Welcome to my small corner of the internet!

This is my blog!! I feel that I would like to express my opinions, recollect memories and tell stories about football. I hope you enjoy reading this! I would like to point out now that some things I write on here are my opinion and not necessarily fact!

Friday, 25 November 2011


In the modest surroundings of Spotland, Rochdale's small ground, a set of experiments that could change the game of football forever were taking place.
A group of scientists and technicians were huddled around looking at various different computers and fiddling around with the Goalminder System.  This system could start the whole way football is shaped and end arguments about whether the ball crossed the line or not.  http://www.rochdaleafc.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10441~2526053,00.html

Frank Skinner and David Baddiel's take on the famous 'goal' by Geoff Hurst on the excellent Fantasy Football League show in the mid 1990's is definitely how the Goalminder System doesn't work.  Click on the video link below as it is well worth a watch...

This moment is the most well known disputed 'goal' that has happened in the game of football.  It happened in the World Cup Final, the biggest match and event in the world of football and still cannot be proven today that the ball did or didn't cross the line.  Being English I know that it obviously did cross the line!  Interestingly, I was watching a documentary about the '66 World Cup Final a few weeks ago and found out that some of the German players wanted a replay of the game.  This was because of this disputed third goal and also because of the fans who ran on the pitch ("There's people on the pitch" Kenneth Wolstenholme moment) as the fourth goal went in.

Back to the point, the whole issue could have been avoided if there was a simple piece of technology that could be checked by the officials to see if the ball had gone in.  Most stadiums in the top divisions have video screens and could show the answer.  This happens in Rugby, American Football and Cricket when there is a disputed decision and the referee asks the video referee for a decision.

Last year in the World Cup in South Africa, the Germans finally got their revenge.  Frank Lampard struck a shot from outside the box that hit the underside of the bar, clearly crossed the line and bounced back out onto the field of play.  Both the Uruguayan referee and his assistant didn't see this and it wasn't given.  In this instance, England were beaten resoundingly 4-1 but it was at this moment that could have changed the match.

The picture below, taken from the BBC website clearly shows the ball crossed the line by some way and it still wasn't noticed by the officials.

copyright bbc.co.uk

Another infamous occasion that the officials missed a goal and it wasn't given was at Old Trafford in 2005 when Pedro Mendes hit a long distance shot at goal and Roy Carroll, the Manchester United goalkeeper dropped the ball over the line.  He dragged it back and because the referee and his assistant were so far behind play, they never saw the ball cross the line.  As you will be able to see in the photo below, it would have been easy for goal line technology to show it was a goal.

There have also been moments where the ball has entered the goal and then come back out again, be it cleared by a defeneder once it has crossed the line or even hit something and come back out and the officials didn't see this because it happened to quickly, their view was obstructed or for whatever reason. 
A fine example of this was in a game between Bristol City and Crystal Palace in 2009.  Freddie Sears, who was playing for Crystal Palace scored a goal but the ball hit the stanchion at the back of the goal and came back out so quickly that the referee didn't award the goal.  This happened in the 30th minute of the game and Bristol City scored in the 90th minute of the game to win the match 1-0.

copyright bbc.co.uk

The picture above shows the 'goal' that was not given by Freddie Sears in 2009.  Apologies about the picture quality but it proves my point!

However, there are negative views about goal line technology.  There is the school of thought that it would take away the integrity of the referee's assistant's decision and would belittle them.  It would suggest that they are not doing a good enough job and need replacing by a computer.
As well as this, there is also the question of how far down the football pyramid the system would be put into place.  Would it go down to League Two (the Fourth division of English football) and be only used in professional matches?  I think this is the only practicable answer as it would cost a vast amount of money to implement it.  Then clubs in the non league would be at a disadvantage some might say.  This is true but the key decisions around the game are made around money.

In conclusion, I believe goal line technology must be implemented into the professional game as soon as possible.  This will be crucial for the game and in time will benefit the game as a whole.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


There will be no blog tonight I'm afraid as Arsenal were playing Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and I decided that I would go and watch the game at the pub!  A satisfactory 2-0 win with two goals from in-form striker Robin van Persie has seen us progress from the group stages (as group winners!) with a game to spare.  Another bonus from tonight was seeing Chelsea lose in injury time at Leverkusen so they need to beat Valencia at Stamford Bridge to progress to the last 16.  That could be a struggle and with Valencia winning 7-0 tonight, it won't be an easy game for Chelsea.

