Archive for November, 2007

Northampton Town vs Walsall – Part Two

Neil @ 2:19 pm Friday 30 November 2007

It’s back down the M6 tomorrow for a swift return visit to the Sixfields Stadium, this time in search of a possibly money spinning third round FA Cup Tie.

Walsall go into the game with a virtually injury free squad, long term knee victims Dobson and Boertien being the major absentees, along with reserve winger David McDermott. Both Boertien and Dobson are close to fitness, however and may make an appearance before Christmas.

The questions about the line up, then, just as last week, revolve around whether we will employ a five or a four man midfield, with one or two strikers respectively.. That gives us:

Ince, Weston, Dann, Gerrard, Fox, Sonko, Sweeney, Bradley, Demontagnac or Hall, Mooney, Ricketts

Or

Ince, Weston, Dann, Gerrard, Fox, Sonko, Sweeney, Bradley, Wrack, Demontagnac or Hall, Mooney or Ricketts.

Northampton, however, do have some problems, as Coke and Doig are both likely to be still missing, Russell has returned to Bristol City from his loan spell and Ipswich have denied permission for on loan striker Dean Bowditch to play.

Predictions?

This is difficult.

Last week proved that we are the better side and we should be going into the game full of confidence following that 2 – 0 win, but it is never easy to go to the same ground twice in a week and win.

I think we do have enough in our locker to sneak a second win tomorrow, however, and will be disappointed if we aren’t in that third round draw by rights or with a replay required.

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The Club AGM – The Answers

Neil @ 2:37 pm Tuesday 27 November 2007

For what it’s worth, the Supporters Society were the only sharehoders to ask any questions at the AGM. We publish here the questions again, plus the (written) answers (for what they are worth).

1. We note that for the fifth consecutive year the board have been required to extend the amount of refinancing of Walsall FC Ltd.. For what purpose was the loan of £495,000, secured from by way of a legal charge over the football stadium, drawn down? How do the Board plan to get out of this cycle of extending refinancing?

There is not a ‘cycle’ of extended refinancing.

The collapse of ITV Digital in 2002 and the subsequent loss of £2 million of income per year for three years prompted three years of investment by the Board to meet contractual costs the Club had already committed itself to on the understanding, the ITV Digital payments would be made good.
Following the Club’s return to profitability and stability in 2006, further investment was sought during the last two years to improve the infrastructure and facilities at the Club in order to guarantee and enhance future income streams, such as the development of the Stadium Suite and the new Club Shop.
The purpose of the £495,000 loan in 2007 was to contribute towards financing the New Training Ground the benefits of which should prove invaluable to the Playing side of the business.
No further financing is envisaged at this stage.

2. We note that for the first time refinancing has been secured from a source outside of the Board. Clearly, the Board of Directors have an emotional as well as a financial stake in Walsall FC, and we are grateful for their continued commitment to provide the necessary financial support for the next 12 months. Will the Board clarify from whom this external refinancing has been secured and why an external lender has been needed?

The external financing has been provided by Marstons PLC. This has proved to be the most economical option available to the club.

3. What are the implications for the Club of implementing a refinancing policy involving an external lender who may have less of an emotional tie to Walsall FC? How does this impact on Walsall FC’s future?

Marstons PLC have enjoyed a long association with the Club and are currently tied into a five-year deal with regards to the ‘Stadium Naming Rights’. As such, the external financing will be repaid over a fixed term and this will have no impact on the financial future of the club.

4. Will the board clarify why no Supporters’ Focus Group meeting has been held in the last 18 months? We believe that these are a useful way for the Board to discuss its plans with supporters, and we were grateful for Mr Whalley’s involvement at these sessions. It is also a commitment made to the supporters through the Customer Charter. Do the Board plan to re-instigate Supporters’ Focus Groups?

The Board will be happy to reconstitute these Focus Group Meetings in 2008.

Northampton Town vs Walsall Part One

Neil @ 2:32 pm Friday 23 November 2007

An away trip to a team in the same Division was hardly going to be the most welcome of draws in the second round of the Cup, but to top it all, we are the ones running into the annual co-incidence of the same teams playing each other in the League and Cup consecutively. It’s the turn of the League tomorrow and, at least it’s a relatively short trip down the M6 to old rivals Northampton Town, home of the “Kinky Boots” movie.

The Saddlers will be missing Boertien and Dobson from defence and midfield respectively, with their knee injuries, but will be welcoming back Mark Bradley from International duty and also have loanee Peter Sweeney available after he joined from Sjoke City. The former Millwall man is insisting he’s here to impress, so the main question will be whether it’s going to be 4 4 2 or 4 5 1.

