Monday, 20 February 2012

Where's Fashanu?

Chatham Town 0-3 AFC Sudbury.

"Where's Fashanu?" asks two year old Little Miss Sunshine, as the players emerge for the second half.

You see, Saturday saw me take my daughter to her first football match. I thought that it would be a bit of an ask to hold her attention for so long - Curious George being the only thing that can come close to such a task normally, and to be honest, I expected a NONONONONONONO! tantrum to erupt and bring proceedings to a close before half time. But they didn't. The only moan that she did have, was about the lack of John Fashanu. She understands that Fash is her favourite footballer. She just doesn't understand that he doesn't play for Chatham, much in the same way that (randomly) Bono doesn't live in our road, and when a car door shuts outside, its not him coming to see us. Quite randomly, my two and a half year old daughter's favourite celebrities are John Fashanu and Bono. I plead guilty on the first charge, thanks to this act of genius by Chris Morris (probably the only Chris Morris sketch its safe to share with a two year old)

but the Bono thing is not, not, the responsibility of either parent. So please don't call the authorities. The long shot is that she had a great time at the game. She liked that there were "benches" to sit on, she liked that there was a busy bar, and she liked that everyone shouts and claps. She actually watched the game for the most part, and she was particularly pleased with the curiously Irish (not a racist term, a genuine pleasure in parts of Co Mayo, that I have seen with my own eyes and a with a third party present, and I hold Irish citizenship so its OK in a very Guardian Commentisfree way) meal of Chips and Milk. She liked the floodlights, and she liked the fact that the "doctor" came on when people "fell over". She liked the collected merits of the afternoon so much, that she asked after if she could come again.

Given how poor Chatham were, its just as well she has no real understanding of the actual football, or she wouldn't be so keen to come back. It was not an excellent advert for what is otherwise an excellent community asset. AFC Sudbury did the important things very well, with a quick and skilful front line, and an ancient, almost immobile centre half who more than made up for his girth and years by being the best player on the pitch. Said centre half, James Smith, actually isn't ancient. He's just 26. And, like all wannabe gutter journos, I've discovered this as I'm writing the post. Unlike said press scum, I've decided to keep it in. Actually, I'm a bit shocked. What I'm not shocked to learn is that he was in the Ebbsfleet United side that won the FA Trophy at Wembley in 2008, and was capped at that time for the England C side. Don't get me started on the lack of an England B team, the perennial home of countless Paul Allens, but Smith, three and a half season's ago, played for England C. And at Wembley. What an idiot your correspondent feels to have his story collapse all around him. If I was better at HTML, I'd go back and put a "strikethrough" gag over the earlier parts of this paragraph. But the blog's always been about honesty. The point remains however though - he was the best player out there. He is though, girthy. If that's a word (which the Google Chrome spellchecker suggests it isn't).

Sudbury, on a run of 5 defeats in 6, had, like Chatham, gone three weather enforced weeks without a game. Chatham gaffer Kevin Watson had the squad training at his school (where he works) in the Gym to keep fit. A good move. Fitness wasn't an issue, but match sharpness was. Chatham never settled, and misplaced too many passes. The normally reliable Lloyd Blackman had a poor game leading the line. Matt Newman the same. At the back, Kessy Metitiri played well. Roberts, in Goal, could do nothing for any of the three Sudbury scored. Their first, a rebound follow up from a needlessly conceded penalty in the 16th minute showed nothing other than the taker Baker was quicker in to the box than any of the Chatham defence. The second was a great header at the far post on the end of one of those balls that defied gravity for what was a time more disconcerting than the fact that it defied gravity. And the third, in stoppage time, was a belter, Dave Wareham running at pace and letting fly from the edge of the box with a driven shot across the box.

Chatham also had reason to feel hard done by, when a stamp on Brad Potter in the opening stages went unpunished. Had Sudbury been reduced to 10 men, things might have been different. They might not. It was a pretty lacklustre performance from Chatham, some occasional gusto, some occasional guts, but not enough go.

