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Sunday, May 7th 2006

5:47 PM

A Terrific End To A Terrific Season

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Yesterday we signed off our season with a compregensive 5-0 win against Ardley in the League Challenge Cup.  No disrespect to Ardley, who battled gallantly, but the game never looked in doubt after we went 2 up inside 20 minutes.  A thoroughly professional display which could have seen us score a few more ) My man of the match - see the symbol.  That's the treble this year and the only trophy which we have failed to lift was the Vase.  No disgrace there although I believe we had a better team this year and who knows what might have been if...

Every club has it's spells of ups and downs.  Many years from now the past 2 seasons will surely be reflected upon as the best in the club's history.  We have seen almost unprecedented success here and we should enjoy it while it lasts.

For the stattos like me amongst us here's a few facts about our recent team's achievements:

Unbeaten at home in the League or major cups in 2005-2006.

Record points scored (105) and goals scored (127) in season 2005-2006 : the best in the history of the Hellenic League.

The best record of any club Level 5 and above in British football in 2005-2006 - 2.63 points per League game.  Nearest to us was AFC Hornchurch with 2.6 pts per game.

Unbeaten in the Hellenic League Challenge Cup since September 3rd 2002.

The last 22 matches in season 2005-2006 saw 20 victories and 2 draws.

Ian Concannon (60) and Stuart Beavon (40) exactly 100 goals in all competitions this season.  That makes 176 between them in the past 2 seasons.

Conners has now scored 259 goals in 269 matches for the railwaymen over 5 seasons.

Our attendances rose 36% this season making us the 219th best supported football club in the land (including all 96 pro clubs) with home ave of 276.

More to follow I'm sure at the Presentation night!

So where do we go from here?  The Southern League to be precise although the make-up of our League is not yet decided.  There's no doubt that things get much tougher for us now - obvious really, we're in a League above, and despite what others may say this step-up will not come as a shock to us.  Stuart knows what he needs and I'm sure he'll be looking to strengthen over the summer.  What supporters must appreciate is that there is a limit on spending and we will continue to live within our means.  We've had a great spell working to a sensible budget and the future of the football club will not be risked - things must be sustainable.

I've never been more optimistic about our future.  We have many areas as a club where we can, and will improve, and we are always eager to hear from supporters willing to help with sponsorship or fund raising ideas.  You know the number - pick up the phone.

Enjoy the break but please use the club regularly to keep us moving forward.  No excuses, forget the pub, see you at the Loop.  World Cup on the big screen in June remember! COME ON ENGLAND.

 

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Thursday, April 27th 2006

10:05 AM

Two Down, One to go!

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Last night the First Team lifted our second piece of major silverware this season in the form of the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy.  It's a competition that we have always taken seriously and it's a great achievement because there's some very good teams in it.

The game against Sandhurst was odd in that they are a terrific side going forward, they scored 2 great goals, but defensively they looked extremely vulnerable.  Have we created more chances in a game than we did last night?  With better finishing we could have had double figures but thankfully we got 4 and that was enough.   I doubt anybody wouyld begrudge us the win, it was fully deserved, and the final a credit to the competition I would think.  Going forward Stuart Beavon was absolutely outstanding in my opinion, as was Paul Powell, and at times he was untouchable.  He is a big game player and proved it again and we have been fortunate to have that sort of talent at the club over the past two years.  Let's hope he's with us for a few more.

One more final to go and a mouth-watering encounter with Pete Foley's Ardley Utd.  Pete has many friends at Didcot and it really sets things up for what should be a memorable conclusion to our time in the Hellenic League.  No disrespect to the League, it's been a wonderful last few years for us in the Hellenic, but I hope it's some time before we are back in it!

Finally, another superb turnout at Thatcham last night and another evening which we will all look back on with some fond memories in years to come.  We have been blessed with some great days over the past 2 or 3 seasons.  It may be a shock to some of our newer fans that things aren't always like this and I hope that they will support us through the tougher times.  For now though, let's enjoy it.

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Tuesday, April 18th 2006

4:32 PM

Great weekend

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Playing 2 games in 3 days is nover easy for players but with the emotion of Saturday's win at Cleeve, and a few beers thrown in, the performance of the lads againbst Abingdon Utd was terrific.  Slow out of the blocks admittedly but once we took the lead we were always in control.

Stuart Beavon was awesome again I thought.  On a day when others found it hard to impose themselves he always looked a class apart and most of our best moves involved him.  Paul Powell is another who has the ability to turn the game in a moment and his magic forced the third in the second half.

The crowd is also worth a mention.  Our attendances are always calculated to include the non-paying spectators - sponsors, committee (both clubs), League and other guests plus of course our Reseserve and Youth players who we don't charge to watch.  We had more than 550 though the turnstiles and with the freebies almost 600 at the Loop yesterday - a record for a League game by some margin.

So what now?  Well I know Stuart will be bitterly disappointed if we don't perform well in the Cup Finals.  we have a good chance of adding silverware but neither Sandhurst Town or Ardley Utd will be going for the experience - they will be up for it and so must we.

