Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Ringing out the old...

Can we really be about to enter the 2020s? Already?  It really doesn’t feel that long since we anxiously watched the seconds tick down to midnight on December 31, 1999, convinced that our microwaves were about to stop working, our DVD players would need resetting, and – oh yes – planes would fall out of the sky and the world would end. As time spins on with dizzying speed we will soon be getting used to referring to ‘the Twenties’ without immediately conjuring up images of flappers, gangsters, Al Jolson and the Wall St Crash. If that’s enough to make you need a lie down, you’re not alone.

The 2010’s were the decade that gave us austerity, Brexit, President Trump and Mrs Brown’s Boys. And what future historians will simply refer to as the Wicksteed Park Meeting. In a way that was our Brexit moment - the night that put us on a course that was divisive and likely to be hugely influential for years to come. We all have our memories of those marvellous, exciting times at Nene Park. As a personal favourite, I can’t choose between JP and Moses being sent off for twatting each other, and the regularity with which the scoreboard showed us a goal down before the clock (two minutes slow) had even reached 03.00. Happy days!  It all lead inevitably to Bashley and what felt like the end. At our darkest hour one man stood up and made a statement of defiance. That man was Martin Bellamy and the statement was the beer keg he announced was open for business the following Saturday afternoon. So long as somewhere in the world a Poppies pint was still being pulled, there was hope. Perhaps a pint was in Martin’s plans that weekend in any event – who can say? – but in my mind this was a defining moment.

So as we reach the end of an eventful decade it’s worth remembering that yes Latimer Park is a dump and we all wish we could somehow plonk York St down on the edge of Kettering, as it seems Boston won’t be needing it any more, but keeping the faith these last few years has given us far more good times than bad.  Some might go for Stourbridge or the equally late win against Diamonds, but if I had to pick one moment from the decade it would be Elliot Sandy’s late, late equaliser at Rugby. It was the first game after we came back from the dead that truly felt like old times, with a good and noisy support in a decent ground and everyone going mental at the end. We were back, and still are.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

VAR? You get what you ask for.


Like everyone else in this country I watch Match of the Day and bemoan the stranglehold VAR has on the pinnacle of the professional game.  I join in with Linekar and the other experts who can't believe how dominant a group of people sequestered away in Stockley Park are in the modern game.  Football played at a hundred miles an hour is freeze-framed and re-run, and examined and dissected endlessly - killing any sense of occasion or urgency in the Premier League.

And yet, every time I listen to the Match of the Day pundits losing their sh*t over the latest outrage from VAR, I recall how we got to this situation in the first place.

We are here, in no small measure, because those self same Match of the Day pundits used to spend every minute of post-match analysis going on and on about refereeing decisions, constantly pulling apart every touch-and-go decision.  They spent the whole programme moaning about split-second decisions and 50/50 calls.  So what happened?  The authorities listened, and now we have VAR.  And the self-same pundits have something new to bitch about.

The moral of the story?  Refs make mistakes.  Football is about opinions.  Invariably decisions even themselves out.  That's football.  In trying to take "errors" out of the decision-making, top flight football is tying itself into more and more knots.  And are the decisions better?  Of course not!

"Bitch, bitch, moan, moan"
"Whine, whine, gripe, gripe"
"Toon, toon, grumble, grumble"






Thursday, 19 December 2019

Death to Tottenham!

Our early expulsion from this year's FA Cup thanks to Nicky Eaden's inability to extract a worthwhile performance from his charges means we are forced to watch Tottenham's performances in this season's competition through the gaps between our fingers......

This season Spurs enter the Third Round with a trip to Championship strugglers Middlesbrough.  Best case scenario Spurs are so caught-up chasing a distant Champion's League qualification that their reserves tumble out of the Cup at the first hurdle.  Worst case scenario, all of the above, but they earn a replay and score fifteen past 'Boro in the replay!

Our two claims to fame as a football club (as if I need to tell you....) are we instigated shirt sponsorship and have scored the most FA Cup goals in the history of the competition.  While the shirt sponsorship "triumph" is unlikely to be taken from us, the goal-scoring feat is coming under increasing threat from a succession of Big Boys - Aston Villa, then Arsenal and lately Spurs.

it could well be that we lose our goal scoring record (I've often wondered if we've also let in the most goals in FA Cup history......) in the same season The Trust are running a "FA Cup Goal" sponsorship chart where for a small cash outlay you can "own" one of the goals we've scored in the competition.

While we may all dream of randomly drawing one of Robbie Cooke's famous FA Cup goals, Brownie's goal at Ewood Park,  or even Matt Fisher's thunderbolt at Hull City, I can tell you here and now, you won't!  No, like me, you'll end up sponsoring a goal against bloody Desborough, or a Peterborough team you've never heard of!

A glance over the Scoring chart on the social club wall will confirm we've played Desborough Town FC far too many times!

And we've played a dozen different Peterborough teams over the years, and scored a stack of goals against all of them.  I haven't added up any totals, but I'm pretty sure that if, for some reason, all the goals against various Peterborough teams were taken away from our total we'd seriously tumble down the goals-coring charts. 

We'd probably be bunched with a string of long-lost, barely remembered clubs like Chigley Old-Bottom, Trumpton Reserves, Fanny-Fart FC, and of course, Rushden & Diamonds.










Tuesday, 17 December 2019

What? Again?

Is every defeat going to be met with cries for wholesale changes on the pitch, the boardroom and all places in between at Latimer Park?  While it needs to be acknowledged that Poppies fans who clamour for the overthrow of the current regime come from a position of wanting the best for the club, one is forced to consider what exactly would happen to us if their wish was granted?

If the current Owner, Chairman, Board and Volunteers all quit tomorrow, would those demanding change and some form of communal fan ownership be able to plug the gaps in work done, and funds spent?  Of course not.  As much as, in our daydreams, we like the idea of a one-community, fan-base, owning our own football club, it is really a pipe-dream.

None of us has the money, even collectively, to come close to running a semi-professional club.  Not that we would hand our money over in large sums on a weekly basis, no matter what our hearts might say.

But, you know what?  We don't need to.  Why band together an buy out the club and run it ourselves when the people doing it at the moment aren't doing an entirely bad job?  And if you are lucky enough to have a wedge burning a hole in your pocket that you simply must use for the betterment of the Poppies, there are more ways of contributing your hard-earned readies that you can shake a stick at.  How about....


