Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Nowhere To Run To Baby, Nowhere To Hyde - Tamworth 2 Hyde United 1 - Blue Square North - 29/01/08

Right, first things first, as you may have noticed I once again forgot to take any pictures of the game whatsoever, therefore this report will be accompanied by a selection of random images
mostly pulled from Photobucket. I would worry about copyright but the chances of anyone whose photo I have used actually reading this is surely slim to the point of non-existence. (Cue someone contacting me to sue my ass tomorrow!).
Well, things have moved on in the sunshine bubble filled World of Tamworth FC, the last time I went we were awful, the defeat against Solihull Poors was obviously a nadir in the season and since then we've won three in a row. This has even prompted the odd chorus of "Gary Mills' Barmy Army" from the more fickle amongst our support! Each to their own but I'm afraid the jury is still out for me at the moment.
Hyde United arrived at The Lamb on theback of a fairly poor run themselves which has seen them slip from possible automatic promotion candidates back into the pack chasing the play-off places, and with the new found optimism gained from beating Blyth(e) Spartans twice I actually fancied us to win this. The squad has been bolstered with a couple of judicious loan signings from Wrexham plus the excellent Marrison from Hinckley who was their top scorer so I have no idea why they allowed him to move to fellow relegation candidates, but hey, our gain.

Pre-match refreshments were once again taken at The White Lion where we saw Middlesborough overcome a stubborn mansfield in the Cup and I sampled an excellent Hobgoblin and a Beowulf Chiller which was decent but a bit too hoppy for my liking. No sausage rolls this time though.
In an attempt to boost the attendance the Tamworth Herald had printed vouchers for half-price adult and free child admission so I was expecting a decent crowd, as it was the attendance was only 400 or so more than the average for this season so it seems that it was mostly the regulars who took advantage of the offer, still, if only 5% of those who came for the first time decide to come again it will have been worth it, and all such attempts to boost the attendance from the vast majority of Tamworthians who just don't care about their local club are to be applauded.
What I won't applaud though is the decision to hand out free (sponsored!) rattles! My God they were annoying. I thought nothing could be more annoying at a football match than music played after goals or drums but I was badly wrong, the sound of five hundred kids with rattles will haunt me forever.

Something else I warmly applaud....cheap beer! The clubhouse was doing pints for £1.50, can't grumble, how about bringing back real glasses though?
From kick-off it was obvious that this was a vastly different Tamworth than the bunch of arses that turned up against Solihull. All season we have looked so much better than most teams in this division when we have played it on the deck, on Saturday we did this throughout the game and consequently controlled the match almost completely. We were creating chances and the addition of Foster in the midfield has had the seemingly impossible effect of making even Dave Bampton looked quite good! Of course I completely missed our opener, I don't even know how, I only took my eye off the pitch for a few seconds and everyone cheered. Scored by Jamie Reed from a Bampton flick-on apparently. Wouldn't mind keeping Reed for a few more weeks after his loan from Wrexham ends, I once said hello to Brian Little in a restaurant in Knowle, I'm sure he'll remember me if I give him a ring to ask him.
Got chatting to 'H' in the clubhouse at half-time and so, inevitably, missed our second goal as well. Heard the cheer and then heard the announcement, Marrison scored it, well taken by all accounts. So it was a happy and singing Shed that I went back to. Hyde tried to get back into the game after this but really didn't look like scoring. It took a penalty to pull them back into it, looked fair enough from where I was stood and the Tamuff players only really complained for the sake of it.
Marrison then nearly restored the two goal lead with a sublime bit of skill, flicking the ball over a defender and looping a shot over the goalkeeper only to see it bounce off the crossbar. If that had been Ronaldo there wouldn't have been a dry seat in the MOTD studio!
There was a scare towards the end when Hyde put the ball into the net after a superb flowing move, but the offside flag was up: "You thought you had scored, you were wrong, you were wrong" and Tamuff had their three points. Ten clear of relegation now and ten more away from the magic 40, it's far too early to be talking of revivals and play-offs but I tell you what, we can go to Stafford on Saturday for the Trophy tie full of confidence. A trip to Wembley? You never know.
Attendance: 1189
Beer: A bargain at £1.50 for a rather nice Black Sheep Bitter
Rattles - A complete pain in the arse.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Live From Blyth(e) - Well Not Really But It's A Nice Rhyme!

