Sunday, 27 December 2015

Poppies Walk the Walk at The Walks

Somehow over the years, despite being from roughly the same region and trading umpteen players and even a few managers, we have actually played Kings Lynn quite rarely. Certainly since 1979 you can count the matches on the fingers of one hand (or if you’re from Kings Lynn, half a hand).  Back in the early 80’s there was a cup tie at Rockingham Road, memorable for me chiefly because I had my scarf nicked by one of the visiting nutters who roamed the ground that day.  One even tried to climb a floodlight, perhaps thinking it was some kind of fertility symbol.

Then we met in the Carl Shutt promotion season, when my main memory is of Lee Cowling scoring at their place and celebrating wildly, like this was his first ever goal.  Which thinking about it, could have been right. He looked only slightly more pleased when he turned up at the player of the year do a few weeks later accompanied by an absolute stunner.  We had long wondered ‘is there anything Lee Cowling brings to the party?’  This was his answer.

Now it was time for another trip, and if anyone thought this was small beer compared to festive derbies of days gone by, think again. With Norwich playing away, this was the biggest game in Norfolk bar none!  I could almost hear the excitement in Alan Partridge’s voice. Since our last visit, the stadium looked exactly the same which meant of course it was now 500% better than ours.

But who needs fripperies like terracing and a decent view, when the mighty Poppies are taking full advantage of a surface where the ball doesn’t bobble outrageously or get stuck in gloop. Dark horses for the playoffs?  Why not, so long as we keep winning a few more than we lose. The main challenge will be keeping our boys fit and fresh for the inevitable 20 games we must play in April, once Latimer Park has finally dried out.     

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Football 101

Good, battling away win at St Neots today.  However, if the players want to make tight wins into easy wins may we suggest -

When you see this....

....put these....

.....through THIS!

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Memo to Auntie Beeb

Just a quick note BBC, the whole country has NOT got a hard-on for Salford City.  We're not all cheering on those plucky underdogs, owned by barely a half-dozen multi-millionaires, in their battles against monsterous, bullying, footballing giants such as Notts County and Hartlepool.

Some of us recall how the media went similarly ga-ga over the Diamonds Scum when they first started knocking supposedly bigger clubs over.  Thankfully this attitude was soon tempered when commentators actually looked at this "Miracle by the Nene" and saw the obscene funding being forced into Max's vanity project.  Suddenly they weren't the plucky underdogs.  They were the fat cats.  So much money was gushed into "Project Inbred" that even Brian Talbot managed to get the team into the Football League.

Not only is the Beeb absolutely besotted with Salford City, but they are lazily not even pretending to look beyond them when it comes to televising FA Cup games.  That's right, let's throw even more money at Non-League Man Utd, sorry, Salford City.  Just what the club needs!  Northwich Victoria away to Northampton..... Other than the lowest placed team away to a club that almost went out of business last week, where's the story there?

So, Notts Couny and Hartlepool were lined up as sacrificial televisual lambs for the Class of 92's hobby club.  I'm not sure I recall the TV folks falling over themselves quite so much to televise OUR games against Notts County and Hartlepool a few years ago.  Strange that.  Mind you - I doubt they'd have televised us had we reached the f**king final!

What's the betting that their replay with Hartlepool gets the live TV treatment too?  Kerching!  Assuming of course the Beeb have any clue a to where Hartlepool is.  How close is it to Salford?

And what if Salford win the replay too?  Bosses at the Beeb will be praying to the Gods of TV Ratings that they draw Manchester United in the 3rd round.  Double Kerching!  They'll probably turn the rest of the season into a new football-based soap opera.

Cancel Strictly Come Dancing - replace it with Salford Coming in Pants!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Kettering Tyres or Spare Tyres?

So, when a replica Poppies shirt makes
it look like one of the players
has got a beer belly, what the hell
will it do for the rest of us??????

Sunday, 29 November 2015

No more "Canavan of Love?"

Yesterday's win over Poole had many hallmarks of a "Classic Poppies" encounter.  Rain, mud, battling performance against a very well drilled side, and a vibrant atmosphere.

A more regrettable hallmark of former Poppies days also showed itself - a supporter's complete and utter blind like or dislike for certain home players.  How many times at Rockingham Road do you remember standing feet away from a fellow fan, listening in amazement as he noisily rants against one of our players all game long?  Surely you recall biting your tongue (and even occasionally suggesting he shut the f*ck up) as this fan screams blue murder at one of our players, who even were he to score a hat trick, would feel this guy's constant ire?  Nothing the player would ever do, other than leave the club, would be good enough for this fan.

I experienced a sense of this attitude on Saturday, on a more collective level.

Allow me to explain.  Due to me being kranky when wet I spent most of the second half among our boisterous Tin Hatters.  The time was evenly spent between slagging off their knob-jockey goalkeeper and singing the praises of individual Poppies players.  Both good.

Except where it came to poor Liam Canavan.  Is he a good player?  Time will tell.  He has had some stonking games.  He has had some stinkers.  But he certainly puts in a shift every game.  Don't think so?  Watch him for a while.  He truly gets from box to box quicker than everyone else.  We see his mistakes more because he's always getting involved.

None of this impressed elements of the terrace chanters, who moaned and groaned every time Canavan did anything that didn't end with a goal.  And yet, I listened with mounting amusement to some of the other players being cheered to the rafters and given their own songs, for basically doing nothing.

I've absolutely nothing against Wilson Carvalho, but more songs were sung in his honour than actual touches he had against Poole.  A case in point was during the second half when he dribbled almost the entire length of the right wing, without having the ball under any sort if control, or even, if memory serves, even really kicking it.  It bobbled from him to the defenders and back again, as he lurched into their half of the pitch.  Eventually another defender got bored of letting Wilson get back near the ball and easily cleared it.  The Tin Hat roared its approval of Wilson's inability to kick the ball anything like properly, singing his name with gusto!

A few minutes later and Elliott Sandy put in a good sliding challenge to put the ball into touch.  The Tin Hat responded with a song featuring his name.  This, despite the aforementioned challenge coming about after he fannied around and lost the ball in the first place!

