Portsmouth v Walsall – In-depth Tactical Analysis

Wallop! 1-0. Thwack! 2-0. Oh bugger! 2-1. That sums up the match, with the Saddlers glorious and into the play-offs. What a start to the season.

The usual lineup with the usual formation. Excluding Grof, the team can be divided into two. There are 6 grafters in the team expected to do the hard work by breaking up play. Once they do this then the ball goes to the creative players, lead by Flo, with great support from Paterson, Hemmings and today, Bowerman.

Bowerman’s work rate and skill impressed me very much in the first half, showing that the creative players can graft as well. He won the ball many times and created a couple of chances for himself and his teammates in a fairly equal first half.

Baxendale then proved that the workmen have skill as well. Hemmings did some great work down the left to pull the back to Hemmings to hit a sweet, sweet goal into the top corner. A few minutes after this Flo hit another sweet one into the bottom corner from outside the area.

Mcleod pulled one back from a corner that we failed to clear but after that we were hardly troubled. We didn’t retreat to the edge of the box and invite pressure back onto us, we continued to take the game to Pompey. Paterson, who impresses me every time I see him, hit a rocket that came back off the angle. Grigg, who looked lively when he came on, created a couple of half chances.

Since Richard O’Kelly came in there is a togetherness I haven’t seen at Walsall for a long time. They all work hard for each other and the celebrations for the goals and the win showed just how much this result meant to the players.

Roll on Stevanage.

Red Card Roy Reveals All

In March last year Alan Buckley’s 3 Striped Adidas Shirt wrote a story about Roy McDonough, which you can read here. This story was written because a book was shortly going to be produced, and now as it has been released, Roy ensured that he put me top of the interview list (after Talksport, The Daily Telegraph, various tabloids and numerous local radio stations) to promote this book. My slot came today and I was determined to make my mark. The time was 6pm, Starbucks at Canary Wharf. My ethics went out the window, as I didn’t give a damn about my self-imposed exile of this coffee chain. It was to be my first ever face-to-face interview. I put on my whitest shirt in the morning, and for the first time in a number of years I said a little prayer.

At lunchtime, I received an email stating Roy couldn’t make it, could I do a phone interview instead? The benefits of this were that I no longer had to buy a dictaphone and could be back in time for the T20 international. I quickly agreed. I made the call at 5.15 to Bernie Friend the writer of the book. Roy was on another call. I called again at 5.30 and got handed over to the big man. This is what he had to say as he travelled through the Dartford tunnel.

TGA: How did the idea of the book come about?

RM: At the same time that I was getting encouragement from my nephew, Lee, about writing the story of my life, I met Bernie a couple of times at Southend, who also thought it was a good idea. We then spent a week together in the Algarve recording my footballing anecdotes, and from out of this, the book emerged.

What are your memories of your time at Walsall?

I had a good time at Walsall, it is where I learned my trade as a target-man. It really toughened me up. There were some great players; Ron Green, Kenny Mower, Brian Caswell and Dave Seralla amongst them.

Alan Buckley comes in for some criticism in your book. Can you expand on this?

I was a young lad at Walsall, learning my trade. I got a lot of unneccesary stick from the crowd as I was there to do all the donkey work for the other forwards and I wasn’t appreciated by the spectators, despite doing a good job. Alan Buckley told me not to worry though as he would reward me with a better contract if I continued to play the way that I was. At the end of the season, when we got promoted, he went back on his word though and dropped my wages. Alan Buckley as a man was ok but as a manager I no longer had any respect for him after that.

You were at Walsall when we were paying transfer fees and broke our transfer record fee of £175,000 for the re-signing of Alan Buckley. What were your wages? Did you get on well with Ken Wheldon?

I was on £450 a week. I had just signed from Birmingham who were in the First Division and most of the dressing room knew what the other players were getting. (I then told him a story that I heard Alan Buckley was on £350 a week at Birmingham) I don’t believe that. I don’t believe what he says. He would have been on more than that.

In 1992 Walsall came to Layer Road, Colchester, whilst you were a player-manager, can you tell us what happened?

We (Colchester) won 3-1 and I ended up getting arrested. There was a big fat lump of a Walsall fan behind the goal, giving me grief. I liked to have a chat with the opposing fans at corners so I started chatting to him. Then all the other fans started to swear at me and give me grief. I didn’t retaliate. I just replied to the big lumps criticism, with the line ‘Yeah mate. I hated playing at Wembley’ (Roy won the FA Trophy with Colchester the previous summer and Walsall FC -as you know- have never played at Wembley). Those fans reported me to the police and then I had to spend an hour in the nick explaining myself after the game.

Do you still identify yourself as a Brummie?

I lived in Essex for 23 years so it is difficult to answer. I’ll tell you something though ‘Walsall FC are a far better club than Chelsea’ (Roy left Walsall to join Chelsea, who at the time were managed by Geoff Hurst).

You occasionally played at centre-half. Did you enjoy this?

I could have played at the top level if I concentrated on this position. I was too much of a team man, I played in every position in my career. A striker thrives on good service and I didn’t have that at some of my clubs.

Now time for the legendary quick-fire quiz. Most skilful player at Walsall?

Ian Paul.

Hardest (besides yourself)?

Brian Caswell and Dave Seralla.

Laziest?

Alan Buckley, by a street mile.

Most intelligent?

That was me. I got all my O-levels.

With that, I wished the big man all the best and he recripricated. I asked him other questions about his time at Southend and his thoughts on modern football and stadia but that is not for this blog.

You can buy the book here and I thoroughly recommend that you do. It is a cracking read. Entertaining from start to finish as Roy’s colourful life is displayed in all its glory for us to devour. It is worth buying simply for a great anecdote about Tommy Smith playing for Swansea against Walsall, which I won’t reveal to you.