Allen Batsford

The gloss on yesterday was lessoned somewhat by the news of the untimely passing of Allen Batsford – surely one of the greatest managers in non league football history.

The 1981-82 season was the first season I followed the Stones for a whole season. I had started going regularly the last 3 months or so of the relegation season the year before.  The side that Batsford put together responded to relegation by sweeping the board in the Southern League and starting the journey that led to the Non League Double just three years later.  It was enough to get me hooked.

And it wasn’t just at Wealdstone.  Allen is also an AFC Wimbledon icon, as I believe he was the Dons manager when they won promotion into the Football League.  He was also manager at Walton & Hersham when they beat Brian Clough’s Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup.

Above all Allen was a lovely man. I remember meeting him when he was guest of honour at one of the matches we played against AFC Wimbledon at Northwood.

It is rare that one man can be so revered by more than one Club.  In the case of Allen Batsford, the word legend is not out of place.  He will be missed and our condolences go to his wife Maureen at this time.

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Saturday cancellations add up

The weather once again did its worse to stop yesterday’s game against Billericay going ahead.  So yet another Saturday home league match is lost.

By my calculations we have lost four home Saturday fixtures so far this season, either through our excellent Cup success (acceptable) or the weather (unacceptable but not much we can do about it).  Each Saturday game lost costs us. We have to expect that the crowds for the rearranged midweek matches will be considerably smaller than the number that would turn up on a Saturday, match sponsors, mascots and any juniors activities may not be able to support the rearranged game and as a knock-on from this the social club loses valuable income over the bar.

Of course when the snow falls and the ice freezes there is not much we can do about it.  When it rains we do what we can to make the pitch playable but even then we have to consider the impact that playing will have not wishing to ruin the pitch for the many weeks hence (remember we have reserves and U18s also using it).  We do not forget that the Ruislip pitch used to be just about the worse in Middlesex, so the care that Fingers and Adam (the groundsman) lavish on the pitch is important as we want to try and provide a decent playing surface throughout the season, not just in the autumn.

Ultimately of course it is the referee who actually calls the game off not us but we reach Christmas having played only 15 league games, with just 7 of those at home.  This means Alan Couch especially has been kept very busy with most of the Tuesdays between now and Easter now full.

Another hidden cost is the carrying over of suspensions. Rob Fitzgerald’s 4 game ban incurred for an incident on 17 November now finishes next Saturday (26 December) at Ashford rather than yesterday.  When Alan Massey picked up his 5th booking recently to be suspended for the Ashford game at least we could take solace in Rob coming back but this is another problem we will have to deal with.  All the best laid plans…

So with the New Year on the horizon let’s hope that all the rain of the wettest November and the ice and snow of the freezing December will all be behind us.  But with British weather who knows what is in store.

Happy holidays!

No more excuses for coming home late

I was sorry to see the end of Strictly Come Dancing yesterday, following on from the conclusion to the X Factor last week.

Personally I abhor these programmes, but at least I know that when they are on I am not required to be back from football until they have finished – so no rush to get back on a Saturday night.

Now however, it’s all change.  I just hope the TV schedules in the New Year have some suitably crappy TV for Saturday nights.

Today’s Harry O

Well I did say that today’s Harrow Observer would be interesting.

I think there are two things to deal with here, what David Howell has written and what the Harrow Observer have reported.

As far as Howell’s comments are concerned I have to admit to being both very disappointed and somewhat perplexed.

Disappointed because I cannot accept what he has said and perplexed because I cannot work out why he has written this now.  I’ve been to enough Harrow Borough derbys over the past 25 years to know whether this sort of abuse is a regular feature (or happens at all).  Yet David’s own words on his non league 24 blog are as follows “every time I’ve been involved in any of these Harrow v Wealdstone derbies unfortunately there are still some supporters who feel the need to shout out the exact same comments”.  This I cannot agree with.

Were any of these comments made after the FA Trophy match at Earlsmead – presumably after their late equaliser? There was certainly plenty of vitriol aimed at the referee but did anyone really shout what is alleged? I didn’t hear it and I was standing around the tunnel area.  Surely if it had been said then Harrow would have complained.  I would complain if I heard similar comments aimed at one of our players – and make no mistake we would take action if we heard any such comments made by one of our supporters.  I believe that our relationship with the Harrow officials is good but neither after that game or at the replay did any Harrow official bring this to our attention.  I also struggle none of our usually eagle eyed internet focused fans read Simon Grigor’s report which also contained these comments.  Surely someone would have picked it up?

So why write these things now, 2 weeks before the big christmas derby? Why make such inflammable comments in a national non league column? It just doesn’t make any sense.  I know I would be very angry if our manager did something similar (though I know he wouldn’t).

So what happens now.  Well I will be trying to speak to Peter Rogers tomorrow to discuss and I will be making it clear that we are angry about these comments and that if Harrow do not react in a fashion that helps to cool tempers then we may need to involve the Ryman League. 

We will also need to consider security for the Christmas game, whether police or external stewarding which is likely to mean extra (and unnecessary) cost. 

As for the Harrow Observer, well I think the anger directed at Tim Edwards and the paper is entirely misplaced.  Tim is a journalist and this is a great story.  Can you imagine if Arsene Wenger slagged off Spurs fans in similar fashion on a web site – this would be back page of every newspaper.  This is no different.

We have to assume that David Howell himself wrote (or at least approved) his blog post on NLN24, and for Tim/his editor this is a great story,  the Manager of their second club slagging off the fans of their premier club.  I don’t blame him in any sense for using it and he did give us the opportunity to respond through the Supporters Club.  So let’s not shoot the messenger.

Ultimately the best thing we can do is beat Harrow again when we play on 28 December but I suspect this has a little way to run yet.

Harry O should be interesting tomorrow

I will be interested to read the Harrow Observer tomorrow.

We’re expecting two very interesting stories, one particularly positive involving a very famous son of Wealdstone and one less so involving the someone connected with our friends in South Harrow.

I won’t say more now until we see what Tim prints

All quiet on the blogging front

Apologies for the blogging silence over the past 3 weeks, a combination of starting a new job, leaving the old one and just not getting around to updating.

Lots going on though (as always). We had a busy board meeting on Monday where among the highlights Nick Dugard presented a report on the way the Rotherham game had gone from an organisational perspective outlining where we can be smarter when we have big games in the future.  This was a hugely useful exercise.

Also Stuart Coutts provided his commercial update and he will be presenting his new approach at our next meeting in January.

Other notable things happening around the Club (apart from Gary and James demanding time and a half for the amount of work they must be getting through) have included meetings with the Wealdstone Juniors Club about developing their role within the Club and also discussions kicking off on how we want to take our youth set-up forward, involving Mickey Johnson.

Lots more as always – I’ll try to start updating again!

Thanks to Wealdstone Tweeters

Couldn’t be at the rearranged game tonight so had the Twitter feed on – all I want to say is well done lads, a tremendous commentary throughout the night.  What a great service and you can find it at #wealdstone_fc.

What the other Wealdstone people tweeting, the Non League 24 vidiprinter, the Non League Show on Radio London, the new Non League 24 glossy magazine (which has an article about us in their recent first edition) and of course Non League Daily.com, the world of football beneath League 2 has never had it so good.

And that doesn’t include the various club websites, the fans forums and message boards and so on…and occasionally the odd blog too.

No excuse for not knowing what’s going on!