Sunday, 14 January 2018

BFC 0-0 Wolves, Saturday 13th January 2018

‘At my age it's like tattie watter.’
Pre-match in the Arcade Ale House

I LOVE THESE NEW OWNERS!!!!  Best we’ve ever had, etc.  They came in, they promised to improve the fan experience…and within a fortnight we have new hand dryers AS WELL AS hot water.  Christ, Oakwell joining the 20th century.  I may well take them up on their hope that supporters come to the ground early…just so’s I can wash my hands, dry them…and repeat the process.  I f***ing love it!  Love it I tell ya!
Down the hill to Oakwell.

The football?  Who cares?  I’ve been asking for hand dryers for 20 years.  I wouldn’t even care, but I hadn’t got round to e-mailing the latest bunch (thought I’d let them settle in first).  Apparently we’re the 6
th richest team in the country now (ironically, just behind today’s visitors Wolves).  Bring it on.  What else can we have?  Carpeted refreshment areas, a la Norwich (my dad tells me; I’ve never been in the home end)?  A big screen that’s actually…big?  (I’ve heard that’s in the offing).  Young virgins hand feeding supporters (sour) grapes in the Ponty? 
The corner of the West Stand and Ponty.

Course, it might help if we stay in this division.  And hopes were high pre-match.  ‘0-3’, ‘0-3’, ‘0-3’, ‘0-4’ (Wadd) and ‘we won’t get a point in the next 4 matches’ (Nozza).  There was only one dissenter, a Dunelmian bloke, proclaiming (hoping) that without Star Man
 Bowie Joe Williams of Everton, the midfield would step up to the plate and we’d nick a 1-0.  I was one George Moncur mishit from being bang on.  (Obvs that means ‘not a hope in hell’)  Having kept the wolves at the door, Little Red Riding Hood had the temerity to get up the pitch, the ball set nicely…and everyone’s favourite Godbotherer blazed wide.  From the East Stand, it looked a goal all the way.  Luckily, I was sat in the Ponty…
How can anyone stand THIS view?

My Pops again turned down the opportunity of using his season ticket.  Something about not being interested till we look like winning a game, along with a sh*tty journey through roadworks on the motorway.  So I went in the Ponty, found the seat next to Jonesy occupied (was I looking at the wrong seat? He claims otherwise) so found Wadd, Moll, Loko and Hicksy.  If only Selwood weren’t at some Butlins dancing away to 90s choons, I could have had the full set of Chuckle Brothers.  Still, at least I know why I see a different game to them – they’re so low down you can only see this half of the pitch.  Perhaps it’s for the best.
My new view.  Not great.

With Williams out, it was up to Gardner, Potts and Mallan to form a midfield trio behind Bradshaw.  So it was with no rush that I spent the 1
st 10 minutes in the ticket office, sorting Villa tickets.  ‘Sorry for the delay.’  ‘Oh, it’s alright, I’m only missing the match.’  My only worry was missing a Wolves goal.  Once in, yeah, they looked the better team, but we were BATTLING, not giving an inch, and in particular it was the holy trinity of Lindsay, Pinnock and Gardner where we won it, though everyone put a shift in.  Everyone.  We made it to half time without looking particularly threatened.
A capacity away end, 1200 off 'official' capacity.

Second half, Wolves took it to us early doors and one of their multi million pound signings (I presume) smashed it off the bar from 20 yards, a la Thiam at Sunderland.  Then a goal disallowed for offside (not sure how – it was at the far end!)  But lo!  For 10 or 15 minutes the Super Reds were the better side.  Hammill missed a snapshot, the ball dribbling wide (did he see it late, behind a defender?)  Bradshaw was a willing runner, finding space down the right, while crosses started coming in. Time to unleash the beast: our new signing Kiefer Moore.  Momentum immediately switched their way.  So, while Moore did create the chance for Moncur with a flick on, the miss of the match came with a Wolves multi-million signing (I presume) lifting the ball over the bar from what looked like under it.  As I said, perhaps you’re better off with a poor view.  No need to worry about the old ticker so much when the opposition press at the other end.
The old Main Stand.

