Monday, 22 February 2010

When the Robins go marching in... Vodkat Challenge Cup Preview

Not a clue who these lot are - some Aussie group or summat - just googled St Helens and found it. She's the most attractive thing I've ever seen from Saints... Well apart from a Pimblett Pie

I'm not sure what year it was but I was acting the little tough lad outside Woolies when Saints came around the corner... Dressed in white boiler suits, bowler hats and boots. Clockwork Orange style and we had to admit they'd done us on the clothes front.

Just that once, mind as previous to that date I'd always thought Saints people were greasers like the Carr Mill Dammers. Yes, often though we'd be all in the Billinge Higher End Under-18s disco dancing to Skinhead Moonstomp and The Liquidator when someone would announce that 'The Dammers' were waiting for us on Billinge Hill and we'd all leave the club and yomp up to Billinge Hill to do battle. 'The Dammers' were from the Carr Mill Dam Estate at St Helens and were apparently all greasers - something us Skins and Suedes detested. I say apparently because of course they were never there. We also, on a couple of occasions, walked all the way to Windy Harbour to meet up with Ashton who of course never turned up. I doubt if there was ever any chance it was going to go off and it's strange that all these fights were about to take place during the summer months and never in the depths of winter. However to a young 13-year old it was quite an impressive sight to be with all these older (16-year plus) lads walking down the street. But that's my opinions of St Helens. Greasers and greabos and it always made me laugh when I saw the WIGAN BOOTBOYS graffiti at Carr Mill lights. Is it still there?

Ah the memories. Innocent times and all that bollocks. Since then I've been to Saints v Wigan matches, seen Latics against St Helens Town in a friendly or two but it's all been much more civilised. Well mainly so - but this is a family site and we're all a lot older now. In fact I like visiting St Helens now as I'm usually off to the excellent The Citadel Arts Centre if I happen to be in the town.

This Tuesday I'll be back to see Wigan's non-league side take on St Helens Town (from the division above us) in the Vodkat Challenge Cup Quarter Final for what should be a great encounter.

Both sides have suffered indifferent form of late but both recorded excellent wins at the weekend and I know everybody at this end is buzzing about the game.

Saints will undoubtedly win "the slowest player on the pitch award" if Dougie Pitts is playing while Ben Kay will be more worried about his hairstyle and Alice band than bothering about midfield battles so we should be okay. Or maybe not. Whatever happens it should be a great encounter and we look forward to visiting Knowsley Road for the first and last time at the old wreck (sorry ground) before it makes way for the new shiny thing. Give me an old wreck over a new plastic stadia any day and Knowsley Road is chocca with character. Where Town play next season I've no idea.

So it's a day away - weather permitting. Reading recent reports from the superb it appears that the pitch is pretty dire which should affect things but we'll see.

Let's just hope for a good day out, a few beers and an excellent game. And may the best team win... That last bit is bollocks of course as I'm sure either side will take a dodgy one-niller. In fact is Alan Wiley the ref?


Sunday, 21 February 2010

Wigan Robin Park 2 Leek CSOB 0

"We're on the march with Neafcy's Army
We're on the march to Wember.... er wherever the final is" - maybe

Now if it's not salsa dancing and burlesque lessons then it's fit, lithesome young female athletes pottering about the gaff when you're trying to sell a programme or two. Not that I could catch 'em anyroad but it was a pleasant distraction before the main event of the afternoon. It is also worth noting that some lads had booked one of the all-weather pitches. It's bad enough all the fatties who think they are Rooney coming through on a midweek day let's hope this isn't going to be a common occurrence on Saturdays as well. Then again Leek could have had a full ninety minute game on there themselves as they all arrived at just gone one!!!

Some two hours and (just the) four minutes (late this week) the game kicked-off. The lads and speccies knew that the "old fella" Tarr would be the danger and so it proved as he created a couple of openings but failed to convert. He also failed to keep up his early promise and as he faded so did Leek's chances.