Aldershot won 2-0 yesterday against Maidenhead in their FA Cup First Round replay, so we now face a trip to Sheffield Wednesday in Round Two a week on Saturday.  This will be a fantastic game for the club and considering we have already beaten three teams from higher divisions in the League Cup already this season, we will certainly have no fears about playing at Hillsborough!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Football Manager

picture is copyright Sports Interactive Ltd

Football Manager is evil.  If you are weak-willed then you may want to steer clear of this game!  It takes all up your free time if you let it and you will then fall into it's trap!  I am embarrassed to admit that I have spent 9 hours straight on the game in one day!
I turned up at a Shots game at the beginning of this season and took up my place on the East Bank.  I turned to the back of the programme expecting to see my players from my Football Manager game on there!  I stood there for a second or two wondering where the players were and then it suddenly dawned on me.  I felt so stupid and ashamed that I played the game so much!

Lured in at the prospect of emulating Sir Alex Ferguson, Bill Shankly or any other managerial great, Football Manager gives you the chance to manage a team and take over virtually every aspect of the club.  You can organise what the players are taught in training and arrange team talks and press conferences!  Each player is rated (very accurately!) on anything from pace, aggression, acceleration, team work, tackling and shooting among many others.  Then you can watch a virtual version of the game your team is playing and change instructions during the game.
On the first football managerial game I bought (Championship Manager 93/94), the user only chose the players, the formation and that was it!  The graphics were very basic and had a very boring template.

picture is copyright to Domark Ltd

On the 2012 version of the game I was told that a player can complain about which type of studs he wears in his boots!  The level of detail is becoming absurd on the game and will continue to grow each season no doubt.

One of the main reasons that attracted me to the game in the first place was the fact that you can take over your own club and manage the team.  If you don't like your striker in real life, sell him on the game!  Then after a while you might see your team promoted on the game and your team in real life are awful!  You can lead your team through the divisions or go on ridiculously long winning streaks, picking up every trophy under the sun!  If you don't like a player from your team in real life, you can sell him in the game!  One of the main reasons I was so happy Aldershot got promoted to the Conference in 2004 was that they would be available to play as on Football Manager 2005!

Another method to managerial greatness on the game is taking over at a small club and turn them into a top Premiership club.  When the game became available to play on the iPhone, I thought I would take over at Gateshead at the start of the 2010/11 season.  They were relegation candidates from the Conference.  I won the league on the last day of the first season and won the FA Trophy.  When it got up to 2031 I had got them up to a consistent top six side in the Premiership and won the Europa League on penalties against Valencia!
My best friend played an earlier version of Championship Manager and took Aldershot to the Premiership and won 37 out of 38 games in one season.  This was in his first year at university! (in case you're wondering, the 38th game was a draw against Everton!)

I think that every box that the game is sold on should have health warnings on.  'YOU WILL BECOME ADDICTED TO THIS GAME' AND 'YOU'RE FREE TIME WILL DISAPPEAR WHEN YOU PURCHASE THIS GAME'.

There are positive aspects of playing the game.  You get a real sense of satisfaction when your team wins promotion, a trophy or you bring a youth team player into your first team and does well.  If you manage a lower league team and you sign a player for a pittance and sell him on for millions is always a good feeling.  However on the other side of the coin, if your team loses a key game or the Final of a Cup competition then you feel really angry!

As you can tell it can consume your whole life!  I hate the fact that when talking about a game you're playing, you end up saying "in real life" about the usual football everyone else is watching!  Every time I find myself standing in the shop looking at the next version of the game I tell myself that I will only become addicted to this game and I shouldn't buy it.  Then I end up buying the bloody thing and spending hours and hours playing it!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Memories on Monday

John Grant and Lewis Chalmers celebrate on the marvellous night in Exeter
picture is copyright http://www.theshots.co.uk/

