Real football, Real fans
January 1, 2000
My first two articles of the new season took in a surf of a number of football websites to gauge the mood around football and to look to see who was predicting what as we embark on the daunting challenge of a quick return to League One. I also took a look at some first day reactions and made particular note of Swindon’s apparent drubbing of Dario Gradi’s Crewe, whilst thinking about a possible surge behind the Italian revolution at the County Ground. Two Town defeats on the road later and I ask can Di Canio cut it as a manager in English football, and in League Two especially, or would they have been better off with, shall we say, a more local man with experience of playing and getting a club promoted at this level already on his CV. No names you understand, just thoughts.
You’ve got to believe that it takes a good number of games for sides to ‘gel’ and to find their form; good, bad or indifferent. Some think six, but I think more like ten or twelve. I also think that a club does not get promoted or relegated in the first half a dozen games of the season; they are more likely to in the final ten.
My thoughts for this article were to take a little look upstairs and to see what is going on with The Football League and other powers that be. The official League website has been given a bit of a makeover in what it seems to be a move to make it more accessible and readable for your average football fan. For a start it is headed ‘Real Football, Real Fans’ which gives a positive indication of what The League are trying to do. I wonder if this is a bit of a dig at the Premier League; just struck me. Nonetheless, 1 think the slogan is pretty sound and sums up an attempt by The League to get closer to the paying supporters whose preference is to go along to their local club; the very bedrock, you may argue, of professional football in England and the UK in general.
So what have we got on the revamped site. The Friday Stat Attack, downloadable fixture grids, TV Games coming up (FL and Carling Cup only of course), This Weeks Blogs and the latest news around the Clubs, Championship, League One and League Two and full details of all games played to date.
After just three games in the Friday Stat Attack is up and running. Posted on 19th August, The League looked at the shooting stars in each division. A quick look at League Two shows that newcomers Crawley Town managed only 13 efforts on goal in the first three games, but that guite meagre tally resulted in seven goals to make Steve Evan’s side the top joint scorers alongside Andy Scott’s Rotherham United.
Today’s visitors, Hereford United, did not manage a single goal in their first three games but did register 34 efforts on goal. The view of The League was that with those number of shots the Bulls account would soon be off the mark. Surely it was, and after only eight minutes of the game at Wimbledon’s Kingsmeadow last Saturday. The fewest number of shots on target came from Aldershot Town who could only manage five, though two of those found the back of the net. The divisions’ most unlucky side would appear to be Barnet who hit the woodwork no less than four times in the first three games, the highest in all the 72, so spare a thought for Mark Marshall who hit three of those efforts.
Clicking on the Blogs, we find a different blogger for each division. Matt Holland views The Championship whilst Andy Richie and Sammy Mcllroy take Leagues One and League Two respectively. Sammy raged about his old club Morecambe, and Northampton Town’s success in the Carling Cup, and made particular note of team tactics on the road. He says that every game he watches these days he sees the away side using 4-5-1 and looking to play counter attacking football. I reckon this is a tactic that we shall see many times from our visitors to the Memorial Stadium this season.
I found League Two News to be pretty much a roundup of managers’ post match comments. A couple caught my eye from around the League. In form striker Sean Rigg earned high praise from Vale manager Mickey Adams after the former Rovers man hit two past Actrington Stanley, and Cheltenham boss Mark Yeats paid tribute to Darryl Duffy following his brace at Northampton. Sadly, Peter Reid admits Plymouth Argyle are already fighting for their Football League lives after crashing to a 3-0 defeat at Gillingham. As I have said already in the column, for the sake of West Country football not least, I really do hope not.
So, The Football League Website; definitely more fan orientated than ever before, I am bound to say, and well worth a weekly look at least.