Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Beavers v would that finish?

Well actually 2-1 to the Eagles as it would happen.  The Beavers finished up their pre-season schedule with the visit of a Crystal Palace XI on Monday night as 'The Management' got one more opportunity to take a look at the squad before it all gets serious with the visit of Margate on Saturday.

A night at Non-League?
Yes please Daddy!
As a holiday treat young Tommy was allowed to attend an evening game, during term time its strictly forbidden. The fact that my six year old son considers attending an evening non-league friendly as the highlight of the week, quite frankly, makes me feel about 100 feet tall. Before setting off the main concern for Tommy was that we both had our shirts on and that the #footballhat was on display, on route the topics for discussion ranged from which new players had signed, who had gone and counting snails and slugs. 

On arrival the programme was duly purchased and whilst Tommy devoured the information I took the opportunity to partake of a beverage and have a chat with my nephew's Paul and Bradley and niece Olivia. There was much discussion of the appointment of the 12th Doctor which I and Bradley had been at the previous day.

So on to the match, and I'm not really going to do full on match reports as I'm usually too busy chatting, making witty comments or in the process of getting another pint, but I will put up my random thoughts on the actual pitch based action. If you want a high quality match report check out the official HRBFC website rather than my illiterate scribbles!

With Palace playing at Dulwich the following night this was a young side that stepped on to the lush Beveree turf however, due to my unhealthy obsession with the Football Manager series of PC games, there were a few names I recognised and had tried to sign when in control of that lower league super power Hartlepool United!

The first half was a fast paced affair with the Mighty Beavers (kinda like the Mighty Ducks from the stunning film of the same name starring Emilio Estevez!) on the attack and looking to skate past their higher level opponents. I do like the attacking formation that Paul & Darren have settled on and they look to be putting square pegs in square holes. The midfield had bit and guile with Stuart Lake playing in the holding role, Tommy Brewer getting up and down the pitch and James Simmonds looking to provide the spark from midfield. Joe Turner and Matt Reece started wide right and left of Charlie Moone up front and at regular intervals swapped wings to give the full backs something to think about. In defence, the fresh of the plane, Billy Jeffreys slotted in alongside Marcus Rose and looked composed...and a bit orange! Although 3 months in LA, Florida or wherever the heck he was will probably do that to you!

Hampton took the lead through Jeffreys when he jumped highest at the far post from a Simmonds corner and Palace had to thankful to their keeper for several smart saves which kept it to just the one goal at half time. The second half saw Palace come more in to the game and just after the hour mark, following a triple substitution by the Beavers, equalised.

Jon is a trendsetter.
It was shortly after that I and Tommy departed, partly due to the time and partly due to my back starting to really struggle after a 11 hour day at work. Only 4 and a bit weeks post op I still need to take it easy and not push it too much. I'm targeting a full 90 minutes against Margate and this week started driving again after a 10 week break, only to work and back, but I'm hoping I can use Lewes away as a trial run for a longer drive. We'll see how it goes. In other news there is a new clothing trend in Hampton where you wear your shirt back to front. My good friend @Jonnus55 demonstrates this in the photo to the right!

As I said in my first blog, I still have some concerns over bits of the squad but overall  it seems to be coming together very well. The first real test is Margate on Saturday and they will be a good side. Hampton will be missing Tom Hickey and Karle Carder due to suspension and there are injury concerns over a couple of other players as well. However the most important fact is that proper football is back and I couldn't be more delighted!

#VivaLaBeaver Fantasy Premier League

Anyone (mad Beaver fan or otherwise) who want to take part in a Fantasy League Challenge this season with possibility of a fine trophy at the end of the season take a look here for more information. No costs, no charges and just a spot of fun....unless I win, in which case I shall lord it over the entire world!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Dr F'ing Who!

I did say that this blog wouldn't be all football and it appears I can only manage one footy article before allowing my inner geek to take over the the brain and writing implements!

Number 12 is here. Pic from MTV Geek News
So last night, live on BBC One, and screened across the globe the 12th Doctor was announced as Peter Capaldi to a rapturous reaction at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire. I know that it was a great reaction as I was one of the 400 or so who were in attendance at the studios on this historic evening.

It was the first time that the new Doctor had been announced in this fashion, usually it's via a press release, although for Matt Smith they did do a Confidential Special with the decisions surrounded in secrecy. This time round they upped the anti with the live show. Tickets were made available a couple of weeks ago as a pilot of an entertainment show. My brothers wife applied for a bunch of them as there was a brief mention of Doctor Who but thought nothing more. On the day that they announced what the tickets were for there were over 5000 applications online for the 4 ticket maximum, a huge demand.