Memories on Mondays is a series that will be memories of matches I have been to or watched on TV.  The first match is Exeter City vs Aldershot Town on 15th April 2008.  If we avoided defeat on that night then we would be Champions and finally get promoted to the Football League.  We had beaten Torquay United our closest rivals in the last minute of injury time in March but they had carried on getting results and kept on our tails.  We could have won the League the previous Tuesday at Ebbsfleet United if Torquay United lost their match and we won.  We ended up drawing 2-2 and Torquay won theirs.  It moved onto Saturday 12th and the same happened where if we won and Torquay lost then we would be Champions.  We won 1-0 at home to Burton Albion but Torquay (after being behind twice) beat Stevenage Borough.
Going down to Devon, we knew it would be a tough game.  Exeter also needed points to get into the play offs themselves and had some very good players.
Our coach turned up early and I went straight into the away terrace.  This was something I hadn’t managed to do 8 years previously in an FA Cup tie I had come to at Exeter when Aldershot had reached the 2nd Round.  Exeter expected around 250 Aldershot fans to come down for the game and we brought over 2,000.  The fans were all crowded in and the gates were locked with hundreds of fans locked out!  Some fans at the front of the queue outside started pushing the gates and the game kicked off as if nothing was wrong!  I had travelled down with my Dad, Granddad and sister and we were still far down the queue.  We were eventually given restricted view seats in the old Main stand full of Exeter fans!
Back to April 2008 and there was plenty of space for me this time!  The away end is a small narrow uncovered terrace but it was soon full as the players came out.  The game was nerve racking and the Shots were attacking towards us in the first half.  We created a few chances but nothing that caused Exeter’s goalkeeper any worries.  And then disaster struck, Exeter took the lead.  Their super striker Adam Stansfield (who sadly passed away last year) broke free and ran through and nudged the ball past an on rushing Nikki Bull.  St James’ Park went mad and we just stood there in silence.  The problem with going to away games and conceding is that all the other stands are full of happy celebrating fans and you are just left there standing hoping your team can get a quick goal back!
Before half time though we equalised.  A young midfielder Scott Donnelly hit a tame shot from the edge of the box and somehow Andy Marriott in the Exeter goal let the ball roll over him and into the net.  All the Shots fans in the away end went potty and we were jumping with joy.  Now all we had to do was hold on for the rest of the first half and see the second half through and we would be Champions!!
There was a strange feeling amongst the fans at half time.  It was happiness that we were 45 minutes away from the Football League but also fear that we would throw it away and make it all the more difficult for ourselves (the Aldershot way!)
The second half lasted forever but I don’t remember much of it apart from one outstanding save from Nikki Bull and it was the best save I had ever seen live.  He jumped full stretch across goal and clawed the ball back from going into the top corner after an effort from an Exeter player.  The ball rolled out away from goal and was chipped back into the six yard box at the far post over Bully. He hadn’t given up and sprung to his feet and threw himself back across goal and with Ricky Newman our ageing centre back let the ball go off the pitch.
At this point we felt like it must surely be our night as there was only a few minutes left but they went on forever.  During the whole of stoppage time whistles from the Aldershot fans filled the Devonshire air, urging the referee to finally blow the full time whistle.  When he finally did, the roar from us was so loud!!  Random strangers were hugging each other and people were shouting “we’ve done it”, others were crying.  I just stood on the spot relieved the game was over!
The players were celebrating too but on the pitch.  Someone had given them a flag with “We are going up!” on it and Gary Waddock our manager and all his staff were on the pitch.  John McGinty our late chairman came onto the pitch and hugged Gary.  Scott Davies, who scored the late winner at Torquay was hobbling towards us on the pitch using crutches after picking up an injury.
The players went back down the tunnel to the dressing room to be interviewed in front of the TV cameras and celebrate a bit more.  They then came back out and came down in front of the fans and Rob Gier our right back started break dancing!  The best was to come as they then decided it would be a good idea to jump over the advertising boards and join us in the away end.  I grabbed Nikki Bull and shouted in his ear “You’ve got to sign a new contract…this is what’s it’s all about at Aldershot!!”  His contract was up in the summer and guess what?  He signed a new contract!  My doing?  Who knows?!?!?!
On the way out I called my Dad to say thank you for taking me to my first Aldershot Town game back in February 1994 as I wouldn’t have experienced this otherwise.  As soon as I got back to the ground at Aldershot where Dad was going to collect me I went to the pitch which was obviously completely dark and ran on the pitch.  I felt like a little kid again running around with my arms outstretched shouting “Champions, Champions!”  It was one of the best moments supporting the Shots for me so far.
This video was recorded in the last minute of the game and the immediate celebrations after the final whistle.  It was brilliant!

The first post...

Here we go then, my first post on here....I have nothing to really write, other than there will be more added on here as soon as I can think of a decent subject!