Friday, 26 December 2014

Bromley, Vanarama South, 261214

This club just has a knack of making history eh? We all know about the FA Cup, that’s now consigned to the annuls of time. The big story at the moment is the FA Trophy, and our recent 6-2 victory over Conference table-toppers Barnet.

Last season we reached the First round of the competition but were knocked out after a 1-0 loss to Gosport Borough, who eventually went on to make the final, so this season we were intent on going one better (as seems to be a club trend under Danny Cowley).

There’s been no easy games though in this competition, with Conference South leaders Boreham Wood coming to Thames Road in the 3rd Qualifying Round, followed by Barnet in the First Round. The second round awaits now, and a visit to Hemel Hempstead Town on Saturday January 10th.

That draw was made prior to the replay of the first round fixture, and gave the lads great incentive to get through. The Second Round of the FA Trophy is the first of the competition where the draw isn’t regionalised, so we could have ended up going anywhere in the country for this fixture! Thankfully Hemel Hempstead isn't too far down the road!

Back to the replay though, and what a night that was at The Hive (not Underhill as Steve Cawley thought at first). The first half was pretty even, both sides created chances but Concord were not quite 100% I thought. The second half though, well that was a performance to behold. At 1-1 with 45 to go, I thought it would be a fairly close game, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Barnet looked as though they had changed their system, but Concord were a team on a mission and were just too good for the Bees. Goals from Cawley, Taaffe, Pinnock, Stokes and Collins gave the Beach Boys an impressive and deserved 6-2 victory. Revenge was gained for last seasons FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round loss, and Concord Rangers place in the 2nd Round, and the history books, was confirmed. The picture here will be an image living long in the memory!

You Are My Concord

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Barnet, FA Trophy, 131214

Last Saturday we hosted Farnborough in the Vanarama Conference South, a fixture that on paper looked tough as the visitors had gone 6 games unbeaten and had been playing well for a number of weeks. Last season when the Paddy Power-backed Farnborough visited Concord, the Beachboys gave them a 5-0 pounding and sent them on their way. This season it should have been a much closer game. Or not. Although the visitors were quick to moan about the quality of the Thames Road pitch, the officials deemed the surface perfectly playable, and Concord Rangers made sure that the only thing that was unplayable, was themselves. A total of 7 goals were scored on the day, and every single one was in favour of the home side. Farnborough were well and truly beaten on the day, never getting close to challenging Concords dominance. The 7-0 result was the Beachboys biggest league win in the Conference South, the second being the 5-0 victory over the same team last season!

The league is one thing though, today is all about the FA Trophy, and the visit of a few familiar faces in Barnet FC. A few things have changed since we last met in 2013s FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round, but one thing is for sure, it should be one hell of a match today.

For those that have hazy memories of that October afternoon, Concord Rangers visited The Hive laden with travelling fans looking to make history and reach the First Round Proper of the FA Cup for the first time. Although the lads put in a determined performance, the Conference Prem side were too good on the day and the Beachboys returned home after losing 3-1.

Of course, this is another season, with different players on both sides, and a new management team for Barnet. But the determination from Concord Rangers will be just as focussed, if not more, this time around. Barnet stopped us reaching a level last season, this year the lads have now made that step forward, and will do whatever they can to ensure that Barnet are not the ones stopping us from making another historical step forward, this time into the FA Trophy 2nd Round.

Good luck to the lads out there today, its another big game & I’m sure they will do the club proud over the 90 minutes this afternoon!

You Are My Concord

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Farnborough, Vanarama South, 061214

There’s been plenty of column inches dedicated to this club and our FA Cup run, but as much as it was a great experience it is time we look forward to what else this season has to bring, that being 2 more cup competitions!

Yes you read that right, our club (at the time of writing) is still in two further cup competitions. Firstly there’s the small matter of Tuesday night, as we host Grays Athletic in the Essex Senior Cup.

This competition, for those of you that may not remember or just want to relive the story again, is one that we had the pleasure of winning last season after some impressive victories against sides like Canvey Island, Colchester United and then Braintree in the final. This season we entered at the 3rd round stage and faced Colchester United a few weeks ago. It was a tough match against a near full strength Colchester side, but the lads worked their backsides off and secured a place in the 4th round. The draw took place soon after and Tuesday nights fixture came to be (although it’s now the third night its been scheduled for).

There’s also the small matter of the FA Trophy, a competition which saw Concord Rangers and other Conference North & South clubs enter at the 3rd qualifying round stage. Last season this competition saw the Beachboys make the first round for the first time ever, but fell away to eventual finalists and fellow Conference South members Gosport Borough. This season Concord entered the 3rd qualifying round again and were victorious, this time against current Conference South table-toppers Boreham Wood. The match report from last Saturday can be found elsewhere in this programme, but for those that missed it, the lads put on one hell of a performance and dominated the visitors to win 4-0.

The First Round of the FA Trophy beckons once more, and the chance to go one better than last season (as we did in the FA Cup this season). However it won’t be easy, as yesterday the draw took place and we were paired with the team that ended our FA Cup dreams last season, Barnet. The fixture will take place on Saturday 13th December right here at Thames Road, and it has to be seen as a winnable fixture. A Conference South side made the final last season, there’s every chance the same could happen this time around!

You Are My Concord

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The FA Cup, It Still Means Something

And so there it was, the Concord Rangers FA Cup journey came to an end for another season, but what a journey it was eh? Making the first round proper of this legendary competition for the first time was something special for our small club, and we certainly made an impact didn’t we?

Having our clubs name read out on live TV in the first round draw was quite surreal, but not only for those of us involved with the club. People all over the world wondered who this team were that had been drawn away to Mansfield Town, many of them taking to social networks to ask the question “who the f**k are Concord Rangers” (I use the asterisks as this is a family publication!). With the increased net traffic, this led to our club even trending worldwide on social network site Twitter, giving our tiny club further publicity, reaching places we’d never even dreamed of.

The column inches that were then dedicated to our club continued to overwhelm and surprise us, with national publications such as The Sun and Daily Express running features on the team, along with the BBC interviewing the chairman and our players prior to the scheduled tie up north. I say scheduled of course as we all know now that this game was postponed due to the weather conditions providing Mansfield with a waterlogged pitch.

10 days later and the lads made the trip again, this time to actually get the game played. By now we all know what happened, and enough has been dedicated to the performance that was put on that night by the players and the support shown by the 100 or so travelling faithful. But the end result meant a trip back home to Thames Road a week later, and the prep work began. Club officials had to liaise with local police, the FA and the council to ensure that the ground could fit a suitable amount of people safely inside (capacity given at 3000), certain provisions needed to be made with regards to stewarding (we borrowed the Southend United stewards), and there was a long list of FA regulations we had to comply to as well (including me with the programme).

On the day it all went smoothly enough, other than the rain that didn’t seem to want to stop. But that didn’t mean we weren’t nervous about the whole thing! I can only speak for myself, but I was a bag of nerves even though I was only watching the game! From worrying about my programme being up to scratch, to making sure we as a club got everything done and set, through to my cameo interview on the BBC Essex radio show, I was shaking and struggling to process the whole thing. A fellow fan even said he could see the nerves on my face, and that I should relax! He was right of course, I play a small part in this machine, and others had a lot more on their plate than me!

The result on the night wasn’t what we were after, but everyone involved with the club should be proud of what has been achieved during this FA Cup run. Making the First Round Proper was massive, bringing a League 2 team back to Thames Road after a draw at their place was incredible, and seeing over 1500 (official attendance was 1537) people at the Aspect Arena to watch Concord Rangers was truly a sight to behold. If just 50 of those people become regular fans it would mean a boost to the club and its support.

It’s been an awesome experience, and I’m sure that there will be plenty more occasions like that in the future for our great little club. I loved being a part of it, and I hope that those of you who were there did too.

You Are My Concord!

