Friday, 24 April 2009

Burton Stumbling

Over the last few years, my interest in non-league football has increased significantly. Back in my day, there was very little coverage, but these days they have their own magazine, live games on TV, and much greater exposure in the media. This greater interest started when the Conference was first formed, and took a giant leap when the Football League took the long overdue decision to get rid of the re-election process and allow automatic promotion and relegation to / from the Conference. And now with the pyramid structure in place, every team in the numerous leagues has, in theory at least, the chance to reach the top.

Back to my day again, and it seemed like the league never changed. I am too young to remember Accrington Stanley being replaced by Oxford United in 1962 (a switch that was so poetically reversed in 2006), but I do remember Cambridge United replacing Bradford Park Avenue in 1970. Wimbledon (1977) and Wigan (1978) joined the league a little later, before the floodgates opened with automatic promotion in 1987.

Anyway, this is all a rather waffly way to lead into the fact that this Sunday sees some rather exciting games at the top on the Conference National League. Burton Albion in pole position play at Torquay United in 5th spot, and who need a win to guarantee a play-off spot. Having once held a 19 point lead, Burton still need one more point to guarantee that after a gap of 102 years, League football will return to the town. Now I don't actually remember this myself, but Burton did have two Football League teams for three seasons, (Swifts and Wanderers) the smallest town in England ever to do so.

Cambridge United in second place are assured a play-off spot and play at home to Altrincham, who have nothing to play for. A decent win by Cambridge combined with a loss by Burton Albion, and Cambridge can steal promotion. Unlikely, but not impossible. Histon in third place, and all but certain of a play-off spot play at Crawley, while fourth place Stevenage need a win at Mansfield. Currently just outside the play-off spots are Kidderminster Harriers at home to Kettering Town, and Oxford United at home to relegated Northwich Victoria.

I am more interested in these games as a fan of football than from an investing perspective, but I shall be checking the prices closer to kick-off to see if anything stands out.

My Cassini ratings differ quite significantly from the league standings. In order, I have Stevenage (344), Oxford (338), Cambridge (323), Torquay (294), Kidderminster (278), Histon (259) and Burton (249) which would suggest wins for all the top teams bar Burton. It could all get very interesting.


PhilipH said...

In 1953/4 I had a girl-friend/dance partner who was the daughter of the then secretary-cum-manager of Hereford FC. I met her at a dance while I was on a training course at RAF Credenhill (where the SAS are now trained I think!).

I went to a few of their home games when I was on UK leave from Germany and Hereford FC had the local butcher in goal I think, and most of the rest were only part-time footballers. However, they were all really dead keen players and good amateurs.

When a few years ago I was trying to trace my ex-girlfriend I wrote to Graham Turner, the manager of Hereford FC, now in the football league proper. I wrote to him because my girlfriends dad was also named Turner and I foolishly thought the family were still involved in the club management! Graham Turner replied to my question as to the whereabouts of Joan Turner with a polite "No idea what you're on about!"

Later I discovered the local historian of Hereford FC who DID know what I was talking about and he was quite helpful in my search.

Now isn't that interesting?

No? Oh well, at least it's a comment, eh what?

Cassini said...

Yes Philip - it certainly qualifies as a comment! I just hope your wife doesn't read this blog. She might not be too happy about you chasing after your old flames...

Cassini said...

Philip - I just read your comment to my girlfriend, and romantic that she is, loved your story. She wants to know if you managed to hook up with your ex, and what happened? Someone being "quite helpful in your search" is not enough detail for her...

PhilipH said...

This is strictly for your missus Cass.

I have found both my teenage girlfriends via the useful web, and other facilities.

With regard to Joan Turner (her maiden name), I discovered via the historian chappie of Hereford FC that he recalls Joan getting married in or around 1957 but thought she had moved down south now. That info led me at the main library in Edinburgh, scouring the microfiche index of marriages, and I found a few Joan Turners, but only one getting spliced in Hereford in 1957. I thus had her married name.Search all the phone directories for the South of England, to no avail. I then used (census records etc)and eventually found the names, husband and wife, who were now living back in Hereford!

In order not to scare poor Joan I just sent her a short letter and a "Happy Anniversary" card, back in 2002.

To my delight, and subsequent horror, Joan phoned me and said how nice it was to hear from me, BUT she then said her hubby had died of a heart attack a year or so earlier!

If only the ground had opened and swallowed me up at that moment! Anyway, she was very forgiving and said I couldn't possibly have known about her loss. She has a loving son living nearby so she is not entirely alone.

Strangely enough, Joan has almost the same birth date as my wife Pat and they have much in common, mainly their love of ballroom dancing. We have not yet met up with Joan in person, just keeping things at arms length and conversing via telephone and snail mail, with a few photos back and forth. I think it best to live with ones precious memories and not to risk disappointment by meeting up again. People change in so many ways with the march of time ...

Anyway, that's it. Cheers, Phil

Talkbet said...

Just for interest, heres my Conference league table (prior to the weekends results), based on overall and recent form (not sure how its going to display):

Oxford 22 2.01 2.77 2.27 23 2.21 4.25 4.99 7.26
Stevenage 23 1.53 2.16 1.74 22 3.01 4.11 5.11 6.85
Cambridge 22 1.62 1.51 1.58 23 2.63 4.08 4.96 6.54
Woking 23 0.81 0.15 0.59 22 1.16 3.88 4.27 4.86
Burton 23 1.64 1.13 1.47 22 3.17 2.09 3.15 4.62
Kettering Town 23 1.34 1.15 1.27 22 2.21 1.84 2.57 3.84
Ebbsfleet 22 1.22 1.6 1.35 23 1.54 1.84 2.36 3.7
Forest Green 23 0.82 1.03 0.89 22 1.48 2.25 2.74 3.63
Altrincham 23 0.9 0.97 0.92 22 1.59 2.02 2.55 3.47
Northwich 23 0.78 2.06 1.21 22 0.89 1.94 2.24 3.45
Kidderminster 22 1.93 3.25 2.37 23 1.89 0.28 0.91 3.28
Histon 23 1.66 1.91 1.74 22 2.4 0.12 0.92 2.67
Torquay 22 1.2 1.12 1.17 23 3.18 0.37 1.43 2.6
Crawley Town 22 1.43 1.62 1.5 23 1.59 0.24 0.77 2.26
Eastbourne Borough 22 1.37 1.48 1.4 23 1.77 0.1 0.69 2.09
Rushden & D 22 1.04 1.91 1.33 23 1.36 0.28 0.74 2.07
Mansfield 22 1.36 1.84 1.52 23 1.32 0.09 0.53 2.05
Grays 22 1.11 2.29 1.5 23 0.58 0.0 0.19 1.7
Salisbury 23 0.94 1.39 1.09 22 1.62 0.06 0.6 1.69
Wrexham 22 1.06 1.09 1.07 23 1.8 0.0 0.6 1.67
York 23 0.99 1.75 1.24 21 0.65 0.18 0.4 1.64
Barrow 23 0.86 0.61 0.78 22 1.09 0.41 0.78 1.55
Lewes 22 0.51 1.73 0.91 23 0.28 0.0 0.09 1.01
Weymouth 22 0.53 0.17 0.41 22 1.66 0.0 0.55 0.96