Football Blog: Tangerine Flavoured

Saturday, October 22, 2022

'Then he said to me...' - the Mighty vs Preston North End

I'll level with you. I'm worried about this one. It's only October but it feels as if this is a game loaded with meaning. We've been good this year, we've been bad this year. We've not found any sort of consistency. We've suffered with injuries, we've not done especially well in the market and every time it feels like things are coming together, it feels as if they fall apart again. 

For me personally, Appleton needs time to do what he's trying to do. Turning us from a safety first, hit on the break side reliant on individuals to an attacking force that can score in multiple different way isn't easy. Doing it at the football equivalent of poundland makes it a harder job still. I'm all for patience, but Wednesday was woeful. It was as poor as anything I've seen in a long time. Whenever we lose, people say that, but I try not to get carried away. I couldn't help it though, because it was dire. It's unthinkable that we play like that today, but it's an unfortunate possibility seen as we're a squad held together with spit and bits of chewing gum.

I watch the hightlights of last year on Twitter. Anderson, Wintle, Bowler, Keogh all feature. All of them out or gone. All good players. I don't want to be that prick who tries to set the narrative for a game like they're an unpaid Sky presenter bigging up the tension to try and hook the neutrals, but it just feels as if this could be definitive in terms of how we go forward. We're seesawing between accepting what we are, what we're doing and who manages us and kicking against it and today will have a big bearing on that. I just hope we turn up. Please turn up. Please. 

Wow. He's chucked in CJ. C'mon CJ. Prove us wrong. 


The game is on. The ground is humming. We breathe in the sea air... C'mon POOL!!!! An early foul on CJ. It's a booking for sure. It's, of course, not a booking. Lets not start with this. I've had enough of refs. Jerry, Hubby and Gaz combine to try and recreate the wonder goal from last year. I can't hear if Jerry calls 'megs' again, but anyhow, the ball ends up sliced wide. 

We're doing ok. We've turned up at least. Jerry and CJ have a couple of forays. We win a corner. The noise is superb. 

Madine gets pulled up for a handball. 30 seconds later there's a clear duplicate by one of them but the ref plays on. The 'orrible Potts gets in a near post effort from the move that's allowed to build. Then they manage to overwhelm Husband on the left, he's in a no win situation - he can't commit to either player bearing down on him but he has to choose one. He shadows, Woodburn shoots. Maxwell holds. I could not have dealt with Woodburn scoring. At least Potts is half decent. 

The game is swinging to them. There's another effort wide and very little from us. CJ isn't getting clear anymore. It's intense. Bridcutt is getting treatment. Why is it always like this? The new Kevin Stewart is helped off to go and join the old Kevin Stewart on the treatment table. On comes Carey. C'MON SONNY!!! 


The air is thick with joy. My hands are tingling with energy. It's like I'm connected to an electric current that runs through me and everyone around me... Preston get battered. Everywhere they go. Everywhere they go. One. Two. Three. Four. 

We immediately get pinned back. No one flinches. The sound swirls around. Wednesday, you could hear the players and the grumbling of the crowd was interspersed with thuds of the ball being kicked, today, you can't hear the person next to you let alone anything on the pitch. A couple of saves. That Riis lad who is quite good has a chance. We're ok. C'mon... A corner... C'mon. Hold this to half time Pool. Hold it. They're in on the right. Marvin gets across but is shrugged off, the lad is round him. Oh, fucking hell. You can see it coming. It's like Sheffield Utd again. He's all wrong side and wallowing in the wake of someone... I know it's a penalty 3 seconds before Marvin makes his mind up to slide. He should have slid earlier. He should have done anything but what he did. It's a stonewall spot kick and I'm not even sure the lad was at a particularly good angle to score. Kenny Dougall has a word with Marvin. I guess it's along the lines of 'shit happens Marv. Head up' 

Narrative dictates that Maxwell saves this. Narrative dictates that the ex nobber who at least half the ground think shouldn't be starting when Grimmy is sat on the bench will be the hero... 

He doesn't save it. He goes the right way, but too far, diving past it, a hand thrown up in vain. Close, but no cigar. 

The horrible tinny sound of away fans cheering. The noise flags for the first time from us.  

We're rattled. We try to play it out from the back. The effort is horrible. Maxwell has to launch it under self inflicted pressure. We can't get out. They have a corner. They have the initiative. A wild CJ miss is all we muster before the whistle goes.


We looked good for a while, but I don't like the way they came into it and took control. They've knocked us off our stride and whilst it's level, it feels like we need to get back into this and put some pressure on as much as anything to take the pressure off. 


C'mon! Into them!

The desired change in momentum doesn't manifest itself. They force more corners. They create more half chances. We're chasing about. I think we miss Bridcutt. Mind you, we've been missing Kev for months, so it's only the same thing really. It's not like we're playing horribly badly and it's not like they're ripping us to bits, it's just that they're the ones deciding what happens and doing so at their pace. Madine has a bit of an exchange with someone in the crowd. It's getting edgy this... 

We finally get a bit on the right. Carey slips one of the greatest passes I've ever seen, sort of a toes poke- come-lofted wedge that spins and holds up perfectly. It's wonderful. The resulting ball in takes (I think) a deflection and then drops for Jimmy who takes a touches and then drives a rising effort inches wide. That gets us going again. He did something similar at Wembley, a moment that won't show on the highlights where he set up Demi Mitchell with a thumping tackle whilst were under the cosh. The game pivoted on that moment. Like then, everything turns on Jimmy Husband showing the way. He's ever unsung and yet, somehow, I think that's the way it should be. 

Carey. He ghosts inside his man. He finds a space that didn't seem to exist. His man is spinning in his wake, he makes beating him look like he's shrugged him into a revolving door... He's through with the ball. He looks up, he's sizing up an effort but now he's just laid it off and here's Patino... OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! YES! 

Patino has found the bottom corner, shifting his feet and hitting it so sweetly that it might as well have been a blow dart delivered by an Amazonian warrier. Carey made it. Patino took his moment perfectly. 

The ground is absolutely rocking. CHARLIE PAT-I-NO... HE KNEW THE PLACE TO GO... The team is on fire. Carey is sensational. Madine is winning the ball. Jerry is dancing and coming deep, peeling off and going wide, tucking in. Dougall is snapping into everything. 