And Rene Howe was having his name sung well into the last third of the game where seemed to have got stuck in the mud, and got nowhere near the ball for fully 20 minutes!  AND took a crap penalty!

But poor old Canavan!  He even got slagged off when he tried to spread the play and Wilson mis-controlled the pass!  And then Wilson missed the target from 10 yards out to seal the game, AND STILL the Tin Hat game him another rendition!  God knows what they've had done to Canavan if he'd missed the same opportunity!

Canavan - looking dapper
post match in the Clubhouse.
Not letting the boo-boys
get him down.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Salford City Saturation and one from the Class of '09

Is it ok to admit to already being a little bit fed up of hearing about Salford City? A couple of years ago, they were barely known even in non league circles, now they’re about to have their second televised live game in a month, hot on the heels of a fly on the wall documentary series.  I have to remind myself it’s just a stirring tale of a little part-time club that just happen to have five multimillionaire owners. Us, we’d settle for just three.  Ok, two.

Joking aside, this clearly isn’t a vanity project for the famous five.  The setting could hardly be less glam, and watching from the kind of unmade spectator banking we know all too well, there’s no sign of playing to the camera as the Nevilles, Giggs, Butt & Scholes watch their semi pro heirs. Scholes in particular looks so down to earth, you expect him to pull out a flask of tea.    

Salford won promotion last season but it wasn’t an easy journey. A new management duo was installed as the challenge faltered – a novel ‘bad cop, even badder cop’ combination that is 10% motivation, 90% swearing. Hilariously, two nights before a “big game” against Lancaster City, the team were allowed a night out, but with a 2 drink limit.  The management duo soon realised this wasn’t being strictly adhered to. Imagine!

Inevitably, having had maybe 3 small glasses of wine or an extra Peroni the lads were off the pace on the Saturday and the dugout Kray twins delivered a blast that was straight out of Mike Bassett in bleep count.  “That was an absolute f***ing disgrace – and that’s constructive by the way”.

But good to see old boy Gareth Seddon in the home dressing room and sneaking the odd important goal.  We even got to see inside his personal museum, a little less grand than the Rooney version, with a Poppies shirt hanging next to the door.  Who says our TV days are over?  In many ways Seddon was the star of the show – chirpy, cheeky and the one player who dared to argue back when Ronnie and Reggie were in full flow. He’s now also a model, apparently, and seems to have gained a lot more ink since leaving Rockingham Road, including what looked like The Lord’s Prayer across his chest. That or the lyrics to American Pie.

And so the Salford story rolls on to Hartlepool and another Friday night in which the casual viewer can play FA Cup cliché bingo. God help us if they get through and draw Man Utd.  The BBC will probably give them a Christmas Day special.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Marcus Mark 2

Let's hope our early mid-season blip and Marcus's recent wobble are behind us.  A couple of shoddy performances and the inevitable online hysteria (at one point fully half a dozen fans were baying for blood......) are in the past. 

Marcus has coaxed a few more shekels out of Ritchie's pocket to refresh the squad, including the eye-opening re-signing of Rene Howe, who went from lanky Poppies goal sensation to chubby scummer a few years, and a few divisions ago.  In fact, we once included a photograph on these hallowed electronic pages of a hefty Rene and even chunkier Lee Tomlin together from their Direones days, looking for all the world like early leavers from a Weight Watchers weighing session on the look out for the nearest kebab shop.  I'd repeat it here, but I'm buggered if I'm going to trawl back through nigh on a thousand articles just to see Tomlin's piggy eyes hungrily staring out at me as though I was a cake.

It looks as though Jevani Brown and Saul Williams have moved on to make room on the bench, and at right back, for the incoming players.  Shame in a way as Williams, despite being microscopic had put in some shifts, and Brown looked the part.  However, he and Dubi are very similar players, and one of them is on a contract, so was always likely to remain here.

Marcus's back-room squad has seen a similar make over with his replacement, his new assistant Brian Page making everyone budge-up a bit on the team bench.

What this has done though is give Marcus a chance to freshen up the on and off-field squad, which, anyone who saw the footballing lesson handed out by Burscough last week will attest, it bloody well needed!

We have spent most of this season either a couple of wins from the play-offs, or a couple of defeats from the relegation zone.  It is doubtful the team, the ground or club are ready for promotion into the Conference North, but Kettering must always be at least looking to mount a challenge.  We've seen a tail-off in support that needs to be coaxed back.  The facilities and plunging temperature aren't going to help with this, but a few wins might.

More photo's like this one

....and less photo's like this one

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Things we learned from a very short Trophy run

1. Marcus's third stint with the Poppies began even worse than his second one finished.

2. The Northern League would appear to be appreciably stronger than the Southern League.

3. Gates are likely to tumble even further when your team doesn't produce a single effort on (or off) goal for fully 70 minutes.

4. A team that passes to feet, can dribble, anticipates the ball and play to a plan will invariably beat 11 blokes who standing around shrugging their shoulders.

5. Our chances of a third walk down Wembley Way have never looked slimmer.

Don't hold your breathe.....

Monday, 9 November 2015

The real "Impossible Job"

As rumours fly as to whether Marcus has gone or not continue to flash around the shrinking goldfish bowl that is the Poppy-sphere only one fact has been proved to be incontravertable: -

No Manager in his right mind would want to manage this club.

We all know that this division is tougher than the one we won last season.  Don't think so?  Just ask Bedworth, who came up with us last year.  Their plastic pitch hasn't helped them much so far, being 11 points from safety.  I think they'd trade places with us without too much argument.  If 2015-16 ends with a mid table finish, with an outside push for the play-offs, surely this would represent a reasonable season of consolidation?  As it stands, we are 10 points behind the leaders with 2 games in hand!

It is becoming tedious to see the usual malcontents shrieking like a bunch of squealing ingrates everytime a team dares to beat us.  When did we become such a ridiculous group of entitlement-junkies?  Were we witnessing this at any other club we'd rightly say, "WTF?"

