Wednesday 31 March 2010

Guide to Milton Keynes - Bill Bryson Eat Your Heart Out !

The Stereotypical View of Milton Keynes.....the cows not the humour !

There's more to Milton Keynes ( MK ) than concrete cows...........some of them are very real, wear high heels and have more acerbic tongue than the one above !

I've lived in nearby Newport Pagnell since 1984 when I moved up from Erith with my job. I've witnessed it grow and develop in many ways. My kids have grown up here and there's few better places they could have done in my view. All things considered it's a good place to live and I'm glad I made the move.

If you're driving up straight to the football on Saturday then you'll see the MK of Superman 4. The parts that were chosen for that film because it resembled Manhattan I think ? However, do some exploring and you'll find some really nice places. You're never too far away from some lovely countryside or established towns and picturesque villages.

You could do worse than drive off to Olney or Stony Stratford for instance, historic old towns with plenty of heritage. They also have some nice pubs and restaurants. You could go to Milton Keynes Village ( yes, there is one ! ) and The Olde Swan.

The move of Wimbledon to MK was / is the cause of many an argument and debate. I didn't think it was right not least because of the impact on nearby clubs such as Northampton, Rushden & Diamonds and a little further afield, Luton Town.

MK was borne out an exodus of folk from London and its environs and this is reflected in the majority of supporters of MK Dons. The Dons will be their second team and you're likely to find them with half an ear on the score from the Emirates, White Hart Lane, The Bridge etc.

So a rough guide to Saturday's trip then...............

Stadium MK

The stadium is good albeit half completed and spacious with plenty of leg room from the comfy seats. For food just outside the ground there's a MacDonalds and also a KFC I think. An ASDA store is also close to hand.

On The Road

Getting to the ground is relatively straight forward and is no more than 10 to 15 minutes from J14 of the M1. There is plenty of parking in the ground for £5. Alternatively you can park on one of the nearby industrial estates quite comfortably.

Train Travel

Bletchley is the nearest train station and is about a 15 minute walk. The nearest pub, The Enigma, isn't one I'd want to drink in. You might want to go to Central Milton Keynes if you wanted to drink in the centre ( see below ). You can get a cab to the ground for about £5 to £7 I'd have thought.

Recommended cab firms are :-

Raffles 01908 222222
Easy Cabs 01908 218218
Skyline 01908 222111

Fish and Chips ( this is for Ketts benefit ! )

Don't know of a chip shop near Bletchley station and the nearest to Central Milton Keynes station is a long walk. If driving, then I'd suggest going to The Napoli Fish Bar in Fenny Stratford ( 3 minutes drive from the gorund ) by the roundabouts ( gee did it take this long to mention them ! ). I believe it's still run by the Palmiero family and that usually means good stuff !

On The Ale

If you're on the train and fancy a decent pint then I'd suggest going to Central MK station and walking up towards the shopping centre ( but not in it don't worry ) to one of the Wetherspoons pubs, no more than a ten minute walk. Pre-match I'll be drinking in the one opposite Chiquitos restaurant but don't let that put you off ! This is at 201 Midsummer Boulevard. There's another one on the other side of the road called Secklow One Hundred at 316 Midsummer Boulevard. Wetherspoons.......decent beer at a good know what you're getting.

If you're feeling adventurous you could visit Stony Stratford and either the Cock or the Bull........the origin of the Cock and Bull Story !

Not far from Stony is Calverton and a smashing pub especially in summer, The Shoulder of Mutton. They do nice food here too.

If you turn right off the M1 you might want to head to Newport Pagnell and The Cannon, always a couple of decent ales here although no food. There are a couple of average chip shops though in Newport.

If you want a pub on the canal then go to The Black Horse at Great Linford. This usally has one decent ale and does food.

All the above pubs are no more than 15 minutes drive from the ground. Note that Olney is about a 25 minute drive from the ground.

I hope that the above has been of some use.

