Friday, 30 March 2018

Finding that Golden Ticket

I've always believed that all football clubs get at least one crack at "The Big Time".  One moment when your mundane club, bobbling along from mini-crisis to mini-crisis under the staid control of various local worthies, becomes the temporary plaything of an outsider with ambition and a hefty wedge of readies.

At non-league level such an upheaval is more noticeable than at the top of the game.  While a multi-millionaire joining the board at Old Trafford wouldn't even necessarily get a parking spot, at non-league level they would be allowed to rename the town the team played in.

Suddenly your manky little bunch of long-ball merchants become the focus of local, regional, national or even international exposure.  For a fortnight, TV outside broadcast vans litter the streets more than discarded refrigerators.  Local television news carries vox-pop interviews about what is happening with the town's football club with the sort of quality people who loiter within staggering distance of the local Wetherspoons in the town centre at 9.45AM on a Tuesday morning.  

The new owner comes in.  The cash is flashed.  The adventure begins.

With one notable exception*, the story tend to go one of two ways.

Option One - new owner rebuilds ground, encourages more supporters, attracts useful mercenary players and achieves promotions.  Soon, the team of postmen and PE teachers is made up of players who were playing in League One six months earlier.  Within a year or two, even though you've never even come close to winning promotion to the Football League, you are suddenly kicking off your season at home to Coventry or Bradford City.  You have a hard core of 2000 fans who swear they've always followed you, even though records suggest the club was averaging only 156 fans a couple of years earlier.

See - Fleetwood, Crawley, Stevenage, Forest Green etc.

Option Two - new owner splurges on flashy appointments.  Has a million ideas of what to do and not one idea how to achieve any of it.  The expensively assembled team has some success.  Mainly because they are full-time professionals playing against pub teams.

A year in and the new owner isn't quite so chipper.  Attendances haven't gone up particularly.  The owner starts grizzling in the press about the lack of ambition in the town.  Introduces sliding scales of prices so the punters don't know from one week to the next what they should be paying for games against the "glamour" clubs.  Thinks it is a great idea to force people to queue to buy a ticket, and then queue again to get into the ground.  Lets it be known he's open to offers for the club.  Loses interest.  Saddles club with unsustainable wage bill and f*cks off.....Club sinks.

See - too many to mention, including a certain local team who play in red and black.

Our opponents on Easter Monday seen to be heading, big time for option two.  A slick Chairman with, a "colourful" history, including a CV boasting being a UKIP candidate and a ban from being a company director is already moaning about the apathy of the local bumpkins, raising prices, and picking fights online.  Usually a flash new owner at least wins a division or two before they start becoming so desperately defensive.  Not in Kings Lynn it would appear.  Time seems to be of the essence.  Which is odd considering Kings Lynn is a place that time has forgot.

Spot the difference...?

*Our old friends from down the A6 managed the impressive feat of combining both Option 1 AND Option 2

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Tamper tamper!

Although this is supposed to be primarily a Poppies blog there are some O/T matters impossible to ignore. As readers will know, Patgod has long been an admirer of the Australian cricket team, in the same sense that we liked the way that John Terry went about his business, and felt that Shteve McClaren could have emulated Sir Alf if only he’d been given more time. 

So you can imagine our reaction to the events in South Africa, where we were shocked – SHOCKED – to learn that far from being the haloed wearers of the baggy green that they purported to be, certain members of the Australian camp are sneaky, underhand, ball tampering cheats.

Nurse, the smelling salts…

The cricketing fraternity was split in two by this sensational news.  In Australia, it was the saddest day in sport. Various politicians and ex players wobbled with emotion as they spoke about it. The rest of the world practically soiled themselves laughing.

There is a serious point though.  Was this really the first time?  Were they at it during the Ashes too?  Could we have been cheated out of losing by a smaller margin?  

Patgod is divided on the punishment that has been meted out. The young kid, Bancroft, clearly not the sharpest tool in the box, probably should have copped a few matches and be made to field with his pockets hanging out in future. Smith deserves a year and a couple of Barmy Army songs written specially in his honour.  Warner should be banished to the Afghan Premier League indefinitely.  Anyone who looks like the idiot offspring of Shane Warne and a molested koala deserves no less.  


It's all too exciting!

Standing in the drizzle, watching non-league football on a bobbly pitch, sometimes lacks the glamour and excitement usually associated with the "beautiful game".  The upside for the Latimer Park attending Poppies supporter this season is our fantastic home record.  19 games.  16 wins.  Only 1 defeat (despite our best efforts against Dorchester last night...!)  Three goals short of 100 in the league this season.

At the weekend we face the two teams directly above us.  Two wins and we could be second in the table.  One eye on the stumbling Hereford.  The other eye (yes, Diamonds fans, some people have two of them) considering a second place finish and a home draw in the play off semi-final, and potentially the final.

Exciting times.  And yet.

