Category Archives: Match Day

Fulham Away 2nd April 2016 – Match Preview

The MooCamp Radio Show Issue 2.21So it’s starting to get serious then 😉

We trek down to that London tomorrow for a match that both teams will be desperately hoping to win, and one where a loss would see the other team sitting in the bottom three come 5pm.  A draw wouldn’t be the end of the world for either, but that would leave us in the bottom three, which will undoubtedly raise the pressure on the players.  At this time of the season, this is just as much a psychological battle than a footballing one, and as our results against the teams around us have shown, we’re struggling in this one.

We’ve not been to Craven Cottage before (well at least I haven’t, so it amounts to the same thing) so the chance to tick another ground off (I think I’m in the mid-sixties of the current 92 at the moment – will need to tot up properly) is one that will be taken by a fair few of our lot   It’s expected that we’ll take around 1500-1600, which is a fairly sizeable away following by our standards.  It should be added that of those fans, there are a number who are making their journey down there as difficult as possible, so they can raise money for Willen Hospice – Bootsie and Radar by kayak and Dan, Ashley, Emmaaaaaaaaa, Tracy and others on foot.  Good luck to you all – you have both my admiration and my money, so stop asking.

So what can I tell you about Fulham then?  Well as you will know by now, here at MooCamp Towers, we consider research to be cheating, so we go with what we know.

What I know about Fulham is:

  • Jimmy Hill was their Chairman at one point, and they ended up getting relegated on the basis of a goals scored rule (as opposed to goal difference) that Jimmy introduced
  • Mohammed Al Fayed used to own them, and might still do for all I know
  • They used to have a statue of Michael Jackson outside their ground, which is perhaps the most surreal of all the football-related statues that have ever existed in these isles
  • Richard Osman of Pointless fame is a fan, and was good enough to retweet about our fans sponsored travels
  • They have a neutrals section of their ground, presumably to cater for all the tourists who can’t get into the games at clubs that they’ve heard of.  A neutral area is an interesting idea, though not one that we’d ever use of course 😉
  • Lewie’s dad Ray used to be their manager
  • They’ve never won a major trophy.  Ever.  A good opportunity for our fans to get out the silver foil and cardboard replicas of the Portiamao cup, it would seem

In preparation for the match, we spoke to Andrew at CottageConfidential and gave him three questions:

1) Sum up your season for us – how’s it gone, how does that compare to your expectations and how is it going to end?

This is a season in which most Fulham supporters thought we would be challenging for a playoff spot, instead we’re flirting with relegation. At this point so little has gone right that I’m almost resigned to relegation

2) What needs to change at your club, and what mustn’t change?

I have no idea what is wrong. The players the club have brought in have played great defense at other clubs. They get to Fulham and they simply forget how to defend. It was easy to chalk that up to bad coaching. But now that Jokanovic is in charge, it’s really hard to use that excuse. If I knew how to fix this club, I’d certainly shout it from the rooftops, but I’m just as confused as everyone else.

3) What’s your take on the whole Wimbledon move to MK and the subsequent birth of the MK Dons?

To be honest, I didn’t really understand all the anger over it for quite sometime. I’m an American, and sports teams moving is just a natural thing here. The NBA team where I live (Seattle) moved to the place where I grew up (Oklahoma). It happens enough here for it to almost become business as usual. But I’m sure the first teams that moved in this country caused just as much commotion as Wimbeldon moving. In the future, this kind of thing might happen more. It’s going to be easier for a rich guy to buy a team in a smaller local and move them to a bigger venue that it will be to invest wisely in the small club to build them up the old fashioned way. I’m not sure what rules the FA has in place to prevent this, but it’s something I could see happening more and more

As to what’s likely to happen on the pitch, that’s anybody’s guess.  We’re capable of winning this, but we’re also capable of getting  good hiding from them.  My money is on a nil-nil draw, but secretly, I think we’ll do this 2:1.

