Your Guide to our Visitors – Carlisle United

Notts County supporters. They’re a salty bunch ain’t they? Well let’s see how salty they are when they’re playing away at Chorley on a Tuesday night. Wankers.

Which brings us to Carlisle United. Yeah, I know what you’re expecting. But no. For the first time this season we’re not going to troll our away supporters. We’re going to extol the virtues of a good old-fashioned, unpretentious football club from a decent unfashionable town that has no airs or graces or need to be something that they’re not. A town whose most famous product was the Ipswich Town and England footballer, Kevin Beattie; a player who possessed such natural footballing ability whilst simultaneously managing to be the most hapless accident-prone player of his generation who, on one occasion, poured petrol on a garden bonfire and managed to take half his face off in the resultant inferno and, on another, missed pre-season as a result of putting too much effort into defecating and subsequently strained his stomach muscles. For football should be innocent and timeless, full of characters and escapades and apocryphal tales. It should be about Nobby Stiles dancing on the Wembley turf with the World Cup in his hand. It should be about Paul Gascoigne donning some novelty breasts whilst on England duty.

But Gazza’s fake tits opened Pandora’s box and is the cause of every football-related atrocity post-1990. All-seater stadia. Exorbitant ticket prices. Kick off times dictated by television executives. David Baddiel pretending to like football and writing a (admittedly good) song about Nobby Stiles dancing on the Wembley pitch. The Europa League. The Checkatrade Trophy. Trevor Kettle. Piers Morgan pretending to like football. Soccer AM. Jamie fucking Rednapp and his one fucking skinny black suit. The Premier League. And Tony Blair pretending to like football.

Nigel Farage may be a total cunt but at least he doesn’t pretend to like football. He may be a Gillingham season ticket holder for all we know (and that would be quite fitting) but he doesn’t go on about it if he is one. So kudos Nigel. Just stop pretending that you like to drink beer, you snivelling weasel.

Carlisle remind us of a time before all this nonsense. If there’s any team that visits Broadhall Way and deserves to take away all three points this season, it’s them. This is irrespective of the fact that we’d much rather see Carlisle in the playoffs than those Exeter wankers.

We’ll finish with a quote from a famous ex-player of Carlisle, who later became their manager:

“If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.”

Bill Shankly didn’t elaborate on what Notts County would be in 24th place in League 2. Other than a bunch of salty pricks.

Incidentally, Shanks once tried to sign a teenage Kevin Beattie for Liverpool, but nobody from the club picked him up from Liverpool Lime Street and he caught the train back to Carlisle. Hapless indeed. But a great loss to the game nevertheless. RIP Kev.

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Your Guide to our Visitors – Notts County

You know when you festoon your stadium with signs and ephemera that proclaim that you’re the oldest Football League club in the world and you’ve built your whole existence and image around this solitary fact. When do you have to take the signs down? When you’re mathematically relegated before the end of the season? When the whistle goes at the end of your last game in League Two? Or on the day of your first ever game in the National League? This is the conundrum that Notts County currently face, together with trying to broker a deal to sell their signs and associated tat to Stoke City.

You’ve actually got to feel sorry for County. Due to the presence of Sheffield FC in the Peek Freans Biscuit Assortment Northern Backwater League Division 7, the Magpies won’t even be able to claim that they’re the oldest club in non-league. We haven’t seen such a fall from grace since that time the County chairman got his sausage out on Twitter. As a club that’s always revelled in their ‘big and historic’ status, we’re not sure what they’ll make of playing Bromley and Boreham Wood next season. Actually, they’ll probably remind the opposition supporters on social media that they are much bigger and much more historic than they are, which they always tend to do after getting turned over by the minnows. Then again, we’re reminded that we once saw Arsenal play the Magpies in the old first division back in January 1984 (that’s right kids; there was actually top flight football before the Premier League. It’s just that nobody could be bothered to market it to within an inch of its life). We’re reminded of this because we did a head count of County fans on the Clock End ten minutes before kick off, counting a grand total of 26 supporters. And yet their fans have the audacity to call us tinpot. Even though they got a creditable draw in that match, they actually won the contest – and the argument – by being the oldest league club in the world, even though there were more Stevenage fans on the North Bank than County fans in the away end.

