Archive for December, 2010

Walsall vs Notts County Preview – Must Win Game

Neil @ 11:08 am Friday 31 December 2010

Well, the undefeated December would look a lot better if it had been over more than one game! The truth of the matter is, of course, that we go into the first game of 2011 in nineteenth place, with fewer points than games played, 6 points shy of safety (thanks to our appalling goal difference). We are playing a team on that (currently) magic figure of 23 points, who must be considered to be relegation rivals. If ever there was a must win game, then this is it.

The Saddlers should be boosted by the return to fitness of two of their most potent strikers, Jon Macken and Reuben Reid, ahead of facing Notts County.

Both could start the game, but Hutchings could equally keep faith in Alex Nicholls and Will Grigg who did a decent job together when we beat Charlton Athletic at The Valley in the last game on December 12.

Slipper Darren Byfield is ruled out, however, with a knee injury, and Jimmy Walker is sidelined with a hamstring problem.

The squad he will have to choose from is, therefore: Brain, Westlake, Butler, Lancashire, Lescott, Jones, Richards, Taundry, Gray, Nicholls, Grigg, Paterson, Macken, Reid, Smith, Bevan, McDonald, McGivern, Marshall, Geddes.

My feeling is that we’ll see the same line up as at Charlton, but with Macken in place of Grigg and Reid in reserve.

Notts have only one player ruled out of the trip. Defender Liam Chilvers is sidelined with a medial knee ligament injury, but could soon return to training.


Well, they have parted company with one of their jailbirds, as well known bad boy Luke Rogers has just left them, but the other, Lee Hughes, is their top scorer this season. Former Saddler Karl Hawley will probably be on the bench, so let’s hope he doesn’t get on, as we all know what happens when strikers play against their former clubs.


Two teams with an undefeated December here. Trouble is, while ours was one game, theirs was three, with a home league win against the Franchise, an FA Cup home win against high flyers Bournemouth and an away draw at Plymouth (Lee Hughes scoring in all three games).

Mind you, in some ways it doesn’t matter what the form table says, this is a must win game and anything other than three points will be unacceptable.


Open letter to the directors of Preston North End

Exile @ 11:22 pm Thursday 30 December 2010

We understand that you may be interested in the appointment of Paul Jewell as manager of your football club. Should you proceed with the appointment of such an auspicious name as manager of your great team, he will no doubt wish to bring his own back office team in support of his endeavours.

Chris Hutchings should need no introduction in this regard as he has worked with Mr Jewell in the past, but just in case you have any insecurities, we, the fans of Walsall FC, would like to passionately recommend him to you.

In his time at Walsall FC, Chris has presided over a comfortable period in the club’s history, steering us safely to a position in the middle of League One and successfully avoiding a relegation dogfight. Do not be fooled by our current league position! Everyone at the club understands that sometimes the ball does not run your way, and that you can be desperately unlucky. On many occasions we’ve won games in all areas of the pitch, but unfortunately lost them on the scoreboard through no fault of Chris’.

Our owner, Jeff Bonser, describes Chris as ‘the best manager he’s worked with’, and that is high praise when compared with some of the previous luminaries managing at Walsall, such as Jan Sorensen, Paul Merson and Jimmy Mullen. Chris is interested in all aspects of the club, not just the team, and is keen on making his mark in many areas.

Chris’ success on the training ground (the best facility in the Midlands, by the way), his success in attracting talent, motivation and consistency is second to none, and without him we would not be where we are today.

We highly recommend Chris Hutchings as assistant to Paul Jewell, and whilst sorry to see him go, would not wish to stand in the way of his development and career. We are, after all, a selling club, and we know our place. We’ll just roll up our shirt sleeves and get on with things, maybe quietly reminiscing over a DVD of some of Chris’ hihglights.

