Sat 22nd Dec, 2007 - Worcester (3) v Gateshead (0)

Game day came for the revenge match and we're ahead in the pressroom as well as with the bookies. Chris Cornes looks nervous for Worcester as he hasn't scored in over 9 matches. Traore' is still up front for them partnering Cornes to create a fearsome duo. Their wingers are greased lightning and will also cause some headaches.

We're on a 6 game unbeaten run since changing to a 5-3-2 formation, and a a 4-0 annihilation of Altrincham last Tuesday got us in the right mood. Baxter and Curtis are towers of strength at the back and Webster keeps banging them in up front. The 8-strong box at the back is proving to be a winner against regular 4-4-2's. Worcester seem to alternate between a defensive 4-4-2 and a more attacking 4-3-1-2 with a floating AM. Both formations should be OK for us and we've put in extra effort in training trying to counter the midfielder-come-striker. Worcester are also known for their possession game, fighting for the ball at every opportunity and passing frugally. It's going to be a tough one.

The game starts oddly expansive with many counterattacking moves lofting the ball from one side to the other. We're zinging them past the goal and unlucky to be still goalless by 10 minutes, but fall behind to a great knockdown and shoot by Traore'. The goal gives Worcester some confidence and our defensive formation is no longer engendering us to chase from behind. Worcester cooly control the ball to lock up the game going into half time with hardly letting in another shot on goal. Baxter and Logan are both carrying yellows to the break and it's going to be a dicey 2nd half.

9 minutes in and Hughes also picks up a yellow, making his set of 5 to trade in for a sideline spot next week. Ravenscroft backpasses to Black from the ensuing free kick, then hoists it up front for Traore' to head to a charging Cornes. He slots it and you can feel the game break. We're down by 2 and both strikers are firing for them. We got caught out slightly by Cornes and Traore' swapping positions for that play, but we'd practiced for that as they used to do it while I was at Worcester. I'm dissappointed the guys didn't pick it.

Hanson also suffers the yellows, but there's more problems than collecting cards when Cornes breaks free from the halfway line to thump his second home. 3-0 down and card trouble holding us back from going all out. Harwood also pick up a yellow and it's looking like the ref has our number. 6 with cards! Hughes is the first to feel Young's wrath with a second bookable offense sending him for an early shower. Young has lost control of the game and it's turning ugly out there. I sub out some of the guys with cards to get some fresh perspectives into the game, but Logan also picks up his second in the next phase of play! 9 men see out the last 10 minutes and I'm surprised we don't bleed more goals as we're just running from the ref.

A lot to take out of this game. Not too much of it positive though. We're licking our wounds from that one and need some easy games to recover. Even though Hughes picked up a double yellow in the game, he's still got more to offer and it feels as though he's playing within himself. He's our paceman in the middle and should really be dominating the play. He just seems to get caught up in the roll of the game instead of keeping above it like he should. We'll need to look more closely at counterattacking or possibly wing play as we had precious few opportunities to see the ball in the back of the net when we're getting behind and the opponent sits back. There's always a challenge ...

Wed 19th Dec, 2007 - Gateshead vs Worcester

It had been coming for a while. The showdown I'd been waiting on, us against Worcester. The fixture had been put back due to Worcester's good fortune in the FA Trophy. They managed to get past last year's winners Lewes and then a tough game vs Cambridge, who knocked us out of both cups last year. At least we made it further in the Cup than them this year. Worcester are also enjoying a firm grip on pole position in the league. They have had a couple of ups and downs, but have always managed to keep at least a 5 point buffer to the chasers.

We're gaining momentum going into this game and have worked our way back to 6th from an onerous 15th. Morale is superb and we're fresh.

Bonesy went to the press today and surprisingly was happy to see the best team win. I'd been egging the boys to gee them up for this game and it came as a bit of a shock to hear there may be no spite in the game. It seems like a sign of weakness, but it may also be mind games. We're certainly ready for it, whatever the game turns out to be.

Wed 31st Oct, 2007 - FA cup 1st round!

WE're through to the FA Cup 1st round after an emphatic 2-0 win at Bishop's Stortford tonight in the 4th qualifying round replay. Even if we get no further the win has done the squad a world of good and has swelled the coffers too.

After a lacklustre 0-0 draw at our place, it seems an inevitability that we'd go down on their own turf. It was a tight game with not much on offer in the first half. Hanson went down with a nasty gash on his cheek from a head clash, so we're forced to sub early. A chancey pass to Byrne in the second half saw him released onto the goalie to slot one through. We then walled up the joint and booted everything out to the sidelines to relieve pressure. 66 minutes in and we bought a corner off some desperate defense. The kick-in produced a mad scramble in their goalmouth enough to force Chris Wright to clear over his own goal. The goalie misread it and deflected it down for a 2-0 lead. We soak up some more pressure and we're through.

