Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Keep in the black, stay out of the red.....

I can't let last Friday's Darts evening at Latimer Park fade from memory before recording my own "efforts" against 5 times World Champion Eric Bristow!

The Missus and I attended the evening just to have a few drinks, support the event and give 'er indoors the chance to scream in a live games the stuff she lets fly with when watching the darts on the telly!  Neither of us had attended one of these events previously, and weren't aware that the raffle tickets we were happily buying were for a chance to play Eric in a straight 501!  I had (very badly) last thrown a dart about 10 years ago!  Once it dawned on us what we could "win" we started to fervently hope against our winning!  Losing raffles is not normally a problem - as you may have read on previous blogs.

The first seven winning numbers were drawn, and bugger me if one of our numbers wasn't drawn out.  SHIT.  Now what?  Thankfully a work colleague was happy enough to take the slot from me - PHEW!

Over the course of the first batch of games the quality on show from the floor, and, to be frank, the Craft Cockney too was pleasingly variable.  So variable in fact that when the next batch of games were drawn out, and we won again, this time I put my own name down to play.  The extra lager I had drunk since the first round of games may also have had a smidgen of influence.....

After sitting there, slowing sh*tting myself, my name was called and I made my way over to the oche.  Quick handshake and chat with a sporting legend, a couple of practice throws and we were away.

I would love to report that somehow my abject lack of dart ability melted away to reveal a quality arrow-smith, and I pounded in tons galore, taking the leg at a canter.  It would also be acceptable to report that Eric thrashed me with high scoring and deadly finishing.  In reality, although I managed to get my darts in more-or-less the right areas, we both limped along towards a painfully drawn out climax.  I'm not much good, and Eric's best days are well behind him, lost in a haze of non-competition, non-practice and a few pints on the night.

Do not adjust your internet!
Just a photograph taken on the world's worst camera phone!
I am the upright black blob in the middle, and Eric
is the (larger) red blob on the left.

He missed a number of goes at doubles to put me out of my, and the rest of the room's misery.  Suddenly the MC was announcing I was on a finish.  Admittedly a very high finish, but, bloody hell, if I was on a finish against Eric Bloody Bristow!  Insane!  Needless to say, I didn't make much of a dent in my check out of 156!!!  But I must have scared Eric sufficiently for him to sink his double and we shook hands once more.  A surreal experience, made all the stranger by the fact the last time I'd played darts, against perennial Poppies Social Club bar-fly Ian (The Ripper) Claypole back in the good old days, he had thrashed me much more convincingly than a man who was the World Number One for well over a decade!

Who's next then?   Steve Davis at Spot-On Snooker Club?  Steve Ovett down the Leisure Village?  Nick Faldo at Pytchley Lodge?  Don't worry, no matter which 1970's / 1980's sporting legend I next get in my sights, rest assured, I will definitely manage to spin another blog out of it!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Thomas leads the curious departures from the Poppies

Well, who, apart from Pedro, saw that coming?

Manager Dean Thomas has departed the club, reported thusly on the official site, "Kettering Town Football Club and Dean Thomas have today reached a mutual agreement for Dean to step down as manager of the first team"

Now, is this football-speak for: - 

"Dean Thomas wanted a bigger playing budget?"
"Dean Thomas didn't want to sign Brett Solkhon?"
"Dean Thomas didn't want to lose Elliot Sandy?"  Or perhaps,

"Ritchie Jeune wanted to appoint an attacking coach a'la West Ham"
"Ritchie Jeune wanted to see less hoofball"
"Ritchie Jeune wanted a manager who wouldn't sing so much"

Career change for Dean?

Dean's departure does seem comfortingly bizarre, in a typically Poppies way.  Especially when you look at how our last few Managers were appointed and dismissed: -

Marcus Law.  Appointed in the normal way after an interview.  Departed in a shroud of mystery after not speaking to Imraan for several months.

Morrel Maison.  Appointed because he is the only bloke in football who Imraan knows.  Departed when he did the maths about "Project Non Park" and appreciated his own complete lack of ability.

Mark Cooper.  Never really appointed or departed.  Loitered around the ground for a while, amid rumours of takeovers.  Occupied the hotseat for the vital JP testimonial against Spurs, and the usual defeat away to Telford.  Saw the way the wind was blowing and did a runner.

Mark Stimson.  Appointed just as all the players stopped getting paid.  Departed as all the non-paid players drifted away, in favour of non-paid loanees.

Ashley Westwood.  Appointed when he turned up one day and was the first in the door.  Departed when he suffered his 94th sending off and chose to manage in India rather than Irthlingborough.

John Beck.  Appointed by former Cambridge wide-boy George Rolls.  Perhaps as reward for applying for the job on 25 occasions.  Probably departed.  Not entirely sure he isn't still officially involved in some capacity.

