Wednesday Wallop

Not the hardest hit ball you'll ever see on Wednesday Wallop, but still worthy of inclusion I think

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Management Anger

So, received wisdom is that, like Suralex, you can say what you want to your players behind closed doors, but present a united front in public.

However, it would appear that Hakan Hayrettin (didn't he used to be thinner when he wore Barnet colours?), manager of Thurrock FC, is determined to do things his own way.

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The One Where We Could Have Tried Harder

Holwell Sports 0 Radcliffe Olympic 2


East Midlands Counties League

A day that started out optimistic, descended in to blind panic, recovered to serenity, and ended with me shouting at Martin Keown.

The sensation of opening your wallet and seeing  a space where your cashcard should be is not the best way to start your day. Still don't know where it is, but the lovely lady in the Stamford branch of Santender could at least tell me that it hasn't been used. Which basically makes me the dufus who lost it.

The calm after the storm
That sorted, it was off to the Lincs Fine Food Fayre at Burleigh Hall. It was rubbish. But I got some nice sausages. And the ostrich burger was walked off courtesy of a nice stroll round Rutland Water. All in all a pleasant counterbalance to the start of the day, so all wasn't lost.

And then to Holwell Sports, on the outskirts of Melton Mowbray. Fans of the BTFM physique will be disappointed I didn't take advantage of the town's most famous export.

Holwell's website tells the following tale of the club's history:
Holwell works was part of The Stanton Iron Works Company and the club badge comes from the old works symbol. The horse with an arrow through its chest is the crest of the Crompton's an important Derby family of bankers whose involvement with Stanton Ironworks, dating from 1855 lasted for more than 80 years.

The crest symbolises the death of horse power and the emergence of electricity power generation.

Which doesn't really tell us much. So let me put some flesh on the bones. It's a lovely part of the world, albeit a triffle exposed (he typed through still defrosting fingers) But the structure is there for promotion, and the footprint available for expansion. Coupled with a not inconsiderable support for this level of football (including some not-there-for-mischief kids) they could well be a name you'll hear more of in the future.

Simon said what?
But that's as good as it gets. As is the risk at this time of the season, both teams went in to this game with absolutely nothing to play for. And it showed. Radcliffe were the better side, and fully deserved their 2-0 win. Albeit that both came from penalties late in the game. But whilst neither team really seemed to fancy it, the Radcliffe number 9, who may or may not have been Will Massingham, was head and shoulders the least interested of the bunch. That he sported shiny white boots, and a hair band, did little to convince this onlooker that he was anything other than a Big Time Charlie.

Elsewhere, his team mates looked busier, and marginally more iinterested. But this was a battle of degrees.

Keeper tries his new
"Camoflauge for Beginners" kit
Second half, my enjoyment was tempered somewhat by the arrival of a home fan with a Liverpudlian accent, who clearly had the interests of Holwell's number seven close to his heart, as he encouraged every effort with shouts, and clapping that went on for one or two more rounds than was necessary. It's the little things that drive people to kill. When the 7 got frustrated and started clattering the oppossing centre halves, they were heard to take exception to his presence. At which point the chap claimed he would damage anyone who dared try to hurt the lad. Have to say, had it come to it, my money would have been on the muddy bloke in the football kit. What with him being half the spectators age, athletic, and having a shaved head.

Which is probably why I don't write the scripts for the wrestling anymore.

That would be about the sum of things, were it not for the fact that somehow, between leaving the ground and Man Utd kicking off at half five, some idiot gave a radio microphone to Martin Keown. Honest to God, what is going on there?
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Tweet The First Man

I got a new phone on Friday. it's ever so shiny. And confusing. But it means that, once the novelty wears off, I will be updating live, yes LIVE, from pitchside at various tinpot games for the forseeable future. If that doesn't get you glued to the BTFM twitterfeed, god only knows what you want.
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Red carded player needs pepper spray to leave

Imagine the apoplexy emanating from Messrs Greene, Motson and Champion if this ever happened in the self-styled "greatest football league the world has ever known"

Oh, there's a pretty lady involved too, if need any persuasion to click through



Once again I am indebted to 101 Great Goals for finding this
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2010 NOTY: The Podcast

This will shock you, but the following has nothing to do with football. Nothing to do groundhopping. And nothing to do poorly-styled rock bands from the late 80's and early 90's.

Instead, this is grown-ups laughing at people with exotic names.

There is a blog at Name Of The Year and I would urge you all to subscribe to it. If you like the idea of this, there is a voting form to be downloaded from the aforementioned blog.

