Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Till next year...: the Mighty vs Derby County

Living in a country where the seasons didn't change would be weird. The same road I've driven down in hail, sleet and torrential rain is now bathed in a gentle sunlight. There are vintage sports cars cruising with the roof down, the owners slowly turning a satisfying light shade brown to match the wooden dashboards of their vehicles. My zen is only disrupted when an absolute freakshow of an ill-knocking human being cuts me up in a Porsche forcing me to slam on. I'm sorely tempted to follow him into the McDonalds car park that he turns off into and reduce his car to scrap metal whilst he buys a Big Mac meal but I don't. 

Sunshine and a capacity crowd. What more could we actually ask for? This season has been good. The noise of Wembley echoed on through the championship. We held our own. We could still finish top half. We can definitely finish above our Lilywhite acquaintances from down the road. 

When it's warm like this, with a big crowd in, I always think of the old ground. The sardine can effect of the east stand, with fans lower than the pitch, tightly packed under the corrugated low-slung roof. The Kop, yawning and vast, half empty and half full, like a giant open mouth with only half its teeth remaining.  

Let's have a game to remember. A game to stay with us through summer. 


By kick off, the sunshine is more of a hazy kind of light grey warmth, but it's better than biting wind and ice. The team is the same sort of mixed up line up we've seen for the last few weeks. 

The game does not immediately shape up as a classic. Pool are the better side in the opening stages. Callum Connolly has a near post header, Charlie Kirk draws a decent save with a shot he catches really well, coming from deep to pick up on a chance inside the box after Pool football it about and across goal. It's only a matter of time before the party starts. 

Kirk and Husband have a nice little thing going on on the left and Charlie slips Jimmy through. It's fizzed over... Closer. Then, after we go down the right and Dougall's drive is blocked and Husband races onto the loose ball and is brought crashing down. It's a spot kick. There's general delight as super Gary Gaz Maz Madine the Goal Machine holds up the ball and offers it to crazy Uncle Richard. If Keogh scores, we're on the pitch. Keogh is a man who loves a bit of fun, but to everyone's dismay, he turns down the chance to take the spot kick. Never fear. A Gary Goals goal will do just nicely. 

Madine basically sidefoots it to the keeper. Fucking hell Gaz. Madine looks irritated with himself. His face is roughly the same as mine when I realise I can't find my car keys and I'm already late for work. 

Don't worry though. We've got this. CJ Hamilton is haring through. Lavery is making a beautiful curved run. CJ - knock it! CJ! Give it to Shayne! CJ!!! - He passes it to Kirk instead. Kirk looks as surprised as anyone by CJ's choice and whacks it into the family stand. 

The world's most underappreciated footballer (Jimmy Husband) does his hamstring or calf or some such muscle in his leg timing a challenge perfectly. No one sings his name cos for reasons I don't understand, we sing about almost everyone but Jimmy. Garbutt comes on in his place and looks well up for it. Everyone sings for fragile Luke.    

Derby are working hard. They don't look anywhere as near as shit as some teams in this league. They have a couple of shots from distance. One whistles wide, the other is well claimed by Maxwell low to his left. 

It all feels a bit goalless. I thought we'd have a cavalcade of circus football today, all defensive errors and wild efforts but we indulge in a mad spell of pointless passing for passing's sake that culminates after about 40 touches with the ball being spun out to Connolly inside his own half, who can't keep it in play. Ole! 

Rayne Wooney is prowling. Despite everything, I like Rayne Wooney. The lad looks like he's a forklift truck driver who runs his own five-a-side team on a Wednesday night. He hands the ball back to our players for a throw in very politely. When the rolls to him, he just flicks it back with no ceremony. It must be tempting if you're Rayne Wooney to show off, but the stocky little lad with a frankly massive arse doesn't indulge in any showboating. 

A ball is lifted into the box, Lavery darts and heads it wide. It's not going to go in today. 


There is nothing to say. It's half time. 


The second half is dismal. There's a lot of jumping around for various reasons and decrying the EFL. That's the fun bit. Initially we have a bit of spark - Garbutt lashing a cross come shot that Madine comes close to turning home and Lavery with another dart and effort wide are the chances I can remember. 

The game is not, it turns out, going to be goalless. CJ dallies on the ball, waiting to perform a trick he doesn't possess. Derby nab it, knock it, some nippy lad runs like mad into the box with Callum Connolly trying everything to not foul him. The ball in is close to Maxwell but his attempt to catch it turns into a weird scoop across the face of goal where another nippy little lad is first to it to turn it into an empty net. Fuck's sake Pool! A Derby fan runs on in celebration. He's marched away, grinning with delight. Getting arrested celebrating a meaningless goal scored by an already relegated side. Fabulous. Football is fucking great. 

To be honest, we never really look like getting back into it. The only other thing I can recall is that we take a corner, Keogh looks for a second or two like he might get in as the spare man at the far post, but he completely misses the ball and walks away ruefully. He's been really good today. Sign him up. 

We go a bit end of season crazy, sending on Jerry for Charlie Kirk and playing a sort of mutant 3-4-3. It doesn't really work. Derby score again. This time it's a whipped free kick, into the sort of space that people probably call the corridor of uncertainty, and so uncertain is our defence that no one goes for it at all apart from a Derby lad who finishes the easiest of chances unmolested by any of our players. 

By now, people are drifting off. The sun has gone. The sky is grey. Derby are giving it large about how little they care about being relegated. Jerry has a chance. Jerry drags it wide of the far post. The home stands empty further. Derby continue to bounce about. The whistle goes. It's frankly, a blessed relief. 


