Sunday, 28 December 2014

Daventry Tannoy Announcer Bemoans Yet Another Poppies Defeat

"Cannot win games, must exterminate Kolo's legs!"

660 crowd at Communications Park.  Our website suggests an estimated 440 Poppies in the crowd.  All well and good, but it does pose the question, where were the 220 Daventry fans.  Did you see 220?  Or 200.  Or even 100?  How about 20?

I saw one guy wearing a purple and white scarf.  And another one who suggested the assault on Kolo right at the end was entirely justified.

So, that makes at least 2.  Can anyone else add to this number?

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Ghosts of Christmas past

There’s something particularly vivid about football at Christmas. The dark sky, the expectant crowd in unusually jolly mood, the relief at escaping domestic house arrest with annoying relatives.  The waft of pipe smoke and new aftershave.  Greeting old friends who are making their annual appearance – and secretly muttering where were you at [insert name here] on a Tuesday night. You get the picture.

On the eve of another festive season, here’s a personal selection box of Poppies Yuletide highlights. To keep it positive I have edited out years where Boxing Day was ruined or at the very least soiled by limp defeats in front of an embarrassingly large crowd or – even worse perhaps – postponements and being forced to stay indoors, eat more nuts and watch Zulu Dawn for the 200th time.  

1. 1985 – Boston part 1. The first half of the 80s were not the easiest time to be a Poppies fan, especially someone like me who joined the party after the Wembley’79 lights had gone out. Every season was a struggle on and off the pitch, but under Dave Needham things picked up a little. Christmas meant Boston home and away, because we counted as their local team. At least that made some sense: later years saw us paired with ghastly places like Hednesford after Boston carelessly got themselves relegated. Anyway, we lost on Boxing Day at York St but took memorable revenge as Ian Crawley smashed a hat trick in front of about 2,000 at RR – our biggest league crowd for several years. After half a decade of thin pickings this seemed to promise better days ahead. Which in a sense they were. Later the same season we edged to within one win of a return to Wembley. Unfortunately in the way were Runcorn, who as usual made themselves about as popular as Ebola at a sandwich factory.

2. His name was Ernie… By Christmas 1990, all was well in the world. At the top of the Conference we sat – noisy, brash and convinced that this was our year. Boston were still the opposition, but their role now was just to provide an excellent stadium in which we could celebrate another victory. The previous year it was sealed by Robbie Cooke, now it was Ernie Moss in his comeback appearance at the age of 61, or thereabouts. By this stage in his long career he was almost completely immobile, but acted as a kind of free kick magnet. If Ernie toppled over, referees instinctively gave a foul out of (a) respect and (b) concern for his welfare. Late in the game in front of a packed away end, he bundled one in off his colostomy bag and everyone went mental. Not since VE Day had Ernie known such scenes.     

3. 1998. Another title challenge, another near miss... but this was a bonus that no one expected having started the year in the bottom three. As Christmas approached, we were again top of the Conference albeit with the benefit of having played more games. So the mood was - enjoy it while it lasted. And we did, starting with a trip to Hereford United (RIP) where Hudson and Fisher saw us to an untroubled win.  Then on Boxing Day it was home to Hednesford (yes, see above). With an unexpected title challenge in their nostrils, over 2,600 converged on Rockingham Road where a Paul Raynor strike in the second half was decisive.  Rayner's was one of those brief spells that leave a lasting impression. He made a big impact on that team in a few short months. He might be a Poppies hero to this day, had he not reinvented himself as a Steve Evans Mini Me through numerous obnoxious touchline rants in Crawley colours.

4. 2007 – the 12 points of Christmas that took us from promotion hopefuls to probable champions. First in the firing line were Leigh followed by a narrow win at Solihull then another at Tamworth, where Westcarr ran half the pitch before finishing sweetly to seal the points. And still Pedro said he was useless. Back home again on New Year’s Day, the rampant Reds hit Solihull for six and suddenly we had opened up a big lead which never slipped. Soon we bid farewell to the tatty old Conference North, prepared to reclaim our rightful place among the non League elite – and beyond that who knows? Some thought we might even be playing at a completely different level within a few years. They were right.
So, a few memories there to savour over the sherry and mince pies. Happy Xmas all.     

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

PATGOD picture quiz

So, what's Shorty about to say at last week's
game at Northwood?

Clue - looks very much like he's forming
a word beginning with "Fu........!"

Friday, 19 December 2014

But for the grace of God......

Hereford United were wound up in the High Court in London today. 

Their "owner" was big on promises but short on delivering.  Bills unpaid.  Dodgy characters lurking around, sniffing out scraps. 

There are too many parallels between the hell Ladak put us through and the situation at Hereford to stop anything but a cold shiver lance down my spine and a feeling of deepest sympathy and empathy.

Although most of their fans have stayed away from Edgar Street this season as the club were relegated two divisions, and pushed towards the brink by crooks, they have ensured that their "owners" were challenged at every turn on a host on online outlets.

Whilst Poppies fans are looking forward to hopefully watching their team open up an 8-point lead at the top of the league, decked out with spanking new scarfs and hats, Hereford fans are being asked to camp out at Edgar Street over the weekend to stop their crooked ex-owners looting the place before the Council can re-take control on Monday!

I hope some of our more critical fans take a look at the links above and perhaps ponder what might have been, before taking to the online forums to moan about the nature of a Kettering 5-0 victory as they did last week.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Giving It Both Barrels

Over the years, footballers names have evolved with changing fashions. In the Fifties, it was all Berts, Nats and Tommys. In the Seventies the football world was full of Kevins. Today it’s James, Thomas and Alfie, presumably named after the popular series of multi coloured railway engines. The next generation will probably be stuffed with retro chic Jacobs, Josephs and Joshuas. And not just first names are moving with the times. Witness the sudden proliferation of footballers with double barrelled surnames. Once the exclusive territory of Tory toffs who can trace their lineage back to the Plantagenets, now a typical teamsheet boasts a couple of good examples.

It’s quite a shift in a few years from the sheer novelty value of a hyphenated member of the professional ranks. Once there was just Ian Storey-Moore, Chris Bart-Williams and of course Ron Chopper-Harris.  Storey-Moore overcame any perceived foppishness by being a renowned dirty bastard in an era when they were ten a penny, whilst RC-H ended his career at the Bridge with 795 appearances, 14 convictions and 42 other offences taken into consideration.  Now, far from being an indicator of poshness, a pair of surnames either hints at a very modern approach to equal marital partnerships, or a chequered upbringing. Either way, it’s the new Smith or Jones and probably here to stay.

Until the present crop of Ward-Prowses and Oxlade-Chamberlains intermingle and start to reproduce. Then things could get very complicated. If neither parent gives ground, we could be up to a 32 barrel surname within 4 generations. Which, if players are still wearing shirts then, rather than hologram projections with rotating advertising and data on pass rate completion and volume of spit expended, will call for a fair bit of editing across their shoulders.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Hamilton nails top award

Despite the naysayers who despair of the Poppies lowly position these days, and, indeed, his lack of appearances for us this season as either starter or bench warmer, our sometime winger Louis Hamilton has still managed to win the "Sports Personality of the Year".

We'd like to think this national award is as much a reflection of the way the fortunes of the good ship Kettering Town FC have been turned around in the past 12 months.  Either that or Louis truly has the greatest personality in the history of sport.  Probably both.