  • Buy a fistful of Klondikes at a game.  Just imagine.  We get 800 bodies in through the turnstile.  Everyone buys a fiver's worth of Klondikes.  The club gets a cash injection of £2000 then and there.  AND a lucky punter gets the same as a prize.  Not me, while Ken sells the tickets, obviously.  But someone.
  • Buy beer and food at the game - the club benefits.  And you can earn yourself a hangover and a bigger belly.
  • If you are feeling particularly flush, there are a range of match-day Sponsorship / Hospitality packages available.  Cue further hangovers and even bigger bellies.
  • Sponsor a player's shirt.  You get to own the, hopefully cleaned, shirt come the end of the season.  Impress your friends.  Delight your family.
  • Attend the numerous events put on at Latiner Park.  Go to the parties.  Enter a team in the Quizzes.  Back some horses at Race Nights.  Go and see Mr Busker on Boxing Day.  Head up to Latimer Park for the New Year Eve event.
  • Buy FA Cup Goals, or in some other way contribute to the Tin Hat Fund.
  • Oh, and keep attending home matches!











Sunday, 15 December 2019

Well, that was a bit different!

As a slightly lacklustre, and weakened Poppies shuffled to a disappointing Trophy defeat yesterday, all I could think about was the really unusual day we were having in Manchester.

FC United struck me as a strange club.  You can only applaud the reason behind their formation and their passion for keeping going, their friendliness and inclusiveness in the bar area.

And yet....

Something about it didn't quite feel right.  Even though the supporters chose to distance themselves from the Glazer-era Manchester United by setting up this club, you still got the distinct impression that you were among Premier League fans playing at being non-league fans.  The Stadium is spectacular, but, again, half of it is for show.  The home fans would never dream of leaving their enormous terrace to stand at the undeveloped end of the ground.  They trap themselves in one place - just like Premier League fans.

The home fans are undeniably noisy.  But again, it seems like it is just for show.  And mostly the songs are about top-level rivalries they had, supposedly, given up.  Leeds and Manchester City wouldn't appear to be natural antagonists for this tier 7 club, whereas  Hyde and Ashton don't get much of a look in.  One was almost left with the impression with their singing that events on the pitch had little or no impact on the established repertoire and the performance of the supporters.  It sounds churlish to say when we consider raising a handful of chants as "atmosphere", that the home fans valued singing about their tribal affirmation well ahead of the actual football.

And, what must FC United think of Salford City?  Another, practically new start club backed to the hilt by former players these guys used to worship at Old Trafford.  It must be galling to see Salford achieve promotion after promotion, while their own club starts slithering down through the divisions.  Anger and self-righteousness can only carry you so far.  A wedge of multi-millionaires also helps!

And, I can never forgive being singled out as a Tory c*nt by one FC fan, when Poppies fans from the "affluent South" were invited to stick Boris Johnson up our collective arses.  Harsh chaps, harsh.  And, in light of the dozens of  Labour seats in the working class North and North-West in particular that turned Tory Blue last Thursday, pretty f*cking hypercritical!  We couldn't unseat a Tory in Northamptonshire if our lives depended upon it.  What was the North's excuse for turning their backs on Labour and voting in Brexit Boris?  If there's one thing worse than being a Tory c*nt, it's being a Northern Tory c*nt.....

The Good bit of New Trafford





Another letter from America

Greetings again from the Tennessee section of our huge international following. Since taking up temporary residence over here the Poppies showed how much they were missing my support by going unbeaten for a month and a half. I was beginning to think there was a link, and if I could only avoid returning to the UK until next summer, we’d be celebrating an unlikely Trophy-promotion double. Well scratch one of those now.

“Soccer” is taken much more seriously in America these days compared to when it was regarded as a game played by kids until they grew a pair. Now it’s on the major channels and I can watch the Premier League as easily as at home. It’s the Sky commentary but with a studio panel led by Robbie Earle, making sure he doesn’t confuse viewers by describing the Arsenal DE-fence and imagining what the “coach” will be saying in the “locker room”.        

People sometimes ask what EPL side I support. Generally it only takes around 15 minutes, sometimes 30, to explain my actual allegiance and where it features in the bizarre and quite frankly un-American concept of a pyramid system. “So… you’re like a Little League club?”  But faced with incomprehension I have two cards up my sleeve.  The first is to ask if they have heard of the FA Cup, and if yes hit them with the leading goalscorers thing. American sports fans love a stat and that usually impresses. If I have to go further I casually mention that we were formed in 1872. There are states that were barely settled back then. To follow a team that can trace its roots back to the 1870s is mind boggling here, where anything half that old is revered (saw a sign in Nashville the other day: Historic neighborhood – established 1997).     

A couple of weekends ago, looking for something to do I found a bar that was screening a game at 9am. Turned out it was the HQ of the local Liverpool supporters club. They were a friendly bunch and unlike an actual game at Anfield I was able to walk away from my car without paying protection money. I’d guess that few of them were Liverpool fans 10 years ago or maybe even 5. Sport here is something you acquire not inherit. The Oakland Raiders are about to become the Las Vegas Raiders. No one seems to regard that as odd, and the fans left behind will find someone else to support. I tried explaining how badly the MK Dons thing went down, but sensed this was another blind alley. To fit in maybe I need to get myself up to South Bend FC and just go with the flow. Having seen more than one ‘last ever’ Poppies game, how about going to the other extreme?           

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

PATGOD - Politically neutral to a fault....


...but we couldn't let this blatant and monstrous
bias pass unchallenged!











Sunday, 8 December 2019

Poppies continue to inch their way to safety

Another game, another point.  This time impressively against title-chasing York City.  Had the Minstermen left having been on the wrong end of a sturdy defeat they could not have complained.  And if Aaron had taken his shooting boots out of his kit-bag there's every chance City would have left with their tails between their legs and the destination of the League title would have taken a big step towards the angry, webbed-toed denizens of North Norfolk.  So, perhaps it's best we didn't win....

If nothing else, Paul Cox has installed an enormous amount of belief into the same players who seemed perpetually like rabbits caught in the headlights during Eaden's depressing reign.  We still have a long way to go this season, and we may or may not escape relegation.  But we are at least making a decent fist of trying to stay up, and the bigger beasts of National League North know they've been in a game when they welcome the Poppies.