Match Report – Dons 1:2 Brighton – 19/03/2016

Some idiots today
Some idiots today

That was never a straight red!  Not even a booking.  I’m not even sure it was a foul.

Anyway, what to say about all of that?  Brighton looked pretty rubbish, but they got the points, which means they’ll probably be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.  We played pretty well for most of that match, and got nothing, which means we’re going to be struggling right up to the end of the season.

Our squad is really thin right now – announcing Ben Tilney on the bench shows that (no offence Ben), and we had a number of key players out.  Martin (no idea how long he’s out for), Walsh (same), JFC (who couldn’t play because he’s a Brighton player), Caruthers (for urine-related reasons), Reeves (injured – no idea how long for) – there might be more but I have no idea anymore.  I’ve lost count.

Having said that, I think across defence and midfield we looked very strong for most of the game.  Defensively, Antony Kay has been strong since his return (and also may end up as our top scorer if he continues at this rate and our strikers continue at theirs) and Cody has looked the most competent reserve keeper we’ve had to date.  In midfield, without JFC or Samir in there, Jonny Williams stepped up and had a great 70 minutes or so – he was strong, he was creative and he battled constantly.  I felt like we really saw what he was capable of for the first time today.

Bootsie, Radar and friend.
Bootsie, Radar and friend.

As has been a recurring theme this season, our attack just doesn’t seem to be ‘right’.  We did create chances, but they all seemed to be individual self-created chances from the wings rather than anything created by the team.  Murphy and Hall both created chances for themselves, but I’m not sure they created anything for anyone else.  Maynard didn’t once look like getting a shot off today, let alone look like scoring – whatever he’s supposed to be doing, I don’t think it’s working right now, but I don’t think it’s him – everyone who has played in that position for us this season has ended up in exactly the same situation.  I thought Daniel created a few good chances for himself, but he needs more match time if he’s going to convert them.

Their penalty was a bit unfortunate – Potter had no idea their guy was there and made the clearance.  Their second was disappointing – first of all, it came about because Williams lost possession cheaply in their half, once the cross came over, Powell didn’t cause the attacker any problems, and he had a pretty free header.  I know that heading is never his strong point, but he has to make it harder for the attacker in that situation.  Of course he shouldn’t be the last man there anyway.

We seemed to spring to life once they’d gone two up – Kay’s header was really well taken – he’s proving to be our best ariel threat at this point, and he’s finding space for himself.  I’d like to see the ref penalising their keeper and not him and Kyle for holding on to the ball – whichever way you look at it, Kyle is entitled to get the ball, the keeper is not entitled to hold on to it.  While it smacks of a juvenile ‘he started it’ kind of argument, without the keeper holding on to the ball, then there’s no incident.

Samir's Instruction Manual
Samir’s Instruction Manual

The sending off was one of the most ludicrous decisions I’ve seen in a long time.  It wasn’t a red, it wasn’t a yellow, I’m not even sure it was a foul – their guy rolled round like he’d been shot and the ref bought it.  Terrible refereeing.  Terrible.

Our penalty wasn’t good – not sure why Baker took it with two strikers on the pitch, but credit to him for stepping up.  He’ll need a hug tonight, so whoever is out with him, look after him a little.  It is worrying that we’re not taking the chances that we have to pick up points, but I’d be more worried if we weren’t creating those chances at all.

So we’re now without Kyle for three games, and we’ll have to hope that the international break gives some of our injured players the chance to get themselves back into contention again.  Results didn’t go our way today, so we’re back into the bottom three for the first time in a while.  I’d say we’re down to Bolton and Charlton plus one from three – us, Rotherham or Fulham.  Right now my money would be on us or Fulham.

Big shout out to the family fun day people – lots of activity, lots of fun, lots of families, so all went according to plan.  Great to see Radar and Bootsie in their tutus and Dan in his Samir commemorative t-shirt, and great to see so much money being raised for Willen.

