The Football Neutral Season 2014/15 – eBook Now Available on the Kindle Store!

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Just like last season, I’ve now compiled a compendium of all of my reports from last season, along with a few extra bits and bobs.  It was a big hit with eBook readers last year, so hopefully it’ll hit the spot in the same way this year.

If you click here you can pick it up for any Kindle device (tablet, PC or smartphone) for less than £3, and you’ll be helping fund my adventures for another year in 2015/16.

Please spread the word about it, I’d be genuinely grateful! And obviously, give it a read to relive two of my favourite ever match day experiences… (the clues are on the front cover)

 

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The Football Neutral: Match Fifty – AFC Wimbledon vs Cheltenham Town

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The only way to read this post in FULL along with 23 others from 2014/15 is to buy my season review eBook in the Kindle store. It’s less than £3 and over 300 pages of my daft adventures. Pick it up, enjoy it and you’ll be supporting my travels next season. Feel free to tell anyone you might know about it too! Thank you so much!

…I walked from Norbiton station to the ground just as the City game kicked off.  My phone soon buzzed to reveal a message that read “what a start” from my Dad.  Well, this could mean anything so I asked him to elaborate – City had scored after 47 seconds.  My Dad can’t spell “Ulloa” because the difference between spelling and correct Spanish pronunciation baffles him.  I think he typed his name as “Uoohchuhuoaaah”.

I also had time on my walk to think about the plight of Cheltenham Town, already relegated out of the league.  I watched them more than any club last season (three times) and I found their fans to be really good people.  I sincerely hope that they bounce straight back, and they’ve at least got a manager with good pedigree in Gary Johnson.  I spotted a fair few of their fans on my stroll, and it was encouraging that they took so many supporters to their final game of such a disappointing season.

I collected my tickets from a small Portakabin before meeting Paul.  I pulled out my phone to get my confirmation and the nice lady said “don’t need it love, just your surname”.  What a pleasant thing to see, a bit of trust that I wouldn’t be after anyone else’s tickets!  That is very rare these days, bearing in mind how many clubs have asked me for ID when buying tickets at the ground on the day of a game in case I was there to cause trouble.  I’m obviously not, but I can understand why people sometimes jump to conclusions, what with me being a tattooed skinhead and all.  It’s only if you look closer at the tattoos and you realise that they’re all daft and that I’ve only got a shaven head because my hair is falling out.

The club shop is another small building, and it’s clear to see that the current Wimbledon kit is GORGEOUS. Not only are they sponsored by every supporters favourite waste of time – Football Manager – but it’s a lovely blue with awesome 1980s style pinstripe AND it’s made by Admiral.  My first ever Leicester kit was made by Admiral, so the memories it brought back were fantastic.  I had to stop myself from buying it.  I’m thinking about going online and buying it now.  It’s a truly smashing kit, only rivalled by the Forest Green Rovers away shirt….

The only way to read this post from last season in full (along with 23 others and a load of extra stuff) is to get my eBook for less than £3. Click here to get it. I’d be really grateful!

 

 

 

 

The Football Neutral: Match Forty Five – Sheffield FC vs Chasetown

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The only way to read this post in FULL along with 23 others from 2014/15 is to buy my season review eBook in the Kindle store. It’s less than £3 and over 300 pages of my daft adventures. Pick it up, enjoy it and you’ll be supporting my travels next season. Feel free to tell anyone you might know about it too! Thank you so much!

…That last thought worried us a fair bit, especially as we were pretty vocal in our disappointment regarding the performance of the burly number nine.  That said, he was so poor that you’d imagine that even if his Dad was stood next to us that he’d agree with us.  And I must stress we weren’t being mean; the other fans around us were as annoyed with him as we were.  We wanted him to be an all-conquering action hero, what we got was a lad off of Geordie Shore.

It took a couple of minutes for someone to update the scoreboard, a disinterested steward getting the job.  He slowly put up a number one for the away team.  Poor bloke didn’t know at this point how busy he would end up being that afternoon.  We could hear him sighing as just as he had finished and walked away from the scoreboard, Sheffield got an equaliser through Gregory.

We wondered how many numbers they had by the scoreboard in case of an abnormal score, and then chatted about the good old days of the videprinter on Grandstand and how you’d get a massive score every now and again, spelled out in capital letters as well as numbers.  I remember watching that at my Gran’s house as a kid, her second husband vocalising how I’d then see it for the rest of my life.  He was checking his pools coupon and a score came in from the Scottish second division – I forget what team so let’s say Hamilton – had scored 8. As I read the word “EIGHT” he shouted “FUCKING EIGHT??!!”  I can only read scores like that in that way nowadays….

