1999/2000 - The Season By Teletext
New Frontiers was asked to include a pithy 60 - 80 word weekly report on City for Teletext. For the record, hereís how we saw the season. Be warned, it might not make sense now, it often didnít then as its not easy to present a point of view in only 60 words, especially if Teletext imposed their editorial control on our submission.
The Orient stewards and police didnít understand why we were making so much noise during Saturdayís insipid 0-0 draw. Nor could I really as the game never got going, neither side had anything, but pride, to play for. Weíre more solid than pre Dolan, but still lacking any stars.
The Player Of The Season award to steady Barry Jones sums up our season. Mediocre. Skill wise, I'm afraid Barry doesn't come close to measuring up to our previous dual award winners. Having said that, I'd pick him every week, we've got no one better. Just one more game to go before our summer holidays. Let's hope our latest batch of kids do us proud at Orient and then again next season.
Our goal scoring failings have come back to haunt us as the goals have once again dried up. Its hard to know where Terry Dolan will improve the team until heís sorted out all the players currently on short term contracts. However, the strike force is one area he must address. We need young blood eager to make their mark. But, Paul Barnes is not the answer. Approaching the veteran stage, heís shown little form over the last 2 seasons.
8 games unbeaten, wow. I might be excited if it was the start of the season and a settled side. But with our short term signings and meaningless games, it really doesn't matter. Take away the short term signings and the pensioners and we're not left with a strong team. Terry Dolan has done a lot of good work to date, but the hard work starts now in preparation for next season. Iím away for a few weeks, so hereís some stuff in advance.
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No submissions due to holiday (3 months+, it wasn't mine, must have been Teletext driven - Ed).
I can feel another striker coming on. We havenít scored for nearly 4 games. I know Thommoís only been in the job for 8 months, but look at all his signings and youí d be hard pushed to name a couple of successes. He threatens to drop his under achievers, heíd better be carfeul the chairman doesnít do the same. We could certainly afford Thommoís compensation.
As I was putting pen to paper for last weekís piece, Colin Alcide was doing likewise for City. Like so many other City so like so many other City players signings, he made a bright start. But even with Rodneyís departure, heís got a fair few contenders for the strikerís role. Somehow the finances donít add up. Itíll take about 5 gates the size of the Shrewsbury game to pay his transfer fee whilst I doubt if the gate will have covered the weekís wages bill. Letís hope the latest mini revival continues at Swansea.
At one time, 2 home games in a week was an opportunity for 6 points. Nowadays, its a City playerís worst nightmare. The lack of atmosphere only serves to allow the volleys of terrace abuse to regularly reach their targets. The players must dread playing at home. Is Swansea away more appealing than Shrewsbury and Plymouth at home?
The only bright spot of last weekend for City supporters was seeing Dean Kiely on TV, the downside? He had to leave City to move his career forwards. We even lost in The Youth Cup. If there wasnít so much apathy around the club, questions would be asked loud and clear, "whatís going on?". As it is, we just keep grumbling in ever decreasing numbers.
More misery on Saturday. the match day experience gets worse. The turgid commercial radio style jingles donít create any atmosphere and I could do without the deafening PA outbursts, especially during play. How about a few rousing pop anthems? At least the clubís recognised the PA needs upgrading. From the terraces, constant barracking, the Red Card dispute has seen pettiness on both sides, it will make us the laughing stock of the whole league. Better not mention events on the pitch.
Its the Macc Lads on Saturday. After the hiatus at Hereford, the team can be entirely focused on the league whilst the manager looks to add another forward to his collection. I didnít realise all out attack meant fielding eleven forwards. But then again, with some of our recent defensive blunders, it might not be a bad idea. And one of them is bound to score.
Was that our Rodney Rowe who scored a wonder goal for Halifax last weekend or an imposter. I havenít seen him show so much skill for a long time. At the same time, Kevin Hulme was adding another goal from midfield. Put him alongside Scott Jordan and we have a midfield which can score goals. Pity about the strikers though. Anyway, its the Cup this weekend, Man Utd have ducked out fearing a resurgent City, letís hope Hereford are as easily put off.
The Hull return game has come around so fast, and following it up is the start of our FA Cup campaign. Iíve got my ticket for the Hull game, free as part of the membership scheme. Iím still trying to work out the catch, £5 for membership and get a free ticket valued £8 plus a host of other discount deals. Well done City and all at City Reds for organising the deal.. And if you havenít joined already, why not. Well done City.
