Sunday, 31 May 2015


I have just returned from a trip to Surrey, hence the lack of blog. As I was driving through the Pennine countryside, near home, I wondered at the greeness of the fields and the sharpness of the breeze that on the last day of May was still making shirt sleeve order unlikely. My sister-in-law has compiled a family tree based on the Yorkshire relatives. She has gathered photos and birth certificates from the local area. Have a look at this team photo of Victoria FC taken when there was a team based at a small settlement, at over 1000 feet above sea level overlooking Huddersfield. They played on the fiendishly exposed pitch at Victoria, near the now defunct pub and community centre is. The weather would be unforgiving for most the season. When the ball was kicked off the pitch, all the players, bar the one fetching the ball, would lie flat on the ground to get out of the wind! The two relatives are named and “long” Ern (centre on centre row)  could only be a centre half. John Senior looks a big'un too. This may be where the DNA came from to give my son a 6 foot + frame. Sadly I don't have records of the team's performance, I could investigate given time, but I wanted to have Victoria FC logged in history and show you their funky shirts, with their modern star logo.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


I could go on about FIFA and dear old Sep Blatter but let's be positive and celebrate the Non League FA National Game awards:

The TIMALI Finance Solutions Step 3 and 4 Player of the Year goes to Tom Greaves of FC United. Like his very unwell name sake Jimmy, Tom is a born goal scorer and he also supports Leeds United which makes it even better.

The PFA Fair Play Award goes to Harrogate Town. No bookings for dissent this season, and if there is any indiscretion the players go to local schools to help out and show some community spirit. They came 15th in their league, so there must have been times when they had to bite their tongues.

The NLFA Player of the Year is John Akinde from Barnet. Once of Portsmouth this goalscorer is back in the Football League with a point to prove.

The Reusch Goalkeeper of the Year is James McKeown of Grimsby Town. I've seen his play twice this season, so fair dos. He has had 23 clean sheets this season.

The Football Foundation Community Club Award goes to Merthyr Town. Owned by a supporters' trust, the club has revived itself after closing in 2010. This means a sizeable grant to help develop their facilities, which their development manager Elliott Evans will be thrilled with. He is only 21 years old and obviously doing a good job.

Huck Nets sponsor the Goal of the Season and this goes to Sean geddes of Worcester City. It was a “Rabona” chip against Barrow in the FA Trophy-have a look on the web for it.

The NLFA Unsung Hero is Derek Vernon for his services to Northamptonshire Football.

Darrell Clarke from Bristol Rovers gets Field Turf Manager of the Year.

John Mills of Didcot Town is awarded the All About Ballerz Golden Boot for scoring 56 goals with 8 hat tricks and a five trick also.

Lee Angol of Boreham Wood is the SportsBeat Young Player of the Year,

Mary Jinks the Fan of the Year, at 86 she has even been to watch England C play Cyprus and support one player, Andy Halls from Macclesfield-she sponsors him.

Ex Bisham Abbey administrator and Wycombe Wanderers FC manager, now Football Conference Chairman, Brian Lee, has the NLP Lifetime Achievement Award and

Andy Yiadom from Barnet the FA England C player of the year-by the way the FA is thinking about abandoning the C XI.

Finally, Red Insure give Maidstone Town their Team of the Year and

North Ferriby United get the Toolstation Cup Run of the Year.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


The Fair Play League gives clubs the incentive to win a place in the UEFA Europa League and cash prizes to use positively in designated schemes.
This season the calculations gave West Ham United top place with Liverpool second and Manchester City third.
At the bottom came Sunderland in 20th place, then Stoke, Hull, Aston Villa, Newcastle, QPR all of whom sit in similar positions in the league. Curiously Chelsea came 14th.

The points awarded are given for Red/Yellow cards, Positive Play, respect to opponents, Respect to Match Officials and behaviour of Club Officials. The Premier League came second in the UEFA Fair Play League (of Leagues!) and so West Ham win a place in the Europa League which begins in the first week of July, a timely boost to the last season in at the old Boleyn Ground, which I know as Upton Park. Let us hope that the added burden does not distract the club from its performance in the Premier League, as it would be daunting to begin their time at the Olympic Stadium in the Championship.

