|LYMINGTON & NEW MILTON FC|
|NEWS & VIEWS||Online with The Linnets|
IT'S SO NICE.....TO GO TRAVELLING?
Friday 28th December 2001
The last game of the current year will be something of a novelty - we'll be playing at home for a change! It has been a strange period for the team, with so many away fixtures coming together, but it is to the credit of Graham Kemp and the boys that they have not let this get in the way of a much improved spell of form. Indeed, it was less than two months ago that I was poking fun (well slightly) at the idea of us being serious challengers for the title - oh ye of little faith.
With the team sitting in fifth position in the table, having played exactly half our league fixtures, we are well placed to have a significant say in the outcome of the title-race - starting with tomorrow's match against Gosport. The team from Privett Park have been one of the 'surprise packages' of the season so far and are currently three points ahead of us, having played less games. So this will be a toughie - three points from this one and even I will start having title-dreams again.
FINDING THE RIGHT BLEND
Graham Kemp's moves in the transfer scene have been fascinating up to now with budgetary constraints supposedly dictating the club's ability to attract talent. This has not stopped the club from acquiring some very promising young prospects, as well as enticing back experienced former players. I was therefore intrigued, if not surprised, to learn of the signing of striker Steve Tate from Newport. Kemp expressed an interest in signing Tate back in the summer, when it seemed that Leigh Phillips might be moving on and a fee was agreed on that basis. Tate decided then to stick it out with newly promoted 'Port and fight for his place in the team while, as we all know, Leigh has chosen to stick with it at Fawcett's Field. However, with suspension once more hanging over Phillips, Graham has chosen to move in and acquire some experienced cover. Welcome to the club Steve, we know you can do it in the Wessex!
As this is likely to be the last piece I write in 2001 - can I wish all the players, management and staff of the club and those of you who bother to read these meanderings - A very Happy New Year - here's to a successful 2002!
OH NO! IT'S THE EAST-LEIGH EFFECT AGAIN
Monday 24th December 2001
Whatever else he does, clearly Leigh Phillips does not read this column too often - otherwise he might have taken heed of the 'warning' I incorporated into my notes prior to last Saturday's fixture at Eastleigh! Either that or there is some kind of 'dark side' to his character that especially manifests when playing at Ten Acres. Whatever the explanation, Leigh managed to get himself sent off on his return to the scene of a previous red card which itself had directly resulted in the lengthy suspension that he was forced to serve during September, October and part of November of this year. He will now face another lengthy suspension, just when the team (and Leigh himself) seem to be hitting top-form. The good news is that he has now apparently signed a new contract with the club which is great, provided we can find a way of keeping him on the field!
On that note, my compliments of the season go out to all who take the trouble to log-on to this website - A Merry Christmas to all of you!
HEIGH-HO, IT'S OFF TO BROCK
Sunday 23rd December 2001
It's that time of the year again - Boxing Day fixtures - so we must be playing Brock. This year it is an away fixture (not another away match?!) and, apart from the usual local derby stuff, it is a fixture with some interesting undertones. A recent feature of our matches with The Badgers has been the 'reunion element', with so many former Linnets having made their way to Grigg Lane over the last 18 months or so. Adding further spice to that particular aspect is the recent arrival of Jimmy Anderson and the recent news that Brock manager Chris Collinge is standing down (indeed by the time this is written, he may already have stood down), and that his likely replacement is ex-Linnets midfielder Jimmy Sheppard, who left us almost exactly one year ago.
With a major influx of new players, not least former Cherries' midfielder - John Bailey (he of Wembley goal fame), Brock started this season really well but have suffered a number of adverse results recently; culminating in yesterday's 0-4 defeat at home to Cowes Sports. It is therefore difficult to know how this fixture may pan out, although no doubt there will be the inevitable 'edge' to proceedings!
