Friday, 11 August 2017

Once more unto the breach......

With season 145 only a few hours away, what can we realistically expect from 2017-18?

Firstly, we must hope that our new kits turn up!  We must be singly unlucky with our Far East purchases, as they always seem to be entrusted to the least sea-worthy vessels.  In a rapidly shrinking world our chosen shippers cling to a decidedly old-fashioned, ponderous working method.  No doubt replete with sail-ships, press-gangs and sodomy.

Assuming the kit arrives and our players and (God help us) supporters aren't naked, what else should we be looking forward to?

Although by no means the top of the list, we can only hope our unwieldy website gets some sort of update.  The player section could do with some serious work.  Either that or most of our players were actually born on January 1st 1970.  It is more than a little dispiriting that this date is the default date on the system, presumably set thus as it is so far in past.  Black and white telly.  3-day weeks.  Pre-decimalisation.  Dinosaurs.  Some of us remember 1970, albeit hazily.

 Re-ordering a Season Ticket online this Summer was a task more befitting the Krypton Factor than Kettering factor.  Cutting, pasting, copying, guessing.  The Club really must make it easier for us to open our wallets and pour our cash into their coffers!

Not that the Club isn't trying to encourage us to part with the readies in other areas.  What with "Sort the Pitch", "The 12th Man", "Poppies TV Fundraiser",we're all likely to be paupers in no time at all.  Pause for 5 minutes in the bar too close to Martin Bellamy and you find that you've sponsored the following Saturday's game!  Once you enter the ground you are relieved of whatever money you have left in purchasing some Klondike tickets.  I'm not sure what they are exactly.  I'm told these pieces of paper are some form of raffle, where you can win something?  I've heard this rumour, but have yet to see any hard evidence.

And what might we expect to see on the pitch in front of us.  Other than dust blowing off it if it hasn't rained for an hour, or splashing mud if it has?

We have signed some players who may or may not improve our performances over last season's efforts.  Most of them, if the website is to be believed, turned 47 years of ago on New Year's Day, but let's not hold that against them...!  We all know that the club is missing a f*ck-you central defender to bully the rest of the back four and the opposition.  Who knows, if Ollie Thorne ever (re)gains any sort of fitness, he may be the man?  If....

Marcus Law may have an interesting first few hours / weeks / months this season.  Not quite Arsene Wenger interesting, but still could it could be tasty.  Some of our more forthright, internet-savvy supporters will see a conceded corner as enough excuse to dispense with Marcus' services.  Others will be more patient, and give him until the first goal is chalked against us before demanding his head.

The opposition teams look tougher this season than last.  A number of clubs have, "money behind them" if the dark rumours are to be believed.  And among the newcomers is Hereford FC, the lastest phoenix from a club that made very little effort to save itself, and now strut around because they've won a couple of lower divisions.  Some of their supporters have been particularly repellent with their "banter" on various Facebook Southern League sites.  Others of their fans have also let their newly-discovered enthusiasm spill into aggravation at games too.  All a bit obvious and "Big Time".

They seem to have conveniently forgotten their previous incarnation were, at best, basement Football League fodder, and at worst, bitches for the likes of moderate Poppies teams of a decade and a half ago.  Getting relegated out of the Football League once is bad enough.  Twice?  Smacks of carelessness?

Now their new club has beaten a lot of village sides some of their supporters seem to have got a little ahead of themselves.  Are Hereford likely to challenge for the title this season?  Given the relative size of their club and support, they certainly should.  Are they a giant club in front of whom we should all tremble and pay homage?  Of course not.  Can a lot of their success be down being able to use Edgar Street, rather than ground-share at a "tin-pot" ground some miles away?  Absolutely!  Had Hereford achieved the same whilst playing their home games, at, say, Gloucester City or Worcester they would perhaps have earned the respect they seem to be demanding.

We'll get to bask in the glory that is Hereford when they come to Latimer Park on November 11th, when, no doubt, our reduced circumstances will cause great hilarity to a club who easily surrendered their entire history and managed to reform at their former home, rather than find themselves turfed out into the cold.

10 months of fun and frivolity lay ahead of us.  Football?  We put up with it just enough to keep coming back for more until we find something better to do with our non-Summer months.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Two games later and what do we know?

