Monday, 28 June 2010
A brand new season, and an extremely strange one for me and the amount of changes not only for me but also in the football. Its extremely hard to set stadium targets this season when I don’t know what part of the country I’ll be in or how much money I have to spend on football (currently £0). I’ve decided to just focus on all the changes to preview 2010/11 and have a look at hopeful grounds I’ll be visiting in the Southwest.
1) I’m not longer a student
The major change for this season, it means I’m no longer in Lancaster (although having a girlfriend up there still helps ;) ) and no longer have a student loan to help me out either. Therefore football will have to take a back seat until a source of income is coming in. Also means my geography is limited to Devon/Cornwall and possible cheeky trips to Somerset until this situation is rectified. There are still closeby (ish) grounds that I’m still yet to visit, so all is not lost and I’ll get onto these later.
Even if I do manage to get to a sneaky Northern Premier League ground, it will no longer be a “Unibond Ground” as the sponsorship deal with the league ended after 16 years with the 09/10 season. The league will now be named the “Evo-Stik League” for at least 3 seasons, not as catchy, but I’m sure it will stick. (I’m so sorry)
With the recession, there were always going to be casualties as football teams spent far more than they had. When old teams “die” or go down the tube, new teams rise from the ashes and obviously need a place to go. A few new teams have ended up in leagues that I frequent often – some of these teams have been quite lucky with their new divisions, while others have already been hindered by the nonsense league they have ended up in. But at least they have a team. Here’s a few of the new teams I might be seeing this season:
-> Merthyr Town
The new team from Merthyr Tydfil have ended up in the Western League, a league for Southwest based teams. With Merthyr Tydfil being that well known Southwest outpost in Wales, this might seem a strange one. However Merthyr have a history of playing in English football so the new MT team deserve to be somewhere. I bet though teams like Bridport (108 miles away) and Elmore (98.5 miles away) will be delighted with the long drive to S.Wales. Not.
(Merthyr - A town in Wales)
One way of making friends if your ex team has just gone bust is to get in a new league, keep your head down and try to work your way back up. Chester FC then clearly haven’t read those rules as after going bust and creating a new side, or a reformed one – the debate goes on. Chester were placed in the Northwest Counties League, at least 3 or 4 divisions lower than they would be. Obviously not happy with this, they appealed and won, now becoming the 23rd team in the Northern Premier (Evo-Stik) League Division 1 North. Some teams are furious with this decision and Chester have kept opposition clubs happy by charging £10 entry to watch Level 8.
-> Farsley AFC
Dissolved only 1 league below Chester City, Farsley have ended up in the Northern Counties East League Premier without a fuss and have managed to get where the old ‘Celtic’ team play at Throstle Nest thanks to Leeds City Council buying it for football use. Their season in the Conference in 07/08 really harmed Farsley’s old club and I hope they can rise up again, certainly more than Chester anyway.
4) New Sports! (Well, more sports)
After playing half of season (well 3 games) for my Rugby League team at University. With a 33% win ratio, I’ll have you know! :p It means I’m quite keen to see a few RL games this season along with football. Not only RL but I’ll try and get in a few cheeky other sports in, although if I’m stuck down in the Southwest there isn’t really a lot. And I refuse to watch Rugby Union, its gash. I’m taking this new sports thing seriously for the blog that the first game for the new season (although it will count as Summer 2010 in RL terms) will be hopefully at one of the teams I picked out of a hat to support for RL.
I know I’ve said this for ages, but I really will try. I might even create a logo, although I have the artistic skills of Stevie Wonder with Parkinson's so don’t expect much.
6) More random waffle
You might notice some of the rarely used links down the left hand side. Unless you read this on facebook then you should click ‘view original post’ and have a look at my blog. Go on, its ok. I hadn’t forgotten about these links, well actually I had – but I will try and fill them up this season out, especially if I can’t afford to go games. (Which currently looks likely) With some of this waffle, you might even get some opinions. ;)
(A random waffle)
I’ve got a few targets in the Southwest, football and RL.
