In football a lot can happen in 5 minutes, as for example at the end of last season which saw Hartlepool relegated to the National Conference and Torquay survive. In 5 years a lot more can happen, so it was interesting when sorting through old football programmes ( I have maybe over 5000, more possibly, some dating back to 1923) to find three programmes in the same pile together. All from 2012.
- Brentford v Hartlepool. League 1. From the 25 player names in the Bees team 8 to my knowledge are no longer playing football, although KOC of course remains coaching. None are playing in the premiership ( although Foresaw was last year), 7 play in the championship and the ten remaining are scattered in the lower leagues and non-league. Brentford can be regarded as to top 10 championship side, whereas Hartlepool have the please of their first season in non-league to contemplate, three divisions below Brentford. Looking through the programme none of that current Brentford U-18 team playing that week seem to have made careers in football. However a quick glimpse through the U-21 team that week shows Alfie Mawson, Jake Reeves, Josh Clarke who have all had excellent league careers. We had a sporting director called Mark Warburton who made some salient points in his programme notes. He talked a lot not only about the quality of a player and what is needed for the club, but also knowledge of their off-field character. Mark Devlin writes an eloquent piece about what needs to be done in the years leading up to Lionel road in 2016.
- Mansfield V Darlington. This was a game played in the Blue Square Premier, the National Conference. Mansfield were a team beginning their upward surge that took them back to the league, whereas Darlington as we know were on a downwards spiral, that has only just ended essentially this season with them moving to a ground of their own. Two names stood out in the Darlington side. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, as I had breakfast by chance with his grandparents in a small cardiff hotel before the Brentford v Port Vale 2001 Football League Trophy Final, and guess who scored one of the Port Vale goals that day in our 2-1 defeat. By this time he had 350 league appearances and could be termed a veteran. The other name that stands out is the England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. He was playing for Darlington in a side that frankly was getting hammered each game. He was signed on loan from Sunderland and even at that stage had earned schoolboy honours for England. I recall he had an outstanding game and looked a real talent even then.
- Carshalton v Lincoln City. FA Carlsberg Trophy Second Round replay. Lincoln were a club in real decline then. Playing in the conference with no indications of desire to regain league status. Carshalton were playing in the Ryman League with a number of decent players. Carshalton dominated the game and won convincingly against a Lincoln side looking totally disinterested. The Lincoln manager was a certain David Holdsworth. I wrote a blog back then about the game https://arcticterntalk.org/2012/01/18/carshalton-athletic-3-lincoln-city-1/
So how times have changed. Hartlepool are now the non-league side. Lincoln City had a superb season last year and would be potentially a favourite for promotion again this year. Brentford have moved on impressively to have ambitions of the premiership. Darlington are on the move up and can be expected to regain league status in the next 4-5 years. And Lionel Road should be built by 2019. Maybe the 2016 was a mere typo….