THE SUNDAY LEAGUE TEAM WHO ARE 'FAMOUS'
FOR HAVING ALL THEIR MATCHES CAPTURED ON VIDEO

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Tuesday 24th July 2012

Our Annual General Meeting for Season 2011-2012 was held on Friday 20th July at Edmonton Cricket Club thanks to Alan Barnard and Tim Beeden’s connections there, and in terms of suitability as a venue, I have to say it was the best we have had for many years ! Pretty much right in the middle of the club’s ‘spiritual home’ of where we had kickabouts back in the 1970’s just before we were founded (i.e. the Church Street/Latymer Road/Bury Street West/A10 ‘square mile’), plenty of space in the car park, nice and quiet with hardly anybody else about, and a turnout of 12 club members in the end when we initially feared that only 7 or 8 would bother to attend. We started off by going in a smaller lounge room where Team GB v. Brazil was showing on a ‘big screen’, but as soon as we muted the sound on that and I started my Club Secretary’s Report, a group of darts players came through the door for their Friday night practice session/piss-up. Thankfully though, Barney had officially booked the main hall anyway, so we just de-camped to there and continued the meeting. That room was particularly excellent for speeches due to the high ceiling and ‘splendid wooden-walled decor’ which made it sound as if myself, Trevor and Danny Hagan (when he did his brief Captain’s Report) were speaking at the Houses Of Parliament ! Very grand indeed and the first time ever at a Rovers A.G.M. that I have not been drowned out by air-conditioning systems, or had to use a microphone and/or having to shout down drunken hecklers (which in the past has even included players’ WAGS !). We shall definitely look to use that room again for future A.G.M.’s I think.

In attendance were all the Management Committee (i.e. Myself, Manager Trevor Hughes, Social Secretary Martin Loveday, Captain Danny Hagan and Committee Members Alan Barnard and Terry Moore) plus Tim Beeden, Gavin Mardell, Daniel Cascoe, Daniel Daley and (later on due to family commitments) Lexton Harrison and Steve Cokell. New signing Francis Karemo popped in briefly to give us a passport photo for his registration, but unfortunately he was unable to stay, while Ben Keating, Tony King, John Scouller, Martin Worthington and Vernon ‘Kizza’ Nxumalo all sent their apologies for being unable to attend for various reasons (or no particular reason !?). Rather worryingly, Simon Jackson, Lee King and Martin Cruickshank all failed to reply to texts, Forum and e-mail messages and did not turn up. We were unable to get their Players’ Player Of The Year votes either, but hopefully that did not affect the final result, which saw Terry Moore win that particular award by a six-point margin ahead of Ben Keating, with Alan Barnard in third place, one point behind Ben. It was a shame that Jacko was not there as he was due to receive the Manager’s Player Of The Year award from Trevor Hughes, while Ben, John Scouller and Tony King also missed out on being presented with awards on the night for Most Improved Player, Clubman and 100 Appearances respectively. I expect that John is probably unaware that he actually kept up a club tradition of the Clubman Award winner failing to attend the A.G.M. when being presented with that particular trophy is supposed to be a reward for loyalty throughout the season ! Yes, somewhat ironic, but that is ‘typical Rovers’. However, all four absentees will be presented with their trophies at the next 7-a-side match they play in, and although it will be a lower-key presentation with no real speech by me beforehand and less applause because we will probably only have five other players there instead of the 12 we had at the A.G.M., at least it is some reward for their efforts last season.

As for what was discussed at the A.G.M., we had a very long debate where so many good, positive ideas were mentioned, I really should have brought my camera and filmed it...as I have now forgotten half of what was said because I couldn’t write it all down and ‘minute’ it quickly enough. Yes, that’s what we need. A Minutes Secretary ! The main topic of conversation concerned the recent non-fulfilments at 7-a-side and the fact that we only had 15 players registered for the coming season including myself, emergency goalkeeper Tim Beeden and two players in Martin Worthington and Ivan Bass who may not be able to play on a regular basis due to work and family commitments. With everybody else from last season seemingly not being prepared to commit themselves and in most cases not bothering to reply to e-mails, Forum & Facebook messages, voicemail messages or even simple text messages, we therefore had to find ways of getting new players interested, otherwise there was a possibility that we might have to withdraw from the Waltham Sunday League before the start of the season. My recommendation should that happen was to (instead of folding up completely after 37 years) use our Home pitch at Hazelwood this coming season for Friendlies, Veterans matches and practice matches/training sessions on alternate weeks before re-grouping and joining the Barnet Sunday League in the bottom division for Season 2013-2014...the Barnet Sunday League now being almost as big as the Waltham Sunday League, having just merged with the North London Sunday League and the Hendon Sunday League for Season 2012-2013. (See here).  Once I said that, a number of players then stated they would leave if we were forced into that, particularly as the bottom division of the Barnet Sunday League has a number of teams in it with ‘Micky Mouse’ names ! (One that Loveday mentioned was particularly amusing).
We also discussed Manager Trevor Hughes’s role for the coming season, as he himself accepted that he was finding it hard to motivate players (and himself) and that we needed to get somebody else in with some fresh ideas to preferably work alongside him as a Coach/Assistant Manager. With our hopes of getting a professional player in as Manager while doing his coaching badges all but gone thanks to various Forum ‘trolls’ treating the idea as a joke, it was therefore suggested by our ex-McKenzie Rangers players Daniel Daley and Daniel Cascoe that we approach their ex-Manager/Coach ‘Vas’ and get him to come in as Coach while also targeting other ex-McKenzie Rangers players to come and join us for the coming season. After all, that was what we were initially going to do when they folded up at the end of Season 2010-2011 but we only needed three of their players at the time (Daley, Cascoe and Leon McKenzie-McKay) because we had enough of our own. At the time of writing this Chairman’s Blog, we are still trying to contact ‘Vas’ to see if he is interested, but on the new players front, at least our first 7-a-side League match after the A.G.M. saw us field a squad of 10 including plenty who have not signed up yet but are willing to do so...once they remember to bring a passport photo with them. Other good suggestions were made at the A.G.M. for getting new players to join us, one of which is very simple...on shaking hands with 7-a-side League opponents at the end of matches, just ask them if they play Sunday football and if not, whether they want to !

As regards who should actually be phoning and speaking to players to persuade them to play/stay/join though, I was told in no uncertain terms by club members at the A.G.M. that it should be me doing that instead of continually complaining that it should be the Manager’s job. Although I don’t like doing the ‘dirty work’, I now have no choice because if the club folds up, then so does my video business. I have already been hit hard by both the Waltham Sunday League and the Hertfordshire F.A. banning me from filming their Cup Finals because they do not like me ‘making money out of events they are organising’, and although I don’t make any money directly from filming Rovers matches, the highlights I put on You Tube do result in me getting plenty of bookings to film for other clubs, which is where I do make a living. Rovers is my main advertising vehicle, and with that gone, I would need to find another job. So...I must PHONE players. Apparently I cannot expect them to text me back or to go online and check the Latest Club News page, the Forum or their e-mails every day when they don’t really want to play for us. Phoning players eh ? Well that’s easier said than done. As I have said before in a Chairman’s Blog a couple of seasons ago, I have phoned players at inappropriate times when they have been shagging the missus, smoking a joint, on stage (yes that was Kizza in his ‘Rovers Old Men All At Sea’ play) and even worse, in the middle of an apparently ‘unmissable’ episode of Eastenders. Sometimes players actually reply to a message by phoning me back from their mobiles...just as the train they are on is about to disappear into a long tunnel, or when they are driving using a ‘hands-free’ set-up on which they can hear me clearly (because they have got their earpiece in), but I cannot hear a word they are saying because the phone is actually on the dash-board down by the gear-stick somewhere and they are driving alongside a juggernaut on a motorway with the window open and the car radio up loud and tuned into Talksport or a Gangsta Rap Pirate Station !

Despite all these communication problems though, things have been a bit more positive since the A.G.M. as regards increasing our squad by the 20th August registration deadline for playing in our first League match of the season on Sunday 2nd September, but another thing that concerns me at the moment is the lack of payment of subs. Only three players (Alan Barnard, Simon Jackson and Gavin Mardell) have so far paid their Annual Subs for the coming season, although Terry Moore and Martin Loveday will have also done so by the 1st August deadline for players from last season to only have to pay £25.00 instead of £30.00. Other regular players from last season such as Daniel Cascoe, Daniel Daley, Danny Hagan, Lexton Harrison and Tony King do not owe too much Weekly (Match) Subs at the moment, so I would like to think they will be able to pay their £25.00 Annual Subs before that deadline (or £30.00 if they want to leave it until sometime in August). Everybody else though either owes ridiculous amounts of Weekly (Match) Subs which they will need to clear first, while most new players that are being brought along have no idea that we actually charge £30.00 Annual Subs (which have to be paid before they play in a League match) as the players bringing them along do not tell them. In most cases, these new players do not know we have a Club Website with these rules and regulations on either, again because the players who are bringing them along don’t tell them...or didn’t even realise themselves ! We really cannot have a situation whereby on Sunday 2nd September we have only 8 players available who have paid their Annual Subs and we are forced to field three players in the starting line-up who have not, and who possibly also owe large amounts of Weekly (Match) Subs as well. It is grossly unfair on those who do pay and it will put us in even more danger of folding, but this time due to a lack of money. The answer ?...No doubt I will have to PHONE players and demand their money !

My next job if Rovers fold up...a debt collector ? No thanks. Let’s have some commitment so that we keep the club going eh ?

Winners of the A.G.M. Awards for Season 2011-2012 can be found here on the Player Awards page in ‘The Past’ section.

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Tuesday 28th August 2012

Our Pre-Season of Sunday morning Friendlies during August has now come to an end, so it’s time for my latest Chairman’s Blog to focus on what might be in store for us as we start the 2012-2013 season Away to Rosemill this coming Sunday (2nd September). At our club AGM back in July I was panicking somewhat that we might have to fold up due to a lack of players, but thankfully the idea to bring in more ex-McKenzie Rangers players and to target players from our Summer 7-a-side League opponents has worked quite well, especially for our first three Pre-Season Friendlies where we won them all and fielded squads of between 15 & 18 players for each one. Those squads also included more new players brought along by John Scouller and Daniel Cascoe, so everything was looking good in terms of having several different sources from which to boost numbers with so many players from last season having left the club. As usual though, the Bank Holiday weekend Friendly at the end of August let us down as we fielded just a bare eleven for that and subsequently lost 6-2 to Division Three side Broxbourne Athletic, a result which could be damaging to morale if players let their heads go down without thinking properly about why we lost by such a margin. It was suggested by at least one of our players afterwards that it was simply because our two full-backs (Ali ‘TJ’ Sowe and Anthony DiCanio) attacked too much and got ‘out of position’ and because certain players ‘gave up’ once we went 4-2 down late in the Second Half. However, although I haven’t seen the match on video yet, to me (from looking through the viewfinder) and from speaking to Manager Trevor Hughes on the touchline during breaks in play, it was purely because of Ben Keating & Rafiel Johnson both getting injured in the First Half from strong challenges by a big, physical side and then having to stay ‘up front as passengers’ for the whole of the Second Half because we had no substitutes. That problem was made worse because Trevor’s experimental formation in this match was to play the 4-2-3-1 system which a lot of Premier League teams are now using whereby the one striker and three attacking players behind him all interchange positions when we are in possession, but more importantly chase down opposing players to ‘win the ball back’ high up the pitch as soon as we LOSE possession. Obviously with Ben and Rafiel both injured, it meant they couldn’t do that and it was effectively like playing with only 9 men (or 8 if you count other players giving up). With Broxbourne Athletic fielding a squad of 16 and apparently a much stronger side than they had last season, we really had no chance in the Second Half, even if Trevor had changed his formation. New players are always going to make mistakes positionally as they get used to how we play. That’s what Pre-Season Friendlies are for, so TJ and DiCanio ‘getting out of position’ can be corrected when they play in League games. What seemingly cannot be corrected though, and what I am really annoyed about, is the sheer amount of players who year after year fail to tell me they are going away for the late August Bank Holiday Weekend until just a few days before the match, and in a lot of cases just don’t bother turning up on the day because the ‘weather looks nice for a family/social day out somewhere’. Why do other clubs like Broxbourne Athletic not have that problem ? It still shows a lack of commitment in my book and it is not good enough. Surely players know at least two weeks beforehand that they are not going to be available for the August Bank Holiday match ? I would then call the game off and we would be spared any embarrassment/morale-sapping defeat.

