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Monday, 30 July 2012

Warren meets... Shaun Batt

As I was wondering who else to interview this week, a few on Twitter were demanding Shaun Batt. Of course, my "fans" mean everything to me :) so, supply and demand, ladies and gents, here it is!

WL: Shaun, you were fortunate enough to be blessed with the skills of both football and athletics, why did you choose to kick a ball in the end?

SB: It was a tough decision to be honest. I've got love for both. My last year, I think I was under 17 and I did really well. Unfortunately, I missed out on refunding by about 5 or 6 centimetres and the following year I went up to the next age group which was under 20's and I'd have had 3 years at that age group. My football then started to take off and I made the decision to follow my football and see where it went and luckily it's got me to where I am today.

WL: It's fair to say you were quite good at running! You did the 100m, 200m and the Triple Jump, which event were you best at do you feel?

SB: Triple Jump was my best event definitely.

WL: Instead of seeing you at the Broadfield today, could we have seen you at the Olympics in London?!

SB: You never know I guess, possibly, but I suppose we will never know what could have been!

Olympic Park bound could have been a possibility
WL: Onto the football and you've made the long route up to get to where you are being a professional, how did the non-league experiences effect you?

SB: Yeah, I think playing at non-league level made me a lot stronger. I was playing senior football from the age of about 16 and obviously I came from non-league which helped me get stronger and adapt to the physical game and it's got me where I am today. It's taken me a long time but I finally got there.

WL: You joined Peterborough in 2008 as your first full time club, are you grateful that they took the chance on you?

SB: Yeah definitely. I owe a lot to Darren Ferguson (Peterborough Manager) and Peterborough. Like you said, he took a chance on me. I was playing Conference South football at the time and he developed me and made me a better player. He's been a big part in getting me where I am.

Ferguson gave Shaun his chance
WL: After Posh, you joined Millwall, firstly on loan before the move was made a permanent one. Unfortunately you have been blighted by injuries, do you feel these injuries are behind you now?

SB: Yeah, it was a major injury and I picked up a number of little niggles here and there since that major injury. Pre-season is really, really important for me where I've missed so much football. I still get the little niggles here and there but, instead of last year where they were putting me out for three weeks and sending me back to square one, I'm now out for two days, maybe three days and then I'm back in training again. My body is now adapting that little bit more and I'm getting back to the player I was when I signed and hopefully my best form is next to come.

THE FLYING BATT: Shaun in full flight
WL: You of course played for Crawley on loan from Millwall for a part of last season, was that an enjoyable time for you?

SB: It was yeah, very enjoyable. I would have liked to have perhaps played more but like I've said, I'd been out for a long time and Crawley were chasing promotion at the time. I was grateful to Crawley for taking me and the month that I was there, it helped me when I went back to Millwall. I also managed to play a few games at the end of the season for Millwall so yeah, I'm very grateful.

WL: Of course your brother Damian is at Oxford at the moment, could he play at a higher level in your view?

SB: Yeah, sure. If you ask any footballer then they'll tell you he's the better one out of the two of us! He's a very good player and every day he's trying to get to as high a level as he can and whether it's at Oxford or somewhere else, hopefully that will come.

Brother, Damian is a right back for Oxford
WL: Have you played against him before?

SB: We've never actually played against each other. I did play against Oxford for Peterborough a couple of years back but unfortunately he was injured at the time so never played!

WL: Finally, you''re 25 now, what does the future hold for Shaun Batt?

SB: Who knows? I've got a few goals and aims that I want to achieve in my career. I'm lucky to have achieved a lot of things in the short space of time that I've been in the professional game. Hopefully this season I'll play some regular football and get maybe 30-40 games under my belt and then kick on. I'd love to play in the Premier League, I'd love to represent my country so those are things I'd love to be able to achieve when I look back on my career.

Shaun and me
Many thanks to Shaun for taking the time out to speak to me.

Warren meets... Darren Ward

As you may know or see, interviews are becoming a regular thing for me recently. I intend to normally do two a game and this week was the turn of Darren Ward and Shaun Batt.  I managed to get in contact with the both of them this week and fortunately, they agreed to have a little chat with me. In this piece, I'll begin with Darren.

