Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Two minutes with… Southend United

It seems a while since my blog has contained the perspective from opposing fans, what with there being no Aldershot Town fans anywhere (shame on you!). Tuesday night, Southend United were the visitors to Underhill – there seems to be a pattern here emerging, as I write as we missed out on any points once again. Thanks to Southend fan, Scott, @S_Wallace23 for his input.

Barnet 0 – 3 Southend United
(Hall ’17, Mohsni ’36, Harris ’85)
Attendance 2,744 (away 1,216)

How did you get to the game?
I got the coach from Rayleigh Weir at 5 o’clock. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the ground
What did you do pre-match?
I went to the Old Red Lion pub, but it took me a good 20 minutes to get served by one of the staff – there were four working!
Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
Stood on the East Terrace. I was at the back in the corner nearest the home fans, so had some good banter with them.

What did you make of the game?
I couldn’t see a great deal with the people in front of me but from what I did see I thought we played some really good stuff. The manager is rotating the squad which can sometimes be risky – but we seem to be pulling it off and winning games.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
I think so, but if the penalty had gone in early on, it could have been a totally different story. One of my mates had a bet on Ryan Hall being first scorer and Southend to win 3-0 so I think the beers are on him on Saturday!
Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
Michael Timlin, who we have on loan from Swindon – not sure how he can’t get into their side. He is a real class act and too good for League 2. Hopefully they can be tempted to let him go permanently in the January window. It’s no coincidence that our unbeaten run has coincided with his run in the side.

Who have you got next and how do you think you'll get on?
We’re away at Macclesfield at the weekend. A coach load of us will be going up there in fancy dress as it is Halloween. Macclesfield are doing well this season but I’m very confident that we’re going to get something from every game at the moment. I’ll say a 2-0 away win.

Thanks Scott

My final word
As much as we can blame the officials for some of the decisions made (particularly the fiasco surrounding Southend’s second goal – it was definitely, as the linesman initially said, offside!), we only have ourselves to blame. If McLeod scored the penalty, I’m not confident we would have won the game, but at least it could have given us that bit of confidence or even momentum. Again, not much to say positively about our performance – other than that of Ricky Holmes, who’s been doing really well of late! It seems that once again, defending is our downfall and something that really needs work on!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The modern day footballer: a role model?

I remember a time when footballers did all their talking on the pitch and the media didn’t pick up on their behaviour off it. I’m not sure, but it must be a generation thing as when I was growing up, all the boys in my class at school idolised the star players in their supported teams. The players then warranted the shirts on their backs, gave their all and played with the passion that fans love to see. Today, footballers are being seen in a totally different light. Now it’s all about who’s earning the most money and causing the most controversy. It seems we are in an age where footballers are spending more time on the front pages of newspapers for their behaviour off the field, as opposed to the back pages for their footballing achievements.
When I was at primary school, with the likes of the World Cup in 1998 and Euro 2000, all the boys looked up to players such as David Beckham and Michael Owen – players representing the country at the top levels. All the Arsenal fans idolised the likes of Thierry Henry and the handful of Newcastle fans (yes, I never understood it either, although they did actually go to games!), Alan Shearer. Now who have kids got to look up to – the likes of Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll; no thank you!
So I asked a couple of people which footballers they idolised growing up and here are some of the responses:
“Paul Merson” (an Arsenal fan)
“Gary Mabbutt and Tony Adams for defensive and leadership qualities as a defender myself, and Bees Paul Wilson for toughness, effort and leadership”
“Paul Merson, ‘Gazza’, Gary Bull, Darren Currie, Dennis Bergkamp, Ian Wright”
“David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Thierry Henry and Lee Frecklington” (a Lincoln City fan)
As figures in the public eye, I can’t help but think footballers should know they are looked up to by children, and thus, should behave accordingly. Obviously, they are only human and although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Christmas or end of season party; as well as social events with partners, family or friends, the media will watch and scrutinise their every move in order to create a sensationalist story.
And now to the reason for writing this piece, the Barnet link. Last Saturday saw us finally win a match – a 2–1 home win against Aldershot Town. But talk wasn’t about the much-needed three league points, nor was it about the Kabba penalty, or the winner by an in-form Ricky Holmes – it was all about what occurred at the final whistle. I probably wouldn’t need both hands to count how many times I have witnessed incidents like this at Underhill; after all we are branded and prided in being a family club. But the 22-man brawl made for some entertaining viewing, particularly given we’ve not had much to celebrate or be remotely happy of, of late. Now I don’t know the reasoning for why this took place, but there were incidents throughout the match that must have fuelled the fire. Rumours continued all weekend as to what happened – verbal abuse, racism, physical contact and spitting – and this week some light has finally been shed on events.
One of our players, Charlie Taylor has been given a three-match ban for admitting to an allegation that he spat at one of the Shots’ players (following an altercation regarding remarks to Clovis Kamdjo and Steve Kabba); as well as both clubs being handed a £1000 fine for failing to control their players. I don’t think it matters whether you’re a footballer or not, but spitting is disgusting – whether that be intentionally at someone or just in its general act. He’d been on the pitch for only a couple of minutes anyway, so was there really any need for him to get involved? It makes no difference as to whether you’re playing in the top flights or anguishing in the lower leagues or below, the kind of behaviour is just not on and completely unnecessary. What sort of message is it sending out to kids that are watching? Although in this case the incident was only picked up after analysis of the match dvd – the referee and officials didn’t see so I can only imagine, neither did anyone in the crowd – that but that’s besides the point! We may not be of a similar stature of the clubs and players often in the papers for their ‘bad’ behaviour, but I’m sure there are fathers that take their kids to Underhill who do idolise the squad – I remember when I was younger, a lot of my favourite players were Bees! In my opinion, the FA have reacted accordingly, and really we can have no complaints about the repercussions.

