Author Archives: Richard Scott

The Harriers Are Flying High Again

They could be seen as the Cardiff City of non-league football; they either make the play offs or fall just short of making the cut into them and now this season they are sitting top of their league, or this season you may see them as being just as good as Barcelona or Manchester United as the Daily Mail recently showed the footballing world.

The town where they are based is more famous for producing carpets rather then their football. But, this season has seen the Worcestershire based club of Kidderminster Harriers making all the headlines coming out of the Midlands.

Steve Burr’s boys currently sit top of the Blue Square Premier, a feat which for the fans of Kidderminster feels remarkable but it is made even more so by the fact that the Harriers were rooted to the bottom of the table at the end of August with not even a single point to their name.

In fact their first win of the season came on 25th September when Kidderminster ran out 3-1 winners away at Cambridge, which saw them kick start their way up the league table.

They made it to just outside the play offs on the 22nd Decemeber when they trashed play off rivals Dartford 5-1 at Aggborough. The run up the table continued into the new year, only losing three times in 2013; once on New Year’s Day when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Hereford and away to Macclesfield before their next loss came in March, when they lost 2-0 at Gateshead.

The run they have had should surely makes them favourites to take the league, but the Harriers are victims of getting the games on while 2nd place Mansfield have two games in hand, which means the Stags are favourites for promotion. But surely Steve Burr’s men are in with a shout of the league title.

Anthony Malbon has been in fine form for Kiddie

Anthony Malbon has been in fine form for Kiddie

The Harriers have brought up a number of players from the lower leagues and they have starred for the Harriers – Anthony Malbon, Marvin Johnson, Ryan Rowe, Cheyeene Dunkley just some of the players who Burr has brought through into the Harriers first team after starting in Step Three.

But what has really helped the Harriers was in fact the sale of star play Jammile Matt in Janaury to league two side Fleetwood Town FC for a sum of £300,000, although the Harriers faithful thought that the sale of Jamma (as he is known) will probably hinder the club’s promotion bid. In fact it helped the Harriers.

The money they got for Jamma was helped to bring in on loan Greg Pearson from Grimsby and non-league predator Michael Gash who has been a star for Kidderminster as they attempt to make the step into the Football League.

With three games to go can the Harriers hold their nerves?

Hopefully for the long suffering Harriers faithful they can; they have seen the Harriers finish just outside the plays off in the last two seasons and the financial struggle in 2011. So It has not been all sunny skies at DY10 and I am sure they will be loving the season thus far.

My only worry for the Harriers is that if they fail to win the league and are cast into the play offs, they could do a Wrexham and fail to make it through to the Wembley showpiece final. However, with Wrexham there was a tinge of disappointment having challenged Fleetwood all the way to the title then to miss out.

At Aggborough yes the club will be disapointed not to go up but I am sure being in the play offs will be a bonus after the last few seasons they have had. But no one can deny that the Harriers do deserve their place in the Football League.

I have watched the Harriers a couple of times; the first time was away at Stockport County in October – the game was part of Non-league day and it was hard to say that the Harriers will be challenging at the top of the table as they sadly fell to a 1-0 loss, and although they were unlucky not to take a point that day it looked like it was going to be a long season for Steve Burr’s men. Fast forward to the visit of Tamworth to Aggborough and I was working in the press box for a website called Staffs Live, and the performance of the Harriers was not the same team that took on Stockport.

Although in some respect the Harriers 4-1 scoreline did flatter them the Lambs were unlucky not to come away with a point. Their finishing was clincial and you can see a massive turn around in fortune for the players.

From a personal point of view it would be really great for Kiddy to go up. I don’t think there is a club with a more friendly bunch of staff or fans then those at Aggborough and it will be great for them to reach the promise land of the Football League.

Follow Richard on twitter: @nonleaguerich

Is Steve King’s Dismissal One Of The Most Bizarre Sackings In Football?

