Chip Wrappers: 29/09/2006

Despite the fact that we now live in a society where there's very little that shocks us, the Non-League Paper last Sunday delivered an incredible, mind melting double-whammy.

Whilst the front page story claiming that a bung culture is prevalent in the semi-professional game is a shock in itself for a paper that usually has an 'everything's wonderful' rose tinted view on non-league football, the big revelation is hidden towards the end of the article.

Hyde manager Steve Waywell is quoted, "It (bungs) doesn't happen in millions of Non-League clubs but it happens in thousands." Millions of Non-League clubs? No wonder the pyramid is constantly being restructured. By my, admittedly loose, calculations it means that at least 50% of the UK population must be registered as a player with a non-league club. Either the pressure is getting to Waywell (more of which later) or the Non-League Directory is going to be really frickin' expensive next year.

Once you've finished reeling from that you turn the page and are hit with the news that three clubs from the north-east have agreed to join the Unibond League, if they finish in promotion spots. If the bods at Soho Square had any sense they'd offer their negotiating team to the UN straight away because after managing to reverse a decade of self-imposed isolation by the notoriously arrogant Northern League, solving the Middle East crisis should be a piece of cake. There's got to be a Nobel prize in this for them...

If you're one of the three people that regularly reads this section you'll know that I've followed Steve Waywell's appearances in the local media with some interest, purely because these articles do seem to give the impression of a man desperately trying to turn back the tide as it laps around his ankles. Sadly for him, his outburst on the back page of this weeks Reporter does little to dispel those thoughts. When a manager starts rounding on the supporters for doing something they're fully entitled too (in this instance booing the team off after a defeat) it's a sign that there's a storm brewing. Plus, if I was him, I'd come up with a better defence than what is basically if we'd scored a few goals then the result would have been different. Mind you, just fielding a better defence would be more helpful to Hyde as the season goes on.

The Stalybridge team photo once again gets another airing this week, just in case you've missed its countless other appearances in the publication this season. Honestly, I think they read this every week and are just doing it to cheese me off.

We end though in the Advertiser (Curzon on the back page - again!) where Mossley have their first real 'feature' of the season: an interview with manager Jason Beckford following the defeat/capitulation to Guiseley last Saturday, 'We need to change. I’ve given the lads an opportunity to see whether they can make the step up and some of them can’t. After nine games, we know what we need and it’s a case of going out and getting the players to make us better.'

At this point I would like to mention that there were only four of last season's squad in the starting line-up for the Guiseley game and, as far as I can remember, they were far from being the worst performers on the day. And I'm sure that Lee Bracey will be sitting reading the paper in the Hurst Cross dressing room, nodding in agreement after getting one game this season for Mossley before being dropped.

Anyway, till next week.

Off to: Whitby

Its been almost two years since we made our last trip to North Yorkshire and the winner of the 'Viking Which: Raping and Pillaging Destination of the Year 867' award - Whitby. Back in those heady days of 2004 we claimed a thoroughly deserved 2 -1 win in the FA Cup, though a quick look at the match preview on the Whitby forum shows that they're still whinging about it.

Thankfully our visit doesn't coincide with one of the twice yearly Weekend Festivals when the town is over run by Goths, named after the group of barbarians who overthrew the Roman Empire by shuffling moodily up the banks of the Tiber complaining that 'no one understood them.' As we all know the reason for this invasion is because Whitby is famous for someone who never existed fictionally being in the town for a bit.

Less well known is that Whitby was the port that Captain James Cook set sail from on his voyages of discovery, introducing a whole manner of exciting new and deadly diseases to the indiginous populations of the South Pacific along the way.

We're not going the place hailed by the New York Times 'as one of the best places in Great Britain for rural life' for a history tour though (if anywhere with a heavy industrial port can be classed as rural): there's a game of football to be won.

At the moment both sides sit in mid-table, seperated by four places and six points. In the form table Whitby sit ninth based on home games and Mossley ninth on away form which leads to only one possible conclusion...

Prediction: A draw. And I don't think there'd be anybody from this side of the Pennines disappointed with that (other than any Lancashire based branch of the Whitby Supporters Club).

Radcliffe Borough 1 - 3 Mossley

Who'd have thought that turning north off juntion 17 of the M62 would take you to the Outer Limits? A place where kids stand in the middle of the road gormlessly throwing sticks in the air and incomprehensibly shouting at cars trying to pass them; where in the middle of September there's a house completely decked out with Christmas decorations including inflatable Santas in the front garden; and, more imporatantly, a place where Mossley actually manage to win!

Yes, set the church bells a-ringning and begin the street parties for Mossley have claimed three points for the first time in almost a month. Not only that but it was a deserved victory to boot!

(Okay. I admit that the above isn't the best introdution I've ever written but I'm sure you'll agree that it's far better than the 'All Wright and the Knight' style play on words I was originally toying around with.)

For the first time in many a moon Mossley took the game to their opponents straight from the kick-off and were rewarded with something that's only happened once before this season - a first half goal. A back heel flick from Anthony Bingham set Joe Shaw on his way to the touchline and his cross from the right was turned in at the near post by Peter Wright; the ex-Chorley man getting in front of his marker to score his first for the club. There were suspicions of offside in the build-up to the goal but there's no denying that intricateness of the move was worthy of putting the visitors one up.

However old habits die hard and after the restart Mossley began to drop deeper and deeper, giving Radcliffe the opportunity to get a foothold in the game. Chris Downey saw one effort curl the wrong side of the post before Kearney, with 15 minutes on the clock, got on the end of one the best crosses I've seen this season to head Boro' level. The remainder of the first period saw Radcliffe look the team most likely to score again but the closest they came was when a break down the right saw a shot bounce back off the foot of the post.

The opening twenty minutes of the second half was a relatively drab affair with little to speak of in the way of goalmouth incidents. Bingham forced the Radcliffe keeper into palming one effort off for a corner but most of the action was confined to the visitors half swapping possession in the middle of the pitch.

Suddenly, and almost if somebody had pressed a button marked 'Win the game', Mossley started to step up through the gears. Keeping the ball on the ground they started to open up the Radcliffe back line with one touch passing and some intelligent off-the-ball runs. Wright and Bingham were causing all sorts of problems and they both combined to set up Joe Shaw, who saw his shot blocked and defelected behind.

It was Shaw himself who took the resultant corner and his inch perfect cross saw Melford Knight beat the keeper to the ball and head Mossley in front. The Lilywhite's now had their tails up but, for all their attacking play, they just couldn't apply the finishing touch that would almost certainly kill off the game.

Melford Knight puts Mossley back in front (trust me, that's him and the ball behind the view obscuring crossbar. And I think the Radcliffe number 7 is waiting for a bus.)