The previous duo were hounded-out by a frenzied minority, and, seemingly by a Chairman taking far too much notice of internet would-be-managers.  Their crime?  Doing the job and pissing the league.

Now it seems that Marcus is being hounded out in much the same way.  His crime?  Not doing the job and pissing the league.  His other failings are equally reprehensible.  He does not play the game EXACTLY how each and every one of us wants.  All 450 of us, with different opinions....  Not playing wingers, who, lets be honest, tend to drift out of the game for roughly 85 minutes every Saturday.  Who was out last, consistent winger?  Have we ever had one?

Will Marcus stay or go?  No-one can say at the moment.  If he does jump ship I hope his replacement has the common decency to be the perfect manager, with millions of contacts, play majestic football week-in week-out, with 8 wingers on the pitch.  At least.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Fall of the Roman Empire

Even the most jaded football fan cannot fail to be stirred by the events we are seeing unravel at Stamford Bridge.  In a world that is short of good news stories, this truly gladdens the heart.  Watching Chelsea’s season implode is up there with the closing scenes of It’s A Wonderful Life, or Jeremy Clarkson being extradited by the Argentinians.  It’s even upstaging the Leeds soap opera, where Steve Evans is currently midway through his six match spell in charge.  

The first sense that something special and unusual was afoot was when Mourinho spat out his dummy over Physiogate, only to meet his match as the club doctor refused to go quietly.  Her withering look as she left the field is my vote for Pout of the Season.  Only a week into the campaign and Chelsea had already found a new way to be detestable, no mean feat.   Then they started losing matches and Mourinho tried his usual deflection strategy of blaming the officials, because of course they’re bound to be biased against little clubs who never win anything.  He saw nothing wrong in keeping Costa in a cage for a week then letting him loose to kick, gouge and generally be ungentlemanly against Arsenal, then stamped on Wenger's glasses afterwards and blamed the fourth official. 
All the while, the FA charges keep piling up, including one for persistently coming up with laughable post-match excuses.  Things are getting so bad, John Terry is coming across as a calming influence.  

Mourinho seems to be building up to some kind of dramatic exit but, hey, no rush, not while you are giving so many people so much pleasure.  
I'm the daughter of a what?


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Speaking up for the Poppies

It was a shame that this weekend's Race Night was so poorly attended.  Race Nights have formed the backbone of off-field fundraising at the Poppies for many years.  Attendances at these events have waxed and waned over that period.  Usually, when the club was in the mire it was standing room only in the Tin Hat, or Northern Lights Club.  When everything seems to be tickety-boo attendances tend to drop off to a hard core of people who enjoy shouting at videos of horse races that had finished twenty years earlier, and eating dodgy sausages.

They still managed to raise just shy of a grand, which is bloody good going and hats off to Martin and the boys.

But why was the event so poorly attended?  Given the million and one media outlets open to the club these days surely they can get news of off-field events out to the faithful.  Was the Race Night mentioned on the website?  If so, I couldn't find it.

Twitter and Facebook are all well and good, assuming events are repeatedly mentioned, because the instant nature of these online services means that important messages are soon drowned in a welter of kitten images, updated status's and photographs of dinners.

Unofficial Forums are great for reaching the small, vociferous groups of Poppies fans who have lots of ideas and opinions, but tend not to actually do anything.....

Once upon a time club events would have been mentioned in the local rag.  They probably still are, but, like everyone else, I tend not to read it since it became a weekly!

However there is a way of reaching all of our fans and relaying important information.  A way of addressing a captive audience of all those who have the Poppies at heart.  And, if you listen carefully between the Scottish Highland Reserve League Half-time scores and abusing our opponents you might just hear Gary Graham mention something over the matchday tannoy.

Or not.  But if not, why not?  Why aren't the club using the pre / half-time / post match tannoy announcements to actually tell us important things?  Letting 600 Poppies fans know of a Race Night raising funds for the club obviously can't compete with reading out UCL half-time scores, or winding-up the ET reporter because Norwich are three down at the break.  But, still, as mad as it might sound, it might be a good idea to use this time to let everyone know of events the club is hosting.  Even if it means taking a two minute break in reading out pointless dross that no-one is interested in, or ruining "Match of the Day" for anyone deliberately trying to avoid the Premier League results.

Perhaps then we might actually know of club events before they've actually happened!

How many members of the Poppies Media Team,
Poppies TV and Match Day Announcers does it take to
keep us to date with the scores at Rothwell Corinthians?

Saturday, 17 October 2015

There are 9 goal thrillers and there are 9 goal thrillers

For a few of a certain age, today’s chaotic 5-4 result immediately conjured up memories of the last time that Poppies were involved in such an unusual scoreline – way back in 1981 against Altrincham in the old Alliance Premier League.

That game must have had a peculiar magic because I know I’m not the only one who still regards it as the most exciting game I’ve ever seen. The scoring followed almost exactly the same pattern as today, we coasted into a 4-1 lead early in the second half then were pegged back to 4-4 before a decisive strike, but the context was different.  Back then, we were up against undoubtedly the best team outside of the Football League. The previous season they had won the APL (with us a close second) but were yet again denied promotion via the re-election system, allegedly because a chairman who had promised them support was delayed in traffic and arrived too late to vote. They had played Liverpool at Anfield in the Cup and had the closest thing to star quality at our level.

We, on the other hand, were sliding fast from a side that had pushed Alty all the way for the title and were beginning to sniff the possibility of a relegation struggle. So Rockingham Road was buzzing as we built an unlikely 4-1 lead. I can still remember Stewart Atkins riding a very heavy challenge (a certain penalty), opting to stay on his feet to slot in the fourth. Then like a wounded animal Altrincham began to claw it back and we watched in growing dismay as the lead was wiped out. In goal we had the callow Kevin Fox, who modelled his curly perm on Peter Shilton but for us never really recovered from the moment when he rose to clasp a routine catch only to drop it for an unmissable equaliser.             

