Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Football: Five Issues That the FA Need to Tackle

By James Grayson (Twitter - @jamesAgrayson)
The announcement that the FA are to invest £150 million to improve run-down is a welcome sign. While not a total solution to the problems in the Grassroots game, it shows the FA are interested in tackling their many problems. Grassroots funding is one of them and I have picked the five key issues I believe the FA need to tackle to improve the game.
1. Racism
You don’t see bananas being thrown in England anymore, but racism is still widely seen at grounds up and down the country. You only have to watch Sky Sports News’ undercover footage of Millwall fans racially abusing El-Hadji Diouf a few months ago. Racism has to be stamped out and the only answer is harsh punishments for clubs and individuals, whether as a fan or a player, manager, etc. The Kick It Out campaign has been running for over ten years, but has it worked? Maybe a little bit, but why do we keep seeing headlines with racism in them.    
2. Grassroots Funding
When the Premier Division is earning millions in TV revenue, it is sad that the Grassroots game receives little funding. Clubs from semi-professional to the Dog and Duck on Sunday morning struggle to pay bills whether for pitch rent or referee fees. It is a major sad state of affairs and something the FA need to look at – the news of the funding for new pitches is a step in the right direction.
3. Club Finances
The recently introduced tighter controls on debts in the Premier League will hopefully significantly reduce spending. But the FA needs to come down on clubs, not just Premier League, who are spending money they don’t have. Leagues need to have stringent financial checks on their clubs to avoid more Armageddon situations. The Portsmouth saga has been embarrassing for the whole of football and this scenario must not be repeated. It paints football in a bad light.
4. Crowd Disorder
Football has been dogged by hooliganism for over 40 years and it still exists on a smaller scale. While there is not a lot the FA can do, they still have to continue to try and eradicate it. Fighting between supporters still happens, but one of the major problems is persistent standing and offensive chanting. All-seater stadiums have encouraged families to spend their Saturday at the football. But standing and chanting deters people. Only Premier League team Sunderland seem to be acting on persistent standing, while offensive chanting seems go unpunished everywhere. The FA also has a problem with missiles being thrown at players and officials which is threatening safety.
5. Disciplinary System
Although it is an obscure choice, there are major inconsistencies in the disciplinary system. It often appears that the FA break-up the rule book when it suits them. Few red cards get overturned, mainly because of mistaken identity. But the John Terry racism case made a mockery of it. Terry got four matches for a racist comment when Eden Hazard almost received a longer ban for kicking a ball-boy. While Luis Suarez got eight games last year for a racist remark to Patrice Evra. And when a serious incident happens, the FA hide behind the rule that if an incident is seen by an official, they cannot intervene. This has meant players have got away with serious offences such David Luiz last week.

Monday, 25 February 2013

La Cage Aux Folles All Set for Yeadon Premiere

By James Grayson (Twitter - @jamesAgrayson)
They have pushed the boat out this year so Yeadon Amateur & Dramatic Operatic Society are hoping the local community turns up in force to see La Cage Aux Folles.
Led by new director Jonathan Tate, David Kirk stars as Georges, while Andrew Walton plays Albin who doubles up as drag queen ZaZa.
However, the society has taken a risk by deciding to pick La Cage as their spring musical in a bid to attract new followers.
La Cage is rarely performed by local amateur dramatic societies and secretary Linda Marshall explained why: “La Cage is a fabulous show that isn’t performed often and you hope it attracts new audiences.
“It is difficult to costume and difficult to find the right cast members, but you have to set yourself the challenge and that is what we have done by choosing La Cage.
“This year we have a new production team, musical, director and choreographer and we were looking for something that isn’t done often to introduce these new people to Yeadon audiences.”
La Cage revolves around the lives of gay couple Georges and Albin who are happily running a drag club until Georges’ son announces his engagement to a controversial right-wing politician.
Georges and Albin then have to meet their son’s fiancĂ©e’s parents, but their attempts to ‘play it straight’ descend into a farce.
Andrew (pictured above), who has previously performed in La Cage before, believes audiences will find the musical amusing.
Andrew, while doubling up as a Job Centre Business Manager for the Department of Work and Pensions, has starred in productions for a number of societies including the Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society.
He has appeared as Billy in Carousel, Bobby Child in Crazy for You and Roger De Bris in The Producers and Andrew says the role of Albin is the most challenging of his acting career.
“At the start of one of the songs, I start off as a man and get dressed throughout the song into a woman,” he said.
“You’re putting on the make-up, putting the dress on, the wig on, the shoes throughout the song. That is quite frightening at times to think that everything has to go in the right order because by the end of the song, I need to be there as ZaZa.
“It is daunting and it is my hardest role because I have to be something completely different.”
The musical contains a number of familiar songs including Gloria Gaynor’s hit I am What I am and Andrew insists people will enjoy La Cage.
He said: “Anyone who comes will find it entertaining. There is some very dialogue throughout the production and there are some fabulous songs in it.
“There are a lot of songs that everyone will know and the song I am What I am that was made famous by Gloria Gaynor in the 80s was actually written for this production.
“There’s a song called The Best of Times which a lot of people will know. There are all these songs out there that people don’t realise that they actually originated from a musical into mainstream pop songs.”
La Cage begins at Yeadon Town Hall on Tuesday 12 March and runs through until Saturday 16 March.
Tickets cost £12 in the stalls (£11 concessions) and £14 in the balcony (£13 concessions).

Sky Sports Star Stelling gets Leeds Trinity Journalism Week off to a Fine Start

By James Grayson (Twitter - @jamesAgrayson)
Leeds Trinity’s 2013 Journalism Week began with a bang as a large audience crammed inside the Mary Halliday Lecture Theatre to hear Sky Sports star Jeff Stelling speak.
Stelling, best known for his role as the anchor for Gilette Soccer Saturday, recalled a number of anecdotes about the show, but also told the story of his career.
And to a stunned audience, Stelling revealed that he originally wanted to be a court reporter when he started out at Hartlepool Mail.
After moving into sport, he began to work for radio before a move into television.
He initially worked for TVam. Eurosport followed and during his spell with the satellite broadcaster, Stelling even commentated on fencing.
But Stelling eventually got his big break when he moved to work for BSKYB – a job he claims he got because of his knowledge of horse racing.
However when Stelling originally started working for Rupert Murdoch’s company, it had no rights to broadcast main sporting events. On the day of the World Cup final, Stelling played subbuteo with co-presenter Suzanne Dando on live TV.
Despite the intital low-points at BSKYB, the success of Soccer Saturday has made Stelling a household name. Sharing the screen with former footballers like Phil Thompson, Paul Merson and until his death, George Best, Stelling’s show attracts millions of viewers each week.
Stelling is also known for his stint as host of cult Channel 4 programme Countdown, but he played down his role on the programme, which he left last year: “Rachel Riley did the maths, Susie Dent had the dictionary and all I did was press a button to start the clock.”
Journalism Week continues until Thursday at Trinity.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Farsley AFC Ladies Aiming High

By James Grayson (Twitter - @jamesAgrayson)
Farsley AFC Ladies, formed in 2009, are aiming high and hoping to win promotion from the West Riding County Women’s League First Division this season.
A crushing 10-0 victory against Wortley on Sunday put them back in the frame for the title ahead of a crunch game at Silsden.
An incredible first half six goal haul from Millie West (pictured below) , a Claire Parker hat-trick and one goal from Sarah Carter gave Farsley victory and put them above Wortley in the table.

