Thursday, 19 April 2018

PATGOD - Always on the ball

Ever an organ to hit the panic button early, this is how we reported on our goal-shy 
heroes a few months ago.....

As league goal 111 hit the back of Gosport's net on Tuesday I think it's fair to say, 
the team has responded in the right way to our criticism!

111?  That would get David Sheppard hopping from foot to foot.

At least if he was involved in football rather than cricket.

And was still alive. 

Friday, 13 April 2018

Ton Up Town

Disappointing as it was to return empty handed last night from the second biggest soccer hotbed in Norfolk (the third being a table football game on Cromer pier), we did at least achieve the rare feat of notching our 100th league goal of the campaign. Rare at least for us, not that unusual in a remarkably high scoring division where two of the other top five have already hit a ton and the others are very likely to follow. 

When was the last time the top 5 in a senior league all smashed over a hundred goals? 
Absolutely no idea!

However we do know this is the first time in nearly 40 years that the Poppies have done this.  It’s not the sort of detail you easily overlook, certainly not compared to seasons when the leaves were falling before we made it into double figures.  

The last Poppies team to go this big was of course the mighty Mick Jones side who combined a run to Wembley with racking up 109 in the last season of the old Southern League. That was a 42 game campaign so statistically they’re still slightly ahead, unless we go crazy against Gosport on Tuesday.

Interesting to look at that league table.  In some cases, not so much where are they now as who were they then? A handful have gone on to notably better things, but not necessarily who we might have been expected back then.  Just three survivors among this season’s opponents, and whatever became of Bridgend Town? 
                                  P  W  D  L   F   A Pts
 1.Worcester City                 42 27 11  4  92  33  65
 2.Kettering Town                 42 27  7  8 109  43  61
 3.Telford United                 42 22 10 10  60  39  54
 4.Maidstone United               42 18 18  6  55  35  54
 5.Bath City                      42 17 19  6  59  41  53
 6.Weymouth                       42 18 15  9  71  51  51
 7.A.P. Leamington                42 19 11 12  65  53  49
 8.Redditch United                42 19 10 13  70  57  48
 9.Yeovil Town                    42 15 16 11  59  49  46
10.Witney Town                    42 17 10 15  53  52  44
11.Nuneaton Borough               42 13 17 12  59  50  43
12.Gravesend and Northfleet       42 15 12 15  56  55  42
13.Barnet                         42 16 10 16  52  64  42
14.Hillingdon Borough             42 12 16 14  50  41  40
15.Wealdstone                     42 12 12 18  51  59  36
16.Atherstone Town                42  9 17 16  46  65  35
17.Dartford                       42 10 14 18  40  56  34
18.Cheltenham Town                42 11 10 21  38  72  32
19.Margate                        42 10  9 23  44  75  29
20.Dorchester Town                42  7 11 24  46  86  25
21.Hastings United                42  5 13 24  37  85  23
22.Bridgend Town                  42  6  6 30  39  90  18
...Back when men were men, logos were funky and programmes cost 15 pence

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Time to raid the piggy-bank

Get ready to pay the entirely fair, and justifiable "Cleeve-tax" at Kings Lynn tonight.


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