Walsall Reserves v Morecambe Reserves – In-depth Tactical Analysis

What a scorcher of a day, eh? I walked an eight mile round trip to see this game. I saw canals, flowers, graffiti and the M6 toll road as I crossed two counties (West Midlands and Staffordshire) from my home in Pelsall to the venue of Chasetown FC.

Anyway, first things first. We lost 2-0. It wasn’t all that bad though as I got to see Roy Whalley (ex-Commercial director for the Saddlers), Dean Smith (the gaffer) and the BBC Midlands Today presenter, Ian Winter. This – with the addition of a live and kicking Nelson Mandela – is also my ideal dinner party guest list, so you can’t imagine how happy I am right now.

Walsall lined up in a kind of 4-3-3 formation:

GK: MacGillivray

RB: Kinsella

LB: Probert

CB: K.Rowley

CB: Preston

CM: Mantom

CM: Delaney

CM: Heath

LF: Bakayoko

CF: Jones

RF: Murphy

Morecambe scored on the stroke of half-time from a free header from a corner. Defensively, we were all over the place as Morecambe ran us ragged for the first half as they also hit the bar and caused our keeper to make some impressive saves.

The second-half was a very good game with Walsall dominating the play and Morecambe hitting us on the counter attack. Murphy hit the base of the post with a turn and a shot and that was the closest we came to scoring. Morecambe scored from one of their breakaways as Walsall stood still waiting for an offside flag that never came.

It was good to see Mantom back in the team but he didn’t really do much to warrant a return to first-team action. I would have liked to see Bakayoko given a run down the centre as he was isolated on the left (and also on the right when he switched with Murphy) but when he did get the ball he was a real handful.

Murphy was the pick of the outfield players as he really ran at the defence and caused them a lot of problems. He didn’t have much support though so he was often running into blind alleys.

The trialist, Jones from West Brom, didn’t do much but looked tidy. Kinsella was good in the first-half at right-back, trying to support the attack, but I think he should have been marking the scorer of the first goal from the corner.

Man of the match goes to MacGillivray who pulled off four or five good saves and tried to marshall our shaky defence.

£2 to get in though! I thought it was free!!!!!!

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In-depth Tactical Analysis – Stafford Town 0 Walsall 5

How many times have Walsall won the Walsall Senior Cup? Surely more than Bloxwich Strollers or Shelfield Athletic? Nope. They ain’t won it all. Shocking stuff. Surely the only professional club in Walsall could have won it at least once? No. The closest we came was when we reached the final in 2013.

Of course, we don’t play the first team players in these games but surely the youth team could beat a bunch of semi-professionals? Last night we had nine professionals (plus one on the bench) and six of these have seen first-team action.

 

Stafford Town are from the Midland Football League Division One (Tier 10) and were great hosts to approximately 300 fans. It was £4 each, £2 concessions and despite being able to qualify for concessions -UB40- I paid the full price. This is because I am a very generous man and not (as the cynical may think) because I had forgot my card to prove that I am on the dole and was that cold I couldn’t be bothered to plead my case with the turnstile operator.

Anyway, to cut a dull story short, we walloped them. There were a few tasty challenges from the Stafford lads (you could hear the thuds in the stand) that lead to a couple of penalties and we had about eighty percent of the possession. Apart from a couple of free-kicks on the edge of the box (that came to nothing) and a very late goalmouth scramble Stafford didn’t trouble our defense at all.

Bakayoko scored the first from the spot. Murphy got the second after an amazing two-thirds of the pitch run from the left-back Rico Henry. In the second-half, Benning got our second penalty, Murphy produced an excellent finish for the fourth and Bakoyoko got a late fifth from outside the box.

Man of the match was Rico Henry who coped easily with his defensive duties and had a major influence on the attack, particularly with the second goal. Out of the other professionals, Benning had a lot of possession on the wing and combined with Henry well, but overplayed things at times. Morris had a good game on the right-wing, cutting in on his left many times and hit the bar in the first-half after a great run and shot. Flanagan was calm in the middle and did the simple things well, keeping the game ticking over. Preston had so little to do it was difficult to judge him. He is big though – by far the biggest player in terms of height and build on the pitch, until Stafford brought on an enormous sub –  and shouts a lot, something we seem to be lacking in the first team at the moment. Murphy was the pick of the strikers, he is fast and can definitely finish well. Kinsella had a good touch and was calm but got roughed up a few times. Bakayoko was OK. He wanted to cut-in with his left foot too many times and the keeper should have saved his second goal. MacGillivray had next to nothing to do. Roberts didn’t get a game (again).

