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Everything posted by Herbie6590

  1. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Feelgood Factor Soon Fades Away Well that didn’t last long did it? Any residual goodwill after the late, late show at Ewood last week soon dissipated and you might say “normal service” was resumed at Elland Road. This was always going to be a tough fixture but the reality of Saturday’s display demonstrated that whilst Leeds Utd are technically, extremely competent and well-drilled they are by no means unassailable, it's just that Rovers failed to prove the point. I first set foot in Elland Road as a small boy when, on the way home after a Sunday afternoon trip out to Knaresborough, York or somewhere roundabouts, we stopped off at the ground on the off chance that we might possibly be able to go in and take a peek. It was a fetish of mine back then and in truth still is; I love looking at empty football grounds. Even more so if you can sneak in to look behind the scenes. I once had the great fortune to work in an office block overlooking Benfica’s Estadio da Luz and struggled to concentrate if I sat next to the window. Holidays with me are also an absolute blast when I see a floodlight pylon or a cantilevered stand in the distance. Unimaginable today, but a gate was open, some routine maintenance was taking place and I could wander onto the actual turf that saw the likes of Bremner, Giles, Lorimer, Gray and Charlton J. perform every fortnight on their way to Championship and FA Cup successes. From that moment on, I took close interest in the fortunes of Leeds United, lured in further by that glorious Admiral away strip which launched the modern era of replica kit manufacture and marketing. All yellow with white & blue stripes and the infamous “smiley” badge. I loved it, but despite repeatedly dropping hints, it was never to be mine. I would steam up the windows of Gibsons, David Lloyd Sports and EJ Riley each in turn when out and about in Accrington, pointing and insisting on its suitability as a Christmas or birthday present. As an aside, there were three (count ‘em..!) mainstream sports shops in Accrington in those days; all selling actual sports equipment and kit; bats, rackets, spare studs even jockstraps - not knock off jeans, tea mugs and enormous “bags for life”. That’s possibly worthy of a column in its own right. Leave that thought with me... Back to Saturday, Rovers started reasonably brightly in fairness. They looked comfortable but the passing accuracy was awry all too often and the speed at which the ball was shifted from back to front was too slow even to threaten to cause Leeds any real damage. Lots of froth and bubble but little substance nor cutting edge. Leeds by contrast were the epitome of ruthless efficiency, the first two shots on target that Rovers allowed, delivered their opponents a two-nil lead. One characteristic that we have in common with Manchester City this past weekend. The opener coming from the penalty spot was certainly “soft” but despite many protestations on the terraces and social media, by the letter of the laws, it was awarded correctly. My benchmark for these sorts of decisions is; “Would I expect it to be awarded to us if the roles were reversed?” and had it been Gallagher blocked off in that manner by a Leeds defender, then yes, I would have expected to receive a penalty kick. Adarabioyo's challenge was clumsy, though undertaken with no malice intended, he looked rather like a man trying to shoo away a wasp at a picnic with his foot in order to protect his sandwiches. With Adarabioyo missing the ball completely, Ayling took advantage of the situation, emphasising the contact and falling dramatically in instalments to ensure that the referee had spotted the infringement. In fairness, the second Leeds goal was a thing of beauty and demonstrated the influence of Bielsa on this side. Rovers lose possession from their own throw-in near the half way line, Leeds sweep the ball back to their keeper, from left to right and back again. Phillips emerges centrally just outside his own penalty area and strides forward, unchallenged for the length of half the pitch. A long ball into the area is controlled with balletic grace by Bamford and laid on a plate for Harrison to curl one into the bottom corner. Eleven passes with nothing approximating pressure on the ball from Rovers until Bamford became involved. Had Rovers scored it, the away fans would possibly still be celebrating now. Two nil and fears of an impending mauling rise. Rovers raced into a two-goal lead at Deepdale of course only to see it drift