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About this blog

Thoughts on mainly Weymouth games, with the occasional County match I get to

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It's Never Dull...

Well the dust has just about settled on another season of highs and lows, joys and sorrows for the world's oldest league club. It's been a rather strange season. It sounds very cliche but it really has been a season of two halves - one spent watching our promotion hopes go down the drain, and the other half spent fighting the unthinkable in relegation out of the very league we helped establish. But we've come out the other side,  and now seems like a good time to look back on a real rollercoaster of a ride. So this is my season review. Nothing special, no real plan. Just me waffling in the hope that somebody somewhere has enough time on their hands to read said waffles, and hopefully - raise a smile! Despite an awful end to the 2015/16 season, the appointment of the experienced John Sheridan seemed a real statement of intent from Notts, and with players such as Jonathan Forte, Michael O'Connor, Richard Duffy, Matt Tootle, Adam Colin etc all signing from higher league clubs, there was reason for quiet optimism going into the new season. Not that that hope lasted very long. All of 16 minutes in fact before Adam Collin introduced himself to us with a howler to gift Yeovil the lead at Huish Park. A second followed soon after, and in the end the 2-0 scoreline probably flattered Notts, who were second best all over the park in the West Country sunshine. Still, at least we got a nice sun tan! And from a purely selfish point of view, I was home and tucking into my takeaway whilst the Notts fans were still trying to find their way back to the M5! Failiure to win either of our first two home games of the season did little to raise enthusiasm, and it wasn't until the second half of our fourth game of the season at Hartlepool that Notts' season finally kicked into life. Trailing 1-0 until the 65th minute, loanee Louis Laing would change the game - netting the equaliser himself before setting up veteren striker Jon Stead for the winner ten minutes later, to the delight of the hardy souls who made the long trip to Scotland, and to me and some other Notts fans enjoying Twenty20 Finals Day at Edgbaston! Back-to-back away wins were recorded thanks to another terrific second half display that saw us win 3-1 at Crawley, and set us up nicely for what promised to be a tasty home game with Grimsby Town. The Marriners brought a large and boysterous following, and when Omar Bogle (Omaaar, Omaaaarrr) latched onto a pathetic back pass from Aborah to double their lead early in the second half, they appeared to be cruising. But Johnny Forte halved the defecit with eleven minutes to go, and barely a minute later the travelling army of "Fish" were stunned when Notts won a penalty. Maybe it was the adrenelin, or maybe it was just a c*ap effort, but O'Connor smashed it wide to the disbelief of the Notts crowd.  But to their credit, the players didn't let the setback get to them, and after launching the kitchen sink at Grimsby for the final ten minutes, Aaron Collins lifted the roof off of the Kop end when he equalised a minute from time. Vadane Oliver almost stole all 3 points moments leter when his looping header was tipped onto the crossbar by the keeper. If that had gone in I think there would have been a few broken bones in the Kop! We couldn't repeat the trick a week later as we slumped to a dreadful 2-0 reverse at home to Accrington Stanley, but our away form came to our aid again, with back-to-back away day successes again, this time at Cheltenham Town and Exeter City, either side of a first home win of the season over Leyton Orient.  Those 3 straight wins had us briefly up to the dizzying heights of 5th, but we came crashing back down to earth with a bang, with a gut wrenching defeat to Mansfield Town at Field Mill, conceeding two stoppage time goals.  Another home defeat followed, this time to Morecambe, before, once again - our away form kept us in the mix, and saw us achieve arguably our best result of the season - winning 2-1 at eventual champions Portsmouth, thanks to two Adam Campbell goals. An incredible result, and a brilliant day for the travelling fans. Little did we know, it would end up being 14 long, excruciating weeks before we had that winning feeling in the league again.

A frustrating goalless draw at home to Luton followed, before we just about avoided FA Cup embarrassment to non-league opposition again, coming from 2 down to rescue a draw at Boreham Wood. There's a first time for everything, and that was the first time I've found myself watching a game from the toilet block door to stay out of the rain! An utterly calamitous 4-0 trouncing at Bloomfield Road put a slight dampener on what was an otherwise cracking weekend in Blackpool, before bottom side Newport came to the Lane and tore us a new one. Shaun Derry was then on hand to rub salt into the wounds 4 days later, before another masterclass in defensive ineptitude handed Barnet 3 points at The Hive, in a game where Notts should have been 3 to the good by the time Barnet got on the scoresheet. Some degree of pride was briefly restored in the FA Cup second round, as we fought back from 2 down to earn a deserved replay with league one Peterborough, but the losing run in the league was stretched to 6 games as we threw away the lead at Colchester.  By this stage, the atmosphere was starting to turn toxic, not only against the manager and the players, but the owner. The clear chants from the crowd for Trew to leave at Colchester proved to be much closer to the mark than any of us imagined, as the following Monday Trew announced that he had agreed a deal with Alan Hardy to sell the club.  This meant that the army of Notts fans who travelled to Peterborough the next evening for the FA Cup replay were in good spirits, and with the prize at stake being a trip to Chelsea, there was a cracking atmosphere in the away end. It wasn't to be as we were comfortably beaten on the night, but it was a fantastic evening in that away end.  The optimism was short lived as two more home defeats over the Christmas and New Year period left us just one place above the relegation zone, and 4-0 humbling at Cambridge in the first game of 2017 signalled the end of the road for yet another manager. John Sheridan was relieved of his duties, but we were still yet to hit rock bottom.  That would come with an embarrassing surrender to ten man Morecambe, making it an unwanted club record of 10 consecutive league defeats, during which we shipped just the 27 goals! But thankfully, things were about to change for the better. Alan Hardy officially completed his takeover of the club, and wasted no time in appointing Kevin Nolan as manager. Some wondered if we were in a position to be able to afford to gamble on another rookie manager, but it was obvious that he and Hardy had already struck up a strong relationship, and quite frankly, many of us thought "sod it he can't do any worse".  A bumper crowd of over 11,300 descened onto the Lane for the pairs first game at the club, and Notts finally stopped the rot with a hard fought goalless draw against local rivals Mansfield Town, who's fans seemed more interested in setting off flares than watching the game. We never did find out if any lifeboats actually responded... The next home game finally brought us our first win in what felt like an eternity, and in typical Notts fashion, it came in the most dramatic way possible.  For the most part we had been all over Crawley, but try as we might we just couldn't find that all important goal, and when Curtis Thomspon saw red midway through the second half, after all of the chances we'd missed, you couldn't help but feel that a sucker punch was inevitable.  But if anything, the red seemed to galvanise Notts further, and the home fans roared them forwards. Sure enough, with just 15 minutes remaining Thierry Audel headed Notts into the lead. Just ffteen minutes to hold on for that long awaited victory. Crawley had created nothing all game, surely this was it?  Well this being Notts there had to be a sting in the tail, and when James Collins let fy from some 30 yards and his effort flew in off the underside of the bar, everyone's heart sank. Just typical, we had been the better side and had been hit with the sucker punch. "Watch them nick it now" I remember thinking to myself.  But once again, the setback only seemed to strengthen our resolve, and when Crawley's keeper spilled a shot, Forte was on hand to smash the rebound home, sparking scenes of utter delerium around Meadow Lane.  Those five minutes of injury time were five of the longest minutes of my life, but the sheer release of emotion at that final whistle will live long in the memory. There were grown men in tears. Unless you suffered through those 14 weeks of hell since the last win, you can't even begin to understand just how much that win meant to us, and the way in which we won it made it even more special. Moments like that are why we stick with our clubs through thick and thin.  The joy was short lived, as a frustrating defeat at Accrington Stanley (I'll let you say it...) followed, and set up a relegation 6 pointer at home to Cheltenham. It was a game of huge importance for both sides, but by now Nolan was really starting to stamp his mark on the side, and wth the embargo being lifted at the 11th hour, he was able to bring in some useful signings for the run-in, and in particular Jorge Grant and Shola Ameobi would prove invaluable.  Notts beat Cheltenham 2-1, and the never say die attitude Noaln had instilled was emphasised days later when Richard Duffy and Jorge Grant struck in injury time to rescue a dramatic draw at home to Exeter. This set up yet another relegation 6 pointer in East London against Leyton Orient. It proved not to be one for the faint hearted! Normally games like that are tight and nervy, but this was anything but. Both sides seemed to decide that the best form of defence was attack. Jorge Grant gave Notts a 35th minute lead which they would just about hold onto into half time. It looked like Jon Stead had settled the nerves when he doubled the lead early in the second half, but in typical Notts fashion, we allowed Orient straight back into it a minute later, to set up 40 of the most nail biting minutes those of us in attendance would experience all season.  Orient threw everything at us, and the defending at times was desperate. We were beginning to edge towards a massive victory, but then ten minutes from time Notts failed to clear their lines, and Mezague struck an absolute rocket into the roof of the net to lift the roof off of Brisbane Road.  Other scores were against us at the time, and now we were just hoping to hang on for the point. But some great skill from Bola carved open the Orient defence, and he pulled it back for the unmarked Jon Stead on the edge of the box, and the veteren frontman cooly rifled the ball into the bottom corner to spark utter chaos in the away end.  We just about held out for the 6 minutes of injury time, and secured one of our most important wins of the season, and what a game it was too! A slightly less exciting goalless draw with Yeovil followed, before another memorable away win, this time in deepest Devon at promotion chasing Plymouth, on a Tuesday night. Ultimately it was a goalkeeping howler that let Grant in for the decisive goal midway through the first half, though any of the 163 hardy souls in the away end that night would tell you Notts were genuinely the better side on the night, and Plymouth wouldn't have had much ground for complaint if we'd won 3-0.  The young Forest star (as the local chip paper loves to point out) was having quite an impact, and he slammed home one of the goals of the season to seal a 2-1 win over Hartlepool in another six pointer at Meadow Lane. Quite a contrast in the home form since the arrival of Nolan.  A batting 3-1 loss at league leaders Doncaste followed, but so good was the run we had been on that we now had an 8 point cushion over the bottom 2, neither of whom were showing any signs of dragging themselves out of it.  Safety was all but confirmed over the weekend of the 18th and 19th of March. Results went our way on the Saturday, but when Mark Yeates saw red for a rash challenge early on at home to Barnet, it looked like we might be thankful for those results going our way. But under Noaln we're a different animal, and this team doesn't know when it's beaten. We limited Barnet to very few openings, and Matt Tootle's goal early in the second half gave us something to defend. A combination of Notts runing themelves into the ground, and Barnet being a bit toilet meant we held on for a massive 3 points that took us 11 clear of the drop zone.  The pressure of the dogfight was now off to some extent and we were able to enjoy the run in.  Shola Ameobi's goal was enough to earn 3 points in a rather uneventful game at Wycombe, before we put in arguably our best performance under Nolan when comfortably seeing off play-off chasing Colchester at Meadow Lane.  Four straight wins were notched up with Jon Stead and Matt Tootle scoring in the last 5 minutes to seal a dramatic comeback win at Carlisle, before an entertaining, if somewhat frustrating draw at Crewe.  But by now we were already starting to look to next season, and not even the unbeaten home run under Nolan coming to an end against Portsmouth on Easter Monday could wash away the feel good factor.  The final home game of the season saw us sign off with a hard fought and scrappy win over Blackpool, and it just brought home how much things have changed in the last year.  12 months ago we lost 5-0 to Carlisle on the final day, and the club was in complete turmoil. Now we're revitalised, and everybody is looking forwards. The feel good factor is back in the club. Watching Notts has gone back to being fun again.  It was actually nice to go into that final game at Newport and be in a position to just enjoy the day. It was a shame we lost but credit to Newport, what a way to survive. I'm just glad it didn't hold any relevance for us, as it was only a few months ago that we were starting to look at that game as a potential do or die game! It's been another topsy turvy season at Meadow Lane, but we've come through it. I know we've had more false dawns than we care to remember at Notts, so I say it with extreme caution, but there is genuine cause for quiet optimism.  I really do think that Nolan could build something special here if given the right backing. It's obvious him and Hardy have a special bond, and that's crucial. Look what it did for Derek Pavis and Neil Warnock.  We need to be patient though and give him time. And I mean proper time. Don't panic and go and get rid of him at the first sign of things not going according to plan. We've been through a frankly embarrassing number of managers over the last few years and look where it's got us. Now more than ever we need some stability, and I trust Nolan to take us forwards next season.  I really don't think we're that far off challenging at the right end of this league. The gap between the top and the bottom isn't that great. We beat 5 of this season's top 7 this season,  so we know we can compete with the big teams.  We'll see what happens come August. But as with any Notts season, it sure as hell won't be dull!        

weymouthPIE

weymouthPIE

 

Same Old Notts

Well just when we thought we couldn’t possibly play any worse than what we did last Saturday at Bloomfied Road, bottom of the league Newport come to the San Sirrel and teach us a footballing lesson. I wasn’t at the Lane on Saturday thanks to some inadequate public transport down this neck of the woods, but I was at Blackpool last weekend, and it was right up there with the worst performances we witnessed time and again last season. 
In John Sheridan we have a no nonsense, old school manager, and I really had hoped that we had at least seen the last of these spineless surrenders. We can all take losing. In fact as Notts fans we’re almost immune to it, but its the manner in which you lose that matters, and these last two games have been nothing short of a disgrace and an embarrassment to this proud club, that would have had the two legends immortalised on Meadow Lane turning in their graves. Frankly, there should be a tear in the eye of both men as they look on at what their club has become. 
This is why you can never get too excited as a Notts fan. No matter how well things seem to be going, disaster is always lurking just around the corner. Tell me, is it really just a mere coincidence that things have begun going **** up on the field just as speculation about the sale of the club rears its ugly head yet again?
I’ll be honest, I spent quite a few years defending Ray Trew, but to be honest the whole Jamie Fullarton saga was the final straw. The way he’s treating the supporters with utter contempt and refusing to give us any real information at all is sickening. It’s our club, and we have a right to know what’s going on. I really think a fans forum is needed. Ray Trew needs to look the paying punters in the eye and tell us honestly what the position of the club is; i.e. are we still for sale or not. If he tells us he’s had enough and wants out as soon as possible – fine. Quite frankly the feeling will be mutual among the majority of supporters. If he’s staying, then he needs to outline his plan for the future. Right now, we’re on a slippery slope out of the very league we helped establish, and as much as it really doesn’t bear thinking about, it’s a genuine concern. If we went out, I really doubt we’d ever come back. 
I think most fans can agree that a change of ownership and direction is badly needed. Call me boring, but personally I don’t want another overseas consortium of millionaires coming in promising us the world and making totally unrealistic promises. We’ve been there, and we’ve seen countless other clubs go there, and it never ends happily ever after. All’s I want is someone who understands the club, who values the supporters, and who can give us that badly needed new lease of life. We don’t expect the world, we just want a competitive team on the pitch that we can be proud of, that will put bums on seats, and most of all – make supporting Notts fun again. 
Right now we have a fan base which seems to dwindle further by the week, and those that remain grow more and more disillusioned by the week. The attendances at Meadow Lane have dropped even lower than what they were in the Trust years pre Munto when we were struggling just to survive in league 2. We all know how this place can be absolutely bouncing when we have something to get behind. You don’t even have to be winning titles for that. Just think back to the Great escape of 2014. The whole club was galvanised, and the supporters virtually pulled the team over the line themselves. 
Right now, going to Meadow Lane is a depressing experience. The stands are sparsely populated, and there’s a feeling of doom and gloom even before kick off. This isn’t helped by our frankly unacceptable home form, which has seen us win just 15 out of our last 53 home league games. That’s downright pathetic, and totally unacceptable at any level.
Where we go from here, I really don’t know. On the pitch this season, I still think that if we can find some consistency we can do well this season. The players have proved that they are capable of digging in and grinding out results this season, which makes the last two games all the more difficult to stomach, and harder to understand. 
But whatever happens, this club is suffering a very slow and painful death. We’re crying out for a new lease of life, which doesn’t appear to be forthcoming. So I guess we’ll just carry on struggling to compete in this league, merely going through the motions. It’s a sad and difficult time to be a Notts fan, and many lifelong fans have lost patience.
Me? Well I’m stupid, so despite calling the team every name under the sun on Saturday evening, come 3pm next Saturday I’ll still be at Barnet trying to convince myself that today is the day everything finally comes good. 
Few of us have chosen our teams, we have merely been presented with them. And so as they slip from second division to the third, and from third division to fourth; as they sell their best players and replace them with journeymen looking for one last pay cheque before retirement; as they lump the ball for the seven hundredth time towards a 6 foot centre forward who somehow never wins a header; we simply curse, go home, worry for a week, then come back and do it all again. But that’s the life of a football fan isn’t it? You can change jobs, homes, partners, cars, virtually anything. But you’re football team – you’re stuck with them.   

