A home game at last

It is over a month since our last league game at home and tomorrow we face the mighty Ebbsfleet. I was following the Histon score the other night via a terrificly poor mobile phone connection, and it sounds as if perhaps Liam Hatch’s introduction at half time was the catalist.

The team news is to come later, however it was good to see the giant Kovacs get a goal on his debut on Wednesday, presumably he will start tomorrow, especially with Blackett on the sidelines. Still not sure where we are up front, with Craddock and Gallen starting the other night though we ended with Hatch and MBH. Presumably Hatch isn’t ready to start yet and if Gallen came off with a tweak, then perhaps MBH might start with Tommy Craddock.

We’ll know more later on….



I didn’t go up to Gateshead – because my in laws live up there, if I had disclosed to Mrs Mosque that I was up to the North East it would have meant a family trip to see her family. Unfortunately missing my beloved Hatters is a small price to pay for my sanity.

I listened to the game via 3CR and enjoyed the commentary, even though the win sounded a little laboured. Despite it sounding as if Gateshead made a bright start to both halves, I certainly didn’t think that somehow we would contrive not to win. As it happens it was a freak goal by Gnapka which gave us the three points.

The game saw another debutant, yes, yet another winger, this time York’s Craig Nelthorpe who is on loan until the end of the season.

As I type apparently we are sniffing around a lad called Janos Kovacs who is a Hungarian centre-half at Lincoln. Hopefully the rumours are true and it is not a load of goulash.

It’s off to Histon on Wednesday, which I shall miss too because I am away with work. I have only seen two games since 12th December. That’s what I call a mid-season break, I’m getting to feel like a part-timer.

If we can get another three points at Histon and then another three on Saturday then we will be back in the play offs and the season will be right back on course, if not quite the course we had plotted back in August…


…and so onto Gateshead

Damn – another game cancelled. I’ve got to go shopping with Mrs Mosque now…

Our players are going to be seriously rusty. If new Saturday’s game is on then it will be only the third game since the 12th December and we will have played only one game in 26 days.

On the positive side, we can’t really grumble about fixture congestion in December and January this year can we?


It’s true

At his press conference Richard Money admitted that Nico (White we know about) Gallen and Keet’ are on the transfer list.

Gallen – well we know of his shocked reaction now, as he went to the papers.

Nico wants to stay, really wants to stay – but we can’t afford him if we want to bring others in to develop the squad. No one can doubt or could ever have doubted his commitment to our club. In that regard he is a modern legend. However, at times this year it has been apparent that he has been off the pace and also unable to pass a ball properly which is a shame. Also, his errors in the last third have cost us a number of games and points now – as well as a cup replay at home to Southampton, so he is costing the club money in lost revenue as well as wages. Like Mick, his loyalty and pride in LTFC have always shone through, but those alone don’t guarantee a place. Anyway – someone has got to want him for him to leave the club. Perhaps now Mick is in charge of QPR (again) he’ll take him and Gallen?

Keet’ I’m most disappointed about. He hasn’t signed another contract and so, if he is to be off in 6 months any way, the club may as well try and cash in between now and then. He’s our best holding player by far, and don’t forget he did the winning assist for Gnapka at Wembley in April. He’s a better player now than when he was appearing in the championship for us and will be a big miss.

As for Salisbury, I know they are not a bad team in this division, but realistically we should be beating sides like that 2 or 3 nil at home. There is a pitch inspection in the morning so we will know first thing whether or not it is on. Personally, it means a trip to Waitrose with the Mrs if it isn’t so clearly I’m willing the ref to give it the go ahead in the morning. I wonder what the ref will do tomorrow. Presumably he will turn up at about 8:30 to find the club officials and Richard Bird. Presumably he will stomp around and give it the go ahead if it is okay. But then what does he do for the next 4 hours? Will he pop to the Arndale centre to do a bit of shopping? Will he hang around the car park and have a snooze in the car? Perhaps he lives locally so he will pootle back home. Maybe he will nip into the WhiteHouse for an early morning ‘cup of coffee’…


You have him back

Alan White has been pinged back to Darlo on loan until the end of the season. Seems like those rumours were true…

I thought he was a solid addition at the back, and this blog thanks him for his efforts whilst back with us. I’ll miss his wild stary eyes and his short temper.

Any takers for poor Nico?


Are they or Aren’t they?

Speculation is rife as to the future of Nico, Gallen and White. And possibly Keet’ Keane.

Is this just message board rumours or newspaper tittle-tattle. The Luton News says they are up for sale and quote Kevin Gallen saying:

“I was brought into the office and told I was going to go on the transfer list and wasn’t going to play any more. I wasn’t going to be in the squad for the next game.