Sonny hits another outrageous pass. This one is clipped wide and I have no idea how he saw it was on. I have loved this kid since I first saw him in preseason 16 months ago and he just looked to have something. Today, he's magical. In the whirlwind of midfield, he takes the ball. He touches it off one foot to the other and makes a space like he's moving dark matter, playing with the fabric of time and reality then sets off like an early victorian locomotive, bustling, legs and arms going like pistons, all the way, go on! all the way Sonny!!! I love how he's daring and direct... he lays off beautifully... a little later, the ball comes to him on the bounce, he hits over the top of it and it fizzes just over. He's bustling, he's fighting, he's buzzing. He's fucking fabulous and... he's ours. 

Dougall drives from the edge of the box. It's saved low. C'mon!!! 

Hang on. Jud is down. We don't need this. 'Williams' I say to the fella next to me in a portentous tone. 'Fucking hell, we don't need that' he replies, confirming what most of us feel. I can't do Sheffield United again. I can't. I can't handle that. We've been superb for 20 minutes but we're only one ahead. We cannot fall to bits. We really can't. 

Hamilton. A little diagonal inside. Patino, oh... YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! Jerry has got accross his man and headed into the roof of the net. The little fucking diamond. He's moved and moved and moved today and there he was. Head shot. Bang. Camouflaged and rising up out of the darkness to hit his target. THey never even saw him coming... YES! 

Breathe. We've got this. We've got it. Madine goes shoulder to shoulder for a long ball. Their lad bounces off him about five yards, sprawling on the turf. Do. Not. Fuck. With. Gaz.  He takes the ball down, kills it stone dead and spreads play. What a touch. We've got this. We've really got it. Preston get battered. Everywhere they go... 

Now Husband is down. He's limping off. It's cramp or a calf or a hamstring or something. On comes Thommo. Why is our defence falling to bits like an ill designed rocket reentering the atmosphere, breaking up at the crucial point having done so much of the journey? We get to Mars, we set up the base and then we're going to burn up on the last leg with home in sight? No. I'm not having it. I will not fucking have this. 

Thommo heads away. It's ok. We've got it. We've got it. 

Have we though? A ball in from wide and there's a scramble and suddenly they're wheeling away, grabbing the ball out of the net and running back. Oh, fuck me. WHY IS IT ALWAYS LIKE THIS? WHY DO WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS? 

My hands are tingling again but it's not a good thing this time. At least we've not got 9 on the pitch. Williams does well, he hacks the ball pretty much into the petrol station in the gap between the North and East A real nobber wouldn't have done that. 

A corner to them. I'm struggling. I really am. Everyone goes up. Usually, I love a keeper going up but that would break me. I'm envisaging scenes of mayhem as they run on the pitch, their keeper running away arms aloft, our players on their haunches, that horrible feeling of deflation. That's what happens in the game in my head but in the game on the pitch, the ball is in. A flick. A clearance not made. They have it again, Jerry grabs it though, Jerry pokes it away, he's running like he's on the edge of his limits, a kind of waddling sprint, racing to it with Woodman, leaping, winning it and it's wide. CJ is charging, Jerry is pointing, CJ has his head down. Shoot! FUCKING HELL CJ! SHOOT! He shoots, it's going wide. FUCK'S SAKE CJ... It's not going wide, it's curling in I think. It is! It's going in! YES! FUCKING HELL CJ FUCKING HAMILTON HOW YOU DESERVE THAT YOU BEAUTIFUL FUCKING FREAK OF A FOOTBALLER I FUCKING LOVE YOU! I AM SORRY!!! YESSSSSSS! 

GET IN!! YESSSSS! I think I might have perforated my lad's ear drum when we got that. He'll be reet. It's character forming. 



And breathe. And then he said to me! I fucking hate PNE! 

Breathe again. Charlie Patino... He knew the place to go! 

On the way back, I see an angrily swaggering PNE kid who gets headbutted by a horse in Lidl carpark. It's not a dignified moment... 


Before the game, I just wanted us to turn up. We turned up. If I'm honest, PNE turned up too. They were pretty good for long periods of the game. I can see why they've done ok this year. They looked a world better than this time a year ago and I think if they'd been more determined to turn the screw on us either side of half time, we'd have been in trouble. They controlled the game without creating a weight of good chances. I guess that's more or less what they do. 

We did what I worried we couldn't do - finding a way through a resolute and well organised side. Our best displays have been against more free flowing, open sides and PNE aren't that. Our worst have been against sides that do what they do, start with solidity first and then try and break from that base. 

Carey was magnificent, Patino was glorious and he coped incredibly with the moment and the expectation for a kid, Jerry, I honestly think I can't say anything else about him. Last year, I thought he was a bit maligned by fans and manager alike. He got 10 goal involvements and that equalled anyone else - it wasn't a shit season as some might have it but this year... Wow! It's mid October and he's equalled his own tally already. 8 goals, 2 assists and he's not even up front. 

Appleton deserves praise for realising what he is - a player who thrives on playing. A lad who will just keep going until it comes right and who, in team that create chances will eventually find the form to take them. Husband was steady and steely and deserves a shout for coming in off an injury and giving his all. Madine ran for 90 minutes and seen as he's reportedly carrying two injuries, he was an absolute warrior. Dougall did a lot of graft, a lot of unheralded work that let Carey and Patino find the space. CJ ran and scared the shit out the PNE defence. He won headers, he showed for the ball, he put a lot of pressure on and I could not be happier for him, taking that moment as he did. He had a lot of pressure on him today and I think that goal will do him a lot of good. It did me a lot of good. 

Another classic. We may be up and down, we may be shit sometimes, but when we're good, we're fucking amazing. I'll take this over grinding it out every week any day. If we ever find that consistency, we'll be unreal. Who cares about anything else though. What. A. Day. 



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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

I've enjoyed myself more... - the Mighty vs Hull City

Fuck me, I really be arsed with this tonight. To be honest, I was hoping I'd get home and the blog would have written itself. It wouldn't be that hard to programme an AI to do it. All you have to do is say a thing is like another thing a few times, swear and add YESSSS! when a good thing happens and 'fuck's sake Pool or some ellipses to suggest the mute sound of frustration and despair when a bad thing happens and yer away. It's a MCLF generator and you've got yer very own pointless blog. You'll not be rich in no time at all. 

Gary Madine on a fruit machine: A vain attempt to inject some frivolity into a depressing experience. 

Pfffffffffffffft. Lets do this. 

I like a night match. I like the way the floodlights make the night more 'nighty' - look out from the stands and the black is blacker than it was when you walked up to the ground. I love the way from outside, the ground has a halo of light around it. I love the fact people get there a bit later so there's a kind of sudden scrabble to get to your seats and the atmosphere comes on in a rush because Saturdays allow you to anticipate more, whereas a midweek game has to fit around work and all the rest of it and you don't really think about it till you're actually almost there. 