At the other end of the pitch Radcliffe were focusing all their play down Mossley's, worryingly spacious, left hand side. Whereas a better side would have punished us for leaving this path to goal virtually unprotected, Radcliffe continually wasted good opportunities with some terrible crosses and, for a team chasing the game, an unwillingness to send men forward.

Goal number three for Mossley as Peter Wright sends his spot kick straight down the middle

With ten minutes to go though Peter Wright wrapped up the three points by grabbing his second of the night from the penalty spot. The architect of the move leading to this point was substitute Steve Burke; the former Bury man's willingness to chase a lost cause panicked the Radcliffe defence into creating a series of errors, culminating in Christian Cooke being felled by a rash challenge in the corner of the box as he tried to pick up a loose ball..

It was at this point that the terrace full of celebrating Mossley supporters was overcome with a stench straight from the depths of hell. Somewhere, many miles beneath our feet, Satan was leaving the bathroom and telling Adolf Hitler that he'd "give it five minutes" if he were him. I'm not joking - it was vile! But it couldn't dampen the spirits of the large section of travelling fans high on an impending victory and Midget Gems.

There's no denying the importance of this victory. Whilst not being a brilliant performance (a better team would certainly have punished our laxness in certain areas of the pitch) it was certainly a lot, lot better than what was witnessed against Guiseley last Saturday. One good win does not a turnaround make but at least it's a step in the right direction and something to build on as the nights start to draw in.

Peter Wright watches a late effort fly over the bar

There's an extra credit for the players too for coming across to applaud the supporters at the end of the game. It's the small things like this that are really appreciated by the fans so thank you.

Now it's off to Gothland where I'm sure we'll have nothing to fear if we continue to show the same endeavour and spirit and tighten up on a couple of things.

Off to: Radcliffe

All being well I'll finally get the chance to cross Radcliffe Borough off my 'not been to' list (not that I have a list of grounds I've never been to, contrary to popular opinion I'm not that sad). I did come close to doing it ten tears ago only for the game to have been postponed in the short space of time between setting off and arriving.

Despite being relatively near neighbours we haven't crossed swords very often with Radcliffe. In terms of league meetings it currently stands as:

Played: 6 Won: 4 Lost: 2

Borough have however won the last two league meetings (1-0 on both occasions) during the season we embarked on our grand march towards the North West Counties League, and the few times we've played them in the Manchester Premier Cup since then have also ended badly.

It may be only September but already this fixture has the air of a six pointer about it. Both sides have had a less than auspicious start to the 2006/07 campaign but Radcliffe currently hold a one point and two place advantage over the Lilywhites. They also enter the game coming off the back of an incredibly narrow defeat at Matlock whereas we're fresh from 'the match we're trying to forget,' and both sides know that a victory will take their points total past one psychological barrier: getting into double figures as soon as possible.

The game also has the intriguing B-story of Chris Downey playing against the team he was top scorer for in the last two seasons for the first time. Thankfully the ex-Mossley man broke his scoring duck for his new side at the week end so that's one less thing for us to worry about - now we can concentrate on just having kittens every time they get in our half.

Prediction: Trust me - we'll win this. It'll get a bit hair raising at times but we'll be driving away from Bury with three points, though not necessarily our hubcaps (only joking Radcliffe viewers). If we do lose, please feel free to make a mockery of my confident prediction.

Mossley 1 - 3 Guiseley


That was the moment I stepped over the line that separates anger from resignation. There may still be a little over three quarters of the season left but there's no evidence at all to suggest that our return to the NPL isn't going to last beyond May. So instead of spending the next seven torturous months getting exasperated by on field events, once I've finished this report I'm just going to enjoy our time in the Premier Division whilst it lasts.

Why? Because there's no point worrying about something that isn't or has no indication of getting better. To take, and slightly alter, a great line from Frasier:

"At Cornell University they have an incredible piece of scientific equipment known as the electron tunneling microscope. Now this microscope is so powerful that by firing electrons you can actually see images of the atom; the infinitesimally minute building block of our universe. If I were using that microscope right now, I still wouldn't be able to locate any improvement on the pitch since the start of the season."

How many times does something have to happen before the problem it's causing is addressed? For example, take any of the five games we've played at Seel Park this season. In every single one we've looked like an away side setting our stall out for a 0-0 draw. Not once have we tried to take the initiative, run the game at our own tempo or put the visitors on the back foot. Instead we've just sat deep and worried about what our opponents are going to do.

If we were playing good sides I may have, just slightly, understood why were being so ultra negative and cautious but we were playing Guiseley - a team that we'd dominated and been unlucky to lose against a week earlier. And at their own ground too!

Anyhoo, I'll just move on to giving a brief run down of what happened in the game. After all it is a match report.

As I touched on earlier, Mossley started the game sitting deep thereby allowing Guiseley time to settle, take control of the game and dictate the play. So it didn't come as any real surprise when they took the lead in the 19th minute. They'd already created a few half chances before Rob Edwards gave away a needless free-kick just over 20 yards out but central to the goal. It looked too difficult an opportunity to score from but thanks to the never before seen tactic of... er, putting their own man on the end of the wall and moving away just before the kick took place, a gap opened up and Denton hit the ball as straight as an arrow in to the bottom corner of the net. Why was there no one positioning themselves behind the Guiseley player in the wall? Oops! Sorry... there I go again with the rhetoricals.

Guiseley take the lead...

The goal failed to knock Mossley out of their defensively minded stupor and they paid the price once again in the 32nd minute. A Guiseley corner was met by a free header from Sturdy in the six yard box and it sailed past Danny Trueman (caught in no mans land) and the man on the back post. No, wait a minute, there was no one on the back post. Take a look at the photo of the second Guiseley goal below and bear in mind that we went behind in the previous home game through Terry Bowker having to mark two players on his own at the back post from a corner. This time there's no one there to pick up two opponents in the event of the ball making its away across the box. They say that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it - not us, we just add a few flourishes to make it that little bit different.

...and add a second on the half hour mark.

The Guiseley keeper was called into action just once during the first forty five minutes and only then when one of his centre halves sliced the ball backwards. Other than that Mossley's only foray forward came when Terry Bowker did what his midfield should have been doing all game and ran at Guiseley. Picking the ball up from outside his own area he ran forward and carved open the Yorkshiremen. Unfortunately this moment of inspiration appeared to catch his team mates unawares and the opportunity to punish Guiseley on the break was wasted.

Eight minutes into the second half we actually had a shot. It went wide but it was shot nonetheless and was created through our first real forceful attack down a flank. Hopes of it being anything other than a blip were quickly dashed though as Steve Burke and debutant Peter Wright were forced to do the best they could with long balls from the back and no support.

The forward pairing was the umpteenth combination we've tried up front this season so far and the results have been the same every time. Instead of chopping and changing the front line every game, wouldn't it better to let two players work out an understanding and address the real problem - how they're supplied? We could stick Thierry Henry up front and nothing would change because even he needs support and the occasional pass.

