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.....