Sunday 28 March 2010

A Good Point Well Made

Stitch with a witch........and no, I didn't use spellchecker !

All things considered yesterday's draw was not too bad. That we fought back so quickly after going behind demonstrates there's still some fight in the team. A fine shot it was too from Reid. I still can't believe he's been dropped on occasion, he's rarely had a bad game and is invariably our best player.

There was a shock start in goal for Randolph, I didn't expect that. I assume he had an okay game as he's not been singled out for specific mention in the blogs / reports I've read. I hope he gets a run in the side now.

It sounds as though Racon and Semedo played well in midfield. It might sound like heresy but perhaps skip should be left out of the starting eleven for the next game. Parky seems to have spent most of the season trying to figure out his best midfield, perhaps at present it doesn't include Bailey. I know he's played out of position a lot of the time but he's not been that great lately and a rest ( kick up the bum if you will ) may     re-ignite the spark that seems to me to have gone from his game of late.

We may have dropped to fifth but there's still hope. The Spanners won as expected and the size of their win means little if Stockport are throwing in the towel mentally as I suspect they are.

We can but cling to the hope that we'll improve and other may slip up. At least a large part of our destiny for the remainder of this season is in our own hands with games against those in and around the top.

Next Saturday sees a visit to MK Dons and the shortest journey of the season for me. It's a game where I wouldn't be happy with a draw and only a win will do.

I'll write a guide during the week for those who are going to the game.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Hope and Keen

 What ? Next you be telling me that Newman and Baddiel have split !

Hope and Keen..........there's an act for the teenagers eh ? Going back a bit but they were a kind of Chuckle Brothers or Trev and Simon of their day. As I recall they toured in a crazy bus..........might go well with our crazy coach............he was livid last week wasn't he ?

So, three more loans arrive at the Valley and we thought we'd seen the last of this nonsense after last season ! Well, no in fact. However, these are very different circumstances and you cannot argue that we don't need them or they aren't justified.

The only issue is that we now find ourselves in need of some loan consolidation as we now have 7 loanees and are, I believe, only able to have 5 in the squad. " It's deja vu all over again ! " Pardew would be impressed.

Who to leave out. Obviously Warner will be in the squad so that means 2 from 6 but hang on....... I think we all know that really it comes down to leaving out 2 from 5..... nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more !

I'll be very disappointed for Randolph if he doesn't get at least one chance to stake a claim for the goalie jersey. He's waited patiently in the background for some time and strikes me as a very loyal player.

I wasn't impressed with Borrowdale on Saturday and that Parky described his performance as " steady " speaks volumes. Still it was his first game I suppose and guess he deserves a bit more time.

Forster may be knocking on a bit but still seems to have an eye for goal and let's hope he can produce for us. With his contract up at the end of the season he has something to prove.

As Fergie once said " football, bloody hell ! ". I keep giving up on automatic promotion ( hand on heart, I still think it's beyond us ) but then you look at the table, imagine a couple of wins, Leeds still losing and the Spanners suffering a dip and suddenly it all seems on again !

After game 7 this season it's not been possible to predict Parky's starting eleven and none more so than the one for this weekend.................. goodness only knows !

I'm not there this Saturday as I have a long standing appointment watching the Saints - LV Cup Winners 2010 - play the Wasps at Franklin's Gardens. This is another Sky appearance for the Saints with a 5.30pm kick off. This means, sigh, another leisuely lunchtime beer prior to kick off and no doubt post match musings over a couple more later.

I'll be delighted if the day is made complete by a match win double of Addicks and Saints, like all of us I can but ( Mike ) Hope and that's where I came in of course !

Cone On You Reds !

Sunday 21 March 2010

Parky's Rant

Post match Parky.............steady on old boy !

Deep in the press room at the Valley London S.E. 7. ............ " Never hold your breath your and count to ten " says a sign behind a clearly piqued Parkinson.

