Sunday, 31 January 2016

Rene and the Law of Diminishing Returns

Will the real Rene Howe hurry up and get his clearance from the Welsh FA, so we can dispense with the tubby lookalike who has been filling in these past few weeks? 

If only.

Regrettably for both us and him, this is the actual Rene Howe and it’s quite a sad spectacle.  Just a year ago he was still a League striker, with a goalscoring record that had carried him around the lower divisions. Yesterday, instead of Fratton Park or the Kassam he was on show in front of a few hundred at Hungerford and looking no closer to regaining his mojo.   

In another statuesque performance, the only noticeable movement was when his studs slipped, resulting in a fall that seismologists picked up 25 miles away. It’s looking increasingly like his best days as a forward are behind him, unless he switches codes to rugby union. 

But isn’t this a familiar tale whenever an old favourite reappears? ‘Never Go Back’ should be drummed into every footballer at any level because it is so rarely a happy homecoming.  In our case the rap sheet has numerous previous entries. Top of the list: Carl Alford.  His sale to Diamonds was like a death in the family for us, and how we longed for him to come back. Then, in our hour of need, several years later, he did.  The good news was that he had been on a strict diet.  The bad news was that it was Dominos.

Then there was Dean Martin. Another who made a big stir first time around, and whose early return was seen as a major plus. Again, we should have known better.  Did he feel he had nothing to prove?  Pretty soon the pop side were offering advice to the contrary.  He never really recovered from that infamous miss against Bath. Will we ever forgive him? Eventually, but it still feels too soon.    

Lee Harper built his entire transfer policy around re-signing old players, so back came Iyseden Christie and several others. Luckily we’d hung on to those size 46 shorts, which in fact are currently enjoying another new lease of life. The difference with Harper’s return to old faces was that they weren’t that hot first time around either, but the downward trend continued. 

It applies to managers too –

Peter Morris: first spell - runners up, Cup success; second spell - runners up, Trophy heartbreak, the drop, the sack.

Morell Maison: first spell - hmm; second spell – meh; third spell – ugh.

Marcus Law: first spell – ok; second spell – can we get back to you on that?     

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Coming Soon from the Poppies Club Shop

Place your order at the next home game,
assuming we ever have another one

The 70's Strike Back

Good to see Canavan really getting into the spirit of the
1970's, looking like a shaggy-haired bass player
from some mid-70's Brummie rock band.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Clutching at Straws Dept.

As memories of seeing our team play home games recede to the point of becoming legend, PATGOD is being forced to cast ever-further for anything Poppies related to report on from a Saturday afternoon.

This week the BBC quiz show "Pointless" came to the rescue with this week's painfully-thin-Poppies-connection-to-keep-us-ticking-over-until-it-stops-f**king-raining/snowing/freezing.  In a round of the quiz where the participants had name the artists behind various 70's disco classics, our old mate Van McCoy's Poppies staple - "The Hustle" was the best answer of the round.

That's right.

Instead of a pre-match pint, natter with mates, followed by football, half-time cup of tea, more football, some chips and another drink, with more nattering and catching-up, we have to subsist on a diet of a 10 second burst of a tune the team used to run out to 40 years ago.....

Slim pickings at the moment!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

In your face Met Office!

Poppies home game with Stratford defies freezing conditions!

Yes, it looks like the flooding is too deep to actually freeze.  Result!

See you all in March........

Thursday, 7 January 2016

3G Pitches? What's the beef?

Last Saturday's game at Bedworth was the first time I'd seen a game on that new-fangled artificial turf stuff.  I'd heard and read such horror stories of how bad a 3G surface could be.  The bounce.  The roll.  Er, the bounce.

The only direct experience I've had of artificial football pitches was the knee-grazing terror that is the Leisure Village's patch of rock-hard, sand-laden, green sandpaper.

Bedworth's pitch was a million miles better than the Thurston Drive horror.  I looked out for how the monstrous 3G pitch was going to rape, pillage and set fire to the very soul of our national game, as some seem to believe.  Sorry.  Just didn't see it.  Instead I saw a game of football played at a good pace, with players wearing normal boots and no-one losing layers of dermis every time they touched the floor.

