Tag Archives: Fulham FC

AFC Wimbledon v Fulham XI – Preview

Football is back, well at least for the couple of thousand of you who turn up at Kingsmeadow – I won’t be at the Fulham game thanks to a clash as one of my good friends decided to get married on Saturday. Fortunately he knows well enough to avoid the season proper, a mistake my own mother made a few years back… of all dates to pick the first day of the season was chosen…

Luckily the wedding was in the morning, the choice of reception location (The Albert by Kingston Hospital) was ideal for me to nip across to the Meadow and watch Shane Smeltz bang a brace in a 4-1 victory over Folkestone Invicta in what was our first game in the Ryman Premier. It was actually quite a warm afternoon packed into a three-sided Kingsmeadow (with the redevelopment of the Tempest End overrunning into the season), and I was sweating away in my suit before I had to run the last few hundred yards to make it in time for kick off, I can still remember the prickly heat and weird looks I got that afternoon. Never again…

I have a more relaxed attitude to pre-season. It’s not proper football, in reality paying £10 to stand and watch what is effectively a public training session is a bit of a rip off. This sort of occasion is the nicotine chewing gum equivalent of football, and for that reason I’m not going to cry too much about not being there… although having said that a small part of me is still wishing I could be there…

My pre-season kicks of on Tuesday at Staines, or failing that Saturday at Sutton. Nice of Fulham to bring a team down, we should see a slightly stronger side than the development squad they brought along two years ago, much like the Arsenal game last year it was a nice way to end pre-season, and was rare in being one of the few watchable friendly games I can remember. The Dons won that one 2-1 in a game played in the week before the season kicked off, which perhaps explained why both sides approached it in such a positive manner.

This time around, I suppose the only advice I can give is expect little from the game, anything more will be a bonus. I can remember a few appalling early pre-season games, last seasons encounter with Charlton being a case in point.. the Dons run out 2-0 winners on that occasion, fairly unsurprising considering Charlton fielded pretty much a team full of trialist (including one James Mulley…). Then there is the previous seasons 0-1 with Wycombe. And who can forget that classic goalless encounter at Croydon Athletic in 2008?

Fulham are of course in competitive action already, taking on NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands in their Europa League qualifying game second leg. Fulham have a bit of recent history in this competition, something that ensures Martin Jol is going to take no risks with his line-up despite their 3-0 first leg advantage. I have to say I’m officially jealous of Fulham and their European excursions of recent years, something robbed of us after our FA Cup victory… and in these enlightened times no sign of Fulham hiring a team full of Manchester United youth teamers and switching the games to deserted stadiums fifty miles away, leading to hilarious additional European bans.

I’m still to this day a little miffed we didn’t take the Intertoto Cup a little more seriously. Admittedly Bursapor, Kosice and Charleroi were hardly European minnows, but a full strength side would have seen them off as well as giving themselves a good workout prior to our League season kicking off… lets face it, we were hardly going to win the League, but the squad was too strong for relegation, surely?

Sorry for the tangent, but sixteen years later it still riles me, despite the good memories the tournament provided… Beitar Jerusalem was a game so poor it gave the encounter an element of entertainment – two sides so bad neither could score, even spurning three open goals between them (including one memorable miss from Aiden Newhouse that made Nathan Elders own-save look respectable…).

So with Fulham’s European squad have already been given a workout, the visiting squad will be filled with those not selected who particularly need game time, which at least means we won’t be hammered by their big guns. But whoever does take the field should still be a few notches up on the Dons in terms of basic fitness and technical ability, pretty much ensuring the Dons players should spend the afternoon doing a lot of chasing, even accounting for the slower pace these games are normally played at.

For the Dons, it appears Sammy Moore is fit and ready for game time. TB has commented having Sammy back is like a new signing, I’m certainly guilty of forgetting how important he was for us during the first half of the season. Lets not forget there were rumours circulating a League club might come in for him in January, while we are fortunate that didn’t happen he does face a bit of a battle winning his place back in midfield, having seen Toks come on during the later stages, as well as the arrival of the aforementioned Mulley.

Rumour has it TB has been looking at a few trialist during training, including Bas Savage, rumoured to be on his way to Kingsmeadow last term. Savage has drawn criticism for not having the best goalscoring record, yet there is a reason there aren’t proven League Two goalscorers knocking about looking for a deal… if someone like Savage becomes available, I would expect TB to take a look and see what he can bring to the team. I’m sure we’ll see one or two other new faces, as is usually the case early in pre-season surprise trialist appearances seem to make up the majority of entertainment on the day…

As I won’t actually be at the game, there won’t be a match report as such, but I’ll try to cobble something together based on first hand reports. And for those of you who will be there, I sincerely hope my lack of optimism over the expected level of entertainment are proved wrong!