Despite all that, I still think there is a chance we can have a better season than normal, mainly because we now have a bit more pace and sharpness with some slightly younger players joining us, while even ‘traditionally slow’ players such as Tony King and Gavin Mardell have been really making an effort to improve their fitness during Pre-Season as they realise what we are up against in Division One of the Waltham Sunday League. Credit to them for that and let’s hope the rest of our players show their commitment, especially when we start our midweek training sessions at the Southgate Hockey Centre on Wednesday 26th September. That late start for training (caused by the Summer 7-a-side League over-running) is extremely frustrating though. Normally the 7-a-side League finishes in the last week of August and we would start training on the first Wednesday in September. Playing 7-a-side during the Summer is excellent for trying out new players, but it is of little benefit once the season starts. There are a lot of things we want to work on in training but we cannot do anything about it for the time being...not that all of our squad are going to be able to attend once it starts, as frustratingly, most of the ex-McKenzie Rangers contingent who have joined us are telling me they cannot attend (even though it is a 9.00.p.m. start) because they work evenings or have to babysit. It could be that we only have an average of 8-10 players at training every week, although at least we have somewhere to train and that will help in us getting more new players to join during the season.

As for the teams we will be facing in Division One this season, in my opinion there are no weak teams at all now that FC Rosemill have dropped out. (That’s FC Rosemill, not the ‘original’ Rosemill who we are playing in our first League match). That withdrawal leaves just 9 teams in the division and they are all extremely well-run, fit, strong, committed, and are used to winning trophies and reaching Cup Finals. Out of those 9, we are the only team who have NOT had a successful season on the pitch during the last 4 or 5 years. We know that on our day we can beat anybody with the players we have, and also because of Trevor’s tactics and organisational ability. Where we go wrong year after year is a lack of commitment from our players to play every week and to come along and go substitute in case they end up having to run the line. To make things even harder for us to avoid finishing bottom, the League have now announced that if the weather is good up until the end of January/early February, they will bring in a ‘third match’ for teams in Division One because there are only 9 teams in the division, thereby avoiding a situation where some teams have finished all their fixtures by the end of February. They did this in Division Four last season where teams played each other three times, but it ended up with some clubs having to play several Double-Headers and midweek matches in April because they had been successful in all three Cup competitions, so I really don’t know which is worse ! Play too few matches or play too many !? I have no idea why the League did not scrap a division for this season and have 4 divisions of 12-13 teams instead of 5 divisions of only 10 teams. We know that year after year, a number of teams always drop out after the League Constitution has been voted in at the A.G.M...and then more follow once the season gets under way. In my opinion, playing Double-Headers and midweek matches in April is better than teams finishing their season in February, but having a ‘third match’ in March & April where it’s pot luck if you are at Home or Away (depending on pitch availability) is a farce. It doesn’t happen in the Non-League Pyramid on Saturdays and it makes a mockery of Sunday League football...as if it isn’t mocked enough already ! Also announced at the recent August League Full Council meeting (which Trevor attended on my behalf) was confirmation that ‘Roll-On, Roll-Off’ substitutions will not be allowed in our League matches, even though the Football Association are now allowing this for Sunday Leagues if they want to use it in their rules. In fact the London F.A. are not implementing this change either, so it will not be in use in our London F.A. Sunday Junior Cup matches this season.

New rules and regulations are always a challenge for a Club Secretary, so it’s always advisable to familiarise oneself with the League handbook ! Because I had been a League Officer and League Management Committee member for so long up until I resigned 18 months ago, I thought I ‘knew it all’, especially as my job was actually compiling the League handbook and doing the League website. However, I had a read through this season’s newly-published handbook the other day to see if there was anything different, and I was astonished to find several rather bizarre ‘new rules’ that seem to have been slipped in ‘under the radar’ ! Whether these are from the Football Association or the Waltham Sunday League itself I have no idea, but take a look here...

Page 8...’New member clubs have one year to achieve the Charter Standard club award’ (otherwise they will not be in the Constitution the following season...or words to that effect ?)

Er, hang on a minute. Why does a men’s Pub team have to become a Charter Standard club ? The Charter Standard club award is for clubs who have their own ground/clubhouse and run a Youth setup. It’s a good job we are not a new club joining the League this season then, as we would have no chance !

Page 9...’All participants shall abide by the F.A. Regulations for Safeguarding Children as determined by the Association from time to time’

Eh ? I thought we were an adult League. What has ‘Safeguarding Children’ got to do with our matches ?

Page 11...’It is the responsibility of each club to ensure that any player signing a registration form has, where necessary, the required International Transfer Certificate. Clearance is required for any player aged 12 and over crossing borders including Wales, Scotland & Ireland’.

It is very difficult to find anything definitive on the internet regarding having to obtain International Clearance for Sunday League players, but I am pretty sure that this rule only applies to the professional and Semi-Professional game where players are being put on contract or were on contract abroad. For example, Ebbsfleet United (who I film for on Saturdays) have International Clearance forms included in their player registration process, but Sunday League teams wouldn’t have a clue how to go about this. We have never received any instructions from the London F.A. and how on earth are teams from Edmonton going to field a side when most of their players have probably only lived in England for the last 5 or 6 years ? Imagine trying to obtain a signature from a kickabout team in the Congo, Somalia or Sierra Leone before you can field a new player ? Impossible. Does this mean we played Juneka Junior (our Brazilian midfielder who was over here on a Visa until he ‘disappeared’) as a ringer back in the 2005-2006 Season because we didn’t get International Clearance for him ?

Page 11 (again)...’While serving in any branch of Her Majesty’s Regular Forces, a player must first obtain the consent of his Association Secretary before signing a registration form for a club’.

Again, I suspect this is meant for players who intend playing Semi-Professionally on contract/for expenses and it doesn’t apply to Sunday League football. If it does, then Luke Illsley (who played one League match for us in the 2008-2009 Season before going in the Army) wouldn’t be able to play for us if he is out on leave at any time ? Bit harsh, surely ? It’s almost like saying he can’t pay to go down the gym or for a swim without permission from the Army !?

Page 13...’Priority must be given at all times to school and school organisations activities. The availability of children must be cleared with the Head Teachers (except for Sunday Leagues). To play open age football, the player must have achieved the age of 16.’

It looks as if some of this must have been put in the handbook by mistake as it says ‘except’ for Sunday Leagues. I agree with players having to be aged 16 or over to play in mens’ football though, but they shouldn’t then be treated as a ‘child’ when they do so. (e.g. Adult matches cannot be filmed if an Under-18 is playing unless the cameraman has been CRB-checked...Nonsense).

Page 14...’Any club wishing to change it’s colours must obtain PERMISSION from it’s affiliated County Association and from the League Management Committee’.

Why permission ? Can’t we just NOTIFY them that we WILL be changing to green & black (shortly) ? What’s the problem ?

Page 14...’The Secretary of the Home club must give notice IN WRITING/phone of full particulars, etc (confirming matches) to the match officials (i.e. Referee)’.

Good. I would much rather do this in writing (i.e. by e-mail) as I can send a link to a map of Hazelwood that way...and it saves a lengthy phone call because I will talk for hours about Sunday League football ! Also, it’s a job and a half trying to explain on the phone where Hazelwood is to a new Referee who has never been there before. Problem is...the Referees’ e-mail addresses were all taken out of the handbook several seasons ago because ‘the League’ wanted them all to be PHONED ONLY !

Page 14...’In the event of a club playing in any match with less than 11 players, they may be fined £1.00 for each missing player’.

When teams field less than 11 players it’s invariably the ‘only 10 men’ scenario as most teams will ‘non-fulfil’ if they only have 9 or less, so what is the point of just a £1.00 fine ? It’s not causing a problem to their opponents is it ? And what’s the point of ‘kicking a team in the nuts’ when they are down (to 10 men), probably because of illness, injury or work commitments ? At least they are making an effort to play. Silly rule. Bin it !

Page 15...’The League shall require all PLAYERS and Club Officials to have SIGNED the F.A.’S Respect Codes Of Conduct and produce these if so requested by the League Management Committee’.

Where exactly ARE these Respect Code Of Conduct forms that players have to read and sign then ? There’s nothing on the League’s ‘Full-Time’ site (as far as I know) and we never have any instructions from the London F.A. to do this ? Does it have to be done at the start of every season ? Who knows ?

Page 19...’With effect from Season 2013-2014, all clubs must be members of a players’ personal accident insurance scheme which meets the minimum criteria set by the sanctioning Association’.

This is actually a good thing in my opinion, but only if it is done through the London F.A. directly and therefore a lot cheaper than clubs dealing with insurers directly (as is the case at the moment). Hopefully that will happen, but it’s early days yet. Currently, most of our players are not insured if they get injured playing for us and they then have to miss work without getting paid. During the 90’s and early 2000’s it wasn’t a problem as most of our players had private healthcare which had accident insurance included.

Finally, another one (but not in the handbook) is that all clubs now have to send a list of all their registered players’ names, addresses and date of births to every County F.A. (not just London !) at the start of each season (and then every time they sign a new player thereafter) so that they can be checked against lists of players who are currently suspended ‘sine-die’ either for violence, not paying fines, or most commonly, the club they last played for folding up without paying money owed to the League they played in. In most cases, the players themselves do not have a clue that they are suspended for these reasons and there is a reasonable chance that some of our new players are actually in that predicament. However, in my opinion, until the F.A. launch a national online database of every footballer in the Country from full-time professionals right down to registered Sunday League players, it is going to be almost impossible to check. How can County F.A. employees be expected to check all that for thousands of clubs and how are Club Secretaries going to have time to contact every County F.A. ? They probably won’t receive a reply anyway if my experience of trying to get an answer from the London F.A. this Summer (about other matters) is anything to go by. Until such time as a Club Secretary can log in to a National Online Database and enter each player’s name & date of birth themselves, this idea is not going to work and suspended players are going to slip through the net. And what happens if those players then get ‘found out’ half-way through the season ? They lose the points for any matches they played in.
P.S. ‘Sine-die’ means ‘suspended forthwith but not indefinitely’. For example, if a player pays the money he owes (via our League to the County F.A. that suspended him ?), then his suspension will be lifted. Similarly, if a player suspended for violence (but who doesn’t owe money) wants to play again, he can ‘appear before League Officers’ and then be allowed to register if they think he has ‘changed his ways’.

If you want to see the League handbook for yourself, it is downloadable to the general public at the following link: http://resources.thefa.com/images/ftimages/data/league2248734/72507.pdf

Anyway, despite all these rules and regulations that I have to contend with, I am very much looking forward to the new season. We have had some excellent goals scored already in Pre-Season and hopefully I will be filming a good few more. Hopefully they will be meaningful rather than consolations.

