Wrexham Revelation

Now – if your performance the night before had been described by your boss as the “worst in history” how do you think you might be treated the next day?

I am sure some of us would have had the first XI starting at 9am (despite getting in in the early hours) doing a few extra laps of the training ground, as well as some pretty tough and monotonous physical work to shake them into the right frame of mind. I would have had them there until 5pm, and when the training was done I would have got them all to sit down in the classrooms there and write letters of apology to the loyal and excellent fans who spent their money watching the display the night before.

However, I understand that the players had the Wednesday off, only to go on a jolly-boys beano to the races in the evening, where much fun and frivolity was had and a glass or two of pop. So much pop in fact that a certain very senior member of the management team staggered to the front of the coach on the way back and demanded that the driver stop by a cash point, as he needed to get some money out. Only for the team to find the said senior member of the management team not using the cash point but propped against a bus shelter having a piss.

All good fun of course. Been on countless such evenings out myself with a few misdemeanours too along the way.

However, seems strange to reward the team’s poor performance with a night at the races.

For those of you who are parents – how many would reward their children’s poor behaviour with a trip to the zoo/pictures/pool?

It is very odd, especially after the hoo-hah about the players laughing and joking on the pitch.

Perhaps it is a symptom of Mick being too pally with his mates the players. After all Mick did say last night that it “wasn’t the players fault”. Perhaps rather than losing the changing room – he’s too close to it?

Ironically of course – the team building worked with the turnaround at Cambridge on Saturday, so you could argue that they should do that after every defeat….

By the way this information came to me directly from one of the first team squad – I’ve not made it up! You couldn’t make up the events at our club, because no one would believe them.

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Back to (blue) Square One

The Clock's ticking Mick...

The euphoria of the comeback on Saturday was dismissed by the combination of a well-organised Stevenage side and our own ineptitude.

10 minutes before half time I nipped out to use the facilities behind the Kenny End and saw four stewards trying to switch on the wall-mounted telly with a mop handle. It was like a scene out of Phoenix Nights, and only mirrored the comedy on the field.

The match itself was delayed until 8pm for some reason. A voice like Cherry Newbery’s (but not) came over the PA (which we could hear tonight, just about) and said it was due to crowd congestion. At Kenilworth Road? Was the St Evenage coach held up? They could bloody walk it.

The team itself was Tyler, Ed A-A in for Gnapka (curious move, bearing in mind on Saturday Claude only got subbed cos of the booking) Pilks and White – who had a poor game. The increasingly reliable Murray was at left back. In midfield Mick had to accommodate his mate Nico so the nearly settled combination of Jarvis and Hall was split up. Newton (my man of the match) started on the right and Jakey Howells was on the left. Craddock was up front with an out of position Asa Hall who got deeper and deeper as the game went on. Actually Hall added a personal highlight for me because as Tyler pumped the ball to him for the umpteenth time and he missed the header and their skipper the blond Roberts headed the ball away yet again, everyone ‘tutted’. And I have never heard a whole stand ‘tut’ all at once before and it was quite strange – it sounded like a very loud door latch clicking into place.

Of course Harford was completely and utterly out thought by Westley the Stevenage boss. The post match interview with Westley had me thinking, yep – this man knows something about setting up a team, thinking up some tactics and motivating his players to play them. In comparison Harford sounded like a child in a room full of adults. He trotted out the same old platitudes and excuses.
Harford just doesn’t have a clue.

The Hertfordshire team were unlucky not to get a penalty in the first half. Ed felled their striker as effectively as a builder taking a sledgehammer to a wall but the ref, who was poor all night waved play on. “Book ‘im then ref” I shouted, as usual.

Nicholls was way off the pace until he was substituted by the new lad Wright after about 80 mins. Why he even started the second half, only Mick Harford will know. He was running around like a child trying to get the ball off a group of adults in the back garden. Got himself booked when he was harried, and fouled by the opposing midfielder but instead of playing to the whistle he stopped his run and pushed the opponent in a petulant way. You’d think he’d learnt his lesson but he is just indulged by the management and the board like a spoilt brat.

My favourite random decision of the night was to bring Gnapka/Gnakpa on for a knackered Ed A-A after 65 mins. Aha – I hear you say – this is a sound decision a right back for a right back. But no – who would have guessed it? Adam Newton, who was our best player by far and was beginning to terrorise their left back and get crosses in, was moved to right back and Claude played right wing. Where did their goal come from? You’ve got it – down the left when Baird was not closed down by any of our defenders and slotted in a cracking drive. To be fair to the Frenchman he played well down the right but to no avail.

Pilkington went very close whilst it was still 0-0 with a side footed chance which he hit the post with, but, other than a few good crosses with no one on the end, and a couple of fluffed chances by the zero confidence Craddock, and a chance for Newton in the first half that was all we had and the closest we got.

Rio Charles came on right at the end but to no great effect. Hard to turn a season round single handedly if you are only given injury time to do it in.

Before the end of the game there were chants of ‘Harford out’ which was very sad. In the main stand I understand the fans were both chanting ‘Harford out’ and having a dig at 2020.