weymouthPIE

weymouthPIE

 

My 2013-14 season

Well after 69 games, my season finally ended on Saturday. Well, if we're being pedantic it was actually 67 games and 50 minutes - with one game being abandoned after 40 minutes, and me only catching the final 10 minutes of Weymouth's FA Cup tie with Bognor Regis. Although that was enough to see the Terras fight back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw and a replay, which they would go on to win 4-1. It really dosen't seem so long ago the Weymouth pies travelled up to Sheffield back in August for that first league game of the season. At the time, it didn't seem a bad result. We all naturally assumed the Blades would be challenging for promotion, although as it turned out they spent much of the season, like us - fighting relegation, until their remarkable recovery late on. I have listed all the games I attended, and after that I've done my own little awards section. I'll start off now though by saying that the most amazing experience was travelling to Turin for Juventus v Genoa. I did a blog for the Italian Magpies website on that weekend if you wish to read it: http://www.italianmagpies.com/2013/11/my-birthday-surprise-juventus.html That game would probably win all of the awards to be honest, so those awards are for the other games. So, here are the 69 matches I attended over the course of the season: 1. Portland United 0-4 Weymouth - Pre Season Friendly (20.7.13) 2. Portland United 0-5 Dorchester Town - Pre season Friendly (27.7.13) 3. Sheffield United 2-1 Notts County - League One (2.8.13) 4. Dorchester Town 1-1 Weymouth - Pre Season Friendly (3.8.13) 5. Weymouth Reserves 3-3 Poole Borough - Dorset Premier League (10.8.13) 6. Weymouth Reserves 5-1 Swanage Town & Herston - Dorset Premier League (14.8.13) 7. Weymouth Reserves 2-2 Merley Cobham Sports - Dorset Premier League (17.8.13) 8. Weymouth 2-0 Frome Town - Southern Premier League (20.8.13) 9. Weymouth 3-0 Redditch United - Southern Premier League (24.8.13) 10. Poole Town 2-2 Weymouth - Southern Premier League (26.8.13) 11. Weymouth 1-1 Cambridge City - Southern Premier League (31.8.13) 12. Weymouth Reserves 3-1 Holt United - Dorset Premier League (7.9.13) 13. Fareham Town 0-1 Weymouth - FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round (14.8.13) 14. Weymouth 2-1 AFC Totton - Southern Premier League (17.8.13) 15. Weymouth 0-3 Hemel Hempstead Town - Southern Premier League (21.9.13) 16. Weymouth 2-2 Bognor Regis Town - FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round (28.9.13) - I was having an induction day for a job at Sainsbury's, so only got out in time to see the final 10 minutes or. We scored twice in those ten minutes to earn a replay! 17. Bristol Rovers 1-3 Fleetwood Town - League Two (5.10.13) 18. Cirencester Town 1-2 Weymouth - FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round (12.10.13) 19. Swindon Town 2-0 Notts County - League One (18.10.13) 20. Weymouth 1-0 Bridgwater Town - FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round (19.10.13) 21. Bashley 0-5 Weymouth - Red Insure Cup 1st Round 22. Juventus 2-0 Genoa - Serie A (27.10.13) As you do... 23. Weymouth 3-0 Shaftesbury Town - Dorset Senior Cup 2nd Round (29.10.13) 24. Weymouth Reserves 3-1 Sherborne Town Reserves - Dorset Premier League (2.11.13) 25. AFC Totton 0-1 Weymouth - Southern Premier League (5.11.13) 26. Weymouth 1-3 Hungerford Town - Southern Premier League (9.11.13) 27. Weymouth Reserves 5-1 Hamworthy United Reserves - Dorset Premier League (16.11.13) 28. Weymouth 4-0 Poole Town - Red Insure Cup 2nd Round (20.11.13) 29. Weymouth 2-1 Arlesey Town - Southern Premier League (23.11.13) 30. Weymouth 4-1 Chippenham Town - Southern Premier League (26.11.13) 31. Dorchester Town 0-0 Eastbourne Borough - Skrill South (30.11.13) 32. Weymouth 4-0 Bridport Town - Dorset Senior Cup Quarter Final (3.12.13) 33. Weymouth 0-3 St Albans City - Southern Premier League (7.12.13) 34. Banbury United 0-0 Weymouth - Southern Premier League (14.12.13) 35. Weymouth 4-1 Bedford Town - Southern Premier League (21.12.13) 36. Weymouth 0-3 Poole Town - Southern Premier League (26.12.13) 37. Frome Town 1-2 Weymouth - Southern Premier League (28.12.13) 38. Notts County 2-1 Sheffield United - League One (11.1.14) 39. Weymouth 1-2 Tiverton Town - Red Insure Cup 3rd Round (14.1.14) 40. Weymouth Reserves 2-0 Shaftesbury Town - Dorset Premier League (18.1.14) 41. Chippenham Town 2-1 Weymouth - Southern Premier League (25.1.14) 42. Bashley 1-2 Weymouth Abandoned after 40 minutes due to power cut - Southern Premier League (28.1.14) 43. Weymouth 0-5 Stourbridge - Southern Premier League (1.2.14) 44. Weymouth 3-2 Bideford AFC - Southern Premier League (4.2.14) 45. St Albans City 3-0 Weymouth - Southern Premier League (8.2.14) 46. Dorchester Town 3-2 Bromley - Skrill South (15.2.14) 47. Weymouth Reserves 0-1 Hamworthy Recreation - Dorset Premier League (22.2.14) 48. Weymouth 2-4 Hamworthy United - Dorset Senior Cup Semi Final (25.2.14) 49. Weymouth 2-2 Biggleswade Town - Southern Premier League (1.3.14) 50. Weymouth 2-4 Chesham United - Southern Premier League (4.3.14) 51. Hemel Hempstead Town 4-1 Weymouth - Southern Premier League (8.3.14) 52. Weymouth 2-0 Bashley - Southern Premier League (15.3.14) 53. Bashley 0-3 Weymouth - Southern Premier League (18.3.14) 54. Burnham 1-3 Weymouth - Southern Premier League - (22.3.14) 55. Weymouth 2-1 Burnham - Southern Premier League (25.3.14) 56. Weymouth Reserves 1-1 Wareham Rangers - Dorset Premier League (26.3.14) 57. Weymouth 1-1 Hitchin Town - Southern Premier League (29.3.14) 58. Brentford 3-1 Notts County - League One (5.4.14) 59. Weymouth 1-2 St Neots Town - Southern Premier League (12.4.14) 60. Weymouth 0-1 Banbury United - Southern Premier League (15.4.14) 61. Bristol City 2-1 Notts County - League One (18.4.14) 62. Weymouth Reserves 5-0 Blandford United - Southern Premier League (19.4.14) 63. Weymouth 2-5 Truro City - Southern Premier League (21.4.14) 64. Weymouth Reserves 3-2 Bridport Town - Dorset Premier League (28.4.14) 65. Sainsburys 2-2 Morrisons (Morrisons won 4-2 on pens) - Local supermarket charity match (27.4.14) 66. Hamworthy Recreation 0-0 Portland United AET (Hamworthy won 6-5 on pens) - Dorset Premier League Cup Final (30.4.14) 67. Oldham Athletic 1-1 Notts County - League One (3.5.14) 68. Portland United 4-1 Merley Cobham Sports - Dorset Premier League (10.5.14) 69. Portland United Reserves 2-0 Blandford United Reserves - Dorset Senior League (17.5.14) Awards Best 3 games in no particular order: Weymouth 3-2 Bideford It was an awful night for football. Gail force winds and heavy, driving wind battered the south coast, and made playing a passing game impossible. So this game became a real war of attrition, and in the end Weymouth pulled off one of their best results of the season. The game turned out to be possibly the most entertaining the 363 in attendance saw at the Bob Lucas Stadium all season. At the time. Weymouth had suffered 5-0 loss at home to Stourbridge 3 days earlier, while the visitors were having a remarkable season, and went into the game occupying the final play-off spot in 5th place. Weymouth started with the wind in their backs, and took the lead 15 minutes in when George Rigg fired into the bottom corner from 25 yards out. The wind and rain doing nothing to help the Bideford keeper, who moments earlier had ended up saving one of his own goal kicks which had been blown straight back at him! Typically though, Weymouth immediatly pressed the self destruct button. From the restart they gave away a free kick halfway inside their own half. The ball was sent into the penalty area and headed against the crossbar, before falling to Sean Downing who poked it home to pull Biddy level. In the second half, the weather was not quite as bad but still on and off. Weymouth re-took the lead seven minutes into the second half with a deadly counter attack. The ball was cleared and it broke to Niall Thompson on the left wing, who used his incredible pace to run half the length of the pitch, before sending in a cross which ended up being assisted by the wind. It fell to George Rigg, who had time and space to bring the ball down before calmly slotting home. Then just after the hour, it was 3-1. Weymouth breaking up play in the middle of the pitch, and a hopefull punt forwards ended up sending top scorer Stewart Yetton through one on one with the keeper. He slotted it under the on rushing keeper into the net, sending the home crowd mad. The action wasn't over yet. With just a few minutes left on the clock, Jake Green went in hard on a Bideford player. The Bideford team reacted, and before long there was a full on 22 man brawl. When the dust had settled, Jake Green was sent off. And from the resulting free kick, former Terra Ben Gerring scored from close range to give Bideford hope. But within a couple of seconds they shot themselves in the foot. As Bideford's Rab Farkins attempted to retrieve the ball, he stamped on keeper Jason Matthews, and he was given his marching order. Bideford threw the kitchen sink at us for what seemed like 10 minutes of added time, but the Terras dug deep, and held on to secure one of their best 3 point hauls of the season. Match Highlights - Weymouth 2-4 Chesham United It looked like it should be a fairly easy win for Chesham, and the scoreline suggests it was. Weymouth were in poor form, while Chesham were in the middle of what became a 15 match winning run which very nearly won them the title. And in the first half, it looked like it would be straightforward, as three tap ins from one of the league's top marksman Chirstopher Dillon gave the Generals a 3-0 half time lead. Weymouth's defence not really turning up for the first 45 minutes. And but for a couple of good saves from player-manager Jason Matthews, it could have been even more. The second half however, was very different. Just three minutes into the second half, from the Terras first shot on target - George Rigg scored one of the goals of the season. He was given the ball in space, and he let fly from 30 yards, finding the top corner of the net. A fantastic strike, which really lifted the home fans and gave us a small glimour of hope. That hope, turned to real belief just before the hour mark, when Ben Joyce latched onto a hopefull punt forwards in behind the Chesham defence. He played it square to Stewart Yetton, who passed it into the net. The title chasing visitors were rattled. The intensity which had been there in the first half had gone, as they spent much of the second half camped in their own final third of the pitch. Stewart Yetton went close to levelling the scores when the ball was crossed in, but his header was straight at the Chesham keeper. He also put one just wide while Ben Joyce forced the keeper into a diving save. But as the Terras pushed for an equaliser, naturally - they were leaving themselves severely exposed at the back. On 70 minutes, they were made to pay when a long ball forwards sent Drew Roberts through on the left wing. He crossed for Potton who slotted home. In the end Weymouth ended the night with nothing, but in the second half, for long periods they played the promotion chasers off the park, and with the number of chances they had, were perhaps unlucky not to have nicked something in the end. Highlights - Notts County 2-1 Sheffield United I was actually the lucky voter in Notts' goal of the month compeition for October, and the prize was two tickets to a home game of my choice. We chose this game. A bit of a grudge match, and at the time, a massive relegation six pointer. It was the biggest crowd of the season at Meadow Lane, and tensions were running high. Notts players seemed to be just as nervous as we all were, as we started in the worst possible way - falling behind with barely two minutes on the clock. Connor Coady played a quick one two with Chris Porter on the edge of our penalty area which opened up the defence, and allowed Coady to finish cooly into the bottom corner, sending the big United following wild. The pre-match atmosphere had been electric from both sides, but if anything, the Notts fans just got louder, as they tried to get the team going. But Notts just couldn't get going, and Coady nearly doubled the Blades lead when he was fed into space, but he put the ball wide. Jamal Campbell-Ryce then went close - cutting inside two players before curling narrowly wide. It was end-to-end, and United again went close when a corner was only half cleared, and Doyle fired over the bar. Notts though gradually got into their stride, and a Campbell-Ryce cross just evaded the head of big Enoch Showumni. But a few minutes later, the two combined to pull the Magpies level. Mark Fotheringham played an inch perfect pass to Campbell-Ryce on the right wing. He beat his man, and crossed for Showumni, who managed to chest the ball home to haul the Magpies level. United almost re-took the lead when Coady's shot from a corner appeared to be deflected away by Showumni's hand, but the ref waved play on despite big appeals from United. There was another desperate cry for handball from the United players and fans a few minutes later, but nothing was given, and the home fans took to mocking the visitors with cries of "handball!" every time a United player touched the ball. Even when Matt Hill picked the ball up to take a throw in, the Kop sarcastically screamed for handball. One of those moments when you have to have been there to really see the funny side of it. Great laugh. Half time provided a much needed breather. The second half was to be a big 45 minutes. It was a much tighter affair, but Notts simply wanted it more - and their desire to fight for every single loose ball and never let United settle proved to be the difference. Twenty Minutes from time, Notts landed a telling blow. Alan Sheehan delivered a dangerous cross to the back post, where Mark Fotheringham was in space. It looked like he just had to direct the ball goalwards to give the Magpies the lead. He did, but the keeper pulled off an outstanding save, but the danger wasen't cleared. Meadow Lane held it's breath, and at the second attempt, Fotheringham smashed the ball into the roof of the net, to send Meadow Lane into raptures, the Notts team jumping into the crowd to celebrate. Straight down the other end, United appealed desperatly for a penalty, but Tony McMahon was booked for a pretty blatent dive. Fifteen minutes from time the visitors should have equalised, when McGinn tricked his way into the penalty area, but with only Bart Bialkowski to beat, he curled his effort miles wide. Notts held on to secure one of their best results of the season, and a first victory over the Blades for 20odd years. Extra special for me with it being a rare trip to Meadow Lane. A brilliant day, and a proper ding-dong relegation battle. Obviously in the end Sheffield United staged a remarkable recovery in March and April to finish 7th, but back in January, they were right in the thick of it just like us. The celebrations at the end told you all you needed to know. Worst 3 games: Dorchester Town 0-0 Eastbourne Borough Dorchester are Weymouth's main rivals these days, and normally I wouldn't lower myself to going to watch them. But to be honest I'll watch any football, and as it was the only local game on that day, I went along. Obviously, I supported Eastbourne, and in truth I expected them to win. They were sitting just outside the play-offs, while Dorchester had been down the bottom all season, and eventually finished bottom of the table. What I ended up seeing, was a game in which next to nothing happened apart from a couple of dissalowed goals, and my then boss coming on for 5 minutes and managing to get booked right in front of me. A miserable day compounded by Notts losing, and by hearing the laughs from Dorchester fans as news filtered through of Weymouth's 7-0 capitulation up at Stourbridge. A very cold, dull, miserable day! "Highlights" - Hamworthy Recreation 0-0 Portland United Dorset league football is usually a good laugh, and despite the standard, is normally pretty entertaining and end-to-end. The Dorset premier league cup final wasn't. League champions Portland faced 4th placed Hamworthy Recreation, and played out 120 of the dullest minutes the 202 of us in attendance will probably ever witness. The best chance of the game came in just the 5th minute, when a Portland header was brilliantly tipped wide by the Hamworthy keeper. It was he who went on to be the hero in the penalty shoot-out, saving 2 Portland penalties before scoring the winning penalty himself. Weymouth Reserves 0-1 Hamworthy Recreation Maybe it's just something about Hamworthy Rec? At the time, this was 1st v 2nd in the Dorset Premier League, but on a very windy, cold day - it was Hamworthy's more physical prescence which proved the difference. The only goal of the game came near the end of a largly uneventfull first half, when a cross was spilt by the Weymouth keeper Ryan Park, and a Hamworthy player was on hand to pick up the pieces. Ryan Park did make up for his error making a couple of fine saves towards the end of the game, but Weymouth never really looked like getting back into it, nor did the visitors really look like adding to their lead, as the game petered out into a stop start midfield battle. Top 10 goals: 10. Stefan Brown - HUNGERFORD @ Weymouth I'll start with an opposition goal, from a game against Hungerford Town back at the beggining of November, when both sides were just a few points off the play-offs. For the first half hour, Weymouth played some of their best football of the season. Scott Walker's 9th minute goal had them in front, but they could have had 3 or 4 by the time Stefan Brown changed the game on 32 minutes. He latched onto a long hopefull punt forwards, cut inside, and unleashed a thunderbolt from 20 yards which flew into top corner of the net, just clipping the underside of the crossbar on it's way in. The goal took the wind out of Weymouth's sails, and they went to lose the game 3-1. 9. Luke Burbridge - WEYMOUTH @ Poole The August bank holiday visit to Poole Town was already a big game, despite it being only the 4th of the season. Both sides had won their opening 3 games of the season, and both were among the favourites to be challenging for promotion. There was added spice, with winger Luke Burbridge and defender Michael Walker lining up for Weymouth, having both been part of Poole's South & West division title winning team the previous season, the latter captaining the side. 1053 were there on a glorious sunny day, and around 600 were Weymouth fans. They saw Stewart Yetton open the scoring right on the stroke of half time from a corner. But it was in the second half where the game really came to life. First, Poole had Steve Devlin sent off for a high boot just four minutes into the second half. But it seemed to spark Poole into life, and Richard Gillespie fired the hosts level just before the hour mark. Weymouth were stunned, and just four minutes later, the ten men took the lead; and again, it was Richard Gillespie providing a cool finish bringing delight to the home fans. Weymouth looked out of ideas, but then Poole shot themselves in the foot again. Poole's goalkeeper found himself being yellow carded for time wasting on 65 minutes, and when the ref showed him the card, he gave the ref a sarcastic slap on the cheek. There was only going to be one outcome to that, a second yellow card. The expected Weymouth onslaught never really materialised, with Poole keeping everyone back but always looking a threat on the counter. It took a moment of individual brilliance from the former Poole man Luke Burbridge to earn the Terras a point. He found himself with the ball on the right. He went down the line, and cut inside the defender before lashing a 20 yard shot past the substitute keeper with around 10 minutes to go. Despite it being against his former club, he jumped into the crowd to celebrate. Ironically, that was probably Burbridge's best performance in a Weymouth shirt. He became unhappy at the club and completed a switch back to Poole towards the end of the season. 