There but for the Grace of God (and 2020)…

It looks like Chester City is nearly dead. It remains suspended from the competition and the next few days/weeks are the final twitches from the near lifeless body.

A sad day for a proper football club recently run by idiots. Ring any bells? Is there a common theme?

How many more jokers (like Pinkney) are allowed to buy football clubs before the football authorities say “er no – hang on – you can’t control the club, because it will cost you x over the next 3 years and you only have access to y – oh and you’re an idiot as well so you are doubly unqualified”.

Even Chester fans are calling for the club to be killed off/put out of its misery so that they can start afresh.

The question is with the likes of Pompey, Cardiff, Southend, Crystal Palace etc in dire straits how long before another one goes under?

Makes you grateful that the pesky kids at 2020 were the successful bidders when we were in admin doesn’t it?


The Board of the Football Conference today (18th February 2010); met with representatives of Chester City (2004) FC, when the club pleaded guilty to all five counts with which they were charged.

These included those in respect of failing to fulfil fixtures, non payment of Football Creditors, failing to attend satisfactorily to competition business and bringing the competition into disrepute.

At the conclusion of a lengthy meeting, the representatives were advised that the Board failed to be convinced with their presentation that the club were able to demonstrate the club’s ability to fulfil future fixtures in the competition and as a consequence informed the club of their finding in relation to Conference Rule 8.6.

In compliance with Article 5.2 of the Football Conference, the Board will recommend to its Member Clubs that Chester City (2004) FC should face expulsion from membership.

To facilitate this recommendation the Board are now legally mandated to convene a General Meeting of Member Clubs to, receive, deliberate and vote on the said recommendation to expel in consideration of Rule 8.6 and Article 5.2.

Until the meeting is held the club will remain suspended from the competition and their representatives suitably advised as to any future plans or presentations they may well wish to pursue against the recommendation of the Board to its Member Clubs.

The date and venue of the meeting is subject to final clarification.


Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

Now over the years our club has had more potential moves than I care to remember. More moves than a chess-piece. Since I’ve been following the club, there have been the nightmare moves to Milton Keynes, the KohlerDome, J10, Gurney’s F1 track, and J12. I understand there there were also plans in the 50s and 60s to locate elsewhere too, as well as discussions about using the Vauxhall site.

The latest little suggestion is as part of a potential huge new revelopment to the west of the M1 and sort of north east of Caddington. Or as the Bushwood website says “a new sustainable, mixed-use community emerging as a seamless extension to the west of Luton — a new neighbourhood that works socially, economically and environmentally.”

I don’t know any of the personalities involved, so my take on this is going to be rather limited, an outsiders point of view almost, but it strikes me that the people behind Bushwood have gone about getting LTFC on board in almost completely the wrong way.

On the 12th January there was the huffy post on the official site about the banners that had gone up around Bury Park advising folk that Bushwood was involved in locating the Hatters to a new 20,000 seater stadium. Obviously these antics would have put Steven and Gary’s backs up and also noses out of joint. We also understand this week via an even more huffy post
that this publicity influenced private investors hoping to put money into the what-was-to-be learning centre.

Bearing in mind that 2020 have repeatedly stated that one of their cornerstones is to carry out a study into all potential sites, and that they are in the process of speaking to a number of people and developers about possible sites, and that this process is still ongoing, it seems an incredibly naive way – or a desperate attempt – of getting the club to lend its support to the development.

Bearing in mind also, that the last two (three? four? five? arguably) sets of owners seemed hell-bent on using the relocation of the club as a means of lining their own property-developing pockets, treating the club as an annoying side-issue with all of the damaging disruption that it has caused, leading ultimately to the predicament we find ourselves now in, I cannot believe the extraordinary insensivity with which it has apparently been handled by Bushwood.

It is like a woman who has previously divorced her two alcoholic husbands being wooed by a man with the smell of beer on his breath and an alarming clinking sound coming from the boot of his car.

I would have thought that Gary and Stephen would have been the last people on the planet to have been brow-beaten or bullied into moving to a particular site by a developer.

My message to the developers would be: you build your stadium, but unless it is to our design, with the profits, naming rights and ownership vesting entirely in 2020 then you might as well save your money.

The daft thing is I daresay if the developers had engaged the 2020 board in the right way it might just have been a valid potential option – the feelings of the good people of Caddington notwithstanding.

