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

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 2013-2014

APPEARANCES

CHAIRMANSBLOG

MATCH REPORTS

ORC SPORTS WALTHAM (SUNDAY) FOOTBALL LEAGUE

FINAL DIVISION ONE TABLE

APPEARANCES & GOALSCORERS SEASON 2013-2014 (INCLUDES PRE-SEASON FRIENDLIES) MATCH REPORTS SEASON 2013-2014 CHAIRMAN’S BLOGS SEASON 2013-2014

NAME

APPEARANCES

GOALS

NAME

APPEARANCES

GOALS

Tem ADIL

6


Lexton HARRISON

23

2

Francis AMANKWAH

2


Rafiel JOHNSON

2


Jack BANGS

24

13

Francis KAREMO

9


Alan BARNARD

18


Ben KEATING

3


Ivan BASS

1


Adam KRSTIC

5

1

Ollie BLAKE

3


Leon McKENZIE-McKAY

14

3

Junior BROWN

7


Terry MOORE

24

1

Daniel CASCOE

20


Mal SAPHIRIS

9


Garry COVER

23


John SCOULLER

13


Martin CRUICKSHANK

8

2

Tom SIMMONS

5


Daniel DALEY

21

5

Krishan SINGH

15

2

Riaz DANIELS

1


Ali 'TJ' SOWE

12


Ryan FOREMAN

6


George STAHLMANN

25

1

Adam GRIFFIN

3


Jack TOMPKINS

3

1

Danny HAGAN

18

1




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 4th August

INTER TRAC

Away

Pre-Season Friendly

Drew 1-1

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 11th August

J-GAIA

Home

Pre-Season Friendly

Lost 1-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 18th August

LEA VALLEY ROYALS

Home

Pre-Season Friendly

Lost 1-4

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 1st September

AFC SOUTHGATE

Home

Pre-Season Friendly

Lost 0-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 8th September

CONTINENTAL

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 15th September

THE SHEAF

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 22nd September

HIGHGATE REDWING

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 5-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 29th September

UPSHIRE RESERVES

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 2-4

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 6th October

CUFFLEY

Away

Waltham Sunday League Senior Cup, First Round

Lost 3-4

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 13th October

CUFFLEY

Away

Waltham Sunday League Challenge Cup, Second Round

Lost 1-5

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 20th October

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 27th October

ASIANOS

Away

London F.A. Sunday Junior Cup, Second Round

Lost 0-3

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 3rd November

CHESHUNT TOWN

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 2-7

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 10th November

CONTINENTAL

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 3-4

 HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday 17th November

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 24th November

U.S. ACLI

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-2

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 1st December

AC ENFIELD

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-6

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 8th December

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 15th December

BROXBOURNE ATHLETIC

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-2

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

22nd & 29th December

TWO-WEEK CHRISTMAS BREAK

Sunday 5th January

UPSHIRE RESERVES

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 12th January

THE SHEAF

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 19th January

THE BEEHIVE

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 26th January

HIGHGATE REDWING

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 4-1

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 2nd February

NO MATCH ARRANGED (All Pitches Off Waterlogged Anyway)

Sunday 9th February

THE SHEAF

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 16th February

THE BEEHIVE

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

POSTPONED (Waterlogged Pitch)

Sunday 23rd February

U.S. ACLI

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-3

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 2nd March

NO MATCH ARRANGED

Sunday 9th March

THE BEEHIVE

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-2

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 16th March

CHESHUNT TOWN

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 2-3

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday  23rd March

THE BEEHIVE

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Drew 0-0

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 30th March

AC ENFIELD

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-2

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 6th April

BROXBOURNE ATHLETIC

Away

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 0-2

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 13th April

THE SHEAF

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Lost 1-4

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

Sunday 20th April

NO MATCH ARRANGED (Easter Day)

Sunday 27th April

UPSHIRE RESERVES

Home

Waltham Sunday League Division One

Won 4-1

 HIGHLIGHTS (HD)

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Wednesday 31st July 2013

In my last Chairman’s Blog back in early June I talked about the possibility of us being ‘taken over’ this season and sponsored (for pretty much ‘everything’) by MyFC (myfootballclub.co.uk). We were one of several teams under consideration along with various Semi-Pro clubs from the Saturday Non-League football pyramid, but we were ‘knocked out’ in the first round of voting and Southern League Central Division (Step 4) club Slough Town were eventually picked instead, albeit as a sponsorship and ‘partnership’ deal rather than MyFC taking them over as an ‘ownership’. We actually received 26% of the votes in that first round, namely 109 individuals who thought that helping us to progress into the Premier Division, the London FA Sunday Challenge Cup, the FA National Sunday Cup and into Saturday football with a ground of our own would be more enjoyable and worthwhile than taking on another Semi-Pro club with an existing (and potentially hostile) supporter-base. Those 109 MyFC members were attracted by me already filming the games and being able to give them detailed information on everything, including interviews with players and the Manager and regular updates amongst other things, these being things that the other candidates may not have been able to do for confidentiality reasons. However, since being voted in, the Slough Town joint-management team, their supporters and club board members have all really engaged with MyFC members and things are working well, particularly with me now filming their matches. Most of those 109 who voted for us are therefore now fully behind Slough Town and any further interest in us from a ‘splinter’ group of MyFC members or MyFC members as individuals is now highly unlikely. We did have another possible ‘complete sponsorship’ for this season being considered by somebody though…namely our own Team Manager & Treasurer Trevor Hughes ! This was based on a possible lucrative business deal for his wife’s pub/club/restaurant licensing business coming to fruition, but unfortunately that has not materialised and there is no guarantee that it will do so in the immediate future. So…instead of us having the new green & black kit sponsored and being able to buy a new Away kit, new training/drill tops, tracksuits for each player and much more, we again have nothing (as usual).

One of the problems we have always had with sponsorship is that we never seem to have players playing for us who work for a small to medium-sized company for which sponsoring a Sunday League club…and particularly one with all their matches professionally filmed and put on You Tube, not to mentioned the detailed website…would be ideal publicity. For about the last 15 years, virtually all of our players have either been self-employed (so they cannot afford it) or they have worked for major banks in the City who have no interest in sponsoring a ‘pub team’. Other players have been in jobs where they work for very small companies of no more than about 5 employees. In some cases those companies (which are sometimes actually run by one of our players) are interested in sponsoring us…as is the case at the moment, but they cannot afford the £500 that we need to re-imburse us for the new green & black kit. They only want to pay £200-250. At the moment we are therefore ‘in limbo’ because it would be foolish to accept only £250 when somebody might come in a week later offering to pay the full £500. It is very frustrating because at the moment we cannot afford to pay our Home pitch and training fees at the end of August, so Trevor will have to pay that out of his own money and then get gradually re-imbursed from players’ subs throughout the season. Normally we have £500 put aside for those pitch and training fees at this time of year, but that went on buying the kit.

The other disappointment with MyFC deciding not to take us on was that it continues to leave us with no Club Linesman. The risk of players not turning up when they think they might be a substitute will therefore now be increased because they know they will be asked to run the line, while ex-players will continue not to turn up to watch and help out as an ‘Assistant Manager’ in case they have to run the line. That will subsequently increase the chances of us failing to fulfil a fixture this season and decrease our chances of winning a trophy because we will be fielding too many bare elevens (or less) again. It happens every season. The problem was discussed at our recent A.G.M. held on Friday 19th July and it was agreed there that a ‘drawing of short straws’ would have to be done before the kick-off for every match to decide who was going to run the line out of our substitutes, and that if the losing player then refused to run the line, he would not be brought on (unless somebody suffered an injury). Nice idea and probably the only thing we can do, but in my opinion I don’t think there is any question that some players will leave the club if they end up having to run the line more than once in the space of maybe 3-4 weeks and I can certainly see players leaving the club ‘straight away’ if they are named as a sub when they think they should be starting, they then draw the short straw, they then refuse to run the line, then Trevor doesn’t bring them on ! I have said many times that the Club Linesman’s job is the root of all evil in Sunday League football and I just wish it could be done away with completely and we let Referees decide…even if one or two of the older ones in our League are physically incapable of moving out of the centre-circle. Our 1-0 win against Bromley Knights was the best game I saw last season by far…and it was all because the Referee did not want club linesmen and he was fit enough to keep up with play and make the decisions himself.

As for other things discussed at the A.G.M., firstly it was good to see 12 club members turning up. As usual, a lot of others didn’t bother for reasons best known to themselves and I will never understand that. When other clubs in our League have a Presentation Night or even just a club ‘piss-up’ down a local pub, ALL their players turn up ! I would like to think that we have a decent team spirit on the pitch/at matches, but why can’t all of our players mix socially as well ? I know we have a few who don’t drink and are from different cultures, but there’s nothing to stop them buying a bottle of water over the bar at Edmonton Cricket Club…or is there, Barney ? One other thing I noted at the A.G.M. this year which was good to see though was that nobody did a ‘tactical vote’ for their Player Of The Year. In previous years, some players who thought they might have been in contention to win the award would deliberately vote for a genuine candidate as their first choice (so that it wasn’t obvious), but for their second and third choices they would vote for players who were clearly never going to win the award (like myself if I was still playing…and yes somebody did vote for me as their third choice once !). By doing that it meant that one or two of our better players who should have had two points for a second place vote or one point for a third place vote got nothing at all, thereby increasing the chances of the voter himself winning the award. Of course some players from the recent past (who were ‘a bit thick’) even went one step further by actually voting somebody who had a ‘mare’ of a season as their first choice. Invariably I would just ignore their vote because it never affected the winner anyway, although just imagine if every player had done that and somebody ‘really sh!t’ had ended up as our Players’ Player Of The Year ?!