In the 75th minute two goals became three when the Mossley defence ran out of bodies in trying to keep the ball out of the net. Between them they'd blocked three efforts only to watch in despair as the Guiseley midfield moved forward and Smithard applied the finishing touch. As the visitors wheeled away celebrating the defence looked understandably irate at the lack of help afforded to them; no Mossley midfielder having tracked back to cover their opponents push forward. Game over and still fifteen minutes to play.

The long overdue introduction of Martin Allison to proceedings finally allowed Joe Shaw to play his more natural game, though even he will admit he should have done better when he fired high and wide with only the keeper to beat from the edge of the box. Peter Wright then gave an example of what could happen when you employ the novel idea of passing the ball to a striker in the box. The former Chorley man turned quickly in the corner of the area and produced a curling shot that hammered back off the cross bar.

And that was that until deep into five inexplicable minutes of injury time when Mossley won a rather fortuitous corner. Joe Shaw swung it in from the left and it kept on swinging into the back of net to wipe the big fat zero next to Mossley's name from the score sheet.

The very definition of a consolation goal

So, just like the Ilkeston and Matlock games, our opponents leave Seel Park with three goals and three points whilst only putting the bare minimum of effort in. Make no bones about it, this was an extremely comfortable win for an average side that we'd dominated for long periods in a match seven days previously. It doesn't get worse than that does it? Ah! But it does. Not only was it in an embarassing defeat, it was one that will be broadcast to the rest of the UK and most of Europe thanks to the Channel M camera that was there to the cover the game.

The question is (yes, another one) where do we go from here? I'd like to think that we're only experiencing a few reorientation problems on our return the Premier Division but I can't. Even at this early stage we are the bus at the end of the Italian Job; teetering precariously between safety and a large drop. Until the the problems inflicting us are addressed there's only one way we'll be heading from this precipice. Maybe we could get Michael Caine in to sort things out because he at least came up with an idea, whereas we seem to be repeating the mistakes that got us into the situation in the first place. It's not too late to stop the slide and the infuriating thing is that what needs to be done is basic stuff. I don't mind losing just as long as we give it a go and in the last two home games we haven't even got that.

Anyway that's it. I've said all I'm going to say on the subject and from now on I'm just going to do what I set out to do in the first place - enjoy the games, the camaraderie and have a laugh whatever happens. I'll be there almost every week cheering the team on, hoping to write about great performances, good wins and unlucky defeats but what I won't be doing is getting angry and despondent at poor performances anymore. Life's too short and most of us have been here before.

I don't want anyone sacked and hounded out of the club and nor am I advocating that a revolution take place. All I and many others want is to see the tiniest improvement and an inkling that we've got the fight to stay in this division. Nothing more, nothing less.

Chip Wrappers: 22/09/2006

Despite the Sunday Mirror exclusively revealing that Rhodri Giggs has joined FC United (next week - Chamberlain declares 'peace in our time') it has been a quiet seven days in the print media for semi-pro football.

When the main topic of discussion on the letters page of the Non-League Paper is whether P.A. announcers read the team line-ups out too quickly, you begin to wonder if you made a mistake in starting a weekly column like this one. Even Melford Knight's appearance in the Q&A section the publication regularly carries has been discussed elsewhere on the internet so I'd just be going over old ground (which would make a change from going over old jokes which is usually the norm on here).

Locally, there's once again no mention in the Reporter of the Lilywhites having played and the area's big game of the week, Droylsden's hammering of Celtic, is squashed down the side of one page. But then again, it must be hard fitting in news and reports from six teams when you've given two thirds of the space available for football to just two clubs (Curzon and Stalybridge getting reports on first and reserve team fixtures as well as news items). Apropos of nothing they are also the two sides that have had a heavy involvement with the local council over the last two years... I'm not insinuating anything or starting a conspiracy theory, just pointing out a purely meaningless coincidence.

Thankfully everyone gets a roughly equal share of the pie in the Advertiser but there's no mention of the story that dominates the backpage of their rivals - Celtic's abandonment of the Nuneaton game due to power problems. Secretary Martyn Torr is quoted, 'When the power was switched off we experienced blue flashes arching across connectors in the floodlight pylons.' I can't imagine why everyone at the club is upset though, recreating Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory sounds like the most exciting thing that's ever happened at Bower Fold. In fact it would go some way to explaining Chris Camden...

Till next week. Possibly.

Guiseley Are Coming!

It's an early chance for Mossley to gain revenge for their FA Cup exit at the hands of Guiseley as they welcome the Yorkshire side to Seel Park; a mere seven days after the Lilywhite's conspired to hand them the tie with a piece of slapstick that Max Sennet would have killed for to be in one of his movies.

Were we mugged? No. If you voluntarily give someone something it can't be classed as a mugging and we literally fell over ourselves to hand them the winning goal.

And with neither side having played midweek there's nothing really that I can add to the preview I did for last week's game other than to reiterate that we've never beaten Guiseley. It remains to be seen just how many people will make the short trip down the M62 from Yorkshire, but judging by their crowd last Saturday they could be short in numbers if the fixture is clashing with a Darby & Joan meeting.

We will however hopefully get the opportunity to once again marvel at the magnificently coiffured hair of Guiselelys forward Clarke. He looks like a Premiership footballer and, by jove, he plays like one too - unfortunately for him, one that plays for Manchester City. And as a Blue you don't know how hard it is to write that.

Prediction: Under the belief that you say it often enough it will happen - a win for Mossley. Seriously though, last week's game showed that for all the bragging and boasting being done in pre-season about their wealth, Guiseley were nothing more than very ordinary side. As long as we stop the mistakes at the back and finally click in the last third of the pitch, we should have nothing to worry about. Now if this were a film we'd be cutting straight to me sat at the computer writing a report on a 6-0 defeat...

Doppelgang Land

Yes, the old Mossley80's intermittent look-a-like section is back - not so much with a bang but more of a muffled clump. It has been over 18 months since its last appearance and this has been down to two factors:

1. It was cursed.
Unbelievable as it may seem, any player featured in a Doppelgangland update had usually left the club within a month of it being published on the web. Tony Coyne, Matty Taylor... gone within four weeks.

2. I'm rubbish at it.
Honestly, I am - totally useless. If it wasn't for DJ and, in particular, Welly, the staple section of all football fanzines would have failed to exist.

Hopefully though the break has killed the curse off so, without further ado, we restart with a first for the section - a submission from someone recommending themselves:
And another first - one I've come up with:
If anybody has anymore, please get in touch via and I'll put them up on here.

Guiseley 2 - 1 Mossley

As someone with a lisp might say - our cup runneth over. But the reality is that this seasons FA Cup run should have lasted another ninety minutes in the form of a replay at Seel Park.

