Thursday, 23 May 2013

Has Imraan got himself a new club?

Looking at the situation at Worcester City FC, we wouldn't be surprised to hear that Ladak had taken over there: -

  • Moving the club out of town
  • Trying to fill what is effectively a Football League stadium
  • The Club expects that by offering slightly cheaper season tickets that somehow their gates will double, if not treble
  • The Directors already preparing to blame the supporters for the death of their club

Next the Worcester hierarchy will be trawling YouTube for their squad, and tapping up as many unfit players as they can lay their hands on!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

KBC - what is it with these people?

Were you, like me this morning, barely able to keep down your Ready Brek this whilst listening to Radio Northampton telling of our beloved Borough Council's latest wheez?  Apparently they are moving heaven and earth to find various sites around the borough to accommodate hoardes of gypsies and other travellers.

That's right, the same council who thwarted our attempts to relocate within the town are bending over backwards to make room for the horse racing in our streets, every lead roof in the town vanishing overnight, and the decimating of the hedgehog population.

KBC certainly weren't quite so welcoming to the Poppies when they nixed, and then attempted to steal the joint Asda / ground proposal.  Or when they said we couldn't use Cohen's Yard because of the access.  And then built the exact access we were told we couldn't have, so serve a site that several years later is still empty!

The Council are still purring about the design award they received for the central skate park A.K.A. The Market Place.  And taking the credit for the double roundabout on Northampton Road, which, in all likelihood was the work of the County Council.  If they weren't busy patting themselves on the back over these developments I'm sure they'd make it their main task in life to f*ck up our proposed move to Latimer Park!

To add further insult, the local councillor spouting guff this morning on the radio about how great it would be to fill the town up with pikies was none other than former Poppies Director and Safety guru Zippy Zanger!  It's good to hear he can still talk drivel with the best of them.

So, if Ritchie is reading this, and it's not too late, he might want to put in a ground development proposal to the Council whilst they are in a generous mood.  Just be sure to mention bare knuckle boxing, selling pegs, lucky heather, metal thieving and filling the streets with mountains of rubbish, and I'm sure we'll be onto a winner!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Benny Bounces Back

The elevation of Yeovil to the Championship today marks a new high water mark for the benefits of ending the old re-election system in favour of automatic promotion between League and non-League. Not since Wimbledon and Wigan gained League status in the late 70s has a club from traditional semi pro ranks made it as high as the second tier. Part of me therefore wants to celebrate. A larger part of me (the bitter 98%) wants to say BLOODY HELL WE USED TO PLAY THEM.

It really doesn’t seem that long ago that Yeovil were a yo yo club between Conference and the division below. They were generally good for at least 4 points a season, never travelling very well and being vulnerable at home. Three seasons running we won at their place without conceding a goal, spanning their move to from the old Huish with its famous slope to the New Huish and its comatose crowds. In those days there was a cheesy magazine called Team Talk co-produced by an ex Poppies programme editor and not an issue went by without a lavish photo feature on Yeovil or a gushing profile of whatever deadbeat was their current manager. This wurzel-centric view was perhaps explained by the fact that the mag was based just up the road from Yeovil, but no one cared – Yeovil weren’t a threat to anyone apart from the occasional lower division League side they ritually knocked out of the cup every few years.

Then Yeovil made what may have seemed a risky decision to appoint someone whose CV boasted international experience with Latvia but before that an undistinguished spell in charge of us.  We’d like to say now that we always saw the potential in Gary Johnson. We’d like to say that, but truthfully we thought he was a busted Benny the Ball lookalike who would never manage more than a youth team again. The first Patgod after his sacking painted a picture of him sitting alone in his living room, cracking the seal on another bottle of scotch.  But fair play to him, he has managed to reinvent himself as some sort of Shankly of the HTV West region. Take him out of Deliverance country and he flounders, but so long as he’s surrounded by rosy cheeked Zummerset farmers, cider and haystacks his mojo is intact. Much like Trescothick, but without the tearful episodes at airports.

So next season Yeovil will host QPR, Derby et al. Meanwhile we look forward to trips to Dibley Rangers, Chigley Athletic and Trumpton Rovers. But it’s ok, that’s football. All part of the rollercoaster of clubs rising whilst others fall. Now where’s that bottle of scotch?    