Famous supporters of Notts Cunty consist solely of somebody called Jake Bugg and the mass murderer Harold Shipman (seriously: it’s on Wikipedia). It’s a widely held conspiracy theory (not on Wikipedia) that Shipman communicated with Sven-Goran Eriksson from beyond the grave, recommending that he sign Lee Hughes for the club.

What was it with Eriksson? As England manager he’d regularly check up on the form of his players by attending Premier League matches whilst accompanied by his girlfriend. That’s like me taking my wife to work so that she can watch me answer phone calls from pissed off members of the public whilst I stick a pen up my nostril. Or watch me spend 30 minutes making a cup of tea whilst chatting bollocks about Premier League football that I have absolutely no interest in, other than an intense dislike for David Luiz. Cut your hair you fucking weasel, and stop defending with your arms behind your back. You look like when they made us do country dancing in our pants in primary school. Or was that just me?

On the basis that more is less, County managers this season have included Kevin Nolan, Steve Chettle, Mark Crossley, Neal Ardley, and the husband of Tricia Dingle out of Emmerdale.

In all seriousness, we’ll miss playing Notts. It’s a decent away trip, so long as you don’t end up in Hooters. And there is something quite depressing in seeing the heart ripped out of one of the bastions of the Football League. Then again, what are the odds on us getting the charity buckets out and giving County 3 points on Saturday? It might all be worth it if Yeovil go down in their place.

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Your Guide to our Visitors – Swindon Town

“So, who’ve we got tonight?”

“The Swindon lot.”

“The Swindon lot? That lot that moved to the Slough office and proved what a bunch of humourless twats they are by misunderstanding Brent and siding with that mongrel Neil? The Swindon lot are little slugs. Little slugs with no personality. They never wanted to take to Brent. They couldn’t handle Brent. They were still loyal to Neil, a man who dripped oil wherever he went, the oily bastard. Give me Brent every day of the week. Even that girl from the Swindon office that copped off with Tim Canterbury looked like she needed a good wash. Saying that, Dawn was far too good for him and it didn’t surprise me when she dumped him and he married that girl off the Maltesers ads. You know, the one that doesn’t pay her taxes. Of course, she paid up eventually, but not until there was a media outcry. You’ve got to be earning a fair old whack to get a £120,000 tax bill land on your door mat. But she’d probably had extraneous expenses like the weekly Ocado delivery bill that had rendered her potless. Come on, we’ve all been there. Fortunately, Tim had earnt millions being a diminutive humanoid living in Middle-earth (sounds a bit like John Coleman at Accrington) so was able to help her out, after the media had kindly let him know about it. He’s a treasure. In fact, when did Tim become such a national treasure? Give it 10 years and the BBC’s poll of greatest ever Britons will have a top three of Tim Canterbury, Richard Osman and Simon Mayo. Which is enough to make you drive a Honda Civic off a cliff. Judging by the Vodafone ads, Tim’s now shacked up with an attractive bird that’s 25 years younger than him. The power of money I suppose. Perhaps if I dress like an extra in Quadrophenia I’ll get to have a go on one of Little Mix. Whoever they are. People often ask me ‘Have you ever seen the Hobbit films?’ I always say ‘No, I’m an adult. And there’s always episodes of Ever Decreasing Circles to watch on the UK Dementia channel instead.’ The lovely Penelope Wilton’s in that. She’s also in that new programme about David Brent on Netflix where she’s grieving for her husband, Richard Briers, and Brent’s grieving for his missus who used to run a care home he was once in. Which is nice, but sad. Then again, Auntie Val out of Friday Night Dinner was also briefly in it. She’s proper feisty on the twitter. So’s Tim’s ex-wife. She certainly doesn’t like people mentioning her tax problems. Anyway, Gareth Keenan was my favourite. Have you seen that he now lives with Diana Rigg’s daughter and goes out metal detecting at the weekend? That’s the life.”

“No, not that lot. I was talking about Swindon Town. You know, the football club.”

“Little slugs. Little slugs with no personality.”

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Your Guide to our Visitors – Bury

By our north of England correspondent, Ivor Whippet

Bury has the misfortune of being midway between Bolton and Rochdale (and is therefore closer to Bolton’s stadium than Bolton is), It is only saved from being yet another shit suburb of Manchester by the border wall of the M60, no wonder their fans are so grumpy.

