Northern roadtrip – Day 4 – Jekyll and Hyde

After the high’s of Gainsborough a day’s R and R was in order, which was spent hunting down a pub with an internet connection in LN6. Fortunately ASDA came to the rescue and I spent an hour or so there, reconnecting with society. Fully recharged I headed across the A57 on the notorious Snake Pass ready for another slice of Blue Square Bet North life. I was heading west for the Tameside Derby.  And as luck would have it a chance to see another one of the relegation candidates at the foot of the Blue Square Bet North.

This really is a different country. After I left the M1 I passed exotic places I had only ever seen on the Northern League website.  Stockbridge Park Steels, Glossop North End and Retford United were all passed on the way although the weather up on the moors was not really conducive to playing football. With just 10 miles left to go on the SatNav I was driving past fields of snow and minus 2 degrees. Continue reading

Northern roadtrip day 2 – The wholly Trinity

This was not in the plan. Today was all about Glapwell – the search for their fans and Joanne Guest. But instead the northern climate put pay to that idea early on Saturday as well as Plan B (not literally as we tend to like his tunes in TBIR Towers). But having good time management meant I had already scoped out a Plan C. Big tick in the box for that. The only problem is that Northern Steve’s gaff is the only place in the UK it seems without any mobile phone coverage, and when Sky decided to cause him terminal t’internet trouble we were catapulted back to the seventies in terms of communications.

We sent out a carrier pigeon to the nearby town of Gainsborough, and a few hours later it returned saying “eh up lads, game is on”. So we were off, following road signs confusingly for a place called “Gainsboro’ “. It seems the local councils up here realised that by saving 2 letters off every road sign they could make enough money each year for their Christmas party. We drove through the flat Lincolnshire countryside, passing a second ex-Little Chef that had been converted into an Adult Shop (the 1st FYI is on the A1 going south just after Grantham). The poor locals must get terribly confused. One day they would be popping down for nibble on a muffin and the next, well , they could have a nibble on a muff in(side). Continue reading

The future of the football programme


The definitive guide to football programmes


For over a hundred years football programmes have been the vital accompaniment to any match. Even the smallest, most insignificant game is normally commemorated by the issue of a matchday programme. I know some people who will not count that they have been to see a game unless they can get a programme or at least a team sheet.  They have also been in some instances a valuable commodity, with some programmes being sold at major auction houses around the world for more than £20,000, although ironically these days when programmes are mass produced glossy “brochures”, the programmes that fetch the highest bids on the likes of eBay are pirate programmes, often complete with spelling mistakes and miscredited photos.

When West Ham went on their last “European Tour” there was not a programme issued for the game in Palermo.  There was an official press pack that of course found its way onto eBay, but the greatest demand came from a fake programme issued in small numbers, and sold to arriving fans at Palermo airport complete with photos of Rio instead of Anton Ferdinand, and the recently departed Marlon Harwood instead of Carlton Cole.  Oh, and of course the club were managed by Alan Mildew instead of Pardew. Continue reading

10 Reasons why I am a Non League Fan

“Fewer attended matches last season than at any other point in this club’s history. Hardly anyone offers to volunteer for match day duties; almost no-one attended the Quiz night nor the Race Night previously arranged for fans. Hardly anyone gets their friends to join our lottery scheme;fewer people have renewed their supporters trust subscription. And so on. And so on.

We can all remember when the previous chairman told us year in year out that the club needed to be self-financing to continue to operate in the future.

Most of us ignored it and he, along with the other committed directors continued to finance the club out of their own pockets. Then one day they stopped putting the cash in and the Trust had to step in to ensure the survival of the club.

I am today telling you again, as the Trust’s Chairman that this club needs to be self-financing and soon. Our cash reserves are declining rapidly and will be completely depleted soon.

You can ignore me if you want but if you do, you might want to start thinking about how you are going to spend you Saturday afternoons and Tuesday evenings in future.

We have enough money for this season, and probably for the next, but if we are not able to improve our financial position and get a few more volunteers on board then we will be out of business in two or three years.

It is as simple as that.

I am doing as much as I can to keep the club alive. So are the other members of the Trust board. Are you?

We cannot do anything more that we are already doing based on the resources we have to work with. Can you?

Please do not wait until it is too late.

Your club needs you NOW!” Continue reading

“If Heskey can play for England so can Jay”

Celebrating another debut goal

Two weeks ago Fabio Cappello announced his provisional England squad for the World Cup of 30.  For some reason the Italian, as a number of the predecessors did, thinks that Emile Heskey is the answer to all of our problems.  The lumbering, accident prone striker was picked ahead of Carlton Cole for instance who would give the team so many more options.

And if Heskey’s good enough for England, then so is Jason Lee.  And why not?  The ex-Forest player has just finished his 22nd season as a player with Ilkeston Town in the Blue Square North league, his 17th club.  Whilst journeyman may be a tag some give him, those who know Jason will know he is a model professional who gives 100% at whatever club he is plying his trade at.  His goal record is impressive – 118 goals in 588 games gives him a strike rate on a par with Heskey. Continue reading

Has anyone seen Grays?

Last weekend was a busy one for the FA. Not only did we have the whole Lord Treason affair but in one of the backrooms at Wembley Stadium sat a man who decided the fate of literally hundreds of non-league clubs as he worked out the league allocations for the coming season.

Last season saw three high profile clubs go to the wall mid-season in Chester City, Farsley Celtic and Kings Lynn. Add to this a number of clubs who had breached league rules and some relegation/promotion enforced geographical anomalies and you can see what a difficult job was on the cards. So what was decided?
Last weekend was a busy one for the FA. Not only did we have the whole Lord Treason affair but in one of the backrooms at Wembley Stadium sat a man who decided the fate of literally hundreds of non-league clubs as he worked out the league allocations for the coming season. Continue reading

More non-league farce

Remember my note from last week about the situation certain clubs have with a build up of unplayed games? We focused on Wealdstone and the fact that they have to play 7 games in the next 14 days (including 6 at home) in their push for a play off spot.  But one league has come up with a revolutionary idea to help clubs out of such tight spots.

The Wessex League have announced that clubs, if both in agreement can settle for a 0-0 draw in outstanding games without having to play the actual game.  What a brilliant idea – no travel for the away team, no costs incurred for the home team and the fans can simply go and watch another team like Southampton or Reading.  A great way to encourage people to watch their local team.

League chairman Bob Purkiss says: “The league has more than 256 matches mainly due to the weather affected pitches.

“There are still 231 games to be played between now and the end of April. The league has already extended the Season by a week and had to take into account those pitches where clubs are planning to have work done in the closed season.”

The future of non-league football?

So why not extend it again?  We already know that the professional leagues will be playing into the middle of May, so why not the non-leagues.  “This, in the League’s view, is a common sense approach to a very difficult decision.”

Why stop here?  Why not play all games on EA Football or Pro-Evolution Soccer?  Or maybe Subbutteo? Are you Richard Scudamore in disguise? Fans don’t really want to watch football anyway….