Before that Player Of The Year award was made (to Lexton Harrison, and congratulations to him), the main discussion of the night concerned our squad for the coming season and player availability for training sessions. The way I see it at the moment, because of several prospective good new players asking to join during the past week or so (since the A.G.M.), we could have a squad of something like 24 players and pretty much cover for every position. The only problem is in goal where at the moment it looks like Garry Cover will have to stand in again for most of the season unless Adam Griffin plays in our 11-a-side Pre-Season Friendlies and proves to be good enough or we manage to get a good Semi-Pro standard youngster from a goalkeeping school that I am currently in contact with. I have a nasty feeling that is unlikely, but if we do, then I certainly think we can be in contention to win the Division One title, even if Riaz Daniels and Rafiel Johnson, two of our better players from last season have left the club, as is the rumour at the moment…although that is mainly because those two players will not get in touch and tell us what they are playing at. Even without Riaz and Raf, having a squad of 24 players all wanting to play regularly is clearly going to cause Manager Trevor Hughes some problems, especially as they are all likely to be of similar ability and perfectly capable of playing in Division One. Clearly, the things he is going to have to take into consideration when naming a squad and particularly a starting eleven are players’ fitness levels, whether they are willing to play in positions he tells them to/that they don’t want to, payment of subs (or not), turning up at least 30 minutes before the kick-off, whether they can attend training or not, whether they have played well enough the week before and played to the tactics he asked for, and of course most importantly, whether they are registered with the League or not. Well…thankfully I do think players (John Scouller and Daniel Cascoe being the obvious ones at the moment, although it may also apply to some new players) WILL make an effort to get themselves fit during August, but whether they can get themselves fit enough to be in the starting line-up for our first League match of the season on the 1st September is another matter. I also think that most players WILL agree to play out of position when required, purely because they know we have a big squad and they may not get a game if they don’t. I can certainly see payment of subs being a problem though as it happens every year just before the season starts. We get numerous new players turning up to play in Pre-Season Friendlies who don’t pay anything, mainly because the players bringing them along have forgotten to tell them we are NOT a Semi-Pro club who allow them to play free of charge, and we also have numerous current players saving their money in August for holidays which they book for September…not realising that September is when the League season starts ! They then come back in mid/late September not having paid their Annual Subs and owing well over £25.00 in Weekly/Match Subs, but they can’t pay it then because they run out of money on holiday. Every season year after year, for our first League match of the season we invariably only have 5 or 6 players who have paid their Annual Subs, but half of them are away on holiday ! Trevor then ends up having to put in several players who have not paid their Annual Subs, they owe over £25.00 in Match Subs and they don’t pay anything on the day, probably because they know they have ‘got away with it’ thanks to paying members going away and leaving places in the team up for grabs. Turning up right on the Kick-Off and even after it will definitely be an issue again in my opinion. I just think it is engrained in the lifestyle of three or four of our players. They don’t even seem to care if they miss the first 15 minutes of a match or are named as a substitute when they arrive (as long as somebody else is already running the line of course). Maybe they might change their ways if we were in contention to win a trophy though ? We will only find out if we somehow manage to get into that position.
Training sessions were discussed at length at the A.G.M. because we have a lot of players (including prospective new players) who now apparently work evenings and nights and will rarely be able to attend, if at all, while we have other players who would rather go down the gym or play for a 5-a-side team because training is ‘boring’ with only 10 or less players there and us having ‘no coaching staff’ with any fresh ideas. Despite that, we have agreed to continue training on Wednesday evenings between 9.00 & 10.00.p.m. for the time being, but we have had no choice but to cancel Pre-Season Training sessions because there was just too much risk of a poor turnout which would then put new players off from joining…although if the last few seasons are anything to go by, new players do not want to attend Pre-Season Training anyway. They only want to play in Pre-Season Friendlies ! The problem facing Manager Hughes is that players who DO attend training really should be put in the squad ahead of players who do not (or cannot) attend, otherwise what is the point of having training at all ? However, what if none of our eleven ‘best players’ can attend training but all of our ‘weakest’ and most unfit players can ? That scenario could easily happen, but if Trevor picked a starting line-up that left out our eleven best players, we would undoubtedly lose most matches, good players who cannot attend training would leave, and we would be facing our usual relegation battle once again. Another problem with players only being able to play in matches and not attend training is that invariably nowadays, most players in their late teens/early-20’s who join us come from a culture where they have never been taught how to play 11-a-side properly because it’s ‘Mini-Soccer’ only while they are learning to play the game as youngsters. They also learn all the tricks and flicks doing ‘Billy Wingrove’s Soccer Skills’, while Futsal is also becoming increasingly popular at a young age. Once they get to an age when Youth teams start playing 11-a-side and coaching players tactically (as opposed to just putting the biggest players in and telling them to shoot from 50 yards because there is a 5 foot tall goalkeeper standing in an 8 foot tall goal), they give up playing football for a few years while they get into violent computer games, postcode wars, smoking weed, looking at She Squats Bro…the usual stuff, then at 18 they decide to start playing football again, but at Powerleague (5-a-side), which again enhances their skill and fitness levels, but little else. They then come to us in their early-20’s once they have ‘settled down’ and can get out of bed on Sunday mornings, but they haven’t got a clue about 11-a-side tactics because they have never played that form of the game competitively before. Trevor then tells them they are playing right midfield in a 4-4-2 against another team playing 4-4-2 and they go and mark the opposing left-back when the other team are on the attack ! We don’t yet know the backgrounds of most of the prospective new players who apparently want to join us this season, but there is a fair chance that some of them will need a lot of coaching before they can become a regular in our starting line-up. Back in the late 70’s when we first started, it was completely different. When we won ‘everything’ in the 1979-1980 Season with a squad that had an average age of only 19, every player knew how to play 11-a-side properly because that was all they played, right from when they were 7-year-olds. There was no Mini-Soccer in Youth football, nobody dared trying to learn any Billy Wingrove-style flicks and tricks because they would be booted up in the air if thy did, and all it needed was for players to be ‘hard’ and to ‘get stuck in’. Half our players in that 1979-1980 team couldn’t trap a bag of cement, but it didn’t matter because they all knew how to play 11-a-side tactically and who they were supposed to be marking.

The biggest problem we face in fielding our strongest team for our first League match and other crucial matches in September though is players not giving me a passport photo for their registration, this being another thing that happens year after year. At the moment, we have only got eleven registered players available for the 1st September because Danny Hagan has booked up a holiday (thinking that our first game was on the 8th), while five others have since ‘disappeared’ after signing up. On Monday night at our last 7-a-side League match, Younes Jouied forgot to bring his photo and he is now on holiday until September, meaning he won’t be registered. When I filmed a Cup Final recently in another Sunday League, I was shown registration I.D. cards for the participating players and most of them were taken using smartphones with any sort of colour background. The images were superb and much clearer than you get in a passport photo booth where black players come out silhouetted against the white background, yet our League still refuses to accept anything other than a proper (white background) passport photo which costs money and then has to be posted off. Monday night was an ideal opportunity to just take a picture of Younes on my i-phone and e-mail it to the League Registration Secretary in order to get him registered, but no…the League won’t allow anything as sensible as that ! Will all our new players (and players from last season who haven’t registered yet) get passport photos done and remember to bring them to the Pre-Season Friendlies ? I very much doubt it. It’s just too much hassle when everybody uses their smartphone for things like that nowadays. With so many teams dropping out of the Waltham Sunday League since the end of last season and no new teams joining, you have to wonder whether the difficulty in getting players registered might have something to do with it ? Another reason that so many clubs are folding up could be because they don’t (or can’t) advertise for new players (unlike us) as most of them don’t have a club website, a Facebook page or even a Twitter feed. The League won’t help them either because Full-Time automatically hides away club requests for new players on Page Four (or whatever) of the News tab and nobody knows it is there ! I know we don’t have a Facebook page and I don’t go ‘overboard’ on the Twitter messages like some clubs do, but that’s because we have the most detailed club website in Sunday League football…and it’s not finished yet as I still have all the Season Archive pages to do !..., while no other Sunday League club has their matches professionally filmed and put on You Tube (as far as I am aware). I am even enhancing that service this season by getting commentary added to the highlights (if the trainees doing it are good enough), so we are always going to find new players who are attracted by these extra things that other clubs do not have, even if they still have to pay to play for us.

Finally, one other thing that was discussed at the A.G.M…players not using Teamer because they don’t know how to set ‘accept cookies from visitors’ on their phones to stop the login and password-entering process every time, and/or not replying to my text messages because they forget to do so when they finish work after briefly reading the message when I send it to them during the day (when they are busy). So how the hell do I know when to send them a text so that they will reply straight away ?

I thought half our players ‘worked nights’…which is why I send the texts during the day !? The weekly Rovers News e-mails I send out to our players are another problem. Apparently they are too detailed because there is more than one paragraph in them, so most of our players don’t bother to read them. Our players all have a low attention span nowadays as nobody reads books any more, they all read Twitter instead (minimum of 140 characters). The answer at the A.G.M. then was for me to phone and speak to players who do not reply, but then they have a high attention span when they are watching Eastenders, TOWIE or online porn, which is probably when I would be phoning them.

So there you go…I have just wasted several hours of my time writing all this as nobody will have got to this last bit !

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Thursday 5th September 2013

This coming Sunday (8th September) sees us starting our 26th season in the Waltham Sunday League, so my latest Chairman’s Blog therefore focuses on where we are at and what our prospects are after a Summer of 7-a-side, Pre-Season Friendlies and our first two regular midweek training sessions.