If a week is along time in politics it can be an epoch at Latimer Park.  From being drenched but happy in Wellingborough on Saturday after beating the Cobblers on the quickest penalty shoot-out in history (yes, it was THAT wet....) we were well and truly slapped in the face with "Deja Vu" by Barwell.

The only Poppies shirt to win headers in the first half

Above is a link to footage of my first ever, shortly followed by my second ever header at a Poppies match in over 35-years of attending matches.  Twice in one game after three and a half decades of waiting.  I have now headed the ball exactly twice more in a Poppies shirt than Nathan Koo Boothe and Oliver Thorne put together.  If you have a strange desire to see a fat bloke unconvincingly head a football, check out the footage between 8.30 and 9.15 minutes.

The new players all seemed to gel quite well.  Not sure of the names of any of them.  Blond one probably called Lyndon?  If previous pre-seasons have taught us nothing else, they have taught us not to get too attached to players who wear the Poppies red during July!  And our second half performance was most encouraging.

Paul White ruined a perfectly fine penalty save by asking me, whilst sheltering under my umbrella (ella, ella) as Brett strode forward, whether this could be the match winning penalty!  I confirmed it attention Paul!  You can't very well run around like a headless, celebrating chicken if you don't know the score!

The inevitable bump was served up a few days later when Barwell, making the most of a very benign Latimer Park surface beat us at a canter.  It was a disappointing performance and result very much in keeping with the first couple of months home form last season: -

  • Game starts off very even
  • Then the opposition score
  • Then they score again
  • Then they add another, just for the fun of it
  • Then Rene gets himself sent off

So, Rene will sit out yet another pointless Poppies ban as the Management need to come up with a Plan B for home games.  Perhaps a plan that doesn't involves heavy defeats?  Just a thought.  Marcus, you can use this plan if you want it.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Not a good start....

...PATGOD has barely got back from the Summer break, ready to train hard ahead of the new season, when the debacle of the Maunsell Cup Final hit us.

Link to - Poppies take it in the Ar*e from NFA and NTFC

Even after putting out two official statements the Club has still to state the actual reason we all should de-camp to Wellingbrough.  It's the pitch.  It's not the pitch.  It's the floodlights.  It's not the floodlights.

All that comes across in the statements is that we've basically been bullied into moving this "prestige" fixture to another ground, in another town.  Sorry, but our Officials would have come out of this better by detailing the exact issues NFA and NTFC have.  And then cancelling the game.  And then refusing to enter the Hillier Senior Cup this season.  Let's face it, other than winning it the entire competition is a joke that gets in the way of proper games.

The Northants Football Association have shown for the umpteenth time they can't run a bath.  We ask once again - just what is the point of the organisation other than to give us a fixture backlog and treat us with zero respect?

Genuinely, what do they do?  Their website lists a whole heap of Chairmen, Directors, Presidents and Vice Presidents.  No doubt all fine chaps who are perfectly at home in the NFA Boardroom, or at the local Golf course, or Tory fundraisers or indulging in obscure Freemason ceremonies, but they don't actually run anything to do with football.  No Teams, no Divisions, no Leagues.  Just a poxy Cup competition that is so popular, clubs are forced to enter or risk being fined.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Farewell Liam

Liam Canavan's departure from Latimer Park has been greeted with a resounding "Meh" from Poppies fans.  Which is sad.

Liam was a player who could completely change a game.  For good or ill.  Or both.  Often at pretty much the same time.  Even his supporters, of which I am one, would cheerfully have throttled him half of the time.

But while he will be fondly remembered for his ability to cleanly strike a ball better than anyone else currently playing in Poppies red, he certainly won't be missed for his often pointless little flicks and touches which served only to baffle all at the game, including, I daresay, himself.

Liam has something.  We can all see it.  But will he ever show it consistently?  Or even twice in a game?  Over a couple of seasons here can it honestly be said that he noticeably improved ?  Even his diving (which he assiduously continued to work on) still looks like a five year old throwing himself to the floor in a tantrum over a cuddly-toy that's not even really wanted.