Was there any of the much heralded excessive bounce? Sure, the ball bounced.  Perhaps slightly more than on grass, but frankly nothing to cause the over-the-top reactions against the surface.  Nothing to justify some of the over-the-top comments about never watching us again if we played on anything but bobbly mud and grass.

I have seen balls on grass pitches bounce high.  And low.  And skip on.  And deviate off bumps.  And get stuck in mud.  I'm sure I've seen single passes at Latimer Park do ALL of the above!  I've also seen dozens of games called off on grass pitches because they were underwater.  And what's the betting we won't be turning out at Burton again until February due to the constant downpour.  Maybe March.  And with Global Warming buggering the planet up we are likely to get a lot more weather like this.

Had we the small matter of stacks of money and a ground of our own I would have absolutely no problem with going the 3G route.  It's a new development to be sure.  Perhaps a step too far for some of the oldsters.  Just like, in their day, goalposts, crossbars, floodlights, substitutes and heavily-tattooed players were all seen as unwelcome developments, but are now part and parcel of the game.

Should it really be a case of "Grass or Nothing?"

Friday, 1 January 2016

Would a return to Rockingham Road really answer all of our prayers?

The throwaway mention by Ritchie on his New Year Message of no movement with regard to the lease at Latimer Park, and the Rockingham Road's continued limbo status was interesting. It immediately drew a comment on Poppynet which struck me - a Poppies fan indicated he would definitely attend more games were we to move back to Rocky Road.

I couldn't help but respond on the Forum, but have moved the bulk of my thoughts here as I realised I'd gone well beyond simply responding, and had written a full blown article!  A quick cut-and-paste later, and my diatribe was in it's "proper home!"

The question that hit me was as a Poppies fan is your loyalty to supporting the team, or should you be loyal to a place?

I have never been in doubt that a football club is the supporters supporting the team wearing the shirt.  This is not to say that this made leaving Rocky Road in any way easy, but I refused to accept my team ceased to exist if it didn't play there.  I appreciate this is not a view held by all Poppies fans, but consider this - If Rocky Road was the defining focus of your support did you turn up to watch Corby when they ground-shared?  Of course not!  Why would you?  The Poppies weren't playing there.

However, how would the "Rockingham Road or nothing" brigade react if the opportunity to go back there actually happened?

What if we were all needed to muck-in to make the place even barely acceptable?  Would they return to work for a club they haven't had any tangible attachment to for the past 5-years?  For players they've never seen?  Would it be left for the usual few to do everything for the majority?

So, what if we did manage to get back to a much reduced Rockingham Road?  It would be possible, if not probable that the main stand would be unusable - it was failing inspections 10 years ago.  So this part of the ground might be roped off and left derelict.  The teams would probably need to change in a portakabin.  Or the old Social Club?

What if all we had was the Brit Road terrace, and an ugly bit of temporary seating on Cowper Street?

What if the pitch couldn't be totally restored?  The one-off game staged there shortly after we'd left showed how much the playing surface had fallen into disrepair.  Five years on and God knows what the condition of the pitch would be like - and that's after the bushes, weeds and undergrowth were cleared.  We'd have a very bobbly playing surface,  albeit one with very good drainage!

With the teams and club utilising the sponsor's lounge and the old social club, what if the supporters facilities were reduced to the old Supporter Club building on the corner of Cowper Street? Tiny and cramped.  Assuming it's still usable of course?

Do the floodlights still work?  Would we be better served bringing the Latimer Park ones over?

What if the costs of any further restoration were beyond Ritchie's means?  Buying back the land would not be a small matter.  What if the set-up described above was to be our home for the next 5-10 years?  Would this tempt back those who only equate the Poppies with Rockingham Road?

What if no-one can offer them the Rocky Road they remember?  Would it be enough for them?  On the other hand, if Latimer Park can further be developed, would it ever be enough to tempt some of our lapsed people back?  As a supporter base do we have the numbers or the stomach to commit ourselves to the possibility of decades of struggle and hard work to either boost LP or turn around RR?

Sad to say, but I doubt it.  Those who have stuck with the club through Non Park, Steel Park and now Latimer Park are getting older.  Those who have fallen by the wayside have shown themselves, and this may prove to be an unpopular opinion, to lack the necessary commitment to the Poppies cause.

Just how much do we want this fight?  Really want it?