So there it was.  BATTLING BARNSLEY ARE BACK.  A cracking effort (despite the lack of goals) and Wolves ZERO shots on target was testament to a fabulous defensive display.  One problem: Villa next week, Gardner can’t play cos he’s on loan, while Williams is still out suspended.  Shall we have a sweep stake?
Onwards and upwards!

*** Gardner.  Twitter MOTM. Whythehell not?  I’ve given him plenty of brickbats thus far, so credit where it’s due.  (We’ll ignore the fact he lost his man for the cross where they missed from under the bar.)
** Lindsay.  Blocked, headed, sometimes found his man.Pinnock.  Where’s he been hiding?  Says something about Dulwich Hamlet’s school of excellence compared to ours.

Londontykes' MOTM: 
1. Pinnock  2. Gardner  3. Lindsay

The East Stand.
I liked the look of Toby (Cavare) 1st half.  He proper went through 2 different Wolves players in tackles.  I was surprised they got up.  Nearly gave them the game with a careless pass near the end tho.  The rest ran around, made life difficult.  Exactly what was needed against the runaway leaders.  

And I know the ref probably was one of the better ones we’ve had (wasn’t it great hearing Wolves fans chorus ‘we only get sh*t refs’, though I couldn’t understand what their gripe was).  Oh yes, my gripe…TWICE (that’s once, plus another once) he blew up for fouls against us for high feet, when both players pulled out of lifting their feet before they did damage.  What is this? The thought police? You can’t give a free kick for a player THINKING of lifting his leg up.  I guess the ref was anticipating the high foot.  Next time, concentrate on anticipating the penalty you’re about to give Barnsley.

Oh, and we shared the journey back with West Ham.  Now, this might be one for Wadd or Dave Wood, but we got talking about ex-West Ham who’ve come to Barnsley.  Moncur (s***), Elliott Lee (s***), a 3rd one I can’t remember the name of (s***).  Have we EVER had a decent player who played for West Ham earlier in his career?

Panorama v Wolves.

Drink du jour: 
Arcade Ale House: Durham IPA?  Is everything from Durham a bit dodgy?  Transferred to Staropramen.  Much better.  Vodka and orange on the train with West Ham.  Sierra Nevada in Kings X with Tottenham.

Home without falling asleep on the bus.  Bed, after falling asleep on the couch.  Dammit.

Away: 4,701.  This is bugging me.  A sellout from Wolves, but plod won’t let us sell 1200 tickets in the away end.  I say milk ‘em for all they’re worth.  Get ‘em in the West Stand.  That’ll give plod something to think about…

The Damage:
£23.80 train
= £23.80

Programmes sold out before kick-off.  Again.

The Tunes:Foxbase Alpha (St. Etienne)
SoTough (St. Etienne)
Cyberdream (Dr Devious)
George Formby Ultimate Collection (George Formby)
(Yes, you read that right).

The old Main Stand in full.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Millwall 4-1 BFC, Saturday 6th January 2018

‘You’re fackin’ s***, you’re fackin’ s***, you’re fackin’ s***’

Welcome to ....

It’s been a while since I’ve walked home from a game.  About 35 years to be precise.  So it was with some amount of joy that I trotted home from The New Den to my place in Peckham.  Course, to fully enjoy this walk, one’s team has to have won, and one must like walking through an elongated industrial estate and traveller encampment.  (I don’t mind ‘travellers’ per se, but I do mind folk who never go anywhere being referred to as ‘travellers’.  How about ‘caravan dwellers’  - as opposed to ‘home owners’?  I digress, but I know of at least three of these sites around Millwall/Peckham…)

Where it all started today....(the award winning) Peckham Library.

It’s been three months since we last played Millwall away, a game I thoroughly enjoyed, through a) winning, b) a few drinks in a cidery on the Bermondsey Beer Mile and c) after match beers on home turf in Peckham.  What I can deduce from today’s FA Cup capitulation is that a game at Millwall is so much the better for us WINNING.  Being knocked out t’cup before it’s even started is a bad blow by anyone’s standards, especially against a side who always let us win.

Match action in front of literally...dozens.