I was sat next to Dean Smith in the second-half who was talking to a mysterious old man throughout. He looked like a cross between Roy Whalley and Tommy Coakley. Despite the use of my grandma’s ear trumpet, I couldn’t hear a bloody thing though.

Whilst I was having my half-time Bovril I was sat near to Neil Baldwin. I told him that it would be marvelous if Walsall won 5-0 and he managed to arrange a lift for me back to Pelsall. Both of which he agreed upon. When the final whistle went I turned to him to say what a marvelous result it was but he had already gone. I then had to walk to Stafford station in the snow, catch the train to Wolverhampton then wait for my bus to Pelsall with a load of angry Wolves fans. It took me two bloody hours to get home. The public transport in this region is far from bloody marvelous. I’ll tell him that, next time I see him.

Mid-Season(ish) Review

After several begging letters and a Twitter campaign that went viral (in the West Midlands), TheGilbertAlsop has decided to make a comeback.

As I am such a generous man I even gave an article away free to my rivals Bescot Banter. It is an hilarious, uproarious, emotional, controversial and heartwarming take on Walsall’s new survey ‘Come on Feel the Noise’. Don’t just take my word for it, head over to the site now: http://www.bescotbanter.net/2015/01/blog-thats-entertainment.html

Before this post my last one was a preview of the season . This caused outrage to all of three people on Twitter and one person was even moved to comment: “Why don’t you wait until the season begins before you do your preview?” I didn’t dignify the stupidity of that question with a reply but I will kind of do that now, as I examine what I did say at this halfway point of the season.

This is the summarizing paragraph of my preview:

“I am afraid, it will be a struggle next season. We will find it difficult to gain any momentum with Cook and Mantom out. Butler’s leadership and Westcarr’s goals will be missed. We should survive but I feel it will be curtains for Smith come the end of the season.”

After witnessing our last three home games then I will definitely say that I am right about Butler. At today’s game against Scunthorpe, and against Swindon on Boxing Day, I witnessed some of the most awful defending I have ever seen at the Bescot.  Today, any cross into the penalty area was met with sheer panic. After conceding the first goal we were lacking in any sort of passion and drive, which Butler gave us in abundance, to get back into the game. We also miss Butler at corners, both defensively and in attack, and our only ‘Plan B’ of putting him up front for the last five minutes when we were losing means we now have even fewer options of changing the game.

However, we do seem to be getting it right at the back away from home, and had also been doing very well at home up until our last three games, so maybe it’s just a blip. A big man at the back, so Chambers can go back to right-back, will still be top of my shopping list in January, though.

Westcarr? Who’s Westcarr? We don’t miss his goals at all because we have a better striker now in Bradshaw who has been splendid this season. Our best signing of the summer, and for many a season, by an enormous margin.

But what of the other signings? I like the look of Forde and I think Cain is a good player. O’Connor hasn’t added anything to the back-line except increase the number of defenders we have in the squad. Cook needs a bit more time but Grimes and Manset have hardly featured when I have seen Walsall. I’d like to see Manset and Bradshaw a bit more as our ‘Plan B’, when things haven’t gone well and we need to score more goals, like today, when we were 2-0 down. We can then get the ball out wide and play more crosses into the box. We can only dream about that one though.

We are so inconsistent that it is still difficult to decide where we will finish in the league, so I will stick with 18th. We aren’t good enough for the play-offs and I believe we are too good to go down. I do think we are capable of going on a run of long losses though. A trip to Wembley will be enough for me though, but I’m not getting carried away just yet. If we do get there then Smith’s job will be safe, for sure.

So, there you go then. It was a cracking result against Preston in midweek made all the better for my Twitter banter with my new bestie and former Walsall captain, Derek Mountfield. It really was one for the ages. It is the type of exchange that Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell will consider A+ material on A Question of Sport. Here it is, in full, for your pleasure (it’s best seen through a magnifying glass) :

Dekka

Ta’ra for a bit.