- Torquay United (Plainmoor)
- Elmore (Horsdon Park)
- Witheridge (Edge Down Park)
- Crediton Utd (Lords Meadow)
- Brighton & Hove Albion (Withdean Stadium)
- Gateshead Thunder (Gateshead International Stadium)
- North Devon Raiders (Pottington Road)
So yeah, enough targets, hopefully more. I’m sure I’ll get to other obscure places or wherever Mother Nature wants me to go when the postponement machine kicks in. I also have the Southwest Challenge Cup for this year which has given some tasty fixtures out. Bring it on!
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Another annual look at all the teams I saw during this season. Some had great seasons, some did not. Here’s the team review:
AFC Fylde –> Project 2022 when Fylde want to be a Football League club seems a long way away. A first season in the Northern Premier Div 1 North saw them finish disappointingly in 13th. An improvement will be wanted and expected next season so a possible play-off push could be on the cards.
AFC Wimbledon –> A first season in the Blue Square Premier saw the Dons on the cusp of the play-offs for most of the season until they finished in a promising 8th. Another team that look good for a play-off push next season.
Aldershot Town –> After finishing 6th in League 2, they tamely lost in the Play-Off Semi-Finals to Rotherham Utd 0-3 on aggregate. Pundits had tipped Aldershot for a relegation battle this season so the Shots coming in the Top 7 is excellent.
Bamber Bridge –> Another nothing season at the QED Stadium as Brig could only manage 14th in the Northern Premier Div 1 North. Really nothing more to add.
Barnstaple Town –> For the 2nd season running, it was a relegation Battle for Barnstaple Town in the Western Premier, but they recovered to finish 15th and 10 points clear of relegation.
Barrow AFC –> Fluttered with relegation all season but a large serge saw Barrow pull away from the drop in the Blue Square Premier and they finished 15th. They topped a great season off by winning the FA Trophy at Wembley with a 2-1 extra time win over Stevenage Borough.
Belper Town –> They crashed out of the FA Trophy to Clitheroe in a replay and finished just outside the playoffs in the Northern Premier Div 1 South in 6th place, two points off 5th and the final play-off place.
Bideford AFC –> Possibly their most successful season ever? Not only did they win the Western Premier, but having applied for promotion to see what ground improvements would be needed, they were actually accepted for promotion so will be playing 2010/11 in the Southern League Div 1 S&W. Not only that, but they also won the Devon FA St Lukes Bowl, beating Exeter City 2-1.
Blackburn Rovers Youth –> The FA Youth Cup Semi-Final appearance masked a disappointing season for the Ewood Park Academy side, finishing only 7th (out of 10) in the FA Academy Group C. Phil Cannon will hope for a better League campaign next time round at Brockhall.
Blackpool Wren Rovers –> The Wrens had already won the West Lancashire League when I saw them at the end of this season, and with no desires currently to make the step up to the Northwest Counties League, BWR will be looking to retain their title at this level again next season.
Charnock Richard –> A good unbeaten end to their season saw Charnock take 4th place in the West Lancashire Premier and this even included their points deduction earlier in the season. With the team wanting to make the steps up all the way to Northern Premier and the ground being developed to make the requirements for the leagues above, Charnock are a team to watch in the near future.
Chelsea Youth –> Clinched their 3rd Youth Cup title and their first since 1961 after beating Aston Villa 3-2 on aggregate in the final. They also had a fairly decent season in the FA Academy Leagues coming 3rd in Group A, behind Arsenal’s and Crystal Palace’s Academy squads.
Chippenham Town –> Another season of oh so close for the Bluebirds. Managed to finish a great 3rd place in the Southern Premier to reach the play-offs before 2nd place Nuneaton Town beat them 2-1 A.E.T in front of 3000+ to reach the Conference South at the expense of Chippenham. With Nuneaton and moneybags Farnborough now promoted however, Chippenham have a great chance next season.
Clitheroe –> Fairly non existent season for the lads at Shawbridge. No real FA Trophy or FA Cup run and finished 8th in the Northern Premier Div 1 North. They did reach the Lancs FA Trophy final but were hammered 5-0 by Southport.
Cullercoats –> The definition of a “mid-table” team this season for Cullercoats. Came 8th (out of 16) in the Northern Alliance 1st Division. Well away from relegation but nowhere near the promotion places.