Next up is Henley, bottom of the League.  Guaranteed 3 points then...yeah, right.

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Sunday, April 16th 2006

10:15 AM

WELL DONE EVERYONE

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Congratulations to all concerned - yesterday's draw at Bishops Cleeve, and the Reserves win against Hungerford, means that both our adult teams have won their respective Leagues.

The First Team's achievements can't be understated.  We have been so close, especially in recent years, to winning the Premier Division some of us started to wonder if it would ever be done again.  Manager Stuart Peace never though anything different though and his total belief in his players was vindicated at 4.45pm on Saturday.

It wasn't a great performance if I'm honest, but few cared who had come over from Oxfordshire.  Has there ever been a bigger travelling support for a Hellenic match?! - 200 is a conservative guess in a crowd of 286.  Yesterday was all about getting a result and that's exactly what we did.  Chick and Danny C in particular were immense but everyone played their part.  And as for Bev's goal, what can you say...

The players have to take all the credit but they will be quick to acknowledge the parts that SP, Noz and Ginger have played in the success.  Still two big finals to come and I think we'd now be disappointed if we don't round things off with more silverware.

Absolutely delighted for John and Mick, and the whole committee, who have given up countless hours for more years than I care to mention to bring success to the club, and in the past 12 months or so we have surpassed all our wildest dreams.  In 50 years time people will be talking about this side, the sensational support we are getting, and the people who made it happen - we can all be proud of that.

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Wednesday, April 12th 2006

7:28 AM

All To Play For At Cleeve

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Last night's home win against Hungerford makes the maths a little easier.  A draw or win at Cleeve and we're champions.  Any win or two draws in our other 3 matches is also good enough.  If Cleeve drop any points at all in their last 5 matches we will also be lifting the trophy (assuming our goal difference cannot be beatn).

Not agreat performance againbst Hungerford although we looked good in spells.  Some nice moves especially in the last 15 minutes of the first half when the visitors were hanging on a bit.  Danny Campbell's goal was the highlight for me, took it like a striker and started the move on the edge of his own 18 yard box.

Tonoght the Reserves play against Abingdon United and a win would virtually guarantee the title (again the goal difference is crucial).  So often things don't quite work out the way you plan but I'm sure Mark's team would respond well to a decent crowd - hope you can make it.

So to Cleeve - quite possible that we will be taking more than 150 supporters over to Kayte Lane, a number of whom will be in fancy dress (no change there then Leachy).  Again, can we get the draw we need or will there be a few more anxious moments in the foorthcoming 2 weeks.  Normally I would be confident we'd mess things up and prolong the agony...but this time I have absolute faith in the lads to get a result at a very difficult place and the team in second place.

In the words of the ginger one...Bring it on.

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Sunday, April 9th 2006

11:55 AM

Edging Closer

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Yesterday's 3-2 win at Pegasus was far from pretty, but in the context of the season it was a vital result.  That's because Bishops Cleeve's superb winning run came to an end at Wantage with a goal-less draw.  We know how difficult Wantage is away and it was on the cards that Cleeve would drop points somewhere.

The maths is now simple.  5 points from 5 games will almost guarantee us the title because our goal difference is far superior to Cleeve's.  A win at Kayte Lane would also do the job but first thinfgs first we have Hungerford at the Loop on Tuesday.  A win is what's required and we'll take stock from there.

The Pegasus game was tough.  The committee at Pegasus are a small but friendly bunch and you have to take your hats off to them - their new set-up is excellent.  Unfortunately the pitch was incredibly hard and both teams struggled to play attractive football on it.  It was day to roll up the sleeves and do your best - and despite 2 poor goals conceded Stuart couldn't have asked for any more.

The concern would be that our defending at Cleeve next week will have to be much better.  Cleeve will throw everything at us and to defend so poorly from 2 corners will annoy Stuart I'm sure.  We'll have to be better or we'll get beat at Kayte Lane.

So, a big week and the League title for both the First Team and the Ressies is up for grabs in the next 7 days.

Bring it on.

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Wednesday, April 5th 2006

7:45 AM

Still On Track

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The First Team managed to keep our treble hopes alive last night with a battling draw at Slimbridge...a result good enough to put us in the Final of the Challenge Cup on May 6th.  It's a superb achievement by Stuart and the lads - we've hardly had it easy in the competition this season with away ties at Carterton and North Leigh and the semi-final draw put us against arguably the 'form' side in the Premier League since Christmas.

I didn't manage to get to the game so I won't offer any thoughts on individual performances over there.  I was, however, watching the Reserves play Wootton Bassett at the Loop and I'm glad I did.  Mark Janes's team are excellent to watch, play the game in the right way and the match was terrific.  Bassett (I think) had first team players in their line-up and it showed.  It was a tasty game with tackles flying in and every challenge competed as if the League title depended upon it - we ran out 2-1 winners.  Mark's team revolves around Rod Dorrian and Mani Wango in midfield - they would both do a job in the Premier Division and therein lies the success of the reserve team this year.  Last night Glyn Jones scored the best goal I've seen this season - a 35 yard volley which went in off the underside of the bar.  The winner was a tap-in from Billy Warner who has scored a hatful for the Reserves and Youths.  Clearly Billy has ability, he has good pace and he is now filling-out a bit which makes him stronger on the ball.  He looks a good prospect but needs a bit of composure which will come with age.