2014/2015 Season Preview

I am going to be one of those people who annoy me so much. I am going to write about something I have little knowledge on – the current state of the Walsall team.
Owing to a move away from home, the last game I attended was the Johnstone’s Paint game away at Wolves.
This means that I missed all of our end of season slump but I did listen to commentary on all of those games and view the highlights.
What is clear is that we struggled to score goals all season and then, crazily, let our top scorer, Westcarr, leave. Pre-season has also seen us find it difficult to score.
Westcarr’s replacement, Cook, was a winger when he came here on loan before. I saw him a few times and was very impressed, but didn’t think of him as a forward. He will miss the start of the season anyway, as will Mantom, last season’s best player. Starting the season without these two means it will be difficult.
James O’Connor was a strange buy. It was thought he would replace Butler at centre- half but, although he can play there, he has spent most of his career at right-back. Why buy another right-back who can also play centre-half, we have two of those already (Purkiss and James Chambers)?
What worries me greatly is how many games Holden is playing in pre-season. He was over-the-hill two years ago, how can he be the answer now?
Replacing Butler’s leadership skills will be difficult. In short, we can’t. Adam Chambers has been installed as captain, but he was lacking a lot of energy last season, content just to do the dull work whilst Mantom got on with things.
Benning as a winger is something I am looking forward to seeing. I think he can do a good job there. I am also looking forward to the youngsters coming through and staking their claim for a first team place. Morris and Flanagan are two players who impressed me in last pre- season’s 6-0 romp against Alfreton, who we, rather worringly, lost to this year.
O’Donnell can be relied upon in goal. We already know about the class of Andy Taylor, Downing and Sawyers. So, its not all doom and gloom.
But, I am afraid, it will be a struggle next season. We will find it difficult to gain any momentum with Cook and Mantom out. Butler’s leadership and Westcarr’s goals will be missed. We should survive but I feel it will be curtains for Smith come the end of the season.
We will finish 18th and Smith will get his P45 at the end of the season. I hope I’m wrong but I seldom am.

Gabby Bukran Interview

‘He comes from Hungary, he plays for Walsall FC, ohhhhh Gabby, oh, oh, oh, ohhhhh Gabby, oh, oh, oh.’ This was the refrain from The Gilbert Alsop terrace every time our favourite Hungarian midfielder came over to clap the fans – with shirt untucked and his hair still parted expertly down the middle – after another spirited performance in our midfield.

Gabby arrived at Walsall in the summer of 1999 to take part in our brave but unsuccessful attempt to stay in the First Division and left after taking us back up, via the play off success over Reading. Here is a picture of Gabor leading Walsall’s (and maybe even the World’s) most famous caterpillar conga dance ever:

Gabby

After conducting some research I found out that Gabby is still playing football in the Fourth division of Belgium football for a team called Royal Cercle Sportif Onhaye. I sent a few emails to the secretary of the club and after a few months a wonderfully polite email from Gabor came into my inbox agreeing to an interview. Here it is in full:

Sticker

The Gilbert Alsop: Thank you very much for getting back to me. I am very excited by this, as you were one of my favourite players at Walsall and played for us through a very successful period.

Gabor Bukran: I respond with pleasure Gilbert. I’m glad to hear that you liked the way I was playing at Walsall, you are right those two seasons were very nice ones.

Can you please tell us what you are currently doing? I understand you are still playing football in Belgium is this correct?

Today I’m working in NDT (Nuclear) business for the company Oserix located here in Belgium around 45 minutes drive from my town (Namur) where I’m living with my wife Nancy (with who we will celebrate on the 31/05/2014 our 17th year of marriage together – she is working in Brussels at the European Commission as a secretary) and my two kids Logan (15 years old, also playing football, nice tall guy who is already 1m82 with some good quality as a striker, number 9) and Laura (10 years old, she is following a dance course). Yes you are right I’m still playing with “Onhaye Football Club” in the fourth division here in Belgium. My passing is still ok but no more tackling and much less running up and down. I will be 39 on the 16/11/1975. I will probably try to play one more year with this club and then finish my career after the end of the next season. I am busy with my diploma “UEFA B” for becoming a trainer/coach after my career ends. In September of this year I will start courses to obtain the diploma “UEFA A” with which you can work in high level clubs. Who knows, maybe one day I will come back to England as a coach – when I see the great job that Roberto Martinez at Wigan and Everton has done who was not such a big player I say to myself ‘why not a guy like me?’ I certainly have much more experience than him as a football player.

You have played football in Hungary, Spain, Belgium and England. Which country did you like best? How many languages can you speak?

A couple of days ago I had an interview here in Belgium for one of the sport newspapers, and one of the questions was the same which you are asking me. Of course, my answer was that definitely the best place to play football is in England, people love football there and the supporters are fantastic. I speak Hungarian, French, Spanish, English and a little bit of German as well.

You played once for the Hungary national team; can you please tell us about that experience?