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Tuesday 6th November 2012

Things have really been looking up for us in the last few weeks, as wins against Larsens and Bromley Knights , together with a draw against Mardan when we had an outfield player (Tony King) in goal and most of our defenders unavailable, were all excellent performances against quality sides who we probably would have lost to last season. The difference has been the extra fitness, enthusiasm and commitment of a number of our new signings this season, particularly Jack Bangs, Riaz Daniels and Rafiel Johnson in attacking positions, while others have been solid in more defensive roles and in George Stahlmann and Younes Jouied we have two more new players who I think will make their mark in the coming weeks. It was therefore really frustrating when the heavens opened on Saturday night/Sunday morning for our following match Away to Enfield Crusaders in the League Challenge Cup, as we would have been fielding another strong side and we were in the mood to test ourselves against quality opponents once again. It was no surprise to me that Enfield Council called all pitches off waterlogged at Enfield Playing Fields just an hour or so before the kick-off, as Referees are ‘not allowed’ to make decisions themselves any more when there is a possibility of a player getting injured on a waterlogged, frozen or snow-covered pitch. As I mentioned in one of my previous Chairman’s Blogs, that’s because Referees are apparently not insured for Public Liability and Player Personal Accident claims, so local Council groundsmen are therefore liable if any players get injured on a dangerous unfit pitch and then fancy making a claim. (The compensation culture where people in authority do not want to take any chances). Unfortunately, some of our players were already at the venue when they found out the game had been called off, so they were a bit annoyed having made quite an effort to get there by public transport. However, this is one of the perils of playing Sunday morning football. If the groundsman had taken the weather forecast for granted and called all the pitches off the day before so that players didn’t have to travel, he probably would have ended up being sacked if it then DIDN’T rain, as the Council have to give clubs a credit off their invoices whenever a pitch is deemed unplayable.

So…are last-minute postponements on the day of the match for rain, frost or snow going to be a regular occurrence this season ? Well, when I was putting the nets up at Hazelwood the other week for our match against Mardan, the pitch was very boggy as I walked across it and you could smell sewage seeping out of the ground. Apparently there is some sort of ‘water table’ under the pitches as an overflow from the river that runs along the far side of the ground, and evidently that table is ‘very high’ at the moment because we have just had the wettest Summer on record. That is what is causing the sewage smell and the boggy conditions, even though we are only in November and have not really had that much rain so far this season. Normally at Hazelwood, the pitch doesn’t start getting muddy until December or January because the water table is much lower and the pitch drains well, especially when the Broomfield First XI Manager goes over there on Friday afternoons and forks it ready for their match the following day. The last time the water table was up high and the drainage ‘didn’t work’ was 10 years ago back in 2002-2003 when we had every match at Hazelwood called off waterlogged for pretty much the whole of November, December and then early January. It was an absolute nightmare time with our players getting seriously ‘pissed off’, and one or two started finding other things to do on Sunday mornings and didn’t play again for the rest of the season. During that three-month period we only played three matches (all away) and one of them was on a ridiculously waterlogged pitch at Town Mead in Waltham Abbey which was never playable. We lost that (League Challenge Cup) match 4-0 to a lower-division side simply because it was impossible to pass the ball. The biggest problem was in trying to play a Home London FA Sunday Intermediate Cup match against local Cypriot (KOPA) League side Aris. The Cup rules are such that postponed matches are automatically re-arranged for the following week, so it just went on and on being postponed at Hazelwood until in desperation we agreed to play them on an old (terribly bouncy) first-generation sand-based Astroturf at the Northumberland Park Sports Centre next to the Spurs ground which they used as their Home pitch. Needless to say it gave them a massive advantage and we ended up losing 6-1, although the main reason for that scoreline was that they trained twice a week and were on £100 a man to win ! Yes, that’s what goes on in the KOPA League (and the Turkish Community Football Federation) and it’s why teams from those two Leagues always win the London Cups. Aris went on to win the competition and then became the best Sunday side in London. (They are now known as FC Tripimeni). If the weather had been good and we had played them on grass at Hazelwood on the date the game was originally scheduled for (when we had a full-strength side available), who knows what would have happened ? We might have won the game and gone on to become the dominant force in London FA Sunday football ourselves ! In addition to waterlogged pitches that season though, before the rains came we also had games postponed for a frozen pitch, no Referee being available, and even ‘dangerous gale-force winds’ ! We just couldn’t get going at all before February and had a lot of mixed results despite having a squad of very good players similar to what we have now. It all changed once the bad weather cleared up towards the end of January though as we went on an amazing winning run which saw us finish third in the Premier Division that season…our best-ever season in the Waltham Sunday League so far. The players who played for us that season all thought they were ‘the business’ and they have been right to criticise our players for our disappointing performances since then. There is no doubt that the likes of Marco & Paul Ellerker, Stuart & Derek Dorward, Steve & John Beasley, Chris ‘Nugget’ Beeden, Paul Woolston, Steve Cokell, Robin Pryke, Peter Sutton and several others who starred for us that season are some of the best players to have ever turned out for the club and that most of our current squad cannot be compared to them just yet. However, we did not field a settled side in winning all those matches because the earlier postponements had given various players other (work and family-related) things to do, so they could not commit themselves to play every week. The main reason we won all those matches was because our opponents were struggling far more than we were in getting disillusioned players playing again after the enforced three-month break. Even though it was the Premier Division and we were competing against established clubs, they were turning up with a bare eleven or less, they were turning up late, no teams did any pre-match warm-ups, and having looked at some of the matches on video recently, the pace of the games were nowhere near the level of what we are playing in at the moment and there were numerous players on show who although technically good, were badly overweight. When was the last time we came up against a player with a beer gut in Division One ? I honestly cannot remember.

Since that 2002-2003 season, there have been other campaigns which have been disrupted by the weather. The following 2003-2004 season was almost as bad with four games called off waterlogged and three games being called off because our opponents were unable to field a team. In Season 2005-2006 though, we didn’t have a single game called off, but that was probably because there were no less than 12 Sundays where we had no game arranged because of us getting knocked out of all three Cups in the First Round and also several teams dropping out of our division. How frustrating was that !!!? Season 2006-2007 saw four more matches called off waterlogged and that was when a lot of our players started becoming really disillusioned as the compensation culture and postponements for a small puddle on the pitch really started kicking in. Indeed over the course of the next three seasons we failed to field a team ourselves on five occasions and got heavily fined…and slated ! Some of our players may well remember the one where half our players stayed indoors because ‘they knew’ the fixture was going to get called off for a frozen pitch, but the Referee inexplicably said it was playable. We had to concede the match because only six players had bothered to turn up, while our opponents were all there…fired up and raring to go.

Season 2009-2010 was another really bad one for postponements, this time due to snow. Like the Aris match back in 2002-2003, we had a London FA Sunday Intermediate Cup match against Turkish side Yavruvatan continually called off due to snow at Hazelwood and we eventually played (and lost) the game on our opponents’ ground long after it was originally scheduled. We also had waterlogged pitches and non-fulfilments by opponents that season and we lost a heck of a lot of players who had got completely cheesed-off with turning up for pitch inspections or from receiving phone calls on Sunday mornings telling them the game was off when they could have arranged to do something else if they had known the day before (or during the week). We have actually been extremely lucky for the last two seasons though. We had four games called off in 2010-2011 for four different reasons, but the blow was softened by us having only one Sunday (instead of the normal 5 or 6) where we did not have a match arranged. Last season we only had two games called off, both because of snow on consecutive weeks and those decisions were made well in advance of the Sunday mornings.

Most of our current players have only joined us in the last couple of seasons, so they will not have suffered an annoying season of Sunday morning last-minute postponements yet. I have a nasty feeling they may have to start getting used to it as we are certainly due a ‘bad one’ and also the compensation culture is not going to go away. If it happens, hopefully our players will be more committed than those of other teams (as we were back in 2002-2003). It could make all the difference, while making the most of training on the Astroturf at the Southgate Hockey Centre will also help if we start getting mass postponements.

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Monday 7th January 2013

Yesterday (Sunday 6th January) saw us return to action Away to Mardan after the usual two-week Christmas break, and it was a game that we were really looking forward to as we had received our new ‘state-of-the-art’ Adidas green & black kit just before Christmas and would be wearing it for the first time. Yes…no more 6-year-old (ancient material) Prostar jade & black and therefore literally a weight off everybody’s shoulders (whenever it rains heavily !) Also no more Nike knee-length beach shorts for Ben Keating as amazingly, he actually wore a pair of our new Adidas black with white trim design ! Indeed everybody looked very smart when they trotted out onto Mardan’s pitch mudbath at Wormley Playing Fields (after the 10-minute walk from the changing rooms), but with our matches being professionally filmed with highlights put on You Tube, not to mention having probably the most detailed club website in Sunday League football, it makes you wonder why there is no sponsor’s name on our new kit and why we have had to pay for it out of club funds…at the moment. It’s a bit frustrating, but hopefully we will eventually find a company willing to stump up the £500.00 we require.

Of course with us changing our colours slightly from jade to a traditional green…which is back to what we were wearing in the early-90’s…comes a change of sock tape colour thanks to the F.A.’s ridiculous ‘new’ rule. Our old jade socks had a white hoop and two smaller black hoops just above the ankle which meant we could use black or white sock tape if it was wound round the sock in the correct position. (Jade sock tape is not manufactured). Our new Adidas socks are all green though, which means we have just had to shell out £70.00 for a year’s supply of 35 reels of green sock tape. I say a year’s supply for 35 reels because Danny Hagan seems to use up a whole reel a match on taping up his shinpads and there are other players who are not too far behind. Why does tape have to be used though ? I have always used a Velcro tie-up for my socks whenever I have been ‘forced’ to play, both at the top of the sock to hold it up just below the knee and another Velcro above the ankle to keep the shinpad in place. I’m sure there must be somewhere online that sells green-coloured Velcro tie-ups ? If all our players bought their own and used them every match, it would save the club £70.00 a year. For bringing in such a stupid rule that imposes unnecessary costs on Sunday League clubs though, the F.A. should be paying for sock tape themselves in my opinion…and a spare set of shorts for each Sunday club thanks to another ridiculous rule they have just brought in whereby clubs cannot wear the same colour shorts ! We just said ‘bollocks’ to that in our match against Mardan yesterday and wore black…the same as them. After all, the pitch was so ridiculously muddy that if we had worn white shorts, they would have all been black after 10 minutes anyway !

Although we lost 3-2 to Mardan for our 4th defeat in a row to Waltham League opposition and yet another relegation battle for the rest of the season, I really must give some high praise to the bare eleven players who made an effort to turn up. The goalkeeping situation was really unfortunate with both Jacko and Loveday going down with the flu and/or vomiting viruses that one in five of the population have apparently got at the moment, while our third-choice keeper Tim Beeden had no idea the night before that he was going to be needed and had therefore already ‘had a skinful’ at Gavin Mardell’s birthday bash, so there was no way he was going to be able to get up in the morning and play at the last minute. Fortunately Garry Cover turned up and volunteered to make his debut for us in goal, even bringing his own gloves after I had warned him at training during the week of Jacko’s illness and that there was no guarantee that Loveday or Tim would be available. Although he is by no means a proper goalkeeper, Garry actually made two or three good saves and had no chance with any of the goals. He will most definitely be a candidate for the Clubman Award at the end of the season, especially if he continues to stick around to help us out like this. As for our 10 outfield players, in my opinion we were fielding probably the strongest side we have put out so far this season, as every single one of them has got excellent technical ability…yes even Lexton, which will no doubt surprise some of his former team-mates from his first spell playing for us in the late-90’s/early-2000’s…while they are all very fit, can run/sprint, chase back to defend and have the necessary work-rate that some of our other players who were absent do not. The reasons we lost were purely because Mardan had substitutes to bring on and we didn’t, and because Mardan, like almost every other team in our division, have had the same core group of players for a number of years and have therefore grown to know each others’ game. Their passing is therefore more accurate and they ‘move the ball quicker’ into dangerous areas, thereby having more shots at goal than us. Just look at us in comparison. In our bare eleven yesterday we had six players who have only just joined us this season, with five of them from completely different sources, and another one (Ben…from yet another source) who only joined us last season. Lexton only re-joined us the season before last after a five-year absence, so he had to get to know players again, and even Danny Hagan, Alan Barnard & Terry Moore have not been with us that long compared to the majority of players at other clubs. Considering all that, I think we are doing brilliantly to give these obvious quality sides such as Mardan, FC Alpha, Enfield Crusaders and Larsens a close game (and in some cases even beat them). Other teams with so many new players who do not really know each other and do not (yet) socialise together off the pitch would either be losing heavily or would even have folded up by now. Success in Sunday League football generally comes for teams who have all been at school together or played for the same Youth Team or adult Saturday Semi-Pro team together. We do not have that at all at the moment, but if the 10 outfield players who played against Mardan yesterday stay with us, I am convinced that in a couple of years time we will be as good as anybody and winning trophies at last. When I gave Hagan a lift home after yesterday’s match, he was in full agreement with that and very positive about the future. In the changing rooms afterwards we had been discussing our players ages and we were all pleasantly surprised when we realised that George and Younes are only 22, Jack is only 23, Hagan is only 24, and Raf, Ben & Riaz are only 25. Those players are nowhere near their peak yet. The other thing in our favour is that Terry, Barney and Lexton all keep themselves extremely fit even though they are in their 30’s. Lexton is 32 and Barney 34, but they can easily play at Sunday League level until they are 40. Terry is 39 now, but I’m sure he can keep going for another couple of years. The goalkeeping situation is a slight worry because Jacko will be 38 in a few weeks time and has been injury-prone for some time now, while we are still trying to find out if Loveday can commit himself to play for us (either in goal or as a defender) over the next few years. He is 31 now and has also been suffering from injuries. Compared to other clubs though, we are not too badly off as whenever Jacko and/or Loveday do play in goal they invariably play well. Indeed Jacko has been Man-Of-The-Match on four occasions already this season ! There are a lot of clubs in our League who are actually advertising for a goalkeeper at the moment…including Mardan !