Dagenham and Redbridge –> “The pub team from Essex” managed to overcome Rotherham Utd in the play-off final with a 3-2 win and will be playing next season in League 1. An outstanding achievement for such a small side. Their stay in League 1 may be the briefest of stays but with some decent players in their ranks and a canny coach in John Still, they may have a chance.
Dartmouth –> Saw the Darts twice this season, both away, both lost. They came an average 15th in the Southwest Peninsula Premier (out of 19 as Clyst Rovers withdrew mid season).
Devizes Town –> A club on a real downturn currently who may need some time in a lower division to regroup and come back strongly. After relegation from the Western Prem in 08/09, they ended up on one major slide and finished 19th (2nd bottom) in the Western 1st Division. Another season of struggle looms for the Wiltshire side for 2010/11.
Edinburgh University –> No idea how their BUCS team did this season, but the Uni team in the East of Scotland Premier came 8th out of 11. They also have another “uni derby” next season in the EOS League with Stirling University’s promotion up from Division 1.
Gretna 2008 –> After their opening game of the season and their crushing 5-0 win which I witnessed, Gretna looked great to coast to promotion in EOS 1st Division. However, only 7 wins all season in the league, saw them finish a disappointing 4th. 16 points off 2nd place and a promotion place.
Grimsby Town –> I can’t actually hide my delight at Grimsby’s terrible season in which their 99 year stay in the Football League came to a crashing end. After pathetically pulling out of the Southwest Challenge Cup final in July, Grimsby just struggled and Mike Newell was sacked and Neil Woods couldn’t stop the inevitable which should have happened last season. 23rd and relegated, hopefully they won’t come back.
Hamilton Academicals –> I believe that Falkirk’s relegation will mean lower crowds for the SPL rather than if the Accies went down but sadly the Accies were easily ahead of relegation this time out, coming 7th. They also gained more points than 6th place Hearts, but they had a far easier last 5 games than we did. Hopefully, the 3 men and his dog side struggle this time out.
Hearts –> 6th place this season would seem disappointing considering our 3rd place finish in 08/09, however we were nearly pulled into a relegation battle after being desperately woeful during November/December and big JJ pulled us clear after Csaba’s mess. A League Cup semi-final also in there shows this team have potential and with our most wage heavy, work shy players players off the books now, a decent season lies ahead for 10/11. Hopefully.
Holsworthy –> Hard to think of a team who had a worse season than Holsworthy. After their win against Dartmouth (in September), they picked up about 5 more points all season and finished bottom and were promptly relegated. The manager has gone now and the new man to step in, Graham Bedford must also start to prepare Holsworthy for Division 1 West, despite being in Devon as the leagues have been split like that. Never rains but it pores eh?
Ilfracombe Town –> After the relegation battle of 08/09, Ilfracombe’s finish of 3rd place in the Western Premier with 73 points this time out shows a decent team that is improving. More of the same hopefully for them in 2010/11.
Lancaster City –> In the end for Lancs, it was a season of disappointment as the team that led the Northern Premier League Div 1 North for most of the season let Halifax catch them up and in a winner takes all game at The Shay, Halifax shaded the match 4-0 to leapfrog Lancaster to go up automatically. Play-offs then for Lancaster who again got to a winner takes all game in the Play-off final against Colwyn Bay at home, but lost to a 90th minute penalty in a monsoon. Heartbreak for Lancs but they should give it another good go next season.
Launceston –> A fairly non-event for Launceston as they came 11th in the Southwest Peninsula Premier. Thats about it.
Liskeard Athletic –> Slightly too close for comfort as Liskeard finished in a fairly low 16th in the Southwest Peninsula Premier, only 3 places off relegation, they were lucky that Holsworthy were so poor this season.
Lothian Thistle –> Had times when they were challenging at the top of the East of Scotland League, but in the end they managed 3rd place in the EOS Premier.
Marlow United –> Strange one for Marlow’s 2nd team (no idea why Marlow have 2 teams anyway) as they came 17th (out of 22) in the Hellenic Premier, however after disagreements with landlords Marlow FC, they have a problem for 2010/11 – no ground. They resigned from the Hellenic League to drop two levels into the Reading League where they hope to regroup and recover soon enough to be back in the Hellenic.