Waiting in the queue
Arriving at Elstree about 75 minutes before the gates opened there were 325 people in front of us, I can be that exact as one of my nephews picked up ticket 326 as we finally went through the gate. I'm not sure what the good people of Borehamwood thought as a queue of around 1000 people dressed as all manner of characters and creatures descended on their doorstep. I saw several Bakers (Colin & Tom), a fair smattering of Davisons, a posse of Tennents, lots of Fez action and one Valeyard! The atmosphere on the street was friendly as people took photos of one and other, handed out jelly babies and got interviewed by the various members of the press on hand.

Inside the studio the tension was palpable and the excitement built as the announcement got closer and when the 12th Doctor made his appearance the roof came off the studio and I, along with many others I suspect, had goosebumps as PC made his first appearance.

I am not a number...well actually I am!
The move away from a younger Doctor seems to make sense to me, I think Matt Smith is brilliant and has made a huge impression on the direction and future of the character and to have another young actor would probably lead to unfair comparisons. Capaldi is a well established, versatile actor who has that look in his eye and personality who already gives off that Doctor-ish quality. I think it's a great choice and can't wait to see him in action. The only question is when we will first see him, will the Moff stick him in to the 50th special in November? Remember the man's got form for this so it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see this happen but will be thrilling none the less.

Other highlights from the show included fellow Hamptonian Rufus Hound (@rufushound) make a couple of verbal typos in his praise of the show. To be fair I was sitting in the audience racked with nerves and hyped up so for anyone sitting in front of all those fans and the people at home combined with his own fanboy excitement I'm not shocked he got in the muddle. He's since put up an article on his blog following the show which is worth a read. Maybe I can try and persuade the great man to pay a visit to his local non-league club during the current season. I'm sure that our nickname should be enough to garner interest and probably a couple of sniggers #vivalabeaver

I also managed to get comments and favourites from my twitter feed from Dr Who fans across Europe from a single tweet showing the queue before the event which made my day. Like most fandoms everyone just wants to share the enjoyment of the show and it was nice to interact, even briefly, with fellow fans.

So that's it, Smith, thanks for everything and enjoy those final few months. Capaldi,over to you, be brilliant...I have no doubt you will be!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

#footballhat's New Season thoughts

The 2013/14 #footballhat.
How long before I drunkenly lose it?
I've had this blog set up for a couple of weeks but not really found the time to start putting anything on it. With work commitments, recovery from surgery and other bits and bobs things have just kept getting in the way but having a chilled Sunday morning has given enough opportunity to kick things off.

The majority of this blog will focus on the various exploits of the Mighty Beavers of TW12 over the coming season but at various points will probably veer left and have a Sci-Fi or Aston Villa theme. Also should myself and the #footballhat get to any other non-league shenanigans it may well be stuck up on here as well.

For those that are interested the #footballhat for the coming season is a mighty fine brown fedora bought for the princely sum of £5 from Ebay....I have no idea what happened to last years #footballhat, it appears to have vanished from the face of the planet.

So here we go....

Beaver Expectations

The Home of Football
Before I start I think it's worth clarifying that I put these comments up as my own opinions as a supporter and season ticket holder. Since March I've held no position within the club and with other things going on in life at the moment I can't see me taking on anything official at the time being. Also being honest the guys now doing the programme, press and website are doing a much better job of it than I did and are making the club's comms much more professional and joined up.

Last season was, diplomatically speaking, a massive disappointment; probably the least enjoyable in 20+ years of watching Hampton. The displays on the pitch after October were poor and there was a general air of resignation from the loyal supporters. There were of course outside factors that probably didn't help with my enjoyment last year, the passing of a good friend, the house being burgled and suffering a prolapsed disc in February which put me in constant pain and required surgery in July probably didn't help my mood!

There seems to have been a lot of activity during the close season, the Academy has now taken over the running of the Suburban side with the removal of the Capital League side makes sense to me. Make use of the best coaches the club has and push the best of the Academy team through to the Suburban League to see how they get on in Senior Mens football can only help. The pitch looks in good nick and the signing of the new long term lease gives the club stability and the ability to build upon it's existing relationships and become a much bigger part of the local community.
The 'Management' 

During the close season the new management team seem to have been busy in working out who they want to keep from last year, who they want to go after and who needs to go or we can't afford with this seasons playing budget. There have been trialist games and so far 40 named players have been used and several under the pseudonym of A.Triallist and I guess that the Paul and Darren now have a good idea of who they want to start the season against Margate on the 10th. Of those who have departed it would have been good to keep Tony Taggart who I thought did well at left back at the end of the season and of course Dean Inman, but after the situation last year with his loan to Farnborough that was never likely to happen.