But the overall performance showed that Farsley are making progress after a couple of years of stagnation. Back in 2009 the team was made up of players who stepped up to adult football from under 17s level.
They won promotion from the Second Division at a canter in their first season as an adult side, but played against teams of a similar age. However, for the last two years, Farsley have started well, but dropped off towards the end of the campaign.
Now Rob Womersley’s team look the real deal. Farsley have grown as a club and are well-known across West Yorkshire which has attracted experienced players to the club. The team playing at Throstle Nest, a tremendous facility has also helped. New signing Claire Parker, formerly of Leeds United Ladies has brought a new attacking element and repaid the club with six goals in just five appearances. Captain Kath Raw (pictured above) has bags of experiences having played for a number of local sides as well as an Italian team.
The experience of these players along with the younger ones who have grown stronger in the last two years has made Farsley a formidable opposition. And if they can keep going, Farsley will have a strong team for years to come.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Play-Offs Look Out of Reach for Farsley AFC after Salford City Defeat

By James Grayson (Twitter: @jamesAgrayson)
Match Photos
There is now no doubt that an Evo Stik Division One North play-offs place looks beyond Farsley AFC after the 2-0 defeat at Salford City. A dramatic run of wins would put them back in the picture, but given the inconsistency of Farsley’s season, it’s unlikely.
After a week off to visit Glasshoughton Welfare, I was back on Farsley duty and everyone knew it was a must-win game. I was confident, despite the fact that Salford can be a difficult place to go.
There was an air of confidence before the match. The burgers were nice, the people were nice and I got to have a conversation about the joys of Twitter with Salford’s Laura Flint, despite the fact she works for Manchester United. I even shared a laugh and joke with the referee and his two assistants about a play called ‘God’s Official’ which is being performed at Harrogate Theatre next month. It’s a comedy about a football team who are relegated because of a dodgy refereeing decision so they decide to kidnap the ref.

And until the hour mark, everyone was relatively happy. Farsley had played well and were creating multiple chances. Salford goalkeeper Ritchie Branagan had to pull out a number of good saves to prevent Farsley from going ahead. I saw new signing Osebi Abadaki for the first time and he looks like a fantastic coup. He caused a couple of problems, but his efforts were hindered by the fact Salford had two men on him at all times.
But, despite their dominance, Farsley were caught out and Salford got their goal. A second one followed and while Farsley nearly scored in the closing stages, it just wasn’t their day. Farsley could have played until midnight and I don’t think they would have scored. Salford’s goalkeeper deserves a medal for the number of saves he made. And how James Riley’s late header stayed out, I just don’t know?

So is that the end of Farsley’s season? Possibly, but Farsley have to keep going because it is still mathematically possible to reach the top five. Whatever the outcome, Farsley have the makings of a strong team for next season though. They have a leader in James Riley (pictured right) in the back four – a player who wins everything and has exceptional leadership skills. Robbie O’Brien has joined from Bradford (Park Avenue) and Robbie is a fantastic player. Hard-working and skilful, Robbie will become an important player for Farsley.
But, let’s leave next season plans alone for the time being and concentrate on the final 12 games.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Blackpool Victory Puts Leeds United Back in the Play-Offs Picture

Three days ago, Leeds United were calling for his head, but last night Neil Warnock had the fans chanting his name in support.
‘Warnock, give us a wave’ rang out around Elland Road as ninth-placed Leeds closed in on a crucial victory 2-0 win over Blackpool which puts them into the Championship play-offs picture.
His comments at Manchester City indicted that he would soon be leaving and supporters inside Elland Road chose to leave personal views aside and back the team to the hilt.
There was little criticism as an efficient performance and two second half goals moved the Whites within six points of Middlesbrough who occupy the last play-offs spot.
The home crowd urged their team on from the first minute as Leeds were straight at their opponents, hoping for an early goal.
Blackpool, managed for the first time by Paul Ince, were unfortunate not to score during the first half and Leeds had Paddy Kenny to thank for a three top saves.
However, Blackpool’s only threat was Tom Ince and he was well-marshalled by the Leeds defence. Leeds also had control in midfield and that was a key factor.
The teams went in at the break level, but Leeds were looking far more likely to score and on 59 minutes, the deadlock was broken.
David Norris’ sweet volley beat goalkeeper Matthew Gilks and then only minutes later, Leeds’ new number nine Steve Morison opened his account after an horrific mistake from Stephen Crainey.
That was job done.
But the question remains: Can Leeds keep the momentum going and reach the top six. Firstly they have to start winning away from home. Do that and they have a chance. Secondly and stating the obvious, they have to perform like they did against Blackpool in every game.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Glasshoughton Welfare: A Club Looking Forward, But Not Forgetting The Past

Twitter - @jamesAgrayson
Mention a 52 game run without a win to any Glasshoughton Welfare official or supporter and you will send shivers down their spine.
The success manager Craig Elliott had in the last two seasons is well-documented, but Castleford-based Glasshoughton are fortunate to still be going considering the challenges they have faced towards the end of the decade.  Between February 2008 and September 2009, Glasshoughton failed to win a Northern Counties East League match – finishing bottom of the Premier Division and then Division One in consecutive seasons.
Welfare had nearly folded during 2007 as the committee were tired and fed-up of the perceived lack of support. Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar, who was living locally, made one league appearance to highlight their problems and it kept Welfare afloat. 
But then a record number of games without a win followed – a period that saw four managers come and go until the arrival of Stuart Waddington halted the slide.

Elliott was appointed in August 2010 and he led Glasshoughton to promotion back to the Premier Division and chairman Phil Riding, who was manager for some of the 52 matches, admits Welfare came close to folding during the 52 games. 
“It has been a long hard road and many thanks go to Bruce for putting us in the spotlight and probably saving the club – that’s how bad it was,” the 48-year-old said.
“The committee were disillusioned, we needed a fresh breath of air to come through the club and we got one in our director of football at the time Ray Gowan. The hard work from him probably saved the club from extinction.
“But then we had the 52 games and the record is all there to be seen – we had to pull in 16 or 17-year-old players that were in our under 19s and the old adage of getting ‘old-manned’ in senior football was very true.
“Dropping out of the NCEL was a real thought and we had to really sit down and have a good open frank discussion about the committee because first of all we had to get the committee right. We had to get the enthusiasm back into the committee and get that filtering back into the players to give them a bit of belief.”
The arrival of Bradford-based Waddington as manager in September 2009 had an instant effect as he won his first game in charge at Brighouse to end the dreadful run – a result Riding describes as “a platform and it was probably a turning point in Glasshoughton’s future”.
Waddington guided Welfare to 13th in Division One before moving to manage Liversedge. They then turned to local lad and former player Elliott, who made his name playing for Harrogate Town in the Northern Premier League.

