Archive for October, 2009

Wycombe Wanderers vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 1:59 pm Friday 30 October 2009

Games like tomorrow’s are vital if this season is ever going to amount to anything. After fourteen games, we have the boring record of won 4, drawn 5, lost 5. even a win at Wycombe would only make it 5 5 5, which sounds like boring mid table to me! At least High Wycombe itself, while boring, does have some non boring famous sons and daughters, including former Dr Who Colin Baker, chef Heston Blumenthal, tv presenter Fern Britton, comedians Jimmy Carr and James Corden, rugby star and World Cup winner Matt Dawson, aviation pioneer Geoffrey De Havilland, golfer Like Donald, music legend Ian Dury, singer Howard Jones and pop legend Dusty Springfield. One hell of a list and considerably longer than Walsall’s! After that, I’ll forgive them for Frankie Vaughan.

One of the interesting things about us and Wycombe is the number of players who have been at both clubs – all but one of which have been since the 1980s. There’s a list at the bottom of the article, if you’d like to see how many you can think of before you get to it!

Chris Hutchings does have a full squad available. I’d guess that he will go for a 4 4 2, as that seems to be his preferred way of playing, although he does have the option of a 4 3 3 against a team from well down the table. He has shown caution until now, so I’d expect:

Defence: Ince, Weston, Hughes and/or Smith and/or MacDonald, Vincent (if fit) or Sansara,

Midfield: Till or Jones or Nicholls, Taundry and/or Mattis and/or Bradley and/or Richards, Jones or Richards

Strikers: Deeney, Byfield (or Parkin might get a chance)

Taundry will certainly be pushing for a start and Bradley is the man under threat.

There is no team news from new Wycombe manager Gary Waddock, who kicked off his spell there with a 1 – 1 draw at Exeter City last week (so it looks like he had some immediate impact). They lined up in that game:

Shearer, Hunt, Woodman, Johnson, Duberry, Doherty, Bloomfield. Phillips, Davies, Betsy, Harrold

Subs were: Young, Oliver, Mousinho. Westwood, Westlake, Montrose, Zebroski

Striker John-Paul Pittman was missing from that game with an injury, but should be back.

It’s interesting to see only one of the ex Saddlers made the team (yes, if you’re trying to get the players in common, two of them are there), so travelling fans may not get a chance to boo Westwood!

Predictions?

Wycombe are absolutely rock bottom. In 14 games, they’ve won just 1, drawn 5 and lost the rest. If we have any pretentions at all about doing well in this Division, then a win is needed.

Answers:-

Kevin Betsy – Creative wide player who scored 13 goals in 89 appearances for Wycombe during an 18 month spell following a move from Oldham Athletic in the summer of 2005.

Billy Coward – Played for The Wanderers in the 1920′s before moving to QPR in October 1927. Joined The Saddlers in 1932 where he scored 8 goals in 35 League appearances.

John Kerr- Canadian born striker who made 12 League appearances for The Saddlers during the 1995/96 season. Played briefly with Portsmouth and Posh in the late 1980′s before joining Wycombe in the Conference in 1988 – going on to make 48 appearances and scoring 22 times during a two year spell. Returned to the States to play before time with Milwall and then his spell with Walsall.

Chris Marsh – The step over legend joined Wycombe on the eve transfer deadline day in March 2001 after 12 years with The Saddlers where he has made more than 400 First Team appearances. Spent just six months at Wycombe before joining Northampton. Made 41 League appearances for The Cobblers in two season before injury problems forced him to retire from the game in the summer of 2003.

Jermaine McSporran – Pacey striker who joined Wanderers from non-League Oxford City in November 1998 and went on to score 41 goals in 186 appearances before a move to The Saddlers in March 2004. Made just six apps at Walsall before a permanent move to Doncaster Rovers in the summer of 2004.

Tommy Mooney – Prolific scorer who bagged 32 goals in 101 appearances during a two year spell with the Wanderers. Best remembered for a seven year stint at Watford where he scored 63 goals in close to 280 First Team apps. Switched to The Saddlers after his time with Wycombe and scored 11 League goals in 36 appearances before moving to play in Spain in the summer of 2008 and subsequently retiring from the playing side.

Stefan Oakes – Former Leicester City trainee who had a short spell at Walsall during the 2003/4 season but made just five appearances and only one start before moving on to Notts County. Moved to Wycombe in the summer of 2005 and made 124 appearances before moving to Lincoln City in the summer of 2008.