Alan Doyle.  Appointed because he lived in the same street as George Rolls.  Departed to a "shirt and tie" position within the club because he suddenly got a team of rag-tag kids and lags to start playing something that approached good football. 

Thomas Baillie.  Appointed because he was already on the team bench and knew the names of the payers.  Departed to the No.2 Spot because Dean Thomas was finally prised from the locked gates at Hinckley United after 120 years at the club.

Dean Thomas.  Appointed after giving as good speech at the 2012-13 end of season bash.  Departed after singing a set of swing classics at the 2013-14 end of season bash.

Thomas Baillie. Appointed because he was already on the team bench and knew the names of the payers......

All very Poppies!

Friday, 23 May 2014

Don't mention the "C" word

Today a new £35 million dual carriage way link road opens from Euro Hub at Stanion, and the industrial units of Weldon through to Storefield Cottages near Rushton, which is intended to take lorries through to the A14 in Kettering, and reduce traffic through Geddington.

It's not called the Euro Hub Byway.  Or Weldon Way.  Or the Storefield Interchange.  Or the Kettering A14 Through way or even the Geddington Bypass.

No, it's called the "Corby Link Road".

Once upon a time I'd have had a rant at the fact that Corby's name is plastered all over a project that has barely any connection with the town, beyond being a convenient way out of the area for the industries on the far edge of Corby.

But not anymore.  Had this project not had the word Corby associated with it, the chances are it would never have got off the ground.  More power to their elbow we say!  It is particularly ironic, because news of the opening of this new road was followed by a news story about the hoped for, possible commencement of making the A43 between Kettering and Northampton into a dual carriageway.  Not all of it mind.  Just a short stretch.  In the future.  Perhaps.

If the people trying to get this Kettering-Northampton road upgraded are reading this (yes, unlikely...!) we would make the following suggestion - name the project -

"The Corby - Corby Link Road (featuring a bit of dual carriageway between two other towns near Corby"

The A43 between Kettering and Northampton
showing the turn off to Broughton.
Surely ripe for development?

In fact, why don't we all try to get on the band waggon?  Who fancies a brand new ground, built in Kettering for the Poppies to play at?  All we have to do is announce the project as,

"New Football Ground for Kettering Town FC, who are near CORBY, where CORBY TOWN fans turn up in large numbers for the odd game between Kettering and CORBY TOWN, even though they won't actually attend games in CORBY."

Obvious, for ease of conversing, we would shorten the ground name once it was safely and quickly built from funds which would magically appear, to include the word "Kettering" from Kettering Town FC, and the "Town FC" from Corby Town FC.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Poor old Yaya

You've got to feel sorry for Yaya Toure.  The poor old boy has just celebrated a birthday, and his club duly wished him a Happy Birthday on their Twitter page and presented him with a cake.

The bastards!

Yaya and his odious agent Dimitri Seluk consider the above gesture to be an insult of such shocking proportions that the player consider quitting Manchester City.  The twin facts that seemed to come out of this incident is that (a) All Yaya wanted was a handshake from his club Chairman, and (b) Roberto Carlos once received a Birthday Bugatti from his Club Chairman. 

Not that Yaya actually wanted his Club to buy him a £800,000 automobile.  Of course not.  His Agent just happened to mention this fact in passing...."He got a cake but when it was Roberto Carlos's birthday, the president of Anzhi gave him a Bugatti,"

Toure and Seluk's lack of a grasp on reality manifested further, "None of them shook his hand on his birthday. It's really sick."  Presumably not so sick that he'll give up any of his quarter of a million quid weekly pay packet....

Seluk then added, in a faintly you're-all-racists way, "Toure feels he was not regarded as one of the best players in the world because he is from Africa."

This spoilt player, celebrating his 31st birthday (and not his fifth birthday, despite all the evidence to the contrary)  has gone from threatening to leave Man City to wanting a guarantee of a lifetime contract, with, presumably, a handsome hike in pay to reflect his loyalty.  All in the space of 24 hours. 

It makes you wonder how long he would have lasted under Imraan Ladak?  The million pound a month wages would dry up pretty quickly.  Probably even quicker than the ink on his contract.  He could forget about the birthday cake, even if he suddenly decided he now wanted one.  And the birthday handshake would need to be swiftly followed by the birthday counting-of-the-fingers.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

James Jepson - the hardest working man in football?

Not content with being Jesus, the orange gay-guy from "Gogglebox", Chuck Norris and the weirdo-Eurovision winner, James has also found time to do some modelling for M&S.

Let's hope James doesn't spread himself too thin, and keeps a little of himself back for next season's title charge!
Not my choice of colour James,
but you carry it off well!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sweet Man-Love at the Poppies No.3

The third in a (very) occasional series (No.2 being December 2009!) of  sweaty man-on-man action at the Poppies.