Cheer up Gary you're going up again 

(it can't just be me surely?)                  

How does this lovely weekend find us?

Well, we've signed a keeper.

Floodlight pylons might or might not have been correctly erected at Latimer Park.

A mystery benefactor is preparing Non Park.  Don't do it, you'll regret it (if you're lucky!)

The tedious non-entity of the Premier League has thankfully run it's course.

The Cobblers got spanked at Wembley, as a prelude to the Saints getting spanked at Twickenham next week.  Expect Radio Northampton to be playing nothing but funereal dirges for the next couple of months.

Yeovil have won promotion to the Championship.  They were successfully steered there by Gary Johnson, who, now he has put a bit of distance between himself and Northamptonshire, remembers how to manage a team properly.  From being rivals of ours Yeovil will be kicking off next season fully seven divisions above us!

How hard can it be?  "I.....m.....r.....a.....a...."
And somewhere in Milton Keynes, Imraan Ladak is sitting on a form he needs to sign to sever forever himself from the Poppies.  For reasons known only to himself he has yet to sign this document.  Perhaps he can't find a pen.  Perhaps he can't find his arse with both hands.  Perhaps he is still waiting for "Project Non Park" to finally start paying dividends.  Who knows.  C'mon Ladak, give the club a chance to survive, sign away your ownership  and get out of our lives!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Brackley - Good or Bad? Or even, Ugly?

I'm in a quandary.  Am I happy or sad that Brackley lost out to the newly reformed Halifax in this afternoon's Conference North play-off final?  I suppose deep down, I'm not really fussed, but in the pursuance of wringing another blog out of  a Northamptonshire sporting failure that didn't involve us for a change, here goes -

Obviously I'd have liked Brett to get promoted back to Conference National.  It would also have been fun listening to Radio Northampton justifying not covering their games on the air next season.  It would have been quite nice for Jon Brady to have got his team up.  More broadly, it might have been good for Northants FA to have a team at Conference National level, because, let's face it, Corby, Scum II and the Poppies are a million miles away from that level.


Turley - a face only a mother
or dealer could love
Does Conference National need a new member who attract only a few hundred fans?  We used to have ridiculous clubs like Fisher Athletic, with a handful of fans scrape their way into the top division in the past and they always seemed horribly out of place.  Should another rich person's plaything-team get into Conference National only to suffer when the money is inevitably withdrawn?  Darren Collins as Assistant Manager also cancels out any positive feeling gained by Brady.

So, all in all, pretty even.

Until you remember who Brackley have between the sticks.  Our old friend Spilly Turley.  Our old mucker from the mega-bucks, druggy, "glory" days of Direones.  Such is the baggage that man carries for any Poppies fan that his inclusion guarantees the vote against Brackley is carried.

Sorry guys, better luck next year, assuming of course Lawrie is your No.1!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

John Cecil's Wickies Adventures

I will shortly achieve a ten year ambition and have my book published. Hopefully it will be available before the new season and I will, quite brazenly, advertise it wherever I can in places like PATGOD and on Poppynet in the hopes that anybody that knows me will support me by grabbing themselves a copy.

Whereas the book covers the period of my life between 1972 and 1975 it is set in Kettering and follows me through my last year at Kettering Grammar School, through Sea School in Gravesend and onto my first trip to sea in 1974.

The connection between Patgod and the book being that after I finally left the Merchant Navy in 1989 I started writing regular features for PW and GL and this inspired me to start writing my book in 2003.

The feature on Wicksteed Park in 1994 forms the basis of the opening chapter of my book and as a bit of a taster I would like to reproduce that article here for Patgod readers to muse over and get a taste for the style in which my book is written.

It was also originally produced in a font size of around 2, so even if you can dig out the copy of Patgod that this comes from you will probably need a magnifying glass to read it.