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Fan, Programme Editor, Committee Member, Beachboy

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Boreham Wood, FA Trophy, 291114

And so there it was, the Concord Rangers FA Cup journey came to an end for another season, but what a journey it was eh? Making the first round proper of this legendary competition for the first time was something special for our small club, and we certainly made an impact didn’t we?

Having our clubs name read out on live TV in the first round draw was quite surreal, but not only for those of us involved with the club. People all over the world wondered who this team were that had been drawn away to Mansfield Town, many of them taking to social networks to ask the question “who the f**k are Concord Rangers” (I use the asterisks as this is a family publication!). With the increased net traffic, this led to our club even trending worldwide on social network site Twitter, giving our tiny club further publicity, reaching places we’d never even dreamed of.

The column inches that were then dedicated to our club continued to overwhelm and surprise us, with national publications such as The Sun and Daily Express running features on the team, along with the BBC interviewing the chairman and our players prior to the scheduled tie up north. I say scheduled of course as we all know now that this game was postponed due to the weather conditions providing Mansfield with a waterlogged pitch.

10 days later and the lads made the trip again, this time to actually get the game played. By now we all know what happened, and enough has been dedicated to the performance that was put on that night by the players and the support shown by the 100 or so travelling faithful. But the end result meant a trip back home to Thames Road a week later, and the prep work began. Club officials had to liaise with local police, the FA and the council to ensure that the ground could fit a suitable amount of people safely inside (capacity given at 3000), certain provisions needed to be made with regards to stewarding (we borrowed the Southend United stewards), and there was a long list of FA regulations we had to comply to as well (including me with the programme).

On the day it all went smoothly enough, other than the rain that didn’t seem to want to stop. But that didn’t mean we weren’t nervous about the whole thing! I can only speak for myself, but I was a bag of nerves even though I was only watching the game! From worrying about my programme being up to scratch, to making sure we as a club got everything done and set, through to my cameo interview on the BBC Essex radio show, I was shaking and struggling to process the whole thing. A fellow fan even said he could see the nerves on my face, and that I should relax! He was right of course, I play a small part in this machine, and others had a lot more on their plate than me!

The result on the night wasn’t what we were after, but everyone involved with the club should be proud of what has been achieved during this FA Cup run. Making the First Round Proper was massive, bringing a League 2 team back to Thames Road after a draw at their place was incredible, and seeing over 1500 (official attendance was 1537) people at the Aspect Arena to watch Concord Rangers was truly a sight to behold. If just 50 of those people become regular fans it would mean a boost to the club and its support.

It’s been an awesome experience, and I’m sure that there will be plenty more occasions like that in the future for our great little club. I loved being a part of it, and I hope you did too.

You Are My Concord!

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Fan, Programme Editor, Committee Member, Beachboy

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Mansfield, FA Cup, 251114

A week ago Concord Rangers travelled to Mansfield to finally take part in their first ever FA Cup 1st Round proper fixture, after the original match was called off due to a waterlogged pitch at the One Call Stadium.

There was over 100 Beachboys fans there on that cold Tuesday night ready to cheer the lads on to victory, singing our admittedly low variety of chants throughout the entire 90 minutes, and I was proud to say I was a part of that crowd. This was especially so after I was away when the original fixture was due to take place!

The lads knew they had a tough job ahead of them, even with Mansfield being in poor form and their fans wanting the manager out (they have since parted ways after that game) they were still a fulll time, professional League 2 side that would provide a very strong test. Professionalism and determination would be key, and it was on show from the 1st to the 90th minute. It would be unfair to focus on one players performance that night, as the whole team ensured that we got a positive result and set up tonights replay here at Thames Road.

Arsenal loanee Josh Vickers had a blinder in goal, our defense were strong and were able to withstand the admittedly one dimensional long ball attack of the Mansfield big men, Stokesy and the midfield lads never seemed to stop running from start to finish, and Jordan scored what can only be described as an absolute belter of a goal to level things up within minutes of us going behind to a very unlucky Danny Glozier own goal.

Tonight we ask those lads to go out there and do it all over again, face off against a professional League 2 side, put in a determined and hard-fought performance in an attempt to make history once again for this small club of ours. Whatever the result this team deserve our support and appreciation for the hard work that they have put in to reach the level they are at right now. Danny & Nickey Cowley have worked their backsides off with these players and they deserve just as much recognition, if not more, in regards to the clubs success in the FA Cup competition this season.

Tonight is a fantastic occassion for the club and I hope that you enjoy being a part of it, I know I will however the match may finish.

You Are My Concord

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Boreham Wood, Vanarama South, 151114

Ok Ill admit it and be completely honest, I wasnt totally unhappy that the first scheduled fixture at Mansfield was postponed last Saturday. I was in New York on a trip I’d booked way back in May, so I had fully accepted the fact that I would be missing what was going to be the biggest, most important fixture in the history of this club that I’ve followed and become a part of. A point that was hammered home to me when sitting at Heathrow Airport on the Friday morning and I saw the teams BBC interview pop up on the big screen in front of hundreds and maybe thousands of people over the morning!

Of course when it came to the actual postponement and the way it was called off, I have every sympathy for the team, players, staff and fans that made that long 3-4 hour journey by coach to Mansfield only for the news to hit that the delightful weather had robbed the Beachboys of their Saturday afternoon in the spotlight. From what I understand the weather had been pretty shocking throughout the day, and to have to wait until the journey was made for the postponement to be made official was poor. I also understand that Mansfield Town announced the postponement on their official Twitter account even before they spoke to our manager, players and officials/Chairman.

The only silver lining for me at least (and actually my brother) is that I (we) can now attend and watch the lads as they take on opponents they are capable of beating and securing a place in the FA Cup 2nd round against Cambridge United, another League Two side that will be a tough test but again can be beaten.

The postponement has unsurprisingly brought the subject of artificial pitches back into the forefront of conversation, especially as it was/is the start of November and already a team that ply their trade in League 2 of the professional football spectrum have had to postpone one of their games due to a little more rain than usual. Some of you may know that recently the Football League chairmen met and voted on the idea of having artificial pitches in the pro game in this country, but what you may not know is the vote was a resounding No, at least for now. I understand the reasoning as there are still uncertainties about the pitches and their ability to seemingly induce player injury, and It’ll take more than one fixture being called off for that to change, but I think its clear more investment and research needs to be focussed on this option going forward.

But for now, we must look at the league, and todays opponents! Good luck lads!

You Are My Concord!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Weston Super Mare, Vanarama South, 011114

I’m still not sure it’s entirely sunk in yet, but last Monday night our great little club heard its name read out live on BBC 2 as part of the draw for the FA Cup First Round for the first time. It was a massive moment for Concord Rangers, one that rewards all the hard work and effort that the staff, players & fans have put in over the years here.

Going to St Albans City and winning was never going to be an easy task, and it wasn’t as it ended up being just one goal that separated the two sides. What a goal it was though, Joe Gardner watched the ball come over from the left hand side, timed his shot superbly and saw the ball sail into the net past the stranded Saints keeper. A place in The FA Cup First Round was ours, and so were bragging rights for me as I have the pleasure (!) of working with a St Albans fan!

Celebrations continued until the early morning for many of us, making the most of the fact that the clocks went back an hour at the time too! But then the reality of it all began to hit, Monday night would see the draw take place live on BBC 2, and our little club would have national, if not worldwide exposure via the BBC. So what better way to watch the draw than to be with the players, fans & committee at the club? The Chairman put the wheels in motion, and Monday evening the Aspect Arena bar filled with people involved with the club ready and waiting for our big moment.

The suspense didn’t last long though, as we were the second ball drawn on the night, getting an away tie against League 2 side Mansfield Town. After the draw was made though, that’s when things got really interesting. Social Networking site Twitter became awash with our fans talking about the draw, and fans from all over the place asking just who the hell we were (some colourful language may have been used, but I’ll not replicate that here!). Those that are familiar with Twitter will know what I mean when I say that Concord Rangers were trending worldwide for a period of time, which means that our club was one of the most popular topics being talked about in the world on that social network!