WL: Darren, you started your career at Watford. Was becoming a footballer always the plan at an early age?

DW: Yeah definitely, from a young age, I always wanted to play football and I've got three brothers that are the same as well. I'm privileged and a very lucky man to have done so.

Darren's early days at Watford
WL: You joined Millwall in your first spell at the club for four years after leaving Vicarage Road; picking up two Player of the Season awards in the process, that must have been very rewarding?

DW: It was very good and, in my eyes, I thoroughly deserved it as well. I worked very hard and there were some very good players. You also get encouraged and helped along the way to reach your potential it's nice. A lot of players have the potential and it's good for them. It's great.

WL: On joining Millwall, you gained the nickname "The Peckham Beckham", it must be one of the more nicer names surely?!

DW: Well, you get called many things in football and I suppose you could be called worse names! I'll take that one though with a little smile on my face!

WL: You then joined Crystal Palace for just over £1m, did that figure put pressure on you to succeed there?

DW: Erm... not really, I'm one of those guys that simply takes it as it comes. At the time, as you say, I'd just won two Player of the Seasons, an FA Cup finalist and there were a lot of clubs after me. I was backed along the way to go on and do well there (Palace) and ultimately, the price had to be paid. I had to be sold in Millwall's eyes and that was that really.

HIGH FLYING EAGLE: Darren (Centre) celebrates a goal for Palace
WL: You've also played for Wolves. Unfortunately most of your time was spent on loan, why didn't it quite work out for you there?

DW: Well, in my first season there, I'd played 30-odd games and did well. Obviously, sometimes you just don't settle at a club, sometimes you don't get on well with people at a club and it's just one of those where maybe at another time it would have helped. There were a few other issues around it and I would say it's probably down to many different circumstances rather than anything else.

WL: Yeah, and after a few years on the road, on loan, you must have jumped at the chance to return to Millwall and to return "home" in a way?

DW: Yeah, there were quite a lot of offers to be honest before I joined Millwall. Of course I had history there in terms of what I'd done before at the club and how I enjoyed it there so much previously. I decided to come back. There were a lot bigger clubs that I could have joined but with Millwall, it was just an absolute pleasure to come back and play for them again.

WL: You're one of three brothers that have been footballers; Scott's played here (Crawley) and Elliott is at Norwich City, are you a sporty family? Were your parents sporty types too?

DW: Yeah, yeah, my oldest brother Lee was at Watford as a YTS as well; he was a good player. My Dad was at QPR as a young lad. We all love football and we are very fortunate enough to do it - 3 out of the 4 isn't bad.

WL: Not bad at all. I'm sure you must be delighted to see Elliott doing so well, playing at Premier League level, for Norwich?

DW: Yeah, he's a fantastic player Elliott, a very very good player. Hopefully he can be pushed and can push himself to go on an be the player that everyone knows he can be. When he was young, at West Ham, he was coming through the ranks with Glen Johnson. Unfortunately, he (Elliott) had a bad back injury which helped propel Anton Ferdinand's career. To be fair, they've all done well, Glen Johnson, Anton and Elliott at the time who were there, have all gone on to play in the Premiership which isn't bad!

EL' OF A PLAYER: Brother is a Premier League player
WL: Whilst we're on the topic of Elliott, was it true you turned down the chance to join West Ham when he was there because you didn't want to keep him out of the side?

DW: Yes, I did turn down the chance to join West Ham. It was a decision I made at the time - We're all very close, as brothers. I suppose a little bit of it was not to keep Elliott out of the side but we're all very protective and football's a difficult industry at times; you've got to have a thick skin to come to the table every day. In the end, it was one of those where I felt it was better to join Palace at the time.

WL: Off the pitch you've got a couple of business ventures. You've got a cattery, are you an animal lover? Is it something you always wanted to do?

DW: Erm... I'm not sure if it was always something I wanted to do! It was an opportunity I was offered to take up. I have a couple of other businesses - The cattery is one of three. It's a good business, a very good business. People love cats, I used to work there, it was a good opportunity, it runs well and we're an established company now. The second one is the financial company New Incentive, it's a UK and international based company. We look after quite a few footballers from International players, Premiership, all the way through to the Conference to help players with their financial situations. It's very, very important because, as you can imagine, there's a lot of people out there that target players because of how much money they earn and they haven't got the help, or the background in a way, to help them decide what they want to do with their money. I've also got a trophy company which sells football equipment as well which is good and is doing very well.