I was selected in a squad of 25 players 5–6 times and then in the smaller squad of 16-18 players twice, once in Portugal (I was on the bench and I didn’t play) and then I played the full game against Australia.

Every single player in the world dreams of playing at least once with the national team of his country, I had this magnificent experience, which is unforgettable.

 

walsall 

How did you come to sign for Walsall? Were you familiar with Walsall growing up in Hungary?

I came to Walsall via one person with who I was working with at that time (and we still have a very nice contact together) Mr. Colin Pomford (a football agent).

Your first season at Walsall you were relegated but the team put up a very brave fight. What are your memories of your first season?

I think we had a great season in the First Division. I remember we had a chance to stay up until the last game at Ipswish (we lost 2-0). I have many, many good memories from this year, very big games against very big clubs and good times on the field.

We had some very nice victories against famous clubs. For me, all the season was nice – even if we were relegated.

What do you recall from winning all those local derbies against Wolves, West Brom and Birmingham?

Same as with the national team of Hungary, they are unforgettable moments.

The next season at Walsall you were promoted via the play-offs in Cardiff. What are your memories of that season and that great day in Cardiff?

Very nice day, also something that I will never forget and will always remember. I show the tape of the game to my son, friends and many people around me, many times. I’m glad that I was taking part in the promotion of Walsall back to the First Division.

Why did you lead that famous conga style – caterpillar like dance in celebration?

I saw on the television one day a team from, if I remember well, Spain was doing this, and when you are happy you are doing crazy things sometimes.

In my opinion your best game for Walsall was against Cambridge when you scored two great goals and we won 3-1. Do you agree? You can watch the goals here: 

Yes it was a great game, nice win and I had the chance to score two very nice goals (probably one of my best games for Walsall) but you should know that every single game I played with Walsall I was taking a lot of pleasure on the field.

During your time at Walsall the fans used to sing: ‘He comes from Hungary, he plays for Walsall FC, Oh Gabby, Oh, oh, oh’ and you always used to applaud the crowd after every game. Did you enjoy the support you received at Walsall?

Still today even 14 years after, when I’m writing this e-mail to you I still have a lot of emotion. I had a lot of respect for supporters of Walsall and I always feel that they were respecting me as well, and always pushing me, they were always behind me, they were just magnificent. I will never forget them and the love they showed me during my period at Walsall.

I thought you were a very good midfielder who could keep possession well but also tackle and get forward to score goals on occasion. What do you think were your skills?

I was the player who played simple football – passing and moving – I loved to help my team through attacking and defending as well.

Where did you live in Walsall? Who were your friends at the club? Who were the best players during your time?

The first year I lived in Wolverhampton and the second year in Telford. I’m still in contact with (ex Walsall staff) Mrs. Pip Nash and sometimes I have contact also with Mr. Bill Jones, and with Mr. Paul Taylor who was the General Manager of the club at that time.

There was a couple of very good player in the team at that time. A very good goalkeeper Walker, right side Darren Wrack, striker Jorge Lietao, Paul Hall, Daren Byfield, Pedro Matias, Zigor Aranalde, Gino Padula, Keates, Bennett – and I’m certainly forgetting some of them.

In general, I think we had a nice, good quality team during these two years.

Did you ever go out drinking with other teammates in Walsall town centre?

No, after training I was always with my wife Nancy, she was alone at home so I tried to be with her most of the time. I participated in all celebrations with the group of players though, for example, the end of year party.

Did you enjoy working with Ray Graydon? Was he angry with you when you got sent off playing against Bury?

Yes, I was pleased to work with him, he was a very good trainer he did a great job with us during these two seasons.

Yes, he was not happy at all and after that game against Bury he always put me on the bench.

I think that this was not correct because the player from Bury hit me when the ball was at least 30 metres from me so it was nothing to do with the game. I just had a normal human reaction and it was just bad luck that the referee didn’t see the player of Bury as he should be sent off as it his fault.

I never hit somebody in all my career like he did with me, I had bad luck that the referee just saw me when I pushed the Bury player. Mr. Ray Graydon didn’t accept this, which I think is just a normal reaction, I never said something or did something wrong when players made fouls on me in normal situations in the game with the ball, but I didn’t understand why this player hit me when the ball was not there – the ball was at least 30 metres from me.

Why did you leave Walsall?

I left Walsall because Mr. Ray Graydon told me to leave; he said that he did not need me anymore for the future.

It was not easy for me because as you know I was happy with the club and my ambition was to continue, especially as we returned to the First Division, but football is like this – you should accept some decisions of managers and chairmen.