The only downside from yesterday was the paltry attendance of just 859.  Some may point to Christmas shopping, or the perennial issues of the location and condition of Latimer Park for the lack of home support.   But, come on, even with the away team supplying a couple of hundred supporters, we still couldn't get within sniffing distance of a 4-figure gate.

This must be worrying for the club.  York at home must have been seen as a banker for a big payday, and the Poppies supporting Kettering public stayed away in their droves.  I've long suspected that far too many people who would describe themselves as Kettering Town fans are more than happy to do so from the comfort of their armchairs, and perhaps deign to show up when we play the Direones, or get League trophies handed to us.

If we want to progress as a Club, or start moving forward with stadium plans we really need the lapsed or lazy supporters to start putting in the same sort of effort the players have been showing.

Friday, 6 December 2019

I don't know which is older.....

.....Lindon's photograph on the front of the York City programme,
or my photo editing software.....!

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Come On You Preds

Personal circumstances have currently taken me, already an Exile, a jump further to the other side of the Atlantic, specifically Nashville Tennessee. Say Nashville and the first thing you probably think of is country music and cowboy hats. A stereotypical image that Nashville is keen to shed, judging by the cowboy hat store you pass on arrival at the airport, and the revolving guitars (sorry, GIT-arrs) in the baggage hall.

Nashville is less well known for sport, at least in the UK. However come the spring it gains a new MLS franchise and already has an NFL outfit (of which more maybe anon) and an NHL club that dates back even further. To 1998, which in AFC Diamonds terms makes it worthy of a preservation order.

So being at present I’m even less qualified than usual to comment on matters relating to our beloved Poppies, I need to get my sporting kicks where I can and that began with my first experiences of ice hockey via the Nashville Predators.

The Predators (Preds to everyone but a tourist like me) play at the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. This seats 17,000 and is usually mostly full, despite the 41 game home season. Ticket prices range from the astronomical to around $25 if bought from returns on the day before. Needless to say it took me at least one game to figure that one out. Inside, after being scanned and body searched you are met with a continuous ring of catering concessions and Preds merch on three levels, so by the time you reach the upper tier (by escalator, obviously) the unwary punter could be a couple of hundred bucks lighter and about 20lb heavier. The whole thing is geared to milking cash.

Once inside the bowl the first thing that hits you is the giant four sided video screen suspended above the rink. This acts as a virtual cheerleader as the minutes count down to the start. Eventually after a huge amount of build up the teams emerge. You vaguely know from a pub quiz answer that in ice hockey it’s 6 a side. So how come there are at least 15 out there?  Soon all will be revealed. The game starts. It’s 5 a side football on fast forward. Exhausting to watch. Presumably to play too, because every few minutes there’s a rotation of outfield players – five come off, five go on. Only the goalie remains in place. The subbing seems to be unconnected to the state of the game. Also apparently by numbers, the big screens pump up the crowd. GET LOUD. The noise goes up. NOISE METER. A comedy decibel counter heads north. CAN YOU HEAR US ON THE BOX?  Sorry that was just me.
When Nashville score it’s fun but also a bit choreographed. The big screens cut to a guy in a T shirt wearing a cowboy hat swinging an inflatable catfish (I think he’s a modern country star but my knowledge ends with Kenny Rogers). The crowd yell YOU SUCK at the opposition goalie, and to really rub it in IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT.  Family friendly goalkeeper baiting. Somehow, to British ears being slapped with comments that carry less sting than a school report doesn’t quite cut it. MUST TRY HARDER?

But having seen a couple of games the initial whirl is less bewildering. You start to see it less as ping pong, more of a calculated pattern, which of course any game is.  Plus in my second crack at it I may have witnessed the latest ever equaliser (not that they call it that). With Nashville leading 3-2, the Vegas Golden Knights (don’t ask) levelled with 0.3 seconds left on the clock. And of course won on the golden goal in overtime. There was a tiny cheer from the dozen or so away fans whilst the home supporters just got up and left, like a film had ended. To be fair, the big screen wasn’t saying GET BOOING, but it felt like another cultural disconnect. I was amused though by the local version of 606 on the drive home.  On comes a Vegas fan and of course he has to begin, like they all do, by stating his credentials as a long time supporter. "I've been a fan for 15 years". There was a pause back in the studio.  "Buddy, you were only formed 2 years ago..."            

Sunday, 24 November 2019

EASY! EASY! EASY!

Before Peterborough Sports Boss Jimmy Dean reads EASY!  EASY!  EASY! and flies off the handle, I am not referring to our elementary 10-man trimming of his expensively assembled squad, in front of their record attendance (of which we made up 50%).

Even though the game was "EASY!  EASY!  EASY!" this article isn't about the Trophy game, where we won the match in such an EASY!  EASY!  EASY! manner.  Instead it is about the Supporter Trust instigated EASY FUNDRAISING online option, where you can raise small, continuous amounts of money by doing what we Brits do best - shopping online.

Some time ago this facility was set-up by serial do-gooder Richard Atkinson, enabling a lot of online purchases to automatically generate donations to the Supporters Trust.  As the name suggests, it is really EASY!  EASY!  EASY!  And remember, we're talking about THE EASY FUNDRAISING website.  And not the FA Trophy win over our local rivals Peterborough Sports FC.  Just to make that clear.

A link to the Poppies section of Easy Fundraising can be found here: -

Poppies Trust Easy Fundraising Page

Using it is simplicity itself.  If a site you are shopping on is linked to this scheme an icon pops up asking if you would like the supplier to chip in to the Poppies fund.  The amount depends on the supplier and the amount being spent, but, as they say, every little helps.

Admittedly, it does help if, say, you do a lot of online ordering for your workplace, or for numerous people.  And you soon spot which companies believe in the scheme, and which host it merely to boost their "caring" image.  Toadhall Cottage chucked over £20 into the pot when I booked a week's rental through them, while Flybe will usually throw in enough to buy a Klondike for every return flight booked through their website.  But, hey, it's all free money and when more cover appears around Latimer Park, these small donations will have helped.

After 3 years I'm closing in on £100 raised.  It may not sound much, but it has been accrued with me literally doing nothing.  And if 249 others had done similar, we'd now be standing under our new Tin Hat....

