Tuesday 31 August 2010

Man gets stuck in flume. Warning - includes football.

Weston Super Mare AFC v Basingstoke Town
Monday 30 August 2010
Conference South
Woodspring Stadium, Weston Super Mare
Attendance: 270

A very professionally hand made sign. "Shall I colour in the letters? Nah, actually I can't be arsed - I'll just finish this B and then tape it to the board".

Sometimes football can ruin a day. For me this was one of those days. If you were a Basingstoke Town fan though it probably ruined your whole weekend. Many of the Basingstoke fans at the game were families who looked like they'd spent the weekend in the god awful town of Weston Super Mare after the male of the household conveniently booked a holiday there shortly after the fixtures were released. Somewhere in Basingstoke a refuge for battered husbands had a sudden influx on slightly sun burnt men in football shirts last night I imagine, while Argos did a roaring trade of frying pans to wives who were suddenly looking to replace their now mysteriously dented pan.

The match was so bad. Basingstoke slightly worse than Weston Super Mare. I hate Weston, I don't know why I went to be honest. However there were the usual bunch of oddballs and picture opportunities that make it all worthwhile. Also, while doing a bit of research for this here blog (no really, I did some research) I stumbled across the article 'Man Gets Stuck in Flume' in the Basingstoke Gazette which induced some chuckles which made up for the misery of Woodspring Park yesterday. I'd happily take 2 hours stuck in a flume than have to watch the video of that match, although the ground did provide some solace through the provision of good old alcohol - something that probably wouldn't be forthcoming in a water flume.

Anyway - enough of this. Pictures.

Sweet sweet entrance to the Bar, giver of alcohol. Should have probably just stayed here.

Still, Beryl and Betty had a nice chat as the match went on and at least the dog got out for some fresh air.

I've had to spend a soddin weekend in Weston, the football's shit and you made me bring this shittin' drum. We're getting divorced.

The ultimate non league accessory - binoculars. You're stood right next to the pitch man, just how bad is your eye sight?!!

Just in time for the new term, Weston Super Mare AFC pencil cases. For the kid who wants to get bullied.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Fancy becoming Weymouth FC Manager? Eh, no thanks.

Last season for Weymouth FC was a never ending procession of lows and 18 days into this season we've managed to embarrass ourselves again. The latest cause of this being the announcement that we will auction the responsibility of being team manager for our upcoming Dorset Senior Cup campaign.

Nothing surprises me about the actions of the people in charge of the club anymore. I long for a time when we are again a club respected throughout non league football, a club respected in it's own community, a club that local players aspire to play for and most of all a club known for its quiet dignity and professionalism. I see this latest decision as only harming our chances of moving forward and re-building the respect in the football and local communities, that we have sadly lost over the last 5 years.

Putting a person in place who has the idiocy and surplus cash in place to do the role of manager cheapens the element of competition of the Cup. We've made a mockery of the Conference and Conference South in the last two seasons with our annual implosions and kids days and now we've decided to cheapen another competition through our self serving actions. For a club that should want to be seen as a beacon for football in the county this really is a strange way to behave.

The idea will no doubt be cited as being good for the publicity of the club. The club has had more than it's fair share of publicity in the recent years, frequently using the media to garner support for our latest crisis, the 9-0 defeat against Rushden where we played the youth team where the supporters all apparently got hideously rich on the back of betting against their own team, getting publicity from taking donations from fans across the country to keep us going, to getting Steve Claridge to cast aside his zimmer frame last season and play for us - again another drubbing. These instances have been an attempt to generate publicity and good will for the club, all of which has been unsurprisingly squandered and made the club I am (still) proud to support a laughing stock in non league football. This latest publicity stunt will only add to this viewpoint.

Where do we draw the line? Are playing spots up for grabs for a donation to an anonymous paypal account? Why don't we get a washed up celebrity to play for us? Has anyone got Dean Gaffney's number? Can I be Chairman for a day in return for the promise of an article in the Wyke Register?

The idea also denigrates the standing of the players and the manager. The players deserve the respect of a professional manager at all times, we fans can't criticise the players in future for any perceived lack of professionalism when they themselves has been treated in this manner. Our manager, Ian Hutchinson, is a man who deserves the utmost respect for his career with the club and he gets this from every single Weymouth fan. What this act says about the respect he receives from higher up in the club is unclear, as demostrated by this throwaway line in the announcement of the idea:

"Usual first-team Manager Ian Hutchinson will step aside, no doubt keeping an eye out from up in the stand looking to pick up tips in the process!"

It hinders his ability to experiment in the tournament, try new players and lead his team in a competition we have a chance of winning; which can only benefit the team morale and our activities in the league.

Their are numerous other risks involved in carrying through with this. I can see it ending it further embarrassment. What if players refuse to play? What if the manager decides to go mental, plays a striker in goal etc? What if this person can't be arsed to carry on and gets bored after a dismal 0-0 draw away to Parley Sports? I feel I'll be blogging about this competition again this season.

At best the idea is ill advised and ill thought through, makes us appear desperate and goes against the spirit of competitive football. My concern is that there is something more sinister behind the idea and it's the latest in the long line of acts that have been instigated to split the fan base and damage the clubs future - see also the new Malcolm Cu*tis badge, the bullshit club motto, the sacking of Ian Hutchinson first time around etc. I truly hope that this isn't the case and hoped that the acceptance of our CVA at the end of last season would lead to a new period of stability, humility and professionalism at the club, actions so far do not suggest this will be the case.

Sunday 15 August 2010

Do you remember the first time? I can't remember a worse time.