Elliott (pictured above) had management experience with West Yorkshire League side Kellingley and the Pontefract Collieries reserve team and Riding admits his knowledge of local football fitted the bill.
He said: “We wanted to bring local talent back to the club and there to be a bit of pride for playing for the badge of Glasshoughton.
“In Craig Elliott he ticked all the boxes.
“He had played in non-league and also managed local Saturday and Sunday sides and although it was a gamble, if you sat down with Craig, he is an ambitious young manager.
“He knew what he wanted to do and this was the right platform for him. He had a network of players and confidence in his own ability and that filtered through to the players and it was an absolutely fantastic rollercoaster of emotions for us as a club and committee.”
Elliott led Welfare on a magical journey that saw them win the Wilkinson Sword Trophy and earn promotion to the Premier Division last April in the space of two years.
His achievements put Glasshoughton back on the map and “probably gave the committee a wake-up call as well the community in them getting behind us and supporting the club” says Riding.
The success attracted attention from clubs higher up the pyramid and Elliott was whisked away to become the new manager at Ossett Town last summer. Former Yorkshire Amateur boss Graham Hodder was named as his successor. However, results did not go Hodder’s way and he was out of the door by November and replaced by ex-Tadcaster Albion assistant manager Rob Hunter.
Hunter is closing in on steering Glasshoughton to safety – an achievement Riding is desperate to see so that Elliott’s work does not go to waste.
“The players and Craig and his management worked extremely hard, up and beyond the call of duty at times,” he said.
“They worked so hard to get promoted that I didn’t want to lose our position in the Premier Division without putting up a fight. Unfortunately we had to make the decision to part with Graham Hodder by mutual consent and that is what we did at an important time in the season.
“Rob Hunter and (assistant) Mark Smitheringale have come in and given a new sense of belief, a new ethic and the players have reacted well to the new manager coming in.”

Once as relegation is averted, Riding (pictured above) insists the aim is to be competitive week-in-week-out and take ‘each season at a time’. And although the dark days might be long ago as Glasshoughton are looking to build a successful future, Riding believes the players of 2008 are owed a debt of gratitude.
“I have to respect them because without them we wouldn’t have had a team and we wouldn’t have been to enjoy the seasons we have had over the last two years,” he said.
“You remember where you have come from and we will keep going and as with any club, you have to keep looking to progress.”

Monday, 18 February 2013

Failure for Paul Ince with Blackpool would Hurt both Parties

He has been to every Blackpool game this season and knows the strengths and weaknesses of the team. That is what gave former England captain Paul Ince the edge in the race for the Championship club’s top job.
His son being one of their best players will have also helped. But Ince’s insight into the team will be vital as the season draws to a close. He has to hit the ground running, starting at Leeds United on Wednesday. Blackpool are closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs – only six points above the drop zone after a disappointing 1-0 at strugglers Ipswich on Saturday.
Ince has to get the Tangerines winning or they will end up back in League One which would be a disaster considering the success Ian Holloway had over the last four years.
But, Ince also has the elephant in the room as he knows failure could mean he will never work in football management again. Ince’s managerial career began so well and he looked like he was going to set the world alight. He kept Macclesfield in the Football League against all odds before guiding MK Dons to the League Two title. That is when it started going wrong.
A move to Premier League Blackburn Rovers ended after six months and three wins later with the team in serious relegation danger. A return to MK Dons ended prematurely before he was sacked at Notts County after a record nine consecutive defeats in April 2011.
No jobs have been forthcoming since, but his knowledge of Blackpool has opened up a route back into football and Ince knows he simply has to succeed to save his management career. And if doesn't get Blackpool instantly firing on all cylinders, they could be staring at the prospect of League One football.

NCEL Premier: Glasshoughton Will Give Their All Ahead of Parkgate

Twitter - @jamesAgrayson
Manager Rob Hunter insists injury-ravaged Glasshoughton Welfare will display a never-say-die attitude to ensure they stay clear of the NCEL Premier Division relegation zone.
Welfare head to Parkgate on Tuesday night, three days after coming from two goals behind to draw with Liversedge. But without five players out due to injury which has forced Hunter (pictured right) to call upon members of the Reserve Team. Liam Tuck, Tom Woolard, John Hirst, Mark Stirland and Ali Wilson are all missing for Glasshoughton who have only won once since Hunter took charge in mid-December.
The Leeds Road side do have breathing space from the relegation zone with being ten points clear of Arnold, but because of the resources available, Hunter admits his side will have fight their way over finish line.
 “Survival is the name of the game,” he said. “When we (Hunter and assistant Mark Smithergale) came here, we knew it would be a tough place to be to win football matches.
“I think they had lost seven or eight on the bounce when we came here. We managed to win the first game, but we had three draws in the eight games. It has been tough. We can’t compete with anyone in terms of offering players money.
“You’re almost competing against semi-professional footballers with local lads. But all you can do is get yourselves organised and make sure everyone in a Glasshoughton shirt gives everything.
“We proved that on Saturday because we were dead and buried with 20 minutes to go. We hauled ourselves back into the game and got ourselves a point. That is what is going to be like. I’ve told the lads that we have to celebrate every point we get because every point puts us further and further away from the bottom two or three teams. This will give us the opportunity to play Premier Division football next season, which is fantastic for a club like Glasshoughton.”
It took two Greig McGrory goals to secure a draw against Liversedge – a result Hunter admitted on Saturday that his side were lucky to get. And Hunter rued that if his team had performed better they would have picked up three points considering their displays against the top five.
“To be fair we have had a bad run of results, not a bad run of form,” he said.
“It is very difficult when you are trying to put a team together with no money in this league and having five players out injured. But we have played against Tadcaster Albion twice, Brighouse who are second and Bridlington who are near the top and we have put performances together against these sides.
“The disappointing with Saturday’s result was that we got a draw against a team that are sort of the same level as us. If we had put a performance together like we have done in recent matches, we probably would have beaten Liversedge. That is the frustrating thing.”