Also EASY!  EASY!  EASY!

Looking at the trajectory of the ball
we are going to assume this is Lindon's
SECOND attempt at Peterborough......


photo liberally borrowed from Shorty and the Club website






Thursday, 21 November 2019

Poppies take a practice run at Wembley

We all know the Poppies get to Wembley regularly.  Every 21 years, give or take.  By our reckoning we are due back there at the end of next season!  Woo-hoo!  Can't wait!

This means that this season's Trophy "run" is merely a prelude to a successful campaign next term.  Surely?  We can enjoy this season's Trophy tilt for what it is.  A comfortably calamitous failure in waiting.

Given that this season is all about survival in Nationwide North, a Trophy run might be considered a bit of an inconvenience.  However, I'd suggest we at least turn the upstarts at Peterborough Sports FC over before we gracelessly bow out of this season's competition.  Sometimes you can just take against a football club, and we're starting to take against this club.

They seem a mite uppity for a club that has played under their current name for less than two decades and spends most of their time picking up players that weren't good enough to play for us.  This uppityness no more apparent than in the twaddle spoken by their boss.

The full interview is here -

Jimmy Dean spouts random sh*ie

The upshot from this bigshot is that there is "little love lost for Peterborough in Kettering". 

What?  Really?  I don't think anyone from Kettering has really had a negative thought about the city of Peterborough, or even Peterborough United.  Over the years we've played them a lot.  They've lent us some good players over the years.  And Sam Cartwright.  And we all love Barry Fry.  So, nothing BUT love for Peterborough.

Peterborough Sports website also picked up on the vibe of their Manager, declaring the Poppies to be "local rivals".  Local rivals?  Way to big yourself up chaps!   We've always assumed a local rival is someone from nearby you actually play against from time to time?  Or, failing that, a club from the same town or city.  I'm pretty sure neither of these criteria have yet been met by Peterborough Sports FC.

Obviously once they've thumped us at the weekend they will crow about it, Jimmy Dean will cream his pants, and they'll probably run off a couple of dozen commemorative T-shirts (celebrating the win, rather than Jimmy's soiled underpants.)  But you'll still not be a rival, local or otherwise, and we're sorry if that hurts....


Saturday, 16 November 2019

Shows what we know......

It looks like we might have been slightly premature with our calling off of today's game.....


Thursday, 14 November 2019

I'm booooooooooooored.....

Even as early as Wednesday we all know the chances of Saturday's home game going ahead are precisely zero.  If that.

Even with the Herculean efforts with the pitch at Latimer Park we still know that a carelessly discarded cup of tea can cause flooding, and no rain for a couple of days and the surface is an unplayable dust bowl.

Given the forecast for the next couple of days is for incessant rain we thought we'd fulfil the "public interest" element of our blogging charter and come up with a few suggestions of how you could spend your Saturday, other than watching (and we're not getting carried away you understand) the Messiah Paul Cox's all-conquering Poppies.


Poppies FA Cup Wall of Fame

Might as well give 'em your money anyway....



The Flicks

Sure, it costs an arm and a leg to sit in an uncomfortable seat for a couple of hours listening to other people each Nachos and check their social media every two minutes.  But nothing beats the magic of the cinema, does it?

Personal recommendation?  Doctor Sleep
Follow-the-sheep suggestion?  Joker
Avoid like a Diamonds family reunion? Terminator: Dark Fate (all you will do is rush home and watch 1 and 2 again to remind you this franchise used to be sooooo good!)




The Theatre

Lighthouse Theatre is hosting "Jackson - Live in Concert", with a chap called "CJ" performing as the King of Pop.  We trust the show will be all Thriller dances, perfect pop and Moonwalks, and none of the more, ahem, backroom shenanigans....!  



Activities

Swimming Pool


General swim between 3pm and 4.30pm.  Same length of time as watching the Poppies, and, on Saturday, just about as wet!


Kettering Museum and Gallery

The Museum has, with killer timing, a display about being "Out to Play" in Kettering.  




The Art Gallery has a craft display, hosted in conjunction with an unpronounceable Nordic organisation.




Alternatively, the game might actually be on....





Saturday, 2 November 2019

Coincidence?

First appearance this season
of the "lucky" socks.

4-0 win.

 Coincidence?  I think not!

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Cox in for the lads

The maths is pretty simple for Paul Cox.


29 game left to play

+

Get enough points in that time for us to end the season third from bottom

=

Become Poppies Legend.  Forever.  


So much so, we'll never dream of questioning how much you've "enjoyed" life since you stopped playing.






Friday, 18 October 2019

Blurred Vision

I went to the optician’s today for an eye test. It found I'm slightly short sighted, which makes it harder to see distant things clearly. I was advised this could be an issue when, for example, going to a football match.  Did I want glasses?

My mind flashed back to last Saturday.

“No thanks!”

At the moment, the less seen the better. After a month or two of ‘adjusting to life at this level’ the Spennymoor game punctured any illusion that things are going to get better without a major shake up in personnel.  Against a side that are just solidly mid table we looked smaller, weaker and devoid of any idea where the next goal is coming from. And that was just in the warm up. Bmm tish!

Though we’ve been here before with struggling sides, I can barely remember the Poppies looking so futile so early in a season, with the exception of the Nene Park fallout. However there are still nearly 30 games to go and the chance to re-set under a new manager. Who will it be?  Even the ever reliable rumour mill was finding it hard to cough much up last weekend. Over 30 applications had been received, and they were all, er, from people. Believed to be associated with football.  With some experience of playing the game.  Come on, give us a clue! 

It’s good though that the club are taking their time, after the rather too hasty announcement of Eaden (was that after sifting through 30 candidates? maybe not). This is probably the most important appointment we have made in many years, so let’s give ourselves the best chance to get it right. I hope though, that extra points in the interview process aren’t awarded for being an ex Poppy. “Someone who understands the fans and their expectations”.  Marcus Law had it right when he said that other managers make us a feature of their team talk: keep it tight and wait for the moaning b*stards to turn on their team. And this idea that a former legend will have a special insight – well Man U tried that and you have to say it’s going well.  No, all it gives you is an extra few games before the knives are out.