" Bearing in mind that I've no money and we played a team that hasn't won away for ages and were due a win, a draw is a fantastic result " gushes our Phil. " The fans need to appreciate the courage of players like David Mooney. I knew that if I played him enough, sooner or later he'd score a goal. Those calling for Leon McKenzie to play should note he had little influence on the game shots on target. "

" We conceded our first goal to a great strike after Burcham's excellent play so impressed my team that they thought it would be rude to interfere and try to stop him.........all credit to the lads for that  ! "

" I wish I had loads of money like Gillingham and Millwall to spend on players, that we haven't, is reflected in us only taking 3 points from a possilbe 12 against them. I'm not sure the fans realise that. "

Whilst I jest, the above isn't too far removed from the essence of what Parky was suggesting yesterday. I'd say he was, at best, ill-advised to make those comments. Most of us realise he has little money to make changes but to say he's pieced together a side from nothing isn't quite telling the truth.

He has a side containing several players that the vast majority of league one sides would love to have. In fact, a few championship sides wouldn't mind them either. So it's a bit disingenuous to imply he doesn't have good players, players of actual worth at his disposal. A number of them were bought for good money or signed on decent contracts albeit maybe not during his tenure.

Parky may not be able to bring in more funds and as a result different players, however, he can make the most of what he's got. That's something the likes of Millwall and Gillingham, for example, are proving able to do.

Playing players out of position is his decision. Not playing certain players is his decision. Not to take off your skipper, the only one having a really bad game yesterday and get Reid on with 25 minutes to go, is his decision. To keep playing Mooney despite having poor games is his decision.

Unlike Dowie and Pardew I have no real agnst with Parky. I appreciate what he's done and the limitations within which he is working. However, it ill behoves him to criticse the fans who have by and large given him and the team good support. The players were applauded onto the pitch before warm up and the game itself. I'm not sure they merited it after last week but they got it none the less.

I didn't boo the team yesterday ( never have and never will despite disagreeing with some selections and decisions  ) and gave them support as and when. However, if some want to do that, then fine, that's their choice. I really expected to hear Parky say how disappointed he was that the team hadn't taken their chances and won the game, as they should have done. 

I hope that in the cold light of day that Parky will realise his remarks weren't great and back track a little because the team seems fractious at the moment and he can't afford to alienate the fans.


Thursday 18 March 2010

Parky To Make Wholesale Changes !

Parky has spoken and is set to give a start to those who've been on the fringe of the team. No one's place is safe................or is it ?

I wandered past Sparrows Lane today and can exclusively reveal the line up for Saturday. There are 10 changes from the eleven that started against Millwall.

In goal..........

Steven Mooney

Back four of......................

Claire Mooney

Bel Mooney

Paul Mooney

Mooney M20

Midfield four of..................

Suzanne Mooney

Mooney Hotel Group

Jock Mooney

Tommy Mooney

Up front...........................
Chris Mooney

and surprise, surprise......David Mooney !

And finally.........on a tightly packed bench...........
The Moonies

You read it here first !

Come On You Reds !

Sunday 14 March 2010

Like A Reverse Boob Job........

we're all feeling rather let down !

Probably best not to dwell on yesterday's performance and result too much. Thankfully, I didn't go and had more fun as it happens watching my lad's rugby team, Olney ( playing in cerise and French grey note ! ) beat Buckingham 10 - 5 in an entertaining game.

Many questions need answering most notably why you'd play your best player from the previous game out of position when injuries already mean that you're having to do that with others !!!!

We started with Solly, Bailey and Reid all out of their comfort zones. In addition, Mooney gets to start again and McKenzie doesn't even make the bench this week. Sodje S returns to the bench and I still haven't seen an explanation for his absence last week !

I know Parky is working with limitations and that we're not going to get anyone else..........fair enough. However, motivating your players for this game isn't tough. If any player was any in doubt as to what this game meant to Addicks fans then my eldest lad ( like all of us ) would have spoken to them, free of charge, prior to kick off. He was a tad upset to say the least yesterday and the most angry I've ever seen him was when Millwall scored their opener at the Valley.