WL: That's Pro Team Sport?

DW: That's the one yeah, Pro Team Sport. Yeah, that does well too, it's a fairly new company. I'm not in it as seriously as I could be, with of course football at the moment. It's a good one for the future hopefully.

WL: Finally, you're in your early 30's now, have you started to look into the coaching side of the game?

DW: I've been approached by a number of people from management. It could be an option but, if I'm honest, I'm not looking at it at the minute. I'd like to think I'm very, very fit for my age and I do not see myself retiring for a number of years. With a lot of things I have around football, I'd like to take my time a bit more and assess things as and when I need to start looking at other options. At the minute, not just yet!

Me and Darren

Many thanks to Darren for taking the time to speak to me.

For more information on Darren's businesses, visit the links below:

Silverhill Cattery -
New Incentive -
Pro Team Sport -

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Reds Tame The Lions!

In a game which could be looked upon a "warm up" for the Carling Cup game at the New Den, Crawley v Millwall has been quite a common pre-season friendly in recent times.

THE LIONS DEN: Carling Cup Venue
They have always been entertaining matches and this game was no different.

It was a special day for Crawley striker Gary Alexander who was playing against his former club.  The former Brentford man had his four children as match mascots for the day as well.

Millwall put out a very strong side; former Birmingham and Northern Ireland 'keeper Maik Taylor started between the sticks, the back four of Alan Dunne, Karleigh Osbourne, Jack Smith and new signing Scott Malone were on duty to deal with the Reds' strikeforce of Alexander and Billy Clarke. In midfield, Therry Racon made a rare start, he was joined by Josh Wright, Chris Taylor and Liam Trotter with Darius Henderson and Andy Keogh paired up front.

Ireland International Keogh started up front
The away side began the brightest and after 11 minutes had two quickfire efforts as firstly, Keogh saw his left footed volley pushed away by Crawley goalkeeper Paul Jones before a minute later, midfielder Wright saw his strike palmed out by Jones before Kyle McFadzean cleared.

Wright had another go after 15 minutes as his free kick flew just over Jones' left hand post after Clarke had fouled Keogh. 

Crawley had their first chance on 19 minutes as Alexander collected the ball on the edge of the box only to hit his left footed drive wide of the target.

Another chance fell to the Lions minutes later as Malone burst through from left back, beating two Crawley players only to slice wide of Jones' goal.

It was back at the other end of the pitch soon after as Dannie Bulman roamed forward before firing just wide of Taylor's left hand post.

Then, the opening goal did come with Bulman again involved. Picking up the ball in the centre, the Reds' talisman played a wonderful back-spinning pass in between Dunne and Osbourne. Clarke took a touch before cutting through the ball and finding the bottom corner of Taylor's far post. A wonderful finish.

Millwall went for the instant reply and home fans feared the worst as Keogh was sent through one-on-one however, Jones stood up well and clipped the ball out for a corner.

From the resultant corner, Henderson was lurking at the back post but his deft cushioned header went just wide.

That was about that as five minutes later the referee blew for half time - Crawley 1-0 up.

The second half exploded into life as three minutes after the teams returned to the field, Clarke's solo run saw him beat Dunne before being uphended in the box by Osbourne. Alexander, who scored over 20 goals during his time in south Bermondsey, stepped up, sending Taylor the wrong way as he slotted the ball to the right hand side of the net.

Alexander came back to haunt his old club
Millwall had an effort to reduce the scoreline as Chris Taylor's long range shot was tipped away by Jones a minute later.

There were cries of handball from the away side soon after as Trotter's fierce strike was charged down by Claude Davis; hitting the big Jamaican on the thigh according to the official.

The blues made changes as Liam Feeney, Shaun Batt and Scott Barron came on for Henderson, Trotter and Chris Taylor.