Sincerely yours,

VAT brings small change to club

Exile @ 10:08 pm Wednesday 29 December 2010

The club have imposed a ticket price increase of 50p across the board as VAT changes come into effect on January 4th. Unsurprisingly to those familiar with the way the club works, this increase is over and above the increase in VAT for every category of ticket. Every. Single. Ticket.

Worst hit are extra kids on family tickets and unaccompanied kids, who’ll be giving the club between 2% and 4.9% extra, on top of the 2.5% to the taxman. Obviously this is because their tickets are cheaper, so a 50p increase makes more difference.

What’s concerning is the increase covers almost everyone going into the ground except the season ticketholders who were lucky enough to secure their pass for this season’s scintillating entertainment at the old price, but we’ll no doubt hear more on that subject at the end of the season when the early bird offers come out.

What do you think of the "VAT" increaes?
  • What a ripoff! (35%, 55 Votes)
  • Could have been thought through a bit more (33%, 51 Votes)
  • What's the problem? (32%, 49 Votes)

Total Voters: 155

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So just why is the price of a ticket going up over the rate of VAT for absolutely everyone? Would the club care to explain just how arbitrary their 50p increase is? Probably not, as it’s no doubt due to bumbling ineptitude rather than any cynical manipulation of the long-suffering fans. Perhaps there’s a better alternative that could be looked at though, if it’s not too late.

First off, don’t increase the prices for the new year’s day fixture against Notts County. The VAT rise doesn’t take effect till January 4th.

Secondly, look at each tier of tickets separately and apply an increase that matches. Perhaps the best result would be to take your 50p of your adult customers, by far the majority of the crowd, and hold prices for the kids and also pensioners if possible. If not, put them up by a little, not a lot, say 20p. That’d give Mr. Taxman his fair take, and treat the club’s supporters with the respect they deserve.

Thirdly, apologise for making such a ham-fisted adjustment when you could have handled it better.

PR isn’t hard, so why doesn’t anyone at Walsall FC think of these things before charging ahead?

Another Blank Day!

Neil @ 1:03 pm Monday 27 December 2010

The club called off tomorrow’s game against Dagenham and Redbridge last this morning, after an inspection by a local referee.

Quite frankly, with temperatures forecast to be above freezing for the rest of today and tomorrow and a minimum of 0 tonight, for once, I find that decision a little premature.

Boxing Day Match Postponed

Exile @ 8:21 pm Friday 24 December 2010

Walsall’s game against Brizzzle has finally been postponed. With Dagenham unlikely as well this could be the club’s best December run in years!

Walsall ‘Til I Don’t

Exile @ 8:51 pm Thursday 23 December 2010

A new publication was this week being sent to people at the heart of the club – its managers and board of directors, and select media contacts.

Walsall ‘Til I Don’t is the result of an idea that evolved on the UTS messageboards only a few weeks ago, but with the swift actions of many interested fans and the hard work of our editing team, the physical edition hit the desks of the rich and famous only five weeks after the first discussion.

Containing the heartfelt thoughts of many fans, some who stayaway, others who are considering , and yet more who still go to matches, the underlying message is that all these fans, some with histories of decades with the club, no longer feel the same way. Alienation is a terrible thing, and every fan in Walsall ‘Til I Don’t wanted to make that statement in a way that ought to make the club sit up and take notice, if not action.

Interested fans can read or download the book online here on UptheSaddlers (PDF file)

This is not the sort of Christmas book that Jeff Bonser will relish reading. Thanks to all fans who shared their story, and to UTS regulars Whitti Steve, Pedagogue and King Crimson for their time editing, collating, printing and distribution.

Walsall vs Southampton – Deep Freeze

Neil @ 2:52 pm Friday 17 December 2010

With the weather forcast predicting a minimum temperature tomorrow of -6 and a MAXIMUM of -3, the only sensible conclusion was reached this morning and the match called off.

Charlton 0 Walsall 1 – Shock and awe

roger6 @ 7:20 pm Sunday 12 December 2010

Saddlers fans have given the manager and squad a fair amount of stick this season as befits a side bottom of the table – but today from nowhere Walsall have produced their performance of the season to turn up in South East London in front of 114 travelling fans and smack the promotion-chasers over the head 1-0.