To add extra fuel to the mixture, I note that Derek Binns has recently been airing his views in public to the extent that he feels that a three-way merger between ourselves, Bashley and Brock is an economic necessity for the not too distant future! The logic seems to be essentially the same financial argument that precipitated the previous Linnets-Bash merger debate (in which Derek played his part). While there is no doubt that with three clubs chasing advertising and sponsorship within a limited geographic area, the revenues that each can attract is consequently reduced, however I think that - emotionally at least - it is a difficult idea to swallow. Despite the fact that money clearly 'talks', there are people connected with each of the clubs who have put in an enormous amount of time and effort (not to mention their own money!), to maintain and promote the particular team that they are attached to. I would be interested if anyone has any views to express (for or against) the idea - contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do.
Tuesday 17th December 2001
It is definitely the season of good cheer for Linnets followers, what with the team's recent form and now news that Leigh Phillips is prepared to put pen to paper and sign an extended contract with the club. Having recently passed the hundred goal mark in considerably less than even time, it is perhaps a bit surprising that those "Leigh is set for Bash/Salisbury/Saints/Man. U." rumours are not circulating again!
THEY SHALL NOT PASS!
Following last Saturday's league victory against Thatcham, Graham Kemp was quick to praise his fellow defenders for their performance in that win and their contribution generally to the team's improvement in form, suggesting that it was usually the strikers who 'got the glory' but that there were others equally deserving of mention. As with the whole team, Graham has had to "shuffle the pack" to accomodate injuries, suspensions, holidays and so on and this has been most noticeable perhaps in the area of defence. However, with some astute recent signings as well as a hard-nosed appraisal of existing talent, Graham has gradually rebuilt the side with an increasing emphasis on youth. In the past the Linnets were well-known for their parsimony in defence but that seemed to have been lost in the early part of this season. Recent results suggest that it is rapidly returning so ....let's hear it for the boys at the back!
The team take to the road again for the next two matches (that now makes seven away games to one at home in the league!) and next Saturday's encounter at Eastleigh is significant in a number of ways. This is the reverse of the home fixture played in late October when having been soundly beaten by us some weeks before in the Russell-Cotes Cup, Eastleigh arrived to inflict our first league defeat at 'Fortress' Fawcett's Field just one day short of a year since the previous such event. A visiting player called Liam Green played a part in that defeat that day, so it is to be hoped that as a Linnet, he will be in a position to 'reciprocate' the gesture! Not playing in that last encounter was a certain Mr. Phillips, who was otherwise occupied with disciplinary matters that came about largely as a result of last season's away fixture at Ten Acres. Please "tread carefully" this time, Leigh!
THAT'S MORE LIKE IT!
Sunday 9th December 2001
Although recent results have been encouraging, I have to admit that when I read club president Jack Holliday's comments in the "A&T" about this being a transitional season with the management and executive looking for a top three or four league finish, I could agree with the first part but had some difficulty with the second. However, Saturday's 4-0 victory away at Fareham made me think that he must just be right. It has been a difficult few weeks for the team, and somewhat odd in that they have faced six away matches in a row - indeed, when they line up against Thatcham on Tuesday in the second leg of their League Cup tie, it will be almost a month since they last played at home. Such are the vagueries of the fixture list, which are thrown into even sharper relief by the fact that we now face two consecutive home fixtures against the same opponents!
These two games [against Thatcham Town] will be particularly interesting as a measure of current form. Thatcham started the season well and have been occupying a position in the top four places in the league for most of that time, a run that included a 4-1 drubbing of champions Andover. Lately, their form has dipped however, with two consecutive league defeats (albeit to in-form sides - Gosport & Fleet), followed by yesterday's exit from the FA Vase away in the wilds of Essex. Historically, they have been difficult opponents, as the archive shows, and our home league defeat at their hands just over a year ago - in monsoon conditions - was effectively the point at which we lost top spot to eventual champions Andover, a position we were never able to reverse, despite our best endeavours.
Yesterday's result was definitely more like the Linnets of the past couple of seasons. The 1-1 draw we gained at Thatcham in the first leg also seemed a good result, particularly since we did not choose to field a "full-strength" side [with apologies to Paul Morrell], and was apparently a very entertaining game. With two more away matches (!) to follow "Thatcham Week", victories in these fixtures would set us up nicely - as well as going some way to correcting the record books.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
Sunday 2nd December 2001
The club has now confirmed the appointment of a full-time community development officer, Keith Williams, who commenced his duties officially as of yesterday. Keith, who holds an F.A. coaching certificate along with considerable previous experience in the commercial side of football, assumes responsibility for all the club's commercial activities henceforth. He will also have a specific role in developing the club's youth policy as well as the probable creation of a women's football setup under the umbrella of Lymington & New Milton FC.