At the moment, our average attendance of 644 is fully FOUR people more than we averaged three years ago playing in the division below this one.  Was bullying pub teams with double figure crowds really as exciting and fulfilling than the football we are seeing now?
Celebrities greeted Kettering's third goal
against Frome with little fanfare
As statistically satisfying as thumping lesser teams is, are those games as exciting as the ones where you have to fight for that last minute winner?  

Case in point.  Saturday's 3-0 win over Frome was blandly comfortable.  The ground wasn't exactly rocking.  Unless you count the hundreds of individual conversations taking place while the two teams completed the regulation 90 minutes with as little fuss as possible.  

The win, a couple of days later over Dorchester was a completely different Kettering of Fish!  They dared to try to outplay us.  They dared to score goals.  They dared to make us try harder.  They made us cheer ourselves hoarse when we scored our late winner.

The Dorchester game will be discussed, or at least remembered for seasons to come.  The Frome game?  Already I can't remember who scored!

Football needs to be a bit unpredictable.  A bit annoying.  Even a bit threatening (who will forget our games with Royston this season?)  Easy wins may look good when listed on the Internet, but they don't exactly set the pulse racing at the time.

Last minute winner?

(c) Peter Short

Friday, 23 March 2018

Hey Josh Tibbetts, just how heavy is that ball?

Practice makes perfect for the Rosyton shot-stopper

Josh manages to even deflate himself at the end of his, er, performance.....

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Patgod Online

Punch that into your search engine and you may not get what you were expecting, whoever you are.

Patgod online

“Pink Floyd’s first album, originally released in 1967. It was an incredibly influential album on the rock scene.  The lyrics talk about…”

Blah blah blah.
Patgod online poker

“If you are looking to play online poker for the best money, we have some of the best bonuses for the best internet poker”

Ja, and this is clearly ze best translation we could do, hein?

Patgod online dating

“Join and find your match here”

Thinking that match meant 45 minutes each way we took a look, strictly for research purposes.  Nine hours later we concluded that, yes it could involve a change of ends, but…

But all this begs the question, what happens when these pot heads, Vegas high rollers and porn barons stumble across a detailed (some would say worryingly so) account of the fortunes of a 7th tier football team in Kettering, England.

Does this mean we have been overestimating the fan interest in our blog? Probably.
Are we part of classic rock culture?  Doubtful. 

Can we hold a royal flush without the merest facial twitch?  Unlikely.
Is Patgod online dating the way forward?  Um, can we talk privately?     

Have your Golden Card tickets ready

Stratford Town FC (away) - Saturday 17th March 2018

The Richens yellow card was timed at 67 minutes
Prize not yet claimed

Please present your winning ticket to Mick Coe at the next home game

Cold, Cold, Cold

Full marks to everyone – players, officials and spectators – who endured a quite ridiculously chilly afternoon yesterday at sub-zero Stratford. Or as I now think of it, Stalingrad. With virtually no cover and not even a burger van to huddle around, the only consolation was that we weren’t at Latimer Park, where the air temperature would have made this feel positively balmy.

It was interesting to see how our brave boys approached the challenge of performing in these testing conditions.

The Sensible: 10 out of the starting 11, togged up with long sleeved tops, thermals and gloves, and in case things got really cold, notes from their mums.

The Mental:  Obviously part Siberian on his mother’s side, Matty Stevens showed his team mates up for the buttercups they were by toughing it out in short sleeves, limbs like spam, and no doubt after the game demanded to know where his ice bath was.

The Really Quite Cosy, Thanks: Snug as a bug on the bench, Rene sat swaddled in multiple layers, a woolly hat, snood and with his own personal patio heater going full bore. He eventually took the field with what appeared to be an electric blanket under his shirt - either that or this mini winter break has had unfortunate calorific consequences.
Rene prepares to enter the fray

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

It's time to open those wallets again!

You've bought your season ticket.  You've renewed your Trust membership.  You've purchased a car air-freshener.  You've collected all the various paintings of Rockingham Road.  You've chipped in for a Matchball Sponsorship package.  You've helped the sort the pitch fund.  You forked out for a wedge of Bottle and Christmas Draw tickets.  You've even shown the infinite patience required to buy a replica shirt.

And now, just in case there's a few bob left in your pocket, this Friday there's a Race Night at Latimer Park.

Before we all groan, there's more to this event than meets the eye.  It is being jointly hosted and run by The Poppies Trust and Dylan Cecil Memorial Fund,and the proceeds are being split evenly between the two organisations.  The Memorial fund enables deserving families the opportunity of seaside breaks - see here - Dylan Cecil Memorial Fund Facebook Page.

Even the Poppies Trust's share is going to a moderately worthy cause - helping the football club over the gap in finances caused by the recent bad weather. 

Click here to buy horses / jockeys etc.  Poppies Trust Facebook Page

Of course, the main fun to be had from a Race Night is going from being snootily aloof of the proceedings, to giving into the madness of screaming your encouragement at your horse.  A horse that's running on a TV screen.  From a race that might have been run several years ago....

Just for your convenience - the all-important do's and do not's of a Poppies Race Night -

DON'T  -  Don't hang around before betting to see which horse will pay out the most 
- that just looks tacky!

