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

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