The club have been without a specific commercial manager since David Armstrong left over a year ago, during which time the issue of finance came to a head when the club's executive decided not to pursue elevation to the Southern League, largely on the grounds of cost. This precipitated the Bashley 'merger saga' and the departure of club manager Derek Binns (but see below!) so the appointment represents another step in the development of the club as a self-financing organisation, ultimately able to sustain higher-level status if that should be achieved. I, for one, would like to wish Keith every success in his new position.
INTERIM REPORT : STEADY PROGRESS
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the team were set for a testing period with a number of fixtures due against "in-form" teams. Despite losing at table-toppers Fleet last week it was, by all accounts, a battling performance by the Linnets against a side that is looking more and more like championship contenders. This was followed by an excellent away draw at "high-flying" Thatcham in the League Cup, despite the fact that Graham Kemp apparently chose to 'rest' some key players and which I understand featured a full 90-minute 'participation' by assistant manager, Paul Morrell. This was followed yesterday by a good win away at Portland - Brett Phillips "doing the business". Even our recent victory at Blackfield is looking even better following their amazing 5-4 win over the then-leaders Totton and their narrow first-leg defeat away at Andover. Next week sees another stern test with our away game at Fareham who have themselves achieved some notable results recently, not least yesterday's 4-1 thumping of Moneyfields at Copnor. Last season we lost at Fareham in a match that was virtually meaningless, coming as it did right at the end of the season when the championship had already been decided. A win there at this stage would be sweet revenge indeed.
CHANGING THE GUARD, AGAIN!
If we think it has been a difficult season for the Linnets, should we spare a thought for our neighbours at Bashley? (Cries of Noooooo! offstage). I would not generally comment on the affairs of another club but events up at 'The Rec.' (I refuse to call it "Bashley Road") have concerned us closely in the past and may be about to again - if only by association!
For those not keeping abreast of local affairs, it seems that 'The Bash' are intent on creating another drama concerning their future. In a move that threatens to take on connotations of a farce, the club's executive have apparently decide to oust recently appointed 'saviour' David Malone from the chairmanship and to demote coach Bob Higgins (who himself only relatively recently took over the reins from Derek Binns).
Principal movers behind the shake-up apparently are former Bash financier Ray Pinney, the aforesaid Mr. Binns and previous Bashley manager, Barry Blankley. A more appropriate headline should therefore perhaps be : "Return of the old guard". None of which activity should concern us except for the fact that it was Ray Pinney who initiated last-season's traumatic merger talks with us, quietly supported behind the scenes by our then-manager Mr. Binns.
As I have observed previously, ad nauseam, Mr. Pinney's principal interest in the idea of merging Bash with the Linnets was to let himself off the financial hook at Bashley, a situation seemingly resolved when Mr. Malone appeared like the seventh cavalry, vowing to "put Bashley back where they belong" (I don't think he had the Wessex League in mind!). Derek Binns' oft-quoted desire to "manage a Southern League team" seemed to be fulfilled but lasted only a few 'roller-coaster' weeks before he was 'promoted upstairs' and his place taken by Mr. Higgins, who immediately embarked on a regime of clearing out the 'old guard' on the playing staff .
Now the tide of affairs has apparently been put fully into reverse and it is difficult, as an outsider, to understand why - apart that is, from bruised egos. I just hope that this does not signify another round of 'mergermania' since I can't imagine that the financial landscape has changed so dramatically. While I do not bear any ill-will to our neighbours (at least off the field!), I personally feel that any attempt to resurrect the merger issue is completely undesirable from our point of view and absolutely contrary to the aims of the club, as signified by the appointment of a commercial manager, detailed above. 'Nuff said?