What do we need? Ideally a magician, an inspirational figure who can turn base metal into gold. On £250 a week plus expenses. But failing that a grizzled old sod with a book (because he doesn’t do laptops) bulging with contacts, who can bring in a bit of experienced knowhow at short notice to shore things up. A modern version of Graham Carr, and no we don’t mean Alan.  

 
Hello, is that Billy Whitehurst?
    

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Legends indeed

Last night's Legends evening at Latimer Park was a rousing success.  Gordon, Sean and Jim spoke well and their mix of amusing stories, gossip and glimpses of the Poppies past, kept the large crowd entertained.

These guys still consider Kettering Town to be THEIR club.  No matter where they originated, or who else they played for they all stayed local and stayed engaged with the Poppies.  This is certainly a trait one doubts that modern players are likely to emulate.  In the days where being on the bench for a couple of games has players rushing for the "Exit", it is doubtful many of today's crop will be engaged in this sort of evening 30 or 40 years down the line.

But, what struck me the most the evening was the sense of history and continuity that came from engaging with men who played for us 40 or 50 years ago, and sharing stories that many people in the room remembered and could relate to.  Decades of shared memories of good times and bad times.

It made me consider how we, the current crop of Poppies fans, all to often allow a few bad results to lose our perspective.  KTFC is a living organism, that has weathered much hardship over the years.  How petty do we look when defeat in a single game can tip us over the edge into desperate fury, when balanced against our club being in it's third century of continued survival?  The Poppies are for life, not just for 90 minutes.

Of course, this will all go out of the window if Spennymoor turn us over this afternoon...

Friday, 11 October 2019

Farewell Alex - we hardly knew ya!

Alex Nimely's departure didn't come as too much of a surprise to seasoned Nimley watchers.  When you consider he has never played more than 20 games for ANY of his 11 clubs so far, and hadn't found the net since notching for the mighty Stabaek in Norway almost three years ago, one wonders why we placed so much faith in him.

In his few minutes on the pitch for the Poppies he did slightly less than the last supporter who invaded the pitch and was about as threatening.

So much riding on him.  Waiting for the International Clearance.  Dumping Aaron for him.  Sometimes you wonder how Eaden hung on to his job for as long as he did....

One for a future Poppies Programme Quiz

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Sounds Familiar?

This was how the end of Nicky Eaden's tenure at Nuneaton was reported in the local press a few years ago.....

"....But a run of seven league matches without a win, plus elimination from the FA Cup, has seen Hawkins look to move in a different direction with the club bottom of the National League North"

Eaden's bullet at Latimer Park was reported thus......

"....That shock loss (in the FA Cup at Sutton Coldfield) came after a poor start to the Vanarama National League North campaign with the Poppies winning just two of their first 11 matches"

Eaden's managerial "style" of last-ditch, dour, backs-to-the-wall, just trying to hang-on, was never going to be acceptable at the Poppies.  As a club we have been building steadily for the past five years, and we are hungry for more.  Not be told constantly reminded of how hard everything is, by a Boss with a permanent hang-dog face and miserable demeanour.

We all KNEW this season was going to the challenging.  We didn't need our new Manager repeatedly telling us this from Day One.  Tell us we'll piss the division, our new ground is practically built, and that we'll sign Ronaldo.  We'll know it's bullshit, but it will give us all a lift.  No, instead, Nicky gave us defeated body language, and a depressing revolving-door team, who did their damnedest to reflect their Boss's attitude.


Steve Kinninburgh and his dog-whistle voice have been given the task of shepherding us through a vital run of fixtures.  In the next 6 games we will play all 5 of the other teams at the bottom of the league.  With 4 of these games to take place at Latimer Park, the importance of the next few weeks can't be overstated.

After these games we have York, Boston, Alfreton and a double header with Brackley lined up.  I'm sure I'm not alone in being happier if we had a few more teams below us in the table by the time we begin these fixtures!



Eaden heads for the exit at Sutton Coldfield



Monday, 23 September 2019

If Music be the Food of Love....

Opinions of musical instruments at football games usually range widely between, "No way", and "No f*cking way". 

A loud drummer serves to do nothing but annoy those close by, and totally dominate any attempt at singing.  A drummer used to come to our occasional big games back in the day, and served only to drown out any atmosphere with his random, inappropriate and LOUD drumming.  The team thankfully made sure that really big games were sufficiently thin on the ground for this not to be too much of an issue.

Last Saturday's frustrating stalemate with Sutton Coldfield was (and I can't believe I'm typing this) enlivened by the visitor's musicians.  Not just a lump of a fan banging a drum with the natural rhythm of a thrashing octopus, missing a few limbs, caught up in a fisherman's net.  No, these guys could....actually play.  


As well as a trumpet player, Sutton Coldfield sported 2 drummers (a'la Adam and the Ants circa 1980) to lend gusto to proceedings.  Even those Sutton supporters not directly involved with the instruments knew their roles within the overall orchestration with additional percussion and vocals, if "vocals" can be extended to include just the word "Tequila!" shouted with gusto.

A quick word of warning to our fans.  Just because we all experienced a reasonable band on Saturday, do not feel you are under any pressure to follow suit.  We Poppies fans have an unfortunate habit of "monkey see, monkey do" when it comes to seeing opposition fans doing something shiny and new.  Sometimes this works out for the best - you'll find it difficult to believe, but PATGOD wasn't the world's first fanzine....!  Sometimes it works out not so well - I still shudder at the recollection of Dave Chuckle, having heard a drummer, turning up at an away game with a cucumber and attempting to replicate the sound of semi-professional percussionist with a large vegetable and any random flat surface.....



Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Whisper it Quietly

At 4.45PM last Saturday we managed to hold onto a 2-1 win against "high-flying" Alfreton.  At pretty much the same time our newly-appointed-relegation-rival Bradford Park Wanderers contrived to ship an equaliser to another newly-appointed-relegation-rival, Spennymoor.  We didn't move up the table, but opened up a small gap between ourselves and the relegation zone.

This was followed up with another win against, admittedly lowly Cogenhoe in the County Cup.  Not the toughest opponents in the world, but a win is a win.  And back-to-back wins when struggling are not to be sniffed at.

Hopefully our re-introduction to the world of winning football matches will spark a few more positive outcomes in the weeks and months to come.  The truth is, we have been there or thereabouts in most of the League games this season only for luck to turn against us, 15 minutes of madness, or running out of steam (or a combination of all three).