Much depends on the result of the FA Cup Final as Aston Villa could earn a place and that would affect Liverpool's entry. If Arsenal win, then Liverpool go through.
The Hammers also win £30,000 to spend on one of five initiatives: investing in something to improve the atmosphere of the stadium, a club charity, an addition to help the supporters, something to envelope the community or an investment in the academy.
The best behaved supporters, this season, Liverpool, win the club £20,000 to invest on similar schemes listed above.

I would love to meet the people that visit every match and make decisions about “positive play” or the attitude of clubs towards the referee!

Clubs with the fewest fouls were Liverpool, QPR and Burnley. Listening to a pundit on Talksport recently talking about QPR's defence, he criticised them for not having enough cards to their names; How can you fight for your club's position in the division if you don't get a few yellows and reds, he said!! Look at the ages of the defenders, they are so old, I doubt whether they are quick enough to catch anybody to foul them!!!

Monday, 25 May 2015


This weekend my daughter gets married, on Cup Final Day!! I tried to introduce football to her from an early age and even took her to an FA Cup Final, Arsenal v Sheffield Wednesday on May 15th 1993, she was 14. Clearly it had little effect. The available date for the wedding took precedence-fair enough??
Whilst indulging in the Sunday Times, last Sunday,my wife (keeping it in the family) read the “Where was I?” competition and told me about Gladstone Adams, one of the clues to the eventual answer which was Whitley Bay.
Gladstone made a name for himself inventing the windscreen wiper. HOW? 
On April 25th 1908 he drove to the Crystal Palace ground in a 1904 Daracq-Caron motorcar to see Newcastle United play Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup Final. The car drew much attention that it was left in a car showroom while Gladstone was at the match. Nearly 75,000 people watched the game.
On the way back, it snowed and Gladstone had to keep stopping the car to clear the windscreen. On April 1911 he patented the windscreen wiper which was never manufactured but the prototype can been seen in the Newcastle's Discovery Museum.
As well as being a photographer, he invented with his brother the sliding rowing seat and the trafficator, a car indicator.

Wolves won 3-1 and their first goal was scored by the Reverend Kenneth Hunt and Corinthian. Hedley and Harrison scored the other two.
Below is Adams and a photograph of a Newcastle player taken by him.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


Southend have done it, beating Wycombe Wanderers on penalties to win promotion to League One,. Some of their supporters had already left the stadium thinking there had been a negative result. Oh ye of little faith!
Today, Kevin Davies, at 38, is hoping to help Preston North End into the Championship. The Lancashire club plays Swindon Town in the League One play-off. The last time he won at Wembley he was with Chesterfield beating Bury in a play-off at the old Wembley in 1995, he was 18. He only had a short time on the pitch, coming off the bench.
He has been a long servant of English Football, although he should have had more positive Wembley experiences. He was left out of the Southampton squad for an FA Cup Final and then got hammered 5-0 by Stoke when he was at Bolton in another Cup semi-final.
Ryan Giggs is the only player to have won at the old and new Wembley with such a long gap between victories.
Preston's play-off record is not good, although historians will note that in 1894 the club was victorious over Notts County in relegation “Test Match” at Deepdale. This was a period just after the “Invincibles” saw PNE as the top team in the country decline rapidly after a period of instability at ownership level. Preston had done the double and were rarely out of the top part of the First Division until that disastrous season.
Another oldie in the play-off frame is Jonathan Woodgate, a much travelled footballer, who at Middlesbrough, may help his club return to the Premier League at the age of 35. Woodgate was destined to be one of the great English centre backs but injury has haunted him. He only won 8 international caps and this is likely to be his last game, although a victory and the prospect of PL football next season may delay his decision. A win over Norwich may also help boost the Teesside economy, which is in much need of success.

Please note that the spelling of Middlesbrough is correct and not as shown on the printed match tickets prepared at Wembley for this play-off!