So with the scores level the tension was suddenly intense. When we recall this game as the most exciting, what we really mean is the last 10-15 minutes. With things on a knife edge, we were awarded a penalty. As Frankie Murphy prepared to take the kick, Altrincham’s notorious John King warned him of certain unpleasant, possibly season ending consequences if he was to score. The kick was saved but in the ensuing scramble Paul Haverson shot through a crowd of players and RR erupted.

I still recall the nervous shaking excitement of those last few minutes. Just a couple of league points at stake, but it felt like a big cup tie. I can’t say that today stirred up quite the same emotions. A lot of water has passed under the bridge, and the atmosphere was different. But it was strange how the sheer rarity of what was unfolding acted like a little time machine, and there I was back in 1981…      

Friday, 16 October 2015

Cobblers, Be Afraid. Very Afraid

"There are a number of other interested parties..... we began talking with these other parties.  We have made significant progress in these talks to a position where things are now well advanced."

"a winding-up petition by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)......Chairman ..........said he "fully expects the matter to be resolved by the end of next week".

".....owes HMRC a "five-figure sum".

 "Following this morning's announcement, we are contacting HMRC and are requesting an urgent meeting with them."

Has someone been dredging up some of Imraan's most asinine, end-of-days comments he was mumbling from behind locked doors at Non Park whilst awaiting the men in white coats?  Mystery investors?  Check.  Winding-up petitions?  Check.  Offers to meet the people you owe money to?  Check.  

Unfortunately for our County Cousins, the above quotes have emanated from their current Chairman rather than our old one.  

One important difference between Imraan blithely steering us onto the rocks and the current Northampton Town situation is the small matter of the Ten Million Quid they've borrowed from their Council and seemingly blown on a bizarre recreation of the old County Ground "Meccano" stand.  Without the seats!  Nostalgia is great, but bloody hell, is this all that £10,000,000 can buy these days?

It appears from the outside that the Cobblers hierarchy had literally banked on a big money take-over, so stopped paying any of their bills, assuming the incoming Indians would brandish a large enough cheque book to smooth everything over? (Cough - James Caan - Cough!) 
Who knows.  But, boy, does the situation stink!

Perhaps not all the £10,000,000 has gone on this.
Just hope Paul Knowles is paid up to date this time.... 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Poppies (refresh) TV (refresh) Strikes (refresh) Again

The currently still in play second half from Bamber Bridge is exciting stuff.  Made even more tense by the constant buffering of the signal necessitating hitting the refresh button every 25 seconds.

This brings the signal back for a second or two.  If you're lucky.

Just long enough for something to sound like it was about to happen, or leave the commentators faces frozen in some most unappetising poses - think mad men suffering a huge stroke.  One of whom may well be Phill Jupitus.

At times you only have the vaguest sense of what's going on, and whether we are defending for our lives, or about to score, needs to be guessed at, often purely on the direction the commentators were facing when the screen froze.

But little do I know.  They've just scored during a frozen moment when to all the world, it seemed we were attacking.

Sorry Ritchie, but you are still a very long way away from ever being able to charge for this service.  Shame.

Is Latimer Park such a Sh*t-hole?

The blame for the drop off on attendees at Poppies games this season has been laid at the door of various, er, doors.

Poppies TV means you don't have to leave the comfort of your own home to verbally abuse people who's only crime is being better than us at football, but, unfortunately as good as those wearing shirts of a different colour.  When it works (only kidding Ritchie!)

Two extra pounds per game this season might have proved to be a price rise too far for the average Kettering fan who would think nothing of shelling out £4 for a pint or £20 for a pizza.

The opposition aren't rolling over for us this season and letting us win every week.  Not that we appreciated the constant win-fest last season of course!

The other reason given for the fall-off in support is the poor quality of the facilities at Latimer Park.  That is the problem with the club being run well these days - we need something else to rile us and get us moaning!  But, is Latimer Park all bad?  This week, purely in the pursuit of research, we attended games at both our humble home and the National Stadium at Wembley.  Each stadia was marked on several specific criteria, and our results are presented here.

Latimer Park
(1) Distance from my house - 3.5 miles                                                                         6/10
(2) Access to the ground - quick, providing you can get past Sev                                 8/10
(3) Food and drink - Directly to hand                                                                             8/10
(4) Bar - expensive but readily available, and can take into the ground                        7/10
(5) Cover from the elements - fine, providing the gates stay low!                                 6/10
(6) Tannoy - good, even when Gary Graham spends far too much time reading everything that he sees on his Tablet, regardless of it's relevance                                                                6/10
(7) The games - this season the games have been highly competitive                            7/10
(8) Being surrounded by moaning gits                                                                            10/10
(9) Exiting the ground - Pretty easy.  Again, with our hemorrhaging support                 9/10
(10) Tempted to return?  A season ticket pretty much guarantees this!                          10/10


(1) Distance from my house - Bloody miles!                                                                 2/10
(2) Access to the ground - takes forever to circumnavigate the place!                           4/10
(3) Food and drink - Directly to hand, just open your wallet and empty!                       4/10
(4) Bar - Bloody expensive & needs to be drunk in the bowels of the stadium              5/10
(5) Cover from the elements - Good, but wouldn't have fancied putting it to the test!   6/10
(6) Tannoy - Excellent in the nearby streets, but amazingly poor in the ground            4/10
(7) The games - Poppies could have given England a better game                                5/10
(8) Being surrounded by moaning gits - do they follow me?                                          10/10
(9) Exiting the ground - Long, slow and bumping into people                                        5/10
(10) Tempted to return?  Nice trip, but with hotels / travel and tickets - unlikely!         4/10

Latimer Park - overall score         77/100
Wembley - overall score               49/100

There you have it.  It's Latimer Park for me!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

About f**king time!

A mere FIVE years after the building was officially opened, and at an overspend of a trifling THIRTEEN MILLION POUNDS, Corby Council have finally decided to stop polishing the money-pit turd of The Cube and declared it completed.

In any other town in the country heads would have rolled before now or the entire council disbanded at such wastage.  But as we know, when it comes to the Borough of Corby, money truly is no object.  The building is finally complete - yes, it now has a roof, and if the Cube catches fire, your odds of successfully evacuating the building are now rated at better than 50%.