Still, there's always next week - a trip to Essex to play Heybridge Swifts. I had originally, some time ago, planned to go to this as a "classy" away trip. Swifts play in Maldon, on the nice part of the Essex Coast, and there's a lock on the basin with very cheap, outside a pair of pubs camping. And then, quite rightly, someone told me camping in February, off the North Sea, would not be a good idea. And they would probably be right.

Monday, 31 October 2011

What time do you call this? Where the hell have you been?

I'm genuinely hurt that not one person has posted that, tweeted that, or emailed me that. I've just noticed that its been over TWO MONTHS (and yes, I am shouting that) since I last posted.

Its not that I haven't wanted to, its just that I've been waylaid. That's a great word that isn't it? As soon as you say it, its like "family emergency" - most people, well, the socially adept among us, shy away when someone says that. No-one really asks what you've been doing. So, I'll have to presume you all thought I had been waylaid, and didn't know how to ask. That makes me feel much better...

Given that no-one has asked, I'm going to do the socially inept thing, and answer anyway. I've been too busy really. The Chats are still going. Its been something of a cliche ridden, rollercoaster of a season so far. Languishing back in mid-table (our spiritual home) after being among the early pacesetters, its still hard to know what to think.

Over at there will be, at some point, the option (I imagine) to download the latest issue. There's a decent enough piece on the Chats in that, that should bring you up to date to the middle of October. When I see if its working, I'll post it. Time means that the match reports will be less frequent than they were some years ago when this blog started up. I'd dearly love to do more, but IRL (which I'm told is an acronym for "In Real Life"), its all a bit busy. Sorry. It just is.

Back to the Medway Broadside. Its very much worth a read. I may end up posting match reports over there rather than here. If that's the case, I'll link them from here - all the other nonsense will of course remain part of the blog.

Nice catching up with you all - keep it academia, as Steve McFadden would say, ratchet in hand.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Welcome, Dead Novelists.

Chatham won the opening game of the season yesterday, one nil at fancied Maldon and Tiptree. Miles away, didn't go. Home to Harlow on Tuesday night - can't wait.

In the meantime, I've been seeking inspiration for the coming season. I've turned to our old mate Billy Childish and his fantastic poem, Chatham Town Welcomes Desperate Men.

You can see him perform it here.

I've posted this before, but it requires re-posting.

Welcome Dead Novelists...

Bank managers who can no longer manage...

Its what makes me absurdly proud to come from Medway. Its the same pride I have in our football club. Its not perfect but its ours. And we can't help but love it.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Bargain Chats

Perhaps the biggest bargain outside of London at the moment is the Chatham Town membership scheme. Announced today on the official site, you can buy membership at the Chats for £20. This will get you in to all league games for the bargain price of £5 - a saving of £3 a game. Over a 21 game season this is a saving of £63, which will leave you £43 quid better off. If you're an OAP, you get in for £2. You can't fault it, and I for one will be doing it!

"A new decade...

The radio plays the sounds we made, and everything seems to feel just right"… warbled Wigan Warbler supreme Richard Ashcroft on the Verve’s opening track of their second long player, A Northern Soul.

It may sound like hyperbole but there’s such a genuine optimism at the TOSC at the moment, its hard not to be swept away on its waves. The foundations are in for the clubhouse extension, and there’s a genuinely good fundraising initiative to help build it. More of that later.

But what’s been happening a TOSC this summer?

Well firstly, the pitch. It looks fantastic. It is fantastic, and it’s the hard work of vice chair Barry Adams and a volunteer who apparently used to do the ground in the 70s. He supports Chelsea and hates Gillingham, and doesn’t really like Chatham. I don’t know his name, which I should do. But I don’t. Whether the pitch holds up to the possibility of three games a week is another thing; Gills Ladies are ground sharing with us, and of course there are the reserves too.

And we’ve got a pretty much new look squad again, but this time it’s a hybrid of the “old” old (pre-Foley), and the “new” old (Foley). Gladly, some of the side that finished the campaign after Paul Foley’s unceremonious departure last year are still with us, Joe Fuller, the Hogg brothers (Jon has a Mad Men haircut by the way) Jason Barton and Adam Molloy have hung around. Then there’s Brad Potter and Matt Solly, who predate that awful era from last year. And there’s the enigmatic return of Gary Tilly, who last played for us, and at this level, some six years ago before his third broken leg. There are plenty of new faces too. I’ll name them and cast opinions as their identities become more apparent, but included are Jon Pilbeam formerly of Sevenoaks Town, and non-league stalwart keeper Tony Kessell, whose experience will do Adam Molloy no end of good.