Starting from the back to the front lets look at the options available....

Goalkeepers - We've seen three keepers pre-season but it looks like, unless there is someone else on the horizon, that we will be starting the season with Rodney Chiweshe occupying the number 1 spot. Tim Roberts hasn't appeared for the last 2 games and Matt Peglar played one game at the start and hasn't been seen since. I still have some concerns over the keeping situation, Rodney is an excellent shot stopper but in the Ryman League you need keepers who are vocal, control their defence and dominate the penalty box on set peices. There are areas where Rodney is probably not as strong as other clubs keepers and need to be worked on, there is also the concern about his work commitments if the local press are to be believed.

Billy Jeffreys (with Tommy!)
Defence -  We appear to be well stocked in the center of defence, on his day Alan Bray is as good as any centre back in the league, he just needs to be carefully managed due to his injury record. Billy Jeffreys is strong and solid, however having spent the pre-season in America coaching may be a little short of match fitness. New signing Marcus Rose looks very good, the former Maidenhead defender looks strong in the tackle and composed on the ball. Paul Barry has also spoken well of the former Camberley defender George Hardy. In the full back positions we have seen Malvin Kamara retained who, if he can recapture his early season form from last year, is one of the best right backs in the league. On the opposite flank it seems that 17 year old George Wells has nailed down that spot, a series of impressive displays towards the end of last season and the start of this has seen him earn a contract with the club, as back up there is Anson Cousins who has recovered from the injury sustained at the end of last season.

Midfield - Again we have a plethora of options in the middle of the park and with Paul & Darren seeming to favour a 4-3-3 / 4-5-1 I can see the reasoning behind this. Tom Hickey, Tommy Brewer and Stuart Lake can all operate as the holding midfielder, all are good on the ball and can break up play, although Brewer has the energy to operate as a box to box midfielder. Both him and Trigger are great acqusitions for the club and having Tom Hickey back is a great bonus. Karle Carder has returned for a second spell with the club and on his day has the ability to control the midfield and along with James Simmonds can unlock a defence. Consistency is once again the key with these two, their ability is not in question. This leaves Rob Carrick as the sixth midfielder. I've been impressed with the former Chertsey midfielder, against Ascot he was trying to get ahead of the strikers and making some great runs from deep, this gives defenders something different to think about. With Karle and Tom suspended for the first three games he should get a chance to make an impression in the early part of the season.

Joe Turner
Strikers - You may have noticed that I didn't put Joe Turner in the midfield section, within the new system Joe has been used as the right hand striker within a very wide front three, usually with Joel Ledgister on the left hand side. Joe's pace, ball control and work rate seems suited to playing further up the field and he looked good when used in this role last season. The return of Charlie Moone has been a boost to the expectaions, Charlie is good for at least 20 goals a season at this level and is not your normal striker his movement and willingness to drop deep means he finds space and is hard to pick up. Also returning is Joel Ledgister for a third spell, if fit and motivated Joel can win games on his own and playing on the left hand side should give him some extra space and the ability to drift in on centre backs. Hopefully we will see the best of Joel this season. Jordan Rocastle appears to be the third striker, due to my rehabilitation I've not actually seen him play yet but his record in Norfolk seems to be excellent and from speaking to other supporters they seem very excited by him, he may be that fox in the box that we have missed since Lawrence Yaku hung up his boots. The only concern I have about our strikers is that I think we are lacking some height and strength up front, even only as a plan B, we don't currently have a striker who can physically bully some of the lumps we are likely to come up against.

I think the make up of the squad is overall fairly well balanced, maybe lacking a bit of natural width but Turner, Cousins and the full backs can provide that if needed. 

The league this year is,again, very strong. Billericay and AFC Hornchurch will be looking to bounce straight back up and the promoted teams from Division 1 South in Maidestone and Dulwich will be strong. This is before you start considering the teams who made up the top 10 from last season! Where can the Beavers finish I hear you say? I'd like to think we can make a tilt at the play offs this season, but I'd expect a top 10 place. Lowestoft have strengthened, Bury, Wealdstone, Canvey Island, Kingstonian, Met Police and Leiston all look strong this year. I think it will be a very tight league, at this stage I think that it will be between Lowestoft and Billericay for the title with any of up to 10 teams scrapping for the play off places.

Next up for the Beavers is a visit from a Crystal Palace XI side on Monday night, it will be interesting to see what the starting XI is for this one as it should give a guide to Paul and Darrens thinking for the first few games of the season.