Tough day at the seaside

We’ve had a good run of success in matches where we have travelled down to the seaside in the last season and a half and when Chaps put us 1 up after 20 minutes yesterday at Hastings I couldn’t see any other result than another three points and that run continuing.

Instead James Gray hit one flush past Sean at the worst possible moment, in first half injury time and then having conceded again we failed to equalise, despite Marvin hitting the bar and Monty firing a foot wide with almost the last kick of the match.

No disrespect to Hastings but for me that was three points dropped, we played some lovely football but without a cutting edge.  And with a run of games coming up against Tonbridge, Ashford and Sutton before we play Harrow the coming weeks will be tough.

I ended up taking James Gray back from the game as he needed to get to hospital where he found he has badly bruised his ribs.  James is the original hard man, who comes back from every knock he gets in next to no time – probably too quickly and the enforced rest over the next few weeks means he will hopefully come back much fresher.  He has had a tough week, with the red card and giving away the deciding penalty last week against Dover, his own goal and then doing his ribs in a collision with Sean.  But if anyone can come back from it then James will.

We also lose Marvin Sordell who has done really well for us in the brief time he has been with us.  Remember he is only 17 but the new manager at Watford has called all his players back so there is nothing we can do there.

So with a cup game against the Met Police on Tuesday you should expect a few changes, and a chance to see how some of the squad players perform.  Darren Locke has already proved that making the step up can be done so let’s hope some of those who get their chance on Tuesday night do the same.

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Big surprise or not unexpected?

I heard someone on the radio saying Histon beating Leeds was as big a shock as Hereford famously beating Newcastle in 1972 (Ronnie Radford‘s goal is always worth another look).

I guess there are two ways of looking at it, Leeds, a fallen ‘big club’ recently Premier League champions and Champions League semi finalists losing to Histon, a club not that many years ago in the Eastern Counties League.

Or you could say it was Histon, a club second in the Blue Square Premier beating Leeds, a club currently outside the play-off places in League One – not such a shock perhaps.

But with the evocative name of Leeds United this will of course be a big story, and you would think whatever success Histon go on to have for most of their players it will never get better than today.  Good luck to them.  We can all dream about it.

It is a day all non league clubs should take pride from.  No doubt there has been substantial investment in Histon FC, to rise up the leagues, to compete against the big boys in the Blue Square Prem, and to enjoy their run of success.  Remember though that investment is nothing without hard work, commitment and a clear plan.

It is not that many years since we at Wealdstone should have knocked Histon out of the FA Cup but an inspired Lance Key in goal, and a profligate Marvin Morgan meant we didn’t progress (the same Lance Key who was in goal for AFC Hornchurch against us earlier in the season – and kept another clean sheet – and the same Marvin Morgan now starring in League Two for Aldershot).

The Wealdstone connections don’t end there of course, though a hamstring injury meant no Jermaine for Leeds today.

Today’s result only shows us what is possible, and what we should be striving for.  If we believe that nothing is impossible, keep working hard and maybe get a little bit of luck along the way then perhaps we can aspire to this sort of pinnacle in the future.  Well done Histon from all in non league football.

An evening amongst Harrow’s sporting elite

Last night I attended a reception at the Civic Centre where I was able to pick up an award on behalf of the Club, along with a number of other clubs and individuals from the sporting world in Harrow.  These  included some recent paralympians, and representatives from a range of clubs and organisations (including Peter Rogers from Harrow Borough).

The award was the Mayor of Harrow’s Award for Service to Sport in the Community and it was presented by the Mayor of Harrow, John Nickolay – who incidentally is one of matchball donors for the Harrow Borough game on December 27 (and he will be reciprocating at the game at Earlsmead next Easter).

It is always good for the Club to get some recognition but further recognition will come from another big crowd for tomorrow’s big game.

The sky’s the limit

Well it is always the temptation to look at our current form, five straight wins, the giddy heights of 9th place and say play-offs here we come.

Sitting on the coach on the journey back from Worthing yesterday after an excellent 2-0 win against Horsham I think Gilly got it just about right trotting out just about every football cliché he could think of.

And the reason they are clichés is that the statements are probably right.  We will “take each game as it comes”.  We won’t “look too far ahead” and we will continue to prepare for each game as professionally as we can and treat each opposing side with great respect.

Still part of being a fan is dreaming and it is nice to look at the league table for once with the knowledge that there are more clubs below you than above you.  But let’s remember we are not even halfway through our fixtures yet, we have played more games than several of the clubs around us and we have the toughest challenge of all on Saturday, runaway league leaders Dover Athletic, who Gordon saw lose only their second game of the season at Sutton on Tuesday night.