That said and done the teams went into the break even and goalless thanks to Wigan keeper Jay Foulds being at his best while Ryan Small went close with a long-range effort for The Robins.

A half-time shuffle of the pack by The Gaffer saw Dean Callaway dropping just behind Macca and he had a blinder. Full of energy and commitment he was quickly rewarded by opening The Robins account on 52 minutes. The Leek players went radio rental at the ref and linesmen complaining that Deano was offside. What they failed to take into account was that it was one of their own lads that headed the ball to him.

Leek seemed knocked back by this and offered little and were completely knackered when Chric McNally rattled a blinder in from summat like thirty yards. The ever-inventive-Evertonian unveiled another celebration by running to the bench and getting Woody to kiss his right boot. Latest news is that Woody's pulled another hamstring bending down to kiss it and could be out for another six weeks!

The Robins should ahve gone three up when a superb move saw Swifty hit a perfect left-footed cross right onto the head of a fellow Robin. Unfortunately that head belonged to Andy Neafcy and as we know he wouldn't score in Jumpin Jaks!

So back on to our winning ways and into a quarter-final home tie against AFC Liverpool - who we owe big time.

In a Nutshell
MOM Andy Neafcy
Wigan Robin Bastards' MOM Darren Mullen
Cracking performance from the three youngsters, D Robbo, Dean Midgeley and Jay Roberts.
Good butties as normal even if I'm "not getting" the veggie pepper ones
The normal ref assessor was there - probably finding nothing wrong with the officials again. I'm sure comes to ours every week for the butties, coffees and warm lounge
Corcy proving that he is even slower doing ballboy duties than he is in centre mid.
Pie - on form
Beer - Guinness at £2.70 a can!!! Normal price at Robin Park Arena bars but bloody hell, come on
Hot Pot in Oddy's - Bloody superb. That good I had two platefulls. The Hopper had FOUR!!!
Bring on St Helens
And.... "Bring on The Robins"

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

"Once, twice three times a loser"

Well that's three defeats on the bounce now. Not expected but with an injury list that must now be up to about twenty it probably makes sense.

After the Ashton game I reported in the local paper that we were missing seven centre-halves to be promptly informed it was in fact NINE. So it's hardly surprising and the three points and bragging rights went the way of Ashton Town at a foggy Robin Park Arena that Saturday.

They deserved their 4-2 victory as Ashton hot-shot Steve Edwards bagged a brace making that 20 for the season so far.

With such a threadbare squad it was always going to be a tough ask for The Robins makeshift defence and this was highlighted as Ashton were two-up through Edwards and Christian Baxby after ten minutes.

The Robins gained their composure and were back on level terms on the hour through Chris McNally and Ryan Small - playing his first game for eight weeks or so. However instead of pushing on for the victory two more individual errors in four minutes presented the game to Town as Edwards and substitute Kevin Hill completed the scoring.

As the Robins manager John Neafcy said: "We were down to the bare bones and didn't have a recognised centre-half available.

"We knew where the danger would come from but we didn't help ourselves with some sloppy defending."

The one good thing is that we don't have long to go to avenge the defeat as we go there early next month for the second leg of the Pie Classico or should that be Pan of Scouse Classico - with some of the accents emanating from that end.

Against the Are they Yorkshiremen? from up near Burnley way with three teenagers making their debuts - and other debutants on the bench - The Robins were always going to be up against it. Add into the mix a delay of 25 minutes to kick-off whilst a replacement assistant referee was found - after the original couldn't get a babysitter - I'm sure the youngsters' nerves were jangling somewhat.

When the game got under way The Robins settled well and produced some good football as they took the game to the visitors. However - on 32 minutes - a misplaced pass from the old/experienced* (delete as appropriate) Darren Mullen led to a Barnoldswick attack that was finished off by Spencer Jordan.