But now to the disappointing aspect of where we are at at the moment, and something that has cropped up before numerous times in previous years at this stage of the season…players seemingly losing interest because they think/know/suspect they are going to be named as a substitute, having been named in a 16-man squad. In general, before we get to Christmas, players will still turn up and support their team-mates from the touchline. They enjoy the banter and camaraderie and don’t mind having the odd 20-minute run-out as a substitute. During the two-week Christmas break though (which often turns into an even longer period because of bad weather and postponements), they get so used to partying or just generally doing other things that they simply cannot motivate themselves to start playing football again (including attending training) unless they know they are going to be in the starting line-up, or in some cases, not even that but actually having a chance of winning matches ! I suspect that was the main reason why we only had a bare eleven players against Mardan, as at least seven players simply didn’t bother to attend training or even get in touch to let us know that they were unavailable, even though some of them were named in the squad ! If they were still interested, surely they would have informed us if they were ill or away for the weekend ?

A lack of money also possibly comes into the equation though. Most of our players know that we have a club rule whereby anybody owing over £25.00 in subs will be left out of the starting line-up (as long as we have enough good players available to take their place…and note the word ‘good’ there !). It’s no secret that Manager Trevor Hughes has ignored that rule sometimes because players who are up-to-date with their subs are simply too unfit to play at this level and invariably do not attend training (or do ‘not put in a shift’ when they do). Indeed one of our bare eleven players who played yesterday owes £41.00 in subs, so he should have been dropped…except nobody was there to take his place, while four others didn’t pay anything after the match and they will also be over the £25.00 limit soon if they continue to ‘forget to bring money with them’. A far more serious problem though are two current squad members who owe us ‘massive’ amounts of money, with fines from the London FA contributing to some of it in one case and most of it in the other. Neither player was at training on Wednesday and we have not heard from them since well before Christmas. If they have left the club because there is no way they are going to be able to afford to pay the money they owe, they certainly won’t be the first players to have done that. In fact Trevor actually keeps a record of money owed by players who have left the club during the past 10 years (I think ?) and it totals £364.50. He may well have a record of what others owe who left us before then, and I would guess it doubles that amount at least. Some of those ex-players are now playing for other clubs, both on Saturdays and Sundays, and we actually have a right to get the Football Association (via the London FA) to ban them from playing until they pay us the money they owe, especially when that money owed is a London FA fine for a booking or a sending-off. It strictly says on the paperwork that the player MUST re-imburse the club otherwise they will be liable to further FA fines and/or suspensions. We have never used the London FA for debt collection before because it involves a lot of paperwork and it is a bit ‘sneaky’ when most players didn’t realise they owed us that money when they left (or they genuinely couldn’t afford to pay it). However, a lot of clubs do use their affiliated F.A. to retrieve money owed to them by players, and if this sort of thing continues, then we might have to start looking into going down that route. On the flip-side though is the bizarre situation where players have left us when they are actually in credit, sometimes for quite large amounts…and yes, we have tended to keep quiet about that, particularly as it totals £178.50 from the last 10 years ! Indeed, out of the seven players who didn’t bother to turn up/get in touch for the match against Mardan, five of them have paid their Annual Subs for this season and four of them are in credit with their Match Subs ! What on earth are they playing at ? Have they got money to burn ? We even have another player who turned up to play in a Pre-Season Friendly, paid a £30.00 Annual Sub there and then and has not been seen since !

There were actually three other outfield players who missed the Mardan match for legitimate reasons which we knew about (or ‘sort of found out about at the last minute !’) and it was pretty obvious that they would have all been named as substitutes if they had attended, but hopefully at least some of those three and the others who were not there will start attending training and/or matches again as the season goes on. After all, imagine a scenario where we reach the London F.A. Sunday Junior Cup Final and only have a bare eleven there because nobody wants to be a substitute ? How embarrassing would that be ? It would be ‘typical Rovers’ if it happened though.

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Thursday 7th February 2013

Since my last Chairman’s Blog a month ago, we seem to have sorted out the problem of only fielding a bare eleven because of players unwilling to be named as a substitute, and consequently we have had two good results in drawing 1-1 with FC Alpha and then progressing through to the Quarter-Finals of the London FA Sunday Junior Cup by beating a useful London Maccabi Lions ‘B’ side. Both of those results were gained by fielding squads of 14 or more, and even for the two postponed matches in the last four weeks, we had similar-sized squads with nobody dropping out. Ironically though, that is now presenting a problem for Manager Trevor Hughes in another way as it is becoming increasingly clear that we now have 13 players who are all playing well enough to be in the starting line-up and are all available pretty much every week. We then have another 5 or 6 who often attend training and are available for most of our matches, and although they obviously want to be in the starting line-up (and in one or two cases moan when they are not), they are at least now coming along to act as substitutes, club Linos, unofficial Assistant Managers and are generally supporting the team. Indeed there is little doubt that our end-of-season Clubman Award will probably go to one of those players if they continue to show the same commitment for the rest of the season…and that is what all clubs need if they want to win trophies.

This coming Sunday’s League Senior Cup match against Turnford Geese is a prime example of the ‘nice headache’ Manager Hughes now has in deciding what starting eleven to pick. His 13 best players are all ‘fit’ and available, and virtually every single one of them has got a different opinion on what formation we should be playing, what tactics to play, and who the best players are to play certain roles within that formation. There is no doubt whatsoever that the two players Trevor eventually decides to leave out are going to be rather upset and could even ‘throw their toys out of the pram’. That sort of thing has certainly been known before on the very rare occasions over the past 36 years when we have actually had more than eleven players who were good enough for the standard we were playing in and were therefore putting us in contention to win trophies. Everybody quite rightly wants to start matches when there is a whiff of success. So…what can Trevor go on to make his decision for a starting line-up against Turnford Geese, and indeed our even more important London Sunday Junior Cup Quarter-Final the following week (assuming everybody is available for that despite the afternoon kick-off ?). Normally, two factors would have a bearing… Non-payment of subs and failing to attend training. However, let’s look at the two players who currently owe over the £25.00 limit (Jack Bangs & Daniel Daley). Jack is a landscape gardener and the recent diabolical weather has meant he has not been able to work, so he is short of money until the weather improves. We know that he will pay his subs when he is able to work again as he was always up-to-date before Christmas. I have every sympathy with him as my job is also affected by the weather. When matches are postponed at this time of year I don’t earn anything. I make my money when pitches are playable and games are played for me to film. As for Daley, he is suffering from the Football Association dishing out ridiculously disproportionate fines to Sunday League players in comparison to Premier League players who commit the same offence. A Premier League player (I can’t remember who, but probably somebody from Chelsea ?) recently got sent off for violent conduct (same as Daley) and then verbally abused the Referee in the tunnel/changing room area after the match (same as Daley), but he received a lesser ban in terms of number of matches and also a paltry fine in comparison to the wages he was on. It’s almost certain that the £85.00 fine Daley received was a much higher percentage of his annual income than the fine the Premier League player received. Daley is trying to pay that amount in weekly instalments, but then we keep having matches and training sessions called off because of the weather (so he can’t pay us in cash) and he is not registered for internet banking where he can pay directly into the club account. In fact hardly any of our players are, presumably because they are not ‘I.T. savvy’ enough to know how to set it up on their computers or because they only use mobile phones to get on the internet and the security risks are too high ? Although it was Daley’s own fault for getting himself suspended for half the season, the fine is harsh and he deserves a bit of time to pay it off. He played well and changed the game when he came on as a sub in our last match and he ‘owes us all one’ now his suspension has finished by starting matches and scoring goals. Indeed both him and Jack are our current joint top goalscorers this season and they both attended training this week, so it’s difficult to leave them out.

So…should Trevor look at our midweek training sessions for an excuse as to which two players to leave out ? Well, for training this week, 6 of the 13 were not there. Alan Barnard was away, George Stahlmann & Rafiel Johnson were both working, Danny Hagan & Riaz Daniels both had tickets for England v. Brazil, and Ben Keating doesn’t have any Astroturf boots. Obviously Ben’s excuse (which he has been using for most of the season) is a bit feeble, especially as John Scouller was in attendance and could have given him a lift (which isn’t always the case, leaving Ben stuck without a lift). However, Ben was man-of-the-match in our last game, he has been playing regularly throughout the season and never lets us down, his work-rate in matches is excellent, and he has been paying his subs this season when in the past he has regularly gone above the £25.00 limit. George and Hagan very rarely attend training either, but again they always have an excuse, albeit a lot more legitimate than Ben’s ! Of course there is always going to be a suspicion that not everybody’s excuses are genuine when they miss training though. Let’s face it…95% of players wait until a Wednesday afternoon/early evening to inform us that they cannot attend, and invariably if you look outside the window at that time, it is cold, wet & windy…and if you look on your computer/smartphone, a number of other players have indicated on Teamer or the Forum that they cannot attend, so other players think it is going to be a poor turnout (when in fact we have not had less than 10 there at all so far this season !). I don’t think there is any doubt whatsoever that the real reason that some players do not attend training is because they think/know it is going to be ‘boring’ and repetitive, so they will choose to work or do other things instead. Well of course it is going to be ‘boring’ and repetitive ! Remember though that ‘practice makes perfect’ (as the saying goes). How boring must it be for professional footballers to train every day ? We are lucky we only do it once a week, but even that must surely improve our players’ fitness and technique ? In addition to players not wanting to attend because of ‘boredom’, if this week’s session was anything to go by, we now have most of our players in attendance getting there at 8.30.p.m. (which is good), but instead of doing Barney’s half-hour warm-up & fitness session, they sit in their cars having a fag (or something else ?) until we can get on the actual pitch at 9.00.p.m. ! I mean…WTF ?!!!  Obviously training would be more enjoyable if we had some fresh ideas every week from the ‘coaching department’, but that’s not easy to implement when key players cannot (or would rather not) attend. In addition to that, I feel that if the likes of Hagan, George, Ben & others did start coming training, it would make things more enjoyable just from a team spirit aspect. When we are only playing one match a month because of the weather, training gives everybody the chance to meet up and have a laugh and a chat. At the moment, most of our players are just relying on Twitter and Facebook for that, where the likely response to a question such as ‘Who is playing this Sunday and how are you getting there’ is met by a reply along the lines of ‘Surley teh palyers wud no and cum and wot of we got 2 do ?" Yes, a mixture of poor spelling, dyslexia, text speak, predictive text not being manually over-ridden, and an obsession with pornography ! No wonder most of our players dare not post anything on the Forum !