Melksham Town –> Desperation for Melksham as they were surprisingly relegated from the Western Premier coming 2nd bottom (19th). Their “goals for” tally reads just 41 goals in 38 games which is terrible and the clear reason why they have gone down.
Minehead –> Its even worse for Minehead as they finished bottom of the Western 1st Division again, however they were relegated this time round and will now be playing next season in the Somerset County League. It may not be all bad news for them however, they now have their derby vs local rivals Watchet again which should attract a big crowd. Something they were lacking being in the Western League.
Morecambe –> So losing 0-6 in the first leg of their play-off tie was just too much for the Shrimps but they can still be proud of the fact that they enjoyed their best ever season finishing 4th in League 1. Should Morecambe actually find some form in the opening months of the season (something they have failed to manage in each of their 3 seasons in the Football League) then an automatic promotion campaign could be on at the first season in the Globe Arena.
Nelson –> One of the worst teams I saw last season when St Helens cruised to a 4-0 win against them. Unsurprisingly they finished in a lowly 17th (out of 22) in the Northwest Counties Premier.
Northampton Town –> Disappointing for the team relegated from League 1 last season. They had hopes of promotion but a change of manager midway through the season meant the play-offs was the best they could have hoped for. In the end for Ian Sampson’s men, 11th was all they got.
Ormiston –> Somehow managed to get 7 wins in the East of Scotland 1st Division?! Finished 9th (out of 12) with 21 points.
Ossett Albion –> Dreadful seasons for the teams from Ossett. Ossett Town in the league above actually finished in a relegation place but were reprieved due to the high amount of teams going bust/folding throughout the season. Albion fared not much better in the Northern Premier Division 1 North, finishing 21st out of 22nd, missing relegation and doomed Rossendale United by just 3 points.
Percy Main Amateurs –> Percy Main kept their heads in their promotion challenge from the Northern Alliance 1st Division as after their 2-0 win over Cullercoats I saw, they won 5 out of 7 to secure promotion to the Premier with a 3-1 win at Berwick United. They also won the Combination Cup Final with a 1-0 win over Hebburn to complete a great season for the villagers.
Preston Athletic –> Quite a poor league season for PA as they slumped to 9th out of 11 in the East of Scotland Premier. Things were better in the Cups as they did reach the Semi-Final of the King Cup before losing 1-0 to Stirling University.
Preston North End –> Although they seem to be lurching from one financial crisis to another, PNE had a season of stability after early season form crashed faster than the sub-prime market. In the end, a TV boosting cup run ended with a visit from the eventual winners Chelsea, they also finished 17th and a few points away from relegation under the guidance of Darren Ferguson. Their financial troubles may catch up with them though so 2010/11 is an interesting one for them.
Ramsbottom United –> Oh so near and yet so far for Ramsbottom in the LFA Trophy when their last minute penalty against Lancaster flew well out the ground. In the Northwest Counties Premier, Rammy couldn’t keep up with Newcastle Town (although nobody did) as they romped away to promotion, Rammy finished a creditable 4th.
Reading –> Want a story of when changing a manager leads to great success? Look no further than Reading’s 09/10 season. After Brendan Rodgers (or Bodgers as Reading fans refer to him as) had led one of the Championship’s favourites for promotion into a relegation battle he was replaced by Brian McDermott who was given the simple task of avoiding relegation. In the end, they finished outstandingly in 9th, had a cheeky outside chance of the play-offs in the latter part of the season and even had an FA Cup run which saw them knock out Liverpool, at Anfield before losing to Aston Villa in the Quarter-Finals.
Rochdale –> After seeing Dale clinch promotion to League 1 in late April, they then proceeded to not bother with their final few games of the season, losing all of them. Not the best form to be going into a higher league with and also losing your main striker and promising defender is also not a great start for 2010/11. Their stay in L1 already looks like it will be an extremely brief one.
RRFC Montegnée –> Forgive me if this update is wrong, my French isn’t great! According to their website (I think), they came 3rd in Provincile 1 Liége where they were 10 points of 2nd. However, due to the strange way the Belgian system works, this qualified them for a play-off place where they won promotion to D3 (which I think is Level 3 too) after a 5-0 win over Herk-de-Stad.
