Whichever way you looked at this, Met Police were never favourites to win this game. They sit three divisions below Newport County and have crowds that are usually around the 100-120 mark. Contrary to popular belief they have had no serving police officers playing for them since 2015 and many players are youth team players who have come through the junior clubs that Met Police run. Any league side wanting to learn how to run their academies and compete against the larger clubs might look no further than Met Police. Their your teams have had enormous success in recent seasons.
There are far better match reports out there than I can write, but watching the game close-up whilst photographing gave an excellent position to compare the two teams. The result Met Police 0 Newport County 2 was probably a fair result overall, the strength and physicality of the league professionals won out in the end. Some of the photographs emphasise the youth of the Met Police players compared to seasoned professionals such as David Pipe who is 35years and still playing well. However having said that neutrals might not disagree that Met Police were the more skilful side to watch and certainly the more entertaining . The best player on the pitch was 25 year old Jack Mazzone, who having watched a number of times this season, makes me wonder why he is not playing at a higher level. A strong intelligent and hard working number nine who has good skill. I would go as far as saying that if he was playing for Newport yesterday the scoreline might have been even greater.
Joe Day the Newport keeper was a real conundrum. Prior to the game the away fans were telling me he had saved them many points this season and a world class save, I don’t exaggerate, in the first half to deny Jack Mazzone, may have tipped the game. The second half though was a different affair and although he came and commanded his area by viciously punching balls away, he also dropped balls and was lucky not to concede a couple of goals simply through errors.
The real story of the game though was the torrential rain that swept in just before kick off that gave fans ( except Newport fans who were under cover) and photographers a tough time. The rain was a real deluge and i have tried to capture some of the wetness in photographs on my photographic site.
In the end this was a game that on a different day could have had a different result, but Newport County worked hard and although their goals were maybe a little fortuitous, they might have had a couple more in the end.
Lastly lets not forget the Newport County fans who were great. Chatting before the game they were a nice group of supporters and all will wish them well in the next round.
Although no-one likes losing a game, frankly this was a game that Dean Smith clearly thought little of. Despite his post-match protestations, this was a truly abysmal ineffective Brentford performance. Few would disagree with that and most might go further and ask why this might have happened.
A very different Brentford team with 8 changes found it hard to get going and a half time score of 0-0 was about right against a physical Notts County. The difference between the sides was a well taken goal from John Stead who is having a superb second half of his career at Notts County.
With so many new faces it was maybe harsh to expect the kind of football and passing we are used to simply because the players have not played before together. Individually a couple of the players had nightmare games for different reasons. Josh McCeachran was not only ineffective but gave the ball away numerous times and had his weakest game in a Brentford shirt. For all his skill, it is difficult to see what he gives to the team and his absence of physicality makes things even harder. Neal Maupay worked 100% but it seems does not have either the talent to succeed or the confidence, either way he again did not score and in the second half with multiple balls coming from the right from Florian Josefzoon one might have expected a goal or two. It is difficult to see how he can turn this around frankly. Alan Judge came on and had a decent 20 minutes and Marcondes also seemed a little unsure of his positioning but did show some promise.
The reality of the game was that it should have been 0-0. Notts County worked hard but did not inspire, and although they will undoubtedly gain promotion, my guess is they will have a short stay in League 1 unless they sign a few more creative souls. I was not pleased to see their brand of physicality ( which translates to fouls).
If Dean Smith wanted to win this game then he could and should have made perhaps only 4 changes. What he probably learnt was that his ” reserve” players are not perhaps quite up to Championship standard currently.
The body language at the end showed it all, disappointment , but simply the side was not good enough to score against a team two divisions below. John Stead looked a decent player and with the number of balls that got into the box in the game, my suspicion is that if he were the Brentford forward, he might have had a hat-trick.
Alan Judge will most likely be eased back over the next few months and realistically will look to be 100% by the start of next season. On positive notes yet again Chris Mepham played well and Florian worked hard but his final balls could be better. As we enter the transfer window yet again we are all thinking we need to sign 1-2 strikers. The argument that we already score lots of goals is not a good one, as with a pair of different styled strikers we might score a lot more. Some unanswered questions might be:
The media are full of the glamour of the FA cup. Sadly for many if not most teams that glamour is somewhat tarnished.
Not everyone is aware that the FA cup starts in August and ends in May. The early qualifying rounds are a god given chance for nonleague teams to make a small amount of money from the moderately attractive prize money on offer. By the time the first round rolls round in November the media suddenly awake with their stories of candlestick makers and funeral directors somehow managing to combine a job and a nonleague football career. Curiously they manage that on each of the other 364 days. As overheard at the recent Met Police FA trophy game a player when asked if he was playing on Tuesday simply answered negatively as was working. As Moriarty famously said in Sherlock “ that’s what people do”.