That's the positive bit out of the way. 


C'mon. Stay with me.

Theo does a good thing early on. Patino takes a corner. It is a good corner. Madine heads not too far over. It's not a bad header. Hurray! We are footballing wizards. They are shite and we're definitely going to batter them. Callum Wright skins someone. Ole! We're knocking it about crisply and cleanly. 

The general mood is calm. Sedate. Appreciative. These are our heroes, fresh from heroic deeds in darkest Yorkshire. We love you Blackpool we do. We're going to purr and applaud now we're good again... 

The general mood is now getting a bit flat. We've moved it about fairly nicely but very little has happened as a result. Gary Madine is running quite a lot. Not very quickly mind, but quite a lot by Gary standards. Not much else appears to be going on. I have a look at the clock. 


How? Hull are complete wank. They just seem to knock it out of play and run into us and then all run back. I hope we can hurry up and score then they have to do something different cos this game is shite. Our initial crisp, fresh approach is getting a little frustrated. Creases are starting to show in our passing you might say. 

Hull have an attack. An actual attack! I'm so convinced they're utter shit that I'm not even worried. There's some kind of scramble in the box. We clear. There's a second or so where we're jubilant as the Hull fans clearly thought they'd scored and they hadn't. C'mon Pool... 

A whistle punctures the complacency. A roar from the few hundred who've come from Big Fleetwood. Fuck's sake. I have no idea what went on there but now we're fucked. It's the reverse of Huddersfield away. They don't even have to run into us and be shit at attacking any more. They can just stay behind the ball. 

We then manage about 5 minutes of vaguely decent football that culminates in a nice ball by the Mountie that at first seems too deep, but is actually perfect for the late run of Kenny 'can't stop him scoring' Dougall who finishes really well, slamming the ball into a pleasingly taut net and putting everything right again. 

We obviously just needed a kick up the arse! Things will get better from here on in. We're a momentum team, get one, we'll get three and they're not scoring three in a month of Sundays. I'd bet my house on it. 

I'm honestly struggling now not to say 'what happens next is we are complete wank for the next hour' because that would spoil the narrative. I could say 'the highlights of the rest of the game are Gary Madine doing a bad slide tackle and Gary Madine getting pissed off that no one seems arsed about pressing. I could mention about when Jimmy Husband comes on with an austerity haircut, obviously calculated to save him money on 'product' being the other talking point in a sea of sewage but that would mean you wouldn't be eagerly reading on, to find out what happened next. 

I could say 'watching our defence tonight was like watching one of those ill conceived projects where a shit band gets the holographic image of someone dead to sing alongside them and it always looks shit - the ghost of Luke Garbutt doesn't add an awful lot to living souls who make up the rest of the back 4' - I could say that 'Williams looks like a cross between a hopeful horse who has found himself in field with the gate open and run through into a place he's never been before so is just cantering about looking confused and not sure how to find his way back.' 

I could bemoan the fact that it's fucking blindingly obvious we need to move the ball quicker but that every time we try to pass it first time, the effect is so utterly horrible that I understand why we all take two touches and then turn around and fall over as a way of mitigating against the agony that ensues when we try owt else. 

I could cite the lack of squad depth that means the subs actively make our performance worse, which is a bit like saying 'then the Ed Sheeran record finshed and a Stock Aitken and Waterman megamix came on next' I could describe how that I'm so unconvinced that we'll score that even when we attack, I'm just slumped on the back of the seat awaiting the inevitable moment when Theo spins around and skilfully takes the ball out of play with him or we spoon a looping long ball to Jerry like we genuinely think he might have suddenly grown 5 inches since he last touched it. 

I could say, even Patino can't pass the ball tonight. 

I could wonder how we end up with CJ at left back and Jimmy, looking like a yr 8 kid whose mum dragged him to the barbers playing on the wrong side of defence. 

I could say that, to be honest, inhaling fumes from burning plastic whilst having my gums lacerated with a rusty scalpel by a dentist with halitosis in a pit of scorpions, listening to Ian Chisnall slowly read erotic literature would be more fun than most of this game. And none of that is fun. Just in case you think Chissy reading erotica turns me on. It doesn't. It's a fucking metaphor. Imagine him pompously saying kinky stuff. It's horrendous. You'll never feel sexy again. I've ruined your life. 

I'll just say... They scored again in the first half when we all ran to their player like we were in the playground or, as they lad behind me put quite eloquently 'Is their lad magnetic or something, why did we all go to him at once' - the Hull player just then passed it square to another Hull player who had about 20 seconds to line up a shot and twatted it in. 

I'll just say we were even more shite in the second half. Nothing happened other than Connolly had a shot from our one half decent move. They scored a third when everyone except Thorniley just gave up and even though Jud made a very good block, no one else was arsed after Jud did that and it looped in via deflection. 

Maxwell having a row with a lad in the stand was the most engaging thing that happened in the rest of the game. We managed to summon absolutely no real pressure at all. Hull looked quite astonished that they were actually any good and even though their entire tactics were to fall over and pretend to be dead for ages, despite that spectacular lack of ambition, they still managed to have chances to score more goals, which is some feat by us to make a side who aren't actually trying to score goals, look like they're going to score goals. 

Why the fuck I stayed to the end I don't know. 

The whistle was like the mercy of an overdose of morphine in the midst of agonising pain. 


Everyone was shit. 

It's mad how football turns. On Saturday,  I couldn't have asked for more from the team. It was electric. It was fierce, it was brave. The ground was a cauldron. 

Tonight was rank. Shit football in a half empty ground. I was convinced that we'd turn what we'd done against Sheffield to our favour. I was convinced that the injustice would fire us and we'd be everything we can be but we just looked flat, tired, languid. 

I know I take the piss with my Madine stuff. I know he's not really the answer to all life's problems*, but honestly, when Madine looks the most 'up for it' in terms of pressing, you've got a problem somewhere. It's like trying to use a tank to do a police chase. I can forgive Jerry for looking knackered. I can forgive Patino for being a kid and fuck it, I can forgive them all if they come out on Saturday and do anything but that. Hull came to spoil and we just let them spoil. We so rarely tried anything and when we did it was a predictable thoughtless run or a long ball that we made a half hearted attempt for. Someone near me said 'the 50/50s aren't going for us' but we seemed to make them into 30/70s by just not having the buzz, snap, aggression that we need. 