Our first Division One opponents this season, Continental, are probably one of the longest-running Sunday League teams in the country, having been formed way back in 1958…and we thought we were doing well in having been running for 37 years ! In fact, as Continental left the Waltham League in the late-80’s to play in the Walthamstow-based (and now-defunct) Forest Sunday League throughout the 1990’s and into the 2000’s…because our League suddenly brought in a rule that wouldn’t let them play in a ‘rough area of London’ on a pitch in Wood Green that was south of the North Circular Road !?.., we are now third in our League’s list of continued membership with only Lea Valley Royals and Churchbury remaining from those who were in the League when we joined back in 1988. Back then there were 10 divisions with 12 teams in each, but now we are down to just four divisions with only 10 teams in the top two divisions, 9 in Division Two and only 8 in Division Three, when last season we had five divisions with at least 10 teams in each ! No new clubs have joined the League either (thanks to four of them applying too late because they couldn’t find the details on the League’s Full-Time site of HOW to join, while the others have now joined other Leagues because they were ‘not organised enough’ for ours !?), and there are already clubs who have asked not to have a fixture arranged for the opening day of the season because they do not have enough players available. At a recent League Full Council Meeting, Chairman Fred Beer explained that the unprecedented loss of clubs this Summer is purely because playing Sunday morning football is too expensive these days due to rising pitch and training fees…and that was it. Nobody said a word of course as they just wanted to get home and watch Eastenders (as is always the case at these League meetings). I was tempted to ask whether the ridiculous amount of fines that clubs get lumbered with because they can’t find what they are looking for on the League’s Full-Time site or in the online League handbook had anything to do with it, but then I thought…better not, as that would sound like me accusing League Officers of not doing their jobs properly and ‘sour grapes’ when I used to do the League website and the League Handbook for them myself and made things a lot clearer for everybody to see. It is certainly very frustrating though when we see other local Sunday Leagues with proper attractively-designed websites (like this one is) that have Full-Time embedded into them instead of using it as a standalone site…so that the League news is all clearly visible instead of hidden on random pages of a drop-down menu, while they also utilise Facebook pages and Twitter feeds whereas our League do not. It means teams in those Leagues are kept well informed of everything that is happening, whereas in our League nobody has a clue what is going on apart from the League Officers themselves. At the time of writing this Blog there are no Cup Draws on Full-Time for this season…they are normally on there by mid-August or given out at the Full Council Meeting, but they were not even mentioned. Have the Cups been scrapped ?  If things do not change in terms of publicising the League more to the ‘outside world’ and also giving more information to Club Secretaries instead of keeping everything ‘secret’, then I can see the League going down to just three divisions next season and it folding up completely within the next five years, which would be criminal when the standard of football is still the best around (in my opinion) as far as Sunday Leagues go.

As for ourselves, our problem has never been a lack of money or the Club Secretary not knowing about certain hard-to-find rules and regulations. What affects us the most is definitely a lack of success on the pitch and our perennial relegation battle in Division One, which has lasted for 8 seasons now ! No matter how much we have tried, we just cannot get back to what we had 10-15 years ago in the Premier Division (and upwards through the divisions before that) when we had numerous current and former Ryman League and Spartan South Midlands League players playing for us and the majority of them all socialised together off the pitch as well, particularly down the old ‘Polo Club’ (later to be known as the Opera House’) on Saturday nights. We just don’t have that any more because our current players all live in different areas, some of them don’t drink because of religious beliefs, a lot of them already have kids, even those in their early-20’s, and we just don’t have the contacts to bring in players from Saturday Semi-Pro football. Back in the mid-90’s it was a case of Stuart Dorward and Conor McGovern starting to play for Hoddesdon Town on Saturdays while they were already playing for us, then they brought more players along from there to join us. That then attracted more Semi-Pros to the club from other sources such as Paul Woolston, Marco Ellerker and Peter Sutton and it only ended when most of them all retired through old age. What happens now is that Semi-Pro Saturday players look at Sunday teams to join and they just don’t recognise/know any of our players (apart from Lexton Harrison who is currently trying to get some of his old Brimsdown Rovers team-mates to come along…but then they are all in their mid/late-30’s). We had other current players saying they were going to bring Semi-Pro standard players along to play 7-a-side this Summer and/or in at least one of our four Pre-Season Friendlies, but where were they ?!! They either couldn’t get out of bed in the morning or were put off by our results over the past few seasons…and probably having to pay subs ? We have managed to get two players in (via George Stahlmann) in Jack Tompkins and Ollie Blake, both of whom were on the books of pro clubs as youngsters, but they both have a lot of work to do on their fitness at the moment, although at least in Jack’s case it looks like he is now going to solve our goalkeeping problem because of that, as a knee injury is preventing him from playing as an outfield player. Other clubs get in players who are super-fit because they are still playing Semi-Pro on Saturdays though. We don’t, and that simply has to change somehow, otherwise we are going to have no chance of winning anything. It only needs three or four of them to come in and play alongside the eight (outfield) players we currently have who in my opinion are fit enough, committed enough and technically good enough to play at our level at the moment and we could then be the best side in the League…Upshire included ! It’s not too difficult to work out who those eight players are. The Players’ Player Of The Year votes each season do not lie !

Of course our other players could easily be good enough if they either make an effort to improve their fitness, make themselves available for more-or-less every match and/or particularly attend training, but unfortunately half of them simply cannot do that for one reason or another, while non-payment of subs is another issue. Some of them complain that those eight ‘quality’ players are always put in the starting line-up ahead of them even when ‘none’ of those eight have attended training and they themselves have, but if we dropped one of those eight indefinitely for that, we would not be good enough, we would lose heavily every week, that particular good player would leave, we would have even less of a chance of attracting Semi-Pro Saturday players to join the club, and we would eventually fold up. Fact…unless we joined another League in the bottom division of course !

At least we didn’t have a problem with the Summer 7-a-side League this year though, as only entering one team (on a Monday night) instead of two (one on Mondays, one on Thursdays) was definitely the right decision and we had some good performances and qualified for the ‘Champions League’ instead of the ‘Plate League’ this time. Although we finished bottom of the Champions League, losing our last game 10-2 because we had already finished last and were giving trialists a run-out, we only had one bad performance all Summer (when we lost 5-0 to Broomfield). At no time were we in danger of ‘non-fulfilling’ a fixture like we did the Summer before and I didn’t have to play at all this time because we were never short of players. However, one player did get upset when Trevor was away on holiday (as usual) and I had to pick the squad and left him out to give others a game. That player appears to have now left the club, although whether that was because of the row I had with him or because he now works different night shifts which stop him getting up on a Sunday morning I have no idea. If he has gone because of me (and/or because he is ‘not on the internet’ and doesn’t read the website/Forum/Rovers News e-mails & Video Notes), he won’t be the last, but as I have said many times before, I am not a Manager and I hate being put in that position. Thankfully Terry Moore will be in charge for the two League matches on the 22nd & 29th September when Trevor is away on his annual September jaunt to Cyprus, although even he has started upsetting people now (after one of our Pre-Season Friendlies and our failure to win any of them) ! Sometimes things have to be said in a final whistle rant after a defeat though, and maybe we do not do enough of that ? I do get the feeling that other clubs get far more upset when they lose and I suspect that it why most of them finish higher than us. It gives people a kick up the backside.

Although we had issues with players turning up after the kick-off for all four of our Pre-Season Friendlies, at least we had eleven players to start each game with and nobody can complain that they did not get enough time on the pitch. We played three very good sides in those Friendlies which was a good test for us, although I was really annoyed at 18 current or prospective new players making themselves unavailable for the Lea Valley Royals game, many of them at very short notice…yes 18 !!! We were totally outplayed because of that, and those are the sort of fixtures that are going to put Semi-Pro Saturday players off from joining us. There is no doubt whatsoever that if any of those prospective new players HAD turned up and played in that match, they would never have put pen to paper afterwards ! Let’s just hope they don’t watch the You Tube highlights of that match…unless they have a good sense of humour ?! In our final Pre-Season Friendly we came up against AFC Southgate, and although they are in a lower division than us at the moment, it wouldn’t be a surprise at the end of this season to see us where they are (in Division Two) and them replacing us in Division One…unless we can somehow find what they have got, which is at least eleven good players who are all fit, technically good and are all mates on and off the pitch who know each other’s game and play as a team. Most other clubs in our League are like them, but at the moment we are not. On Wednesday 28th August and then again on Wednesday just gone (4th September), we had our first two midweek training sessions of the season at the Southgate Hockey Centre, and as was feared/predicted in my last Chairman’s Blog, we only had a handful of players turn up, and most of those who did didn’t arrive until after 9.00.p.m., let alone at 8.30.p.m. for the warm-up and fitness session. They had all been ‘working late’, so it was a good job we didn’t manage to get the 8.00.p.m. start that ‘everybody’ was asking for then, as Terry Moore probably would have been the only one there…apart from myself and Trevor ! (Terry cannot make an 8.30/9.00-10.00.p.m. session because he has to get up for work at 5.00.a.m.). It also doesn’t help when our Captain goes on the Forum saying that training is a waste of time, and although he is probably right (because too many players cannot motivate themselves enough, not because they genuinely cannot attend !), it will cause a problem if it reduces numbers even further when we have already paid a £100 deposit for a 10-week invoice. When we turned up at our last Wednesday night session with only five of us there at 9.00.p.m. including myself and Trevor though, Alan Barnard, another Management Committee member, even suggested there and then that we forget about training for the rest of the season and just put up with losing that £100, so if three of our five-man Management Committee in Hagan, Barney & Terry think training is a waste of time and two of them are not going to/cannot attend anyway, then what chance have we got of making training a success this season ? Fortunately we still had a good session in the end with 10 of us there including myself, but the key to whether we can continue with training this season is whether George Stahlmann and the players he has brought along from work can change their shifts, but as they all work in the evening-based theatre industry in the West End, I suspect that is not going to happen. Clearly if we scrap training within the next 10 weeks, then a lot of players will leave because they are going to have no chance of getting in the team unless we drop our better players for not paying their subs…and only one of our eight ‘quality’ players is guilty of that anyway. New players are probably going to have to go sub (and therefore Club Lino) initially because we won’t have anywhere to see what they are like. Invariably that means they won’t pay their Annual Subs straight away until they know they are going to start matches, so if inferior players have paid their Annual Subs, it then gives Trevor (or Terry as Caretaker Manager) a big dilemma.

