Kerry Miller

Street FC

Newly crowned Western League champions Street FC have only done half a job so far according to manager Richard Fey who stated clearly ‘now the title is ours we are focussing on the Les Phillips Cup and keeping our winning run going’, writes Kerry Miller.

That run now stands at 29 consecutive league and cup wins and with four more league games and a cup semi-final going into yesterday’s clash with Brislington at the Tannery, the long standing record held over two seasons by Tiverton Town is tantalisingly within their grasp.

The catalyst for this championship was the 7-1 defeat at Willand Rovers

Richard Fey

The pressure is undoubtedly beginning to show as only a last gasp goal line clearance in injury time at Clevedon Town last week and a seemingly unending list of games caused by the horrendous weather has stretched Fey’s talented squad to the limit but he and his number two Nathan Rudge cannot praise the side enough. Fey added: “The catalyst for this championship was the 7-1 defeat at Willand Rovers which was a real wake up call for everyone. After that the first team had a training game against the reserves and scored a few goals and haven’t looked back. The game after, we beat Bradford Town 2-0 and since then the squad has just gelled.” Fey added former Bristol Rovers man Lewis Hogg to the squad along with Jake Mawford but it is essentially the same as last season where they were runners up to Bristol Manor Farm. He said: “We have 92 points and have lost two games whereas we finished last season with 92 and lost four but Manor Farm had a freakish season with 102 points so we knew what we had to achieve for the title and promotion to the Southern League.”

“They are all best mates and are going on tour together and have all played their part in the success this season and I am especially pleased for Ben Amghar who has been around for years but has never played Southern League football and he deserves his chance. When he scored the winner in injury time against Hengrove Athletic it became a habit and the lads have all taken in Nathan and myself’s philosophy over the past two years and they all deserve a crack at the higher level.”

It has certainly been a manic ten days for the Street boss who has been on five local radio programmes, the Non-League Show, Talk Sport 2 and podcasts and has had to field requests from umpteen news and media outlets since they clinched the title on Tuesday night with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Bitton at the Tannery. A Dave O’Hare hat-trick – his second against Bitton this season, clichéd the win in front of a large crowd who now collectively hold their breath for the run in. Fey and Rudge’s men have the not inconsiderable hurdle of two matches against Buckland Athletic, in league and Les Philips Cup to negotiate with that club themselves not out of the running for runners up spot and a possible chance at reaching the Southern League, with further home matches against Bridport and Chippping Sodbury to finish what has been an exhausting campaign. With the Tannery having been brought up to scratch in fine style over the past 18 months Fey has to begin planning for August even while this campaign still has plenty of life in it and the next two weeks will be just as intense for all at the Cobblers ground as the previous nine months has been.

Nonsense Speak

For those who enjoy making acquaintance with nonsense speak, the football world is the most fertile of spots in which to indulge their passions, with players, managers, spectators, pundits, commentators and presenters all vying to make themselves sound more interesting by inventing ever more outlandishly meaningless phrases.

Just one afternoon clinging to Radio 5 in the vain hope that the Premiership will throw up an interesting couple of hours will nevertheless allow the listener to garner a whole new lexicon of phrases, delivered in that uniquely optimistic way that has been developed and adopted by everyone from Dave Pleat to Dave Bassett.

He or she will charge on regardless of whether what they are saying actually means anything or is, at best vaguely grammatically correct and in the correct tense. Combined with the verbal text being delivered in a rich local or regional accent, the listener will be none the wiser and short of a few minutes that will never be recovered.

Here is a far from comprehensive list of some areas of football speak which really should be explored and, if possible, outlawed so as to attempt to protect our otherwise wonderful native language for future generations to crucify at will.

1: Used by assorted Geordies and Jocks in the main, ‘He has went down the wing’, or ‘he’s picked up the ball and has went on a run’…. This mangled use of tenses manages to incorporate what appears to be some kind of current tense and a past version to good effect in that it grabs the attention, if only to make the dear listener consider switching to Talk Sport when Steve Stone or Chris Waddle are on the mic.

2: ‘False number nine’: Made up phraseology which has surfaced in the last couple of seasons which appears to relate to a method of play whereby a striker, who has gone most of the season without needing to invent a new goal celebration, is excused by being dubbed a ‘false number nine.’ Precisely what it means is anyone’s guess but possibly it relates to the likes of West Ham United’s Andy Carroll, whose season mostly pans out by being fit for one and a bit games and then being out for three months with a thigh strain. A more false number nine would be difficult to imagine, save maybe for those forwards employed by West Bromwich Albion or Stoke City, whose usefulness has been compared to the bottom half of a mermaid, on occasions.

3: ‘If he contacts correctly then he hits the net’. Another weird use of a wrong tense in that the deliverer is using a future variety while already knowing the outcome, which again in the world of Andy Carroll and crew (see number two), is pointless as the outcome is a forgone conclusion in most attacks.

4: ‘Good areas’: This is a short sharp phrase often bellowed from the dug out by the portly ex-player who is trying to cling to his idea of his importance but which means nothing at all without some sort of qualifier. At the time of printing, this has not yet been verified as meaning anything at all and has almost certainly been accidentally used in a game somewhere and copied by somebody who assumed it meant something. It doesn’t.

5: ‘The young man could have done better but hit it just wide of the goals.’ This desperately irritating use of a plural when referring to the net has been used by the Charlton brothers since the dawning of time , but as they won the World Cup, it is forgiven. Mostly again adopted by Geordies and Jocks, it spread to the occasional commentator via such talented orators as Dean Saunders and Andy Townsend, the latter’s usage having irritated so many that there are websites dedicated to it.