Do you still look for Walsall’s results?

Yes, of course I follow Walsall’s results they are having a good season in the middle of the table, I thing the end of the season has been more difficult, if I remember well.

Thank you once again for this, if there is anything else you would like to add then please feel free to do so.

Bukran

Thank you very much for your interest with me, I would like just to say (even if I did already a couple of times) thank you very much to everybody who still remembers me (people like you), thanks to the fans, people working in the club, trainers, players for those two excellent years of my career, during which I had a chance to be with you and for which I will always have nice memories.

What a lovely man, I’m sure you’ll all agree. Gabby telling us that he watches videos of his time at Walsall with his son at home in Belgium proves that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever Walsall.

 

 

Roger Boli Interview

Wooohhh! Hold your horses, don’t get too excited. This interview won’t reveal too much, in fact, hardly anything at all. And therein lies its beauty.

Roger Boli is the scorer of Walsall’s greatest ever goal and that is official. I can’t be bothered to upload a video of him scoring that overhead kick but you can just type it into any internet search engine and you will be able to see it.

Go right to the end of that interview and you will hear Boli speak. From that you can gauge Boli’s first language isn’t English. Through reading many books that covers Boli’s time at Walsall (The Good the Bad and the Boozy, Wacka: Size isn’t Everything, Walsall FC: The Bescot Years)  it is established that Boli’s English never really improved after that early interview.

Anyways, enough of the rambling, what you have just read will be more relevant later on. I wanted to interview Boli about his famous goal and his time at Walsall. I know he is now a football agent (involved in the controversial deal surrounding Gael Kakuta and Chelsea) so I tried to get through to him that way. No response. I tried Facebook. Nothing. I tried Twitter and thought I was in luck until I read his Twitter bio and it is obviously a fake one. Eventually, I tried a well-known professional networking site and after forgetting about it for a few months I got accepted as a friend.

What follows is an exact transcript of that interview that took place over the course of three emails:

The Gilbert Alsop: 

Bonjour Roger,
Can you answer a few questions about your time at Walsall?
I can send them to you if you like – firstly though, is the overhead kick you scored against Southen United your best ever goal?

Roger Boli Football Agent.jpg

Roger Boli:

Hi gilbert how are you? Nice to speak with you.oh yeah he is! I will never forget this crazy goal and my first club in England and my first expérience. Big time time for me.

The Gilbert Alsop:

Are you still friends with anyone from Walsall – how about your team mate Jeff Peron?
Do you remember the Honda Civic that you were both given?
https://thegilbertalsop.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/roger-boli-jeff-peron-photo-special/
Did you enjoy living in the town of Walsall?
How is your life as a football agent?

Roger Boli:

Living out of the town.still agent.who is chief executive in walsall now and who is manager?

I remenber the honda of course.it was very difficult at the begening.english drining

The Gilbert Alsop:

The manager is Dean Smith. The Chief Executive is Stefan Gamble.

Many thanks for the interview.

Roger Boli:

Dean Smith played With me not.

And there you have it, I told you not to get too excited didn’t I? All the spelling mistakes (including mine) and an irrelevant link have been deliberately included, so please don’t write in to complain.

Of course, If I hear any more from my new bestie then it will all be put on here.

Ta’ra.

Liverpool 2 Walsall 2

It was 30 years ago today (on February 7th) when Buckley took the boys to play*

Liverpool 2 Walsall 2

Who would have thought that little old Walsall could hold a mighty team like Liverpool – who were then the reigning European champions – to a draw at Anfield. Well we did.

My memories of this event are sparse. I never went but I do have a vague recollection of a few shops in the town centre doing ‘Walsall for the Cup’ window displays.

Anyways, the Saddlers Club are staging a 30 year anniversary of this event with all the players who took part being invited, a meal of pie, chips and peas and a full screening of one of Walsall’s greatest ever nights. All for £7.50. Get in!

More details are on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/515136111935718/?source=1

*sung to the tune of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band minus the bit in brackets.

 

 

 

 

 

SaddlersPlayer – Walsall v Brentford

On Tuesday night I set my alarm for 2.45 in the morning to listen to coverage of Walsall v Oldham. Two hours later I was still waiting for the coverage to start. Not only that but the text commentary they provided was pants.

I wrote a complaint to the providers. Here it is in full:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Walsall v Oldham wasn’t available on Saddlersplayer for some reason. Can you please make sure it doesn’t happen again. All the other games were ok, just this one. I received no apology for this. The absence of the commentary forced me to watch for text updates. This was poor. At about 30 minutes it claimed that Sam Mantom had scored – his shot went wide. In the 93rd minute you commentated that Oldham had got a penalty. There was no commentary as to the result of that penalty. 