FROM PATGOD (Issue 25) By JC (Intro by PW)
 Down your way…………………
Continuing our series in which we turn an affectionate eye on essential aspects of local life.
This issue we focus on the charming, happy expanses of WICKSTEED PARK, the fun filled playground for generations of Kettering kids which promises to keep on merrily milking money off their parents for years to come.
With eleven or so Saturday afternoons to survive during the close season, a visit to Wicksteed Park is an obvious choice to while away a few hours and sample the delights of Brandy Snap, Ice Cream, take a leisurely stroll by the lake and also to relish in how the place has changed over the years

For those not familiar with this Urban Paradise, Wicksteed Park was the brainchild of one Mr. Charles Wicksteed, a local landowner and all round jolly good egg who, some seventy odd years ago, decided to donate a rather large chunk of his land to the people of Kettering. A darn fine idea at the time and one to a certain extent that holds true today. True, the folk of Kettering can come and go as they please all year round. But once the shackles of winter are thrown off and Good Friday rolls around the gates are flung open to hordes of day trippers from Harrow to Halesowen and it can cost a tidy sum if any accompanying whingeing brats are to be satisfied.
The “paid” rides are to blame, and Charlie’s notion of a free park for the inhabitants of Kettering has long since been abandoned by the Wicksteed Village Trust (WVT). We were quite happy with some swings and slides, a train, some boats and a carousel until the WVT tried to turn it into a theme park. And however much they would have you believe otherwise this is definitely not a theme park. To be classed as such one first requires a theme. Two small trains chugging around a boating lake hardly evokes visions of the Grand Canyon or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. But what the heck, this is Kettering not bloody Ilkeston.
It sure as hell beats the total cock up that was Corby’s WonderWorld. My hat comes off to the chap who, under the cover of darkness, rigged up a flat tyre from a Wendy House frame and proclaimed “NOW OPEN” across that huge grey and white sign which is all that remains of the idea. Still, the place did have a theme. It was going to be called Tierra Del Fuegoland !
Upon entering Wicksteed Park from the town end one can’t help but stumble upon the “free” play area. In days gone by this was the focal point for the whole park and, although still magical for a certain age group, for me a lot of its sparkle seems to have disappeared. It has lost it’s “danger” appeal. Today’s assortment of climbing frames and mini slides looks as if the “Challenge Aneka” team has run amok for 16 hours and replaced the once daunting selection of swings, slides, jazzes and roundabouts with brightly coloured bits of modern art and safety floor coverings to appease the Child Safety Action Brigade. (Or because the first aid hut had run out of bandages).
No trip to this area could ever be deemed a success if you didn’t hobble home with a chunk of your kneecap missing or a gravel burn running the entire length of your forearm. What, among today’s feeble offerings, can ever compare to the evil “mushroom”? It appeared innocent enough – a post with a mushroom shaped hood on top and bars underneath. But boy, did this thing pack a punch. Many a grazed chin or chipped tooth was gained by a group working this monster up to 100 r.p.m. and, at a previously arranged silent count, leaping away from it leaving one unsuspecting member fully prone and hanging on for dear life. It was then a straight choice: Either hang on and grin and bear it and be sick for two days or let go and hope that you’d land in the strategically placed sand pit a few feet away.
Who remembers the Jazzes? A ten foot long plank of wood with enough room to accommodate four brave passengers and two ‘drivers’ who can work up a head of steam either end working it up as high as possible. Once the Jazz has reached its full height and the terrified passengers are screaming their submissions it is possible, albeit mighty daring, for the drivers to give one last almighty thrust and jump off leaving those on board to crouch down as low as possible in a sometimes vain attempt to avoid being crushed in between their seat and the top crossbeam it is suspended from. A very flexible vertebra was required and victims of the jazz can often be seen up to an hour later walking around like Quasimodo.
And what about the “umbrella”? This peculiar shaped construction housed about eight people and by human propulsion jerked and grinded very awkwardly in and out and round and round, flinging the odd “first timer” onto the gravel. Forty- seven of us piled onto it one glorious evening and the poor thing gave way at the apex and bobbled helplessly towards the sandpit.
The slides were also awesome in those days. Each slightly different to the rest, they had their own character. Three giants stood proudly together by the main entrance and what a joy it was on a packed Sunday, with every slide ladder full of expectant three second thrill seekers, to see some inbred local Muppet run up the slide, sit legs akimbo on the hand rails at the top and attempt to slide down them, taking numerous heads off in the process.
Many an evening was spent, when all the crowds had gone home, carefully prising little slivers of metal out of the slides’ joints, ready to rip into the arse of tomorrow’s visitors. Polishing up the baby slide was also a rewarding venture as next day’s sprogs would come flying off the end and into the sandpit.
 But by far the most pleasurable items were the swings. What are they like now? Three thrusts and you are at maximum height. Before, on even the smallest ones, it was possible to reach enough height to leap off just as it was on its upward/forward motion and kick the thing upwards, enabling it to wrap itself round the crossbeam six times.
The only harm done was that some bloaty old jobsworth with a Park attendant’s hat would have to go round the next morning unravelling them. And even then it was only some of them – it was a human impossibility to do it with the beasts that lined up along Barton Road. These giants were suspended from at least 50 feet of chain which, with the backdrop of the trees, were impossible to detect in flight. At any given time during a sunny day these 24” x 10” x 2” planks of wood with a fourteen stone bruiser from Broughton onboard could come hurtling down from the heavens straight into the back of poor, unsuspecting 6 year old Sarah Louise from Shepton Mallet who, whilst contemplating her award winning ice cream, had wandered unwittingly into its flight path.
