February 19, 2007

Plus ca change

Welcome to the new email system.

Just as bad as the old one!

I could have caught a train to Bradford and back several times over, and had the conversation person-to-person in the time it’s taken for one email to land from Saturday

February 12, 2007

Out of the blue

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/b/bradford_city/6354497.stm

So it finally happened. Captain Beige Colin Todd got the sack, after a run of 3 wins from the last TWENTY matches. In some ways, it was an impossible job, especially after having lost his 3 best players in the transfer window. Certainly, losing the star creative player and top scorer precipitated a further downturn in results, leaving us only 3 points from the drop zone.

His first season, after the turmoil of the 2004 close season saw a comfortable 11th placed finish when all the bookies (and some of us) had us down for a difficult season post relegation and administration. Similarly, 2005-6 saw us finish 11th. This was not so good, but a season blighted by two or three chronically useless new signings put paid to the top 6. This year has been mad; starting the season like a train, only for it to be a false dawn to end them all. Now we look nervously over our shoulders at the bottom 4…

David Wetherall has been put in temporary charge. It’ll be interesting to see whether he plays or not.

But already, the rumour mill is in full swing. Who’s out of work? Who would want a job at a club with no money in a seemingly endless downward spiral?
Lets examine a few categories (with help from the League Manager’s Association website) of would be managers…

The One The Fans All Want: The Third Coming
Stuart McCall. Promotion winning hero (x 2). Currently assistant manager at Sheffield United. Would be utterly mad to come back to the club in the present shambolic state.

Other Ex-Players On/Off The Managerial Merry-Go-Round
Chris Wilder/Wayne Jacobs. Both ex-City players, and currently the managerial duo at Halifax, having got them to the Conference Playoffs last year. Would be cheap, but Ginger Wayne is popular -though not with the gentleman that sits 3 seats to my left at home games....
Lee Sinnott. Presided over non-League Farsley Celtic’s rise up the Unibond leagues.
Peter Beagrie. Hugely popular for his role in 1998-2001, even more so because Colin Todd and he didn’t get on. Previously player coach at Scunthorpe.
Terry Dolan. Now manager of non-league Guiseley, warmly remembered for the McCall-Hendrie side of 1987-88. Not so fondly remembered in Hull…

Managers Once Highly Thought Of But Now Fallen On Hard Times
Iain Dowie. Would he seriously even look at our job?
Mickey Adams. Done well whereever he’s been but not too popular of late in these parts.
Andy Ritchie. Got Barnsley out of this division last year, before harsh sacking
Phil Parkinson. Rumoured player revolt saw him leave Hull just 6 months after his protracted move from Colchester

Dear Lord No, And I Might Never Buy Another Season Ticket, Ever
Gary Megson, Carlton Palmer, Kevin Blackwell, Howard Wilkinson, Nicky Law, Peter Reid, David O’Leary, Bryan Robson, Alan Ball, Sven-Goran Eriksson

February 03, 2007

Brucie Bonus

Bradford City 2 Dyer 8, Paynter 89

Nottingham Forest 2 Tyson 10, Lester 18

Attendance 10,160

Bradford have had a difficult week; having lost both Nathan Doyle and Jermaine Johnson in addition to the departure of Windass the week before it was all change today. For yours truly, a first chance to see 4 new players: Omar Daley, our new right winger signed from Charleston Battery ; Bruce Dyer loan from Doncaster; Billy Paynter on loan from Southend; and Kelly Youga – quite possibly the first footballer from the Central African Republic to ever play for Bradford, and likely the first ever player called Kelly – on loan from Charlton. Doyle would be replaced at right back by Richard Edghill. Not something to put the locals at their ease…

From the off, the game was open. Both sides committed to attack, and City took the lead after 8 minutes. Not for the first time, Daley raced clear on the right and put in a fantastic cross for Paynter. His header was saved by visiting keeper Smith, but the rebound was headed goalwards by Dyer, and despite the efforts of a defender that caused him to hit post and bar, the goal was given.