Happily, Mossley's performance at Guiseley was an improvement over last Tuesday's display against Matlock (though it couldn't have been worse, could it?) but once again we were the architects of our own undoing. For the second week running a moment of pure slapstick in the penalty area stopped the Lilywhite's from taking something out of a game but more about that later.

After some nimble negotiation of the back streets of Yeadon to avoid an enormous tail back leading into Guiseley we eventually arrived at the ground five minutes after kick-off, but I'm assured by the people there from the start that nothing of interest happened; a comment that can be applied to the majority of the opening period. The first half was pretty even affair with the majority of the play being confined to the middle of the field. Both sides had occasional spells of pressure but neither one could conjure up anything creative when they got into the final third of the pitch.

That was until the 34th minute when Guiseley capitalised on a sloppy pass in midfiled and broke down the right wing. As the play made its way to the byline, Stuart Gray moved unmarked from the halfway line to the edge of the six yard box where he applied the finishing touch to the move. Mossley's best chance of the half came minutes after the home side took the lead when Kenny Mayers made a bustling run into the box. His effort was blocked but the ball broke to Steve Burke who, in turn, hit a tremendous shot that was heading into the top corner until the Guiseley keeper Dickinson somehow managed to claw the ball away for a corner

Mossley look to break early in the second half

Other than the opening few minutes, the second half saw Mossley dominate possession. However the thing with controlling the majority of the possession is that it's ultimately pointless if you're not creating opportunities from it and Mossley weren't; attacks were continually being hamstrung by the lack of support and numbers in the box. That meant despite being under the kosh somewhat, Dickinson had next to nothing to do in the Guiseley goal. He should have been called into action when Kenny Mayers found himself free on the edge of the 18 yard box, the Mossley front man however dragged his shot well wide when he should have at least tested the keeper.

And that's how things continued until, with about twenty minutes to go, Mossley started to keep the ball on the grass and stretched the play by using the wings more. All of a sudden the home team's defence was wobbling like a drunk on stilts trying to cross a rope bridge. Steve Burke made a fantastic run from the halfway line in to the box and was unfortunate to see his effort roll the wrong side of the post. Joe Shaw made another run down the same wing, beating two men in the box and pulled the ball back from the touchline in the six yard area but, like Marvin McDonald's crossed whipped in minutes later from the opposite flank, there was no Mossley player anywhere near in support.

Joe Shaw beats two men on his way to the byline

It appeared that it was going to be another game of what if's until another pull back from the touchline, this time by Christian Cooke, was directed into the net by Steve Burke. Discussions amongst the travelling support about whether Mossley could force the win (such was the rickety nature of the Guisely defence) were quickly curtailed when the Lilywhites didn't so much shoot themselves in the foot but blow their leg off with a cannon.

Steve Burke celebrates his first goal for the club

For the second week running Mossley conspired to concede a goal of farcical proportions in the closing moments of a game. The ball was punted aimlessly into the Mossley area and, under no pressure at all, Steven Sheil and Danny Trueman got into a mix-up that ended with the Mossley keeper spilling the ball across an unguarded goal. With all the time in the world available Craig Hall simply tapped the ball home and set off on a celebration that should only be acceptable from somebody who has cured cancer - not scored into an open net from three yards out. Honestly, if Mossley's games from the tail end of last season onwards had been videoed, we could have made a fortune in cornering the market with clips for football gaffe DVD's this Christmas. We are certainly our own worst enemies at times.

The least we deserved from the game was the chance to play Guiseley three times in week by taking them to Seel Park for a replay. But in truth we could have done better and won the game there and then if only we'd shown more nous as an attacking side and start to convert possession into chances and, hopefully, goals. I think the analogy between winning a raffle and buying a ticket is suitable here.

For a club that was bullish in the non-league press before the season about their ambitions and wealth, Guiseley are a spectacularly ordinary side. Hopefully Mossley will have seen enough from Guiseley today to know that they can (and should?) win the league game between the two sides at Seel Park next week.

Opening the 'Big Book of Football Cliches' at FA Cup -> Defeat it says "we can now concentrate on the league." And besides, we 'd rather wait to win the FA Cup at Wembley than Cardiff, wouldn't we?

Off To: Guiseley

It's our first break of the season from the trials and tribulations of the league campaign as we make the short hop over the Pennines to Guiseley for the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.

Yes, it's once again time to embark on the road to wherever the final's being held this year though, as along with every other club taking part at this stage of the competition, the best we can hope for is the chance to be patronised on Match of the Day by Ray Stubbs and the second string pundits.

As we all know, form apparently 'goes out of the window' for some reason when the FA Cup comes along and this is something that every Mossley fan will be hoping for at Nethermoor - Guiseley's ground's name originating from a 19th Century sponsorship deal with the publishers of Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Raven.'

Whilst the non-literary types sit wondering if the last part of the preceding paragraph was a joke (yes it was, a bad one) we'll take a look at that form as well as past results between the two sides.

(a quick look elsewhere on the web)

Ah! Oh dear! I think we'll give that a miss and just move on to the...

Prediction: In the belief that I'm not going to get three in a row wrong, I'll plump for this being a famous victory for the Lilywhites. A boost for both morale and the bank balance.

And not only that but I managed to get through a Guiseley preview without once mentioning it's where Harry Ramsden's chippery originates from... oh damn it!

Chip Wrappers: 15/09/2006

To what I'm sure will no doubt be great rejoicing, I have to announce that this edition of Chip Wrappers will be a lot shorter than usual. Alright, alright... you don't have to cheer that much!

There are two reasons for this: 1) I'm currently trying to figure out how to get my new MP3 player to work (why does up-to -the minute technology come with such cryptic instruction manuals) and 2) there's very little of interest to write about. Most of what there is though comes courtesy, once again, of the Non-League Paper.

In an article that should be titled "Why Are You Still Bothering", it says that our beloved F.A. are once again meeting with the Northern League in an attempt to get them involved in the Pyramid. Seasoned non-league watchers will know that for years, most of the teams in the Northern League given the opportunity to enter the NPL have refused because of travelling distances and a misplaced sense of their own worth (a few years ago a league official stated that their teams should get promoted directly to the Conference).

The league itself has prominently taken an anti-promotion stance in the past, leading many neutral observers to believe that the league is protecting its own interests rather than those of its clubs. For 'a football hotbed', as the media would have us believe the North East is, most of the area's sides are poorly supported and taking the bigger fishes from the pond could have serious repurcussions for the league. Many of us have criticised the NWCL in the past but at least they encourage teams to go on and better themselves.

The Northern League secretary is quoted in the story saying that teams relegated from the NPL don't want to go back. So it has to be asked as to why the FA are continuing to put time, money and resources into something that is a non-starter. If they want to cut themselves off - let them.