Enjoy (if you can get passed the wind on the effects microphone)


Name Of The Year committee meeting
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The One With A Talking Point

Gedling Town 3 Gresley 1


East Midlands Counties Football League Cup Smi Final


My footballing memory is famously useless. In the days when I followed a team, I would often be amazed to hear friends effortlessly reel off scores and goalscorers from years past. And these days, I often catch wind of fellow hoppers mentioning seeing the number 4 at Winterton, and recalling the game the keeper played his socks off in a County Cup game.

One of the feets that amazes me most is the ability to recall match officials. "He's the ref who cost us the game at Stamford" or "wasn't he the lino who missed Freddy's offside?" I struggle to remember my name half the time, let alone those of the officials.

I have no idea who the guy in black was tonight. Nor do I rightly care. But I'll remember him. Much is made of refereeing standards at the top end of football, and I'm here to confirm that it's no better the lower you drop. Why should it? Just like the players, the refs are at this level for a reason. Occasionally it's because they are learning the trade and will go on to bigger and better things. But usually it's cos they're crap.

For 70 minutes of this game, the ref was no better, or worse, than any others I have seen. Indeed, he was fairly anonymous which wiser heads than mine often say is the sign of a good day's work for a ref. Much like an assassin really. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Gresley have been decimated by injuries and the like. Conservative estimates put the "off-duty" numbers in excess of 20. Gedling Town in contrast are on a roll, with gargoyle-faced Mick Galloway winning five from six since his appointment.

Gresley played like a team of strangers, with some players so painfully out of position they would have been better served to simply ignore the position all together. Gedling played with spirit, and, whilst it is still early doors, something about the team, and the dugout, says that they may have unearthed a little gem in Galloway. We shall see.

Gedling got their opener midway through the first half, and doubled their lead early in the second. Gresley were committing hari kari. Thankfully as the game progressed, they were giving more and more of the ball to Mickey Lyons, who avid fans of this blog may remember from an earlier entry. Such was his influence that Gedling opted to man mark him. And it was Lyons who got Gresley back into the game.

So there we were, delicately poised. Would Gresley's pressure pay off? Or would Gedling be able to hit them on the break? Neither, as it happens.

A brief period of Gedling pressure saw a bit of play on the edge of the area, before the ball was pumped somewhat hopelessly goal-ward. It's path was interupted by a Gresley defender's face. He wobbled briefly, and the continued apace.

Step forward Super Ref. Not for him the simplicity of the painful action unfolding before him. Not for him the glaringly obvious presence of a pair of grown up hands and arms hanging by the player's side. No, this was a man who was proud of his ability to see what NO OTHER FUCKER IN THE PLACE SAW. Not the fans, not the players, not the benches, not the impartial observers. No-one.


The ensuing penalty was duly dispatched, and unsuprisingly heads dropped. On the pitch, in the crowd, even in the dugout. The incredulous Gary Norton is to be applauded for the way he took the decision. Lesser individuals would, rightly or wrongly, imploded at such an injustice.

Gresley tried to get back in to the game, but their hearts weren't in it. The raucous reception the feisty Gresley support saved for the ref come the final whistle no doubt made some of them feel a little better. But on nights like this it takes a very strong character no to question what the point of it all is.

You know what's coming here don't you?
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FCUM REVEALS LOCATION OF PROPOSED STADIUM

FC United of Manchester has announced plans to develop a football ground in Newton Heath, Manchester - the birthplace of Manchester United.

The supporter-owned club, established when the Glazer family took over Manchester United in May 2005, is proposing to include new and renovated community sports facilities and a multi-function community space at the 5,000-capacity stadium.

The club wants to provide state of the art facilities that will create new investment in the area and opportunities for local people in sports participation and physical activity, youth inclusion, education, health, employment and a range of other services.

The site for the development is the existing Ten Acres Lane sports centre, which is owned by Manchester City Council.

FC United, New East Manchester and Manchester City Council have been working closely over the past two years to develop the plans and consultation will now progress with local residents, community groups and FC United members who own the club.

FC United is working to secure the finance for the £3.5m development, which will include a public appeal for donations, a Community Shares issue and grant funding.

Club General Manager Andy Walsh said: “The announcement will be a big boost to the club and we also want the development to be of benefit to Newton Heath, the discussions with the council have been very positive and we are grateful for their support. The significance of this location is historical while it will also showcase a new model of facility development, based on football supporter ownership and community involvement.”

Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Cllr Mike Amesbury, said: “We have been supportive of this development to date and we are pleased to now take it to the next stage. While there is a way to go yet we feel that this will have significant local community benefits and bring an iconic supporter-owned club to Manchester.”

Eddie Smith, chief executive of urban regeneration company New East Manchester said: "We are working closely with FC United to help achieve their aspirations of acquiring land in Newton Heath for a new football ground. This is still very early stages but we are supportive of their proposals which would bring further regeneration benefits to east Manchester."

