New Years Eve. Meh. I’m not really a fan of the event. I enjoy having fun, but I don’t like fun being forced upon me. “Oooh, do you know what date it is, Sean? It’s New Years Eve. You must go out, enjoy yourself, drink yourself into a coma, before waking up dead. It’s the law, don’t you know.” Not my cup of tea really.
My disinterest in the New Year’s festivities is probably a good thing, as I haven’t found anyone to spend the evening with. Unsurprisingly, I am not too fussed. I’ve had a good day so far. I spent the afternoon with a fellow Bath City fan, watching local side Chippenham Town slug it out in an enjoyable Southern League game (a blog about this will appear on Sean’s Stories in due course).
It is now the evening. My tea is about to be cooked – a hearty meal of sausages, Aunt Bessie’s roast potatoes and frozen vegetables. A bottle of Thatcher’s cider is also in the fridge, although I may go for one of the many bottles of Bath Gem, I received for Christmas.
Once I have wined and dined, the trusty PlayStation 3 will keep me entertained. Alongside the bottles of real ale in my Crimbo stocking, I was lucky enough to be given a copy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. If I get bored of killing, a recent Amazon delivery has seen me acquire a copy of Sonic Generations.
However, I’m tempted to avoid gaming all together this evening. I have my eye on the Blu Ray copy of The Inbetweeners movie. This will be followed up by Match of the Day, which tonight looks to be even funnier than The Inbetweeners, thanks to this. Happy birthday, Alex – you twat.
On that delightful and heart-warming note, I bid you farewell and a happy new year – although not really, it’s just another day. I’ll just say ‘have a happy Sunday tomorrow’.
So the inevitable has happened. Just a month after announcing I would cease with general interest blogs, I have admitted defeat and will start blogging them again. Why? Mainly because I have been left pissed off on a number of occasions and could think of just two ways in which I could relieve my anger. Option 1 – kill a kitten. Option 2 – blog about it. Sadly, a few cats were killed, but luckily for the feline community, I will now be blogging. The killing has stopped. Mostly.
You will notice the domain has changed to Sparkster.net. Long term visitors to my website will remember this was used pre-2009. It will now be used in 2012 and beyond. Sean’s Stories will remain and be used for all my football talk, which means this blog will contain little sport talk (which will please those of you that hate football).
I have been planning to blog since the Christmas Eve. I was lazy and didn’t. Therefore the first post on my new-old-new blog will be this. An introductory post. What a rip off.
I will blog about Christmas tomorrow after work. Yes, I have to work tomorrow. While all of you are sat at home eating turkey sandwiches, finishing off the remainder of the Quality Streets tin and watching Jurassic Park 3 on ITV2+1, I will be working. How you laugh. I’ll be the last one laughing. When you return to your places of work in the New Year, I’ll be off.
As some of us have to get up, go to work and run the country tomorrow, I had better go to bed now. Goodnight.
Oh, and in case you were wondering why I haven’t update Sean’s Stories in over a week, it’s because the Newport game was called off, so nothing to report there.
Kettering Town 1-1 Bath City
Saturday 17th December 2011 – 15:00
Picture the scene. You are a happily married man. You have a beautiful wife, three children, a nice semi-detached house and two pet gerbils. Life is good. That is until a new couple move in next door; Mr. Rushden and Miss. Diamond. Mr. Rushden recently won a lot of money on a lottery scratch card, which allowed him and Miss. Diamond to buy the house next to you. Your new neighbours make the life of you and your family a nightmare, having all-night parties, driving scooters along the street and allowing their pet bull terriers to foul in your garden. You hate them.
Then one day you see a removal van outside their house. Your neighbours from hell are leaving, having blown all their lottery money on yachts, plasma TVs and mopeds. You reach for the champagne to celebrate with your wife. While drunk on bubbly, the phone rings. It’s your boss. He’s put his company into liquidation and made you redundant with immediate effect. Unable to maintain your mortgage, you are forced to move out of your family home and seek council-accommodation. The council find you a new place to live, but in a cruel twist of fate, offer you a house next door to yours – the former home of Mr. Rushden and his chav partner, Miss. Diamond.