Sam Parkin – Striker who was on loan at Wycombe during the famous 2000/1 FA Cup run. Went to Oldham on loan towards the end of that season before spending the 2001/2 season on loan at Northampton. Joined Swindon the following season on a permanent basis and scored 67 League goals during a three year spell. Went on to spend time with Ipswich, Luton (including a loan spell with Leyton Orient) before switching to The Saddlers in the summer of 2009.

David Perpetuini – Defender who made 2 apps for Wycombe after transferring from Gillingham in January 2005. A former trainee at Watford – making 19 League apps for The Hornets before a three and a half year spell with The Gills. Joined Walsall on a free from Wycombe in March 2005 and made 7 apps before leaving at the start of the following campaign.

Andy Rammell – Former Saddlers legend who moved to Wycombe in September 2000 for £75,000. Scored 31 goals in 97 appearances for the Wanderers before joining Bristol Rovers on a free in March 2003.

Darren Rogers – A substitute appearance at Scunthorpe in November 1993 while on loan from Birmingham City was his solitary game for Wycombe. Move to Walsall in the summer of 1994 and made 54 League apps before joining Stevenage Borough.

Paul Sanderson – Appeared five times for Wycombe at the start of 1989/90 season before joining Cheltenham Town. The former Cardiff City striker previously helped The Saddlers clinch promotion at the end of the 1987/88 season via the play-offs.

Gus Uhlenbeek – Dutch born defender who made five appearances on loan at Walsall from Sheffield United during the 2001/2002 season. Spent time with Bradford City and Chesterfield before Tony Adams bought him to Wycombe in June 2004. Made 46 appearances for Wycombe before opting to leave in the summer of 2005.

Chris Westwood – Defender who made 69 League appearances for The Saddlers during a two year spell following a move from Hartlepool United in the summer of 2005. Went on to spend two years at Peterborough before Peter Taylor brought him to Wycombe in the summer of 2009.

John Williams – Former Wanderers striker who had a short spell at Walsall during the 1997/98 season.

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Stourbridge FA Cup Ticketing Arrangements

Exile @ 8:01 pm Thursday 29 October 2009

Walsall have been allocated 490 (yes, 490!) tickets for their FA Cup first round match away against plucky Stourbridge on Saturday 7 November. Refreshingly, Stourbridge haven’t cashed in on their opposition’s lofty status and the tickets cost only 12 quid (or 8 for concessions)

This unusually high allocation should take the pressure off the gate considering we take much less than that to most away games at the moment, but this being the “magical” FA Cup, there’ll be some pressure on fans to get in early to book their ticket or miss out.

Season Ticket holders get first dibs, but to honour these faithful supporters the club has decided, in it’s infinite wisdom, to put tickets on sale at 10.00am this Saturday, October 31, when many of these regular followers will already be on the road, travelling to support the Super Saddlers away at glamorous Wycombe. The ticket office closes at 2.00pm on Saturday, reopening Monday morning, which rather scotches the club’s excuse that the tickets had to go on sale Saturday as many fans can’t wait till Monday as they have to be at work. How about those Season Ticket holders that work, AND are loyal enough to be going to follow the fortunes of the club away on Saturday?

If you’re a Season Ticket holder AND going to Wycombe, get a mate or family member to go down to the ground with your season ticket book Saturday morning for the best chance of gettting a ticket.

Perhaps a fairer solution would have been to start selling tickets from the town shop on Sunday. Still, when has customer cervice ever been a strong point of the club, especially when you know you’ll sell out anyway?

Casual fans (as in no season ticket, not young idiots with ASBOs) get an opportunity, if there’s any left, at 9.00am on Thursday 5 November.

Wycombe Pub Guide (by saddlersam)

Neil @ 2:05 pm Tuesday 27 October 2009

After living in High Wycombe (a town everyone that doesn’t live there seems to describe as ‘lovely’ when it really isn’t – I suppose it could be worse, it could be Aylesbury) for around 6 years after moving there for university aged 18 you’d think I’d have a good grasp of some of the better drinking holes in the town. Unfortunately Wycombe, for it’s large population really doesn’t offer too much in the way of character when it comes to the pubs and for after match entertainment, clubs. It does however have a football team, struggling at the minute but playing at a nice stadium with in general, some really nice supporters and the stage for a must win game for the Saddlers.