Normally I have an opinion as to what the starting line-up should be, and after informing Trevor on a Saturday night, he quite rightly invariably doesn’t take a blind bit of notice. I really don’t have a clue what to do this time though, so Trevor is completely on his own for this one ! Should he leave Hagan, George and/or Ben out of the starting line-up because they rarely come training and were not there again this week ? Should he leave Cascoe, Lexton and/or Younes out for having a fag in the car park at training instead of doing the warm-up ? Should he leave players out for tactical reasons best known to himself ? Some people are saying we should put others outside of our ‘obvious best 13’ in the starting line-up if they have attended training, so that we keep them interested. Sort of ‘rotate the squad’ each week. In my opinion though, we could be throwing the chance of a trophy away if we did that for these two forthcoming Cup matches, while even Division One matches are vitally important at the moment as it has now been confirmed that we will get relegated if Asco do not drop out and they suddenly go on a good run and finish above us. Even if Asco do drop out and have their record expunged, there is no way we want to finish bottom, and it will certainly be embarrassing to finish below Rosemill, as we know we are better than them. We can only really start rotating the squad and giving ‘fringe’ players a start once we are safe from relegation and have nothing to play for. We must field our strongest available side for all other matches, although there will come a time where we are going to need to bring on the likes of John Scouller, Garry Cover & Evon Williams as substitutes ahead of two of the current first-choice players so that they chalk up enough appearances to be eligible to play in the League Senior Cup Semi-Final and Final should we get there and then have numerous regulars unavailable.

As for our formation, we are very much in a mode now where if necessary we change it depending on how our opponents line up in the first couple of minutes of a match. Most teams we play are now copying what they see in the Premier League by playing one up front, but always with four at the back. It is now very rare that we come up against a team playing a straightforward 4-4-2 or playing three at the back. Most are doing 4-1-4-1, 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1. Invariably though, because of numerous ‘proper’ full-backs not making themselves available (or not being ‘good enough’), Trevor likes to name a starting formation ourselves with three at the back and two up front, with the intention of playing either 3-1-4-2 or (if we want to be really attacking) 3-4-1-2. The problem with that is when teams play one up front, one of our named back three then has to go into a wide midfield/wing-back position and one of our attacking wide midfielders (normally Ben or Younes) then has to play a more defensive role as the other ‘wing-back’…which they hate as it is not their natural game, although to be fair to them, they do put a shift in for the team. Trevor just relies on communication between our experienced players on the pitch to sort things out in that respect as soon as the game starts so that we remain organised defensively, and so far so good, although I’m not sure that some of our players are actually keen on having to ‘think tactics’ like that during a game. It’s encouraging that we can do such a thing when your average British professional/Semi-Pro player is invariably ‘too thick’ to understand when to switch positions (in comparison to continental players), but really, our players are just Sunday League footballers and most of them probably want to just enjoy themselves and ‘bomb forward’ !?

Good luck to Trevor when he names the starting eleven in the changing rooms on Sunday. He may need to wear a tin hat !?

Such competition for places is a nice problem to have though, but how are we going to deal with it when Trevor goes away to Australia sometime in March ? I am not sure of the exact dates, but he is definitely missing five Sundays, and if we get more postponements in February and continue to progress in two Cups, we will almost certainly be playing a couple of midweek matches while he is away as well ! My initial fears about him going away were based on us fielding only a bare eleven for those matches and me being told by the League to stop filming and run the line instead (because there is nobody else on our touchline to do it). Yes it has happened before (about 10 years ago). We wouldn’t be able to use one of my freelance cameramen to film the game as they would want paying about £100, and in any case they would be filming Cup Finals for me at that time of year. Thankfully though, the 'bare eleven and nobody on the touchline' problem looks to have gone away, but is Terry Moore going to be Caretaker Manager for all 5-7 matches while Trevor is away ? We will have to hope so, as there is no way am I doing it ! I nearly got beaten up the last time I tried to be ‘Manager’ and told a player he wasn’t in the starting line-up (back in 1980 !). That was a Cup Final though…and the only time we have ever won one ! Yes…33 years ago and before most of our players were born !!!

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Sunday 24th March 2013

A lot has happened since my last Chairman’s Blog back in early February, so here goes…

Back then, we were in a really healthy position as we were still in the League Senior Cup and we were also through to the Quarter-Finals of the London F.A. Sunday Junior Cup. We also had competition for places in the starting line-up, good turnouts at training and a number of good performances against numerous in-form sides, even though we were still languishing near the bottom of the Division One table. We then had another good result in our next match, beating Turnford Geese 2-1 to reach another Quarter-Final, this time in the League Senior Cup. That meant we had got past the First Round (or the Second Round if we received a Bye in the First Round) in all three Cup competitions this season…and that certainly doesn’t happen very often, although much to my surprise when I checked the stats, we had actually managed that feat on three previous occasions during the last 14 seasons ! Most seasons we get knocked out in the First Round of all three of course.

We then faced Middlesbrough Supporters in our London F.A. Sunday Junior Cup Quarter-Final the following Sunday, and although it was an afternoon kick-off in Chiswick and a difficult journey for us, we travelled there in a positive frame of mind, even though the loss of skipper Danny Hagan with a broken hand was a real blow. Unfortunately though, goalkeeper Simon Jackson had one of his off days, while Manager Trevor Hughes’s idea of playing a 3-1-4-2 formation with attacking players as our wide midfielders backfired badly as they went and marked the opposing full-backs instead of the opposing left & right midfielders, leaving Middlesbrough Supporters to score at will in the First Half on the break. We found ourselves 7-1 down at Half-Time to a side no better than any of our previous opponents, and although we only conceded one more in the Second Half after reverting to a 4-4-2, the damage was done and we have not been the same since. Turnouts at training have still been reasonably good, but for matches, we have suffered from numerous players dropping out either the day before or on the morning of the match, some with no real excuses at all. That left us with just a bare eleven in our 2-1 Home defeat to AC Enfield, then the following week we only had 12 players for a crucial match against bottom side Asco in which we only just scraped a 1-1 draw thanks to Jack Bangs’ Injury-Time equaliser. Worse was to come though, as we only had 10 men including myself for the match Away to Enfield Crusaders, and then in our last match (in the League Senior Cup Quarter-Final against Enfield Rangers), we again only had 10 men to start the match with after Daniel Daley turned up late and numerous other players all dropped out completely. Somehow, we only lost 2-1 to Enfield Crusaders thanks to an heroic backs-to-the-wall defensive performance, but against Enfield Rangers…and with Manager Trevor Hughes now away in Australia for a month…we rather foolishly decided to attack them with a weakened side and therefore ended up losing 7-1. Fortunately, our next match at Home to Rosemill (which was due to be played as I am writing this) was called off because of a waterlogged pitch, as I have no doubt whatsoever that had the match been on, more players would have dropped out at the last minute again because of the atrocious weather. In general, it is not the same players every week who have been dropping out on a Saturday or the morning of the match though...or turning up after the kick-off, which is another problem we have had lately. Virtually every player has been guilty of one or the other so far this season, and in fact the only ones who haven’t are Rafiel Johnson and Alan Barnard ! Indeed Raf has only missed one match all season (for which he gave us plenty of notice) and he is most definitely a contender for the Clubman Of The Year Award. The worst culprit this season for dropping out on the day of the match (or the day before, which is just as inconvenient) is goalkeeper Simon Jackson. The Enfield Rangers match was the sixth occasion he has done it this season, but that won’t be happening any longer as he has now decided to leave the club with immediate effect after initially saying he intended to retire at the end of the season to run his son’s Youth Team. Jacko’s frequent absences recently have seen outfield player Garry Cover going in goal and doing a good job in that position, as he did against Enfield Crusaders when Jacko was suspended for his sending-off against Middlesbrough Supporters. However, like Jacko, Garry was also unavailable against Enfield Rangers due to last-minute work commitments, and that meant outfield players had to go in goal who really didn’t want to. It was a nightmare scenario for myself and Caretaker-Manager Alan Barnard to deal with, and what made it worse was Jacko refusing to give a reason for his absence, while he has also refused to give a reason for leaving us in the lurch now without a proper goalkeeper instead of playing on until the end of the season. For all of us, Jacko’s attitude is baffling. He was fine at training the Wednesday before the Enfield Rangers match, while at the matches he has attended, he has been his usual self and the dressing-room joker as always. There have been no hints whatsoever that he has any issues with any of his team-mates, the Manager, or even me ! However, he is now asking me whether he needs to fill in a transfer form in order to join another (un-named) club in our League next season ! Players normally only do that if they are fed up with us losing every week or don’t get on with one or two of their team-mates. That is most definitely not the case with Jacko. He has always enjoyed playing for us, whatever the results. The same applies to two other very long-serving players who have also just simply disappeared during the course of this season with no word whatsoever from them to anybody (not just me) as to why…namely Martin Loveday and Tony King. Also, Frankie Karemo only joined at the start of the season, but he too has disappeared after playing regularly when he first joined. Again, no explanation from him as to why he no longer wants to play. Again, like Jacko, all three of them are the nicest blokes you could wish to meet. Well educated, courteous, sociable, no trouble whatsoever, a good laugh, and no indications at all that they had any clash of personalities with any of our players or Management. We have seen the same thing happen in other recent seasons though with players just disappearing during the course of a season and not being heard from again, although normally it is only one or two and nowhere near as ‘high profile’. Normally when an established club member who has made over or around 100 appearances decides to quit, they let everybody know why and we give them a ‘send-off’ at the AGM on their retirement.

So…what could be causing all of this ? Could it be that our highlights on You Tube, together with too much ‘personal’ information on our club website and the Forum are actually causing a problem for some of our players as far as their work and family lives are concerned ? Does it put them in too much of a goldfish bowl and make it seem to their employers like they are appearing on Big Brother…to the detriment of their work and maybe even their personal relationships ? You would think that most players would love the publicity. Most of them probably do and that is why they join us, but what if you are in a highly responsible and extremely well-paid job and your boss or a potential client sees you acting as a bumbling fool playing for Rovers on You Tube, impersonating an illiterate Nigerian on our website, or bragging on our Forum about masturbating while driving down the M4 at 100mph ? Of course, we all know that none of that is true…although maybe the bumbling fool bit is depending on which match highlights is watched…but some bosses and potential clients are completely paranoid nowadays about certain things that appear on social media and they will ‘automatically’ think that sort of behaviour is engrained in an employee’s psyche and therefore used ‘Mon-Fri 9-5’ in addition to a Sunday morning. Indeed Sunday League footballers have been known to lose their jobs as a result of League and County F.A. websites listing the actual reasons for them being suspended from playing, such as serious foul play, violent conduct, spitting and head-butting…as if they would do that sort of thing in their place of work ! In professional football, we get players fined thousands of pounds just for jokingly calling somebody a choc ice on Twitter, while Callum McManaman (for example) gets off scot-free for committing a potential career-ending challenge. It's all a total over-reaction for websites and social media to be taken so seriously.

So let’s say that Jacko, Loveday, ‘Kingy’ and Frankie have 'left' because of the club’s high profile…i.e. You Tube, Website & Forum. How can they possibly admit that to any of us ? They can’t. They will be thinking it will upset me for a start, after all my hard work in creating it all, while if any of us 'blabbed about it' on the Forum, Facebook or Twitter, it might harm those four's careers even more as it would make them appear disloyal. Their families would also suffer as a result of them potentially losing their jobs. They may have no choice but to just say nothing and leave us all guessing…and believe me, this is a very wild guess, but it’s the only thing I can possibly think of. I am just as baffled as everybody else is. For a start, it's rude to just disappear without saying something. It's a bit like walking out of a Wedding Reception and going home without saying goodbye to the Bride & Groom. You just don't do it. All we can do is just accept their non-reasons/disappearances and move on by looking for new players to replace them. It is quite possible that Jacko, Loveday & Kingy in particular are all absolutely gutted that they can no longer play for us and that they love seeing themselves on You Tube, together with all the memorabilia I have on the website. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that Jacko produced one of the best performances I have ever seen from a Rovers keeper in our 3-2 defeat to Charlton United in the London Cup, and there will be plenty of other You Tube highlights that Jacko, Loveday and ‘Kingy’ will be able to look back on with pride.