Keynsham Town v Tavistock
Saturday 14 August 2010
FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round
The Crown Fields, Keynsham
Attendance: 85(ish)

Everyone remembers their first football match. The throng of an expectant and vociferous crowd, your nostrils filled with the previously unknown smells of deep heat and Bovril and a whole heap of swear words that you'd never heard uttered before but were going to unleash on the playground masses on Monday. My first game? Boxing day 1987 -Weymouth v Barnet - match postponed. Although sadly we didn't know this until we read a hastily scribbled note on the the locked gates of the Wessex Stadium. Remember, this was a world before twitter, before the interwebs so there was no way of finding out, well maybe the telephone but meh.

Saturday represented the first match in the life of young Florence Gardner, daughter of AiTinpot friend Duncan. In contradiction of my first sentence I'm pretty sure she won't remember this match, what with her being a mere 9 months old and all. Sadly for everyone else who was at the match we all possess the mental capacity to remember it.

We tried our best to make the day special for Florence and what better way to do that than an FA Cup match, the self styled greatest cup competition in the world, and an extra special tinpot FA Cup match at that. No less than the Extra Preliminary round clash between Keynsham Town and Tavistock. No, really.

The proud Father. The bemused child.

To give the day even more of a chance of stimulating the neurons in Florence's burgeoning hippocoptus and allow the memories of the day to make their way into her temporal cortex her Father, a grown adult capable of bredding let us not forget, saw fit to bring along a shoddily made replica of the FA Cup fashioned using only the means of cardboard, tape and tinfoil. A doth of the cap in your direction Duncan sir. If this day isn't ingrained firmly in Florences memory banks as her fondest childhood memory then there's really nothing more you could have done.

Sadly due to the shitness of the match she is more likely to spend time re counting this experience to a psychiatrist looking to uncover reasons for her irrational fears of knock out football, groundhoppers and Bovril.

We probably couldn't have looked more out of place as we took our place in the clubhouse, with us being three men and a baby. It was vaguely reminiscent of a scene from that film from the 80's staring Ted Danson, Tom Selleck and Steve Guttenberg about three men and a baby, whose name I don't recall at present.

The undoubted highlight of the day for me was finding the Keynsham Town trophy cabinet, as shown below.

The Keynsham Town (non) trophy cabinet.

As you can see, through the gift of sight, the cabinet is empty. Quite why you would build a cabinet for trophies you haven't won is beyond me. I do not possess a cabinet to hold the bronze medal for the time I didn't come third the womens javelin at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada. An event where I briefly didn't set a new world and commonwealth record by the way. I'm sure there is a reason for an empty trophy cabinet, just in case anyone from Keynsham is reading this, I am fully aware that you won the prestigious Somerset Senior Cup in 1952 and again in 1958.

The magic of the FA Cup.

The match? Oh yeah, Tavistock won 2 - 0. Keynsham were bobbins. If you want to know more about it ask Florence, she can remember more about it than I care to recall.

Token match shot.

Friday 13 August 2010

Bristol Manor Farm - A World Exclusive.

Bristol Manor Farm v Shrivenham Town
Tuesday 3 August 2010
Pre Season Friendly
The Creek, Sea Mills, Bristol
Attendance: 15(ish)

Ah, the smell of tinpot football on the summer air, delightful. My first game back after the summer break and not a moment too soon, especially after the shitfest that was the World Cup. Come on, we all know it was boring, I took a week off work to watch some of that - that's 5 days annual leave I'll never get back!

The first pre-season game was always an exciting game when I was younger and Weymouth were good (well not as dire as we are now), the chance to spot what had changed in the ground over the summer months, the chance to get re-aquanted with the familiar long suffering faces of the terraces and the chance to check that the old moaners had made it through the hot summer alive and were stood in their places on the terraces. This summer for the first time ever I was in Weymouth while a match was on and didn't go. I couldn't face it. So Bristol Manor Farm v Shrivenham was to be my first pre-season outing and sadly enough I approached the meaningless game with more than a modicum of excitement.

Tickets are going fast, get yours now.

The TV in the club house was showing some lucrative Spurs friendly in some exotic foreign lands, things couldn't have been more different to the surroundings here. The ad break began with an advert involving indie knuckleheads Kasabian jibbering on about what it's like to be a real fan for something called 'Talk of the Terraces' on ESPN. While 'real' football fans like Kasabian apparently talk like a walking version of Nuts magazine the talk in the BMF clubhouse covered such topics as the big upcoming race night, the quality of the music in the clubhouse "ain't you got any Coldplay", to the benefits of midweek football matches "i like Tuesday night matches, I can leave the wife at home watching Holby City" and the upcoming meat raffle being a rollover. Quite was this entailed and whether health and safety were aware of the potential hazardous of meat being rolled over I'm not certain.

Tickets are going fast, get yours now.

The match itself was great. I bloody love tinpot football. Shrivenham raced into a 3 goal lead in the first half, playing some quality football in the process. Manor Farm looked clueless. The second half saw Manor Farm get a couple of goals back, presumably after a half time rollocking from the Manor Farm manager, John Black. John, (we're on first name terms now) is fast becoming an idol of mine, due to his no nonsense, sweary (When making a sub - "you can't do any worse than the cunts already out there") and sometimes bizarre approach to management. I managed to conduct a pitch side interview with the man himself, well less an interview more of a brief chat between two grown men who we're a little confused as to why they here on an early August evening. In an AiT World Exclusive I am able to review that the goalkeeper for BMF from last season, who's name I don't remember and google can't help with, has joined Clevedon Town and is "a lunatic". There, exclusive news, a groundbreaking AiT first, expect this level of journalistic quality to continue throughout the season.

Or not.