TESTING TIMES AHEAD
Friday 23rd November 2001
While recent results may have hinted at a change in fortunes for the Linnets, there is no doubt that the next couple of weeks are likely to prove a real test of whether the improvement in form is a temporary phenomenon or something more permanent and this starts tomorrow, with the away fixture at Fleet. Since beating them comfortably back in August in the reverse fixture, the form of the two teams has diverged remarkably. While we have stuttered our way through a series of setbacks and mini-revivals, Fleet's season has really taken off and they now lie second in the table; despite having had the result of one game quashed and a further point deducted by the Wessex League.
The main reason for this change (and the cause of the irregularity that drew the wrath of the Wessex disciplinary committee) has been the wholesale influx of management and playing staff from nearby Combined Counties League side Cove. Having won their league last season at a canter with Cove, Steve Beeks and his players seem to be enjoying life in the Wessex and are beginning to look like serious title contenders, having won nine and drawn one in their last ten games and if we can take any points away with us from Calthorpe Park, it will be a 'result'.
The visit to Fleet is followed next Tuesday night with a League Cup first leg tie away at Thatcham. The Berkshire side must also be considered potential contenders following a run of form that sees them placed fourth in the league at present, but with games in hand over the sides above them. This run includes a stunning 4-1 win over champions Andover, so if we are able to take anything back to Fawcett's Field for the second leg in a couple of weeks, it will again be a 'result'. Coincidentally, the second leg match at home to Thatcham immediately precedes the home league fixture with the same side and we are thus scheduled to play them three times over the next three weeks!
Although I mentioned it in the report of the recent league match against Wimborne, I would like to record a welcome in this column for Darren Mooney, recently signed from Poole Town. Actually, that should be a 'welcome back' because Darren is a former AFC Lymington player and was a member of the side that won the Wessex League in 1996-97 while remaining undefeated. We could certainly use that sort of form now!
IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM?
Finally, another welcome to record - this time for young midfielder Liam Green who has recently signed for the club from fellow Wessex side, Eastleigh. It may be recalled that we recently lost at home to the 'Ten Acres' outfit and that Liam scored against us. This clearly persuaded Graham Kemp to exercise a revised form of the old adage - if you can't beat 'em, sign 'em!
MORE OF THE SAME PLEASE !
Monday 19th November 2001
I did not imagine pre-season that I would be glad to comment on our lads managing to 'gain' a draw against Moneyfields, as they did last Saturday, when our previous record against them has been exemplary. But it shows how much has changed this season that I should be commenting on draws or defeats sustained against teams that have never previously beaten us etc. etc. To be fair to them however, our last opponents have been one of the 'surprise packets' of the season and are contributing to what, at this stage, is shaping up to be one of the most open seasons in the Wessex for some years.
One thing that has not apparently changed is the goal-machine that is called Leigh Phillips! I've no doubt that all that time spent on the sidelines has been as frustrating for Leigh as it has for the rest of us, and he appears intent on making up for lost time - having scored four goals in his two games since returning from 'that suspension'. In the circumstances, all one can say is....more of the same please!
A CASE OF WISHFUL THINKING?
Thursday 8th November 2001
I was more than slightly surprised to come across an 'Ohec' headline the other day which said : "Kemp : We can still win the title" and I must confess that it took a double-take before I was convinced that they were talking about The Linnets' chances of winning the Wessex League this season. Coming off the back of the home defeat by Bemerton (giving them an unheard of double over us this season) and a third successive defeat within a week, I was - to say the least - somewhat amazed at Kempy's chutzpah in apparently making such a statement.
Then I began to see the picture :
Scene : The clubhouse at Fawcett's Field, immediately following Linnets' home defeat by Bemerton .... a newshack enters and approaches our Graham :
Newshack : "Now Mr. Kemp, what chance do you think Lymington [does he mean Lymington Town?] have of winning the title this season?"
Kempy : [Knowing full well he means L. & New Milton] "Mathematically speaking we can still win the title, with the grace of God, a following wind and providing Leigh Phillips steers clear of suspensions. Not to mention Andover being struck down by a Taliban counter-strike, Wimborne suddenly electing to join the Dorset Combination, Brock being struck by mad-Collinge disease and various other visitations of the Grim Reaper being manifested on the other teams above us in the league. I think we still stand a chance!"
Newshack : "Thank you for that valuable insight, Mr. Kemp!"