A typical all-action Hamilton moment,
lacking only the ball, which won
the nation's hearts, and votes.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Personality Goes a Long Way

The relentless countdown is almost over and in just a few hours we will learn who is the 2014 BBC Sports Personality of the Year.  Just in case anyone fails to care enough about the outcome, the BBC has been filling the airwaves for weeks with reminders of the event and profiles of the main contenders (helpful background info for the majority of sports fans I suspect, who had never heard of half of them).  ‘Who will win this year?’ is the question that has supposedly been debated in pubs and clubs across the land.  Maybe it has, I don’t get out much.

But as we settle down to watch this potted summary of the sporting year presented by the BBC at its self satisfied best, is it heretical to ask, what exactly is the award meant to be for?  Is it, as the name suggests, the biggest sporting personality of the year, or just recognising someone who’s won a lot of stuff?  For every Henry Cooper, David Steele or Gazza among past winners, there has been Nigel Mansell (so boring his car came a close second), not one but four ice dancers, and Nick Faldo, who is dull even by the standards of a sport where you only have to wear a pair of checked trousers to be lauded as a great character.  And for anyone who put the 1971 award going to Princess Anne as the sort of cringingly deferential thing that couldn’t happen any more, there was a shock when the 2006 award went to her daughter. And again for success in an event that is open to 0.003% of the population.

In fact, in recent years the main award seems to have been particularly odd, going in 2009 to Ryan Giggs presumably on some sort of Nectar points basis, then in 2010 to A.P. McCoy thanks to a block vote by Ladbrokes customers.  This year the red hot favourite is said to be Rory McIlroy. Sure he’s had a successful year, but is he a personality?  Maybe he will reveal himself to be one in a gracious acceptance speech, before he jets off to rake in another sack of winnings in Dubai or somewhere.

My pick for this year’s award didn’t even make the shortlist, which just shows how outrageously unrepresentative it is. In a year in which his character has truly transcended his sport and dominated the headlines like no other, who else but Kevin Pietersen?  No one said it has to be a likeable personality!
KP - still optimistic of a recall to the shortlist, apparently

Thursday, 11 December 2014


I truly can't believe a thread on Poppynet (usually the less reactionary of our club forums) about our win last week at Hanwell has reached it's 12th page!

For anyone who can't be arsed to wade through it all, here are the highlights: -

Most people are happy enough that we won at Hanwell, and the team played well.

A couple of posters (one, a suspiciously recent member, and almost certainly not an ex player....) have managed to keep the thread going for almost a week, batting our seeming staggering amount of faults back and forth.  Whilst most normal fans are content that we are doing well this season and clear top of the league, these guys are having none of it!

It simply isn't good enough!

(A) We need to be beating teams better
(B) We need to be beating better teams
(C) Only players win matches
(D) Only managers lose matches.  And do so with their all-encompassing technical naivety.  Or if they haven't lost matches they may well do so in the future!
(E) Managers should be sacked if any decision they make ever fails to generate instant success.  Or if they don't shout more.  Or shout too much
(F) Brett should be put in charge for no apparent reason
(G) If we are promoted the Managers will be found out next year.  Or the year after
(H) Players sign despite the Managers
(I) As we are a bigger club than everyone else in the league we should utterly decimate all our opponents.  No disrespect meant to anyone.  Of course....
(J) The Chairman picks the team.  Or is it the Managers set the budget.  Or something
(K) Failure to win the FA Cup is just that.  Failure!

I'm just glad we actually won the Hanwell game, or these malcontents would really have gone to town!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

A short trip down memory lane

I occasionally wonder if I sometimes go over the top with criticising fellow supporters who moan about our Management team, losing the odd game, lack of cover or even chips at Latimer Park.  Or when people gripe about the Trust, and what they've done for the club.

I was searching google for images of Juventus v. AC Milan to use as the basis of a gag about the way Hanwell's and our kit looked yesterday.  As you do.  Good for a quick giggle.  Instead I happened upon a couple of articles from the website "200%" from what looked very much like our final days of existence.  One of these articles included some particularly fine writing from the Blog you are now reading, and a link to PATGOD from October 2012.

An hour later and I had re-read everything we'd written during the ill-fated removal to Non Park, Imraan, Rolls, Non Park, Not playing football for a month.  Re-birth at Steel Park.  Gates down to 150.  The club barely hanging on by a particularly narrow thread.  Huge defeats.  Relegations.

I hadn't gone back before and looked over the stuff we wrote during this period.  Why would I - far too depressing!  But I found I wasn't depressed by it.  Not to sound too self-serving, but it is a gripping story.  Horrific, but nevertheless gripping, even though we know the ending.  In over 140 years of history I cannot believe the club has been at such a low ebb.  Reading our bumf from back then, you genuinely cannot see how the club could come out of it's nosedive to destruction. 

All of this wasn't 20 or 30 years ago under Gingell or English.  It was just 2 years ago.  It all happened since the London Olympics.  George Rolls is still only halfway through his 5-year ban from football!  Events so recent that they have yet to fully pass into the fabric of the club consciousness.  At least for some people, who wave away those days, and the efforts of those who effectively saved the club, in a rush to go back to moaning about the most incredibly trifling of matters.

If you're bored, have a pop back to the blog from the start of the 2012-13 season.  Compare where we were then to where we are now and tell me we shouldn't still be pleased and grateful to still be able to complain about our football club.  So much has changed.  Oh, except for Pedro looking to launch another "Stay -a - Weymouth!"  Some things remain comfortingly familiar.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Mourinhos or Muppets?

It has often been noted that Poppies fans can have comically high expectations. In our headstrong younger days, Patgod was as guilty of this as anyone, penning furious editorials about failure to seal promotion to the Football League or perform brilliantly in a televised cup tie. These days we are a bit more reflective. Multiple relegations, ground moves and brushes with extinction have tempered our satisfaction levels ever so slightly. We’d now settle for a potential giant-killing trip to a Conf North side with a bit of cover behind the goal.

However, the fire still burns bright in some bellies, as shown by the ongoing trench warfare about the incurable failings of the current management duo. Especially the one who’s kinda funny looking. Nothing they do is ever good enough. Maintain a 5 point lead? Huh, just shows how the team are winning despite them. Fail to win a game? Sack them both!  Now!!  Or as an interim measure to appease our wrath, the one who’s kinda funny looking!!!

Management Mourinhos or Muppets? Let’s look at the record.

2014/15 season
Chelsea P14 W11 – win ratio 78.65
KTFC P19 W15 – win ratio 78.95

Chelsea: goals for 33 – average per game 2.35
KTFC: goals for 47 – average per game 2.47  

Chelsea: goals against 14 – average 1.00
KTFC: goals against 18 – average 0.95

Chelsea: owners who don’t resemble baffled albino chimpanzees: 0

Not bad! And before anyone pipes up about the standard of the opposition, we’d like to see how Fabregas would fancy a midfield scrap against Egham after hanging his £2,000 suit on a nail in the away dressing room.

Baillie and Machin may not be everyone’s idea of a dream team but judged on results they are doing well, so why the continuing abuse – especially towards Baillie. Why not pick on Machin too? It’s not an original thought, but the answer might be that Machin looks like the kind of guy who it might be a bad idea to upset, whereas Baillie is a bit lumpy and you could easily run away from him.  

But what does appearance matter? Look at the other Mourinho, the ginger one. Sean Dyche - that mysteriously undercelebrated son of Kettering who is continuing to prove that resembling a nightclub doorman is no barrier to mixing it with the big boys. Not for him the modern fetish of notepad scribbling, expensive imports and pseudo-bollocks about “philosophy”, he just gets the most out of what he can assemble. Plus he still sounds only a sliver away from lapsing into broad Kettering in a post match interview (“we wern frit an’ad a roight good goo sarfnoon, me ol’ booty”) and his brother works at Weetabix. All important credentials.

