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.

To Talk, Or To Write? A Bloggers Return!

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