We draw division 2's Accrington at home for the 1st round. A tough ask to put up against a professional outfit. We hang on to a 1 goal lead for a while, but ends up 2-2. We repeat the match a couple of weeks later but go down in a 4-1 drubbing. At least we picked up a bit from the gate. 3 days later and we're against Wimbeldon for the FA Trophy. We go in flat and get wiped 5-2. 3 days to relieve ourselves of all cup glory! We're downcast, but happy to get into the 1st round.

Sat 20th Oct, 2007 - Smedley needs to go back to Ref school

Tense game today against Blyth. Shillito lofted in a free kick to Parsons at the top of the square. Mason didn't quite reach him for the header and Parsons pivots on the ball toward goal. Hughes comes in from the blind side and takes the ball, but the ref blows for a penalty! Sure he bodychecked him on the way through and had to touch his shirt at some point, but the intent of the rule was that you can't use shirt grabbing to slow the player. You can't just ping someone for a simultaneous bump and grab. Even worse that the panalty lead to the solitary goal for the game. I'd even have been shocked if it was a penalty out on the field.


We're 10th in the division after 12 matches. Crowds are on the rise but I've noticed that the atmosphere doesn't really build in this stadium. It's almost too big! The running track certainly plays a role in seperating the fans from the game and it always looks like there's a poor turnout when you look up at the sparse stands before the game. Comes as a suprise when they announce bigger numbers at half time than Worcester used to have. Worcester have had a run of draws to only be 5 points clear at the top, but they can still turn it on thumping 5th placed Harrogate 3-0 today.

Next week is the 4th round qualifiers for the cup. We've had a relatively easy draw so far with 2 amateur sides trying their luck against us. This week will be the test as we've drawn conference nationals team Bishop's Stortford. We'll have home field advantage but will be without Webster due the loan terms.

Wed 22nd Aug, 2007 - 2nd on Ladder

Workington came to town but there wasn't much left of them when they left. We knocked 3 past their keeper and an additional own goal to wrap up an inspiring 4-1 win. The better news was that we moved up to 2nd on the ladder through goal difference! Early days I know, but for a side that was supposed to take the fall we're playing pretty darn well. Worcester are still on top with a 3 point margin and only 1 goal conceded (!).

Sunday 19th Aug, 2007 - Webster into the fray

With the need for more firepower up front, I've managed to snaffle David Webster on loan from Darlington for a couple of months. He's a decent 17 year old, and has that sense of being in the right place at the right time. We go into the game against Hucknall with Webster up front and he doesn't dissappoint. 2 goals before half time has the diehard fans welcoming him into the team with open arms. The game ends 2-0 and I'm glad I've got the season rolling.

Worcester picked up another dominating win and sit at top the table. We're in 7th but it's very early days...

Wed 15th Aug, 2007 - Gateshead vs Hyde

3 days in and it's the first outing for me in charge of Gateshead. We rock up to the International Stadium a little early to get some shirt signings in for the fans and I'm paraded around like some boiled fruit. A decent crowd made it out to see the new makeup of the team, and we're going in confident we can show them it's worth their time. 10 minutes in Seddon scoots clear for Hyde and thumps a 25 yard shot into the top corner. Fabulous shot; if you're a Hyde fan. 3 minutes later they poke in another to take a 2-0 lead.

We go in all guns blazing with everyone pushing for the ball and we manage to catch them napping at the back with a great 50 yard pass to Okike in the clear. A simple slot into the bottom corner means we're 1 down with only 14 minutes played. We're still gunnig for an equaliser and it's Okike again who manages to get clear and drive it home. We go to the break back on even footing and with momentum on our side.

It seems funny walking into a different dressingroom, but I knew what was needed from the lads. Another goal. We're here to win, not to be happy with a draw. The fans I'm sure would be sharing that sentiment. The second half is full of chances, but it all comes undone when Hyde thunder another one in from 35 yards out. 2 freaky goals were certainly the difference as we felt we'd done enough to get the win.

Worcester has started solidly with an away win and a 3-0 win at home to be 2nd on the ladder. It's going to be a tough road if I keep looking up at them :(

Sun 12th Aug, 2007 - Gateshead!

Ahh, the press release says it all really. I'm now the new manager of Gateshead!

We'd been in talks for a couple of weeks about a part time managerial position and the current status of the club. It's an amazing setup at Gateshead International Stadium, more famous for its atheletics than the footy, but still sporting a magnificent surface and seating for around 12,000. The talent is a little on the light side though and Gateshead has barely enough youth to see them through the local competitions. The proximity to Newcastle is probably the main cause of that as even the local crowd are known to come down to the ground in black and white. All I see is potential though, and with the side facing relegation it's a challenge I'm going to relish.

It's a pity the paperwork didn't go through a day earlier as I've missed the start of the season. Richard acting as caretaker manager steered the boys to a 1-0 win away at Guiseley to set a good, positive tone from the season opener. The boys look keen, and that's all I ask...

Sun 1st Jul, 2007 - Day of Reckoning

Today's the day when we all got the chop. I guess it wasn't a surprise as there had been no movement for a while about bargaining a deal. Nick's off to Ireland to see out the last of his carrer at Loughgall, but he's the only one with a bid on the table. Kinda feels like an end of an era for us old farts.