I know it’s nowhere near the same scale, but the incident reminded me of the several El Hadji Diouf has committed throughout his career: in 2002, when we accused at spitting at a West Ham fan whilst warming up for Liverpool, or 2003 when during a televised Champions League fixture, he spat at a Celtic fan. Then there’s the two incidents in 2004 whilst playing for Bolton, he spat at an 11-year old Middlesbrough fan and then went on to spit in the face of Portsmouth player Arjan de Zeeuw. Then there’s the other altercations he’s been involved in – racism to a ball boy, taunting QPR’s Jamie Mackie whilst lying on the floor with a broken leg and then numerous driving offences. Then there are the players who constantly cheat on their partners, whether it be for money, random girls out of the spotlight or other players’ partners. Why would anyone growing up aspire to be a ‘player’ or ‘animal’? Surely these overpaid prima donnas realise it’s not only their club’s reputation on the line, but their own as well? Why some of them go out of their way to tarnish their names despite their footballing ability is beyond me. If I was a young boy growing up in this era, there is no way I’d want to emulate the modern day football. I haven’t even mentioned Joey Barton, but there is yet another example (or lack of it)…
Which leads me on to the poll for this piece. After the success of the previous one, I asked readers this time round: Are today’s footballers role models? The results are shown below.
I don’t think it’s any real surprise the general consensus is a resounding ‘no’. What with several incidents highlighted above and all those we don’t yet know about, it is obvious that footballers aren’t the well-respected figures they once were.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Cup competitions: should they really be a priority?

Our unsurprisingly bad start to the campaign continued last week with two league defeats (at home to Northampton, 2–1 and away to Shrewsbury 3–2) on either Saturday with a victory on the Tuesday night – 3–1 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at the hands of Gillingham, at Priestfields.
This was our second win in the competition, following a further 3–1 victory in the first round against Colchester United at the Weston Homes Community Stadium. The draw which took place on Saturday morning before the game at the Greenhous Meadow saw us pitted against Cheltenham, which will be in the Southern area quarter final (for those who are remotely interested, games will be played on the 8th/9th November) – a mere three games away from a trip to Wembley for the final. It’ll also be our fifth away tie (out of five games) in all Cup competitions this season so far!
I think it’s fair to say we seem to be performing a lot better in the cup competitions this season, in comparison with recent years; however, for me, this is massively frustrating, as despite decent runs, we are clearly underachieving in the League. The table doesn’t lie and I would much rather be getting the points on board (now, and throughout the season), than be having these cup runs. Even more so when you take into account one is nicknamed the “paint pot”, and the other, the “Mickey Mouse” trophy – both inferior in terms of prize money and overall club revenue, and the former inferior in terms of the quality and stature of the teams that participate.
Talking of the League Cup, a further example of where we fared well (up until the second round, that is). Round one saw us paired up with a massively difficult away tie at Fratton Park and Portsmouth – where we triumphed to a victory, albeit a 1–0. The second round wasn’t much kinder to us, again another trip on the road, this time at Burnley. Despite unfortunately losing in extra time (with the scores levelled at 2–2 after 90 minutes), we gave a very good account of ourselves – it’s just a shame we cannot put those kind of performances in on the average League game, where ultimately it matters.
With the FA Cup still in its preliminary qualifying stages and us not scheduled to play until the first round proper (November 12th is the date for that), the following month is surely high time to get some wins together and more importantly, gain some points. We haven’t got the concern of any Cup competitions up until the second week of November – but it looks set to be a busy month with the League and two Cups to worry about.
Now, let’s be honest, if you’re a supporter of a League 2 club like myself, you’re only ever interested in a cup run if it culminates in your team getting a glamour tie at the stomping grounds of the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham etc. This is where the League Cup was harsh on us (with no disrespect to Burnley, of course) – in our case, it’s all about getting a tie we as fans, and the players could only ever dream of.
After looking at the prize fund in the said, JPT, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed and that surely our priorities should be focused elsewhere, i.e. the League. Obviously this is scraping the bottom of the barrel for the worst case scenario, but imagine if we (or any other club, for that matter) got that trip to Wembley and won the £40,000 jackpot at the end, but then got relegated. Think of all the money lost as a consequence. Like I said, worst case scenario, and it doesn’t really bear thinking about.
For beating Colchester in the first round of the cup, we received a measly £5,000 – probably covering the wages of Izale McLeod and Mark Marshall for a week! The victory against Gillingham last week saw us pocket £7,000, again not much better! A win in round three against Cheltenham will see a prize of £10,000; area semi final winners receive £17,000 and area finalists, a more modest £25.5k. I was unable to find the prize pot for each round of the Carling Cup, but I can’t see a knock-out after round two really generating that much cash. The FA Cup has yet to release its prize money for this season, but again, that will also depend on how far we progress.
In the long run, is it really worth it?