8. George Rigg - WEYMOUTH v Chesham This game and goal has already been mentioned as one of my three favourite games, but I think the goal that sparked what was very nearly a remarkable comeback deserves another look. He's given the ball in space, flicks it up, and smashes it into the top corner from all of 30 yards, to get the Terras back into the game. 7. Steve Davis - BEDFORD @ Weymouth Another opposition goal this time. Bedford travelled to Weymouth just before Christmas having not won a game since September (they wouldn't actually win another game until early April). They were struggling with severe financial problems, and on a horrible wet day at the Bob Lucas Stadium, they looked desperate to see the game called off. Sadly for them the game went ahead, and first half goals from Luke Burbridge and Stewart Yetton had Weymouth in command at the break. But the rain was unrelenting, and at half time it took a mamoth effort from the ground staff, directors, substitutes, and fans to fork the pitch so that the match could be completed. Another goal each for Yetton and Burbridge had Weymouth 4-0 up, but from the restart at 4-0, came the goal of the game. The ball was played to Bedford's number 7 Steve Davis on the right wing. He weaved his way past 4 players in field and into the box before firing hard into the top of the net, earning applause from even the home fans. A stunning solo goal, which is especially rare at this level. 6. Isaac Vassell - WEYMOUTH v Bashley (away) Bashley spent the whole season near the bottom of the table, thanks to serious financial issues which at one point threatened to stop the club even completing the season. Weymouth were therefore expected to beat them comfortably. The two sides had met in the league at the Bob Lucas Stadium just 3 days earlier, and Weymouth won 2-0 against a spirited Bashley side who would have felt hard done by. This 3-0 win however was far more convincing from Weymouth. Stewart Yetton had given them the lead near half time from the penalty spot, and he then nodded home from a corner early in the second half. But it was young Isaac Vassell who stole the show, with his first goal for the club. He had been signed on loan from Plymouth Argyle, and as the nephew of former England international Darius, he has a lot to live up to. He showed what he's capable of here though, showing great persistence to win the ball on the left halfway inside the Bashley half, before cutting inside, and firing an unstoppable shot beyond the keeper from 30 yards. The shot was so powerfull,it actually hit the wall behind the goal and bounced back out, and it happened so quickly it took a few people a few seconds to realise it had gone in. A superb goal to seal all 3 points on the road for the Terras. 5. Stewart Yetton - WEYMOUTH @ Frome Town (second goal) The final game of 2013 took Weymouth to struggling Frome Town. Frome had not won a home game since March, while Weymouth had recently sacked manager Brendon king along with his assistant - veteran striker Matt Groves, who had now joined Frome Town. For the most part, it was a fairly dull game on a poor pitch which meant both sides had to resort to long ball tactics. Typically, Matt Groves gave Frome a deserved lead just shy of the hour mark. Ben Wood had also started the season at Weymouth, so we knew he had a dangerously long throw on him. How ironic then that a Ben Wood long throw caused chaos in the Weymouth defence, and it all ended with Matt Groves smashing the ball home from no more than a couple of yards out. With twenty minutes to go, Weymouth had still created next to nothing, so they threw on big Nathan Walker up front as a target man. It soon paid dividends. Walker's flick on fell to Yetton, who calmly fired beyond the keeper from the edge of the box to level things up. Weymouth now sensed all three points, and it was Yetton's second goal which really lit the game up. Luke Winsper played a perfect through ball into Yetton, who curled a shot over the onrushing keepers, and just under the crossbar - causing absolute carnage among the travelling supporters - as the players and fans celebrated together. An amazing turnaround. Weymouth ended up picking up 3 points from a game where, with 15 minutes left, even a point looked like being a long shot. Sadly there is no footage of this goal, but those of us who were there won't forget this goal, or the celebrations that followed in a hurry. 4. Isaac Vassell - WEYMOUTH v Hitchin Town Despite there being seven games to go, with the way the Southern League had worked out - neither of these sides had really had anything to play for for quite a while by the time they met at the end of March. Both well out of the race for the play-offs, but well clear of any relegation worries. And for the majority of this game it felt like an end of season friendly, with very little action for the crowd to get their teeth into. Hitchin had taken the lead on 64 minutes when Matt Lench latched onto a through ball, and managed to just get it over the on rushing Jason Matthews. Weymouth rarely threatened, and it looked like being another home defeat for the Terras until once again, young Isaac Vassell showed he showed he is more than capable of emulating Darius, with a moment of brilliance on 72 minutes. A long ball forward into the box was only half cleared by the Hitchin defence into space. Isaac Vassell slipped, but managed to regain his balance quickly. He picked the ball up on the edge of the D, took it wide, before curling a wonderfull shot into the top corner from 25 yards, to pull the Terras back on level terms. 3. Stewart Yetton - WEYMOUTH @ Cirencester (second goal) The 3rd qualifying round draw wasen't too kind to Weymouth - taking them to South & west division (one league below) high flyers Cirencester. Cirencester had only lost one game all season going into this one, and were scoring goals for fun - smashing Didcot Town 7-1 four days earlier. We knew it would probably take something special to win this tie, and that's exacly what happened. Around 200-250 Weymouth fans were there to cheer the team on, and they started well - forcing a string of corners and hitting the crossbar in the first 10 minutes. On 20 minutes, the Terras made a deserved breakthrough, when Luke Burbridge raced to the by-line, and pulled it back for Yetton in the centre of the area. He fired home under the keeper to put Weymouth 1-0 up. But this was not the goal I'm awarding my 3rd best of the season too. Cirencester equalised early in the second half when a corner was met by Hollands, whose towering header gave Jason Matthews no chance, and hauled the hosts level. Now we had a real cup tie on our hands, and Weymouth needed to dig deep. And on the hour mark, came a moment of magic. Defender Sam Poole played a 25 yard ball into Stewart Yetton, who found himself on the left channel. The ball was almost spot on, and Yetton was able to chest the ball down, and unleash a first-time volley that flew into the top corner from all of 30 yards, sending the travelling fans mad. It proved to be the difference between the two sides, as Weymouth progressed to the final qualifying round, where they were eventualy beaten at home by Conference club Braintree Town. Sadly, the Cirencester game was not filmed, so only those of us who were there will know just how special a goal it was. It was a goal worthy of winning any football match at any level. Simply stunning. 2. Enoch Showumni - NOTTS @ Sheffield United The season didn't get off to the best of starts for Notts, who had to play the vast majority of the opening game at Brammal Lane with 10 men after the dismissal of Gary Liddle. But for around ten minutes in the second half, we had hope of achieving a result, thanks to Enoch Showumni. Showumni came on 10 minutes into the second half as a big target man, and within a minute, with his first touch of the ball, he made his mark. A long goal kick from Bialkowski was chested down by Enoch. He held off his marker Harry Maguire - managing to out muscle him and create space for a shot. He turned, and smashed it hard and low into the bottom corner out of reach of the dispearing Long, to haul the Magpies level, and kick off wild celebrations in the away end. A fantastic moment, which was worth the long drive up from Dorset on it's own. 1. Alan Sheenan - NOTTS v Oldham To Notts fans, this needs no explanation at all. I don't think I've ever celebrated a goal so much, or found any penalty so hard to watch. 15 minutes to go at Oldham, 1-0 down and at that point heading down to league 2. Jamal Campbell-Ryce picks the ball up in space and drives towards the penalty area. He crosses it, and it deflects off of Johnathan Grounds' hand. Over 3500 Notts fans appeal in unison for handball, and it what seems like slow motion, the ref points to the spot. The fella stood next to me instantly grabs hold of me, and I turn away in disbelief. This is it, Alan Sheehan has the weight of an entire "community" resting on his shoulders. If he's nervous nervous, he certaintly dosen't show it. He blasts it into the top right corner. The keeper goes the right way, but it's too powerfull, and over 3500 County fans are sent wild. That goal takes us out of the bottom 4 on goal difference. Within a couple of minutes we're celebrating again as news of a Bradford equaliser at Tranmere filters through, and then we start to smell survival as Adam Lockwood is sent off for hauling Campbell-Ryce to the ground. Then, news comes through that Bradford are winning at 10 man Tranmere, and we know we've pulled off the greatest of great escapes. Part of me still can't believe we did it. Six weeks before the end of the season - ironically after defeat at Tranmere, even Shaun Derry admitted that the fat lady was starting to hum, but he still refused to give up, as did some fans. And we did it. One of the most amazing days ever. Other Highlights Yetton takes the gloves In Weymouth's first pre-season friendly away to Dorset Premier League club Portland United, Jason Matthews played the first half in goal, while second choice keeper Simon Evans came out for the second half. Unfortunatly, Simon landed awkwardly on his knee after claiming a cross within a minute of the second half kicking off, and he ended up missing the whole season. I was stood right next to the dugout, and while everyone wondered who would go in goal, Stewart Yetton wandered over. He had been signed as a striker, and ended up being our top scorer netting more than 30 goals over the course of the season. He simply said "Throw me the gloves, I'll go in". Everyone just looked at him, and he was asked if he'd been in goal before, to which he replied "yeah I've done it once before". Everyone laughed, and he played the second half in goal. And he kept a clean sheet! In truth he didn't have anything to do apart from catch a couple of crosses and take a few goal kicks, but he still got ironic chants of "Stewart Yetton Weymouth's number one!". You don't know what your doing! There's usually a reason why officials in the Dorset Premier League are officiating at that level, and they're usually pretty good at showing it. But it's not an exageration to say that the officials of Weymouth Reserves v Swanage Town & Herston put on one of the worst performances I've ever seen. For one, one of the linesman seemed to have no understanding whatsoever of the offside rule. He constantly flagged players who were not offside offside, and kept his flag down when everyone stopped assuming that a player actually was offside! Also, when the Swanage manager went to make a substitution - it took him about 3 minutes to actually attract the attention of the officials so he could make that change. But it was towards the end of the game where they really showed their incompetence. A Swanage player slid in hard near the touchline, got none of the ball, but got all of the man. The referee seemed to see nothing wrong with this, and actually gave Swanage a throw in! Naturally, the whole Weymouth team, and the crowd went mad. So thinking he'd got the throw in the wrong way round, the ref changed his mind and gave it the other way. Still the home side kept shouting at him, and he ended up having to speak to his other linesman to find out what the problem was. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that trying to break someones leg is only a yellow card offence! Poole's keeper has a nightmare The Red Insure Cup is basically the Johnstone's Paint Trophy of the Southern League, only the final isn't played at Wembley - meaning even less people are interested in it. Poole fielded what was pretty much a reserve side, while Weymouth had quite a strong side out. The Terras won 4-0 - Mark Ford scoring all four, but it was the performance of Poole's second choice keeper which was the main talking point. Almost all of his goal kicks were wayward - ending up in one stand or another, and his communications with his defence left a lot to be desired, and ended up contributing to one of the goals. Also, he managed to let a fairly weak effort between his legs at one point, but managed to recover in time to get the ball away. The banter he was getting from us fans behind the goal probably didn't help his confidence, but we couldn't help but laugh ourselves. The longer the game went on, the worse it got for him, until his own manager ended up humiliating him a bit more by bringing him off to be replaced by a lad who looked like he was still in school 10 minutes from time. Old man, what's the score? When Weymouth scored two late goals to claim an admittedly undeserved victory at Frome Town back in December, it was all too much for one chap. As the Weymouth fans celebrated an unlikely win, one oldish looking chap came over and, probably a bit drunk - began pushing a few people about. He declared himself "Frome Town's biggest fan" (not that big a deal when you only have 4 fans), and went on into a massive rant about how scummy our club was, how scummy our fans were, and how we had cheated our way to winning that game. Ofcourse the Weymouth fans didn't really pay too much attention to what the fella had to say. Instead, all he got in reply were chants of "old man old man what's the score?", "one nil up and you f****d it up", etc. Another moment where you really had to be there to see just how funny it was. Fantastic. Monsoon conditions Gail force winds, heavy rain, and hail storms turned the game between Chippenham Town and Weymouth into a farce back in January. It got to the point where the players could barely keep their eyes open, while the fans behind the goal hid under a big flag to keep dry. Incredibly, the ref didn't take the players off. Jason Matthews struggled to get the ball to stay still so he could take his goal kicks, and he ended up having to catch one of his own kicks which flew straight back at him in the wind. The referee actually blew for an indirect free-kick at this point, but after some persuasion, decided to just let Matthews re-take the goal kick. Weymouth were kicking into the wind during the first half, and try as they might, they found it impossible to get out of their own half. Despite going in at the break 1-0 down, most of us were confident we could turn it around in the second half as we would have the wind behind us. But, as is our luck - we came out for the second half in bright sunshine with no wind at all! See for yourself just how bad conditions got during that first half: Dorchester's result of the season A severe overnight strom had damaged parts of Weymouth's ground and forced the postponment of their home game against Banbury. But Dorchester's game was on, so for the second time this season I went "over the hill". I ended up stood with a couple of Banbury fans who were staying in Weymouth for the weekend, and had had the same idea as me. Ofcourse, I cheered on Bromley, and I have to admit I expected them to win the game fairly comfortably. At the time, Dorchester were still rock bottom, but not a million miles off of safety, while Bromley had a fairly healthy cushion over second placed Eastleigh at the top of the table. But what I saw, was one of the biggest shocks of the season. Bromley struggled to get used to an awful pitch, while Dorchester are used to playing on that surface, so actually held their own throughout the first half. They took the lead right on the stroke of half time when Nathan Craig fired a free kick into the bottom right hand corner. We expected to see an onslaight from Bromley at the start of the second half but it never happened. The league leaders simply could not get going. Credit must go to Dorchester, who chased every ball and didn't let Bromley settle at all. They got stuck in. On 51 minutes, we all began to sense that a real shock on the cards when Ashley Yeoman finished from close range to double the hosts lead. Dorchester were beggining to look comfortable, but eight minutes from time, having created next to nothing, Bromley got back into it. A free kick was sent deep into the Dorchester penalty area. It bounced around a bit, before Jay May eventually fired home to give the league leaders hope. Suddenly, it was all Bromley, and they began to throw more and more players forwards, while Dorchester sat deeper and deeper. Sure enough, five minutes later, Louis Dennis curled an effort into the top corner after a driving run into the box, sparking jubilant scenes among the travelling support and on the Bromley bench. It looked as though they'd pulled it out of the fire. But the game still wasn't over, and Bromley now began to sense what had appeared to be an unlikely 3 points. They continued to throw players forward, and had a penalty appeal turned down. But from that penalty claim, in the 90th minute of the game, Dorchester counter attacked. The ball was sent forwards and it was eventually given to Jamie Gleeson, who was unmarked in the box, to fire home and seal a fantastic 3 points for the bottom club. As much as I hate to say it, full credit to Dorchester that day. They deserved the win, and it was an unbeleavable finale to a game that appeared to be petering out a bit. Just glad it didn't spark a great escape! Highlights - The supermarket derby I ended up watching a game at Dorchester yet again in April. This time it was a charity game between the staff of two Weymouth supermarkets - Morrisons and Sainsburys. A couple of my mates were playing so I went along. Ofcourse, it was a family affair. All the players families were there, but I was pleasently surprised to see a really entertaining, end-to-end game. The Morrisons supporters even had a few songs. I think it's fair to say that the Morrisons players had a higher BMI than the Sainsbury's boys, but for big lads they were pretty quick, and were the better side. They took the lead early on from a corner, but Sainsbury's equalised in spectacular fashion - when one of their lads decided to have a go from just inside his own half. Sure enough, the wind took the ball beyond the keeper and into the net, sparking scenes of wild celebration on the Sainsbury's bench. But within a couple of minutes, Morrisons re-took the lead, and that was the way it stayed at half time. As the second half progressed, both sets of players became tired, so the game became more and more stretched. Sainsbury's keeper pulled off 3 or 4 fantastic saves, and in the end Sainsbury's equalised on the counter attack midway through the half. It went to penalties. Morrisons scored all 4 of theirs, while one Sainsbury's lad put his effort into the Tesco carpark, and the other was saved by the Morrisons keeper - making up for his first half error of judgement. It was a really entertaining afternoon, a good laugh, and it raised over £600 to be split between two local charities. There have been many other good times this season. Every Notts match is a great laugh whatever the result, our fans are pretty good at finding something to laugh at even when things are going badly. Just look at the video of our fans at Rotherham for proof of that. I can't lie, I expected a bit more from Weymouth this season, but after years of fighting relegation, another midtable finish is far from a disaster. A word for the reserves too - who had a superb season, finishing 2nd in the Dorset Premier League with the divisions best home record. They're always really good to watch, and it's always a good laugh. I've enjoyed every game really, even in defeat we've had many great laughs. There's nothing else I'd rather do on a Saturday, All's I can say is bring on pre-season!