As it is, I suggest they have pissed on their strawberries.


Team News vs R&D

Mr Money has promised not to tamper with Alan Neilson’s selection for tomorrow, so in effect it is AN’s final match in charge. It will be his players and his tactics for tomorrow with RM only interfering if we are doing badly!

Rubbish and Dustbins could be a potential banana skin – they are in 9th and have scored plenty of goals this year, but this game will allow us to put even more room between us and the chasing pack and put pressure on the teams above us.

In terms of players Rossi Jarvis is back after his three match suspension, and only Keet’, Porno and Liam Hatch are injured still, but all training I understand. Looks like Mr Money may nearly start with a full squad – something that poor Mick never had.

As things settle down just to confirm the appointments today:

Richard Money – Manager
Alan Nielson – Assistant Manager
Gary Brabin – Chief Scout.

Brabin’s appointment is an interesting one – from listening to Gary Sweet’s interview(s) it sounds as much that he has been appointed to give us the lowdown on the players and teams in this division as it is to go searching for new talent, it also seems as if he is in learning mode too, gleaning what he can from RM, acknowledging himself that his experience is only non league. I guess it remains to be seen whether the cheeky scouser is on an inevitable crash course with the softly spoken Alan Nielson. Personally, in the fullness of time, I hope that AN is our next manager, once he has a bit more experience and can demonstrate knowledge of the marketplace too.

These days, thank goodness, once again Luton have an excellent scouting network and we must acknowledge that finding raw talent that can be nurtured and harvested must be our modus operandi henceforth. It is the lifeblood of this club.

I can only hope that with promising youngsters on the sidelines Richard Money is the type of manager who will not be shy to try the youngsters and will not create an artificial barrier between the youth set up and the first team.

When Newell was appointed he had little choice but to hurl the youngsters in at the deep end, and they did him and us proud. My hope is that RM will be able to gently introduce the present crop into the first team over the next few years.

Oh, and get us promoted at the first attempt too…

Predictions – the heart says we introduce Money and send off Nielson with another hearty 3-0. The pessimist in me says that the party will be spoilt by a cheeky 0-1 defeat and we will all come back to earth with a big bump.

Come on you Hatters – and well done 2020 for following my suggestion of the 23rd September!


Amazing Grays…

…or not as the case may be. A match more like a pre-season friendly ended up with the Hatters deserved 3-0 victors.

Because of the anticipated small crowd it was one of those unreserved seating games where the Upper bit of the Kenny, and the David Preece Stand were closed. This gave me the opportunity to sit behind the goal like I used to, and also to make a personal discovery. Since moving from the bearpit to a slightly more reserved location a few seasons ago (coincided with our slide down the divisions..mmmm..) I have clearly honed my shouting technique to ensure that the players and ref can still hear me thirty rows back. However, I shocked myself yesterday when shouting at one of the players, as I used the full force from three rows in, which frankly could be heard at the Oak Road end. I think poor Mark Tyler put his hands over his ears. I turned down the volume from 11 from then on.

Yesterday was of course an FA cup qualifying round game, the first time we had played in the equivalent of this round since beating Great Yarmouth 15-0 in 1914. The FA had it in for us even then because we should have got a bye, and made a mockery of having to play at that level even then. I read in the programme that three goals was the fewest goals number we had scored in a tie in this round, so it was fitting that we didn’t break that particular record yesterday.

Strange game for me yesterday as I was unfettered by friends or by Godson and was all on my lonesome for the first time since the Plymouth game last year. My Godson had received a one-match ban from his Mum for bunking off his flute lessons, apparently there was further punishment in store for him as he had to go and see his mad Granny too.

It was like a ghost town behind the goal in the Kenny bar, and I think at one point I had been the only customer for 20 minutes. At least being on my own gave me the chance to read the programme from cover to cover for a change and also to sink three pints. However, I still had plenty of time to spare at about 2:30pm so reluctantly I took my seat early and watched the players warm up and play dodge ball from all of the stray shots.

Three things stood out from the pre-match warm up – firstly Rio Charles knows where the goal is instinctively and was knocking them in for fun. Secondly, yesterday at least, Liam Hatch couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. He must have had twenty shots at goal, just one on one with Shane Gore, and didn’t hit the target once let alone score a goal. Can it be that difficult receiving and hitting a ball into the net from 12 years? Even I might have got one on target, and I was a very slow left back who never scored in over 150 games.