We missed Lavery. We certainly missed the good Lavery from Saturday, bu we even missed the shit version of Lavery who crosses it into the stands and falls over instead of scoring because no one (apart from the tragicomic efforts of wor Gaz's determination be a one man pressing machine) put them under the sort of pressure that Lavery does after about the 8th minute. 

It was one to forget. It happens sometimes. We win, we're champions elect, we lose, everyone deserves pushing out of the airlock and we're stupidly emotional about a game that cannot be relied upon to serve up what we want from it. That's why it's good. Football is up and down. It was dire but Saturday is another day and we cannot contemplate playing like that again cos that would be horrific. 

*To be fair, given that my drive home was the radio banging on about democracy falling to bits and shenanigans in Parliament and all that, I would say Gaz Maz as PM would be good craic. He'd just look surly, shrug a lot and say 'I dunno' to the big questions and talk about aliens and expensive leisurewear but such is the shambles, I think it would probably be a step up. To be honest, now I think about it a bit more, I think Richard Keogh (oh, how I miss him) would probably be a half decent PM cos he'd do some quite eloquent talking and be honest about stuff and probably be quite likable and I reckon, at the moment, a random person who was vaguely human and tried hard would be preferable to the whole of the political class. Which is an off topic observation, but frankly, I don't give a fuck cos I've nothing left to say*** and the whole blogging experience has left me feeling a bit hollow tonight** 

**that's not your fault though, if you've made it this far, then I appreciate it and it's genuinely above and beyond and you can, at least know you're not one of those glory readers who only reads when we're winning. 

*** Actually I have thought of something else to say, which is this - I know the FA**** don't really take our appeals seriously, but we've got pretty good grounds to appeal on the basis that 'you're getting mauled by the tigers' thing where they claw the air and sing that is fucking dreadful and they deserve the points taken off them for that. 

**** You might wonder why I've not bothered discussing the ref but I literally can't be arsed anymore. They're all shite and he was shite, but we were worse, so there we are***** 

***** It really is over now. The end. We will be better on Saturday. A lot better. A world better. We'd better had be. 


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Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Poor little Liverpool?

No Jurgen, it isn't. 

I want to start this article by saying the following. I think Jurgen Klopp is the best manager in the Premier League. Despite the fact he often resembles an angry man that work on a fishing boat who has had a cosmetic makeover as part of a TV series and I think he'd probably be the kind of man who would pick up your kids and carry them about without asking you first, I genuinely admire his work (irritating as fuck as it is to say that.) I admire the fact that he's achieved things at clubs who aren't already winning stuff and outside of Mourinho, (who is a fucking legend for his ability to say mad stuff, purely to wind people up,) he's probably the only one of the elite managers I'd cross the road to hear speaking. I like him a lot more than I like sulky Pep. 

What I want to say though, is that the carping about the financial might of other clubs is difficult to stomach. It's what's to be expected as obviously, he's going to see things from his team's point of view and on a surface level, what he has to say is true. Liverpool are being left behind by the ability of nation states to spend and write off that spending in their accounts against dicey deals with minimal censure but when the massed ranks of 'this means more' #YNWA types flock behind their manager and holler about unfairness and appeal to someone to change things, my heart doesn't really bleed for them... 

As a fan of a club who have spent very little time at the top table in recent years (though, it has to be said, 1 year longer than some others) a team like Liverpool pointing out that it's unfair because other teams have more money to spend seems, well, a little, tiny bit weird.

It seems particularly weird when that man manages one of the clubs who were the architects of the system we now all live in and when that club also were one of a small number of clubs who also wanted to set up the genius idea of the Super League, a plan which would have ensured a club like mine (and likely the clubs of 90+% of the active fans in the country) were forever locked out of the bank of football. 

Liverpool have been a 'big name' since the 70s for sure, but in terms of outright financial might, their strength has grown immeasurably over a period where they went an awful long time without actually winning the league. The EPL has been good to them. 

There's no question that the money surrounding Man City and Newcastle is 'a bit dodgy if you think about it' but the idea that Man City and Newcastle are 'cheating' is an interesting concept to muse upon... 

Firstly, we have to wonder 'why would anyone want to sink so much money into a football club anyway?

1: The league that Liverpool helped set up has been extremely successful. It is the default global stage for football. The fact that people in far off countries see it as the ideal place to wash their money clean and buy a new reputation is exactly what the Premier League was set up for - monetising and marketing a brand - The EPL was about kicking away the restrictive shackles of 'old football thinking' and seizing an opportunity to run the game differently, according to financial, rather than sporting principles - it's a *bit rich* (pun intended) when one of the architects of that project is now moaning that money is ruining the game... 

2: The Premier Leagues' financial structures have been very successful in ensuring that really, (barring that one time Leicester's plucky outsider foreign billionaire owners broke the mould,) that it takes a nation state to challenge the elite. Without question, we've seen a few clubs dominate the top positions. Yes, the league is probably, over time, more competitive than other comparable leagues, but that competition has largely been between 4 to 6 clubs and far, far, far more often than not it's been Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Man City and a bit of Spurs who have claimed the top 4 spots. 

This is a country full of 'big' football clubs. Teams that attract huge followings and have a history of glory and trophies but outside of the 'big 6' only Leeds, Newcastle, Blackburn, Leicester and Everton have ever qualified for the Champions League. The Big six has qualified 88 times, the rest only 8 times and of those 8 times, only 1 time since 2005 (Leicester) 

Hi - I'm Randy Lerner - you may remember me from such programmes as 'When people aren't quite rich enough to compete, despite being richer than 99.99% of people can conceptualise vol 3' 

Looking at a football landscape like that, it's not really hard to see why it takes a nation state to challenge the success of the clubs at the top. For the last 18 years, the considerable additional wealth, sponsorship opportunities and global reach that comes with qualifying for Europe has been essentially boxed off by a small number of clubs. Unsurprisingly, this then gives those same teams an advantage domestically, as they can attract better players, pay more wages and then likely, qualify again for the competition and repeat the cycle. Yes, the top 6 is competitive, but it's a hell of a lot easier to qualify from a group of 6 with 4 places available than it is to qualify from a group of 20 when starting somewhat behind the rest... 

I think the point I am ultimately making is this - the Premier League is not a 'fair' concept and neither is the Champion's League. The structure of the Premier League has made it virtually impossible for the established brands to be challenged by outsiders from the division below. A club like Derby or Forest, Watford, Wimbledon or West Ham (all clubs that came from periods in the old 2nd division or lower to unseat or run Liverpool close in the 1970s or 1980s) would find it all but impossible to challenge the decades of financial advantage that Liverpool and their fellow elite clubs have enjoyed. 