Apart from playing badly in a defeat the week before, the only other thing we can drop players for to give other players a game is turning up late, but invariably that is because of family commitments whereby they are waiting for a babysitter to arrive, so we have to give a bit of leeway there at times. A bigger issue, both for matches and training, is the sheer number of players who do not drive and can only attend if somebody gives them a lift or if the trains are running...which on Sunday mornings they are invariably not. We now have a situation where Terry Moore has just moved to live in Barnet, so no problem there in him and/or Trevor giving Jack Bangs, Francis Amankwah, George Stahlmann (from Oakwood Tube station ?), Ollie Blake & Jack Tompkins a lift, but for those who need a lift from Edmonton Green such as Martin Cruickshank, Daniel Daley, Lee King and Lee’s mates who intend joining, we now only have me…and for matches my car is always full with equipment and I can only take one or sometimes two passengers at the most and none at all for Home matches at Hazelwood. Garry Cover and Ali ‘TJ’ Sowe both drive and live in Upper Edmonton/Tottenham, but Garry is often late/’on call’ for work and TJ didn’t play much last season and I’m not sure what the guarantee is at the moment that he will do so for the whole of this season. If Garry gives those players a lift, then they will all turn up 5 minutes before the kick-off as well and it will be a nightmare for the Manager, whereas TJ doesn’t seem to have a clue how to get to most venues we play at !? At least if he picks somebody up, they can navigate for him, although looking at some of those he might have to give a lift to, he will probably get even more lost ! Unfortunately it looks like either Alan Barnard (from Winchmore Hill) or Danny Hagan (from Chingford) will have to both go out of their way to pick some of these players up, as everybody else (sensibly) lives ‘miles away’ from Edmonton Green and in Cascoe’s case drives a two-seater van, although he has been known to bung players in the back for long Away journeys in the London Cup in amongst all his smelly plumbing equipment !?

As for player registrations, we just about have enough players signed up in time for our first League match, but one who isn’t registered is prospective first-choice goalkeeper Jack Tompkins, and that is all because the League Registration Secretary will not accept e-mailed photos taken on smartphones and he also has a ridiculous rule whereby teams playing a Pre-Season Friendly the Sunday before the season starts cannot put forms and photos through his door straight after the match for registrations to be processed in time for them to play in that first League match. He has the deadline as 8.00.p.m. (I think, as I cannot find it anywhere) the night before (i.e. 8 days before the season starts). We all know that most players are away on holiday during the Summer and have not been available to sign forms and provide a photo any earlier. Not issuing the Multi-Registration Form (which only requires a signature from existing club members instead of a photo) until after the previous season has finished doesn’t help either. Most clubs don’t see their players again until well after that Multi-Registration Form has to be returned in early July, and in most cases it is not until the Sunday before the first League match that they are then able to get a signature and a photo from them. Why not just use some common sense to help clubs out who are struggling for players and ensure they can field a team for their first League match instead of them getting fined £50 for a non-fulfilment, thereby threatening their existence and ultimately the League’s ?

Finally, another thing we could do with getting sorted out before we start the season is an agreement on tactics. It appears that most of our players now want to play a system where we press high up the pitch so that our forwards get more shooting opportunities. That means pushing our left and right midfielders onto the opposing full-backs, both in open play in a 4-2-3-1 system and from goal kicks to stop the short one being taken. We then have our back four on the half-way line with our two central defenders taking it in turns to drop off and sweep each other when necessary, but invariably trying to step up and play mass offsides. In my opinion, and I have argued this for years, in Sunday League football that is a huge risk, and that is all because Club Linesmen are used. In our case we will almost certainly have Trevor running the line again because we know that our substitutes will refuse to do it and nobody will turn up to watch in case they get asked to do it, but of course Trevor has two gammy knees and cannot run and keep up with play. Referees in our League are pretty good and they know that, so they over-rule him and allow goals to be scored that should have been ruled offside, or on the other hand, Trevor is too honest and will not flag for an offside if he is not in line, so the Referee plays on and allows another goal to stand that should not have been. The same thing will happen if one of our substitutes does agree to run the line. They won’t concentrate because they don’t want to do the job and the Referee will over-rule them because of that. If we play those tactics against a team like Continental who are packed with fast Jamaican sprinters like our own Daniel Daley, we will be in for a severe hammering in my opinion, and that could cause us immense damage for the rest of the season. If I am wrong though and we manage to defend well and sneak a win despite our poor Pre-Season form, then it will obviously give us a massive boost and who knows what might happen for the rest of the season ? Semi-Pro players wanting to join us, players suddenly turning up on time, players making more of an effort to attend training, a sponsorship deal for the green & black kit ? Stranger things have happened.

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Wednesday 23rd October 2013

My last Chairman’s Blog was written just before our first League game of the season Away to Continental on the 8th September and I expressed my concerns back then regarding the lack of ex-Semi-Pro Saturday players wanting to join us because we are always in a relegation dogfight year after year, and also that a number of our players wanted to start playing a ‘pressing game’ in our opponents half of the pitch while defending on the half-way line and playing a risky offside trap. Thankfully we didn’t play that way against the speed of Continental’s forwards otherwise we would have been torn apart, but we still ended up losing 3-0 anyway while having only one shot at goal all match. The reason for that was because Continental’s players were so fit and fast all over the pitch for the full 90 minutes that all we could do was just defend deep and try and frustrate them, but after doing do for the First Half, they then scored three Second Half goals for which we were not at fault defensively and we just had to accept that most of their players were ‘on fire’, no doubt encouraged by a massive crowd of supporters, coaches, physios and whatever on their touchline, the like of which I don’t think I have ever seen before in Sunday League football ! We thought at the time that we had probably played the best team in the division already and we couldn’t envisage any other team being able to compete with their fitness levels, but how wrong we were as Continental have failed to win in three of their four matches played since then and were beaten 4-0 in one of them ! Our next five matches then showed just how poor we really are (at least in comparison to most other teams in the top two divisions) as we went on to lose four of those five games, conceding an average of almost four goals a game when last season it was only two goals a game and we were only losing by one-goal margins instead of by two, three or four goals as we have done so far this season.
Our next game after Continental was against newly-promoted The Sheaf, who had only lost one match in the past 20 months and had won their first League game 7-0 the week before. We also had skipper Danny Hagan out with a broken toe and numerous others dropping out on the morning of the match, so a heavy defeat was always on the cards, but we didn’t help ourselves by trying the offside/pressing game idea in the First Half and finding ourselves 2-0 down at Half-Time because of it. We then conceded a third early in the Second Half, but unlike the Continental match we actually created numerous clear-cut chances this time but couldn’t take them and we ended up losing 3-0 for the second week running. Despite their impressive record, The Sheaf did not look anywhere near as good as Continental and indeed they have since gone on to lose to both AC Enfield and The Beehive, who are two teams we have not played yet. They also drew 0-0 with Highgate Redwing the week after we beat them 5-3 in our next match as we finally found our form going forward, although we were helped by some of the most atrocious defending we have come up against in the Waltham Sunday League since we beat the now-defunct FC Rosemill 7-1 a couple of seasons ago. In fact we were just as bad as them defensively and the game could easily have ended up as a 10-10 draw ! Highgate Redwing have since really sorted themselves out with some impressive results (including that 0-0 draw with The Sheaf), but we certainly haven’t done the same. We lost 4-2 Away to Upshire Reserves the following week where all four of their goals were from one-on-ones with goalkeeper Garry Cover after some dreadful defensive blunders for which nobody was willing to take the blame, much to my annoyance. Again, Upshire Reserves looked a half-decent side though and their finishing was certainly ‘quality’, but then they have since gone on to only draw 2-2 with Cheshunt Town and lose 5-2 to The Sheaf, therefore making us look very much like the weakest side in the division. We were certainly unlucky to get drawn to play Away to one of the better Premier Division sides, Cuffley, in both the League Senior Cup and the Challenge Cup and then have to play those matches on consecutive weeks straight after the Upshire Reserves game though. We did well in the first game against Cuffley to come back from 3-1 down to draw level at 3-3 and then only lose 4-3 to a late winner, and things were rather looking up slightly with Manager Trevor Hughes back for that match after his usual two-week holiday in Cyprus and a full squad of 16 (and more !) turning up. However we then lost 5-1 to them the following week in the Challenge Cup, this being our last match played because we did not have a match arranged the following week. We played well in a goal-less First Half but then failed to cope with the wet and windy conditions in the Second Half, conceding five goals, again with players refusing to take the blame for some of them. Again we thought that Cuffley were a very good side and probably second best in the whole League only to Upshire’s First Team, but they then went and lost 3-1 in their next match (to AFC Cheshunt), while in the previous Premier Division match they had lost 6-0, albeit to Upshire. Clearly we are still one of the worst teams in the top two divisions then, even though we are not exactly struggling for players at the moment and are certainly not playing any worse than we have done over the past 8 years or so while we have been in Division One.