It is understandable though. Mick, an honourable and decent man shouldn’t be in the position of having to resign just because his bosses won’t sack him. It is getting embarrassing.

Fair play to Stevenage, they deserved their win, they out-thought and outplayed us.

Mick, the clock’s ticking – don’t become Luton’s Gordon Brown.

P13 Pos 8th? I daren’t look.

Tomorrow (or later on today as it is now past midnight) I will reveal a post-Wrexham revelation that is far more shocking than a few players having a laugh and a joke on the pitch. It is real – it came from a player himself and will make your jaw drop.

PS From a betting point of view the recent sports results have gone quite well. Obviously 3 defeats in 5 helps the coffers, as did England’s 6-1 drubbing by the Aussies in the cricket and their defeat tonight. Similarly Essex beating Derbyshire (or rather Derbyshire standing aside allowing Essex an easy run-chase to prevent Northants from getting promotion) netted me enough to recoup the losses from Wembley in April and the Ashes victory. So it’s not all bad and is the sugar to try to take the bad taste of defeat away.

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The Wright stuff

I understand from the Peterborogh website that we have yet another Posh player – good old Barry Fry.

Apparently a chap called Ben Wright is on his way. Ben is a striker – has been quite good at non league level. And is with us for a month. He’s just back from injury though, so I’m not sure how fit he will be.

I’m also unaware as to what sort of striker he is, eg nippy front man or big bloke.

It’s just as well we have signed him, after all we only have only got Hatch, Gallen, Craddock,
Charles and Basham. And there’s not enough room on the bench for Basham either…

Best of luck Ben, in any case – welcome to the Hatters.

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Ain’t it always the way?

One step forwards two steps back. The hero of Saturday’s magnificent rioutous victory against Cambridge, Kevin Gallen, is out for tomorrows game against St Evenage as he has a shoulder injury, presumably the one he went off with on Saturday.

No news on Howells, so he should keep his place, but Keane whose back injury has moved to his knee according to the official site is stil out. Hatch is suspended. Porno’s bad toe took a knock in training, however, Ed A-A may ‘play some part’ which from the sounds of it is just as well.

Nico will be back from his 3 match suspension – just what we need for a local derby. And indeed, a local derby it is. Google Earth tells me that pitch to pitch St Evenage is just over 10 miles whilst the horrible allotments are 16.25. Saying that of course, we have no beef with St Evenage wheras the just the thought of that awful trophy-less lot down the M1 leaves a bad taste in the mouth for a good proportion of Hatters.

Leaves a bit of a dilemma up front. Craddock presumably starts, but we are back to where we were for the start of the season – who to partner him? I would favour Rio Charles who is a natural goal scorer in the way that Calvin Andrew wasn’t. But that will mean passing along the floor and not hoofing it to the little guys. Alternatively we have Basham and Donnelly, neither of whom have set the world alight so far. Or perhaps Gnapka/Gnakpa?

Perhaps Mick will just start with Craddock up front and have a 5 man midfield of Jarvis, Hall, Nico, Howells and Newton? You never can tell!

Well – the random team generator which made its debut on Friday has spoken again and it generated: Tyler; Reynolds, White, Pilks, Ed; Jarvis, Hall, Nico & Murray; with Rio and Basham up front. Now that is pretty random.

As for predictions? Head says 0-0 Heart says a cheeky 1-0.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow, and let’s hope they maintain that spirit and determination they found in the second half! I will be there at the Kenny End straining to hear the PA announcements as ever and hoping that my voice will return after Saturday.

Come on you glorious Hatters…

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We’ve only got 10 men!

Would you think a side 2-0 down and down to 10 men at half time would fight back to 4-3? What a remarkable game. Craddock was left on the bench, and Luton returned to a 4-4-2 with Hatch and Gallen up front and Jake ‘Mascot’ Howells on the left wing.

A bright start, but then our performance dropped and the goals started coming, Courtenay Pitt (remember him?) scored the firsrthe second from a dodgy penalty. Hatch got sent off for two needless bookable offences (arguing over the penalty and a silly foul) and heads were down at half time. Then something happened. Kevin Gallen became a man inspired. Scored shortly into the second half, then we scored from a corner and it was 2-2. Then Jake Howells tucked in a parried Gallen shot and we were 3-2. Then – we conceded a third when Holroyd hooked in from close range. But then we won a penalty when Saah fouled Alan White (who was ‘guilty’ for the penalty in the first half). Gallen duly took it and it was 4-3. Mark Tyler pulled off a brilliant save to keep us 4-3 up.

So what was the difference? Playing with 10 men? Gallen playing on his own up front? 4-4-2? A huge rocket up their behinds at half-time? Nico fighting with Cambridge fans? The ref being so woeful? Passion, vigour and goals – a rarity indeed.
Not sure what it was- but it was a welcome win and a brilliant second half to a game. Had we not won we would have ended up 11th. When did we last score 4 away?

Gallen man of the match by a mile. Inspired them in the second half. Murray had a good game too.

Gallen had to go off with a buised shoulder, and Howells seemed to injure himself in the goal celebrations – d’oh! So I guess there might be a question mark against him for the derby game against Stevenage on Tuesday.