Saturday, 23 May 2015


If you wanted to visit me from the south, junction 35A on the M1 will take you on the Stocksbridge by-pass. Stocksbridge Park Steels is what it says, a football club based on the steel industry, originally. James Vardy, of Leicester City, is England's latest call up. He was playing non-league football three years ago and worked in a local factory making medical splints. In his previous football existence he scored against FC United of Manchester and he has also scored against Manchester United. Only one other player has done this.
Released by Sheffield Wednesday for being not tall enough at 15, he went to college in Rotherham and studied sports' science, signing on for nearby Wickersley Youth and then Park Steels.
Once convicted of an assault (he says he was helping a friend) he had to play in a match, on curfew, wearing a “tag”!
Earning £30 match fee when playing for Stocksbridge, he eventually got a £100 as a maximum wage and then had to work to supplement his living. His employment was making carbon-fibre splints for disabled people with “drop foot”.
Halifax came next, then Fleetwood, Kidderminster Harriers until Nigel Pearson pounced in 2012 paying a £1 million. It was only recently that Vardy was offered ostrich burgers in the Leicester canteen, a joke set by the chef in response to Pearson's recent reference to the press burying their heads in the sand.
The Club's Thai owners have brought monks into the club to bless the players before a game by dipping their “sticks” in holy water and lashing the legs of the players, before a game.

Well, good luck to James Vardy, another forward brought in by Roy Hodgson to his international squad.

Friday, 22 May 2015


I didn't just get down from the train and there weren't any yellow ribbons hanging from trees, but I did meet up with some old friends from my local town (village?) on Tuesday and the book displayed was one of the reasons for me heading south. I like to indulge in my past occasionally and what better excuse to be nostalgic for a while than having football business to attend to.
Mick Hatchard probably hasn't written a book before, I actually didn't ask him that, but he has put together a very good account of a small village club from 1898. The book is full of old photos, well reproduced, it has little arty nick nacks to liven up each page, like a old pair of football boots and an ancient ball, as well as programme covers, results, scorers and league positions when he has been able to source the material. It is beautifully published.
I didn't play much for my local side, which saddens me, but I helped out when I could. I remember refereeing a pre-season friendly when I was only 16, playing against the best team in the division with half a side when most of the the 1st team were at a wedding and scoring two on the day I heard I had got my place at Cambridge University. I think I had had a glass or two of bubbly. 
I also saw a team photo including my dad in 1949-50 when he was club chairman. He will not have moved into the village much before, having followed my mum out of London when she was evacuated during the hostilities and worked in the local munitions factory, which after the war became a metal heating pipe manufacturer, the major employer in the village.
It is always good to go back and I have to say, the book was a real bonus. If you happen to be a bit of a non-league anorak, like me, then this is worth having on your shelf. 

Monday, 18 May 2015


What did I (we) learn from the Wembley experience yesterday? It was the Vanarama Conference Play Off and Barnet FC, having won promotion outright, did not have the luxury and privilege of an appearance at our national stadium. I guess they were happy to go for the uncomplicated promotion rather than go through what the two sets of fans at Wembley had to endure. It was a good day out with Grimsby supporters arriving at various car parks along the Jubilee line and making the most of the new shopping centre in the shadow of the football ground. Lots of tinnies and Sainsbury's bags.
Surrounding the mecca is a nasty car park blighting the new Wembley, a new children's playground which I liked, some metal poles sticking out the ground by the tube station and plenty of Bristol accents coming in from the west.

The game was dire, long ball, lacking in structure, players not able to do clever things in the final third, no cleverness at set pieces-thumpo thumpy, and a lot and I mean A LOT of defending heading. 

The game wasn't without incident, the ref was lenient, so it went to extra time, having had goals after 2 mins and 29 mins. Penalties decided it and how sad that one poor Mariner had to carry the burden of defeat. (if you look carefully below, you can see the ball way over the bar) Rovers were delirious, promoted back to the FL after one year away.

However I learned that the occasion was actually brilliant as a spectacle and a record 47,029 crowd graced the stadium and felt the emotion of success and failure.

One little Grimsby fan near me was nearly burned by a flare thrown 5 seconds after Grimsby scored; What mindless knob, FROM GRIMSBY OBVIOUSLY, would do such a thing in a crowded space? The little lad was looking over his shoulder for the rest of the game. What were the searchers and spotters doing? I managed to smuggle in a pair of binoculars in my bag which was frisked in a millisecond by a hiviz man on the door. Hardly thorough; could have been a hand grenade.

I bought a very informative programme and discovered that an old school colleague, Dennis Strudwick, a couple of years older than me, who spent his time playing at Horsham FC and administrating various leagues in the Sussex area is the General Manager of the Football Conference. If only I had known earlier-prawn sandwich? Dennis? get in touch mate!!