You, your beautiful wife, three children and two pet gerbils move into the home of your former enemy. A photo of the couple on-board their yacht is hung from the wall. Dog hairs cover the furniture and the smell of stale cigarette smoke from Miss. Diamond’s 60-a-day habit lingers in the air. You have a house, but you’re in someone else’s home.
That long story was basically written to illustrate how Kettering Town (the family man) left their Rockingham Road home, only to move into Nene Park, the home of their former rivals, Rushden and Diamonds, who went bust at the end of the season. Make sense? Probably not. Did I mention Kettering Town are financially screwed themselves?
Bath City played at Nene Park last season – when it was home of Rushden and Diamonds. I missed that particular fixture – probably a good thing considering City got stuffed 5-1. I was however keen to visit the stadium (No. 84 in my football grounds list).
We arrived at a very deserted and lonely ground. With the ground based in Irthlingborough, some 10 miles away from Kettering, even the home fans have to take a coach to their games.
The club house was like a fancy night club. I was disappointed at the absence of pianos and dodgy TV stations like I found at Longwell Green Sports last week. There was also various strange (and in my opinion, rubbish) pieces of modern art hung from the wall. I preferred Longwell Green’s signed and framed Shepton Mallet matchday programme.
The choice of drinks was crap. Kronenberg, Fosters, John Smiths and Strongbow. No cider to speak of whatsoever. Stronbow does not count. If I was a furniture delivery man and had taken a sofa to the top of a block of flats, I wouldn’t be dreaming of a pint of Strongbow. A bottle of Sheppy’s Farmhouse Cider would be on my mind, but most likely a defibrillator.
Earlier in the week, Kettering striker and football journeyman, Leon McKenzie announced that Saturday would be his final game of his football career. He was hanging up his boots and picking up the mic to become a music artist (yes, you’ve read it right). If you’re interested in listening to McKenzie’s music talent, get your ears around this. Personally, I preferred Kaid Mohamed’s rapping last season.
Due to Kettering’s well-documented financial difficulties, including a player exodus, it was unclear as to what kind of team they would actually be put out. Some bookmakers jumped on the bandwagon, offering odds of up to 6/1 for a Kettering victory. Needless to say, lots of Kettering and even Bath City fans put their life savings, mortgage and even grandmother on a home victory. If Bath City were to win or draw, Ray Winstone would have a very happy Christmas indeed.
Despite all the rumours of the team to face Bath City including the chairman’s 8-year old nephew, the tea lady and Michael Ricketts, Kettering did manage to put together a team of some credibility. They started well, while Bath City slipped around on the Nene Park pitch, like Bambi on ice. After swapping their football boots for ice skates, City began to play football, dominating the game, yet wasting chance after chance. Very frustrating.
It was freezing at Kettering, sorry Irthlingborough. I was cold last week at Longwell Green Sports. But the low temperatures of Northamptonshire made Longwell Green feel like Benidorm. At half time I went for a coffee. £1.60. An entire pound more than they charge at Twerton Park. I was expecting something good for that price. Sadly I was let down and ripped off…
Early into the second half, Bath City scored. Scott Murray, who had still been moaning all week on Twitter, lobbed the goalkeeper who had walked about a mile off his line. Yay! We were winning! Let’s go nuts etc etc….
Bath City are bottom of the league and are there for a reason. Therefore, despite playing possibly the worst team I have seen all season, I refrained from breaking into a rendition of Jingle Bells (“Oh what fun it is to see City win away”).
I was nervous. The fans around me shared my anxiety. It appeared the players did too, as they sat back and stopped playing the attractive and attacking football they had entertained us all with earlier on in the game. I would love for once to kill a team off. Kettering were there for the taking. Why didn’t we do it?