Batt spent time at the Broadfield last season
Crawley had the next chance as Nicky Adams' floated free kick found McFadzean who rose above his marker only to send his header over the bar.

Caretaker boss Craig Brewster rang the changes on 69 minutes as Bulman, Josh Simpson, Hope Akpan and Adams were replaced by new signing Shaun Cooper, Scott Davies, Sergio Torres and Scott Neilson.

Cooper came on to make his Reds home debut
Davies immediately had an impact when his through ball was fired just wide by captain Gary Alexander.

Two more Red Devils were rested for the final 15 minutes of the game as Davis and Clarke came off, replaced by Charlie Wassmer and John Akinde.

Akinde was causing the Kenny Jackett's defence problems as he cleared the crossbar twice in three minutes.

Barron had a chance late on when his half volley was stopper, once again by Jones who beat the midfielder's stinging effort away.

Two more efforts came later on Torres' left footed strike was tipped round by Taylor, flinging himself to the left. A Mat Sadler ball in was then headed over by Akinde.

As the referee added 3 minutes more, substitute Louis John, who came on for Sadler just moments earlier, shot inches wide of the post as the whistle blew for full time.

Some of the photos courtesy of

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Warren meets... Bradley Wright-Phillips

With not a lot to do on Wednesday night I decided to take in Crawley's latest friendly against local Ryman Premier Division side Three Bridges.  After the game, I noticed Bradley Wright-Phillips sitting with a few friends in the stand and I had a little chat with him about his career.

WL: Bradley, you've had quite a career, born in London, you began your career at Manchester City; how did that move come about?

BWP: Yeah, I actually started out at Nottingham Forest, along with my brother, Shaun. He got released from Nottingham Forest after they decided he was too small for them. The person that scouted us for Forest, brought us both to Manchester City and we both started from there really.

WL: Kevin Keegan gave you your debut at City, he's a bit of a legend, how big an influence did he have on your career?

BWP: Yeah, he had a big influence on me. When you're young, you don't know what type of player you are and he was the first manager really that believed in me and realised that I was a goalscorer and yeah, he really just helped me out in that way.

BELIEF: Keegan
WL: From City, you went to Southampton, how big a move was that for you?

BWP: Yeah, it was a big move for me and big at the time. I didn't really want to leave Man City but Stuart Pearce told me it would be a great opportunity to go out and get some first team football and it worked out well for me.

WL: Whilst you were at City, there must have been a few there that have gone on to be rising stars now?

BWP: Yeah, you've got a lot of them. The likes of the Stephen Irelands, the Micah Richards and the Nedum Onuohas. Even now, it will go on, they have a lot of talent in their youth team.

Ireland (L) and Richards (R) came through the City ranks
WL:  From Saints you went to Plymouth; starting off well there until they went into financial difficulties. How did that affect you?

BWP: Yeah, the move came about. I didn't want to leave Southampton, again. They had no manager at the time and again, I thought things weren't going too well there so I thought to myself, why not go down a step in terms of club size. Sometimes you need to go down a step to come back up and that's what I decided to do.

WL: You had a superb start to the season at Plymouth; you began like a train in terms of scoring goals. Charlton snapped you up and you haven't really looked back since have you?!

BWP: You know, it's good to be back home. I'd never really played my football in London and I'm just really enjoying myself at the moment.

WL: You top-scored for Charlton last season and it must have been great to win promotion back to the Championship?

BWP: Yeah, definitely, we had a really good season last year and it was probably the best time of my career. Hopefully we can have another good season.

WL: Your brother Shaun of course is another who has had a good career; when he made his England debut did it make you determined to try and join him in the squad?

BWP: You know what it is. Shaun's got his career and I've got mine. We've got different roles. Shaun's a quality player and he got his England opportunity and I'm happy for him. It could go down the same path for me. Maybe one day.

Shaun plays for QPR
WL: Of course you're a striker and, with Ian Wright as your Dad, he is a massive influence on you surely?

BWP: For sure, you know, when your growing up and your Dad is a plumber, you want to do that and you want to fix things like sinks and the like. Seeing my Dad scoring goals made me think "Yeah, that's what I want to do!"

Dad Ian knew where the net was!
WL: Finally, you're coming up to the prime of your career, where do you want to be in five years time?