I know that both teams may well have been overawed by the occasion. My chum, Bob, has seen both Grimsby and Rovers play at Aldershot this season and I have seen Grimsby before also; we both agreed that they looked as they could play. So what went wrong? Nerves!
Two years ago in the League One final, Brentford turned up to Wembley on a stinking hot day wearing heavy duty dark suits whilst Yeovil wore trackies, flip flops and looked more comfortable. Yeovil won. Perhaps both the Mariners and Rovers missed a minute detail somewhere? Perfect pitch, good weather, sunny day, crowd noise, everything to play for, scouts watching...what could go wrong?

Ian Holloway made his play off players visit the stadium before and not only get a feel of the pitch and dressing rooms but also know exactly where their families would be sitting so they wouldn't have to worry about that during the warm up!

Saturday, 16 May 2015


I'm off to Wembley tomorrow to watch the Conference play off. This system of promotion has been in place since 1979-80. Lucky Barnet won this year's Premier division fairly comfortably and their reward is not to have the honour of playing at the National Stadium.
Instead, the two teams that came through the Conference play offs meet in North London tomorrow at 2pm. Bristol Rovers, relegated from the Football League last year after a 94 year stay, meet Grimsby Town, relegated from the FL in 2010.
Barnet came first with 92 points during their season whilst Rovers just came second with 91 points. Grimsby were 5 points short in third. The difference was the result of a number of draws earned by the Rovers, 16, compared to 11 by Grimsby although in fact Grimsby scored 74 goals, one more than Rovers and conceded 6 fewer.
The England “C” squad to play the ROI in June in Galway in a friendly, was announced recently and neither of these two Play Offs teams has a player on the list.

Grimsby is hoping to get 15,000 crowd to the stadium, aiming to help beat the Play Off record of over 42600, which was the result of the York City v Oxford United game in 2010.
Watch out for the Robin Reliant and the Mariner down Wembley Way.

Friday, 15 May 2015


300 posts today and what better than looking into the inner workings of Leyton Orient and need for their new manager to be able to speak Italian. How many Italian speaking Englishmen could you name who would like to take on the manager's role??? Graham Souness?

So here is a light hearted list of clubs with silly names. Got any more?

Funny names for teams as initiated by Talksport this morning:

Royal Mail-drid, Real Ale Madrid, Borussia Ya Teeth, Fiorentina Turner, Ajax Treedown,

A3 Milan, Range Rovers, Sporting Abeergut, AC Alittlesilhouetteof a man, Notso Athletic,

Creweventus, Dynamo Chicken Kiev, Multiple Scoregasms, Steaua Needarest,

Bayern Bru, Deportivo Lack o'Talent, Sub-Standard Liege, Beerview Mirrors,

Parmesan Belgrade.

In Cardiff there is an area called Splott-the local team is Hajduk Splott, of course.


Breast Rummidge Albion

Thursday, 14 May 2015


On May 14th, 1938 Hitler had just marched into Austria and the British ambassador in Berlin, Sir Neville Henderson, encouraged the English football team to give the Nazi salute at the start of their match against the Germans.
Prior to the game, Stanley Matthews and Bert Spronston had been in a nearby cafe when diners scrambled towards the windows to catch a glimpse of Hitler driving by. Everyone was very excited, there was a lot of noise and people giving the salute. The salute was a gesture of faith in Germany, and one of provocation elsewhere.
The magnificent Olympic Stadium in Berlin, built for the Games in 1936 was filled with 120,00 people. The day was sweltering, the atmosphere intense when the FA representative, Sir Stanley Rous, gave his international team the order to salute at the playing of the German national anthem and although the team was not in agreement they carried out their orders, after a hesitation and treated the gesture as a bit of fun.
Embarrassed by having to do this, the team were fuelled into action.
The Germans had been away in training camp in the Black Forest and the English were pallid and jaded after a full Football League season. But the few English supporters in the stadium gave the English heart and Matthews mesmerized the German full back Munzenberg assisting and scoring a goal.
In the official stand, Rous was sporting an old pullover and binoculars, sitting next to Goering. As another English goal went in he suggested that Goering would get a better view if he had used his bins! Like  Hitler when he saw the brilliant American, Jesse Owens' influence on the Olympics, Goering was not amused
England won 6-3.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015


The football season grinds on and to keep people's interest, last night Swindon Town and Sheffield United shared a 5-5 draw, with an eventual win overall for the Robins, 7-6 in their two leg play-off, the highest aggregate since play offs began in 1987.
It is worth catching the goals on TV if you haven't seen it. Nigel Clough and Chris Morgan look shattered.