So it takes all sorts to make a world and there is more than one shade of Mourinho. Smooth and silvery, ginger baldy, bit scary, and kinda funny looking.  We say carry on guys, we’re right behind you.

That said, if we slip up today at Hanwell…
From left: Bit scary Mourinho, funny looking Mourinho

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Management Haters Come Clean

At long last those people demanding Management changes have come up with the Top 5 qualities they expect any new Boss at Latimer Park to have: -

1  Not being Thomas Baillie
2  Not being Thomas Baillie
3  Not being Thomas Baillie
4  Not being Thomas Baillie
5  Not being Thomas Baillie

"Jesus!  What has Machin done that's been so good?"

Saturday, 29 November 2014

It's not just us!

Most of us have been watching in fascinated horror as Poppies Fans Forums continue turning inwards and eat themselves alive whenever other teams have the temerity to beat us.  But, does this painful infighting happen everywhere?

Graham James has been investigating: -

"Out of curiosity I thought that I would have a look at a Real Madrid fans' forum and it proved to be very interesting. Here is a sample."

Paulo Cooke: Our 6-1 win on Saturday was the sixth time  that we have scored  five or more in a game already this season and Ronaldo's hat trick was his fourth of the season.

Pedro: Ah but what you fail to mention is that this was the third time in 12 games that we've conceded a goal.

Buster del face: And Ronaldo missed four chances that he would never have missed before "Los Dos" took over as managers but I don't suppose that I am allowed to say that on here.

Hombre de van blanco: There are still two seats left on the bus next week to Real Mallorca.

El gobo: I blame Imraani Ladaka.

Horatio:I see that 2 of our next 26 games are against teama that are within 20 points of us. I TRUST that we will win them all though.

Frederico: But will the trust keep supporting the managers if they continue to buy all the world's top players, and Gareth Bale? 

Simone: But we should be winning every game 6-0 not 6-1. Went we went 4 up on Saturday no
substitutes were brought on and what happened?  We went on to win 6-1.  No Plan  B again.  He just kept on Ronaldo and Benzema. If we had used our subs I am sure that we would have won 7-0.

Pedro: If you want evidence as to why we need a change of management just consider our recent results. 6-1, 5-0, 6-1 and 4-1.Notice anything? Yes, only one clean sheet. I am not setting foot in the Bernabeu until something changes.

Penfoldo: What's the parking like at the Camp Nou? I'm not going. I just wondered.

Las Pippies: Rumour around bought Messi great player. 

Marco: Why do we need another striker? He would probably be played at right back anyway.

Hombre miserable: We cannot comment until it is on the official website.

Jesus C.: Give the players a break.  They are only playing for "peanuts".

Pedro: That's it. I've had enough of this. We somehow have managed to be 25 points ahead with five games to go but I still wouldn't put it past los dos amigos to mess it up.

gaja: Oh that's it then is it? We are not allowed to say anything positive about the club now. I thought that this was a forum so we should be able to say anything about the runaway leaders not just unjustified criticism. Aren't we allowed free speech anymore? As soon as we say we will have won the league by Christmas, we just get shouted at for appreciating the efforts of everyone involved. Isn't everyone entitled to their opinion, even if it is inexplicably being optimistic about the future!

Those Spaniards!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Drawing A Blank

Every once in a while my inner anorak bubbles to the surface, and I develop a Motsonlike thirst to know the answer to some intriguing statistical poser. My current itch concerns our long sequence without drawing a game. Come on, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed. This season our league record still features a zero in the middle column, which is perhaps a mild curiosity after 17 games, but add the various cup competitions and it’s up to 24. Then go back to last season, which ended with a run of 13 wins or losses and the tally is a stonking 37! Surely a record!!  But how to be sure?
The obvious answer – ask Paul Cooke – was discounted on the basis that some things in life you just gotta do yourself. Even if it is an internet voyage into geekdom by visiting various dusty statto sites on a quiet Sunday afternoon. But nowhere have I found the answer I seek. I now know that the longest run without a goalless draw in English senior football is held by Peterborough United - 156 League (171 All Competitions), 8 December 2009 to 9 March 2013. And feel a bit better for it. But what about any kind of draw?  Nobody seems to have bothered to note that one down. A draw is one of only 3 possible outcomes, so a run of 37 non-draws has to be pretty rare. Perhaps it is a record! But wait a minute, do we qualify as being part of English senior football these days? You might struggle to argue yes. In the football pyramid, Tier 8 is closer to park pitch than the Football League (on a bad day, very close indeed). And who’s to say there isn’t a tier 9 side somewhere that has lost 40 in a row.

So, reluctantly, my conclusion is this. A run of 37 games without a draw is undoubtedly quite unusual. At our level.  Probably.

Rabbit Hutch, anyone?

News that a developer has acquired the rights to develop Rockingham Road have left me a little conflicted.  In a perfect world of back-to-back Rollover Euro-lottery wins we would be heading back to our true home, with 21st Century facilities under construction due for completion for the first game of next season.  This coinciding with an audit at Conference HQ which shows we should never have been relegated in the first place, restoring us to the top flight of Non-League football.  Oh, and while we're shooting for the moon, Rachel Riley suddenly can't get enough of chubby middle aged Poppies bloggers.

Now with Rockingham Road finally out of reach we can at least draw a reluctant line under our pursuit of our former home and concentrate on moving forward as a club.

What we should do though, is spare a thought for the poor developer, suddenly owning this prime, but quite small pot of land.  They are going to be trying to squeeze 56 properties onto this site.  That may not sound an overly large number,  but when you consider the number of private houses on Britannia Road and Cowper Street that directly face the ground is only 17, you suddenly wonder how on earth they expect to fit 56 such properties on such a small site?

Except, they won't be putting comparable properties on the site.  Whereas the surrounding streets are predominantly sturdily brick built 3-4 bedroom houses, mostly detatched, and mostly with front and rear gardens, can anyone imagine these new dwellings being anything more that the usual rabbit hutches with not quite enough parking?  We've all seen these new houses go up, haven't we?  A wooden frame supporting a bare layer of breeze blocks and insulating fabric, and finished off with a layer of "decorative" brickwork. 

I wonder about these sort of houses, and the current state of the house-building trade.  Look at the enormous amount of Victorian dwellings in this town and you will see houses that have stood for 120+ years and could easily see them stand for another 120.  Even the meanest Victorian terraced house has design flourishes, large rooms and incredibly solid construction. 

Builders of more than a century ago really knew their jobs.  Compare this to the houses our present-day builders "knock-up".  Plaster board walls, tiny rooms, and the neighbour's TV heard throughout the house.  Oh, and given the number of times you see scaffolding around newish buildings, a bit of re-working after about 5 years.  And that is for the expensive homes.  Imagine what the "affordable" element of the 56 houses at Rocky Road will be like!

Mind you, before any of this building happens the site will need to be cleared.  Not a 5 minutes job!  Access needs to be forged, taking up precious space.  Presumably where the pitch has been built up and levelled will need to be taken away and the hill restored?  The enormous, stately trees on Rockingham Road will need to be safely felled?  The right of way between Cowper Street and the Rock and Bowl will need to be preserved?  The R&B will also need to be maintained, as much as the developers would dearly love to either build on it, or at the very least, park their trucks, tools and portaloos on there?

One assumes the local residents will be keeping the beadiest of beady eyes on what goes on.  The first sign of the developers trying to foist some additional flats, or further builds onto the site will rightly have them up in arms. 