The advantage was given up straight away. Almost from the kick off, Bentham gave the ball away (for neither the first nor last time), Forest swept forwards and Tyson outpaced the labouring centrebacks to beat Ricketts and score off the post. The game swung Forest’s way, City unable to retain the ball. And yet 8 minutes later when Lester received the ball with back to goal, there seemed no danger. Except Wetherall and Edghill just stopped and allowed him to turn and beat Ricketts without a challenge. And then back to the usual routine; inability to do any of the important things at all. They were fortunate to go in only 1 behind at half time.

The second half was attritional and scrappy, and Bridge-Wilkinson seemed to give up with 25 minutes to go. Unacceptable. Right then, it looked like there was going to be a long 4 months to the end of the season. Yet City graduallly edged far enough forwards to start to threaten. They were presented with a golden chance to equalise 10 minutes from time when keeper Smith’s awful clearance was squared by Paynter to Daley, who blazed wide with the whole of the goal to aim at.

The game opened up; City went to 3 up front, and Dobie thought he’d scored when he broke away from Bower and chipped over the advancing Ricketts, only for Edghill to clear off the line (the only positive thing he did in an otherwise nightmarish afternoon). Then, from a similar breakaway Ricketts denied Grant Holt with a brilliant block when you’d put your house on him scoring. There was a long remonstration between the Forest keeper and his centrebacks over them defending too deep in a goalmouth scramble. And then with a minute to go, in an almost identical situation, Edghill’s high ball to the far post was headed down by Dyer for Paynter to score from 6 yards.

Forest should be sick. Here was an easy three points in the bag, but they seemed to be more content to sit back and time waste than grab the game and finish it. For City, well done for those that kept going – particularly the front two who had almost no service all afternoon. But a midfield clearout is badly needed; none of the current personnel seem to be up to it.

MOTM: Youga. Bizarrely replaced with 20 minutes to go, because the manager thought “he was struggling”. Struggling???!

Bradford (4-4-2): Ricketts – Edghill, Wetherall, Bower, Youga (Parker) – Daley, Bentham (E. Johnson), Schumacher, Bridge-Wilkinson – Paynter, Dyer. Subs not used: Hibbert, Muirhead, Howarth.

Forest (4-3-1-2): Smith – Curtis, Morgan, Breckin, Bennett – Perch, Clingan, Prutton – Lester – Holt (Chambers), Tyson (Dobie). Subs not used: Holt, McGugan, Agogo

January 25, 2007

Momentum is the key

This has been a funny week. All the way to Southampton and back by the afternoon on Monday, Watford and the Premier League on Tuesday, followed by having the stitches in my thumb removed today.

So I was back in the lab and very harassed (as per usual), trying to pick up the pieces having not done anything in a week; I can do a lot in one of my weeks. After a couple of days of effort, not much was working, and the mood was getting ugly. But this afternoon, the first crystal structure came back from Southampton, probably explaining the weird NMR, and also throwing light on some similar results which I had down as ‘spurious’ (and was skirting around) but can now similarly explain why.

And the rest of the afternoon has been the same way. Things making sense. People ask me why i work such long days. Chemical research is like pushing a huge boulder up a hill. Lots of effort required to get it moving, then once it gets to the top momentum builds. You get out what you put in…

Goal of the century

January 25th 1997

Everton 2 O’Brien o.g. 54, Speed 90

Bradford City 3 Dreyer 49, Waddle 51, Steiner 59

Attendance: 30,007

Yes, time for more BCFC related nostalgia. Ten years ago this very day, a huge cup shock, with what should have been goal of the season (yet didn’t even make goal of the month). On paper, this was a mis-match. City were in the bottom 3 of the Championship, having struggled desperately post-Wembley promotion. Everton were only 19 months out from having won the FA Cup against Man Utd in 1995…

City persisted with the fashionable 3-5-2 system (almost until it was too late in the league), hoping to pack the midfield and frustrate. Cheered on by 6,000 travelling fans half-time came with only 1 real scare, a fine tip-over from Mark Schwarzer denying Duncan Ferguson’s header. Yet having drawn 0-0 at half time, manager Chris Kamara withdrew Hamilton and Kiwomya for Wembley scorer Stallard and the always entertaining Liburd.

