Sunday, 16 October 2016


A glimpse over any schoolboy, under-18, or under-21 international football programme invariably throws up the usual mix of mega stars, journeymen, and mystery men that make you exclaim, "who the hell is that?"

I often wonder what those players who ended up working permanent night shifts in freezing warehouses, before warming the bench at Gainsborough or Gosport, think when they hear about their former room-mate Wayne Rooney earning a million quid a month.  If they managed to avoid drowning in bitterness they would be better men than me...!

Idly thumbing through an under-19 England International Programme from 2002, I was struck by the number of stars who "made it", such as the aforementioned Mr Rooney.  Plus the likes of 'keeper Lee Camp, Glen Johnson, Liam Ridgewell, Peter Whittingham, Stewart Downing, David Bentley, Wayne Routledge and Marcel McKie.


Marcel McKie!?

Marcel F*cking McKie!?

Marcel McKie - not good enough to wear Poppies red,
let alone England red!

Once I'd picked myself off the floor, I continued reading.  Marcel was previously in the under-16 team, making 13 appearances, and was on the books of Tottenham Hotspur.

Marcel F*cking McKie!?  Sorry.  That just slipped out again.

In 2002 he had the footballing world at his feet.  Barely 4-years later he was screaming for midfield cover as he was burnt-off time and time again, on a muddy field, by the right midfield of Redditch United in front of a few hundred punters and a few dozen Redditch nutters.

I guess some young players fall by the wayside because of bad luck, injury, or getting too much too soon.  Marcel didn't really fit into any of these categories.  In his case it was more the fact that he wasn't actually a very good footballer.  God alone knows how he got onto the books of Spurs, but at least this explains the international appearances.

I've no idea what happened to Marcel in the period between that England Under-19 Tournament and shivering his skinny ass off at the Valley Stadium, but presumably the phone call from Morrell Maison, and the chance to join his legion of dusky, vaguely French sounding players at Rockingham Road, gave him the chance to rebuild his career.  Unfortunately Marcel wasn't aware that Morrell's coaching manual didn't include the words "defensive" and "cover".  It also didn't help the player that a popular and actually good full-back, Liam Nicell was dumped in favour of another of Morrell's exotic-sounding signings.

Well, Marcel's career didn't exactly flourish after his short stint of being found out at Conference North level.  When you're not good enough for the Poppies, invariably you only head in one direction....Not even sure if he's kicking a ball around with his mates these days, but I hope he has those England Youth Caps in a nice frame, and in pride of place on his living room wall.

Oh dear.  This is a genuine tweet from Marcel's Facebook account.
A prize to anyone who can translate it into English.

"u no ur a bellend wen u look bk at ur exs profile n shes gettin treat worse than u treat her n nothin u can do or say helps,i feel guilty man coz if i dint fuk up she wouldnt b goin thru this hell,sorry baby all i can say is u no how to contact me if and when u need me n mans there,i no ur not on my friends list either but just on the off chance u decided to look for me this ones 4 u,JTMMM"

Saturday, 15 October 2016



1.  A person who approves of and encourages a public figure, political party, policy, etc.

Synonyms: Advocate, backer, adherent, promoter, contributor......

2. A person who is actively interested in and wishes success for a particular sports team

Synonyms: fan, follower, enthusiast, devotee, lover, admirer, zealot, aficionado....

3. A Kettering person who is actively interested in and wishes success for the Poppies, but only when they win every week, and the manager is sacked every time we don't win, or plays players out of position, or basically does anything we don't agree with.  The bastard!  Marcus Out!!!!!!  Ritchie promised us promotion!  Wah! Wah! Mummy!

Synonyms: fair-weather, mouthy, keyboard-warrior, aggressive, naive, pig-ignorant, ready to follow a more successful team at the drop of a hat.....

Saturday, 8 October 2016

"Stick to the roads...

The oft quoted expression that football is "a funny old game" certainly sprung to mind with our FA Cup draw away to Solihull Moors.  We have played both Moor Green and Solihull Borough a few times in the past 20 years.  Both clubs were the typical mini-supported, Midlands cannon-fodder for our the all-conquering big-boys from Rockingham Road.  The sort of clubs whose tiny grounds we turned up to, marvelling at how such places survived, then filling their social clubs and terraces with Poppies red, before leaving with the points / progression in the Cup.

Just over twenty years ago we whupped Solihull Borough real good at their place in the FA Cup to land us the plum tie of a home fixture against Plymouth Argyle in the 1st Round proper.  A game shown live on Sky, showcasing our Poppies heroes on the national stage, as the plucky part-timers played out of their skins against the League giants.  At least it should have gone that way.  In reality, the producers of the telecast couldn't find enough worthwhile footage to fill the end credits, leaving the music playing over a blank screen for the last 30 seconds.

We tussled manfully with Moor Green in Conference North for a few seasons during one of our long-term expulsions from the Conference. Our final games against them came at a time when the clubs were heading in opposite directions.  The Poppies unveiled new signing Chris Beardsley, who filled his boots that afternoon, as Imraan's DRC Locum fuelled all-stars were sweeping their way to a dominant Conference North League title.

Moor Green, on the other hand, had vacated their own ground and were sharing Solihull Borough's stadium.  The clubhouse of which, for some reason, resembled the largest sauna outside of Lapland.  I distinctly remember walking onto the terrace and seeing a meagre clump of Moor Green fans, glumly selling raffle tickets and scarfs from a listing paste table.  It looked like the most abject car boot sale in history!  I genuinely felt sorry for them.  Their club was slipping away from them.  No ground.  No fans.  No future.  And then there was us - Rich as Croesus.  On our way to the Conference.  Football League beckoning?

But, as we know, "football is a funny old game".

The next time I saw such a sad, paste-table sight was coming through the turnstile at Steel Park for the first time and seeing us with the very same set-up!  Wow.  Things can change around quickly can't they?

Fast forward to the present and the picture is somewhat different.  After combining to form the new club of Solihull Moors, and then being a middling presence in Conference North for a decade, they enjoyed a golden season last year and won the division, to take their place in the "National League".

I hardly need detail our "progress" over the same period.... but it leaves us with a hard match, away to the giants of Moor Green, playing two leagues above us now.  "Funny?"  Not really!

....stay off the Moors" 

Monday, 3 October 2016

...and for the angry Moomin from York Street...

Poppies v Boston - FA Cup

For the very angry, rotund Boston fan who "raced" around to where I was standing at half time to forcefully lambast the referee, and everyone else in sight, might I suggest he check the above video at about 8 seconds in.

Quite telling is your player's initial reaction after basically sacking Spencer, before he remembers he is supposed to argue the toss.....

You might want to watch the rest of the video to.  Couple of good goals in there.