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News Round-Up 26/6/11 – Friendly Fires

The thing is, I already knew I would be missing the game on 9th July, whoever we were playing. One of my friends decided to get married that day, the knowledge that at kick off time I would be elsewhere, directing people to their seats, my first and last piece of stewarding for the foreseeable future…

So forgive me for being slightly underwhelmed at the news Fulham are coming to town. In all other respects it’s a decent first game. Obviously the commercial aspects of playing a Premier League side with a large local fanbase has been slightly undermined by Fulham’s Europa League campaign kicking off – if you were only going to watch one game in a week would you choose to pay a fiver to see your first team ease past a bunch of fishermen, or double that to see a ‘mix strength’ side face the Dons in what is effectively a training exercise?

The fact there are large pockets of Fulham fans in the area, added to the fact its our first game, means the attendance may trouble last seasons final warmup against the Arsenal kids. On the pitch, perhaps facing a full strength Fulham side wouldn’t have been entirely helpful, unless Seb requires practice at picking the ball out of the net four or five times. Fair enough, the first few games are all about fitness, and results are never that important, but there’s not too much to be learnt from playing a side that’s on a different planet to you – preseason is frustrating enough as it is, I mean it’s dressed up like football, there are eleven blokes on the field trying to knock the ball in the other teams goal, but comes nowhere near satisfying our urge for proper football to return.

I know of people who completely ignore preseason and I can understand that – if you were starving you wouldn’t hang around outside restaurants watching the diners tuck in, would you? I’m as guilty as forgetting that as the next man, even though I acknowledge it now I’ll still set myself up for a letdown prior to Sutton or whoever we are playing on the 16th.

This has been a strange, truncated summer, where through a combination of playoff euphoria, transfer speculation, and an earlier start to the season than we have been used to, the end of last season and the start of next seem to be merging together. The Dons warmup schedule seems a little lightweight as a consequence, effectively six games, with a seventh following shortly after the season begins (Tooting, and that’s if you count that weird League Cup pre-qualifier at Crawley as the start of the season…).

I’ve always wondered whether we needed to play so many games in years gone past, we may well find with six games we have reached the optimum… we would have played an extra game (as so many fellow League clubs will) had it not been for the aforementioned Crawley game. We don’t really find ourselves in a position where we need to field half a dozen trialists, we will probably see a couple in the opening games but there’s no need for us to go to the extents Charlton did last year, when they turned up a Kingsmeadow with a whole teams worth.

Elsewhere in the preseason schedule, the reserves are heading over to Guernsey to face the islands CCL side. Nine years ago the Ryman League turned our application down, with various doubters suggesting we were simply a protest club who would fade away before too long. Yet the CCL were only too glad to have us. The Guernsey experiment is slightly different to ours, being sponsor driven rather than fan power alone, yet the reasons behind forming the club seem to be based on a desire to improve the standard of football on the island rather than parachuting a club into the upper echelons of the pyramid simply for the sake of having a club.

There is obviously no guarantee the people of an island never previously considered a hotbed of football will turn out in numbers to support the new venture, it may take a few years and a few promotions before the club is even remotely viable – if it ever is. But the Guernsey people who have spent years preparing deserve their chance to test themselves in the pyramid – and once again it is the CCL who deserve credit for welcoming them onboard.

Admittedly, there is plenty in it for the CCL and its clubs – increased exposure and the chance for a free trip to Guernsey to play in front of what should be larger than normal CCL crowds. And it remains to be seen what will happen in the event of large-scale postponements. There may need to be a learning process, but the whole project is an interesting one that I’ll keep an eye on (perhaps even venture to one of their local games), and I’m glad our club could play a small part in their early development.

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AFC Wimbledon v Fulham XI – A (Friendly) Match Preview

ffcSome of you have been moaning that it was only a ‘Fulham XI’ coming down, and to be fair ‘XI’ in this case means Young Reserve/Acadamy players, but I have to say it’s good to see any kind of Fulham side coming down to Kingsmeadow. Despite our close proximity to each other there has never been the same kind of rivalry as those built up with, say Crystal Palace, as Fulhams decline in fortunes coincided with our rise to the top flight, and vice versa.

Plus its one of those local relationships where like mine, families will be split between Dons and Fulham fans. As well as this they hate Chelsea even more than we do, and regularly get a chance to play, and beat them. I can only hope Fulham fans get the opportunity to celebrate those life-defining victories such as our 4-0, 5-2 and 4-2 wins at Stamford Bridge.

Back to their anticipated squad. It is Billy McKinlay, the Reserve team manager, who will be in charge of the squad that travels to Kingsmeadow. With Fulham starting their Europa League campaign on Saturday it is likely we will be seeing their younger players, yet this side still thumped Woking 4-1 last week, and for those of you thinking that’s probably not that difficult they beat League 2 Aldershot last Saturday. Those who are expecting a bunch of household names will be disappointed, but those expecting a bunch of wet behind the ears kids will also. In fact we could see one of our own future stars in action for the opposition…

On to ourselves. I think I laid down my opinions on the current situation in the FCUM preview, but I suppose a lot will depend on whether Callum Willock is still with us. Without him Peter Rapson will temporarily find himself promoted to a more important squad role, and the way he has played this pre-season if Willock didn’t turn up for training he can seriously start to prepare himself for being a squad member come August and could find himself on the bench a couple of times if Terry opts for Luke Moore behind the front two. We may be in for a longer wait for our much searched for target man. Has anyone got Danny Webb’s number?