Saltash United –> Disappointing end of season form saw Saltash finish only 9th in the Southwest Peninsula Premier. Will expect better next season.
Southampton –> Any fears the Saints had of relegation were quickly erased early on as Southampton smashed the 10 points deduction they had started with and actually finished 7th in League 1, just missing out on the play-offs. With two deadly strikers in Lee Barnard and Rickie Lambert, Southampton should cruise this division next season.
Southport –> Good season for the Sandgrounders who managed to keep their nerve in the Blue Square North against Fleetwood Town, especially when Farsley Celtic went bust and the promotion picture changed completely. Whether or not they perform like they normally do in the Blue Square Premier (straight back down) remains to be seen. Also won the LFA Trophy with a 5-0 win over Clitheroe.
St Helens Town –> The footballing team in the rugby league town seems to be being ignored, which is a shame, as St Helens does have the fan base to push a decent team up. They finished 9th in the Northwest Counties Premier and with Knowsley Road being demolished for the new St Helens Stadium at Peasley Cross, St Helens Town will be playing at another ground come mid October, so it will be interesting to see where they end up.
St Johnstone –> Had a great first season back in the SPL as they pushed Hearts all the way for that final spot in the Top 6. (They deserved it more than us to be honest) Although a disappointing end of season run saw Hamilton Accies undeservedly pip them to 7th. 8th is a decent finish for the newly promoted team though.
St Mirren –> Finally seasons of “underachievement” has seen Gus McPherson sacked as the Buddies flirted with relegation all season before coming 10th in the SPL. They also managed to lose the League Cup final to Rangers which may not seem too bad, however Rangers had two players sent off and still won. In 90 minutes.
Tavistock –> A team on the up it seems as Tavistock finished in a credible 5th place in the Southwest Peninsula Premier. A better run in the FA Cup + Vase would be wanted in 2010/11.
The Spartans –> Quite an outstanding season for The Spartans. Not only did they win the East of Scotland Premier, they managed to bag a treble of trophies winning the King Cup (vs Stirling Uni) and League Cup (vs Lothian Thistle) and South of Scotland Cup (vs Gretna). Also a strange merger may be in the offering with Cowdenbeath looking at possibly moving to Ainslie Park which would finally see The Spartans in the SFL.
Tiverton Town –> Dreadful. Utterly dreadful for Tivvy as they finished in a relegation zone in the Southern Premier Division, however they were another club that were helped by various withdrawals, such as Merthyr Tydfil, and were reprieved to fight another day.
Tottenham Hotspur –> Finally achieved the area of the promised land of the Champions League. With Liverpool in meltdown, it was Spurs vs Citeh to see who finished 4th in the Premier League. With a win at the City of Manchester Stadium over Man City, Spurs finished 4th and will be in the CL Play-off Round next season.
Wigan Athletic –> Their season was summed up by an 8-0 defeat to Chelsea on the final day of the season as Wigan slumped to 16th in the Premiership this season. Must be one of the clear favourites for relegation this upcoming season.
Willand Rovers –> Although it was a season of near misses for Willand, hopefully they will be proud as finishing 2nd in the Western Premier behind runaway team Bideford is still a decent achievement and they were only 4 points behind the North Devon club in the end. They also managed to get to Round 5 in the FA Vase, before losing to Barwell.
Woodley Sports –> Not helped by Stockport County’s financial meltdown, they only finished 19th (out of 22) in the Northern Premier League Division 1 North.
Yeovil Town –> Proved me quite wrong after I tipped them for relegation at the beginning of the season, they eventually came midtable-ish in League 1, finishing 15th.
Finally, I’ve found some pictures online (none taken by me) of games that I was at, as a final wee slideshow of 2009/2010. A new season preview is coming soon.
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Hope you’re enjoying the World Cup (unless you’re an England fan ;) ). I did try to make 09/10 my biggest ever season by setting a target of trying to beat my record of 14 games. In the end, I smashed that by getting to 34 games, most of which were quite enjoyable. The season started in a torrential rain storm on the North Devon coast and ended with a farewell to Christie Park as Morecambe prepare to move to their new ground – The Globe Arena. It will be hard to set any targets for 2010/11 given the fact that I’m entering the real world so who knows how much I’ll have to
waste spend on football or whereabouts in the country I will be.