Moving away from the playground, one passes the train station where King Arthur and The Lady of the Lake sit waiting to take passengers on their eight minute journey around the lake. (Is there a theme in there somewhere?), and down over the bridge that separates the big lake from the junior boating lake. There was once a Pet’s Corner here and if the WVT ever did make a reasonable decision it was to kick this idea into touch. A couple of flea bitten goats, some monkeys and the odd rabbit did nothing to enhance the appearance (or smell) of the area. Thankfully the aviaries adjacent remained and are still a pleasant sight.
Moving on slightly can be found the death defying water chute, still as reliable as ever and a marvel to watch. It isn’t the hitting the water at speed to accompanying screams that is a sight to behold, but the look on the passengers’ faces as, when they think all the danger has passed, the car moves sedately through the water at half a knot until it reaches the end of its length of cable, pulls tight, and then jerks back at breakneck speed until it backs onto the tracks to send it back to the top of the tower.
Modern technology decrees that this can now be done automatically, but the amusing scene in days of yore was the old boy standing at the bottom of the ramp with a pole guiding the car back onto its tracks. What a job! Clock on in the morning and just hang around for ten hours occasionally jabbing out at the car with a pole. He applied for, and received, the title of easiest job in Northamptonshire a boast he held for many a year until recently challenged when a claim for the title was staked by the person who, last season, washed John Ashdjian’s football kit.
Whilst in this area of the park a trip on the boating lake is always good for a pose and, once it has been established that both oars must enter the water simultaneously, it is not beyond even the most incompetent to embark on a voyage to the other end of the lake and back in the allotted one hour and twenty minutes.
One sound piece of advice, however, is to make sure that you do not lose an oar overboard. They are very useful for splashing out at other boats that may come alongside and are a must if confronted by any of the resident swans. Detailing a landing party ashore to hoist female hosiery from a tree is met with severe resistance from these necky bastards and a good, solid clout with an oar is sometimes the only way of making good ones escape. Both oars, not to mention great nerve and excellent oarsmanship, are also required if you are to play “chicken” with the bows of the Mississippi Queen, the sixty foot paddle steamer which tramps the waters of the lake.
Once at the far end of the lake, whilst marvelling at the waters cascading down over the sluice gate, one can also observe the tranquillity of the backwaters. A beautiful, peaceful paradise and the setting for our ultimate goal.
It was the daily ritual to turn up at the park and hang around for any talent which may alight from the incoming coaches. Once two subjects were chosen they were followed around the park all morning, expectancy rising with each wave and giggle until at midday, suitably encouraged, we would peg it home, do the hair and don the fading wranglers & pink flowered shirt with matching cravat (and if it was a bit chilly my brown and cream tank top). Then back to the park before finally luring our victims down to the backwaters.
Now this is where my own achievements fall down slightly. Being a chronic hay-fever sufferer cures were, and still are, not easy to come by. Thus upon entering the long grasses and heavy pollinated backwaters my sinuses would throw a wobbler. My instant cure-all in those pre Beconaise days consisted of a rather large tube with an even larger bulbous base into which a red capsule was inserted, pierced, thrust up each nostril and snorted. The sight of this was never very well received causing a complete breakdown in any negotiations for a swift fumble.
Walking back up from the lake past the old cycle track which is now home to a big dipper and various other overpriced rides one encounters the pleasant sunken gardens and the Pavilion Ballroom, scene of the occasional Poppies Crisis Meeting. As traditional as these meetings used to be the Kettering Chamber of Trade and Commerce’s annual fair signifying the closure of the park for the winter. Now correct me if I’m wrong but, apart from this being a good excuse for local councillors and traders to slap each other on the back, this event always used to be held in big tops with hundreds of stalls set up, brass bands pumping up the volume, displays by bike-riding and dog handling teams, half the armed forces volunteering tanks etc for us to clamber over and rounded off with a stunning display by the Red Arrows.
What a sorry state of affairs it is these days. They still slap each other on the back but try to discourage the likes of you and I from attending. Gone are the big tops, the bandstand and most of the stalls. A lone AA Van may now stand where there was once half a tank division and the proud brass bands have been replaced by a twittering balloon from K.C.B.C.
Other events were regularly held here. Tingha and Tucker put in an appearance. It’s a Knockout was staged lakeside and the Radio 1 Road show filled the place one bank holiday Monday in the late seventies – hosted by Peter Powell, who I didn’t mind at the time but have detested since he started pranging Anthea Turner, and local idiot Adrian Juste.
I’m afraid that on reflection I left the park rather saddened. Oh, I know times must change and the place does still cater for the 3 – 11 year olds, but I can remember having fun at Wickies well into my 16th year. There was always something going on there. Local kids swarmed the place in the evenings and still had a ball. What possible joy can be derived from creeping back into the park after sunset nowadays and scaling a four foot high ABC frame or walking along a wobbly wooden bridge? No wonder today’s youth would rather spend £1.09p on a four pack of Red Dutch Lager and hang around the market place all evening.
You can’t even piss in the continuous flow water fountain any more! Oh, No! You didn’t used to drink from that thing did you?
©   John Cecil

