Archive for February, 2010

Friend or Foe?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

The unthinkable has been suggested. Cheltenham Town may ground share with their fiercest rivals Gloucester City which will give the latter a home, and us, some much needed money, but the proposition has divided opinion between both sets of fans.

I am slightly too young to remember Cheltenham/Gloucester derbies but have grown up  with an inherent dislike for our neighbours – joining in with the “We hate Gloucester” songs at games with vigor. However, with Gloucester City lying in the bottom half of the Blue Square North the rivalry has lost some of it’s gravitas which leads me to the question – why not ground share?

Now don’t get me wrong, when I first heard the idea  I was totally against it and part of me still is, but, in a time when we need all the money we can get it’s hard to see how we can turn it down. Yes there might be some trouble but I think with the right organisation, the majority of it can be avoided. Also, this might be the helping hand Gloucester City need to begin their descent up the leagues and if that was the case wouldn’t it be great if we could reignite this rivalry in League Two and beat them (4 or 5 – 0 preferably).

Ground shares have been suggested in the past for great enemies like Arsenal and Spurs and even Liverpool and Everton but have never made it, mainly down to fans’ opinion and to be honest,  they were probably right. But right now, at League Two level and in our current financial position, maybe we should let the Tigers into our back yard…

just not for too long though eh?

Let me know what you think about rivals sharing grounds and whether you would be happy to do so if it was your team!

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Massey Attack

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Warnock imagines punching Trevor Massey in the head, twice.

Every year some pundit starts to question whether the FA Cup has “lost it’s magic”, and every year that same pundit chokes on his microphone as games like yesterday’s match at Selhurst Park, reaffirms the FA Cup’s place in the hearts of players and fans alike.

The 2-2 draw between cash-strapped Crystal Palace and fourth-place premiership contenders Aston Villa had all the ingredients of a great cup tie – sublime individual skill, a “David Vs Goliath” match up, and of course, controversy. which leads me to the subject of this post – Neil Warnock.

Now Warnock divides opinion amongst football fans, you either love him or you hate him, personally I am in the first camp so when I read his latest rant about assistant referee Trevor Massey I whole heartedly agreed with him.

If you didn’t see the game, Palace were 2-1 up after a stunning 35-yard free-kick from Darren Ambrose that dipped and swerved and bamboozled Villa keeper Brad Friedel.

Palace looked like seeing out an important win both for footballing and financial reasons until the 87th minute when Villa were wrongly awarded a corner kick. As Speroni made a great save from a John Carew header, the ball cannoned off the head of Nathan Delfouneso and out for a goal kick, or so everyone thought. Unfortunately for Palace (and Neil Warnock’s heart) linesman Trevor Massey proceeded to advise referee Kevin Friend to award a corner kick to Villa, which they then scored from.

Now Warnock has come out and said that he hopes Massey is suspended “for a long time” and I have to agree with him. I understand that everyone makes mistakes but when the mistake is that expensive to a club like Crystal Palace it becomes more than just a case of winning or losing.

Only time will tell whether there will repercussions for Warnock, but, whether you love him or hate him you’ve got to admire the man’s passion, a passion which, I think,  encapsulates the Football League. Lets just hope Palace win at Villa Park and then Warnock can get back to doing what he does best – giving us hilarious quotes like this one…

When manager of Sheffield United, a reporter asked him what he would do if he was the manager of their fierce city rivals Sheffield Wednesday. Warnock replied:

“I would buy some bad players, get the sack and then retire to Cornwall”

*In other news I watched Cheltenham Town’s 1-1 draw with Barnet at Underhill and came away with nothing but a realisation that in Barry Hayles and Julian Alsop we must have the fattest, slowest strike partnership in the Football League – answers on a postcard if you can prove me wrong.

The Magic of the Football League

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The Football League is better than the Premiership. There, I said it. Now before all you Chelsea and Man United fans start foaming at the mouth I am not suggesting the quality of football is better, clearly Didier Drogba has a bit more talent than say Julian Alsop of Cheltenham Town fame. However, if I was to tell you how my love affair began with the Football League then maybe you’d understand.

It was a clear Thursday night in April 1999, Cheltenham Town were playing Yeovil in the Conference with the former needing three points to guarantee promotion to the Football League for the first time in their history. I was 10 years old at the time and as me and my dad walked towards the ground, the atmosphere was electric. The previous year I’d already seen Cheltenham win the FA Umbro Trophy at Wembley but even at such a tender age I realised the importance of winning the league. Then this happened…

As the final whistle went the Cheltenham fans rushed onto the pitch, some kissed the turf others lifted the players aloft, my dad, being the clever guy that he is, led me to the tunnel despite me protesting that I wanted to go and see the players. I soon realised each and everyone one of those heroic players would have to walk past us as they went down the tunnel, Neil Grayson, Chris Banks, Mickey Duff all got a pat on the back from a wide-eyed 10-year-old who would grow up from that point with a love for lower league football.

Now clearly this is a self-indulgent post, a Cheltenham Town fan reminiscing about a day which changed his life forever but was probably just another Thursday night sat in front of Corrie for premier league fans. Anyway, this is a blog about the Football League and not just Cheltenham Town so what does make the Football League better than the Premiership? For a start, ask any Carlisle fan…

Now this is all very emotive stuff, things that wouldn’t be out of place in Roy of the Rovers but I know what you’re saying – “You still haven’t told us why the Football Leagues is better!”. Well, firstly, the fans. When a Football League team concedes, the fans get behind them, they will them to get an equaliser whereas it doesn’t take much for Premier League fans to get on their players’ backs and start booing. Secondly, the atmosphere. Now I’m not the best person to talk about this as I am a Cheltenham Town fan so when I watch my team I am accompanied by about 3,000 other fans but when we get going, we really get going and it’s the same for lots of other clubs in the Football League. Football League grounds are real arenas where many a Goliath has been slayed and it’s all down to the atmosphere, every game’s a cup final for Football League clubs.

The terraces make a big difference too. As a 21-year-old I am in a rare position of standing to watch football from an early age. I realise the subject of standing at football matches is delicate after Hillsborough but the point is seats are no safer than terraces, it’s when you start letting too many people in one section of the stadium when it gets dangerous. Terraces make a football ground, there’s something about standing next to fellow comrades roaring your team on to victory.

What about the players? Admittedly many people would rather see world class footballers week in week out for over £50 a time and thats their choice but me, I’d rather not see an over paid prima donna prance around a pitch rolling over like he’s been shot every time the opposition comes within 3 feet of him (I know not all world class players are like this but bare with me). Give me a lion heart playing for the shirt on his back over a mercenary who will change teams depending on the highest bidder any day.

Maybe my opinion about the Football League is confirmed by the continual distance the Premier League seems to put between itself and the fans. I fear we are losing everything that makes football the greatest game in the world and the only place I can see a slither of hope is in the lower leagues at places like Burton, Accrington, Brentford, and of course Cheltenham.

Maybe this is a post full of bias, passion and blind loyalty but I won’t apologise for that, and anyway, isn’t that what football’s all about?

Keep checking this blog for more articles on the Football League where I will be discussing the big stories from the Championship, League One and League Two.