And 4 minutes into the second half, complete disbelief. A scramble on the edge of the area led to John ‘Tumble’ Dreyer, normally a centreback but deployed in front of the back 3, rifling in a half volley from 20 yards. But that was nothing in comparison to what followed.

Everton piled forward and won a corner. The move broke down, and City counterattacked. The ball ended up with Andrei Kanchelskis on the half way line, with noone behind him. Not being used to playing in such a position, he dallied on the ball and was ambushed by Swedish striker Rob Steiner…the ball rolled to Chris Waddle (in his late thirties, but still our best player by a mile) in the centre circle...who saw Neville Southall in his own penalty arc…and hit it first time.

It sailed goalwards, over the stranded keeper, clearing the underneath of the bar by centimetres and hitting the back of the net 6 feet up. Stunned silence. Following by mad cheering from the visiting hordes from Yorkshire. The best goal in the world, ever.

Everton were now really mad. Again they threw everyone forward, and following a header down from Ferguson, 17-year-old Andy O’Brien misdirected the ball past his own keeper. If you listen hard enough, Keith Coates (legend) – the commentator on the club video – is heard to remark “oh, s—t”. Here we go, we’ll lose 3-2. Yet the next meaningful attack saw Waddle send Steiner through a hopelessly square back 4, outpacing the ancient legs of Dave Watson to coolly beat Southall again. Delirium in the stands. Steiner’s best performance for the club by some distance; a mobile, aggressive, strong centre-forward – oh for one now!

The next 30 minutes were spent in a furious rearguard action, with Ferguson mostly marked by 2 players. We looked like we had got away with it only for ex-dirty-Leeds man Gary Speed to fluke a deflected one in from the left touchline in injury time. But it was the last meaningful kick of the game.

To give the Everton fans credit, they gave the City players a good hand as they left the pitch. We’d lose in the 5th round to a very poor Sheffield Wednesday side, and it would be the last time we had any sort of a cup-run. 10 years since the last cup-run!

The epilogue; what should have been the BBC’s goal of the season ended up losing the goal of the month contest to Trevor Sinclair’s spectacular (but entirely speculative) overhead kick for QPR against Barnsley on the same afternoon. A travesty. Biased? Me?

Everton (4-4-2): Southall – Barrett, Watson, Short, Phelan (Grant) – Kanchelskis, Parkinson, Stuart, Speed – Barmby, Ferguson. Subs not used: Gerrard, Unsworth.

City (3-1-4-2): Schwarzer – Mohan, Sas, O’Brien – Dreyer – Hamilton (Liburd), Duxbury, Waddle, Jacobs – Kiwomya (Stallard), Steiner. Sub not used: Pinto

January 24, 2007

A trip to the Premier League

Watford 2 Emerton og 12, Demerit 70

Blackburn Rovers 1 McCarthy 45

Attendance 13,766

An open letter to Richard Scudamore, CEO of the Premier League

Dear Sir

Last night I went to see (being a Bradford fan it’s a while before I’ll see it again, I think) some Premier League football. In The Best League In The WorldTM. I think you’re breaching the Trades Description Act somewhere, as I’ve seen better games in League 1 this season. Can I have my 20 quid back?


And now to the usual stuff and nonsense. A short hop on the train, I was hoping this would remind me of those days in 1999-2001. Unfortunately it reminded me of several games I’ve seen in the last 3-4 years.

First things first. We need a tenous link to Bradford, and in the Watford manager Boothroyd we have one. This could have been a blog of someone from oop North made good. I’d been curious to see whether the bad press Watford get for their style of football was justified, or whether it was another case of the London press getting on someone’s back without due cause. Well, having been to the game last night, the prosecution contends that he thought football like this died out 10 years ago.

Mindless, caveman football from the footballing dark ages with no technical merit and precious little in the way of skill or excitement is probably the best description (a whole new ball game? Ha!). Think of John Beck’s Cambridge United side of the late 80s-early 90s. Everything was long balls into the channels, playing for field position for long throws, corners and free kicks. No more than 3 passes before a mighty hoof towards the goal.