FC United hopes the development will be completed in the next two to three years, subject to consultation, funding and planning.

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How long can you last?

I got through five notes on first viewing before deciding this was utter dross.

Now I am blogging it, it's playing in the background, and I have to say the longer it goes on, the worse it is.



It's no "We're The Villa", true. But it still manages to encapsulate so much horror.
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Bookmaker to ignore Henry contributions to World Cup

A bookmaker is to give punters a hand by ignoring Thierry Henry’s contributions on the pitch in the 2010 World Cup, it has emerged.

After the controversial ‘Hand of Henry’ denied Ireland the chance to go to the World Cup finals, one betting firm, whose European managing director is Irish, has decided to take revenge.

Bodog.com has decided to remove Thierry Henry’s involvement from all World Cup bets after its Europe MD, Keith McDonnell, felt he could not enjoy the tournament with the Frenchman still playing a part.

For any French game in which Henry plays, punters can now place a bet safe in the knowledge that his goals will not count against them.

For example, if a customer backs a draw in a France game and Henry scores, making them 1-0 winners, he will still get paid.

This also applies to a first goalscorer and each-way markets too. So, if a punter backs a player to be the highest scorer throughout the tournament and the customer's selection comes fourth, one below Henry, he would be paid as if he came third.

However, if a person places a bet for France to win, all of Henry's goals will still be counted.

"I want to enjoy the World Cup and the only way I can do that is if Thierry Henry is no longer part of it," said McDonnell.

"He has already ruined my World Cup and I want to make sure he can do no more damage."

Irish Examiner
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Wednesday Wallop

In the first of probably won't be a repeating feature, Ozan Ipek scores rather good overhead goal. And who doesn't love an overhead kick?

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The One With Two Shot, One Save, And Nothing Else

Tranmere Rovers 0
Hartlepool United 0


Fizzy Pop League One

Cammel Lairds hat
Great hairy Christ, it was awful. Pound for pound one of the worst games I have watched for many a month. I may have been more forgiving if it hadn't taken me four hours to get over to God's Country, but I doubt it.

The one saving grace was the opportunity to catch up with one-time nemesis Glocko, award-winning programme editor and tea boy with Cammel Lairds, now a gun for hire, mulling over offers from various non-league power houses. But truth be told it was scant consolation.

pic of hartlepool fansAs two refugees from the glamorous world of professional football, and former Tranmere die-hards, last night's game was an opportunity for the Super White Army to show us both what we were missing. They failed. Abysmally.

I could bore you with the shocking details. But I do not have the energy. No one came out of the game with any credit. Les Parry may well have plastered over the cracks left by John Barnes' horror three months. And on a shoestring budget. But it isn't pleasurable to watch. That the locals were prepared to boo the team off tells me that they are growing tired of the excuses. It amazes me, and saddens me no end, that there are undoubtedly worse teams in the division. Tranmere will be safe. As will Hartlepool. That may be all they want or expect. But it's not worth £16 of anyone's money.


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Eat Your Heart Out, Joey Barton

This, this is a real man

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Reverse Wallop

When you absolutely, without question have to score an own goal, do it with style

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Fabio Capello Urinates In Maradona's Drink

These videos are fast becoming the best bit about Talk Sport.

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The One With Collective Amnesia

Central Midlands Football League
Buckingham Insurance Supreme Division


Ollerton Town 3 Kirkby Town 1

As a groundhopper (yes, I admit it, ok? Although semantically I would claim to be a matchhopper) the opportunity to reflect upon the cruel twists your life has taken are many and frequent. Why on earth would you eschew the relative delights of a comfy sofa and the TV, and travel many miles to stand in the midst of a bleak field? A field most people who live a hell of a lot closer have decided not to visit for a very good reason.

Last bus home?
So when the opportunity presents itself to pop round the corner, why would you not? Sure, the complexities of your life choices are still there, but you're still at home at half seven, and back before ten, so it doesn't all seem quite so bad, does it?

Atmospheric, no?
One of the advantages of visiting somewhere like Ollerton (and Frickley before it) for a night game is that you don't actually get to see the place. The fact that the night hinders vision shouldn't be breaking news to most of you, but it when it means you don't have to lay eyes on slag heaps, boarded up houses and the like, you truly do appreciate the wonder of nature.


On the downside, it gets cold. Alarmingly so when you're not prepared for it.

Kirkby came out of the gates on fire. In the first ten minutes they broke the home sides' offside trap on numerous occasions, and were foiled several more. The pace of their front line looked set to scare the Ollerton Town defenders all night. And the poor old lino on the near side who, god love him, was carrying a couple of extra pounds, had the look of a condemned man in his eyes with every push forwards.