Yeehaa! Stuck at work so it's another episode of Live Blogging for me.
All 3pm kick-off's today, Tamworth travel to Blyth(e) Spartans (the superfluous 'e' really annoys them apparently) in the FA Trophy hoping to put a pathetic run of form behind them, a few new signings might help and we have some. One was enforced as keeper Palethorpe was recalled by Chester (ungrateful buggers!) so young Polish keeper Alex Cisak arrives on loan from Leicester. Mills has four players cup-tied, that's what you get when you completely change the team three times in a season, teach you right for not picking proper players the first time.

Meanwhile Aston Villa are at home to Reading with NO new signings, O'Neill only buys players on the last day of transfer windows. Ross County's match away at Cove Rangers in the Scottish Cup has been postponed, I know all about frozen pitches in The Highlands!

As per usual, blogging will be done with the help of the Sky Sports vidiprinter, the ever excellent non-league vidiprinter, the Tamworth Fans Forum and the match thread on Heroes and Villains. I may also take a peek at the Blythe(e) forum now and again.

14:22 - Won't be using the Blyth(e) forum because as Marrah points out on the Tamuff forum, it's not been updated since November!

14:33 - Well! I'm deeply hurt. Perusing another part of Blyth(e)'s forum a poster wants to know why Tamworth have an upside pretzel on their badge! I have a good mind to put him right with some choice words14:36 - My Ipswich side are four points clear in The Championship on Football Manager by the way.

14:42 - From Jase J on the Tamuff forum:
"You don't need score updates - just 'think positive' and blog whatever score pops out of your sunshine bubble. If we all do this, we'll win by a mile."

Hmmm....right...'pop', yep Blyth(e) 0 Tamworth 5, that'll do!

14:57 - Must have been an early kick off for Halesown who are 1-0 up at Half-time at home to Hitchin. Going well are The Yeltz at the moment.

15:00 - Llanelli 1 Llangefni 0. My keyboard is covered with phleghm now.

15:03 - Moustapha Salifou on the bench for Villa, Mellberg 'ill'. Funny how he's ill just when he might be off to Juventus eh?

15:05 - We have a goal! Stockport 1-0 Accrington.

15:07 - Falkirk 0-1 Aberdeen in t'cup. It's a quiet start all round.

15:09 - Didn't take Falkirk long to equalise. Carshalton 1-0 Staines.

15:12 - Just noticed Fulahm have taken the lead at Wet Spam. Nuneaton are 1-0 up against Wusster.

15:15 - Someone has just phoned me up to give me a bizarre tale about the Falls Road, dunno why! Leicester beating Coventry.

15:19. Aberdeen have taken the lead again. Charlton 2-1 Blackpool. Ipswich 1 Stoke 0.

15:22 - Chelsea have taken the lead over Spuds and Linlithgow are losing at Queen of the South. It's really boring at the moment!

15:26 - Karma! Villa 1-0 Reading (Carew) and Arse 1-0 Blues almost simultaneously, good stuff.
Still no news from Tamuff but it's bloody difficult getting Trophy scores from anywhere.

15:29 - Hitchin have equalised at Halesowen. I should be able to grab some Trophy scores at HT.
Middlesborough are beating Liverplop, I still reckon they could finish out of the top four this season, but who will replace them?

15:33 - Sutton United 0-1 Bath. I think if they reorganise the Blue Square next season (and with northern sides clogging up the bottom on the Conference it's possible), I'd like Tamworth to move south, I used to love our trips to Bath.

15:36 - Salisbury 1-0 Oxford Utd. I wish my phone would stop ringing, it's not like any of the calls are omportant. Everton 1-0 Man City.

15:40 - I've just beaten Birmingham City 2-1 on Football manager, Chris Canavan with a late winner.
Meanwhile in the real world, Alloa are beating Berwick.

15:44 - Celtic 1-0 Stirling.
Hopefully the Trophy HT's will appear on Sky Sports.

15:46 - Mick Hucknall is 2-0 down against Klattering. Salisbury now 2-0 up against Oxford.

15:49 - The only Trophy score I can see is Dorchester 0-1 Ebbsfleet. Oh, and Newport 1-1 Torquay.

15:52 - Tamuff confirmed as 0-0 at HT against Blyth(e).

15:56 - Halesowen won 2-1, last minute winner.
In the BSN relegation battle Hinckley are 1-0 up against Burscough.

16:00 - Some bloke called Canham has scored an hat-trick for Team Bath. Hmm, wonder what course he's on? Stuffed4-0 Rangers are beating Forrest Gump in the Trophy and The Marmite Miners are 3-0 up at Vauxhall Motors.

16:08 - Mansfield get us under way in the 2nd half by taking the lead at Chester. Ha! Serves you right for taking Palethorpe back.

