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?"