BWP: I'm 27 now. I haven't got a clue! I hope you'll see me scoring somewhere. Even if it's here at Three Bridges! Yeah, hopefully I'll still be scoring!

Me and Bradley
Many thanks to Bradley for taking the time out to speak to me.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Warren meets... Tommy Rowe

As a budding Sports Journalist, the more interviews you do, the easier it gets.  Pre-season is a time when the bigger sides bring the bigger players down and, after a bit of arm twisting I got to have a few words with Peterborough United's number 14, winger, Tommy Rowe.

WL: Tommy, you began your career at Manchester United. As a United fan, that must have been a great experience for you?

TR: Yeah it was. Everyone's boyhood dream is to play for the club and at the time I was a massive United fan so yeah, it was a brilliant time for me.

WL: How was the experience there? Have any players you played with gone on to greater things?

TR: There's players that are still in the United squad; players like Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley, I played in the same team as them and they were fantastic so to see them doing so well I'm delighted for them.

WEL-CLEVER!: Both have played a part at United
WL: From there you went to Stockport County. It must have been brilliant for you being at such a young age and being able to play plenty of games and still being local.

TR: Yeah it was. It was closer to me than what United was so it was a decision that I could make and still stay around with my family and enjoy my football and at the same time they were some of the best years of my career so I'm very thankful to Stockport for their time.

Tommy during his Stockport days
WL: Soon after, they had financial difficulties and you soon moved to Peterborough where you've been for three seasons now, was it a difficult decision to move south?

TR: It was at first. With a young family at home it's always difficult to uproot them and take them away but it was a decision I made on a football basis and for my career at the time and thankfully it has shown me the right path right now.

WL: So how often do you return up north?

TR: I think the first year, I was going home quite often but as soon as you get settled in an area it's a once-a-month thing, not even that sometimes.

WL: You've now made over 100 appearances for Posh, was it hard to make that step up from League 1 to the Championship?

TR: Yeah, it's a massive step up. The quality is totally different but with a good squad and a good manager, it's easier for teams to develop and we've developed into a competitive Championship team so hopefully next season - it will be hard but it will also be enjoyable.

WL: Posh went up through the play-offs two seasons ago, you scored the opening goal in the final (against Huddersfield) at Old Trafford, that must have been a memorable moment?

TR: It was yeah! The best moment of my career most definitely. I always say it's a bit of luck but, you need that bit of luck sometimes and luckily it came for me.

THE GOALSCORERS: Rowe, centre, got the first
WL: Your brother Danny plays for Stockport at the moment. Can we expect to see him in the Football League sometime soon?

TR: Definitely. He's got the capabilities to play at the highest level, I've always said that. Mentally and physically, he's strong enough to play at any level. He just needs the right manager now to look after him like I was looked after at his age and it should see him develop.

WL: As you've said, you began at United, who was your footballing idol. I guess that as a left winger, a United fan it only goes to one man?...

TR: Yeah! Ryan Giggs at the time and he still is to be fair!

WL: So what happened off the field hasn't changed your view on him?!

TR: No, nothing! You take the right things out of his career, what he did right. He was brilliant as a footballer and he still is.  He's a great role model on the field. Off the pitch, I will look after myself and I should be OK!

IDOL: Giggs
WL: So we're back in pre-season now, are you a player that looks forward to getting back playing games and banter with the lads or do you dread the seemingly constant running that it has to offer?

TR: It screws! It's not nice getting fit again but we're professionals in sport so you've got to be professional about it and go about it the right way. It's important to get a load of games under your belt and important to do and play the best that you can. If you put 100% effort it now, it will stand you in good stead for the beginning of the season.

WL: Recently you've been playing left back, is that a position you'd like to take to a bit more or are you happy with your left wing position?

TR: I've always said I'll play anywhere so long as I get games under my belt, it's good for my develop which means that at left back or left wing I'll be happy to fill in.

Rowe (blue) battles with Alex John-Baptiste of Blackpool
WL: Which of Posh's new signings has impressed you the most?

TR: I wouldn't like to single any of them out. They've all been very good. We've had quite a few of them so it's been difficult to see individuals coming through but all of them have made massive impacts in training so yeah, it's been good.