So on we go, our focus though must be on the league game today before we begin to worry about the big one next week. We can’t lose sight of the bread and butter stuff, we need to still establish ourselves in the Conference South before we get any high hopes of winning the FA Cup! Even so, it is a great feeling and it’s excellent to be a part of the club right now.

You Are My Concord!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Colchester United, Essex Senior Cup, 281014

Here we are on another Tuesday night under the lights at the Aspect Arena, Thames Road, one of many that will be sure to come our way over the next couple of months. Yes we’ve got a couple already in the fixture list, but it’s a fair assumption that as the next couple of months approach the weather will have an impact on our plans! Evening games whatever the level have a different atmosphere to them, and I’m not just talking about the decrease in temperature! Standing in the ground with the floodlights brightly burning their way through the darkness, the cheers of you and your fellow fans breaking through the silence of the evenings, the half time cuppa warming up the bones, it just adds a special feeling to the whole football experience, and I think it solidifies a persons love for the game and their chosen side!

Don't get me wrong, being on the sidelines or in the stands when that whilst blows at 2 or 3 minutes past 3 on a Saturday afternoon (our games always seem to kick off late recently) is a feeling that can bring a person, a new fan, a young child, back to more games. However when you get a hard-fought victory under the lights on a chilly winters evening, the elation you feel and the connection you feel to the lads on the pitch who have been running in that cold is tough to equal.

It’s the same as you go up the levels in the game, you see a lot of premier league clubs try to bring fans in with the suffix “under the lights” when talking about evening midweek games, and it works because people love that feeling of being there in that situation. It also adds to it that the majority of high level midweek games are those in cups, whether it be the League Cup, Champions League, Europa League, or as we are in tonight, the Essex Senior Cup. Our next scheduled home tie “under the lights” after tonight is on Tuesday December 2nd against those lads down the road Chelmsford City, but there may be one earlier depending on tonights result & in turn the draw for the next round!

So with all that in mind, here’s to another great night under the lights here at Thames Road, get behind the lads and send them forward on to victory!

Oh and in case your wondering, the picture to the left here is of one of our smaller, furrier fans here at Thames Road being looked after by former club treasurer Jack Smith Senior in the background!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Feeling Tired Are We?

A controversial topic of conversation in the football world has once again reared its head over the past week or two, that of player tiredness.

The story is that a young Liverpool player (Raheem Sterling) spoke to his national team manager (Roy Hodgson) and said he was feeling too tired to start the game after having played 45 minutes in a separate game 3 days earlier. To be fair the conversation was a private one between a player and his manager, and it should never have been broadcast to the media as it has been, but the deed has been done so to speak. If nothing had been said by Hodgson, nobody would have been any wiser and there’d have been no further question or comment on the matter!

Of course, now that it’s out there, the world and his wife has an opinion on the subject, including me. Now I obviously don’t play competitive football, the closest I come to exercise is an hour on a 5-aside pitch some Wednesdays, so I don’t claim to know how the player is feeling or even that what he’s saying his rubbish, this is just my take on it from where I stand.

Sterling is a 19 year old, healthy (as far as we know), fit football player who trains for a few hours 5 days a week for his club, playing a 90 minute match once or twice a week depending on cup fixtures etc. He’s playing a sport he loves, one that millions of people love and would love to play. To me, that’s tiring stuff, I’d barely survive a training session let along a 90 minute top flight match. But that’s essentially all he does, and it’s that which has riled some of the “ordinary people” up.

You could compare it to the average person who works 60-80 hour weeks for minimal pay, who moan but still go to work every day to make sure they get their pay & are able to put food on their tables. That’s what the majority of responses have been from people on social media and even in print. But what has been forgotten is that there is another level in this that actually mix both aspects of the situation, the non league footballer.

The majority of guys that are playing out there today play football because they love the game, and enjoy the little bit of money that comes their way because of it. They train twice a week out in all weathers ready to play once, twice or even three times a week when the fixtures pile up! Of course, there’s also the fact that these guys work full time jobs as well, many Monday to Friday, some doing shifts including overnight, also taking into account they are supporting families, and yet they still manage to do it all without claiming tiredness and backing out of games/work.

You’ll never get full agreement on the subject, some top flight players have rallied behind Sterling saying what he did was brave, whilst others have condemned him, saying he shouldn’t have even dreamt of backing out of the starting line up. This will continue to divide opinions on and off the pitch for a long time to come. Of course it comes back to the only reason the subject has been brought up again, and that’s a manager breaking the trust of his player, which in my mind shouldn’t be happening. Even at international level you need a certain level of respect and trust between players and the manager/coach!

Anyway, I’ll leave you to make up your own minds, back to the football!

YAMC

Maidenhead United, Vanarama South, 181014

A controversial topic of conversation in the football world has once again reared its head over the past week or two, that of player tiredness.

The story is that a young Liverpool player (Raheem Sterling) spoke to his national team manager (Roy Hodgson) and said he was feeling too tired to start the game after having played 45 minutes in a separate game 3 days earlier. To be fair the conversation was a private one between a player and his manager, and it should never have been broadcast to the media as it has been, but the deed has been done so to speak. If nothing had been said by Hodgson, nobody would have been any wiser and there’d have been no further question or comment on the matter!

Of course, now that it’s out there, the world and his wife has an opinion on the subject, including me. Now I obviously don’t play competitive football, the closest I come to exercise is an hour on a 5-aside pitch some Wednesdays, so I don’t claim to know how the player is feeling or even that what he’s saying his rubbish, this is just my take on it from where I stand.

Sterling is a 19 year old, healthy (as far as we know), fit football player who trains for a few hours 5 days a week for his club, playing a 90 minute match once or twice a week depending on cup fixtures etc. He’s playing a sport he loves, one that millions of people love and would love to play. To me, that’s tiring stuff, I’d barely survive a training session let along a 90 minute top flight match. But that’s essentially all he does, and it’s that which has riled some of the “ordinary people” up.

You could compare it to the average person who works 60-80 hour weeks for minimal pay, who moan but still go to work every day to make sure they get their pay & are able to put food on their tables. That’s what the majority of responses have been from people on social media and even in print. But what has been forgotten is that there is another level in this that actually mix both aspects of the situation, the non league footballer.

The majority of guys that are playing out there today play football because they love the game, and enjoy the little bit of money that comes their way because of it. They train twice a week out in all weathers ready to play once, twice or even three times a week when the fixtures pile up! Of course, there’s also the fact that these guys work full time jobs as well, many Monday to Friday, some doing shifts including overnight, also taking into account they are supporting families, and yet they still manage to do it all without claiming tiredness and backing out of games/work.

You’ll never get full agreement on the subject, some top flight players have rallied behind Sterling saying what he did was brave, whilst others have condemned him, saying he shouldn’t have even dreamt of backing out of the starting line up. This will continue to divide opinions on and off the pitch for a long time to come. Of course it comes back to the only reason the subject has been brought up again, and that’s a manager breaking the trust of his player, which in my mind shouldn’t be happening. Even at international level you need a certain level of respect and trust between players and the manager/coach!

Anyway, I’ll leave you to make up your own minds, back to the football!

YAMC!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Winchester City, FA Cup, 111014

Football can be a cruel mistress, giving you the most wonderful highs then bringing you right back down to earth with a gut-shuddering crash. Results are usually the biggest factor in this emotional rollercoaster, beating a tough team in a difficult match, then losing to a team who play poorly and you think shouldn’t have really got close. But there’s another thing that can really hit you where it hurts, more specifically players, and that’s injuries.

We know that injuries happen, it’s part of the sport we all love, watch and take part in, but it doesn’t make it any easier to handle when an injury hits you, your teams player, your friend hard and takes them out of the game they love for a prolonged period of time.