The glamour of the first round however comes with sadness too. The crowds at many grounds , sometimes famous grounds in FA cup parlor, were poor if not pathetic. The reasons may be varied. Clubs that decide not to offer deals and retain normal charges . Clubs that poorly advertise. Clubs that simply do not care as the league club imagines that the prize money more than compensates.
Let’s take a look at the winners and the rogues gallery. Starting with the rogues;
So where were the decent crowds? The nonleague sides playing at home. Hereford who are a reincarnated club but with great cup history had 4712 watch them defeat another nonleague side AFC Telford. Almost matching the highest crowd of the round at Luton v Portsmouth. 5333.
What realistically can be done? There are three options
To do nothing is not an option.
IFAB who make the laws of association football have their 131st AGM on Friday. The potential introduction of sin bins is one of their topics. Many sports including hockey, ice hockey and more recently rugby already use sin bins effectively.
My own view is that this is a good idea. Currently yellow cards are not a deterrent to teams or players . Furthermore the eventual totting up process and inevitable ban serves little in the way of punishment for the team and of no value to the team who were fouled against. Yellow cards are almost pointless . Cynical challenges have become more commonplace. Dissent seems almost obligatory. Most games contain a large number of fouls which disrupt the game and free kicks often do not serve as an appropriate swap for such fouls.
A sin bin would mean immediate punishment and cause disruption to the offending side. Whereas red cards allow tactical substitutions this would not be feasible in the majority of sin bin offences.
Rugby union introduced sin bins in 2001 and yellow card offences are punished with 10 minutes in the sin bin.
A quick search through social media this morning suggests that at least 70% are not in favour of introduction of sin bins. Let’s see how the FA manage this issue.
I would suggest that there are 2 levels of sin bin punishment as in ice hockey. A yellow equivalent should be rewarded with 10 minutes in the sin bin. The option should also be there for a 20 minute penalty for a second yellow card offence rather than a red card.
There can be little doubt that those that witnessed the 90 minutes of misery versus Iceland saw the worst performance ever by an England football side. These are players paid around 100,000£ a week and Roy hodgson earns 3.5million £. To give some perspective.
There was a lack of passion, organisation and frankly skill, but what really beat us was the delusional belief held both by the team and the pundits (before the game) that we would/should/will the game. These are players also who invest huge amounts of time in furthering their income from advertising and other money-making ventures, and it seems maybe more attention to football related matters and less to advertising might be a way forward. Put simply they are overrated.
The pundits also bottled it saving their scathing comments for after the game when it fact it would be good punditry to state their negative thoughts beforehand.
The England coaching staff ooze mediocrity being full of failed coaches and managers elsewhere. There is something of a history here and the worrying tones of mention of Southgate, Nevill and other equally bland characters is frightening.
Most football fans know that the passion needed starts with the managment and coaching staff, who also have to be ruthless. Why was Joe Hart even playing after his abysmal game versus Wales? Why was Marcus Rashford not playing? He did more in 5 minutes than most did in 90 minutes.
We need a manager who can motivate his team to at least get out of them their best. Countries like Wales and Iceland have this.
The nonsense that gets trotted out by the FA (including that Hodgson wrote his resignation speech in the dressing room) is facile. That Hodgson was not prepared to answer questions is simply rude. Some fans would have spent their life savings to follow England to a tournament and to have answered honestly questions would have cost him nothing other than 10 minutes of his time. It shows a complete lack of respect to the fans.
These players were not ” hungry”, “young” or anything like that, they were clearly a poor group of players unable to step up to the level of a major tournament, through either lack of effort, training,preparation or stage fright. some should never pull on an England shirt again, others need more motivation.
Who next? Most agree that an English manager is essential. The only names that make any sense to me are Sam Allarrdyce and Mark Warburton. Perennial failures need not apply.
As a football fan I see plenty of occasions each game where the officials get it wrong and sometimes badly so. Having said that players and managers also are culpable of making errors plenty of times in any given game. I do however take a view that officials should be allowed to do their jobs with the expectation that they will not be perfect and certainly should be protected from on-pitch haranguing and demonstrations of anger on the pitch itself. At the recent Met Police v Kingstonian game at half time, immediately before which Met Police had scored direct from a corner, the officials were approached by the Kingstonian manager Tommy Williams clearly angry at some percieved error of judgement, and in a finger waving manner. We all in non-league should have respect for the officials and I personally cannot condone this behaviour. I am sure there are other views out there and it would be interesting to hear them.
Firstly please share this post with friends and colleagues. What I am about to describe is a worrying trend and one that I would not like to see expanding. A kind of “legal ” vigilante going under the euphemism of ” Environmental Enforcement”. OK. Picture the scenario. A short one hour visit to Wimbledon and returning to the train station and about to enter. What did I visualise?