With The Robins fans and management still seething about the suspicion of offside that accompanied the opening goal they were furious when Joe Shelmedine made it two when he tapped the ball into the net from within the six-yard box with no defenders between him and the line. There was no clever run. he just stood there and knocked it in. Admittedly I wasn't level play to say for certain but neither was the liner as he was level with me. This feller needed Ring and Ride never mind a babysitter!!

As Park tried to get back into the game Chris McNally, Mullen and Ryan Small all went close but Barnoldswick sealed the win when Daz Mullen was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area on the hour mark. Looked to me that he went in for the tackle and the ball hit his hand. That said we'd probably have shouted for it. Russell Clarke stepped up to expertly beat Jay Foulds in the Wigan goal from the penalty spot. It was a tough one for Daz as he had a cracking game all told and marshalled the young lads superbly

As John Neafcy said after the game.

"We had two seventeen-year-olds in Dean Robinson and Dean Midgeley in the back-four and I thought they were absolutely superb and along with Jamie Roberts who made his first start up-front it shows the future at the club is bright.

"We just didn't get the rub of the green with the decisions from the referee and one of his assistants.

"Ironically the best official was the lad they called in at short notice."

This Saturday The Robins will hopefully face Leek CSOB in the Division One Trophy at the Arena. It should have been played four months ago but as long as babysitters are available kick-off will be 3pm Admission £4 (£2 concessions)

Get yourselves down to the Stadio. As usual the pies and coffee will be hot and a quarter-final place awaits the winners

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Wigan v Ashton and gang wars without tartar sauce

Well, it was total wipeout (again) during the week as ice, snow and rain decimated the Vodkat fictures.

This meant there was no midweek trip to Cassie Gabs for The Robins. And let's face it Rochdale's cold enough in August never mind on a freezing Tuesday night in February! Lucky escape in my book. Then again it does mean another fixture to be rearranged and another chance to get our mojo back after the Irlam result has gone missing.

Not a great day at Irlam in all honesty as we crashed to a 2-0 defeat.

Despite dominating the first ten and final ten minutes they were second-best for the remainder of the match and only excellent goalkeeping from Jay Foulds kept the scoreline down.

It looked like we might ride their luck but Darren Green latched onto a defensive error to open the scoring for the home side on the hour mark.

As the game progressed Wigan began to find their rhythm with Chris McNally and Steve Williams both going close.
However as the game entered injury time Matty Williams broke away for Irlam and despite looking yards offside beat Jay Foulds. The flag stayed down and Irlam sewed up a deserved victory.

This Saturday our near neighbours from Stubshaw Cross - Ashton Town - are the visitors and as long as the weather improves/holds out (it bloody better do as we've done the programmes) it will be good to get a match under our belts. The same of course applies to Ashton and it really will be a tough one to call as their game was called off at Cheadle midweek and like everybody their season has been stop/start. They have been in decent form and in Steve Edwards upfront have a prven goalscorer.

All we can hope for is that the best team on the day wins.

Which of course utter bollocks as we'll take a crabby win as no doubt they will. However be good to get a good derby game in. The pies will be decent. The pitch - whatever the weather has been like - will still be better than the mess at the stadium next door and I'm sure everybody is looking forward to it

Kick-off at the Stadio de Robin Park is 3pm £4 (£2 concessions) admission.

Meanwhile a snippet from something due soon

Gang wars without tartar sauce

Some sort of gang battle going on at home. Wigan v Ashton. Get a phonecall this Sunday morning that informs me there has been some sort of fight in Ashton town centre. Fifty arrested. Petty spoils about petty things. Got caught up in it myself a few months ago Home for the weekend. Normal night, nothing happening. Shit music and shitter club. We go for a taxi come down the stairs and there are ten onto three of us. Nothing really happens. Some div decides he's Bruce Lee and spins and hollers and goes to karate chop me but it all goes horribly wrong and he falls on the floor in a heap. The taxi driver says: "Don't worry lads I saw everything you did nothing wrong.

"Shall I go to the police?"

"Nah, the village of Orrell will do.

"We are okay," I reply.

Then as he pulls away…

"There's one of them."