Having enjoyed the beer mile last time, we vowed to go on more of a crawl.  This is great in theory, especially as brewery Head Brewery Honcho Loko can get us some free beers, but in January, what this means is drinking a variety of beers in a variety of cold railway arches.  Chilly.  I actually thought the last place would involve a pub, given it involved a 10 or 15 minute walk.  But no, it just meant we were nearer to the ground and in a different railway arch with more chipboard furniture than the rest.  I have no qualms over the beers, btw.  I’m just bitter that I haven’t had time to simmer down following the debacle on the pitch…

Moor Beer Company

We took the lead.  True, not much was happening, but then a ball is laid out, Hammill crosses and some guy runs in and buries it high into the net.  It’s only Potts!  Y’know, that bloke who everyone slates for being a bit s*** (he probably is) but outscores every other midfield player we have.  Great finish.  Time for a few rounds of ‘It’s happening again…’.  Will this be our 6th or 7th victory in a row against this bunch?  I forget.

The path to the away end; not an away fan in sight.

Luckily, the squad misread the script.  Lindsay failed to deal with a cross and Millwall score, despite Davies’ best efforts.   (Someone else said it was Davies’ fault, so I look forward to seeing a replay).  It was good to see it wasn’t a fluke though, as Lindsay gifted Millwall a 2nd just after half time.  Ok, ‘gifted’ may be harsh.  Perhaps ‘tediously slow to react’ could be more accurate, as he’s unable to turn and deal with a cut back.  I’m still annoyed.  It was the only place the Millwall fella coulda put the ball.

No-one outside either, save for a steward.

Of bigger worry is the seemingly bizarre decision to swap our fullbacks.  Who does that?  Is Heckingbottom some tactical genius who ‘thinks outside the box’?  He must be, cos at half time it was one-all and 61 minutes in we’re losing 4-1.  Course, no-one can legislate for Williams’ ridiculous challenge (actually, we can, cos we know he likes to put a foot in) and we’re now 2-1 down, away from home, and we only have 10 men.  I don’t fancy our chances.

There ARE some away fans...

Still, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having Williams’ #1 fan in front of me (Loko – Marius still watching it on TV in Norway).  It’s true, Williams does make a tackle, and does occasionally find a red shirt, but finally (FINALLY) even Loko can vouch for Williams losing the ball 3 times in dangerous positions in ONE HALF.  Two of these were simple passes made bad, while the 3rd was being tackled while strolling out.  Dangerous Brian O’Callaghan territory.  I’m sorry, but I don’t quite see the maestro everyone else sees.  Maybe 3 matches off will focus our midfield…

The full bit.  Behind the home dugout.

Course, maybe Williams is (or will be) a great player.  He’ll certainly never be as bad, or as anonymous, as Gardner’s younger brother, Gardner.  I’ll have to admit ignorance here, cos while chanting ‘There’s only one Craig Gardner’ I presumed no-one joined in cos he’s s***, not cos I had the wrong brother’s name.  He’s still s*** though.  Good job we’ve punted out Kay and McGeehan on loan, while giving every chance to other teams’ players.  Grrrrrrr.

Let me cheer myself up again.  Hawkes Cidery, Bermondsey.

I cannot remember Millwall’s 3rd and 4th.  Suffice to say their forwards play neat little give and go’s, other players move…and it ends with goals.  Cheats.  We stand around and hope Messi will run past 6 players and lay it on a plate.  Can you spot a problem there?  Outclassed by Millwall.  F***ing Millwall.  About the only positives from today are a) it’s only the cup (only!?) and b) Fulham lost.  Our game at home to the Cottagers goes ahead on 4th round day and The Captain’s decision to purchase rail tickets doesn’t look so bad a judgement.

Just checking. It IS 4-1 isn't it?

At this point, I must sound very angry and bitter.  And I am.  I am currently watching a different programme to everyone else.  In the pub (sorry, railway arch), ‘will we stay up?’…I got 3 responses of ‘absolutely’ and a tentative ‘yes’ (A. Reed).  We have midfielders with no creativity, wingers who can’t beat a player, forwards who can’t make their own chances (Bradshaw) or who shoot from anywhere without reward (Thiam), a keeper who can concede from anywhere, fullbacks who DO give the ball away (whatever McCarthy’s chant) and centre halves who….well, they’re inconsistent at best.  I realise I’m seen as a bit negative (!) but I think I live in this world called ‘reality’.  Truth will out, I guess.