Those coming in by train will immediately see the Flint Cottage, not a bad pub by any means but nowt special. Walking down the hill you will meet the town centre which offers the usual soulless but cheap (and now with Sky Sports News!) Weatherspoons establishment, namely the Falcon on Cornmarket (Market Square as us locals call it) and just around the corner an O’Neills. Further along the High Street are the quirkier Antelope and the Hobgoblin, the former tucked up a side street but with an excellent beer garden and the latter with a couple of lovely (if you get the right day!) barmaids and a half decent juke box. That often swings it for me.

Towards the ground along the West Wycombe Road where i currently reside, you’ll pass a couple of establishments one being of course, The (infamous) White Horse, sorry, ‘Oss, which many i should think are already familiar with. Now I’ve not sampled it since it’s been revamped but those accustomed with the ‘pound in the pot’ method of ‘viewing’ will probably be heading there as they did back in our title winning season under Dicky Dosh. Closer to the ground is the Hour Glass. It’s the closest pub to the ground and away fans are let in by the discretion of the door man. I however would suggest this is one to avoid.

If it’s proper pubs and proper ale you’re after though I’d really make the effort and go a little further down West Wycombe Road into West Wycombe village itself, it’s only a couple of minutes by car. The whole village belongs to the National Trust and it really is nice. My favourite pubs include the very traditional George & Dragon and my local, The Plough. The former serves some excellent ale from some local breweries and the latter often has an excellent atmosphere at weekends, you’ll often find me and the chaps slurring our words in the garden there, falling off chairs and trying to convince the landlord we really are the greatest band you’ve ever heard. A really good, friendly pub.

Those feeling very adventurous could always make the trip early and visit the Marlow Brewery http://www.rebellionbeer.co.uk/ and pick themselves up a keg of some fine local ale. Party time!

Supporters Trust XI vs Old Boys

neilr @ 7:03 pm Sunday 25 October 2009

The gap in levels between even (in two cases) 60 odd year old ex pros and the mere mortals of this world was well and truely shown up at Rushall this afternoon, as the Old Boys ran out 9 – 1 winners, at something of a canter.

In a time honoured cliche, however, the charity, the Walsall Hospice (I can’t believe I used that!) was the real winner as well over a hundred paying fans turned up to see well over 20 paying players get a proper stuffing!

A huge vote of thanks from the Trust board to the players who turned up on both sides (even though one or two “Old Boys” had very tenuous links with the club). They included Ron Green (unable to play with a back injury, so his son deputised), Mark Rees, Dean Smith, Chopper Evans, record appearance holder Colin Harrison, Richard O’Kelly, a youthful Mark Taylor (looking good enough to be still playing) and their organiser, Chris Marsh.

I’m also sure that the result may well have been different if, when the scores were still only 1 – 0 to the old boys, Alex Ferguson’s favourite ref, Alan Wiley, hadn’t given them a penalty despite the ball been quite clearly handled by ex Leeds player Clyde Wijnhard, guesting for the opposition. It also didn’t help to find out that, despite claims to the contrary, that Bangor Cymru Saddler isn’t Lionel Messi amd Cristiano Ronaldo rolled into one.

All in all, a highly enjoyable and succesful afternoon, not least of all thanks to the cooperation and generosity of Rushall Olympic.

Reminder: Charity Match this Sunday!

Exile @ 8:21 pm Tuesday 20 October 2009

Don’t forget the Walsall old crusties take on an All-Star Supporters team this Sunday to raise funds for Walsall Hospice.

Where: Rushall Olympic Ground, Dales Lane
When: Sunday 1.00pm kick-off
How much: Just £2 to watch the greatest spectacle this side of Sunday tea.

There’ll be a fund-raising raffle as well, prizes kindly donated by fellow fans for this special occasion so bring along some more cash to throw into the pot. Special mentions to prize donors when I find out who they all are, but firstly I know Asps, former site sponsor with IC Shipping (great freight forwarding service) has been involved. Thanks Ian!

Rumours that the Supporters side are having to play in a Wolves strip are untrue.

Walsall vs Exeter City Reaction

neilr @ 10:50 am Sunday 18 October 2009

Almost unanimous opinion on the message board this morning that no one could quite understand how we were two nil up at half time having played abysmally and scoring totally against the run of play. However, it was a very good second half performance, at the heart of which was Hutchings’s decsion, for the first time, to switch tactics. From the moment we, in order to counteract Stewart’s free role behind their two strikers, moved the wingers infield and played with two defensive midfielders and two attacking, the team as a whole and the individuals concerned, looked far more cmfortable. If you have no proper wingers, don’t bother trying to play with them!