During the first play offs in 1987 and 1988 the teams involved were made up from the three clubs in the lower division not qualifying directly for promotion and the one club above the automatic relegation places in the division above.
It took the league two seasons to reduce the number of teams in the top tier from 22 to 20, with three divisions of 24 below. In 1987, Charlton Athletic won their “relegation play off” and stayed up.

Naturally the play-offs are do or die and so there have been some big scores in these games.

In a 2000 semi-final Ipswich beat Bolton 5-3, having drawn 2-2 in the first leg. Total goals 12.

In the 2003 League 2 play off semi-final, Lincoln City beat Scunthorpe 5-3 at home and 1-0 away.
and in 2007 Lincoln lost 3-5 to Bristol Rovers and 4-7 overall in the League 2 semi-final. Ricky Lambert scored for Rovers after 11 minutes.

In 1998 Charlton and Sunderland shared 8 goals in their play off final with Charlton winning 7-6 on penalties and getting promoted to the Premier League. This was arguably one of the most exciting games in the play off history.

Crewe Alexandra beat Walsall 9-3 in their two legs in 1993, playing for promotion from the Third Division. They met York City, who came 4th in the league who had to go through the “play-offs drama”. In the final at Wembley, Alexandra lost on pens after a relatively drab 1-1 draw. York quite rightly were promoted, but did get to play in front of over 22,000 at the national stadium.

In 1987, Gillingham and Sunderland ended up 6-6 over two legs in the Division 2 semi-final sent the Black Cats to Division Three; hard to imagine!

Monday, 11 May 2015


Ben Smith will not have rattled too many cages in his time, but this journey man footballer has published a book now available at Waterstones and on Amazon. It is about his life as a footballer.
Of course, this type of memory has been put to paper before, but not too often at the non-league level.
Some of the best biographies I have read include Steve Claridge, Tony Cascarino, Eamon Dunphy and Gary Nelson; never heard of them? They all represent higher level although occasionally you get the waft of non-league peril. Try them out.

Smith journeys from Arsenal along with Bergkamp and Wright, where he probably was not good enough, to a £12 pay rise for winning the Conference with Crawley Town, under Steve Evans. He has been with Yeovil, Hereford twice, Weymouth, Crawley and then AFC Sudbury and Thurrock; not glamorous clubs but reliable enough to get him a two year contract and then after that, what?

This is about the gritty reality of non-league football and the insecurity of a short life earning money at something you are good at and love. He won 3 promotions in 475 games, some as high as League One with Crawley and a 5th Round FA Cup tie at Old Trafford against United.
Worth a read!

Sunday, 10 May 2015


At the end of another exciting weekend for the Football league, where playy off ties are gradually sorting out who will play where next season, Tranmere and Cheltenham are down to the Conference, looking forwaqd to joining with Bromley and Barrow who have won their place in the Premier Division by winning their division titles.
The new National League will also have Guiseley from the Leeds area and Boreham Wood, teams who have beaten Chorley and Whitehawk respectively yesterday. Guiseley made it hard work for themselves, going 0-2 down but fighting back to win 3-2. Boreham Wood went into extra time against the Sussex side, eventually a 2-1 securing their place. The winners are now in the 5th Tier of the FL.
At Wembley, Glossop North End having won promotion in the North west Counties League premier and their League Cup, could not make it a treble as their lost 1-2 to North Shields in the FA Vase (9674 attended). Both teams have been to Wembley before, the Hillmen in 2009 losing in the Vase and the Robins way back in 1969 in the old FA Amateur Cup Final. here are the lads from the north-east in their Cup Final suits.

With the FA Trophy safely in the hands of North Ferriby United who beat Wrexham 5-4 on penalties after drawing 3-3 (crowd was 14585), the non-league programme is gradually coming to its conclusion.