Thirdly, it struck me what a good keeper Shane Gore is. I think he would have easily made the team if we hadn’t had Tyler, or if we still had Dean Brill.

So, onto the match: Tyler started in goal and had very little to do other than put his hands over his ears and to kick the ball to the opposing centre halves. Reynolds started at right back and treated us to the heaviest contact on a back pass I have seen for many a year, giving them a corner early on. White and Blackett teamed up in the middle, both having sound enough games, and I think Blackett is much better at centre half than left back. Howells started at left back and had a cracking game I thought. He linked up with Burgess really well down the left, made some good runs, got some crosses in and generally did very well. I think he must be the most improved player this year, and he has come on leaps and bounds since Mick left.

In the middle we started with Burgess on the left who played about 80 minutes. He did look at bit tired and wasn’t completely in the game, but it was a good workout. In the middle was Asa Hall, now back to his best and surprise surprise Pilks who played in the holding role because Nico had the ‘flu. He showed what a quality professional he was and how poor Nico has been by not putting a foot wrong and looking as if he had played there for years. The only thing that let him down slightly (and only slightly) was his distribution, but if he kept things simple he was excellent. On the right Adam Newton started, and had a sound if not spectacular game.

Up front, we started with Rio and the returning Kevin Gallen, who must have been pleased to get 90 minutes under his belt again.

We started well with Burgess and Howell linking up nicely to put Gallen in and created a few chances from the start. It was only about 10 mins before the first goal came when Pilks, aiming to take the leading scorer mantle back from Craddock, shot and Blackett pounced on the rebound.

Grays weren’t showing much at all hardly surprising bearing in mind they were missing all of their loan players, including our own Geo. Beavan esq. The only one who stood out for me was the long haired Jamie Slabber, who played some nice passed and laid the ball off well, but couldn’t shoot for toffee, which is just as well as I think all of their decent chances fell to him.

Reynolds redeemed his early blunders by powering forward a la Ed Asafu-Adjaye and struck one from about 25 yards which brought of a great save from their keeper.

Meanwhile Rio was having a great game. He must have managed two or three runs down the right resulting in good crosses, the best of which presented Gallen with an easy header to make it two nil but he put it wide.

The second goal was as inevitable as the BBCs baiting of Nick Griffin. Newton ran down the right crossed well (I do like Adam Newton) and their poor centre half Rnkovic put it in his own net, a fraction of a second before Gallen would have done. Later on Rnkovic was involved in an amusing off the ball incident with Rio, which they both saw the funny side of. Rnkovic outpaced Rio down our left to then shield and to see the ball out. As the pair of them ran back up the pitch Rio clipped his heels as if to say ‘that’ll teach you for being so clever’ and he fell over. Rio gave him a wink and Rnkovic grinned and shook his head.

In the second half the game became much more of a training match as the result was already known. After an hour Gnapka came on for Newton and Ed A-A replaced Alan White. Interesting to see Reynolds switch to centre half and Ed to stay at right back. Reynolds looked much more comfortable from then on. So we ended with the unusual back four of Howells, Blackett, Reynolds and Ed. Numerous chances came and went for us in the second half, and Grays looked a bit better but only because we dropped the tempo a bit.

As I mentioned above, Burgess came off after about 80 mins and Nielson brought on one of the trio of youth team players on the bench, Taylor Nathaniel. Taylor looked lively down the left with an excelent turn of pace and was immediately involved. The ball was played to him from the back and he ran down the left, turned the ball back to Asa Hall, carried on, as looking to get the 1-2 but instead Hall steadied himself and finished beatifully to make the game 3-0.

Apart from another chance for poor Slabber that was about it. I enjoyed the game, even though it had a pre-season friendly feel to it. It’s hard not to enjoy 3-0 wins, we have had so few in the last few years.

Fair play to Grays they did look down on quality, but did play some decent football, when we failed to close them down sufficiently.

The only other thing of note was Gary Sweet’s very informative notes about the process of recruiting the new manager. Without saying so in as many words he made it clear that AN isn’t being considered which is a real shame. He even described Nico et al’s comments calling for Neils to be given the job as “rather outspoken” – which to me seemed a bit snooty or clumsy, which I am absolutely sure it wasn’t meant to be.