So it came to pass that the ball was worked down the Blackburn left, after an apology of a challenge from Pedersen, and a high ball to the far post saw a scramble where Brett Emerton headed past his own keeper. Blackburn tried to respond, but all too often tried to play Watford at their own game. Watford were better at it, and the two huge centrebacks had an easy time of it. Only sporadically did Rovers play any football, but when they did they carved the home side apart two or three times to give presentable chances. But the exception rather than the norm.

But on one such occasion in first half stoppage time, they were level. Some possession down the right, Bentley cut inside and beat 3 players and crossed for the unmarked McCarthy to head in off the bar. The last action of the half. It should have been impressed on them at half time that for Blackburn to win they should have kept the ball. If they did, they would win comfortably. They should have gone in front early in the second when McCarthy fired wastefully over from 6 yards with the whole of the goal to aim at.

Rovers then lost Savage (with a broken leg, it has transpired) in a ‘clumsy’ challenge from a Watford player, and McCarthy in rapid succession, and really seemed to lose their way after that. And with noone picking up at a Watford free kick, a man unmarked at the far post headed back across goal and sub Demerit bundled in. Twice in the penalty area, two goals.

Blackburn laid siege in the final 10 minutes, and Derbyshire headed over when he should have scored in the last minute. In hindsight, a 1-1 draw would have been a fair result; Watford showed just why they were at the bottom of the league, and Blackburn were very off colour, and didn’t do enough to win. A couple of players clearly didn’t fancy a cold January night away from home and spent most of the game hiding.

I shouldn’t like to have to watch Watford every week though. Still, the pies were nice…

MOTM: There wasn’t one.

Watford (4-4-2): Foster – Mariappa, Mackay, Shittu (Demerit), Stewart – Smith, Bangura, Francis, Bouazza – Hoskins (Powell), Henderson. Subs not used: Lee, Priskin, Ashikodi

Blackburn (4-4-2): Friedel – Emerton, Henchoz, Khizanishvili, McEveley – Bentley, Savage (Gallagher), Mokoena, Pedersen – Nonda, McCarthy (Derbyshire). Subs not used: Enckelman, Peter, Nolan

January 16, 2007

Tuesday strikes again!

Note to self:

There are other ways of getting out of changing the glovebox cylinder than having to go to A + E. Four stitches and a very sore hand later, I am confined to desk duty for the rest of the week. And yes, those of a superstitious nature will see what day it happened on.

Black Knight

Tis but a scratch


January 12, 2007

It made me laugh

Here I am at the end of a very long week. After getting back into things, I’d had 8 really good days in a row; doing new chemistry, and continuing to heroically unravel the tangled mess that others have left.

Along the way I’ve seen just why Nobel Prizes are given out (in order to make lab minions like me have a slightly easier life), but it couldn’t last. Today has been rubbish, back to the times when I had the Midas touch in reverse.

So to end the week, a joke I have seen on the interweb this week. Tis not very good perhaps, but it made me laugh.

Are we sitting comfortably?

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone are planning a party for a certain themed restaurant (other themed restaurants are available). Willis says “lets have a fancy dress party”. Sly says “lets dress as famous composers”.

Bruce says “I’m going to be Beethoven”

Stallone says “I’m coming as Mozart”

Arnie says “I’ll be Bach”

December 30, 2006

Bad Wether

Bradford City 2 Wetherall 15, J. Johnson 65 (Wetherall sent off 56)

Cheltenham 2 Finnigan (pen) 57, Odejayi 60 (Spencer sent off 90)

Attendance: 7,264

[For those not interested in yet another rant in its entirety, the game can be described in one word; desperate]

Todays ironic quotation is taken from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus. In the review of the footballing year, in September Donovan Ricketts said

It’s better this year. The fans are behind us now, they don’t boo at half-time anymore.

No, now we boo during the match and at the end…..

Tis the season to be jolly? Oh no it isn’t! Just when you thought you couldn’t see as bad a performance as on Boxing day, along comes another. Cheltenham had taken 7 points from the previous 51 (thats P17 W2 D1 L14), and, with the exception of their front two, looked like it. Cannon fodder for the rest of the division, City didn’t have a clue.