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Poppies & Newport County - ships that passed in the night

Just last season we beat Newport County 3-2 in our first home game.  God, it seems a lot longer ago than that doesn't it?  It is difficult to entirely grasp, but when we start next season an incredible 5 divisions will separate us from the team that JP's incredibly poor penalty finally beat in the closing seconds in our first game at Non Park.  Their supporters looked so glum in the bar afterwards, whilst we all enjoyed the moment.  At least I hope we did, because there have been precious few since!

Of course, if we knew then that the entirety of Ladak's planning for "Project Nene Park" was to hope that Morrell could sell all the Executive boxes and that magically 4000 extra supporters would appearout of thin f*cking air, we would have looked far sicker than the Newport fans.

Only last season...?  Bloody hell!
 I can only recall a couple of other notable Newport incidents.  Of course, there was their failure and the folding of the club back in 1989 which helped cost us any chance of winning the league that season.  Again, difficult to grasp now, but a place in the Football League came down to a straight scrap between us and Maidstone United.  Unfortunately, Newport's dropping out of the Conference handed Maidstone an advantage as they had lost to them whilst we had won.  With these results expunged, the men from Kent received a boost and never really looked back.

Newport then spent many years in a figurative and literal wilderness, only returning to Newport itself in recent years.   I remember us winning at their athletics stadium during the Southern League triumph under Shutty.  Without doubt they were the angriest fans I'd ever encountered. They shrieked abuse at us, our team and our country until they were all purple in the face.  They saved their worse bile-spitting fury for poor old Ian Bowling.  Every time the ball went out for a goal kick the assembled Newport hordes, probably because we were cruising to our accustomed victory, screamed for him to hurry up.  Ian's cause wasn't helped by the lack of ball boys of the fact that the ball rolled 40-50 yards across running tracks and grass, and he had to clamber over various advertising hoardings too. 

That said, given with how far Newport have progressed from going bust to getting back into the Football League it should at least offer a crumb of comfort as we start entering Fleet, Thatcham and Royston into our Sat Navs!

Monday, 6 May 2013

I appreciate it's not top of anyone's "to do" list, but......

.....wouldn't it be good for the official club website to have a bit of a Spring clean?