Newshack : [Now talking into his mobile phone.....] "...the headline is "Kemp : we can still win the title......"
NICE ONE ALEX
Members of the club and avid readers of the "A&T" will no doubt have picked up on the recent jocularity concerning the forthcoming FA Vase tie against our old rivals Wimborne. For those who missed it, the lark involved a phone call from Wimborne manager Alex Pike to our very own Graham Kemp concerning the Vase draw being held at Saints' new stadium; an event which Alex apparently had the good fortune to attend. Asked if he had heard the outcome of the draw, Kempy had to confess that he hadn't and (no doubt out of politeness) he asked Alex who Wimborne had been drawn against. Alex's reply was to the effect that the Magpies' had been given a 'bye' to the next round but aware that the dear old F.A. were not in the habit of giving 'byes', Kempy insisted on knowing who their opponents were to be. Doubtless relishing the denouement, Alex informed our Graham that since Wimborne had been drawn against the Linnets, it was tantamount to having a 'bye' to the next round. Motivation anyone?
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL....
Friday 2nd November 2001
I like to think that I am, by nature, one of life's optimists. I would go further and suggest that this definition must also apply to most football fans otherwise why would they bother when only one team can win the league, cup or whatever tin pot they are playing for - so that all the other supporters are consequently doomed to disappointment. Of course there is more to it than that, but at the root it must be that idea that "we'll win the next one" and so on.
So it is in that frame of mind that I mentally shrug off the events of the past week and look for the positives and forward to the next game. On the plus side, the return to action of Linnets' midfield dynamo Mark Smith is a boost. That is not to denigrate those that have played in his absence but the essence of any successful team is the understanding that builds from playing together regularly and there is no doubt that Mark was previously an integral element of the side before his untimely injury immediately pre-season.
Some proof of how a player can take advantage of regular selection is shown in the form of Richie Glenister who seems to have brought back to Fawcett's Field the goal-scoring knack that he developed during his lengthy spell at Poole Town last season, and which has flourished by virtue of his being first-choice striker during Leigh Phillips' ongoing absence. With Leigh's suspension due to end in nine days time, there is going to be some healthy competition up front for the Linnets.
There may also be another positive for the team in the recent signing from Bashley of young defender Paul Liddon, who seems to bring with him quite a high level of expectation for his future development. We welcome him into the squad.
So.... there are reasons to be cheerful as a Linnets follower. Even more so if we manage to get a quick revenge over Bemerton tomorrow and try to regain that momentum that seemed to be developing before the defeats of the past seven days. Come on you Linnets!
TWO WHEELS ON MY WAGON?
Monday 29th October 2001
At the start of the season Linnets' player-manager Graham Kemp was quoted as saying that he thought that the Wessex League was likely to be more competitive this season and that a team could possibly "lose 5 or 6 games and still end up winning it".
The competitive bit certainly seems to be coming true, with a number of teams having bursts of form that could put them in contention. Losing at Bemerton some weeks ago was a surprise at the time but they have since gone from strength to strength. Totton have enjoyed a successful season so far and now Thatcham have climbed to the top of the pile by beating champions Andover convincingly last Saturday.
All of which is an attempt to convince myself (and by definition - you, dear reader!) that the Linnets are still in with a shout despite losing our unbeaten home record on Saturday. That said, losing to Eastleigh - who we accounted for comfortably only a few weeks ago in the Russell Cotes Cup - was definitely a kick in the proverbials. Although not quite on a par with the Whitchurch affair, it was unfortunate that it should happen at a time when the team seemed to be getting into its stride.
However, there is no time to dwell on the situation. Tomorrow we are set for the "Bash Clash" as we try to extend our interest in the Hants Senior Cup by beating our neighbours (and supposed superiors if not erstwhile "merger-mates"), Bashley. Following this, next Saturday sees Bemerton visit Fawcett's Field for a league fixture brought forward from its original date, giving us an early chance of exacting revenge for our first league defeat of the season. The following Tuesday we are back to cup action with the second leg of our League Cup tie against B.A.T. (and our fourth fixture against that side this season), then a "double-header" at home to our old rivals Wimborne, as we take them on the Vase, quickly followed by a re-arranged league fixture.