I am appalled. There are three I will call them officers with the gentle demeanour of harsh traffic wardens crossed with prison wardens who are ticketing folks under the name of environmental enforcement. Their crimes? Seems throwing cigarette ends anywhere than some specific receptacle. Fixed penalty fines of 75£ or 80£. Those being questioned had a poor grasp of the English language. Apparently this is a criminal offence to throw cigarette ends away like this as one officer explained.
My views on this were heavily influenced by recent reports that police no longer routinely investigate burglaries. And around 10 yards away a homeless man was prostrate and sleeping and would have been a better beneficiary of their wise input and assistance. One might also argue that folks needing help such as this man might be better recipients of environmental protection than inadvertent or even deliberate throwing of cigarette ends on the ground outside a station . Am I right to be angry about this?
After a little research tonight it seems Merton Council have a zero tolerance to littering, or so they say. The wording from their website tells us this
“Due to the high number of pedestrians visiting the town centre, Wimbledon has the highest rate of cigarette litter in Merton with over 1,500 FPNs being issued since June. As well as taking a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement, the council works to educate residents and visitors to the borough about environmental crime and the likelihood that they will be fined £75 for littering”
With their website explaining in graphic detail how to pay the £75 fine.
What however is worrying is that there is no right of appeal against a fixed penalty notice. So we all understand the situation that littering is not a good thing and the majority of us would agree that we should do it. However there are limits. And those limits to me are exceeded by seeing in practice that people who were it seems unaware of this draconian zero tolerance to cigarette ends, and we are not talking about littering huge amounts of kebab shop waste or newspapers on the streets, but cigarette ends, are being fined what seems an excessive amount. Furthermore to see a homeless man prostrate, rather curiously by a gritting bin, and these environmental enforcement officers take no action in the 15 minutes that I observed them was to say the least disheartening. That ” society” , well the council , cares more extracting punitive fines than humane care, speaks volumes.
The next aspect that we need to address is the actual environmental enforcement officers. Their attire of a kind of jump suit more often associated with prison, with their waists surrounded by more equipment than many would need to climb Mount Everest or contain a whole ward of rioting patients in Broadmoor, seems excessive to say the least. Together with mounted CCTV on their uniforms. I am sure Neil Armstrong had less equipment when he set foot on the moon with Apollo 11 in july 1969.
Many or even most of these officers it seems are supplied by a company called Kingdom. A press release from March 2014 stated that the council’s own enforcement officers will work alongside the Kingdom enforcement team from the end of April as they go out and about around Merton to make sure the borough is kept litter-free. Kingdom’s team is led by ” experts with an ex-military and police background”. Quite why this is so necessary to deal with ordinary folks who have thrown cigarette ends on the ground is not so clear. They issue these fixed penalty notices to those breaking the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Where it however gets more interesting is that Merton Council has come under fire for reducing street cleaning in town centres on Sundays – while spending nearly £130,000 a year on four environment enforcement officers. So photographs published in March 2015 show far worse littering caused by the overflowing of these bins than I certainly visualised on the pavements of Wimbledon. In fact I saw nothing other than the poor homeless man. There is a lot of information provided by the government on how councils can issue FPNs and also how they should use the funds accrued.
The same site above lists the various offences for which FPNs can be given and it is immediately obvious that some of these are serious and should be punished in a punitive manner, however in the context cigarette ends must be at the lower if not lowest end of the spectrum.
nuisance parking (people selling or repairing cars on the road)
dog control offences
leafleting without permission on land where leafleting is restricted (‘designated land’)
failing to nominate a key holder or give the council key holder details in an alarm notification area
failing to provide a waste carrier licence (for businesses transporting their own waste)
failing to provide a waste transfer note when moving non-hazardous waste
There is a world of difference between for example “littering” with an abandoned vehicle and a cigarette end. Yet the difference in fine amounts is surprisingly small. £200 for abandoning a car and £75 for abandoning a cigarette end. The money must also be put to specified uses.
Councils must use income from FPNs as set out :
Offence FPN money can be spent on functions relating to:
Litter – Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Graffiti – Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Dog control -Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Fly-posting -Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
Unauthorised distribution of free printed material on designated land- Litter, dog control, graffiti and fly-posting
So what I am left wondering is what training is given to these officers, what degree of latitude do they have in not administering a FPN, if they have any targets, and of course how much money is raised and exactly to what purpose is it put. There is clear guidance on publishing not only the enforcement strategy but also to how the money will be used.
So in my world there would be some degree of spectrum here on exactly what constitutes a littering offence and throwing a single cigarette end does not equate to toxic pollution of the planet. Maybe also these officers can not only look at the bigger picture, but as today adopt a more humane approach. To have allowed that homeless man to remain on the ground lying prostrate would not be their greatest achievement in their day. Littering does have context and we need to be careful not to be too literal and punitive. If Merton Council want and feel they should adopt a zero tolerance approach, then this should be reflected in not only this aspect but all aspects of their work. Finally what exactly are they doing with the money, that was not happening before? I have developed a zero tolerance approach to not knowing the answers to these reasonable questions.