How many of us bother turning up for this game remains to be seen. Will those coming down for Luton tickets bother staying for the game? Will the large contingent of New Malden based Fulham fans come down the road to see their reserves? I anticipate a decent game, like Wycombe and Brighton, the Fulham boys will be looking to keep the ball on the deck, just how our players like it. We needed the scrap FCUM gave us, and we’ll get another at Farnborough, but Luton are waiting just around the corner now…

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The General Specific (Tuesday 9th June ’09)

I had heard that the new look Women’s Premier League, when it eventually gets relaunched, will be played over the summer. I wonder whether the entire women’s game will switch to the warmer months as well, which will help keep bloggers in search of material, as I will be able to focus on the girls. Which is what I used to do before I got married, but in an entirely different sense (without a great deal of success I might add, don’t get me wrong, I ain’t no playa…).

And then it comes, the shock news we have all been waiting for. SW19s Army has switched to WordPress (http://www.sw19s-army.co.uk/). Well to be honest, I think it improves it greatly, especially if it encourages Mr REPD to write a bit more often in this here close season (after all I get bored of having nothing Dons related to read too). For fear of subconsciously plagiarising Rob I’ve avoided reading his reaction to our pre-season fixtures before I write this, but there’s nothing stopping any of you from popping over for a read. Go on, I’ll still be here when you get back…

ISLEOFMANSo in a roundabout way I’ve got to where I wanted to be – those pre-season games. I’ll come to the game that haven’t been announced yet later in the post (it’s all part of my new thing – planning out what I write before I start… it seems to be working so far).  First up – The Isle of Man Tournament. Now I’m not going, mainly because when I suggested going to the Isle of Man for a threeway, my wife threatened to catch the next flight back to Yankeyville leaving divorce papers fluttering in the wind behind her. But also, as I mentioned in previous scribblings, I just don’t have the money. A pound saved now is a pound better used later in the season when it matters. As the whole thing effectively takes place in Mike Richardson’s backyard, you wonder why he doesn’t just shell out to bring us all over!

Of course I’m gutted to miss out. The football will be ok of course, but I’ve always wanted to visit the place, and watching the TT on telly doesn’t make up for it, especially as I have little interest in motorcycles. The key game will be our 1230 matchup with what is effectively the Manx National Team – and if the Faroes can be a FIFA member then so can they? Well no, so the Manx XI spend their time playing other islands and outcasts of the international game such as Gibraltar or Greenland. Next up is Ramsey FC at 1500, not the current champions, in fact they haven’t won a  title since the 50’s. Finally in the game of the day, the two local clubs square off for bragging rights in the bar after.

I like the fact the lads are going to be building bridges by giving some local kid a coaching session, if the whole thing goes ok hopefully we will win a few new friends in that part of the world. There seem to be more home games this summer than we have ever had before, so the club are obviously confident that recent years work on the pitch has created a more durable surface, and our second game sees us face the challenge of Brighton. At least we are facing some decent opposition this year (although it is on a Tuesday night so expect the crowd to be low and the game low-key) but we don’t seem to have as many games this year as previous seasons so I suppose we need to make the most of them.

ffcThe previously advertised FCUM game is our second of three games in a week, the last being against a Fulham ‘XI’. Now XI could mean anything in terms of the strength of the side they will send, it could be mainly academy players or a team with a number of first teamers in. The best way to work it out is by checking the rest of their fixtures. Fulhams glamour games are early in the month on their tour of Australia. They then take on Bournemouth and Aldershot before facing ourselves and Staines. There is a likelihood the could announce another fixture on the day they play Staines which could affect our game, but I suppose they will make a decision closer to the time as to who will play depending on who needs match fitness and who needs looking after ten days before the big kickoff.

Finally we face Farnborough in the fixture arranged when we loaned Whatshisname at the end of last season – I’m sure we only got involved to secure a fixture against decent opposition. Farnborough have made a couple of decent signings from Ebbsfleet and look like they want to make no mistakes in the Southern League this time around.

But wait! Don’t we still owe Tonbridge a game as part of the Jon Main deal? Well yes, unless we arranged to throw some extra cash their way to make up for it. I’m not sure how much Tonbridge will make from a midweek fixture though, and whether I venture into Kent will depend on an number of issues, most likely money but also what time I’ll arrive back in the Kingston/Surbiton borders.

Which leaves only one – the first home game. Now will this be against Championship opposition? Or even a Premiership giant? Perhaps even a foreign club has been tempted? Its like saving a Christmas present to unwrap later in the day, our mind races as you think of what exciting surprise you will receive. Guaranteed once the game is announced it will be the equivalent of socks from your gran though. All this fuss over nothing. But perhaps I’m just being pessimistic. I know Arsenal have been touted on the guestbook in an entirely made up rumour, so that’s good enough for me. Anything less will be an insult to us, the paying punters and club owners. So sort it out AFC Wimbledon – we deserve the best!

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