Saturday's defeat must therefore be quickly put behind us. There may only be two wheels on the wagon (as the song goes) "but we're still rollin' along".
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH
Monday 22nd October 2001
The recent improvement in the team's form and consistency is encouraging as we enter one of those spells in the season when a lot can happen in a very short space of time. Starting with last Saturday's match against Bridport, we are now embarked on a run of 7 games in 22 days embracing League, League Cup, Hants Senior Cup and FA Vase. This will be a tough test for Graham Kemp's squad but success in these games is going to give real definition to the rest of the season.
After Saturday's excellent win in the Vase, the next of those games is tomorrow night against Christchurch at Hurn Bridge. Priory have had a decent start to the season and currently are on the same number of points as us, having played a game less. They have a large pool of players to call on, including one or two who briefly carried our colours last season. However, in recent games they have suffered some setbacks, having lost their last two league games at home to Brock and away at Moneyfields and also having been knocked out of the FA Cup. They did manage a decent result on Saturday in the Vase, winning away at Devizes so it is difficult to know how to call this one. Our defeat by them late last season (after the original game had been abandoned with us 2-0 to the good!) effectively ended our championship challenge, so it would be nice to exact a small measure of 'revenge' from this game.
A SMALL ANNIVERSARY
I could not let the opportunity pass to record (and celebrate?) the fact that this website is now one year old! Actually, it started life around August last year (when I was a complete novice at web publishing - some may say I still am!) but it was on October 22nd 2000 that it 'went public' and I recall how pleased I was when the first entry was made in the guest-book two days later! In the twelve months that have elapsed, the site seems almost to have taken on a life of it's own and I have received a number of messages about it, nearly all of which have been kind and even complimentary. My thanks to all of you who took the trouble to contact me and also to all of you who didn't but have got into the habit of 'logging-on' on a regular basis. Up The Linnets! - and keep Online with The Linnets!
PLAYING FOR PRIDE
Friday 19th October 2001
Compared to the AXA sponsored F.A. Cup, there is comparatively little financial reward for progress in the Carlsberg sponsored F.A. Vase, the competition in which we play host to Western League Bridport tomorrow. It is a shame that, in a season when the rewards for progress in the F.A. Cup have been greatly increased, we should have exited that competition so early and in such dramatic fashion. The game tomorrow therefore represents a chance, in playing terms, to redress the balance in a national knock-out competition which certainly has a high profile in the non-league game. It is just unfortunate that any success we may have will not go to bolster manager Graham Kemp's tight footballing budget. So we will be playing for pride in performance rather than financial gain and I for one see nothing wrong in that at all. Who knows, if we do progress then perhaps we'll get a re-match with Stotfold and a chance to put the record straight. Now, that is something that I think Graham would enjoy!
MARK IT DOWN TO EXPERIENCE
I must confess that when I saw last Saturday's reserves result, my first thought was - O.K. so what was going on there? (or words to that effect!) - in case you missed it, they lost 0-12 away at Salisbury City. I have since learned that, unable to get any success in the Doc Martens league, the Salisbury management obviously decided that any sort of win was worth having a go for and consequently fielded virtually their full Doc Marten's team in the Wessex Combination. Of course, this is not an entirely new phenomenon since Newport did exactly the same to us last season having had many of their Doc Marten's fixtures postponed because of the inclement weather. Nevertheless it meant that the game was (metaphorically speaking) "Men against Boys". I don't know what effect the result had on our lads - although I gather Graham Kemp made a point of talking to them about it afterwards - but hopefully it will be something they just mark down to experience and it was pleasing to note that they had recovered sufficiently to beat Whitchurch in midweek.
MENTIONS IN DESPATCHES
I couldn't wind up these meanderings without a passing mention of the following :
Cheers! to assistant manager Paul Morrell for putting himself in the "line of fire" (so to speak) by appearing on the subs bench for last Saturday's game and coming on for the last few minutes. All those years of pounding the turf at Dean Court were obviously not wasted? Congrats! to Jon Grace for seeing the error of his ways and returning to the fold? And finally, Well Done! to Mark Smith whose recovery from injury, I understand, is progressing more rapidly than was originally thought and who may be in line for a "come-back" in the next few weeks.