Feeling a little sombre today, but bring on Fulham.  Then Wolves.  Then Rotherham.  After them, I think we’ll have a better idea of how much trouble we’re in.

Right On Brighton

breakfast in brighton
Some Breakfast this Morning

I’ve always had a soft spot for Brighton, both generally and in football terms.  As a part of the early 80s mod revival as a teenager, musically and stylistically, Brighton has always had something of a ‘pull’ for me.  I had my stag weekend there (I doubt it still exists, but The Catfish Club was glorious, in a seedy, seafront location basement kind of way), lived just up the A27 for a few years and have visited many time since.

While working in Crawley a few years ago, I took a group of middle-aged American business people out for dinner in Brighton.  After a pleasant evening spent eating, drinking and pointing out buildings that were older than their country, I finally lost their support just before midnight.  I took them, cold and confused on a chilly February night, down to the beach at midnight, so we could stand at the waters edge, listening to that very unique sound of the Brighton sea, while I sang the opening notes of The Who’s ‘Love, Reign O’er Me’.

Understanding the draw of Brighton in footballing terms is a little harder, but I have a theory that it’s all to do with Panini.   The younger ones amongst you may rightly question the relevance of flattened sandwiches, whereas those of you of a certain age will know immediately what I’m talking about.  I think the reason I’ve always liked Brighton is connected to the fact that they were in the first division (oh for simpler times) at the right time for them to have been in my childhood sticker albums.  Makes me all tingly and nostalgic to be honest.  Whatever the reason, it surely wasn’t coincidence that I found myself watching Quadrophenia again last night, at least after Modders had found it on ITV4 and shared the good news on Facebook.

I’ve got a lot of good recent football-related memories with Brighton too.  I never went to The Goldstone Ground, but made a number of trips to whatever that weird athletics track was called.  My first trip there was monumental for a few reasons – it was the coldest night I can remember spending outside, let alone sitting watching a football match.  It was also the night of the Barnes Brothers eating ice-cream, meeting Radar for the first time, and making up a chant with Buzzard Don and Crabby that still persists to this day (watch Quadrophenia and replace Mods with Dons and you’ll know the one).

On subsequent trips, I remember Izale being started, but then subbed after less than a minute to get round JPT squad rules, “can you tell us if we score” due to being in a different time zone to the match, the MooCamp flag looking cool, Punch showing off and scoring a worldy, the carvery on the Fizz Bus, the Silverstone seats, being abused by a solitary muppet and the players walking miles at the final whistle to come over and applaud us and still being unable to work out who was who.

So for all those reasons, I like Brighton. Add in Sammy and the battle of the Baldocks and I’m really looking forward to today’s game.  It’s one of those where even in normal times we shouldn’t have a chance, but with our injuries and other urine-related suspensions (unique again 😉 ) then it really doesn’t look good on paper.  We’re expecting a big crowd – they’re bringing about 7,000, we’ll have about 13,000, and that often works for us, as the bigger than usual away crowds don’t often make much noise.  If we can stifle for a while and look to catch them on the break, then maybe we can take something from it.  A point would be a great result, but anything but a win could leave us in the bottom three come 5pm, so the pressure will be significant on the players.

Sing loud – sing proud – Come On You Dons.

Hull 1:1 Dons – 12/03/2016

Humber Bridge on route to HullIt’s getting to that part of the season where we know we’re probably not going to be treated to a feast of football, but when every match is that important that you really don’t want to miss a game.  Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, these are the games we’ll be talking about for years to come, not the sunny carefree days of earlier in the season.  All of that, plus the fact that it’s a new ground for us both, our attendance was a no-brainer, so Mrs B and I jumped in the car about 10:30 on Saturday morning to make our way up to wherever the hell Hull is.

