Sunday, 28 August 2016

Norwegian Blue

This week's 'One for the Ladies'.
Despite it's proximity to the approach to London City airport Thamesmead is not permeated with the odour of kerosene.Everyone present on Tuesday was aware of something in the air that night though due to a combination of the whiff from the local sewage treatment works and midges. Whiffy as it was, compared to Nutty Neale's aftermath on the terrace at Tooting & Mitcham, it was like something by Christian Dior.

Other than the result it was a good evening all round with the performance of Thomas Dodds being the clear highlight. Making his competitive debut for GFC a neutral would have been forgiven for thinking he was our most experienced player. OK, a visually impaired neutral but bearing in mind his position on the pitch it was a seriously impressive performance.

Thamesmead's ground is a fairly typical municipal facility but tidy, functional and more up to date than most. Importantly, no running track around the pitch so everyone's close to the 'action'.

The moment of the match was Simon Geall putting in a peach of a ball for our goal. He enjoyed the moment so much that he revealed a face that only Mrs Geall had previously witnessed (just the once on the beach at Port Soif a few years ago).

After the game someone mentioned that Tony Vance had been quoted in the media along the lines of taking a reduced squad to away games due to cost reasons. If that's the case the club needs to sort its priorities out, fewer blazers and more tracksuits on the plane in other words.

A draw against Greenwich Borough was, on balance, not a bad result. Big strong team, the sort we have always struggled against, against our notoriously porous defence. There are signs that work is in progress to address that notoriety though so the lack of a win so far this season is not, yet, a reason for concern.

Tomorrow we head to South Park, always a good day out with a nice clubhouse, decent tea/burger bar, friendly natives and 'bants' with the keeper.

If you're going by road allow plenty of time each way as huge tailbacks are predicted on the M25 tomorrow. If you're going by public transport I suggest you don't get a train to Reigate as you'll then need a taxi. Take it from me, the taxi drivers of Reigate are next to useless, if they knew their way around town it would help.

Instead get off at Redhill take a 435 bus to the Prior Road stop along Park Lane East. Walk in the direction of travel of the bus, turn left into Sandcross Lane then right into Whitehall Lane. Should take you just over 5 minutes walk after a 13 minute bus ride. Coming back do the same in reverse but you'll be catching a 430 bus. Google Metrobus Redhill for precise times but the buses tend to leave Redhill 5-10 mins after the train arrives and so on.

An alternative walking route is to turn left into Eastnor Road and toddle down to the Barley Mow, a watering hole would you believe. After an hour or so there cross the road and walk down North Road. At the end turn left and Whitehall Lane is a hop and a step on the right.

Like you may have have been I was shocked to learn of the Dear Chairman's resignation. Shocked as I wasn't expecting it until Wednesday.

The power struggle could be interesting unless the club achieves its vision of being democratic. One or two of the existing directors would make excellent DCs but if the club appoints a replacement director in respect of the original DC I hope they go for someone 'left of field' who can provide a different perspective whilst having sound ideas of their own and being separate from the day to day commercial/playing side of the club.

As for the original DC, I join in the several others that have thanked him for his undoubtedly hard work in getting GFC up, running and where it is today. I can't help thinking that if it wasn't for the time spent on GFC other things may have turned out slightly differently.

Keep it Green

Allez les Verts!!

Sunday, 21 August 2016


One for the ladies.
A decent enough crowd of 1142, though not a patch on the days when we were, apparently, playing pub teams, saw what can only best be described as a game of two halves at the ARS on Saturday.

Eschewing the opportunity to log in to a dodgy stream delivered via servers in multiple former Soviet republics (yes Dear Reader the match was being touted alongside numerous top flight matches across Europe) I witnessed proceedings courtesy of  Auntie Beeb's wireless coverage via the iPlayer.

Now I already knew that Simon de la Rue has a face (and hair) fit for radio but it turns out he's got a voice for it as well. It probably helped that he had a co-commentator from Thamesmead so the mix of commentary and conversation not only kept him awake but made for a balanced broadcast that provided more than enough pictures for anyone with a vague notion of what a football pitch looks like. Very good coverage indeed.

If I was the DC and I was thinking about relaunching GFCTV I would give serious thought to a mix of live audio stream and video highlights at a reasonable cost, £3-4 a month say.

Not for the first time a dreadful first half performance. Words were spoken at half time, aren't they always you might be thinking and you'd be right. Sometimes the half time talks reveal a side to Messrs Vance and Fallaize that would make some in the Garenne feel ever so slightly uncomfortable.

I witnessed this myself at halftime in the play-off match at Leatherhead a couple of years ago when a combination of accoustics and a very small open window at the top of the wall meant I heard voices as I made my way to the clubhouse. So enthralled was I that I never made the half time pint.

