Archive for March, 2009

What’s Going On Jeff?

Neil @ 10:58 am Sunday 29 March 2009

Of course, it might all be am early April Fool prank by our esteemed and beloved Chairman, but, if it is, it’s in poor taste.

Speculation is rife on all of the message boards this morning, following reports on Radio WM that Jeff has, at last, seen sense and sold up ready to retire to Cyprus, either to transport company Arriva, a company with it’s origins in the North East but which now operates Europe wide, or insurance giants Aviva, a world wide operating company, which includes Norwich Union as one of it’s arms.

The facts, if any, are scare, as witnessed by the fact that no one seems to know who is involved and what the terms are (although the most educated posts seem to suggest that it’s the leasehold that’s being sold).

The club have, so far, refused to comment on the speculation, which just means that the speculation gets worse! I do realise that, if negotitions are underway, little concrete can be said, but I think we would all want either a categorical denial, or an admission that negotiations are taking place, if only to keep our collective sanity!


Walsall vs Cheltenham Town Preview

Neil @ 1:24 pm Friday 27 March 2009

(admin adds: no live blog today – apologies)

Most weeks turn out to be a challenge when you are operating with a small squad, but this week might be worse than ever!

Cheltenham Town are the visitors to the Banks’s this weekend, but most of the talk amongst Saddlers has been who will not be available to play, rather than who will.

Clayton Ince and Mark Bradley are away on International duty and Robin Shroot has gone back to Birmingham City. Stephen Roberts is injured (what a shock!!!), as are Anthony Gerrard and both left backs, Boertien and Sansara.

Stephen Hughes is, at least available again and Jabo Iberhe’s injury has cleared up, but with Ricketts serving the last game of his ban, the team surely picks itself:

Gilmartin, Palmer, Weston, Smith, Taundry, Nicholls, Mattis, Hughes, Zaaboub, Iberhe, Deeney.

Of course, Hutchings may decide to throw a couple of the youngsters into the equation, now we’ve reached the 54 point mark and virtual safety, which could make the game a little more interesting. The bench is likely to have a nappy changing bag next to it, at least!

It’s probably a good job that the opposition are Cheltenham.

They have bought in a couple of loanees from Spurs, defender Yuri Berchiche and midfielder David Hutton, who will be hoping for a start.

They do have injuries, as calf problems mean Shane Duff, Alan Wright, and Lee Ridley will all miss the trip while David Bird is a doubt.

The dangermen for them will be former Leicester man Elvis Hammond, who has five in fifteen starts for the club, and the large, awkward Leon Constantine, who we have met before (he has had some dozen or so clubs after all), primarily at Torquay, where he had his most successful goal scoring run.


Cheltenham are rock bottom of the table, have a defence that leaks goals for fun (they have the Division’s worst defensive record) and have an away record of Played 18, Won 1, Drawn 4, Lost 13. Yes, it’s exactly the sort of game we’ve been so good at losing over the years! We should win, even with the injuries and call ups.

How to lose fans and infuriate people

Exile @ 8:13 pm Thursday 26 March 2009

At the Bristol Rovers match on March 14, Fan X (name witheld on request) was ejected from the ground on the instructions of a senior member of staff of WFC. UTS has spoken to Fan X, and in his own words we tell the story of what happened:

UTS: 1 – Who are you? How long have you been a fan / held a season ticket?

I am a 61 year old lifelong supporter who wishes to remain anonymous. Taken to Fellows park age 5 yrs old (when the fence was around the pitch). Went to Hillary St school, but used to wag off to throw the ball back to the apprenticies, and dream? I have been a loyal season ticket holder on and off for 30 years, depending on finances.

UTS: 2 – Tell us in your own words what happened?

Frustrated by the game, and how we were playing, both myself and my mate got up after 65mins to celebrate our first shot on goal, with one finger up on both hands. When we had our second shot, on 70 mins, I got up and raised 2 fingers on each hand and shouted “that’s two shots now”, black humour call it what you will.

However I was in Jeff Bonser’s personal eye line and he takes any criticism personally, doesn’t he ? This was not any form of abuse in any way shape or form, if I had got something to say to Jeff, I would say it to his face in a respectful way, not surrounded by hundreds of other supporters.

UTS: 3 – How did you feel being ejected?