It has to go down as one of the most bizarre managerial sackings of the season. With just 5 games to go of the Blue Square Premier season, Macclesfield Town FC have sacked boss Steve King following their 3-1 loss to Grimsby Town FC.

Steve King came in at Moss Lane in May 2012 following the departure of previous boss Brian Horton and the club falling out of the Football League. But despite not setting the league on fire, they have had a decent season and were topping the league at one point and even now they currently sit 8th in the table.

They are just twelve points behind 5th place Forest Green and could theoretically make the playoffs still, which makes this sacking even more bizarre. It would take some major luck for them to make it, but as we know in football stranger things have happened.

As Non-league Paper editor Sam Elliot pointed out on twitter that ‘he (Steve King) may not have been everybody’s cup of tea, but he was building a squad for the new season to have a go at promotion to the Football League.’

That squad included Matthew Barnes-Homer, Lance Cronin and John-Paul Kissock. Three highly profiled names that will be key to any club in the BSP.

Matthew Barnes-Homer scored the goals to beat Cardiff City 2-1 in the FA Cup as they reached the 4th round of the competition for the first time in their history (which was under King) and currently sits among the leading scorers of the league with 18 but Matthew is unfortunately ruled out for the rest of the season.

Lance is an established goalkeeper in the Conference Premier having played nearly 200 games at Ebbsfleet United before moving onto league sides Gillingham and Bristol Rovers before signing for the Moss Rose club. Lance is a key figure at the club.

While JP Kissock is the playmaker of the team, and was a big coup from Luton Town in the summer. The former Everton youngster joined Macc originally on loan from Luton before getting a permanent deal in the New Year. The press at Luton called him the non-league version of Lionel Messi due to his looks and his skills that are similar to the Barcelona player.

King (as mentioned above) took Macclesfield to the 4th round of the FA Cup where they were unlucky to bow out to Premier League side Wigan Athletic 1-0. But it seems that results and times like that do not really count for anything in the world of football and that a manager’s position is reviewed game by game, month by month.

Owners do not seem to have a look at the bigger picture and how the season has really gone for the club.

I am not a Macc fan, I have no connection to the club or know personally of any of their fans but I really do think that this season could be deemed a fairly successful season even if it doesn’t mean that ‘The Silkmen’ are going up.

But the main question for me that needs asking is why NOW?

With the season just a matter of weeks from completion why sack your manager now instead of waiting just a few weeks to end of the season. Ok so Macc haven’t won their last 4 games and could partly be the reason but changing now will not solve anything in all fairness.

Youth team boss John Askey will take charge till the end of the season he is unlikely to shove Macclesfield into the top 5 position that they need to enter the play offs. I don’t think that even someone with the skills of Sir Alex Ferguson will be able to produce a turn around like that so drastically.

Obviously we have got to wait until the dust settles where maybe something comes out before we can draw definitive answers to the sacking, but for me this has to be the most bizarre sacking.

Follow Richard on twitter: @nonleaguerich

An Unhappy Easter At Telford

Telford United’s stay in the Blue Square Bet Premier came to an end on Easter Saturday as a 3-0 defeat at the hands of fellow midlands side Nuneaton saw them slip back in the Blue Square North.

The season has been poor one for the Bucks from start to finish really, and not just on the pitch, but in the Dugouts too.

In February they parted company with boss Andy Stinton who had taken the Bucks into the promised land of the Blue Square Bet Premier and delivered them a mid-table finish in their debut season. But then following a winless run which stretched back to October when their last win was a 4-1 victory over Dartford which saw them go 8th  they have slipped down and down before parting with the boss.

In fact, Telford made Conference history by losing the most games on a consecutive run with 26 games without a win; the previous total was AP lemmington in the 81-82 season going from August to February without registering a win.

Respected manager Mark Cooper, who has Darlington and Kettering on his CV in Non-league football, was then handed the hot-seat at the New Bucks Head. However, just weeks later, he departed to become assistant boss of Swindon Town FC.