I’d expect the line up to be either:

Ince, Weston, Gerrard, Dann, Fox, Sonko, Bradley or Wrack, Sweeney, Demontagnac or Hall, Mooney, Ricketts.

Or

Ince, Weston, Gerrard, Dann, Fox, Sonko, Wrack, Bradley, Sweeney, Demontagnac or Hall, Mooney or Ricketts.

As for the Cobblers, they will be missing Chris Doig (hamstring), Ian Henderson (knee) and Giles Coke (knee).

Predictions?

Northampton sit two places and one point below us in the table. They have won 4, drawn 1 and lost 3 of their home games, so they don’t have the most formidable of records. That compares with our away record of won 3, drawn 3 and lost 2, so this does have all the hallmarks of a draw.

Geordie’s Pub Guide to Northampton

Neil @ 2:05 pm Thursday 22 November 2007

I suppose in an adaptation of an old joke, visiting the same opposition on successive Saturdays at least affords us the opportunity to apologise on the second visit.

Sixfields, like so many new grounds is constructed on a tacky out of town complex, although this one has matured somewhat over the years, now offering 4 or 5 outlets that may or may not condescend to vacuum your wallet. They are pretty much what you expect in these type of complexes.

Starting with the least welcoming, The magic Tower is home fans only, The Sixfields Tavern (Hungry Horace chain) is no away colours, Old Orleans is a themed American diner that offers a menu more suited to the deep south rather than the south midlands, while there is a sports bar in the bowling alley – ala Barnsley – that welcomes away fans. Apparently a TGI Friday’s has also sprung up opposite the ground if outsized burgers served by outsized waitresses flops your pre-match mop.

At the distant town-centre fans arriving by train can sample real-ale at The Black Lion which is apparently haunted, and The Fish Inn in the centre of town offers a similarly relaxed and traditional atmosphere.

The King Billy on Commercial Street comes highly recommended for those who like rock-music, and like most pubs of this ilk the welcome extends beyond hairy, leather-clad fat people.

Also heading from the station towards the ground the Irish themed Thomas O’Beckett, and the Foundryman’s Arms are geared up for football fans, albeit those who like odd-shaped balls. This could add an interesting twist to the pre-match pint as the rugby team are at home both Saturday’s we are in town!!

Stoke City Man Latest Signing

Neil @ 12:25 pm Thursday 22 November 2007

Richard Money’s first (hopefully) signing today is Stoke midfielder Peter Sweeney.

Sweeney (born 29 September 1984 in Glasgow) started his career at Millwall where he made his debut in 2002 and played a major role in the Lions’ route to the final of the FA Cup and started against Manchester United.

In 2004 Sweeney signed for Stoke City for £250,000 (the fee having been set by the Tribunal), but in his first match against Newcastle Town he got injured early into the game and was out for 3 months

Sweeney has been capped for Scotland at Under-21 level and is a left footed winger, normally.

He went on loan to Yeovil at the end of last season, after having had a public row with Tony Pulis. He had objected to being substituted for the Potters after himself coming on as a sub.

It’s Not Just McClown

neilr @ 8:20 am Thursday 22 November 2007

Having failed to do the honourable thing after last night’s debacle, Steve McClaren will, presumably, be departing from the England job after this morning’s FA Board meeting. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely they’ll sack Barwick and themselves as well. However, despite the bizarre team selection, tactics and the lack of activity with the subs when all was going wrong, don’t let’s forget the players as well.

Carson. Yes, he should never have been thrown in at the deep end, but how can you trust a ‘keeper who makes the most basic of mistakes with his first touch of the ball. Even his “wonder save” in the second half from yet another free header he knew nothing about as it hit him on the shoulder.

Richards. People keep telling me what a great prospect he is. Prospect is the word, as he was awful last night, continually being caught yards and yards out of position.

Bridge. Possibly the worst International performance I’ve ever seen from a full back.

Campbell and Lescott. Past it and not good enough respectively. Lost their men time and time again.

Wright Phillips. In because of his ability to “go past a man”. I’m still waiting for him to beat that full back. When he did get an opening, his crossing was woeful and the one good chance that fell to him, he wasted by taking an extra touch.

Barry. His main job was to cover the back four. At half time, we were 0 – 2 down and it could have been a lot worse. Say no more.