It was only a matter of time until they scored, and once the defence was breached, a rout was on the cards.

But then, they stopped. Whether this was Ollerton working them out, or Kirkby getting lazy, they simply abandoned that which had worked before, and insisted on playing across the centre of the pitch. Ollerton sat back, challenged them to break them down, and hit them back harder.

The home side got a deserved equaliser after half an hour, and a second soon after. It was half time score no one could have predicted after 10 minutes, but which was not undeserved. Kirkby looked like a team, resplendent in their shiny new kits, and with a couple of decent players (note to the management - number 11 goes like shit off a shovel. Stick up front and reap the rewards) But Ollerton played like one, and that, ultimately, was the difference.

The whole pitch, and you stand there?
At half time I expected the Kirkby management to point out to their charges that they were doing something that was working, so they should go back to doing it. They didn't, and as a result, Ollerton maintained the upper hand. Kirkby were reduced to playing on the break, but lacked a purpose.

A third goal came virtue of the hard-working Wells, and that was pretty much that. If I'm being picky, Ollerton should have tested the visiting keeper more, as he was carrying a knock from the first goal. If an outfielder is taking goal kicks, then surely to goodness you can push the strikers much higher up the pitch. But that's unnecessarily harsh. Ollerton deserved the win, and whilst Louth may have the title sown up, local bragging rights are still be won.
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Tinpot Trophy Season Starts Here

With thanks to Andy Pickwell of Ravings Of A Boston Boy fame, it gives me great pleasure to announce the start of silly season.

Clubs with far bigger fish to fry are obliged to participate in, get bookings in, and pick injuries from, empty and meaningless games that do nothing other than massage the egos of the local suits, be they county officials or aging old duffers in regional leagues.

The general feeling of "meh" that pervades the terraces at this time is best summed up by the good folk of the Boston Standard...

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Wallop

Pronounced "wallop"

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Alan Shearer, and some awful photoshopping

Those who know me know that I have very little time for Alan Shearer. Ever since he absolutely did not kick Neil Lennon in the head, and then absolutely did not threaten to quit playing for England.

So, imagine how pleased shocked I was to see him acting like an arse on national televison.



The continuing popularity of The One Show, and Adrian Chiles' beard, are matters for another discussion
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The One They Didn't Want To Play

A hastily arranged trip back to South Elmsall for the Unibond Prem fixture between Frickley and Nantwich. Wasn't planned, for obvious reasons, but BTFM is never one to turn down a free pass, as we established on Saturday. But I hope that fulfils my obligation for, ooh, about 7 years??

No photos. No videos. And not much to report really. Bet you're glad you popped in now aren't you?

The long and the short of it is that Frickley won 2-0, against a Nantwich team who could not have looked less interested if they were attending a bell ringing seminar. Highlights, talking points and moments worthy of reporting in a two-bit blog were few and far between.

Oh how we yearned for the drama of, oh, I dunno, a truck driver not realising he had rammed a car at high speed

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England's Steven Gerrard

Oh, I know picking on the saintly Stevie G is like shooting fish in a barrel. And I know we should all be backing "our boys" as the World Cup looms (don't get me started) But had this been a Barton or a Bellamy, they'd be burning effigies in the street.

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The One In Waders, With A Fishing Net

Come with me, if you will, to another world. A world of corporate hospitality. Of junkets. Of expense accounts. I have a friend, a good friend, who was given an all-expenses trip to the European Super Cup final in Monaco a couple of years ago. He and his fiancĂ©e at the time (wife now, it was a lovely do. Snowed.) had a cracking time hob-nobbing with the rich and famous, admiring the yachts in the harbour and generally living the dream.

sutton coldfield clubhouse
I was in Sutton Coldfield yesterday, courtesy of a pass from their Assistant Manager. There were a couple of guys in wellington boots. And the visiting Chesham team brought two coaches.

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that a trip to Sutton Coldfield is a little out of the comfort zone for BTFM. Truth be told, it was slim pickings this weekend, and we're always open to freebies. But the Zamaretto League is a new experience, and new experiences are to be embraced. Apparently.

pic of neil tooth
For the first half the season, Town were meandering around the nether regions of the league, not really upsetting anyone. Then they took the decision to appoint Neil Tooth, once of Retford United, as Assistant manager. In the 20 or so games Neil has been at the club, Sutton have won 12, 15 on the spin in the league (this may not stand up to examination). None of this is in-depth research, don't worry. No need for research when Toothy himself happily advise you of the realities of the situation.  So now, they're eyeing the playoffs. As are opponents Chesham. A tight game was in the offing.
one of two mad blokes at Sutton Coldfield

It appeared Sutton hadn't read the script. Their 4-3-3 formation allowed them to attack at will, with the lanky number 11 proving a thorn on the left. It was his shot after 4 minutes that flew over the keepers head to take the lead. One of those "if Rooney had scored it" moments we see all the time in non league. If he was as good as he thought he was, and a bit more motivated, he'd be a decent player. In the middle of the park, young Craig Milligan was displaying a delightful left foot, at odds to the bluff and bluster going on around it. And it was Milligan who struck the freekick after half an hour that put the home team two up.

sutton coldfield fc
Chesham had every right to feel aggrieved tho. They forced the home keeper into several good saves, and definitely shaded the first half.