And it’s with that in mind that our thoughts and support go to Beachboys ‘keeper Jamie Butler, who suffered suspected posterior cruciate ligament damage to his knee after a collision with Wealdstone’s Enoch Showumni during the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round Replay fixture a short time ago. Since signing for Concord Rangers at the start of the Butler has been an ever present in the side, making countless spectacular saves over the seasons and earning the team more than a few points during that time! Jamie settled straight into the team and clearly made an impact on his teammates as he shared the Players Player of the Year award last season. The timing of the injury couldn’t be worse either, as Jamie had recently earned a fantastic opportunity in getting named to the England C international squad. Having already taken part in training with the squad a few weeks prior, Jamie was lined up to go to Turkey and play in the England C fixture there before the injury hit. England C is the international squad that represents the country at non league level, and the majority of those players selected are playing full time in the Vanarama Conference, which shows the level at which Jamie is regarded.

As with previous favourites who’ve suffered long term injuries, the club will rally round and support Jamie through his injury and ensure he gets back to full health as soon as possible.

I know I speak for all the fans when I say best of luck with the recovery Jamie, we are all behind you and will support you through it. We look forward to seeing you back between the sticks in a Concord kit once more, once a Beachboy always a Beachboy!

#YAMC

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Wealdstone, FA Cup, 300914

With all the fuss over the FA Cup qualifying rounds this past week (and of course tonight) we should remember that it isn’t the only cup we take part in as a club this season. There’s the FA Trophy, which we enter in the 3rd Qualifying Round at the end of November, and of course there’s the Essex Senior Cup, which we enter at the third round stage, and the draw was made about a week ago.

Last season we enjoyed a fantastic run in the Essex Senior Cup and beat Braintree 2-1 in the final playing at the home of Dagenham and Redbridge. The defence of this cup though will start with a tough encounter at home to Colchester United, a team we faced en route to the final last season. The fixture has to take place prior to the 1st of November; the exact date though is yet to be confirmed.

There were issues around this cup fixture last season, as it came in the middle of a period of bad weather and a hell of a lot of rain! The game was scheduled though and after a lot of work on the pitch during the day everything seemed good to go that evening. However although the officials were there well before kickoff (as they should be), given the recent weather they waited until there was just 20 minutes before kickoff before inspecting the pitch, when no more work could be done on any areas that may have been questionable. So when the ref got to a corner of the ground he thought wasn’t in the best shape, the game was called off when everyone was ready to go.

The frustrating part of all this was that Colchester brought a strong side with them, including a number of first team players who needed game time, and it would have been a good test for our lads. It wasn’t to be though, and the game was rescheduled for a week or two later when a younger squad would have to play. Ultimately it saw Concord Rangers emerge victorious and go on to win the trophy for the first time in our history.

A quick note on another cup the club is involved in, the FA Youth Cup. Our Under 18s side have played Preliminary & 1st Qualifying round fixtures, beating St Albans City (3-1) and Redbridge FC (5-4 after penalties) respectively. This has set up a 2nd Qualifying Round fixture at home to Fisher FC, which will take place at Thames Road on Wednesday 8th October. If you can get down to the Aspect Arena that night I’m sure the Under 18s will appreciate the support you provide!

Here’s to plenty of Cup success this season!

You Are My Concord!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Programme Perils

Its been a while since I've actually got round to writing a blog for me and about how things are going in general, but there's good reason for the break I assure you! If you are unaware, during the summer I became a member of the committee at Concord Rangers football club, and as part of that I also took over responsibility for editing the Beachboys matchday programme. At the time I thought how hard could it be? Writing bits here and there to make sure it's kept up to date, nothing too major. Of course it has turned out to be more difficult than I imagined, even though at the moment things seem to be going fairly well.

There's a lot of work that goes into these programmes that I guess I took for granted, but now after 5 home games I appreciate the effort that goes into producing them for each fixture! Obviously there's some stuff that has to go in that's required from the league (adverts mainly), but you have to ensure that your opponents details are right as well as your own. Opponents are meant to send you their club history and player info so that you can use it in your programme, but that means you're relying on others, and I've already had one team either forget or generally just be ignorant about it all. Prior to the first game of the season there's also the problem of making sure the player details are up to date for the new signings, which at first wasn't too bad due to us only having 1 or 2 new lads. That's changed now and more have to go in, so it's a key area I have to keep on top of.

There's also the content that changes each week/game, ranging from league news and statements, through to our own match reports and pictures from our fixtures. We've got a good thing at the moment with the club photographer, he provides me with new game pics for each programme, so we'll never look repetitive or too tired hopefully. Then there's the articles that I write, which has added a bit more pressure on to me. Last season when I wrote "Fans View" articles, it wasn't every week and they tended to remain in the programme for a few weeks at a time. However by doing the programme myself and having a responsibility to keep it as up to date and fresh as possible, I feel that I should have a different article in there every edition. Easy enough right? Wrong! After only 5 games I am already finding it tough to put together a brand new article each time! And with my writing focus essentially being on that, it's meant that I haven't had much of a chance to write for the sake of it

I can't complain though, the programme, as difficult as it can be at times, is part of a massive learning experience for me and I am enjoying the fact that I'm expanding my knowledge of writing and editing something that actually means something rather than just my normal blogs/ramblings. I still worry though that each game I've made a mistake, that I've made glaring errors that people will find and be able to moan about! I'm an amateur when it comes to this, but it frustrates the hell out of me when I know I've made a mistake that I really shouldn't have made (if I feel this way, how do people feel when they do this for a living and mess up?).

So how have I had a chance to sit down and type this up I hear you ask? Well the Beachboys have two weeks off, the league is running one team short thanks to the financial issues that Salisbury ran into prior to the season and their games were simply taken out of the fixture list. This left each team with 2 weekends off without a game, and our first is next weekend. Of course now I look at what I've actually written, and there's no real update there, just talking about why I haven't been talking over the past couple of months! What can I say except Concord Rangers continues to be a large part of my life, whether it be attending games, helping out prior to games, or editing the matchday programme, and honestly I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's a top club to be a part of and I look forward to being a part of it for a long time to come.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Wealdstone, Vanarama South, 130914

Today our visitors are Wealdstone FC, a team we know fairly well! We’ve not seen them here at the Aspect Arena since 2012 but our most recent encounter was of course the playoff semi-final in which we won 2-1 and went on to secure promotion to the Conference South.

That final encounter was one that lives long in the memory for me, and I’m sure for everyone involved with Concord Rangers at the time, but it wasn’t just for the score line and what the result led to. A few weeks prior to the end of the season Concord Rangers had travelled to Wealdstone in the league, both teams in the playoff hunt and eager to score what would be a massive victory. I remember travelling up early after work, and meeting the usual travelling fans (committee mainly) in the ground. An early sending off for Leon McKenzie didn’t start the game too well, however what followed was a mixture of ups and downs that really set the tone for the following playoff encounter.

There was no denying Concord were the better team on the night, creating much more chances and looking the more dangerous from open play. However it was Wealdstone who won on the night and it was a footballing robbery. They played poor, didn’t match us at all, but the key point was they took the chances that were presented to them. The final score was 2-1 to the Stones, and Concord Rangers had every right to feel aggrieved with the result after how they’d performed. The situation wasn’t helped by the incidents after the game, with some fans invading the pitch and some confrontations being caused.

Afterwards gaffer Danny Cowley told the lads to put the result behind them, as if justice was to be served we’d come back here in the playoffs and win. Little did we know how right he would be on that night!

So the playoff encounter inevitably came around, and the teams squared off once again. I again had come straight from work, but had also brought along a friend for their first Concord Rangers game (it left an impression that’s for sure!). This time round, the situation was reversed in the respect that Wealdstone were the better side throughout the game. However much like the previous encounter, the opposition took the chances that were placed before them, and we stole a 2-1 victory. The rest of course is history, until now.

Last season whilst we were making our own history in what was the Skrill South, Wealdstone tore apart the Ryman Isthmian Premier Division and won promotion as champions. So here we both are, facing off once again as league foes. I’m sure it’ll be an entertaining encounter, and there’ll be a good crowd at this and the eventual return match later in the season. Personally I wish them luck for the rest of the season, just not when they’re playing us of course!

