Tuesday 20 September 2011

From Despair To Where? Hungerford at Home.

Taunton Town 1 -3 Weymouth
Monday 19 September 2011
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round Replay
Wordsworth Drive, Taunton
Attendance: 270

Saturday's 0-0 draw with Taunton Town in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup has been described as dismal, diabolical, absolute crap, terrible, awful, depressing and nicely summed up as "Low on excitement, low on inspiration, low on fans. Terrible."

The magic of the FA Cup hey.

Even the most dedicated fans are turning their backs on the club. This quote from 'Rob' on the Terras Talk forum offering a brilliant summation of the way most fans approach matches now " I've currently a lethargy towards the club at the moment. The memories of jitters and nerves when trying to hang on to a lead are long gone, as are the feelings of jubilation and joy when we scored. We've barely a player that we can connect with - especially since they don't seem to last that long - and the management team fills me with no enthusiasm whatsoever. It's all so dull."

Depressing times then, not that it's affected me in the slightest though.

In preparation for the replay I spent the day alone in a disused and dank church basement dressed as Joel Kitamirike and watching a three hour looped VHS recording of Andy Harris' header on a flickering black and white TV. Occasionally I stopped to flagellate myself with one of Stuart Douglas' dreadlocks, adorned with sharpened rusty barbed wire, discuss the early EP's of Interpol with the ghost of Jefferson Louis, carve the word CU*TIS into a starving rat before finally subjecting a rudimentary voodoo doll of an unspecified businessman from the Cambridgeshire area (made from half a rake handle, a fire damaged medicine ball, three quarters of a mouldy quiche, several abandoned spiders webs and the evil imagination of a disturbed mind) to a relentless period of water boarding.

I said young man, there's no need to feel down.
There is.

If I was looking for omens (which I was) that could also double up as some weak thread for this blog (which I was) then AC/DC's ‘Highway to Hell’ booming out on arrival to the ground was one I'd be clinging to. The fact it was played again just before kick off had me rubbing my hands with bloggy glee. Consider the depressing scene darkly set.

Taunton Town HQ (really - there's a sign out front that says so) contains a superb boardroom facility. I say facility, I mean shipping container. The partly open door offering a tantalising glimpse into the prawn sandwich world us mortals can only dream of. Well dream no longer tinpot fans as I am able to reveal it contains a massive lampshade, the size of Jorge Diaz, and a 1970s style tattered armchair which means the 'Boardroom' and looks very much like the Duckworth's living room, if they’d lived in a shipping container in Somerset.

2 doors down from the Duckworth's. Mavis & Derek's maybe?

Both teams walk through the farmyard gate that separates the dressing room complex, I say dressing room complex I mean Portakabin, from the pitch and Weymouth immediately start by knocking it round nicely and we look like a team playing a lower league side. I'm shocked. As the sun descends the fog of depression lifts further when Sam Malsom spins and thumps home the first goal after 12 minutes. Soon after though some more shocking defending sees Taunton equalise and the surely the rest of this miserable drivel will now write itself and lead to a 'Black Swan' style conclusion?

Release the cattle.

Well, no. Thankfully not. The first half is enjoyable, with some decent football, a competitive spirit, crunching tackles, both teams wasting chances and this feels like a proper football match. This feeling is increased by a superbly ramshackle old ground that resonates atmosphere, unlike the muted dull surroundings of last week at Cirencester.

Sadly a fire in the Taunton Town HQ Clubhouse during the summer has meant the toilets are out of bounds and that means one horrific thing – the overused football ground portaloo. After the half time rush...well I’m not saying they stank but the Glastonbury Festival phoned up to complain about the stench.

Token match shot.

The second half is, unlike my earlier water boarding session, keenly fought. Weymouth hit the bar from a free kick and the resulting break away leaves us two on two at the back, thankfully we don’t concede but goalkeeper Tom Manley almost combusts at the lack of defensive cover. Thankfully Malsom manages to slot home a second on 62 minutes and half the team pile on him in celebration. A Taunton full back sees these as the opportune time to pick a fight with one of our players and only a swift “fucking get in there” full in his defeated face from one of our players stops him pursuing his act of folly even further.

Turn on the Bright Lights.

Malsom gets his hat trick before the end and then the last few minutes are almost like old times, the ball is passed around crisply, ole football almost, the opposition is beaten and Weymouth walk back through the farm gate to a hero’s ovation and the evening’s anti-depressant medicine has been successfully administered.

Now, someone fetch me an old cereal box, cardboard, tinfoil, scissors and a picture of the FA Cup. We are going to Wembley!


The medication is wearing off!! He’s asking when Steve Claridge is coming round to rotate the shin pads and shouting that he is Narada Barnard’s dog. Nurse! NURSE!!