These days most people only look at the site when Ken links from Poppynet the latest match report, or when we're back in court again.  I'm on there more often than most, but usually to check the spelling of our players' names!  Honestly I'm rubbish at remembering the more exotic handles of the chaps lining up for us.  I still have to look up how to spell Patrick Noubissie.  Like I did just then in fact.

If you stray too far from the safety of the Latest News area on the KTFC site you can stumble into a sort of Marie Celeste website, where stats and information were frozen in time when the good ship Poppies was abandoned when Imraan pulled his funding mid way through our last (ever?) Conference National season.

One section lists our players, with big blurbs about our stars such as Jon Challinor, Moses Ashikodi,
Still our Number One, but
should Roy still feature so
pominently in our
website's player list...?
and Poppies Hall-of-Famer Craig Dobson.  Another part of the site is practically a spreadsheet of everyone Imraan has ever employed - an enormous list of names with the odd one given a bit of statistical analysis, whilst others are there seemingly to make up the numbers (like Jason Turner this season!)  Nestling among these names is, bizarrely, Roy Clayton, instantly showing up all the others in the list with his enormous number of appearance and goals!

Our club officials page still has the dynamic duo of Beck and Greygoose holding the reigns, playing out of Non Park, whilst sections on "Community" and "Commercial" are equally out of date.

Again, I understand that maintenance of the site is probably a long way down the list of priorities for the club, but it must be remembered that the official website remains as the Poppies main contact with the outside world, and first port of call for people looking at us.

It would take a small amount of work to prune the site back to something useable and relevant, and make the club look far more professional.  This is assuming anyone other than Imraan is allowed access of course, and, with his memory, there's no guarantee he'll remember his password!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

New Officially Unofficial Management Duo Announced

It came as little surprise that the team of Baillie and Thomas have been given the go-ahead to start the long fightback for the Poppies to the big time of games against the likes of Arlesey and Frome.  Equally unsurprising the agreed management structure now has Dean Thomas as "Cloughie" to Thomas Baillie's "Taylor".  It will definitely be a time for "steady as you go" for the Poppies of 2013-14.  We now hope they will be able to tie down a handful of this year's players to keep them at Non Park / Steal Park / Latimer Park (delete as appropriate) for next season.

What could be seen as surprising is the manner of the appointments.  As far as we can see, the appointment was made by Alan Doyle and Ken Samuels.  Worthy chaps to be sure, but both unpaid volunteers, operating with no official capacity.  And they have made the decision on behalf of Ritchie Juene, who, despite his Herculean efforts to keep our club alive, is also an unpaid volunteer of no official capacity.  Ritchie is running the club under a verbal agreement with absentee club owner, and tardy letter opener, Imraan Ladak.

We all hope that such autonomy given to Ritchie to do this, plus instigate our removal to Latimer Park in the near future is a sign that his takeover is imminent and both Non Park and Non Chairman are soon kicked firmly into touch.

However, last week's sudden return to the Royal Courts of Justice over unpaid taxes from the start of the season highlights the tenuous nature of assumed ownership and responsibility.  Back then it was assumed George Rolls was about to takeover the club, and he was given carte blanche to employ managers and players.  Of course, various of his misdemeanours soon caught him up and he was banned from being involved in football.  This also, presumably, precluded him from ensuring trifling things like taxes were paid on the income the players may or may not have received.  And with Imraan also busy doing whatever it is he does when not f*cking the Poppies around, HMRC were conveniently overlooked once again.
Ladak - The sooner he signs off from the Poppies
the sooner he can suckle full-time at
Pete Winkleman's teat, or spend
24 hours a day playing on-line poker. 
We don't much care which!

Not a smart move with them still smarting over our recent CVA where they got turned over by the club.  Mistaking Imraan for someone who gave a damn about the football club the HMRC contacted him.  Obviously too busy playing Championship Manager 2013 on his X-box to get involved himself, Imraan again left it to the worthy volunteers to step in and try to save HIS club once again.  Not that he bothered to tell anyone that the court case was coming up or course.  No, that would be too helpful....

The sooner Imraan signs the club over to Ritchie the sooner we can draw a line under his fateful reign.  Christ alone knows what he's waiting for?  Our thanks?  For us to name a stand at Latimer Park after him?  Money?  I can't think of three things he's less likely to get!  He could ask for the steam off our piss, but I fear the situation has gone past the point when even this would be considered!