*** No-one.  Nice Guy Chris asked me who my favourite Reds player is.  Well, at the mo, problies ‘No-one’.  He certainly makes himself known on a regular basis of late.
** No-one Does the work of two in this team. 
* Potts Scored, and it annoys everyone else.  Apparently we’re s*** cos Potts is in the team, which ignores our poor run when he WASN’T playing. (PS, didn’t he return to our team for our 1st win in 11 at Sunderland?)

Does what it says on the stand.

Where to start? How about up front?  Guess what? Bradshaw battled hard, spent the match with his back to goal and never looked like scoring.  Thiam meantime buzzes around, gets the ball, and shoots from anywhere, ignorant to the result of this.  Mamadou, let me tell you – Matches: too many. Goals in open play: f*** all.  Did someone say we’re paying him a fortune?  F***.  We’re stuck with him, then.  Isgrove played.  Allegedly.  Ditto Gardner, who at least offered some amusement with a 20 yarder which he dragged wide in slow motion.  Didn’t he do this at home to Dirty Leeds? Or was it Derby?  Basically, a central midfielder who can’t shoot, can’t head, doesn’t run with the ball, never tackles, doesn’t pass a ball forward…basically, we are paying someone else’s player to keep the team’s shape.  Surely that is the LEAST a player can do.  I blame the manager.  Hammill played too, but I only noticed him when the right winger laid the ball back…to Hamill.  Christ, I thought Hammill WAS the right winger.  The fullbacks were average, though having read reports about Toby (Cavare) I wonder what the fuss is about.  The best I can say is that he blends in with the rest.  And McCarthy hasn’t been the same since being dropped for being good.  That’ll teach him.  Pinnock looked alright, classy.  But that was at 1-0.  Nowhere when they were scoring.  And I've done Lindsay.  At least Jackson's back training, I read.

Anyway, I didn’t want to go to Wembley (again).

Onwards and upwards!

Drink du jour: all sorts, though a brand new experimental apple pale ale at Hawkes Cidery was my highlight.

Away: 414 (advance sales).  Whatever they claim about today’s attendance, it can’t have been more than 3000, including not many of us.  

The Damage:
£15 ent
= £15

I may have bought a programme had I seen one.  Apparently they were sold out. Sold out?  How many did they print?  50?

The Tunes:
OX4 – The Best of Ride (Ride)
Hippopotamus (Sparks)

I should have turned back here.

The New Den panorama.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Rob Cross 7-2 Phil Power, Monday 1st January 2018

The record breaking, history making, 16 time champion of the world…’

Welcome to....

Who says I don’t make sacrifices?  Year on year my partner and I watch the darts from Ally Pally on telly…and year on year we say ‘we should get tickets’…and year on year they’re sold out (cos we don’t get our ar5es into gear sooner).  So when I heard the sister of a mate had all kind of tubes hanging out of her and couldn’t therefore make the darts final she had tickets for…of course I’d step in.  Even if it did mean missing the Super Reds (Barnsley) at Sunderland on New Years Day, and a trip home.  Not to worry, I’d had my dad down for Xmas…

Feeling guilty...the sis is a bit of a superfan!

The darts had to be done.  This wasn’t any final, it was likely to involve the biggest legend the game has ever produced, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and, provided he won his semi (he did), it would be the final game of his professional career.  You couldn’t script it.  At Xmas, as my partner guessed what ‘surprise’ I’d organised, darts was one guess, a Michellin-starred meal another, and the Crystal Maze experience a 3rd (‘but you’re problies not organised enough’).  I was – it was the Crystal Maze, but I knew darts would (double) top it.

Fans outside Alexandra Palace

I should say, I was expecting to see plenty of folk in fancy dress on the way there.  In actuality, we never saw anyone till Finsbury Park, and even then it was a group of Austrians.  (Austrians?)  I think most people either drove to Alexandra Palace or walked up the hill from the railway station.   Still, we were early, wanting to enjoy the build up.  Doors opened at 6:15 and we were there for half six.  Good job too, as the queue crawled forwards.  I don’t think the broken turnstiles helped.  A small group of lads practiced their chanting while everyone else huddled together to keep out the cold.
Once in, it was beer token time.  At least you got to speak to a human (as opposed to a nonsensical machine) and drinks’ prices were on handouts, and quick calculations made.  Of course, it’s difficult to know how many beers you’re going to drink when you don’t know how long the match will last.  One of us would have to take it easy too – work tomorrow.  Thankfully that wasn’t me.

