For 87 minutes it was looking like the perfect afternoon. Walsall winning, Grimsby and Barnsley both taking a hammering, Crewe and Rotherham dropping points. But Walsall fans, starved of hope this season, had their fires cruelly extinguished by Gillingham’s equaliser, meaning Colin Lee’s team now need a miracle to survive. Upthesaddlers.com is not giving up hope completely until the final whistle goes at the City Ground on Monday. It doesn’t need saying, but a win there – and we’ve only 1 away win all season – is vital.
Archive for March, 2002
Extraordinary goings-on at Bescot in the past few days. The summary is that Ian Brightwell has left to join Stoke, Gus Uhlenbeek has joined Walsall on loan from Sheffield United as his replacement for the rest of the season. And, most mysteriously of all, Darren Byfield was all set for a on-off move to Rotherham only to get stuck on the M1 and miss the 5pm transfer deadline. The Yorkshire club are currently appealing to the Football league.
All this is small beer compared to the carnage at Bescot expected this summer, when half the squad’s contracts expire. Better install those revolving doors to the Bonsor suite at once!
Finally a note on the ridiculous media coverage of the ITV Digital affair. To say that a number of clubs are going to the wall as a result of this collapse is complete rubbish. Sheffield Wednesday for example are reported to be 16 million in debt. So even without the TV money, their company is not solvent. Similar stories at Forest, Wimbledon and many others. Football has got itself into this mess – and over the next few weeks we’ll witness a radical restructuring of the game, testimony to many years of clubs not being run as a proper business, and the greed of agents and players. Thankfully the men behind the scenes at Walsall have considerable commercial acumen – expect many articles in the broadsheets in the next few days rightfully praising Mr Bonser et al, light years ahead of their peers in how to manage a lower league club.
As widely expected, veteran striker Brett Angell has today left Bescot to join our new feeder club Rushden & Diamonds. He links up with other Walsall old boys Andy Tilson and Paul Hall as the Northamptonshire side push for a play-off place in Division 3.
More transfer news is expected; rumours are flying about that Jimmy Walker is off to Norwich, Pedro Matias to Wigan, whilst we’re signing a Cambridge goalkeeper? We’ll keep you fully updated…
More misery for the travelling Saddlers fans as the team slumped to their 14th away defeat in the league 2-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Loyal Saddlers servant Jimmy Walker to blame for the first goal, on the weekend when Exeter city’s Dutch keeper Arjan van Heusden revealed he is spending this week on trial at Bescot (information courtesy of Steve Morris from Exeweb)
Five games left, and the pragmatic fan has to now look to Walsall winning four out of these – which necessitates an away success at either Forest or Sheffield United. Likely? The views of Saddlers fans:
Moaning Saddler – With fifteen minutes to go I thought to myself that it was time that we finally did a Grimsby or a Crewe on our travels and snatched 3 points at the death. Frankly, we were toothless in attack today – shades of the Baggies away – their goalie must have had his easiest game of the season.
Stu – Generally, today was pants and was probably the first poor performance under Lee, Sheff Wed excepted. It looked like a goalless draw all the way until Walker ballsed up a simple cross, as for Carbon, he didnt need to pull his shirt but he wasnt at fault. For a start Brightwell gave up chasing him thus forcing Carbon to try and make up 20 yards in a diagonal run.
Shifnal Saddler – Not as bad as Pompey, but pretty bad. Too many players didn’t look up for it, how much do they really care about WFC? Marcelo was awful again, whether the ball is in the air or to his feet he is all at sea. A bloke sitting behind me said “has he ever played football before?” You might say he gets poor service but Byfield, Goodman and Leitao all did far better than Marshmallow. We are approaching the vinegar strokes of the season, and we need maximum effort, but would even the most one eyed, died in the wool fan say that was what was given today? I said after the Pompey game that if we went down I wanted us to have given blood, sweat and tears, not much sign of that this afternoon.