Anyway the 2nd half was largely like the first but flipped on its head and turned inside out. The press was on, the momentum swung and Oi Oi, that man Pedders otherwise known as the ageing,balding (not say one of the finest footballers the island has produced) Dave Rihoy pulled rabbits out of his magic hat. Both teams could have got a late winner and there's probably a scientist somewhere that can explain how Thamesmead hit the inside of the post only for it to bounce out. Witchcraft probably, courtesy of someone from the Torteval definitely.

So a cracking cup tie, lots of plebs got their picture with the cup and I discovered some enticing prices for a trip I'm planning in the Autumn at the kind of hotel that's right up my street. I will be paying my own way however, unlike the bloke(s) from the FA.

All of the above means that Tuesday is POETT day.Talk to people in some parts of London and they'll have you believe that Thamesmead is the last place on earth you'd want to visit. All I can say is everyone I've ever known from that neck of the woods has been completely lovely and the football club and all associated seem sound as a pound, so a warm welcome awaits. It's not on a tube line though which may explain the negativity in some quarters.

Make your own way to London then it's about 30 minutes by train from London Bridge to Abbey Wood then 5 minutes on the 229 bus towards Thamesmead Town Centre (get off at Lister Walk). Going there trains and buses run approx every 11 minutes, lots of them coming back as well. Abbey Wood is in TFL Zone 4 so a travelcard or season ticket that includes Zone 4 will cover the bus as well. Alternatively pay via an Oyster card and the bus will be £1.50 each way, you can't pay with cash on London buses. Otherwise it's a 2 mile walk. The Lister Walk bus stop is just a few minutes walk from the football club (walk in the direction of travel of the bus, the ground is on the right).

If you do need to rest between getting off the train and getting a bus there is a boozer next to the station as well as the usual variety of eating, plucking and retail opportunities you expect in suberbia.

All we need is for a decent squad to turn up, got to be worth a go as a home tie against Chertsey Town of the CCL awaits the winner.

Keep it Green

Allez les Verts!!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Fever pitch

They say the best way to treat a fever is rest and plenty of fluids. Which probably explains why the GFC directors and associated liggers holed up in the OGH for a drinks reception with the 2 year old version of arguably the most famous trophy in the people's game.

The OGH is the perfect venue for this iconic symbol of the people's game, there's no better place in the island to ensure it's centre of attention for the island's proletariat during its stay. It certainly won't be anything to do with some bloke from the FA getting a couple of nights in one of their over priced, over chintzy, pokey little rooms. Could it?

The plebs needn't worry though as they will get their chance to be close to the cup tomorrow morning at the ARS, if they're prepared to miss a few minutes of 'Ring and Buy' to guarantee their place in the queue that is.

Tomorrow's match against Thamesmead will be the first FA Cup tie played outside of the UK. Thamesmead are up for it. Everyone at GFC is up for it. Having turned up in their thousands for the likes of Bedfont Sports (usually known as the Small Field) and Spennymoor, not to mention the hand wringing at away draws in previous seasons) you'd think the Guernsey public would be up for it. With a quarter of the seats at the ARS yet to be sold it could well be that Guernsey prefers Dengue to Cup Fever but I'm hopeful that the great Guernsey public has finally woken up to the fact that sitting at football (unless forced by the Feds) is just for the elderly, infirm and criminally insane.

Sadly though I suspect the match will attract an audience somewhat smaller than was the norm in the CCL days. Thamesmead have got off to a good start in the Isthmian North. Our lads must be feeling they have something to prove having just a single point from two games. Notwithstanding we have a few injury problems this could be a cracker of a match in what IS the only domestic club knockout competition that captures imaginations around the globe.

If you can be there you have to be, surely?

After the match do what I would do. Put your champagne socialist hat on and piss off down to the OGH to enjoy yourself with everyone else.

Keep it Green

Allez les Verts!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

FKW, Cray, Results...

A full midweek propgramme in the Isthmian South saw Carshalton cruise to a 3-0 win at home to Molesey last night in front of just 137 whilst Tooting & Mitcham won 3-2 away at Chatham.

Tonight's scores:-

East Grinstead 2 Dorking W 3, Faversham 2 Ramsgate 0, Greenwich B 4 Horsham 1, Herne Bay 1 Hastings 1, Hythe 1 Chipstead 1, Sittingbourne 4 Three Bridges 4, Whyteleafe 3 Godalming 1.

Early days, there's a surprise, but just 3 teams remain with a 100% record - Faversham, Dorking Wanderers and the oft derided Carshalton.

Tomorrow Cray Wanderers visit the ARS. With origins dating back to 1860 they've a bit more history than we have. Spent a few seasons in the Isthmian Prem not so long ago but following relegation had a couple of season in Division 1 North. Many consider D1N to be weaker than Division 1 South, Cray's time in the North saw a not too inspiring finish in 16th in the first season but they made the playoffs second time around.

Saturday saw a 3-3 draw at home to Sittingbourne and Cray themselves have recognised a bit of good fortune  - they were 3-1 down at one stage.

Advantage must lie with GFC for this one, despite the defeat to Ramsgate who succumbed themselves tonight in their long trip to Faversham.