Entering the main hall...

You enter via the main hall…which is where I thought the tournament was held.  After all, it looks HUGE on telly, but actually, the match was in a smaller hall to the side.  Inside the darts arena, the centre, or floor area, held the tables, while the outside held about 10 rows of seats.  We were in the 4th row back, excellent seats as they held a decent view and offered a quick exit for beers and toilets.  I’d sunk one beer (I say beer…it was Strongbow; in a throwback to my teens, I couldn’t possibly imbibe Fosters or whatever the token bitter was…John Smiths?)  I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.

In front of the PDC battlebus.

It was 8:15 and the time had come…the players’ walk on.  The lower ranked Rob Cross came out 1st, to Hot Hot Hot (by Arrow, Wikipedia tells me).  Terrible.  I guess every other song had been taken.  But you need a counterpoint to Phil ‘the Power’s’ trademark entrance…’The Power’ by Snap.  Takes me back.  But mixed with the lighting and sound effects, makes for one of the world’s great sporting entrances.  Nevermind the crowd joining in…’The record breaking, history making, 16 time champion of the world…Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor’.  The hairs on my arm were on end.  And yet some of my mates think darts is s***.  Unbelievable.

After a few practice throws, we were into the action.  The crowd were right behind Taylor.  I felt a little sorry for Rob Cross, a lion to the slaughter.  I couldn’t make out a chant for him.  But, having beaten world number one Michael Van Gerwen, he wasn’t phased and took an early lead.  The Power meantime was acting the clown, pulling faces at fans and laughing and joking.  If he was trying to psyche out Cross, it didn’t work.  Was Taylor the one feeling the pressure?  At 3-0 in sets (1st to 7) Cross didn’t look like he had a mistake in him. Phil pulled one back.

The players are on stage.

Then came the highlight of the match.  Phil, a world record holder in televised nine-dart finishes (but amazingly not one at the world championships) gave himself the chance: 8 perfect darts and only double 12 needed.  Sadly, the width of the wire prevented history, though his subsequent collapse (missing 3 further doubles) to lose the leg was the sign the match was out of reach.  Judging by the subdued atmosphere, everyone knew.  There was no ‘Kolo/Yaya Toure’ and only sporadic ‘Stand up if you love the darts’ and ‘Boring boring tables’.  Watching the demise of the greatest was a painful thing.  Did Phil pull a set back at 5-1 or 6-1? I forget.  It was asking the impossible now.  Cross looked cool as you like, outscoring Phil in both averages and doubles ratios.  In fact, I was quite surprised Taylor’s average was so high (102.26) cos Cross was wiping the floor with him (averaging 107.67, the 2nd highest of the tournament, quite an achievement when the final is over more sets).
So there it was.  Cross cantered to victory, yet the crowd continued to chant Phil’s name, only turning to Cross once Phil’s moment in the after match ceremony was over.  Cross took it like a gentleman, recognising a legend and wanting Phil to share the trophy on stage.  A class act.

The King is dead.  Long live the King!

And at least there was a round of the Toure song at the end. My partner couldn't have forgiven the crowd if not given the chance to join in that one.

The Damage:
£50 ent
£30 Strongbow (6 pints)
£5 prog
= £85

The Champ basks in his glory.
Panorama during the game
After match panorama
The pundits' studio

Add caption

The match is about to start.

Phil, interviewed after.

The champ awaits his trophy.

Typical darts' attire.

ps, the Super Reds won at Sunderland.  YOOOUUUUU REDS!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

BFC 1-1 Reading, Saturday 30th December 2017

‘They crucified Jesus.  And that turned out alright.’
Be Proud!

Voice of doom here.  I don’t know what everyone’s on about, all this ‘played well, shoulda won’ nonsense.  It was yet another game where we never looked like scoring – and didn’t, till the ball fell to a defender who headed home in injury time.  Yes, Thiam ran about a bit and looked lively.  Like one of his subs performances, but this time for 70 minutes.  But did he ever look like he would bag?  No.  So Hecky took him off in a three-pronged substitution and received boos for his decision-making. The same decision-making which took us from losing to drawing.  Proof indeed that some of the crowd are turning against Hecky?  I mean, I’ve not heard it from any of the LONDON Londontykes, but Wadd, Molly, and, to a lesser extent, Nozzer, have all been uttering anti-Hecky jibes while turning Little Lee into a managerial god.  Talk about a Stalinist re-writing of history.
424 away fans.  Did I hear right?