A club like Aston Villa or Everton (who also unseated Liverpool at various points during their dominance) have palpably found it almost impossible to break into the elite, despite throwing sums of money at it which has threatened to break their clubs in various ways. Whenever I engage Liverpool fans on this, most of them just froth about Man City and seem to have little or no thought for the way their club outspends and outranks more or less everyone else. I don't deny that Liverpool are at a disadvantage compared to 1 or 2 other teams. What I find bizarre is that they don't seem to realise that they're a million times better off than most of the rest. 

'I suddenly don't care too much for money'

They'll rightly respond 'why should we be satisfied with being 'the best of the rest?' ' - which is deeply instructive because, essentially, this is the fate of just about every one of the 86 (and more) professional football clubs outside of the 'big 6' and a state of play we've put up with for a hell of a long time now.

I think, ultimately, what a Liverpool fan has to accept, is, if you expect anyone to give a fuck about your circumstance and whether you are being dealt a hand that is unfair (which, ultimately, I think you probably are), you have to give a fuck about the rest of us and accept that yours is one of the boots on our fingers as our clubs try to claw their way up a cliff edge that has got ever steeper by the year.

I don't really expect Klopp to have an encyclopedic knowledge of what happened in English football 4 or 5 decades ago. He's an intelligent, erudite and often interesting man but there is a considerable context here that we should be considering when weighing up the merits of his latest statement.  

What is happening to his club is that they are reaping a circumstance they, themselves, helped to design and create - a league that is ultimately constituted in a way that puts sporting competition second to financial considerations is never going to be able to turn away the multi-billions offered by nation states and frankly, had Liverpool and their fellow travellers wanted the game governed according to fair financial rules that fostered a competitive landscape, there's been ample opportunity for them to say so before now. 

This might seem like a load of old outdated things thrown out in spite according to some kind of anti-Liverpool agenda, but it's really part of a larger point. I do genuinely think Klopp is the best manager in the League (or at least, the best of the elite managers) and I think if football was built around competition then, what would probably happen is a team managed by Klopp would probably do very well indeed. If that team was Liverpool, then, yes, they'd probably win more titles than they have now because he's proven over his career that he can build teams with more than money. 

When we've reached a point where even the club who are possibly the ultimate 'brand' in English football are dissatisfied with the competitive governance of the game, it's probably time we had a decent debate about it... 

Lol, keep waving and smiling. It's a piece of piss. We just call it 'sponsorship' and no one does anything cos the whole thing was set up in the first place as a money grab and anyway, the game is run by the clubs and they just act out of self interest and all the fans do is bicker. It's hilarious. Keep clapping lads. 

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Saturday, October 15, 2022

Pride, heartbreak and so much more - Sheffield Utd vs the Mighty

Disclaimer: I've never made any claims about this blog in relation to accuracy. I blog what I remember and what I experience. I think I usually manage to capture at least a loose impression of the game as it actually was. Today... Well... Fuck knows what even happened, so who knows how accurate this will turn out to be. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll even get to the end in one piece... You can read the live text or some lads with laptops at the game if it's facts you crave...

I like Sheffield. I like kestrels a lot too. There's one on the motorway verge near the Barnsley turn off. I wonder if it's related to Kes from off of Kes? I called Jerry Yates a hoverfly the other day. I've decided he's now more like a Kestrel. Graceful, lithe, lightweight but sharp, incisive and deadly. Kestrels are beautiful things. So is Jerry on form. 

I like Bramhall Lane. It's a glorious old arena, hemmed in by Victorian stuff. From the outside, it's all weird angles and lines of coppers but once you get inside, it's like walking through a portal into a different world. The pitch is perfect, the stands are steep and the outside world shut out almost completely. You can build a hundred Etihad stadiums, but you'd never manage to recreate the feeling of a ground that seems to have always been there that has been rebuilt around the shape of the things around it. 

The pre match is mad blend of portentous synthesised pomp, a full on Ibeza rave, that shitty chip butty song and the most chirpy matchday announcer ever whose South Yorkshire accent keeps going mid Atlantic radio DJ as he exhorts the oddly subdued Blades fans to back the team. 


We're off. In no time at all Sheffield United score. Except they don't cos it's offside. HAAAAAAAA! C'mon Pool, lets get going! Dom Thompson seems to have put his boots on the wrong feet again this week though as he gives the ball away inexplicably and then the Blades slice us open (honestly, I should be working for a tabloid, not doing this shit for free with material like that,) slip a ball across and score. It was very easy. 

We sort of get going. Lavery is looking very waspish today and he's our main threat giving his full back a torrid time. A ball is pinged from the right. Madine meets it and whistles it over. A deep cross, Madine again at the far post. It's smuggled behind. 

We're doing ok but I think I've spotted the main issue. I think Bridcutt has put on one of his boots and one of Dom's and vice versa. We're prone to giving the ball away but we're also winning it back well and if we weren't a goal down, I'd say we're matching them. 

They score again, a corner, some interplay and well, they just score. Fuck this. We're done. I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed. You look forward to this all week and then twenty odd minutes in and it's over already. I decide that if it turns out to be the hammering it looks like it could be then it will be character forming for my lad and at least now, I don't have to hope anymore. Someone angrily shouts 'Appleton, this is on you, you cunt' as they disappear to the concourse, only to reappear even more furious as they're 'not fucking serving pints till half time.' That's probably Micky Apple's fault too to be fair.  

I have no idea what happens in the period between that and when we loop a deep ball to the far post and Jerry springs, arcing a header back across goal and... fuck me, into the net! YES! I hadn't even got excited until it dropped in the goal. I was in one of those weird troughs of thought you get sometimes at a game you've given up on where you just wonder about nothing much and time passes and everything seems essentially pointless and you wonder why you are here at all but then suddenly we're alive again and I'm right here, right now. 

Madine with good hold up play. It's shuffled on, then to Lavery. What a genius touch, spin and run from the wasp, stretching a leg, reacting as as if he's lost the ball, then flipping the situation on its head to be streaming into the box... He's got his head up... this is where it usually goes wrong... Not this time, he's launched the perfect ball, Yates is in space, Yates is falling away, the ball is arrowing home and YESSS! That was a perfect finish. Absolutely sublime football. Jerry Yates. He's hangs, he hovers, he pounces. Sniper, kestrel, guide to the afterlife, Blackpool's no 9. 



Football is weird in that had we gone in 0-0 it would have been essentially the same outcome, but I'm elated at half time. We've done ok and aside from the fact we conceded two goals and Maxwell made a good stop, we've probably had the better of the play. 