All matches in the NLP are marked out of five in terms of entertainment. However I think the ratings system is in need of some recalibration after last Saturday's game at North Ferriby was given three stars - a match described by someone in the car on the way home as 'near unwatchable'. And if that was a 3/5 perfomance, imagine how awful the Chorley-Buxton game must have been to havet got one out of five!

Elsewhere: the M.E.N. have once again missed us out of their Monday night non-league briefing despite mentioning all the other local clubs in the NPL; Stalybridge Celtic manage to make it onto back of the Reporter in two stories (keeping up their record of having appeared on the back page every single week this season) and once again have a match report illustrated by the squad photo. If anybody from the Reporter is reading this: Please find another picture to use.

In the Advertiser a lengthy back page article about this weekends FA Cup games looks promising until you realise that more than half of it is taken up with Curzon Ashton's game. Previews of the Mossley and Ashton United fixtures are confined to a combined 21 word sentence whilst the rest of the story focuses on Glossop. Yes, that's right - Glossop, which unless I'm very much mistaken is not in Tameside. Or does the Advertiser have inside information about forthcoming boundary changes?

However it does give us the quote of the week, courtesy of Glossop manager Chris Nicholson - 'If we're on song we'll be be singing, but if we're not on song we'll be out of tune.'

So Glossop may play well or they might not... aren't you glad that we have a local media to bring you exclusives like this?

Till next week.

The Uniband League

Insomnia is horrible.

As you lie awake for hours on end on all sorts of things start to go through your mind. One minute you’re desperately trying to remember the name of more than five Wombles and the next you realise that each passing second is one closer to the next momentous tragedy in your life. And once that invades your stream of conscience you’ve got no chance whatsoever of journeying to the land of Nod.

It was a situation like this I found myself in last night. After a good hour spent mentally listing the major characters in Twin Peaks I realised that I had to do something else to stave off the impending negative thoughts. Which dark recess of the mind ‘non-league football bands’ suddenly came from I’ve no idea but I was extremely grateful.

Until this morning that is when I was sat at work still trying think of them, a task made all the harder by my less than encyclopaedic knowledge of music – popular or otherwise. So I’m going to throw it out to you, the readers, in a desperate attempt to fill in the blanks (or add to the list) or else I’m never going to get round to lying awake, trying to remember the words to the ‘Jamie and the Magic Torch’ theme.

Uniband Premier
Johnny Cashton United
Fleetwood Mac (obviously)
Sly & the Family Ilkeston
Lincoln Park
North Brian Ferriby
Diana Rossett Town
S’Exprescot Cables
Stock, Aitken and Waterman Park Steels
Ralph McTelford
Whitby Houston

The Rest
Abba Hey
FCUB Seven
Huey Lewis and the Newcastle Town
Shepshed DynaCarroll
Sigur Rossendale
Roy Woodley and Wizzard

Admittedly it isn’t an impressively lengthy list but can you do better? I hope so because that Non-League directory is awfully big.

Mossley 0 - 3 Matlock Town

Stunning. Excellent. Bravissimo.

Just a few of the many words that Mossley supporters leaving Seel Park last night weren't using to describe the performance they'd just witnessed.

No doubt there's someone somewhere currently structuring an argument that the comprehensive 3-0 defeat, to a team that rarely got out of first gear, was brimming with positives. They'll say that we had a few chances and looked okay for a few short spells but they'd be missing the bigger picture. It'd be like someone present at Fred West's house whilst they were removing bodies from the walls only remarking on the wonderful quality of the plastering.

The facts are that eight games into the new season we've won two and lost five. Of the four we've played at home, three have ended in defeat and the one we actually won is currently being reconstructed by Crimewatch after complaints of a mugging from Burscough. We're nowhere near having a settled starting eleven; players are being moved musical chair-like from position to position, seemingly in the vain hope that a magic formula is stumbled upon; young, inexperienced players are being parachuted in and unfairly saddled with the expectations of trying to turn around what looks to everyone like a ship taking on water. And if that isn't bad enough, metaphors are now starting to get mixed!

Mossley actually started the game the brighter with debutant Rob Dawson looking lively on the right wing, supplying a couple of good crosses before the service all but dried up. There was then an air of the all too familiar as Matlock started to take control of proceedings and it became a question of when, not if, they would score. That it came as early as the 11th minute surprised no-one.

Their first came courtesy of the now patented 'Mossley Defensive Cock-up' © - a corner from the left wasn't dealt with and Terry Bowker put the ball in his own net whilst under pressure from the two Matlock players he'd been left to mark. Six minutes, and numerous hearts in the mouth moments, later the lead was doubled; Matlock completely outfoxing the Lilywhites by cunningly walking around them with the ball, leaving Barraclough to apply the finishing touch.

Between the two goals Mossley almost grabbed an equaliser when Steve Burke saw an effort from the edge of the box thunder off the underside of the bar but, apart from a James Tyrell-Nestor in the closing moments of the game, that was about as good as it got for the home side.

The Derbyshire side added a third twelve minutes into the second period, Barraclough reacting the quickest to pick up the loose ball from a Trueman save and grab his second of the night. Moments later they should have been given the opportunity to grab a fourth from twelve yards but, amazingly, the referee ignored the appeals for what appeared to be a cast iron penalty. Who say's we don't have any luck? After that Matlock took their foot off the pedal and the game slowly (and I do mean slowly) drew towards its inevitable conclusion.

Best on the night for the home side was Steve Burke. Despite having little support he ran from the first minute to the last. Whilst other more experienced players were walking around waiting for the game to end he was still chasing down opponents and looking for space. Rob Dawson did reasonably well on the few occasions that the ball was given to him but apart from that there was little else to cheer. The defence, the brightspot of the season so far, appeared to be channeling the spirit of Atherton Collieries whilst the midfield, I believe, have been reported to the police as missing persons.

At least we now have the opportunity to revel in going 10 days without a losing a league game thanks to the FA Cup but will things be better when Guiseley make the trip to Seel Park on the 23rd? Or can it get worse?

Hang on, strike that last one - it's a stupid question...

Matlock Town Are Coming!

Once again we get to renew another acquaintance as Matlock Town make their first trip to Seel Park for fourteen years.

A quick look at the history section on Mossleyweb shows that past results between the two clubs are relatively even; Mossley just shading it by winning 15 of the previous 42 matches to Matlock’s 14. Interestingly (or not) we’ve failed to register a goal in our last four meetings at Seel Park.

Matlock currently sit in fourth place having briefly occupied the top spot prior to last Tuesday’s matches whilst we admire the view from fifteenth. The Derbyshire side have taken six points from a possible nine away so far with Mossley, as you know, having only one win to show from their three starts at home.

Prediction: What the hell… a comfortable win. The season starts here!

North Ferriby 2 - 1 Mossley

Awful. That's the only word that comes to mind to describe today's game.

