Archive for July, 2009

Vincent Returns To The Banks’s

Neil @ 2:37 pm Friday 31 July 2009

The Saddlers signed an old boy this afternoon, with the news that they have acquired the services of former loanee Jamie Vincent.

Vincent, of course, spent some time with the Saddlers in 2003/2004, appearing in 12 League games. That was at the height of his career, when first Huddersfield paid half a million for him, then Portsmouth paid £800,000.

He has recently spent some three years at Swindon, where he made 89 appearances, but has had some injury problems.

As fans will know, Vincent is a good, solid full back, who seems to have lost little of his pace with advancing years and it would seem to be worth the risk of signing him, given the possibility of him bringing on the promising Netan Sansara.


Till Death Us Do Part

Exile @ 9:10 pm Thursday 23 July 2009

Local hero, Peter Till, has signed up for the Saddlers. Hutchings, and more particularly O’Connor, registered their interest in the ex-Birmingham City youngster after his release from Grimsby, where he’d been since November 2006, at the end of last season.

Till’s career is a bit thin on the goal front, so expect to see service and support from this winger. Hope he can get on a roll with Walsall and we can cash in on his skills and let him add balance to the side.

He’s actually only signed for a 12-month deal, so the headline is rather misleading. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Pre Season Kicks Off

Neil @ 9:09 am Friday 17 July 2009

Well, the football season is almost back with us and the pre season fixtures get underway.

Tomorrow sees the Saddlers off to Rotherham (although, of course, they are have joined the ranks of the teams that don’t play in the town or Borough they were named after), while Tuesday sees the “big one” with the visit of the newly promoted Dingles to the Banks’s Stadium.

Personally, I don’t really take any notice of results in pre season games, as I think they are more about how well players gel together and how the team is building prior to the new season and, with all of the close season changes, that’s likely to be more true than ever. What is needed, however, is a morale boost for a pretty dispirited supporter base, with the departures of Gerrard and Ibehre and declining gates. I also suspect that that will become even more important when the real thing starts, as a poor start is the last this we will need in the circumstances. Hutchings and O’Connor’s signings have, generally, been good, which is one big positive.

Sam Parkin yesterday became the latest addition to the squad, but there will be a question as to whether he’ll be fit enough to play in either game, given his injury record over the last couple of years. Lewis Gobern will almost certainly get his chance, however, as we need to make a decision on whether to offer him a contract. That means a likely line up of:

Ince, Weston, Smith, Hughes, Sansara, Gobern, Mattis, Bradley, Jones, Parkin, Deeney.

I would expect O’Keefe and Taundry both to get early run outs, however, as midfield is where Hutchings has the most choices to make and needs to find the correct blend as quickly as possible. There is, of course, always the chance that we’ll see more trialists as well!

Tuesday will also see the start of a big recruitment drive by the Trust, when you’ll get a chance to join for the £10 fee, including a complimentary copy of “Walsall Til I Die”, so don’t forget to bring some extra cash along!

Free Parkin

Exile @ 9:35 am Thursday 16 July 2009

Heavyweight forward Sam Parkin has signed today.

Sam’s career began at Chelsea, and whilst not making the grade at the top flight club, he went on, via some loan moves, to Swindon, where he spent three lethal seasons.

Parkin was transferred to Ipswich after his Swindon days, but injury forced him down the pecking order, and he was 6th choice striker by the time Luton showed an interest, back in the days when they were still spending other peoples’ money. His three year deal there was blighted by injury, and he collected a lot of wages as one of the increasingly desperate club’s top earners whilst not fit to play.

Released at the end of the season following a barren spell at Luton and on loan, he’s obviously caught the eye of Marty & Hutch, and will turn out in a Saddler’s shirt next season. If we can keep him fit, he could and should be a useful addition to the forward line.

Messageboard comments suggest his recent lack of match experience may have led to a few extra pounds being put on, so it’s up to Jon Whitney to help him avoid earning the “Super Sammy Porking” tag. Let’s hope he can rediscover his hunger for goals instead of pies.

Welcome aboard, Sam Parkin!

When is a customer charter not a customer charter?

