All posts tagged 'football'

Come join us!

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Wednesday, January 5 2011

A new year and that means new ideas for us on the sportsdesk at the KM.


This Monday we’re planning something new for us, something that had been tried out by other media outlets elsewhere in the country and we’re hoping Gillingham fans get involved too.


We’re planning a Monday lunchtime chat/debate about all things Gills.


I’ll be hosting the online event but it’s a platform for you, the fans, to have your say and fire any questions at myself if you want.


I don’t pretend to be a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the Gills, but let’s see how it goes.


We’ve previously tried using live software among the Gills fans and it was a real success when we broadcast during games. Unfortunately we had to pull the plug on that because of licensing issues.


There are drawbacks to live coverage as it often means mistakes creep in, particular spelling! Try typing something while watching a match at the same time and you’ll see what I mean.


Here at the KM we’re keen to have fans’ comment and have a regular list of people who give their pre-match and post-match reaction to games. Obviously we can’t print everything, as we have to be wary of defaming anyone, but we won’t on purposely stop people commenting because it may not be in agreement to the football club.


Several fans took issue when we had to close the comments section a while back on Kent  Online. This came around the same time as the Gills’ “media blackout week” following the Dover debacle.


The reason we pulled the plug on comments was because 99 per cent of them were defamatory. We had “Mark Stimson”, “Alan Julian” and “Paul Scally” all coming on with their opinions. We have to monitor comments closely and it was getting ridiculous so instead of spending valuable time filtering them we had to, sadly, close it.


Maybe it’s because of an up-turn of results, but those silly comments have disappeared, and we seem to have a few more thoughtful and insightful contributors at the moment.


Probably one of the best things about the technology at our disposal now is that news can be immediate. Sometimes that can be a pain when it comes to writing for the newspaper. I’ve lost track of the amount of times the Gills have made a signing a few hours after our deadline.


Another drawback to the immediacy of online is that when I make a mistake there is no hiding! On Saturday I accidentally said it was Akinfenwa’s sixth goal of the season, not his seventh, and boy are some people quick to notice!


The good thing with the internet, however, is that it enables us to cover events as they happen, a benefit to the many Gills fans I’m sure who have a variety of news outlets now to keep on top of things.


We’re hoping as many of you join us as you can on Monday. It’s a new thing for us, it may not work, but let’s just give it a go! And of course, we welcome your comments, good or bad!

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Categories: Gillingham

Class or crass?

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, December 14 2010

Another Premiership manager bit the dust on Monday and it opened up the debate about whether attractive football should be sacrificed for survival.

Sam Allardyce left Blackburn after two years in charge but, despite sitting relatively respectably in 13th, the new Indian owners decided that they wanted their own man.

 Allardyce joined Blackburn following the sacking of Paul Ince and took them from second bottom in the Premier League to 10th at the end of the season. Rovers finished 15th last season and he led them to a Carling Cup semi-final.

He had previously guided Bolton into European competition but that success came at a price.

The 56-year-old has a reputation for no-nonsense football and it’s not popular among many fans, especially the Newcastle ones, who witnessed first hand the direct approach. His reign there lasted just 24 games.

Saving Blackburn from relegation and taking Bolton to dizzy heights have only got Allardyce so far in football as his style does little for the eye.

So what should a manager on a limited player budget do?

Allardyce believes in getting big players on the pay-roll, getting the ball up-front as quick as possible, playing it into areas which can hurt the opposition, and relying heavily on set-plays.

If that brings success then where is the harm?

The problem is that this style will, like Allardyce’s career, only get you so far as the top clubs will have too much class and cope with the long-ball, route-one style. And the fans will certainly grow tired pretty quick.

I’ve experienced the torture of watching long-ball at first hand, and not at Gillingham.

Many will remember John Beck, who guided Cambridge to many cup upsets and to the verge of the top flight.

I witnessed fights on the terrace between fellow supporters while he was managing Lincoln as, despite being top of the league, the football was abysmal and a 5-1 hammering against a Peterborough team playing football the "right-way" showed which was the better method.

In the end Beck, like Allardyce, got the boot. The fans couldn’t take it anymore.

Nowadays, when you can turn the television on and watch the likes of Barcelona play free-flowing attractive football, why would you want to shell out good money for something that is no better than Sunday League stuff.

For me, I would prefer to see a team try and play their way to success or out of trouble, a bit like Blackpool are doing in the Premiership and Tottenham are doing in Europe, rather than hoofing it long, playing percentage football and offering little in the way of entertainment.

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Categories: Football

The reasons why Christmas was more enjoyable when I was young

by The Codgers' Club Friday, December 10 2010

by David Jones

Have you ever tried to persuade your Christmas dinner to come down from a tree? It’s not easy, I can tell you. But more of that later.