Yes, we're only seven games in... it's a marathon not a sprint,,, blah blah blah... but if there's anyone that attended this match who think's that we look like a team that'll comfortably avoid relegation the way we are at the moment, please write and tell me why. Honestly! I'd love to know what it is you're seeing that's blind to the rest of us.

Anyway, for those that didn't go, here's a summary of the match:

First half: Nothing happened. Apart from Joe Shaw having to leave the game following an atrocious challenge by a Ferriby centre half, everybody would have been putting their time to better use watching the test card.

Second half: Steven Sheil scored with Mossley's first attempt at goal in the 58th minute, heading in Martin Allison's free-kick at the back post. Moments later Terry Bowker's header from another free-kick was pushed away by the keeper.

At the other end of the field the defence were doing some stout defending and Danny Trueman pulled off a fantastic save to keep Mossley ahead. After the visitor's first shot in open play on 75 minutes (Steve Burke firing over the bar) Trueman produced an even better stop to deny Gary Bradshaw.

The home side didn't stop pushing for an equaliser and were rewarded when a Bradshaw shot bounced out to Bolder who netted from close range. A minute later they took the lead, Wainman benefitting from Mossley's inability to clear their lines effectively.

And that was it. For the second consecutive Saturday Mossley ended up the losing team in a game featuring two poor sides. Best performers on the day were the keeper and the back line. Not only do they have to keep their opponents from scoring but they have to score our goals as well. Having said that it would be unfair to critcise the rest of the team because the current system doesn't look like using anybody to their strengths.

Hopefully the alarm bells are now starting to ring.

Fingers crossed for better on Tuesday and, sadly at the moment, it would only take a shot on target in open play to do that.

Steven Sheil puts Mossley in front...

...and finds an appropriate ad to celebrate in front of.

Terry Bowker with Mossley's second and final effort on target.

James Tyrell-Nestor tries to get on the end of another set-piece.

Chip Wrappers: 08/09/2006

Where else to start this week but with the fallout from the comments made by Alex Feguson in a new book in which he labels FCUB's fans as self-publicists.

Inevitably this gave the M.E.N the opportunity to once again go 'Fox News' on a United story with a front page banner splash and sensationalist terminology. Instead of taking a balanced look at what Ferguson said, the Evening News got FCUB mouthpiece Stuart Brennan to apply his own one-eyed view on proceedings. Letters and e-mails from outraged FCUB supporters were also printed but they all combined to not only miss the point but back up what Ferguson said.

Read any article and match report on them or listen to interviews with their spokes people and see how many times the 'rebel support' or attendances are mentioned before what the team has done. When you meet an FCUB fan, see how long it takes them to mention crowd figures or rant on about Glazer because one thing you won't be discussing is their team.

The very nature of FCUB is that it's a publicity stunt. If, as its founders have said, the club was set up as a response to more than just the Glazer takeover, why not do it sooner? Why wait until their own mini-platform of publicity as members of Shareholders United was taken away? Hang on... that couldn't be the reason, could it? As a poster on the M.E.N.'s comments board has said '(what FCUB) does do is allow a few "shop steward" types to have some of the power they have craved for so many years.'

I'll leave the final comment on this to another poster on that board - 'Do you see why FC fans that continue to define their support of FC as "a reaction to the MU takeover" therefore come across as self-publicists, more interested in making a political point than in simply watching their club football? If you now support FC simply because you love FC - great, good luck to you and to your club. But you made the choice to let go of United - so let go.'

At the start of the week in the Non-League Paper the big-wigs of the National Conference were proudly boasting that the total attendances over the first five fixture dates were up 12,000 on the previous year. But is it really a cause for celebration and backslapping? If you take out the large 5,000+ crowds that the new clubs Oxford and Weymouth have, the aggregate crowd figures are actually down slightly. Proof that it's easier to spin what is in essence bad news rather than address problems.

And the Conference was the subject of that issues most prominent letter. A member of the Football Federation highlighted the ludicrous demands of the Conferences ground grading commitee, particularly their insistence that you need a 500 seater stand if you want to be in the Conference North or South despite most clubs only having attendances around the 300-400 mark. His argument, quite rightly too, being why should the organisation pay out hundreds of thousands for things clubs don't need. The Conference North and South are the same standard as the NPL and its sister league's were three years ago but then you only needed a 250 seater stand. Why the doubling in minimums?

The thing is though that this shouldn't be on the letters page: it should be a major story in the Non-League Paper. If funding bodies are openly starting to question the motives behind the extreme grading requirements the Conference have implemented, shouldn't the paper be investigating why? Instead of going on about how wonderful the non-league game is, shouldn't they be concerned that the higher echelons of the pyramid are effectively being turned into a closed shop through regulations that seem slanted towards reducing the instances of promotion and relegation? But hey... why let important issues like these spoil a cosy relationship.

For the fourth week running Stalybridge make the back pages of the Reporter, along with Steve Waywell who this week is reassuring Hyde supporters that things will improve when he employs a 4-3-3 formation. The bad news for their fans though is that he's still to sign the personnel who can play in it first. Listen carefully... that whistling sound you can hear are the odds on Steve Waywell being the first Tameside managerial casualty falling rapidly. Elsewhere in the paper there's an excellent report by Jamie Holt on Mossley's defeat to Lincoln United but once again you've got to question why reserve team match reports get so much prominence.

And that's where I'll leave it. Musings on headline writers that don't read the story can wait till another day and if you want to see an example of proof readers not doing there jobs properly, check out Smiffy's blog.

Off to: North Ferriby

Once again its eastwards along the M62 to reacquaint ourselves with the previous owners of the Unibond First Division Championship trophy, North Ferriby United. It'll be our first visit there since, er... our first visit there back in August 2004 when we ran out 4-2 winners in a far from dull game.

North Ferriby were looking good for a second consecutive promotion last season until the departure of Gary Bradshaw (a thorn in Mossley's side on the two occasions we've met) to Cheltenham led to a downturn in fortunes. Happily for them though (and sadly for us) Bradshaw is now back in Humberside to lead their forward line again.

We currently lie one place below and one point behind Ferriby in the table. Their home form is better than their away form whilst ours is vice-versa, which can only mean one thing...

Prediction: A draw.

AFC Telford United 0 - 0 Mossley

The Internet: old jokes, pornography and video clips of monkeys drinking their own wee, right at your fingertips.

And it's not just there for the good things in life either.

Due to the lack of clubs in the Shropshire area, the local BBC radio station have turned to AFC Telford to provide their populous with live, as it happens football commentary, no doubt in order to fulfill their sports programming remit. And thanks to Auntie Beeb's embracement of the information super-duper highway it means that these broadcasts can be listened to all over the world. Even Glossop, where death comes quickly if you're caught using the 'machinery of witches.'