Games Attended: 34
Goals: 106 (3.12 per game)
Most Goals: 7 (Lancaster City vs Southport, Tavistock vs Launceston)
Least Goals: 0 (Plymouth Argyle vs Hearts, Tiverton Town vs Chippenham Town)
New Grounds: 28 (Marshford – Appledore, Vicarage Field – Torrington, Home Park – Plymouth Argyle, Raydale Park – Gretna 2008, Mill Road – Barnstaple Town, The Conigre – Melksham Town, Upcott Field – Holsworthy, Deepdale – Preston NE, Shawbridge – Clitheroe, Knowsley Road – St Helens Town, QED Stadium – Bamber Bridge, Holker Street – Barrow AFC, Minehead Recreation Ground – Minehead, Kimberley Stadium – Saltash United, Marlborough Park – Ilfracombe Town, Kellamergh Park – AFC Fylde, Ainslie Park – The Spartans, McDiarmid Park – St Johnstone, Pennypit Park – Preston Athletic, DW Stadium – Wigan Athletic, County Ground (Leyland) – Lancashire FA, Ewood Park – Blackburn Rovers, Pennygillam – Launceston, Silver Street – Willand Rovers, Langsford Park – Tavistock, Spotland – Rochdale, Purvis Park – Percy Main Amateurs, Mossie Park – Charnock Richard)
Best and Worst
Best Game: Lancaster City 2-5 Southport – Great entertainment as Lancaster gave Southport a massive scare despite the Sandgrounders being 3-0 up at half-time. Lancaster maybe could have equalized before Southport confirmed victory late on. Credible mention also to Barrow vs Wimbledon.
Worst Game: Minehead 0-1 Devizes Town – The Western League’s worse two went head to head on a cold cold December afternoon as both sides decided to miss every chance presented to them. A scrappy goal decided this.
Best Team: Gretna (2008) – Quite easily brushed Ormiston aside when I saw them and looked very impressive when I saw them. Especially upfront. Although still didn’t get promoted from EOS 1st Division though.
Worst Team: Awards for Ormiston, Nelson and Minehead.
Best Player: Gretna 2008’s Tony Nicholson looked far too good for the EOS 1st Division.
Best Ground (Professional): Preston NE’s Deepdale is a great ground.
Best Ground (Non-League): I loved Melksham Town’s The Conigre with its corrugated iron and good views of the pitch.
Worst Ground: Motherwell’s and Hamilton’s grounds are truly dire and looking forward to having a season free from them in 2010/11.
Biggest Dump: Motherwell. Although Gretna as a town is a surprising dump too.
Best Programme: The Spartans excellent effort for £1 was the best this season. Some very close competition though from Percy Main, Morecambe and Preston Athletic
Worst Programme: The Lancashire FA Trophy Semi-Final programme was a bit of a piss take for £1. Also credible mentions to Tavistock’s and Holsworthy’s book of adverts.
Best Bar: Can’t comment on the quality of liquor at the grounds I’ve went to as I normally drive to games, but the interior of Bamber Bridge’s bar was great.
Best Food: Its normally a winner when you serve Scotch Pies and Irn Bru at a game, but Gretna’s Scotch Pies were so good that their’s are an easy winner.
Funniest Moment: Lancaster City vs Ramsbottom Utd – When Ramsbottom were given a last minute penalty in their LFA Trophy tie, it looked to be a winner. Until centre-back Bernard Morley swaggered up and launched his penalty high and out of the ground. Ramsbottom went onto lose 4-1 in extra time.
Best Punch Up: Blackburn Youth vs Chelsea Youth – A 22 man brawl that resulted in two red cards, one for each side, was surely the definition of a punch up.
Hardest Place to Find: Melksham Town was a pain in the arse to find, not helped by roadworks through the main road in the town.
Friendliest Club: Percy Main Amateurs. A delightful lot.
Most Miserable Club: Holsworthy and the worst tea lady in the World.