My preferred line up of 3-5-2 seems much more sensible now. I'm not rushing out to place bets that Parky will adopt this next week. We should have played to our strengths and sent out an attacking team......I bet they loved it when they saw Reid on the right and Sam on the bench.

The Gills are next and losing to them in what is another cup final for a set of opposing fans just doesn't bear thinking about especially if it's back up by another gutless performance.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Left Backs Have I None..............

so with little else to do,
what's to be lost,
by trying 3-5-2 !

Confirmation of the 3-5-2 formation

The loss if JJ is major blow ahead of the Spanners derby. That his arrival accompanied an upturn in fortunes is not coincidence. Youga was playing well in that position prior to his injury and has been as big a miss as a proven goalscorer. Basey was trying his best but doesn't compare to either Youga or JJ, he's just not as good going forward.

With most Addicks taking the view that we've little chance of getting anything on Saturday why not try the old 3-5-2 ? If the team is organised and disciplined enough this could work well. Naturally, this means a return for Sodje S although I'm still none the wiser as to why he didn't even make the bench last week.

Sodje S would probably need a couple of sedatives before kick off if we're to keep eleven men on the pitch for any decent length of time ! However, I think he can do a job in this formation.

This would give us some flexibility as if it's not working then you can still switch around without too much effort or disruption. Llera could always move to left back and I prefer to see a natural left footer in that position.

Whatever the formation I expect that McKenzie will continue as a non-paying spectator.......might as well name me for the bench if this continues.......I wouldn't be asking for any salary even if a shirt to fit could be found !

Like most I'm not expecting anything from Saturday, too many memories of bad times with no fight from our boys.

I really hope we don't rollover at that horrible stadium and can come away with some pride ( pride, lions ! Geddit ? )

I doubt Parky will adopt the ANEM proposed formation but as ever, you never quite know what he'll do.......aside from playing Mooney regardless of performance !

We live in hope !

Come On You Reds !

Monday 8 March 2010

The Fourth Official Has Indicated............

that there is a minimum of 80 minutes left ( during which nothing much will happen ) so you might as well go home now ! If only someone had the foresight to say that at 3.15pm on Saturday ( we always seem to kick off 5 minutes late these days ! )

Like most of us I, rashly, anticipated a goal fest after Akpo made it 2 - 0............put it down to the impestousity of youth as I doubt I'll be thinking that way when I'm older and more mature !

Fair enough, I hadn't expected that Mooney was about to go goal crazy but I did think we might score at least one or two more against a poor side that couldn't even afford to put the full complement of subs on the bench.

Credit to Akpo as I wouldn't have started with him but he had one of his better games. Mooney managed to stay on for the full ninety. Only Parky knows why, I suspect God Himself is even scratching His head at times on that one. I expect that Mooney would be sent out in a wheelchair if needs be.......anything to stop McKenzie getting on it seems !

Burton missed a sitter with his head and Elliot and Llera having a tiff were the only things remotely worthy of mention in the remainder of the game. That it was again pretty damn cold didn't help matters.

I've seen nothing to explain why Sodje S wasn't in the squad. Anyone got any answers on that ?

I treated myself to a yellow away FADS shirt from yesteryear that I'm pleased with despite it being rather overpriced. I always have an image of Paul Walsh wearing that and for some reason can't recall anyone else doing so, I'm sure they did of course !

I fear for us on Saturday despite the Spanners playing tomorrow night. We really need to step up to the plate in what will not be apleasant atmoshpere. Hopefully, that we're taking a decent number of fans will help lift the boys.

Colchester are playing tonight and let's hope that Brighton can do us a favour. The pitch will no doubt be bad but we've saw a couple of weeks ago that they can play okay on a dodgy surface !