Alan Watkins’ splendid Codgers’ Club piece last month about growing up as a kid and the complete absence of the health and safety police struck a chord with me.

Strange, isn’t it, that as Codgerdom arrives, it’s easier to remember events more than half a century ago than to recall what happened last Wednesday.

Having fun required a great deal of creativity when you were growing up, as I did, in the early to mid-Fifties. Britain was a drab place then, still in the grip of post-war austerity.

Hard to believe now, but many people were still wearing the suits and coats they had worn during the war years. Of course, I didn’t know that then, aged only 10 or so, but later I realised that domestic life in Britain had barely changed at all between 1939 and 1955.

We lived in what could be described, in estate agent’s parlance, as a semi-rural location. Our small, old-fashioned bungalow had a large, rambling garden, about the size of half a football pitch.

My dad worked, just like everyone else, but we also had a smallholding. My parents kept chickens, rabbits and half a dozen geese in that large garden. It was wise not to upset the geese. They would advance, like a line of infantry, necks extended and hissing furiously. They were scary.

To the left at the bottom of our garden was a cornfield, swarming with rabbits. My father owned a shotgun and occasionally he would bag a couple for Sunday lunch. I had an air rifle but never managed to shoot anything. To the right was a meadow, with a grassy path leading down to a couple of unmade roads.

Like Codger Watkins, we made our own fun. Bike rides, daring each other to run through a field with a bull in it and endless fun with fireworks in the run-up to Bonfire Night.

Penny bangers which exploded with a thunderous crack and jumping jacks which would leap about unpredictably were affordable even on limited pocket money. Oh, and I’d also better mention the catapult I made to fire at old tin cans, using stones picked up from the beach as ammunition.

We had a huge poplar in our garden and I built a crude tree house in one of the massive forks in the branches. It was a 20ft climb to reach the platform. I never once put a foot wrong. We walked to school and back, on our own. There were no parental obsessions about paedophiles lurking round every corner.

It was a different, safer era, not least because there were far fewer cars on the roads. The real dangers for today’s kids are nearly always created by someone other than themselves.

At this point, I know that this Codger’s contribution is beginning to sound like an episode of the Darling Buds of May. It wasn’t idyllic as in the fictional world of Ma and Pa Larkin, but it was a pleasure growing up where there were more fields than houses.

Like all good things, it eventually had to come to an end. We grew up and our parents moved to a more urban location. Today, all the fields around our old bungalow are now housing estates and even our large garden has three or four houses on it.

But back to that Christmas dinner in the tree. One year, my parents bought a young turkey in Maidstone Market – not a frozen one but a turkey very much alive and kicking.

It used to run around with the chickens. It was one of my jobs to feed it and it grew rapidly. Every evening, as dusk approached, it would fly up into a tree and refuse to come down, despite my best efforts to persuade it to rejoin the chickens by doing a passable impression of a turkey calling to its mate.

There were no credit cards then and if your parents didn’t have the money, it didn’t get bought. There were no supermarkets either, shelves bursting with festive goodies – just butcher’s shops, greengrocers, corner stores and the occasional toy shop.

Britain today is a land of plenty compared to those grey days of the Fifties. The range of festive food, toys, and Christmas decorations now available and affordable to some degree by virtually everyone would have seemed like a fairytale paradise to a kid growing up in the Fifties.

This Christmas, however much you might moan about your stretched family finances, however hard-up you claim to be, I can guarantee that your home will be stuffed with more festive treats than any average youngster in the Fifties could ever have imagined.

It was in 1957 that the then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan famously, or perhaps infamously, remarked: “You’ve never had it so good.”

For most families then, that was sheer nonsense. More recently, Lord Young, David Cameron’s adviser, was sacked for using almost identical words. But in my view, Lord Young got it right.

Today, most families have a far better standard of living than could ever have been dreamed of 50 years ago, despite the problems caused by recession.

That said, did we enjoy ourselves just as much on Christmas Day 1957, when the food and the presents were far less lavish, when life was far less complicated, and the festive fun simple?

The answer to that is a resounding “yes”.

A new low

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Tuesday, October 5 2010

I’VE been covering Gillingham for around six years now and Saturday’s performance has to be the most bizarre game of them all - and there have been some shockers.

Having watched most of Gillingham’s away games over that time I have been witness to more than my far share of dodgy defending, goalkeeping howlers and out-right terrible performances.

It’s been a tough few years for the Gillingham faithful. 7-0 at Shrewsbury, 6-0 at Bristol City, 5-0 at Colchester, 4-1 at Millwall, 5-0 at Carlisle...dare I mention Burcough!