Exile @ 1:53 am Thursday 16 July 2009

Is the answer “When it is written by Walsall Football Club”?

Up until around one month ago, the WFC customer charter published on the official website was very different to the one that has replaced it, without notice, without consultation and without any form of input from supporters other than those with a vested interest in the club: Its officers.

Sections 1-4 and 6-9 remain unaltered, right down to the glaring typos that have been there ever since the document was originally drafted. The one section that has changed is Section 5 – Consultation and Information.

In both old and new charters, the objective of Section 5 is the same – to ensure an ongoing communication and consultation link between the Club and its supporters. How this is to be achieved is what has been changed.

Now, to put it bluntly, the club will achieve the objective by providing news and information on its website and in its matchday programme. Fans can pose questions either through the programme or website, and in a new section, the club advise they will respond to written questions submitted by shareholders at the annual general meeting.

What has been cut totally from the consultation section is, well, anything involving formal consultation.

There used to be a Supporters Liaison Committee (SLC) with 4 nominated members of the official supporters club involved. This committee controlled complaints, suggestions and observations via standard forms and committed to respond on these matters within 14 days.

There used to be a (commitment to hosting a) quarterly focus meeting at the Saddlers Club involving club representatives and 12-15 supporters, according to the old charter. In an email to one supporter Whalley had the audacity to claim that these were stopped because they were badly attended, though usually 12-15 people turned up!

There used to be an extended invitation to a SLC member to attend board meetings where supporter related issues were to be discussed, according to the old charter.

The SLC used to offer an opinion on any new kit, according to the old charter.

The club used to promise to respond to ALL submissions, via the SLC, within 14 days. Now it only commits to “using its best endeavours to respond to correspondence within 14 days”. What does that mean? If they don’t like your tone, they won’t answer your mail?

The club have used the website section “Saddlers Insight” to publish responses to questions posed by fans to the club. This section has not been updated since April.

While it is easy to see that technology has moved on since the charter was written, and that many complaints, observations or suggestions can now be very easily made to the club, there’s now no formal framework that says the supporters have any input [via the SLC] into the club’s response on any issues it is presented with.

What is now missing is a formal supporters group to liaise with the club. It’s well-known that Uncle Jeff has no time at all for the Supporters’ Trust, but now the club won’t even commit to listening to the Saddlers Club supporters, who on the whole have been much more supportive of the club’s actions.

The club, in issuing this new charter, have plainly adopted a ‘divide and conquer’ approach to fans, disenfranchising them by removing the only co-ordinated fan team they had, the Supporters Liaison Committee. It is also deeply disappointing that in making its unilateral changes to the charter, the club did not abide by the old one.

We ask the club: How can the new charter possibly ensure ongoing communication and (more especially) consultation between the club and its supporters when it has comprehensively stripped supporters of any formal voice, opinion or input?

The No News Round-Up 10

Exile @ 10:44 pm Tuesday 14 July 2009

More guff from the 24/7 operation that is Walsall FC. Sorry for the gap between issues, but stuff’s been happening that we’ve actually reported on. Here’s more that we missed on the way through.

Halsall Goes West
Mick Halsall has finally moved on, after threatening to do so to Stoke last year, he’s committed a worse sin and resigned to go work with the Dingles. Mick’s been a Saddlers stalwart for 11 years and his work bringing Walsall’s kids through the Academy has been exemplary.

Mick, we’ll miss you, and hope you continue your success at the Custard Bowl – at least it’ll be easier making their kids feel like one big family team.

Steve Jones Signs
Steve Jones, ex-Burnley star, has signed. The 32 year-old has 29 international caps with Northern Ireland and will bring some much-needed experience to the side.

Welcome aboard, Stephen! We certainly won’t hold a grudge against you for scoring Crewe’s winner against us at their place the season we got relegated from the Championship.

More players rumoured
Internet posts link us with some unlikely players, including Hughes, N’Galula, Junior and Fleetwood, while the Excuse & Dingle has exceeded expectations by reporting a Walsall signing on the rumours page. Hats off to their sports desk – they managed to get one right!