One thing we can all agree is that Ugbo isn’t the answer.  Though as has been pointed out, one of the three (I thought it was two!) touches he had in his 25 minutes involved nipping in front of Mannone and clipping a goalbound header over him which a defender cleared.  This was as close as ANY of our attacking players came to scoring and for that, I salute him.  He made the right run and got his head to the ball.  As for our other 6 shots on target (the stats tell me) I have no idea where they came from. If you’d said 3, I’d have said that was more like.  But when one of them surely includes Mannone tipping over a shot which was going over anyway…
The view from the Ponty...for a change.

Actually, I do remember one decent bit of link up play between Thiam and Bradshaw which ended up with a good shooting opportunity, Bradshaw testing the keeper.  But you know when the crowd have lost hope: even when we had 2 corners at 0-1, there was no chant from the Ponty of ‘Come on you Reds’. They were met with shrugs.  The team deserve better.  (Support did come, as we threw men forward late on.)
The old Main Stand at half time.

The problem was, we’d seen it all before. A side had come to Oakwell looking to secure a goalless draw and had somehow found themselves winning.  Howthehell does this happen? Well, today Matthew, a 40 yard cross from their left was headed in from 4 yards out by a disbelieving centre forward.  Where was Davies?  Still stood on his line, watching it.  Now, I like Davies, but his shot stopping hasn’t been great this season and his ability on crosses has never been there.  Surely time to bring in someone who will challenge him for his position, rather than a bloke who couldn’t get a game in the Conference.
The Ponty v Reading.

At least the crowd didn’t leave this time, or at least very few did.  But that was probably due to the new game show in town: see how long it takes before Ugbo touches the ball.  I know they were playing it around me in the Ponty, and it was the talk of the pub later. 25 minutes for maybe 3 touches.  No wonder everyone thought Thiam was amazing.  At least he could occasionally hold onto the ball.  Can Ugbo REALLY be the finest 18 year old centre forward in the land?  I’d weep for England’s chances, if only I could give a s***.  It’s like that Arsenal loanee we had in division 3, ‘the best 17 year old in the land’.  Last seen being sent packing from another loan spell with Oxford.  I forget his name, such was his amazingness.  Well, yeah, Uggboot’s like him.  Though Uggy did play well at Spurs, so perhaps, a la Odejayi, his real level is the Premiership!
The East Stand.

Fortunately, with time running out, Pinnock (and half the team) were pushed forward…and we scored.  Do you think there’s a correlation there somewhere?  Isgrove (on as sub; thank you Lord Hecky) whipped in a super ball and Pinnock crashed home a great header into the opposite corner.  Unstoppable.  Cue big hugs from Jonesy and jumping around like loons.  Well, you have to make the most of these things, 1
st home goal in 5 matches.
So, yeah, the game was slightly less s*** than usual…cos we scored…but it was still s***.  The pronounced opinion was that Reading are a poor team – a poor team we failed to beat (and wiped the floor with us at their place, where I can confirm they looked a poor team there as well).  We are in big BIG trouble and as things stand, I think we’re going down.  It was good to hear pre-match that no-one shares my opinion (do they ever?) but given the disconnect between our view of Hecky, I can only think that some people imagine the only way out of this is to find a new manager.  As Wadd told me in the pub ‘our new owners won’t let us go down’.  I’m not sure this is how promotion/relegation works, but I live in hope.  We are now one point above relegation and a mere 3 above bottom.  Permission to panic, Captain Mainwaring?

Onwards and upwards!

The away end.  Does it look any closer to 424?

*** Pinnock.  Twitter MOTM. I thought he had an excellent game at centre half and the goal was the cherry on the icing.
** Thiam.  Ran around for longer than usual looking keen.
Hammill.  Some fabulous delivery, particular in the 1st half – met by nobody.  (File under: why Thiam isn’t good enough.)