Commentators are treating this final completion of the Cube as a cause for celebration and civic pride.  One can only assume that any criticism of the activities of Corby Council are outlawed under local bylaws, and no one is asking too many questions as to what went wrong.  And for so long.

Imagine for a minute if the same cocked-up construction had happened in Kettering?  We almost murdered all of our councillors over spending a million quid on the Market Place!  A five year overrun?  Thirteen million quid over budget?  If this had happened in Kettering our teeth-gnashing anger would have been so overwhelming that we would have burned the town to the ground, sewn the ground with salt and then thrown ourselves into the river.  At least.  But then, that's Kettering folk for you!  We expect nothing and get nothing.  Not so just up the road.  They expect everything and pretty much get it.  And when they've f**ked that up, they'll get it again.

"Where's the front door?
Bugger, that'll be another 2 million quid!"

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Welcome to the Big Time

Now, finally, Rugger-Buggers may have some small
inkling of what it's like to let the whole nation down
and be roundly ridiculed for it.

Welcome to the Top Table of English Sport!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Top Five Telford Memories

Putting aside for the moment the whole, AFC-Telford-are-not-strictly-speaking-Telford-United debate, here is our rundown of the Top Five moments (for better or worse) against the men from Darwen.

Before we crack on I must make it clear I have done next to no research.  I haven't consulted my Poppies result database (a.k.a. sent Cookie a text).  I haven't waded through several boxes of catalogued programmes doing a good job of lagging the loft.  I'll resist plunging into Wikipedia.  I may even be forced to make some of the facts up entirely.

With all those provisos in place, let's plunge in with -

Sometime in the late 1970's

Can't remember the game at home to Telford at all.  Not a detail.  Nada,  The fixture only remains in the memory because England legend Gordon Banks was the Telford Manager.  OUR World Cup winning goalie was giving a team talk from  OUR cluttered away dressing room!  Wow.

You have to bear in mind, this was just over a dozen years since England had actually won the World Cup!  "Thirteen Years of Hurt...."

After the completely forgotten game, small groups of us presumably parka-wearing herberts were allowed into the plush inner sanctum of the tiny Director's area in the Main Stand to meet Gordon and get his autograph.  I remember distinctly the Gordon was very pleasant, and seemed very old (he was, in fact about 10 years younger than I am now!)  He signed my programme and I thanked him with a polite, "Thank you Mr Banks", which means he is the only person I've called "Mister" outside of Senior School.

Within a year Gordon had been sacked as Manager, and offered the slightly less exalted position at Telford as raffle-ticket seller!  Can you imagine that?  Getting your Klondike ticket from a man who had lifted the World Cup?  A situation that the word "indignity" was invented for.

Sometime in the very late 1980's?

Under the steady hand of Peter Morris we launched our usual tilt at the title that wilted with the coming Spring.  Depending on which Poppies fan you ask, and how much they've drunk, at Christmas, leaving York Road after beating Boston United we were somewhere in the region of 13 - 30 points clear at the top of the league.  The League committee were already tying red and white (remember white?) ribbons to the Championship Trophy.

Somehow, a couple of months later, we were practically out of the running when Telford United turned up at Rockingham Road.  It was imperative we beat them to keep in touch with Barnet, so Peter Morris would have fired-up the lads to go at them from the off.

Five minutes later and we were already 2-0 down and slithering our way to a 5-2 reverse, which effectively ended our interest in the Title, but gave PATGOD a new term to describe a crushingly, improbable let-down - "The Telford Day".

Sometime in the very early 1990's

Just before Gary Johnson's cavalier approach to football (the rarely used 1,0,9 formation) started paying the expected dividends of stonking defeats, his adventurous tactics served up a 4-3 victory at Bucks Head.  We couldn't defend for toffee, but we had Carl Alford in his pomp as the apex of our 9-man attack.  So late into the game that the supporter coach was revving its engine, Big Carl bundled all 11 Telford players, the crossbar, 2 ballboys, a photographer, and, most importantly, the ball into what remained of the net.  Thankfully the ref was sufficiently keen on his shower and expenses he turned a blind eye to the carnage and blew the whistle to end the game rather than give a free kick.

Get in there!

Sometime the turn of the Century

Telford stood between us and a long overdue return to Wembley.  Future scummer Gary Setchell, in the one moment he will always be remembered fondly for, gave us a 1-0 first leg lead at Rockingham Road ahead of the return game.

For the first, and probably the last time ever, I found myself happily queueing outside Rockingham Road at an ungodly hour to make sure I could secure a ticket for the second leg.  Passes-by goggled at us as the line of sad bastards snaked down the Rocky Road carpark onto the main road itself. At the appointed time a club worthy finally arrived with breakfast egg down their tie and we trooped through to get our tickets.

The second leg is only remembered for the tension, the astonishing absence of home fans, and standing on the pitch at the end, not quite sure how to celebrate.  No actual football as such.

Twin Towers - here we come.....Sollitt!  No!

Late Noughties

We were well and truly in the nose-dive which led to Imraan playing silly-buggers with James Caan, CVA, George Rolls, & an empty-Nonce Park.  We trundled over to the New Bucks Head expecting nothing except a good thumping and bland, over-priced burgers.

This was the game when former guru Mark Cooper returned for the second stint with the Poppies.  A blink-and-you-missed-it one game tenure.  Rumours were rife that a shadowy committee of investors, with Mark to the fore were about to put us back on the road to glory.  Today's game was a rehearsal for the new regime, with Cooper as boss and Cooper Senior as Chairman.  Watch out World - the Poppies were on our way back!

Needless to say, none of this happened, except for the defeat and the bland, over-priced burgers of course.  Presumably Terry Cooper found better ways of flushing money away rather than ploughing it into the Non Park black hole.  Son Mark chose the dole over slicing the half-time oranges for us at a second game.  And yet.....