To quote the latest position he said:

Having conducted numerous interviews to date, we are confident that we will soon be able to appoint a manager who matches our immediate need and our longer term ambition and a man who should be popular with you all.

That last line was tantalising. Does he mean that the manager should be popular with us because he will match the clubs ambitions and get us promoted, ie he will become popular because of success? Or, intriguingly, does he mean that once the manager is announced he will be a popular because of who he is?

That’s Graham Taylor out then!

So the draw is later on today – I bet we get Leeds away…

UPDATE: It’s Rochdale at home on the 7th.


Alty Team News

Tomorrow is Alan Nielsen’s third and potentially final game in charge (for now). So far in his two match job interview he is doing pretty well. But I suspect it will not be enough.

Kevin Nicholls came out in support of AN during the week saying “In my opinion there’s only one man for the job and that man is Alan Neilson. The lads have taken to him, training has been fantastic and all of the lads are right behind him and his staff.” I suspect it is in Nico’s interest to retain as much of the status quo as possible. A complete outsider might start asking question and picking people on ability and form rather than reputation and passion.

Apparently Gary Waddock slipped from our grasp this week when he was appointed Wycombe manager. In addition – Stephen Browne has been quoted as saying “We’ve approached two managers that are currently in jobs in League One and League Two and we’ve been refused permission to speak to those managers as they are good managers in their own right and are doing a good job at the moment.” I was a bit taken back by that as I thought the town were inviting applications rather than approaching managers – but we will see. If anyone has any suggestions as to who these might be I’d welcome some ideas.

Chester are reporting today that they have turned down an offer for their manager Jim Harvey (who??). Now previously I was thinking that the 2020 board were organising a formal CV and interview process, and therefore it seemed unlikely that Gary Sweet would just pick up the phone and make the approach out of the blue.

I suspect it is one of three scenarios: a) the Chester chairman wass making it up; b) Harvey was interviewed, and LTFC were enquiring about his availability and a compensation package or c) Gary Sweet just picked up the phone and asked. Bearing in mind how cheesed off Harvey sounds by the boards refusal of the approach (after all he had been in the Chester job all of 24 hours) it sounds as if it might be the latter. If, based on Stephen Browne’s comments, they are just picking up the phone and enquiring after folk it smacks a bit of desperation – perhaps the 25 or so CVs they received were all rubbish?

Team news-wise things it is a mixed picture – at bit of man ‘flu in the camp has meant AN has only 16 players to chose from apparently. Gallen is training again and may be in contention for the bench tomorrow (though I suspect Tuesday is more likely), and guess what? For the first time since he limped off in the limp performance against Kettering Andy Burgess will be part of the team. We will see whether or not he starts.

If Burgess does start – he will be a perfect replacement as Rossi Jarvis is suspended for his ludicrous sending off last week. Potentially of course, were I in charge and Gallen and Keano were fully fit, they would be in midfield with Adam Newton-plays for Luton and Burgess.

Keano is seeing a specialist on his knee. Porno is being prescribed rest for his toe which is good news for his toe, but I suspect bad news for his waistline, and Hatch has had a miracle wonder-injection that might see him play again in two weeks. Lord above! In a month’s time the new manager – whomsoever he shall be – might have a full team.

I suspect Craddock will start up front with Wright – but Rio must be knocking on the door too. Perhaps he’s our super sub!

My prediction? Altrincham are a weak side and punching above their weight. I really can’t see us losing – it’d have to be a piss-poor performance if we did – so the heart says a 2-1 win again ‘flu permitting, and the pessimist in me says a 1-1 draw.

Tactics? Well – based on the last two away performances, the sooner we are down to 10 men and a goal down the better…

Come on you Hatters, another 3 points would be fantastic and it would mean four wins in six and three on the spin.

Oh, and in the event that a new manager is appointed over the next few days and if I get the nod ahead of the press and I’m near a keyboard – you’ll hear the news here first. Otherwise…you’ll hear the news here second!

By the way, thanks to everyone who commented on the Celebrity Luton Fans posting. Looks like we have a pretty comprehensive list now. I’ll do a definites, suspects and prospects summary in the next few days when I get a moment.