So what of the remainder of this season, the 7-a-side League during the Summer, and next season then ? We have four Division One matches remaining (against Enfield Crusaders, Rosemill, Turnford Geese and Larsens). It is unlikely that we will finish bottom even if we lose all four. Even if we do finish bottom, Asco are rumoured to be folding up for next season anyway, so we will probably be kept in Division One, although we could probably request to be relegated to Division Two. Personally I am not fussed either way and we will get a general consensus from our players if that scenario happened. My main concern is making sure that we field at least eleven players for each remaining match without me having to play again (as I did Away to Enfield Crusaders). I have to say that the other 9 players who turned up and played against Enfield Crusaders and the bare eleven who showed up for the Enfield Rangers match were an absolute credit to the club and I cannot praise them enough. O.K., Daley turned up late to the Enfield Rangers match, but at least he made an effort to get there in the end. At no time did anybody sulk or argue due to the fact that so many players had let us down by dropping out on the day of the match. The team spirit was excellent on both occasions with everybody giving 100%, and if we continue with that attitude in our remaining four matches, we will be alright. Hopefully Terry Moore will be able to attend as Caretaker-Manager while Trevor is still away, and between him, myself and Barney, we will be making sure that everybody who turns up to these last four matches gets plenty of game time instead of being a sub every match. Payment of subs may be a factor though, as there are four regular players who owe well over £25.00 at the moment and some of them are hardly paying a thing for reasons best known to themselves. We cannot let players get away with playing for free. If we have 14-15 players there at our remaining matches, then those who owe too much will be dropped to the substitutes bench if they cannot afford to get below that limit, no matter who they are.

As for the goalkeeping situation, Darryl Johnson has offered to come out of retirement to help us out for the rest of the season, but there is no guarantee that the League will allow us to register him, as the deadline for this season has now passed. Garry Cover is willing to continue in goal, but at the moment, it looks unlikely that he will be available for a couple of matches (7th and 21st April) because Spurs are at Home with early kick-offs and he works as a steward there. I have asked the League for us to be released from our fixture on the 21st, but we now might have to play on that date because of further postponements this week. The 7th April is a big problem because another one of our back-up goalkeepers, Tim Beeden, will be attending Gavin Mardell’s Wedding. If the League do not allow us to sign up Darryl, then we will probably have no goalkeeper whatsoever unless Loveday appears from somewhere or Jacko changes his mind about leaving. It has not yet been confirmed who we are playing on the 7th April, but it should be at Home to Rosemill as that is the last date we can use Hazelwood this season.

We do have some potential new players lined up to play 7-a-side for us during the Summer, and there is also the possibility of getting some more from other teams who play over there, like we did with Riaz Daniels and Jack Bangs last Summer…and what excellent signings they have both turned out to be. At the moment, there is no need to panic that more players might leave during the Summer. We have always got new players wanting to join us. We might have to check they do not have fussy bosses and/or clients first though !?

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Tuesday 7th May 2013

At the time of my last Chairman’s Blog, we had just been beaten 7-1 by Enfield Rangers in the Quarter-Final of the League Senior Cup because of numerous players making themselves unavailable and/or dropping out on the day of the match, leaving us without a goalkeeper, only 10 men to start the game with, and with forwards having to play in defence. With our season effectively ended by that result and with Manager Trevor Hughes still away on a month-long holiday in Australia and the U.S., myself and my fellow Management Committee Members Terry Moore and Alan Barnard therefore decided to ‘rotate the squad’ for our four remaining League matches, all of which were fairly meaningless as we were pretty much stuck in the second-from-bottom position whatever the results. By guaranteeing players a game we knew that we were more likely to field a squad of 14 and indeed that was how it turned out for our next match at Home to League leaders Enfield Crusaders, despite Riaz Daniels now being out for the rest of the season with a knee injury and Terry himself still suffering from sore ribs and deciding not to play. All 14 players had been claiming they were good enough to play at this level…which is pretty much as good as Step 5 or 6 at Semi-Pro level on a Saturday…so now was their chance to prove it. Instead, we produced our worst performance of the season, losing 7-0 thanks to some diabolical individual errors while certain players almost came to blows from arguing with each other about who was to blame.

For our next match at Home to Rosemill (with Trevor still away), not surprisingly we turned up with only 10 men, so it was back to square one again. Thankfully we managed to get experienced defender Ivan Bass to help out by playing his first League game of the season and we also persuaded the ‘injured ?’ Ali ‘TJ’ Sowe to come on in the Second Half after he had only turned up to watch, so that saw us get a 3-3 draw in a good performance where we were unlucky not to win.

Because of that 7-0 defeat to Enfield Crusaders and several other matches during March & April where we turned up with only 10 men though, the League then told us that they were thinking of relegating us to Division Two for next season and were we happy with that ? (We could say no as we were not technically second from bottom because of a team dropping out at the start of the season). As the large majority of our players said they would rather stay in Division One and test themselves against better opponents, it was therefore up to us to prove to the League in our last two matches that we were good enough, and thankfully we did just that by fielding strong starting line-ups and one good sub in each, subsequently beating Turnford Geese 4-2 and then three days later in a midweek match, Larsens 3-2. That last match was particularly impressive at it was an extremely difficult journey getting to Waltham Abbey in the rush hour and we had to play the first 12 minutes with only 9 men because of that, but we produced arguably our best performance of the season and everybody was ‘buzzing’ afterwards and wishing the season had only just started !

Overall, because we finished just above the relegation places for the 8th season in a row, various ex-players will probably look at our results and think it was another bad season. However, we lost 6 matches by a one-goal margin and most of them could easily have gone the other way, we did the double over Larsens, a side who won the League Senior Cup this season by beating FA National Sunday Cup Semi-Finalists Upshire in the Semi-Final and then another top Premier Division side Enfield Rangers in the Final…and Larsens were certainly not mucking about against us !, we only lost 2-1 to eventual Division One Champions Enfield Crusaders in one match despite playing the whole game with only 10 men including myself (at the age of 54 !), against second-placed FC Alpha we only lost 1-0 and then drew 1-1 in the return match, and against third-placed Mardan we only lost 3-2 to a last-minute ‘wonder goal’ in one match and drew 2-2 with them in the other. Even the 8-1 defeat to Middlesbrough Supporters in the London FA Sunday Junior Cup Quarter-Final and the 7-1 League Senior Cup Quarter-Final defeat to Enfield Rangers were good performances in a way. The Middlesbrough Supporters match was a complete freak result where every shot they had in the First Half was on target and went in (leaving us 7-1 down at Half-Time), and the only people at fault were Jacko in goal (who just had an off-day) and maybe Trevor for playing three at the back and the ‘wrong players’ as wing-backs. For the Enfield Rangers match, there was really nothing we could do because of both Jacko and Garry Cover dropping out on the day of the match, leaving us without a goalkeeper and with only 10 men for half the match and with various key defenders missing as well. The work-rate and commitment from those who played was actually first-class and we played really well considering the circumstances. There was no way we deserved to lose that game by such a big scoreline and if Enfield Rangers had not been fielding a Ryman League Premier Division goalkeeper, we may well have given them a scare.

Apart from our Bank Holiday August Pre-Season Friendly defeat against Division Three side Broxbourne Athletic when players let us down on the day by deciding to do other things at the last minute, there was only one game this season where I felt compelled to have a rant in the Video Notes about our performance, and that was the afore-mentioned 7-0 defeat to Enfield Crusaders. Normally there are three or four matches like that during the course of the season where I get really annoyed and have to let off steam. A number of players were upset after I criticised them for things that went on in that match, but they have got to realise that it hurts me badly to see us humiliated like that, as it does when I see our own players trying to fight each other. Our other results this season (which I have already mentioned) prove that we are as good as any other team in Division One and quite possibly the Premier Division as well. We should not be losing 7-0 (and deservedly so on the balance of play) when we have a supposedly good squad available, and if we play like that again in certain matches next season I will be having a rant again. Nobody will stop me, and it’s all because I have pride in our club. Most clubs in our League would have had a Manager ranting at them in the changing rooms behind a closed door after a performance like that, ‘meaningless’ match or not. Neither Trevor or Terry (who was Caretaker Manager on the day) are not like that though, and I can’t do it because by the time I have packed my video equipment away, most of our players have gone home, especially at Hazelwood ! Also, it doesn’t really sink in with me until I actually watch and edit the video. That’s when I get really annoyed !!! It’s also a problem whereby I don’t know what has been said between the players and/or Management during the game and in the changing rooms before and afterwards, so things are put in the Video Notes that I see on video and therefore think are wrong, but they had actually been instructed or sorted out by Management and players at the time. I then get some pretty hostile abuse from the players when they read it, but there is no need for that. I actually want them to correct me if I am wrong, as the Video Notes are purely what I see and hear, and while looking through the viewfinder it’s impossible to know what is happening out of shot elsewhere on the pitch. I know I shouldn’t guess, but I do when we are not playing well and I get annoyed, so players just need to get used to it…and make sure they play well ! As I say though, it has only happened once this season. Just remember that…and also remember that I DO praise players in the Video Notes for their performances when we play well.

The only other thing that I need to mention that has disturbed me during our matches this season is a recent incident where one of our players ran up to an opposing Club Linesman for a face-to-face argument over a decision. Fair enough just complaining to a Club Linesman from a distance (and without calling him a cheat !), but to run across for a face-to-face and call him a cheat is badly wrong. It happens far too much in Sunday League football I’m afraid and it needs to be stamped out. It appears that this particular incident was actually just a result of a misunderstanding and the player thought the Linesman was at fault when he wasn’t, but even so, the reason I do not want our players getting involved is because running over and having face-to-face verbals with Club Linesmen has resulted in several abandonments in our League over the last few years for mass brawls, and in some cases it has actually led to Court cases for physical assaults. There is no way that I want that scenario happening with our club and I will be speaking with the player concerned to warn him not to do it again. Indeed I think that if any of our players do that again, whatever the provocation, they should be heavily fined and/or suspended for the next match.

Despite that incident and the 7-0 defeat to Enfield Crusaders, I am quite happy with the way things are looking at the moment. It was a blow when several players decided to just ‘disappear’ during the course of the season or not give us their reasons for not wanting to play any more (as mentioned in my last Chairman’s Blog), but we still have a squad of around 15-16 good players, several of whom are in their early/mid-20’s and appear to be keen to play on a regular basis. We will need to hope that one of them, Riaz Daniels, recovers from what sounds like a serious injury though, and there is still a risk of some other players in that 15-16 not turning up to matches if they think they are going to be a substitute/Lino and we are not in contention to win a trophy…which is a situation we have had after Christmas for the last 8 seasons where players start losing interest because of that ! We therefore need to find a good tall, young goalkeeper and a young, quick, left-footed left-back, plus a couple of other good young players so that we can boost the squad a bit and hopefully just improve enough to get us mounting a title challenge for a change. Obviously any new players need to have played at a good standard of competitive 11-a-side football though…and be willing to pay their subs !!! We will be playing in the Monday Night 7-a-side League shortly for the rest of the Summer, so we might try out some new players in that, but we will try and arrange some proper Pre-Season Training sessions this year either on Thursday nights or Sunday mornings in July in addition to our Pre-Season Friendlies in August, particularly as George Stahlmann apparently has some good new players to bring along but he himself works on Monday evenings.