Second half, they absolutely mullered Sutton. They pulled a scrappy goal back soon after the restart. A goal that earned Milligan a yellow card for daring to mention a clear handball to the linesman. And throughout the half they laid seige to the Sutton goal, but the equaliser would not come.

pic of men fightingMidway through the half, the ball went out for a throw in. Chesham, in their eagerness to keep the pressure up, took the liberty of throwing on one of Sutton's balls. The Sutton bench took exception to this, and threw one in tot he back of the perpertrator. A pushing match followed, which then descended into absolute farce as both benches, and all players, became embroiled in what I can only liken to an ice-hockey fight. Penned in against the perimeter fence, it became a swirling mass of humanity, and anyone wanting out was done for.

punchesIn keeping with a fairly gutless display, the ref penalised no-one for any of this. Although in his defence he can't really be expected to keep an eye on the grown men on the touch lines.But punches were clearly thrown, and the whole thing required at least a sacrificial lamb. It happened right in front of the main stand, so if he was being assessed, he may not have heard the end of it.


Of course, it goes without saying that I got none of this on camera.

Following the fracas, the game threatened to spill over, but nothing ever materialised. Sutton could have had more if their number nine had shown an ounce of the ability his boots said he had. But Chesham were right to berate the ref come the final whistle. The melee and ensuing nonsense had taken nearly ten minutes to sort. Yet there was barely two fo added time. That said, it had the aura of a day when Chesh were just destined to go home with nothing.

So, there were no glittering casinos in Sutton Coldfield. At no point was I required to don a black bow tie. And the closest I came to being snapped by a pap was the local newspaper girl, sporting a purple knitted tea cosy on her head. Who's got the better anecdotes for the grandkids, eh?
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Non-football date for your diaries

If, like the readers of the Mail and the Express, you live in perpetual fear, the following trailer, and subsequent programme, probably isn't for you.

Channel 4, May 4th. Erasing David. In which a man tries to hide for a month. It'll be better than I'm making it sound if this is anything to go by though


Erasing David trailer from Green Lions on Vimeo.

With thanks to The Documentary Blog for alerting me.
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Ladies and gentlemen, Chris de Burgh

I wish I was being ironic, but I'm not. Just when Liverpool fans thought their club was about as low as it could be (assuming they don't lose to Pompey tomorrow night), it turns out that this is the alternative to Hicks and Gillette.

All together now...

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The One They Wrote A Song About

welcome to frickleyAt the risk of bigging myself up, I was quite proud of the billing I gave Frickley Athletic v Ossett Town on Facebook. So I'm going to recreate it here.

Groundhopping doesn't get tougher than this.

(that's it)

frickley v ossettAsk anyone in northern non league circles their opinion of a visit to Frickley, and they will fairly universally wrinkle their nose and hold court on an unsavoury trip or two. Indeed, I have acquaintances of a Barnet persuasion who still talk in hushed tones of trips to the heart of the Miner's Strike in the early 80's. And these are battle hardened guys who have visited Runcorn.

It's fair to say it isn't the most salubrious of areas. Westfield Lane, which leads to the ground, has certainly seen better days. But moves appear to be afoot to at least save it from any further use as a set for a post-apocolyptic hell. And an evening kick off protects those of a more sensitive disposition.

In a bid to further spread the word, Frickley were letting fans of football league sides with season tickets in for £1. Thank god they were, because the crowd would have been even more disappointing without the interlopers.

Things started well. A goal within the first couple of minutes for the visitors. And shortly after, their hosts grabbed an equaliser. From thereon-in it was pretty much one-way traffic, with Frickley not quite laying siege to the Ossett goal, but definitely looking the more likely to score. To this end they hit the woodwork twice in the first half, and were they not forced in to making all three of their substitutions within the first 40 minutes, I'm fairly sure they would have pushed on to win the game comfortably.

frickley athletic fc
As it was, the promising start gave way to a frustrating game, spoiled by an idiosyncratic ref and some poor players. I don't want to slate Frickley too much, as whatever game plan they woul dhave had was surely hamstrung by the changes. But you would hope that the replacements had some grasp of the way the side were set up to play.