Having said that, we very nearly didn’t make it, as it was only when I had a quick look to see whether there were any discounts for buying early that I discovered that you couldn’t buy on the day.  I’m remarkably badly organised, so often tend to leave everything to the last-minute, so it would probably be a good idea if the club went out of their way to make sure that fans knew that a match was all-ticket.  I’m not sure what Hull would have done if they’d have been presented with a couple of confused and angry Dons fans who’d managed to make the trip but hadn’t realised they couldn’t buy on the day.  I presume they’d find a way to let us in, but I wouldn’t want to test it.

Any way, nice enough journey, mainly as we came cross-country rather than the motorways, so Mrs B had to slow down, and I didn’t spend the entire journey with my eyes clenched tightly shut.  We went over the Humber bridge for the first time, and reminisced over previous trips to that part of the world – multiple trips to Lincoln and Scunthorpe, a couple of trips to Grimsby, including one four days before we beat them at Wembley in the JPT, and one to Doncaster.  Giggled quite a bit when paying to park (a fiver, which isn’t bad for parking just a short walk from the stadium) as I honestly could not understand a word the guy on the gate was saying.  He was really nice and friendly, and I felt more than a little guilty, as I had to keep asking him to repeat himself.

KC and the Sunshine Stadium
KC and the Sunshine Stadium

Anyway, five minutes walk to the ground, and a quick walk round to the away end.  A nice bar to grab a drink and watch the Man City v Norwich game, a quick circuit of the outside of the stadium to get a picture for the album, picked up a programme and then in.  Steak and Ale pie was good, and reasonable value at £3.30 – major points dropped with Mrs B for having run out of Cheese and Onion pies, but that serves her right for being fussy.

Big shout out to the team that put their program together by the way – it’s the most interesting and well put together programme that I’ve seen, and by a considerable margin.  There’s enough in there for home and away fans to make it well worth the three quid – well done people.  I usually buy a program at away matches, but they tend to go straight in the pile on the landing to be stored in the loft for future biographers.  This one was read from cover to cover.  And then put on the pile on the landing to be stored in the loft for future biographers, but that’s as it should be.

There weren’t that many of us that made the journey (no surprise there really 😉 ) – just under three hundred, but I think we did ourselves relatively proud, singing for most of the match and generally having a good time.  I was surprised that the home fans didn’t get behind their team more – they seemed to only spring to life to complain about time-wasting, some of which was totally justified, but a lot of which wasn’t.  We stifled them well in the first half, frustrated them, battled them and pretty much kept that up for 98 minutes.  We took the lead from a set-piece with a great header from Antony Kay (leading to a certain Mr Hovis having to pop to B&Q for some blue paint to paint his backside blue, but that’s a story for another day) – he had a great game and has continued to impress since his return.  We conceded within a few minutes, with a free-kick leaving Dave flat-footed.  The wall looked poor to me, but what do I know?  There were protestations from the bench (just for a change 😉 ) as they felt that there had been a handball in the run up to the free kick, but it was a bit disappointing to concede so quickly.

Welcome to Hull
Welcome to Hull

There fans were on Dave’s back from the first couple of minutes, and cheered loudly when he went down injured.  That was a little disappointing, but I was appalled by their player who chose to take a long shot at goal, with the keeper on the floor injured.  Thankfully Dave was able to catch it, even from his prone position on the floor, but it was a pretty scummy thing to do.  Shameful really.

Anyway, we clung on to the point, and I think we deserved it – any suggestion that we only know one way to play has been truly blown out of the water in recent weeks – we’re battling and fighting and stifling and time-wasting and digging-in in a way that we really haven’t managed to do before, and it’s great to watch.  Not the prettiest thing to watch, and I can understand why it frustrates the opposition, but you have to play to your strengths, and right now, that battling determination is our strength.

Hopefully Dave won’t be out for long, though I heard tell it was his hamstring – no other injuries on the day as far as I know.  I can’t see Hull getting promoted unless they fluke it in the playoffs – they’re just not good enough.  I also hope we end up playing them again next season, as they get really cross and whine like little bitches all through the game – that’s always entertaining.