As for our regular midweek training sessions next season, pretty much all of our players have asked me to ‘get 8.00 – 9.00.p.m.’ on a Wednesday or a Thursday night (instead of the 9.00. – 10.00.p.m. we have had in recent seasons for Jacko’s benefit so that we could have a goalkeeper there). Yes, as simple as that ! I’m sorry, but if they think the Southgate Hockey Centre (or any other floodlit Astroturf venue in the Borough Of Enfield) is going to have an 8.00 – 9.00.p.m. slot available for us to use, then they are very much mistaken. Everybody wants that timeslot, and the teams who are booked to use Astroturfs at that time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursday nights are all either Semi-Pro clubs or Community clubs who have been using the facilities for years and are never going to give it up because they are never in danger of actually folding up. Also don’t forget that George and his mates cannot attend training because they work evenings, and Danny Hagan is unlikely to be attending training next season because he will be training with his Saturday club. We may not get very good turnouts and it may be a case of just hiring a Powerleague 5-a-side pitch and playing on that just to keep fit. The other alternative is to train on a Monday or a Friday night at 8.00.p.m. (on an 11-a-side half-pitch with a full-size goal), although I think most Astroturfs are used for Winter 5-a-side Leagues on those nights. That is certainly the case on the 3G pitches at the Southbury Leisure Centre. I suppose we could always train on the floodlit concrete car park at Edmonton Cricket Club !? Nobody uses that at 8.00.p.m. on a Wednesday or Thursday night !? Of course if that ever got 3G Astroturfed, then Norsemen would have the first call and we wouldn’t get on there either. If any new floodlit Astroturfs are built in the Borough Of Enfield, we will of course try and get in first, but to be honest, there is no space left in the Borough because of a massive population increase, and houses are more likely to be built on grass or concrete playing fields than a new Astroturf. Unfortunately I somehow think we will be training at 9.00.p.m.on a Wednesday night  again next season. At least there is no danger of Spurs being in the Champions League though…and I say that as a Spurs supporter !

Finally, let’s try and have a good Summer 7-a-side League campaign for a change !? We have only entered one team this year (on a Monday night) and Trevor wants to field his strongest available side for every match. Yes I know it means some players will not get a game, but we cannot have the situation we had last Summer where we tried to field two teams (one on a Monday, one on a Thursday), but we had to keep ‘non-fulfilling’ matches because too many players didn’t drive and couldn’t get there in time from work.

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Monday 3rd June 2013

The Waltham Sunday League AGM for Season 2012-2013 was held on Thursday 16th May, and as I half-expected, the constitution for next season (2013-2014) was announced with a division having been dropped because of the sheer amount of clubs folding up either during the season or since the season finished. When we first entered the League back in 1989, incredibly there were 10 divisions, but now we are down to just four ! However, we are not alone. Numerous Sunday Leagues in London and the surrounding Counties have folded up completely in recent seasons, while others have seen so many teams drop out once a season has started that they have been left with only four or five clubs in a particular division who then have to play each other four times. How ‘boring’ is that ?! At least that doesn’t happen in our League, although we were in a division of only 8 teams once back in the late-90’s and that was bad enough when we finished all our matches by the end of February (because we had been knocked out in the First Round of all three Cups as usual).

In looking at what has been going on in other Leagues this season, it is always interesting to see where our London Cup opponents finished up, especially if we go on a good run as we did this season and manage to beat most of them. Some of our players seemed to think that our opponents were not particularly good just because we were playing in the London FA Sunday Junior Cup instead of the Intermediate, but I strongly disagree. Our First Round opponents Lord Morpeth (who we beat 2-0) finished second in Division One (the second division down) of the two-division East London Sunday League, and they will be in the top division of that League next season. Yes, that League is not as strong as ours, but any team finishing second in any division are clearly a decent side.

We then beat Bromley Knights 1-0 in the Second Round and that really was a brilliant result, as they won the Premier Division of the six-division Orpington & Bromley Sunday League this season and will now be in the top (Senior) division of that League next season. That is a stronger League than ours and by far the strongest in South London, whereby all teams in the top division go in the London FA Sunday Challenge Cup (for the best teams in London). Yes I know they supposedly had some key players missing, but so did we ! In the Third Round we beat Dees Reserves 2-1 Away in Mitcham, and as they finished below mid-table in Division Three of the 10-division Morden Sunday League, that result could be looked on as ‘unimpressive’. However, I am convinced that they were fielding a much stronger side than usual for that game against us, particularly after looking at all the ‘crossing-outs’ on their team-sheet at the last minute and the fact that their First Team players were not cup-tied and they could have fielded all of them if they had wanted. Their First Team finished in mid-table of the top division of what is a very strong League and they also play in the London FA Sunday Challenge Cup. (They had a Bye in the First Round of that, which was why they were not cup-tied for our Junior Cup game against their Reserves). In the Fourth Round we had another really good result in beating London Maccabi Lions ‘B’ 1-0 as they went on to win Division One of the four division Maccabi Sunday League. They will now be in the top (Premier) division next season alongside their ‘A’ Team, who go in the FA National Sunday Cup every season, but their ‘B’ Team are apparently a better side ! In the Maccabi League they do not allow players to change between ‘A’ & ‘B’ during the season. They have to keep separate squads. Despite what some people might think (because only Jewish players are allowed to play in the Maccabi League), the standard of that League is not too far behind ours, so in my opinion, us beating London Maccabi Lions ‘B’ was as good a result as us beating Larsens twice this season.

We then of course lost 8-1 in the Quarter-Final to Middlesbrough Supporters, who are playing their last match of the season on the 5th June and need to win that by a two-goal margin (which they should do) to win their League title…again. They only lost 2-1 in the London Cup Semi-Final to the eventual Cup winners Seven Acre & Sidcup, despite having half their team out injured who played against us ! We showed in the Second Half of that match that if Jacko had not thrown a wobbly in goal in the First Half and we had played the whole match with four at the back, that we were as good as them, and we may well be as good as Seven Acre & Sidcup and top Turkish team Guzelyert (the losing finalists) for all we know. Seven Acre & Sidcup finished third in the top division of the four-division Kent Suburban League…only four points behind the eventual winners, while Guzelyert finished second in the second division of the two-division, but very strong Turkish Community Football Federation and they will be in the top division of that League next season. In my opinion, all five teams that we played, plus the other two that we could have played, should have been in the London FA Sunday Intermediate Cup, not the Junior, and we were really unlucky not to have any ‘easy’ games whatsoever when in the past we have faced appallingly bad sides such as A Small World, Kensington Athletic and Russellers (to name but a few) in the Sunday Intermediate Cup.

Getting back to the problem of teams folding up and the reduction in the number of divisions in our League though, there are always a number of different opinions as to why this is happening, and here’s mine. The main reason is obviously lifestyle changes for people nowadays where they just have too many other commitments to play Sunday League football, but I think an added problem for teams in our League are the amount of fines they incur because of Club Secretaries not understanding certain rules and regulations. That is invariably because they either don’t want to do the job as they would rather just be a player or a Manager and/or they cannot find things on Full-Time because it is not a ‘proper’ website whereby rules and regulations can be displayed and colour-coded for easy viewing. Subsequently clubs get fined so much that the players cannot afford to pay their subs and the club therefore has to fold up. Consequently the League now has a ridiculous amount of money in the bank…£37,000, up from £30,000 just three years ago, and it is now trying to find ways to subsidise clubs for following seasons. In the past that has normally been one free match ball per team at the start of the season, but for next season it is all League affiliation fees being free of charge, thereby saving each club about £50 each. However, the Football Association have now brought a new rule in for next season whereby every Sunday League club has to have a Player Injury Insurance Policy, and the cost of that is £82 per team ! Both the Essex FA and the Hertfordshire FA are subsidising some of that cost that for their member clubs, but even so, clubs are still having to pay more money for next season…on top of all the fines ! The London FA (of which we are affiliated to) are not subsidising the cost of Player Injury Insurance, but fortunately we are a well-run club who rarely get fined, so it is not going to affect us too much. Having said that, we have still not sorted out a sponsor for the Adidas Green & Black kit, and I will now explain why...

Most of our players probably know that in addition to filming Edmonton Rovers matches, I also film all Home games for Ebbsfleet United in the Football Conference...the top division in Non-League football on Saturdays. This is something I have been doing for 8 years now…I get paid to do so as it is a League requirement to have all games filmed professionally for legal reasons. (i.e. Appeals for sending-offs and the compensation culture for bad challenges breaking somebody’s leg, etc.). Ebbsfleet have just been relegated to Conference South for next season, but despite that, they have just been taken over by a Kuwaiti consortium headed by Peter Varney, the former Charlton Athletic Chief Executive (from Charlton’s Alan Curbishley-managed Premier League days). They have big plans for the club, but at the moment I don’t know whether they will keep me on as the Club Cameraman.

For the past five years, Ebbsfleet have been owned by MyFootballClub.co.uk (otherwise known as MyFC) and it is they who have been paying me to film Ebbsfleet’s matches. The takeover five years ago made national and worldwide headlines because MyFC’s motto was ‘Own The Club, Pick The Team’…therefore a real-life Championship Manager ‘game’ ! 35,000 people signed up to become members (i.e. owners of Ebbsfleet United), each paying £35 each, so that wiped off the club’s debts and the following year they did well enough on the pitch to win the FA Trophy Final at Wembley. Of course ‘Pick The Team’ never actually happened because it was completely impractical. The 35,000 simply didn’t know enough about the players because none of them were initially Ebbsfleet supporters before the takeover. I was only paid to film Home matches, so highlights of those matches were all they could see. I didn’t have the rights to film Away matches…not that I would have wanted to go up to places like Barrow, Southport or Gateshead anyway, and Manager Liam Daish (who incredibly stayed with the club when other Managers would have walked out long ago) wouldn’t allow training sessions to be filmed because it would have given all his tactics away to ‘scouts’ from other clubs who had paid up to become MyFC members. Because they couldn’t ‘Pick The Team’, 30,000 ‘computer geeks’ therefore not surprisingly didn’t renew their MyFC membership when it came up for renewal the following year, leaving the club with increasing financial problems ever since, namely an ownership model with not enough money to support a club in a National full-time League. As it happened, most of MyFC’s remaining members genuinely wanted Ebbsfleet United FC to do well and progress, but they were thwarted from making decisions because the club staff did not (and in most cases could not) give them the necessary information as regards what was happening at the ground. For example, Liam Daish (who has now left the club upon the new Kuwaiti takeover) was unable to post anything on the MyFC Forum about his players’ ‘problems’ or which players he would like to sign even if he knew how to…he actually said ‘I don’t do computers’ when MyFC took over ! If it was just one owner/Chairman, it would be dealt with confidentially one-to-one in a verbal conversation and therefore not a problem. Another example of how MyFC failed to work at Ebbsfleet was where the four members of office staff (i.e. Chairman, Club Secretary, Chief Executive/Director and the Office Manager) were all expected to constantly e-mail/go on the Forum/do blogs to update the owners so that they could make decisions and vote on things from behind a computer several hundred (or thousand) miles away. It was never going to work because the office staff were simply too busy and three of them had other jobs or commitments elsewhere which meant they were not at the ground every day. Only one of them (the Office Manager) is a paid employee and part-time at that. The others are semi-retired and work voluntarily. Also, none of them are used to going on Forums and being a ‘computer geek’. It is just ‘not their thing’ ! As with the confidentiality problem regarding discussing players on the MyFC Forum, the same applies to the club accounts. The office staff simply could not go into detail for the owners because of people from other clubs paying up to become MyFC members and having access to the Forum. Because they were not getting what they joined up for…an ownership experience like a normal Director would have, more and more people have therefore left MyFC over the last few seasons and they are now down to just over 1,000 members (‘owners’), hence them voting to sell their shareholding in Ebbsfleet United to the Kuwaiti consortium as they realised they could no longer fund the club. (The club was actually just about to go into administration because of all the above problems) !

There was hostility towards MyFC from the day they took over, with most of the existing Ebbsfleet fan-base refusing to join up and join in, and their beef is this…basically, football in this Country, and particularly at Non-League level, is all about being a locally-based supporter who supports that particular club first and foremost by attending every match Home & Away, buying a pint or three in the club bar, buying burgers & tea/coffee/bovril at the ground, buying mementos and club shirts in the shop, and if they can, helping out at the ground by doing a bit of painting, cleaning up, selling programmes and manning turnstiles amongst other things. In those supporters eyes, ‘how dare’ a load of ‘foreigners’ from all parts of the globe (and the U.K.) decide who does what when they all support other clubs and are just ‘using’ Ebbsfleet to ‘play a computer game’ ? No matter that these people from around the world put money into the clubs’ coffers from afar. What they put in was not enough because there are no longer enough members and none of them are millionaires !