Cole. Did OK, when he got the ball, which was rare, due mainly to:

Gerrard and Lampard. I’ve got difficulties finding words to describe just how poor these two were on the night. Two positive contributions from Lampard (the penalty and the pass for Bent) were just about the only thing either of them did right all night. I know McClown takes some of the blame for not recognising that they can’t play together, but two such supposedly class players to be that bad!?!?

Crouch. Didn’t do a lot wrong on the terrible possession he was given by the midfield. Took his goal beautifully.

Defoe. Who? Did he actually touch the ball? Never have thought he was good enough.

Bent. One touch, which he was unlucky with. Otherwise, see Defoe.

Beckham. Man of the match for me, as he was the only player to produce any quality into the box, despite not getting any real possession from Lampard and Gerrard. Cross of the year for Crouch’s goal. The only one who looked like he cared.

Whatever happens now, there’s got to be a major rebuilding. By the time of the next World Cup, in two and a half years time, there are several players who are just going to be (or on the verge of being) too old: James, Beckham, Neville, Campbell, Lampard (he’ll be over thirty). Whoever takes over should just give Beckham his 100th cap, which he deserves after last night, and then start all over again. The “golden generation” have turned out to be just brass.

Club AGM – The Questions

Neil @ 9:46 am Tuesday 20 November 2007

The Walsall Football Club AGM is due again and, as usual, the Walsall Supporters’ Society (formerly the Trust) will have some questions they will be asking of the Board, in their position as shareholders. This year, worringly, the club has secured external financing for the first time, rather than depending on the Directors. That, and the lack of communication with the fans, will be the main thrust of the questions to be asked:

1. We note that for the fifth consecutive year the board have been required to extend the amount of refinancing of Walsall FC Ltd.. For what purpose was the loan of £495,000, secured from by way of a legal charge over the football stadium, drawn down? How do the Board plan to get out of this cycle of extending refinancing?

2. We note that for the first time refinancing has been secured from a source outside of the Board. Clearly, the Board of Directors have an emotional as well as a financial stake in Walsall FC, and we are grateful for their continued commitment to provide the necessary financial support for the next 12 months. Will the Board clarify from whom this external refinancing has been secured and why an external lender has been needed?

3. What are the implications for the Club of implementing a refinancing policy involving an external lender who may have less of an emotional tie to Walsall FC? How does this impact on Walsall FC’s future?

4. Will the board clarify why no Supporters’ Focus Group meeting has been held in the last 18 months? We believe that these are a useful way for the Board to discuss its plans with supporters, and we were grateful for Mr Whalley’s involvement at these sessions. It is also a commitment made to the supporters through the Customer Charter. Do the Board plan to re?instigate Supporters’ Focus Groups?

A full report of the answers, such as they may be, will appear here.

Birmingham Senior Cup: Sutton Coldfield Town 2 – 3 Walsall Reserves

Exile @ 12:37 am Tuesday 20 November 2007

Walsall nicked a tidy away win at Sutton, going 2-0 up and maintaining the lead to the end to go through to the 3rd round of the BSC. 

 The Saddlers sent out a near full-strength reserve side, keeping back all the first choice youth team squad, ready for their big game against the youth team of the the cheating scum from West Yorkshire, on Thursday. Sutton went into the game lying in second place in the Southern League (Midland Division) and having won all of their previous eight games.

A goalless first half was fairly evenly balanced with Walsall having slightly more possession but the Royals looking more dangerous in front of goal. Whatever Jimmy Mullen said, in the dressing-room, at half-time certainly did the trick as the Saddlers set about their task with a vengeance and looked comfortably in control at 3-1 up after only 12 minutes of the second half. After Sutton pulled a goal back, near the end, they did apply a little pressure but Walsall held out to earn a place in Round Three.

Defence:- Bossu has had some good games in the “stiffs”, this season, but this was definitely not one of them! In probably his worst performance, so far, he never looked commanding and frequently fumbled the ball. This, of course, had a “knock-on” effect on the guys in front of him. Roper and Smith were never too sure what Bossu would do and it showed in their play, at times. Doran and Sansara were less affected and both had steady games.

Midfield:- Out wide, Junior contributed little and looks to be seeing out his contract while Diddy Dave was his usual industrious self on the left. However, he often loses the momentum of an attack by constantly turning inside and switching the ball onto his right foot. A naturally left-footed player, in attack, would have been useful. Davies and Taundry covered a lot of ground, in the centre, without really catching the eye – nothing wrong but nothing outstanding.