Louise sums up the reaction:

The scoreline particularly from the first half is harsh on Exeter but its 3 points that matter.
First 25 mins we were crud, they were all over us and I feared the worst. The goals came against the run of play but totally turned everything around. The second Jones goal was quality. The MOTM award finally went to the right man. Jones ran his heart out all game and totally deserved the plaudits.
The presentation to Ray was at half time – I just wished the great man had 10,000+ cheering his award but it was good to hear the rendition of ‘theres only one Ray Graydon’ again.
Second half we showed confidence and looked like a different team. Deeneys goal I think was off side but he showed a cool head to finish off a one on one situation. Only down note Im afraid Bradley still doesnt look at the races. Ince did a good job on for Gilmartin – hope its nothing too serious.
Overall it was fair to say the scoreline flattered us but who cares – the sun shone, Sir Ray appeared and we have 3 points so for once Im a happy girl after leaving the ground.

A couple of points from that. The BBC cameras this morning quite clearly showed the left back playing Deeney onside for his goal (I too having thought at the time that he was off), so congratulations to the female official!

I also have to quibble slightly about the comments on Bradley and Richards, both of whom looked far more comfortable after the change in tactics second half. I actually though that was Bradley’s best game for quite a while. Ince, by the way, I thought made the defence look far more comfortable when he was coming to get crosses.
Lastly, can I also add my thanks to everyone for the wonderful reception for Sir Ray.

Walsall vs Exeter City Preview

Neil @ 10:02 am Friday 16 October 2009

Exeter City are the visitors to the Bescot tomorrow, with the Saddlers needing to kick start this campaign, which is already flagging.

The word on the streets is that the club is struggling financially, with a huge fall in takings for the non footballing side of the enterprise. If that is the case, then the plummeting gates can only exacerbate the situation more and, it has to be said, neither our results, nor the dire football we have been producing lately will do anything to bring back the missing thousands, irrespective of the regime in charge.

That being said, there is a huge attraction, of course, tomorrow, with the presentation to the God which is Sir Ray Graydon. A man in the top two or three managers we have ever had deserves a big turn out as both the club and the Supporters Trust honour his achievement which no one else can match, of taking us to the second tier twice. Only Bill Moore and Richard Money’s Championship trophies come close.

Chris Hutchings has a lot of thinking to do for the game.

Rhys Weston’s hamstring has proved to be not as serious as first reports suggested, but he still only rated 50/50 for the game. There have been conflicting reports also regarding Clayton MacDonald, as I’ve seen statements both that he has been passed fit and that he has gone back to Manchester City for treatment! The latest from the Express and Dingle, however, does say he will make it. The back four could easily be lining up:

Westlake, Smith or Hughes, MacDonald, Vincent

Midfield is, of course, the huge problem area. We have been so poor most of the season that I have advocated going 4 3 3, with Deeney, Parkin and Byfield up front, but I can’t see Hutchings going down that particular route. That leaves his choices as:

On the right, Jones or Nicholls, in the centre, two out of Taundry or Bradley or Mattis or Richards or O’Keefe and, on the left, Richards or Jones.

Bradley’s appearance on the bench for the full Welsh team on Wednesday may well do the lad’s confidence a world of good.

Up front, of course, we should get Byfield and Deeney (although the manager has hinted Parkin may well come back into the reckoning.

As for Exeter, there has been no news from the camp at all this week, although that seems to be caused by a complete lack of coverage of the club in the media! Suffice it to say, in their last came (a 4 – 0 defeat by Huddersfield), they lines up:

Jansson, Duffy, Seaborne, Taylor, Edwards, Russell, Harley, Dunne, Noone, Stewart, Fleetwood

Subs Marriott, Tully, Archibald-Henville, Cozic, Stansfield, Corr, Logan

Predictions?

Exeter are in 18th place in the table, with an away record of won 1, drawn 1, lost 4. Last game, they were lucky to get 0 in a heavy defeat at inconsistent Huddersfield. Quite frankly, anything less than three points would be unacceptable.

Want to be on the telly?

Exile @ 12:12 am Thursday 15 October 2009

Another great reason to turn up early on Saturday! As well as legend Ray Graydon being at the ground we also have a great big camera courtesy of the BBC/mediabox.

UTSer saddlercraig, a passionate Walsall supporter, has won a competition which means he’ll be interviewing fans, as well as Mick Kearns and Netan Sansara, at the ground this Saturday. As he tells it:

im going to be filming at the exeter game for the bbc your game competition i won and for mediabox.
this will be aired by december on community channel and the bbc website and i have the club supporting me on interviewing kearnies and 1or 2 other players but now i need some fans involvement if you arent camera shy.