away like the scent of a Hollands Pie in the breeze; would Leeds fall victim similarly? A corner saw Derek Williams meet the cross with a bullet header and so just before half-time, Rovers were very much back in the game. The second half sadly just seemed to peter out. The anxiety felt by Leeds players and their fans grew as the clock ticked but frankly, it’s hard to recall anything remotely resembling a clear-cut chance for Rovers in that 2nd half. Tony Mowbray once more threw on Danny Graham to try and make the ball stick up top. A few minutes later, John Buckley entered the fray as his wild card to try and make something unpredictable happen. “It worked against Wednesday, why not here?” seemed to be the logic. With his final substitution, rather than the erratic but often impactful Rothwell, Mowbray deployed Evans. A puzzling choice at the time. A baffling one with the benefit of mature reflection. In the aftermath, Mowbray chose to focus his ire (in public at least) on the award of the soft penalty. This was not entirely surprising although somewhat dispiriting, predictable and already this season, tediously repetitive. A solitary attempt on target across 90 minutes, all that Rovers were able to create is most definitely not the fault of the match officials. The failings of this squad are starting to accumulate. Talk of the play-offs has moved from being optimistic/ambitious to fanciful/ludicrous and in reality, the league table these days is studied from the bottom up. There’s a long way to go, but moving into another international break on the back of another defeat was the last thing this increasingly beleaguered team needed. Anyhow, back to those old sports shops in Accrington...
  2. I don’t remember Forbes TBH. I bought my school uniform from Grays (next to Reidy’s ?) & spent a lot of time in Gibson’s - both Accrington & Blackburn incarnations. Those were indeed the days...
  3. Indeed...I posted something on Twitter to that effect - as this is for the Accy Observer I focused on Accy sports shops but I spent a fair amount of pocket money at Pratt’s in the 70’s. @arbitro I was involved in a lovely thread on Twitter a few years back reminiscing about traditional sports shop & they joined in, I think they major on cricket kit these days unless locals know better ? When I lived in Birmingham there was a fabulous shop run by a Harry Parkes at the top end of Corporation St, I didn’t realise for years that he was a former Villa player. When he died the shop disappeared and a part of me died as well. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/aston-villa-legend-harry-parkes-86711
  4. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Adarabioyo Rises To The Challenge The fireworks were scheduled for 5:10pm but in reality, they started closer to 4:50pm when Wednesday substitute Jacob Murphy nodded home from close range and set off delirious celebrations in the upper tier of the Darwen End, just the upper tier note. I struggle to think of any circumstances under which asking £40 plus to watch a Championship fixture is justifiable, clearly several thousand Wednesday fans thought similarly. It was set up by former Claret Steven Fletcher, a nuisance for Rovers all afternoon, beating Walton to a near-post cross but only able to deflect it onto the bar, Murphy finished the job from a metre out. At that precise moment, any hopes that Rovers had for resurrection of their season seemed fit only to top one of the bonfires planned for later on Saturday night. It had been a dispiriting week, the Preston result forcing even Tony Mowbray’s staunchest admirers to reassess just what the future might hold. Another relegation would surely be cataclysmic for a club still coming to terms with its post-Premier League fate. Twenty years ago, almost to the day, Jack Walker lost patience with Brian Kidd following a seven-game winless run and the speculation was mounting that Mowbray might soon meet a similar fate. However, structures seem more stable around Ewood Park these days, with knee-jerk reactions much less likely; but for all that, a win would help to dowse the bonfire of criticism aimed at Mowbray. Pre-season expectations varied significantly across the fanbase, some expecting play-off contention, some content with modest improvement but hardly anyone predicted a relegation battle. In a week where Netflix announced that they had been trialling software to allow viewers to watch films at 1.5x speed, the first half at Ewood had you longing for such a gadget for use in real-life. Reducing the “spectacle” to 30 minutes would have been a popular option such was the paucity of