Saturday, 9 May 2015


After yesterday's excitement of the election and VE Day, today the Channel Islands celebrate their liberation from the German occupation in 1945. The archipelago, located closer to France than England, was the only place in the British Isles to be occupied by the German troops.

Guernsey FC also exsits and played in the Combined Counties League (Level 10 in the pyramid), travelling to the mainland every other week and hosting teams at their St P eter Port ground, Footes Lane, which holds 5,000. The club pays for the travel of both their own and their opponents.
In 2012-13, with games postponed due to weather and after a long run in the FA Vase, the club was scheduled to play 23 games in 43 days at the end of the season, including the last 4 games in 4 days. They finished this, coming second in the league and the club won promotion to the Isthmian League Division One South. The next season, they nearly won promotion to the Premier Division, but failed in the play offs. Matt Le Tissier signed for the club but only played once and his brother is club secretary.

In 2010 the association won the FA National League system cup and qualified to play in the UEFA Regions Cup, a competition for regions without national status; eg North Wales Coast!
Jersey has so far resisted running a “club”, preferring to run its own football competition for the local island clubs, giving more people a chance to play. Don't see why they cannot do both?

The two major islands, Jersey and Guernsey, have FAs representing them, providing sport for all ages. The Muratti (a cigarette maker!!) Cup, first competed for in 1905, allows both these two larger islands and Alderney (regularly comes third!) to play inter-island matches, including ladies and youths competitions.

Friday, 8 May 2015


Some older members of the fraternity will know who Stan Cullis was and if you look back through the 290 odd blogs, Stan gets a mention earlier on. He was the international captain during the war years and later master-minded Wolves in a successful period in the 1950s. Nicknamed the “Passionate Puritan”, Cullis was from modest beginnings in the Wirral and made himself into an “academic” and in 1939 he joined up to the War effort.
Diagnosed with a low pulse he was kept at home and he went to Aldershot, The Home of the British Army, to help with the Physical Trainers' Corps. Alongside him were other non-combatants, Tommy Lawton who had a steel plate in his head as a result of a traffic accident, Joe Mercer who later came to be a successful manager of Manchester City, Denis Compton of Arsenal and England cricket and Wilf Copping, now known as the Vinnie Jones of his time, all terrific players.
So Aldershot suddenly became a top team in the war years, playing in the newly formed Southern League. When England played Scotland in a war time international in 1943, a brawl broke out, inevitably the Scots were losing 0-4. Clyde's Dougie Wallace grabbed Cullis' “crown jewels” and not even the bucket and sponge man could help. Cullis jumped two feet in the air and had to wear a special bandage for two years. His blood stained shorts were used as evidence as the English FA talked to the Scottish FA and had Wallace banned for life.
Vinnie, of course, famously did this to Gazza but it was just playful of course. He didn't mean it.

Thursday, 7 May 2015


It is dangerous to watch Sky Sport during a lazy afternoon, especially when the “Sporting Heroes” programme comes up singing the praises of a famous footballer. Glen Hoddle was the subject today and the series of tricks, passes and goals he produced during his career were shown in sequence and were of another world.
He played in a very decent Spurs side and won 53 England caps, not enough many would say. On screen he certainly got support from fellow players and pundits although there will be others who thought him being regarded as a “luxury” fair comment.
As a singer of Diamond Lights (with Chris Waddle),

with a mullet, he might have been considered a bit flash, but he was a superb reader of the game and technically well endowed, however he had a lot to learn about people. Perhaps he held a grudge because he was not given the credit he deserved, especially from England managers, on the other hand he did not pick Gascoigne for his English squad which led to the famous room trashing incident ,when the Geordie was excluded from the final World Cup 22.
One player said about Hoddle, “If he was ice cream, he would lick himself”. As an England manager, he was draped in controversy, taking over the job from Terry Venables. He had a major success in the World Cup qualifier, especially the 0-0 draw away in Italy-do you remember when Paul Ince got bandaged and we fought like tigers.
The dodgy moments began with Eileen Drewery, who claimed to have a direct contact with the Almighty; she was a faith healer and self-proclaimed psychic. Apparently Glen had dated her daughter in the 1970s and he claims she had healed his hamstring injury, so he put his trust in her. One better cure might have been a leg-over?
Ms Drewery, who had her own room in the team hotel, was visited by players for emotional support and in the case of Darren “Sick Note” Anderton, hoping for ligament repair. The scousers in the squad were pestering her for horserace winners. Ray Palour, not a believer, when she put her hands on his head, asked for a short back and sides. He never played again.
It was not all right with Glen and when he said in 1998, “Michael Owen is not a natural goalscorer”, there was a feeling that not all was well.