The film is about how football and specifically walsall fc brings everyone together all races religions and opinions etc. And id love to hear a few fan stories of maybe great away days where you and your friends or family have bonded over a game for example for me it will be swindon as i never got to go to the millenium stadium as that was around the time we lived back in telford again so my biggest and fondest away trip was the parties at swindon and the great atmosphere.

I will be outside the ground and getting few shots of people entering so keep a eye out for me and come have a chat it will only be a few minutes and its a good way to kill some time before the game and then during ill be in the lower fl2g right at the back with me old man. May be outside after the game but its unlikely.

Craig will be either near the club shop or the ticket queue in the ground from around 1.00pm on Saturday. To share your experiences see him there, and preferably book ahead by sending him a PM on the messageboard (username: saddlercraig). Please, show your support, he’d love it.

Return of the Messiah!

Exile @ 9:22 pm Wednesday 14 October 2009

Walsall legend, manager Ray Graydon, will be at The Banks’s Stadium this Saturday to collect his club award for being voted onto the Broad Street, Birmingham, ‘Walk of Stars’.

Sir Ray beat off some stiff competition from the club’s history to win out as the fans favourite and Saturday’s home game against Exeter gives every fan who remembers his time at the club the opportunity to turn up in support of one of our most popular managers.

UTS urges all supporters who can make the game to be there to see Ray take centre stage, and show him the appreciation he deserves for his heroic times at Walsall.

He’s being presented with his award before kick off, so you’ll have to turn up earlier than 2.59pm to catch a glimpse of the great man. Please, get along to the Banks’s this Saturday and make him feel welcome by giving him the turnout he really deserves, and the thanks of everyone who remembers his time at the club.

If you only go to one game this season, make it this one.

Franchise vs Walsall Verdict

neilr @ 6:31 pm Saturday 10 October 2009

Another disappointing afternoon for the Saddlers – not becuase of the result, but the manner of the performance. Our first commentary on WM turned out to be a match that not even Mick Kearns could really find anything positive to say about, as the four man midfield totally failed to compete again.

First reactions are from PJD:

Well I’ve just got back and it was a very disappointing performance in the end. For the first 25 minutes we completely dominated, MK hardly had a kick. Byfield was looking dangerous and their keeper had to pull off a couple of good saves. Then MK had a five minute spell, scored a soft goal and the game ended as a competive encounter.

Byfield did hit the post with a difficult chance in the second half but apart from that we hardly troubled them. One incident summed it up for me, at the end of the first half, we had a free kick about 35 – 40 yards out from their goal. It was clear this was going to be the last kick of the half and that we were going to put the ball into the box and try to scramble a goal – but (and this I really can’t fathom) Clayton McDonald, the biggest guy on the pitch just stayed on the half way line and didn’t bother to get into the box. Why?

The referee was utter crud. A complete homer. Gave them a free kick every time one of their players fell over.

Our two cenral midfielders played well below potential, Bradley giving the ball away far to often with passes to MK players, which meant we never really stood any chance of building up a head of steam, although our wide midfield players offered no threat either. In fact I can’t remember a single cross from open play.

The game just seemed to lack any passion, althought the Walsall faitful were in good voice throughout the second half. Maybe it’s the effect of Milton Keynes, it sucks the very life blood from you.

Sadders agrees:

Excellent first 25 minutes good passing football. Byfield missed a one on one and volley after a cracking move down the right and brillant dummy by deeney. Missed our chances and new it would cost us, they attack once and score after some dreadful defending down the left. Second half was as boring as it comes, although Byfield did somehow hit the post from a tight angle.

It’s weird how our team is obsessed by playing football down the left when its as clear as day that the left hand side is crud and paceless. Jones touched the ball to his feet twice in the whole match, less than Nicholls did last week. Its no wonder our right wingers seem to be performingly like idiots, they aren’t touching the ball. Its stupid attacking down our left, Vincent passes to Richards who realises he hasn’t got the pace and passes square or backwards and Vincent doesn’t have the pace to overlap as well as be defensively secure.

Hughes, Weston, Macdonald, Byfield and Troy did well, although Byfield should have scored at least 2.
Mattis did ok.
Richards was terrible and Jones barely touched the ball in his time on the pitch.
Vincent did okay defensively but cant attack for toffee
AND MARK BRADLEY is the worst football player ive ever seen. Cant pass,cant control, has no pace cant even complete a 10 yard sidewards pass. Disgracefully pathetic excuse for a football player.

MK dons were terrible they barely created anything.

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