Your Guide to our Visitors – Cheltenham Town

On a recent episode of BBC1 quiz show Pointless, Cheltenham Town FC was the only answer in the show’s history to receive a negative score.  Explaining this, smug arrogant dental disaster Richard Osman said that not only did none of the 100 people that were surveyed name Cheltenham Town as a current League 2 side, but 57 people steadfastly refused to believe that Cheltenham Town FC actually existed as an entity.  Osman then went on to talk about the world cup of biscuits that he routinely oversees on Twitter which, despite being interminably boring, is nowhere near as boring as the fact that Cheltenham hosts a current Football League team.

Nobody knows anything about Cheltenham Town.  We couldn’t name any of their squad or the name of their manager.  Having been informed that their manager is somebody called Michael Duff, we’ve instantly forgotten his name and had to go back to Google to remind ourselves of his name.  And we’ve instantly forgotten it again, even though we’ve typed it out in the last sentence.  

We’ve actually played Cheltenham a grand total of 16 times, yet we don’t remember anything about any of these encounters.  We’ve tried but we honestly can’t.  It’s like trying to remember pi to the 99th decimal point.  It’s like trying to remember the plot of an episode of pretentious wanky detective show Sherlock after you’ve drunk a pint of lighter fuel.   It’s like trying to remember any one of Westlife’s 24 top 10 singles other than Uptown Girl.  Much like Steve Evans’s diet, it’s a fruitless exercise.

One can only conclude that Cheltenham Town is the single-most boring football club in the Football League.  And this in a league that includes Crawley Town, Rochdale and Stevenage.  In all likelihood their away kit will be beige, with magnolia shorts and socks.  They’ll be sponsored by a building society or financial institute that will have T&Cs in small print below the name of the sponsor on their shirts advising how investments are liable to go up or down.  They’ll play in a traditional 4-4-2 formation, leaving one man up front when defending corners.   They’ll grind out a 0-0 draw that will be devoid of any talking point whatsoever.  They’ll take the scenic route back home along the A40.  They’ll have an end-of-season meal at Cheltenham’s 3rd best curry house and all order the chicken korma or omelette and chips.  They’ll then vanish off the face of everybody’s consciousness for the next 12 months until we realise that we have to play them again.  And then we’ll say to ourselves “I didn’t realise there was a football club in Cheltenham.  I wonder who their manager is”.

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Bountiful Beer Bonus for Boro Boxing Buffs

Hot on the heels of its £99 season ticket promotion, Stevenage Football Club has today announced the latest range of benefits for its most loyal supporters.

Those fans that have bought tickets to the Billy Joe Saunders boxing match at The Lamex will be rewarded with cheap craft beer next season. A club spokesman confirmed that “we will be reducing the price of Boro Beer from £4 a pint to £3.50 a pint, valid for one drink during a match of your choosing. If you are a lady, a similar reduction will be applied to Carlsberg.

“The promotion is available to the first 10 supporters that have purchased £250 front row seats for the boxing.”

The club’s spokesman continued by confirming that “to allow for this promotion to take place, we will be raising the price of all drinks by £2. Although it’s only a £1.50 rise if you buy your drink in advance of the day of the match. And so long as you’re a member of the Supporters Association.”

It’s understood that Stevenage FC was due to announce this remarkable supporters’ offer straight after the 3-0 defeat to Notts County, but then thought it best to do it after a 5 game unbeaten run. “We’re not fucking stupid” said Phil Wallace. Allegedly.

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Your Guide to our Visitors – Exeter City

According to the internet, the three most famous Exeter City supporters are that annoying wanker out of Coldplay who was once married to vaginal steaming advocate Gwyneth Paltrow; that annoying patronising wanker with a tidy beard who hosted Deal or No Deal; and Eddie Hitler out of Bottom. We know which of the three we’d most like to go for a beer with. We also know which of the three we’d most like to steam the genitals of.

Do you remember the time when Michael Jackson was brought onto the pitch at Exeter after being made an honorary director? It’s rumoured he joined The Grecians’ board having learnt that there were no vacancies at Crewe Alexandra.

‘Grecians’ is probably the strangest nickname in the Football League as, other than Exeter City’s failure to manage its own finances, there’s very little similarity with the Greeks.

The most famous member of the current Exeter squad is Chris Wagon Weale, the only footballer named after a chocolate covered biscuit. Most people say he’s not as big as he was back in the 1970s.

Let’s be honest, we don’t know anything about Exeter and we don’t really care. But our OCD obliges us to finish this report so we’ve resorted to checking the Devon Live website (surely that’s a contradiction if ever we’ve heard one) to check out the 16 most interesting facts about the city. One of which is that the roads in Exeter are over 50% safer than the rest of the country. Presumably because tractors rarely go over 20mph. Another is that “Exeter has seen a decline in the volume of texts sent from mobile phones in 2013 as web based messaging services take over“. Wow. Apparently 75% of WhatsApp messages sent from the Exeter area consist of farmers sending each other photos of misshapen root vegetables. The other 25% are of farmers sending each other photos of their penises shaped like carrots.

Did you also know that “homes built in Exeter are now six times more energy efficient than when a home was built in 1900”. Bugger it. I’m off to live in Devon’s county town, even if I’m unsure whether Stevenage homes are also six times more energy efficient than they were 119 years ago.

That JK Rowling used to live in Exeter, before she wrote the Indiana Jones books. We’re not sure of the energy efficiency of her former house. Or whether she also used “on average, 160 litres of water every day” just like the average Exeter resident. We’re unsure how many litres of water it would take to steam your vagina, which is the sort of fact that Devon Live should have been coming out with.

The more we think about it, whoever’s behind the Devon Live website is a fucking idiot.

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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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