16:13 - Just got kicked out of me blog! Wolves 0-2 Crystal Palace, Wolves are on an abysmal run, tumours of Fat Sam Allardyce taking over though.
Birmingham have equalised at Arsenal - what?!
Hearts 2-0 Motherwell, nice gesture from Motherwell to rename their stand after Phil McDonnell.

16:18 - Villa 2-0 Reading, that goal-machine Martin Laursen gets it.

16:28 - Toilet break, sorry. And then I got distracted by a rather lovely lady I *ahem* came across on StumbleUpon.
Not much has happened anyway.

16:29 - Wolves 0-3 Palace, oh dear, what a shame!
Sutton 0-4 Bath, Sutton arfe doomed I fear.
Spammers have taken the lead against Fulham.

16:32 - Equaliser for Liverplop against the Smoggies. Stalyvegas have scored two in 2 minutes to take the lead against Harrogate.

16:36 - Blimey, someone on the Spartensnet forum reckons Tamuff are 1-0 up. "Wembley, Wembley........"

16:38 - A couple of ex-Villans have scored, 'Big' Dion Dublin puts Norwich 3-1 up at Barnsley and 'Little' Lee Hendrie has scored for Sheffield.

16:41 - Bugger, Solihull have taken the lead against Telford, we may be progressing in Thge Trophy but a couple of the teams below us in the league are taking advantage. It'll be fine though, I'll get my sunshine bubbles out in a bit.

16:42 - Chelsea 2-o Spuds
Derby 0-1 Wiggun. Bad news for Fulham this one, should never have sacked Coleman in my opinion.

16:49 - Leigh RMI 0-1 Redditch. I'm just waiting fot the FT's now to be honest.

16:50 - Carew makes it 3-0 to Villa. As easy as you like!

16:54 - Reading have a consolation goal but all too late.

16:56 - Confirmed 1-0 win for Tamuff, Dave Bampton with the goal, and much kudos for Dave Clayton who must have had the report on the Official Site within a minute of the final whistle, good work fella!

17:00 - That'll do for today, a much better day than last time I did this. Villa are now lwvwl on points with Liverpool!
Tamworth should take a lot of heart from their win and now push on in the league, the season is probably a wash-out in terms of play-offs but some good results and a bit of decent football will win the fans back.

Tarrah a bit.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

So, So Poor Against The Poors - Tamworth 0 Solihull Moors 2 - Blue Square North - 05/01/08

Oh dear, oh dear oh dear oh dear.

So where do Tamworth go from here?

This season hasn't exactly been a feast of football by any stretch of the imagination, but this was a new low. I counted one, yes that's just ONE shot on goal by a Tamworth player in ninety minutes of the most sporific, mind-numbingly tedious pile of malodorous six-month old, filled Pampers I have ever had the misfortune to witness in 28 years of watching my club, and that shot was curled in a beautiful arc towards the corner flag!

In fact I have almost certainly seen worse Tamworth performances by worse Tamworth teams but they would have been way back in the early 80's when a club crippled by debt was playing in front of crowds less than 100 and the players were literally whoever they could find to pull on a shirt. But at least those players tried their best, they could look us in the eye afterwards and say that they put in the effort.
This lot? They ain't fit to scrape the mud off their boots. They play like a bunch of strangers, they don't seem to be motivated in the slightest, it's plainly obvious that they have lost all confidence in manager Gary Mills, and not one of the bottlers had the cojones to come into the clubhouse afterwards to face us. Cheers lads, hope your totally unearned wages made up for having to bother getting out of your beds to stroll around the pitch for ninety minutes. I thought of you on my night shift on Sunday.

My day started off okay actually, young Scott had agreed to endure another day at The Lamb, the beer in The White Lion was pretty good as usual, and sausage rolls were only 89p for six in the Co-op!
There was even a certain air of optimism in the clubhouse before hand, yes we had managed only one point out of 9 over the Christmas period but those games were against promotion candidates (I'm sure I can remember us being talked about as one of them once upon a time) and Solihull Poors had only managed one win in fifteen! We'd beat these and stay nicely mid-table, not great but out of danger.
Oh really! From kick-off we looked clueless, too much hoofball from the back up towards forwards who couldn't control it. This was a dreadful game of "football". I really can't remember anything that happened, which turned out to be a blessing compared to the horror show that was the second half!

Some fans were actually rendered speechless by the utter crapness of it all, several fans decided not to even bother leaving the warmth of the clubhouse for the second half, if I had known what I do now I'd have joined them.