6: ‘Abandoned, cancelled or postponed.’ Regularly used in the wrong text in non-League circles the three different versions of why a game did not get played mean three different things but appear to be randomly used now in the professional game. Last season’s aborted Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth match, called off after a suspect package was found in a stand 20 minutes before kick-off, was reported by the home media team as being ‘abandoned ‘, despite it not having started. More bizarrely the likes of the Guardian reported that ‘a fake bomb caused the game to be cancelled’, presumably meaning that they would not bother to reschedule it. More simply a postponement does everyone a favour when it is Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion or failing that, a floodlight failure.

7: ‘The young man has almost walked, or trotted towards the frame of the goal, or was he…no maybe not offside…we can’t tell if the custodian has removed the player by the throat…no it’s no more than a yellow card at best, Motty……I couldn’t agree more.’ A typical stream of semi-consciousness which emanates from former Luton Town and Spurs supremo Dave Pleat on a regular basis which proves conclusively that more often than not he has no idea what he is going to say until after he has said it.

8: ‘Yes, no absolutely.’ Remarkable drivel made known nationwide by the wonderfully satirical WIA programme but which has sadly spread to football usage. Often used simply as a verbal crutch at the start of a reply to a searching question by Kelly Cates, it has now taken on a way of saying “I agree totally with whatever you say, whether I mean it or not.” It has long since eclipsed the likes of ‘Obviously, actually, basically and the evergreen ‘at the end of the day’ as the most irritating football phrase of all time, with the possible exception of…………………

9: ‘Early doors’: While stiletto-chinned pundit Jimmy Hill is largely accepted as inflicting ‘at the end of the day’ on football people and later the entire world in general, Laughing Boy Ron Atkinson was a whole new ball-game. Combining a version of phrase number one with this two word classic, Big Ron, when not killing his whole career with one ill-ventured off air sentence, would often come out with ‘He has tried a lollipop pass but then went down the wing and crossed ‘early doors’. Many have attempted to explain the phrase but as yet nobody has succeeded.

10: Simply the word ‘football’: For some reason which is known only to those currently employed to fill countless hours of radio and TV time with bland nonsense, almost everyone now has to lever in the word ‘football’ into virtually every sentence when it is not necessary and previously unused.

The main protagonists are pundits such as Stan Collymore and Michael Gray and managers the likes of Tony Pulis, Tony Mowbray and Gary Monk, all of whom are now guilty as charged. Examples are many and include ‘He has settled well, at the football club’…’he is capable of football passes like that’, the chairman of the football club has given his given his vote of confidence and so on.

Not content with that, ‘possession’ now becomes ‘possession of the football’ and anyone now is ‘a football player while three points is now referred to as ‘winning a football game.’

All those reading and agreeing with the top ten irritations above are surely close relatives of Victor Meldrew and will find themselves ticking them all off each Saturday afternoon while quietly adding one or two of their own. Enjoy.

Artificial Pitches

Artificial Pitch.
With the constant heavy rain putting paid to most of the non-League programme once again last Saturday, Western League press officer Kerry Miller went down the 4G route and enjoyed an unusual treble with three games in three different counties last Saturday.

One young side who are always worth watching are Exeter City’s U18s and they look on course to repeat last season’s triumphs with a League Cup semi-final thrown in for good measure. The club’s training ground is the impressive Cat and Fiddle complex in Clyst St Mary which many years ago was the home ground of Western Leaguers St Lukes College and the changing room pavilion is still there and largely intact although the iconic Rothman’s Western League scoreboard was finally taken down a few years ago. The old Western League pitch is still there and surrounded by advertising boards but the youngsters now have a 4G pitch alongside the varied grass pitches, all of which would have taken a battering had they had been used on Saturday.

Instead the all weather surface came up trumps and City hammered their counterparts from Premier League AFC Bournemouth 5-1 to emphasise what a fine set up the Grecians have at youth level.

With Western League games going down at regular intervals and even Shepton Mallet’s fine pitch giving up the ghost, it was 4G again for the afternoon part of the day and with Roman Glass St George away, Keynsham Town’s home game with Almondsbury was definitely on while a few games in Bristol did get the final go ahead elsewhere.

Keynsham have played at the Crown Field since just after the war and in recent seasons the ground has been transformed into a much used and much changed venue which gains from not being completely enclosed by a hideous 12 foot chain link fence like so many others. The new seating came courtesy of Bristol City’s Ashton Gate make over and having been painted and brushed to within an inch of its life, it has possibly never looked better or brighter.

A good crowd, including a number of neutrals just happy to see a game, watched Keynsham go back to the top of Division One with goals from Tauren Williams and top scorer Matt Brown, his 50th for the club in 70 games.

The third game in the 4G trilogy was at Oaklands Park, formerly the home of Southern League Almondsbury Town but now the HQ of Gloucestershire FA and on the opposite side of the road to Almondsbury. Oaklands Park is used by a host of clubs including Roman Glass, Lebeq FC, and Bradley Stoke Town from the Bristol and District League Senior Division as well as by the county and Bristol Rovers U23 side on occasions.

This Saturday, for a 5.30pm kick-off it was the turn of Premier Combination side Real Thornbury who had the services of Taunton Town winger Ross Staley for one game before he headed off to Perth, Western Australia to play and coach. Predictably he was far too lively for the Oldland Abbotonians’ second string and netted five in an 8-0 win. Oaklands Park, along with the other two grounds, has an excellent surface but the complex suffers a little from the plethora of small sided goals which are dotted about the place including a group of them directly behind the main goals which is off putting to spectators and can’t be any fun for the players of officials. However with plenty of covered seating and standing areas it is a comfortable venue and for those whose footballing fix can stretch to more than one game on a Saturday, theregular 5.30pm kick-offs are an interesting idea.