As you would expect from its location Bury is a god-awful hole of a town and as such their fans should have some affinity with us. They don’t though. They hate us. We don’t care. They do however have an affinity with Shrewsbury, both towns revelling in correcting whatever pronunciation of their name you attempt to the other one. Bastards.

The name Bury is thought to stem from the area’s roots as a burial ground for corpses which explains the usual atmosphere at Gigg Lane and the town’s unique aroma (although this may just be down to its location just under Ramsbottom). They claim to be home to a local delicacy known as the black pudding which is particularly disturbing given the town’s history, but doesn’t matter since it’s clearly bollocks.

Bury is the birthplace of Robert Peel, founder of the Police Force and as a result is the subject of the Cornershop song Town Full of Grasses.

The Manchester Metrolink tram has a terminus in the town, a fact which was voted the most boring element of a Wikipedia entry in 2018, Bury’s first trophy in living memory (they did win the FA Cup in 1900 and 1903 but they don’t like to talk about it).

According to Geoffrey Moorhouse no history of Bury is complete without a mention of the Lancashire Fusiliers, but we’ve no clue who either of those people are so we’re not going to mention it.

Bury FC have been in the football league for over 100 years and during that time have established themselves as league two’s West Brom, only without having the highest ground in the country to provide a single interesting fact about them.

They are managed by Ryan Lowe, a player so loved and internationally recognised that he has a hairpin named after him just near Lewis Hamilton’s gaffe in Monaco (presumably because he’s so bent). A notoriously tough player we’ve no doubt Dino will hit his apex if needs be.

Bury FC’s nickname is The Shakers which presumably stems from the knees of their fans given the number of relegation battles they have had to worry through over the years, although it may be from their brush with administration in 2001/2002 when fans had to borrow buckets from local rival Accrington Stanley to stave off the administrators.

We first met Bury in 2011 and have played them 9 times in total as we followed them up and down the leagues like a love-struck teenager. Former Boro’ players Phil Edwards and Jay O’Shea are currently on the books at Bury, we have no idea what they have done to deserve that.

Bury have always been equal opportunity employers, giving job opportunities to mentally challenged players such as Leon Clarke and Jermaine Beckford, as well as Danielle Nardini formerly of This Life. Danielle has subsequently moved on to Bangor City which seems remarkably appropriate so much of this was just some sort of cheese dream on my part.

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Your Guide to our Visitors – Northampton Town

Prior to moving to Sixfields, Northampton used to play at the County Ground; a stadium renowned for only having three stands. In homage to their former home, the design of Sixfields also incorporates just three completed stands. This is partly because four fully functioning stands weren’t actually required, as a large percentage of the home support had buggered off to support MK Dons instead.

Stevenage also have just three complete stands. The difference being that we’ll shortly have four stands as nobody’s done a bunk with the money. As far as we know.

Can you imagine living in a county where the main areas of population are Northampton, Kettering and Corby? That’s like waking up one day and realising that you’ve got a choice between living in one of Baghdad, Basra or Mosul. Or Borehamwood. No wonder Cobblers fans are so gobby.

That’s it. That’s our lot. There’s nothing further to say about Northampton Town, Northampton as a town, or the shoe making business in general. We’ve only got six more of these to go until the end of the season and this one has dredged the very bottom of the barrel of Carlsberg which, now we think of it, is brewed in Northampton. All we can say is, thanks. Thanks Northampton. Thanks Northampton Town. Thanks for having nothing interesting to say about you. Thanks for giving us probably the pissiest lager in the world. Thanks for distilling probably the pissiest lager in the world into Special Brew to make it easier for drunks to piss themselves in public. Thanks for giving us the ability to verbally abuse John-Joe O’Toole for 90 minutes whilst he bosses the midfield. Thanks for employing the most insipid manager in history who tweets about such things as how competent he is at making a batch of Yorkshire puddings (and he really does). Thanks for having a bunch of gobby teenagers wearing moody Stone Island as your fan base. Thanks for being one of the largest towns in the UK that nobody ever wants to go to. Thanks to whoever designed the route of the M1 motorway for bypassing the place. Thanks for giving us the Reverend Richard Coles and his earnest piano playing in the worst band of the 80s and his subsequent earnest commentaries on earnest subjects on all earnest TV and radio channels ending in the number 4. Thanks for giving us Faye Tozer out of Steps for if she hadn’t existed there would have been no Steps and what a tragedy that would have been (ha). But, most importantly, thanks for forcing Carlsberg into every bar in every football ground in the world in a bid to ensure fans have to watch shit fourth division football matches in a state of sobriety.

