News round-up: Greed arrives, greed leaves

Red Dwarf was a rather limited concept. There is little scope for plot development when your entire premise is that everyone in the universe, bar one, has died. That’s why they invented plot devices like The Time Gate, a hole in time that, on passing through, allows you to meet yourself as a complete opposite. 
It seems we’ve passed through a time gate in non-league football this summer. Big time Charlie, Greedy Matt Green, soberly returned to the small time as a third choice striker. Ronaldo might have the arrogant swagger and talent to engineer a move to Madrid but Greedy has the only just got the skills to pay his telephone and leccy bills, not Ferarris and be-atches. Nobody ever swaggered to Torquay, unless they were over 80 or on a stag do.

The Conference’s Setanta deal was another genius move by the immaculate Brian Lee. The Conference became a Premier League and TV access came through premium rate pay-per-view. The cameras were allowed into the dressing room so that fans could smell the tactical mind of the manager. “Just fucking launch it, Sean” never had so much meaning. Suddenly football being played on a potato field surrounded by four cattle sheds was supposed to be sexy and its precocious talents, like Greedy, were stars.

But that was in the days when the small time was the big time and the big time was the absolutely fucking gigantic time. Now we’ve passed through the time gate, a more sober world beckons. 

For us, Greedy is a good move, a decent third striker who could easily put another 10 goals onto our tally for next season. For the Conference, a re-think is needed. It is small town, localised football but it’s competitive and affordable. If it is sold like the over inflated Premiership it will eventually be found for what it is.

News round-up: Fixtures are fitting

When you’re relegated to the Conference you hope you’re an accidental tourist; the innocent victim of a mathematical anomaly. Like the fact no team has been relegated with more points than us.

Therefore, the initial expectation is that natural law will correct the situation within a year. Or maybe two.

Now we’re in our third year, this perception has changed somewhat. We’re one of those ‘recovery clubs’ – Hereford, Aldershot, Exeter – a team with the infrastructure to succeed, but one who needs to jettison some of its baggage and get its house in order.

In this respect we go into 2008/9 as a proper non-league club. We should therefore approach next season not as a stranger in a strange land, but as a club ready to earn the respect of their peers and the right to be promoted.

Despite this, we look more out of place with each passing season. Next season we open with Barrow, Weymouth, Eastbourne, Woking and Ebbsfleet all in August. It just doesn’t look like a set of league fixtures. Much as I think that stage one of our recovery is to admit that we are non-league club, it still takes some getting used to.

We. Are. Premier League

From the outset last season we had one objective; to not be a Conference team at the end of the season. Well, check that one because next season we won’t be in the Conference, we’ll be in the Blue Square Premier. You could lop Under 9s on the end of that title and it wouldn’t look out of place.

Why the re-brand? Is this a ‘Whole New Ball Game’ like the original Premier League? All rock music, sharp cutaways and cheerleaders who look increasingly uncomfortable as the winter draws in before disappearing completely.

In short, no. This is part of a re-branding to satisfy paranoid marketing men at Blue Square and Setanta (who have bought the TV rights for 2008/9). They don’t want to be associated with a downgrade league and rubbish football.

But that’s the point, that is the brand, not defined by marketing men, but by football fans and natural law. It depends on your club, but the Conference is not an aspirant league, it is a holding position. Newly promoted clubs might consider it an achievement to attain Conference status, but they quickly realise that the lure of the Football League is but a good season and half decent striker away.

The joy and trauma at this level, is the promise of League football; so near and so far. There’s nothing ‘primary’ about it – it should not be considered a premier anything. What’s more, fans at this level aren’t stupid – there is precious little positive spin at Conference level – it is practically impossible to fool anyone into thinking that you are going to get much more benefit from attending a game than fresh air and a pint before the game. It’s the idiots like us with a morbid dedication to their club that weedle anymore positives from attending a game.

If anything, it is divisive, in that it widens the gap between League status and the non-league . A resignation that the gap cannot be bridged so we create a low rent, low price ‘Premier League’ of our own. Perhaps most worrying is that if this is a simple mirror of the big boys, we’re probably Newcastle.