IF I was elated before halftime, I'm soon in dreamland. More neat hold up play from Gary 'late run at the World Cup Squad as there's no point taking Yates (who obviously deserves to be on the plane) without also taking his mate too' Madine gives Patino a bit of space. Patino slips the ball through and a clumsy slide deflects it to Kenny 'Wembley' Dougall. Dougall hasn't looked at his best in front of goal this year (in fact, probably since Wembley) but he slips the ball under the keeper with a weird but effective finish that involves him falling over and we're unbelievably 3-2 up! 

3-2 up and you fucked it up!!! 

I'm worried we've scored too early. That's the mental logic of football. The pressure will come though. Surely. It doesn't take long. Maxwell makes a terrific stop from Sharp, flinging himself across the goal, the rebound striking one of them and rolling out for a goal kick. 

The pressure doesn't mount immediately though. We're doing ok. In fact, we're looking pretty good. Yates... go on Jerry... Go on... He lays off. Patino!!! Oooooh. Close. We're doing better than ok. In fact, we look every bit as good as and then some as the top of the league. Tackles are flying in. Marvin leaves a nasty challenge on one of them but the play goes on. Advantage. It comes to nothing. The ref books him about 3 minutes after the tackle. One of them has a really horrible scythe at Yates. Another booking. They clatter us twice on the same breakaway. More bookings. 

Bridcutt (who has played really well despite giving the ball away a bit early on) goes down in the box. The entire away end and all of our player implore the referee to look. The linesman is looking and doing fuck all. It's a head injury, but they don't count if it's us seemingly. 

The game continues in this vein. It is getting, to use a cliche, a little spicy. They are quick. They send on quicker players. We block. We harry. They switch the play. They can't quite put it together though. I keep checking the time, but where the time should be on the big screen is only adverts so I've no idea how long there is to go. They have an outrageously good move that is thwarted by a block so heroic that two separate and different Thorniley chants start up at the same time. 

They win some corners. Maxwell gathers some crosses. We continue to hustle and disrupt. A little space opens up for Patino. He switches the most gorgeous ball to the right wing when the whole ground was looking left. Lavery can't quite get round the man who has to fly back. Patino again, Yates free on the left but Charlie slides it for Madine instead who tries to barrel his way through in a way that was never going to work... 

The Blades suddenly have the run on us. Ekpiteta is wallowing, he's in their lads wake. He's sliding and from the moment he commits, it's plain that he's, for once, really mistimed the slide tackle and there is only one thing that's going to happen next. Yellow. Red. Fucking hell. I was enjoying this. 

The free kick in... Jesus Christ that was close. The side netting is nearly burst by a near post shot that is mercifully inches the wrong (right) side of the post. The charming home support in the stand next to us think it's in. We celebrate their mistake mercilessly. 

Strap in. This is going to be a bumpy ride. We're getting Williams ready. Thommo is shadowing the ball out of play, protecting it with his body. Some lad for them shoulder barges him, entirely on purpose into the advertising hoardings. He hits them so hard, they break apart. He gets up and kicks the ball. It hits the United player. Thommo walks away. The Blades player runs over and grabs him.  Thommo just shakes him off. The ref comes and rather than deal with the dual assault from their lad, sends Thommo off for kicking the ball. It makes no sense. Marvin's was fair enough but this, I am absolutely baffled about. Incredulous. I have no words. It is bizarre. Maxwell screams at the linesman to do his job. He was right in front of it. So was I. It was Thommo who was attacked. Twice. Maxwell points to his head. It's no use. The linesman stares, impassively, a shit blue shirted flag holder with no mind of his own. Why do referees use a shade of blue that exists nowhere else in the world? I digress.

This is going to be horrific. How long? For once, the clock is visible. 8 minutes. That's just about doable. Maybe. 

Finally Williams comes on. So does CJ. I think Jerry is playing left back. No one is up front. I feel sick. 

What happens next? C'mon POOL!!! Maxwell immediately tips one over. It's as good as a goal. At some point between Marvin being sent off and the end of the game, they have a goal disallowed. It's probably better than a goal.

The ref then decides, after sending Thommo off that he might as well give them a penalty that has absolutely no basis in reality. I can't see why he's given it. I can't even explain anything about it. They crossed it and didn't score, so the ref just gave them a penalty. What is this game? I feel genuinely ill. I feel light headed. They take it. YESSSS FUCK YOU! THEY MISSED!!! The ball cracks off the outside of the post. It's better than two goals. 

C'MON POOL. The minutes tick down. "Ladies and gentlemen, the fourth official is indicating 8 minutes/as long as it takes for the home team to score..." 

I can't do this. I actually think about just walking out and lying in the street outside with my eyes closed. They just keep coming. Jerry gets a heroic toe on the ball. He can barely run. They keep coming. Maxwell makes another great stop. They keep coming. Patino scuffs it away. I feel like my eyes are going to fall out Williams heads it away. Corner. An incredible stop, Maxwell, on his knees, kind of flipping the ball up and away. I am possibly going to pass out. Another corner. Surely time is up? In. Away. Out again. Corner. HOW LONG ARE WE PLAYING??? 

C'mon... Corner. In. Maxwell is barged at the near post. Ref??? The ball is scrambled out. Norwood is hitting it.. Oh no... Maxwell is getting up and flinging himself but he's not going to get there and... 

The lights go out. The glass hits the floor. The world stops. My heart breaks. 1500 hearts break in tandem around me. We were so close. 

Unbelievably though, it's not over. Jerry. Of course Jerry. This man. He's an utter fucking legend. He scraps, he wins the ball. He runs. He runs. He's running even though he can't run anymore. CJ is in front, he finds him. He's got in... He's in! I don't know what actually happened, but we didn't score. It's probably for the best, because I think I'd have died. 

The whistle.


I think I'm still alive. I'm not sure. 

It's not over though. Bottles fly. Someone is cracked on the head. The stewards and the police stand there, like the linesman earlier. Impassive. I'm losing my head here to be honest. Then I look pitchwards and there's a full on brawl. It feels like everyone, subs, staff, players, random fellas in suits, probably mascots too, are flying in. I'm no fighter but honestly, I'm up for this. Let me on. I don't realise until we get back to the car that more players were sent off. 

Eventually it all dies down and we applaud. The players look dead. 

We love you Blackpool. We do. 