You Are My Concord!

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Bishops Stortford, Vanarama South, 090914

This past Saturday was Non League Day, the day used to promote the benefits and positive aspects of the non league levels of the beautiful game. Usually held during the first international break of the season, it uses the lack of Premiership and Championship games to capitalise and bring more fans to our games.

I’m all for it, obviously! The non league game has a special pull about it, just attending one game can see you get addicted to it and have you coming back week after week. That’s what happened to me, so I know for a fact it can happen! My first game at Thames Road was attended because I have a friend here as part of the setup in Miki Hood, so that gave me a reason to pop down and tear myself away from Upton Park. But not everyone has that opportunity, so it’s initiatives like Non League Day that help spread the love so to speak and get people involved.

Clubs up and down the country get involved with this initiative, many of them holding promotional events to either lower the price of the entry (some even free if they already hold season tickets for top flight clubs) or get fans involved in some aspect of the gameday. The hope is that when these fans of the bigger clubs (or just football fans who don't often get to games) come to their local non league club they find something they identify with, something they find a connection with and find a reason to keep coming back.

Whether it’s the family atmosphere you find at many clubs, the cheap entry fees (especially compared to the top flight clubs), the fact that you can have a random chat with the chairman or players in the bar after the game, or the fact that you see so much more passion for the game from the players when they are on that pitch, there are plenty of reasons why non league football is worth coming to see.

I could go on for hours about what I have gained from being a part of this club, about what I enjoy about it and about what brings me back game after game, but I only have a page to myself in this programme! But to get to the point, I love non league football, and would love to see more and more people get involved, especially here at the Aspect Arena as this team deserves to have a bigger fanbase than what it does. The success these lads have achieved is recognised and appreciated by everyone who comes to see them each week, but there’s plenty more people out there who need to experience the emotional roller-coaster that we enjoy every season as part of the Concord Rangers family!

My only problem with Non League Day is that it happens only once a season, there’s plenty of international breaks throughout the footballing year and we as a non league collective need to make the most of these times to promote this level of the game and bring more people in. It’s easier said than done, I know that, every non league club is always looking for ways to bring more people through the turnstiles, but we need to capitalise on every opportunity we have to promote our level of the game and get it out there to the masses!

You Are My Concord!

Alan Jessup-Peacock, fan, programme editor & fully fledged Beachboy

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Gosport Borough, Vanaram South, 300814

The season is a month old already, 5 games down (6 if you include today) and already we’ve seen some highs & lows. But there’s always games to look forward to, and the coming month will see us encounter familiar faces and make our first foray into cup action this season.

First up will be Sutton United away on September 6th, a team that last year gave us our first home point of the season in a 0-0 draw on Bank Holiday Monday. On our travels to Sutton though we fell to a 0-1 defeat in late April during our hectic end of season run in! This time round we’ll be looking to pick up a positive result there against a very tough team. We’ll also be up against a familiar face in Tom Lovelock, a young goalkeeper who spent some time on loan with the Beachboys a couple of seasons ago. As good a ‘keeper as he is, I’m sure the lads will be eager to put one or more past him!

3 days later the boys will be back on home turf as we play host to Bishops Stortford, with whom we had an interesting encounter last season! In the away fixture, there was a bit of a clash between our gaffer Danny Cowley and the Stortford boss Rod Stringer, who for a period of time worked at Concord Rangers alongside Danny! On the night we picked up a fantastic 1-0 win, which had earned us some aspect of revenge after losing 2-0 in the home tie. At the heart of the Stortford defence is a former Beachboy in Ashley Miller. Ash spent some time with Concord Rangers before making the switch to Canvey Island, so he’s more than familiar with the lads on and off the pitch here at the club.

The following Saturday (13th September) will see a team visit the Aspect Arena for the first time since 15th September 2012, Wealdstone. They were our first opponents in the playoffs during our promotion season as we went to their place and won 2-1. On their last visit to Thames Road Wealdstone were able to earn a point in a 2-2 draw. I’m sure they’ve missed seeing us so this should be a great encounter!

On Saturday 20th September there’s currently no game scheduled, this is because when the fixtures were put together this was a date we were originally due to play Salisbury. Obviously the issues with Salisbury have been well publicised, and it looks like the lads will have the day off (although they’ll probably be stuck training instead!)

Then there’s the small matter of the FA Cup, our adventure last season saw us reach the 4th qualifying round for the first time only to crash out to a well-drilled and professional Barnet side. This year Danny Cowley and the team will be looking to go at least one better and make the first round proper, and the journey will begin on Saturday 27th September in the 2nd Qualifying Round. Now we wont know who we’re playing until around the 15th of this month, but home or away the lads will be ready to make it a successful start to the campaign!

An interesting month ahead I’m sure you’ll agree, I hope to see as many of you here throughout the month cheering the lads on!

You Are My Concord!

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Concord Rangers Supporters Association Chairman, Programme Editor

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Eastbourne Borough, Vanarama South, 230814

What a start it’s been already to the 2014/15 Vanarama Conference South season! Certainly expected some ups and downs, but I don't think anyone expected the differences we’ve already seen and experienced.

Take the opening day of the season, Concord Rangers put on a masterclass against Bath City, playing some sublime football at times and giving Bath City a lot to worry about through the entire 90 minutes. Although two of our three goals were penalties, I don't think anybody watching the game on the day could say that the lads weren’t deserving of the scoreline or the result.

Then the lows began to creep in, firstly with Leon Gordon limping off and suffering an injury, which has kept him out of our games since then. Here’s hoping that he makes a speedy recovery and gets back into the side soon.

It was off to Ebbsfleet on the following Tuesday, and within the first twenty minutes we’d lost two further defenders to injury! Steve King limped off, whilst soon after Jack Lampe was helped off after suffering a broken jaw. From where I was standing I couldn’t see how he got caught, but he was down for some time and we await an update as to his recovery time.

The boys responded well though, and put in a determined performance, however Ebbsfleet scored from two rare chances (all about making those count) and were able to come away with a 2-0 victory.

Another away trip beckoned last Saturday as we faced Hayes & Yeading (who are currently ground-sharing with Maidenhead). The trip was an unnecessarily long one thanks to incredible amounts of traffic round the M25, so our away support cut it awfully close to kick off before arriving (some even turned up midway through the first half, I’ll not embarrass them here though).

It wasn’t the best game in the world, and at times it appeared that it was a totally different performance to the game a week previous vs Bath City. There were some positives though, and through the second half the team looked a lot more positive and ready to attack with a bit more venom. It wasn't enough though, as we lost 3-1 in the end to a team lucky to be in the league (Hayes & Yeading were reprieved after Hereford had financial issues).

It’s still early though, there’s plenty of games still to play and more than enough points to be won, the lads have it in them to make a big impact on this league, and I for one have the belief that they will do so on a bigger scale than last season!

You Are My Concord!

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Concord Supporters Association Chairman/Programme Editor

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Bath City, Vanarama South, 090814

So here it is, my first program as editor, and our first game of the 2014/15 Vanarama Conference South Season!

It’s certainly been an interesting summer period, what with the World Cup taking place and all the noise surrounding that, but the focus is finally back where it belongs, on the Beachboys and our second season in the Conference South. Last seasons sponsors Skrill ended their deal early, and as of just over a week ago the new sponsors were announced as being online van company Vanarama, who you may be familiar with due to their unique adverts on the tv! So as of this season we are playing in the Vanarama Conference South.

After an outstanding season last time out, with a 9th place finish and of course our Essex Senior Cup victory over Braintree, the lads will have to go a hell of a long way to improve this time round. I know that Danny (Cowley) is always keen to go one better each season, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the FA Trophy or the first round proper of the FA Cup are sitting high on his priority list right now along with another top ten league finish. Preseason so far has been testing, as has the training (I attended a session but there’s no way I’d get involved!), but it looks like the lads are fit & ready to get the job done now that the season is kicking off.