The Ossett left back may as well have pulled out a deck chair, so un-needed were his defensive skills. His mate on the right flank was kept slightly busier, but if they don't have them recovering on the injury list right now, the Frickley management must surely be scouring the land for some wingers. Guys just to stand on the flanks would be an improvement, even if they were never passed to.

pic of a transvestiteA point apiece at full time will have pleased Ossett more than Frickley, but given the early disruption to the side, Frickley should be happy enough.

For the record, the locals were no more noticeable than anywhere else BTFM has visited. For what one reader cited as being a feisty Yorkshire derby, the atmosphere was certainly mellow. And despite the fears of one noted cross-dressing blogger of ill-repute, car and contents were all exactly where I left them.

Frickley may not be the most welcoming-looking place you will come across. But it's a long way from the Millwall of the North too.
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Quick Quiz...

What links Burscough F.C., Hartlepool United F.C., and Ross County F.C.??
soccer not allowed
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The One I Rushed A Bit

matlock fc at night
Bright lights
There is a widely held belief that football is a passionate game. Played, managed and supported by people teetering on the brink of sanity. Certainly, there are individuals out there, and we all know them, who put great store in the game, and for whom performances and results can dictate the mood for days ahead.

old seats sign
No game is supposed to raise the heart beat and ignite the soul more than a game against the bitterest of local rivals, and whilst Matlock v Buxton may not have the romance of United v Liverpool or Real Madrid v Barcelona, it sure as hell mattered to the 477 who gathered at Causeway Lane last night.

Or so the locals told me. The truth is that for all the hyperbole, you'd have been hard pressed to guess that this game meant more than any other run-of-the-mill league game. Yes, the crowd was a huge improvement on Matlock's usual sub 200. And yes, the visitors came equipped with their own stewards. But that aside, I have heard more commotion in the queue at the supermarket.
football stewards
Feel safer now?
pic of bin
Insert pithy caption here
The first half was an abomination of a game. The visitors took a scruffy lead, and astoundingly little else happened. I suppose you could say Matlock shaded it on pure chances, but it matters little. I caught myself wishing I had stayed at home to watch Lambing Live.

The second was better, but that's akin to saying you like Lady Gaga on the basis that she is better than Geri Haliwell. Matlock deserved the equaliser they ground out, but for either side to leave with more than one point would have been unjust.

Walking out, I overheard the natives bemoaning the game as a typical end-of-season stroll. It's bloody March. And it was a derby!
If you must suffer as I did, this is the Matlock equaliser. Other videos of the night, and other trips, can be found on the Beat The First Man channel (no, really)
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Wow. Just wow.

Matlock v Buxton last night. There are photos and the usual half-arsed report to follow.

But, in the mean time... (and if you don't usually watch the vids I post up here, just mute it. This is shared as a visual thing)

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Boyz Got Skillz

In anticipation of this evening's High Peak High Jinx, have some of this...

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Self-regarding nonsense. And shameless self-promotion

Shocking though some may find it, Beat The First Man is not my only online presence. Far from it. And one of those other places got noticed the other day.

Angels With Grumpy Faces is an ill-thought out blog about local residents of anywhere looking pissed off with life. It is a blog of no little smugness, and lacking in anything constructive. But The Guardian no less deemed it worthy of a mention this last weekend.

Pay it a visit, if you like. Or don't. But sleep safe in the knowledge that you are in the presence of greatness.

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I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

How often do you see training ground routines go tits up?

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The One Where We Waited

Given what went off before, I wouldn't normally be in a rush to go back to Harrogate Railway Athletic, regardless of whether or not they were playing table-topping Lancaster City.

picture of spike from the quireboys
But needs must, and believe you me, it was for the greater good. I am writing this ahead of the main event not only of the weekend, but of my year so far. The Quireboys are playing an acoustic gig in Knaresborough tonight, and I'll be there, centre stage, screaming my adulation for the man they call "Spike". I'm on record as saying I would go gay for him. He wouldn't touch me with someone else's hands. But the offer is there.

eleite meat butchers harrogate
For all your pre-match sausage roll nee
But you're not here to read about of the dark recesses of  my mind, are you dear reader? On the contrary, you come to Beat The First Man because it drops in your reader unexpectedly of fabled tactical insight and pithy observations on the noble game. So, to business...


flag of mexicoHarrogate is nowhere near to Mexico. Most of us are aware of this. But the rather garish kit of HRA means that they display a flag outside Station View that could confuse a stupid person.