So, along with plenty of other like minded fans who couldn't get to Telford, I sat down in front of the PC (which was soon replaced by pacing around the room once the match started) and logged in to the novelty of listening to a live radio commentary on a Mossley game.

I was really looking forward to hearing how the match would be covered but first impressions weren't good. Upon connection they were part way through a piece about a Telford fan (I shall spare his name) who'd written a song for the club - a reworking of 'Hi-Ho Silver Lining' with Telford somehow being mangled to stretch over the four syllables of Silver Lining. The song was either sent in on tape or recorded in a duffel bag but the presenters, in true local radio fashion, treated the whole thing with sparkling sincerity. Whereas everybody else was wondering how they could stop their ears from crying.

However the worst part was the arrogance that underlay their pre-match build up. Listening to it you started to wonder if the referee should just award the game to Telford and save everyone the effort. This reached a crescendo when they interviewed Telford's assistant manager who practically dismissed Mossley out of hand and banged on about expecting to win, like it was foregone conclusion.

Then the teamsheets came in and Telford's starting eleven was duly read out. Mossley's wasn't' only "players they'd heard of" but James Tyrell-Nestor started them off on a painful minutes 'humorous' ad-libbing about "real non-league names." Though to be fair the team did get read out just before the game started with a couple of bits from the programme pen pics but it did seem slightly disrespectful.

It wasn't all bad though, ten minutes in the main presenter stopped pronouncing us as Morrssley.

Thankfully once the game started the cockiness stopped (apart from the occasional comment that a slew of Telford goals was inevitable and only a matter of time), the coverage proved to be excellent and fair. Three times Telford appealed for a penalty during the game and on each occasion the commentators said it wasn't, which is refreshingly honest for football coverage on local radio. Something BBC Manchester's commentators (are you listening Jack Dearden and Alan Gowling) would do well to learn from; just because Kevin Davies appeals doesn't mean it was a cast iron decision and you've been cheated.

As the litany of chances missed by the home side grew it was difficult to judge how Mossley were playing due to the commentators contradicting themselves almost by the minute. After quarter of an hour we'd been referred to as having "a lump it anywhere approach," to being "a good passing side" and back to a team that's "just hacking it upfield." It was an approach they then applied to describing the performances of individual Mossley players, which frankly just got confusing. Danny Trueman was described as hesitant and not having the best of games despite being told moments later that he'd had nothing to do.

The highlight of the first half though was during a lull in play when one of the commentators, out of nothing, suddenly splurted "lot's of goals in Melford Knight!"

Half-time arrived with the show's host seemingly exasperated by the fact that Telford weren't ahead but he was keen to reassure listeners that Telford would go and win.

One cup of tea and two Jammie Dodgers later the second half got underway in much the same manner as the first, Telford wasting some good chances and Mossley almost being implored to do the decent thing and let them score. As the game reached the hour mark the commentators regularly started to drone on about how Telford would finish the stronger because of their apparent "superior fitness". How do they know who's the fitter team? Do they have spies at out training sessions or were they just using the age old cliche that's spouted when people feel they're playing inferior opposition?

My guess is the latter because the overriding tone of the three hours was that despite being a Unibond Premier team playing another Unibond Premier team, Telford were a Conference or Football League team being forced to slum it.

It was an arrogance that flared up again after the final whistle blew. Despite the commentators praising Mossley's contribution to the game, Telford's assistant manager couldn't even damn us with faint praise when we were once again treated to his dull-cet tones in the post-game interview. Like the show's host he appeared to be affronted that we hadn't rolled over and given them an easy win.

After a minute spent fielding text messages from gloating Shrewsbury Town fans the programme was wound up with a 'highlights' package of the game backed by a remix of the James Bond theme. I say highlights though Mossley's disallowed goal and hitting of the cross bar were conspicuous by their absence.

On the whole it wasn't a bad way to follow Mossley for an evening. The commentary, for the most part, was balanced and entertaining but the surrounding package was overly smug and incredibly arrogant. You expect local stations to have a degree of bias but this was just ridiculous pomposity. Telford are a good side but if the public attitude displayed by their management and local media starts rubbing off on the players then they're in for a long stay in the Unibond Premier Division.

If you want an in-depth report on the game then I'm afraid that this isn't the place to come. Instead you should log into the Independent Mossley AFC Forum and read this thread - an "as it happens" match report where the postings get increasingly more manic the nearer the final whistle gets.

Breaking News

Off to: Telford

Telford United. The fan run club non-league club with AFC before their name that doesn’t believe it’s better than everyone else. Apart from Shrewsbury that is, judging by their forum.

Yes, it's back to Shropshire for Mossley's first visit to the Midlands new town since the 2004/05 season. A journey which saw the Bucks claim a 2-0 win over the Lilywhites, our cause not helped by keeper Ian Wilcock getting injured and Paul Challinor having to take over between the posts.Other than that it was a pleasant enough day out.

The New Bucks Head Stadium is a great place to watch football that’s now even better, thanks to the fact that it no longer seems inordinately expensive to enter. The supporters are a good bunch too, especially now that the "we're better than you" arrogance displayed by some of their fans upon demotion to the Unibond has gone. And fingers crossed that the three Telford idiots (I won’t dignify them by calling them supporters) hell bent on trying to start something during our last visit are conspicuous by their absence.

Telford have got off to a flying start this season and sit joint top with Fleetwood, despite both having played one less game than everybody else. The only points they’ve dropped so far were in the first match of the season when they drew at home to Grantham.

For those not making the lengthy trip down the M6, don’t forget! You can listen to full match coverage of the game on BBC Radio Shropshire over the internet which will be a novel experience. The link is here.

Prediction: This is going to be an either/or game - either a comprehensive victory for the home team or a ‘the league will sit up and takes notice’ win for the visitors. So I’ll chicken out and plump for a draw in fear of being labelled a pessimist for predicting a Telford win or being a jinx for saying Mossley will emerge victorious.

Mossley 1 - 2 Lincoln United

Another home game, another rainy day and another one goal defeat. Another goal scored by a defender from a set piece and another goal conceded thanks to the kind of marking that would make Alan Hansen's head implode. One thing you can't say about Mossley this year is that they aren't consistent.

We all knew that this league wasn't going to be easy but I don't think any of us realised how difficult Mossley would make it for themselves. For the third home game running Mossley, for the better part of it anyway, looked like the away team; once again letting their opponents dictate the tempo and take the early initiative.

It was an invitation that Lincoln United gratefully accepted and it came as no surprise when they took the lead in 13th minute. From a corner on the right Mossley's marking was non-existent giving Wilkinson all the time in the world to head home untroubled from 12 yards. It did at least seem to kick start a lethargic looking Mossley side into a bit of action but, other than the occasional spot of bluster around the box, the United keeper didn't have a single shot to stop from going in his net.