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Kennedy to Arsenal

It’s the headline most young footballers would most want to read about themselves, unless they were already playing for Manchester City, but imagine what it must feel like to read it if you’re a 22 year old from Lisburn, Northern Ireland? And if your name’s ‘Kennedy’?

But this is the reality for Stevenage starlet Ben Kennedy who, we understand, has secured match day tickets for Arsenal v BATE Borisov in the Europa League fixture to be held at Big Stadium in the coming weeks.

A source close to the highly-rated former teenager told us “Can you imagine coming from some backwater where you don’t even feature on the town’s Wikipedia page as one of its notable people to a place where you actually get to see Arsenal play against a team from – I assume – Lithuania? This is a dream come true for Ben.”

Since signing for Stevenage as a young kid, Kennedy has gone from strength to strength, including getting a subscription to Sky Sports last year. But who could have imagined the journey he would make to see in the flesh the heroes of his 55 inch telly. Or even Alex Iwobi.

Boro fan Arthur Penus told us “I knew that the loan deal at Newport was only the start of Ben’s adventure. I only hope he takes Joe Martin with him. I would love to be able to see a Europa League match at the Emirates. What’s that? Tickets are readily available? Sorry, I’ve got a few episodes of Bargain Hunt to catch up on.”

It is believed that after the Arsenal fixture, Ben will return to Rodney Parade where he’ll spend the rest of the season sitting on the bench eating Sour Patch Kids.

After that, the world is Kennedy’s oyster. But not before Stevenage try to sell him to a club for money. “It’s always been the club’s priority to sell its Academy players for wonga” said a club spokesman over the phone. “Dino foolishly told the truth about Ben the other day so we now need to drive his value back up. The club will therefore be producing a Ben Kennedy DVD showing his goal at Kenilworth Road from multiple angles and in slow motion, with a backing track by Mogwai. We’re also paying local journalists £5 every time they use the phrase ‘highly rated’.”

Highly rated Ben Kennedy was unavailable for comment.

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Your Guide to our Visitors – Yeovil Town

Did you know that Yeovil Town are called The Glovers due to previous manager Graham Roberts being an enormous fan of Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon films? Roberts was also an enormous fan of sending faxes to Newcastle United to tell them what a bunch of arseholes Stevenage were; an action that got him the sack from Huish Park. We’re not sure if he tried to claim “diplomatic immunity” when the chairman proffered his P45 across the table, or whether he got to see Patsy Kensit without her top on. We suspect not. Lethal weapon, indeed.

For those under the age of 40, a fax was similar to a Snapchat but would take about 3 hours to deliver. And the Lethal Weapon movies were a bit like Cagney and Lacey, but with a bit more humour and with a bit less emphasis on Mary Beth’s marriage to Harvey.

Incidentally, American hip-hopper Childish Gambino named himself Donald Glover as a nod to Yeovil Town’s multi-cultural identity. He almost changed This is America to This is Somerset, as he wanted to challenge the institutional racism he imagined might be encountered on dairy farms in the south west of England.

Yeovil manager Darren Way is one of two current football league managers named after thoroughfares; the other being Keith Hill of Rochdale. Other sporting stars named after roads include the cricketer Brian Close and AFC Wimbledon supporter Brian Lane in New Tricks. Bury manager Ryan Lowe isn’t named after a road, but if he was it would probably have lots of potholes along its length and dog shit on the pavement.

Like all rural communities Yeovil has had to adapt to sustain itself. Instead of having an economy solely reliant on the making and drinking of cider, the region has moved towards newer 21st Century technologies such as the manufacture of yoghurt and crystal meth.

One of many anagrams of Yeovil is ‘olivey’, which sort of describes the colour of the Glovers’s kit. Olives have yet to make it to the West Country, with Yeovil residents preferring the crunch of a radish as a pre-dinner snack.

All trains to Yeovil stop at Tisbury, which is the cultural centre of the south west of England. They then stop 8 miles from the town of Yeovil. Which is a right pain in the ball sack, especially when you eventually get to the pub and discover it’s a Hungry Horse.

By the way, we’ve just discovered that Graham Roberts is on twitter. We’re going to see how quickly we can be blocked by him.

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