Clearly having to walk the gauntlet with 2 fluorescent-coated goons is not the way to remember your final exit from the Banks’s Stadium.

UTS: 4 – What are you going to do next?

I have written to Jeff and returning my season ticket with confirmation that I will not be renewing untill he has called it a day, my mate who was with me, and also been a season ticket holder for many years, will not be renewing his either. I would however like to place on record my thanks to Jeff for his financial stewardship of the club, which is above reproach.

UTS: 5 – Is there anything we can do for you?

God willing, in my lifetime the “Walsall One” will return, and if they cut me open they would see “WALSALL FC” running through me like a stick of rock.
Thanks to all who have emailed the club regarding this matter(I will be there on the last game of the season, to say my fond farewells to the people I have sat around)

It’s remarkable that Fan X manages to take the time to thank Jeff Bonser for his financial stewardship after the indignity of his ejection. Through the eyes of those who know him, this lifelong Saddlers fan is a humble bloke who has been proud to be a Saddler all his life.

We ask that the club recognise that loyal supporters such as Fan X are the lifeblood of Walsall FC and that they return his season ticket with an apology for his mistreatment, which was obviously the result of crossed purposes and misinterpretation.

On being asked for a comment, a source at the club responded:

“The Ground regulations (on display in every exit/entrance tunnel) states “Permission to enter or remain within the ground (notwithstanding possession of any ticket) is at the absolute discretion of the Club, any police officer, or authorised steward”.

An online dictionary definition of ‘discretion’ suggests that it means ‘the trait of judging wisely and objectively’, ‘knowing how to avoid embarrassment or distress’ and that discretion is ‘The quality of being discreet; wise conduct and management; cautious discernment, especially as to matters of propriety and self-control; prudence; circumspection; wariness’.

We’ll bring you any further news we can on this story.

Leyton Orient vs Walsall

Neil @ 9:32 am Sunday 22 March 2009

Pedagogue with this week’s report, as the Saddlers get yet another away win:

I was surprised how poor Orient were, considering their recent good run. They were clueless in our penalty-area.

Ince – had nothing to do in the first half and made two excellent saves in the second. Provided the only real entertainment of the afternoon with his “sparring” with the Orient mascot – yes, just what the f*****g hell was that? :mrgreen:
Palmer – I feel sorry for him. He is useless but he is the first to admit that he can’t defend to save his life. So why is he being selected to play at right-back? An “assist” for the goal.
Weston – barely o.k. and, as many have said, his distribution is poor.
Smith – a nervy start but grew in confidence as the game wore on.
Boertien – I’m surprised that Stu slated him as I felt he had a decent game.
Nicholls – ineffective in attack but tracked back and worked hard, helping out Palmer.
Mattis – took over Hughes’s role both as holding midfield player and captain and did both jobs better.
Bradley – a bit more like his old self. Took his goal well.
Zaaboub – Very “patchy”. Good crosser of the ball. Two blatant dives – one conned the ref but the second was ignored.
Ibehre – On his own, up front, but no dream return and never looked like scoring. Will probably make way for Ricketts when the latter is available.
Deeney – back to his old standards – does not appear to know how to play off someone like Ibehre
Taundry & Shroot – late substitutes for Nicholls and Ibehre, respectively.

Reasonable following – in good voice, particularly Doffer! :D
Great to see the Flemish Saddlers there, again. I hope that they managed to get their 8-00 p.m. ferry home.

Orient v Walsall live blog

roger6 @ 8:36 am Saturday 21 March 2009

Join us below from 2.45 for live blog coverage, or

Leyton Orient vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:04 pm Friday 20 March 2009

I had an interesting email about this weekend’s opponents earlier this week. It’s a copy of the Leyton Orient Trust’s newsletter, in which they outline what they see as a potential threat to the future of their club and which they will be campaigning against.

It all stems from a proposal from Chairman Barry Hearn, the basics of which are:

“To sell the long leasehold interests of the ground to Matchroom (Hearn’s company) for £6m, of which £3.4m is repaid to Matchroom to repay that company’s loan to the club

Matchroom then give the club a 20-year lease, rent-free for the first five years.

After five years the club pays Matchroom a rent of £180,000 a year, with rent reviews at years 10 and 15”.