Best Supporters: Lancaster City
Worst Supporters: The “angry” woman at Holsworthy. An embarrassment to herself.
Best Song: Not many to choose from this season but AFC Wimbledon’s, “Barrow, Barrow, Barrow! Its an awfully long place to go!” wins it.
Coldest Ground: Minehead. By a mile.
Best Goal: Struggled to pick one as I didn’t see that many ‘great’ goals this season but I’ll go with Billy Mehmet’s winner in the Scottish League Cup Semi against us. A dire pitch but a great shot up and over Marian Kello in goal.
Most Attractive Female Employees: While the two females at The Spartans were probably slightly too young for me, the hot blond at Saltash Utd certainly wasn’t, so she’s a winner.
Special Merit Award: Jim Jefferies. You can tell he’s a Hearts man. Good luck to 2010/11 JJ.
For Hearts this season, it was nearly an absolute disaster as all the hard work done during 08/09 rapidly disappeared and by November, we were clearly staring at a relegation battle. End on January saw Csaba dismissed (probably deservedly) and Hearts through and through Jim Jefferies take over and although started off slowly (I sadly witnessed the first two dire games in charge) he led Hearts to a fairly respectable 6th. We were even within a small shout of Europe going into the 2nd last game which shows how far we’d come from the desperate times in November. As always recently with Hearts there has already been comings and goings and every fan has been delighted with the release of quadruplet Christian Nade, Larry Kingston, Michael Stewart and Jose Goncalves. Already in are Darren Barr and Kevin Kyle so it looks to be *says quietly* the makings of a fairly decent team for next season. I didn’t make it to Tynie this year, although managed to see Hearts 5 times away from home this season (4 defeats :| ), it looks unlikely I’ll be there for this season, but we’ll see.
Some great, great clubs I’ve visited this season and saw some great football, some dire football and some really really dire football. Also got to some gems such as Percy Main and Melksham Town and hopefully will get to a few more next season. The upcoming blogs will feature a review of every team I saw this season and then a preview of 2010/11.
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
With the 19th World Cup due to start on Friday as South Africa vs Mexico will kick us off, I’ve decided to publish my infamously bad predictions which I make for every tournament. I’ve gone with each group, 2nd Round, etc whilst also picking out who will be the star players, top scorer and surprise package. So take a read, go to the bookies and bet the opposite for some easy money.
--> The opening group should see a surprise as a woefully poor France side will see another 2002 on their hands as they crash out in Round 1. Squeezing through qualifying by a hand and with a car crash of a coach in Raymond Domenech it looks tough for them. Where will the goals come from too? That leaves 3 teams for two spots and I think Mexico will top the group with their young, counter attacking side while the hosts will squeeze in for 2nd. No host country has ever failed to leave the group, do not underestimate the power of their 12th man.
Winners: Mexico, 2nd Place: S.Africa
--> Surely a team containing Messi, Di Maria, Tevez and Higuain cannot be ruined by a mental coach? Argentina may not be in the best form leading into this tournament but a team with that much attacking talent, and a decent defence too surely will make it out this fairly easy group. For 2nd place, I will have to be bias and select my sweepstake team in Nigeria, although dark horses South Korea will pose the biggest threat to that. We must look at past from though, and S.Korea have only ever made it out the group stage once. On home turf. Greece will just be happy to be there.
Winners: Argentina, 2nd Place: Nigeria
--> As much as I’d love to say England would be going out at this stage, I can’t. Its just a question on whether they finish on 7 or 9 points for the group. USA will probably be the only team that could stop them getting an 100% record, and even if they succumb to a shock defeat to the US in their 1st game, England should have enough to see off Algeria and Slovenia. The US have enough star quality in their team to take 2nd place while Algeria should overcome Slovenia. The little nation from Europe are actually the smallest ever country to qualify for 2 non-consecutive finals.
Winners: England, 2nd Place: USA
--> Very tough group to call, but I’ve gone with Ghana to win it. Even though Michael Essien is out for Ghana, playing in their home continent with a decent squad should see them top. Germany will find it tough, but I believe they should come through in 2nd, but this group will be very very close.