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Leeds United: Blackpool Clash Could Represent Last Chance Saloon for Neil Warnock

The reign of Neil Warnock as manager of Leeds United is coming to an end. He admitted it himself after the FA Cup at Manchester City. It is a matter of when rather than if. If his side fall further away from the play-offs, it could be a matter of days.
Ahead of the visit of Blackpool to Elland Road on Wednesday, the Whites sit eight points from 6th place Middlesbrough. Anything but a win and any promotion aspirations have gone for 2012-13. It will also be the start of a change in management.
The fans and Warnock himself have had enough. The supporters are unhappy with team selection, tactics and of course results. While Warnock, has been let down over the last 12 months by false promises and the inability to compete with the big-spenders Cardiff, Hull and Leicester who all occupy the top spots. Warnock knows if Leeds want to the Premier League, there needs to be heavy finance and he just hasn’t been given it. So the time is right to make a change when the play-offs are no longer possible.
The owners GFH Capital have said they want a younger manager to replace. How young we don’t know, but whoever they choose, it has to be someone with promotion credentials. Nigel Adkins fits the bill, so does Paulo DiCanio, but he would be too much of a gamble. MK Dons boss Karl Robinson is an outsider, but he has yet to achieve a promotion.
From my point of view, Adkins is the heir to the throne, but he has to be backed or Leeds will be in the exactly same situation in 12 months’ time.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

NCEL Premier Division: Glasshoughton Welfare 2-2 Liversedge

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Glasshoughton Welfare 2-2 Liversedge
Match Photos

Glasshoughton Welfare boss Rob Hunter admitted his side were lucky people after super-sub Greig McGrory scored twice to rescue a point for Welfare in the NCEL Premier Division clash with Liversedge.

Liversedge were cruising to a first win in five games and in full control at 2-0, but McGrory (pictured above) struck in the 75th and 88th minute for Glasshoughton to cancel out Chris Hirst’s earlier double strike.

Both sides had chances to win during a frantic finale after the equaliser, but Hunter, who hailed the impact of McGrory, felt a Glasshoughton victory would have not been a fair reflection on the game.

“We did get out of jail and to be fair, it was probably the poorest performance we have put together since I have been here,” he said.

“We played for 70 minutes looking lethargic and we didn’t look like we were in the game and then we got a bit of magic.

“We brought Greig McGrory on and I think on only his second touch, he hit one into the top corner. It gave us the impetus to go on. All of a sudden there is 15 minutes to go and the lads were believing in themselves.

“We could have won it at the end, but so could they. They had two chances and we had two chances…but it would have been a travesty if we had won the game because we didn’t deserve to.”

On a glorious sun-kissed day at Leeds Road, Liversedge controlled the majority of the proceedings. ‘Sedge had one chance cleared off the line before Hirst hit his first goal on 18 minutes. James Rothel’s free kick from the left was knocked down and the impressive Hirst finished from close range to put ‘Sedge ahead.

‘Sedge had further opportunities to double their advantage as at the other end Glasshoughton struggled to break an experienced ‘Sedge defence down. Matthew Howgate’s corner which cannoned back off the crossbar was the closest Welfare came to scoring.

And when Liversedge scored again two minutes into the second half when a defensive mistake allowed Hirst to score, the writing appeared to be on the wall. Especially when Welfare goalkeeper Anthony Wetherell was forced to make a string of excellent saves to keep the score at 2-0.

Needing inspiration Hunter threw McGrory into the fray and the former Pontefract Collieries man immediately inspired a Welfare comeback. Twenty-five yards away from the goal, McGrory unleashed a bullet which flew into the top corner with Liversedge stopper Paul Hagreen helpless.

Liversedge were rocking and their manager Eric Gilchrist was becoming an increasingly agitated figure on the side-lines as experienced frontman Robert Pell caused mayhem for Glasshoughton. And Welfare’s efforts were rewarded when McGrory was put through on goal and the striker kept his composure to apply a smart finish to equalise.

Neither team were finished as the last five minutes saw cavalier attacking as both sides attempted to grab the winner. Welfare have Wetherell to thank as the stopper pulled off two excellent stops in one go. He first denied Rothel and then Brook Newton’s follow-up attempt. Experienced ex-Ossett Albion striker Danny Toronczak then had a goal-bound header booted away from danger.

However, both sides had to settle for a point. Glasshoughton will take it as a point gained, while Liversedge will regret not killing the game off at 2-0 when they were in full control.

Glasshoughton Welfare: A Wetherell, Swales, Nodder, James, Pell, Parkes, Beaston, K Weatherald, Young, Howgate (McGrory 59), Headley. Subs unused: Stirland, Woolard.
Liversedge: Hagreen, Butters, Rothel, Wood, Leach, Riordan, McMahon, Hirst, Bugg, Markham (Newton 56), Jarrett (Toronczak 68). Subs unused: Hall, Bojang.
Referee: Ian Johnston

Friday, 15 February 2013

Ex Leeds United man Robbie Rogers Comes Out as Gay: A Missed Opportunity

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It is has taken 23 years, but British football again finally has an openly gay footballer. Or they did have because former Leeds United winger Robbie Rogers announced his retirement at the same time so the reaction from the terraces and dressing room will never be known.

But the timing from Rogers again exposes the fact that no professional footballer is willing to come out in fear of the repercussions. The culture of the dressing room and the reaction from fans are the major reasons. My background is non-league football and I have never seen homophobia, but I’m sure higher up the football pyramid it is a major problem – certainly in football’s ‘trouble spots’.

It is a real shame that Rogers did not come out while still playing because it would have changed the landscape of English football. The effect would have been positive and more gay footballers would have been persuaded to reveal their sexuality. Swede Anton Hysen is currently the only openly gay professional footballer, but his decision to come out has had no effect in this country. It is going to have to take a big name to come out for there to be a ripple effect.

While at first it would be difficult because human nature says there will be always a few that would be initially uncomfortable with their sexuality – whether that is on the terraces or in the dressing room.

Homosexuality is a huge taboo subject in football, but it needs a gay role-model. If one player comes out, others will follow and homosexuality will no longer be a taboo subject.

It will happen, it is just a matter of time. However, for gay footballers and supporters, Rogers’ decision to retire at the same time is a huge missed opportunity.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Northern Counties East League Runners and Riders

Twitter - @jamesAgrayson

We are close to the grand finale of the football season and as usual the NCEL Premier Division and Division One promotion races are exciting to say the least. Last year Retford United won the Premier title at a canter, but it is much closer this time around. The Division One promotion race went to the wire last year when Glasshoughton Welfare took second place after coming from 2-0 behind at AFC Emley to win on the last day to clinch promotion. Once again there are eight teams in a chance of gaining promotion.

Premier Division
1. Scarborough Athletic (68 pts)
The pressure is on manager Rudy Funk to secure promotion. The Scarborough fans want to see their team in the Evo Stik Leagues. They missed out last year, but with an experienced side, Funk has put Scarborough in the driving seat. Ollie Ryan, Tony Hackworth, Jimmy Beadle and Peter Davidson are just four players that have higher level experience and they should be able to see Scarborough over the line.