entertainment. The atmosphere in the ground was in parts of that first half, quieter than during the pre-match period of remembrance, sullied as it was by some unseemly noise emanating from the Darwen End. Charging those particular loons £40 for their tickets didn’t seem such bad idea at that point. Much like a jigsaw puzzle afficionado, Wednesday collected a series of corners but they failed to convert their pressure into clear chances and so praise must be handed out to Rovers latest defensive formation. Initially, it seemed to be a three when attacking, four when defending, but it soon settled down as a flat four with Williams wide left and the inexorable Bennett slotting in at right back. The stand-out performer in that first-half was the on-loan youngster Tosin Adarabioyo. His calmness in possession, desire to play it on the grass, to split the opponent’s lines with his passes and to treat possession of the football with the highest of respect marks him out as a player who has evidently received coaching of the highest quality. The half-time whistle was something of a relief, a chance to re-group and re-think and start anew in the second; for the fans as well for that matter. It was Garry Monk who blinked first, introducing Forestieri. Soon afterwards, the predictable reply from Rovers was to turn to Danny Graham, a man whose lustrous, bushy beard appears to signify a dearth of offers for razor sponsorship deals. Sam Gallagher suffered a knock but it might have been the preferred tactical change in any event. A Rovers attack with Graham at its fulcrum still looks the best option for Tony Mowbray; unless and until Sam Gallagher can reproduce that opening 25 minutes at Deepdale across 90 minutes and on a regular basis. With Joe Rothwell joining Graham a few minutes later and disrupting the midfield with his high intensity running and dribbling, the game finally sparked into life. Keiren Westwood in the Wednesday goal, himself no ally of Gillette it seems, demonstrated that goalkeepers mature with age like a fine port and two impressive saves from Travis and Rothwell in short order seemed to suggest that a goalless draw was to be the height of Rovers aspirations. The intervention of Fletcher & Murphy, sounding for all the world like the names of a brace of springer spaniel pups, seemed to have marked Rovers cards and the ground braced itself. Which is when Tony Mowbray threw on young John Buckley for the veteran Downing, presumably in the hope that his youthful endeavour could contrive a chance where Downing’s experience had been unable. Buckley entered the fray carrying a note which was passed to Adarabioyo. Much speculation ensued on social media as to the contents but frankly, even if it did say “Score two lads” as one wag on Twitter suggested, it did the trick. With just two minutes of regulation time remaining, Bennett flighted a delightful free kick into the box, Adarabioyo used his physical presence once more, this time as an attacking force and looped a lovely header over the previously invincible Westwood, ostensibly it appeared to save a point. Well surely that’s what most of us thought? Except for John Buckley... Three minutes later, more Rovers pressure resulted in Dack & Graham reforming their tried and tested partnership, a horrible slice by Börner left Danny Graham with time and space in the box to set up Rothwell. He wanted a touch too many and Börner seemed to have atoned by sliding in to clear the ball, but only to the feet of Buckley, who needed no second bidding to shoot and via a kindly deflection off the left leg of the hapless...yup, Börner again, wrong footed Westwood, to make it 2-1 and initiate delirious celebrations. Much has been made of Rovers recent inability to retrieve lost causes and/or score late goals; all too often being on the wrong end of astonishing comebacks (just last week for instance) but this was as welcoming as a potato pie supper, followed by parkin and treacle toffee; nourishing, warming, then ultimately sweet. Naturally, the remainder of stoppage time was still sufficient for the Owls to hit the post following a deflection from that man Adarabioyo again and Rovers needed a fine save from Walton to keep out the follow up. The impromptu on-field firework display was over, just the off-field ones to enjoy now. Crisis averted, at least temporarily; zero without a win. Leeds Utd away up next, if ever there was a place to stage another comeback in stoppage time...
  5. I see how you read that, it wasn’t really what I meant TBH - I was meaning Berg, Appleton etc & Venky’s less likely to pull the trigger these days.
  6. Herbie6590