weymouthPIE

weymouthPIE

 

The Final Furlong - relegation dogfight

Well for most of the league there are only 3 games left, 4 for a couple. At the top, the two automatic promotion places are confirmed, and Wolves look set to win the title. Three of the four play-off spots are sorted, but 6th is still up for grabs. But it's down at the bottom where it's really interesting. Today's loss at Bristol City was a bitter pill to swallow for Notts. There's no two ways about it, we deserved all 3 points, let alone 1. But yet again, we shot ourselves in the foot. We've done that too often this season, and I'm concerned it will all come back to haunt us. How many times have we taken nothing from a game we deserved at least a draw from? It's happened all season. Wolves at home, Peterborough away, Gillingham away, Tranmere away, Carlisle away. They all spring to mind. All games in which we played well and deserved a draw at the very minimum, but games in which we ultimately came away empty handed. Even if we could have managed 3 more draws we'd be sitting pretty in 17th place. But as it happens, we find ourselves 22nd, 3 points off safety with 3 games to go. This is the bottom six as it stands going into Easter Monday: Something that really stands out is the fact we've won the most games out of all apart from Coventry, who of course started the season in title winning form. To me, it just nails home how much good a few more draws would have done. What I'm going to do here is look at everyone's remaining fixtures. But let's not waste much time with Stevenage. They're a poor side, and when they come up against anyone who can play football, their tactics are to kick them all over the park, after which they lose anyway. To stand any real chance of staying up they need to win all of their remaning 3 games at home to Bristol City and Walsall, and away to Brentford, whilst hoping everybody above them slips up. I'll take it on the chin if a miracle occures and they manage to do it, but realistically I can't see Stevenage taking more than 2 points at the very most from these 3 games, and that's if they're lucky. Two points would give them 41 points, which even now would have them finishing bottom. Now let's look at 16th placed Oldham. They've been hovering above safety winning the big 6 pointers all season. They already have the magic 50 points but a lot can happen in 3 games. In their case, 4. They play Coventry, Sheffield United and ourselves on the final day at home, and go to Carlisle for a big game. I think they'll beat Coventry, draw with us and Carlisle, and lose to the Blades. 5 points would give them 55 points, which is easily safety. 17th placed Coventry have been sliding further down the table since the turn of the year. They were scoring goals for fun in the first half of th season, but the loss of their two main strikers left a huge hole in the side, and they haven't really recovered. Now they find themselves just 5 points above the drop zone, and face a nervy climax to the season. Aside from their trip to Oldham which I'm claiming they'll lose, they also host champions elect Wolves, before ending their season at Brammal Lane. I've thought about this for a while, and I honestly don't see them getting anything from those games. They haven't proved themselves to be a side capable of grinding out a scrappy victory, and the goals really have dried up lately. They're playing against at least two sides in brilliant form, and another in Oldham who are well used to this situation, and have shown all season that they are capable of winning these relegation six pointers. So 0 points would see Coventry finish on 49 points. Below them at the moment, in 18th place we find Colchester United. Like Oldham, United have struggled hovering just above the dotted line for much of the season, and recent defeats to three of their relegation rivals in ourselves, Tranmere, and today - Oldham, have pulled them right into the mire. This monday they travel to Crewe Alexandra for a huge six pointer. Colchester did win at Stevenage last weekend, but their away form has been poor all season. Mind you, so has Crewe's home form. Crewe have a young side of players who have probably never been in a situation like this before, whereas Colchester have a few more seasoned players among their ranks. However they've chosen the worst possible time to go on such a poor run, and I see them falling short yet again at Gresty Road. They also host title chasing Brentford before ending their season at Walsall. They'd do well to get much against Brentford but Walsall's season is peatering out somewhat, so they might just be able to nick a point on the final day. If they do they'll have 47, which dosen't sound like a surviving total. Crewe themselves are 20th, and are always a good bet for a goal. Their problem has been keeping them out at the other end. They possess the league's worst defensive record. I think they'll beat Colchester on Monday, and after that they go to Bristol City before hosting Preston on the final day. Bristol City were less than impressive despite beating us today but have been in great form. They're a big physical side and I think Crewe's young guns will struggle to take anything from Ashton Gate. The Preston game on the final day is a tricky one. Preston now know they will compete in the play-offs so they may rest key players ahead of them. Crewe also won at Deepdale convincingly earlier in the season. I think they could take a point from that game. 4 points would leave them on the magic 50 point mark. Between Crewe and Colchester, in 19th place, we find Tranmere Rovers. They recently sacked manager Ronnie Moore for breaching FA betting rules but the caretaker manager has steadied the ship in recent weeks with crucial victories against Colchester and Shrewsbury Town. They host Sheffield United on Monday, go to Leyton Orient on Saturday, and end their season at home to Bradford City. Sheffield United's faint play-off hopes have been extinguished and they are out of the FA Cup, as is the case with Bradford City. Two teams with nothing to play for, and an Orient side going into the play-offs in pretty indifferent form. I think Rovers are capable of beating City on the final day, and somehow I reckon they might nick a draw at Orient. Orient are in poor form of late, and Tranmere always do seem to do quite well down there. Orient know they're in the play-offs, Tranmere are desperate for points. So 4 points, again, gives them 50 points. Then in 21st place currently are Carlisle United. They're another side in poor form, losing 6-1 at Preston last weekend having conceeded 4 to us a few weeks earlier. Perhaps crucially, they have a game in hand away to Crawley in just over a weeks time. Crawley, a midtable side in poor form with nothing to play for. Carlisle are fighting for their lives and have bolstered their side with a couple of loan signings, I think they could go there and earn a point. They are not a side who pick up many points on the road, also there is a lot of unrest and discontent between the fans and club at the minute, so you wonder if they have the spirit and togetherness to pull through. They also face Peterborough away, Oldham at home and Wolves away. I think they'll draw with Oldham, and well, they'll do well to get anything at Posh or Wolves. So 2 points would leave them on 46 points. In 22nd, ofcourse we find the mighty Notts County! Or not so mighty as it's turned out this season. A few weeks ago we were dead and buried. But now, of all the sides down the bottom we probably have the biggest head of steam, the most momentum, and possibly the most belief of anyone. We're always good for a goal or two - the FL's 9th top scorers in 2014, but the defence has been an issue all season. We've been very strong at home, and I think we should beat Crawley. As I said, midtable side, nothing to play for. Yeah they beat us at their place but it was only 1-0, and we didn't show up that day. I also think we're capable of beating Swindon Town. For some reason Town just can't get it together away from The County Ground, and that's held them out of the play-offs this season. They still have a small chance, but I think our players will ultimatly want it more on the day, and with it being our final home game, there should be a buoyant home crowd behind the lads. As for Oldham on the last day; our away form is quite poor, but then their home form is also poor this season. I expect they'll be safe by the final day, and I reckon we'll scrape a draw there. 7 points, would give us the magic 50 points. But our goal difference is so superior to the other strugglers it's like having another point. And this leaves Shrewsbury Town. Shrewsbury don't conceede many goals. But they score even less - possessing league one's bluntest attack with just 39 goals all season. They also have the least wins in the league - 9. Typically, 2 of which came against us! Defeats in the last week to both Tranmere and Crewe have all-but sealed their fate. They travel to Preston on Monday before hosting Peterborough, and ending their season at Gillingham. I could actualy see them picking up a point from one of the first two games. Preston will now be looking at the play-offs, and truth be told they haven't really been prolific at home this season. Posh meanwhile have been in poor form since Chrismas, and it's a bit of a miracle they still occupy a play-off spot. Gillingham will finish midtable, and will have nothing to play for on the final day, so I could see Shrewsbury going and winning there. 4 points would give them 45. So, going by my prejections, this would be the final table: 16th. Oldham Athletic - 55 points 17th. Notts County - 50 points 18th. Tranmere Rovers - 50 points 19th. Crewe Alexandra - 50 points 20th. Coventry City - 49 points --------------------------------------------- 21st. Colchester United - 47 points 22nd. Carlisle United - 46 points 23rd. Shrewsbury Town - 45 points 24th. Stevenage - 41 points Obviously some will look at that and think I'm mad to think of us finishing 17th, but it would be on goal difference, and ours is much better than all the other sides apart from Coventry. Some sense has gone into this, I have actually thought about it. I accept that if we go down, I'll look rather stupid. But it's been a while since I've written anything on here so I had to do something! If we play like we have been lately we should be capable of getting enough points on the board to stay up. To a man they were brilliant at Bristol City, and I just hope they don't let the way in which we shot ourselves in the foot bring them down too much. We can't afford to do that anymore this season. Let's start on Monday. We simply must beat Crawley. We have momentum, we're in good form, we have belief. We can do this. COME ON YOU PIES!

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My Trip To Bristol - 5.10.13

Having only witnessed the final 10 minutes of Weymouth's FA Cup 2nd Qualifying round tie with Bognor Regis last weekend (we won the replay 4-1), I was desperate to see a good game this weekend. Weymouth were away to Biggleswade and I didn't fancy the idea of sitting on a coach for 5 hours. A quick look through the fixture list and I saw that Bristol Rovers were at home to Fleetwood Town. I did some research on the football ground guide website to see how to get there, and when I found that a return ticket on the train was only £17 it seemed like too good an oppurtunity to miss, so off I went. I got to Bristol Temple Meads just before 2pm and decided to just jump in a taxi outside the station rather than trying to find the right bus. The driver was quite chatty - turned out he was a Bristol City fan, and he reminisced about the 70s, and when Don Revie's Leeds United played at Asthon Gate in front of 45,000 people. It was an FA Cup tie, and Bristol City went on to win the replay at Elland Road 1-0. He dropped me off right outside the Memorial Gates, and at ten quid for the four mile drive I couldn't complain. My mate who moved to Bristol recently for work met me at the ground and we decided on standing in the Blackthorn end behind the goal, where the Bristol Rovers singers stand. I went to buy my ticket, but it was only when arriving at the ticket office that I realised I had left my student card at home. I asked about a student ticket but was asked if I had my card, so I had to pay full adult price. At £18 it wasn't cheap, but compared to other ticket prices certainly not overly expensive. When I got into the ground I took a few photos (see below) and went off to get some food. A sausage roll and can of coke for £1.90 was not to be snifed at, although half the pastry from the sausage roll ended up on the floor! http://prideofnottingham.co.uk/community/gallery/album/35-/ One thing I really liked was while the players were warming up, Rovers managed John Ward came over to the Blackthorn end to greet the fans. He shook hands with fans, took the time to stop and speak to a lot of young children, and signed programmes. I thought that was a really nice gesture, it would be nice to see more managers do that sort of thing. Finally, kick off approached. I was looking forward to this game as it had all the makings of a very interesting game. Fleetwood are in the promotion mix and have been strong on the road; whilst Rovers have struggled with injuries and made a stuttering start. However they appeared to be finding a bit of form and were still unbeaten at home. The first half was actually quite dissapointing, not much happened at all. Bristol Rovers tried to play football but offered next to nothing in the final third. Fleetwood were very well organised and pressed the ball well. However their own tactics in the first half seemed to be to just hoof it forward to the big lad up front. 0-0 at half time was deffinitely fair, with neither side creating any real chances. The second half however, was much better. Rovers came out more fired up, and they should have taken the lead when Andy Bond raced onto a through ball but at one v one with Fleetwood keeper Scott Davies, he put his effort wide. Then the visitors went close when Antoni Sarevic's effort was tipped over the crossbar by Steve Mildenhall when it looked destined for the top corner. On 64 minutes a goal finally arrived, and it came for Fleetwood. A run into the penalty area was not stopped by the Rovers defence, and Jamille Matt turned the ball home from no more than a yard out. But this seemed to spark Rovers into life. Just two minutes after falling behind, Andy Bond put a cross into the box and John-Joe O'Toole headed into the top corner from a couple of yards out, sparking jubilant scenes in the Blackthorn end with many fans running down to the front to rub it in Scott Davies' face, after he had shushed the home fans when Fleetwood took the lead. Suddenly Rovers were on top, and the home fans were right behind their team. In the very next attack Rovers had another header cleared off the line, and from the resulting corner Chris Brunt saw his header smash against the crossbar. Fleetwood managed to weather the storm and going into the final few minutes, it was anyone's game. But it was the visitors who snatched the points with two late goals. With just 3 minutes remaining, Sarevic opened up the Rovers defence and found Jamille Matt, who slotted home from the edge of the area to send the Fleetwood fans mad. Bristol Rovers tried to rally and push for another equaliser, but they didn't really threaten the Fleetwood goal and deep into added time, a Fleetwood counter attack was finished off by substitute Jon Parkin who volleyed home superbly from a tight angle. The full time whistle was greeted by some boos from the home fans, but I didn't think they had played too badly. On another day they might have won had they taken advantage of their spell of pressure just after the equaliser, but that's football isn't it? Full of what if's. The atmosphere wasn't quite as good as I thought it would be, with the Rovers fans only really coming to life after they scored. Mind you, when the entire Blackthorn end sang the club anthem "Goodnight Irene" it sounded brilliant! I didn't record it, but here's another video I found of that song: We left the ground and caught a bus back to the town centre. My train back was due to depart at 17:49 so by the time I got off the bus, I had around 20 minutes to make what was apparently a 20 to 25 minute walk back to the station. So just to be safe, I did something I hadn't done for years - run! I made it back with a bit of time to spare but was knackered for it. I'm deffinitely unfit! On the whole it was a very good day out. Not too expensive and another ground ticked off. I liked the Memorial Stadium - it was odd in that 6 stands make it up and none of them match, but I always prefer the older grounds as they have a bit of character and tradition about them. Next up for me is Cirencester Town away with Weymouth in the FA Cup 3rd Qualifying round, then Swindon Town away with Notts Up The Terras! Come On You Pies!