So what is going ‘wrong’ then, and why are we facing yet another relegation battle (by the look of it) while being knocked out of both League Cup competitions already (as usual at this time of year) ? In my opinion there are two main reasons…firstly, players all having different ideas on how we should be playing the game tactically and formation-wise, and secondly, virtually all of our newer younger players who have joined us in the last 2-3 years are ‘too quiet’ and do not know what instructions to shout out to their team-mates when those team-mates are in possession of the ball. In fact, even some players who have been playing for us for longer than that do not call out those instructions enough. It is very noticeable on video that virtually every team we play all call (and encourage) each other and we do not (in comparison), while opposing players all seem to know their jobs, especially in chasing back and who to pick up when they lose the ball. When we lose the ball, invariably our forwards pass opposing players on to our midfielders to deal with and our midfielders pass opposing players on for our defenders to deal with, mainly because of just plain ignorance of the basic ‘rules’ of playing 11-a-side at the highly competitive level which we are in. That results in our opponents getting in twice as many shots as us in every match, especially from the edge of the penalty area, so it’s no wonder that Garry Cover has let in an average of almost four goals a match so far. Obviously Garry has made some bad mistakes for some of those goals even though he is extremely reluctant to admit it, but he is probably right to say that not all of those ‘bad’ goals are entirely his fault. In a lot of cases the shots should not be fired in at him so easily in the first place. In previous seasons it has been a lack of fitness from our outfield players that has been the problem in that respect, but our fitness levels are actually higher this season because most of our players are now finally making an effort to do a proper pre-match warm-up, while those of our regular players who can attend training are also making more of an effort to get fit at those sessions as well. That has resulted in us playing much better in the First Half of matches than in the Second Half because we have been sharper from the start (but then lose concentration mentally the longer the game goes on)…apart from when we over-did the offside trap against The Sheaf in the First Half of that game. What happened there was the disagreement in tactics problem. Trevor traditionally likes us to defend deep, play the ball out from the back with short passing, then build moves through midfield with one and two-touch passing before slipping forwards in on goal, but some of our players do not like that because it is ‘too slow’ and (in my opinion) they don’t like working twice as hard to create space for themselves and lose their markers in that type of football. They want early long balls from our defenders to by-pass the midfield and play our forwards in down the channels before defenders get to them, then for our back four to push up to the half-way line, squeeze the play and play the offside trap, thereby creating less space in midfield so that our midfielders do not have to do as much running up and down the pitch and can have more of a physical scrap and battle in there. We then have a 50/50 split on who prefers Trevor’s zonal marking system from corners to the more traditional man-for-man system. In myself and Trevor’s opinion, zonal is best because we do not have enough players who enjoy grappling, wrestling and blocking, but whenever new players join, they always want to do man-for-man because they have never been coached to do zonal before. It means those who do not want to do zonal marking invariably don’t switch themselves on enough to attack the ball in their zone when it comes across and we have been conceding goals as a result. Basically we are only going to get somewhere and start winning matches if our players all start agreeing on tactics and they somehow learn how to play 11-a-side properly in terms of marking, calling and movement. So…could we practice that at our Wednesday night training sessions ? Well, we have actually been getting some excellent turnouts at training so far this season with an average of 14-16 players there most weeks, but unfortunately very few of them are first-choice players because work commitments mean they are unable to attend, while our skipper Danny Hagan trains with Norsemen (his latest Saturday club) instead…which we can’t really complain about because any level of Saturday football in this country has always traditionally been seen as more important than Sunday League, even though the Southern Amateur League (in which Norsemen play) is not in the Semi-Professional Non-League Pyramid. Hagan (and others) have complained in the past that our training sessions are ‘boring’ in comparison to Saturday club training sessions and that was certainly a valid point. However, our training sessions have been a lot better this season, not just because of increased numbers attending, but because more players are now helping Trevor out with some coaching ideas of their own, which is freshening things up a bit and making training less repetitive. At our last two sessions we have actually had a coach named Calvin (a mate of Riaz Daniels’) come along who is currently working on his EUFA ‘B’ license, part of which involves taking some sessions involving amateur players like ourselves. Most of the players at training last Wednesday played so badly in our ‘8 v 8 attack v defence into one goal’ 30-minute drill though that Calvin walked off in disgust, rightly complaining to myself, Trevor, Barney & Garry that too many of them there were simply ‘un-coachable’. It was quite amusing, but we all agreed that he was right. What Calvin was essentially saying was that it is too late for them to learn now because they were never coached how to play 11-a-side properly as youngsters. In my opinion, the fault for that lies with the Football Association. I heard Glenn Hoddle saying on TV a few days ago that the main thing wrong with English football is that kids do not have the technical ability that foreign players do. That is nonsense. They DO have the technical ability. For us, our younger players who have joined us in the past 2-3 years can all control the ball superbly, and they can run with it and pass and shoot accurately as well. That is mainly because they have been brought up playing mini-soccer, 5-a-side and doing ‘soccer skills’ courses. What they don't have is a good enough footballing brain to play 11-a-side properly at our level and above because the F.A. (and schools football) have increasingly scrapped 11-a-side for youngsters over the past few years. Those that do play 11-a-side as youngsters (once they are aged 12 and above) are then invariably playing on full-size pitches where tactics do not matter and it is all about who can kick the ball the furthest and over the opposing goalkeeper’s head from 40 yards. Kids should be taught how to play 11-a-side tactically from the age of 7 on age-appropriate-sized pitches. Instead, the F.A. are now getting 12-14 year-olds playing 9-a-side after they have finished playing 7-a-side (Mini-Soccer)  ! What good is that !? None whatsoever because they are then confused as to who they are supposed to be marking as soon as they start playing 11-a-side. Yes, get them playing mini-soccer and going to ‘soccer skills’ schools to improve their technique, but get them playing 11-a-side for tactical awareness AS WELL ! This is why Premier League teams sign foreigners instead of English players. All because young English players do not have a footballing brain. They can't adapt to tactical changes and they do not look around them to see where the space is before they receive the ball. They can't think ahead. All because that part of the game is not coached into them as kids in an 11-a-side situation. What then happens at our level is because we never win anything and don’t have the contacts, we get un-coached players in their early 20’s joining us who have only been playing in work team friendlies or 5-a-sides, whereas other clubs in our League (who have the necessary contacts) get players in who learnt the 11-a-side game tactically between the ages of 16-21 while playing for local Spartan South Midlands League, Ryman League and Herts Senior County League clubs. They have a massive advantage over us, and we will only catch up once the F.A. change things so that all kids between the ages of 7-16 are coached how to play 11-a-side properly.
As for our squad at the moment, as I said earlier, we have plenty of players, but unfortunately we have lost some important ones from last season and we could be losing a few more soon for various reasons. Last season, Riaz Daniels, Rafiel Johnson, Younes Jouied and Ben Keating were four of our better players and in Raf and Ben’s cases, they both played in pretty much every match. However, Riaz has been out with a knee injury since March, and although he has been attending training, he still cannot go into challenges and will not be signing up for this season until he can do so. He has been a massive loss as an attacking central midfielder as we do not currently have anybody else who can play that role. Younes and Raf also gave us similar options in wider roles and they have both been missed as well due to other commitments which are unlikely to see them play much this season, if at all. We have also now lost Ben, who has decided to join his mates at Premier Division side Lea Valley Royals, which appears to be because Trevor is refusing to put him in the starting line-up (or even the squad) unless he pays his subs and attends training. Unfortunately we have to have rules like that though, otherwise the club would just fold if we let every player do that.
At least we should be covered in the goalkeeping department now though as Jack Tompkins has finally provided a passport photo for his League registration, while the return of Leon McKenzie-McKay to our squad after a spell playing for Wormley Rovers on Saturdays is also good news. It is still a worry that one or two more of our better players in addition to Ben are being targeted by other Sunday clubs with one even being offered £50 a match, and we know that the longer we continue to lose matches week after week, the more likely it is that they will get fed up and leave, but at least we know that we are never going to be short of players actually wanting to play for us. It’s just whether they are going to be good enough that’s the problem. Another area of increasing concern is players having to babysit on Sunday mornings because their WAG is working for the necessary extra family income, meaning the player either misses matches completely as a result of that or they are not able to turn up until after the kick-off once their babysitter has arrived. The player this is affecting the most is Lexton Harrison, who may well have to pack up playing Sunday morning football completely within the next few weeks. That will be a massive blow to us considering he was our Player Of The Year last season. So here’s an idea then, especially bearing in mind that players having to babysit is probably the biggest reason why so many Sunday League clubs in general are folding up nowadays…Wouldn't it be great if the Premier League gave the FA a percentage of their profits so that nurseries/crèches could be set up on Sunday mornings specifically for each area where there is a mens' Sunday morning football League...so for our League, that would probably be somewhere in Waltham Cross..., then the player drops his kid off there at 9.30.a.m., goes off to play in his match, then him (or his WAG) pick the kid up on their way home from playing/after working. The WAG could even get a paid job in the 'Waltham Football League's nursery/crèche' instead of working in a shop on a Sunday morning. I doubt whether it would ever happen, but it's probably the only way that numbers will ever start to rise again in mens Sunday morning football participation.
Something else that has been a bit of a hindrance to us this season so far is the fact that we have only played one Home match (which was our only win so far), while our five other matches played have all been Away and our next two matches are also both Away. We do not know the fixtures for mid-November onwards yet, but there is no Home match on the horizon at the moment, all because we got drawn Away in all three Cups and St. Mary’s (who we share our pitch at Hazelwood with) got drawn at Home in all three of their Cups. We then had a situation on Sunday just gone where we had no match arranged (when we could have played at Hazelwood) because we had nobody left to play with all other teams in our division having County Cup matches ! St. Mary’s were therefore given yet another Home game at Hazelwood instead, and by the time Sunday 10th November comes around, they will have used Hazelwood seven times already this season while we will have only used the pitch once !!! And all at a time of year when the pitch is in perfect condition. Not only is that annoying, but just after we played our only game at Hazelwood way back in mid-September, we had a hilarious discussion on the Forum regarding playing some pre-match music in the changing rooms before our next match, which will probably be great for team spirit and banter, but we just haven’t had the chance to do it yet. Another problem with continually playing Away matches is players getting lost in trying to find the venue. The reason for that is because half our players evidently don’t read the directions on the Forthcoming Fixtures page because it is ‘too detailed’. Remember the ‘low attention span’ I talked about in my first Chairman’s Blog this season ? These players don’t go by road names, they look out for landmarks instead. Back in the 70’s and 80’s that used to be pubs, but now it’s fast-food chains ! Is it near a MacDonalds ? That’s the big question nowadays. If there is no fast-food chain nearby, then players get lost, they turn up late and have invariably parked almost a mile away from where the changing rooms are that we are supposed to be in, then they are knackered from the long drive round in circles and the subsequent long walk as soon as they get on the pitch. At least we are playing next to an Esso Service Station at Wanstead Flats this coming Sunday. As long as there is a Tesco Express in there, we should be alright !