2. Brighouse Town (66 pts)
Paul Quinn’s young guns do have a game in hand of Scarborough so they can overtake and go top. Brighouse are hard workers and have a potent attack in Ernest Boafo and Tom Matthews who are scoring goals for fun. Brighouse suffered no FA Vase hangover after bowing out in the Isle of Wright and all they can do is keep going. If they can stay in the race, their game with Scarborough in late April could be a title decider.

3. Bridlington Town (63 pts)
As ever Bridlington remain in the hunt and hold two ace cards in having two games in hand. Mitch Cook’s team are experienced in title battles and so they are very real threat to Scarborough’s hopes. Bridlington cannot be written off.

Division One
1. Athersley Recreation (58 pts)
The newcomers to the NCEL set-up have been a revelation since joining in the summer. But looking at their team, Athersley have experienced guys such as Ryan White, who served Ossett Albion for years along with Jason Bentley. Their manager is Simon Houghton who deserves a bit of success as a manager in his own right after being so close to achieving promotion with Pontefract Collieries a few years ago. He has built an impressive squad at Athersley and I think they will hold their nerve and secure promotion.

2. Shirebrook Town (57 pts)
Shirebrook are the surprise package and have a great chance of promotion. Powerful striker Jason Bradley, formerly of Mansfield Town, has helped with the goals recently.

3. Albion Sports (54 pts)
Albion are near the top again, but the Horsfall Stadium side have heavy financial backing. The difference this year though from a pitch perspective is the introduction of former semi-pro striker Pav Singh as a coach. He has added know-how on the coaching side. But with players like Roy Stamer, who spent years with Farsley AFC, and goal machine Alex Cusack, Albion are one of the favourites.

4. Cleethorpes (54 pts) and 5. Knaresborough (53 pts)
Cleethorpes and Knaresborough have continued the theme of newcomers to NCEL doing well. Cleethorpes assent has helped with some crucial big wins over Grimsby Borough, Athersley and two victories over Askern Villa in recent weeks.

Knaresborough enjoyed a good start to life in NCEL and manager Brian Davey did say at the start of the season that he hoped to do well. Players of Football League calibre like Seb Carole have helped Knaresborough’s cause and they have an excellent chance of glory.

Other contenders – Teversal, Pontefract Collieries, AFC Emley

Leeds United: Neil Warnock Deserves a Chance to Succeed

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Following the 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough, Leeds United manager Neil Warnock faced renewed calls for his dismissal. But, in my view, sacking Warnock will not achieve anything. All it will do is cause needless disruption and he does deserve a chance to succeed with proper financial backing.

When he was appointed last year, chairman Ken Bates promised Warnock the funds to mount a promotion charge to the Premier League. By the end of the May, it was obvious that the promise would be unfulfilled as Warnock grew frustrated and later admitted that he considered quitting.

Now with the funds he did receive, he has been able to put together a good base with a number of workhorse players. However, the funds were not enough to add the gravitas that is needed to reach the Premier League. Leeds have no-one with something special. El-Hadji Diouf is the closest thing Leeds have. Cardiff have the likes of Craig Bellamy and that is the difference.

By December, GFH Capital finally gained ownership and expressed their desire to get to the Premier League. But for them the honeymoon is over, Warnock has been given little backing financially. He got a good player in Steve Morison but that was a player-swap with Norwich so GFH did little.

If Leeds seriously want to get back to the Premier League, investment has to be made, regardless of who the manager is. I don’t see the point of changing manager when the replacement could end up in the same situation six months down the line.

My view – judge Warnock when he gets the financial backing.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Resurrection of Farsley AFC

From Darkness into Blue:

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Almost three years to the day Farsley Celtic played its last ever game – a 2-1 Blue Square North victory at Droylsden. Eleven days later, administrators Mazars folded the senior team to end 101 years of history. The club reformed in the summer of 2010 and in 2013, Farsley AFC is a thriving business and football club built with steel on solid ground rather than on sand.

The Palmer-Farrell consortium bought Throstle Nest in June 2010 to pave the way for the club to reform and compete in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division. Led by chairman John Palmer, they had and still have a solid business plan designed for the club to make money and become self-sufficient. The bar and sports hall were renovated and new sports facilities were added including an all-weather surface and two small-sided pitches. The bar makes money and there are parties every weekend. The sports hall is booked up every night. Until recently a church group held its Sunday service in the function room.

The successful business side of the football club has allowed Neil Parsley, who returned to manage the reformed team, to create a promotion-chasing side in all three seasons as Farsley AFC. He persuaded most of his Blue Square North side to take a massive wage cut to return and lead the charge back up the leagues. Farsley won the NCEL Premier title at the first attempt at a canter – winning 13 and drawing one of the last 14 games. Ryan Watson’s last minute goal also secured the NCEL League Cup.

The success continued last season when Farsley finished fourth in the Evo Stik Division One North and bowed out in the play-off semi-final at Witton Albion. The Villagers again went on a long unbeaten run to secure their aim.

Last summer Farsley set their sights on winning the league with the signings of Chris Walton, Adam Priestley and Rob Pacey from Garforth Town. However, inconsistent performances have dogged the club’s progress and they will do well to hold their play-off spot as other teams have games in hand. The season has not been a disaster though. Farsley returned to the FA Cup for the first time in three years and are still challenging for the Doodson Sports Cup.

If promotion can’t be achieved this season, Farsley will go for it against next year. They will not go away. Although the aims of the club are not to reach the heights of his predecessor, Farsley AFC still want to play at the highest standard possible. Farsley are a gathering storm, but a powerful one backed by a successful business.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Farsley AFC Manager Neil Parsley on Finances in Football

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The first of many interviews with non-league football personalities to appear on the website.
Use Farsley AFC as an example for how to run a club financially successfully. That is the message from Farsley manager Neil Parsley to clubs living beyond their means.

Parsley has been in charge at Throstle Nest through the bad times to the good times – from the folding of Farsley Celtic in 2010 to the resurrection as AFC. After taking charge in 2008, Parsley kept the team afloat on the pitch, while in the background Celtic were haemorrhaging money from players’ wages. Administration followed because of a large tax bill before administrators Mazars closed the club after failing to agree a deal with the Palmer-Farrell consortium.

The consortium, led by chairman John Palmer, bought Throstle Nest back and reformed the club. Since then the club has gone from strength to strength. There have been large investments in the facilities and the club are making money from the sports hall and bar. But Evo Stik Division One North side Farsley will not spend beyond their means and Parsley believes other clubs should follow their lead.

“I think other clubs should use us as a good example of how to run a club,” he said. “The only two things we do lack are and that is without a dig at anyone, we have great training facilities here but we can’t use them because they are hired as the club is making money. And the second is that we could do with an influx of young blood behind the scenes at directorship to implement new ideas.

“Make no mistake about it though, the Palmers and the Farrells have implemented some fantastic things and we need to move onto the next level now.”

Parsley admits financial problems are a thing of the past at Throstle Nest and the former Huddersfield Town and West Brom defender speaks very proudly of how his club is run.