You bump into all sorts of people in London. Recently I was in a Shepherds Bush pub. My mate Woody went into the toilets and stood next to him was Shed Sevenís Rick Witter. Curiosity got the better of him, he asked Rick whether its true heís a big City supporter. Quick as a flash, Rick whipped down his trousers to reveal his York City boxer shorts. How come Iíve never seen him at Bootham Crescent? Perhaps heís writing the follow up to "Nutters Of York" and "Here We Go".
My wife and I sat down for a heart to heart after our latest defeat trying to pinpoint the problems. New younger players, new manager I offered. She suggested new supporters as weíre not giving the team enough vocal encouragement. Feminine logic for you. Anyway I said, donít worry, Orient at home 3 points, lets all 3 of us go. She eagerly agreed. Iím not sure what went wrong as we find ourselves in China visiting the in laws. Iíve already bought my replica shirt, a snip at 65p. Seriously, its difficult to find out the scores out here, any European Premiership score yes, Division 3, no.
Time to reflect on our sorry start to the season. The pundits tipped us for a good season, but weíve struggled in all departments. At the moment, Thommoís transfer dealings donít look to impressive whilst heís so far being unable to inspire us to greater heights. Witness last season,. Lawrie Sanchezís appointment galvanised Wycombe to escape near certain relegation and send us down. Its still early days, but Thommo, I hope youíre a quick learner.
2 of the recent departures, Tony Barras and Andy McMillan show how important it is to sell at the top of the market. We got £20,000 for Barras, a year after turning down £300,000. Now, Andy Mac, Aberdeen and Wednesday were sniffing round a couple of years ago. Now we get nothing for him. Whilst crowds are at the current level, weíll never be a big club. At Exeter, again we played defensive pin ball, silly errors caused both goals. Once again, we scored with a quick passing move, upfield, a nice lay off by young Turley and Hulme clean away. The fight back starts at Hull, we canít sink much lower. Or can we?
Saturdayís Red Card protest produced minimal impact. However, the visit of Peterborough left an impression on Thommo. Heís after another striker, in the mould of Barry Fry who buys on sight. Heís signed 3 in 6 months, who is next? I just hope he doesnít go for Paul Barnes, a striker now on the road to nowhere. The thought of a long haul to Exeter doesnít see the pulse racing. Stop off in Bristol, where they sign young strikers and sell them on for millions. Barry Hayles, Akinbiyi; Jason Roberts next. How much for John Williams?
I donít know whatís worse, seeing us lose at Rotherham or the players on the catwalk on Sunday. Iím inclined to say stick to your day job, but Iím not so sure. Its disappointing to see another veteran signing, a Halifax centre back, whilst weíre said to be chasing a mid 20ís Scarborough striker. Short term maybe, long term, no. Over the years our best sides have strongly featured young players with something to prove. Crawford & Holmes, Walwyn & Byrne, Barnes & Kiely for example.
It was good to see so many familiar old faces before the Barnet game. Unfortunately, not one had a good word to say about our start to the season. The familiar faces in our back 4 get no better, same faces, same failings. Barnet were queuing up to score. Bright spot? 3 times we went forward with quick incisive attacks, 3 goals. The rest of the game, the attack was as laboured as the defence.
All the hard work of the foist week was undone against Rochdale. The theory that weíd tightened the defence at the expense of attack cruelly exposed. As for the report weíve bid £100k for Blackpool Tommy Caig, Iíd rather being back Andy Warrington. Do you remember the day in 1997 when the whole crowd chanted "Dodgy Keeper" at him as we scored 3 in the last 10 minutes to win 4-3. We need to win at Barnet to keep in touch with the pacesetters, Rochdale and Darlo.
The squad is looking rather unbalanced at the moment. A midfield built around 2 players on short term contracts and 6 strikers. None of whom can score. We usually so better with a settled side, none of this rotation nonsense. Rochdale beat our reserves last weekend, they wonít find the first team as easy on Saturday.
I couldnít get used to Saturdayís game . 2 former Premiership winning players and squad numbers. When we win 6-0, thatís the night Iíll feel confident Iíll win the lottery. However, some things never change. We were eclipsed by Wigan. Now its no goals in 2 games for our strikers. Oh for a Tolson or Gabbiadini. Our win over Swansea left us in mid table, a win at Torquay could take us top.
Weíll be relying on our youngsters this season. Their successor otherwise will be closely linked to the success of the team. Leeds werenít afraid to blood their youngsters last season. I hope Thommo will blood his sooner rather than later. The old guard werenít good enough last season and its been decimated during the summer.