Then the inevitable happened. In the 84th minute, Kettering scored. Ollie Jones shooting past City goalkeeper, Jason Matthews. The ecstatic bloke on the tannoy announced that it was Jones’ first ever goal for the club. Of course it was. Typical. Kettering could have won the game minutes later, forcing an excellent save from Matthews.
A draw kept City bottom of the league and saw bookmaker Ray Winstone take home someone’s granny.
Frustrated, disappointed and upset I left Nene Park and headed for the coach. The draw felt like defeat. Kettering celebrated like they had won the World Cup. This season is rubbish. Happy Christmas.
Longwell Green Sports 0-3 Bishop Sutton
Western League Premier Division
Saturday 10th December 2011 – 15:00
With no coach running to Bath City’s FA Trophy tie in Chelmsford, I made the short trip to local Western League side, Longwell Green Sports for their game against Bishop Sutton.
The afternoon was freezing. As I walked through the Tesco car park towards the football ground, I expected to see David Attenborough filming a penguin for Frozen Planet.
I managed to avoid any polar bears and make my way to the ground, which is at the rear of the Longwell Green Community Centre. There, I approached the pay box (a common sight at Western League football), handing over a crisp £20 note for my entry fee. £4 was received in change. Questions were asked, before two shiny fivers were passed my way along with an apology. A genuine mistake. No apology necessary.
I sought warmth from the cold Bristol weather in the clubhouse. A foreign TV station was broadcasting a European game. The commentator was speaking another language, so I could not work out what was going on. I am sure the foreign voice I heard was in fact that of Martin Tyler, who had learnt another language after receiving a Rosetta Stone CD for his birthday.
It was a proper non-league clubhouse though, which I liked. Cheese and ham rolls were on sale, with hot drinks being served in china mugs. Best of all, a piano was sat in the corner of the room. I know I have been moaning about drums at football games in recent weeks, but a piano is something else. If I was to ever see a piano on a football terrace, my life would be complete.
I visited the café. Spoilt for choice, I bought a can of coke and a cheese roll. The cold drink would lead to be a big mistake, considering the sub-zero temperatures. Food in hand and smile on face, I made my to the other end of the ground, along a very muddy path, behind the dug outs where I would watch the first part of the match.
The free match day programme included your typical list of players and coaching staff for each team. Various names jumped out at me. Ex-Chippenham Town midfielder, Kye Holly, who is the only player I have seen sent off during a preseason friendly, is now playing for Bishop Sutton. Probably as punishment for being stupid enough for his red card. The other recognisable name was that of the Longwell Green Sports physio, Steve Evans. I am sure this is not the same Steve Evans who was convicted of fraud and now manages Crawley Town, although for the purpose of this blog and my own amusement, I’ll assume it is.
It wasn’t long after kick off when Bishop Sutton took the lead. A great strike from a Sutton forward into the bottom right corner of the net. It was nearly 2-0 moments later, when the Longwell Green defence forgot they were involved in a football match. The goalkeeper exploded with rage “That’s fucking twice” he yelled, leaving mothers to cover their children’s ears. It was nearly three “fucking times” when Bish’ continued their attack, this time hitting the post. This time the goalkeeper didn’t swear.
With the score at 1-0 and the home side under pressure, my time to shine as an amateur-footballer finally arrived, when a misplaced ball went flying towards me. With an instinctive first touch I passed the match ball to a Longwell Green player for the throw in. After waiting years for the chance to break into football (OK, that’s a lie), I finally found by chance and indeed level (ball boy).
I then made my way round to the other side of the ground, away from the dugouts, to stand with the fans. With the score at 1-0, the home faithful were getting restless “No, no, no, no”, shouted one fan, while another, presumably reporting for Talk Sport began stating the bleeding obvious, providing a running commentary out load for all to hear “He won’t be able to reach that”, “Nobodies after it!”