There's been no real new signings for the start of the year, so it might be a pretty solid start with the existing first team from last year. It's still looking good though and there's hushed whispers going around the grounds that this might be the year to go up.

Sat 28th Apr, 2007 - Seventh

After the Worksop debacle, we knew we'd need to be lucky to get into the playoffs. Hinckley went on to win both their remaining games to make it a non-event. We thumped Hyde 3-0 at their place and drew with frontrunners Stalybridge to finish up the season.

Well, all in all it turned out to be a decent season for us, but a pretty dismal year for me. The team is infused with some quality youth players now and is looking strong. There seems to be no real doubt about going up next year if we keep playing like we did through the closing games. Bonesy seems to have cemented his position as manager and I'm guessing they'll give him a bit more lattitude next year.

There's still a handful of us not on contracts yet for next year, and with the new recruits filling out the first team I'm guessing they won't be coming either. I'm still on the fence about next year. Airbus are still sniffing, but I'm guessing they'll wait until I'm off contract before letting me know exactly what they have in mind. The Welsh league isn't exactly glory central, but it might be worth a shot if the deal is right. Some of my mates from Aston Villa are coming down for the friendly arranged in a couple of week's time. I think that'll settle what the next step will be.

Here's the final league positions for season 06/07:

Sun 15th Apr, 2007 - Bad decisions

Big decision yesterday saw the end of our unlikely charge to the playoffs. We're 0-0 with Worksop with 30 minutes to go and we're peppering their goal (nothing's going near the net tho :/ ). They a break down the right side and cross into an open Owens on a charge into the box. Hennesey comes out off the line and goes down low for the ball. The ball bounces off Hennessey, but Owens clatters over him and lands hard. The ref points to the spot and then sends Hennessey off! Professional foul my arse. The hill erupts and gives the ref what for, but to no avail, the damage is done. They slot it past Coates to make the farce complete. Someone from our side got a yellow for dissent too.

Bloody Refs.

The first team has been going good in the last couple of months. They have managed a record of 10-2-2 since the new year and have pushed up into the top half of the table. The guv's been pushing hard to get us into a playoff spot and no-one would have thought it possible until this last run of wins. Although it's still possible to get there, with only 2 games to go we need Hinckley and Nuneaton to lose at least one. Even though we got one back to make a draw out of the Worksop game, we're screwed now. Did I mention how bad that decision was? Bonesy got stuck into Cooper after the game too, but only managed to get a warning from the FA.

Been a pretty ordinary couple of months for me. The lads on trial are stealing the limelight in our reserves games, and even though we're winning most of the friendlies organised, we're a topsy turvy lot. Airbus UK have indicated that they might be interested in my signature, but a year or two in the stands is sounding pretty good about now. There's no deal forthcoming from the management yet, but I'm not looking for anything less than a manager spot anyway.

Fri 19th Jan, 2007 - Friendly Reserves

The massive influx of people on trial has now come with a reason. There's been a push by the league to organise some reserve game friendlies and as we haven't really had a reserve grade as such, the players on trial have had a game prepared virtually for themselves. Looks like Bones has a few tricks up his nappy yet! Not sure whether I'd have linked the two potential gains together.

The atmosphere at the game was wierd as there were more Aussies on the field than locals! Didn't really feel like a home game at all apart from the hot-dogs.

Thu 11th Jan, 2007 - New Trials

The new year has come and gone and we still seem to be stuck in the bottom part of the table. The results have been frustrating more than anything as we're performing well, just not getting the 3 points. 2 draws on the trot followed by a desperate late goal against Alfreton last week sees us 15th on the ladder, but it could have been so much more (10th?).

Cambridge knocked us out of the cup after a 1-1 draw at their place gave us real hope of clinching the deal at home. Just couldn't get the ball toward the net to go down 0-1. Really knocked us around as we'd thought it was our chance to shine.

3 new trials came in today, mostly Aussie teenagers from the end of the season down under. Mark Bresciano's brother is amongst them and he's showing some flair an a spark that could make him take off, but he's hitting his prime now so he could be just unavailable opportunity. These are my thuoghts though, the boys in the back room seem pretty chuffed that he's here.

Wed 13th Dec, 2006 - Aston Villa links

One of the deals I'd placed on the table earlier in the season has finally come through. Aston Villa have accepted a relationship between the clubs to chiefly give villa players a target for loans. The quality of players at Villa Park wil mean a healthy injection of talent into the worcester team if any decide to make the train trip down here.

2 of the new Aussies seem to have impressed enough from the trial runs to get a contract until the end of the year. With Clegg and Cornes out for a few games we'll certainly need some cover, but handing out contracts seems a bit rich. Maybe it's a reaction to the loss last week to Nuneaton?

Clegg had been going good. He picked up a double 2 weeks ago in our 3-0 thumping of Scarborough and looked set to lead the boys forward. The loss has hurt us in more ways than just his skills on the park.

This week is Cambridge in the FA Trophy.