Attack:- I feel sorry for Nicholls. He is a lad with a good attitude whom we would all like to see do well. Unfortunately, nothing appears to be going right for him, nowadays. This was typified in the second half when he struck a superb shot which looked a goal all of the way until Sutton ‘keeper, Chris Gemmell, produced the save of the match to deny him. This is a “make or break” season for young Alex. I hope that he can recover his earlier promise.
Deeney was, well – Deeney. What you see is what you get. He lacks the finer skills and his first touch on the ball sometimes lets him down but he works his roe out for the team and the opposing defence will always know that they have been in a game.

Goal Log:-
50 min. – 0-1 – Taundry cut in from the left to unleash an unstoppable right-foot shot, from the edge of the penalty-area, into the far corner of the net.
53 min. – 0-2 – A nicely worked move saw Deeney put the Saddlers further ahead.
55 min. – 1-2 – Sutton woke up to reduce the arrears with a Leon Doughty header at the far post, from a right-wing cross.
57 min. – 1-3 – The flurry of of four goals in seven minutes was completed with a side-foot shot from Davies.
82 min. – 2-3 – Justin Rowe got a deserved reward for his personal efforts and ensured a nervy last few minutes for the young Saddlers with a nice piece of individual skill to elude Smith and Roper.

Thanks to Leamore for the report.  See the thread in the Match Report & Reaction section to chat about this on the messageboard.

Luton Town Match Reaction

neilr @ 10:16 am Sunday 18 November 2007

Whatever Richard Money’s motives, the gamble he took yesterday paid off – but only just.

It was a very strange looking side that lined up at 3.00 o’clock, with no fewer than four wingers in the side, as Hall, Wrack, Sonko, and Demontagnac were strung across the middle.

Money had already said that he has got loan targets he wants to bring in order to strengthen the squad, but hasn’t done so thus far. He has said that two of those targets were away on International duty this weekend, but, whether that is the case, or whether he is hanging on for as long as possible so he can cover the Christmas period with short term loans, we just don’t know.

Whatever the case, yesterday’s line up always looked like it was going to be too lightweight to cope, which made the fact that the back four never really looked in any trouble, despite the lack of cover in front of them, all the more pleasing (although that was also helped by Luton being dire).

However, the two wingers, Hall and Demontagnac, their replacements, McDermott and Taundry, and the strikers, Mooney and Ricketts, were always just feeding off the scraps that Sonko and Wrack managed to provide for them. Despite the openness of the game, it all meant for a fairly sterile time in front of goal and it is to the players’ credit that we still manged to carve out all of the best chances, as Demontagnac and Mooney should have scored, Ricketts could have, with a bit more composure and without the offside flag, and Sonko was desperately unlucky with a great 20 yard volley well saved by the ‘keeper.

With Leeds and Forest to come, however, we are going to need better in central midfield than this and two players there are certainly needed – and quickly.

Walsall 0 Luton 0.

Geordie_Saddler @ 8:23 pm Saturday 17 November 2007

The Saddlers etched out another point and clean-sheet from an afternoon of pretty average footballing fayre at Bescot.

As kick off approached under an unusual cloud formation The Who’s musical assertion that they wouldn’t get fooled again soon became a fittingly ironic prelude.

Referee Taylor’s early booking of visiting centre-half Perry wasn’t as it seemed, a precursor to a display of faultless officialdom. Indeed pretty soon the man in black, resembling a slightly more effeminate version of David Ellery, was soon the main focus of the home fans’ keep-warm routine.

The other was Kevthedancingsaddler’s repertoire at the front of the home end, the gyrations of whose semi-naked semi-torso provided a surreal backdrop to the few significant events on the pitch either side of the first-half’s own freezing midriff.

First Ishy shimmied free on 22 minutes but pulled his shot wide of the far stick, and then Ricketts added a whole new meaning to “missing a sitter”, heading wide from 6 yards whilst virtually sitting on his bottom.

That was encouragement enough to believe an uplifted second-half tempo would be too much for Luton, but one way or another it just didn’t materialise.

Wrack twice threatened to emerge from the lick it and stick it midfield with surging runs that lacked end-product, and then a swivel of Mooney’s hips produced the game’s third clear chance but Brill in the visitor’s goal lived up to his name with a smothering save. Mooney should have scored, and upon that failure everyone really knew in their hearts 0-0 was the inevitable outcome.

In other news from the game, Taundrey joined the first-team fray in place of Ishy late on, the crowd just crept above 5k and in case I didn’t mention it earlier, Luton were rubbish.

Upthesaddliars!!

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