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Thursday 2nd January 2014

At the time of my last Chairman’s Blog back in October we had lost 8 out of our last 9 matches…and the situation is now even worse as we have since gone on to lose 14 out of our last 15 and we are still firmly rooted to the bottom of the Division One table. I have not had time to check through the books from all 37 years of the club’s history yet, but the only occasion I can remember where we have had a worse run of form in recent years was probably when our Reserve Team went through a whole season in 2004-2005 without winning a single match ! As far as the First Team are concerned, we probably have to go as far back as 36 years ago from just before Christmas during the 1977-1978 Season and then onwards into the following 1978-1979 Season in Division 8 of the Edmonton Sunday League when we lost 19 out of 20 matches during that period…with a 2-2 draw against Barcelona being our only point gained during that time. Of course that’s not THE Barcelona, but a very average and long now-defunct pub team from Enfield. (The F.A. outlawed Sunday League teams naming themselves after professional clubs back in the 90’s, but back in the 70’s and 80’s, we played against numerous ‘top European teams’ !).
In recent weeks during our current dreadful run of results I have had one or two ex-Rovers players and even family members (which thankfully does not include Trevor) telling me that I should fold the club up because we are losing every week, which is of course what most other Sunday League clubs would do in our predicament. However, back in those dark days in the late-70’s we were turning up with only 9 or 10 men more often than not and suffered defeats with scorelines such as 1-14, 2-15, 4-11, 2-21, 2-17, 0-13, 4-15 and many more of double-figures week after week. We still kept the club going then and we have also done likewise on two or three other occasions over the years when key players have retired and we have struggled to find immediate replacements who have been good enough for the standard required. I have no intention of folding the club up now and why should I ? We are certainly not getting thrashed by anything like those ridiculous scorelines back in the 70’s, while we have got loads of players wanting to play for us and we always will have because our matches are professionally filmed and put on You Tube. In addition to that, we also have the best club website in Sunday League football and we have the best Home ground in the League. The problem as I have mentioned before in my Chairman’s Blogs is that we cannot attract good enough players compared to other clubs because good (i.e. ex-Semi-Pro) players invariably want to play for Sunday teams who are going to win trophies and they also want to play alongside players who they played with in Saturday football at Ryman League, Spartan South Midlands League or Herts Senior County League level. Also, other clubs in our division have a better team spirit because their players all know each other socially. They will all have had Club Christmas dinners, ‘lads night out’ do’s and all-day Christmas drinks down a pub or club after their final match before Christmas, but we don’t. We can’t. Not any more. During the 1990’s and the 2000’s we used to do that regularly, especially the Xmas ‘Leo Sayers’ (as Conor ‘Cockney Rhyming Slang’ McGovern used to call it) down On Broadway after our final Home match in December each year. On one occasion we had about 30 current and former players down there, most of whom were from a ‘White British drinking culture’ and who invariably worked in the City Mon-Fri earning big money or had other well-paid management jobs. We just don’t have that any more. Far too many of our current players live nowhere near Hazelwood/On Broadway as they come from all parts of London and Hertfordshire to play for us, most of them do not drive, they do not do Mon-Fri 9-5 jobs and work all sorts of different hours thereby making it impossible for us to arrange anything at a convenient time for everybody, some of them do not drink because of religious beliefs, and most importantly of all, the majority of our players have young kids to look after and they do not have enough money to pay for social nights out let alone their subs for playing for us ! All we can do really is just turn up to matches (and to training sessions for about 50% of our players) and get to know each other there. With so many new players joining all the time, we still have players who do not know each other’s names, even half-way through the season, and that is a big factor in our current predicament. An idea of players bringing their favourite music along to Home matches to play in the changing rooms before the kick-off to create a better team spirit is still to get off the ground and that seems to have died a death, as has any chance of us finding a sponsor for the green & black Adidas kit. Our problem with that now is not because potential sponsors cannot afford to pay the £600 we are asking for, but because they are almost certainly worried about us folding up because of our current form on the pitch. It will not be easy to convince them otherwise at the moment, that’s for sure.
We have played six matches since my last Chairman’s Blog and although we lost them all, there were at least mitigating circumstances for some of them. We were hoping for a good run in the London FA Sunday Junior Cup again after reaching the Quarter-Finals last season, but how unlucky were we to be drawn Away to a team in Asianos who had clearly been put in the wrong competition when they were actually one of the best Sunday teams in London ? We lost 3-0 which looks like a hammering, but they only had three shots on target ! We turned up with just a bare eleven and actually played really well, pretty much matching them in the Shots Count.
We then had more bad luck in our next match Away to Cheshunt Town when we turned up with only 10 men and ended up losing 7-2. Yes, turning up with only 10 was our fault and we were probably always going to lose anyway against an in-form team, but the Referee had an absolute shocker and we did not deserve to be kicked in the nuts from him with some appalling decisions against us when we were down. Again it was hard to fault our 10 players who made an effort to turn up.
We then lost 4-3 at Home to Continental when we were the better side and had no luck whatsoever, but we didn’t play well in our next match at Home to U.S. Acli where we lost 2-0 in a really flat performance in which we created very little against a solid defence. It was after that match that matters really came to a head though as a malaise had steadily been creeping in right from the start of the season where about 90% of our players clearly had no respect for myself, Trevor and the rest of our Management Committee by completely ignoring at least one (and in most cases two or three) of the following important club rules, namely… a) Everybody must turn up for matches at 9.45.a.m. and do a proper warm-up, b) Players must pay their Annual Subs before they play in a League match and not owe more than £25.00 in Match/Weekly Subs, c) Players must inform myself or Trevor before training on a Wednesday night if they cannot play, and d) Inform us by 10.20. a.m. on a Sunday morning if they are running late (so that Trevor can pick a starting line-up, plan the zonal marking and give the Referee the names of our substitutes). Other clubs have similar (or even stricter) rules and regulations but their players stick to them because they are all in it together as mates from social nights out etc., and they don’t want to let each other down. Our opponents on the 1st December, AC Enfield, were a prime example of that and they really showed us up big-time by annihilating us 6-0…and it should have been more. They were all there on the pitch (at St. Mary’s School in Cheshunt) an hour before the kick-off helping to put the nets up and listening to what their Coach/Trainer (Tom Collier) was telling them, and they were  really ‘buzzing’ in the warm-up, although like most other teams we play, that was probably down to the fact that they knew the game was being filmed properly and they were really fired up to perform better than normal with the highlights going on You Tube. You could still see why they had only lost one match all season and beaten leaders The Sheaf twice though as their attitude looked spot-on. In stark contrast, we only had four players (Jack Bangs, Danny Hagan, Daniel Cascoe & Garry Cover) arrive at the venue between the ‘acceptable’ time of 9.45.a.m. and 10.00.a.m. that would have enabled us to have some sort of decent team warm-up, while everybody else turned up almost right on the scheduled 10.30.a.m. kick-off, thereby resulting in us being fined for a late kick-off for the only time in our 24-year Waltham Sunday League membership apart from when Denis Coventry did us for being late by ONE MINUTE ! Away to Abbey Youth Old Boys Reserves about 8 years ago ! We were a complete shambles against AC Enfield with most of our players not understanding Trevor’s instructions regarding the formation because they didn’t have time to listen to him once they turned up, then when we found ourselves 4-0 down at Half-Time from just five chances created by our opponents, our players just started blaming each other when most of them needed to have a good look at themselves and buck their own ideas up. After the final whistle I stated that AC Enfield were easily the best team we had played so far this season, but they then went and lost 7-2 to Cheshunt Town the following week despite fielding the same side, so that really did confirm that we were ‘by far’ the worst team in the division !?
Following the 6-0 defeat to AC Enfield, myself and Trevor then really put our foot down and demanded that players started adhering to the club rules, and to their credit, our final match before Christmas at Home to fellow-strugglers Broxbourne Athletic was a lot better in terms of players turning up on time, paying their subs, and letting us know if they were available or not. It still wasn’t perfect but we were a lot more organised this time, although we still ended up losing 2-1 with poor finishing being the main reason for that result. In fact in our 16 matches played so far this season (including Pre-Season Friendlies), we have only scored two or more goals in five of those games…and we only won one of them, while in our other eleven matches we had failed to score in six of them ! The goalscoring situation is so bad at the moment that it looks like Jack Bangs’ penalty in our 4-3 defeat to Continental might end up as our Goal Of The Season…or we might even have to scrap the competition completely this season for not having 10 contenders (unless we include penalties and Own Goals).

One thing the Broxbourne Athletic match really did highlight more than anything else though was the main reason (in my opinion) why we are bottom of the League and are losing every week…we do not have a proper goalkeeper. For all of our matches this season apart from one Pre-Season Friendly) we have had either Garry Cover, Alan Barnard or Adam Griffin in goal, all of whom are outfield players and have never been coached to play in goal. I cannot praise these three players enough for volunteering to go in goal. It is a horrible job, especially when opposing teams know you are going to let in ‘silly ones’ and they then take the piss when you do. It has happened to me many times, thankfully mainly at 7-a-side though and only once (way back in 1979) when I was forced to go in goal for a Rovers 11-a-side match. Barney, Griff and Garry (especially) have actually made some great saves while playing in goal this season, but of course they have all let in bad goals which a proper goalkeeper almost certainly would have saved. In one of our recent matches, our opponents actually won the game by scoring more goals than they had shots on target because two of their goals were sliced crosses which went in but ‘didn’t count as a shot’ ! Also, one of the biggest problems is that Griff and Garry cannot take their own goal-kicks, thereby taking one of our defenders out of the game temporarily to go and do it, while Barney’s goal-kicks never reach the half-way line, thereby giving opposing forwards more chances to score. Of course Broxbourne Athletic’s goalkeeper (Tom Canfield) was yet another one of those keepers that most teams in the top two divisions of our League seem to have who looked as if he had almost certainly been properly coached as a youngster with a pro club but then released for not being tall enough. He was throwing the ball out hard and fast, doing Pepe Reina-style deadly accurate swivelled drop-kicks, and drilling his goal-kicks well over the half-way line, even against a strong wind. Although Canfield was small in height, he must have given his team-mates so much confidence just by doing things properly. Again, we had to have one of our defenders taking our goal kicks, and Griff was never going to be able to pick out players from his throw-outs and drop-kicks in the same way as Canfield, simply because he has never been coached how to do it. It goes without saying that finding a proper goalkeeper, preferably somebody who has been coached at a pro or Semi-Pro club, is an absolute priority. Jack Tompkins does have that background, but we have given him enough chances to turn up now and if he cannot get out of bed on a Sunday morning, then we will just have to look for somebody else.

