Sunday, 23 November 2014

Drawing A Blank

Every once in a while my inner anorak bubbles to the surface, and I develop a Motsonlike thirst to know the answer to some intriguing statistical poser. My current itch concerns our long sequence without drawing a game. Come on, don’t tell me you haven’t noticed. This season our league record still features a zero in the middle column, which is perhaps a mild curiosity after 17 games, but add the various cup competitions and it’s up to 24. Then go back to last season, which ended with a run of 13 wins or losses and the tally is a stonking 37! Surely a record!!  But how to be sure?
The obvious answer – ask Paul Cooke – was discounted on the basis that some things in life you just gotta do yourself. Even if it is an internet voyage into geekdom by visiting various dusty statto sites on a quiet Sunday afternoon. But nowhere have I found the answer I seek. I now know that the longest run without a goalless draw in English senior football is held by Peterborough United - 156 League (171 All Competitions), 8 December 2009 to 9 March 2013. And feel a bit better for it. But what about any kind of draw?  Nobody seems to have bothered to note that one down. A draw is one of only 3 possible outcomes, so a run of 37 non-draws has to be pretty rare. Perhaps it is a record! But wait a minute, do we qualify as being part of English senior football these days? You might struggle to argue yes. In the football pyramid, Tier 8 is closer to park pitch than the Football League (on a bad day, very close indeed). And who’s to say there isn’t a tier 9 side somewhere that has lost 40 in a row.

So, reluctantly, my conclusion is this. A run of 37 games without a draw is undoubtedly quite unusual. At our level.  Probably.

Rabbit Hutch, anyone?

News that a developer has acquired the rights to develop Rockingham Road have left me a little conflicted.  In a perfect world of back-to-back Rollover Euro-lottery wins we would be heading back to our true home, with 21st Century facilities under construction due for completion for the first game of next season.  This coinciding with an audit at Conference HQ which shows we should never have been relegated in the first place, restoring us to the top flight of Non-League football.  Oh, and while we're shooting for the moon, Rachel Riley suddenly can't get enough of chubby middle aged Poppies bloggers.

Now with Rockingham Road finally out of reach we can at least draw a reluctant line under our pursuit of our former home and concentrate on moving forward as a club.

What we should do though, is spare a thought for the poor developer, suddenly owning this prime, but quite small pot of land.  They are going to be trying to squeeze 56 properties onto this site.  That may not sound an overly large number,  but when you consider the number of private houses on Britannia Road and Cowper Street that directly face the ground is only 17, you suddenly wonder how on earth they expect to fit 56 such properties on such a small site?

Except, they won't be putting comparable properties on the site.  Whereas the surrounding streets are predominantly sturdily brick built 3-4 bedroom houses, mostly detatched, and mostly with front and rear gardens, can anyone imagine these new dwellings being anything more that the usual rabbit hutches with not quite enough parking?  We've all seen these new houses go up, haven't we?  A wooden frame supporting a bare layer of breeze blocks and insulating fabric, and finished off with a layer of "decorative" brickwork. 

I wonder about these sort of houses, and the current state of the house-building trade.  Look at the enormous amount of Victorian dwellings in this town and you will see houses that have stood for 120+ years and could easily see them stand for another 120.  Even the meanest Victorian terraced house has design flourishes, large rooms and incredibly solid construction. 

Builders of more than a century ago really knew their jobs.  Compare this to the houses our present-day builders "knock-up".  Plaster board walls, tiny rooms, and the neighbour's TV heard throughout the house.  Oh, and given the number of times you see scaffolding around newish buildings, a bit of re-working after about 5 years.  And that is for the expensive homes.  Imagine what the "affordable" element of the 56 houses at Rocky Road will be like!

Mind you, before any of this building happens the site will need to be cleared.  Not a 5 minutes job!  Access needs to be forged, taking up precious space.  Presumably where the pitch has been built up and levelled will need to be taken away and the hill restored?  The enormous, stately trees on Rockingham Road will need to be safely felled?  The right of way between Cowper Street and the Rock and Bowl will need to be preserved?  The R&B will also need to be maintained, as much as the developers would dearly love to either build on it, or at the very least, park their trucks, tools and portaloos on there?

One assumes the local residents will be keeping the beadiest of beady eyes on what goes on.  The first sign of the developers trying to foist some additional flats, or further builds onto the site will rightly have them up in arms. 

And then, after the builders have finished and moved on, and the first sets of "challenging" housing association families have taken up their rental residence, there is the small matter of the roughly-hewn roads and pavements remaining crappy for years as the council take their time in adopting these new alleyways, clogged with cars and unmoving wheely bins.  Suddenly the football club won't have seemed to be such bad neighbours!

We daresay the lamppost notifications around Britannia Road and Cowper Street are going to be thoroughly scrutinised over the coming months!

"Rockingham Road Mews: You can just make out where the centre circle used to be"

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Poppies still strive to keep it interesting!

Watching the Poppies these days is becoming akin to a rollercoaster ride at a rickety old fairground. Everything surrounding us is run down and faintly seedy.  The matches are undeniably exciting, with plenty of emotional peaks and troughs.  And at any point you half expect a few bolts to work themselves loose, and bring everything crashing down.  And then we'll be at the mercy of the Health and Safety Executive.