WL: On today's game, how do you think it went for you (Lee Tomlin mocking TR!)

TR: Yeah, it went alright... Lee Tomlin's got a bad haircut! No, no, it was a good game but it was one of them where they've played four games before us so they were at nearly peak fitness so hopefully, the next game, with a few more minutes things will get better.

TOMLIN'S HAIRCUT: Good or bad? You decide!
WL: Finally, where can we expect to see Tommy Rowe in five years time?

TR: Hopefully, the highest level that I can. I'd like to be playing in the Premier League and I'd make that my ambition. It'd be quality to play at the highest level and in my eyes, where I want to be, the Premier League is where it is!

Me and Tommy
Many thanks to Tommy for his time and to Phil Adlam, the Peterborough United Media officer for sorting the interview out.

Rampant Reds Punish Posh

It seemed ages but had come up so quickly.  I'm of course talking about my last Crawley Town game; a memorable day up in Accrington, Lancashire which saw the Reds clinch promotion to League 1, thanks to a solitary Scott Neilson goal.

Much had changed at the club since 5th May.  For one, the "new" manager had come in, and then gone. Also, players had been released and new members of the team had been recruited, a standard procedure for any club, unless you're Portsmouth.

Anyway, after having to miss the first three friendly games, I was eagerly awaiting the visit of Peterborough United, the second season in a row that Darren Ferguson (Son of Alex) had decided to bring his side to the Broadfield Stadium.

With "new" manager Sean O'Driscoll leaving the club late on Thursday night, Reds had a spot to fill on the touchline; this spot filled, once again, by the man who at the end of last season, led us to the third tier of English football, Craig Brewster.

O'Driscoll's reign didn't last long
Posh included two former Crawley stars in their matchday squad; Michael Bostwick, who came to the Reds as a 17 year-old loanee from Millwall was named on the bench, as was last season's forward Tyrone Barnett, sold to Peterbrough for a record fee of a reported £1.4m.

Also on the bench was new signings Danny Swanson and Nathaniel Knight-Percival who joined the club from Dundee United and Wrexham respectively.

Onto the game, Reds started the brighter side, Billy Clarke, after only three minutes beat his man before whipping in a dangerous ball that was hacked clear by defender Gabriel Zakuani.

Clarke was again involved as he controlled a pass from Gary Alexander only to slice his right-footed shot wide of the target.

Peterborough then had their first chance as roaming midfielder Paul Taylor tried to curl past his former Posh team mate Paul Jones, making his home debut for Crawley, only to see his bouncing effort fall straight into the gloves of the stopper.

Minutes later, Crawley found the opening goal as Alexander, wearing the captain's armband once again, picked up the ball, opened up his body and curled an effort past Bobby Olejnik and into the top left-hand corner.

Alexander scored the solitary goal
Posh went for the jugular; Tommy Rowe burst forward from his left back position, evading a number of challenges before seeing his drive flicked over by Jones.

From the resulting corner, Rowe then saw his header cleared off the line by another Reds new boy, Mat Sadler.

Another chance then came for the away side moments later as the transfer listed midfielder Grant McCann let fly only to see Jones hold on to his stinging effort.

The visitors attempted to turn the screw and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, a recent signing from Wolves, had two chances, both sent well wide of Jones' goal.

Crawley then had their own flurry of chances as the first half was coming to an end; Alexander had two more chances; firstly turning Zakuani only to see his effort curl just wide before heading a Nicky Adams' free kick at the near post into the corner only to see Olejnik beat the ball away.

Olejnik had a fine game
Claude Davis started his first pre-season game and saw his bullet header palmed away by Olejnik; the big Austrian keeping his new side in the game.

As the referee blew for half time, the sprinklers came on pre-maturely which saw one of the cameramen drenched, his laptop, possibly, in ruin!

A number of substitutes from both sides saw the once entertaining spectacle break up with not as many chances created by both teams.

Two substitutes combined as George Boyd found a way into the box before picking out Swanson lurking at the back post, only to see his toe-poked effort trickle wide of the post.