As the Trust says, their own instincts, and everything they’ve researched from elsewhere in football, told them the same thing, that separating a football club from ownership of its own ground is potentially incredibly detrimental to its long-term future.

Now, what other Chairman could possibly have come up with a harebrained scheme scheme like that one?

Chris Hutching’s job should be a little easier following the win on Tuesday night, as the current total of 51 points should be enough for safety. That means that his main problem should be motivating the team to keep their standards up when there is little or nothing at stake. We don’t want them getting the deckchairs out already – not when there is still something to prove in terms of our ability to put together a promotion drive next season.

Out are Ricketts, still suspended, Gerrard, out for four weeks, and, presumably, Roberts, who I am despairing seeing again this season. That means the defence picks itself, with:

Ince, Palmer, Weston, Smith and Boertien.

In midfield, I’d like to see Bradley keep his place, irrespective of whether Hughes is available or not, as he made a difference on Tuesday in the Captain’s absence for “family reasons”. It must also be worth considering whether to put Shroot in and move Nicholls up top in place of Iberhe, who, for all his efforts on Tuesday, quite frankly didn’t look capable of hitting a barn door with a banjo. Mind you, he might well be fired up, playing against his old team.

Leyton Orient boss Geraint Williams has no fresh injury or suspension concerns.

Striker Adam Boyd missed last weekend’s 1-0 victory at Stockport with an ankle injury and is still not training, while defender Adam Chambers is still sidelined with a calf problem.
Fellow defender Alton Thelwell remains doubtful with a knee injury as the Os look to extend their good run of form under Williams’ stewardship.

Williams has guided Orient to five wins from eight league matches since taking over at Brisbane Road, so this is not as easy a game as it might have been at one time. That good run, however, has mainly come away from home. At home, they have won only two of the last six games and one of those came against Brighton and we found out how bad they are on Tuesday night! I’ll go for a point from this one.

Walsall 3-0 Brighton

Exile @ 10:07 pm Tuesday 17 March 2009

A well-deserved victory as Walsall answered Saturday’s critics by dominating proceedings against a poor Brighton side at the Banks’s's tonight.

First half goals from Bradley (14), Deeney (30) and Gerrard (39) wrapped up the match before half time, and the Saddlers never looked back, cruising home comfortable 3-0 winners. Nicholls collected the MOTM award to general acclaim on a rare occasion when the fans, WM and the sponsors all agreed.

The win sees Walsall move to 13th on the table, but more importantly, to 51 points. Looks like we’re safe from relegation in this, our pivotal promotion push season (copyright Bonser, Whalley et al). 8 games and only ten points off the playoffs though – there’s still a chance!

In other news Gerrard went off hobbling in the scond half – here’s hoping he’s OK for Saturday.

In other other news, there’s no information on evictions from the ground tonight.

pedagogue had this to say on the message board:

Another league “double” completed against a mediocre Brighton side – Yeovil must have been bad to lose 0-5 to them! However, let’s not belittle our lads’ performance – worthy winners.

Ince – o.k. but not overly convincing, particularly in the opening minutes
Weston – generally quite good but passing needs improving. Caught out with that ball over his head 2 or 3 times (remember Southend?) in the second half. Switched to centre-back & captain when Gerrard limped off.
Gerrard (Capt.) – back to something like his usual self until his injury. Hope he recovers for Saturday.
Smith – this young man gets better and better and must have run Nicholls close for MotM.
Boertien – back to the the Boertien of old – very sound performance
Nicholls – MotM and laid on the goals. I would still like to see him play down the middle, though.
Bradley – good on the ball and battled well. However, I wish he would make more late runs into the penalty-area and score goals, like he did, once, tonight.
Mattis – took over Hughes’ rôle and did it better. Much more involved, tonight.
Zaaboub – promised a lot but didn’t always deliver
Ibehre – worked his socks off, as usual, but his finishing was truly awful!
Deeney – Scored his usual goal – what a transformation since Jimmy Muddle was sacked.

Palmer – on at right back when Gerrard went off. Did little wrong.
Shroot – on for Zaaboub for last quarter of an hour
Taundry – on for Ibehre in closing minutes.
Sansara & Gilmartin not used

Very young referee who had a good game, apart from his failure to caution Ibehre (bad foul) and Zaaboub (simulation – a dive, almost as bad as that of Morten Gamst Pedersen for Blackburn, last Saturday)

On Saturday, we will be without Ricketts (suspended), Bradley (International duty), Roberts (permanently AWOL) and possibly Gerrard and Hughes (both injured). This will test the squad to its limit against an improving Orient side.