Today was incredible. It was mental. It was 100% effort. It was beyond effort. At times, it was more of a war than a game and it was unbelievable the spirit we showed. To feel like we've lost at full time after everything going against us that went against us (and honestly, I'm not being one eyed, whilst we had our share of dicey tackles, they had some fucking horrible challenges) is testament to how hard we fought. 

I loved today. It broke my heart but I have nothing but pride in what we did. We haven't got a team of world beaters but the sheer fight (and I mean that literally as well as figuratively) is what you need. I don't give a fuck if mistakes were made. Fight that hard and I'll forgive you anything. Even the manager waded in. That's exactly what you want to see.

The body warmer twat would have run a mile. 

As I drive past Meadowhall a lady is walking along in tears. She is looking bereft, trying to hide her sobs, but failing. I pull up in traffic and I can't help but watch in my wing mirror. A man runs behind her and grabs her shoulders. Pain wracks her body, each breath a shuddering agony. He pulls her too him and holds her. She's crying like she's broken. He is holding her very tightly like he knows that if he lets go, she'll fall apart, melt into the pavement. The lights change. I drive off. I'll never know what her tragedy was and why it played out on a busy street. All I can do is guess and think about when I've felt like that. It's horrible. I hope she's ok. 

Maybe, in the context of all the shit that life can throw at us, a 3-3 draw isn't so bad? In fact, maybe it's pretty fucking good.  



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Sunday, October 9, 2022

That'll do nicely - the Mighty vs Watford

To be honest, I'm a just a little bit fed up of this Championship lark. Teams keep coming with loads of money and famous managers and all that. It's a bit like joining a boxing gym and doing quite well but then they keep putting you up against big lads who've done it for ages and it hurts. Hope springs eternal of course, but it's also the hope that kills you. 

I like the team. That's never a good sign. 


Pool are playing nice football, the ball is being moved well, there is movement. There's plenty of skill in the midfield and nary a water carrier to be seen. Wright whistles a drive past the post. It draws a response of agony and appreciation. I really like him. He's added something to us for sure, he's brave, he carries the ball, he'll have a shot and he's also not above mixing it in midfield. He's an oddly practical luxury. 

A ball to the far post, Madine is a whisker away from bundling it home, a desperate Watford defender getting the slightest of touches to send it away from big Gaz and out. We're putting some good pressure on. The corner doesn't come to anything, but we're knocking the ball back. Thompson with a long diagonal, Connolly marauding forward and leaping to square the ball and Madine! YESSSSSS! - the finish is a little unorthodox and to be honest, I was convinced he'd missed it till the ball hit the back of the net but... ALL GOALS ARE GREAT GOALS BUT GARY GOALS ARE THE GREATEST GOALS OF ALL! YES!!!! 

Maxwell throws out beautifully to the halfway line, Carey kills the ball stone dead, has a split second glance upward and plucks out a sensational ball to Yates. Jerry runs, stutters and fires low at the near post. Another save and more Pool pressure. 

The game starts to tilt more in Watford's favour though. They pass and pass and we can't get near them until finally they fling it across the face of goal and one of their lads slices it. A let off. They get a free kick on the edge of the box. They don't make much of it. Another let off. They get a second free kick. They score it. Fuck's sake. Me and the fella behind me disagree a bit too passionately on whether Patino was a) stupid or b) got the ball but we make up quickly. I was high as a kite a few minutes ago and now I'm low as a snake's belly. This is football and I'm sick this year of how we can be doing well and then the wheels fall off. 

There's a long spell where we look rattled. We're careless, we can't win the second ball. I can't see us getting hold of this game. I never thought I'd miss those bodywarmer twat inspired periods where we passed it around at the back for no reason at all, but we just keep giving the ball away and don't seem to be making Watford work to get it back. Perhaps that's why we did that. Fuck's sake, I'm nostalgic for that shit football. I am really glum. 

We've clung on though and now another ball forward and Madine sets himself, leaps, connects and Carey is running from deep and picking up Gaz's flick and he's in! Go on Sonny!!! Ohhhhhh... The ball is a 6 inches the wrong side of the near post. That was better. Fuck passing it about at the back. It was shit.  


The half has probably been even, but as Watford had the better of the latter part, it feels otherwise. We didn't take full advantage of our chances and then they've taken control. It feels like this year might be one of those seasons where we play quite well a lot but don't get many points. To be honest, I'm pretty down at half time. I really want this to work, I really want us to be successful, with this sort of line up and playing this sort of football but I've got that kind of dread you get when you feel like you aren't sure if you've missed a bus or not, but as the minutes tick by, you get a sinking feeling as each one makes it more likely that you have. 


Bridcutt for Carey. It makes total sense and is the right change but I feel sorry for Sonny. I think he's done ok today but he seems stuck getting a few minutes here and there. He's young, he's got time. I really want him to succeed. 

Madine controls gloriously, lays off to Patino. The kid finds Theo who speeds through and smacks one from distance that fizzes just wide. That's a decent start and frankly (spoiler alert) we're fucking brilliant this half. My fears were unfounded. My fog of glumness is banished by a whirlwind of glorious tangerine.

It takes Bridcutt a while to settle in (which is understandable, seen as he's the football equivalent of a rusty scrapyard write-off that Micky Apples has sanded down and resprayed in the hope that the engine is sound) but once he's up to speed, he's influential. He's pointing, talking, moving. It's not that he does anything particularly pivotal that merits noting, it's more that he exudes an air of 'knowing what he's up to' and that the little things he does add up to a really useful whole. 

We're absolutely in control but at times our limits are frustrating. Theo does another run to nowhere, Theo slashes a shot at the near post when Madine has the freedom of the penalty box and the pass would have been easier to execute. C'mon lads! 

We slip wor Gaz away, but wor Gaz isn't fast enough to be slipped away so he has to pass it to someone else to cross it to him instead, he heads it, a defender gets a desperate touch to send it wide.... If Gaz was quick, he'd be incredible. He really would. He's brilliant today. Time and again he flicks, or controls it. He's got the radar switched on and he looks all the better for the confidence of a goal. The way he can turn a ball round the corner or change the direction of play is outstanding. He's like a really good pool player who can use the cushions and the pockets to skew the white ball past obstacles. Now's he's steaming in at the far post, he's throwing himself and oooooh... that would have been the Gary goal to end all Gary goals. 

Madine again, far post this time, back to Thorniley and again, it's oh so close... They can't handle us. Watford are shite. Bilic looks despondent. 

Big Gaz trudges off. I'm not sure if he's got a knock cos he's chucked himself about today and threw himself after the ball as it came out of the area and looked to be moving quite gingerly thereafter. A prayer circle would be a good idea I think. CJ is on. Have we run out of players? This is just our luck. Wor Gaz finds his mojo. Wor Gaz has to go off. Fuck's sake. 