Friday 16 September 2011

From Floodlit Dreams to 'Who owns the floodlights?'

When the boys over at Dutch website Doing The 116 ask you to write an article for their website you immediately schtop everything and get writing. The fact they'd requested an article on my specialist subject 'The Life and Times of Chaka Demus & Pliers' Weymouth FC meant I was only too pleased to help.

If you can read Dutch, well done, crack open a Grolsch and have a read here. If not, nevermind, it's a frankly weird language anyway, get a brew and a Rich Tea and have a read below.

Whenever I tell people I'm a Weymouth fan they know that Ian Ridley was Chairman and Steve Claridge was manager, but this is normally followed by the question “what happened”. Yeah, good one. This is my take on it, a simple take, an idiot's guide. And I must be an idiot to still be a Weymouth fan!

Ian Ridley’s book ‘Floodlit Dreams’ ends with Weymouth beating Lewes to gain promotion to the Conference National in 2006, an event leading to an almighty celebration followed by a nagging headache about how any of this dream was financially sustainable.

As with any hangover, you hope for a swift end to the discomfort and after 10 seconds of the new season, when Ben Smith scored the opening goal in a 3-1 win at Tamworth, the tonic was administered and everyone was delighted. Three successive victories later, over 5000 in the ground for a game against Oxford United, an FA Cup game live on the BBC, a league game on SKY (check out this goal from Ben Smith) and it was clear to see Weymouth FC were going to piss this tinpot league and destined for the Premiership!

Eh, no.

That changed drastically on the 9th January 2007 when owner Martyn Harrison announced he had “got a bit carried away”; and the money had run out. Most of the squad left, manager Garry Hill went and the dream was over. The nightmare had begun. Someone wake me up when it's over.

Ridley offered to return with Claridge but was turned down, at the time stating “my fear is the land is sold along with the club." Wise words Ian, wise words. Defender Jason Tindall was appointed manager, and immediately became the most fake tanned football manager ever. We finished the season in 11th place, with a team of heroes, in some instances, and some absolute jokers – some of whom even the most dedicated of Weymouth fans wouldn't recall - and suffered our worst ever defeat in the Conference, 7-0 at Cambridge United. During these dark days there were some bright spots. Stuart Beavon (now at Wycombe Wanderers) was signed from Didcot FC and went on to become one of the greatest players I've seen in the claret and blue and our goalkeeper Super Jason Matthews belted in this goal. I'll admit it, I love Super Jason Matthews more than my own mother.

In June 2007, Harrison sold the club to music promoter Mel Bush, who was also Tindall's Father in Law. Bush came in with the usual stuff about making the club financially stable and “a well-run community club” By October Bush was gone, leaving the club apparently debt free, and uhhh....it hurts me to type this guy's name, Malcolm Curtis took over. Cu*tis, or to give him his full title, property developer Malcolm Cu*tis, took control and stated he was going to put “some stability back in this club” and announcing that "I am not an asset stripper”. By February 2008 Cu*tis had sold the land surrounding the Wessex Stadium to his company Wessex Park Limited for £550,000, a figure seen as spectacularly low at the time and it's legality questioned.

In January 2008 Tindall's sun bed bills were crippling the club and poor results were used as an excuse to sack him. He was replaced by ex Chelsea manager John Hollins who somehow managed to keep us in the Conference.

In August 2008 Cu*tis unveiled plans for a new Community Sports Stadium, to be built by 2012 on the site of the town's Rugby Club. Also in Cu*tis' briefcase that day was a pig which he planned to launch into intergalactic orbit.

Two months later Cu*tis announced he wanted out of the, now apparently debt ridden, club due to “the amount of hand grenades that are being thrown at me.” Sadly he was only speaking metaphorically but the financial concerns led to a number of departures and the fans scrambling round desperately to save the club. Cu*tis was perfectly clear a month later when it was announced the ownership of the land surrounding the Wessex Stadium has been sold again, this time to Wessex Delivery Partnership LLP, a partnership between Cu*tis' Wessex Park Limited and property developers Morgan Sindall Ltd. As part of the deal the club would continue to play at the Wessex Stadium with Cur*is stating “The Wessex Delivery Partnership will only be able to call on the option to build on the site when they have consent on a new stadium for the club."

In December 2008 the well liked Hollins was fired and replaced by assistant Alan Lewer and by now every day seemingly brought a new low. December also saw Cu*tis state “administration or winding up may be my only options.” The following month he left, leaving his shares in a holding company, but not before branding Weymouth “the Afghanistan of non-League football” and with the club still facing the very real threat of liquidation. Great. Cheers Malc! Once again the fans were forced to scramble round for some spare change to keep the club going and this video still makes me a little sniffy.