He now has another chance at Conference North level, albeit in a team pretty much guaranteed to be in a relegation battle from mid-September onwards - and all the best to the lad.

But what's the betting that his 2017-2018 season looks a bit like this: -

  • Starts in the Leamington team
  • Spell on the bench
  • Spell out of the squad
  • Dual registration with the Poppies
  • Starts in the Poppies team
  • Spell on the bench
  • Spell out of the squad
  • Return to Leamington in time to be released.....

Liam contemplates life in the fast lane.
At Leamington.....

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Wow! I can't believe we all missed this!

Georgy Porgy's ban is up!

Five years are up?

So soon?

Let's all agree not to let him know where we are these days.  Hopefully if he goes over to Non Park he'll think the Poppies have gone the same way......Had he remained that surely would have been our fate.

"Tenner says you'd love me back.
No, twenty.  No, thirty.
I don't have a gambling problem.  Really."

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Attendances - Part Two

Straight away I've got to admit I've leaned very heavily on the Southern League Website and, even more so, on the "Turnstile League" section of the Kings Lynn FC website when putting this piece together.  Have a gander The Turnstile League here - Turnstile League, and save it into your favourites section.  Perhaps replace the old Poppynet link you still have?

As we know, there are probably more former-Football League clubs bumming around at the non-league level than ever before.  And not just in the top division.  York, Stockport and Kidderminster are all currently just one sh*t-season away from sampling the delights of Latimer Park!

This glut of ex-League teams means there are a lot of clubs getting enormous gates in context of their non-league status.  Tranmere and Lincoln both pulled in average home gates of over 5000 this season.  Mind you, that only tells part of the story.  Lincoln had their best season for, well, probably ever.  5000+ for them is dream-land.  In the meantime, a crowd of 5000 at Prenton Park probably looks very spartan!  And those in attendance are probably still shell-shocked at being a non-league club and then losing out to the hobby-humus club from Nailsworth in the play-off final.  Forest Green Rovers managed to lose 5 supporters compared to the season before, despite promotion.  That said, an average gate of 1753 is not to be sniffed at when you have a population of under 6000.

But, who cares what other clubs did?  What about the mighty Poppies?  Overall our average league gate dropped from 522 to 502.  Does mean the 20 biggest whingers on Poppies Chat Facebook group actually put their money where their considerable mouths were and stopped attending?  We can but hope!  502 isn't a great average gate by KTFC standards.  However it was still the fourth highest average gate in our division last season.

And we had the most consistent support in the division.  Consistent?  How does that work?

Our highest gate of 658 contrasted with our lowest gate (a Tuesday night game against Redditch - obviously) of 343.  343 represents a 48% differential between our largest and smallest attendances.  The "South-West Mafia" of Weymouth, Chippenham and Dorchester all had a highest attendance far in excess of ours (no doubt when playing each other), but all recorded smallest gates lower than us.  Thus, Weymouth experienced a 74% difference between highest and lowest gate.  Chippenham had a differential of 76%.

Dorchester had an eye-watering 93% difference between their highest gate - an incredible 2033 against Weymouth, and the piddling 149, no doubt for a Tuesday night February game against Redditch.  Such is Dorchester's relaince on their local derby with Weymouth, that this game accounted for over 20% of their total home support for the entire season!

A number of the newly-minted clubs also saw a surge in support.  At least until they stop winning.  AFC Fylde saw the small matter of a 275% increase in "lifelong Coasters" from 522 to 1962.  The media whores at Salford City saw gates balloon from 642 to 1395.  It's strange how the small matter of national exposure and their own BBC TV series can double your attendances!

More fun are the crowds at the lower end of the non-league scene.  Not for the small sizes of the crowds.  We're in no position to mock clubs for small crowds.  No, more enjoyable is when you see a club average exactly one person less when compared to the previous season.  It makes you wonder if something personal happened!  Or did a fan exclaim, "Shent goo agen" and actually follow through on the threat?  Then you see another team added a single fan during 2016-17 and you wonder if this fan simply changed allegiance!  But for every club in turmoil, you have a Soham Town Rangers, who averaged exactly 125 contented, steady-souls for the past couple of seasons.

"Keep-up lino!"