Strictly Come Football

January 1, 2000

Ken Masters’

Opinions about football are wide and varied.

Individual player performances, the ability of managers, team selection and shape, refereeing decisions, director’s ambitions for their respective clubs and so on and so forth. Football talk is never ending and is part and parcel of following the funny old game.

I seldom watch ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ I have to say. Not exactly my cup of tea, but I do understand the appeal for those that do. It’s a bit like football in some ways, even the top judges and so called experts rant at each other with differing views about performance and award a wide range of scores to match.

‘Strictly Come Football’, I reckon. That’s how it is in 2010 and that’s how it was in 1883, I’m sure. Things are a bit different these days, though. We have the internet and all of the football web sites that go with it. The whole wide world is making known their opinions, and most are sensible, to be fair. However, lose a game and you’re going to be relegated, win a game and promotion is there for the taking. I recall Lennie Lawrence saying to me; “Get into October mate, ten or twelve matches before it starts to settle down and you can look at it.” I think he is probably right.

 So here we are. As I am writing these notes the first October games are out of the way and we have the results of ten league games and a couple of cup games to look back on. What are people thinking ten? A scan of the League One web sites may tell a tale or two.

Phil Parkinson made no excuses for Charlton’s first defeat in five in the away game at Brentford. He said; “We looked like a team which had had a win on Tuesday and just thought they could turn up and play. No team in this division has got enough quality just to turn up and get the ball down and play. You have got to compete and roll your sleeves up and win the first ball and win the second ball first of all, and then play on the back of that.”

I agree with that, and a good number of people in the game hold the same view, including those of us at Bristol Rovers. You are always going to get the odd blip in football, but what Parky is saying is exactly what we have been doing of late. Take the games at home to Notts County and away at Dagenham and Huddersfield. Not mentioning individual players but we had a hunger to win the ball in those games, then play our football and score real quality goals. The result, going into October, was a top ten place. A very tight league table, but not such a bad start after all.

The Colchester United site has been going on about missed chances of late. They reckon the U’s had the better of the play in the away League fixture at I MK Dons only to draw the game 1-1. They blamed missed chances for not picking up their third away win of the season and again for losing the JPT home game to League Two Wycombe just a few days later; “The U’s were again left to pay the price for not taking their chances.” They posted, as they fell out of the Johnstone Paint’s Trophy to their arch rivals Wycombe. “The gulf between the two teams had looked wide in the first half, as the U’s again commanded possession.” Without scoring, I hasten to add.

To be honest I did not understand why Wycombe were Colchester’s arch rivals, but if they say so! They do make a good point about missed chances, though, but forgot to mention that Wycombe scored two goals on the night. As Phil Parkinson says, you have to win the ball first and for me that is especially so in your own box.

Nigel Adkins has now had a bit of time to assess things at Southampton, and he too places a lot of emphasis on taking chances. He told the Saints web site that he backs his strikers to keep finding the net after the 2-0 home win after Bournemouth. Steady on Nigel mate, both goals did come from the penalty spot! Still, they all count and they often do win, or lose, football matches. Nigel adds; “Ultimately, I want us to pass the ball about and win games of football.”

So here is the recipe then; win the ball, pass the ball and take your chances in front of goal. I don’t have a problem with any of that, simples!


Finally, talking about opinions, The Football League web site’s League 1 team of the week for Oct 2nd included Danny Coles plus ten others. The same week The Football League Paper’s team included Byron Antony in the same position and ten others, of course. The interesting thing was that the ten others were entirely different. Not one single agreement in any position; two entirely different teams of the week. Strictly Come Football alright! In any case, well done to Danny and Byron; well deserved.


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