“We lost three tiers (after folding), but the club is self-sufficient and I’m quite happy to run a club that doesn’t have any financial worries,” he said. “The club has a budget it can afford and it is a competitive budget. But what I know from being manager since the club reformed, the wages have been there every single week and no-one has had a problem with the tax. We are a well-run club from top to bottom.”

The demise of Farsley Celtic was primarily down to overspending on players’ wages after reaching the Football Conference in 2007 alongside a huge tax bill. In 2013, Farsley refuse to overspend and Parsley admits to turning away a player who demanded too much in wages.

“I spoke to a player three months ago who wasn’t earning anything at a certain club and he asked for twice what my best player was on,” he said. “It brought a wry smile to my face and the business wasn’t concluded.”

While how Farsley have evolved in three years since reforming should be applauded, there are still clubs out there who teetering on the brink of oblivion. In non-league football, Hucknall Town and Hinckley United are just two struggling to survive. On the professional side, Glasgow Rangers went bust while Portsmouth’s future is still uncertain and Parsley is of the belief that more clubs will fold.

He said: “Unfortunately I think there will be more clubs that will fall by the wayside because of tax bills, national insurance, partly because of clubs spending beyond their means.”

Rugby League: Castleford Tigers 14-12 Leeds Rhinos

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A last minute Jamie Ellis penalty gave Castleford Tigers a memorable victory over local rivals Leeds Rhinos at a wet Wheldon Road.

In the driving rain, Ellis converted two late penalties to level the scores and then win the game for Cas, whose supporters will be partying long into the night.

Cas, who endured a terrible campaign last year when they finished second-bottom, will hope that the result is the turning point in coach Ian Millward’s reign.

However, defending champions Leeds will rue not extending their lead after going 12-10 ahead in the second half when Tigers prop Nathan Massey was sin-binned for stealing the ball.

The Tigers were clearly up for the occasion, watched by 9,103 people, and the Castleford fans were given something to cheer about after only four minutes.
A succession of penalties gave Castleford a good position and from playmaker Rangi Chase’s grubber kick, former Leeds man Jordan Tansey pounced to touch-down – Ellis converted the conversion.

Leeds lost Brett Delaney before great link-up between Zak Hardaker and Danny McGuire saw the latter scamper away to bring Leeds’ level.

Despite the blow, Castleford refused to capitulate and edged 10-6 in front before half-time. However, Leeds have only themselves to blame after failing to close Chase down. Chase grabbed hold of the loose ball on the 30m line and the Rhinos defenders allowed the stand-off to run at them. He got through and laid a pass to Jake Webster who had the simple task of touching down.

After the break Leeds had a period of pressure and it told when Massey was sin-binned after a string of infringements. From the penalty, Ryan Hall was able to power his way over the line in the corner for his second try of the campaign. Kevin Sinfield added the extras from a tricky angle to put Leeds ahead for the first time.

But, Leeds failed to build on their lead and as the temperature dropped and the rain got heavier, errors began to creep into the Rhinos’ game. Ellis missed one penalty chance to level the scores before eventually doing so with six minutes remaining on the clock.

And in the final minute, Leeds were penalised for the markers not being square with the penalty being directly in front of the posts. Ellis was never going to miss and he got Wheldan Road rocking with the straightforward conversion.

Castleford Tigers: Tansey; Owen, Shenton, Webster, Carney; Chase, Ellis; Walker, Milner, Huby, Gilmour, Hauraki, Holmes.

Replacements: Clark, Millington, Massey, Thompson.

Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker; Keinhorst, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Bailey, Burrow, Peacock, Delaney, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan.

Replacements: McShane, Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch.

Referee: Tim Roby (RFL)

Saturday, 9 February 2013

My View - Farsley AFC 1-1 Goole (Evo Stik Div 1 North)

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Match Photos:
Inconsistency continues to wreck the Evo Stik Division One North play-off aspirations of Farsley AFC after strugglers Goole AFC left Throstle Nest with a precious point. Although most of us Farsley followers will aggrieved by a ridiculous penalty decision which gave Goole their goal.

Overall though, I think it was a fair result and where Goole are in the table doesn’t come into it. There have been many changes since Wayne Benn took over from John Reed in October. Benn has built a decent side which will in all probability get them away from danger. He has a strong defence, a good midfield with Tom Claisse as captain and a dangerous striker in Aiden Savory. Goole worked really hard and showed good battling skills.

The match was pretty poor with few chances. Much to the delight of his fan club, Ryan Harrison scored for the second week running on 18 minutes with a wonder goal. Ryan is turning out to be a fantastic signing and the strike will be a contender for goal of the season.

Goole hit the bar shortly after but had to wait until the hour mark to equalise. Savory went down theatrically after a slight touch from captain James Riley. It wasn’t a dive, but neither was it a penalty. I personally blame the referee. The referee was 25 yards away and I have been always led to believe they should be ten to 15 away. If he had been closer, the penalty probably would not have been given.

The obvious then happened as Savory fired the spot kick home. But regardless of the penalty decision, Farsley had chances to finish Goole off in the last ten minutes. Gareth Grant should have scored after going through on goal, while Matt Dempsey was unlucky with a header.

The crowd did get restless with the referee after he turned down a penalty appeal in the last minute from Adam Priestley after giving a free kick on the edge of the box, despite the ball being in the box when the foul was committed. One woman shouted that the referee should ‘be a comedian because he’d be good at it’. One bloke even upset the RSPCA after saying that he going to go home and kick his dog because of the referee.

The referee did get some stick as he walked off, but the facts are that Farsley could have won despite not deserving to. Goole deserve credit for their work ethic and if they keep playing like that, they will take points off teams.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Harrogate Town Thriving under Simon Weaver

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Whilst forgetting about their horrendous pitch problems, the progress of Harrogate Town this season under Simon Weaver has been unstated. Town are well on course to reach the Blue Square Bet North play-offs having sneaked under the radar.

It is quite remarkable that Harrogate, currently on a three game winning run, have achieved so much, considering the disruption they have had. I have no problem with the amount of games that have been postponed at Wetherby Road. The amount of rainfall this year has been unprecedented and no-one could have foreseen the problems that have arisen.
But, despite the issues, Town are eighth and four points off the top five with games in hand so Weaver’s men have a great chance of upsetting the applecart.

It has taken four years, but Weaver is now reaping the rewards of patience. He took the job when Neil Aspin and all the players quit because of budget cuts. Town finished bottom of the BSN in Weaver’s first campaign, but he had to cope with a shoestring budget and a revolving door policy on players. 2010-11 was much better with a strong finish. Last season saw Harrogate have a settled squad and only injuries prevented them from finishing higher.

The nucleus of last season’s squad has been retained and this enabled them to compete in the top half. They have not smashed money about either, despite the well-known fact that Weaver’s millionaire father Irving is the chairman. Harrogate have steadily built a squad to compete and their current success is well deserved.