In mitigation, the conditions weren’t great for football today. Driving rain made for very heavy going on the pitch. For 15 minutes nothing at all of note happened. Then, from Bridge-Wilkinson’s free kick, chaos in the Cheltenham ranks, a fumble by the keeper, and Wetherall smuggled in his first goal of the season. A bit of a shock to the fans who’d seen 7 failures to score in the previous 9. But City didn’t get the second goal, and Cheltenham edged back into it before half time, forcing several corners, and keeper Ricketts being kept on his toes by the dangerous frontmen of Cheltenham.

Into the second half, and it all came unstuck. Rather than keep the ball, the midfield reverted to the tried-and-trusted “hoof it long and make JJ chase” tactic. Didn’t work! Instead, Wetherall (having been booked for taking him out in the first half) felled the lively Odejayi in the penalty area, resulting in a second yellow. For all the referee’s ineptitude today it was the right decision, Wethers does now have the turning circle and pace of a supertanker and Odejayi was far too fast for him all day

Visiting skipper Finnigan could count himself fortunate with the resulting penalty going through both of Ricketts’ hands. There didn’t seem to be much organisation at the back in the aftermath of the dismissal, and watching the second Cheltenham goal unfold was like watching a car crash in slow motion. Bridge-Wilkinson had moved from left-midfield to right-back, Cheltenham piled in unopposed down the left, and two players were unmarked for the cut-back from the goalline. The first horribly miscued, but you could see the second player lurking right behind him, and Odejayi curled home a fine shot into the bottom left corner. Boos echoing round the stands, chants of “Todd Out” clearly audiblle.

What to do if you are a BCFC player? If you are David Graham, you (allegedly) respond to general dissatisfaction from the crowd to you by giving “the two-fingered salute” to the home fans behind the goal. Who were not amused, to put it mildly. He was almost immediately replaced. Good. Let the malingering, unmotivated mule go back to Sheffield Wednesday reserves to count his money. For the “on loan hall of donkeys”, that one.

City rearranged into a 3-4-2 formation; Bower flanked by Parker and Doyle, Colbeck on the right, and JJ went up front. At last some pace up front!! And within 5 minutes it paid off. Windass flicked on yet another long ball and Johnson raced into the area to beat the keeper. And that was pretty much that really, with the exception of a glaring miss by visiting striker Spencer who, faced only with the keeper fired well wide when unmarked 6 yards out. Spencer was then dismissed in the 90th minute for a wild lunge on Bentham, his second yellow of the afternoon.

Another very unhappy day at the office. Midfield was abominable again. And compare the two teams strikers. What we have been missing all season was writ large this afternoon; mobile, strong, fast strikers will give teams problems. Short, slow, old ones won’t.

More boos at the final whistle; we still need you-know-who.

MOTM: Bower, for keeping things together when all around him was chaos

City (4-4-2): Ricketts – Doyle, Wetherall, Bower, Parker – J. Johnson, Schumacher, Bentham, Bridge-Wilkinson – Windass, Graham (Colbeck). Subs not used: Howarth, Edghill, Brown, Ainge.

Cheltenham (4-4-2): Higgs – Caines, Duff, Townsend, Wilson – Melligan, Connolly, Gill, Finnigan (Yao) – Odejayi, Spencer. Subs not used: Brown, Gillespie, Guinan, Foley.

December 26, 2006

Heffed Off

Bradford City 0

Doncaster Rovers 1 Heffernan 14

Attendance 10,069

Lets look back at something we (rather foolishly) said here back in September:

Early days admittedly, but there is something different about this season. Two wide players who are a real threat to the opposition and not a hindrance to their own side makes such a difference. And a striker to partner Windass who can score goals is a real help. The next 3 games are a much sterner test, but if they come through, a good season looks on the cards. Only 2 clouds on the horizon; the left-back slot is still a problem position, and the loan players may all leave in January. But enjoy it while the sun shines. This was so much different to the last 3 or 4 years.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. How it has all come unstuck again. New Year’s Resolution: Not to waste any more time travelling up here to watch games. I’ll go and watch the Cheltenham game on Saturday, because I’m here, but I’m not wasting another penny piece this season on coming to anymore games.