The Season Starts Here

If Alan Neilson is interested in the manager’s job – tomorrow will be like a job interview in front of 6000 people.

I’m not sure how keen he is – he was previously reluctant to step up to first team duties from the youth team – but I am sure he will reveal his hand at some point. If he does want the job then a good victory against Tamworth – who I am ashamed to say are above us in the table – would get the fans on side.

I must admit I haven’t looked forward to a home game as much since perhaps Leicester at the start of the 2006/7 season.

Any manager 2020 look at appointing will have to sign up to the cornerstones of the 2020 mission. Hopefully this would exclude any northern Prima Donnas from the job.

As ever, there has been a huge amount of speculation as to who will take over. Suddenly people are experts on managers like like Gary Brabin, Paul Tisdale, Mark Cooper and others who, unless you take your non-league football seriously, most people would never have heard of until very recently.

If the board don’t appoint from within then if it was down to me, the successful candidate would have:

Demonstrable track record of playing passing football
Proven track record of success with a limited playing budget
Willingness to play young players and have a clear structure for moving promising youngsters from the Youth team, through the reserves and into the first team
Ability to demonstrate tactical awareness of opposing teams
History of being able to motivate a side when losing at half time
An ability to ensure that players play to a regular formation and that the players are aware of what is expected from them in that formation.

Do we need to appoint someone from non-league to manage the biggest side ever to play in non-league? Not sure. We want someone with the aspirations that match 2020’s goals to get back into the league, to grow the side organically and rise through the divisions in a sustainable way.

Personally I would like to have someone who has a link with the club in the past. Someone who knows of its peculiarities and appreciates its history. If we can’t have someone with a Luton history, then I would want a young coach who would hit the ground running, get the fans on side and grow with the club over the next few years.

Of course, that club down the M1 has a recent track record of appointing young and up and coming coaches from bigger clubs, such as Hoofroyd the cheat and Brendan Rogers. One of whom hoofed and the other who played such good football he was whisked away from the non footballing environment of Vicarage Road to a proper club within a season.

On the Outlaws message board some have been calling for Andy Hessenthaler to be Luton manager. I don’t think 2020 would even consider a Watford connection – but if they did, they would have my season ticket back. There have been various ludicrous suggestions such as Kinnear (as if he would!) Graham Taylor (over my dead body), Iain Dowie (hoof!) Tony Thorpe (riot) and Don Hutchison – who was like a union rep in the changing room when he was with us and was a disruptive influence. What amazes me is that some people actually take these suggestions seriously.

The truth is of course no one is ‘in the know’. I suspect the choice will be a person whom Antony Brown can work with and who Stephen, Gary and the board would be happy to welcome. If the board are considering Nielson, then at least they get a free, but very early look at things tomorrow.

As far as team news goes I am still waiting for a press conference, but we know that Porno is still out with his poorly pinkie, Burgess is now making progress. Gallen is out for three weeks. Keane has a medial ligament problem – I have no idea where that is, but it sounds very painful.

Hatch is obviously back from suspension.

My worry is Nico. He was so far off the pace on Tuesday night that we were almost playing with 10 men again. I would love to see Nielson assert his authority straight away and stick him on the bench and perhaps try Reynolds in the holding role as apparetntly this is one of his positions.

For what it is worth, were I to be Mr Nielson tomorrow my team would be Tyler, Gnapka, Ed, Pilks, Murray. Newton, Hall, Reynolds, Howells, Hatch and Rio. Bench: Gore, White, Craddock, Nico and Jarvis.

Prediction? This is almost impossible. With the team we have available we should be a match for League Two teams let alone the mighty Tamworth. Hopefully, the players will respond and demonstrate it wasn’t them but the methods of their mate Big Mick that was holding them back; but has long enough passed since Tuesday for there to be sufficient difference in the styles? I hope so, but I don’t think so.

Heart says a 2-0 win. Head says 1-1.

Oh – and Mark Tyler you are a good keeper, the best we have had here in a long while, but for God’s sake stop blindly punting it up the middle. My vocal chords have only just recovered from shouting at you on Tuesday – please don’t make me damage them again tomorrow.

Come on you Hatters – start of a new era tomorrow, and hopefully we will begin to arrest the decline of the past three seasons. Let’s show Tamworth that we are BACK.


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.