That said, not even the most cerebally challenged would have struggled to work out where they were once they surveyed the pitch. I'm not criticising anyone, as we all know the troubles this winters weather has caused groundsmen up and down the country. But given there is ample
space immediately behind the ground, is it unreasonable to think that both teams could at least have warmed up elsewhere, rather than churning the pitch unnecessarily?


man in long scarf
A very long scarf
With the visitors embroiled in a battle with "the mighty" (c) Shyamen of Halifax at the top of the Unibond First Division North, and the hosts heading squarely in the opposite direction, this should have been a banker for an away win. Certainly, the visiting fans, who at least matched the number of home fans, thought so.

As a side note I've never seen so many fans accompanied by so few flags or banners. They had a long scarf tho.

fat goalkeeperRailway though had other ideas. They took the lead within ten minutes, after the ball was lobbed back in to the area from a scuffed free kick, and the impressive Stansfield latched on to it. Didn't stop him moaning at his team mates all afternoon tho.

speeding mobility scooter
Write your own. I'm not going to hell for you.
Fifteen minutes later, Lancaster City finally got the equaliser their possession required. A fact which pleased the vociferous fans no end. If for no other reason than Railway's keeper is a rotund chap, and we all love a fat keeper, don't we kids?

As the half drew to a close, those vocal fans became quieter. This banker was looking increasingly less of a sure thing.


Things got worse at the start of the second half, when City had a corner, which was comfortably claimed by the keeper and launched downfield, where Hollingdrake slotted it past the keeper. Some of this action has been caught on video. Alas, not the important bit.



As the game wore on, tempers frayed on and off the pitch. The vocal set moved behind the dugouts and managed to upset the home management. Attentions then turned to the playing staff, with individual performances being singled out for special attention. (edit: this has continued on their forum. Not sure how beneficial this is to anyone, but then the myopic and opinionated football fan is what forced me in to ground hopping anyway)

A second yellow was shown to Lancaster's midfield "enforcer", before Harrogate broke away one more time to confirm their victory. It can be viewed here, sort of. There is a reason the BBC never employed me, that's all I'm saying.



All in all, not a great day at the office for The Dollyblues. With Halifax beating Prescot Cables, the race for promotion is really hotting up in the Unibond One North.

Postscript: the gig was bloody fantastic. I love Spike.
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Friday Night Is Rock n Roll Night (with a bit of big beat on the sly)

It's Friday night. My hell-raising days are long since departed (there a story about a night of Scrabble in Plymouth that I'll have to tell you some time). But tomorrow night, for one night only, I am going back to my youth.

And so, by way of celebration, I am going to indulge myself in some You Tubery. Viewer discretion is advised.

First out of the blocks are the Lo Fidellity All Stars



Which takes us on to Bentley Rhythm Ace



And that segues nicely in to a bit of Apollo 440




The dog barking at the start of that puts me in mind of Jane's Addiction


Bit of a leap from there to Living Colour, but it worked in my teenage bedroom, believe me


And then, last, but by no means least, we land at the door step of Spike and the boys. The whole reason I am wallowing in this self-regarding nonsense.


Thanks for sticking with me. Normal service wil be resumed at some point over the weekend, no doubt
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Rafa Benitez swears

"Gary Neville is a relentless annoying bellend"

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A quiz. I spoil you,

The F.A. Cup is the oldest domestic knockout football tournament in the world, but what is the oldest cup still given out to the winner of a domestic knockout football tournament?

Answers in the comments box please. And try not to Google.
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Windy-pops

Courtesy of 101 Great Goals, one of those freaky own goals that leaves you despairing for the intelligence of footballers.


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The One Involving Rent-A-Scouser

ennui : 
a feeling of utter weariness and discontent 
resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ennui
In my experience, Glapwell versus pretty much anyone is a reason to doubt your very sanity. And yet I always remain hopeful that the next visit will be the game to buck the trend.

This one didn't.


That the opposition were Witton Albion, a team famed in some circles for having moany, wingey-arsed fans, probably didn't help. And there is no doubt that my pre-match meal set me off on the wrong foot. But you don't want to become embroiled in that particular aspect of my personal hell.

In the course of my travels, I have seen some pretty ropey games. And this one was by no means the worst of them. But I have seen some far less technically able players put in a decent performance, on equally poor pitches. And I have seen referees more in charge, with a greater understanding of the game.

A smiling puppy. For karma.
Let's be clear, here. Very few, if any, of those gathered at Hall Corner last night will have scoured the fixture lists to find this game. The Witton travellers will have attended out of loyalty to their team, in pursuit of a perfect attendance record, or because life has moved them to the other side of the Pennines. And the Glapwell fans were there because, well, their team is pushing for the title. And they were at home. But this aside, Glapwell v Witton is never, ever going to ignite the passions for anyone.