Yes, it got worse, even now in the sober reflection of three days after the event I have no idea how that could happen but it did. I suppose it was because Solihull finally realised that they were playing a team that didn't actually give a damn if they won or lost and so decided to beat them. They were aided in this by some comedy defending, I'm not sure exactly how Solhull's first goal went in, the ball bobbled about a bit with various players taking swipes at it and then the linesman signalled a goal.
Cue a shocked Tamworth team going all out to achieve a come back? Nope! They got even worse, allowing Solihull to win every 50-50 and generally giving up altogether. A second goal wasn't far away and so it proved.
By now The Shed had slipped into the defence mechanism of just taking the piss, Mills inevitably got plenty of totally deserved stick but we also cheered all Solihull substitutions, and managed a burst of "One Richie Follett", the only chant heard all game really.

So, the question at the top of this report, where do we go from here?

I don't know, but something has to change, and quick. The fans feel isolated, the club have retreated into a shell emerging only to release insipid comments on the Official Site about how we must all stick together and back the manager. The FA Cup money has apparently run out and we are only even par at the bank now, which is very worrying seeing that attendances are plummetting and the wage bill stays the same, I don't think we are in any way a crisis club just yet but there's some serious thinking to be done at boardroom level if we wish to stay that way.

Oh, and someone on the forum thinks I swear too much, I have only one thing to say to that - bollocks.

Attendance - 686
Admission £10 / £6
Crowd - Very pissed off.
Photos - They don't deserve the colour they would have added to this report.

Thank Goodness For The Clach - Inverness Clachnacuddin 1 Forres Mechanics 0 - Scot-Ads Highland Football League - 29/12/07

My mini Highland break was supposed to provide me with the chance to see three games during the week, unfortunately global warming does not yet seem to have affected this part of the World! Travelling up on the Friday night I had a sense of what was to come as we wnt through patches of freezing fog in The Borders, saw the temperature plummeting to -9 degreec Celcius around Glasgow and the whole of Inverness a glorious white colour as we drove to our destination. Needless to say all games on the saturday were postponed due to frozen pitches and I had to go to the pub instead.
Still, an afternoon in The Clachnharry Inn is never too much of a hardship! As I sipped my pint of Isle of Skye Red Cuillin I wondered how cold it would have been on the terraces of Elgin City or Nairn County.

My midweek fixture was going to be at Ross county, and the day before it looked good, the pitch was playable if a little soft after a bit of a thaw. Then the temperature dropped once again, the game was called off overnight (the opponents were Stranraer, that's a hell of a journey for a last minute postponement) and I was stuck again. Johhny Foxes and The Castle Tavern provided some comfort though.

I was determined to see one game before I went home and the secretary of Clachnacuddin was contacted three times before he finally convinced me that their match with Forres was definitely on! So me and Cameron took a stroll along the banks of the River Ness to The Lilywhite's ground in the rather less than salubrious Merkinch area of the city.

Grant Street Park is not a ground to go to if the thought of a Highland League game conjures up images of distant snow-capped mountains and majestic lochs! It is set back just behind a railway bridge surrounded by houses and a whitewashed, razor wire topped wall. Inside isn't so bad, there's a tidy seated stand down one side and a large, if rather leaky, terraced stand at the far end. The other side to the seats has a typical Highland League grass bank and the rather ugly, shed-like clubhouse, changing rooms and snack-bar complete the ground. The clubhouse was a warm haven from the cold wind and sleet that greeted our stroll to the ground but the choice of beverages wasn't great unless you like lager!

'Clachnacuddin' literally translates from the Gaelic as 'The place of the washing stones', I wouldn't fancy washing my clothes on a stone in the Moray Firth in this weather!

Both teams were mired in mid-table before this game and to be honest it was a mid-table sort of match. Clach were the better side for most of the first half, carving out several chances that their forwards contrived to miss in a variety of ways. Clach got the basics right, get the ball down (essential in the swirling wind) get it to the wings, get the crosses in and get an attempt in on goal, the bit that was missing was the 'get it on target' bit!

HT and a very nice scotch pie and a warming black coffee, no return to the clubhouse, I don't drink lager.

Second half, muc of the same, Clach continued to press, Forres huffed and puffed with little end product and my first 0-0 of the season was looking increasingly likely. Then a speculative low cross came in from the Clach right, a Forres defender got an unneccesary touch to it and the ball rolled slowly on off the far post for the winner. This finally woke up a fairly soporific crowd and we actually had a chant in support of the home club rather than a barrage of abuse aimed at Forres.

Rushed home to find out that Tamworth had lost again, this time to Klattering and then hit the whiskey in a bid to warm up.

Attendance: 180 (Heid count!)
Admission £6, Cameron free.
No programme but teamsheet available on request.