Before you head to dreamland tonight please spare a thought for people old enough to know better than to wear replica shirts and shorts out in public.

Keep it Green

Allez les Verts!!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Ramsgate - not quite the end of the world after all.

Expectations weren't exactly high on the way down to Ramsgate, a town most notable for being ignored by Chas and Dave in favour of a near neighbour a long, long time ago.

Most of the talk on the train was about nefarious activity, financial prudence and one man's noteworthy crusade to identify the finest watering holes for anyone venturing towards the so-called London Stadium in the next 9 months or so.

There was also talk of Guernsey's lost generation, 2 of whom were scoring in the Rawlinson Cup at the Track later in the day.

We arrived in Ramsgate to find the place seemingly closed, so to the ground we went. The Ramsgate clubhouse is becoming familiar but worth re-iterating that it's not too shabby at all, light and airy in fact. Main teabar is just outside, well before the turnstiles, where despite the staff being involved in some kind of epic soap opera (veggies turn away now) an early contender for 'bacon cheeseburger of the season' could be found.

Then into the ground itself to be delighted to discover that a number of the official attendance of 210 were playing hide and seek (OK it may have had something to do with the seize cents soixante quatre). Then the day started to go downhill.

Yes dear reader, the match kicked off.

We were truly dreadful in the first half. Kyle Smith was running his socks off up front but between him and Tardie there was what can be best described as a blancmange, such was the lack of shape and application. We were lucky to go in just 1 down at half time. Not just through the host's domination of play but their generosity in perhaps one of the feeblest penalties you will ever see (unless of course you are prone to the occasional nightmarish flashback of Pat Nevin and countless others).

The second half started in much the same vein. Ramsgate had a 'goal' disallowed for offside and goalmouth activity at the other end typically looked like this:

But things did improve. Changes were made, things improved and we found an attacking threat with the blancmange being replaced by players running and supporting each other. Chances were forged and we even scored. The chap at the top of the page, Robbie Legg, made a big impression when he was introduced and he was influential in the build up to Dom Heaume's goal. Still not a lot to him but he plays without fear at this level. The small tank previously known as Craig Young also stood out.

At the other end Chris Tardif was playing his usual blinder and he was being pretty well shielded by the defence in front of him.

Ultimately we were undone by one of those good old football cliches - a cruel deflection.

Ramsgate are one of the favourites to go up but, bearing in mind we were shockingly, nay appallingly, bad for long periods, they're possibly thinking they have a lot of work to do. Their
management team, the Sartorial Brothers, may well be banking on constantly being in the ear of the 'lino' as one of their key tactics for the season.

The second half revival meant there was an air of disappointment at the final whistle but looking at the performance over 90 minutes a draw would have been akin to nicking a point.

Still, not quite the doom and gloom some were anticipating        pre-match. If only that lost generation could be persuaded to ignore the charms of the goddess Breda and return to the fold....

Keep it Green

Allez les Verts!!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Back from the abyss....

... and for once I'm not referring to the Torteval.

With just a couple of days to go until the season kicks off I have to be honest and say feelings are a bit all over the place.

The only new faces this season are likely to be a couple of new drafts from Steve Sharman's under 11 squad (that's what they look like to an old git like me at any rate). Talismanic striker on holiday in the States so missing the first few games. Not sure why as the last time I looked the States was just a short drive from the airport and the ARS, but there we are. Guernsey football, well Channel Islands football as a whole really, is frankly in a bit of a mess.

If you're in the 'good enough for Step 3' camp I fear your expectations for the season may be a tad high. For me a good season would be mid-table obscurity for GFC and and a closing of the divide with the local game. I look at some of the names associated with GFC, some of the names associated with the GFA and some of the names associated with local clubs and I scratch my head trying to understand why heads can't be banged together to resolve this situation.

In the close season we've seen the odd suggestion here and there that UK based players will be required to go onwards and upwards. That is probably the case but from where I sit I would rather see any available funds going to compensating Guernsey based players (in other words players based in Guernsey by choice rather than only as part of a package to play for the club) first and see where that takes us. Despite what I say about low expectations Guernsey is producing talented footballers and who knows what might happen IF we can get a full strength squad over for the vast majority of away games.

Of course we could throw money at a few hired hands but that's the football equivalent of a Ponzi scheme and has seen the end of many clubs. Certainly not the Guernsey way and I can envisage Messrs le Tocq and St Pier, not to say that bastion of free speech the Press, having palpitations if the island was ever associated with such fast and loose financial practice.

Enough waffle. It all starts at 1pm on Saturday at Ramsgate, one of the pre-season favourites for the league title. All we can ask is that everyone gives of their best. Granted, that's a bit of a cliche but that's football (and another cliche). So strap yourself in for another rollercoaster ride and

Keep it Green.

Allez les Verts!!

A sausage, a wrap and a mild mannered janitor.

With the trials and tribulations of last season fast receding and o the back of three impressive displays, unbeaten against teams expected ...