Most people seemed to be hoping that we could reach the interval down by just the one goal in order to give us less of a mountain to climb in the second period. And that appeared to have been achieved, especially when Joel Pilkington cleared off his own line, but we were once again reminded that you should never underestimate Mossley's ability to shoot themselves in the foot.

Only moments before the half-time whistle Lincoln worked a two on two break and Danny White made a rare error by bringing Cann to the ground with a rash challenge inside the box. In retrospect it's fortunate that a penalty is all that was given as I don't think anybody could have argued if the referee had produced a card of either colour to go with it. Hawley stroked the spot kick home and Mossley's second half mountain duly arrived.

The match restarted after the interval with the visitors happy to sit on their two goal advantage and the host's lacking any discernable idea on how to break them down. And that's how it stayed for over twenty minutes with a half chance for Lincoln the only moment worthy of note. The game then suddenly burst into life when Andy Thackeray's cross field ball found Joe Shaw unmarked on the corner of the United box. Possibly unaware of the time and space he had to advance, the Mossley winger hurried a shot that the keeper dealt with comfortably. It was still Mossley's first effort on target though and the second, and sadly the final one in open play, came soon after with Anthony Bingham making one of his now typical bursts in to the box.

There's no question that Mossley weren't helped by Lincoln's ridiculous gamesmanship which saw the visitor's roll on the floor, clutch at various parts of their anatomy and kick the ball out of play almost every minute. It was turning the game into a farce and when their keeper went down holding his arm after the merest of challenges (something we might have had sympathy with if he hadn't used that arm to throw the ball out of play) Mossley decided enough was enough and refused to return the ball to them.

Terry Bowker gives Mossley a faint glimmer of hope

With ten minutes left Mossley won a corner on the right and, after playing it short with Marvin Macdonald, Joe Shaw whipped the ball to the far post where Terry Bowker headed home. The goal set up a potential grandstand finish to the game but other than Steven Shiel heading over from another corner Lincoln's lead never came under threat.

I've desperately tried to keep this report as upbeat as I could but the more I reflect on the game the more depressed I get. This season was always going to have a steep learning curve but at the moment we're practically still a horizontal line at the bottom of the graph, and that's how it will stay unless we stop repeating the same mistakes. We can't keep giving sides head starts (against Ilkeston and Lincoln we didn't get into the game till around the seventy minute mark) and we need more creativity in open play. We have a good back four and keeper but we have to give them some protection. They are the last line of defence; not the only line of defence as it appears to be with the way the midfield falls back when the opposition attacks - at times it looks like we're playing an 8-0-2 formation. But to be fair it's not just this season that this has happened, it's just now we're at a level where we'll be punished more regularly for it.

Mossley's final chance of the game goes as Steven Shiel heads over

Lincoln United weren't anything special but what they did was the basics well and that's probably the more troubling aspect of yesterday. On a purely technical level Lincoln were way ahead of us: their passing was, more often than not, short and accurate, like Mossley they defended in the home teams half, took whatever chances they created well and kept their shape at all times. Other than their previously mentioned tendency to look like a group audition for Casualty, they're all things that Mossley can and should learn from.

All said and done though the season is still too young to start throwing the R-word into sentences along side battle but we've got to start looking like a Unibond Premier team sooner rather than later.

Chip Wrappers: 01/09/2006

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halle... etc.

I never thought I'd live to see the day again but Mossley are back in the Reporter. After a couple of weeks with nothng more than a solitary mention in the upcoming fixtures list there are reports on both of this weeks games; the one for the Burscough match being a lenghty one too.

Of course this means that space has to be made and it's Ashton United who suffer with their match at home to Kendal going unreported on. Then again, given that the attendance for the fixture only climbed above the 100 mark thanks to the travelling support and a fair few neutrals, I doubt that Ashton fans are particularly interested in what went on either.

For the third week running the Roy Oldham XI make the back page with manager John Reed starting his annual 'we're not good enough' rant earlier than usual. It also contains the snippet of information that assistant manager Mark Atkins was so angry with their performance against Workington that he 'ripped pre-match plans off the changing room wall.' The man's an animal...

Next to it there's a press release from Setanta regarding their contract to show National Conference games on TV from next season. This is only noteworthy for the fact that the paper has tried to pass it off as a piece about the the three local Conference North clubs by slotting in a paragraph at the end containing their names and adding a picture of Dave Pace.

And because we like to keep a count of these things, a Stalybridge match report is accompanied by a large photo of the squad for the second time in three weeks.

But it's not in the sports pages of the Reporter where the fun is to be had. For that we must turn to the front cover where they're desperately trying to make a mountain out of something that isn't even a molehill. The story is that in an interview with local artist Tony Husband (cartoonist in Private Eye and, some of you may remember the comic, Oink) on Radio Manchester, host Anthony H. Wilson referred to Hyde as being the 'centre of evil'.

In a tactic that tabloids are fond of using they've tried to make it out that it somehow denegrates the numerous victims of the Moors Murderers and Harold Shipman and tars Hyde's inhabitants, even though any individual with their head screwed on knows that it doesn't. The story descends into some BBC bashing but at no point do they demand action or an apology from the publication that the 'centre of evil' quote was being paraphrased from - The Sun, despite Tony Husband telling them that's where it originated. Then the BBC's an easier and safer target than News Corporation isn't it?

But what's the most offensive: the 'centre of evil' comment or the fact that a local newspaper has seemingly sensationalised it with a larger than usual banner headline and big photos of the three killers on the front page in order to increase sales?

And besides, we all know the 'centre of evil' is the Tameside Council chamber...

Speaking of which if you turn to page 107 of the Reporter you'll find the annual list of what each councillor earned over the course of the year covering April 05 - March 06. Read it and weep*.

Hyde United manager Steve Waywell is the focus of the Advertiser's back page story, claiming that 3 points out of 15 and hovering around the bottom of the table isn't as bad as it seems. Like the Stalybridge story mentioned above this is turning into an annual event as well and only comes out when you can start to hear knives being sharpened on the terraces of Ewen Fields. And what can you say to his assertation that if they win their next three games they'll be in a better position apart from, "Well, duhhhh!"

Elsewhere the Evening News has gone back to believing that non-league football in the area doesn't exist outside the Conference divisions, FCUB and whoever FCUB are playing. The Oldham Chronicle made Ryan "Iron Head" Bowen's altercation with the pitch surround a front half of the paper news story and the Non-League Paper increased the risks of their offices being invaded by FCUB's knuckle dragging element by printing another letter critical of their club.

That's it for another week and if you've read up to this point - thank you and well done! Not many manage to do it.

* If you haven't got a paper to hand and want to know; the Roy Oldham and wife got (combined) over £70,000 of your taxes. And don't forget that the list doesn't cover other perks like travel allowances, meals, etc.