On the way home, the usual calls on the car radio phone in are about 'ambition' and 'kicking on' and all of that. Clubs with endless resources bemoaning the horror of only qualifying for the Europa League and the shame of it all. Go and fuck yourselves. Here was a game played out by two clubs without anything in particular to play for and whilst it was a shit spectacle from a Pool perspective, I'm glad I was there. Noise, at times so loud, you couldn't tell who was chanting what. It's not the exact memory I really wanted to carry into summer, but it's the feel of football nonetheless. It's what keeps you coming back. It was Derby today who had the ecstasy, who bathed their players and their manager in the adulation. Some time soon enough, that will be us again. You win, you lose, you draw. Get on with it. Fuck the EFL Fuck the money game. Fuck the cartel of clubs that keep the sport in their dead eyed skeleton handed vice like grip and fuck them all that have raised the price of ambition to an amount that risks the very future of clubs like Derby. Fuck the cunts who wear the suits but don't govern the game and let clubs like ours be stripped bare by convicts who alienate an entire fanbase and clubs like Oldham wither on the vine at the hands of unstable ego maniacs. We could go on. Probably best for our blood pressure that we leave it there. 

The team today reverted to the frustrating lack of cutting edge that we've been guilty of. It was sad not to see Josh Bowler for what is likely to be one last time and of course, in his absence, I couldn't help thinking that he might have cut ribbons through their defence in a way that the players on the pitch simply couldn't do. Marvin really was missed more though. Both their goals were basically handed to them and whilst Thorniley did nothing wrong, the defence in the second half looked, for all of Uncle Richard's pointing and prompting somewhat shaky.

There's little to be gained from reading that much into an experimental line up with our best players rested but my main worry is that Keshi looked as if his head was elsewhere. Maybe it was just playing central midfield when perhaps he isn't actually one after all but if he's off with Josh, we've got a hell of a creative hole to fill. I don't even want to imagine that Marvin (who is rightly player of the year) could possibly play for a club other than us. 

Who knows though? Not me. Transfer speculation is boring as fuck. We know what we need right now and we must surely add some creativity. What else we need depends in part on who stays and who goes.  Let's see what happens and see what new faces wash up on the shore of next season as they surely will. It's been a good season. It's been a long season. Just think how hungry we'll be by the time the new one rolls around. We could be Luton next year. We could be Peterborough. Who knows? It's out of our hands. We just get carried along by it all. The future is unknown. That is the glory of it. 

The players troup around the pitch. Kids run around. I'm weirdly moved when Keogh moves off on his own to applaud the Derby fans. Memories and all that. Critch with his kids, like the man is actually a real person and not just a walking football manual. Our second best ever no 26 smiling, socks round his ankles as his lad leaps about and play fights with him. Gary Madine jogs over to the stand and gives a kid a hug. There's one last hurrah in front of the North Stand and then everyone goes home. 

Absolute fucking tangerine wizards the lot of them. 


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Friday, April 29, 2022

A crap preview: the Mighty vs Derby County

Everything comes to an end. One day, the universe will collapse in upon itself and all matter will be destroyed. Seasons come. Seasons go. What seemed endless in August is gone in the merest blink of an eye. Breathe in the new season. Breathe out and it's fucking well nearly May already. 

Time eludes us all. 

I always find the climax of a season sad. It's like the end of a gig. All that noise and then silence ringing in your ears. 

This is it for me. I can't go to Peterborough. It's a beautiful spectacle though. A sell out. A defiant two fingers to fate from the unfortunate Rams and a middle finger to all the inexpert preseason predictions from us. 

I hope tomorrow is better than the away game. At Pride Park we seemed to be enacting some kind of bet to see if each consecutive attack could be slower than the one that came before. We have seldom been as poor this year. We've been good, bad and indifferent but rarely as insipid and with so little fight.  

End of season matches where neither team has anything really to play for can't be cagey, coy, shadow boxing. They must be shambolic, carefree, joyful celebrations of the flaws of the two teams. Go at each other and may the least worst team win. 

We invent meaning. We must get as many points, we must finish on a high, we must finish above them lot. 

All the meaning is invented anyway. These things matter as much as anything else which is not at all and very much at the same time. The most important thing is that there's another Saturday. Another game. The next season. Hope springs eternal. Disaster is always on the horizon. You can win every trophy there is and yet, come the new season it all starts again. You can lose and lose and lose and yet, come preseason, be dreaming of triumph. 

Derby County must surely come again. They must surely pick themselves up from the canvas and spit out the blood and broken teeth and fight on. 134 years must surely become 135. 

All together. 


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Didn't lose on the telly - Luton Town vs the Mighty

I don't normally do a blog for games I don't go to but then, Critch doesn't normally pick a forward line from a 1989 Div 2 teamsheet and games don't usually kick off at 12:30 to effectively make going to them a choice between a dangerous lack of sleep or not seeing the match (cheers for that Sky you fucking leeches on the beautiful game...) so lets break all the rules. They're only in your head anyway* 

*please don't cite this blog in court as a legal defence. It's just possible the idea that the law is only a mental construct might not stand up to scrutiny. 

Imagine being Shayne and Jerry hearing that line up. I bet there was a sideways glance to each other and a shady little eye roll. I don't care though. It's like my childhood has been reanimated. Big lads up front and a ground made of corrugated iron and mismatched, patched up stands.  

Lets go and batter these kit stealers. 


It's not the ideal start. A ball lifted over the top. Husband is turned around and gets back to get half a touch, Keogh gets a deflection but the ball is slid across and turned home. Nathan Jones chews with a nervous aggression despite his side's success. Crazy Uncle Richard looks a bit pensive. He claps a bit to try and sort himself out. Maxwell shouts angrily at an injustice that seems to be in his own mind only. Jimmy tries to avoid everyone's gaze. 

Trickie Dickie has perked up. He's now marching about with the urgent and purposeful gait of a farmer who has spotted that the sheep have made a hole in the fence and needs to quickly get the wood and the hammer sorted.