And then, after the builders have finished and moved on, and the first sets of "challenging" housing association families have taken up their rental residence, there is the small matter of the roughly-hewn roads and pavements remaining crappy for years as the council take their time in adopting these new alleyways, clogged with cars and unmoving wheely bins.  Suddenly the football club won't have seemed to be such bad neighbours!

We daresay the lamppost notifications around Britannia Road and Cowper Street are going to be thoroughly scrutinised over the coming months!

"Rockingham Road Mews: You can just make out where the centre circle used to be"

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Poppies still strive to keep it interesting!

Watching the Poppies these days is becoming akin to a rollercoaster ride at a rickety old fairground. Everything surrounding us is run down and faintly seedy.  The matches are undeniably exciting, with plenty of emotional peaks and troughs.  And at any point you half expect a few bolts to work themselves loose, and bring everything crashing down.  And then we'll be at the mercy of the Health and Safety Executive.

Talk about ups and downs....

Going 2-0 down.

Fighting back.

Sandy scoring his 6th goal in as many games (and then struggling to work out how many fingers to hold up in celebration of this great run!)

Gooding scoring even after scuffing his penalty even worse than the one he scuffed last week.

Rattling the woodwork the usual 3 times during the game.

Bukasa fluking an outrageously lucky winner.

Dubi looking annoyed.

The grey haired linesman being at least 20-yards off the pace all game long.

New signing David Unpronounceable looked lively.

The rain holding off all game long.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Poppies strive to keep it interesting!

Most teams that are 2-0 up with twenty minutes to go, rattling the woodwork every few minutes, and about to take a penalty would be expecting a nice easy coast to the final whistle.  Not us though.  Oh, no.  Where's the fun in that?  Why put a game to bed when you can force your supporters through the wringer?

So, instead of going 3-0 up and continuing to mercilessly pepper the Aylesbury goal, we managed to invite them back to the party by giving them a goal from another penalty, and reducing ourselves to 10-men in the process.

But as much fun it is for us all to see our players making a game out of matches they are dominating, we really wouldn't mind if they occasionally put the opposition well and truly to the sword, even if this resulted in slightly more boring finishes to our games.  Really.  It wouldn't fuss us if every now and then our games fizzled out into comfortable, even hefty wins.

One thing that was glaring from yesterday's win at Aylesbury, and a number of games prior, was the need for someone in the middle of the park to grab hold of the game and either push us forward or marshal our defensive efforts.  We have had plenty of nominees for this vital position this season, but no-one has yet nailed this coveted role.

At the start of the season, our latest Daventry cry-baby Ross Oulton didn't hang around long enough to earn the spot.  A couple of months later he's out of the door at the Purple Hatters when his pay packet was greatly lightened.  Now he is battling against the drop at Bedford.  Serves him right!

Brett has also filled the spot with patchy results.  He has not been as dominant in the middle as he is currently being at centre back.  Surely he will stay there for the rest of the season?  Or until Henry returns?

Next up is returning feather-weight Messiah, James Jepson, but he seems dangerously off the pace this season, running around it little circles as the games flies past him.

The mighty Tommy Hull has filled the spot a few times.  We are told, by those in the know, that sitting in front of the back four is his best position.  For real?  Good a player as he is he seems  ineffective playing just 5 yards ahead of his usual centre back position.  Weird!

Jonathan Thorpe's severe injury has ruled him out of contention for the season.  Even so, hobbling on crutches, he isn't perhaps our worst option...!

By a process of elimination we have been left with a midfield duo of Gooding and Robinson.  Both are OK players, but better suited to playing alongside a dynamic midfielder, than alongside each other.  Neither of them is "the answer".  Entire games can pass before you notice either one is on the pitch. Perhaps this is why one usually replaces the other from the substitutes bench?  Between them, they add up to one good player?  And now Gooding is having his penalties saved his limited value takes even  more of a nose-dive!

That said, looking at the table this morning - a five point lead and a game in hand, we are doing most things right.  We just don't want to tempt the rest of the league back into the promotion hunt, like we tempted Aylesbury and their poorly handled drum back into the game yesterday!

Wanted: Someone to dominate this area of the pitch.  Apply: R Jeune.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything!

I know we've fallen on great footballing hard times.  Goodbye Rockingham Road.  Goodbye Conference National.  Hello Park Football.  Hello bobbly Latimer Park.

But even in the darkest days of the fag end of Non Park and some of the freezing nights of footballing horror at Steel Park we never suffered the indignity heaped on North Greenford United today.

We may have been slightly disappointed with our gate of 535 today, but spare a thought for the spartan surrounds at the home of "The Blues" as they had just 42 warm bodies come through the turnstiles.


Did this number include complimentary tickets?  God, I hope not!


Assuming a full set of substitutes on both teams and, say five Managers, Assistant Managers, Coaches, Physios etc. on each bench, the playing staff and attendance were exactly the same.


And what if each player has a family member at the game?  Upwards of 30 of the crowd might be attending due to purely familial attachments!


If it came to a scrap between the watchers and the performers, the outcome might well come down to which side the match officials took!


That's not even a coach-full.  We really have to get out of this division as soon as we can!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

They say a picture tells a thousand words....

If so, this photograph from the blog, "Sweet Left Foot" would be saying,

"Ugly sons of bitches!"

Repeated 250 times!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

So, what's wrong with Ash Fuller?

With news that Elliot Sandy and Chris Logan are treading the well worn path back to Latimer Park, the obvious question, beyond, why are we are re-employing players who couldn't win the league last season, is what has Ash Fuller done to be, thus far, overlooked?

Just why hasn't the last main member of last season's squad not made a re-appearance?

Poor personal hygiene?
Didn't leave his phone number with Ritchie?
Took too long in the showers?
Doesn't like playing in front of us moaning buggers?
Thinks red and black stripes makes him look a bit large across the hips?
Doesn't fancy playing out of position?
He accepts he isn't good enough to force his way into the starting 11?

Ash Fuller - not required (at time of writing)
back at Latimer Park

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Kettering 6 LIncoln 0

Today's victory over Lincoln United continued the complete domination of little old Kettering over the mighty cathedral city of Lincoln.  Previously we have treated Lincoln City as our own private bitch, but today we extended this punishment to include their junior neighbours of Lincoln United.

Our painfully one-sided bullying of Lincoln City is odd in as much as we have always been much the lesser team and yet still thoroughly spanked them.  Certainly the stats don't lie.

We first met back in the 87/88 season, back in the days when a team relegated from the Football League pretty much just had to stay full-time to bounce straight back into the Big Time.  Lincoln City, with future Poppies legend Phil Brown very much to the fore, duly spanked the cream of non-league and clambered back into the League.  But not before the mighty Poppies, coming back to prominence under the guidance of Alan Buckley did the double over them. 

The next time we met in the league action, Lincoln had just tumbled out of the League again, and we were having our monstrous season of horror at Non Park.  Under the fine leadership of the likes of Imraan Ladak, George Rolls and even Helen Bloody Thompson, we managed just 8 wins as we finished rock bottom of the Conference.  This small handicap didn't stop us from doing the double over Lincoln City again. 

Four league games.  Four wins to the Poppies.  Six goals for, and none against.  We'd happily take that record against anyone!

Lincoln City had better luck against us in the FA Cup in 2008.  Just as the Poppies were cruising to the accustomed victory, bugger me if Lincoln didn't score a goal to force a replay.  The Poppies were so shocked at having to pick the ball out of their own net against the Imps, that City stunned us again by scoring first in the replay at Sincil Bank.  Of course, we couldn't let this situation stand, and as soon as we got over the shock we duly scored twice and normal service was resumed.