From the pain of relegation four years in his first year in management, Weaver could become Harrogate’s greatest manager having taken them to the FA Cup second round for the first time. Earn promotion out of the BSN and he will earn that title. However, that is getting a bit ahead of ourselves. But Harrogate are a team to watch out for. They have put six past Brackley and Corby this season and after a win against Workington in mid-week, there is clearly more to come. Top five material? Definitely. And to be in with a chance, Weaver jnr deserves a lot of credit.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Priestley Decision to Stay is Good for Football

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The decision by Adam Priestley to reject the advances of Evo Stik Premier Division side Worksop Town is fantastic news for Farsley AFC fans, but also for football as whole.

It shows that there is still loyalty in football and not all players are totally motivated by money. Farsley, as a club, have seen players move on to other teams for £20 extra, but Priestley is different, he has chosen to stay loyal and stick with the management team that have improved him as a player.

As a Garforth Town last season, Priestley was not a regular starter, but with Farsley, he has started almost every game. And he has rewarded Neil Parsley with 22 goals so far. Alongside his goals, Priestley has worked on his technique and this has made him an all-round better player.

He is no soft-touch anymore. He can hold the ball up and not lose it. He is strong with defenders. He now gets back on-side quicker than he used to. I also think his shot to goal ratio is much higher this season. These are the type of attributes he needs if he wants to move higher up the football pyramid.

Priestley’s decision should be applauded. He has turned down a club throwing money around to stay at a club where he has a chance to develop his game. It doesn't happen often. And I’m sure he will reward Farsley with plenty more goals in the final couple of months to season when AFC are chasing a play-off place.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

McLeish's Departure is Bad for Game

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Can the managerial merry-go-round get any madder, according to Nottingham Forest it can. Alex McLeish’s departure after 40 days is another shining example of how silly football can be at times. In 1974 when Brian Clough lasted 44 days as Leeds United, it was seen as a freak event. In 2013, if a manager is sacked after ten days, no-one bats an eyelid.

But people have to realise that departures or sackings like McLeish’s are spoiling football and making the sport a laughing stock. And most of the blame lies at the door of foreign owners. We currently have the situation where three once respectable teams are joke-clubs. Chelsea are running out of managers that they can appoint after sacking all the ones who have brought them success. Blackburn are slowly returning to normality after two ridiculous appointments in Steve Kean and Henning Berg. Now Forest have joined the show after McLeish quit to leave them absurdly looking for their fourth manager of the season.

I have a lot of sympathy for McLeish. He was obviously promised financial backing in the January transfer window, but ultimately the owners failed to deliver. The George Boyd transfer saga was the tip of the iceberg for McLeish who ended the transfer window with less players in his squad than when he was appointed at the end of December.

The Kuwaiti owners claim they want Premier League football at the City Ground, but with manager stability like they currently have, Forest will never get there. QPR had a similar problem in the early stages of Flavio Briatore’s reign as owner before they realised they needed to give a manager time to deliver. They did and Neil Warnock got them to the Premier League within a year of taking charge.

Forest have to take the same approach. I don’t think they will be able to persuade a big-name to take charge after the McLeish fiasco. However, they have to find stability and give their next manager time to do his job and not give them false promises.

Whilst not as big as other current issues in football like corruption, racism and match fixing, the hiring and firing of managers is a problem. I, for one, find that it spoils my enjoyment of the sport.

Monday, 4 February 2013

The Need for Change in the FA Vase

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After AFC Emley were knocked out of the FA Vase on Saturday, it means that the Northern Counties East League will have no representative in the final, ten years since the last one.

Brigg Town’s victorious 2003 appearance in the final is the last time. Does this mean that the quality of the NCEL is poor compared with their corresponding leagues? Probably not.

Whitley Bay and the Northern League have dominated the Vase in the last few years with Bay winning the cup three years on the bounce until last season when fellow north-easterners Dunston won it.

The NCEL did have a phase where its clubs were successful in the competition. From the late 80s to the mid-nineties, NCEL teams were reaching Wembley regularly. The original Emley made it, so did North Ferriby, while Guiseley twice appearing, winning it once. John Reid led a Colin Richardson owned Bridlington Town to Wembley glory in 1993.

I do have a simple answer to why NCEL sides struggle. When the early regionalised draws are made, NCEL clubs are usually paired with Northern League teams. Now because the money around in the NL, teams have players of Conference North quality and Paul Brayson and Craig James are two players that spring to mind. Because of the quality of players around, the NL is of Evo Stik Division One North standard. And that’s unfair on the NCEL.

Bridlington Town chairman Peter Smurthwaite wrote a letter to the Non-League Paper a few months ago outlining the same view. The FA need to act because teams in the NCEL and other leagues are not getting a fair crack of the whip. The NCEL is not full of cash rich teams and they cannot compete with the likes of Whitley Bay and Bedlington Terriers.

Have the FA considered moving the Northern League clubs into the FA Trophy?

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Local Councillor Lays Down Battle Lines

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Highlighting a successful battle against Government budget cuts will be a key part of Labour local election strategy in Headlingley in 2014, says a leading local councillor.

Councillor Neil Walshaw, Headlingley, claims that his area have survived cuts in the environmental budget which has enabled improvements in services.

While there are no elections this year in Headlingley, Liberal Democrat councillor
Martin Hamilton will be up for re-election next year and Walshaw says the environment will be a major campaigning issue.

He said: “In Headingley, there will be a number of areas we will focus on.

“We started to make a lot of progress with the environment, in a time of shrinking budgets, myself and councillor Walker have successfully lobbied the North West Inner Area committee which covers Headlingley and Hyde Park, big student areas.

“Students bring plenty of positives, but also negatives and one of the negatives is a lot of litter and bins left out.

“We do put a lot of resources out to keep on top of that.

“We have put a lot of effort into how we do things over the last 18 months so are making improvements and also keeping Headlingley and Hyde Park’s share of resources.

“That’s something we will keen to talk about next year.”

One issue also on the minds of Headlingley residents, according to Walshaw, will be student fees which are now at a rate of £9,000.

He said: “Headingley is home to a significant student population, about 55 to 60% of the population of Headlingley are students.

“Because of student fees we have seen a drop in applications to Leeds University and Leeds Met University…and I would say it wholly down to £9,000 tuition fees.
“I think in 2011 there was a significant feeling of betrayal.

“It dipped in 2012, but I suspect the students in Leeds when I’m knocking on doors in 2014 in Headingley to students paying those fees, I think the sense of betrayal will come back.”

Liverpool Reaping the Rewards of their Patience

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On two occasions this week Liverpool were close to earning to memorable victories against elite clubs, but in both games they were denied by brilliance. However, the two draws show how far Liverpool have come under Brendan Rogers.

Forget about Oldham, let’s concentrate on the Premier League. Look at the table and the Reds are seventh. A good end to the season and Liverpool could finish in an unthinkable position that wouldn’t have been dreamed of at the start of the season.