Gaz flicks, CJ teases. Kirk goes down in the box. Nowt doing. CJ slaps a first time volley. It goes up... up... up then down...down...down and wide. Keshi and Jimmy both whip delicious balls with no end result to them. 

Callum Connolly reveals a long throw he's kept hidden thus far. Why Callum? It's good! Do more of them! It bounces straight through... Madine pivots and lunges and... misses it completely. Shut up. He's a goal machine. He makes up for it (sort of) with a sexy as fuck behind his legs pass 60 seconds later but we probably should be level. Connolly reaches a free kick from deep and heads wide. We float more crosses. Remember when we used to pass it about? Like, er... last week? We are a totally schizophrenic side. In a good way I think. 

Critch has full Sunday at the garden centre body warmer and sweatshirt vibes today. I don't really know why, but I can see Nathan Jones as a former navy officer in the 18th century who has deserted to become a pirate but now regrets it. He's got both a wildness and a kind of buttoned down quality at the same time is what conjures up that thought perhaps.. 

Snodgrass reminds me of caricature portrait done in charcoal. It's like his facial features are too big for his body and really dark. He takes a free kick like a dream. It hangs, it hangs, it's headed back, hooked away, knocked back in and Luton are through but Maxwell makes a tremendous stop, a drilled effort repelled by razor sharp response. At the other end, CJ is in... He cuts inside, toe pokes it hard and it loops up off the defenders ankle, back to Connolly who floats a terrible cross that almost looks like being a genius effort on goal as it drops over the bar with the keeper back peddling. 

Jimmy takes a free kick. Jimmy? Why? Are we all just having a go at things we don't usually do today? It's a good one though, flashing across the face.

Kirk finds himself in. He looks a bit overwhelmed by the moment and plays a really underwhelming pass as if he doesn't trust himself to really try something here. The game becomes a bit underwhelming in general. Maxi race out and twats it long to the Luton box where their keeper races out and belts it long in response. It's definitely 1989 again. Are back passes allowed again yet? 

Snodgrass delivers, it's just horrifically good, first time, swinging and dipping to the perfect height and it's headed a few inches over. We respond with more nice play but nothing that comes close to being as near as that. A CJ cross that fades nicely but no one gets to, a Keshi effort that befits the cliche of 'speculative' and Beesley nodding wide from a really nice deep diagonal from Husband the best of what remains of the half. 


We've huffed and puffed and probably had the better of play but Luton have scored, created the best other chance and their set pieces are lethal. It feels to me like one of those games where we'll say 'a manful effort' but lose 2-0. I am often wrong. 


The Luton announcer starts at 'bloke on the waltzers' pitch and works up to 'world heavyweight boxing championship' pitch. The crowd clap politely in response to his crescendoing intensity. It's a bit flat considering this lot are on the edge of their best season in a million years. 

A clever free kick nearly works for us. Beesley, not for the first time is on the shoulder as a long ball goes over and forces the keeper to take action. At the other end, Keogh pulls out a spectacular block. 

CJ cuts inside, he's got a chance, he drifts... Shoot!!!, he takes it on instead, he's blown it... but he hasn't cos his little stutter has thrown the defender and he's still going and now he's clipped, falling and there's the whistle! Penalty! 

Madine. SMACK! Bottom corner. Gaz the coolest man in the house. Walks away. Doesn't give a fuck. Shrug. 'Aye. I scored. C'mon lads. It's just a goal'.

All goals are great goals but Gary goals are the greatest. ALLEZ. ALLEZ. ALLEZ.

It's anyone's this now.. Luton fans scream for a penalty for no reason as Marv defends well. Snodgrass nearly wriggles through but Maxi's off his line. Kirk gets smashed. No whistle. Beesley wins the second ball and gets clipped. He does get a free kick. Dougall and Hamilton work it, a cute diagonal, Hamilton cutting it back, the keeper at Madine's feet. 

Beesley rises, knocks down, Madine strikes it first time from the edge of the box. It's a comfortable stop but it would have been my favourite goal of the decade (the 80s remember) had it gone in. Luton then get a chance, the ball in the box hits Dougall awkwardly, it falls to Luton, a shot gets lashed in, bounces out, Anderson slides in. It looks like it could be a penalty but it isn't and Pool race away, Hamilton is chopped down but the referee isn't interested in that either and books Hamilton for getting fouled. 

Luton chuck on a striker for a defender. We chuck on Bowler for Kirk. Corners follow. Nothing comes of them. A long ball. Madine off his chest and a sublime layoff. Dougall on the edge of the box. A foul. Anderson and Connolly over it... Anderson puts it into the stand. Connolly's body language says that he feels he might have done better.

Lansbury comes on for them. He seems to have been around for about 20 years now. Lavery for Beesley for us. 

A long throw yields another penalty shout as Connolly and Adebayo fight for the ball at the far post. Bowler does one of his magical runs where he just seems to move through the defence like a hologram and wins a corner. Madine with controls the ball on his chest with gentleness like a young mother holding her baby for the first time. His cross is cleared though. Jimmy chips the clearance back down the line for CJ with a deftness equal to Madine. Hamilton crosses well but we can't force it home. Good stuff. 

Cj kills a long ball. Beautiful. CJ shanks his shot so badly it ends up further away from the goal than when he hit it. Less beautiful. Madine heads a Husband cross wide. We're all over it right now.

Luton have a counter attack that ends with a shot so weak that Maxwell has to wait for it to get to him. Marvin does some football in the box. It's really clever. He does more football. It's less clever. He loses it. Snodgrass crosses and 58 year old Cameron Jerome rises and heads wide... 

Bowler charges into the box. He goes down. The ball breaks but Lavery is too busy shouting for the spot kick to pick up the pieces. Luton assert themselves a bit more. Bell charges at Bowler who might be able to glide through defenders like he's just shifting, phasing, shimmering energy that can slip between lumbering physical bodies like water between stones in a river, but he's also prone to letting players run through him like he's little more than puddle. Maxwell takes the cross... Thank fuck... 