And it evidently didn't for the players. Barely a pass reached it's target all night. When it did, the following one almost certainly did not. Balls were launched down theoretical channels to target men who had long since run in the opposite direction. Midfielders ran around like headless chickens. Forwards stood isolated and dispirited as defenders headed clear for the umpteenth time.

It is often said that attendances drop the lower down you go because the football is poorer. And then a misguided poet will chime in, eulogising about effort and heart and other such nonsense. No. Players find their level, and the odd moment of brilliance / luck aside, they're not that good. Light years better than most of us, of course. But still a bit ropey.

Normally you can excuse this because they are wearing a shirt you care about, or the sum of their parts is greater than it should be. But every now and again the stars align and nothing but nothing can make a silk purse from what is witnessed.


Undersea Poem - "Makes Me Happy" from Six Degrees Records .
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The One Where They All Came Out Of The Woodwork

gresley mascot elvis gresley
Elvis Gresley. Truly.
It occurs to me as I write more of these entries, that the chances of people giving a rats ass about my opinion of the game are fairly slim. That, coupled with the fact that I often bore myself when writing them, means that the days of copious note-making have been eschewed, in place of, well, not very much, in truth. Less structure, if such a thing were possible.

So, the FA Vase eh? The FA Cup for clubs who aren't likely to ever win the FA Trophy. As a fan, it's one of those competitions that you could not care less about. And then, suddenly, you're playing at home, in the quarter finals, and Wembley is almost within touching distance.

broken sign
Blankety Blank
As a side issue, have you been to Wembley recently? Sure the stadium is nice enough, if you like soulless corporate hellholes. But Wembley High Street? Sheesh. They should have spent the money just levelling that. I'm aware that this may make me sound like Nick Griffin, and that isn't my intention. If you haven't been, but you have experienced a British Seaside town's highstreet, you're halfway there. Just take away the glamour.

But I digress. I'd had today down for Willenhall v Chasetown, but the sexy allure of an afternoon in South Derbyshire / East Staffs was too much. After all, it's the glamour of the Cup.

There is no glamour to be found at Gresley.

gresley fc
There were a couple more of them by the time kick off came.
In another life I have had some good times, and some less good, down at The Moat. Others may speak less highly of their encounters with Gresley, but all I know is that my experience of the people there has been nothing less than top drawer, and it is a shame that their name isn't always well respected.
smoke bomb

Witness a pre-game presentation saw the Supporters Club providing a cheque for £2000 (two THOUSAND pounds) to the football club, a continuation of the good relationship that has been forged between the two parties in the aftermath of years of mismanagement. Out of the phoenix and all that. And this on the day that FCUM held a rally focusing on football club debt.

george paris whitehawk boss
George Paris, the Golden Retriever years
Today's visitors in the last eight were Whitehawk., Which sounds a bit like "shitehawk", and that pleases me no end. They'd travelled up from Brighton en masse. If, by en masse, you mean in a Bedford Rascal. They sit atop the Sussex County League, with games in hand on such luminaries as St Francis Rangers, who sound like a kids team, and Mile Oak, who sound like a pub.

There's not much too special about Whitehawk. The kit is fairly unimaginative, the following tiny, and their badge reminiscent of Crystal Palace's. They do, however, have George Paris as their manager. Fans of rubbish top flight players of the late-80's and early-90's will read this name and be transported in to a heady reverie no doubt. Well, dear reader, I am here to tell you he has dined well on your memories.

pic of football player
And he has assembled a side that on today's showing are a good bet for the silverware (he says with absolutely no knowledge of the other contenders). Big, combative and technically astute, they outclassed Gresley in every area. There was pace down both flanks, a stout defensive line, and upfront a bruiser of a centre forward who knew how to out-muscle his markers on the brink of the laws of the game.

But Gresley were not without their heroes. The midfield pairing were my stand-out players, and had they had equal quality around them, things could have been different. For Whitehawk, the right winger was a constant torment to the home left back, so much so that he was substituted by a more attack-minded full back. Which lead to the winger moving upfront and causing even more havoc. Some you win.

There should be video footage of Gresley's equaliser coming in hereabouts, but technical difficulties have meant I am thus far unable to upload it. Apologies. If I get it sorted, I'll ammend this post, but by then I imagine you'll all have lost interest.

pic of groundhopper
Dressed for success
I can't let this report end without giving mention to the number of groundhoppers present. At times it seemed like a convention of the needy and the unwell. I know I can't mock, as I am one of them these days. But I think it is fair to say that the crowd of 800+ was swelled as much by interested locals, who had opted for some cup drama over the doubtless attraction of Rotherham being down the road at Burton, as it was by the great and the unwashed of the ground-hopping world. Wall charts and spread sheets up and down the country must today be seeing unprecedented action.
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