And yet....During the first half the team played with a freedom we hadn't seen for a while.  A smiling JP put us 1-0 up.  The sun shone.  Dave Singh, ever the optimist, declared we were watching "Championship winning football".

The second half saw normal service being resumed.  The sun went behind clouds.  We shipped goals like they were going out of fashion.  Cooper hauled a scowling JP off the pitch.  Dave Singh, ever the pessimist, bemoaned the End of Days.

The slow motion train crash that was the Poppies under Ladak continued towards the buffers of oblivion.....

And there you have it.  Five more of less accurate memories of Telford.  Some good, some bad.  Somehow we are still around to do it all again and see which was today's game will go.  Assuming their team coach doesn't roll-up to Rockingham Road that is.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Wow, who'd have thunk it?

Least surprising news since the report that rain is wet, politicians are corrupt and most Poppies Chairmen don't know their arses from their elbows......

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Taste of the Good Old Days

Telford at home on Saturday.

Once upon a time such a statement would have been common or garden. Telford?  Again?  Yawn.

Four years down the line from our "fall", teams like Telford have a acquired a sheen of glamour way beyond what their standing as a club deserves.  For the past half dozen years they have cemented their position as the 25th best team in non-league.  Too good for Conference North, but not good enough for Conference National.  They have been yo-yoing happily until this season, which finds them currently rock bottom of Conference North, behind such footballing Titans as Chorley and Curzon Ashton.

Nevertheless, for a club of our reduced circumstances, Saturday's game represents a big day for us.  We all feared it would prove to be a big day for Mr Plod, but thankfully they seem to have either decided not to demand saturation policing, or have simply forgotten us.  It also represents for Telford their first view of Latimer Park and a salutary lesson what can happen to clubs when their stadium is stolen away by circumstances and third rate businessmen.

AFC Telford, along with numerous other "AFC's" and other reconstituted clubs have had the enormous good fortune to be able to walk straight back into their grounds when they have started again.  Sure, re-starting a club is probably difficult.  We certainly know that keeping a club going is hard enough.  But the job is undoubtedly made a lot easier when your stadium remains available to you from Day One.  Take a look around.  Before you gird your loins for the first chant of "Shit ground..." had your old ground not been available, this could have been you.  An awful lot in football comes down to luck.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Hey, it's the Rugby World Cup Again!

Rather than waste time and effort slagging off this pointless sport again, we've decided to just link you back to what we wrote for the last World Cup.  Christ, we've been going too long.......

Simply substitute The location from "Mordor" to "England".  And insert "12" years since England won it, rather than "8" (don't worry Rugby fans, you've still got a way to go to catch up with us long-suffering football fans!)

Everything remains the same.  With knobs on.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

857 and counting...

Every Poppies fan slept a little easier last night, after our FA Cup campaign purred into life with a comfortable passage into the 2nd qualifying round.  Just two more wins and we could be in the hat with Boreham Wood or Bromley!

Whilst few expect us to actually win the competition, it would be nice to go deep into the qualifying rounds - maybe even progressing as far as hearing our name in the classified check again.  And just as importantly, adding a few more goals to our tally at the top of the all time leader board.

We need to keep Villa where they belong, firmly in second place with just their solitary European Cup as consolation. We certainly don’t need a repeat of their unexpected run to the final last season, which almost nibbled our lead down to single figures before they gave Arsenal about as much of a game as we would. 

Thankfully they’ve since sold their only decent striker, and already have an extra 5 goal deficit which is bound to heap extra pressure on their unprolific forward options.

Meanwhile let’s keep on extending that lead!

The Holte End reacts to the scoreline from Market Drayton

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Old Dogs, New Trick

Our less than stellar start to the new season - three defeats in our first five games - has revealed a surprising trait amongst hardened Poppies everywhere.

No-one seems to be freaking out!

Have we learned the art of patience?  Have we "chilled-out?"  Have we really become a more grown-up, responsible and level-headed body of supporters?

Of course we haven't!  I'd suggest we're still the same bunch of grizzling moaners we've always been. The difference this year is that we've perhaps considered the step-up in quality and the tough opening few games and adjusted our expectations accordingly.  There's also the Marcus-effect in that we all really quite like Marcus Law as a person and as a manager.

Deep down we all feel bad about how Marcus was allowed to drift away from the club during Ladak's mad final months.  This will earn him a longer than average honeymoon period.  And, it has to be said, we've actually played some decent football and haven't looked out-classed (just out-scored!) so far this season.

So, for now, we're all onboard with our new boss and his ever-evolving squad.  One can only imagine how different our reaction would have been had last year's management team presided over the exact same start though.....

Poppies fans these days.
The picture of serenity.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Where's Sandy?

After we posed the question - did Elliott Sandy appear in every photograph taken during last season's title celebrations, we have received a few photographs which claim to be Sandy-lite.  As we suspected, it was a tough ask!

Sorry guys.  Elliot is still pretty prominent.

Mmm.  Slightly better, but unless we're very much
mistaken that's Elliot still riding high.

A bit better.  Elliot's not the focal point of this photo,
but he's still in there!

Also, does he ever do any of his own walking
or is he simply carried everywhere?

This is much more like it.
Elliot is not only not the focal point,
but he has now become, for once,
the carrier, not the "carryee"

I think we have a winner.  Elliot can barely be seen.
He is right at the back, just disappearing down the tunnel
with the League Trophy in his grasp.

Rumour has it he has slept with it every night since....

Monday, 17 August 2015

Give him a K. Please.

You had to feel for the lad who during the second half on Saturday, attempted to crank up the atmosphere by leading the Tin Hat Enders in a chorus of With a K & an E…

Rule no.1 of leading a terrace singalong: have a voice that is deeper than Aled Jones.

By the time he got to the second T he must have had an inkling that he was going to have to get through this on his own. 

But credit to the boy, he kept going to the end, with dogs across Burton Latimer pricking up their ears at some of the top notes.

Imagine how embarrassing that must feel.  Especially when someone else immediately starts the same chant and everyone joins in.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

...And They're Off!