Winners: Ghana, 2nd Place: Germany
--> From one close group to one that really isn’t, Holland should see anything less than 100% in this group a failure. The other 3 “average joes” will be fighting for that 2nd spot with Japan my pick to qualify. Although their recent poor form leading up to the tournament isn’t great, they still look better than a woefully out of sorts Cameroon and any team that is relying on Niklas Bendtner for its main source of goals will be in trouble.
Winners: Holland, 2nd Place: Japan
--> The reigning Champions should have enough to go through in this group, but will surely then struggle as Italia’s “Dad’s Army” gets to grips with the heat and humidity. I’ve gone with Paraguay to get 2nd in the group, mainly because they aren’t actually a bad team, but New Zealand and Slovakia have only 1 previous World Cup appearance between and will just enjoy being involved.
Winners: Italy, 2nd Place: Paraguay
--> Poor North Korea, a great qualification campaign saw them finish ahead of Iran and Saudi Arabia, but then get lumbered with 3 of the better teams in World football. If NK get a point, that will be a great achievement for them. That leaves the Big 3, well 2 as Brazil should have the quality to get through this group. I’ve gone with Ivory Coast as they are on African soil and Portugal are deeply out of form and the loss of Nani will only exacerbate matters.
Winners: Brazil, 2nd Place: Ivory Coast
--> 10 wins out of 10 in qualifying, regarded as the best team in the World currently and an extremely easy group. Spain should coast through this without breaking sweat. Chile should get 2nd place in the group, although sturdy and boring Switzerland will give them a run for their money.
Winners: Spain, 2nd Place: Chile
- Mexico vs Nigeria
- England vs Germany
- Ghana vs USA
- Argentina vs South Africa
- Holland vs Paraguay
- Brazil vs Chile
- Italy vs Japan
- Spain vs Ivory Coast
Wins for teams in italics. No real shocks, although I think Italy’s Dad’s Army will suffer in the heat and Japan can finally make the quarter-finals on their 4th attempt. England vs Germany should also be close but I think (sadly) England might just win it.
- Holland vs Brazil
- Mexico vs England
- Argentina vs Ghana
- Japan vs Spain
These are now big, big games, especially the 1st one. Brazil vs Holland should be game of the tournament which I think Brazil should just win it. Mexico might be a surprising choice, but ignore the result of the recent friendly between the two sides. Mexico could have been 2 up before England scored and it was an under strength Mexican side. As for Argentina, Ghana will be backed strongly by the home fans wanting to see an African winner and Ghana’s excellent performance in the ACN earlier this year gives them the confidence to produce a shock I believe. Spain should cruise past Japan.
- Brazil vs Mexico
- Ghana vs Spain
The two favourites should beat these two to reach the final, although Mexico and Ghana reaching this stage would be a tremendous achievement for both sides. For what its worth, I think Mexico would beat Ghana in the 3rd place play-off
- BRAZIL vs Spain
The final everyone wants to see I think will happen, with Brazil winning it for a 6th crown. It really could go either way, but Brazil are so far, the only team to win a World Cup outside of their own continent and I believe that will continue with the Samba Boys winning in South Africa. But what do I know?
Top Scorer – Luis Fabiano (Brazil) –> A player who will have a crack at the N.Korean defence in the group stage will have a head start on most other players in the tournament and with Brazil likely to go far, their main source of goals is in for a great shout.
Surprise Team – Ghana –> A team from Africa surely has to do well. With S.Africa not that good, Cameroon woefully out of form, Ivory Coast shackled by an inept Sven and a crocked Drogba, that leaves Ghana or Nigeria to shine. I think Ghana can go a long way in this tournament, a decent team and an ok passage to at least the Quarters awaits.
Thursday, 3 June 2010
May 22nd was actually my final ever trip to Christie Park as me and a Uni pal went to the “End of an Era” auction to see what crap we could buy from Christie Park as they were auctioning the whole lot of. The picture below shows exactly what I got, which was large weights, turnstile signs, a “Family Area” sign and un-used Torquay United shirt from their 2-0 home win over them in late March. All of this was bought for £11. Bargain. Also, the turf was being cut up and sold the day we were there and I took one last picture of CP. All the best. 2009/10 review coming soon.