Gilbert

Here is the reply:

Hi Gilbert,

Thank you for your email.

Apologies for the issues you’ve faced during the previous commentary. Our technical team is working at the server end and the upcoming games will be monitored closely so that we can avoid any such issues.

Best regards,

Amitha

Customer Services

Normal service has been resumed and now I am listening to the match against Brentford and all seems well apart from Brentford just taking the lead. Mick Kearns is the co-commentator with some other bloke (Phil?) I didn’t catch the name of but who is quite good. What I do find embarrassing is the constant plugging of the Bonser Suite and the club’s business adventures. Examples include:

‘Decades Disco Party Night. Join our Resident DJ for this brilliant disco party night, with music throughout the decades, from the Swingin’ 60s to the present day. Tickets still available at £5 by the way Clayton Donaldson has just scored for Brentford’ the commentator almost stated.

Mick Kearns informed all the listeners that ‘I have never had a meal at the Bonser Suite but I get plenty of people telling me how good it is. We just missed a fine save by O’Donnell’.

‘Free room hire, twenty function rooms, for details email….’

GOAL!!!! 11 goals so far this season for Westcarr. Mick Kearns: ‘Go and make things happen. Go and make Dean’s team talk a bit different’.

When it gets to half-time there is a two minute chat and then 10 minutes of silence. Surely they could do their plugging here? But maybe Mick has to do his schmoozing during the interval.

‘Walsall can win this game. Just be positive’. Words of wisdom from Mr. Kearns. Grigg getting a few boos as he is substituted.

‘Oh dear. I thought that was going to be it,’ says Kearns as Westcarr misses a great chance.

‘Walsall the better team in the second half. Totally dominated it. Most of the game was played in the Brentford half. Not a bad result. A terrific match’.

Full time.

Thanks Mick and whatever your name is.

Walsall FC Bangkok Supporters Club

‘It aint half hot, mom,’ is the first line of every text that I send to my mother in Pelsall – since I made the move to Bangkok, shortly after our victory over Wolves.

She, being of an advanced age, always replies with some gunf about the garden looking lovely or the bad weather they have had. At the end of the text is the latest Walsall result.

‘Do you have the world wide web in Bangkok, then?’ She asked the other day – as I told her there was no need for this information, because I can get it off the Internet. As an aside, I also told her there is no need to put the word ‘mom’ at the end of the text.

Anyway, what this disastrous preamble is leading me to is memories of being away from home waiting for the Walsall results (I promise I will not include any mention of the Likely Lads).

Last week I met up with another Saddler in central Bangkok to watch sweaty men, screaming out in ecstasy and exclaiming ‘get in, get in’ every few minutes, before giving each other a big hug. We were not in the Thai version of Chariots (Chawiots?) we were in an ex-pat bar watching Premiership football.

We had to make do with a laptop at the bar and the BBC text feed of Walsall v Coventry. It was shit. That shit, I have now invested in Saddlers World so I can hear Mick Kearns tell me that the game is shit, instead of watching a screen and jumping to my own conclusions.

Pre-Internet it was possible not to have immediate updates. I have memories of being in a car somewhere in Wales, trying to tune the radio to a BBC radio station and then getting news that David Kelly had scored a hat-trick to beat Bristol City in the play-offs and move us up a division. I celebrated this news with a cup of warm orange squash and a cheese and tomato sandwich that had gone soggy. Happy days!

When Richard Money got us promoted at Notts County, I was in New Zealand when I took a phone call off a now ex- friend, who was there to witness it. It is not often a pleasure to be woken up at 4 in the morning to hear a load of football fans chatting ‘we am gooing up, we am gooing up’ but this sent me back off to sleep with a tingly feeling that made me wish I was back in Walsall.

There are also memories of sitting in pubs in Walsall town centre, when Walsall were playing away, and watching Jeff Stelling on Sky Sports giving us updates. A clenched fist and a shout of ‘come on’ as we equalise against Rotherham may elicit strange looks from diners but the emotion of a goal somehow makes you invincible to social niceties.

It will be 10pm in Bangkok when we kick-off against MK Dons tomorrow. I will be in bed with a cup of tea and my laptop cheering on the boys from my new home.

‘Come on me babbies’ may not even translate into Thai but it won’t stop me shouting it out loud at kick-off.