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Knees-up Mother Brown #21 14:08 - Feb 17 with 358 viewswessex_exile

Today represents a rare opportunity for the U’s, a chance to register our first (and possibly only) double of the season, against Accrington Stanley. There are precious few more chances to come, just Salford, Tranmere, Grimsby and of course Notts County, and whilst Grimsby and Salford would be most welcome, the other two look like longshots at the moment. Still, we can only beat who we’re up against, so one game at a time right now. The Manager of the Month curse seems to have been set with a long fuse, after Harrogate dodged a bullet and snatched all three points against the U’s last Saturday. But it completely blew up in their face midweek as Mansfield battered them 9-2 – a record league win for the Scabs. And that there is the story, take your chances and you’ll be okay, don’t and you usually won’t be.


The world outside U’s World
Opposition leader and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin and his authoritarian regime, Alexei Navalny, has died in a Siberian gulag, serving time on various trumped up charges brought by the Russian judiciary system, and obviously at the behest of Putin. Whilst this probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, it does underline in a perverse way just how tenuous Putin’s grip on power must be, that he feels the need to murder an imprisoned opponent. Russia has a long history of ‘disappearing’ leaders when the mood takes them, and Putin’s disastrous war in Ukraine probably doesn’t help him sleep easy in his bed. The Russian state’s repeated attempts to keep Navalny silent and deny him his political voice are numerous and transparent, including poisoning him with Novichok in 2020, so it looks like they’ve finally succeeded.

Across the pond, Donald Trump’s legal and financial woes just keep mounting. Trump and his two sons had already been found guilty of massive and systematic fraud, vastly inflating his wealth in financial statements to get preferential loans, whilst significantly under-inflating the figures when it came to property tax etc. The big question was what would be the fine that Judge Arthur Engoron handed down in the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James? On Friday we found out - $350 million, which with interest accrued is now already $464 million. Add to that the two fines imposed in the E Jean Carroll cases, and Trump is in the hole for a whopping $551 million – and none of it he can dismiss if he were to become president.

Engoron also ruled that Trump cannot conduct business in New York State for three years, and two years for sons Eric and Don Jr. Trump has already appealed the first E Jean Carroll decision and handed the $5 million dollar fine as collateral. If he wants to appeal the other two, he has to do the same, so some way or another he’s going to have to find a small fortune that most commentators don’t think he actually has – at least not without liquidating assets. And he’s sitting on a ticking time bomb too – every week that goes by, the interest accrued (and that he’s therefore liable for) clicks up by another $1 million.

Something that our gallic U’sualites might appreciate, the residents of Seine-Port village in France have voted to restrict the use of smartphones in public. People are no longer allowed to scroll through their devices in the street, in shops, restaurants or parks, even at school gates collecting their children. However, there’s no actually penalty for doing so, it’s more of a public health service announcement really. The mayor commented that phone addiction was a “public health problem…we have to help them”. Anyone reading this blog on their device – shame on you 😊!

…and finally, in a fitting tribute from a classy football club to a classy man, Liverpool FC have announced that Sven-Göran Eriksson will form part of the management team for a “Legends” game to be played at Anfield on 23rd March. Former England manager Eriksson sadly has terminal cancer, and Liverpool’s announcement follows an interview with Eriksson in which he stated that he had always wanted the opportunity to manage Liverpool. God-willing, Eriksson will be in the dugout on 23rd March to realise his dying wish.

Bravo Liverpool, Bravo!

U’s World
Further questions have been raised throughout social media about the quality (or lack of) of the JobServe playing surface, following the late postponement of the Grimsby game on Tuesday night. Never a particularly well-draining part of town up there, and with the incessant rain that the area has been receiving in recent weeks, the ground was literally saturated and simply couldn’t cope with yet one more downpour on matchday.

From the pictures I’ve seen, it clearly was the right call, but very hard on supporters already on their way to or even at the ground – particularly the Grimsby Town supporters. It remains to be seen what, if anything, will be done about the drainage issues during the close-season, and whether after the departure of long-term groundsman Dave Blacknall, the club will now invest in a full-time replacement.