A hard-fought point that was vital with results around us – bring on Brighton.

Walsall Away – 8th September 2012

Well that’s not how it was supposed to happen

Walsall – always one of my favourite aways, and always one that I look out for when the fixture list comes out.  We usually take quite a few (for us of course) we usually do ok there, and with the possible exception of the time when they bricked our supporters coach, they’re usually pretty good hosts.  The sun was shining.  It was relatively close, so we didn’t even need to leave home till gone 1 and even Mrs Brando seemed relaxed and happy and looking forward to the trip.  Nothing could go wrong.

Except for the match of course.

It wasn’t a bad match to be honest – it was entertaining, if a little frustrating, but it wasn’t the feast of football that we’d like to become accustomed to, and that on occasions we look like we’re about to start delivering.  We started brightly and had a few good chances early on, but it needs to be said that this is the best Walsall side I’ve seen in recent seasons, and they defended fantastically throughout the match.  We had something like 20 shots, and while the keeper had to make a couple of saves, we really didn’t trouble him enough – everything we threw at them was blocked by a guy in a red shirt throwing himself in front of it.

We’re still working out our formation and I’m not sure Robinson knows what his best side is just yet, but I think we’re starting to settle as a team.  It’s difficult not to be a little bit nervous at our lack of threat up front, but we’ll have to trust in Robbo – we scored loads of goals last season (more than at any time in our illustrious history 😉 ) and that was without the standard 20 goal a season striker, but it’s the lack of clinical finishing in matches like this that could prove to be critical come the end of the season.

Anyway, the best way to sum up the match is as follows:

  • We huffed and puffed a lot but didn’t often look likely to score
  • Even though we had loads of shots
  • and hit the post
  • The ref was, imho remarkably one-sided.  We picked up five yellows and I’d suggest that most of those challenges wouldn’t have been worthy of a card in most matches, and it seemed to my admittedly biased eyes that similar if not worse challenges were going unpunished from the Saddlers

I’ve come away from the match nervous about Charlie McDonald’s state of mind – he looks nervous of the ball, and seems so scared of making a mistake that he’s playing like another midfielder, looking to create chances for others rather than looking to shoot.  If we’re going to be playing with just the one up front, then he needs to get his confidence back before we play him again.  This is one of the downsides to not having a reserve side anymore – we can’t stick him in the reserves until he’s got a few goals under his belt, so perhaps a stint out on loan to a lower division club might give him what he needs.  It was a strange decision to bring Lowe off to replace him with Charlie in a like for like swap – I’d have rather we switched to 4-4-2 at that point and played them both together, or brought Jabo on – he’s got a good record against Walsall, so I was surprised he didn’t get on the pitch.  It was really only once we switched to 4-4-2 that we started to look like scoring, and that was primarily due to Alan Smith throwing himself into everything like a madman.

On a more positive note, I’ve come away from this match recognising David Martin for the genuine entertainer that he is – his walkabout in the first-half was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in years topped only by the sheepish grin he had on his face when the danger had passed.  The fact that he did it again in the second-half, albeit less dramatically, makes him all the more special.  With him and Jimmy Bullard together in the squad, we’re looking good for the season :-).

Things I noticed this week:

  • The hill up to the away carpark is looking tatty – I have no idea why this is relevant
  • Something really upset my stomach this weekend, and I’ve got the pre-kickoff pasty as a prime suspect
  • Robinson needs to learn to shut up about referees – they’re hardly going to be looking to give us the benefit of the doubt in any situation if he’s off calling them all bastards at the end of each match
  • David Martin is a comedy genius
  • I love the Walsall accent
  • The guys in the programme aren’t as funny when they’re not taking the piss out of us

We should be looking to pick up points in matches like these, but a much improved Walsall side deserved the points.  Bring on Yeovil.

Brando