“He said I was too old and said he was going to play Tom Craddock and Matthew Barnes-Homer and said something about finances.

“It isn’t very much to do with me, I’m not a big wage earner at Luton.”

It seems a daft thing to have to say, but I’m sure they wouldn’t publish such a direct quote without having spoken to KG and having his permission to publish it. And if it is an accurate quote, what reason would KG have to lie?

However, the Luton and Dunstable Express stated the following:

Asked if there was any truth to the suggestion that the players may be set for an exit, the Hatters boss said: “There’s nothing to add from me from that point of view.

“Football clubs are always full of rumours and conjecture and it seems that this football club is maybe more so than most.”

What does that mean? So the reporter said to him ‘are four of your players on the transfer list’ and he says that he has nothing to add to that and that there is lots of conjecture and rumour at LTFC. (I could have told him that).

The thing is: he hasn’t denied it – and later went on to state in the article that there have been no bids for players.

Also, the official site, which is usually slow with news, but quick with condemnation of others has nothing to quell the speculation.

Of the players listed, I think it would be a crying shame to lose Gallen and Keet’. And cock-ups at Cambridge apart, White has been sound enough, and does what it says on the tin and nods away long balls all day. He’s not getting any younger, but is good to have around in case Pilks, Ed or Blackett are crocked, which knowing our luck, is pretty often.

We do seem to have an awful lot of strikers though: MB-H, Craddock, Nwokeji, Gallen, Rio, Basham (yes, I realise we probably won’t see him again), Hatch, Patrick, and the new lad O’Donnell. We haven’t got room for them all. Something’s got to give, especially if Money is building a team for the future, not solely for promotion this year.

On the signings front, there has been little news as to new players, although Nwokeji’s loan has been extended to the end of the season (good) Murray has been offered a 18 month contract (bad news for Porno) and Barnes-Homer has signed like we knew he would (excellent).

Money also spoke about Poku, suggesting we will see him sooner rather than later, which would again add weight to the rumours that one or more of Nico and or Keane are transfer listed. Would we need three holding midfielders? It’s like London buses. Two years ago we were crying out for a defensive midfielder, now we have three…



We have signed two youngsters from St Albans – Godfrey Poku and Jonathan ‘JJ’ O’Donnell.

Welcome and best of luck to both of them. Poku is a Nico type defensive midfielder and O’Donnell is a striker with 2 goals in 7 games for St Albans. O’Donnell is a local lad whose family are season ticket holders which is nice. It is also good that he has seen the light, having been on Watford and MK Dongs books since being a nipper.

I feel a bit sorry for those youngsters in our youth set up – does it mean that Jordan Patrick is less likely to be a part of our set up now because we have O’Donnell on our books?

We used to have a conveyor belt from the youth team to the first team. I know it stuttered a bit down the years, depending on who was in charge of the club, who the first team manager was and who was in charge of the youth team.

I know it is absolutely a cornerstone of 2020’s approach to scout locally, to recruit locally and to boost the youth set up, which, in the short time they have been in charge, they have done incredibly well. However, it is a bit of a kick in the teeth for some if suddenly we bring in two young ‘outsiders’. Anyway, that point made, it is only two lads. It is good that Money is building for the future and has got in and signed these before anyone else does. Good business.

Apparently St Albans are keen for us to loan them back to them for the rest of the season, which I guess makes sense.

Our great club is going to be back in the league sooner rather than later. There will be pitfalls along the way, and games lost because of individual or tactical errors, but I genuinely believe that Money’s approach will bring dividends once he has the team of his choice. Once the promotion journey has started, be it this year or next, I think it will be a rollercoaster that will see us in the third tier in 2012 or at the latest by 2013.

What’s the phrase? ‘It’s a marathon not a sprint’? Get the club right, get the finances right, get the management right and get the playing side right. We are half way through that last stage, but for the first time in years everything is pointing in the right direction.

Next up: Mansfield on Saturday…with the weather as it is that must be in doubt. I don’t recall them having a wonderful under soil heating system, but I may be wrong. When I lived up there I used to drink Mansfield Bitter, which was drinkable without being very special. I think they used to do it in cans too. I seem to recall Shipstones (which was excellent), Kimberley bitter (which was gas supplied) and Home bitter, which was pretty ropey. Sad, though, all those years later, I can still recall what Mansfield Bitter tasted like.

The much-moved Histon game has been slotted in to next Tuesday evening, which is a pain. Again, with the weather like it is and bearing in mind the difficulty they had getting the KR pitch cleared in time for the 28th (even with the help of some hard-working fans) the game must be in doubt if we get much more snow between now and Tuesday.