The first thing Hessy did after the game on Saturday was to get a copy of the DVD and re-run the horror with assistant boss Ian Hendon. Needless to say it was a long wait for the post-match interviews, particularly as the Gills boss then had to have a word with the less-than-helpful referee Iain Williamson.

Gillingham’s away form has been bad for so long now that I’m struggling to think of an away trip where they really wiped the floor with anyone in the last few years. When Stan Ternant arrived at Priestfield the first thing he commented on was how can a team so good at home be so poor away?

It’s an answer that nobody has found the solution to. It now looks like Hess has had enough and comments this week suggest he’s ready to off-load players who seem incapable of playing on away soil. It’s clearly a psychological barrier that some players have struggled to get past.

At home the Gills were fantastic last season, and again looked solid this one (apart from Lincoln) and it’s amazed me to see how players with genuine talent just seem to crumble when they head up the motorway.

It’s forced us to look into the history books in recent weeks and make calls to club historian Roger Triggs. Saturday’s loss made it 28 league games without an away win - equalling the record that had stood since the early 90s. Next away game for the Gills is at league leaders Port Vale.

We had a bit of debate about whether Wembley was regarded as an "away" fixture and because it’s neutral territory that doesn’t count and so the total record, league and cup, is now 32 - which is a worst ever run in the club’s history.

Fear not though, it’s nowhere near the record set by Crewe Alexandra in the mid-50s. They went 56 away games without a win and I’m sure that won’t be beaten by the Gills....surely!


Back to reality

by The Gills Blog, with Luke Cawdell Sunday, September 26 2010

IT was back to normality with a bump for myself at Priestfield on Saturday.

After spending the last two Saturday afternoons with my feet up, enjoying the glorious sunshine in Spain, I was back in the press box at Priestfield this weekend.

It may still be September but it was freezing up at the back of the Medway Stand and the gloves and woolly hat are definitely coming out for the match against Southend on Tuesday night.

I like the fact that Burton came looking for a win, a rather refreshing change and something I don’t think we’ll see at Priestfield too often this season, although their football wasn’t exactly creative.

Unfortunately where Burton went Gillingham followed and there was a bit too much long ball going on for my liking and clearly for Andy Hessenthaler as well. He managed to get the team a bit more disciplined after the break and I reckon by 90 minutes the Gills deserved the win.

Quick to rub salt in the wounds, one of our regular contributors to the coveritlive text commentary let me know it was 32c over in Spain. Thanks for that GillSpain!

Looking outside from the KM Medway office the weather is still looking pretty grim at the minute on Sunday evening. We have just about finished putting together the Monday paper, which is pretty chocker this week following a lengthy post-match press conference after the game on Saturday.

Hessy is a top man when it comes to dealing with the press and a far cry from some recent managers at Priestfield.

The job of a local footy reporter can be made pretty difficult if the manager isn’t very cooperative or doesn’t appreciate the value of the media.

There are certainly still some characters about in football and it was quite refreshing to sit in on a press conference with Southend boss Paul Sturrock recently. He waltzed in after pretty much telling Gills’ assistant Ian Hendon to hurry up "because I need the toilet." Although his language was less polite!

I think Ian was all-too happy to cut short his press commitments after Hess decided to let his no.2 do the duties that evening.

Throughout the week we have to deal with non-league managers across Kent and you certainly get a mixed back. I have spent some time this Sunday trying to get some reaction to Chatham’s win over Walton. The manager didn’t answer his phone, the assistant did - but he was in Trinidad - and the player/coach got sent off in the game for an "off the ball incident" so it was no surprise he didn’t pick up!

Back to Hess and he was telling us about new boy Bruce Inkango and how he turned up without a suit on Saturday. Eager to avoid an early fine he apparently borrowed the kit-man Malcom’s suit from when they went to Wembley and it fitted a dream. They even managed to dig him out a tie. Pic of Malcolm below! Hopefully Malc didn't leave any fags in the pockets.

I was quite interested to see Nicky Southall giving Bruce several minutes of instructions before he came on as sub. Apparently Bruce's English isn't very good so god knows how that conversation went!

It was good news to hear that Simon King might be on the way back before Christmas, though he really does need to sort that barnet out. Hess said it makes him look like a girl but if he can recapture the form of old I guess nobody will really care.

I also heard the match-day announcer Doug say it was Barry Fuller’s birthday on Saturday. All the records I have found suggest his birthday is in August and the Gills press officer looked none the wiser. Does anyone know how old Fuller really is?

Anyway, roll on Southend, and if you are going don’t forget to wrap up warm!



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Categories: Gills

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