Given how their illustrious neighbours are so firmly in our back pocket, Lincoln United really shouldn't feel too bad at bowing down to the Poppies.

This city genuinely, and rightfully
hates our guts!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The best a Man(ager) can get?

Saturday's defeat at home to Uxbridge seems to have been the final straw for a number of our supporters.  Coming so soon after the painfully lacklustre non-performance against Chalfont in the FA Cup, some Poppies fans have been pushed over the edge into demanding our Managerial Duo be sacked.

Anyone looking in from outside the seething cauldron of passion that is Poppydom might raise an eyebrow as to why supporters of a team that is top of the table, with most wins, least defeats, most goals scored and least conceded are screaming for managerial blood?

One of the problems Machin and, seemingly, particularly Baillie seem to have with their detractors is that they were slipped into their management roles too easily.  Many fans indulged in far too much wishful thinking when it came to appointing Thomas's replacement.  Why they thought a part-time position at this lowly level would appeal to the likes of Marcus Law, and who knows who else remains a mystery.  Even through we all know Kettering Town FC is by far the greatest team the World has ever seen, we play in a glorified park league.

And it would appear we are looking for a very specific kind of manager.  It is a given that they must win every game.  They must also do it with elan.  Opposition teams must be battered for fully 90 minutes, begging for the ref to stop the contest.  The Manager must spend the entire game being "tactically brilliant" and using just the right amount of verbal encouragement at exactly the right time.

At the same time we want managerial perfection we are happy to endure some extremely moderate efforts from some of the players, who, at the end of the day, are the ones on the pitch to actually win the game.  Is it the fault of Management when players don't try?  Or can't pass a ball properly?  Or take crap shots when they should pass?  Or miss open goals?

If Ritchie bowed to pressure to remove Scott and Thomas he will be faced with an enormously difficult task.  Not only will he have to find the managerial equivalent of a hybrid of Cloughie / Ferguson / Mourinho and Big Ron, he will also need to find a compelling reason to tell the candidate why the club are looking for a new supremo even though they are on top of the league.  How is the new man going to top being, er, top?

Some Latimer Park patrons won't be happy until the club's
new facility is put to good use.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Football's Coming Home?

So there’s a chance. It may not be a big one, but there’s a chance. To even have a glimmer it’s better that it’s now and not a year or two years ago, when just surviving to play another match was the goal.  The Pickerings have had plenty of time to weigh up their prospects. Is the site really an attractive proposition for developers?  Let’s hope not.  The cost of demolition would presumably have to include undoing the levelling of the field back to the original gradient , no small job.  A noisy bowling alley nearby. The old Indian burial ground under the pitch (go start a rumour, what have we got to lose).  

If nothing else, these past three years have done wonders for managing expectations.  Far from looking around Rockingham Road during quiet passages of play and reflecting how shabby the old girl looked, most of us would gladly take it now with two sides closed on safety grounds and the players emerging out of a portakabin in the corner. That’s not to underplay our gratitude to BPW and Corby for acting as a life support machine since 2012 – we will always be thankful – but as long as the wrecking ball and digger stayed away from Rockingham Road there was always a faint hope -  very faint perhaps – that somehow we might return.  The road signs to a football ground are still there…

It will come down to sealed bids so emotion and sentiment won’t count for anything. But just suppose KTFC repossesses Rockingham Road. Imagine the impact. Ownership restored after nearly 30 years, and in the era of lottery funding and grants for development of community facilities.  An initial period of roughing it leading eventually to phased redevelopment, starting with the prime end on Rockingham Road itself – where better to situate the facilities to generate year round revenue – a bar, a gym, a place to eat?  Isn’t that a better bet than corporate boxes which any club would struggle to fill, to watch non League football.  Diamonds had a whole pitch length of them – before the crash. But we’ll take a few spare parts from Nene Park while they’re still available.  And if we can still attract 600 to Latimer Park to watch Tier 8, surely more to RR if the admission pricing remains attractive.

Leaving aside the absence of a realistic option, do we really need an out of town location with a 3G training pitch and megastore parking.  Do Stevenage have that. Do Cheltenham. Do Kidderminster. They all seem to have done ok without them, by being well run, by progressive ground improvements, and without being somebody’s vanity project. At the moment we might not be aiming that high, but a return to Rockingham Road would raise the ceiling. So light a candle, say a prayer and promise to be a nicer person if this one wish is granted.   

Friday, 3 October 2014

Never Can Say Goodbye

Surprise, surprise!  James Jepson seems to have found his way back to Latimer Park -

If there's one major difference between playing at Conference level and playing at our current level (beyond seeing away fans, or a stand with more the 6 rows of seats) it is the revolving door nature of the playing staff.  This obviously has a lot to do with weekly contracts, dual registration, and the fact that no player in the Southern League believes they should ever be on the bench.

Remember the old day?  Once in a blue moon a former player returned.  Usually after several years and several extra pounds, when their career had finished peaking and was showing signs of spluttering, just before plummeting back to earth (I'm looking at you Carl!)

Not anymore.  Players come and go with such rapidity that, at times, it must be bloody confusing for them to know which badge to kiss.

Who's done the rounds recently in the Poppies Red & Black?

Well, top of the pile is good old Henry Eze, who has just completed his third stint with us.  See you soon Henry!  Lewis Wilson is about to commence his third Poppies adventure.  Last season we suffered the third or was it forth visitation of Ben Ford?  I'm never quite sure if Jon Bukasa ever really went away, but always seems to be returning!  Dan Crowie and Louis Hamilton seem to pop up every so often.  Chris Logan is even rumoured to be setting his Sat Nav back to NN15. 

Add to these the more traditionally long returns for Andy Hall, Brett Solkhan and the monumentally long gap between games for Jason Lee (no, the other one), and we have more familiar faces than a typical Irthlingborough wedding.

Get ready for more
nancy-running like this!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Not much to ask?

What do we want to see from our players on a Saturday?

Skill?  Sure.  No problem with that.
Tactical brilliance?  OK, whatever.
Flashes of brilliance?  Yes, if needs be.
One-touch football?  Pitches permitting!
Constant pressure?  Sure, would be nice.
Overpowering performances.  In an ideal world - that would be great.

All the above would be good from time to time, but Poppies fans aren't too fussed about humbling the opposition and playing total football.

What we do insist upon is that the players that pull on our shirt at least sweat into that shirt.  100% effort.  As a minimum.  A bare minimum (and obviously, a maximum...!)  Do players think that playing for Kettering means they've made it at this level?  That the work is done already?  It certainly looked that way yesterday.

The next couple of away league games will be very interesting, to see if the management and players can make up for wasting a perfectly good Saturday afternoon for almost 700 Kettering fans.  Coasting to a Top 6 finish this season is not part of the club's, and particularly, Ritchie's plan.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Noddy, Mickey and Jock

Two home draws against Corby Town in a pair of utterly pointless cup games was always likely to result in a couple of outcomes.  Firstly, more than likely defeats, and secondly, lots of happy, boisterous sweaties.

There's something about playing the Poppies that brings out numbers from across the Exeter Estate and Danesholme, who unless Glasgow Rangers were up at the Triangle, wouldn't cross the road to watch their town's football team.  The love for the 'Gers and hatred for Kettering may satisfactorily occupy Corby's floating supporters, but it must infuriate those people who have tried to run CTFC over the years.