The only way to read this post from last season in full (along with 23 others and a load of extra stuff) is to get my eBook for less than £3. Click here to get it. I’d be really grateful!

 

The Football Neutral: Match Forty – Borussia Dortmund vs FC Augsburg

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The only way to read this post in FULL along with 23 others from 2014/15 is to buy my season review eBook in the Kindle store. It’s less than £3 and over 300 pages of my daft adventures. Pick it up, enjoy it and you’ll be supporting my travels next season. Feel free to tell anyone you might know about it too! Thank you so much!

I don’t have the most complicated bucket list in the world. I’m not one who wants to fly around the world in a hot air balloon or climb Mount Everest. I want to get paid to make people laugh (done that one), have a novel published (working on that one) and go to watch football in some of the greatest stadiums in the world alongside the best fans. This week, I’ve been working towards the latter.

I am obsessed with German football. Every club has tremendous support, wonderful stadiums – that are actually interesting, not just identikit concrete bowls – and football is still the game of the working class. Everyone is welcome, and everyone can afford it. I’m also fascinated by Germany, having learned about it when studying the language at school (although I can only remember a few snippets of it these days). Yet I’ve never visited the country before. I reasoned if I was going to go there, I should go to the city that I wanted to visit the most, purely for football reasons.

Dortmund. In my football obsessive youth they stood out in their bright yellow shirts, and the first time I saw the Westfalenstadion (now corporately called Signal Iduna Park) I was blown away. A concrete and steel monument build in the 1970s, I always reasoned that the noise from the fans was good when I was watching them in the Champions League on the TV, but what would it be like in real life? I had to go there one day. Finally, in 2015, at the age of 36, I can say that I have been there – and as it would turn out, I went along on what was a very interesting night…

The only way to read this post from last season in full (along with 23 others and a load of extra stuff) is to get my eBook for less than £3. Click here to get it. I’d be really grateful!

The Football Neutral: Match Thirty Nine – Bath City vs Staines Town

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The only way to read this post in FULL along with 23 others from 2014/15 is to buy my season review eBook in the Kindle store. It’s less than £3 and over 300 pages of my daft adventures. Pick it up, enjoy it and you’ll be supporting my travels next season. Feel free to tell anyone you might know about it too! Thank you so much!

….Bath isn’t too far a drive from Bristol, and Twerton Park is on the outskirts.  My regular trips to Bath to perform at Komedia have taught me that there is no parking anywhere in the city, so arriving at the ground and finding that the club has two car parks AND street parking in abundance was a bit of a pleasant surprise.  The two official car parks are slightly odd though; you can choose to park in one where you pay a couple of quid, or park in one right next to it for free.  You know which one I chose, and there didn’t seem to be any discernible difference.  I imagine on busier days that it would be of more benefit to pay to park, of course.

I entered through the turnstiles and walked straight onto an awesome terrace.  Most of the stadium is standing, and it really reminds me of watching games when I was a lad.  Twerton Park feels like a stadium from the lower leagues in the 1980s that has been preserved perfectly in a time capsule.  The side that you enter on has a main stand with seats and standing, then the other three sides are all standing.  There’s a food stand as soon as you walk in and I grabbed a burger from there.  And WHAT a burger.  One of the best I’ve had in ages, and certainly the best I’ve had this season.  I tweeted how great it was and several fans agreed with me – both from Bath and elsewhere.

There’s a pretty good view from every part of the stadium, so I wandered round to the large covered terrace on the opposite side.  I thought a roof would be in order as it looked like rain, and then when I got round there I was treated to one of the most spectacular views in football.  From my vantage point you could see most of Bath, meaning I’d have something to look at if the game wasn’t the best.

Bath have a mascot.  He’s a large pig – I didn’t catch his name – and he walks around the terraces before and throughout the game.  He doesn’t mess about doing stuff to entertain little kids (the crowd being more mature than at bigger clubs, at least from what I could see), and is clearly a huge fan of the club doing his duty for his team.  Maybe it’s a different person each game?  That would be a pretty sweet deal, forcing people to do it like jury duty.

Before kickoff it seemed that the pitch was the widest one that I’ve ever seen, but that could just have been a side effect of the view playing tricks on my depth perception.  When the teams came out I couldn’t help but notice that Staines have done what many a non-league side has done and got themselves a Macron shirt that makes them look like a lower division Italian side.  A most fetching kit, to be sure….