February 2009 saw us forced to play our youth team in a league match as the majority of the squad issued 14 days notice period due to unpaid wages and, apparently, were not covered with full medical insurance. Unsurprisingly we got hammered by Rushden & Diamonds, losing 0-9. However, the emotions on that day were something else, a stirring sense of pride at the brave players who wore the claret and blue, mixed with the rage of seeing my club on it's knees like this. I'll admit it, I cried on the terraces that day, it seemed like the end. The result also aroused the attention of the FA, due to the amount of betting on the game – I'll leave that one there I think.

Want another low point? Go on then!! Heard the one about the daytime TV addict, who lived in a council house, who had £20,000 worth of debts yet offered to donate £300,000 to a struggling non league team, only to spell the club's name wrong on the cheque and then have a stroke at a press conference to announce his donation. No, really – this happened. Embarrassing.

In March 2009 Ian Ridley returned to the club as Chairman, leading a consortium of local businessmen. He immediately looked to reduce the debts, of around £500,000, by launching a share issue and shortly after replaced manager Alan Lewer with ex Wales manager Bobby Gould. Defeat to York City on the penultimate round of fixtures saw the club relegated to the Blue Square South.

Gould left at the end of the season and was replaced by former player Matt Hale, a man whose car I once had a nose bleed in on the way back from a game against Yeovil! With the club under local control and a former player at the helm things looked, well not good, but certainly less crap than for a while.

WRONG AGAIN! The club was still desperately short of money, £50,000 was raised by fans in less than two weeks, Steve Claridge played for us in a 5-1 home defeat to Bromley, as we attempted to raise publicity of our financial plight, Hale resigned in October after presiding over a few thumpings (including one against Bishop’s Stortford (6-2), a game in which Teddy Sheringham's son, Charlie scored five), Ridley resigned to battle cancer, and Cur*tis resurfaced with threats to call in a loan of over £200,000, which led to the club giving notice to appoint administrators. This then led to two bids for the club, both as appealing as an epileptic lobster inserted up your anus but certainly more appealing than the end of 119 years of Weymouth FC, and eventually this led to former Cambridge United Chairman George Rolls taking control of the club.

By December 2009 debts had apparently reached over £700,000 and in January 2010 the manager, and club legend, Ian Hutchinson was fired. He was replaced by Jerry Gill, who resigned after 44 days (including one defeat against Basingstoke in which Mitchell Bryant scored all six of Basingstoke's goals). He was replaced by the returning Hutchinson in March with the debt now over apparently at £900,000. By the end of April this figure was reduced dramatically with the club entering into a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), an arrangement that that saw us, (by now relegated from Conference South), start the 2010/11 season in the Zamaretto Premier League on minus ten points.

For some more in depth reading into the controversial CVA, and a bunch of very generous mysterious Lithuanian's putting £290,000 into the club (hmm), then have a read here.

Shortly before the start of the 2010/11 season, the Wessex Stadium was renamed the Bob Lucas Stadium, in recognition of the sterling service given to the club by Lucas, who died in August at the age of 85. He was our goalkeeper for two years and was man of the match in a third round FA Cup tie against Matt Busby’s Manchester United at Old Trafford before going on to be club physio for 32 years and club President. Bob was a man who symbolised all that was good about the club and always represented it with dignity and pride, traits sadly lacking by many others around the club in this period.

The 10/11 season wasn't a great one, the odd 9-0 loss, the close 7-2 defeat but by the end of it we had overturned the ten point deficit and avoided relegation, thanks to the guidance of manager Martyn Rogers, who replaced Hutchinson in January 2011. Off the pitch Rolls transferred the remaining shares in the club's holding company to his name, meaning “Weymouth FC and the ground is now owned by two separate concerns who don’t care about the club”, before resigning from the Board of Directors in February 2011. The transfer of shares importantly means that Rolls gets the right to oversee any negotiations related to the options agreement with Wessex Delivery Partnership LLP for any sale of the stadium, and do as he sees fit with any money. I think. For the average supporter, hello, it makes the brain hurt.

On the pitch the 2011/12 season has started pretty badly with, of course, a new manager. No paragraph is complete without mention of a new manager, another ex-player, Brendan King, and we currently stand 21st in the 22nd team division and with an average attendance of around 1/10th of that that turned up for the game against Oxford United only five years ago, with many staying away in protest at Rolls' running of the club. (Oh, hi George – I know you'll be reading this you greasy div) For just a handful of the reasons why Rolls' isn't liked start here and then read any sentence anyone's ever written about the man since, or before actually.