In a move designed to get him some sustained game-time, talented attacking midfielder Chay Cooper has gone out on a short-term loan deal to National League side Hartlepool. Despite strong competition in midfield, Chay has still made 15 appearances and scored three goals for the U’s this season, even though most of these were from the bench. It’s probably no coincide that he goes to the side where he scored an absolute belter for his first ever professional goal back in 2022.

Always worth watching again.

The EFL and official match ball sponsors PUMA are marking LGBTQ+ History Month by releasing the very first Rainbow match ball, which will be in use today at the JobServe. Putting their money where their mouth is, for every goal that is scored across all three EFL divisions using the Rainbow ball, PUMA will make a donation to an LGBTQ+ Fans for Diversity fund. Whilst numerous wags have commented to the effect of “hope it floats”, it has of course prompted a small minority of gammons, seemingly threatened by colours on a ball and what they represent, to get their knickers in a right old twist…


Match of the Day
Bristol Rovers v Colchester United
27th February 2010
Coca-Cola Football League One (Tier 3)
Attendance 6,023

No programme, just the usual calendar entry

Match of the Day for KMB21, and the random memorabilia match selector has gone back almost exactly fourteen years, and the U’s visit to Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Stadium when we were both plying our trade in League 1. Em was working a double shift at Odstock on the day, so an opportunity for Dad and Alfie to have an awayday on the train. Fortunately, living in Warminster at the time, this was always going to be one of our easier trips that season. By coincidence, our previous match against Brentford had also been postponed, also a Tuesday night home game, also called off at short notice, and also for a waterlogged pitch – and this was at the billiard-table surface that was Layer Road. Mind you, Magnus Okuonghae wasn’t complaining, as it gave him a few more days to recover from a shoulder injury picked up in training.

Following a tumultuous start to the season (i.e. Norwich, Lambert, Dunne etc.), Aidy Boothroyd had been appointed as the new U’s manager on 2nd September. Since then he’d kept the U’s right in the promotion mix, and we went into this game in 3rd place, on a five game unbeaten run, and very much considered favourites against a Bristol Rovers side managed by Paul Trollope who still had strong promotion ambitions of their own.

With Magnus regaining sufficient fitness to make it to the bench, Aidy’s U’s lined up:

1….Ben Williams
21..Danny Batth (20. Kevin Lisbie 89’)
23..Marc Tierney
25..John White
28..Matt Heath
31..Phil Ifil (7. Ashley Vincent 71’)
8….John-Joe O'Toole
22..Anthony Wordsworth
26..David Prutton
9….Clive Platt (captain)
18..Steven Gillespie (15. Kayode Odejayi 71’)

In the opening exchanges the U’s were living up to their billing as favourites, with neat passing moves mostly originating from Marc Tierney at the back causing the Gas problems, and a decent following from Essex expecting great things. Rovers keeper Mikkel Andersen did well to palm away Gillespie’s header, and injury-prone Gillespie should have buried a cross from Ifil, only to fire it into the side-netting.

Still, the signs were good, so it came as a bit of surprise when Bristol Rovers opened the scoring on 16 minutes. Heffernan laid the ball off to Dominic Blizzard, who let fly from all of 30 yards. I thought Ben Williams should have done better, but he failed to get a hand to the long-range effort, and it flew into the net to give the Gas an ill-deserved 1-0 lead.

Fortunately though, it didn’t stay that way for long, and after five more minutes we were level again. From a Marc Tierney throw-in, Phil Ifil’s speculative effort certainly looked to be going wide, but for ‘headband hero’ JJ O’Toole, who managed to get his aforementioned headbanded head to the shot, glance it past a helpless Andersen and into the net. This was JJ’s first goal for the U’s since he converted his loan spell into a permanent move in January, and didn’t we celebrate it.

The remainder of the first half was much more even encounter, with Rovers growing into the game. Decent chances for both sides could have been converted, with Heffernan shooting wide when well-placed, and Gillespie guilty again when he failed to convert a good pass from Prutton, so we had to be content with 1-1 to go with our pasty and Bovril half-time. Plenty to play for though second half.