Londontykes' MOTM: 1. Pinnock  2. Thiam  3. Hammill

In a change to the programme, my plans were completely thrown pre-match.. Slacki’s sister had tickets to the darts final on New Years Day and couldn’t make it, so, having banged on about the darts on the train up, here was my chance.  Cue tickets bought, one very happy partner, Sunderland away cancelled, no visit back home and quick deliberations on whether to get smashed with the Londontykes on the train back after the game….or get smashed ‘in tarn’ with the Slackmeister.  The latter it was.  I still can’t decide if I regret it (see later).  I know I gave away my ear muffs to the cute girl behind the counter in Greggs in the early hours…
Then it was back to the pub for too many pints before I was taken to top Barnsley gentleman’s emporium ‘Wildcats’ where entrance was free (cos no-one had any money to be out between Xmas and New Year?) and Carling was £3.50.  Slacki and I have decided this is our new drinking hole of choice.

Our players?  Barnes showed flashes of his earlier brilliance for us.  Fryers had a dodgy start, letting a player run past him for a cheap shot.  Yiadomlooked good, but was injured as Reading crossed from his side for their goal.  (I later learnt this was Hecky’s fault too, for not subbing him before the goal.  Then it turned into the physio’s fault for not getting him off sooner.  I’m exasperated.)  Williams had his usual game (and Jonesy can now concur he does lose the ball cheaply at times, cos there was more than one occasion where I said ‘who gave that away?’ before following the man to find out it was Williams.)  I have to say though, he did put some decent balls out wide.  Bradshaw was half decent, and linked up better with Thiam today.  Gardnerwas…I dunno.  Didn’t do much wrong, didn’t do much full stop.  Kept possession?  Lindsay kept it tight, while Davies didn’t.  And when Davies loses his confidence, the first thing that goes is his kicking.  So after conceding, one of his hoofs went straight out for a throw…which gets fans on his back, which makes him lose more confidence…etc

Where it all began...steps into the Ponty end.

Drink du jour: 
Arcade Ale House: Sierra Nevada 7.2%, Rhubarb cider, some bottled IPA or other
Old #7: Erdinger
Wildcats: Carling
Me and and my erstwhile buddy got in a terrible, terrible drink-induced mess.  We blame our Barnsley-based acquaintances for leaving us by 8pm.  At least Hicksy and his Mrs stayed out – and they don’t even live in Barnsley.

Away: 424.  Allegedly.  (There must have been a helluva lot under the stand, cos there were never 424 in it.)

The Damage:
£12 train from London
£12 train to Durham (which I obviously didn’t get)
£36 train from Durham to London (ditto)
= £60

The Tunes:
Days Are Gone (Haim)

Did I say I’m off to the darts final??? WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1st half panorama v Reading.

Half time panorama from the back of the Ponty.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Fulham 2-1 BFC, Saturday 23rd December 2017

We’re richer than you, we’re richer than you, we’re Barnsley FC, we’re richer than you.’

Welcome to ....

This is novel. We’re in Fulham, West London, and all I can hear are Barnsley fans chanting about being richer than them.  Must be the Billy Beane / Chinese / American consortium effect..  ‘We’ve got Billy Beane, Billy Beane…la la la la la la la la’.  Let the good times roll!
Optimism wasn’t high pre-match (unless you’re Andy ‘Bradshaw to get two’ Jones) but who cares?  We were in the White Horse, Parson’s Green, and they’ve Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised in the vat.  I’ll take 3.  I’d take more, but I have a match to attend.  The athletes (Reedy, Rock ‘n’ Roll Jim, me) elect to walk the 20 odd minutes, the rest get ubers.  What is it with the youth of today?  One of the glories of Fulham and Craven Cottage is the walk.  Where else in London do you get a park to walk through and glimpses of the Thames?  Have you ever been to Tottenham?

The pre-match hullabaloo.

Numbers were unsurprisingly down on last season’s incredible 1800. Christmas doesn’t help, and neither does two points in seven games.  I cannot remember the last time we looked like scoring in open play and surely only a miracle will prevent me picking up mountains of moolah after Bradshaw’s latest failure.  Whothehell would bet he’d score a dozen before Xmas?

Putney End...neutrals and away fans alike.