After a series of gaffs, the statement he made to the Times newspaper in January 1999, about disabled people paying for their sins of past lives, was the final nail in the coffin. Tony Blair called for his resignation and Hoddle obliged.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015


Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has given Burton Albion a real boost after their disappointment of missing out in the Wembley Play Off last year. He has brought Burton Albion up to Division One as Champions of their league and the Brewers are hopefully going to make the most of their promotion.
In their new stadium, the Pirelli, the club has set up in the same road as their old ground at Eton Park, which has since gone to the developer. Pirelli Tyres paid for the development for naming rites.

Burton Albion play host to Independent Schools' FA football, acting as the venue for U15 and U13 national finals at the end of the season. The club is very hospitable, as is MK Dons who host the ISFA U18 Final.

Football in the brewing town of Burton in Staffordshire, had to compete with the more favoured rugby and the original club founded in 1871 was Burton Swifts. Joining the Football League, Division 2, in 1892, the club had minimal success and merged with Burton Wanderers in 1900-1 to form Burton United.

This club stayed in the Football League until 1906-7, coming bottom and not getting re-elected, being replaced by Fulham. Then Burslem Port Vale resigned from the FL and Burton had a chance of being re-re-elected but this attempt was not successful and Oldham Athletic took the step up.

The new clubs, Fulham and Oldham, came 3rd and 4th in the division that first season.
Burton All Saints survived as a team, becoming Burton Town in 1924, which folded in 1940 and Burton Albion started up in 1950 after the war.

Gary Rowett would be regarded as Burton's most successful manager, bringing them to the a Wembley Division Two play off final against Fleetwood last season. They lost and Rowett went to Birmingham City, replaced by Hasselbaink. The rest is history. Mine's a pint.

Previous managers include: Ian Storey-Moore, Neil Warnock, Nigel Clough, Roy MacFarland and Paul Peschisolido.

Monday, 4 May 2015


Still got weeks to go; the FA Cup Final is on May 30th. I know that because a very close relation of mine chose the date for her wedding. Hmm!

These next weeks are really interesting for the non-league fan. I already know that Grimsby Town FC, with a friend's niece's boyfriend, Carl Magnay playing, assuming he is fit, well and good enough, are meeting Bristol Rovers (remember them??) in the Vanarama Conference Play Off Final at Wembley on the 17th May. I'm going to keep the friend happy and off the ale. The prize? Football League status!

The Evo-Stick Northern Premier Division Play Off Final saw Curzon Athletic beat Ilkeston 1-0, there was the Marie Curie Irish Cup with Glentoran beating Portadown 1-0, the game radiated class apparently.

The Welsh Cup went to The New Saints FC 2-0 beating Newtown, and the FA Women's Premier League Cup Final was won by Charlton 4-2 on pens beating Sheffield FC after a 0-0 draw. Exciting!

Tonight the Evo-Stick Southern Premier Play Off Final takes place with Truro City meeting St Neots Town. There are also regional play-offs involving Bedworth v Barton, Stratford Town v Larkhall Athletic (wasn't that a location for a BBC period drama?) It doesn't get much bigger than that in Evo-Stick world. I shall be glued to the internet awaiting results. Winners move up a tier.

The FA Vase is awaiting Glossop NE and North Shields on Saturday, at Wembley also, while the two regional Vanarama Conference play offs are Chorley v Guiseley and Boreham Wood v Whitehawk. The prize here is a place for the winners in the 5th tier, the Conference Premier. They join league winners in the north, Barrow AFC, for whom ex-Repton School and ISFA player Jonny Gorman appears on their squad list, and Bromley FC in the south.

Sunday, 3 May 2015


With Bournemouth in the Premier League, playing in a stadium of only 12,000 capacity, another minnow has a chance of joining the south coast side and Watford in the top league next season. Brentford now play at Griffin Park another small venue, with a capacity of 12,300, hardly enough seats to pay the club's way. The ground is unique with originally a pub at every corner of the ground. Now there are only three. The Princess Royal pub was once run by the club.