The only way to read this post from last season in full (along with 23 others and a load of extra stuff) is to get my eBook for less than £3. Click here to get it. I’d be really grateful!

 

The Football Neutral World Cup: Germany vs Portugal

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Before we start… should you like the stuff that I write, do feel free to download my Football Neutral 2013/14 season review on Kindle.  Well over 300 pages of daftness. Less than £2! Thanks!

Pre Match:

Debate on who is leading the Germany attack.  Whoever it is, he’ll be better than Wayne Rooney is at the moment.

Oh god, we’re on ITV again.

1: I really do enjoy the ITV font, mind you.

2: Mario Gotze doesn’t half look like Justin Bieber.

4: Considering how hot it is, they aren’t half running around a lot.  Commentators mentioned the temperature by stating that ALL Germans go on holiday to Portugal.  Surprised they didn’t get an outdated towels on the sunbeds reference in.

7: JAPANESE THEMED JOKE: Paulo Bento is the Portugal coach. When he was a player he was good in the box. EH? EH?

8: Khedira should have scored.  Awful clearance from Rui Patricio in the Portugal goal straight to the German midfielder who hits it first time and misses the open goal by a couple of feet.  Not the easiest of chances, but still a golden one with the Portuguese keeper nowhere to be seen.

9: Portuguese keepers are usually mental, aren’t they?  I used to love that they had one called Quim.  Still makes me laugh now.

11: GOAL – GERMANY – THOMAS MULLER: Another penalty.  Mario Gotze is brought down in the box by Joao Pereira who could well have been sent off for denying the goalscoring chance.  The Bieber-alike looks lively, and one would imagine Miroslav Klose trying desperately to get onto the pitch as the penalty was given so he could break the World Cup scoring record.

14: Sami Khedira just ran faster than I have ever seen him run in a Real Madrid shirt.  There’s no way that his speed rating in FIFA Ultimate Team is correct based on that.

16: I’m led to believe that Helder Postiga is still playing for Portugal. Unbelievable. I’m surprised he’s still even a professional footballer.

18: Nani actually fouls Philip Lahm in the middle of the park. What a terrifying turn of events for the lightweight midfielder.  Not seen Nani even put a tackle in for about five years now, and that was by accident.

21: I think the German kit might be the nicest of the tournament so far.  Although the Bosnia one is pretty smart too.  The Portugal one however is over complicated and makes it look like a 1990s J-League strip from Japan.

24: They’ve just called Nani “capable”. I think a lot of Manchester United supporters would beg to differ.  He has still had a decent shot from outside the box though.

25: Just heard the stat that Hugo Almeida has scored one goal in the last three months for Besiktas, but he STILL has a better goalscoring record than Helder Postiga who is their other option.  This is why Portugal won’t ever win anything: They have one AMAZING player and pretty much nobody else.  Everyone in the German side would walk into every Premier League team.

27: Almeida now hurt and off, with Eder replacing him.  Almeida has an amazing moustache.

30: Honestly, supporting Portugal isn’t much better than supporting Wales.  If that one player doesn’t play well then you’re doomed.

31: Wonderful ball from Kroos to Ozil who cuts the ball back to Gotze and his shot is deflected out for a corner. Germany are terrifying.

32: GOAL – GERMANY – MATS HUMMELS: And as I type that, from the corner Hummels powers in a header that is of the proper old-school centre back style. Portugal could get hammered here.

34: I’ve been spending most of this half so far on Twitter making terrible puns based on the aforementioned Portugal keeper Quim.  We’ve now moved on to the funniest names in football – mine being the tremendous Berdnt Haas.

36: Literally none of the German team have a haircut that their Dad would be disappointed in.

37: RED CARD – PORTUGAL – PEPE: From bad to worse for Portugal as their best defender is sent off for clashing with Thomas Muller.  Flails an elbow and then sticks his head in afterwards.  Muller makes too much of it to start with, but a definite straight red card.

42: I’m still not sure who the centre forward is for Germany, but I do know that it could be any of five players based on how they keep attacking.

44: Already planning a kebab. Damn these days filled with football where there is no time to cook.  THAT’S MY EXCUSE, OK?

45: GOAL – GERMANY – THOMAS MULLER: Bloody hell. Who saw this coming, then? Portugal couldn’t clear a corner, Kroos pumps it back in to Muller who easily holds off a weak challenge from Bruno Alves and puts it in off the legs of Rui Patricio. Let’s not forget that Portugal will probably still qualify from this group, but cripes.