Again the U’s started strongly, with Rovers very much reliant on breakaways as their main threat for the opening 20 minutes or so, but that threat was always there, and the U’s had to be alert to it. Sadly, one momentary lapse in concentration on 67 minutes wiped out all of our concentration up to that point. Stuart Campbell had already fired a warning shot, shooting narrowly wide, and a minute or so later Heffernan flicked the ball into the area, the U’s defence were caught napping, and in came Jo Kuffour to finish past Williams from close range.

As intensely frustrating as it was, still the U’s came back, showing they had the ability to get something from the game, and Andersen did exceptionally well to prevent Clive Platt from immediately bringing the score level again. Throwing caution to the wind, Boothroyd bought on strikers Kayode Odejayi and Ashley Vincent to try and rescue something from the game, sacrificing Ifil and Gillespie in the process.

It looked like it might work too, with the U’s throwing the kitchen sink at Bristol Rovers – but wouldn’t you know it, for all of our dominance, it was the Pirates who would deliver the hammer blow. With barely ten minutes to go Kuffour managed to hook the ball back into the area when it seemed destined to be a U’s goal kick, and with the defence napping again, there was Chris Lines to finish from close range to give Rovers a seemingly unassailable 3-1 lead.

Still the U’s came back though, and after Andersen did well to keep out another Platt effort, Odejayi was unlucky to see his follow-up effort hit the post. So close, but in the final minute we went closer, with Odejayi finally blasting home from a Platt lay-off. Roared on by the travelling faithful, and with Kevin Lisbie coming on for the final seconds, we laid siege to the Rovers goal in added time, but just couldn’t find the equaliser that our performance deserved.

Bristol Rovers 3 (Blizzard 16’; Kuffour 67’; Lines 79’) Colchester United 2 (O’Toole 21’; Odejayi 89’)

In his post-match interview, Aidy Boothroyd’s disappointment was palpable, quite rightly highlighting our lack of concentration in defence and failure to take chances in attack the cause of our downfall. Aidy said “I can’t remember being as annoyed as I am since I’ve been here. People talk about football in great detail but it’s what you do in the two boxes that really counts”.

What he didn’t know at the time, none of us did, was the Memorial Stadium defeat would herald a terrible drop in form for the U’s. We would win just two more games all season, and whilst on paper an 8th place finish might not have looked too bad, in reality it was a disaster. As a result, and although this would turn out to be our best league finish since relegation from the Championship, no one (I certainly wasn’t) was too bothered when Boothroyd moved on to Coventry in the summer.

Since this encounter, whilst the U’s would be relegated to League 2 just the once six years later, Bristol Rovers would slip all the way down into non-league, back up to League 1, back down to League 2 and last season back up to League 1 again. Who said following a lower league football club could be boring…

Up the U’s!

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Blog: Knees-up Mother Brown #24

Knees-up Mother Brown #21 on 14:41 - Feb 17 with 344 viewsMoor_Pinot

As ever terrific stuff to read and analysies to peruse Wessex. Thank you and so very accurate too in my opinion, fwiw.
I used to hate going to Bristol Rovers games by the way!

Little would give many folk greater pleasure than to see the downfall of Putin, and indeed Trump. The world is ugly and needs a mend.... big time.

Responding to your mid paragraph. I always found the French ability for lateral thinking to be first class. The political make up which still gives credibility to local governance - namely the communes with their mayor - is a system that generally works very well. I applaud his/her mobile phone stance. (Mobiles are distinctly less dominant in France than here given our experience these last nine years)
It was a real bonus being able to walk into the Mairie on a Monday morning to complain about a pothole or a poor cat lying aside the road or the flowers needing watering and then to appreciate that by around 6pm all three issues would have been sorted and that you could chat to the village 'man'/team/workforce and thank them face to face.

Mobiles are useful yes, but life was actually ok without them too.

Moor Pinot

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