LEAGUE PROGRESS - A MUST
Friday 12th October 2001
After a nervy win last Tuesday against B.A.T. in the the League Cup, it is back to League action tomorrow with the visit of Swanage. Once again I do not wish to be guilty of putting any pressure on the team but this is one of those games that is a "must win" as far as we are concerned. Hopefully, the lesson of the Whitchurch game has now been learned and the team has put in some battling performances since then despite being somewhat below par in terms of form and the fact of missing certain players.
Speaking of which, I understand that the appeal against the appeal against the suspension (!) of Leigh Phillips is not now proceeding, largely on the grounds of cost - so what price justice? Hopefully he is keeping in good shape and should be raring to go by the time his (interminable) suspension is completed. On the good side, I learned today that Gary Grace has apparently turned down an approach from Christchurch. I think we should all be encouraged that he feels that being with the Linnets is the right thing for him - a timely shot in the arm - so good on you Gary!
The Ohec reports tomorrows line-up to be from the following :
Kearn, Stride, Gazzard, Kemp, Morris, Grace, B. Phillips, Bailey-Pearce, Glenister, Metcalf, Marwood, Drew, Keeping, Morrell.
FREE KICKS & SHREDDED NERVES
Monday 8th October 2001
I don't know which was worse, watching England nearly managing to throw it all away or finding out that we lost to Andover despite having played for nearly an hour against only ten men.! To put the cherry on the icing on the cake (as it were) both matches were resolved by free-kicks only moments from full-time. At Old Trafford, a (dubious to say the least) foul on Teddy Sheringham produced the ultimate denouement from Mr. Beckham (who will surely get a knighthood for his effort), while at the less celebrated (but no doubt celebrating) Portway Stadium, a free-kick apparently awarded for handball by Kempy himself, allowed Andover's Derek Simpson to show young David how it is done in the Wessex. Either way, I am not sure that my shredded nerves can stand any more of it so I'm off now to surf the net in search of a tiddleywinks team I can give my whole-hearted support to.
IT'S B.A.T. TIME AGAIN
Only two weeks after Graham Kemp put his future on the line in a Russell Cotes Cup fixture against B.A.T., another fixture involving our friends from Totton comes around, this time in the Wessex League Cup. This will be the third match between the two sides, despite the fact that the season is not even two months old and with the second leg due in a few weeks time, the 'novelty factor' is definitely wearing a bit thin! Having won the two previous encounters this season, one must hope that familiarity does not breed contempt. We need a quick 'pick-me-up' after the Andover result and while winning the League Cup is not the most pressing priority (although beating Wimborne in the final would be just dandy), the show most definitely needs to get back 'on the road'.
"ONCE MORE UNTO
Friday 5th October 2001
Visitors to this page with a literary bent will recognise the above oft-quoted line from Shakespeare's Henry V and it occured to me in connection with the upcoming England game tomorrow :
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead."
concerning as it does the efforts of Henry's English army to win the Battle of Harfleur. It is mostly used in the context of overcoming a major obstacle, and clearly the match against Greece is exactly that. This set me to thinking about the play itself and the fact that, not only did Henry win at Harfleur but that his bedraggled army went on to win much greater acclaim shortly after by beating a vastly superior French army in the Battle of Agincourt.
So what has this got to do with football - well not much really, but Agincourt is remembered in history for being a prime example of how a superior force was overcome by an inferior one prepared to use skill and courage to defy the odds. It may just be my fancy, but I feel our game with Andover tonight falls into a similar category. Although the league table might not currently show it (primarily because they have been involved in 'Cup exploits' - as our friends at Bashley know only to well!), my feeling is that they are the team to beat.
We have a pretty good record against them in the past as the archive shows, but it will definitely be a severe test to the skill and commitment of the team. A "result" tonight (win or draw) would show that we are definitely back on track and would do wonders for confidence. Which leads us back to Henry V and if it doesn't have the Bard spinning in his grave, I offer the following amended version of Henry's battlecry for tonight and tomorrow :
"The game is football ; follow your spirit and upon this charge,
Cry : "Goal! for Graham, England and St. George!"
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