Half Time:

Adrian Chiles has told us that they’ve nearly come to blows in the ITV studio. Presumably because he’s an annoying prick.

Back from the break and Adrian Chiles has just said that play-acting on the field is “dangerous”.  Please shut up.

Pepe’s perm is magnificent, mind you.

Fabio Cannavaro has not got any more interesting since we last saw him. His English is excellent, mind you. A lot better than my Italian.

Chiles is getting so angry that he’s turned crimson.  He needs to learn that he’s a host, not a pundit.

I am definitely a fan of Germany being managed my that lass out of the band Sleeper.

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45: Hardly anybody is back in their seat.  Presumably every fan is as angry as Adrian Chiles.

49: This will now go one of two ways.  It’ll stay 3-0 to Germany and they’ll have a rest, or they’ll press on and batter Portugal even more.  I really hope it’s the latter.

51: Ronaldo loses the ball in midfield and doesn’t bother trying to win it back, leading to a decent chance for Ozil that is saved, the rebound a tricky header for Muller who puts it over.

52: Portugal are now tackling each other.

54: Germany are passing the ball around in little triangles and essentially taking the piss.  Am hoping they make a substitution sooner rather than later as a squad player comes on to try and prove and point and livens things up a tad.

56: HEY KIDS! DO YOU LIKE PASSING THE BALL IN TRIANGLES? HAVE WE GOT THE GAME FOR YOU!

59: Freekick to Portugal outside the box. Ronaldo lines up. Commentators DESPERATE to have him score, like they’ve got some kind of line rehearsed for him doing so.

62: Ozil off, Andre Schurrle on.

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63: Fabio Coentrao pulls up injured.  Sad to see anyone get injured, not least someone with hair as magnificent as his.  He truly is the second coming of Limahl.  His name is a nightmare to spell, mind.

68: Gotze should have had another, selflessly put in by Schurrle.  Germany need to bring Klose on because he’ll be desperate to score.

70: Kebab ordered. I am a monster.

73: Former Everton player Shkrodan Mustafi comes on for the injured Hummels.  I did not know that he used to play for Everton, making it thee first decent fact that I have ever learned from ITV commentary,

77: Toni Kroos should move to Chelsea.  He’s the best defensive midfielder I’ve seen in ages, and we all know how much Mourinho loves players like that, especially with Fabregas directly replacing Frank Lampard.

78: GOAL – GERMANY – MULLER: They always say you should hammer it low across goal and cause panic.  It worked here; Schurrle whipping it in from the right hand side, Rui Patricio palming it straight into the path of Muller who claims his hat trick.  Commentators desperate to call him a pantomime villain, even though Pepe was totally correctly sent off earlier.

80: Even the commentators are starting to acknowledge the rage of Adrian Chiles now.  They’ve just said that the hat trick for Muller will mean he’ll need a “long walk on the beach”.  Let us not forget that it was 2-0 before the sending off.

81: And now Muller is replaced by Lukas Podolski.  I think he’s had a fairly decent day at the office, right?  Now leading scorer in the whole tournament.

85: Ronaldo takes every free kick.  You can see Raul Meireles behind him on every one with a look that says “you know, Cristiano… I can hit them as well”.

88: Ronaldo now doing stepovers as it’s revealed on commentary that he’s only ever scored two World Cup goals – against Iran and North Korea.

89: Raul Meireles looks like he should run a barbers shop in Shoreditch.

90+1: Ronaldo finally does something decent. His previous free kick managed to find the wall of ONE, this time he smashes it over the wall and Neuer makes a good save.

Full Time:

Far, far too easy for Germany who looked excellent.  Portugal looked exposed; yes, they were down to ten men and yes, they suffered injuries but it’s never been more apparent that they’re a one man team.

They’ll talk about the red card but it WAS a sending off; Pepe was stupid enough to put his head to Muller so deserved to go.  Adrian Chiles presumably got Portugal in the ITV sweepstakes, hence the sheer level of anger.

Bring back Quim.

Man of the Match: Toni Kroos

Match Rating: 7/10

 

The Football Neutral: Match Twelve – Luton Town vs Welling United

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This is now an edited version of the original blog… you can read the full one by downloading my Football Neutral 2013/14 season review on Kindle.  Well over 300 pages of daftness. Less than £2! Thanks!