Perhaps the tide is starting to slowly turn?  Perhaps we are getting the measure of this division?  Or, perhaps we are starting to try to win games, rather than trying not to lose them?

...or perhaps we're benefitting
from selecting our best forward?

Aaron has started 4 games this season.
We won 3 of them....







Wednesday, 28 August 2019

There but for the grace of God

Any medium or long-time Poppies fan knows about suffering.  And the cold, hard fear that comes with being, on a handful of occasions, within a hairs-breadth of losing our club.  This knowledge, does impart, though, a sense of calm when a few results go against us.

No-one minds when fans take defeat badly.  It's a natural reaction.  If we didn't care who won or lost a game, we'd all be rugby fans.  Where some of our fans get out of line is that they believe their personal anger trumps everyone else's.  They seem to think that because they scream loudest at the players, or bravely on social media that no-one else feel it as badly as they do.  Not the players.  Or club officials.  Or the other supporters.  They're wrong of course.  We all feel it.  But some of us can see beyond that day's match.  Club officials need to see beyond the next match, the next month and even the next season.

When a football club has nothing to worry about other than the actual football, a lot of people must be doing a lot of things right.  A football club is a living organism where numerous people put in, mostly unseen effort to keep the show on the road.  Ninety minutes on a Saturday every fortnight is the very tip of the iceberg.

Having peered over the brink more times than any of us can remember, all of our thoughts are with the supporters of Bury today who would dearly love to have nothing more to vex them than a below par performance at the weekend.  Hopefully this serves as a wake-up call this morning for every football supporter who still has their club and wants them to mortgage their future to chase immediate success.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Ugly Poppies fans show no signs of growing up anytime soon

In a week where elements of our online "support" well and truly lost it once again in an embarrassingly juvenile way, a far more important story than us losing a game of football may have passed you by.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/49434573

At the age of just 40, former footballer Junior Agogo died following a stroke suffered a couple of
years ago.  A tragedy to be sure.  But, Junior Agogo, you ask?  What's he got to do with the price of fish, and the stupid levels of online Poppies fury directed at our Chairman because we lost a game of football?

Nothing really, beyond perhaps putting things in perspective.  A life ended sadly short trumps a second-half capitulation in a single match, surely?  But, there's a slightly more Poppies-centric angle to the story of Junior's earlier career, and a certain game against us while he was a Barnet player.

Anyone who was there on that sunny afternoon at Underhill in April 2003 will never forget what they saw.  To put you in the picture, we were winding down a singularly unhappy season in the Conference.  We had bounced back into the top flight at the first time of asking after a fabulous afternoon at Tiverton, and we were back where we belonged.  Except, as it became painfully and speedily obvious, we DIDN'T belong at this level anymore.  Nailed to the bottom of the table for pretty much the entire campaign, Carl Shutt was eventually, humanely fired in favour of the far cheaper Dominic Genovese, who was given the task of shepherding us through our final half dozen fixtures.

One of these last, or possibly the last of these fixtures was away to the old enemy - Barnet, who had already started their yo-yo existence between the Football League and Non-League.  This season they were back down with us dead men, and, for once, weren't in the running for promotion.  Consequently only over a thousand turned up to watch Martin Allen's Bees run up a cricket score against the already doomed Poppies.

Between 3 o'clock and 4.45pm Barnet, with Junior Agogo much to the fore, Barnet spent 89 minutes and 45 seconds in the Poppies 6-yard box.  Every shot or header hit the goal frame, or a defender's face, or the keeper's nuts, or a fellow attacker.  It was achingly funny to watch - like a comedic Alamo, and we knew, absolutely KNEW that if Barnet had played all night, they still wouldn't be able to score.  We even went down to 10 men and it did them no good.

But what made it even funnier is that in the barely 15 seconds where we booted the ball into Barnet's half of the pitch, they contrived to score an own goal and then let our loanee Lee Clark sprint from the halfway goal to score one of  the least expected or deserved goals we've ever achieved.

The final whistle was greeted with laughter and bemusement from all corners of Underhill.  We'd won 2-0 despite having only one attempt on goal, and Barnet failed to score despite having (at a conservative estimate) 40 thousand attempts on goal.

The match report here, if anything, paints a postive Poppies spin on the game -

https://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/6253519.bees-left-with-sting-in-their-tail/

The Barnet fans in the bar afterwards were very chipper and a pleasant afternoon was spent with them.  Looking back now, I dread to think what the reaction of elements of our supporters would have been were the positions reversed.

Actually, I don't have to imagine it.  I'm seeing it most Saturday evenings!  Throw random anger, anonymous social media and a sense of entitlement into a pot and stir vigorously and you have the worst of modern football, and a glimpse of ugly Poppies support circa 2019.






Tuesday, 13 August 2019

I guess we're not in Kansas anymore.....

The elation of the late with against Telford has faded into the background after a couple of dispiriting emphatic defeats.  If nothing else, we've left ourselves with a lot to do to match last season's record of just two away defeats....

The manner of the defeats has been the most disappointing aspect of these losses.  Sure, at Kings Lynn last week, we ended on the front foot and the home fans cheered the final whistle with not a small amount of relief.  Truth was, however, they should have been out of sight long before their weak-link keeper fumbled yet another ball in front of his goal. Darlington were not so generous in  making their victory look close.  By all accounts we were not only not at the races, we weren't even aware that races were being staged.

But then again, we knew this season was going to be an enormous step-up.  From Day One most of us have said we'd accept staying up this season as an acceptable return to this level.  Of course, a mid-table finish, or an upper mid-table with a brief flirtation with the play-offs would be even better, but most of us are realistic enough to know anything more than survival would be a big ask.

We all know a couple more rapid fire defeats will ratchet-up the indignation from the usual quarters within our support, but we really need to keep our eye on the survival prize and not allow our knees to jerk with their usual rapidity.  It doesn't help that, by and large, we've had nothing but building, continued success for the past 5 seasons.  Eventually you hit the buffers of arriving at a level where you are an also-ran rather than a sure-thing.  I think it's fair to say we've arrived there now!

At the time of writing, two clubs in this division have instantly freaked-out.  Bradford Park Avenue and Hereford have dispensed with their Managers before the mid-point of August has been reached!  This is a tough division.  We will need to fight on and off the pitch to earn the right to play in it.  We wanted to be back in the "Big Time".  Well, were there now.  We can either enjoy it or get scared and fretful.