DO  -  Do turn up early enough to get a seat.  Not that you'll be in the seat much.  Not with all the jumping up and down and extolling your horse to greater effort!

DON'T  -  Don't eat a large tea before attending.  Unless you can also also handle the ultimate stodge-fest that is sausage and chips on top of your earlier repast.

DO  -  Pretty much back any horse / jockey / owner that JC is involved in.  
It is as good as money in the bank!

DON'T  -  Don't get too drunk and end up losing your shirt on the Auction Race!

DO  -  De do do do.  De da da da.  

DON'T  -  Don't expect any of these fillies to be in attendance.....

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

How about that Winter / Spring Break, then?

Loitering in the bar at Latimer Park the other day, we overheard one side of a conversation between an un-named, Poppies Board representative and an unknown grandee of the Football Association.  Somehow, we only heard one side of the conversation.  We're not sure exactly how, but we only clearly, caught the voice of the FA's man.

"Hello, is that K*n S*muels, of Kettering Town FC?"

"Mumbled reply"

"Hi K*n.  We're ringing around every club to discuss our proposed mid-Winter break for next season.  As you know, a lot of players in the Premiership are getting increasingly tired, weary and tearful at having to play a couple of games every week over the Christmas period, so we're canvassing opinion about ceasing all football under the FA banner for a fortnight over the Christmas and New Year period."

"I'll give you a f*cking mid-winter break!!!"
"Surprised mumbled reply"

"Well, that's hardly a constructive....."

"More, mumbled rapid responses..."

"We appreciate that at your level that playing games over the Christmas period brings in more supporters and more revenue, and helps you, well, survive, but the Football Association would like you to consider the other side of the argument."

"Mumbled question"

"Basically Alexi Sanchez quite likes popping home to see his mum over Christmas, so it would really help him and others in his position....."

"Sound of an exasperated mumble"

"That's not an especially helpful response Mr S*muels.  Anyway, wouldn't your players like to take Christmas off too?  Perhaps move a few games to the end of February or early March, when the weather is much nicer?

"Abusive, mumbled tirade"

Well, obviously not THIS season.  What with the 19 foot high snow drifts followed by flooded pitches, but, most seasons we could probably get away with it ....."

"More mumbling"

"Would it really make that much difference at your level if your players played 3 or 4 times a week over March and April?  Really?  Consider the bigger picture.  If Eden Hazard or Christian Benteke were forced to play 180 minutes football over a 72 hour period, could you live with yourself?"

"Protracted, seemingly abusive mumbling"

"Mmmm.  Is there anyone else there I can talk to please.....?

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Return of the Beast from the East?

Back in the day at Rockingham Road, when the Tin Hat filled after the change of ends, usually it would not be long before the set list moved on to this little number:

We hate Worcester City

We hate Yeovil too

And Weymouth*

We hate Nuneaton Borough

But Kettering we love you – etc

(* Or was it Enfield?)

All good old adversaries that we liked to sing bad things about, but only in a sort of jokey way. You couldn’t really hate Worcester City, or even Stafford Rangers.

Things changed though with the arrival of noisy upstarts like Woking and Stevenage, who earned their place in an updated version, and we really, truly despised Rushden & Diamonds. In fact, seeing how things turned out for both of us, we probably let them off too lightly.

It was a dysfunctional kind of rivalry.  We had all the history, they had the money. We saw them as a threat to our being, they saw us as a soft target.  We had a metric number of fingers and toes, they were imperial.

Either way, by the time the dust had cleared we were playing at a strange new level populated with unknown opponents. Even the odd club with a name we knew turned out to be an AFC reboot of some kind, and ‘We hate Beaconsfield SYCOB’ fails on so many levels, not least it doesn’t scan.   

So for the past few seasons we have competed without anyone to define ourselves against. No meaningful local derbies. No back stories to add a little spice and no vocal away fans.  In some respects we are better off for it, and can view the fixture list with a detached maturity.  On the other hand, life’s too short not to bear grudges.  

But come what may, next year things will be different. We will either be mixing it at a higher level with some serious opposition, or will again be in the same division as a club from just down the A6. Is it therefore time to pose the question – how do we feel about AFC R&D? On a scale of 1 to 10, are we still the Diamonds haters?  If your old man said be an AFC Diamonds fan, how exactly would you respond?

V1 epitomised all that was wrong about plastic vanity projects and were rightfully loathed far and wide. AFC, however, have gone about things differently: fan owned, living within their means, working their way up on their own merits. I bet they’re even eco-friendly. How dare they be so inoffensive! 
The visceral disgust we felt at the very concept of V1 is something that may never be repeated.  You had to be there at a time when they were picking off our few good players, leeching away floating fans, paying relative mega bucks for big ugly bastards who always scored against us, and fawned over every week in OUR local paper by a cringing journo. 

The modern day Poppy will have to make the best of the situation. Any if anyone is short of inspiration, just remember this. 
As bad as it gets

Friday, 2 March 2018

How's this weekend's fixture looking.....?

Thanks love, but I think we're OK.