…Luton Town should not, under any circumstances, be as far down the football pyramid as they currently find themselves.  It must be a good ten years or so since I last visited Kenilworth Road, and I reckon it’s one of my most visited stadiums – albeit always from the away end before.

In fact the list goes Filbert Street, The King Power Stadium (those two are quite obvious), Selhurst Park (thanks to them hosting two teams during my most keen fandom in the mid to late nineties), Hillsborough and Kenilworth Road.  It’s great having such a terrible OCD problem when it comes to counting and making lists.

Of course, the reason that I’ve visited Luton so often is thanks to a large amount of second tier games between Luton and Leicester in my teens, plus a cup game here and there.  It used to be a decent hunting ground for us, although I don’t ever recall attending a game there that wasn’t accompanied by at the very least a steady drizzle, and at the very most a torrential downpour.  There seems to be a greyness that envelopes the entire town the second that I set foot within its borders.  Bolton is exactly the same, for reasons I cannot fathom.

Making my mind up where to visit this week came quite late on, a consequence of having my original weekend of gigs cancelled due to a club closure.  My excellent agent Sally managed to find me work in Newbury on the Friday night and Harlow on the Saturday, so I reasoned that I had a choice between Watford or Luton.  I chose the latter for the following reasons:

1:  Watford were playing Bolton.  I know I can watch the same away team more than once, but in the space of a few weeks it seems a bit too much.

2:  Vicarage Road is a few quid more expensive for a ticket, and as I won’t take free tickets on principle this hobby of mine isn’t cheap.

3:  The Hornets used karma to beat my side in the playoffs last season.  I’m not blaming them for that; if you remember the second leg of the Championship playoff semi final you’ll recall Leicester’s mercurial Gallic genius Anthony Knockaert diving in the area to win an injury time penalty, which he then missed… and they went straight up the other end and scored. Cheats never prosper (if wearing our shirt, anyway) and justice was, rightly and sadly, done.

4:  I quite fancied seeing if Kenilworth Road was as run down, old and strange as it used to be.  I used to love going there, in a weird way.  I remember using the loo in the away end and being able to see straight into the back yard of a house that backed onto the stadium….

This is just a little bit of the full report, which you can download as part of an ebook for less than £2.  Includes this match and 25 others, is over 300 pages long and I promise is a decent read! Click here to get it. Ta!

 

The Football Neutral: Match Ten – gap Connah’s Quay Nomads vs Newtown AFC

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This is now an edited version of the original blog… you can read the full one by downloading my Football Neutral 2013/14 season review on Kindle.  Well over 300 pages of daftness. Less than £2! Thanks!

…Everyone queuing in front and behind me was younger than me, wearing a Nomads shirt and seriously enthusiastic.  I felt rather excited at this point, knowing that a club with an attendance record of just 688 can attract such fanatical fans, especially those with their whole football watching lives ahead of them.  Even better, the concession price of just £3 will encourage the under 16s to come along for as long as they can.

Into the ground and seeking out food, instead of a heavily sponsored concession stand there was a window.  Inside the window was a nice lady in her forties.  She dispensed hot dogs and tea from various metal containers, with a smile on her face and whilst having to deal with the clumsiest flirting I’ve ever seen from the two middle aged chaps in front of me.  See this example:

HER:  Here you go lads, two hot dogs.

MAN: That’s what she said!

OTHER MAN: (winks)

WHAT?

I liked that the club shop is a table, staffed by a youth.  Must do a decent amount of business though, as most people were wearing a club shirt or hat.  Some had scarves which were black and white, confusing me for a long time until it was explained to me that the club changed their official colours this season.  The rise of Macron as a shirt maker continues to grow, and the Nomad’s kit is pretty nice as far as I’m concerned.  To be fair, as is Newtown’s away shirt (it may be one of my favourites I’ve seen in ages) – when both teams took to the field it looked like an Italian lower league game.

I sat in the stand (there’s only the one) and after realising you can’t see half the pitch if you sit on the front row and moving back to the second, the teams came out and the noise began.  The gaggle of youths behind me had a couple of drums and banged them enthusiastically whilst about twenty or so kids sang along.  I don’t know how it compares to other Welsh league teams, but with an attendance of only 176 the percentage of singers was pretty high.  Even better that none of the songs contained swearing, especially after my c-word based annoyance in Bournemouth last week.  Well done you kids….

Liked this little excerpt from the full report?  You can read the real thing (and loads more matches) by downloading my ebook for less than £2.  There’s over 300 pages for your cash AND you’d really be helping me continue this project next season. Thanks!