The fixtures were released early in July and threw up some interesting things, for example we’ll play Chelmsford City, Gosport Borough & Bishops Stortford twice before we even get to play St Albans City or Staines Town once! One to keep an eye on for later in the season though is Weston Super Mare away, due to take place on Saturday March 21st, might be worth a weekend away given that it’s a bit of a trek! Although hopefully the weather is a bit better than what we experienced this past March! As mentioned previously, we open up our campaign at home to Bath City, and will close our league campaign away to Farnborough on April 25th. Key dates include hosting Bromley on Boxing Day, playing the return match on New Years Day, and Non League Day will be Saturday 6th September when we travel to Sutton United.

One more thing that should be taken note of, due to certain issues Salisbury City were booted out of the Conference, and then the Conference South shortly afterwards. This means that our league will be running with just 21 teams this year rather than the normal 22, and two dates originally scheduled for games are empty at present, those being Saturday 20th September, and Saturday 21st February.

And with that, here’s to what we hope will be another successful and enjoyable season!

You Are My Concord!

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Concord Supporters Association Chairman (& new program editor)

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Opportunity Knocks, or Maybe It Tweets

About 4 years ago I was talking to a mate on twitter who at the time (and remains so at present) was a member of the backroom staff at Concord Rangers, and during our conversation it was suggested that I come down to Thames Road and take in a Beachboys game. After not much thought I said yes and a few weeks later I went down there to see Concord in action & catch up with said mate.

A seemingly innocuous decision with no long lasting results or issues stemming from it, or at least that’s what you would think on first glance. Little did I realise when I said I’d go that it would lead to so many things, including memorable events, great friendships, and most recently a number of responsibilities as part of the club.

For example, Concord Rangers second season in the Ryman Premier came to an end with an away trip to Wealdstone, home of the now infamous Wealdstone Raider. I had been around the club for a while by this point, and had got to know the coaches & a few of the players, so I was able to go on the away trip on the players coach, which also contained the committee. I remember it well as prior to the game West Ham were on the tv in the pub, which was a game that solidified their place in the Championship playoffs. The Concord game wasn’t the greatest, and we came away with a loss, but it was the coach trip back to the club and the following presentation night that made a lasting (and positive) impression on this fan.

As you probably understand, writing blogs has been one of my things, and it was thanks to this that I really met the chairman etc at the club. The first one that was widely read focused on the derby match between Concord & Canvey, this was shared by friends on Facebook & Twitter and as such was read by a number of people involved with the club. Eventually it was suggested that these blogs (which were a fairly regular occurrence by that time) be placed on the Concord website. On they went, and I have been honoured to receive positive feedback from players & fans about what I write about the club. The key, I believe, has always been to write what I would say, put it how I would speak to the reader in person, and not say anything I wouldn’t say to them in person.

Helping out with the website & match day programme, along with the regular blogs, earned me the title of “Concord Rangers Supporters Association Chairman”, which has stuck with me to this very day. But I may have to give that title up, as another opportunity has presented itself. This coming season, the clubs second in the Conference South, I will be editing the club match day programme, and as a part of that I was asked to join the club committee. I was over the moon to be asked, and it highlights the fact that it is so easy to get caught up in a club like this, form bonds with people and have it become a large part of your life. I just hope that I can do the duties I’m asked to perform justice.

There’s plenty of friendships that have been built around the club, good mates that I spend time with & ones that will always hold a memory. Some of these guys are as good as family, who hold my trust and respect, even if their banter at times can be shocking! I’m grateful for all that Concord Rangers has given me over these past four years, and look forward to continuing to contribute to it in my own way over the coming years.

It’s clubs like this that make football what it is, the small clubs in non league that form the building blocks of the sport across the country. They are family orientated, run by people who genuinely love the club and want it to succeed, and being a part of it is something that I wouldn’t trade for the world right now. Thank you to all at Concord Rangers, and long may it continue!

#YAMC

Thursday, 24 April 2014

One More Game

Welcome to Thames Road for what is Concord Rangers final game of our inaugural Skrill Conference South season. I don’t think anyone could have expected this season to play out as it has, we all had dreams sure, but breaking as many barriers as we have as a club has surprised plenty of teams, experts & fans alike.

From earning the teams first victory in this league away at Dover back in August, securing our 50 point target away to Farnborough back in March through to confirming a top 10 finish with a victory away (find a theme here?) to Basingstoke this past week, it’s been one hell of a season! I could sit here and write about how well Danny & Glenn managed the side, how well each of the players performed, how loudly the fans cheered at some of our most exciting moments, but that would be singling out one aspect of many. It’s been a club effort to reach this level of success, dedication, blood, sweat & tears at every level has contributed to the Beach Boys having a spectacular first season in the Skrill South.

From my perspective the team has over performed, broke records and made history at every turn as the season wore on. Being a part of that as a fan, and a part of the Concord family has been an experience I will never forget, and one I hope you, my fellow fan, have enjoyed as much as I have!

There is still more to come though, after todays game against Bath City we travel to Dagenham & Redbridge to face Skrill Premier side Braintree in the Essex Senior Cup final. Given our recent history in finals it will certainly be an event to be part of! The game is due to kick off at 19:45 on Tuesday 29th April, and it would be fantastic to see as many fellow Concord fans there as possible to cheer the lads on and hopefully end this historic season on a high. A quick warning though, get there early if using the train, tube strikes are due to take place and will undoubtedly cause grief to those using public transport!

I’ve been writing these articles for some time now, and whether you read them in the programme or on the website, I hope they provide you with some enjoyment and a decent take on how I see things being a part of this special little non league club. Let’s cheer on the lads today and on Tuesday, and I hope to see you all here again next season.

You Are My Concord

Alan Jessup-Peacock

Concord Supporters Association Chairman

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Race To 50? No Problem!

Concord Rangers in the Skrill Conference South, a sentence that still didn’t quite sound right when promotion was won last summer, but what is even more astounding is the fact we’ll be saying that for at least another season yet. Ok so maybe Concord Rangers are still not quite mathematically safe, but sitting in 8th (as I type) on 54 points I believe it’s safe to say we’re staying up.

At the start of the season I remember Danny Cowley saying he just wanted us to be competitive in the league, not be the whipping boys that everyone else expected us to be. He also set a target of 50 points which would probably be enough to ensure safety in this league, and with 32 games gone an away win at Farnborough got the lads to that magical number.

So what now? Our main objective for the season has been achieved, there is no longer any pressure on the lads to survive, and there’s a cup final to look to at the end of the season. But what of the remaining league games (8 as I type)? Now is a chance to play with a little more freedom, look at our position in the league and try to achieve something extra special, the playoffs. Now when promotion to this league was achieved last summer, would anyone have suggested we’d be chasing a playoff spot with 8 games to go? No chance, even knowing this team as I do there were no expectations in that respect!

The opportunity is within the teams grasp, no question about that, and with the way they keep surprising opponents with these results it is very possible. Whether we get there or not though I will be able to say I have been a part of one of the most enthralling and exciting seasons in Concord Rangers history.

You Are My Concord

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Whisky Live 2014

Whisky Live is a whisky tasting festival which occurs around the world every year in locations such as Tokyo, New York, Melbourne and London. I attended my first Whisky Live event in 2008, already the 8th to be held in London. I was just getting into whisky at the time, starting to try different brands of scotch which to me were the only ones out there. My girlfriend at the time spotted an advert for the show in Timeout, and as such suggested that we should go. The show was held in the Royal Horticultural Halls near Westminster, and was my first real look into what was (& still is) a huge world of whisky.

I remember trying Glen Grant and Bowmore whiskies for the first time at the show, but it also allowed me to broaden my horizons as such, and sample what has become one of my favourites, Yamazaki, a single malt whisky from Japan. I also was able to try Four Roses bourbon, which I have returned to with fair regularity over the years!