My chance as a footballer-cum-ball boy was given a second test when another wayward ball came flying my way. As I had my iPhone out at the time to check on the Bath City score, I was unprepared for this one. I miskicked the ball, probably annoyed a Longwell Green player and my career as a professional footballer was over.
As the game slowed down, I couldn’t help but notice a substitute running up and down the touchline. At closer looked, I realised the players was in fact Robbie Savage, arriving on a free transfer from Strictly Come Dancing. I tried to get a decent photo, but thought he would hit me.
As the sun set, the temperature continued to drop. The players, no doubt feeling the cold, resorted to hoofing the ball 20 feet into the air. One particularly impressive “hoof” ended up in a nearby car park. Players looked longingly into the crowd, hoping one of the fans would retrieve the ball for them. Nobody looked interested and after my earlier exploits, my days as a ball boy were over. Just as it looked like the referee was about to abandon the match due to “Missing ball” (in accordance with rule 8.17 in Howard Webb’s Rules of Officiating), some local supporter, clutching a portable radio and listening to his fellow-fan on Talk Sport, recovered the ball and the game was able to restart.
With half time approaching and my feet almost frozen to the floor, I started to regret buying that can of ice cold Coke. I made my way into the club house to buy a coffee. What china cup would be beverage be served in? Given the fact it was December, exactly two weeks away from Christmas Eve, I found it very fitting for my drink to be handed to me in a Halloween mug.
I watched the second half of the game from the stand, clutching onto my coffee for warmth. Bish’ made the scoreline 2-0, shortly into the second half. The ever optimistic Talk Sport reporter sat near me woke up, declaring “No way back now”.
A dog, having run away from its owner on a nearby public footpath, walked into the ground. I prayed for it to run onto the pitch. You can forget promotion and cup wins – dog invading a pitch is easily the best thing to ever happen in football. Sadly the dog didn’t run on the pitch. Such a shame.
Bish’ made it 3-0 with a well worked goal. Lots of passing play and minimal hoofing. Their captain repeatedly bellowed at his team mates “Time! Squeeze! Pressure!” This no doubt played a massive part in the goal.
There was a break in play when a Longwell Green player hurt himself. Cue physio, Steve Evans, running from the dugouts to the injured footballer. Steve Evans managed to fix the injured player and nick a fiver from the pocket of his shorts.
Things were getting colder and the pitch muddier. One Bishop Sutton player was almost completely covered in mud. I felt for his mum who would have to wash his kit.
Bish’ completed the rout with the final kick of the game. 4-0 after a scramble in the box. “This can’t be happening” shouted out the nearby Longwell Green supporter. At fulltime the linesman turned to a fan, commenting “They’ve played some good stuff”. Lino-cum-football pundit.
Bath City 3-1 AFC Telford
Saturday 3rd December 2011 – 15:00
You have to feel sorry for the people of Wellington in Shropshire. For thousands of years, they have had to put up with jokes about living in a town named after an item of footwear worn by farmers and fishermen. Despite the stigma, they always maintained a strong tradition and pride in their town. That is until the 1960’s, when nearby rival, Telford invaded them, creating Telford New Town. Wellington had its heart and sole (sorry – that will be the only shoe pun on this blog) ripped out. As part of the invasion, the Telford bullies also stole the local football team, Wellington Town, renaming it Telford United.
All of the above garbage was sourced from Wikipedia. Please don’t blame me if any of it is incorrect or lies (which it probably is).
In 2004, Telford United folded – probably out of shame after the Wellington invasion some 40 years previous. A new club was formed under the name AFC Telford United. This phoenix club still plays in Wellington. Therefore, in honour of the original supporters of Wellington Town FC, as well as good old British justice and properness, I will be referring to AFC Telford United as Wellington Town throughout this blog.
Bath City have been playing well recently and the visit of Wellington Town, who have hardly set the league alight themselves, brought fresh optimism to Twerton Park. The Romans started in a very positive and attacking formation, with Lee Phillips upfront alongside Bristol City loanee Aaron Amadi-Holloway (a name I will no doubt have to Google every time I want to mention him on this blog). Scott Murray made a start on the wing, after complaining on Twitter for weeks that he wasn’t being played enough. Professionalism.