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The Story Of Bert Trautmann

The other day I posted this picture on this site and on Facebook: Although I found the image amusing as it's certainly true to a point, it got me thinking - how on earth could anybody play with a broken neck? Did he know how serious it was? What kind of a man was he to think "my neck's broken but I'm fine"? As a result I did some research on Bert Trautmann's career and life and wow! Bert Trautmann's is certainly a remarkable story. I have done my best to re-write his story here for PON, so I hope you enjoy Bernhard Carl Trautmann, or as he became more affectionatly known as - Bert Trautmann, was born in Bremen on 22nd October 1923. He lived with his Father who was a factory worker at the docks, and his Mother. The Treeaty of Versailles which was signed at the end of the First World War had left Germany in a pretty sorry state - they had been relying in loans from the USA to keep up with their war reperation payments, but the Wall Street Crash meant that they no longer got those loans. The bleak economic climate in the 1930s left the Trautmann family with no choice other than to sell their home and move into an apartment. The young Bert Trautmann had a keen interest in playing football and handball from an early age. He joined Football Club Blau Und Weiss, and took to playing with much enthusiasm. Bert joined a group called the Jungvolk which was a precurser to the Hitler Youth. The following year he won several Junior athletics events which led to him being awarded a certificate for athletic excellence signed by the German President Paul Von Hindenburg. When the Second World War began, Trautmann was working as a mechanic but he joined the Luftwaffe as a radio operator in 1941. However he didn't show much apitude for radio work during his training so he went off to become a Paratrooper instead. He served in Poland although his regiment were stationed far behind the front line, which resulted in boredom. Therefore they resorted to playing a lot of sports and practical jokes. One of those practical joked backfired on Bert as it resulted in a Staff Sergaent burning his arms. Trautmann was court-martialled and given a three month prison sentence. However he came down with Acute Appendicitis so spent most if his sentence in a military hospital. Following his release he joined up with German forces in Ukraine, where the German advance had been halted due to the adverse weather conditions. Hit and run attacks on the Soviet Forces became the focus for Trautmann's unit, and he was soon promoted to Corporal. In 1942 small advances were made but Trautmann's unit were hit hard by a Soviet counter-attack. By the time his unit were withdrawn from the Eastern Front, less than 300 of the original 1,000 men in the unit were still alive. Trautmann himself won five medals for his actions on the Eastern Front - including the Iron Cross. Following his withdrawel from the Eastern front, Trautmann was promoted to Sergaent, and he became part of a unit which was made up of the remnents of other units which had been almost completely destroyed on the Eastern front. His new unit were stationed in France in anticipation of an allied invasion. In 1944, he survived the bombing of Kleve, and he decided to head back to Breman as he had no unit left. By now, German soldiers caught attempting to flee were being excecuted as deserters, so Trautmann had to try and avoid soldiers from both sides. Unfortunatly, just a few days into his journey home he was captured by a couple of U.S soldiers in a barn. They soon came to the conclusion that Trautmann had no useful information to give them so they marched him out of the barn. Trautmann, thinking he was about to be excecuted, made a bid for freedom. He fled his captors and jumped over a fence. Unfortunatly he had the miss-fortune of landing right at the feet of a British soldier who is said to have greeted him with "hello fritz, fancy a cuppa tea?". That was Trautmann's third attempt at freedom during the war. Earlier in the war he had been caputured on the Eastern front by the Russians and he was captured again by members of the French Resistance, but he escaped both times. This time though he wasn't so lucky. At first he was held in Belguim before being transfered to Essex where he was interrogated. Trautmann was a volunteer soldier who had been essentially brainwashed by the Nazis from a young age. He was therefore classed as a catergory "C" prisoner, meaning he was regarded as a Nazi. He was then transferred to a Prisoner of war camp near Northwich in Cheshire. Soon he was downgraded to a catergory "B" prisoner, meaning he was no longer regarded as a Nazi. Follwing this he was transferred to another POW camp in Ashton-In-Markerfield, Lancashire. Football matches were regularly held in the camp as the prisoners tried to keep themselves entertained. In these matches, Trautmann usualy played outfield. However, in an organised match against a local amateur side, Trautmann picked up an injury while playing at centre half and he asked to swap positions with the goalkeeper. From that day forth, he played as a goalkeeper. It was also during his time at the POW camp that he started getting called "Bert" as the English guards had trouble pronouncing his name. The POW camp at which Trautmann was held closed in 1948 - three years after the formal surrender of German forces and the end of the War. Trautmann decided to stay in Britian - working on a farm, and on bomb disposal in th Merseyside town of Huyton. He also began playing football for amateur club St Helens Town in the Liverpool County Combination League. Over the course of the 1948-49 season, Trautmann's stock as a goalkeeper grew, and big crowds began turning up to see him play, including a record 9,000 in the final of the local Mahon Cup final. As the 1949-50 season progressed, league clubs began to take notice of Trautmann. First Division club Manchester City offered Bert a contract in October 1949, which he signed - joining the club initially as an amateur but soon turning professional. The signing of a former member of the Luftwaffe did not go down well among many Manchester City supporters. Many season ticket holders threatened a boycott, and the club was bombarded with protest letters not just from the people of Manchester, but from people all over the country. The antagonism of fans was not the only thing Trautmann was up against. He was signed as a replacement to Frank Swift, who was regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the club's history. City's captain Eric Westwood was a D-Day veteran, and although he privatly expressed many doubts about the signing of Trautmann, he publically welcomed Trautmann to the club saying "there's no war in this dressing room". Bert made his first team debut for Manchester City in 19th November in a game against Bolton Wanderers. He put in a competent display in his first game which silenced some of the doubters, and fans began to realise his talent. He did however recieve a lot of abuse from opposition fans at away matches which had an affect on his concentration in his first few games. In December of 1949 he shipped seven goals at Derby County. Manchester City travelled to Fulham in January 1950. This was to be Trautmann's first visit to London, and the game recieved a lot of coverage with most of the country's media at the time being based in London. Due to the heavy damage London suffered as a result of Lufwaffe bombing raids during the War, Trautmann was a target of deep hatred for the crowd who yelled "kraut" and "Nazi", among other things at him. City were not having a great season and they were expected to lose heavily, but a string of fine saves from Trautmann meant City only lost the match 1-0. At full time, Trautmann recieved a standing ovation from the crowd and he was applauded off the field by both teams. City continued to struggle in the league and suffered relegation from Division 1 - finishing second bottom on 29 points, 3 points from safety (2 points for a win back then). The following season, Man City were promoted back to Division 1 finishing second in the second division. Over the new few years, Trautmann really began to establish himself as a top goalkeeper, and he played in all-but 5 of City's next 250 league games. Come 1952, his reputation had spread back to Germany, and Schalke made a £1,000 offer for his services. City refused the offer, and were quoted in the press as saying they believed Trautmann to be worth twenty times what Schalke had offered. In 1955, Manchester City reached the FA Cup final where they would face Newcastle United. Trautmann became the first ever German to play in an FA Cup final. It's said that the City team were gripped by nerves before the game, and they fell behind after less than a minute. Things got worse on 18 minutes when Jimmy Meadows was injured, leaving City with only 10 men (no subs back then). Now City had made the final largly thanks to Trautmann's ability start attacks by throwing the ball out to the wingers as oppose to simply kicking the ball as far down the field as possible. But the loss of a player limited this ability. Although City did equalise during the first half, they struggled during the second half and were eventually beaten 3-1. They reached the final again though the following year, this time to face Birmingham City. Shortly before the final, Trautmann hadd become the first goalkeeper ever to win the Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year award, and two days later he stepped out onto the hallowed turf at Wembley for the Cup final, and a match that would cemment his legacy as one of football's greats. This time, Manchester City were more settled and they took the lead after just three minutes. Birmingham soon equalised after a quarter of an hour. It stayed 1-1 but then midway through the second half, Manchester City bagged two goals in two minutes to take control of the game. From then on Birmingham threw everything forwards. With 15 minutes remaining, Trautmann dived at the ball but collided heavily with Birmingham's Peter Murphy. Trautmann's neck smashed against Murphy's knee knocking him briefly unconcious. Remember, no subs were permitted in those days so although dazed and unsteady on his feet - Trautmann played on. For 15 more minutes he defended his goal, bravely denying Murphy once more to help Manchester City hold on for a 3-1 victory. Trautmann was the hero for his spectacular saves towards the end of the game. These are the television highlights of that final: Trautmann's neck was still causing him pain as he went up to collect his winners medal, Prince Phillip commented on his crooked neck. Nevertheless, Trautmann attended the post-match banquet that evening despite not being able to move his head. He went to bed that night expecting the pain to go away after some rest. It didn't, so he went to St George's Hospital the following day where he was told he simply had a crick in his neck which would soon go away. Three days later, he got an opinion from a second doctor back in Manchester, and X-Rays showed that Trautmann had dislocated five Vertebrae in his neck, one of which was cracked in half. The third Vertebrae had wedged against the second, which had prevented further, pottentially fatal damage. Trautmann took several months to recover, which resulted in him missing the first part of the 1956-57 season. In early December, he played in a couple of reserve team games but he clearly lacked confidence. Nevertheless, he was restored to the first team on December 15th, but he conceeded three goals against Wolves. He continued to struggle, and some began to call for him to retire. Some even criticised Manchester City for forcing Trautmann to play when he had not fully recovered. The following season, City became the first, and thus far only English league club to score 100 goals, and concede 100 goals in the same season. They finished 5th in the First Division, and Trautmann played on 34 of City's 42 league games that season. He only kept two clean sheets that season, and he shipped 8 at Leicester in an 8-4 defeat. City fans certainly got their moneys worth as far as the entertainment on offer was concerned that season! Overall, between 1949 and 1964, Bert Trautmann played in 545 matches for Manchester City. His City career finished with a testimonial game between a joint Manchester City & Manchester United XI which included the likes of Bobby Charlton and Dennis Law, against an England team that included Stanley Matthews and Jimmy Armfield. The official crowd for his testimonial was 47,000 although it was thought to be more along the lines of 60,000. Although he had planned to retire after his testimonial, Trautmann briefly joined Wellington Town. He had lost some of his agility but he proved he could still pull in the punters on his debut for the club at Hereford. However in just his second game for the club, Trautmann was sent off for violant conduct, and he never played again. After a few months pondering his options, Bert recieved a telephone call from the Stockport County chairman Victor Bernard, who offered him the chance to become the club's general manager. Stockport were struggling both financially and in terms of league position, and the appointment of Trautmann was an attempt to improve the club's image. Many of the club's fans, and indeed many local people also supported one of the two Manchester clubs, so between them - Trautmann and Bernard decided to move all of Stockport's home games to Friday night's in an attempt to boost revenue from extra support. Whilst that worked, the performances of the team didnt improve much, and in 1966 Trautmann resigned after a falling out with Bernard. In 1967 and 1968 Trautmann managed German club Prussia Munster, and he guided them to a 13th place finish in the German second tier. He also had a short spell at Opel Russelsheim. Following that, the German FA employed Trautmann as a development worker and sent him to countries without a football structure. At first he worked in Burma where he enjoyed two years as national team coach in which they qualified for the 1972 Munich Olympics, and they won the President's Cup - which was a competition contested between South-East Asian countries. He also worked in Tanzania, Pakistan, Liberia and Yemen until 1988 when he retired and settled in Spain. Now you might have thought that Trautmann would have enjoyed a succesfull International career too given his sucess at Manchester City. He was a renowned shot stopper who saved 60% of the penalties he faced. But actually, despite being recognised as one of the world's top goalkeepers at the time, Trautmann never played for his country. He had met with the German national coach Sepp Herberger in 1953 and was told that the travel expenses, coupled with the pottential political implications of selecting a player who did not play in Germany were the reasons why he could not be selected. Trautmann's only international experience came when the Football League decided to include foreign players in Football League representative matches. Trautmann captained the Football League against the Irish League and he also played against the Italian League. As a result of this Trautmann missed out on the 1954 World Cup which West Germany won, and thats a real shame. Many people these days claim that a player cannot really be classed as a true great unless they have achieved success at International level as well as club level. You can see their point, but to discount Trautmann as a legend I think is wrong. Not only was he a fantastic shot stopper, but he also changed the goalkeepers role to an extent with his ability to start attacks from throwing the ball out wide, at a time when it was perfectly acceptable for keepers to simply kick the ball as far down the pitch as they could. And he won the public over too, which must have taken some doing. Gordon Banks cited Trautmann as a big influence on his playing style. The media have recognised Trautmann's reputation numerous times. The Daily Mail ranked Trautmann as the unofficial 19th best goalkeeper of all time, while the TV channel ESPN ranked his diving save at Peter Murphy's knee which resulted in him breaking his neck as the best ever FA Cup save. There is also a statue of Trautmann inside the main reception at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium: His reputation was again recognised in 2004 when he was awarded an OBE for his work in Anglo-German relations, and the following year he was inducted into the National Football Museum's Hall of Fame. I don't think anybody could possibly deny Trautmann his place in history. Yes, his only honour as a player on the pitch was that 1956 FA Cup success and no he never played for his country. But you have to look at the bigger picture. Look at where he came from, what he went through, his road to success. The obstacles he had to overcome to reach the heights he reached. His immense bravery in that Cup final should, and probably will be remembered forever. I've spent quite a few hours reading all sorts of stories and researching Trautmann's career in order to put this blog together, and it's taken me two days to put the whole thing together. I really wanted to write something that would do the great man justice and I hope I've done that, because Bert Trautmann is an inspiration, a legend, and a true great. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully found it interesting

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Weymouth Fc's Recent Highs & Lows