Fan Poll:
To see if it was just me who felt this way, I decided upon putting a poll on the blog for a couple of days. The question posed was: ‘As a fan, which do you feel is more important?’ – with the answers ‘League’ and ‘Cup progression’. The results are as follows.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Barnet supporter: it's a tough life

When I decided I wanted to start blogging, I came to the conclusion I wasn’t going to write any match reports or post-match analysis on individual games. I mean for someone reading this who has no real interest in the club (much like yourself, reading this now, I guess!), it’d make for tedious reading; especially as so many are accessible on the internet. Also put into account, unless written by a neutral, match reports tend to be horribly biased; whenever I read ones written from a Barnet point of view, I can’t help but think the negatives aren’t fully addressed. This aside, there are so many points from the game against Northampton Town on Saturday that I’d like to point out.
It is often said that fans are unbelievably fickle, and to an extent I do believe this to be the case – we are never happy – but if you consider we, as supporters are paying good (and in our case, a lot of!) money, we have the right to voice our opinions and concerns. Over the last few weeks there have been a lot of those…
I’ll start with a positive from the weekend – Sam Deering actually started a game; for the first time since the Accrington game, which was almost a month ago now! There is without a doubt, that he was one of the best players of last season – a wonderful acquisition from Oxford United! He has of late been appearing as a substitute, if at all. I am still yet to find a reason for why this is the case; him and Mark Marshall make a wonderful partnership down the flanks and often cause defenders problems. I can’t help but think that maybe Sanchez doesn’t rate him as highly as the management teams of the last campaign; answers for this on a postcard please!
The performances of late haven’t been so good: a drubbing away at newly relegated Swindon Town the previous weekend (I didn’t go, so can’t really pass judgement, although the overall consensus was “not good enough” and “turned over too easy”) and further disappointing performances at home to Oxford United and Plymouth Argyle (despite a win against the latter). We started brightly on Saturday, though; trying out a 4-3-3 formation (although I saw it more of a 4-1-3-2, with Clovis Kamdjo in the solitary defensive midfield position). With both teams creating a number of chances and the respective keepers being pulled in to make saves aplenty (as well as the woodwork that came to the Cobblers’ rescue on a couple of occasions), it could have gone either way. We could have been a goal down, or easily been at least three-up! It was, however, 1–0 to us at the interval.
Now onto the negatives. With Ricky Holmes (the goal scorer) suffering from suspected concussion, Sanchez was thrust into making a first substitution at halftime. Would it be Kabba partnering McLeod again? Or maybe an opportunity to see more of new(ish) signing Lloyd Owusu? No, it’s Charlie Taylor! Now, I certainly don’t think my managing capabilities are any better than Sanchez’ but anyone could see this was a bad move, especially considering the other options on the bench. The general consensus from the Bees’ faithful is that Taylor just isn’t up to it – and may even be more suited to a loan move to the Blue Square Premier (particularly given the fact, we gained him from Non-League outfit, Sutton). Despite this being the case and I know this is going to be an unpopular thing to say, but I do feel sorry for the lad – after all, he’s only trying to do his job (albeit, not at a very good level!) and Barnet are his first Football League club. The abuse he gets every game is slightly unnecessary, and it started earlier on in the season, even in his first couple of games. The abuse isn’t going to help his confidence in any way, he’s not going to play any better and sometimes I just feel like shouting “come on Charlie, head up”, or “keep at it” – instead of abusing the individual player, maybe vent your frustrations at the manager instead, after all, he’s the one picking the team! I’ll even admit, I’m not Taylor’s biggest fan, especially when we have the likes of Steve Kabba only on the bench, but some of the comments I hear from the people around me are just not fair. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for voicing concerns at the final whistle, when I'm not satisfied - aimed at the team as whole, after all it is a team game! I just think the continued abuse up until Charlie leaves the pitch (whether that be as a substitute, or at the end of the game) is totally unneeded.
My next complaint – a double substitution made by Sanchez, with the score levelled at 1–1. Captain Hughes (on a yellow card) off and replaced by Mark Byrne (who I was surprised to see only on the bench) – no complaints with that, as it’s never worth risking players who could be shown a red. Now the second was just unbelievable – “number 23: Izale McLeod to be replaced by number 9: Steve Kabba”. One of the League’s top scorers and one of the better players on the pitch?! He squandered a fair few chances, a couple of those being deemed ‘easy’ one-on-ones, warranted, but to take him off when he looked like the only one likely of scoring? Sometimes, words fail me…
Now onto the manager and the abuse. I can’t help but think Lawrie may have brought it on himself. A comment a couple of weeks ago slating Nigel Worthington’s capabilities as manager of Northern Ireland and hinting at a possible move back to the National side (read here) certainly hasn’t helped matters – with chants of “Sanchez for Ireland” as well as other unpleasantries being thrown around the ground. He then came out last week and said he and his coaching staff were unsure of the best XI (read here) – certainly not encouraging news for us fans; if he doesn’t have a clue, we haven’t a hope in hell. The penny must have eventually dropped though, with Super Sammy Deering starting and playing a whole 90 minutes. The abuse rang out throughout the second half though, and continued at the final whistle, with Sanchez staying in the dugout for a good 15 minutes after the game; the final result a defeat, 2–1 to Northampton.
The table makes for grim reading once again, with us fourth from bottom in the League, above Bradford, Hereford and Plymouth. We’ve not yet reached double figures in terms of points tally, from 11 games and we are four points adrift of our nearest rivals Dagenham + Redbridge and Crewe, both on 13 points respectively.
We have near enough the same squad as last season and the way we finished the previous campaign was nearing promotion form – getting points on the board when it really mattered, albeit under pressure. So what has changed? If the team perform best and strive under those dreaded circumstances, it’s going to be a long and tough season for us fans.
So what is the answer?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Two minutes with… Northampton Town

