26 February 2012

Transfer Window - Ebbsfleet United

The following is my article that was published in the match day programme for the game against Southport United.

During last month the transfer window was open for all football clubs to actively try and make their squads stronger, with the aim being to either win a trophy, obtain promotion or to stave off the impending fear that relegation can bring. The elite clubs, with supposed money to burn, can obviously call the shots. They have the power and influence to do so. If you were following the transfer rumours during January it would appear that the top clubs in England were after every single player in Europe! Naturally, this was not the case, or was it?

However, the ‘Big Boys’ can offer top class players an attractive salary and bonus arrangement plus immediate access to sponsors. There are some Premier League players who earn more than £200,000 per week after tax! Imagine what a club like Ebbsfleet United could do with one week’s pay, kindly donated by Messrs Rooney and Tevez! The top clubs obviously negotiate with a player via a plethora of agents and club officials to ‘get their man’.

Players move from other countries to England because they feel they will have the ability to win trophies with their new club, play at the top level as well as increasing their chances of gaining representative honours. Oh, and I am sure the money helps a little too!

Drop down four divisions from the Premier League to the Blue Square Premier and it is a totally different situation.

Take our club, for example. Being part-time means that Ebbsfleet United cannot offer ridiculous amounts of money for a potential transfer target. It also means that the Manager becomes an expert at negotiation skills when dealing with players and other football clubs. Most Managers at this level will be looking for players who live fairly local, as relocation fees are not an option. In addition, they will be looking at players who want to re-start their careers, or younger players who just want match time to enhance their skills.

Loan signings are an important part of any team, especially lower league teams. Already this season we have seen Liam Daish acquire some fantastic loan signings. In fact, we welcome two new loan signings to the club. Gozie Ugwu has already marked his loan spell from Reading with a goal against Bath City last weekend. Our other loan signing needs no introduction as it is Lance Cronin who has come on loan from Bristol Rovers for a month as replacement for the suspended Preston Edwards.

Finally, a plea to all supporters at today’s game. As most of you will know there have been two raids on the club recently. In the first one our groundsman had some valuable tools stolen. In the second raid our tea hut was broken into and stock taken. In addition, a large amount of electrical cable was cut and stolen. This cable part supplies electricity to the Swanscombe end floodlights and the burger bars. Naturally, this is a big shock and loss for a club our size to cope with. If you can help in any way through a donation or volunteer your services or materials then please let the club know.

11 February 2012

A Festive Spirit!

Over the festive season the wife, aka No Worries, and our two growing daughters left the wilds of Sydney for the quieter realms of NSW Country life.  We were going to spend Christmas with my wife’s side of the family.

Certainly nothing unusual about that, except maybe the 10 hour drive north to Ballina and me driving through a number of storms. No Worries and I shared the driving whilst the girls got excited about the impending visit of a rather roundish man in a red cloak and a white beard!

We left Sydney on Christmas Eve and it was a fairly relaxing drive north except for No Worries driving across Taree bridge at 10kms an hour! But I won’t elaborate on that!

Christmas Day arrived and lo and behold my gals must have been very good, as Santa left a number of presents for them.  They were excited to say the least! The rest of the day was one of relaxation, food and drink and everyone having a good time.

Anyway, the subject matter of this blog is not one of Christmas festivities but one of a festive spirit of the ghostly kind (cue the lights going out, and the doors to creak).

It all started on Boxing Day.  I was drinking a fruit juice and placed it on the dinner table.  Out of the corner of my eye I swear I saw my half full glass move.  I didn’t say anything to anyone about it and quickly checked the glass.  It was not wet on the outside, which can make glass objects move on tables etc.  Anyway, I didn’t worry about it and carried on enjoying the company of my in-laws.

Fast forward a few days and we were staying at my mother in law’s place inland from Ballina.  We were all getting ready to head out somewhere when my wife noticed a toothbrush lying on our car seat.  It was mine! This was really weird as I had only used it no more than 20 minutes earlier.  After a few seconds I said that it was mine and took it back inside the house.  No Worries thought I was playing a joke but I wasn’t.  I asked my gals (who are bad at keeping secrets) and they said they didn’t do it. 

By now I was starting to think that maybe things were happening of an unusual nature, or maybe it was a mixture of my gals playing tricks, and my eyesight deceiving me.

A couple of days later we drove to the Gold Coast to see in the New Year.  We were staying at my wife’s cousin’s place.  They too have two daughters so the four gals had lots of fun.  The first day we arrived I took off my shoes and put my socks inside them.  It was a warmish day and I wanted to walk in thongs (no not g-strings but flip flops!). 

Later that night, for some peculiar reason, my socks ended up in my wife’s handbag. Initially I was blamed for this as my wife thought it was me playing a prank.  However, I assured her that it was not me.  In fact, no-one in the house owned up to it!  At this stage I was realising that possible a friendly spirit was playing tricks on me.

For the next couple of days nothing happened until we drove back to Ballina.  My brother in law was out so we picked up a spare key and entered his house.  It was early evening and No Worries decided to get the gals ready for bed.  So they all trundled off to the bedrooms whilst I was sitting in the lounge room with laptop thinking about writing a blog and checking up on the sport results.

Now my brother in law has a leather lounge which makes a creaking sound when you sit on it.  I was at this particular time sitting in a single leather chair next to it.  Whilst I was surfing the net, checking the cricket scores, I heard the leather lounge creak as if someone had sat on it.  Naturally, when I looked at the lounge there was no-one there. 

I looked outside in case for some reason the sound had emanated from elsewhere.  Outside everything was quiet, eerily quiet in fact. 

The lounge creaked again and it total it happened four times.  I looked for indentations on the lounge but saw nothing.  All during this time my wife and daughters were in a different part of the house.

Later that night I told the wife. By now she was beginning to believe that things were happening of a ghostly nature.  During these experiences I have to say that I was certainly not scared or freaking out.  Having watched many episodes of Ghost Hunters and Ghost Lab I have come to understand more about unexplained things that can happen.  To me it was as if some Spirit was having a bit of fun with me and my wife.

I am glad to say that since being back in the Big Smoke I have not witnessed any happenings. My socks remain where I leave them (normally on the floor somewhere) and my toothbrush certainly has not had any desires to go for car rides, which has made my wife very happy indeed!