City dominated the opening stages of the match, but failed to convert their chances. Anxiety filled the ground. We had seen this before – last week in fact against Mansfield. Then came the goal. Murray, charging up the field, fell to the ground after a rough challenge. He lay on the floor for some time, leading many to believe he had suffered serious injury. This was clearly not the case, as Murray soon rose to his feet and with a broken leg, shot towards goal. A very generous Wellington defender helped the ball on its way into the net and Bath City were winning. Why Murray was on the floor for so long, I don’t know. I suspect he was Tweeting. The linesman, in shock that Bath City had scored, raised his flag for no reason whatsoever apart from the fact he’s an idiot. Thankfully, the referee passed his assistant a book, explaining the rules of football and the goal stood.
As half time approached, I went to the tea bar. The queue for drinks and snacks always seems longer when we’re winning. While pouring milk into my coffee, Wellington scored. I’m not really sure what happened, as I was more concerned about taking apart a sachet of sugar. The familiar feeling of dread and worry was returning
Wellington Town took a large following of supporters. I was impressed by them. A good set of fans who brought lots of flags and sung a lot. Ten bonus points for their singing. A million points off for the guy with the drum. Despite the inclusion of percussion instruments, I did enjoy one of their songs “Come on cheer the boys, Telford make some noise” – it was the first time I have heard the Oasis track “Cum On Feel The Noise” turned into a football chant. According to YouTube, the song is a Slade cover. As a fan of music from the 90’s, I was unaware of this. The record has probably been covered yet again by Justin Bieber, leaving supporters younger than me wondering why the away fans were singing a song written by a teenage boy.
The singers then broke into a rendition of “I wanna go home, this is the best trip I’ve ever been on”. Like most sets of football fans, Bath City supporters also sing this song, to which I have joined in with in the past. The only issue I have with it, is every time I hear it, I can’t help but think of Phil Brown embarrassing himself on the Hull City pitch.
A dog was at the match yesterday. Typical non-league sight. I suspect its owner could well be feeding it speed instead of Pedigree Chum as it seemed to be the most excited animal I have ever seen. Every time a ball was kicked it went crazy. When the Wellington supporters started banging their drum, I thought the poor creature was going to have a heart attack from mass-hysteria.
The second half underway and City’s dominance returned, yet were still unable to get another goal. Then in an extreme case of festive generosity which would make Noel Edmonds weep, a Wellington player decided to help us out. While lying down in the penalty area (no, really), Shane Killock stuck out his hand to move the ball. Penalty. Red card from the referee to Killock, Christmas card from me to the referee. Marc Canham stepped up to take the spot kick. I was convinced he would miss. Marc Canham did not miss. Marc Canham is excellent. I love Marc Canham.
As the second half was played out, fans were reminded by a tannoy announcement that they can send a text message to vote for their man of the match “Texts cost £1 each plus your standard message charge. Texts after the 85th minute will not be counted but may still be charged. Do not text if you are watching on ITV1+1”
If I was going to waste my money and vote, I would have gone for Wellington’s goalkeeper, Ryan Young. The best keeper I have seen all season, who pulled of a series of amazing saves throughout the game. Dare I say it, he was almost as good as Jason Matthews… almost.
The game ended 3-1. Bath City scoring a third goal to seal the victory.
Next week is Chelmsford City away in the FA Trophy. The chances of me attending this fixture are very slim. Due such little interest in the tie, a coach probably will not be run. Should I be unable to go, I’ll probably watch a local game instead.
On this website, you’ll find me blogging (almost) daily about everyday life, living in Bath, working with computers, and the occasional bit of football stuff thrown in.
If you're expecting The Man Booker Prize, you've come to the wrong place. If you want to read a collection of sometimes eccentric, often disturbing and rarely amusing ramblings, gorge your eyes on this.