Our 143rd season is well under way, and yesterday evening's game with Redditch has assured us that we have definitely moved up a division.  A good tight game that could have gone either way - you'd have to say a draw was about fair?

But enough of that.  This is PATGOD.  The one thing we hate covering is the actual football.  Not when there were numerous other goings-on which were far more interesting.

Such as: -

When did footballer's legs get so skinny?  I appreciate big strapping thighs probably don't kick-in until Conference level, but bloody hell, even my weedy arms were twice as thick as Saul Williams's legs!  The Missus is decidedly underwhelmed by the thighage on display.

Gary  Mulligan is fast becoming the Utility Player's Utility Player.  Could have easily been MoM last night in his new CB position.  We definitely need three of him to give our team a good spine.

New floodlight bulbs, all working, really do illuminate proceedings well.  Not well enough for the match officials alas....

This season's Klondike draw has continued where all the previous ones have ended - mainly existing to kick me in the teeth every fortnight.  Last night the winning ticket was sold one after mine.


I hate the Klondike and the Klondike hates me.  And we'll both go through it all again on Saturday.

Is it just me, or is Elliot Sandy in every photograph celebrating last season's title win?  There was a celebratory photo in the Redditch programme, and there he was - front and centre.  I looked at the photo's I took at Rugby and at home to Bedworth, and bugger me, if he wasn't slap bang in the middle of all my shots too!  Did anyone take a photo at either of those two games without having Elliot completely photo-bomb proceedings?

This photograph that I took at Rugby last season
has the LEAST amount of Elliot Sandy in it of any I
took on that day or against Bedworth.

At least he looks happier than Kolo.

Can anyone supply even one photo where
Elliott appears less?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Poppies in sponsorship shock!

Disturbing news has filtered out from Latimer Park that the club has agreed a first team shirt sponsorship deal with a company NOT belonging to one of the club owners!  This brings to an end an enviable 15+ year run of not being able to find a single company from anywhere else in the world who wanted to sponsor us.

Think we're wrong?  Let's look at the evidence.....

The last few years has seen Ritchie's company "Evolution" sponsor our shirts, extolling the excellent virtues of, er, evolution.  Evolution's great.  Everyone should try it.

Before Ritchie's takeover we had a succession of different companies adorning our shirts.  DCR Locums.  Palestine Aid.  A-line.  But they all had one tiny detail in common - they were all Imraan's creations!  Unsurprisingly our former Chairman had a bit of difficulty convincing the wider business community to trust their money to his safekeeping.  Not with the ready availability of so many poker sites, and YouTube footage of mysteriously available footballers who could juggle a football well.

Not that Imraan had the monopoly on using his own companies to decorate his players' chests.  Before him we were sponsored by Weldon, who provided a steady succession of board directors at Rockingham Road during Mallinger's tenure.

And before Weldon?  By our reckoning it was either Polar Trucks or Fenner?  About 97-98 season?  Probably Polar Trucks.  Were we arsed we could simply dig out a few old programmes and nail it down to the exact sponsor, and the exact year when someone other than a club director had sufficient faith in the club to divvy up some readies.  But we can't!

Now we have B&M Pallets putting their faith in the Poppies, owned by Brian Martin, former Poppies barfly / barman and ace quiz question mangler of the parish.  As of today we recommend anyone looking to purchase industrial pallets not to look anywhere else other than here -


where, somehow they manage to devote an entire website to the fascinating world of pallets.  Good on 'em and welcome back Brian!

Expect to see this logo, stretched out of all recognition
across hundreds of beer bellies over the forthcoming season

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Poppies biggest opponent raises head once more

It was clear from last night's friendly with a Luton XI that we are starting to have the makings of a reasonable team for the forthcoming campaign.  A few more players added to the effective spine and who knows, we could be in the frame this season. 

The Luton team were game enough and gave our defence a good work out.  I was more concerned for the handful of Luton fans who made the trip.  Their last three visits to us have taken in stately old Rockingham Road, shiny soulless Nonce Park and now cabbage patch Latimer Park.  Our recent nomadic existence has been enough of a challenge to us, without inflicting it upon outsiders!

It was amusing to hear some of our old and not so old duffers bemoaning the lack of Luton Town first teamers on view.  As if we would recognise of name one of them if they stood right in front of us!  The days of us spotting a handful of former top-flight players, or heaven help us, the odd ex-International, are long behind us!  It's doubtful we'll again see the heady days of excitedly nudging our fellow fans and pointing out the likes of Andy Sinton.  Or watch stars like Stephen Hunt delicately hug the touchline, quietly staying out of the way whilst his agent puts the final touches to his new contract elsewhere.

But it soon became clear that once again our biggest challenge this season wouldn't be coming from another club.  Our toughest opponent will be our pitch.  The Latimer Park surface knows only two conditions.  Dry and hideously bobbly.  Or wet and unplayable. 

Early on the Luton players realised this wasn't going to be a night to impress the boss and land a lucrative contract.  It was a night for not being caught out by a chin-high bobble and look a dick.  In the first ten minutes one Luton player attempted that most dangerous footballing manoeuvre - a Latimer Park backpass to his goalie, right between the sticks.  The crowd held it's breath.  The Poppies players stood off out of respect for the audaciousness of the feat.  The goalie girded his loins.  He managed to get enough shin/knee/boot onto the ball to safely clear.  I felt like applauding.

Whilst I entirely understand we are where we are and beggars can't be choosers I recalled with bitterness the stonking quality of the playing surface we had at Rockingham Road.  We used to moan about the odd ball deviating and the curious goal-mouth mounds, where, at it's most pronounced, the bar in the centre of the goal was several inches closer to the ground than at the posts.  But, bloody hell!  It was Wembley compared to the rough field we play on now.

How can Marcus be expected to judge players on such a surface?  How can you demand football played on the ground, when the pitch is your biggest enemy?  Ironically, to excel at Latimer Park, you have to a player of such quality that you should never have to play on Latimer Park!

What can be done to improve the surface?  Yesterday a bloody good watering would have helped.  And then what?  Best suggestion is to borrow the roller from the local cricket club and spend a month rolling the f*cking thing flat.