Adebayo runs Keogh who might be possibly the most intelligent defender I've ever seen but he's also got the pace of an old British Leyland car with a faulty gearbox trying to accelerate from a standstill whilst stuck in third gear. Keogh tries to stay with him, he crashes to the ground. The cross comes in. The ball is struck home but the goal is ruled out. Thank fuck again... 

A late free kick. Shit..! Luton blow it though... A tame shot at Maxwell from a flick on with Jerome in acres of space is a big let off. Thank fuck for the third time. 


We did well. Considering Luton demolished us at Bloomfield without really even seeming to particularly sweat, to go there and have periods where it seemed we might win is a step forward. We're yet further from really knowing who the hell we are as a team and how we actually play (does that matter?) but two big lads has got us a decent point. We're a footballing chameleon. At least we don't change the colour of our home shirts... 

Luton, I really hope do it. It would be grand to see someone defy the parachute payment monopoly again (like Brentford) and good craic to see Kenilworth Road hosting the show ponies and instagram stars of the biggest clubs.

If they can. We can. 



You can follow MCLF on facebook or Twitter or use to get posts sent to your email If you appreciate the blog and judge it worth 1p or more, then a donation to one of the causes below which help kids and families in Blackpool would be grand.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Big lads up top - WBA vs the Mighty

I'm a bit fed up. On the journey, I try to counter my state of malaise by listening to something about minor nations trying to qualify for the World Cup. That will be fun I think. Instead it's an avalanche of bloodshed, poverty and war. 

I also note the following: 

- the state of the bridges at motorway services is shocking. Sun bleached plastic cladding is poor look. 

- a photograph I can't take because it's a view from the motorway of a canal  winding through a demolition site. Birmingham. It really is *just like Venice* 

- A scrapyard with a surprising amount rusting and part disembodied camper vans, above which flutters a dirty Union Jack. 

Life. Oh. Life etc. 

Let's have some football... 

Yeah, yeah, industrial estate. The slowest subway on earth. The phrase 'sandwich artist' for fucks sake. A copper with mad Jesus tattoos. Baggies fans really love a retro shirt, they're all wearing them. Laminate flooring in the away concourse. Laminate flooring. In the concourse.  

Gary Madine and Andy Carroll on the same pitch. Let's fucking do this. Sunshine. Shirt sleeves. Life is a game. It's all a dream. 


They've got a weird fridge mascot. Human evolution has led to this. Well done everyone. 

A nice move. Gaz round the corner to Lavery, out to bowler. Across the box. Gaz is taking not looking like scoring to a new level as he runs away from goal. He wins a free kick. Keshi takes Tipped over. Lavery snaffles, he's through, he squares to Madine... It evades the gaol machine.

WBA come into it. Hubby flicks a header away but they pick up the pieces and bring a good stop from Maxwell. They test us with balls into corner. 

Bowler races free. He goes left,he goes right. The ball stays where it is. Maxwell catches a cross. A great throw. Little toe poke from Gabriel. Bowler marauding and crossing, behind everyone... There's a pattern starting to take hold. 

Lavery to Keshi. Keshi does exactly the same thing as Bowler. A lovely move from a Gaz hold up. Jimmy belts it against a defender. It comes back, hits him and rolls out. Another sweeping move finishes with Jimmy. His cross is flicked out. Bowler twists and goes up the middle. His shot is blocked. 

Gabriel goes down. Carroll left one on him earlier. Virtue on, Connelly to right back. WBA cut through us alarmingly easily. Maxi makes a solid stop. Then they score. Carroll stooping to nod home in a panicked area. They go close again, only Connolly's block rescuing the situation. 

Carroll has 5 minutes where he looks like an England striker. His control on the run of a ball over the top is ridiculous. Don't like him any more though. 


We've been the better side. We're losing. 


A few kick. We can't take free kicks. Pointless. We might as well just roll it to their keeper. Hang on.. Kenny puts a pearler across. Everyone just misses it. 

They don't miss the next one. Connolly is fouled. The ball in... Madine heads... Marvin! He's a goal machine!!! 

A great open game ensues. Steve Bruce looks ancient as he stands in what looks to me like a no brand catalogue lesuire jacket and slacks like your grandad on a trip to a Brewers Fayre. 

Pool have good go at winning. Jimmy and Gaz are surprisingly the players who exchange very sexy passes and then the big man shimmies through. Wow. Gaz. Calm down mate! His square ball for Bowler is sliced wide. 

Owen Dale comes on. He doesn't do an awful lot. Bowler is having one his more 'lightweight' afternoons until, with Pool having a spell of sustained pressure, he finally gets a shot on target then gets hooked for CJ immediately afterwards.

Virtue slips in Lavery but he's offside. Madine doesn't quite win a dangerous cross. The final ball or shot is just not quite there all game. CJ bursts through but pulls it behind everyone again. 

Matt Phillips comes on. The Baggies hit the bar. Jimmy puts in a terrifically violent challenge on the touchline. We break. They break. They score. It's at the other end and it just seems to fly back and forth in the box till it goes in. Fucks sake! 

It's over. We sing anyway. Critch stands and watches us singing for ages. 

Allez Allez Allez. 


I can't be bothered with a post mortem. We played well, we could have scored more than them but we didn't. It was sunny. We're staying up. 

We made plenty of chances and we put plenty of pressure on but we're not clinical. We need that bit of quality. Which sounds like a 606 caller cliche and I didn't start this blog to sound like a 606 dickhead. 

"Robbie - didn't see the game, but I want to state the obvious."

We all know what we need. This was a loss, but it showed what we have as much as what we don't and in my humble opinion, recruitment next year should be about quality, not quantity. 