Addis Saddler was one of the 114 and posts these thoughts via the message board:

Just back from the game and thawing out!
Where oh where did that come from – not just the result but the performance, which was one of our best of recent seasons.
From the very start we took the game to Charlton and completely dominated the first 20 minutes. Charlton just couldn’t get going and their fans became very restless. Even though they improved after the break they didn’t look a promotion side.

Brain looked solid in goal, Westlake didn’t put a foot wrong. Lescott was a bit sloppy with some distribution but linked up well with Gray on the left. Centre of defence was magnificent with Butler a rock – nothing fancy, just whack it clear, but how well it worked. Taundry was busy in the middle, Richards also impressive today and scoring a fantastic goal in front of our fans. Jones and Gray on the flanks caused some problems though their Keeper Elliott dealt very well with all balls in the air. (His kicking was often wayward though.) Up front Nicholls led the line very well, looking the perfect target man but also showing good pace on occasions. His finishing needs working on though, he missed a good chance very early on and then a clear 1 on 1 in the final minute, shooting straight at Elliott. Grigg was mobile and willing, but didn’t really get many shots in. Paterson could have headed in with his first touch and did nothing wrong in the time he had on the field.
This squad has ability running through it. Here finally was the evidence. Even Charlton fans on the way out were saying we could have scored 3 or 4. Is this a flash in the pan or can we build on it – the key question.
Our small band of fans deserve their moment in the sun.OK this was not sun, more the freezing cold air of South East London. But their moment it most certainly was.

And we are off the bottom! Hope springs eternal as Christmas and more snow approaches…

Charlton Athletic vs Walsall Preview

Neil @ 3:47 pm Saturday 11 December 2010

Well, the problems with short term loans will come home to roost for the Saddlers this weekend.

Chris Hutchings’s team building in the Summer left us very week and he has been filling in the gaps with loan signings. That doesn’t work, of course, as soon as the players have to return to their parent clubs and Walsall, this weekend, have lost the services of Dickinson (not such a great loss) and the impressive Devaney, all while Macken (probably) and Reid (possibly) will be missing through injury, along with the long term absentee, Byfield. Nicholls and Grigg up front, anyone?

All this comes, of course, with the club needing a good result to prevent the gap becoming wider and yet we are travelling to one of the clubs which ought to be amongst the promotion favourites.

The team probably will look something like:

Walker, Westlake, Lancashire, Butler, McGivern, Jones, Taundry, Marshall, Richards, Nicholls, Grigg.

On the other hand, you never know with Hutchings!

Charlton have injury worries at both ends of the pitch ahead of the game.

Goalkeeper Rob Elliot picked up a hip injury during Thursday night’s FA Cup replay win over Luton, and striker Paul Benson had to be replaced in the second half with a knee knock. Elliot could probably be patched up to face the Saddlers but Benson has been for a scan to determine the extent of his problem and is a doubt.

Loanees Lee Martin and Marcel Seip were ineligible in midweek and will be in the squad, the latter having yet to make his debut since joining from Plymouth some three weeks ago.

Skipper Christian Dailly serves the final match of his four-game ban.


Charlton are lying second in the table, a full 18 points ahead of the Saddlers. Their home record is Played 9, Won 5, Drawn 3, Lost 1. They have only managed 11 goals in those 9 games, which seems to be their main problem, which seems odd, in that they have scored 20 in the same number of away games! It seems they suffer from a bad case of “homeitis”, which may be our best hope of getting something from this game.

Walsall vs Oldham Athletic Off

Neil @ 12:56 pm Friday 03 December 2010

The Oldham game, unsurprisingly, fell victim to the weather today, failing a 10 am inspection.

Chris Hutchings blamed bad luck and individual mistakes for the fact that snow fell on the pitch and then froze, preventing us from getting a deserved three points.

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