And drives straight at him. Ten is now twenty, the driver stalls and a piece of scaffolding goes through the windscreen. Followed by bottles, bricks and bins and we end up at the hospital with cuts and bruises and then the police station where we can tell them nothing and we give addresses in London and a bright spark of a copper says: "It's spreading.

"The dispute is spreading."

Just let us get home to our parents - to our beds to ease our aches and pains. Awake with bloodied head and swollen pride later to be informed - at the match - that the lads were Ashton and it's all about Ashton versus Wigan and some bad shit is going down. Reprisals and beatings. Mob war… Ashton a small town that is both part of Wigan and apart from Wigan . Large Scouse population. Never really been. Never really wanted to go but hey these things matter to some people. I should be bitter about the skirmish but I have other things on my mind when I am excitedly told via the phone that fifty have been arrested but I'm tired and weary.

Been having a kickabout in Regent's Park. Few beers in the Four Feathers. As normal. Quiet Sunday. Few beers then Macdonalds. Diuble cheeseburgers all round apart from Fillet of Fish without the tartar sauce for Dell. Love going to Macs and seeing how long it will be before Dell gets served. They pride themselves on being the fastest of fast food but order something that isn't the norm and it throws them. We should try ordering without the gherkin rather than throw them but hey… And of course Dell always recounts the fact that we wouldn't be here today if he had tartar sauce on his fillet of fish. For a year or so ago we were in Macdonalds on the Oxford Street/Tottenham Court Road axis when we waited and waited and waited for his fillet sans tartar. While we waited the tube that we would or could have caught crashed. Or caught fire or something. But Dell maintains if it wasn't for him we would have been on it and we would indeed have not spent this Sunday afternoon eating reasonably fast food from across the ocean.

Afternoon is now evening and we are in The Tibberton Arms. The Tib as it is known in these parts and it is full to the rafters. Earth Wind and Fire is the soundtrack. Hair blonde. Jeans faded. Jewellery gold. Sunday night and everybody is out in their Sunday best. We have a couple, look at the girls, chat to a few faces that we know and meander back to The Camden Head. There is a time and a place for dancing and blonde girls but Sunday night in The Tib after playing football and before work on Monday morning is neither that time nor that place. There is also a vibe about the place that doesn't sit easy with me. Nobody else bothers but they've been brought up on the streets of Islington and The Angel and the Cross but I can see that the kids from the Packington and the Peabody flats have their own patch. Eyes always darting. Checking who is in there and I am aware I am an outsider. An uneasiness prevails. A restlessness that is only broken and calmed by Maze and Frankie Beverley. Maze could stop wars. Stop petty gang wars. Play fucking "Joy and Pain" to the Argies and the Brits and our Alan and we would all be okay. But of course Alan doesn't like Maze. He doesn't know them but he says he doesn't like them. Never heard them and I doubt he ever will as he - like so many others won't open their hearts. Won't open their soul. Be on his way to the Falklands in a week or so. Or so they say. Should be with us listening to Frankie and watching beautiful blonde girls dancing to the Fatback Band. Or failing that ordering Guinness in The Camden Head.

The Camden is a proper pub. Old and ornate with an island bar, friendly staff and decent beer. Big fire to keep you warm and now with the Sunday Camden Passage antiques traders and hunters gone the pub is left to the locals. It is The Angel's pub. Generations of local lads - and it mainly is lads in The Camden - have passed this way. There's a nosiness about the pub that you can get lost in. Various groups of blokes having a final pint before Monday morning. Others sat on their own finishing off the Sunday papers with their talks of exclusion zones and death in the South Atlantic and the north of Ireland .

Great pub The Camden. Great pub for a last Guinness before the 43 home and work the next day…

Faded Lois Dreams (pub. 15 March 2010)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Miss Wigan Robin Park February 2010 Robin MacKintosh

From Italian Vogue July 1988 - Beautiful girl

As for football things the Ashton Town preview will be online Thursday...