In addition to the aforementioned problems with players not adhering to certain club rules, we have also had players showing a lack of respect to Trevor and myself in other ways during the season so far. Trevor has continually been pestered by substitutes complaining about not being put in the starting line-up when in most cases it’s because they have no idea that they are not actually good enough to start (at the moment), while for some reason Garry Cover picks my Video Notes (and probably this Chairman’s Blog) to pieces whereby he sends me a detailed e-mailed dossier after every match he has played in which disagrees with virtually everything I say in my Rovers match analysis. I would like to think that I know what I am talking about after 23 years of filming matches professionally for a number of top Non-League Club Managers who have all respected my opinion on what I have seen when analysing matches for them, but Garry seems to think I talk a complete load of rubbish. I did get a bit upset when he first started doing it, but now I am not so bothered. The reason why ? I think he is trying to do a David James impersonation just for a laugh. Just watch David James on BT Sport. It’s a totally farcical piece of TV production where he is being told by the programme producer to say ‘I disagree’ whenever Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves point out something obvious from a slow-motion analysis…the idea behind this being to make the programme more ‘interesting’ for casual viewers who know nothing about football. On one occasion, McManaman actually came in too quick with a reply and said ‘no’(in astonishment) before James had actually said ‘I disagree’…because it had all been scripted beforehand and McManaman knew what James was going to say. Jake Humphrey is also a joker as well and it is clear that BT Sport are just trying to create a catchphrase to deliberately make their football coverage different to other channels and win them viewers who like to see ‘an argument’ and a different sort of banter to that of Lineker and Co on Match Of The Day.

Off air, James, McManaman & Hargreaves will all be agreeing with each other…as does Garry with me most of the time when I speak to him face-to-face at matches and training.

Despite all the problems we have had this season so far though, I am going to be quite positive here as I am convinced that as long as we can find a proper goalkeeper…and maybe even if we don’t…we will go on our usual good run after Christmas like we do every season and pick up enough points to avoid finishing bottom and therefore almost certainly avoid relegation. The main reason for that is because year after year we are re-building the squad with new players and it is not until half-way through the season that things start to gel. As we are never in a position to win a trophy in the first place, players do not leave the club and in fact a lot of them even end up playing more regularly because improved performances as the season goes on results in a more enjoyable experience. Other clubs in the lower half of the table have it the other way round though, whereby in the first half of the season their players were all expecting to be in contention to win a trophy (having come up through the divisions winning ‘everything’), then when they suddenly find themselves stuck in mid-table or below, their players lose interest after Christmas and do other things instead. Another indicator of why we might do well for the remainder of the season is the sheer number of clubs from our League who have been knocked out of their respective County Cup competitions already. Upshire’s First Team (the top team in the Premier Division) are still in the FA National Sunday Cup, which is a great achievement having been Semi-Finalists last season, but there are only two clubs left in County Cups this season in Division Two sides BBFC and Pymmes Brook when normally there at least 10 still left in at Christmas. Indeed we were one of those last season. That suggests that the standard of football in our League has diminished this season, so maybe it has just been us playing really badly in our division so far and the other nine teams really are not as good as we might have thought ? All we need to do then is keep on improving our squad and also maybe start to make a bit more of our training sessions. We are likely to continue getting good turnouts after Christmas with a lot of Riaz Daniels’ and Jack Bangs’ mates from 7-a-side football still turning up wanting to join us, and who knows, some of them might turn out to be better players than some we have already got. Arranging an 11-a-side Friendly match for them to play in (at Hazelwood if we have the pitch available) is a must if we have another week without a game arranged. It might also now be slightly easier to get players registered, as League Registration Secretary Denis Coventry has said that ‘selfies’ taken on smartphones are acceptable as long as there is a plain white background, although they still have to be re-sized and printed off onto glossy white photo paper in the same way that a proper passport photo booth does instead of e-mailing them to him as a jpeg image. One of our prospective new players at training tried that recently though whereby he sent me the printed photo in an envelope in the post, but it was a quarter of the size of a proper passport photo and you need a magnifying glass to see who he actually is ! Obviously there is no way that Denis Coventry is going to accept that.
With all these players wanting to play for us though…and one or two returning ones from last season who have not been about much recently, we really are now in a good position for myself, Trevor and the rest of our Management Committee to continue clamping down on things like we did for the last match against Broxbourne Athletic. If players want to stroll along on the kick-off, refuse to pay their subs and/or continually drop out of matches on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, then it's goodbye I'm afraid...whoever they are !

  

CHAIRMAN’S BLOG - Monday 10th February 2014

At the time of my last Chairman’s Blog just after the Christmas period we had lost 14 out of our last 15 matches, but despite morale being very low, I did state that a revival would start straight away as soon as we could sign up a proper goalkeeper, and indeed that is exactly what happened when we were fortunate to snap up the experienced Mal Saphiris from Premier Division side Enfield Crusaders after hearing that they had suddenly dropped out of the League. As soon as Mal walked into the changing rooms at Broxbourne Recreation Ground for our ‘six-pointer’ relegation battle with Highgate Redwing on the 26th January, it gave everybody a massive lift straight away, and as we were fielding a very strong squad of 14, we were able to produce our best performance of the season so far to gain a 4-1 win and put an end to our dreadful run of form at last. Mal played his part with a number of excellent saves, but there were three other players who played in that match that I think are worthy of a mention and who made a big difference as well, namely Riaz Daniels, Tom Simmons and Garry Cover. Riaz came on as a substitute after being out with a bad knee injury since March 2013 and having a player of his calibre on the ‘bench’ undoubtedly gave our forwards and attacking midfielders a kick up the backside. We then had Tom Simmons playing really well as an attacking right-back after work and studying commitments had made him unavailable for a couple of months before Christmas, and with Tom now playing for Broxbourne Borough in the Spartan South Midlands League on Saturdays, he is clearly a good player who will improve us greatly if he can now play regularly…as he is promising to do. Also, Garry Cover is looking more and more impressive in the centre of midfield alongside Danny Hagan and Daniel Cascoe, and Manager Trevor Hughes’s current 4-3-3 system (the same as Liverpool are doing at the moment) seems to be really suiting those three (and Jack Bangs, Leon McKenzie-McKay and Daniel Daley up front). I did actually say to Trevor in Pre-Season that Garry should be tried out in the centre of midfield and not at right-back or in goal as I could see he had the right sort of competitiveness to play there. Maybe it should have happened earlier ?

Having produced such a good performance though, it has been really frustrating to see the weather put a spanner in the works and stop us from playing a game since. It is already apparently the ‘wettest winter on record’ in our area of the country and we were actually really lucky to play that game against Highgate Redwing as most others in our League were called off on that date. Indeed if we had been given a Home fixture, we would not have played as Hazelwood Sports Ground (and every other Enfield Council pitch) has been called off waterlogged for five weeks in a row now. In fact with the two-week break for the Christmas period before that, most teams in our League have not played a match for seven weeks, with one or two of those teams being even more unfortunate by not having games arranged on the Sunday in December before the Christmas break, therefore going without a game for two months, and it could well end up as three months or maybe even four if the current long-range weather forecast is correct ! As the weather has been affecting Non-League football on Saturdays and Sunday Youth football as well, there have been numerous TV, radio and written media debates in the past week or so as to what to do about the problem, especially as clubs are suffering badly from a lack of income in having no matches for paying spectators to watch and (in our case) no matches for players to pay their subs so that we can then pay our Home pitch and training pitch fees. We still get charged in January for the rest of the season at Hazelwood even when games are being called off. They are not allowed to give us a cash refund. They just give us a ‘credit’ instead, which is free use of a pitch at Enfield Playing Fields on Sundays in late-April and early May to get previously postponed matches played. Invariably local Councils are getting the blame for all the waterlogged pitches just because they have cut back on groundsmen and do not fork pitches and/or install some sort of drainage system. However, even if they had the money to do that, it probably wouldn’t have made any difference. The sheer amount of rainfall is unprecedented. Demands for more 3G Astroturf pitches to be built have not surprisingly been made in these current debates, with professional football (especially the Premier League) being hugely criticised for not putting their obscene amounts of money back into ‘grassroots’ football to pay for 3G pitches. The idea of building more 3G pitches to replace constantly waterlogged grass pitches obviously involves staggering the kick-off times though. The local KOPA (Cypriot) Sunday League already do that by booking the few existing (and extremely expensive) 3G pitches in the North London area for Sundays every week (because they can afford to do so when other Leagues cannot) and then having a 10.00.a.m. Kick-Off, a 12.00.mid-day Kick-Off and a 2.00.p.m. Kick-Off one after the other. Very few of their teams actually play on grass any more. If that idea ever happened in our League though, then most clubs would have to fold. The reason most players play in our League is because they can only make 10.30.a.m. Kick-Offs as they either work or have family commitments on Sunday afternoons or they are season ticket holders/avid followers of Premier League clubs who are invariably playing on Sunday afternoons.