I remember saying a while back that I might tell the story of Weymouth's recent turbulant history on here one day and a few people seemed interested. So finally, here it is! I'll forewarn you that this does go on quite a bit but I have done my best to whittle it down For those of you who don't know me so well, I was born in Nottingham and became a Notts County fan when we got given free tickets at school and my Dad took me down, even though he was a Forest fan. My Dad sadly passed away in 2005 and with most of my family having moved down to Weymouth, me and my Mum followed in 2007. I didnt last long with no football though, and me and my Granddad first went to watch Weymouth in March of that year. I was instantly hooked. My Granddad can't come anymore but I've made a lot of good friends at Weymouth FC and now, unless I can get to a Notts match, I follow Weymouth home and away. If I don't go away I'll go watch the Reserves! One way of describing Weymouth FC's recent history would be to say it's never dull! The club went from the Southern League to the brink of the Football League under the ownership of first Ian Ridley, then Martin Harrison. They enjoyed success in both the league and FA Cup - winning the Conference South title in 2005-06 and earning an FA Cup first round replay with Nottingham Forest that same season after a 1-1 draw at the City Ground. Weymouth also took Bury to a replay the following season with a 2-2 draw down here on the BBC. But of course, the dream didn't last and midway through our first season back in the Conference, the enitre squad was placed up for sale after Martin Harrison ran out of money. Still, we managed to finish 11th in the 2006-07 Conference. The following season was more of a struggle with the Terras not securing their Blue Square Premier status until the penultimate game of the season in a hard faught 0-0 draw at Champions Aldershot Town. The 2008-09 season started well enough. In fact after a 2-0 win at Torquay United on 10th February we were 10th in the table, but then everything really began to unravel. The then chairman Malcolm Curtis had and still does want the land that our ground sits on. He walked out on the club that season, many would say in the hope that the club would die and he could then get hold of the land. His departure left the club in a bit of a mess. Players had not been paid since before Christmas and were not even covered if they got injured. As a result of this, the entire first team walked out ahead of our now infamous home game with Rushden & Diamonds. That day, we were forced to field the under 18s side and we were beaten 9-0. Nobody boo'd. Nodody left early. Everyone stayed till the bitter end supporting the lads, and those heroic boys got a standing ovation at the end of the game. This video from YouTube shows some of the Weymouth highlights from that game, and the scenes at full time: We had no choice but to continue to field the youngsters for the rest of the season. In our final 16 games after that win at Torquay we gained just 1 more point, scoring 4 goals and conceeding 48. We dropped from 10th place to 23rd - second bottom, with relegation being confirmed in the final home game of the season with a fighting 2-1 defeat to York City. The club's future was still in dubt going into the 2009-10 season but somehow former player Matty Hale managed to assemble a squad made up mostly of local lads and Bath University students. We began the season with an encouraging 1-1 draw at Lewes but then came two heavy home defeats; 5-0 to Eastleigh and 6-2 to Bishops Stortford. The season was a bit of a shambles really. Matty Hale resigned in October following a 5-0 drubbing at home to Maidenhead United and he was replaced by another former player in Ian Hutchinson. In November 2009 Weymouth were drawn at home to local rivals Dorchester Town in the FA Trophy. There was a genuine possibility that this could be Weymouth's last ever game. The atmosphere was cranked up just before kick-off when the Dorchester fans unveiled a banner which read "Weymouth - a town with no history, a club with no future." This seemed to inspire the Terras as they ran out 3-0 winners leaving their bitter rivals from 'over the hill' shellshocked. The club did manage to soldier on to the end of the season but the league form never really improved despite a second win over Dorchester on New Year's Day, this time in the league. We finished bottom of the Conference South, although at the end of the season our short-term future was at least secured thanks to controversial character George Rolls buying the club. He placed the club into a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) which meant that for every pound owed to creditors, they would get 10%. It would however mean we would begin the 2010-11 season in the Southern League on -10 poins. We began that season with 3 draws before defeat at Salisbury City. A 3-1 win at Evesham United followed but our early season form was quite poor, and included a 9-0 defeat at Hednesford and a 7-2 loss at Stourbridge in the same week. We moved off the bottom of the table for the first time in January but at the time we were still 6 points adrift of safety and had played more games than anyone else. Things looked bleak but in early February we had a stroke of luck. Windsor & Eton were wound up and therefore all the teams in the league lost whatever points they had gained against them. Plus instead of 4, only 3 teams would now go down. Sure, staying up due to another club's demise isn't ideal but we took whatever came our way at that time. On a Wednesday evening in March, an injury time goal from ace marksman Warren Byerly gave us a 1-0 win at Swindon Supermarine and lifted us out of the drop zone for the first time in the season. But that didn't last long, we were back in that bottom 3 followng a 4-1 loss at Bedford in what was out 5th of 6 straight away games. Here's how the bottom of the table looked after the Bedford game (bottom 3 go down): In our next game an emphatic 4-0 win at Tiverton moved us back up to 18th and all-but condemned Tiverton to the drop, leaving the final relegation spot to be decided between ourselves and Didcot Town who, crucially, still had a game in hand. That game in hand ended in a draw, so with 2 games to go we were both on 31 points but they had a marginally superior goal difference. In our final home game of the season we beat play-off chasing Chesham United 3-0 while Didcot only drew. This meant that going into the final day we had a 2 point cushion on Didcot. We were beaten 3-2 at champions Truro City on the final day but Didcot's 3-0 defeat to Oxford City meant we were safe. We had completed the great escape! The 2011-12 season looked like being another season of struggle. Local man Brendon King became the new manager. We had a very young, relatively inexperienced squad with a rookie manager and were tipped by most for the drop. However for the majority of the season we were OK in mid table. We even made it to the second round proper of the FA Trophy although we got hammered 6-0 at home by Alfreton Town. The biggest event of the season took place in February. Director and life-long fan Nigel Biddlecome, along with a group of local businessman brought the club from George Rolls and by setting up a community trust, finally safeguarded the future for Weymouth FC, as no one person would ever be able to own the club again. Celebrations however were a bit mild as the team were going through an alarming dip in form which now saw us looking over our shoulders yet again. Our third last game ended in a 3-0 defeat at Cambridge City, and left us 2 points above the drop zone with two games to go. The final home game of the season against Hitchin Town would be a nervy affair. The first half was relatively quiet but just 3 minutes into the second half disaster struck as the Canneries took a 1-0 lead from a corner. The next 20 minutes were very scrappy with Weymouth struggling to really create anything but then on 69 minutes, a massive slice of luck came our way. Mark Ford raced through and was brought down in the area. The defender actually got the ball but we didnt complain. That penalty was so hard to watch, some turned away. Craig Duff stepped up, not our usual penalty taker; but he rolled the ball home to make it 1-1. Then 3 minutes later, that man Mark Ford again managed to beat the offside trap, and in what seemed like slow motion - he rounded the keeper before calmly slotting home to send the home fans wild. The terras held out through a nervy final quarter of an hour to seal 3 points and our win, coupled with Swindon Supermarine losing at home to Barwell meant we were safe for another year. Under new owners and a new board expectations rose slightly for the 2012-2013 season. Over the summer, Brendon King set about adding some much needed experience to the squad and brought in the likes of Ben Joyce, Kyle Critchell, Scott Walker and Barry McConnell. Unfortunaly over the summer we lost our star striker Warren Byerley to Kettering Town, which was pretty controversial. Weymouth had paid for Warren to undergo private surgery on a knee injury which would have saw him miss the beggining of the season had he gone down the NHS route. Kettering had been demoted from the Conference to the Southern League and were skint. George Rolls had got involved up there and was offering players ridicuous sums of money to join the club. Sums of money which anyone with any sense knew would not be paid. Still, Byerley moved north along with young defender Ben Gerring. I suppose it was inevitable really that the fixture computer would chuck out Weymouth v Kettering Town on the opening day! That certainly gave me personally a dilemna as I had to decide whether to travel up to crewe for Notts' opening game, or stay home and watch Weymouth v Kettering. In the end I chose Crewe, and that proved the right decision with the much built up Weymouth v Kettering game ending in a boring 0-0 draw. Still, we were not done with Kettering this season yet. The second game of Weymouth's season saw another draw as we fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Chippenham Town. A 4-2 loss at newly promoted and big spending St Neots Town followed before we got our first win of the season against another newly promoted side in Bideford. As I said, expectations had risen for this season, so when we found ourselves 18th in October, some fans - myself included, began to question the manager Brendon King. The hunger and desire of the team came under severe scrutiny when we crashed out of the FA Trophy in just the second qualifying round after a humiliating 2-1 loss at home to lower league club Shortwood United. This was followed by a 5-1 defeat at home to Stourbridge in the league in a match we ended with 9 men. This though would prove to be a bit of a turning point. We won 3-2 at St Albans City next time out and despite a 1-0 defeat at home to Cambridge in a match we dominated, the signs were there that we could start to improve. After the Cambridge match on 17th November we won every game between then and New Year. Six straight wins which saw us climb from 15th to 5th. The run came to an end on New Year's Day when a goalkeeping error gave Bideford a 2-1 victory. A frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Chippenham followed before eventual champions Leamington came to the Bob Lucas Stadium on an icy Tuesday evening. In the first half we managed to hold our own but in the second half, Leamington showed their class - blowing us away with 4 goals in the final half hour. One of those nights where we just had to admit we were beaten by a better side. Another 0-0 draw at Gosport Borough followed before another heavy defeat, this time 5-2 at AFC Totton. We had lead 2-1 at half time and were playing very well, but somehow we just collapsed in the final half hour again. Their first goal was offside; the second was a free-kick that somehow just rolled along the floor into the bottom corner; and the third was a cross that sailed over the keeper's head into the net! We recovered with back-to-back 2-1 wins on home soil before our annual defeat at Cambridge City. Then it was the re-match with Kettering. Now Kettering's season had turned into a nightmare. All of the players that had lined up against us on the opening day, including Warren Byerley had left the club by now having not been paid, as had George Rolls following a betting scandel. Kettering had been locked out of their Nene Park ground and at one point had to start a game with just 10 men, including the substitute goalkeeper in midfield against Bashley! They were now groundsharing with Corby Town. On a bitterly cold Wednesday evening Kettering took an early lead but Weymouth eventually ran out 6-1 winners. Our next game saw us beat St Albans City 2-0 at home. Kyle Critchell scored and it would turn out to be his last act of the season for us as he suffered a very nasty leg fracture the following Wednesday night in a Dorset Senior Cup semi-final. Three more wins on the trot saw us move up to 4th, and by now a lot of fans really were beggining to dream. That didn't last too long though. We were brought crashing back down to earth with a 5-0 defeat at Stourbridge and a 3-0 defeat at home to Chesham. Another home defeat to struggling Redditch saw us drop out of the play-offs. On Easter Monday we made the short hop over to the New Forest village of Bashley, who themselves were chasing points to confirm their safety. Chance after chance after chance was spurned by Weymouth in an unbeleavably frustrating afternoon before inevitably, Bashley scored the decisive goal ten minutes from time. That game gave me the impression it just wasn't meant to be for us. I gave up on our play-off hopes that day. The next game brought another heavy home defeat, this time 4-0 to Bedford Town. But the result was overshadowed by a horrific injury to midfielder Jamie Skinner, barely a minute after he came on as a sub. The challenge left him with several ruptured ligaments and muscles in his knee and leg, as well as damage to nerves, vasculature and joint structure. His career is very much in doubt at the munute. After 5 straight defeats without scoring Leamington were heardly the ideal opponents for our third-last game of the season. But the Terras battled hard and earned a creditable 1-1 draw, delaying Leamington's title party in the process. The final home game of the season saw a 2-1 win over Barwell, which did leave many of us wondering what might have been, with Barwell at the time occupying the final play-off spot. We lost 3-0 at Arlesey Town on the final day. We finished the 2012-13 season in 9th place, our first top half finish since 2007. Magnifficent progess has been made on and off the field this season. Some great football has been played - fair play to Brendon King, he's won me and a lot of fans over. Also attendances are slowly creeping up again. Here's the final table: The hope is that we can make a more sustained play-off challenge next season and work to achieve this has already begun with numerous players signing contract extensions and three new faces already joining the club. But we know we must do this in a sustainable way. We know from the past that having a rich benefactor dosn't always have a happy ending. The importat thing is the club is moving in the right direction. There's a fantastic group of volunteers who help out with all sorts like cleaning the kit, cleaning the stadium, working the bar, selling programmes, raffle tickets, working the turnstiles etc. I'm proud to say I am one of them. That's a brief summary of the past few seasons at Weymouth Football Club. I don't know a great deal about the politics or the finances which is why I didn't go into that too much. You could probably write a fairly long book on all of that. In fact former chairman Ian Ridley did just that. His book Floodlit Dreams tells the story of his takeover back in 2003, how he went about rebuilding his hometown club and the events that lead to his resignation. It's a fascinating story and if you like a good book I cannot reccommend it enough. I think there are plenty of copies for sale on EBay and on Amazon. If you have read this blog I thank you very much. I know this has been incredibly long but I hope I've managed to keep your interest till the end lol. If you are interested you can see highlights of all Weymouth's home games on our YouTube channel here - http://www.youtube.com/user/terrascouk Think I appear celebrating behind the goal in a few of these Once again, thanks for reading

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The Future Of The Game At Low League Level

The football world is often refered to as 'the football family' but what does that mean? Ofcourse, there are signs of togetherness from all football fans all the time - the way fans of different clubs all get on under one roof like on this website, the support Stylian Petrov has recieved from supporters of all clubs in his fight against Leukemia, and the way we can all come together in respect (well, most of us) when disasters such as Hillsboroough, Bradford and Ibrox occured. I could go on. But there are reasons to suggest that this 'football family' isn't much of a 'family'. To me, the term 'football family' would suggest that we at Notts County, and down here at Weymouth share the same values and dreams as clubs in the premier league and there is equality, with those at the top of the financial tree helping those at the bottom in their hour of need. But is this really the case? When Weymouth fell on hard times where was the 'football family'? It certainly was not there offering to help us! Are we not as important as Southampton, Liverpool or Chelsea? Ofcourse we are, but where was the equality? Surely the strengh of the English game is based largely on its structure from the Premiership down to Sunday league level? Most people at the top of the game, especially football pundits (or as I like to call them - self appointed experts) and the TV companies never mention our leagues. If they do, it's because a club at that level has had a big FA Cup draw, but even then they seem to do it with a smile and a joke about them. I find it a very dismissive attitude of that level of the game. I would happily bet that the vast majority of Premier league players have little to no knowledge of football below League 2, let alone below the Conference National. But to be fair the clubs dont help. How many of the big clubs offer to play smaller clubs in friendlies to help bring them in some cash? Most of them would rather jet off for a pre-season trip to America, Asia or somewhere hot. Hampshire based club AFC Totton have fallen on hard time lately, but what are the chances of Southampton (not half an hour up the road) offering to play them in a pre-season friendly to try and help them out a bit? Pretty much nil. It's not only AFC Totton in financial difficulties. Aldershot Town & Dunfermiline Athletic recently entered administration, and hundreds of football clubs up and down the UK are in trouble but does this so called 'football family' help? No. I know it's a bit of a cliche but ONE WEEK'S wages from any of Manchester City's stars would be more than enough to sort out most clubs, especially at non-league level's problems and give a fanbase a club to support for another season. But ofcourse that will never happen because any such payment would be deemed inappropriate. It's a bit of a euphemism for greed I think and until reality strikes, the future of the game below the elite level will remain in serious danger. But what can be done? The obvious answer would appear to be a wage cap at all levels but personally I can't see that ever being implemented simply because clubs will never agree to one voluntarily. And trying to impose a wage cap could invite legal action from football clubs, and in the end lawyers would be the only winners. And another problem is that all too often these days, small clubs come across a wealthy benefactor who then bankrolls them on a rapid rise through several divisions to a league they never previously dreamed of, or ever came close to. But crucially, they wont have the support needed to sustain that level once the promotions inevitably stop coming. When that happens, clubs have to hope that the benefactor continues to pump in his money but only to stand still. In these difficult times, it simply does not happen. I go back to AFC Totton. They were in the Wessex League (step 10 of the English football pyramid) or lower for donkeys years, but suddenly they shot up and found themselves in the Southern Premier League (step 7). However they were ill equipped in terms of support and as a result of that, when the promotions stopped coming, the benefactor upped sticks. The support was not anywhere near good enough to sustain the level they've found themselves at and as a result, they face the possibility of being kicked out of the league at next months league AGM with players having not been paid since February. Another recent example is Cornwall based club Truro City. They came further than AFC Totton - rising from the South Western League (step 11) all the way up to the Conference South (step 6) within five seasons. But inevitably, the promotions stopped coming, and with the lowest gates in the league, and with people on mad wages it was destined to end in tears. Now they're in administration, have been relegated from the Conference South and still have no idea what league they'll ply their trade in next season. They don't even have a ground to play at currently. And it's the true fans of clubs like Truro and Totton who suffer. Fans who were quite happy when their clubs were stable in the Wessex League/South Western League. It's easy to say these clubs got themelves into their own mess but the problem is it's being allowed to happen far too often and far too easily. Something has to be done but until the powers that be wake up, and realise that football does exist below the glamour of the Premiership, more and more clubs will die or fall into trouble, and the future of the game at grassroots level will look very bleak indeed. If you have managed to read all the way through this I hope you have found it interesting at least. It might come across as a bit of a rant, but I wanted to get this off my chest because as someone who has been bitten by the non-league bug, I really do fear for the future of the game. The story in the Football League isn't much happier. I've almost see Notts County die twice, and I've seen Weymouth stare death in the face in the past few years. Both my clubs were lucky in that they were saved but many other clubs won't be so lucky. No fan should see their club die. Something MUST be done, but will anything be done, or will the powers that be and the media continue to ignore the existance of football below the promised land and let the game fall into more turmoil?

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David Moyes Then...

Well it's been an interesting couple of days at Manchester United to say the least. Sir Alex Fergusson's retirement has been cropping up for the past few years now. He always said he would only retire on health grounds and with with a hip operation coming up, his retirement should not really come as a great surprise, but it did. Let's be clear, I dislike Manchester United. Nothing to do with being jelous of their history as their fans seem to think it is, if anything you can't help but respect that clubs history; it is those fans themselves that irritate me. Every club has it's glory hunters but United fans are the worst. Over the years I've been far from Alex Fergusson's biggest fan. I don't like the way he blames a refereeing decision almost every time they lose, and I think he can be a bit of a bully sometimes. He is quite intimidating, and he makes sure commentators, the press and the games governing bodies are scared of doing or saying anything that might upset him. But despite this, no sane person can deny the man's achievements in the game. I very much doubt we will ever see another manager hang around at one club for as long as he has and achieve as much as he has ever again. He's transformed Manchester United into the most marketable football club in the world. Time and time again people have doubted him and his teams but time and again he's proved everyone wrong. He challenged Liverpool and won; he saw off Newcastle United, Arsenal, Chelsea and now Manchester City on the way to what seems like league title after league title. He raised the bar in the English game - bringing some of the world's top players to our shores and making some of the world's top players himself. Love him or hate him, you cannot help but admire him and what he has achieved both domestically and on the European stage.You can't really praise him enough. Sir Alex has certainly earned his retirement! Is he the greatest manager of all time? Well its up for debate and everyone has their opinions. He's certainly the best manager theres been in my lifetime. And what of his successor David Moyes? I have to say I'm not too convinced by this appointment. Here is a man who has spent the last 11 years at Everton and some (including a few Everton fans I know) would say that he has got too comfortable with simply finishing in the top half, and he is unable to step up to the next level. In those 11 years he has failed to win a single trophy; in fact his only managerial honour is the second division title with Preston North End back at the end of the 90s. He's never managed a team to victory at Old Trafford, Arsenal or Anfield and furthermore, he's never had to manage some of the world's top players. Alright, he worked with Wayne Rooney for a few months until he was sold but thats hardly preperation for the job he is about to undertake. I question the motives behind his appointment. I think a large part of the reasoning behind his appointment is stability. Alex Fergusson has been manager of United for 26 years, while David Moyes has been at Everton for 11 years. However the game has changed since Fergie first pulled up in the Old Trafford car park, even since David Moyes first arrived at Goodison Park. As us Notts County fans well know, we live in an "I want success now and I can't wait" sociaty. The bulk of Man United 'fans' wont care in the slightest about having a manager in place for the next decade. All they will be interested in is winning a couple of trophies every season. Will Moyes be able to cope with the level of expectation? Will he be able to handle the pressure and increased media attention? Will he be able to spend more money than he's ever had available to him wisely? Will he be able to do all of this under the watchfull gaze of Sir Alex? With Sir Alex taking up roles as a director and club ambassador I fear there could be a fair bit of interference from him, and I doubt any manager likes that. As a neutral I have my doubts but don't get me wrong I don't have anything against David Moyes and to some extent I hope he does well. But the thing is David Moyes, and indeed anybody who manages Manchester United in the future will always be compared to Fergie on everything and that's unfair. Moyes is his own man. And you just know that the moment Moyes' side hits a bad patch of form in his first season, the media will be straight on his back claiming he can't handle the pressure etc. Still this is all just food for thought really. As a neutral I think its going to be interesting to see how United do next season. Will this weeks events be a bit of a shockwave that takes a while for the players there to come to terms with? Ofcourse they're professionals but when you think there are players and people at that football club who have only ever worked under Sir Alex, you do wonder. It's also going to be interesting to see how the Everton side respond to everything thats gone on this week, and who will they get to replace Moyes? I can't see it being a particularly big name. One last thing though, I wish the media would stop talking like Sir Alex has died. I know he's a legend but come on, he's just retiring. There's no need for black and white montages with depressing music in the background!

