28 February 2013

Ebbsfleet United v Stockport County

The following is my programme article for the Ebbsfleet United v Stockport County game played on the 16th February.  The game ended in a draw.

February is certainly turning out to be a month of home games for the Fleet.  In fact, the whole of this month revolves around Ebbsfleet not venturing away from the hallowed turf of Stonebridge Road.  That said, it is safe to say there are more than a few away games coming up between now and the end of the season.  This includes some very long road trips to Hyde, Barrow and Gateshead.  The players will certainly have plenty of time then to master their card skills.  Who will emerge as the Poker king? Time will tell.

Fortunes can change very quickly in football.  Two games ago, and in front of the television cameras, the Fleet suffered a humiliating 0-4 defeat to Macclesfield Town.  Then a week ago, the team got back on track with a well-earned 3-1 victory over Gateshead.  This has now put the Fleet within 4 points of the safety zone. 

Liam Daish has brought in a number of players to try and ensure that the team remains in the Blue Square Premier for another season.  One of them, Josh Scott, scored two of the goals against Gateshead.  There were also impressive performances from other new boys Gareth Gwillim and Stefan Payne.  There is a new air of optimism within the club that the Fleet can stay up this season.  A win today would certainly help that cause!

Today’s opponents, Stockport County, are one of the ‘name’ teams in the Blue Square Premier.  It is only a few years ago that The County were playing a number of the ‘big boys’ in League One. Go back a few more years and Stockport were in a League Cup semi-final, before losing 2-1 on aggregate to Middlesbrough. So there certainly is a lot of tradition in the club.  Interestingly, Stockport’s highest league attendance this season so far was for the visit of one Ebbsfleet United!

Given the league table, this is a crucial game for both of these teams.  A win for the Fleet draws us closer to safety.  A win for Stockport helps pull them away from a potential relegation battle.  Hopefully the attendance today will be on the healthy side, especially given the importance of this game to both teams. 

A couple of days ago it was Valentine’s Day.  Hopefully all the ladies in the ground today were spoilt rotten by their husbands, boyfriends, beau’s and secret admirers!  However, if there are any ladies here today looking for a present for their man, then can I suggest a MYFC membership.  What better present than giving your footy mad partner, or even yourself, a chance to become an owner of the club! Please go to www.myfootballclub.co.uk or speak to one of the club officials here today about becoming a member. 

Finally, a huge welcome to the officials, players and supporters of Stockport County who have made the long journey down from the North West.  We hope you enjoy your visit – but not too much!
Enjoy the game today.  Get behind the team and cheer the lads onto victory!


Ebbsfleet United v Macclesfield Town

The following is my programme article for the Ebbsfleet United v Macclesfield Town game that was played on 1st February.

It was a televised match - the first time the Fleet had been on television for many seasons.  Despite this, it was not a good game as Macclesfield ran out 4-0 winners! 

January is certainly a crazy month in footballing terms.  The inclement weather has meant that a number of teams in the lower leagues have had an “extended break”.  Whilst snow can look nice, and create picturesque photos, it can also be a nightmare for football teams.  A manager may have his team on a run of undefeated games, and then find their progress halted.  On the flipside, a team could have been experiencing some bad results, but with the postponements a re-grouping happens and, all of a sudden, the results pick up.

From our point of view, we hope that the Fleet can go on an undefeated run, and hence move away from the bottom of the league.  Liam Daish has been pro-active by bringing in defenders Gareth Gwillim and loan signing Jack Saville to bolster the defence. At the same time the club has parted ways with Jay Folkes and Ben Greenhalgh.  Psychologically, the Ebbsfleet players must view the remaining league games as if the season has just started. A clean slate, so to speak.

The fans also have a role to play in the Fleet ‘renaissance’.  We must ensure that we get behind the team and cheer them onto a much deserved victory.  A vocal crowd can truly make a difference, and help the players to give 110%.  Such are the league positions that 2 or 3 wins can see a club quickly move up the league.

Tonight’s game should certainly be an exciting one.  Macclesfield have done the Blue Square Premier proud with their fantastic FA Cup run, and narrow 4th Round defeat to Premier League Wigan Athletic.  To side track for a brief moment, congratulations to Luton Town on their giant killing exploits against Norwich City.  To see a non-league team in the last 16 of the FA Cup is truly amazing to say the least!

I should also mention two other things in relation to this evening’s game.  Ebbsfleet’s last victory in the league was against Macclesfield Town back in November.  Hopefully the Fleet can do the ‘double’ over the Silkmen tonight and get 3 valuable points.  One player who will need no introduction is the Macclesfield goalkeeper, Lance Cronin. Lance, of course, played many games for Ebbsfleet in his career including 10 games on loan last season. I am sure, if selected, he will get a big cheer from the locals.

Tonight’s game is being televised.  It isn’t often that a ‘less glamorous’ team like Ebbsfleet United is shown live so let’s make the most of it!  Hopefully, a largish crowd will be there to witness a fantastic game.  If you are a passionate fan of the Fleet and want to play a pro-active role in the future of the club, then please consider joining My Football Club – the community owners of the team.  Details can be found at www.myfootballclub.co.uk.

Finally, a big hello to all the Macclesfield Town officials, players and supporters who have made the long trek to North Kent.  Enjoy your time tonight and have a safe trip home, albeit a pointless one! 

January was also a crazy time in Sydney. Temperatures of 42C and then a record breaking 46C were certainly hard to endure.  For those of you who hanker for hot weather, I can ensure you it is overrated - at times! 

As I write these notes Queensland and New South Wales are suffering from floods, wild winds and torrential rain.  If only it snowed in Sydney…..