So…is this season really the ‘worst-ever’ for waterlogged pitches and postponements in general ?  It probably is for a lot of clubs in our League, but of course we have been going for 37 years. I therefore thought I would go back through the books and see how we have been affected for each of those 37 seasons and it is fascinating stuff…as you can SEE HERE FROM THIS PDF. I have done this mainly for the benefit of the media if they want to use it, so please publicise it on Twitter/Facebook, etc if you can.
Interestingly, the current season is nowhere near as bad for us as several other seasons throughout our history. The worst one for the number of weeks in a row without a game was only five seasons ago in 2009-2010 when we had the first proper snowfall in 19 years and ended up not being able to play for seven weeks, although I have a feeling that on at least a couple of occasions during that run, the pitch had been deemed unplayable during the week and had actually dried out/thawed out by the Sunday morning. That sort of thing had started happening the season before due to Enfield Council staff cutbacks whereby they abandoned weekend pitch inspections and called them off on Thursdays instead just because they were unable to mark the lines out at the time. Also, two of those weeks without a game were for the Christmas period where Enfield Council staff were having a two-week break and not allowing Leagues to use their pitches, which is something that has been in force ever since. Season 2002-2003 was another memorably bad one for postponements, especially as it chucked it down every Saturday night week after week when the pitches had all been playable in midweek...so the opposite of what has been happening since 2009-2010.  In those days (2002-2003) there were Enfield Council groundsmen doing Sunday morning pitch inspections and it was incredibly frustrating to keep having to make a phone call at 9.00.a.m. every Sunday only to be told the game was off…after I had already loaded the kit, nets, balls, etc into the car and our players had just dragged themselves out of bed. We eventually ended up having to play a four-times postponed London Cup match on a terrible old first generation Astroturf at Northumberland Park opposite the Spurs ground where we ended up losing 6-1 because of that, but at least our players showed a lot of commitment for the rest of the season to finish third in the Premier Division while a number of other clubs went to pieces through disillusionment as the season finally got under way again in late January. Hopefully that particular season can be a good omen for us in our current campaign as I can certainly see a lot of clubs in our League losing players and failing to fulfil fixtures the longer this flooding situation goes on. The worst season for postponements in our history appears to be 2000-2001 though, this being a season where we had eight matches called off because of waterlogged pitches and three other games postponed either because of no Referee or a non-fulfilment by our opponents. Although the current season is officially the wettest on record, the 2000-2001 Season did seem to be worse. I can remember that most matches were called off because of nearby rivers overflowing, particularly at Goffs Oak Playing Fields in Cheshunt, Larsens Rec in Waltham Abbey, and of course the New River’s apparent underground reservoir…underneath our pitch at Hazelwood ! There were plenty of other seasons where we suffered from a lot of waterlogged or frozen pitches, but there were at least 10 others where we hardly had any games postponed at all because of the weather…although more often than not when that happened, we ended up not playing for several weeks through having no game arranged after being knocked out of all three Cups in the First Round (as usual).

It has been said many times by myself and other former players that we played on waterlogged, frozen and snow-covered pitches a lot more in the 70’s, 80’s and early-90’s than we do now, and in general that opinion is correct because the compensation culture for injuries received on an ‘unfit’ pitch is in force nowadays and local councils are petrified of being sued. However, there were still plenty of postponements for bad weather back in the ‘old days’. The main difference back then though was that more games were played because there were very few ‘non-fulfilments’ and teams dropping out half-way through a season, there were invariably more than 10 teams in a division (unlike now), there were more Friendlies and Supplementary Cup games arranged for teams without a League game, and there were no two-week breaks for Christmas for Enfield Council groundsmen.

One advantage of us only having played one match in the past eight weeks is that it has given me more time to experiment with the filming and editing of our matches in high definition. I have had my current (HDV) Canon XHA1 camera for nearly 8 years now but up until the last couple of months I have always used it in SD (720 x 576 standard definition) as HDV (1440 x 1080i) footage has always been too difficult to edit properly due to laptop and software constraints. Having upgraded my editing laptop and various software recently, I actually managed to produce a version of the 20-minute highlights of the 4-1 win against Highgate Redwing in upscaled full progressive scan HD (1920 x 1080p) which plays back in Windows Media Player on my laptop in incredibly good quality which is not far off a Sky Sports HD broadcast. Unfortunately though, getting that sort of quality on You Tube is another matter, simply because You Tube’s own encoding function really screws up anything that was actually filmed as interlaced (i.e. 1440 x 1080i) whereas it plays back progressive scan frame-based-filmed HD footage (i.e. 1920 x 1080p) perfectly. Because my camera only films as interlaced as it is a pro camera meant for TV work where interlaced (i.e. one frame separated into two as Upper Field First/Lower Field second) is used, what You Tube does is it reads only one of the fields for each frame, thereby making the playback on there a bit flickery and jerky because it is leaving out every other field. It is particularly noticeable in the slow-motion replays, although there is actually a piece of software that I might try getting soon (when I can afford it) called ProDAD Speedr which apparently converts interlaced slow motion replays into the top-quality ‘super slo-mo’ that you see on TV. So for Leon’s cheeky chip against Highgate Redwing (which I was right behind), you will actually see the spin on the ball in incredible clarity ! The problem at the moment though is You Tube is geared up for only playing back uploads properly that come from cheap progressive scan full HD palmcorders such as this because presumably most of what is uploaded to You Tube comes from amateurs. That means people are filming football matches up and down the country with appalling camerawork and unbearable wind noise through the in-built mic on those things, but the action is a lot smoother than mine with no flicker whatsoever because these palmcorders record in 720p or 1080p. If You Tube ever start encoding 1080i (interlaced) HD footage for TV broadcasting properly though, then the picture quality of my uploads of Rovers match highlights will be as good as anything on there. In addition to these HD editing experiments, I have also used the enforced weather break to get a lot more Rovers Full Match DVD’s listed in my online catalogue HERE on my business website. I now have DVD’s listed from the past seven seasons and hope to add a couple more seasons in the next week or so. They are very easy to order on there using a credit or debit card via PayPal and I normally get copies run off and posted out within a couple of days.

One disadvantage for me with the current weather situation though is that I am not getting in any income from filming Non-League matches at the moment because of mass postponements (and my car breaking down twice with different major faults !), and I know there are other Rovers club members who are in the same boat as they also work in outdoor weather-dependent jobs. That means I will now be concentrating more on utilising old footage of matches I have filmed over the years and publicising it through my website and by other means. That is not just for Non-League (Saturday) football, but hopefully for funny incidents that have happened in Rovers matches as well. It all depends on how much more filming work I am going to get from Non-League Football in the next year or so, as that side of things is now starting to look a bit bleak for the following reasons:

1.     Most Non-League clubs and even League One & Two clubs are no longer prepared to pay to have professional cameramen/video companies filming their matches for them, both at First Team and Youth Academy level. They are pretty much ALL now using groups of media students from local Colleges and Universities who do everything free of charge as part of their course-work. The clubs are not bothered about the appalling (untrained) camerawork. What they want and get (which I cannot provide them with free of charge) is a two-camera shoot with one on a fixed wide angle covering the whole pitch and the other zooming in close or roving around at ground level, they get a commentator/interviewer/narrator, and seemingly most importantly, they get Pro-Zone analysis collated from the wide-angle footage. All done by the students. The other camera’s (badly-filmed) footage is used for publicity purposes and edited like a ‘Pop Promo’…the sort of thing seen on Sky as a trailer during the build-up before a match. These media students have free access to top of the range pro editing equipment to do all that. I simply cannot compete with that, so the only work I get now is where clubs would rather pay to have their matches filmed with properly constructed camerawork and editing for highlights packages. I am fortunate at the moment that at least Slough Town F.C.’s sponsors MyFC are currently prepared to pay me to do that, but I don’t know how long it will last.

2.     Another recently new idea that has taken over from what I am doing is local newspaper and ‘Blog’ journalists filming (badly !) whole matches from the Press Box in full HD with one of these cheap palmcorders (again). They then edit the goals and major incidents into a 5-minute highlights package (often without titles and slo-mos) and upload it to You Tube very quickly after the final whistle and then attach the link to their press/blog report of the match, publicising it on Twitter (especially) and Facebook. Again, I cannot compete with that apart from the better camerawork and editing because clubs are getting free publicity and highlights from the journalists stuff so they therefore feel there is no longer any need to hire me.

3.     Something that started a couple of years ago is photographers (both professional and amateur/club) now filming matches in 4k (Ultra High Definition) on their DSLR cameras instead of just taking still pictures at the time. They then sell properly edited and packaged DVD’s of matches, put highlights on You Tube and THEN print their photos from the 4k video footage as well. (Thankfully they are not doing the DVD’s or You Tube highlights in 4k yet…as far as I am aware !?). This is what now happens for all Herts FA Cup Finals at Letchworth where they have banned professional video cameramen like myself so that the photographer can ‘kill two birds with one stone’ in doing both jobs, thereby earning enough money to pay the Herts F.A. a set fee so that they give him exclusive rights. The problem of course is that the video function on DSLR’s cut off after every 30 minutes so there is a risk of him missing a goal while he ‘reboots’, while he is presumably positioning himself down behind the goal for the photography aspect of his work instead of filming the game from above the half-way line ? Since that Herts FA ban on me filming was put in place, a number of my previous regular customers have reached Cup Finals there and have not complained about having to have the photographer’s video footage instead, so I guess he must be doing something right…and almost certainly a lot cheaper !?

4.     Another problem that is increasingly ‘screwing’ my business in terms of filming matches is Sunday Leagues charging me filming rights when I get booked by clubs to film a Cup Final. It is not just our League that do this as the word has now got around. The Waltham Sunday League certainly set the precedent though and that rule is still in place. I simply cannot afford to pay those rights and perhaps not surprisingly, I have not been booked for any Cup Finals where Leagues have that rule in place because I have to charge the clubs extra in order to make ends meet.

If the number of bookings for filming Non-League matches, Cup Finals and Tournaments continue to decrease and the sale of old footage does not earn me enough money to make a living, I will probably have to find a part-time job (or maybe even full-time) doing something else, although I would still film Rovers matches as a hobby. When I first started filming matches back in 1990 I was something of an innovator as there were only two or three other people around at that time filming Non-League matches in the London/Middlesex/Herts area and we all started at roughly the same time. Now though…’everybody’ does it !