How pissed off must previous Chairmen like Pete Mallinger, Kevin Ingram, and now Steve Noble be at seeing hordes of supposed supporters who are happy to travel away to boost the coffers of the Poppies but find compelling reasons to resist the urge to click the turnstiles at Steel Park?  The club could probably run at a profit if only they could play in a league made up of just themselves, us and Scotland's most painfully medieval religious-based football team.

But who can deny their once-a-seasoners (actually, twice-a-seasoners this year) an evening of unbridled joy at defeating the auld enemy.  The chance to celebrate long into the night.  Hell, they didn't have the nerve to become an independent country, but when it comes to beating the Poppies the plastic-jocks party like it was 1314AD (Look it up, under Bannockburn, Battle of-)

We hate to deflate our County cousin's delight, but the average Kettering fan's reaction to this game can be summed up by a mate who bemoaned that we had been knocked out of,  "The Red Insure Cup, or the County Cup, or whatever....!"

Noddy or Mickey indeed!

" I couldn't be happier if this bath was full of scotch pies and
Braveheart was on telly every night!"

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Trying to fix things that ain't broke

Not able to go to today's game away to Marlow. This time last year I would be settling down to listen to the screechingly-partisan, wonderfully amateur efforts of Poppies Radio where, if I was lucky, I'd eventually find out the score. Not now unfortunately.

As admirable as Ritchie's efforts are to raise additional funds with his Poppies TV venture, few people would argue that the current service emanating from is fit to lace the boots of the former supplier of Poppies coverage. There are obviously a lot of transmission issues that need to be overcome. Somehow radio coverage from all corners of the Southern League Central Division was possible last season, but not this. What's changed?

Presently the official site, rather than covering our heroes (hopefully) putting Marlow to the sword, is alternating between adverts for something that could either be a new movie, or possibly a video game ( I am of an age that, these days I often can't tell the difference), and random highlights of 50-odd minutes against Daventry. Somehow we've managed to find a big wedge of footage against Daventry without a Poppies goal in it. That takes some doing...!

  All of this begs the question as to why Poppies Radio was pulled before the new service was properly tested and readily available? Live TV at this level? We are 10 games into the season and online coverage has been patchy at best. Was this new venture always going to be a step too far? As I keep refreshing Poppynet and KTFC Forum for updates, it certainly seems so at the moment.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Scotland Says No


So we get to keep this place.

England and Scotland's relationship will carry on just as Kettering and Corby's one does. We get to act in a superior manner (for no really apparent reason), and they continue to act as though they have a chip on each shoulder. "Better Together?" Not really, but we do like having each other around to wind up!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Egoista, me?

I'm not really looking for the sympathy vote, or even moderate empathy, but for a moment last Tuesday I rather hoped the floodlights remained off. Such an action may have ultimately cost us 3-points, and a healthy chunk of numbers in the "Goals For" column. But, nursing a glass of something most acceptable, watching the sun set blazingly over the Mediterranean whilst listening to the hit-an-miss radio service from Latimer Park, the sudden loss of power to the floodlights gave me a moment's weakness. "If there's no sparky in the crowd, those lights won't be coming back on" I mused. "That means I'll be back home for the rescheduled game." "I won't miss out!" But then, I gave way to the better part of my nature. Let the game finish, I generously thought. The lights came back on and the game was completed without me. I called the barman over and re-ordered. Something cool for the warm, sweet night. questa รจ la vita

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Happy Birthday

PATGOD reached a bit of a landmark during the past week – its 25th anniversary. It was a raucous affair as you might expect – dwarf tossing, snorting coke off a hooker’s ass, a game of crib. We partied like it was 1989. But actually that date sends a bit of a shiver down the spine. Was it really a whole quarter century ago that the inky, photocopied parent of this sleek electronic blog first emerged blinking into the light? Where did all the years go? Not to mention our hair?

Back then, fanzines broke new ground because they gave football fans a means to express their views by taking the publication into their own hands. At the time this was quite a big step. Sports coverage was far more limited than today and there was no room for the opinions of supporters. Apart from sanitised (by necessity) bits and bobs in programmes.  Within a couple of years, broadcasters cottoned on and the first great example was the creation of 6-0-6 hosted by Danny Baker.  Like a radio version of a funny, intelligent argument in a pub, it was liberating. So much so that within a couple more years, the BBC had replaced him with David Mellor as if to say, that’s enough of that sort of thing thank you.

The likes of Mellor seemed to set the tone for a decade or more of token fan input – only numpties allowed on air – then the rise of social media and no-cost blogs gave supporters a new means of expression. By then the traditional printed fanzine was rather old hat.  We should know, having knocked out paper editions of PATGOD covering events from 3 months earlier, whereas now you can follow a game live on t’net and even watch it (if the camera is pointing in the right direction and someone has remembered to put a shilling in the meter). And then argue about it with fellow keyboard warriors. All in their underpants.

Now, in the age of incessant comment, everyone has an opinion and it’s out there.  Who hasn’t had their enjoyment of a major international enhanced by a scrolling bar saying "cum on England u can do it"? Or listened to a Liverpool supporter living in Devon who wasn’t at the game today and didn’t see it on TV but is certain it wasn’t a penalty.

Public opinion. It’s over rated.

Issue 1. Early desktop publishing.  

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Bye, bye Baby

Ross Oulton's return to Daventry comes as no surprise.  Following in the barely lamented footsteps of Scott Cross, Oulton has run, crying back to the purple hatters because he can't get his own way at the Poppies.

Good luck to Ross.

Good luck being back with his old purple hat-hiding pals.

Good luck not having to compete for a starting place.

Good luck back playing in front of double figure crowds.

Want guaranteed start in guaranteed position. 

Henry, why do you keep thinking the grass is greener?

News that Henry may well be on his way out of the club yet again shouldn't really surprise us.  He'll pop off for a while.  Realise he's not quite as good as he thinks he is (at least without Tommy alongside him).  Sit on the bench at Kings Lynn for a few games.  Then get back here in time to scoop Player of the Year again!

From what we are led to believe, Henry is entirely reliant on other people to get him to and from games and training.  That's all well and good if Kings Lynn have someone who is (a) domiciled in Birmingham, (b) guaranteed to keep playing for Kings Lynn, and (c) happy to act as Henry's taxi service.

Failing that we have looked into Henry's options using public transport.

On Saturdays, by train, Henry will have a cosy 7-hours roundtrip with a cheery hour-long stop over in Ely.  Hope Henry is on a good screw, because a return ticket would cost over 60 notes.

A cheaper option would be make the journey by coach.  The good news is that it costs half as much as the train.  The bad news is that he would need to catch the coach on Friday afternoon, and spend 6 hours getting to Kings Lynn on Friday night.  Get a room.  Play Saturday afternoon.  There's good news for the return journey in as much as it's an hour shorter.  There's more bad news however as this bus doesn't leave until Sunday morning, meaning a second overnight in Kings Lynn.  All told, a pretty tiring 48 hour door-to-door outing.  Phew!

Who knows, the next time he comes knocking on Ritchie's door, no-one might answer.....

Henry Eze presents Ken Samuel with the Poppies Award for Loyalty.
The one award Henry himself is unlikely to ever win.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Finally, some good news from NN9

With 2015 on the horizon, our thoughts turn to our late, lamented home on the banks of the Nene, and the fervent hopes that the excellent businessmen who own the excellent site can make an acceptable return on their investment.  We dread to think that the Hills, and Cousens of this world do not make a maximum financial return.  We can't think of many other people who deserve to succeed as much as these fine gentlemen.