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Crawley Town V Notts County (And A Little Weymouth Update)

Well yesterday was fun! We were meant to get to Crawley for 12:58, but the train we were meant to get from Southampton to Crawley was initially delayed by over half an hour, before being cancelled completely due to a broken down freight train further down the line. We therefore had to get a train to Clapham Junction to get a train to Crawley. Got to Crawley at about quarter past two, asked a police officer outside the station for directions to the ground, he gave us the directions and told us it was about a ten minute walk. Ten minutes my arse! We got to the ground about ten minutes before kick off! Was an adventure, and I have to say I didn't think we were going to make it at one point but we got there in the end and thankfully we can laugh at it now. It's trips like that you end up remembering more. The things we do for our football clubs eh! I was somewhat surprised by the starting xi - having Blyth up top by himself with 4 strikers on the bench after Kiwomya had emphasised how important it was to win games if we want to stay in the play-off picture. We knew Dean Leacock was suspended after picking up a tenth caution on Wednesday night so Manny Smith's recall wasen't a surprise; and I wasen't all that surprised by Judgey's absence given his rough treatment by Orient on Wednesday Night. Was pleased for Bencherif to be given a start, I really don't think some of the abuse he gets from a section of our supporters is fair. He may not be the best player in the squad but one thing he will always do is give 100% to the cause, something which certain players fail to convince me they do. I can forgive a lack of talant if they give their all. Hayden Hollis and Manny Smith put in a really good shift at the heart of defence, so Leacock may have to go some to win his place back, which can only be a good thing. Deespite the strange team selection, we didn't play badly. Blyth certainly put himself about, and played some good passes at times, but I did think he lacked the instinct of a top striker. The midfield did present him with a couple of chances but the finishing touch wasen't there. He is however, still young and will surely improve over time. Bencherif I felt looked unfit. He gave his all but he was always a couple of yards off the pace. As much as I want him to do well, I'm not sure he has what it takes to hold down a place in the first team at this level. It'd be interesting to see what he could do if his fitness improved, he does show glimpses of promise from time to time. I don't know whats happened to Jamal Campbell-Ryce in recent games. He was excellent when I watched us on Sky against Bury the other week, but since the Tranmere match he seems to have hit a bad patch of form. Jeff Hughes on the other hand seems to be finding some form now and was possibly our best player yesterday, so unless Campbell-Ryce finds his form again, he could lose his place in the side. John Cofie came off the bench and brought some much needed flare to our side. On numerous occasions he took on and beat a number of Crawley players on his own but as has been the case so often, we lost out in the final third. Enoch Showumni also came off the bench and was superb. Within seconds of entering the field of play, he'd won the ball from a Crawley throw in - beaten two Crawley players and had two shots saved by their keeper. Fair play to the lad, he played well, and caused their defence a few problems. The match was probably destined to end in a draw given both sides recent form and positions in the table, we both had our chances to win the game but a draw was the right result. Bart, as usual made a couple of good stops and Gary Liddle made yet another goal line clearence. Also, Hayden Hollis managed to slice a clearance onto his own crossbar, which wasen't the calmest of moments for me! Crawley seem to lack in the final third just as badly as we do. I wonder where we would both be if we had a prolific scorer each. Can we make a late push for the play-offs? Well with two home games to come this week against Preston North End and Scunthorpe United, there is a brilliant chance for us to get those crucial back to back victories. If we can do that then who knows, but we can't really afford to drop many more points particularly on home soil, if indeed any at all. One team really flying at the minute is my local lot Weymouth. Seven wins in our last eight league games including a 3-1 victory at second placed Hemel Hemostead Town on Tuesday night, and a hard faught 1-0 win over Banbury United yesterday thanks to a 92nd minute goal has lifted us up to 4th in the Southern Premier League on 58 points. We have played one game more than sides around us, so we need to keep winning, but after years of turmoil and 5 consecutive relegation scraps, just to be in a position to challenge is fantastic. We travel to second placed Stourbridge next weekend, so it should be a very interesting game. Next Notts game for me will be in a fortnight at Swindon Town. Hopefully it'll be a more straightforward journey this time! Thanks for reading, COYP

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Another One Bites The Dust

Ian 'Charlie' McParland retains the honour of being the last Notts County manager to complete a full season in the hotseat after Keith Curle was sacked following Saturday's 2-1 defeat at bottom club Hartlepool united. It proved the final straw for the Notts top brass, after The Magpies had won just two of their last eleven games, and they were against two teams badly out of sorts in Portsmouth and Oldham Athletic. To say Keith Curle wasen't wanted by the fans when he was first appointed would be a massive understatment. He was replacing Martin Allen - a man who had galvinised the club at the end of the 2010-11 season and had forged a strong relationship with the fans. Yet Curle's track record was hardly anything to get the blood pumping - sacked by Torquay United, Chester City and Mansfield Town with allegations of bullying. He was going to have to go some to win the fans over but he quickly set about doing just that. On just his second day at the club Notts welcomed play-off chasing Stevenage to Meadow Lane, and Jeff Hughes' last minute winner gave Notts 3 points and left us 5 points off the top six, but having played at least 1 game more than most sides up there. But 4 wins and a draw in our next 5 games, culminating in an unbeleavable 4-2 victory away to runaway league leaders Charlton Athletic put Notts right into the mix. But we soon came back down to earth with back to back home defeats to Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, and a goalless draw at Scunthorpe in a game we dominated. Still, by the time we hosted Bury in the penoltimate home game, we'd overhauled Brentford, Carlisle United and Stevenage to take 6th place. But we crashed 4-2 at home to Bury in an early kick-off, and Stevenage's win over Brentford meant we dropped out of the play-offs. The final away game of the season at Adams Park proved arguably the most memorable game of Curle's reign. Trailing 3-2 going into injury time, goals from Dela Adebola and a rocket from Alan Judge gave Notts the most dramatic 4-3 victory to lift us briefly back up to sixth. However Stevenage drew 2-2 at Brammal Lane in the evening game which meant we needed them to slip up on the final day to get into the top 6. And despite a 4-1 win over Colchester on the final day, Notts missed the play-offs on goal difference after Stevenage beat Bury. Now weather you supported Keith Curle or not, it's hard to argue with what a great job he did in those final few months of last season. He made us the divisions form side and turned what looked like a lost season into a dramatic play-off push that nearly ended happily. But then you could look at it and say it was our own fault we missed out, with the defeat to Bury and the failiure to convert just one of those chances at Scunthorpe. Because of the end to last season, expectation was high coming into this season and Curle himself wanted promotion. New players were signed and we started the season in fine form, and at one point we topped the table in September. But since then we've had some rather stuttering form, and just five home wins all season has left many supporters calling for the managers head despite a record breaking unbeaten away run of 22 games which was only ended last weekend at Leyton Orient. But attendences have fallen drastically, which has meant the club has less money to spend on players. And that was made even worse by an early FA Cup exit in a second round replay at home to league 2 Rotherham. I suppose you could say that was the beggining of the end. But then, you could look back to the decision to strip Lee Hughes of the number 9 shirt in the summer as the beggining of the end. I must admit, I thought absolutely nothing of it at first, but rumours soon began circulating of Hughsey speaking to fans at pre-season games about Keith trying to force him out, and when a last minute loan move to Port Vale fell through it was clear that Lee wanted out. He eventually got his move last month, and the failiure to bring in a replacement striker only increased the amount of people wanting Curle out. That's not to say we didnt try and bring players in, but we were simply unable to compete with the wages offered to players by other clubs. To be fair to Curle, he did try to sort out our striker problem but this leads to what I think has been the main problem. Curle has been very badly let down by players. On paper, I think we have one of the best squads in the divison but for one reason or another certain players have simply not been doing the business. Francois Zoko was signed in the summer but he's gone missing in too many games, and Yoann Arquin rarely looks interested. They're certainly not the only two players, and Keith also brought in some players that have been outstanding. Bartoz Bialkowski was dismissed as "****" on one youtube clip by most fans when he signed, but he's proved a revelation and his consistant performances have earned him the title "Polands number 1" from the Notts fans at least. Also Gary Liddle has been played out of position for most of the season but has been absolutely outstanding, and Dean Leacock has also been superb. Furthermore, Curle has managed to get the best out of Alan Judge by giving him the chance to pretty much do as he pleases on the pitch, and Andre Boucaud - signed on loan from Luton Town, proved his doubters wrong with some very consistant performances in the middle of the park which lead to him signing on a permanent basis in January. Sadly the number of players underperforming has outnumbered the players playing well. It does seem strange considering that they were always so quick to jump to Curle and the two coaches defence in the media and on Twitter. Black 'N White fanzine editor Stuart Brothers said in his blog that the players owe it to Keith to play to their pottential for the rest of the season, and I have to agree. I really wish we as a club could be more patient with managers. We are now looking for our seventh full time manager in three years, which is just embrassing quite frankly. But the problem is Ray Trew has now got himself a reputation for being very trigger happy, so when another manager comes in and hits a bad run of form, fans will be waiting for Ray to pull the trigger again. I dont want to sound like a broken record but I really do feel that the fact we're not loaded like we thought we were in the munto days hasn't sunk in among some fans. Too many expect miracles from the club but we're not a club that has money to throw about. I would think there have been enough examples of club's throwing too much money around in recent years for people to be thankful to have a stable club with owners who dont want to waste money, but it appears not to be the case with some people. It also really dissapoints me when I see fans refusing to go until a manager is gone. I'm sorry, but I lose a bit of respect for those who refuse to go just because of a manager. A football club is for life, you support it through thick and thin no matter who the manager is and however the team is doing. If you can't take the rough with the smooth it really is time to go and do something else. But maybe that's just me. I grew up knowing Notts to be simply fighting for Football League survival every single season. I got used to seeing us lose at home to the likes of Macclesfield Town, Chester City and Barnet. I also remember us losing 6-1 at Dagenham & Redbridge one awful day. That still goes down as the worst day at the office I can remember, even worse than yesterday's defeat! It's a very sad day in my opinion. Keith was fighting against the tide from the moment he stepped through the door but he won a lot of people over during his time here - myself included. Sadly those of us supporting the manager were always going to be outnumbered by those wanting him out sooner or later so I suppose this day was inevitable, but that dosen't make it the right decision I don't think. The questions I've asked for weeks have been if we sack Keith Curle, who could we realistically afford to bring in? Who in their right mind would want the job? If I was a manager out of work I wouldnt touch Notts County with the proverbial barge-pole. You have less job security than a Turkey in November and little hope of ever being able to keep some fans happy. It's the same every time - we bring in a manager, enjoy the honeymoon period while it lasts, sack them once we hit a bad run of form, bring someone else in and start the cycle again. We need stability, and we won't get anywhere anytime soon if we keep going through managers at our current rate. Stability is key, and a manager needs time to build his own squad. We'll have to wait and see if we bring anybody in on a permanent basis this season, but Ray Trew made it clear on Notts Mad that his next appointment would be another gamble, so expect another little-known name or someone without a proven track record. In the meantime, development team manager Chris Kiwomya has taken the job as caretaker and will be in charge for Tuesday night's game at Stevenage, Chris is a very brave man choosing to take the job on after suffering such a recent personal tradegy. I for one am fully behind the guy, and I'd also like to wish Keith Curle and the two Colins the very best of luck wherever they go next. Curle is a very good young manager, and given time and patience I truly believe he would have gone on to achieve success with us. But sadly we live in an "I want success now and can't wait" society. Another manager has gone but our season is far from over. Tuesday night's game is certainly winnable for us with Stevenage suffering from poor home form this season, much like ourselves. A win could take us to within 2 points of the play-offs. Last season, Martin Allen was sacked after defeat at Hartlepool; Keith curle came in and won his first game in charge against Stevenage. Almost a year on, Keith Curle has been sacked after defeat at Hartlepool, and Chris Kiwomya has came in for the Stevenage game. Let's hope Chris can have a similar start to his tenure and get the win. Who knows, maybe this will trigger another fantastic run of form into the end of the season like last season. One thing is for certain, it's never dull at Meadow Lane! COME ON YOU PIES

weymouthPIE

weymouthPIE

 

Transfer Window - Is It Just Me?

Maybe I'm a miserable sod, but I've never really liked the transfer windows - particularly deadline day. Not only are there a ridiculus amount of rumours linking seemingly every player with ten dozen clubs, but unless you've got money to burn like Manchester City and Queens Park Rangers, the window dosen't really help you. The windows have severely damaged the smaller clubs. Before the transfer window was introduced in England back in 2002, you could do deals all year round. That meant that there was nothing like the cashflow concerns for smaller clubs now. If a club was struggling to pay its monthly wages the chairman could pick up the phone, sell a player for x number of pounds and that was everyone paid for another month. OK, it might have been unsettling for fans and players alike but at the time we didnt know any different, and it worked. Now, club's have to rush deals through, and it's even more difficult to complete deals these days what with all the add on fees and bonuses and other negotiations that agents have brought to the party. But it's the way SKY build it up that really annoys me. They build up deadline day in January as the day that makes or breaks a club's season depending on weather or not they do the business that they need to do. We all know that the season isn't over by a long shot on February 1st, but the worrying thing is people actually buy what SKY tells them! They really do believe that if their club dosen't sign anybody, thats their season finished! Preposterous. I suppose I could be viewed as thinking this because I'm a Notts County fan, as we very rarely do any deadline day business. Yet our fans demand we sign someone and seem to assume we're doomed to failiure if we dont. Yes, we do need a striker and it'd be nice to get one but whats more important? Signing a 30 goal a season striker or having a football club to go and watch every Saturday? Because in our case it is pretty much a case of one or the other. We're not loaded, we dont have money to throw about but fans still complain when we dont sign Jonathan Forte or Lloyd Sam or David McGoldrick. I know I'm repeating myself but I really dont think that the fact we're not loaded has sunk in with some of our fans. They expect far too much. It is frustrating when we don't get players especially when they've been training with us, but to be honest if a player wants to go to another club because they're offering him more money, let him. I'd rather not have a player playing for our club who only joined because we offered him the most money. I highly doubt we'll bring in anyone before tonights 11PM deadline, I think there's more chance of us bringing in someone on loan like we did last season. But is it really such a bad thing if we dont sign anyone on deadline day? It's hardly the end of our season. Transfer window only helps clubs who are loaded and can throw money at whatever problems they have - QPR and Newcastle for example. But you very rarely see any clubs bringing in a big name star in January. Nobody wants to sell their strikers if they're scoring plenty of goals so I dont see why people get so angry when we don't bring anyone in. In fact even when they do, it dosen't always work out, I dont even need to name names. I'll be glad when the window ends, SKY goes back to talking about football rather than rumours, and everyone stops panicking about their players being linked with half the football league, Then again, maybe it's just me being a miserable sod

weymouthPIE

weymouthPIE

 