P12 Pts 22 Pos 6th.

Let’s hope it is the turning point. Well done Mick and well done the players. We like it when the players match the fans passion.

My previous comments about the manager still stand. But lets enjoy the victory. I truly hope it is the inspiration the players, management and board were looking for to turn the performances around.

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Diversionary Tactics…

…well some tactics are better than none at all. To use the Three Counties Radio ‘incident’ as the focus for your press conference says it all really. Smokescreen. Papering over the cracks. Call it what you like.

Mick said “I’m expecting a written apology from Three Counties (Radio) for propaganda that was made on, what I call a poxy radio show, that was sent out to people who have never even been to the game, about the players who were, supposedly and allegedly, laughing on the football pitch after the game. Which is a total lie and total propaganda. So until I get a written apology this will be the last interview I do for Three Counties Radio – and the players.”

What a load of cock. The players should each have written to those 303 Hatters apologising for what their boss described as the worst ever performance.

Team news, such as it is: Keith Keane is still out.

As I mentioned earlier, my mate has created a programme which randomly selects the team, based on certain parameters so you don’t end up with Mark Tyler up front (mind you…) it selected 4-4-2 as the formation and excluded the injured players it came up with the following players – I have sorted them into a semblance of a team:

Tyler, Gnapka/Gnakpa, White, Pilks, Murray, Howells, Reynolds, Jarvis, Newton, Hatch, Charles.

I wonder how near to the real thing that will be or will Mick out random the random generator?!?

Predictions for tomorrow: Head: 0-2, Heart: bounce back from Tuesday with a vengeance 3-1. After all, it is only away to Cambridge, not Liverpool for God’s sake.

Come on you Hatters!

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…while Rome burnt.

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I was away from the internet yesterday, and I didn’t catch the radio and therefore would have missed any headlines about management changes at the club. So when I saw ‘Club Statement’ as a headline on the official site yesterday evening I thought, right…this is it…

To put it in context, following the Wrexham ‘performance’ our manager said “From the kick-off to the final whistle we were absolutely abysmal and it’s probably, in my opinion, the worst performance in Luton Town’s history.” and “I’m responsible for it, it reflects on me 100 per cent. We’re in a results-based game and that’s what you’re judged on and after that performance I expect to come under pressure…” indicating pretty much that we are in the brown-stuff and it is his fault. Strong stuff indeed.

I also get the feeling that the majority of fans are now ready for a change and those blindly clinging on to Big Mick because of his loyalty to us in the past are in a minority.

So obviously, when I saw the ‘Club Statement’ I was expecting big things. The board this week has clearly had big issues to deal with and big-boys decisions to make.

But no.

Instead, the statement refuted the assertion that the players had been laughing and joking during the warm-down after the match, and therefore hadn’t taken – and didn’t care about – their humiliation (and presumably Micks telling off) seriously.

I’m not making it up. Presumably Gary and the Brown(e) brothers thought it more important to give us this trivial information than the news we sought. I can’t believe that they actually spent time even considering producing a statement let alone thinking it was a good idea and actually doing it.

Perhaps they are having a running a battle with 3CR? Having dumped them as club internet commentary of choice, they have chosen to wholly over react to the comments made on the station the other night about the players in the warm-down (albeit after only 10 mins in the changing rooms with Mick). The club statement also refuted some allegations that 3CR had made about players in the centre of excellence – but to be honest I had no idea what Gary Sweet was on about with that one.

Focus on the bigger picture here chaps. Fans are not bothered about your feud with 3CR – which in any case is foolish to conduct in public. We are expecting you to have the balls to sack your man, or at least ask him to go upstairs and to work with, or join the board with Antony.

I think this is the first time 2020 have officially dropped the ball – I was looking to them to do the right thing by removing Mick. But they have failed to do so. But it is too late now. They won’t do it before tomorrow’s game or indeed I suspect, between the Cambridge game and the Stevenage one. So we have to wait another week, two more poor or substandard performances, before the pressure is on them to act again.

What they have done with this statement is to show support for their employees over the demands of their customers.

In the business I am in (I.T.) if one of my staff mucks something up, but perhaps not as badly as the customer is suggesting, I don’t spend my time quibbling over the extent of the cock up, I ensure that I deal with my customers concerns and put something in place to ensure it doesn’t recur and turn the situation around to reassure the customer.

How many more times does the team have to be booed off – for how many consecutive home games must the attendance fall before they act?

I reassert – Mick is fantastic, he’s a Hatter, one of us, but he is not a very good manager and he needs to be replaced so that the new man has time to turn things around. Don’t leave it so long that the whole crowd turns on him like they did to poor Ricky. It is never good to see a legend booed off. I want him to go with dignity and respect. I actually want him to go ‘upstairs’ and remain at the club. Our club is stronger for having him involved. Just not picking the team or deciding the tactics.

Team news later – and an intriguing “Random Team Selection” computer programme I got one of my mates to quickly commission – let’s see what team it selects and if it can out ‘random’ even Mick’s team choices.

Many thanks for all of your excellent and constructive comments over these past few days. Keep up the good work!

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