Ah well.  The pitch may be horrible, but at least the sunsets are pretty.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Fixtures Out. Woo Hoo!

You can find the actual fixtures elsewhere, but we trust you'll find our cut-out-and-keep away day guide useful for the coming season.  Up the Poppies!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

KTFC Website gets quiet revamp

Chatting the other day to other Poppies fans, in the absence of any other Poppies-related subjects, talk swung to the official club website.  No-one could quite understand how Ritchie, with his IT business (or something similar, isn't it...?) had done nothing about our ancient website, which is bang up to date with information about our manager (just one behind), and players (including such worthy, but oddly outdated Poppies heroes such as Lee Fowler, James McPike and Nathan Koo-Boothe.

There seems to have been talk about revamping the club website from about an hour after Imraan's cold, dead fingers were prised from the Poppies reigns.  No sooner had he been kicked into touch than plans were mooted to claw back the club's official online organ.  Helpful because much of the site seemed to be unavailable to the people who actually run the club. 

Everyone fully appreciated that turning around the website lagged behind other trifling requirements such as players, somewhere to play and fending off winding-up orders.  A new club website could wait until we secured an actual club.

But now we have a secure (ish) club.  We have a championship.  We have terracing behind a goal.  There is even the threat of chips.  So where's the website?

Actually, the answer is, here - New KTFC Web Site

What?  Where?  How?

How long has this website been live?  Why hasn't the club trumpeted this?  Why didn't I know about it?  Why doesn't the old site link directly to this one?

C'mon, did everyone else know and simply didn't tell me?  Boy, when you're unpopular, you're unpopular!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

That's Numberwang!

We now officially have 11 players for the forthcoming season!  Hooray!

As long as we have no injuries, holidays, Dubi missing the bus, substitutions or players leaving, we should line up for the whole of the 2015-2016 season thusly: -

Jamie McAlindon
Dominic Langdon / Brett Solkhon / Steve Kinniburgh
Richard-Noel / Jevani Brown / Saul Williams / Andy Gooding
Dubi Ogbonna / Elliott Sandy / Gary Mulligan


Monday, 6 July 2015

At times I don't do myself any favours...!

Just a quick one to clarify, and then I'll honestly leave it alone - I wasn't really trying to get myself banned from KTFC Forum.

I used this pretense as the basis for a hopefully amusing blog.  I could have simply said, "I've been banned - WTF?". 

However, I thought I'd at least try to be light and amusing by suggest that I had deliberatly set out to be banned by being reasonable, even-tempered and merely offering alternative viewpoints to the norm on that Forum. 

In reality I was absolutely gobsmacked at being removed simply because I broadly support the efforts of the Trust, Club, Management and Volunteers.  But rather than simply bemoan this fact I thought I'd squeeze a funny blog out of it.

Entirely my fault for trying to be a bit sarcy, and forgetting not everyone "gets" my humour!

However, it seems I'm going to have to re-double my efforts to cash in my Poppynet chips too!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

You could have knocked me down with a feather!

Have you ever wanted to know what it takes to be permanently banned from a forum set-up specifically to allow members to have a say, more or less without administrative interference?

Me too.

With this in mind, I put the KTFC Forum to the test. 

From what I can vaguely recall, the KTFC Forum grew out of a bit of a spat on Poppynet when a few members fell foul of the Administrators.  Apparently it wasn't OK to have all-night sessions of boozed-up threats of violence and harass anyone you didn't like.  Who'd have thought it? 
KTFC Forum soon became home to a mixture of Poppynet cast-offs, agitators, keyboard warriors and generally mouthy sorts.  AKA common or garden Poppy fans like you and me!

Opinions on KTFC Forum seemed slightly more forceful than on Poppynet.  Perhaps due to the perceived lighter administrative touch.  Perhaps due to the fact the some members seemed to personally hate the club management and be particularly narked when Baillie and Machin managed to fumble their way to yet another win.

Given the more turbulent nature of this forum, and it's original intent to offer a platform for all Poppies opinion, no matter how outlandish (a forum where an away win could generate 8 pages of blind hatred), I thought I might struggle to earn myself a permanent ban. 

Not a bit of it!

This week I received this message from one of the KTFC Forum board's big-wigs,

"You have been permanently banned from this board.

Please contact the
Board Administrator for more information. (Tried -no reply...)

Reason given for ban: Constant digging at the forum / Always seems to be bullying people's ideas or picking faults rather than making contributions and suggestions towards the topic."

It seems that threats, abuse, pointlessly copying and pasting individual sentences from the official site, anger and vitriol AREN'T enough to earn a ban.

However,  suggesting that if supporters want something doing or changing that they perhaps look to do it themselves rather than expect someone else to do it for them IS enough to get a ban. 

It seems to be OK to demand that unspecified funds be raised in an unspecified way for an unspecified share of an unspecified stadium we don't have.  But it is NOT OK to question such a vague notion, or make the reasonable suggestion that if you think it's a good idea to raise these funds, why not instigate it.  Rather than sit around and naturally assume someone else put the effort in and do it all for you.

So, if you want to join the "I've been banned from a forum that doesn't ban people" club my best suggestion would be to hold back on the hateful posting (it's sooo last season) and merely raise the odd, innocuous question.  Providing the administrators don't agree with you, you'll be banned in no time!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Taking more shape....

Robinson? Kinniburgh? Solkhon 
Richard-Noel?  Mulligan  Gooding?
 Ogbonna         Sandy    
Still a bit thin on numbers, but a good spine!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Squad takes shape - admittedly, a small shape!

Clifton            Solkhon             Lee             Kinniburgh
Hall                 Mulligan            Jepson        
Moreman        Sandy          Kolodynski
Subs (from)
Robinson???  Ogbonna???  McAlindon???  Hull??? 
Richard-Noel???  Gooding???
Let's not kid ourselves that playing for the mighty Poppies, in front of statistically larger crowds actually counts for anything at the end of the day.  Even the likes of Micky Nuttell were known to kiss badges from time to time!