    Venkys London Ltd accounts

    This thread has gone way off topic...plenty of other places on here to discuss Venky’s, Tony, results etc etc
  7. You may recall John as a guest on Episode 112 of the podcast, well the book can now be ordered from deCoubertin Books following this link. The book is published on 27th November 2019. https://www.decoubertin.co.uk/rovers It focuses on 1991-5 mainly, but references other periods of Rovers glory including the Howard Kendall years to provide a comprehensive story that will delight old & young Rovers fans alike. Podcast link here:
  8. BRFCS catches up once more with F365 columnist, writer & author John Nicholson who has a new book out "Can We Have Our Football Back ?" which lays low the myths about football behind the paywalls and the corrosive effect of money on the game...but most importantly, what we the fans can do about it. We also have a delightful sketch from Mr & Mrs Arthur all the way from Canada and the BRFCS Repertory Company appear once again with their bespoke advertisements. Once more, Ian Herbert conducts the orchestra. View full record
  9. Cheers...🙂 nicer to write about them for sure...👍🏻
  10. Herbie6590

    Lancashire Telegraph

    *hides behind sofa* 😳
  11. Herbie6590

    Ep 112 - 1995 & All That - with John Duerden

    This is available to order now & it’s a fine read, covering way more than just the 1994/5 season. Highly recommended notwithstanding my occasional quotes. https://www.decoubertin.co.uk/rovers
  12. In this episode, writer John Duerden shares details of his latest project, a book about the 1995 title-winning team & asks podcast host Ian Herbert about his recollections of that momentous time in the club's history. The book will be out later this year and we will follow up with John nearer the time to share publication details. View full record
  13. Check out these soon to be launched hats...orders being taken now at https://theterracestore.com/search?type=product&q=blackburn
  14. A slightly longer version of this week's Accrington Observer column Is This Is A Crisis...a Large Crisis ? It’s the crushing inevitability. The sense of foreboding that comes from fearing something going so well can’t possibly continue. The growing fear that fate is conspiring to snatch glory away from you in the cruellest possible way. However, England responded to the pressure, dug in at 13-7 and eventually added a further 6 points to record a handsome victory and book a place in the Rugby World Cup final, against the odds. A fast start, early scores, discipline, tenacity and team spirit all combining to make light of the fact that New Zealand had won 15 of the previous 16 encounters. Now, let’s do that “A Level” arts staple of the compare and contrast exercise shall we ? Deepdale, Saturday afternoon and a chastened Blackburn Rovers team facing a Preston team that they have failed to beat in any of the previous five meetings, comes out of the traps very much on the front foot, looking for all the world like a side re-born. Sam Gallagher is straining at the leash like an excitable Golden Retriever keen to chase squirrels in the park. Amari’i Bell is prowling down the left flank, probing for weaknesses, daring Preston players to even try and stop him. Adam Armstrong is the coiled spring, his raw pace a weapon to be unleashed on a Preston defence seemingly wearing leaden boots. Just a minute in, Gallagher scores or if you are a killjoy of epic proportions, Gallagher powers a header off the inside of the post, the diving Declan Rudd flails and the ball touches his shoulder on the way into the goal and it’s apparently therefore an own goal (it really isn’t...). Roughly four & a half thousand Rovers fans housed behind the goal at the opposite end celebrate wildly, irrespective of the designated scorer. The game continues in the same vein. Rovers are irresistible, attack after attack, Preston are much like the Led Zep classic, “Dazed and Confused”. Just ten minutes later, Gallagher strikes again, this time shaping a lovely left-footed curler inside the far post and on this occasion, he definitely has his first league goal of the season. Rovers are two ahead after just eleven minutes, on the “Stairway To Heaven” ? How do Rovers fans react ? Well, jubilation obviously, but thoughts drift, memories of Brentford in February seep into the conscience. It’s the crushing inevitability. After thirty minutes, Preston boss Alex Neil decides that enough is enough and he turns to his bench and deploys a six-foot, two-inch battering ram by the name of Jayden Stockley. A man with nine appearances and three goals on his CV whilst on loan at Accrington Stanley in 2011. The sacrificial lamb is former Rover and playmaker Paul Gallagher. The “Gallagher of the Match” award is to be Sam’s, not Paul’s. For the rest of the half, Rovers try to work out how to handle Stockley and Preston work out how best to use him. Rovers reach half-time largely unscathed with the two-goal lead intact. But Rovers fans just know. Nothing in life is achieved without a struggle, there has to be labore as well as arte. "Just keep it tight for 10-15 minutes at the start of the second half, put Adarabioyo on Stockley, sit a bit deeper, use Armstrong’s pace and Gallagher’s strength and a third breakaway goal seals the deal. Ten minutes, just keep it tight, because if we concede one, well that changes the dynamic". That’s the crushing inevitability, right there. Rovers managed just eight minutes before Christian Walton decided to perform the goalkeeping equivalent of an opening batsman; not sure where his stumps begin and end, shouldering arms, only to see the ball nip back late and hit off stump three quarters of the way up. As a pretty harmless and aimless cross drifted over to the back post, Walton allowed it to pass clean over his head to where Sean Maguire was standing. Maguire who probably couldn’t believe his luck, nodded it back to Barkhuizen, one down. “Good Times, Bad Times” is added to the "PNE Led Zep" playlist. At that moment, Rovers on-field presence seemed to evaporate. All the first half energy evidently dissipated as a result of just one fatal error by Walton. From that moment on, the momentum was flowing in one direction; away from the Rovers fans in the Shankly End towards Walton’s goal, Stockley the North End focal point. Elliott Bennett reprised his Huddersfield trick of conceding a clumsy penalty. Johnson took an eternity to take it but converted cleanly and Rovers’ lead had evaporated inside twenty minutes of the restart. From here on in, there was only one winner. Barkhuizen finally administered the mercy killing with a fine third with less than ten minutes to go and Rovers fans knew deep in their hearts that it was coming. You knew, I knew, we all knew, it’s the crushing inevitability. The pressure on Rovers boss Tony Mowbray is obviously growing with each successive slip up. That comes with the territory. But this time, this sequence feels a bit different somehow. The terrible run of February and March was eventually turned around and promises were issued that lessons had been learned and that defenders were coming. One of those mooted defenders played on Saturday, just not in a Rovers shirt. This time it has a whiff of the last days of Souness, a generally well-respected, well-liked manager in danger of tarnishing his legacy. If Middlesbrough sack Woodgate and come in for Mowbray the parallels will be adding up. That second half capitulation showed just how fragile the team’s confidence is currently. A relatively benign fixture list has yielded just two points from the last six games and now throws up matches at home against Sheffield Wednesday and away at Leeds United, two teams presently lording it in the top five. Tony Mowbray has to find a solution and quickly, or else the cries for his removal will grow yet louder. That too is a crushing inevitability. We are not yet quite at Captain Blackadder levels of crisis definition, “...a twelve-storey crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying 'This Is a Large Crisis'..” but that run of “winnable” games seems to be well and truly over. The key question now is "Does Tony have a Baldrick-style cunning plan ?" Six without a win.
  15. It’s a former diminutive Spanish playmaker...
  16. Herbie6590