The local Ebbsfleet supporters would never dare blame their office staff for not getting things done of course. It is all MyFC’s fault in their eyes, and for some things that MyFC should have done, those supporters were right. Running a club in a professional League is an extremely complex business and there is no doubt that most MyFC members were completely out of their depth because none of them had ever run a football club before.

So, what has all this got to do with Edmonton Rovers I hear you ask ? Well…MyFC are now looking for another club to run, and as a MyFC member, I have suggested to them that we are a possibility if they want to start at ‘grass-roots’ level and build us up from there. In my opinion, they should have started back in 2008 by owning a ‘grassroots’ club instead of a Semi-Professional one where people’s livelihoods are at stake, and there are other MyFC members who are of the same opinion.

Of course at the moment, we are still looking for a sponsor for the new green & black kit, while unlike at Ebbsfleet, MyFC can actually Pick Our Team…or not so much the team (because in Sunday football players drop out pissed on the morning of the match), but certainly the squad for each match !? We would inform MyFC straight after training which players are available for selection, then they vote for their 16 before say 5.00.p.m. on Friday evening. Trevor would still pick the team and decide the tactics, although there would be nothing to stop him discussing it with MyFC members if he wants…and he would probably enjoy convincing 35,000 people that zonal marking from corners is better than man-for-man. We already have every game filmed Home and Away. I could film bits of our training sessions for MyFC and interview our players there (using my i-phone). No problem. Just upload it to You Tube as unlisted and put the link on their (members only) Forum. We wouldn’t have to worry about confidentiality regarding the club’s finances and possible new players. There shouldn’t be any harm done discussing those matters on the MyFC Forum as nobody’s wages/job would be at stake. Obviously there would be some things that we would need to keep to ourselves, but Teamer and my Rovers News e-mails to our players would be used for that. Unlike the office staff at Ebbsfleet, I personally would have plenty of time on my hands during most of the season to write articles, blogs and answer questions on the MyFC Forum to keep their members fully informed and up-to-date so that they could vote on things. MyFC members would not need to pay £35 a year to fund us like they had to for Ebbsfleet. If they made it just a £5.00 membership, the numbers would go through the roof if they knew they could ‘Pick The Squad’…possibly even as much as the 35,000 they got when they took over Ebbsfleet ! In addition to MyFC sponsoring our new kit, if they wanted they would be able to vote to buy us a new second (change) kit, top-of-the-range Match Balls, a new set of warm-up tops, designer tracksuits for every player, more training equipment and even a personal fitness trainer for John Scouller so that he can be the player we all know he can be ! (John is actually becoming a bit of a cult hero with some MyFC members who have been watching our highlights !). They could pay all our pitch and training fees for us, thereby resulting in our players no longer having to pay subs (like the local Greek Cypriot and Turkish teams). They could pay me for filming and editing the matches (as they do for Ebbsfleet) and they could also pay me for filming & editing training sessions and whatever. They could also pay for better equipment for me to use so that they can watch things in full HD. Even paying for live match streaming via Wi-Fi is possible, as there are no restrictions on that in Sunday League football whereas there are in the Conference at 3.00.p.m. on a Saturday. The technology is now available to do it from a park pitch touchline !

From my experience working alongside MyFC for Ebbsfleet during the past four years, they would NOT deliberately vote for silly things ‘for a laugh’. Obviously you will get ‘RSpandit’ and various other Rovers Forum trolls joining MyFC to do so, but the majority vote would always be sensible.

In my opinion, MyFC would have far more chance of being a success with us (or any other Sunday League/amateur Saturday club) than they would ever have with Ebbsfleet. If they took over us (as a sponsorship with a view to eventual ownership), it would be massive headline news and we would undoubtedly attract some quality players and possibly some ex-pros. My/our aims would be for us to get back into the Waltham League Premier Division first and foremost, then win it. The next step…enter and win the London FA Sunday Challenge Cup. The next step…enter the FA National Sunday Cup (although actually winning that would be a tall order against Wayne Rooney’s brothers and other top Northern sides). The next step after that would be Saturday football, probably in Division Two of the Spartan South Midlands League, but that would be when MyFC would really take over as I have no intention of getting involved in wages, gate takings and other such administration which comes with playing in the Non-League Pyramid. We would become Edmonton Rovers (Sunday), of which I would still be Chairman & Secretary, but a MyFCer would be Chairman/Chief Executive/Secretary of Edmonton Rovers as a whole. Whether we could find our own ground in Edmonton with a clubhouse and permission to install floodlights remains to be seen though.

We can be ambitious or we can carry on as we are. Personally I am not fussed either way because the club will still be running whatever. As for whether MyFC members would actually vote to take us on or not, at the moment it is looking unlikely though. There are basically three types of MyFC members…1) People who want a midlands club to be taken on so that more members can travel to matches, 2) People based in remote areas who are desperate for MyFC to take on their local Non-League club because they have no money and want to ‘chase the dream’, and 3) People from abroad…mainly the U.S…who don’t care where a team are based (because they are used to franchises !) and they just want live streaming of matches and dialogue with club personnel as part of their experience. The people who want to travel to matches do not want to watch a Sunday League team though. They want the ‘Boardroom Experience’ of being a club owner. Also, and rather disturbingly in my view, most MyFC members seem to want to take on a Step 4/5 club because they mistakenly think that the average 150 supporters that those clubs have will all be behind the MyFC ideology, unlike those at Ebbsfleet. Well I think they are going to be in for a nasty shock.

The reason I am a bit concerned with all of this is because virtually all Saturday Non-League Pyramid clubs at Step 5 and above now have somebody (invariably media students or other volunteers) already filming their matches, and if MyFC take on one of them, they will not be pushing them out to bring me in instead. Most of the clubs that MyFC are currently looking at are too far away for me anyway. For 14-18 year-olds, filming the local Non-League club is one of the latest fads and almost as popular for them as ‘trolling’ and ‘sexting’. Every school/college now teaches ‘Media Studies’ and when students are told to do a project as part of their course, filming football matches is always going to be one of their first choices. They then have access to far better cameras, laptops and software than I have got and they can also experiment with two or three-camera shoots, interviews and a commentary whereas I cannot. The only thing I have in my favour is that my camerawork is miles better, but the average Non-League football supporter is not bothered about that and unbelievably they cannot tell the difference in most cases. Fair play to volunteers who film football matches without any practice, but the praise they get from others for the standard of their camerawork (at my expense) is very irritating I must admit. With no guarantee that Ebbsfleet will need me to film for them next season, all I could be filming next season is Edmonton Rovers matches…and that will not pay the bills unless MyFC take us on (or take on another club that I can film for on Saturdays).
CLICK HERE to see a PDF that MyFC are sending out to Non-League clubs who are supposedly interested in them becoming owners. The things mentioned in there would need to apply to us, but you will see that a lot of them do not because we are not a business. We are an amateur club.

  

CLICK ON THE OPPONENTS' NAME TO VIEW A MATCH REPORT & THE YOU TUBE LINK TO VIEW HIGHLIGHTS

Date of Match

Opponents

 

Competition

Result

You Tube

Sunday 5th August

CHESHUNT TOWN

‘Home’

Pre-Season Friendly

Won 3-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 12th August

BROXBOURNE RANGERS OLD BOYS

Away

Pre-Season Friendly

Won 2-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 19th August

CHESHUNT CORINTHIANS

‘Home’

Pre-Season Friendly

Won 4-2

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 26th August

BROXBOURNE ATHLETIC

‘Home’

Pre-Season Friendly

Lost 2-6

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 2nd September

ROSEMILL

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-2

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 9th September

ASCO

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Drew 0-0

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 16th September

LORD MORPETH

Away

London FA Sunday Junior Cup, First Round

Won 2-0

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 23rd September

TURNFORD GEESE

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-2

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 30th September

WHITE HART

Home

Waltham Sunday League Challenge Cup First Round

Won 4-2

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 7th October

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 14th October

LARSENS

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 2-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 21st October

MARDAN

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Drew 2-2

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 28th October

BROMLEY KNIGHTS

Home

London FA Sunday Junior Cup, Second Round

Won 1-0

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 4th November

ENFIELD CRUSADERS

Away

Waltham Sunday League Challenge Cup Second Round

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 11th November

F.C. ALPHA

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 18th November

ENFIELD CRUSADERS

Away

Waltham Sunday League Challenge Cup Second Round

Lost 0-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 25th November

DEES RESERVES

Away

London FA Sunday Junior Cup, Third Round

Won 2-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 2nd December

TURNFORD GEESE

Away

Waltham Sunday League Senior Cup Second Round

POSTPONED (Frozen Pitch)

Sunday 9th December

LARSENS

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 16th December

A.C. ENFIELD

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-4

 HIGHLIGHTS

23rd & 30th December

TWO-WEEK CHRISTMAS BREAK

Sunday 6th January

MARDAN

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 2-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 13th January

F.C. ALPHA

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Drew 1-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 20th January

LONDON MACCABI LIONS ‘B’

Away

London FA Sunday Junior Cup, Fourth Round

POSTPONED (Snow)

Sunday 27th January

LONDON MACCABI LIONS ‘B’

Away

London FA Sunday Junior Cup, Fourth Round

Won 1-0

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 3rd February

LARSENS

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 10th February

TURNFORD GEESE

Away

Waltham Sunday League Senior Cup Second Round

Won 2-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 17th February

MIDDLESBROUGH SUPPORTERS SOUTH

Away

London FA Sunday Junior Cup Quarter-Final

Lost 1-8

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 24th February

A.C. ENFIELD

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-2

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 3rd March

ASCO

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Drew 1-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 10th March

ENFIELD CRUSADERS

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-2

MATCH NOT FILMED

Sunday 17th March

ENFIELD RANGERS

Away

Waltham Sunday League Senior Cup Quarter-Final

Lost 1-7

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 24th March

ROSEMILL

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 31st March

ENFIELD CRUSADERS

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-7

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 7th April

ROSEMILL

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Drew 3-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 14th April

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 21st April

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 28th April

TURNFORD GEESE

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 4-2

 HIGHLIGHTS

Wednesday 1st May

LARSENS

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 3-2

 HIGHLIGHTS

NAME

APPEARANCES

GOALS

NAME

APPEARANCES

GOALS

Norrence ARCHIBALD

1


Frazer JOHN

2

1

Jack BANGS

18

8

Rafiel JOHNSON

28

5

Alan BARNARD

23


Younes JOUIED

11


Ivan BASS

2


Francis KAREMO

11

2

Ryan BATES

1


Ben KEATING

26


Daniel CASCOE

23

2

Tony KING

10


Garry COVER (GK)

8


Martin LOVEDAY (GK)

2


Martin CRUICKSHANK

9

1

Gavin MARDELL

12


Daniel DALEY

20

11

Dan McENANEY

1


Volkan DALGIC

1


Terry MOORE

21


Imran DANIELS

3

1

John SCOULLER

10

2

Riaz DANIELS

18

6

Krishan SINGH

16

1

Anthony DiCANIO

2


Ali ‘TJ’ SOWE

13


Danny HAGAN

24

5

George STAHLMANN

15


Lexton HARRISON

28


Dan TRIBE (GK)

1


Laurence HUGHES

1


Evon WILLIAMS

2


Simon JACKSON (GK)

15





Site Designed & Maintained by Laurence Hughes (Club Secretary, Chairman & Cameraman !) e-mail: laurence_hughes@yahoo.co.uk  © 2017  Laurence Hughes ARCHIVE OF PREVIOUS SEASONS SEASON 2012-2013

APPEARANCES

CHAIRMANSBLOG

MATCH REPORTS

ORC SPORTS WALTHAM (SUNDAY) FOOTBALL LEAGUE

FINAL DIVISION ONE TABLE

APPEARANCES & GOALSCORERS SEASON 2012-2013 (INCLUDES PRE-SEASON FRIENDLIES) MATCH REPORTS SEASON 2012-2013 CHAIRMAN’S BLOGS SEASON 2012-2013