Live blog Walsall v Brighton

roger6 @ 6:41 pm Tuesday 17 March 2009

Join us below just before 7.45pm or view in full screen

Walsall vs Brighton Preview

Neil @ 3:16 pm Monday 16 March 2009

Saturday came as a bit of a shock, didn’t it? I mean, we know Bristol Rovers had been on a run of form, but that result seemed to come from nowhere.

Someone by me said that it seemed that too many players, having failed to win on Tuesday night, had decided that the playoffs were out of reach and it was time to get the deck chairs out. However, I’m not too sure of that and think that the result actually showed some weaknesses in the squad and the tactics. At least three of the goals came from a defender or midfielder running from deep and, in all cases, no one from our midfield tracked them back. I thought that the lack of pace and mobility from our central midfield, Hughes especially, was cruelly exposed, as, on several other occasions, the furthest Rovers player forward was an unmarked midfielder. I mean to say, a 0 – 5 defeat when the top scorer in the Division hardly got a kick means that we must have been sadly lacking in other Departments.

That all won’t be helping Hutchings as he tries to pick the team up ready for the visit tomorrow night of another team desperate for points at the wrong end of the table, in the shape of Brighton.

Before the game at the weekend, I was advocating making some changes and giving a few of the youngsters a chance between now and the end of the season, but that should change after the terrible performance. The temptation might be to make wholesale changes (and Hutchings has threatened that), but I’d favour the approach of sending out the same eleven (injuries permitting) and telling them to prove that the Bristol result was a fluke. What we do know, however, is that the injured Roberts and the suspended Ricketts will both be absent.

As for the opposition, they will be without Glenn Murray (a player who cost them some 300,000 last year, in an example of how the other half live), as he picked up another injury following his return to the side at the weekend, and Gary Borrowdale, out with a knee problem.


Needs no introduction to fans of lower league football, it’s Nicky Forster. The man who once cost Blues £700,000, has 172 League goals, 26 of them coming for Brighton in just 63 starts.


Brighton won 5 – 0 on Saturday, while we were losing 0 – 5, in a strangely co-incidental manner. That 5 – 0 win, however, was against Manager Russell Slade’s former club, Yeovil, and he would have had them wound up after his strange sacking form the West Country team earlier this season.

Looking past that, Brighton are in the bottom four, although it is their home form that it letting them down badly. Away, they have won 4, drawn 6 and lost just 6, comparable with our own record.

We should have too much for them in this game, but the effects of the humiliation on Saturday will be the great imponderable. I’ll still go for a home win.

Capitulation: Walsall 0 Bristol Rovers 5

roger6 @ 7:20 pm Saturday 14 March 2009

Easily the worst result and performance of the season as the Saddlers crashed five without reply at home, with Bristol Rovers dominating from start to finish. Rovers could have easily doubled the margin with the chances they created.

Too much to reflect on, but Caldy has kicked things off with this assessment on the message board:

That was dreadful. Nobody can take credit for their performance today but at least Smith and Deeney tried. I thought Mattis tried to get something going but his midfield partner Hughes was just awful. I said on last week’s match thread and have said before that Weston has cost us goals this season. What was he doing today? He seems to have inherited a bit of Gerrard’s attitude problem and was just too casual. Gerrard was terrible. I hate to say it but I wonder what the score would have been with Palmer in defence with Weston at centre half? Jabo on that display should be looking for a new club next season because for a striker his goal awareness is shocking. Shroot tried to get something going but no end product. The tactics fell well short of what was required. We were toothless in attack, they passed their way through the midfield and the defence just ball watched. When we did get the ball it seemed as though they didn’t know what to do. Zaaboub kept cutting in field leaving Botes on his own with 2 attacking players and when we got the ball there was no left winger because boob was still infield. I would drop Hughes Tuesday and play Taundry, at least he puts himself about. I can’t actually remember Bradley touching the ball when he came on. In short that was a bad Mullenesque performance and CH and MoC need to stop the rot. I stll think they are the right men for us but the personnel or lack of them means they are limited. Roll on next season.

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