Season Tickets Available
Actually they’re not, but you can collect them from July 24th at the stadium club shop. Unless you asked to collect them from the town shop, in which case service may be expected on Friday and Saturday only.

Clayton is back!
Clayton Ince has signed up for another 12 months with Walsall. After turning 37 on Monday he’s obviously decided nobody’s going to offer him 2 years just now. Welcome back Clayton!

That’ll conclude the wrap for NNRU10.

O’Keefe Signs Up

Neil @ 3:45 pm Monday 13 July 2009

As predicted on the message board this morning, Blackburn Rovers youngster Josh O’Keefe is the latest Saddlers signing.

O’Keefe is a product of the Blackburn youth set up and was last heard of at Derby County, towards the end of last season, on a trial with a view to a signing.

He is a central midfielder and Chris Hutchings has described him as a box to box player, who can score goals.

I have found one quote from a disgruntled Blackburn fan, who didn’t want to see him go:-

But O’Keefe I like and I can’t believe we’re letting him go, he’s one of the better ones in our reserves and is in a position we sorely need (CAM as we only have two injury prone CMs who are getting worse and worse with each injury they suffer, any guesses as to who I’m talking about lol).

All in all, despite his lack of years, this looks another good signing by the Management Team.

Welcome to Mark Hughes (No, Not That One)

Neil @ 12:46 pm Wednesday 08 July 2009

Mark Hughes was born on 9th December 1986 in Liverpool and until recently (June 2009) he played for Northampton.
Born in Merseyside, he joined Everton the age of seven and progressed to the rank of reserve team captain, following very much the same route as the recently departed Anthony Gerrard.
Hughes spent a period of 2006 out on loan at Stockport County in League 2. He signed a new 1 year deal with Everton in April 2006 to keep him at the club until the summer of 2007.
He was a regular captain for the reserves team and made two appearance in the Everton first team when he played at centre back in the League Cup game against Peterborough United on 20 September 2006 and Everton won 2–1, as well as making his Premier League debut on December 3, 2006, being substituted on in the final minutes of a 2–0 victory over West Ham at Goodison.
He moved to Northampton on January 31, 2007 for an undisclosed fee and signed a two year contract. He then became the first choice centreback under Stuart Gray, and scored his first goal for the club against Rotherham on 24 March
In June 2009 he did not take up an offer of a new contract with Northampton.
Although he plays as a central defender, he is very capable of being a regular goal scorer, both from the penalty spot and in open play. He has also been described as a “composed centre-half who is comfortable bringing the ball out of defence”.
All in all, at first glance, he appears a really worthwhile addition to the paper thin squad.

Saddlers Sign Someone!

Exile @ 10:52 am Wednesday 08 July 2009

Mark Hughes from Northampton is our first Summer signing.

Mark’s been with the cobblers for over two seasons and played 101 games for them in that time. At 22, he’s young and his record says he’s fit. Can he play footie? Two out of three ain’t bad so let’s reserve judgement! Soccerbase reckon he’s a midfielder, the official site say he’s a defender directly replacing Gerrard. The latter would be nice, as 4 goals in the outings for Northampton suggest he ain’t a midfielder.

Welcome Mark – have a blast at the Banks’s's.

Palmer Departs

Neil @ 12:07 pm Tuesday 07 July 2009

Chris Palmer became the latest player to head out of the Banks’s Stadium, having moved to Gillingham on a free transfer.

It seems that reports that the player had signed a new contract with the club were premature, as the Official Site now says that he turned the offer down. The embarrassment to the club, when they said that he had agreed his new contract, is obvious, as it would seem it could only have been a verbal agreement.

I, for one, wouldn’t be that disappointed to see the player go in normal circumstances, as I don’t think he was ever a good enough defender to fulfil one of the full back roles, but with Anthony Gerrard also having departed, this news leaves the playing squad in an even more parlous condition than before and does little for the confidence of supporters for the season ahead.

A Supporter’s Trust spokesman has already commented that we wished Gerrard well, but would expect to see some of the funds gained from his sale spent on strengthening the team, but this makes that even more imperative, with barely a month left before the start of the new season and a squad that is woefully weak in all areas, other than goalkeeper.

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