Clarke had yet another effort as his direct free kick went over the wall before being comfortably caught by former Torquay United custodian Olejnik.

Posh had a free kick of their own soon after but another sub, this time Daniel Kearns could only pummel the ball into the wall.

Reds then went up the other end of the pitch, in counter-attacking style and, despite having options around him, Alexander tried an audacious outside of the boot strike which was once again, down the throat of Olejnik.

An effort for both sides then occured late into the game as first, Boyd waltzed past two before letting fly, seeing his effort clawed away by Jones once more.

THREAT: George Boyd
Finally, former Posh ace Sergio Torres got past his man but his fizzed cross was sent high and wide by the stretching Morgan Ferrier, a trialist from Watford.

An entertaining game. Good to get back into the swing of things football-wise.

Also a nice change seeing us play some pretty football.

After the game, I conducted interviews with Peterborough winger Tommy Rowe and former Posh striker (Now at Brighton) Craig Mackail-Smith.  These interviews will be typed up on here later and (If I can find out how to do it) I will put the actual audio on here too so keep a look out!

Some photos courtesy of

Monday, 16 July 2012

Spurs Squad Makeover Taking Place

It was a bit of a shock for fans of Tottenham Hotspur when Harry Redknapp was sacked back on the 14th June.

The former West Ham player and manager had led Spurs to a fourth place finish in the Premier League last season and had Champions League football to look forward to, that was, however, undone by Chelsea's Final win on penalties versus Bayern Munich.

Redknapp was surprisingly sacked
Soon later, it was Chelsea's old boss that was handed the White Hart Lane reigns with Andre Villas-Boas (known as AVB from now on in this blog piece) taking over.  

For AVB, he now had to try and hold onto a player that he tried to snare to Stamford Bridge last Summer. 

AV-Boss: Took over at Spurs
That man of course is Luka Modric.  The Croatian schemer played a huge part it Tottenham's season; appearing in 50 games in all competitions and seemingly looks as if he is heading away from Spurs.  Real Madrid and Manchester United are just two of the clubs reportedly waiting to take Modric on to pastures new after a four year stay in north London, having joined from Dynamo Zagreb in 2008 for just over £16m, somehow turning down the likes of Barcelona to join the club.

I'm a fan of Modric. He's a very good player. However, one of his downfalls is his lack of goals.  Having amassed just thirteen goals in all his years at Spurs he isn't really clinical enough in my view. 

Is he really worth the highly priced £30m-£40m figure that is being banded about? In my opinion he isn't.  Admittedly he plays a little deeper as Rafael Van der Vaart plays in the hole and comes up with the goals regularly so maybe, getting out of Spurs is the best thing he could do, maybe they are restricting him.

Spurs soon moved to conclude the Gylfi Sigurdsson to Reading/Swansea/Liverpool/Tottenham transfer rumour by finally signing the Icelandic midfielder from Hoffenheim for £8m. An absolute bargain in my view. 

It looks to me as if Sigurdsson has been brought in as a direct replacement for Modric.  He turns into a class player on Football Manager 2012 and had a great time at Swansea for the second part of last season, finding the net seven times in seventeen including a goal away at Tottenham.

Another position that Spurs filled was centre back.  The Jan Vertonghen deal it's fair to say went on for a while having began whilst Rednapp was still in office. It was on, off and then back on again as a £12m move was completed last week.

Vertonghen (L) and Sigurdsson (R) flank AVB
Central defence has been a problem for Spurs recently.  You never know when Ledley King will play, Michael Dawson is injury prone, William Gallas isn't as good as he once was, Sebastien Bassong hasn't lived up to the billing after being so impressive at Newcastle United a couple of years ago.  Youness Kaboul will probably be the only one at the moment to have his place cemented after a good season.

On the subject of Bassong, it is a chance for AVB to finally get rid of some of the Tottenham deadwood that has been clogging up the wage bill for the last few years.  The likes of David Bentley, Tom Huddlestone, Giovani Dos Santos and Jermaine Jenas should all be allowed to leave.

OUT THE DOOR?: Bentley (L) and Jenas (R)
Another player AVB is looking to bring in is Emmanuel Adebayor.  The Manchester City striker spent the whole of last season on loan at Tottenham where he was another that played his part, culminating in 17 goals.  A £5m fee is believed to have been agreed.