News that the Nene Park site is to be developed has been splashed all over the local media -

According to the report, elements of the history of Rushden & Diamonds FC will be incorporated into any new development on the site.  There are no reports yet whether this will take the form of a statue of a one-eyed cattle fondler, or painting of an enormous bag of money, or a mural of an enormous white elephant.

Not that this is the only vagueness contained in the report.  Unless others much cleverer than us know exactly what a "leisure zone" and a shopping zone" are.

All we hope is that when the demolition of the football ground commences we are all given plenty of notice to allow us to purchase enormous sledgehammers, and drink lots of fluid to ensure we can piss all over the place as we smash the f*cking hole up.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Opinions, opinions, opinions

They say football is all about opinions.  This is true at Kettering Town FC.  And nowhere more true than within the online Poppies community.

Once upon a time, people had opinions on players, oppositions, performances, management, officials, grounds, crowds, food, programmes and any of dozens of other subjects.

A lot of you aren't going to like to read this, but, today, far too many supporters spend far too much time criticising just two things. 

(1) The fact that we don't hammer out of sight with perfect, flowing football every team we play against. 
And, (2) Slagging off any supporter who suggests that, considering where the club was just 12 months ago, being top of the league after half a dozen games, is actually a GOOD thing!

The fact the club could, and perhaps should have folded several times in the past couple of years seems to have been conveniently glossed over by too many people lining up to moan.  Sorry, offer opinions.  One senses that the majority of those who are complaining about the performances so far this season probably weren't around much during the final days at Non Park.  Nor attended many games at the permanently freezing Steel Park.  There were times when you genuinely attended games knowing that you were going to be well beaten, AND it could easily be the last game the club played.  A time when it would have been very easy to give in and walk away.  Most did.

More than likely, those complaining loudest now had given up on the club during this period and have little inkling of what those who chose to actively try to save the Poppies actually did during these darkest of dark days.  It they did, I'm sure they wouldn't belittle their efforts by trying to paper over our very recent past, and shout down anyone who dares to mention this period.

Yes, I chose to wade through all the "End of Days" horror of the fall of the house of Non Park.  I stumbled out of that cursed place, numb, after the Bashley game, when the few players and supporters who turned up knew that was, baring a miracle, our last ever game.

I huddled up on an empty, frozen terrace at Corby, often watching several goals per game fly into our net.  I chose to stick with the club until the bitter end.  I'm not looking for praise or a medal.  Psychiatric help maybe....  But, I tell you what, I am really taking pleasure in seeing my team do well again.  I don't even really care that the games we are winning are in reduced circumstances.  We are winning.  We are top of our league.  We don't look like going bust every week.  The club is being run by people I trust.  I'm not even finding Cyril at the games that annoying!

I feel far less inclined to offer piffling, petty criticism of the manner of our winning, or whether our managers gee up the players enough.  Having looked into the abyss of the club's oblivion I have learned to take pleasure in seeing the Poppies bloom.  And if someone who has moaned and whined through the paper and electronic pages of PATGOD for much of the past 25 years or so, can start to feel happy about the Poppies, surely there is a chance for everyone else?

And if you don't like what I've written - well tough!  It's my opinion!

Dirty Harry cuts though the sh*t

Monday, 25 August 2014

Perhaps there is an "I" in "Team" after all!

Not since the heady days of middleweight fisticuffs between "The French Fists of Fury" JP Marna, and "The Glassiest Jaw of Lagos", Moses Ashikodi, had we watched goggle-eyed at Poppies players fronting up to each other.

Back then at N...N...N...Park, we were angry at each other because we were the worst team in the world, run by a useless fantasist, and playing miles out of town at a money pit we weren't even paying for. This time the argument was about who would finish off the mighty North Greenford United to give us our 4th win from 5 starts.

Ding Ding - Round One.  Penalty to Kettering.  Who's going to take it?  The appointed penalty taker, Andy Gooding, or goal-hungry Dubi Ogbonna?  Doing a very good impression of a defender trying to put off the penalty taker, Dubi is in Andy's face before grumpily, and resentfully shuffling out of the penalty box.  Andy scores, seemingly much to Dubi's annoyance.

Ding Ding - Round Two.  James Clifton tries to ease Dubi away from the penalty area with a few choice words, which may or may not have included, "Grow up" and "F*ck off!"  Dubi thanked his colleague by indulging in a bit of push and shove with Clifton.

I'm not sure I would rub Clifton up the wrong way.  No offence to James.  He has been a great signing and made excellent contributions in both boxes.  But I can never look at him without imagining a blurry photograph of his face on a Special News broadcast, glaring out from the television as the newscaster solemnly intones, ".....after the massacre he turned the gun on himself..."

Ding Ding - Round Three.  Henry Eze also tries to calm Dubi down, only to be shrugged off, which as we all know, takes some doing!

Ding Ding - Round Four.  Dubi runs the gauntlet of Poppies supporters.  If he believed they would take kindly to his childish selfishness, he has judged the situation badly.

So, what's it all about?  Why the sudden desperate need to be the man to score all of our goals?  As much as we all appreciate anyone scoring for us, this season it has been noticeable that getting on the score sheet seems to be the be all and end all of pulling on the Poppies red.  Not setting up colleagues.  Not playing for the team.  If you've got the ball you keep it and try to get a shot in yourself.  Doesn't matter if you're on the six yard line, or near the corner flag, if you can see the whites of the 'keeper's eyes, have a punt.

We've no idea as to why our players have suddenly gone all goal-greedy, but a theory did occur, which does kind-of fit the evidence.  What if, in an attempt to get the goals flying in on our promotion push, Ritchie has offered overly-attractive goal bonuses?  This would at least explain Dubi's desperate attempt to wrest the penalty taking job from Andy just as he is about to take the bloody thing.  It would explain Josh's powder-puff strikes from 40 yards when other players are better placed.

Whatever the problem is it will be an early test of our new Management Duo to sort before it poisons the dressing room. If it hasn't already.  It will be interesting to see the make-up of our starting eleven this afternoon.  Assuming we can see anything through the rain of course!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Shoey still talks a good game!

To quote the ET online,

"In a statement released this morning (Tuesday), Shoemake said: “After speaking to Ritchie and Neil in recent months, the topic of testimonials was mentioned.

“They were surprised to learn that I’d never been offered a testimonial after nearly 10 years of service, albeit in four different spells and after raising it with two previous chairmen of the club.

“I thought nothing more of it until Neil contacted me recently to say that the club’s directors had discussed it and agreed to offer me a retrospective testimonial in recognition of the service given."

Good old Shoey.  Not many of our former players is as good a talker as Big Kev.  He can charm the birds from the trees.  And anyone who has ever spoken to him for more than 5 minutes knows that the conversation often comes around to the subject of testimonials in general, and his lack of one in particular.  And 10 years at the club?  Mmmm.  We can't be arsed to do too much research as it's very boring, but that does sound rather a l-o-n-g time.  A good deal longer than we can instantly recall.....

So, we're in no way surprised to read that, when talking to Ritchie that "The topic of testimonials was mentioned."  And we've no doubt as to who brought the subject up!

Was Shoey ever that young?
Was anyone?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Back to Reality Part 2

After tonight's efforts at Leighton at least no-one should be talking of us sewing up the title by Christmas.

We may just have to wait until New Year's Day!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Happy Birthday AFC Scum!

Radio Northampton fulfilled an admirable part of its public service remit today by announcing the third anniversary of the birth of AFC Rushden & Diamonds FC.  I guess very little is happening today in the NN postcode area....