"Robbie, never mind Harry Kane. Gaz Madine and Andy Carroll up front in the World Cup mate"  


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Much more like it: Blackburn Rovers vs the Mighty

It feels a bit like Critch has first got Ian Brunskill to write everyone's name down on a little piece of paper, scrunch them up and chuck them on the floor, then he's sent Mikey G to get a hoover and a fresh hoover bag, vacuumed all the names up and finally got Steve Banks to fish the first 18 names out of the hoover bag and called that a team. 

That's potentially good though. It's when I can see Critch's thinking that I worry. 

It's a bit fresh in the upper tier of the Darwin End. Where is spring? The PA lad calls out the name of "Christopher Hamilton." Who the fuck is that? The lad behind me offers a less than complimentary opinion about the decision to start Sir Gary of Goals. I don't start a brawl. 

Tony Parkes gets a guard of honour. He shuffles out with a stick looking frail but once in position he chucks the stick to ground and suddenly comes alive to the sound. There's a real moment as he basks in the applause. A real moment. Time slips away... 


Rovers start better. Pool hit back. CJ makes a chance charging one down and discovering himself some distance from an open goal. He hesitates, he sets himself to take on the keeper. In he goes. It's saved... Lavery and Madine look aghast at not being played in. CJ just looks sad. 

From the corner, Madine brings it down, turns, finds a bit of space and lashes it not far wide. Already better than Preston. 

The noise is terrific. There's not a space to be seen anywhere. 

The weeks comedy ref has decided not to give a foul on Shayne Lavery no matter what happens. 

Christopher Hamilton gets away again. he crosses behind everyone... I just want CJ to get something right before the season ends. He's so frustrating. He's playing well but also being exactly like CJ. 

The goal is calamatous. Thorniley doesn't head the ball because the ball isn't where he thought it was, Maxwell can't decide whether to come or not. He's like me wasting my life trying to decide between two near identical twins of beans in the supermarket, caught in a kind of paralysis of choice... Sam Gallagher rolls it home, agonisingly slowly. Marv just doesn't quite get a boot to it. 

We didn't need that. We do the singing after they score thing anyway. I love us. 

Ref now decides every time the ball leaves the pitch that it's a corner to them. We rally a bit. Madine goes up at the far post. Gabriel shows outrageous skill to almost trick his way through. I love Jordan Gabriel. 

Lavery is threaded through, beats one, goes into the box and is surely, surely, surely clattered. Obviously not. Cos it's us. I'm turning into one of *those* fans but fucking hell, we don't get much do we? 

They have some more corners because whatever happens it's a Blackburn corner. One of them is headed over from under the bar. C'mon!!!

Lavery gets not fouled some more. Gabriel sets CJ away and he hurtles the length of the pitch. He's a sight when he's absolutely flying, I don't think I've seen him in the flesh really accelarating to top speed. It's wild. His legs are going everywhere. The Rover's defender looks shellshocked. The corner he wins comes to nothing. 


We've been sporadically decent, but I'm happy to get in only a goal down. They've looked quick to counter and dangerous from set pieces. 


Gabriel gets to the byline with a majestic bit of football. He's made such a difference today already but his little spin and sprint on the touchline is sheer magnificence. The ball in ricochets about and Christopher Hamilton puts a volley not so far over the top as for it to ridiculous. Better... 

Again, the ball bounces around the box. Players shape to shoot but it won't drop. Lavery makes a yard of space and cracks it. It's deflected wide, earning him a pat on the arse from Gaz. Kirk goes to take the corner. It's been notable that Kirk can take corners that look at least vaguely threatening. This one goes deep, Madine heads it back across goal, someone else keeps it alive. The ball drops. There's a scramble. There's Marvin, there's the ball going through legs and past the keeper. There's the ball in the back of the net!!! 

This was exactly what we needed. The noise increases. We're the tangerine army! 

The ref books Dougall for literally nothing. The ref pulls play back for a foul on us when Charlie Kirk is clearly away. Kirk is not happy. We're playing well. Connolly is giving us presence. We're actually winning some second balls. Gaz tracks back, not once, but twice and wins it. The ref than let's them play on in exactly the same way he denied us. I can't even be bothered being pissed off any more. 

CJ makes a stupidly good run and then knocks it too far at the last, earning only a corner, when for all the world it looked like he could have been in. Oh Christopher Hamilton. He is excitimg to watch. He's like bouncing a ball that isn't round, all weird angles and unpredictability.  

Critch changes both the wingers. Keshi is so silky in comparison to CJ. Someone I read recently said he reminded them of John Barnes and as he glides through a couple of Rovers challenges, I can totally see it. Stocky, yet graceful as any dancer. 

Bowler is ludicrously gifted. His cameo is such a pleasure. I'm already getting sad at the thought that one day not so far away, he will be skipping through challenges like a young foal dancing through a summer meadow in s different coloured shirt. He dribbles but oh, my, his crossfield ball to Jimmy is worth every penny of the ticket price. 

We've got them under pressure. The noise is magnificent. They score. It's offside and we all realise before any of them. Haaaaaa! Each goal kick is created with an outstanding "woooooooooooooooooooooo-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa - you're shit - aaaaah!" Everytime they go forward, we get a tackle in. Jimmy intercepts, pokes it forward, Connolly makes three tackles in one moves, moves it forward. Dougall, on a yellow cos he challenged for the ball is walking a tightrope, but he walks it well. Lavery charges down the keeper. 

Come on Pool!!! The wind is in our sails. Here's a sub. It'll be Jerry. Another 10 minutes of fresh legs... Here he comes... Wait. What. The. Absolute. Fuck. Is. This? 

It's Crazy Uncle Richard. 

Why? Why? Why? (Why?) 

Rovers have a spell. We've done this to ourselves. Critch! Why have you done this? Discontent rumbles around. Rovers look bouyed by the fact Super Gaz looks like he needs a good radox bath and a couple of ibuprofen. We've fucking blown this. 

