August 10, 2007

It's like Christmas

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 months since the last entry. Usually the footballing close season of an ‘odd numbered’ year drags on since there is no summer football tournament to watch. This summer has been largely occupied by work, job interviews, writing papers and research proposals (on waffle factor 10) and trying – and failing – to avoid the rain.

Tomorrow being the 11th of August means it’s time for the football season to begin again. It’s a little bit like Christmas eve when you are 4 years old. And for once there might just be a little cause for optimism. After a 3rd relegation in 6 years, BCFC now reside in the old Division 4, for the first time since 1982. The spectacular implosion of last season (1 win in 17 home games, 4 in 34 overall) has meant widespread changes again, not least in the managers chair. Somehow, chairman Julian Rhodes has managed to persuade The Ginger One to make a 3rd Coming in BD8. Ginger Wayne is back as the assistant manager. New co-chairman Mark Lawn has written off the debts, meaning the club is essentially debt free. We’ve slashed the prices of season tickets, selling more than 12,000, meaning there might be an atmosphere for a change. Will there be a winning team?

Darren Williams (from Hartlepool, free). Signed as a right back, the ominous phrase “utility defender” has been attached. Not very tall
Paul Heckingbottom (from Barnsley, 6 month loan). A fabulously Northern name, and player of the year in 2003-4 which wasn’t saying much. Has been given the chop by Barnsley, and forms part of the very old back 4 that has no pace at all.
Paul Evans (from Swindon, free). Like Hecky above, left in the 2nd administration in 2004. Excellent from set pieces and once had an on-pitch scuffle with assistant manager Jacobs. We need 10 goals from him
Peter Thorne (Norwich, free). Once scored 30 in a season for Stoke, now spent most of the last year in the treatment room in Norwich, scoring a whopping 2 goals in 42 appearances. Is already injured…
Barry Conlon (Mansfield, free). Signed to be the “Big Forrad”, knows this division very well. Is prematurely bald
Alex Rhodes (Brentford, free). Has been signed to fill the problem left wing position, where there has been a gap since idiotic Scotsman Jim Jefferies decided Peter Beagrie’s “legs had gone”. Coincidentally has the same name as the chairman’s wife…
Guylain Nbumbu-Nsungu (Gillingham, 6 month loan). French striker who Gills fans are euphoric to see the back of. Has been signed for being “fast, but wildly erratic”. Had a couple of productive spells in this division. Is apparently known as “Big Dave”
Scott Phelan (Everton, free). Captain of the Everton reserves, and has represented England at junior level. We’ve been here before with ex Evertonians. If he is like a pre-injury Kearney, this is good. If he is like the latter-day Schumacher this is less good…
Kyle Nix (unattached). Once played for Aston Villa and Sheffield United at junior level (from where McCall knows him), more recently he has been playing in the Rotherham Sunday League. Has been given a monthly contract, but no squad number.
Nathan Joynes (Barnsley, loan). Spent last season on loan at Halifax and Boston. Has not shown up very well in preseason….
Thomas Harban (Barnsley, loan). Spent last season on loan at Tamworth. You know you’ve fallen a long way when Barnsley are using you as a feeder club for untried kids.

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson (Carlisle, free). Very skilful and excellent dead ball striker, wanted to play in central midfield all the time despite being very flimsy. Not to be missed
Steven Schumacher (Crewe, free). Went seriously downhill after a good 2004-5, to the point where he gave fans the 2 fingered salute at Chesterfield when relegation was confirmed.
Richard Edghill (Macclesfield, free). Another entry for the “worst right back I have ever seen” awards. Will not be missed at all.
Russell Howarth (released). Reserve keeper to Ricketts. Couldn’t catch a cold.
Ben Muirhead (Rochdale, free). Expect him to run rungs round us when we play ‘Dale, and then revert to “Run Forrest, Run!” in the other 44 games

The team
As with last year, the first 11 looks good. But there is precious little else behind it when injuries and suspensions begin to hit home. Eddie Johnson has been moved back into midfield and looks at home there. If he and Evans can get 20 goals between them, and Conlon/Thorne/Big Dave get 30 ish we might be nearly there. Omar Daley has had a good preseason and looks the most dangerous player and he has a scorching long range shot. Worries remain about the lack of pace in the defence (and their age), and goalkeeper Ricketts needs to forget his annus horriblis of last year, in which an awful lot of shots went straight through him. How will they do? I think 3rd, behind (don’t laugh) “Big Spending” Peterborough and the MK Dons.

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