It was so grandly inept today as to almost defy lucid description. To describe them as a rudderless, leaderless, disorganised shower is not overstating the case. From the word go, only one side ever looked like scoring. They wore all blue, but that’s where the Chelsea comparison ends. Doncaster were efficient, but no more. They didn’t have to get out of first gear today, and so yet more points leave VP. This division is the pits. The standard of football is generally awful, 20 sides are as good (or is that as bad?) as each other, yet we cannot put these sides under any consistent pressure at all, especially in midfield areas.

“Oh”, I hear the reader say, “here he goes again”. Damn right he does. The Bradford City midfield cannot pass water, tackle their way out of a wet paper bag, or cross a road. The only thing they can press is the self-destruct button. Most matches are lost before a ball is kicked one way or another. Carlton Palmer may look like Ronaldinho in comparison. JJ, so often the only threat to teams this season, looked very disinterested today. Schumacher was nothing short of atrocious, Bentham battled away but 3 games into his season after 4 months out injured it was a struggle for him, and MBW, shunted out to the left was horribly ineffectual.

So it came to pass that with noone pressing the ball, Doncaster worked a throw-in 25 yards from goal down the right, and without a tackle in sight, Paul Green crossed and Paul Heffernan headed in from 6 yards. Game over. After 14 minutes. Doncaster should really have added to the score when Forte fired wastefully over from 6 yards after City were carved apart down their right. But apart from that, Ricketts had not a lot to do. But the visiting keeper had even less.

Second half should have been time for the kitchen sink, but all the paying idiots Bradford public were treated to were aimless long balls at the ineffectual front two. Graham was replaced by Brown, but this is the footballing equivalent of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, I will make a professional centre forward before Joe Brown does. And yet with almost the last kick of the match, City nearly equalised, when MBW’s long distance free-kick crashed off the angle of post and bar in the 95th minute of the match. But that would have been a travesty.

We keep thinking it can’t get any worse, but it does. Someone said to me “it’s worse than Docherty or Law”. I wouldn’t have agreed with them then, but I do now. Where, on the pitch is the leader? Where is the beating heart that drives them forward and rallies them when trailing?

The club seems to be inexorably spiralling downwards, and no-one seems capable of stopping it, from the permanently invisible chairman, to the equally invisible board of directors, to the useless buffoon of a manager who insists that Matt Clarke or Mark Bower must be the overlapping left back, when they have played most of their career as a centre back and there is a left back on loan from Leeds who only gets a game on the left wing or centre midfield!

The apathy in the crowd today was remarkable. Most sat in near silence. The two biggest cheers of the afternoon were reserved for the score from Sunderland. Gallows humour was the only way to pass the time. A child played his Nintendo DS for about 25 minutes of the second half. I was sat there, like thousands of others, not vaguely interested in what the result was. As the song goes (rather ironically titled ‘Mess’)

There are rooms in this house, that I don’t open anymore
Dusty books of pictures on the floor

It is time for someone with the feelgood factor. Someone who is not on one last fat contract before he retires, and who actually cares. They could bring in some players with the same motivation and pride in the shirt, and the attitude of not giving anything less than 100%. It is time for The Ginger Prince. It is time for The Third Coming…

MOTM: Doyle. Says something when he was stretchered off after 75 minutes and he’s still MOTM. Oh for 10 other players with the same level of commitment and enthusiasm. And he’s not even our player!

Bradford (4-4-2): Ricketts – Doyle (Swift), Wetherall, Bower, Clarke – J. Johnson, Bentham, Schumacher, Bridge-Wilkinson – Windass, Graham (Brown). Subs not used: Howarth, Parker, Penford

Doncaster (4-4-2): Smith – O’Connor, Lee, Lockwood, Roberts – Forte (Guy), Wilson, Coppinger (Thornton), Green – Heffernan, McCammon. Subs not used: Budtz, Dyer, Noble.

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