Or have we? Bowler and Kesh are pushed right up. The full backs are in midfield. This is more aggressive than it looks and we don't stay penned in for long. Gaz makes a heroic slide after lumbering across the box really slowly and somehow the ref gives a goal kick for an obvious corner... 

The fury lifts the fans again. Bowler is limping. For fucks sake!!! Why do we always have this shit? Bowler gets the ball. He doesn't want it, cos he's limping. What's an injured player going to do with it? He's going to shimmy and dance and crack a deflected shot against the woodwork. Josh. Don't go. Please. C'mon Pool!!! 

Callum Connolly is taking it in, he's pushing it out of his feet, he's lining up a shot, he's 30 yards out... it's dipping and swerving and the keeper has to be nimble to side step, and strong with his hands to deflect it away. Super Gaz, might get to it, but by now, Super Gaz is moving with the grace of someone trying push an an old heavy wardrobe wedged into a difficult corner of a tricky staircase, so he doesn't. 

More noise. A scrap. Connolly of course. Gary the peacemaker. Keshi a coiled spring of rage. Maxwell out of goal shepherding Keshi away. A whistle. More handbags. Brilliant! More noise. 

Neil Critchley's Tangerine Army. 


I really enjoyed today. Connolly and Gabriel were magnificent. Kirk is solid enough and he gives us something at set pieces we otherwise lack. Thorniley (mistake aside for the goal) and Marvin dealt well with their forwards and Jimmy looked much happier with Kirk instead of Hamilton in front of him. Hamilton was equally cursed and blessed. Dougall whilst not vintage Kenneth, was much happier next to Connolly than his previous partner and looked much less jet-lagged. 

Essentially, we had a tempo and an endeavour that was wholly lacking against PNE. This line up wasn't available, so let's just leave that game there. The atmosphere was tremendous. We only want a little bit and we'll give a lot back. Rovers crowd were almost silent. We had nothing to play for but a bit of salvaged pride after a crap few games and we salvaged that pride for sure. 

Was it perfect? No. 
Do we expect perfection? No. 
Was it good? Yeah. It had passion and fight and attacking. It was loud, intense and there's nowhere I'd rather have been. 

We can leave all the 'who could be better' and 'what do we lack' talk for another day. 

That was much more like the 'Pool we love. 

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Dreadful preview: Blackburn Rovers vs the Mighty

A proper preview would tell you all about the opposition. This will do no such thing. That's because I am terrible at previews and thus, this preview is terrible. What I'm going to do instead is take us back to the early days of the Premier League and remember the most famous Blackburn side of living memory in order to make a point of sorts about football today (both literally 'today' and more figuratively 'in the modern age.'

Former Scunthorpe player Mark Atkins...

It's generally assumed that Blackburn winning the league was an anomaly. A slip in the space time continuum caused by the weight of Jack Walker's wallet. At the time, it certainly felt like it. This short article details how naive we were to feel that way...

The side that won the league cost £14.7 million to put together - as this article points out, many of the key performers were signed relatively cheaply and Rovers spent less than some other sides that season. There's no doubt that their spending was way out of line in comparison with their income and what we'd expect a town club to pay for players, but none the less, it bears little resemblance to the kind of sums that a Premier League winning side might cost today. 

Either a Premier League CEO rushing to put more money in the furnace or just some normal bloke off to pay his energy bills... 

£14.7 million in old money is about £32 million in today's cash. (my source: the Bank of England inflation calculator) That's normal money though. Football money is wildly different. Much was made of the incredible achievement of Leicester City, winning the League with a squad that cost next to nothing (a mere £58 million according to ESPN sport) but in comparison to the Blackburn side of 1994/95, they were big spenders (in REAL terms.) 

Of course, Leicester's achievement was a much greater shock - they weren't buying the best players in the country for significant fees. They were relying on bargains, nobodies and has-beens in a way that Rovers simply weren't - yes, a few clubs outspent Rovers, but hardly anyone outspent Leicester. Comparing them with Rovers is kind of meaningless because football spending has exploded so wildly in the time that has passed. 

That's kind of the point though. Rovers were the last of their kind. Leicester may have been a fairy tale, but they were financed to a point that dwarves Blackburn's spending, that makes Uncle Jack look like a miser. They were powered by the money of a foreign consortium. Jack Walker was a hometown boy, the kind of figure that simply no longer exists (Delia Smith aside) at the top level of the game. Why is this? Why can clubs no longer dream of a local man/woman made good who will take them down the road to glory? 

YES!!! More parachute payments!!!

Put very simply, the cost of football money is far higher than the cost of other money. 

At the beginning of that season, Blackburn signed Chris Sutton for £5 million to break the English transfer record. That figure, at the time, seemed outlandish, ridiculous, space age money.  5 million quid is worth pretty much exactly £10.5 million today in the wider world. The current transfer record is £100 million (Jack Grealish.) Whilst very different players, both Sutton and Grealish were up and coming prospects, taken from mid table sides by a team with title ambitions. Had football followed inflation, Grealish would have cost roughly twice what Sutton did - instead, he cost about twenty times as much. 

We've not even mentioned wages yet. The average wage in the top flight in 1994-95 was £116,448 - a figure that today would be worth £246,000. - That today represents the weekly take home pay of some premier league footballers... The average Premier League wage is over £3 million per year. That's an increase of a factor of around 26!

What has any of this got to do with today's game though? Well, nothing and everything... It gives absolutely no insight as to how Bradley Dack and that lad who isn't from Chile will play, but it serves to illustrate something quite fundamental about the nature of modern football - we've looked at the cost of running a title winning Premier League club in 1994-95 and we've discovered that it was considerably better value for money - if we cast our eye a little further down the league at the cost of a championship club we can see something remarkable. 