Could Adebayor return?
So what can we expect from Spurs next season?  AVB will do well there.  He had a poor period at Chelsea admittedly but he was never going to get the time to stamp his mark on the team.  You can't forget how well he did at Porto.  For me, Spurs will get top 6.  Good, considering it will be the first year of a transitional period.

Until next week...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Huddersfield Aiming For Successive Promotions?

Southampton did it last year, Norwich completed their own rise the year before and now, Huddersfield Town look as if they want to complete the transition of League 1 side to the Premier League in the space of two seasons.

A few years ago, the Terriers were known as an excellent League 1 team who played good football but seemed to "bottle" the chance of going up a division at the final hurdle.  Under former Manager Lee Clark (now at Birmingham City), the club achieved the remarkable feat of going 43 league games unbeaten (A record than ran from 1st January 2011 - 28th November) that was halted away at Charlton Athletic.

FIRED: Lee Clark
Clark was sacked, then replaced, by ex Leeds boss Simon Grayson, who led them to the dreaded play-offs!    Beating MK Dons over two legs led the Terriers to Wembley; just a year before, they missed out on a promotion after suffering a 3-0 defeat by Peterborough United at Old Trafford (Due to the Champions League Final being held at Wembley the day before, the venue was switched). Goals from Tommy Rowe, Craig Mackail-Smith and Grant McCann sending Posh up.

HIRED: Simon Grayson
Once again, last season was an exciting one for the Yorkshire side. Suffering a mere seven league defeats all season and racking up memorable wins against Sheffield United away (3-0), Wycombe Wanderers away (6-0), Exeter City and Brentford away (4-0).

The form of striker Jordan Rhodes was a key factor in Huddersfield's success. The 22 year-old Scotland International found the net an unbelievable 40 times in all competitions for his club side, scoring hat tricks against Exeter, Preston North End and Leyton Orient, 4 goals came in the entertaining 4-4 draw away at Sheffield Wednesday (Where his Father, Andy, is Goalkeeping Coach) and 5 out of the 6 goals at Wycombe's Adams Park.

THE RHODE TO GLORY: Frontman was prolific
Grayson finally led his side to the Championship after an on-going penalty shoot out saga that was finally brought to an end after Sheffield United goalkeeper Steve Simonsen missed his spot kick as Huddersfield triumphed 8-7.

Simonsen blazes over the bar
The club have moved swiftly in their bid to get their recruitment business completed early; already making three signings that plied their trade in the Championship last season.

Outgoing from the club were high profile players such as Gary Roberts, Damien Johnson and Tommy Miller. Roberts and Miller both joined Swindon Town as Johnson headed for League 2 newcomers Fleetwood Town.

RELEASED: Gary Roberts
Midfielder Adam Clayton made the short journey across Yorkshire to re-unite with Grayson, whom he worked with at Leeds last season.  The tough tackling Manchester City youth graduate was surprisingly placed on the transfer list at Elland Road just a couple of weeks after the season finished despite featuring in 46 games for Leeds last season in all.

Adam Clayton
Next in at The Galpharm Stadium was Crystal Palace winger Sean Scannell.  The Eagles' Academy Product signed a 3-year-deal after his move north from south London where he had spent the last five seasons.  The 21 year old will certainly add a bit of pace to the Huddersfield side.  Grayson can clearly see the potential in Scannell after splashing out nearly £1m on the youngster who played a part in over 40 of Palace's games last season.

Sean Scannell
Only yesterday, the club signed former Nottigham Forest defender Joel Lynch.  Lynch, at 24, is another young player brought in that has a lot of experience of playing at the higher level having been at The City Ground for the last four campaigns.  Another signing that shows the ambition that Huddersfield, and their chairman, Dean Hoyle have.

Joel Lynch
Momentum certainly plays a key part in football these days.  As I've said, Southampton and Norwich show what can be done when winning one promotion.  Both teams didn't strengthen or make many drastic changes and the core of the players brought them more success.  Who's to say, Huddersfield Town Football Club can't emulate the Saints and the Canaries?!

Until next week...