But let’s enjoy this run while we can, and hope we can continue to see some of the excellent flowing football, and superb performances from all parts of the team that we saw last night and over the past few weeks.

660 were at the game v Maidstone, and we are hoping for another good turnout between the top two in the form league in the Division at the Vale on Saturday.

A big day tomorrow

…and a family commitment means I won’t be at the game!

But a big crowd expected with a lot of people due from our junior club to celebrate the achievement of their charter status.  So well done to them.  I have said many times before how important it is that we are a healthy club across all levels.

Bringing the former Ruislip Manor junior club into the fold for this season is important for the future and over time they will both integrate further with our existing juniors and play an increasingly influential role across the club.  The opportunity is there for them – I hope they take it.

Also tomorrow we welcome a potentially large away following from the other Stones, a club with a recent past not too dissimilar to our own.  It seems to me that under the drive of their able chairman they have continued to progress, are getting close to a new home in Maidstone and improving their side every year – yet more parallels with our own experiences.

We also welcome a couple of new strikers into the Club.  Gordon has been after Davis Haule for years so will be delighted to have finally got his man.  Greg Ngoyi comes to us from Edgware Town via Leyton on the recommendation of Steve Newing.  He has impressed in training and though he may be in need of a bit of match practice I think these will be two excellent signings.

So a big weekend, possibly our biggest crowd at the Vale so far, I’m gutted to be missing it.

Setting the record straight

I’m a little fed up with one sided stories that allow other people to have something of a pop at us and don’t give us the opportunity to respond.

A classic case in the Harrow Observer today with the story about Robin Shroot being called up for Northern Ireland U21s and having Peterborough United looking at him.  Nestled towards the bottom of the story is that Dave Howell has accepted Gordon’s apology for “tapping up” the player – a story, which first broke on the Harrow Borough website last week.

Let’s get some things straight.  As far as I am concerned we did not ‘tap’ Shroot up.  We understood that the player remained under contract to AFC Wimbledon and that they required a fee for him to move.  We then went to the FA for clarification and advice and they informed us that all our enquiries should go through AFC Wimbledon, because they are the club that hold his registration.  After further communication with Terry Brown, the Wimbledon manager, he reiterated his club were seeking a fee, but he gave Gordon permission to talk to Robin Shroot and passed on his mobile number.

Gordon talked to Robin, who was very honest about his circumstances and grateful for our interest, but asked for some time to think over his situation.  The only subsequent contact with Shroot was actually from the player via text informing Gordon of his Irish selection – no other contact took place.
So from our point of view everything was done by the book.  Gordon is an experienced manager who goes about these things the right way, and whilst I am chairman I also want us to act correctly.
I was therefore disappointed to read Dave Howell’s comments on the website, repeated in the paper.  According to Dave, Shroot is a registered player with Harrow and if we want to sign him to play in the Ryman League then we need to go through him.  Perhaps he is right, perhaps he isn’t – I have never heard of a situation quite like this – but even if he is I believe that seeking advice from the FA shows that we went around this the right way.  If Dave thought we acted improperly he, or Peter Rogers should have complained to me, or to the Ryman League.  But I cannot believe that putting it in the public domain through the local paper in the way he has is the right way of dealing with it.
That said, I am also a little surprised that Tim Edwards, who I think is doing a decent job at the Harrow Observer, didn’t ask us to respond.  Perhaps he will allow us to set the record straight next week.
This isn’t the first of these episodes.  I was disappointed, though bit my tongue at the time, when Hendon manager Gary McCann publically crowed about Brian Haule not signing for us a few weeks ago, that Brian had said “it would have been a backwards or sideways move for him” (check out the story on 15 Oct).  Again, a comment better made on a fans forum and not by a Manager in public and certainly not what Brian said to us.  Be careful what you wish for Gary is all I will say.
One positive Hendon story though is that I saw an article from Ben Kosky in the Kilburn Times about a new book charting the history of Hendon FC.  Whatever the predicaments of that club now they remain a famous non league name with a proud history who are now run by a small band of dedicated supporters (sounds familiar?).

There are times when I feel like letting rip, either through this blog or via the local press. But then discretion takes over and I realise a public slanging match is unseemly and does noone any good. I wouldn’t be happy if Gordon slagged off another club and I am very disappointed when I see other manager’s having a go at us – but perhaps that takes the focus off their own situations.

Your questions matter

Tomorrow night we have the Supporters Club AGM.

This is a great chance for everyone to find out what the Supporters Club are up to, and also an opportunity to discuss what is happening at the club both on and off the field with Gordon and myself both running Q&As.

As far as the club is concerned there will be some clear messages about where we are  – though I won’t be saying anything new.

Look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible at Ruislip tomorrow night.