The Reserves are just one win away from securing the Division One title and on last night's evidence it would be a trophy that they thoroughly deserve.

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Saturday, April 1st 2006

9:02 PM

Wantage Beaten (At last)

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Well its taken over 2 years but today we at last scored against Wantage in the League.  And then we scored 4 more.

I've been saying all week that today was a crucial game and I stick by it - Cleeve won easily at Henley and stay hot on our tail.  I think the 3 points today ensure at least second place but everyone now is determined to go one better than that.

I make no secret of my admiration for Bradley Ward.  I think he's the best attacking midfielder I've seen in the 7 years I've regularly watched the Hellenic and I'm delighted to see he's scoring again after his long-lay-off.  Can't recall the last midfielder to notch a hat-trick for us so it was a great effort by him and the whole team to score 5 against a team who have just stuffed Highworth and last weekend beat North Leigh.

So, a week on the road to come.  Slimbridge Tuesday and a narrow lead to protect in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup.  Then the longest trek of the campaign to Hereford and Pegasus.  Our record there is good and we have to be up for it next Saturday.  By then Cleeve will be probably be only 8 points behind.  It's an exciting end to the season but I still think this will all be settled at Cleeve a fortnight today.  And I stick by that.

 

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Sunday, March 26th 2006

10:23 AM

Slimbridge Part 1

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1st Leg of semi-final completed and we have a narrow 2-1 lead to take to Gloucestershire - in other words, game on!

Slimbridge underlined my belief that they're the best side I've seen here this season.  OK North Leigh were good in the first half of our League match at the Loop but rarely looked like scoring.  Slimbridge played at time like we do here - quick passing, ball retention and good movement.  Fair play to them, they looked out of it at 2-0 down but got a lifeline and this tie is now too close to call.  The return Leg should be interesting.

As I keep saying, the League is still up for grabs.  Last weekend we had a 20 point lead, now its just 14 points and with Cleeve with 3 very winnable games coming up we must keep picking up maximum points ourselves.  Which brings Wantage nicely into our thoughts...

Every team has a bogey side, Spurs have Chelsea, we have Wantage, well over the past 2 seasons in the League anyway.  Last time we scored against them?  Jan 14th 2003...in a 7-0 win at the Loop.  OK, they spent a year out of the Prem, and we have done well against them in Cups, but this coming Saturday is a vital one for us.  They are a resurgent side after wins against Highworth and North Leigh this week and they will be up for it thats for sure.

My opinion is that we have to try and get maximum points over our next 3 matches, home to Wantage and Hungerford, and away at Pegasus.  If we do that we will need just one more point from our remaining 4 games and thats important because three of those are against sides in the top 5.

i know some people will think I'm being too cautious but I'll make no apologies for that.  We've waited more than 50 years to get our hands on that trophy and I'll not relax until its mathematically impossible for a side to catch us.

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Sunday, March 19th 2006

10:38 AM

Chippy & Holmer

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A pretty satisfactory week with 8 goals scored and none conceded.

The win at Holmer, 5-0, was comprehensive and sees us now in the Final of the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy against Sandhurst.  Holmer started like a train, and could have taken a lead which may have made thingsw very different, but in the end we ran-out worthy winners.  At times Holmer were chasing shadows and it's great we can go and perform well on a heavy pitch.  The same evening Conners grabbed his 250th goal for us on the way to a hat-trick.  Most things have been said already about Conners.  In his case records do speak louder than words.  To score that many over a course of 5 years is incredible and I hope that he's answered his critics, and there have been a few, where it matters (on the pitch).  He will go down in Didcot's history as probably the greatest goal-scorer we've had, and bearing in mind it's our centenary next year it's some achievement.

Of course Conners added another 3 to his ever growing tally yesterday against basement club Chippy.  To be fair to them they did not look like the worse team we've played in the League and they had to cope with an injury to their captain in the first five minutes too (which won't have helped the game plan).  We didn't quite cope particularly well with the wind at our backs, and the same was probably true against Kidlington recently, and thats something the lads could work-on.  But its a small complaint and there is a risk that we are asking too much such are the expectations.  There were a couple of vociferous moaners in the Main Stand yesterday, new voices, who perhaps have seen our recent exploits and expect a 7-0 win every week.  To them: IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN.  There is nothing wrong with retaining possession and, sin of all sins, passing backwards in the course of a game!

We now sit 20 points clear of second place in the League but Cleeve have 3 League matches now before we play again.  If they can cut the lead to 11 points, and with our visit to their place to come, things would be very interesting indeed...

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