Everyone's favourite Dad, Dave Singh, gets up close and personal
with everyone's favourite defensive man-mountain Henry Eze.

Chris Logan looks on lovingly, hoping for a bit of Singh-smooching

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Someone's been busy!

JJ celebrates his deserved Eurovision success!
Eat your heart out DT, you're not the only singer at the club now!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

A Day to Endure

I know I wrote all that guff previously that no matter what happened against Slough in our play-off final, we should enjoy the day whatever happened.  What a tosser!  I would have enjoyed the day a whole lot more if we'd not thrown the game away!

The Positives

The Attendance

The incredible gate.  Even taking into account the couple of hundred Slough fans there, there were in excess of 2000 people at Latimer Park supporting the Poppies.  Or, at least hoping to see them win.  I can't remember the last time we had that many or our people in one place?  It must be years.

The First Half

Without getting out of first gear we eased into a 2-0 lead.  It was all too easy.  And as soon as our strikers got in the act we would surely finish this game.  Bring on the Plastic Jocks.

The Negatives

The Attendance

The incredible gate.  We all trooped up early to ensure we could all get safely into the ground.  As much as we all know that we don't have a right to stand or sit anywhere in particular, it's still a shock to arrive at your usual spot 55 minutes before kick-off to find where you usually stand, all alone, is now 3 deep with people you've never seen before! 

It's extremely doubtful that this situation is likely to be repeated soon, but part of me will be perversely annoyed if at our next home game at home to "Anonymous M4 Fodder FC" all those people hogging my spot aren't there again...!

The Second Half

Slough upped their game and we wilted.  That's the bottom line.  But the more disappointing aspect to this basic statement is that Slough adapted, and we just tried to hang on.  Unfortunately this is a noticeable flaw in Dean's managerial technique.  We have not unduly criticised Thomas's efforts this year.  3 defeats in 30 odd games deserves respect. 

However, on numerous occasions we have seen games start to drift away from us, and looked for a little more imagination from our bench.  Deploy some width.  Angle our forward balls rather than simply pump it down the middle. Try to bring the ball through the middle of the park. 

Rather than change things to try to boss the game we all to often rely on our immense defence keeping the other team out, whilst hoping a forward player conjures something through a bit of individual quality rather than re-jigging the team shape to hurt the opposition.

Against Slough, as the tide of the game was turning against us so obviously that even the people on the Morrisons bank could see what was happening, Dean again relied on toughing it out and waiting for the final whistle.  Throwing Dubi on AFTER we had gone 3-2 down was not exactly the most sparklingly dynamic substitution ever made!  When we were still in the game, perhaps getting width through Bukasa, and Hamilton, with Dubi down the middle would at least given the opposition something to think about.

Unhappily, both Sandy and Moreman chose the last few games of the season to fall some way off the pace.  Dean could and perhaps should have recognised this fact before we were reduced to ineffectually chasing the game.

"Where were you when we were shit?!"

But enough moaning. We lost a game of football fair and square. 

We had a good season.  We didn't get taken over by a conman.  We didn't get relegated.  We didn't have to play at Non-Park.  We should be starting next season stronger than last season. 

We'd all have taken that at the start of the season!

Monday, 5 May 2014

A day to enjoy

A play-off final against Slough Town and the chance to start the rebuilding of the Poppies and moving back up the leagues awaits us today.  A win today and we would be back in the Southern League Premier Division.  Striking distance of the Conference structure.  It is all possible and could all start today.

But should we suffer defeat today I hope it won't sully the 2013-14 season.  The season when the tide was turned after the last few years of unremitting horror.  I find the best way of judging a season is to note what we all complain about on a Saturday, rather than what we are happy about.  This season our complaints have been restricted to the lack of chips, a wet or dry, bobbly pitch, and, in the last couple of well-attended fixtures against Daventry, a poor view of the game. 

Not bad in a season where we were actually wound-up in the High Court at one point!

This was the season where a lot of our supporters, who felt themselves disenfranchised by our previous owner, started to engage with their club again.

The season where the wider footballing public gave valuable and appreciated help to save our club.

The season where, if you were away for the first few weeks of the season, you may not have actually seen us lose!

The season where Burton Park Wanderers, who owe us nothing, have done more for the Poppies in 9 months than our own Borough Council have done for us in 90 years.

The season where you can see the club is being effectively run by fellow supporters.  People like the rest of us, with the only obvious difference is that they give up their time to do the work the rest of us know should be done, but can't be arsed to do ourselves.

The season where we have had players at the club long enough to recognise them and remember their names!

The season we've managed to become a genuine bogey team to a certain team that play in purple!

The season it was fun to watch the Poppies again.

A win today would be the cherry on the cake, but, looking back, the cake itself has been pretty good!