No one can deny him the chance to work in the football league but it left Telford looking for their third boss of the season- Graham Hyde was put in caretaker role but he also lasted weeks before leaving the Shropshire club after a 2-0 loss to Macclesfield.

The final (for now) manager of the season to take over is John Parash who is supported by goalkeeper Ryan Young (who has played over 300 games for Telford) and Phil Trainer (who scored the goal to promote Telford into the Blue Square Premier).

John did his best but sadly the end came when they lost to Nuneaton on the 31st March.

But what now for the Bucks?

Well they will be looking to end the season on a high with a couple of wins. On Easter Monday they drew 0-0 with promotion chasing Forest Green Rovers, which is an okay start with the pressure now off the Bucks.

The next step is to appoint a successor to take over the hot seat. I am sure John Parash will be considered but other names in contention include former England Midfielder Steve Hodge, former Hyde boss Gary Lowe and former Hinckley manager Dean Thomas.

Also the man whose team sent Telford down is in contention being Kevin Wilkins, boss at Nuneaton.

Then after that it will be a case of attempting to regain their status in the Blue Square Premier by going up in the Blue SQ North.

It will be tough. Although Chester have run away with the league this season, and are all set to win the division, teams like Halifax, Brackley, Boston and Guiseley FC are still in there, and it will be tough for the Bucks, but if they can keep hold of the likes of Ryan Young and Phil Trainer then they might have a chance of making a fast return to the Blue Square Premier.

Follow Rich on twitter: @nonleaguerich

The FA Cup First Round Preview

Sunday was a day of expectation for many non-league fans; well it was for those whose teams who had made into the hat for the first round proper of the FA Cup sponsored by Budweiser.

On the whole it has to be admitted that a bit of a boring draw with only one or two tasty ties for Non-league fans to get their teeth into.

The game I have been talking about is that of FC Halifax Town v Charlton Athletic. The game has been put back to Sunday at 12:30pm for ITV and quite rightly so it should get massive coverage. FC Halifax are a former Football League club and their last couple of seasons on their quest to get back into the Football League have been quite remarkable: two successive promotions through the Evo-stik Northern premier division and they are back in the Blue Square North. While Charlton have been in this stage before- the former Premier League club were on Television against Northwhich Victoria two seasons ago and a trip Victoria Park saw the Addicks being knocked out one-nil. I can see the Shayman progressing to the second round.

The second tie I am looking forward to see the outcome of is Nantwich’s trip to MK Dons. The Cheshire side beat Nuneaton Town on Saturday at the Weaver Stadium 1-0 and despite their cup run sit 10th in the Evo-stik Premier and should not fear the Dons, even though they currently sit fifth in the League One table (at the time of writing). But unfortunately it will be the dons who will progress into the second round.

It will make it an added incentive for both Mansfield Town and Fleetwood Town to try and win the replay for the right to entertain Wycombe Wanderers at their home ground. Both look on good form; The Cod sit second in the Blue Square Premier with Mansfield just outside the play off zone.  The Wanderers aren’t doing well at the present time and sit one from bottom in League One, though they will be looking for a good cup run to ease the woes. But somehow I think that who ever gets through the replay will be the winners in this game.

The last game I want to look at as a possible tie of the round is Luton v Northampton Town. The Hatters have been known in the FA Cup over the last few years thanks to their performance a few years ago against Liverpool in the third round and at one stage were leading 2-1 before succumbing to a 5-2 lose, but the way they played captured many hearts and will be hoping for another cup run as such. Northampton currently sit 18th in league two and are only eight points off the foot of the league. So  an interesting game will be in store at Kenilworth Road and I am going for a Luton win.

So there are four games whose results I am going to look out for. The full draw can be found on the FA website http://www.thefa.com/TheFACup/FACompetitions/TheFACup/Fixtures

Good luck to all non-leagues teams and hope we can have many progressing into the next round.