At least we've been told that we can continue
to drink inside the ground, which should
help to numb the expected pain!



Friday, 2 August 2019

Ready or not, here we go....

Tomorrow sees our biggest leap into the dark since 2012 when we were thrown out of the National League, and into a Southern League hungry to kick the sh*t out of a fallen "big boy".  Our last experience of National North was the surreal Championship season where our team made up of slumming League One rejects, and buoyed by DRC's bottomless chequebook had slapped the rest of the division around so much the other clubs cheered at the prospect of seeing the back of us.

We re-enter this division tomorrow in a far humbler manner than we left it.  We have only half the team that won the Southern League last season.  We no longer have our big old, crumbly-comfortable Rockingham Road.  Or, indeed, our cold, hard, non-functioning Nonce Park.  We have our bobbly field and newly brightened floodlights.  We do have a handful of players that will be brand new to most of us.  We also have a new Manager, who was slipped into the role almost before Marcus Law had made his, still unexplained, departure.

Nicky Eaden is the new gaffer, and almost the poster boy for, "Mr No-Nonsense Northern Gaffer".  Overall the online Poppies support seem quietly happy with what Nicky has done and who he has brought in.  "Quietly Happy" at our club would translate as "Ecstatic" at any other club, but we like to keep our powder dry at Latimer Park!  A photograph of him holding a Poppies scarf over his head is still glaring by its omission, but I'll try not to mention this again....

AFC Telford will be slumming it with us tomorrow.  Their team will provide a stern test for our newly assembled team.  Their expected large support will provide an even sterner test for us supporters.  We've spent the past six years being a big fish in small ponds, where an away support that stretches to two cars raises eyebrows.  I really hope our vocal element, unused to being sung back at, add wit and withering sarcasm to their vocal repertoire, and perhaps lean less on anger and abuse.  If we resort to fury the first time away supporters mock Latimer Park's shortcomings, we're going to be for a long and angry season!

It's going to be a tough season.  Management, Officials, Team and Supporters are going to be as one more during 2019-20 than possibly ever before.  Let's give it a go, and remind this division of what they've been missing in Kettering Town Football Club!









Saturday, 13 July 2019

Well played Poppies, well played


Why has it taken me until now
to spot this?

Hat's off to whoever was responsible!

The club have set the bar high for the
rest of us this coming season!




Sunday, 7 July 2019

Did Mark Cooper EVER Smile?

With all the current online hoo-ha about the Poppies -

No new ground work!

No work on new ground!

Players leaving!

No new signings!

Manager gone under mysterious circumstances!

New Manager STILL not photographed holding a scarf over his head (see below!)

Rumours about fate of BPWFC!

A lot of tough looking fixtures for our depleted squad of fringe players!

40% increase in admittance price!

Friendly suspiciously cancelled!

New kits potentially with us before Bonfire night!

With all these issues swirling around us, the internet sometimes throws up a little bit of comic relief.  Like this painfully mid-90's photograph of our former gaffer Mark Cooper.

Forget Blur v Oasis.  The main fight back then was Birmingham City v Good Taste!  And I don't recall Birmingham winning.....



Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Eaden off to Rocky Start

Whether we'll ever find out the full ins and outs of last weekend's Managerial shenanigans is doubtful.  Was Marcus making independent payments to players?  Was he helping further their off-field employment opportunities?  Who knows.  Whatever it was, I can't believe the club were unaware of it.

All we're left with is an ambiguous twitter message from departing diving cheat Rhys Hoenes claiming someone had done something, somehow and broke some sort of promises.  Why is it when people try to use Social Media to drop a digital hand grenade they're always so bloody vague?  If Rhys has a genuine, actionable grievance why not spell it out in specific terms?  Why hint and suggest when you can state the facts?  The only reason I can think of is that he enjoys causing the fluttering Poppies Twitter community to have a prissy meltdown?

Now the dust has settled, we're short of one manager and we will also need a new player who can crumple to the turf at the drop of a hat.

Nicky Eaden has been named as the new Gaffer.  We've no immediate problem with that.  He has some experience of this level, as well as, ahem, knowledge of the expectations of Poppies supporters....

But, where, oh where is the obligatory photograph of our new Boss with a club scarf held proudly above his head?  Since time immemorial such a pose, recorded by the local newspaper was the way or indicating the start of a managerial appointment.  Forget signing a contract, or bringing in players.  A £10 scarf, usually held the wrong way up, denoted that we had a new hairdryer & orange cutter in the dressing room.

C'mon Nick and the Northants Telegrpah.  Sort it out.




Saturday, 18 May 2019

Are you reading, Ken Samuel?

Another season of "so far, but so far" on the Klondike half-time draw front, with Club worthy Ken Samuel practically laughing in my face every time I made my purchases.

Well, are you reading this, Ken?  Barely days after Patgod won "Poppies online Blog of the Year*" I won this -



Yes Ken.  That's right.  Read it and weep.  I won a draw, and you couldn't stop me.   Five whole pounds to spend on hardly needed fattening pastries, but I ate them, and thought of you as I did it!  Mmm.  Mmm.

*to answer the readers (ok, reader) who asked about us winning the "Poppies online Blog of the Year" award at Sywell, this was obviously a fictitious award.  As far as we're aware, we're the ONLY Poppies online blog.....

The trophy belonged to JC who carelessly left it with me when he was on the dance floor.

And let's  face it - if such an award existed Ken Samuel would make sure we still didn't win it....!


Sunday, 12 May 2019

Meanwhile in other promotion news

Now that the non League playoffs are done and dusted a number of important issues have been settled, not least the amount of travelling we face next season.  As expected, the relegation of 4 southern clubs into step 2 has forced a further redrawing of the boundary, which now places Gloucester and Oxford in the 'top half', and at the present rate of expansion will soon literally start just north of Watford. Compared to some of the journeys we will face, Oxford is practically a local derby, whilst Gloucester is just down the road from where I am, so another welcome addition. 

Plus Kings Lynn have come through the playoffs to claim their place. Not just any old playoffs, these were playoffs leading to a further playoff, with 8 teams whittled down to just 1.  Thank Christ we managed to avoid that – with our track record in these things it would have been like buying a lottery ticket (or if you prefer even longer odds, a Klondike). So congrats to the Linnets.  Over the last two years you’d have to say that, like us, they’ve earned the step up.  And we look forward to continuing to annoy them by taking most of the points.

