Saturday 26 August 2023

Two nil or not two nil?

Tomorrow I hope to be well enough to see my first live football this season, the 'El Warwicko' clash between Leamington and Stratford Town.

I remember some years ago watching the Bardsmen away at their old ground.   The Brakes went 2-0 up and started a chant of 'two nil or not two nil?'  Bemused American tourists leaving the Royal Shakespeare Theatre were greeted by cars crusing round the town flashing the black and gold colours of Leamington.

Stratford Town Council get revenue from owning properties in the town centre and have built the Bardsmen a neat stadium on the outskirts of town with all weather training pitches.   However, we won't be going to the Anne Hathaway tomorrow as the match is at Your Co-op Community Stadium in Harbury Lane.

It's possible to get in for free at Harbury Lane

All this started me thinking about the contrasts between league and non-league football.   Leamington were relegated from the National League North last season.  Fans were disappointed but phlegmatic.  They are just glad to have a club: after Automotive Products sold the ground for housing there was no club for 13 years until a new ground was created out in the country.

There was also no question of sacking manager Paul Holleran in his 13th year at the club, only the second manager since the club reformed in 2000.   A few bad results from a thin and injury hit squad and some Charlton fans are already calling for Dean Holden's head.

Manager Paul Holleran is not slow to tell referees what he thinks of them

Holleran's skill is identifying players with potential in the non-league system and turning them into Football League players.   Colby Bishop, now at Portsmouth, is the prime example, but there are many more.   Charlton would not pay the modest fee for Bishop so he went to Accrington and invariably scored against us.

Tomorrow I know that I can enjoy some good banter as we exchange views with the linesman and at half time I will get a cup of tea and the biscuit of my choice in the vice-presidents longue (aka portakabin).  And I can read my article in our award winning programme.

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