certainly not Morrell Maison, who found that clueless bullshit can only take you so far and was sacked after the game, never to be heard of again apart from two further spells in charge.   

But long before that, DT was ingrained into our past. Even without the benefit of a grainy old Match of the Day recording, the 6,000 plus who were there will never forget how he settled the real ‘County Cup Final’ in 1989.  Especially Shoey, who despite everything else he did in a Poppies shirt, will never quite live down being caught napping at the near post by a bobbling 30 yard daisy cutter.  Almost every member of that Cobblers team ended up playing for us at the back end of their careers – except Dean Thomas. Perhaps he had better offers. Or maybe he still couldn’t risk running into Shoey and trying to keep a straight face.        

And then there was the time he brought a Bedworth team to face us in the Cup.  Even for late era Gary Johnson, this shouldn’t have been too tough a gig, but Bedworth’s side included old favourite Ooh Jonny Graham whereas ours starred that dynamic strike duo, Carter and May. That’s as in Reckey & Leroy not Helena Bonham & Maggie, though the latter partnership would definitely have tested the away keeper more often that dismal autumn afternoon.

So there’s good reason why the name Dean Thomas is enough to cause a modest shiver, as it generally heralds the end of our interest in a competition for another season. But as we are past that stage on all fronts, what harm can it do!  Welcome to the Poppies and remember Dean, you owe us.  

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Oh no, don't do it!

By rights the news that Lewis Wilson has returned to the fold to shepperd us successfully into whatever division it is lower than where we temporarily reside, should be seen as good news.  His youthful endeavour, clever movement and eye for goal gave us, in December, the best Poppies supporting month for many years.  And this was no mean feat considering there was a 7-0 defeat in there!

Even the most wild-eyed optimist wouldn't give us even a glimmer of a chance of staying in this division next season hopefully Lewis can give us a few more moments to savour as we continue to spiral down towards park football.

Unfortunately for Dean,
Icelandic WAGS
lag behind their
English counterparts
However, there hangs over any returning player the permanent Poppies spectre of Dean Martin.  He of the incredible loan spell which had us salivating for more, which turned into the full-time signing where we were using that saliva to spit in disgust as he frittered away his talent and took pot shots at the cars parked at the Northfield Avenue Co-op.

What turned a man who looked like a world-beater into someone who suddenly looked like he couldn't be an egg-beater?  The thought that he was so good that he only needed to employ 38% of his efforts?  Who knows.  Unbelievably Dean is still going strong!  For the past decade he has played in Iceland (brr, I'm cold just thinking about that!)  He is currently player /coach at Íþróttabandalag Akraness,  "Why don't you give me a Í, þ, r........!"  helping them back to the top division a couple of years ago.  I bet you're thinking what I'm thinking - what, there's more than one division in Iceland!?

Anyway, I trust the lesson for Lewis is clear.  Get your head down.  Score shed loads of goals.  Keep the Poppies faithful happy.  Or end up playing into your fifth decade at a place just beyond the back of beyond!  The choice is yours!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

AP or not AP, that is the question

Well, another Sunday.  Another defeat.  This time to title chasing, but stubbornly unimpressive Leamington.  What the team may have lacked in guile, their supporters made up with verbal gusto.   That said, whilst they sustained noise, much of it was sacrificed through shocking lack of diction.
Oh my God Lemmy, what do you
rockers get up to?!?
I mean, had you ever heard such indistinct chanting?  Can you take seriously supporters who, whilst attempting to shout "Leamington", manage to be heard as "Lemmy's Tongue", or "Leper's Cum". Or, most worryingly of all, "Leper's Cum on Lemmy's Tongue!"

At another point I'm sure I heard them extol the virtues of "Hemel Hempstead's Spa", and mysteriously declaring, "We are Norberts".  They also invited "Tolkien, Tolkien, give us a wave!"  I'm not sure what JJR is up to these days beyond counting royalties and hoping he doesn't have to feel his arse fall asleep during yet another screening of the Hobbit, but I'm almost certain he wasn't in the Leamington dug-out.

But by far the best, and more indistinct song of the day was one they deployed every few minutes, and one which not a single word was clearly distinguishable.  However, with effort, and a sound knowledge of Leamington football, I believe I have managed to piece together the gist of the lyrics.

"Jamie Oliver, Jamie Oliver,
He makes a meal with lots of veal,
Jamie Oliver!"

This mysterious song then pays homage to loanee 'keeper, Laurie Walker,

"Laurie, Laurie Walker,
He stops a goal, but God knows how,
Laurie Walker!"

Before plunging into the heart of the matter of growing European Union unrest,

"Francois Hollande, Francois Hollande,
He shags that cow, Angela Merkel,
Francois Hollande!"

If Leamington do manage to get promotion to Conference North we hope that they can sort out a few details and answer a few questions before making the step up.  Firstly, for the love of God, sort out your chants.  When you cannot tell which supporters are singing someone somewhere needs a few elocution lessons.  Also, lets see if you are still so ebullient over long trips to Workingon, Blyth and possibly Barrow.  Or let us all know where such an obviously great club has been hiding away in the past third of a century when we were playing in the Conference.

And can someone finally let us know if the old "AP" in AP Leamington stood for "All Piss-on", "Angry Pre-pubescent" or even "Anal Preferred."

We'd just like to know.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Ah, bless him!

It's nice to see that, if nothing else, Mario Balotelli has remained consistent to the end.  Apparently he hated everything about being in England other than his teammates and Manager.  Really?  Are those the same teammates that he used to believe were so far beneath him that whenever one replaced him from the substitute bench he threw a wobbler and stormed down the tunnel into the dressing room?  Or the same Manager he used to either entirely ignore or fight with?  What a prick!

Everything else about this country annoyed him it seemed.

Of course, he failed to mention whether his bloated multi-million pound contract was something he enjoyed or not.  He didn't mention whether earning more in a day for stropping around the Manchester City training ground than most people earn in a year made him feel happy or not. 

If you ever want to sum up all that is wrong with football in this day and age you need look no further than good old Mario.  An ungrateful, greedy bastard, overpaid beyond all measure by a mixture of swollen TV money, exorbitant entrance fees and dodgy foreigners with mysteriously acquired personal fortunes.  The Beautiful Game, eh?