    Caption This

    “Just do whatever Pep would ask you to do in these circumstances”
  17. Herbie6590

    Preston Away

    Agreed, TM has this precise dilemma; to lose one goalkeeper is unfortunate, to lose two might be deemed careless.
  18. Herbie6590

    Preston Away

    I don’t totally absolve the players, that’s my point 👍🏻
  19. Herbie6590

    Preston Away

    OK, I’ll have one more go at explaining what I mean via an analogy...bear with...😉 i have a leaking kitchen tap. I conduct due diligence & select a plumber who is suitably qualified & so seems capable of doing the job. He comes in, starts work but accidentally drills through the pipe causing a leak. The plumber is Responsible for the mistake, I am Accountable for choosing the plumber & therefore ultimately, the leak & the damage caused. if I KEEP using that plumber for all my requirements & accepting risk of further collateral damage then my accountability for the performance of my kitchen tap might suffer & Mrs H might decide that in future, somebody else might be better placed to choose which plumber we use. Ultimately the buck stops with me (until MRS H intervenes) but it doesn’t give the chosen plumber carte blanche to go nuts knackering my pipe work, he has a duty of care....that’s the difference between responsibility & accountability in this instance... *retires to drawing room, pours glass of scotch, slumps back in easy chair* 🙂
  20. Herbie6590

    Preston Away

    Read my later post Stuart

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