With my first Whisky Live experience a positive one, I continued to attend the shows as and when they came to London. The following year though the location was changed, as was the company I took with me. Whisky Live was held at the rather posh Hurlingham Club near Putney, and I dragged along two mates from work with me, both of whom became repeat attendees as the years went on! The stand out memory from that show was a Ben Nevis 10yr single cask whisky that we tried, it had a beautiful red colour after spending its last 14 months in a port cask, and there was only 697 bottles made. Me & one of my mates both bought a bottle (£40 each), and mine lasted 5 years before I had the guts to actually open it!

Since 2011 the London event has been held at the Honourable Artillery Company near Old Street, a venue which has felt rather small compared to the previous ones attended. 5 successive years I had attended Whisky Live London, but last year I fell ill on the morning of the show and never managed to get there. So when the dates were announced for this year, it was clear that I had to get back in to the routine of attending this great little event.

I use the term little as once again the event was held at the HAC, and it felt as though there were fewer exhibitors than my previous visits. However the reason I go to these is to try new drams, ones I may not get the chance to anywhere else and ones I simply wouldn’t be able to afford! Thankfully Whisky Live 2014 didn’t let me down.

This was the first occasion I was able to taste a range of whisky from Taiwan, produced by the Kavalan distillery. Their “classic” expression was the better of the 3 I tried, at least in my opinion, offering a smooth, oily taste with a light floral aroma. I also tried their port cask “Concertmaster” and the sherry cask finished expression of Solist, but neither really set me on fire. Of course, you have to remember that there is no such thing as a bad whisky, just a whisky you don’t like!

One dram I did enjoy was the single grain whiskey (note the spelling) from Teeling, the standard expression was excellent, so much so that it had sold out before I could buy a bottle at the show! Their “Small Batch” was also top quality, so I bought myself a bottle of that instead! Another single grain whisky was on show, the Girvan Patent Still 25yr, which at £250 a bottle isn’t one I will be buying any time soon, although it did taste wonderful when sampling! Japanese whisky is always something I look to try, and this time I found a 10yr Miyagikyo which was worth a second look.

I also went back to drams I’d had before, ones I’ve enjoyed and will keep going back to for years to come! Those included the excellent range of corn whisky from Balcones, Four Roses bourbon and the Glenrothes. It felt good to be back at a whisky tasting after missing the big ones last year, and already I’m looking forward to the different events lined up for the rest of the year. The whisky world is a large one, and it’s great being able to explore all the corners of it!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Cup Final Countdown

Last season Concord Rangers acheived some incredible successes, winning promotion via the playoffs and taking home the Ryman League Cup. Coming into this season though we all knew it’d be tough to even come close to replicating that level of success given the tougher competitions we are now a part of.

But come close we have, as after beating Colchester United a few weeks ago Concord Rangers are now in the Essex Senior Cup Final, due to take place on Tuesday 29th April. The Beachboys will face Skrill Premier side Braintree Town at The London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium, home of Dagenham & Redbridge FC. The ground played host to the last Essex Senior Cup Final Concord were a part of, but we’ll be hoping for better fortunes after losing in 2008/09 to Chelmsford City.

Our journey to the final has been an interesting one, with a 5-0 victory over Waltham Abbey in the 3rd round getting things started. The 4th round saw old enemies Chelmsford City visit the Aspect Arena, but they met the same fate as the previous 2 years as Concord sent them packing (on penalties for the second year in a row). This set up a mouth-watering quarter final fixture against neighbours Canvey Island. The surface was sodden & weather pretty poor, but it failed to stop the result from being more than emphatic as the Beachboys won 4-0 over their island rivals.

The semi final draw saw Concord Rangers have to travel to Colchester United, however as the United playing surface was in need of respite the fixture was relocated to Thames Road. It also suffered a late postponement, but when the game finally got under way on 6th March, Concord secured their place in the final with a special strike from Gary Ogilvie.

I for one am really looking forward to the match, as we’ll be heading there as underdogs, just like our last two final appearances (Ryman Cup & Playoff). The Beachboys have proven over the years that they never know when they are beat, and I have a firm feeling that this belief will be rife amongst the players on the day. Reaching the final is a massive achievement in itself, but if we were to come away from there with our third bit of silverware in 2 years? Well that would be something very special indeed.

To be honest, whatever happens on that Tuesday evening in April it will be a fantastic night for everyone involved with Concord Rangers. It’s at a venue close to home (just up the A13 or less than 30 minutes on a train) and hopefully we’ll have a big Beachboy following to cheer the lads on to what could be a memorable victory!

You Are My Concord!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Beachboy Football is Back!

There’s not been much to talk about recently concerning Concord Rangers thanks to the seemingly endless torrents of recent rainfall. Thankfully though things have started to clear up & dry out a bit, allowing football to get going again!

After the Beachboys Boxing Day victory over Boreham Wood, there were plenty of fixtures scheduled through January to let the lads build a run together, but as we all know the weather stopped any chance of that. A total of just 3 games were able to be played during the first month of the year, including victories at home to Hayes & Yeading and away to league leaders Bromley. The weather was still poor though, and after a Saturday fixture was called off Concord hosted Chelmsford City on a Tuesday night that proved to be the last game for over a month.

The Chelmsford game had already been reorganised due to a power issue the first time round, but thanks to a lot of work on the pitch it was able to go ahead on Tuesday 21st January. I had a few complaints about the game, thought we could have done better and that some decisions were a bit dubious, but that didn’t change the end result. Chelmsford exacted revenge for being knocked out of the Essex Senior Cup by beating Concord Rangers 1-3. At the time there was hope that a response could be made fairly quickly, but as the days went on it was clear that wouldn’t be the case.

The weather picked up, albeit slightly, and hopes were high that the Essex Senior Cup Semi Final at home (moved to Thames Road from Colchester’s ground) to Colchester United would go ahead on Tuesday 18th February. The fans entered the ground, players were warming up on the pitch, programmes were being sold and burgers were being eaten, but this idyllic picture soon changed. With just 10 minutes to go till kick off, the referee finally inspected the pitch (something that is usually done by officials as soon as they arrive, nearly 90 minutes before kick off) and decided that the game would not go ahead due to an unsafe area of the pitch. Now, if the official had checked the pitch upon arrival then maybe some work could have been done on the area to make it playable, but that just wasn’t the case. I made my views on the official clear on the night, as did many other fans & people present, but nothing was changing the mind of the referee.

So another fixture had to be rearranged, and more time had to pass before competitive football could be experienced by the Beachboys. The lads didn’t have to wait much longer though, as Thames Road saw a Skrill South fixture take place for the first time in 32 days as Concord hosted Bishops Stortford. It wasn’t the best return to action though, as a reportedly (I wasn’t there) poor performance saw Stortford win 2-0 after spending the majority of the game with only 10 men on the pitch, & a striker keeping goal.

Changes were made, and an immediate response was sought as Concord had their second home game in 4 days, taking on Staines Town. Concord remain the only team to win at Staines this season, and this fixture provided the opportunity for more history to be made by doing the double over the Swans. A determined, hard fought and at times dominant performance saw Rangers do just that, surviving a shaky last 15 minutes to win 2-1 and claim their first Skrill South double.

There’s been some personnel changes recently that are worth noting, Sam Higgins has returned to East Thurrock, whilst Joe Gardner has signed from Maldon & Tiptree, and both Taylor Miles & Rob Girdlestone have signed on loan from West Ham United.

To be honest it feels like the season has started all over again after that month break! Now we just hope that the weather holds and the rest of the season goes on without a hitch, especially given the amount of rearranged games we have to go! It should be a great, if busy, second half of the season and I for one cannot wait to see how it unfolds!

You Are My Concord!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Pro Wrestling Is Real, People Are Fake

Pro wrestling and I have had an interesting on & off relationship over the years, but it seems as though it’s something I keep coming back to even after staying clear for long periods of time!