Hang on, what do you mean, my money is only worth a couple of lads from Portugal these days? That's good money that is! 

The average wage in the championship is reported variously to be 'around 200k per annum' up to 'around £1.5 million' - whichever figure we take, we can see that in real terms (i.e. taking the rate of inflation as set out by the Bank of England) - it now costs more money than it would have cost Jack Walker to run a Premier League club to run a Championship football club. 

Transfers are little different - Fulham this summer spent more on Harry Wilson than Chris Sutton was worth in 1994 in real terms. That is not the biggest signing by a championship club in history by quite some margin. It's just the first transfer I found on google that fits that criteria. 

The problem in the Championship is huge. Yes, potential income from player sales is likely to be bigger than it was in 1994 by quite some margin and yes, clubs get more TV money than they did, but for a club like us, the TV money is much smaller than it is for the clubs in receipt of parachute payments and the difficulty of selling players is also highlighted by the make up of Blackburn's squad. Only Robbie Slater, Henning Berg and Richard Witschge were not UK or Irish born. Consequently, much of Blackburn's investment in players was from other English clubs.

Every year, Pep proves he's the *best* manager by buying fashionable clothes and making sure he's at the team with *the most money* 

Manchester City's current squad only contains 6 UK/Irish players - consequently, much less of their spending is focussed on the English market. Essentially, yes, if you can convince a top side to take one of your players, you'll earn more money than you did, but it's much less likely than it was that your players will end up in a title winning side (and thus going for top dollar - Alan Wright being an salient example) 

In conclusion, what all of this shows is the scale of the challenge that Simon Sadler faces in getting us to where we need to be. In the real world the value of the pound has increased since 1994 - in the football world, it's increased far more. It is not unrealistic to suggest, that to achieve promotion, a side in our position may need to invest more money than Blackburn Rovers invested in 1994-95 to win the actual league. That's a frightening thought if you can remember that far back and recall the fuss made about their spending at the time. 

It's why we should not lose sight of perspective. This league is not easy. The finances are not easy. Of course we've every right to be frustrated at the woeful showing at Deepdale, but we also have every right to be frustrated at the way money dictates the game to an absurd degree now. We've got an owner who has invested in players and infrastructure and clearly has plans for the club. The cost of progress is potentially huge and, by establishing ourselves as a seemingly competitive championship club, we've already taken an enormous step forward.

Future Champions League winner James Husband. 

What comes next is not going to be easy. In many ways, in Simon Sadler, we've found our own Jack Walker - a local lad, who genuinely wants to do right by the club and the town. That's fantastic. It's a fairytale. It's also true that the cost of that dream has increased incredibly since Uncle Jack brought his magic to Ewood Park and that is something we're powerless to effect. It doesn't excuse a lack of effort or a lack of risk taking on the pitch, but it does perhaps give context to the make-up of a squad and why we haven't and probably can't just snap our fingers and have an oven ready top class set of players snarling at the leash, ready to storm the league. We simply can't afford it. It will take time. We will get there. The road will have bumps. We'll have to stick by the team and exhort some of our lesser lights to shine as brightly as they can for a while yet. 

In conclusion - I just want to see us go and give it a go. Less of the possession for possession's sake, more putting pressure on Rovers and getting the fans behind some decent, solid effort. It might be nice to see some of the players we've not seen a lot of as there's not a lot of space in the squad, so we need to know if these players have potential in the Championship or not and decide what to do in the summer as a result of that. Rovers are under way more pressure than we are. Let's enjoy it. On the pitch and off. Play with a bit of freedom and take a fucking risk!!! Make some noise, score some goals. Be magic. Be tangerine


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Wednesday, April 6, 2022


You might have heard of the latest craze sweeping the nation. It's the new, exciting and original game of 'lets blame Jimmy Husband!'

It's a brilliant game where the answer to "who is at fault?" is always "Jimmy Husband"

Top prizes available include.

- an empty packet of pistachio nuts as discarded by Gary Madine

- a used sleep mask from a Quantas airline flight along with some slightly waxy earplugs as used by Kenny Dougall.

- A copy of the 'Owen Dale user manual' that Critch has clearly mislaid

- Fake ID papers for a South American dictatorship in the name of 'Mr Ian Brunskill'

- A shard of glass from Kevin Stewart's leg

- The extra £50 we didn't pay to get Cameron Brannigan.

To win one of these top prizes, just blame Jimmy Husband for something!

A faulty boiler, being missold PPI, Jacob Reese Mogg being an influential person, the price of fish, rain on your wedding day, ALDI being out of yoghurt, your troubled childhood, the way wasps annoy the fuck out of you when trying to have pint in a beer garden, someone blocking a public toilet and then just walking off. War. Pestilence. Famine. The way you can't reuse a stamp any more cos they've put some mad UV light shit on it, tennis being the only sport the BBC put on telly, the dearh of record labels leading to the widespread middle-classisation of guitar music, your ingrown toenail.

Anything will do. Whatever the problem and whether or not it's actually his fault... Blame Jimmy to WIN, WIN, WIN!!!

To enter - send £100 to MCLF PO BOX GM14 or call 0891 14 14 14 (calls charged at £8 per/minute)

No correspondence entered into. All prizes cannot be exchanged. BE GAMBLE AWARE AND WHEN THE FUN STOPS STOP.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Sideways and backwards: them lot vs the Mighty

The morning goes quite quickly. The afternoon drags. It really drags. Finally, it's over... 

I'm not being bussed in a high security convoy because I'm not traveling from the Gold Coast so I walk across Preston. Highlights include: 

This charming woodland glade, an urban garden in the midst of England's newest city (apart from Southend)
A seemingly dead tree that looks like something a witch would live in.
A bit that looks like North Korea.

Needless metalwork.