Perhaps Salisbury will be the next game? Blimey, if it is we will have had just two games in a month. Takes me back to my youth! In the days when you had to keep replaying FA cup ties in the event of a draw, I seem to remember that there was one FA cup third round tie still being replayed when others had reached the 5th round. Ah, them were the days….


Flybe1 easyjet 0

In the battle of the budget airlines Saints booked their tickets to the fourth round.

Mind you, if Adam Newton had taken the gilt-edged chance Gnapka had presented him with in the second half then things might have been very different.

Decided to take the park’n’ride to St Mary’s having not been to the ground before. Depending on where our new ground is this park’n’ride thing is an excellent idea and hassle free. Although our bus did struggle to get up the hills on the way back from the ground – perhaps it was the additional beer and pies consumed during the afternoon. I thought that the stadium looks fantastic from the outside and reminded me of Reading on the inside, especially in the bar area. Hic.

I sat right at the front for the first time at a game since Unders’ debut at QPR all those years ago. This meant I had the benefit of the shadow earlier than most and could actually see the action. Southampton also had one of those big screens that our friends from Watford have so you could follow the game on there if the stewards and the ballboys got in the way of the match action.

We started with 4-4-2 with Craddock and Gallen up front. Jarvis on the left, Newton on the right and Nico and Asa in the middle. Jakey Howells at left back, Blackett and Pilks in the middle and a welcome return to young Ed A-A at right back.

Saints had plenty of early chances but didn’t really overwhelm us, Pilkington K keeping us in the game. The key incident of the first half led to the goal. Nico once again was deemed to have been too heavy handed in or around the box when he did or didn’t bundle over Lallana who was facing and taking the ball away from the goal at the time. A bit like the Belgrano sailing away from the task force. In any case, I didn’t think it was a free kick. But Lambert curled the freekick beautifully into the corner in the way that we don’t ever.

At half time Nico and KG came off, which was exactly the right thing to do – Gallen was getting no space or time and we needed pace up front in the form of Mr Nwokeji.

Nico was replaced by Claude who bombed down the right again, whilst Newton went to the left and Hall and Jarvis resumed their partnership in midfield. Claude is a funny one. Like no other player I can recall he has periods of the game where I am not sure he is actually thinking about the match. He readily exchanges periods of brilliance with periods of either ineptitude or absence. Sometimes I think his mind is somewhere in the Loire Valley or in Cannes. He’s a nice guy, a funny chap, but he does go mentally absent on occasions. He reminds me a bit of a chap I used to play cricket with in Nottingham called Shellshock Johnny. Shellshock was out in the Falklands in 1982 and had been a fraction too close to an incoming mortar. Whilst he was fine physically, and a good player, the poor chap did go through periods of the game where he was clearly back at Goose Green. The number of catches he used to miss because he was standing in the outfield lost in his own thoughts whilst the ball whistled towards him. I guess our shouting of “INCOMING Shellshock, catch eeeeet” didn’t help as the ball plopped harmlessly behind him.

In the second half we were much improved and would have deserved our equaliser if Adam Newton hadn’t fluffed the chance of the decade. Saints gave us more room to play and we took advantage, if not in goal terms. The team did us proud, but were getting increasingly direct and desperate towards the second half. Watkins came on for his début with about 10 mins to go. He gave it his best but didn’t make much impact. Can’t think what Taylor Nathaniel has done wrong as he was sparky on the left when he came on against Grays.

Overall both Pilkingtons gave their all and did well. I was especially pleased with Jake Howells who largely held his own and stopped them getting their crosses in. Blackett did well up against much better players. Jarvis made some good touches, and Hall perked up in the second half. Craddock had some lively spells and a couple of good runs. Nwokeji showed some excellent touches (he reminds me of Mark Stein) but didn’t get enough through balls to capitalise on.

Following on from my realisation that it is largely pointless singing songs about your rivals, and having had it pointed out that far from being a loving family man and a loyal supporter who has invested his own money in the club and who follows the team up and down the land, I am in fact a racist, violent, evil, bigoted Satan for not liking Watford football club very much and for being honest enough to examine why in print. Therefore I didn’t sing at all in this game or indeed shout at the ref (who apart from the mistake with Nico had an excellent game) and so I must apologise to the players that the away support was just that tiny little bit quieter. I am sure that they understood and sympathised with my silence.

That’s the FA cup done for another year, not a bad little run or series of results considering everything.

Mansfield next, weather permitting. Thanks for reading. Back to work tomorrow.

PS: Warning. To those of you new to my blog and to my writing style. I may have used irony in the above post, I do this quite a lot. My apologies, it is a bit childish I know.