Monday, 28 January 2013

Gotta Love This Weather!

The winter weather over the past few weeks has inevitably led to a number of football matches at non-league (and professional) level be called off due to frozen or waterlogged pitches. By doing so it's brought up the ongoing discussion as to whether there should be a winter break in the game in an attempt to halt these postponements.

With the discussion comes the written word, you'll not have to look far to find articles or blogs on the subject, and as to not disappoint, I thought I would make my voice heard on the matter as well!

There's a number of options that people believe will work in stemming the flow of called off games, with a growing one being the funding to introduce 3G & 4G pitches across the game. These surfaces are better in adverse weather conditions, and have seen a few matches take place recently where standard pitches would have failed a standard pitch inspection. There are problems though, these pitches are not all weather & many have also succumbed to the weather. I've not played on one (hell its been years since I even played) but there's bound to be a difference in feel for the players, right?

Anyway, another option which gets the most column inches (mainly thanks to top flight managers mentioning it) is having a winter break in the season. To me that makes no sense, weather in this country is vastly unpredictable and has hit games all through the year, even on the last day of the previous season there were games struggling to get on because of waterlogged pitches! Madness! All a winter break would accomplish is giving the players a couple of weeks off in the winter!

My opinion, which I have seen others voice too at this level, is that we simply extend the season by a week or two at both ends. By doing this & making the weeks at the end "open" there'll be more opportunity to play the postponed games rather than clogging up the midweek & possibly running players into the ground with 3 matches in 5 days! Would it work in practice? Well you'd have to ask the guys in charge, but surely that would be worth a look? I know that generally the people in charge of the game are old & stuck in their ways, we've seen that in the FA & FIFA, but maybe this change would be worth thinking about!

As I said before, you'll see plenty of opinions on this topic, especially as some teams over January have had to go 3 weeks without a match (including Concord). But as this month comes to an end, here's hoping the weather improves, less games are called off, and we get the second half of the season we all want!

You Are My Concord!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

New Year, Same Determined Attitude!!

2013 is well under way, and already the Beachboys are setting out their stall and showing the league that the team means business. The team had a decent run up towards Xmas but fell in spectacular form to Lewes at home, however recovered on Boxing Day to beat Canvey Island 3-0.

The first game of 2013 saw Concord Rangers travel to Cray Wanderers on a damp Wednesday evening, and all the games goals were scored within 20 minutes. A corner from Reece Harris was touched on by Steve King to open the scoring, then two minutes later Tony Stokes capitalised on a bit of Cray misfortune to notch up another goal. This result took the Beachboys up to 4th in the Ryman Premier League, just behind 3rd place Wealdstone on goal difference.

3 days later Concord were back in action at Thames Road, hosting 2nd place Margate. Earlier in the season Rangers had won at Margate 2-0, however it was sure to be a much tougher game this time around with Margate flying high. Chances were falling to both sides early on, but it was the Beachboys who made the first breakthrough, as Nicky Cowley was on the end of a well placed cross to head home and give Concord the lead. Margate were far from out though as they responded well and won a penalty late in the half. This was subsequently missed, however on the stroke of halftime Carl Rook levelled things up after pouncing on a ball deflected back off the bar. 2nd half saw both teams going all out for the win, but the difference maker came late on as Reece Harris again turned provider for Steve King, this time from a free kick. King seemed to hang in the air for an age before heading the back into the net and sending us fans into a frenzy!

3rd place in the league was now a reality, the highest position this small club of ours has ever achieved or held. The result was made all the sweeter by hearing that the neighbours down the road had thrown away a 4-1 lead with 15 minutes to go and lost 5-4! Oh the rivalry continues to heat up between the two clubs on Concord/Canvey Island, but more on that in a bit.

Riding high from the win against Margate, Concord remained at home the following Tuesday as they hosted Chelmsford City in the Essex Senior Cup Quarter Finals. Last season on our way to the Semis of this competition we beat Chelmsford at their ground, so there was an element of revenge in the game for the Clarets! Jason Hallett (himself a former Claret) put Concord in front early on after going one on one with the keeper, however before the half ended the higher league opponents piled on the pressure. This paid off for them, taking a 2-1 lead into the break. Second half, and Concord looked the better team, after the Clarets had looked better for most of the first 45 minutes. The improvement paid off as Jason Hallett was again on the score sheet to level the game up, although it was a bit fortuitous as the ball seemed to quite literally crawl over the line at a snails pace! Concord re-took the lead as the 90 minutes approached thanks to some excellent work from Danny Spendlove down the left who crossed in for Tony Stokes to finish and celebrate with the fans behind the goal. The 90 minutes finished all square though as the last kick of the game saw a Chelmsford strike hit the back of the net.

Penalties were up (no extra time or replays at this stage), and it was tense to say the least. Tom Lovelock did exceptionally well in the Concord net, pulling off a great save of the 5th kick, however it ended up going to sudden death in the end. You couldn’t have written it better, but Hallett was the man to step up and give Concord Rangers the victory which sent the shed-end into scenes of complete jubilation. The win got the Beachboys into last Fridays draw for the Semi Finals, and once again we’ve been drawn at home, this time against Grays Athletic. Another tough game, especially as Grays are another side Concord beat on their way to the Semis last season!

I mentioned earlier that the rivalry between the two island teams continues to escalate, well it all stemmed from an announcement from Concord Rangers on Friday night regarding a new signing. Leon Gordon, a player who came through the youth side at Canvey Island and made over 250 appearances for the club, signed for Concord Rangers after leaving Canvey in mid-December. Obviously this has riled up a few Canvey fans, but he joins a long list of players who have played for both sides, including John Easterford, Danny Heale, Ashley Miller, Jason Hallett and Danny Spendlove, so it’s nothing new! He certainly won’t be the last player to go from one rival club to another!

It’ll be another interesting year for Concord Rangers, and for non-league football as a whole I’m sure! Here’s to the year of the Beachboy!

You Are My Concord!

To Talk, Or To Write? A Bloggers Return!

You've got to be in the mood to record a podcast, that's one thing I've noticed over the last couple of years doing both the S...