And we’ve been featured on the very widely read, a great piece of publicity for the club. Take a look. Its possibly, at a push, better than my own blog. Honestly…

Pre-season has thus far been mixed – four games gone, one win, one draw, two defeats. But pre-season’s not about winning games. I’ve always thought teams who do well in pre-season tend to do badly in the league. “You can prove anything with facts” says Stewart Lee to a homophobic taxi driver. I can’t prove this as it’s a feeling. Live with it.

The season starts in two weeks away to Maldon & Tiptree. Its in Essex, and apparently is quite nice. I won’t go. I’ll start my season with the home game on the 23rd, and will do a report. I might even do a report out of context and off subject on the Kent vs India One Dayer at Canterbury on the 26th August. That could be funny, as I understand very little about Cricket.


Monday, 4 July 2011


If you've heard the song Tenderoni by Kele Okereke, you'll know that you can chant Matt Solly's name along to the chorus. Which is handy, because I only worked this out after he left under a bit of a cloud during Paul Foley's reign.

In good news, its been announced today on the official site that Matt Solly is back for next season. There couldn't be a clearer statement of intent from Kevin Watson than bringing Matt home. Kevin Watson is a new broom who understands what the club and the fans want. Solly is a favourite with the fans and players, a gifted player who came through the youth set up.

Also re-signing is Ryan Laker, last term's player of the year - another youth product, he's got a big future in the game and will surely be the first name on the team sheet after Solly next year.

Pre-season training has started, and we kick off on 23rd July, away to Erith Town. I'll probably miss most of the pre-season games, but will try and get along to some.

Our first official fixtures are announced this week, with the draws for the FA Cup and FA Trophy being announced this friday, and the league fixtures out a week after that. Suddenly, I can't believe the season ended over two months ago!

Come on the Chats!!!!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Been a while, and Ian Pulman in shock promotion.

Sorry I've been away. I couldn't be bothered to be frank. It was becoming a tad tedious, both on the pitch and off.

As you probably know, we finished in the relegation spots, but were reprieved thanks to the financial stupidity of other teams, and will compete in the Ryman 1 North next season. This is of course great news, and we'll be travelling to Ware, my favourite away trip, as well as Needham Market, Sudbury and Leiston which are all in Suffolk. We'll win the league. I said it. Nothing wrong with some early optimism.

In other news, Kevin Watson, 29, is our new manager. He managed to get 7 points from 9 in our last three games, and it was nearly 100% and a mental play off to stay up if not for the heroics of Bognor's keeper in the dying minutes. He's announced three signings, two of last year's squad and a newbie. Brad Potter (now skipper) and Adam Molloy remain, and we're joined by exciting Tunbridge Wells winger John Pilbeam, who scored 11 last season and fed a front line which netted nearly 50. All positive.

Going back to the old school, many Chats fans would be forgiven for not remembering Ian Pulman playing for us. It was about five years ago, and he didn't have a very good time at Chatham. Those who do recall him will be shocked to hear that his star is that much in the ascent that he has moved to Eastbourne Borough - yes, the big team in Eastbourne - the Conference South side in Eastbourne. Can Ian Pulman go on to be the next in a line of former Chats to go on to much greater things (well, the third after George Boyd and Danny Kedwell) ? Lets hope he does.

Pre season games are announced and on the website - Welling United at home on the 6th being the biggest draw, as well as derbies against both Brickingbourne and Maidstone. Can we charge Maidstone a tenner, as that's what they're charging for home games in the R1S next season? Please - its apparently to pay off their VAT bill - why clubs can't manage to pay the tax man whilst chasing success I'll never know. The state of non league finances puts many of the pro clubs to shame. Again, a reminder of all that's good about the Chats, we never spend money we don't have, and I'll take a million relegation battles over the shame of cheating.