Patino smacks one first time. It's not so close to going in, but it shakes us out of any self pity and fires up the atmosphere again. C'mon Pool! 

CJ has it. CJ hasn't done anything forever. He just comes on, for 10 minutes, runs about, does nothing and then trots off down the tunnel. C'mon CJ. Do something... anything. He's off. He's careering about. He's beaten his man. Heavy touch though, it's out of play.... no it isn't!... He'll definitely overrun this though... he hasn't! Still, he'll definitely cross it into the empty seats in the east... he doesn't! He's lofting it the the back of the box, there's a player there... it's one of ours... it's Jerry Yates! He's catching it... first time... YESS!!!!! Into the net. Sniper, fucking headshot. BANG! Watford blood everywhere. No fucking chance. He's blown their brains all over the north stand. That's Jerry Yates. That's what he does. Finds space and finishes like an absolutely dream. YES YES YES YES YES. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS! 


C'mon Pool. Hang on. We've earned this. It would be typical though, if they just humped a long ball up the pitch and we all fell over each other and one of their big lumps tapped it home. It really would.

I'm visualising the horrifying ways in which we could fuck this up when Jerry takes it in by the touchline. The best thing Micky Apples has done is get Jerry and tell him 'oi, Jerry, I like you son, but you've got to be stronger. Stand up, show a bit of muscle...' and thus, Jerry holds off his man. He exchanges a 1-2 with Lavery and *honestly, this bit now, you should dig out some classical music because it's beautiful, it's like ballet, it's fucking transcendent football from another realm because* Jerry has balance, he's going one way and now he isn't. He's made space and his forging into it, but then, with the grace of a swallow, he's ducked into a different space to the one he was going into and now he's come through that. It's like complex needle work, and the Watford defence is completely stitched up, the keeper exposed and finally, like the most beautiful cherry on top of the most exquisite icing on the most moist and well baked of cakes, he's slipping the ball into the last place anyone thought it was going and he's wheeling away and I actually could cry because we all love Jerry and no one works harder than him but we've all had this nagging feeling that maybe he wouldn't quite be the player he was in League One again but fuck me, that was incredible and honestly, I think I might pass out because if his first goal was good that was off the scale good and....


Time plays out. The ground is humming. We love you Blackpool. We do. 


In someways, I don't think we were that different from a couple of other games this year but I think two things really gave us the edge today. One was that we got the early goal and though they got back into it, we had the confidence that we could score. Secondly, the midfield made sense. First half it had enough technicality to move the ball quickly but we struggled a bit when the play turned against us as we didn't have the defensive mind to shield the defence. Second half we had the right balance in there and could do both things well. 

I've already given a homage to Madine, but he was magnificent. Everything Gaz was up front though, Thorniley was at the back in his own quiet and understated way. Marvin looks so much better alongside him. We're now seeing a real player. I watched him for a bit when they had a bit of pressure and he was terrific. Harrying, stepping off, covering, absolutely in the zone. It's a weird nonsensical football pundit type thing to say, but Thorniley just seems to be really in rhythm with the game at the moment and whilst that might not actually mean anything, I can't really express it any better. I don't want to slate Williams any more than he has already been, but he seemed to be jumpily disrupting the rhythm and we're all the better for Jud playing to it and perhaps for Maxwell's role in setting it... 

Connolly has given Gabriel a lot to do in terms of winning back a shirt in the last few games. He's so committed and he's got forward really well, something I thought he couldn't do from right back, but he's done today and at Sunderland quite brilliantly. There wasn't really a duff performance and loads of good one and I was made up that something even went right for CJ who is a lovely lad and can be dangerous when he's got self belief. Thommo's clenched fists at the end were cathartic. 

The day cannot belong to anyone but Jerry Yates though. At one point, he was basically playing right back and taking that really seriously. He took almost as much pleasure from shadowing a man with Connolly and forcing him out of play as he did with his goal. He's been absolutely brilliant for a while as far as I'm concerned. He's been slogging away, never giving up, tackling back, trying to make stuff happen. His head has never gone, he's not got frustrated, he's not made the kind of slack errors that had started to creep in last season. He's just run and run and run and run and then run some more, often with little reward and a lack of service and today, he got his reward. Anyone who doesn't feel elated when a player, who is so 'Blackpool' that he should be the absolute template of everything we look for in a footballer, scores a couple of goals like that, is frankly, dead inside. I honestly don't have any firm opinion on the matter of the afterlife, but should it turn out that the song is correct, I am absolutely putting my card behind the heavenly bar and saying 'Jerry - this is on me fella' 

Where we going? 

What. A. Day. 



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Wednesday, October 5, 2022


This is the hat but not me wearing it as I can't actually remember where the hat is.

I swore I'd never go in for social media 'like and subscribe, smash the like button. validate me please' type giveaways but then a Sunderland fan sent me a hat and so to celebrate last night's life defining 0-0 draw, I'm going to give it away. 

It's not that I don't like the hat or that it's an AFC Sunderland hat or owt like that. It's a great hat. It's just that the same fella had sent me exactly the same hat about a year before and I don't need two hats that are exactly the same cos I don't really wear bucket hats much so I'll probably not lose the one I have and having two hats you are only ever going to wear rarely in case you lose one just seems decadent, especially in times like these. 

It comes from a really good range of clothing (I'm no fashion guru but I like their shimmery colourful rain jacket smock type thing a lot, even if I'm more of a head down, plain black coat from last years range bought online at 65% off RRP type of fella) that he flogs online. It's the kind of thing that people who are into terrace fashion will like and the stuff is decent but is also a bit different from the same brands you seem recycled over and over at every game everywhere all of the time. There's a tagline for you. They can have that for free. 

You can't win this. It's just an example of stuff they sell. 

The lad who runs the clothing company is a good lad and hasn't asked me to do this and to be honest, if anyone asked me to promote owt, I'd tell them to fuck off cos what you write and tell people about should be genuine, not out of some sense of obligation. I also very much like their tangerine t-shirt I've got, even if they misguidedly refer to it as 'orange'

I don't want you to do owt except put your name and address in the form below if you want this hat and I'll use some kind of randomising internet magic and send the actual hat to whatever name comes out of the digital hat. 

There is only one hat and all decisions are final and if I forget to send it for a bit, you might have to remind me and also understand that I'm not sure where I put the hat, so it might take me a while to find it but eventually, if you win, you will get a hat. 

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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 ...