Our Board of Directors is now made up of George's wife, his Mum and his Dad! However it's George that continues to rule over the Bob Lucas Stadium, distrust of him is high, his motives and intentions unclear and the club is left with little to call it's own and any new ground further away than ever (as long as you discount the threat of ground share at Dorchester). The fan base is dispirited after years of defeats and an ongoing battle to keep the club alive; but we're still here, the fans pay the wages of some players and as long as the WFC flag is flying from one of the floodlight's, there's still the dream we can win our club back and have a successful Weymouth FC to shout for!

Up the Terras!

Wednesday 14 September 2011

The Green Green Grass Of Away

Cirencester Town 0-1 Weymouth
Tuesday 13th September 2011
Evostik Southern League
Corinium Stadium, Cirencester
Attendance: 121

Cirencester Town v Weymouth 2010/11

Reports before the big (arf) match showed a Cirencester Town manager angry that his players had lost on Saturday after “rolling over and having our tummy tickled” (aww-bless) and Weymouth's Byron Napper struggling with an infected grass burn (jeez!); which made manager Brendan King's observation that Weymouth weren't getting the "rub of the green" seem a little unfounded.

The green. Ready rubbed.

We arrived just before kick off, not beating the hordes to get in, not just in time to savour the atmosphere and not to take in the roar of the crowd as the teams lined up, as there is none of the above. However there is a man sporting a khaki jacket, whispy beard and a beret though (What a powerfully look that is sir. Rugged yet demonstrating a softer side to your personality. A doff of the new AiT beret to you.)

The first half was dire. Absolute shite from sliced kick off to over hit pass conclusion. No wonder these teams are stuck fast at the bottom of the Evostik Premier. It's going to take more than a tube of Evostik's finest Hard & Fast Metal Epoxy Putty to keep these teams in the league come May. The muted response to the game, from the few people there, is broken by the occasional shouts from the Cirencester manager, "ahhh that fucking fat linesman again", (he was fat - not quite as fat Kev over at Nailsea though), the proverbial howls of derision from the shivering supporters at numerous shocking shots on goal and the loud chime of realisation that another forty five minutes of this dross awaits. When an non playing (obviously) Cirencester player tweets saying “Worst game I've ever watched” you know it's pretty pretty pretty pretty bad.

Foreground, rubbish.
Background, rubbish.

To the bar!! Where everyone agreed that we should probably just lock the doors, move all the furniture in front of the doors, pull down the blind, whack on a box set of Midsomer Murders, open some packets of Cheese Savouries and not bother going out for the second half.

Token match shot.

Dear AiT reader. I'm sure you're familiar with the alcoholic tipple Aftershock. You must have even tried it? Possibly while trying to pull in the early hours of the morning in the dance floor section of a Walkabout pub, situated in a medium sized market town. The red one probably? Maybe even the blue? But did you know there's also an orange and a sliver one? No! Me neither. So, this trip offered an education in brain rotting alcoholic snifters if nothing else. Get yourself to the Corinium stadium in Cirencester, they've succeeded in accessing the secret codes for two previously undiscovered flavours of Aftershock. Ill take one of each and rinse it down with some Blackcurrant Chewits cheers landlord; a slightly odd choice of bar snack there Cirencester but good work on the Aftershock's.

Christmas 2009. Great times, great memories (except for one person, top left)

Second half then.


Well, someone lobbed a couple of traffic cones onto the pitch from outside the ground, narrowly missing some players - that was bizarre and outrageously tinpot. Yoofs probably. Hoodies. Probably off their minds on a violent cocktail of silver Aftershock and Chewits. Bring back the birch I say. *shakes angry fist*

Weymouth started to make half chances, from nowhere some chanting started and as a football fan you start to get that feeling that there might be a winner in this for us. Obviously, as a Weymouth fan that feeling is usually unfounded and easily diagnosed as a gaseous build up in the gastrointestinal tract but NO, not tonight.

Too much greasy food can cause bloating and excessive gas.

Tonight is all about the last minute winner, that stupendous feeling. Your team have battled for 89 minutes, you've stood watching pish in the cold for 89 minutes and then the ball is cleared, then oddly chipped back up the sloping pitch by Marshallsay, your mate turns to you and says "what the fuck was that" and before you can lazily agree the ball slows in the grass ,gets caught under the defender's feet, Warren Byerley has snuck the ball under the keeper and WE'RE GOING MENTAL AT A LAST MINUTE WINNER, the team have piled on top of each other in celebration, I've done some weird air punchy thing, let out a little gas in excitement (oh, it was gas all along) and tonight we've not only got the rub of the green we've picked up the green and rubbed it in the defeated faces of Cirencester Town and every miserable pissing nano second of the excruciating previous 89 minutes is instantly forgotten!!

Then we went home. The end. Never speak of this match again.