‘Two minutes with…’ this week comes from the point of view of Northampton fan, Daniel (aka @BSCobbler). Again, I find myself compiling this on the end of another defeat!

Barnet 1 – 2 Northampton Town
(Holmes ’17 – Davies ’51, Tozer ’89)
Attendance 2304 (away 631)

How did you get to the game?
I got to the game by car as I only live in Kettering which is around 80 miles away.
What did you do pre-match?
I walked through the nearby chat, before chatting to some Northampton fans at the turnstiles, prior to kick-off.
Where did you sit/stand in the ground?
I sat in the North Family stand - near the back.
What did you make of the game?
It was a tale of two halves really – both sides were quite poor on the day and a bit inconsistent. Northampton couldn't string any passes together in the first half which gave away the first goal really – it was a bad clearance from the Northampton defender. Barnet definitely had the first half. The only way that Northampton looked like scoring was through a set play or a goalkeeping error. Even Northampton's fans booed off the team at half time and this doesn't normally happen at an away game. In the second half, Northampton's midfield was getting into the game more and in turn was how both Northampton's goals came about. The ref did okay but blew up for some fouls which looked like dives.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection?
In the first half Barnet were way on top and Northampton were hardly in the game at all. I thought Barnet should have got a point from the game as they tore though Northampton's defence. Northampton had more chances in the second half but Barnet also had their fair share of chances as well with a few one on ones which weren’t put away. Although a draw would have been a fair result, obviously I’m very happy with all 3 points.
Who, in your opinion was man of the match?
In the first half Mark Marshall, Barnet's winger was undoubtedly causing problems for Northampton's defenders and they couldn't deal with him – in fact they let all the Barnet's players have too much space on the pitch. But man of the match I think goes to Northampton's Marlon Jackson who completely changed the game and playing two up front proved more effective than one.
Who have you got next and how do you think you'll get on?
We have Crawley at Sixfields, which is going to be televised on Sky Sports. I don’t think we’ll beat them as we never do well when the Sky cameras are filming. I’d take a draw in that game.

Thanks Daniel

My final word:
I normally like to keep my final word short and sweet. Unfortunately there are too many pointers from this game that have got people talking so check out my next entry and find out why times are frustrating for our fans, particularly given the weekend’s result.