We Got There In The End

Portsmouth 0-2 Notts County Notts bounced back from Saturday's dissapointing result at Leyton Orient with an extremely hard-faught victory at Fratton Park last night. It was built up really as being a must win game for Notts, anything less would have been a bad result. Going into the game I felt fairly confident with the starting XI boasting an arsenal of attacking options in Zoko, Arquinn, Judge and Boucaud. However it was never likely to be a classic with the wind swirling around Fratton Park and the rain flying into the players faces no matter what direction they ran in. Portsmouth, as they seem to most games - started very brightly and had the games first chance when Connolly beat Alan Sheehan, crossed the ball into the area which drifted goalwards in the wind but was well saved by Speiss. Just minutes later the young goalkeeper making his first full start had to be on his toes again when another ball came into the area, which was this time punched clear. The game then settled down a bit but Portsmouth continued to press with their ever bouyant home crowd behind them. Their best chance of the whole game came when Wallace's close-range shot was well saved by Speiss at the expense of a corner. Notts did get forwards quite a bit but we kept trying to play one pass too many, almost trying to walk it in which wasen't going to work. Also there was some very sloppy play from virtually all Notts' players, as they seemed to struggle to adapt to the tricky conditions on the south coast. We did however, have the ball in the back of the net from a corner midway through the first half when one of Pompey's defenders headed into his own goal. We celebrated, but only realised there was no goal when the Pompey fans began a rendition of "sit down shut up!" - turned out the goal has been dissalowed for a push. Half time: 0-0, and it must be said we didnt really look like a side chasing the play-offs. We were very sloppy and things had to improve in the second half. We began the second half much brighter with Pompey struggling to clear a number of balls into the area, but we just couldnt find that final touch. That was the story of the next 35 minutes really - we kept getting into decent positions but we'd try and play a bit too much and Pompey would break up field. But I honestly can't remember Speiss having a save to make in the second half. They kept getting forwards but they never really had any chances. Alan Judge, Neal bishop and Francois Zoko all went close for Notts but finally, a breakthrough goal came ten minutes from time. Yohann Arquinn, who it must be said put in a very lazy shift, crossed for Jeff Hughes to volley home from close range to send the 135 Notts fans wild with delight, or was that just relief? Probably a mixture of both. It had been said in the buld up to the game that Portsmouth had a habbit of starting games very well until they conceeded, at which point they'd fall to pieces, and this was too true. Suddenly Notts had more energy about them, and seemed to play more positively and with more freedom. Within 5 minutes of that opener, Francois Zoko made it 2-0 scored from inside the six yard box from a Bishop ball. That killed the game. All the travelling fans seemed very relieved to have the points in the bag. What seemed like a pottential bannana skin before the game looked like becoming one until the last ten minutes. But credit to the lads, they proved once again that they can dig in and adapt their style of play when neccesary, and get the job done. It wasen't pretty, and it wasen't the walkover that some fans were demanding but our goal difference is pretty strong as it is. I dont think there's much point in going all out to score bags of goals and risk injuries. Just get the 3 points in the bag and move onto the next game. The only big dissapointment on the night was the red card shown to Neal Bishop in injury time. Now quite what this was for I personally cant be sure. What I saw was Bishop play a pass forwards, and while we were watching Boucaud attempt to take on a defender a few fans began shouting. I saw something out of the corner of my eye and I looked to see Bish and a Pompey player squaring up to eachother. One fan stood next to me said the Portsmouth man had had Bish by the throat and a small scuffle broke out. I suppose retaliation is a difficult one, but it does beg the question if the whole away end (well, seemingly apart from me!) saw a Pompey man start on Bish, why did none of the two assistent referee's or the ref himself? So it wasen't a pretty performance or a classic by any stretch of the imagination but job done, a wins a win, and we move up to 9th in the table - 5 points off the play-offs with a game in hand. I also want to mention Portsmouth's loyal and ever-vocal supporters. Not only did the players give it a real go until the first goal but their fans just didn't stop singing all night. To keep going back, and supporting their team as loudly, loyally and proudly as they do when they're getting beat week in week out takes a hell of a lot. I really hope they survive, it would be such a shame to see such a wonderful club with a rich history like that of Pompey die. Next up for us, we go to the opposite end of the country completely with a trip to bottom club Hartlepool United on Saturday. It's another must win game for us, anything less would be a big dissapointment. COME ON YOU PIES

weymouthPIE

weymouthPIE

 

Weekend's Football

Well that was an interesting weekend of football! So much to talk about so please do bear with me, I'll break this down into sections. My Own Saturday Thankfully this Saturday I was spared that gut-wrenching feeling of waking up to the news that the game was off, because Weymouth's trip to second placed Hemel Hempstead Town had been postponed on Friday morning with the pitch a good few feet under snow! For once the Southern League saw sense in allowing the game to be called off early. For some reason they dont usually allow clubs to call matches off until the day of the game, which causes everyone disruption when its clear for all to see that the match wont be on. So for me and my mate it was down to the ground still to watch the ever improving Weymouth Reserves play Wareham Rangers in the Dorset Premier League. The team line-up was interesting, with an outside goalkeeper coming in as an emergency replacment as the other two keepers who were both suspended, and three first team players lining up with defenders Ben Doidge and Ashley Wells (for me, our standout player this season), while seasoned striker Matt Groves reverted to a midfield role. Old Groover seemed more interested in shouting at the poor youngsters though than having an impact on proceedings himself. Wareham took the lead roughly ten minutes before the break via a freak goal. A corner came in and there was a scramble which resulted in the keeper having his hands on the ball. Play seemed to stop for a minute, and the keeper let go of the ball. So a Wareham striker tapped the ball into the net and everyone got set for the restart. Took us spectators a few moments to work out weather the goal had been given or not, quite what was happening with our keeper I dont understand. Second half our lads came out and played with a lot more intensity which had been missing through the first half, although that might be understandable given that this was their first game in over a month! Highly rated among us fans, Sean Zima took on and beat a couple of defenders before prodding the ball home to make it 1-1 around the hour mark. Then within 5 minutes the turnaround was complete when Ashley Wells (what he was doing so far forwards god only knows!) stole the ball from the Wareham left back, ran at the keeper and at the second attempt - slotted home to give the Weymouth Reserves the lead. The rest of the game was a scrappy affair with the refferee and his two officials taking centre stage. One linesman had absolutely no understanding whatsoever of the offiside rule. How can our man be offside if he's had to beat the defender who had a head start of a few yards to reach the ball?? Then the ref suddenly discovered a mysterious yellow card in his pocket! He loved it so much he decided to show it to 5 players in as many minutes. Still, I suppose there's a reason these lot are refereeing at this level.. Full Time: Weymouth Reserves 2-1 Wareham Rangers. 3 points lift the Ressies up to 9th in the DPL, although for us the table isn't important. What's important is helping these players develop and feed them into the first-team. And it must be said there's some great young talant in the reserves side which bodes well for the future of our club. All good news after years of turmoil, but maybe I'll tell you that long story another day. Notts County With the Reserves game having been a 2pm kick off, on my way home I checked our score which was 0-0. Was very sad to hear of Bialkowski's injury though. I think I speak for all Notts County fans when I say that he's proved a lot of people wrong so far this season. When his signing was announced in the summer, a large section of supporters dismissed Bart as "****" on one youtube clip from his now infamous appearance for Southampton against Blackpool last season in which he had an absolute stinker. But everyone has bad days and I was all for giving the guy a chance. He's since proved himself to be argubly one of the best keepers we've had at Meadow Lane in many years, producing a string of fine performances that have earned us plenty of points so far this season. His heroic stand against Swindon Town at Meadow Lane in November was probably the easist Man of The Match award to be given at Meadow Lane for years! Fabien Speiss came on to replace Bart and quickly set about showing us just why he's been watched by some of the top premiership clubs. A string of fine saves, and some very good kicking lead to him being unanimously named as Notts' MOTM for the afternoon. He's got a bright future ahead of him, what a great young prospect he is. It proves that Bart certainly has some competition - can 'Polands number one' keep his place? With regards to the result, it was bitterly dissapointing to lose, but the incredible away run off 22 games without defeat under Keith Curle had to end sooner or later. We'll just have to start a new one now! What dissapointed me more than the result though was the reaction of some of our fans. If your reading this, you may have read my rant on one of the forum threads on Saturday evening, so I wont go into it all again, but the point I'd like to make is that yes - it's always dissapointing to lose a game, but I really do think some of our fans expect too much. It's as if the fact we're not loaded like we thought we were hasn't sunk in with some and they expect us to carry on sacking managers whenever we hit a bad patch of form and sign 30 goal-a-season strikers. We cant do that. How people can be calling for Curle's head is beyond me. I'll be the first to admit I was completely mystified at his appointment but he's certainly proved me wrong and I for one am fully supportive of the guy. At the end of the day, we dont have a divine right to win anything. What do we do if we sack Curle? Who could be realistically afford to bring in? Who in their right mind would want the hottest seat in football? And if we found someone who we could afford and was mad enough to take the job on what would happen? We'd enjoy the honeymoon period, then sack him once we hit some bad form and start the cycle all over again. We're not a rich club. We need stability. Jimmy Sirrel didnt achieve success constantly during his time at Meadow Lane, but we stuck by him and look what he did for our club. Brian Clough took over at Derby, and actually took them to a finish of one place lower in his first full season, but they stood by their man and the rest is history. It's a shame there's no patience in football anymore, with everyone demanding instant success. FA Cup A rather sore subject still after our exit to Rotherham, but I still want to mention this weekends Cup action. Anyone who feels that the FA Cup has lost its magic need look no further than this weekend's action. Millwall, Leeds United and Oldham Athletic all beat Premiership opposition as did Luton Town. The Hatters have had a well documented tirbulant few years, and they deserve more coverage for their win at Norwich than they got. It was the first time EVER that a Premiership club had been knocked out by a non-league side. The last top division side to fall to non-league opposition was Coventry City at Sutton in 1989. Their reward - a home tie with Millall. That could be carnage! Also, Brentford managed to hold the European Champions Chelsea to a 2-2 draw at Grifiin Park, and they get another crack at Stamford Bridge. The winner of that tie goes to middlesbrough in round 5. Next Game Well the Magpies next game should be away to Portsmouth tommorow night, but I'd be surprised if its on with the forecast being for torrential rain in Portsmouth all day tommorow. I pray they have an inspection and call it off nice an early (it seems likely to be the case). If I have to get there to find its been called off again someone somewhere at the Football League or FA or whoever it is that sorts match officials out will be recieving a strongly worded letter! IF, however the game goes ahead, its simply a must win game for Notts. The next two away games are Portsmouth then Hartlepool, so anything less than 6 points would be pretty bad. I kind of feel sorry for the players in that they're basically in a no win situation this week. They're expected to win both games, but if we dont, "the usual suspects will be out to complain" in the words of Captain Neal Bishop. He's not wrong, always the same people. As ever I'm confident we can get the win and get our play-off push back on track. Fingers crossed tommorow night's game at Fratton Park is on, but I'm not feeling too optomistic about that. If you've somehow managed to keep yourself awake to read through this whole blog i salute you! COYP

weymouthPIE

weymouthPIE

 

Oldham Match Thoughts

Notts picked up their first win of the New Year last night with a 1-0 victory at home to free-falling oldham Athletic, to move up to 12th in the table. When the line-up was announced around an hour before kick-off, it's fair to say there were some mixed opinions regarding Enoch Showumni being given a chance to impress up front, although it shouldn't have been too much of a surprise with Zoko being suspended. I was somewhat dissapointed to read so many negative comments about the guy prior to the match, with few people giving him any hope of making an impact. I said on Twitter that I hoped he'd score to silence some of the doubters - he does after all, wear the famous black and white shirt, so we should be behind him! So what happened? He went and got his first goal for the club on 35 minutes. In my opinion, this was one of the best worked goals from Notts we've seen this season. Boucaud and Campbell-Ryce combined to set up Enoch for a tap-in. A goal is a goal, it gets a money off his back, and I really wouldnt be surprised to see him go and grab a few more now. We certainly need him to! The first half, Colin Slater described as some of the best football Notts had played this season, and for once I felt rather calm listening to the game, although the longer we went without scoring the more I began to wonder about it coming back to bite us on the backside, so it was a relief as much as anything when we got that first goal. Second half sounded somewhat scrappy. Oldham appeared to play with a bit of tempo (I reitterate the phrase "a bit") which had been absent from their first half performance. The latics came close to an equaliser middway through the second half when Matt Smith saw his shot cleared off the line by Gary Liddle. At this point, my commentary actually cut out briefly, and when it came back on the first words I heard were "equaliser for the visitors", by heart sank. Thankfully, Dean Yates went on to say what a brilliant clearence off the line it was by Liddle. To me, it felt like a second goal - phew! The longer the second half went on the more nervous I became listening on Magpie Player, and you could sense the tension around Meadow Lane aswel but oldham failed to ever really test Bart Bialkowski and on the whole the Magpies deserves the 3 points. I must mention the 80 Oldham fans who made the trip aswel. They were not exacly vocal, and it's easy to dismiss their support as "crap", but credit to those who did make that journey, at this time of the year, in this weather with their team in their current poor form - dedication of the highest order. Something else that will have gave many home fans something to smile about was the presence of Lee Hughes at Meadow Lane. I suppose it shouldnt really be much of a surprise given that he played for Oldham prior to his time at Notts. Still, it was great to see him there with that big smile. I think we'll see plenty of more of Lee at the Lane in the years to come. It seems that the club found a place in his heart just as he did in the fans'. Hopefully his presence will put to bed rumours of a bust up with Keith Curle which led to his departure or any ill feeling towards the club. If that was the case he wouldn't have been allowed pitchside. So on the whole then a succesfull night for the Magpies. An important 3 points, a first win since November and perhaps more importantly a win on home soil. After the weekend's game with Sheffield United I said we needed to use that result as a springboard to get back to winning ways and get some confidence back into the side, and I suppose, get a feel-good factor back into the fans again. We've started doing that. We're 6 points off the play-offs, with 2 games in hand and plenty of winnable games coming up. I think we can soon get back up into the mix if we can string some results together. We havent yet won 3 games in a row this season, now would be a good time to change that statistic. But lets not get carried away and take things a game at a time. Russel Slade's Leyton Orient are next on the agenda. A game against a Russel Slade side is never easy, but Orient - like ourselves have been pretty inconsistant this season. It took them weeks to get their first win of the season, then they went and won 8 in a row; It really is a funny old game... Still, as ever, I'm confident the lads can go there and get 3 points. COME ON YOU PIES

weymouthPIE

weymouthPIE

 

Saturday Wasen't So Bad...

Are there many worse feelings than waking up to the news that your match is off? Whilst Weymouth's grudge match with Frome Town in the Southern League being postponed due to a frozen pitch was hardly a big surprise, it was still dissapointing after spending half the week looking forward to it. Whilst that wasen't surprising, the news that the Magpies home clash with Sheffield United WOULD go ahead was certainly a surprise. Massive credit has to go to the groundstaff of both Notts County and Nottingham Rugby, along with the countless volunteers for their hard work, particularly on Friday and Saturday morning. They did the club proud, and certainly proved a lot of people wrong! I wonder if they were wondering why they bothered after seeing Notts fall behind just two minutes into the game against an out-of-form Sheffield United side. Listening to Colin Slater and Dean Yates commentary on Magpie Player certainly wasen't a pleasent experience for the first ten minutes of the game, with Notts seemingly struggling to get the ball out of their own half. And just when the home side were beggining to find their feet and come into the game a bit, we recieved a second sucker punch when Francois Zoko got himself sent off. Initially he was given a yellow card for a foul, but he took his protests too far and was then sent off. Some Notts supporters defended Francois claiming it was never a foul in the first place. Having seen it a couple of times now I think it's one of those things whereby we've seen them given, and we've seen them not given. Either way, Zoko should know better than to continue his protests in the manner he did. I for one have never seen an official change his mind on a players word. Manager keith Curle certainly didnt seem pleased with his front man during his post-match interview, and told Radio Nottingham that he would be taking disciplinary action. It must be said that Notts' disciplinary record this season is a cause for concern - SIX red cards so far this season is unacceptable weather they were all the right decision from the official or not. Having conceeded such an early goal, and being reduced to ten men it would have been easy for the Notts lads to buckle and think it was going to be another one of those days, but to their credit they kept fighting and once we got to half time at 1-0, I still felt we had a chance of nicking something from the game. The second half certainly sounded like a tense affair, the next goal was crucial. When the second goal of the game did come ten minutes from time, it fell for ten man Notts. Alan Judge heading home from Sheehan's free kick, sending the Meadow Lane faithful wild; and me in my front room slightly more mad! I should probably apologise to the neighbours for the noise when we got that equaliser. A point in the circumstances was an excellent result although we had our chances to win the game! Its been no secret that our home form has held us back dramatically this season, but hopefully that battling point against a promotion contender could be the springboard for us to turn the home form around. If Tuesday night's match at home to Oldham Athletic goes ahead, it's certainly a must win game. Their FA Cup 3rd Round victory over the river has papered over the cracks at Boundary Park, with the team falling down the league table. Their latest set-back was yesterday's 2-1 defeat at Coventry City. Despite equalising on 89 minutes, they went and lost it on 95 minutes! I like to remain as positive as possible, and I'm confident that if the match goes ahead we can get the 3 points. Yesterday's result will no doubt give the lads a lot of self-belief which seems to have been missing in recent weeks. We know from earlier in the season what this team is capable of, lets get back on form and start moving up the table. COME ON YOU PIES

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About PON

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Pride of Nottingham is an independent fansite devoted to Notts County, the world’s oldest league football club. Created in 2013, it has served as a source of Magpie news, features, match previews, reports, analysis and interviews for more than three years.

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Meet the Team

Chris Chris Administrators
Magic magpie Magic magpie Administrators
ARLukomski ARLukomski Administrators
CliftonMagpie CliftonMagpie Global Moderators
super_ram super_ram Media

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