When they lost at West Brom on the opening day and then had to wait until the last week of September, I thought Rodgers would be out of Anfield by November. Especially when Fabio Borini became injured – leaving Liverpool with one striker in Suarez.
But they quietly persevered by collecting the odd win and a few well-earned draws and with the help of the transfer window, Liverpool are reaping the rewards of their patience.

The win at West Ham was a key result in my eyes as Liverpool had to come from behind to take all three points. Although they then lost to Aston Villa and Stoke over Christmas, ‘Pool also thrashed QPR and Fulham and then Sunderland.

The arrival of Daniel Sturridge has made them a force to be reckoned with up-front and the 5-0 hammering of Norwich showed their quality. With Gerrard, Suarez and Sturridge, Liverpool can cause any Premier League team a problem and from now on, Liverpool will be no easy touch.

Now beating Norwich is not a result that can be taken as a ‘sign of intent’. Draws against Arsenal and Manchester City can be. West Brom are next followed by Swansea and Wigan and nine points out of nine would suddenly put Liverpool in line with the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham in the Champions League spots.

While what Rodgers has achieved in seven months is probably ahead of schedule, the point is that Liverpool are getting stronger and stronger each week. And this is probably is the start of Liverpool becoming a football powerhouse again.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Day Trip with Farsley AFC

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Those close to me know that I haven’t enjoyed the 12-13 football season as much as previous ones, but a dreaded long trip to Cammell Laird provided a shot in my arm and proved to be one of the most entertaining away games for a while.

Cammell play in the far side of Liverpool, a place called Birkenhead. It is certainly interesting there and I managed to rack up a few ‘firsts’ while I was there.

From a game perspective I was not sure what to expect. Farsley have been inconsistent so far this season. Cammell are doing alright in mid-table and picking up points against decent sides. Fortunately Gareth Grant settled nerves with an early goal and kick-started a memorable afternoon for himself and Farsley.

Granty struck again before a ridiculous penalty decision gave Cammell a way back into the game on the stroke of half-time. For those who don’t know me, my current opinion of semi-professional referees is that the standard is poor and the penalty award set the tone for the second half.

Now I didn’t realise that there was a radio broadcast when I took my seat for the second half. I did when I received a tweet from someone saying that they had heard me heckling the referee. I do keep it clean and I don’t swear at refs so all listeners heard was ‘ridiculous referee’ and something about the inconsistency of his decisions. I just remember it was something long-winded that I struggled to get out.

Back to the on-field matters, Ryan Harrison restored our two-goal lead with the goal of the game. Granty got his hat-trick with a simple tap-in late-on before Cammell scored again from poor defending.

However, this was a fantastic display from Farsley and Pars’ men showed qualities that they will need to reach the play-offs. James Riley, a colossal figure at centre-back, made a massive difference on his return from injury and deserves credit. I think he won every header, every tackle and was my man of the match. Rilo is possibly the best player Pars has signed in his five years at the club and we as Farsley supporters should be appreciative of how lucky we are to have such a quality player.

The players deserved their applause at the end. As for the referee, I asked why he booked Granty and not Cammell’s number nine as he walked off and all I got was a bemused look. So I don’t why. However my question obviously upset a local because I was then told I was a something ‘head’. I stepped forward to confront the guy, but fortunately before I got there, someone blocked me and diffused potential trouble. So it was on to celebrate.

An hour was then spent in the social club before the journey home. However, there would be one last twist. As we waited for everyone to board the coach, a bald-headed Liverpudlian man walked randomly onto the bus and asked ‘is there any tablet-heads on here?’ There was stunned silence before the man was told ‘no’.

When people are offered drugs for the first time, it is normally in a nightclub. From now on, if I’m ever asked the question, ‘where were you first offered drugs’, I can say ‘oh the Farsley AFC team coach!’

But while shocked at the question, it only added another memorable story to a memorable day.

*Please note that I have never taken drugs and never will.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Rhinos teach Hull a Champion Lesson


Leeds Rhinos 36-6 Hull FC

Defending champions Leeds Rhinos gave a sensational second half display as pretenders to the throne Hull FC were blown away at Headingley Carnegie.

After a 6-6 stalemate at half-time, the Rhinos scored five unanswered converted tries to secure an opening night victory with the past masters Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow and captain Kevin Sinfield playing key roles.

Sinfield, who overtook fellow Leeds RL legend Lewis Jones in the all-time Rugby League points chart, put Leeds ahead before debutant Joe Arundel levelled.

However, Leeds ensured the two points with tries from Joel Moon, Jamie Peacock, Chris Clarkson, McGuire and Ryan Hall to give Hull a reality check.

But rather than the result, Hull will be more concerned about skipper Gareth Ellis.
Ellis, back in the Super League after four years in Australia with West Tigers, limped off during the warm-up and was ruled out of the game ten minutes before kick-off.

It was a huge blow for Hull, who are hoping to challenge for the Super League crown this year.

If Peter Gentle’s side want to pursue such ambitions they will have to defend much better. Ben Galea’s failure to deal with McGuire’s harmless grubber kick saw Sinfield pounce to score the first try on 15 minutes.

Leeds threatened again, but with the half drawing to a close, a penalty gave Hull territory in Leeds’ half and the Black and Whites took full advantage.
Joe Westerman showed skill and strength before finding Arundel who touched down in the corner.

And it was Hull who started the second half better, but Aaron Heremaia's failed 40-20 was a decisive moment and from there Leeds never looked back in a devastating display in the final 23 minutes.

Debutant Moon, signed from Salford City Reds, recovered from a slip to force himself over the line and put the Rhinos ahead.

Straight from the restart Leeds were at Hull again and Burrow’s majestic weaving unlocked a door in the Hull defence.
He found Sinfield who in turn offloaded to Peacock whose outstretched arm ensured a third Leeds try and leave Hull staring at the barrel of a gun.

That gave Leeds the breathing space, but Brian McDermott’s men continued to press for more tries and Chris Clarkson extended the lead after a fine break after McGuire’s pass.

Super League record try scorer McGuire then scored one himself. The man who recently celebrated ten years at Headlingley bulldozed himself over the line after collecting a Sinfield offload.

And Leeds were not finished. In the closing seconds, Hall, rated as the world’s best winger, raced clear from his own half to score, despite the efforts of Jason Crookes.
Hall’s superb try rounded off a magnificent performance from the Rhinos.

Leeds: Hardaker; Vickery, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Bailey, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Ablett
Substitutes: Clarkson, Kirke, McShane, Achurch

Hull: McDonnell; Crookes, Arundel, Yeaman, Briscoe, Holdsworth, Seymour, Pitts, Houghton, Lynch, Ellis, Galea, Westerman
Substitutes: Johnson, O'Meley, Whiting, Heremaia

Referee: Steve Ganson [St Helens]