As a kid I watched what many others did, wrestling on ITV on a Saturday afternoon, seeing guys like Ric Flair, the British Bulldogs, Bret Hart and the Ultimate Warrior. This was early on in my life, so I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember many of the finer details, only that I recall watching professional wrestling! Then the early 90s hit and it really took off, and thanks to satellite TV I was able to become a fan of guys like Flyin’ Brian Pillman, The Rockers and the British Bulldog. Probably my most prominent memory of this period was watching the WWF Summerslam PPV which was held in London in 1992. The main event was when The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith (RIP) defeated Bret Hart for the Intercontinental Title. At the end Bret’s sister (Davey’s wife) and the rest of the Hart family hit the ring to celebrate in what was an emotional moment!

I don’t remember much after then, but I’m pretty sure we stopped getting Sky and as such lost access to the regular wrestling shows that were being shown. So another few years go by, and the home TV situation changed again, with us once again getting satellite and being able to watch the WWF shows (and WCW). I know that this was around 1995/96, as again there’s one PPV event that really stands out in my memory, Wrestlemania 12 in March 1996. The Ultimate Warrior made his WWF return, beating Hunter Hearst Helmsley in double quick time (the guy who runs things as HHH now) to a massive crowd reaction. The showpiece of the event though was a 60 minute Iron Man match between Shawn Michaels & Bret “The Hitman” Hart, my two favourite wrestlers at the time (and they remain so to this day).

Being kids, myself & my brothers naturally began to act out these wrestling moves on each other, and in time our mother put a ban on us watching it, leading to another period where nothing was seen. We missed a big part of what was the most popular time in pro wrestling, WCW were beating WWF in (what was to become known as) the Monday Night Wars, the NWO faction was running wild in WCW & DX was getting started in WWF.

Then our dad came to our rescue by recording both WCW Nitro & WWF Raw and letting us watch it when round his house (our parents had split a few years earlier). We got right back into it, following both companies and the storylines that they produced. We caught a lot of great moments during that time, the unbeaten streak of Goldberg along with the NWO angle in WCW, the Corporation/Ministry/Austin angles in WWF, and the various personnel switches that took place (Jarrett, Benoit, Malenko, Guerrero, Jericho, Wight etc). Then there was the demise of WCW and ECW, which I had begun to watch, which changed the shape of the business forever.

WWE (as it was now know) thankfully wasn’t the only one left, independent companies like ROH came to the forefront, and soon NWA:TNA was created as well (now just TNA). A digital channel cunningly titled The Wrestling Channel allowed people like me to get into these companies & the product they produced. I was thankful as it introduced me to talent that was original compared to the WWE (which had become very predictable) such as AJ Styles, Low Ki, CM Punk, The Fallen Angel Christopher Daniels & Samoa Joe. About 2/3 years after an excellent trip to NY to see Wrestlemania XX at Madison Square Garden, I drifted away from watching it.

That was until last year, when after moving into a flat with my youngest brother I noticed a WWE show on Sky Sports. I thought I’d give it a go and see how it was 6 years on. Not much had changed, there were still the same old faces, but it didn’t take long to get right back into it! So once again pro wrestling is back in my life, watching both the WWE & TNA shows every week and letting it provide me with both entertainment and frustration. It’s something that I can rely on I guess, sports entertainment, the soap opera for blokes, still provoking a reaction when something unexpected happens. No matter how I try, it keeps coming back! I enjoy it, as do my brothers, and so do millions of people worldwide, the business is almost like an addiction.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Darting Divide

To me Darts is a wonderful sport, an enjoyable game that is great to take part in and even better to watch, both whilst having a beer or 3 with mates! But there’s a lot to it behind the scenes which has kept darting fanatics arguing for years now.

There are two organisations that essentially run the sport of professional darts, firstly the British Darts Organisation (BDO) who have been in operation since 1973, and secondly the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) which was formed in 1992 by a group of 16 players (including all former World Champions still playing). It isn’t hard to find plenty of articles written about the split in professional darts, so I won’t go into detail about the reasons of the split.

The thing is, fans are just as split as the organisations are. The BDO is very traditional, very old school, as are a large number of its fans. The PDC however, is loud, brash and very publicity-heavy thanks to the chairman Barry Hearn. There is also a gulf in talent, which has been apparent recently with both organisations running their World Championships within the last 2 months. PDC players are the best in the world, they have the higher averages, the better scores, the more competitive games, and a lot more 9 dart finishes than the BDO have.

Speaking of 9 dart finishes, that is perfection for a darts player. Only in Darts & Snooker (there may be more) can an athlete achieve perfection, there is no better than a 147 clearance in Snooker or a 9 dart finish in Darts. It cannot be beaten, cannot be outdone, and is a special moment for anyone who achieves it.

It’s a regular occurrence to see players perform well in the BDO, then a short while later make the jump over to the PDC, where the money is. Of course, the money is a massive difference between the two. Firstly there’s more televised (and therefore highly prized) tournaments within the PDC throughout the year, but the World Championship prize fund really highlights the gulf. This past weekend Steve Bunting won the BDO Worlds, pocketing a cool £100k. Not an amount to be sniffed at I know, but compare that to the £250k prize fund that PDC World Champion Michael Van Gerwen took home on New Years Day and you see where the difference is.

Fans of the BDO can often be found complaining about the noise of the PDC events, that there’s no respect for the players when they’re throwing, and the players are arrogant. However these same fans will also be seen talking about top BDO players in the sense that they are “good enough to make the step up to the PDC”. The BDO is great for entry level darts, but when you look at the bigger picture, the PDC is the best darts to watch & be a part of. The atmosphere at the events is electric, the players are of the highest quality, and it’s encouraged that you go there and have a bloody good time!

I have all the time in the world for BDO darts, I will gladly watch it on the rare occasion it makes it on to the tv, but it doesn’t compare to the big leagues of the PDC. Maybe in some eyes it does, but to me, and thousands of other dart fanatics, (to paraphrase Jim Bowen) you can’t beat a bit of PDC!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Festive Frustrations

The festive period is usually one filled with football fixtures, so much so that teams in the top flight complain and moan about wanting a winter break. Well after looking forward to this period full of footy it turned out that Concord Rangers (and many other teams at this level) actually got an unwanted winter break!

You don’t have to look very far to read various opinions on how the yearly postponements can be avoided, hell even I stuck my oar in this time last season with some ideas of my own. However nothing has really changed and once again the weather decimated the Christmas fixture lists. Last year the main culprit was snow, but this year it’s been the near constant heavy rainfall which has done the deed.

After Concord Rangers impressive 4-0 victory in the Essex Senior Cup Quarter Final at home to Canvey Island, the scheduled fixture at home to Havant & Waterlooville was the first to be hit by the weather. A waterlogged pitch meant that the next fixture for the Beachboys would be the away trip to Boreham Wood on Boxing Day. That game proved to be the only one that would take place as scheduled for Concord, and they made it count with a well deserved 0-2 victory on the day.

The weather played a part in the postponement of the following Saturdays fixture at home to Chelmsford, as high winds & heavy rain had caused damage to one of the transformers feeding electricity to the club. On the day the electrical company supplied a generator, but when it came to the crunch it wasn’t deemed suitable enough by the officials & the game was postponed. This was exceptionally painful as a number of the Concord committee had repaired the damaged “shed end” the day before, and a number of Chelmsford fans had walked to the game in order to raise money for charity.

New Years Day was the next scheduled fixture, but once again a waterlogged pitch meant that Boreham Wood would have to rearrange their visit to Thames Road. The following Saturday Concord were due to travel to table toppers Bromley, but that game met with the same fate the two previous games had suffered, postponement. To keep the Beachboys sharp a squad game was arranged with Burnham Ramblers, but it lacked the urgency & pace that a normal match would entail.

So what was expected to be a festive season rammed full of football, ended up being a little over 2 weeks of frustration and desperation! More postponements are occurring around the league as well, with this past Tuesdays fixture at Bishops Stortford also falling foul to the weather. Here’s hoping that the rain can hold off long enough for us to get some games on, either away or at Thames Road!

You Are My Concord!

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