Talk about ups and downs....

Going 2-0 down.

Fighting back.

Sandy scoring his 6th goal in as many games (and then struggling to work out how many fingers to hold up in celebration of this great run!)

Gooding scoring even after scuffing his penalty even worse than the one he scuffed last week.

Rattling the woodwork the usual 3 times during the game.

Bukasa fluking an outrageously lucky winner.

Dubi looking annoyed.

The grey haired linesman being at least 20-yards off the pace all game long.

New signing David Unpronounceable looked lively.

The rain holding off all game long.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Poppies strive to keep it interesting!

Most teams that are 2-0 up with twenty minutes to go, rattling the woodwork every few minutes, and about to take a penalty would be expecting a nice easy coast to the final whistle.  Not us though.  Oh, no.  Where's the fun in that?  Why put a game to bed when you can force your supporters through the wringer?

So, instead of going 3-0 up and continuing to mercilessly pepper the Aylesbury goal, we managed to invite them back to the party by giving them a goal from another penalty, and reducing ourselves to 10-men in the process.

But as much fun it is for us all to see our players making a game out of matches they are dominating, we really wouldn't mind if they occasionally put the opposition well and truly to the sword, even if this resulted in slightly more boring finishes to our games.  Really.  It wouldn't fuss us if every now and then our games fizzled out into comfortable, even hefty wins.

One thing that was glaring from yesterday's win at Aylesbury, and a number of games prior, was the need for someone in the middle of the park to grab hold of the game and either push us forward or marshal our defensive efforts.  We have had plenty of nominees for this vital position this season, but no-one has yet nailed this coveted role.

At the start of the season, our latest Daventry cry-baby Ross Oulton didn't hang around long enough to earn the spot.  A couple of months later he's out of the door at the Purple Hatters when his pay packet was greatly lightened.  Now he is battling against the drop at Bedford.  Serves him right!

Brett has also filled the spot with patchy results.  He has not been as dominant in the middle as he is currently being at centre back.  Surely he will stay there for the rest of the season?  Or until Henry returns?

Next up is returning feather-weight Messiah, James Jepson, but he seems dangerously off the pace this season, running around it little circles as the games flies past him.

The mighty Tommy Hull has filled the spot a few times.  We are told, by those in the know, that sitting in front of the back four is his best position.  For real?  Good a player as he is he seems  ineffective playing just 5 yards ahead of his usual centre back position.  Weird!

Jonathan Thorpe's severe injury has ruled him out of contention for the season.  Even so, hobbling on crutches, he isn't perhaps our worst option...!

By a process of elimination we have been left with a midfield duo of Gooding and Robinson.  Both are OK players, but better suited to playing alongside a dynamic midfielder, than alongside each other.  Neither of them is "the answer".  Entire games can pass before you notice either one is on the pitch. Perhaps this is why one usually replaces the other from the substitutes bench?  Between them, they add up to one good player?  And now Gooding is having his penalties saved his limited value takes even  more of a nose-dive!

That said, looking at the table this morning - a five point lead and a game in hand, we are doing most things right.  We just don't want to tempt the rest of the league back into the promotion hunt, like we tempted Aylesbury and their poorly handled drum back into the game yesterday!

Wanted: Someone to dominate this area of the pitch.  Apply: R Jeune.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything!

I know we've fallen on great footballing hard times.  Goodbye Rockingham Road.  Goodbye Conference National.  Hello Park Football.  Hello bobbly Latimer Park.

But even in the darkest days of the fag end of Non Park and some of the freezing nights of footballing horror at Steel Park we never suffered the indignity heaped on North Greenford United today.

We may have been slightly disappointed with our gate of 535 today, but spare a thought for the spartan surrounds at the home of "The Blues" as they had just 42 warm bodies come through the turnstiles.


Did this number include complimentary tickets?  God, I hope not!


Assuming a full set of substitutes on both teams and, say five Managers, Assistant Managers, Coaches, Physios etc. on each bench, the playing staff and attendance were exactly the same.


And what if each player has a family member at the game?  Upwards of 30 of the crowd might be attending due to purely familial attachments!


If it came to a scrap between the watchers and the performers, the outcome might well come down to which side the match officials took!


That's not even a coach-full.  We really have to get out of this division as soon as we can!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

They say a picture tells a thousand words....

If so, this photograph from the blog, "Sweet Left Foot" would be saying,

"Ugly sons of bitches!"

Repeated 250 times!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

So, what's wrong with Ash Fuller?

With news that Elliot Sandy and Chris Logan are treading the well worn path back to Latimer Park, the obvious question, beyond, why are we are re-employing players who couldn't win the league last season, is what has Ash Fuller done to be, thus far, overlooked?

Just why hasn't the last main member of last season's squad not made a re-appearance?

Poor personal hygiene?
Didn't leave his phone number with Ritchie?
Took too long in the showers?
Doesn't like playing in front of us moaning buggers?
Thinks red and black stripes makes him look a bit large across the hips?
Doesn't fancy playing out of position?
He accepts he isn't good enough to force his way into the starting 11?

Ash Fuller - not required (at time of writing)
back at Latimer Park