This "story" was combined with the ongoing news that any century now, the future of Nonce Park (a football ground AFC Rushden & Diamonds have never played at - pedantic, I know!)  To tie this piece altogether the Generalissimo of AFC Scum was wheeled on to, very slowly, use five full minutes to mumble what basically amounted to: -

"We want to move into the Rushden / Ithlingborough / Higham area, but not to Nonce Park".

If we are allowed to offer our humble opinion, we suggest they look in the Irthlingborough area, which is covered by a Corby MP, and we know that all "Corby" teams have to do is ask nicely and new football grounds suddenly appear.  We wouldn't suggest they speak to Rushden Council as all they will be doing at the moment is nursing their hard-ons over how the "Rushden Lakes" development will soon make them the Milton Keynes of East Northamptonshire! 

Rushden councillors will be too busy dreaming of the squillions of Pounds they will soon be rolling in to spare a though to allocating a field for a few hundred inbreds to watch their football. 

We could never understand why, when the original Rushden and Diamonds were wound-up, their collection of freaks and misfits didn't amalgamate with the Rushden team playing out of Hayden Road.  All the various incarnations of the club brought back together under one roof.  Rushden folk don't usually have a problem with numerous family members all squeezing in together.....

No, instead they decided to set-up yet another club, and make their already ridiculously long name even longer, and spread their infestation to encompass Raunds and Wellingborough too.

But, having suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous footballing fortunes in the past few years we aren't going too be critical of the efforts of others to secure their future.  Six-fingered, webbed toe, under-bridge-hiding freaks they might be, but, here's to AFC R&D finding a new home!

"All we need is a new easily-flooded field to call home!
Now, where did I leave me banjo?"

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Back to Reality

1. We aren't necessarily going to win the title at a canter.
2.  The chips were, apparently, worth waiting for.
3.  The place where I stand is slightly less packed when it's not a play-off final.

"Where are yer?  Where are yer?"

Saturday, 9 August 2014

What we did in the holidays part 3 - Us

I don't know if optimism has been added to our drinking water (to balance out the fluoride and the lead rust from our Victorian pipes) but most supporters have an unhealthy, un-Poppies-like confidence in the coming season.  Unhealthy, because as we all know, it never pays to shout the odds as a Poppies fans.  The few times we have felt a swell of pre-season pride it has usually preceded a heavy fall.  How many "We'll walk this league" Augusts been followed by teeth-grinding defeats through September?

Sure, given the enormous squad assembled, with presumably a thick wedge of them soon to be loaned out, we should be very much to the fore come the end of the season.  But I can't help feeling a tremor of nervousness when fellow Poppies supporters, who presumably have watched us play before, seem to think we'll win the league at a canter.  Some talk of remaining undefeated through the season!  I'd be happy to remain undefeated through this afternoon!

We seem to have conveniently forgotten that there are a few teams in this division who play a bit.  Even though we beat Daventry each of the 32 times we played them last season, they were a strong unit who played good football, and bossed us at Latimer Park in the league and in the play-off semi final.  Rugby Town were a good team who, although we played them off the park at their place, beat everyone else comfortably, and took 4 points off us last season.  Bedford Town are likely to be a threat.  It only needs two teams to have slightly better seasons than us, and we're down here for another year.

Every team in this division will raise their game against us big-time Charlies.  Ten behind the ball.  Parking the bus.  Victorian football.  And what if we can't break teams down and hand them all the thrashings they richly deserve?  That's when the biggest threat to our team emerges - us.  Our nervousness, impatience and anger when not putting every lowly bunch of villagers to the sword won't take long to transfer to the players.  Suddenly Moreman vanishes out on the wing.  Henry starts carving more clearances over our goalie.  Dubi sulks.  Andy Hall falls into a small hole and is never seen again.  Brett realises his mistake in joining us.....

....I'm making myself nervous already! 

How about this?  We take each game as it comes.  Give 110%.  Treat the opposition with respect.  11 men against 11 men.  Stay focused for 90 minutes.  Get behind the players.  Hopefully we'll end up "Over the Moon".

Now, let's go out there and piss this poxy league!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

What we did in the holidays part 2 - Behind the Scenes

The conversion of Latimer Park from a roughly hewn field into a roughly hewn field with a bit of a football ground around it, continues.  Last season, floodlights, hard standing, a couple of small seated areas, and a food concession, were all added.  This season additional developments are on their way, such as a functional sponsor/boardroom area, hard standing on the 4th side of the ground and a small terrace with cover at the former-fir tree end.  And whisper it quietly, but there is a rumour that chips will be available at home games this year.....

The make-up of the off-field Board of Directors has a distinctly Poppies-supporter feel, with fans of long-standing in positions of real authority.  Best case scenario, this means that the wishes and hopes of the average fan might be represented at the highest level.  Worst case scenario, it all goes tits up, but we know where the directors live, allowing us to extract personal vengeance at our leisure!

An unpopular move, and possibly Ritchie's first miss-step, is the winding-up of Poppies Radio, ahead of a club TV/Radio initiative.  If you'd never listened to Poppies Radio, you missed a curious treat.  A handful of Poppies fans, armed with microphones, part-commentating and part-reacting like you and me, whilst watching the game.  Coming out with a mixture of observational gems, and screaming at every goal in such a way you could never quite tell for 5 minutes which team had actually scored.  They even mentioned the score from time to time!

Poppies Radio has been disbanded by Ritchie in favour of an entirely club-run station. Will it work?  Will people pay money where they used to receive a free service?  People are prepared to put up with a cheerfully amateurish approach and occasional loss of signal with a free service.  It is doubtful they will be as forgiving when paying out hard cash.  Will Ritchie manage to assemble a team of fans prepared to run this new station for him?  Will we really want pay to hear Henry chat post-match about being "Over the moon", when you can ask him in the bar for free?  We'll see.

Poppies Radio themselves don't seem to be as cut up about their demise as the rest of us: -

Rest assured, Ritchie has yet to announce plans for a club-run online fanzine, but, if he's reading this, we are ready to be bought out for a reasonably high figure.....

In the last few weeks the seemingly ridiculous plan to move us back into Kettering at the back of Avondale school has been announced.  Everyone's first reaction is that this plan was a non-starter.  The area in question is not large.  It is in the middle of housing.  There's no parking.  Plans for 70-odd houses on the site already exist.  The land would have to be paid for.  And even if all of these hurdles are somehow overcome, we then need to get our plans past the Anti-Poppies Alliance (AKA Kettering Borough Council).

However, as more details came out about our bid, the more we are tempted to think this plan isn't entirely doomed to failure.

Presently, although permission has been given for housing, no developer has staked their claim.  The locals, although not 100% in favour of us moving in there, have shown some enthusiasm. Not surprising, when the alternative is another big wedge of "affordable housing" probably owned by housing associations and rented out to the usual mix of undesirables.

Utilising the available parking already on the site there is more there than in both Rockingham Road and Latimer Par put together.

The cash for the land and the development is entirely beyond our control, but, presumably Ritchie is committing himself to this outlay.  Why?  Who can say.  He's probably insane.....

This leaves us with our beloved Council.  One or two councillors have broken cover and announced their initial support to getting us back into Kettering.  This doesn't mean that when it comes to voting the usual old-stagers based out of the town won't pull rank and manage to screw us over once again.

It will be interesting if everything else falls into place, and it comes down to KBC to make or break the deal.  They have professed support for the Poppies when we have safely been out of the way at Non Park, or Latimer Park.  What will they do when this theoretical support for the club needs to be turned into actual support?

As ever, it's never dull.....