Elsewhere Corby put up a good fight but in the end were pipped by Bromsgrove Sporting. An unusual name for a phoenix club and particularly inapt for those who remember Kevin ‘Bomber’ Richardson swatting away various lightweight mid 90s Poppies. Bromsgrove seem to be better supported now than they were in the old Conference, but it does help if you’re winning most weeks. And talking of which there’s the fairytale story of Salford City’s rise to the Football League.

Thanks to the Class of 92 (coincidentally, the average gate 5 years ago) they’re just the latest but most glaring example of how far a few quid can take you in non League circles. I caught a few minutes of their playoff final and it was notable how tight the cameras had to zoom in on their little gaggle of fans, none of whom looked like they had ever seen a Salford game until Giggs and the Nevilles showed up (you can just tell these things… don’t ask how) . In a couple of years they could be playing in the Championship - perfectly possible if the Manc Millionaires still have money to burn. Paul Scholes might even fancy a go at managing them, if he has a spare month or so.    

In the end it’s probably not worth getting too worked up about these ego vehicles.  They come along, they ruin things for the rest of us for a few years and then inevitably they fall off a cliff when the money dries up. When that happens to Salford we will permit ourselves a smile, helped by the knowledge that, this time, no one would be crazy enough to suggest that we take over their ground.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

A Night of a Thousand Awards!



In news that will cheer long-time readers, PATGOD's ongoing contribution to the emotional and mental well-being of The Poppies family was finally acknowledged at the recent end of season awards.

In a lengthy, emotional speech, owner Ritchie Jeune praised our place in the public Poppies debate, saying, "You make a f*ck more sense than the rest of that sh*te on social media."

Poppies boss Marcus Law added, "God bless PATGOD.  You guys keep us honest.  Not like that sodding Pedro.  Now, where is he?" He added before weaving drunkenly into the crowd, looking for his nemesis.

Handing over the "Online Poppies Blog of the Year Award", won despite stiff opposition, Club Chairman, Dave Mahoney paid warm tribute, "Winning titles and back-slapping evenings like this are all well and good, but the real joy in football comes from being mildly ribbed by middle aged men who for some reason think they're being clever, or in any way funny."




Some of the other, lesser winners on the night

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Time to put our feet up

Even though we lost to Weymouth in today's "Southern League Squeezing Another Pay-Day" Cup Final, it wasn't all bad.

In fact, if anything, Weymouth should be more worried about next season than us given the fact that, bar keeping shots down, they were a distant second best to the Poppies today in every department.

If we could...


  1. Score open goals
  2. Score penalties
  3. Score from 2 feet out with only the keeper you beat


...we would have won today at a canter, in our most dominant home display, (which wasn't against a youth team) for some weeks.

Off to Sywell now to have a couple of halves, and gird our loins for National League North!

 The "lucky" socks get
a well deserved break

Friday, 3 May 2019

Let's talk attendances

Another season over for most of us.  Over of course, except for those teams engaged in the world's worst and most poorly run play-offs (no clues, but up until last week, we played in this league...)

Another opportunity to engage with the mostly brilliant "Turnstile League" on the KIng's Lynn FC unofficial Linnets site: -

Click here for Statto-sadness!

As ever, there's lot of interesting attendance stuff on this site, particularly when it comes to average non-league crowds and the difference between this season and the last one.

We, for instance enjoyed an almost 30% increase in attendances at Latimer Park this season, up from 645 to 838.  This average figure was boosted by a 2000+ gate from the Scum-lite game and a couple of 1000+ end of season disappointments, when the club did all it could to dissuade the casual Poppy fan from ever returning (no strikers AT ALL against Barwell FFS Marcus...!)

A number of the teams that have played the us in the FA Cup in recent seasons experienced a  bit of a "Post-Poppies-bounce" where their stay-away supporters were once again enthused into watching their clubs after seeing the mighty Kettering.  AFC Mansfield's gates swelled by a massive 131% this season.  Basford enjoyed a huge 150% increase from 192 to 481.  And Nantwich Town's turnstile operators won't have known what hit them with their average gate ballooning from under 300 to over 1000 - a ridiculous 270% Poppies-inspired boom!

Other teams we've played in recent years showed some interesting stats.  Most curiously, Nuneaton, who are preparing to replace us as former Conference big-boys in the Central League, saw a 35% increase in attendances despite being nailed on for relegation from about September.

Hereford saw their average gate dip slightly from 2553 to 2353, partly because of a season-long struggle, but mostly because the locals had no Poppies fixture to turn up for.

Leiston, despite a season of ups and downs in a new division, registered a 0% change in their crowds, 296 last season and this.  Kings Langley's average crowds were boosted to the tune of 2.  I'm sure that had nothing to do with Rene's arrival....Slough's attendances went up by over 100, which was no bad thing given their 2017-8 average gate was a highly suspect 666.

Football League chasing vanity project Salford City saw a 54% rise in crowds to 2489, which means that there will be even more disappointed Mancs when the United old-boys find another hobby.

Other facts to catch the eye: -

Enfield Town were rewarded for  turning around an escape from relegation last season to an unsuccessful tilt at the play-offs this season by attracting one extra fan, up from 405 to 406.

It was all kicking off in Dunstable, where Dunstable Town saw a 30% dip in crowds, as AFC Dunstable experienced a 30% rise.  Their average gates are now separated by a meagre 2 people.  If these two people argue and one goes to AFC from Town, their average gates will be the same.  Who gets the bragging rights then?

During these tangled Brexit times FC Romania have expertly managed to back both pro & anti campaigners cases, as their attendances rose from 36 to 133 - a whopping 270% rise.  This proves the success of integration AND the fact there's too many foreigners here!!!

Lastly, and seemingly for the nth season running, our lowest home gate was against Redditch.  Seemingly every season our smallest crowd watches the most incredibly bonkers match!


Thursday, 2 May 2019

Toot toot!


Who can't look at this photograph of Rhys without
seeing him as a five year old, pretending
to be a train driver, and pulling on the
horn as his train races through another station. 

Ah, bless!



Photo (c) probably Shorty. 
Most of the in-focus ones are....