The Fulham boys won’t let us put our flag up (no fire safety certificate) but at least we can stand up and generate an atmosphere. And it was very lively early doors, till we realised the Fulham fans weren’t offering anything and ditto the Barnsley attack.  The game was generally spent in and around our box, though Moncur spurned the best opportunity, ghosting in to sidefoot a volley over at the far end.  Their keeper also came out and messed up and if Barnes had a right foot, surely he’d have lifted it over him into an empty net.  He didn’t.

The teams come out.

Nil-nil at half time, but it takes less than 10 minutes of the 2nd half to concede one of our trademark goals: the cut inside and drill home from 20 odd yards.  Along with the backpost header, we must let in more of these goals than any other team in the world.  It’s a decent strike, too, bottom corner, but why don’t we score these goals?  Oh yes, we need a player who can hit a ball from this range.  At least it’s not Williams who’s being waltzed around this time, it’s defensive lynchpin Moncur.  Who will rid us of this turbulent believer in priests?

Must be Christmas..the 3 wise men are here.

By now, ‘Last Christmas’ is banging around the away end and the Fulham goal does nought for it to subside.  It must have gone on for 15-20 minutes without respite.  Then Hecky brings on Isgrove (welcome back!) and Hammill on either wing, the former looking especially dangerous merely by running about and being keen.  Both are a vast improvement on Thiam (another failure when on from start) and Moncur.  Who will rid us….etc

The view from the Exec boxes.

Still, it comes as some surprise when the Super Reds do equalise, Yiadom playing in a peach of a long cross for Bradshaw to sneak in and head home.  THE MAN!!!!!!!!!!!  I did say I was hoping he’d bag one, if only to make the bet interesting.  In the next few minutes Bradders furthermore narrowly fails in a scramble, while he drags a 20 yarder wide with his left, with others in more promising positions.  The match is now truly on, or at least till Fulham put a cross in from the right…and it flies over Davies and into the net. Jammy f***ing ba5tards.  But why was Davies on the front post?  Another entirely avoidable goal and despite Isgrove’s best efforts, we never really threaten again.  Time to get to the pub, claim my £30 of winnings…then spend £40 on a round.  A victory of sorts, then….

*** Lindsay.  Won everything in the middle, broke up play. 
** Pinnock.  Good partnership with Lindsay and a couple of crucial blocks.
Yiadom.  Back to form – in time to engineer a move in the January transfer window.

Onwards and upwards!

Looking towards the Hammersmith End.


Isgrove was unlucky not to be top 3, outstanding.  Hopefully he’ll be in the starting XI soon.  Otherwise, we’re nothing if Barnes isn’t on it, and he hasn’t been for weeks.  McCarthy didn’t have a great game.  The more fans sing about how he never loses the ball….the more he loses the ball.  Can we just bin this s*** chant?  I’d be tempted to bin Thiam and Ugbo too.  Will Thiam EVER score a goal in open play?  The less said about the latter the better.  The future of England my front bottom.  And don’t point out to Loko how Williams loses the ball, or you might see how Loko loses his temper.  Thankfully Reedy did it for me.  ‘BUT HE’S ONLY LOST IT TWICE!!!!’ screamed Loko, proving he’s at least one short of fingers (and that was just the 1st half).
On the plus side, we’re now only two points above relegation and yours truly has £20 wagered on us going down.  Last week the pre-match vote in the pub was 10-1 in favour of us staying up. Let’s see what it is by New Year’s Day…

The cottage, bedecked in Xmas lights.

Drink du jour: Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised, Big Wave IPA, Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised.  I reckon me and Reedy made double figures, Satdy.  And about two-thirds the way through that number I had Alison hectoring me for daring to be part of the home-homing fraternity.  Seems I’m not allowed to hold left wing views if I own a house!  Too right! 

Away: c600.  Best atmosphere of the season, incredible.

The Damage:
£20 ent
£3.50 programme
= £23.50

The Tunes:
A Deeper Understanding (The War on Drugs)
Let Them Eat Chaos (Kate Tempest)
It’s Album Time (Todd Terje)
The Far Field (Future Islands)

Fulham v Barnsley panorama.

The Riverside Stand.

Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised.  The amber nectar.

Darkness descends on Barnsley's chances.

Alison's fabulous (free) Xmas jumper, courtesy of #1 son.

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