Maxi's first touch in the warm up is something to behold. Keogh is seranaded. Critch has thrown a curve ball by picking Ethan Robson because, of course he has and because of course, Kevin Stewart is injured again as are all our other players who aren't Ethan Robson.  


The noise is tremendous. I wouldn't know their are any PNE fans here. Whatever the result on the pitch tonight, we can go home knowing one of us plays Kylie before kick off and the other one doesn't. Just saying. 

Ethan Robson prompts an early foray. Keshi hits a blinding pass that swerves like a boomerang. Finesse. Innit. 

It's cagey and even and then Dan Grimshaw gets his head kicked off. It's horrible. Grimmy lies prone for a good 10 minutes. There's always a sense of trepidation when a player doesn't get up. He lies absolutely static, still in the position he fell in until the point where he's stretchered off. It's a nice touch of class by the medical staff to stop by the stand so Grimmy can have stuff chucked at him. To be fair, mostly people applaud. 

So. Here we go again. Players back, players out. Get well soon Grimmy. 

Maxi is into the game quickly. Preston break, CJ is wandering back. Jimmy gets a touch... Does it hit the bar?  There's a nasty scramble. I think Maxwell makes a save. Everyone slides about and the ball goes wide. It might have been offside. Fucking hell... C'mon! 

We're sluggish. Nothing is sticking to Gaz. Bowler is peripheral. CJ is running into blind alleys. To be fair, PNE are doing not a lot either. 

Then they do something. Keshi goes for a foul, the ref doesn't give it. They sweep up the pitch, CJ and Kenny don't make a tackle when they might and the lad who knocked Grimmy out scores. Because of course he fucking does. Fuck off. There's the unedifying sight of a player on loan baiting the crowd to the point where the ref tells him to give over and stop being a prick. 

Fuck all else happens. We create absolutely nothing in response. 


It's not working. 


We don't make any changes. It continues not to work. Nothing even remotely looks like being a chance. CJ isn't even running into blind alleys any more. No one is running anywhere. We're serving up a classic dish of... Pass. Stop. Look. Pass. Stop. Look. Repeat. If in doubt. Go backwards. 

Keshi tries dribbling. Keshi is the most lively. Keshi is also looking like a man who hasn't played for months. That tells you how lively everyone else is looking. Kenny is still jet lagged. In fact, if anything, Kenny seems to have got more jet lagged than last week. Ethan Robson is mostly running around after the ball like a dog being teased. Bowler is nowhere. 

Jimmy fucking Husband is providing the most likely outlet and even then, one of his actions is to hit a cross so badly it doesn't even go vaguely towards goal. Madine tries a slide challenge. He misses completely. 

The ref livens things up by giving a goal kick in the style of a penalty to them. Oh, the japes. It must be tempting as a ref to do things like that. 

Lavery comes on. Things don't really change. PNE have a shot that hits the corner flag. Jerry comes on. Nothing much changes then either. Fucking hell Pool. C'mon. These are shite. Pull your fingers out for fuck's sake!!

We have something resembling an attacking move. Robson hacks it way over the bar at the end. It's something. 

We have a penalty shout when Lavery chases one down and their lad slides in and the ball, for all the world looks to hit his hand. Needless to say, it's not given and even if it had been, we'd probably have knocked it square and then backwards anyway. 

Matty Virtue comes on for the first time since Oxford away last year. This couldn't be a more different performance than that. Things change a little bit. Virtue finally provides a midfield presence prepared to do something other than stand in front of the defence. He leave his mark on one of their players and then walks away, his angelic choirboy air conveying innocence. He also (and get this!) runs forward with the ball a few times and is prepared to get beyond the strikers. Wow! Who knew midfielders were allowed to do such a thing. 

Connolly is clattered but the ball breaks to Bowler. Play on, advantage. Bowler shimmies and is hacked down right on the edge of the box. It's an even better free kick now. Keshi stands over it. This is the moment. He hits it well and for a split second I believe, but it glides over and the excitement dies. 

We chuck Marvin forward. We bombard the box. Iverson just catches everything. Bowler has a run from their half. They just hack him down. We bombard the box again. Iverson makes it look easy. 

The whistle goes. 


It's hard to escape the conclusion that that was, to put it in technical football language, 'a bit crap' - the midfield was woeful and the end of the game, with Keshi dribbling aimlessly to nowhere kind of summed it up. 

Players seemed more interested in throwing their arms up at fouls not given or a pass not made than really focussing on what was happening. We really never had a spell of pressure or anything really constituting a chance. 

Our set pieces were fucking awful. I don't know where Charlie Kirk is, but I'm suspecting the rest of the lads have locked him in a cupboard for embarrassing them by being able to cross a ball over the head of the man at the front post. 

All night, we seemed static. In the last few minutes, there was a glimpse of what movement could do, but that was movement that was lacking from the rest of the game. Preston weren't even any good either. That's the frustrating thing. 

Spending 25 minutes outside Deepdale after spending 10 minutes inside Deepdale 'for my own safety' hasn't really lightened the mood either. Frankly, I'd rather take my chances with the Preston massive than have police horses walking at me in a confined space between two busses for no reason at all but there we go. 

At least the walk back allowed me to see some more highlights of Lancashire's administrative capital... 

Preston is home to some of Britain's most thought provoking street art. This piece "Pile of shit in a corner" speaks of contemporary capitalism, decaying social fabric and the artist's battle with self image.

This fine property could be yours!

Preston's retail facilities are only the most modern and up to date!

Marvin was good. Keogh was fine. Virtue did ok. We were pretty crap though. Ultimately, it's 2-1 for the season and they play Kylie so when all is said and done, we are superior and that's an undisputable fact that I've just proved with maths and science. 


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Yet another bad owner. Where do they breed them?

This is Brooks Mileson. He owned Gretna FC. If you don't know who he is or what the score is with Gretna, it might be worth giving it ...