Founded in 1889 the club formed after the local council opened “a place for recreation in the town”. A vote by members at the Oxford and Cambridge Pub in October that year decided to play soccer and not rugby, the first match taking place in November against a Kew XI. In 1904 as members of the Southern League the club moved to Griffin Park.After the war the club joined the Football League Division Three and quickly they found themselves in Division One just before World War 2.

After various successes and failures, the Club was bought by the Supporters' Trust, only to be bought out by Matthew Benham in 2012. The club has announced a move to a new 20,000 Stadium on a 7.6 acre at a regeneration site in Lionel Road, by 2016. Having joined the Championship in 2013-14 manager, Mark Warburton, has seen his team gain considerable success, though his future is not entirely secure. Considering his success, he should be given a knighthood.
Let's see how Brentford fare in the play offs.

Saturday, 2 May 2015


Whilst the drama of the last weekend of matches in the Football League held us glued to Jeff Sterling or Radio 5, in Blackpool the fans carried out their threat to demonstrate against the club's owners, the Oyston family, and investors (or not) who appears to have wrecked a club, that was recently lording it in the Premier League during 2010-11, only.
Around 2000 fans invaded the pitch to make their point, abandoning the final league game against Huddersfield, when the score was 0-0. This proved to be an unfortunate end to the Seasiders season, which has already seen them easily relegated out of the Championship. Blackpool have not won any of their last 17 matches.
Reaching the PL was a major achievement for Blackpool, under Ian Holloway, a period when the Lancashire club was seriously “punching above its weight”. It has been downhill since then.
With their beloved club lounging at the base of the Championship, The Tangerine Knights and BFC Supporters' Trust have made their feelings felt in a variety of ways and the demonstration this Saturday has been the last of them. The Oyston regime still stands firm.
Recently, a statue of 1953 Cup Final hero, Stanley Mortenson, who scored a hat trick in his club's 4-3, was removed from outside the club, at the weekend which saw the 62nd anniversary of the one and only FA Cup win by Blackpool FC. The club denied any knowledge of this action but later stated that they removed the statue “for safety reasons”.
Many supporters, some who had been alive in 1953 and had given money towards the statue, were very upset by this action.
During the first half of today's game, fans entered the pitch, including one on a mobility scooter and a conga line started. Flares were thrown, so the ref called the players off the pitch.

Karl Oyston said earlier in the year when disgruntled fans made their statements, “judge me at the end of the season”. Today was judgement day and the fans found him guilty.  

Friday, 1 May 2015


After last week's penultimate set of matches, this weekend provides crucial games for those hoping for an “up” or wanting to survive a “down” in their League. This is the last chance.

In the Championship, Watford and Bournemouth are ensured promotion but who will be Champions?

Middlesbrough v Brighton, Norwich v Fulham, Ipswich away at Blackburn and Derby v Reading provide the last rites in this year's chase to the Premier League play offs BUT do not count out Wolves or Brentford who could catch up if results go the right way tomorrow.

The Play Off Final is on 25th May at 15.00.
Millwall, Wigan and poor Blackpool fall out the bottom and go to League One.

In League One, Bristol City are Champions and Preston looked sure for promotion along with MK Dons thereabouts, but Swindon, Sheffield United and Chesterfield still have a shout. Promotion is not secured yet.

The Play Off Final is on the 24th May at 17.30.
Leyton Orient, Colchester and Crawley, Notts County, Crewe and Coventry are all on the fringe of relegation with Yeovil already destined for League Two.
All League One games kick off at 12.15.

League Two matches this weekend are at 15.30 with Burton up almost certainly though Shrewsbury could pip them given a strong wind of change on Saturday.
Southend, Bury, Wycombe, Stevenage and Plymouth are all in with a chance of the play offs.

The Play Off Final is on the 23rd May at 15.00.
Cheltenham and Tranmere have a new world to face next season in the Conference, having been confirmed as relegated.

Replacing them from the Vanarama Conference will be possibly, Bristol Rovers already 1-0 up against Forest Green Rovers and Grimsby leading Eastleigh 2-1.
These semi-finals are played on Saturday (tomorrow) at 12.45 and 15.30 respectively.
The Final is on 17th May at 14.00