Positives from today:-
1. Straightforward journey there and back
2. Great chips, the equal of that shop down the road from Millwall, and much better than Grimsby.
3. No one can blame Bennett (but watch them try)
4. Great programme on Radio 2 on the way back about American Punk Rock – Stooges, MC5, Sonics, Kingsmen et al, really terrific stuff.
5. Pleasant spring weather.
6. Cheap parking.
UptheSaddlers apologies for the following errors and inaccuracies our visitors have spotted:
User Zippy points out that the byline at the top of UptheSaddlers contained a spelling mistake in the word “UptheSaddlers”. This has now been corrected.
Shad found a spelling mistake in the article “Merson lashes out again” – the word should have been “want” instead of “wan”.
If you find an error or inaccuracy please contact editor@upthesaddlers or point it out in this section on the message board.
A superb and vital three points for the Saddlers against Barnsley, spolit only by Wolves’ pathetic showing against Grimsby. The Mariners unlikely win means we are still in the drop zone, but it is considerably tighter than it was, and Colin Lee’s men have their destiny in their own hands…
Last season’s play-off heroes, Darren Byfield and Don Goodman, were again the stars. Byfield’s cool finish minutes after Tom Bennett’s sending off restored confidence to the home side, before Donny’s deft header sealed another comeback, following last week’s resurrection from 2-0 down at Grimsby.
There are seven clubs now battling to avoid the two relegation places left, following Stockport’s departure yesterday. All their remaining fixtures are on this site’s fixture list
Fantastic result for the Saddlers tonight with Marcelo’s first goal for the club giving us a vital 3 points. Fans reaction:
Neil Ravenscroft – Great result and, at times, great performance. Back four solid as a rock, Bennett breaking things up in midfield, Simpson likewise (and producing a great corner for the goal), Marcello leading the line superbly (touch and movement total class), Biancalani and the bargain of the season Corica outstanding. The only thing I cant comment on was Wacker (nothing to do) and Wrack, who I thought was a little off and should have made it safe. Still, no complaints! Best of all, the so called big clubs of Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday right back in the mire!
Paul G – A good result and also a very good performance after the dodgy first 20 minutes. Perhaps good for the crowd to see Don back but putting him in for the last 10-15 minutes seemed to turn the game back to Burnley. We missed Marcelo’s ability to hold the ball up and his aerial presence. But this apart well done to all – even Wrack whose miss tonight would have been a nightmare for a schoolboy.
Sheffield Saddler – Excellent tonight. I thought Corica was brilliant, his overall game tonight was fantastic and he kept going and going. And he even knows how to run the ball into the corner with minutes left and keep it there as well as getting throw after throw in the process. Fully deserved the man of the match award.
Any other day this would be a decent result, but sadly our relegation rivals all won unexpectedly, and the Saddlers sit tonight 5 points from safety. Statistics rarely tell the full story, but Walsall have scored just twice in the first half this year in the league, and the lack of touch in front of goal was again on evidence today, with Marcelo and Leitao both wasting great opportunities.
With 9 games left, even Colin Lee’s optimistic target of 6 wins may not be enough to save us. But unless the strikers find their goal touch, that scenario is pie in an increasingly forlorn Saddlers sky.
Meanwhile off the pitch more press stories this week surround the future of ITV Digital – and it’s time a few myths were laid to rest. First, the product itself has a reputation for poor quality – their “interactive” extras are a joke. Secondly, whoever agreed that league football was worth Â£100 million a season was a mug. Viewing figures for recent games (with less than 1000 punters tuning in) mean it is cheaper for ITV to drive each supporter to the game, put them up in a five-star hotel, and give them 500 pounds spending money. Thirdly, Roy Whalley’s increasingly desperate appeals via the club’s website for Walsall fans to support this inferior product are a waste of time – Sky have the better technology, far more content, and their coverage of league football was far superior to anything ITV have produced this season. When ITV Digital and ITV Sport collapses in the coming weeks, this Walsall website will shed no tears.