I get altitude sickness at Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Chesterfield FC and Mansfield Town games having chosen to cover The Conference Premier and Conference North. Like the Manchester City fans last night I have been priced out having moved up to Lincoln as a lifestyle choice. So the two £1250 a year Arsenal season tickets and the jokes of co-season ticket holders Alan Davies and Ian Stone just had to go. Before the rant of sorts, a quick good luck to the promotion chances of Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest and Chesterfield FC and their fabulous fans who are doing well in-spite of, as opposed to because of, all that TV cash. It could all change for the better, even the playing field so to speak, if Virgin’s complaint to Ofcom is taken seriously? Then again pigs could fly.
Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Most of us now know that Ofcom, among other things the broadcasting regulator, looks set to open an investigation into how the Premier League sells the TV rights to its live matches. This is at the request of Virgin Media who claim the practice is driving up consumer prices. Ofcom is taking the matter seriously and will give a decision in 8 weeks. So the fan is a consumer to champion once again as opposed to a sheep that is sheered each and every year by the people’s game.
A change in the bidding process would have huge implications on the game from the top to the bottom of the pyramid. Currently, on an annual basis, £340m goes to youth development with another £23 million directly to grass roots. The Footy Bingo grass roots article yesterday shows how Greg Dyke is spearheading what has already had a staggering nine figure impact on the game CLICK ME.
Both sides will have strong arguments, not to mention that previously mentioned grass roots programme that could well be a fantastic legacy for proactive FA Chairman Greg Dyke (£1.2 bn raised for grass roots so far). Further the Premier League do operate fair, transparent and open process when it comes to the auction of its audio-visual rights. Previous investigations by UK and European busy-bodies have found everything to be in order and compliant with UK and European competition legislation.
Virgin rightly argue that we Brits pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV. The real crux of it you feel is that Virgin has to buy its own rights from BSkyB and BT. It will not be bidding in the process later in the year for a slice of the pie for 2016 onwards. Therefore they have to pay higher so we pay higher which ups the price. Perhaps, but, in a free market those of us with BT Broadband can get a good chunk of live games free as well as seeing the Conference games to boot. Were it not for my football writing I would be round at a mates watching the Arsenal games because zero hour contracts have to support a football writers income nowadays. He, a pensioner, is with Virgin and pays over a hundred a month for the privilege of receiving his broadband, telephone and TV from them.
From a purely and somewhat economic theory based point of view it is about supply and demand and, what plagues the failing capitalist economy as a whole. Fairness is the least concern of big business where patents, rights and big money will guarantee an income flow for institutions and shareholders. Aside the odd spat with toothless and underfunded regulators, this is the way directors ensure they keep their bonuses and snouts in the golden troughs. We are consumers when it suits and at best sheep, or the cahless are of no consequence, the rest of the time. The Premiership have a monopoly as a collective bargaining power, with the carve up going to BSkyB and BT who can post the anti. Virgin, ITV and even the BBC cannot justify paying the lump sums on their balance sheets.
Supply and demand is also used for the high price in going to games. Again it is greed based just adding to the ‘cream’ over here while in Germany tickets are a fraction of the UK. We also top the pile across the rest of Europe by a country mile. This superb article from the Guardian is as good a case for the consumer’s defence as I have come across CLICK ME. The three percent increase in season tickets at Arsenal (had one for 14 years) amounted to a fraction of their income. Clearly an US owner taking out a similar amount was purely coincidence of course. Aside the Football Supporters federation no one is championing Twenty is plenty are they? Granted, this is for away tickets, although it would have an impact on the home prices in corresponding areas.
Andy Savage, who runs the website MCFCForum.com, got it spot on in his twitter spat with Rio Ferdinand over the price disgrace and the empty seats at City’s European game against Roma last night.
“I took Rio Ferdinand to task on Twitter. He was taking the mickey out of the empty seats at the Etihad last night. He is living in his own bubble there. Some people are living hand to mouth and don’t know where the next penny is coming from, and he’s criticising them for not filling the stadium when the tickets are £35-plus.
“He was an absolute disgrace on Twitter, as was Scholes on ITV. They are multi-millionaires. They don’t give the man on the street a second thought, how much it is costing people. The cost of living is going up, so many people are out of work. Football is not everyone’s priority, like it used to be. People just can’t afford, over the course of the month, to pay for tickets three, four or five times.
“I took Ferdinand to task, and not because he is an ex-United player. He’s got an autobiography coming out. I’m sure he’s not giving that away. I’m sure he’s not joined QPR for the love it. He’ll be getting a substantial salary. Perhaps it will hit home next year if QPR have to put their prices up and they won’t be able to fill their stadium. It really wound me up last night.”
So is there any end to the golden rails on the inevitably downward staircase of greed? Not from a regulator point of view you feel although the Lords of the manor will inevitably shoot themselves in the foot one day (perhaps the inevitable interest rate rises will not help either). The last round increased the overall receipts of the Premier League to £5.5 Bn if we include the international carve up or £3Bn domestic (up from £3.3BN for all in the last carve up) suggesting the rights have yet to plateau. When the music stops the transfer and wage inflation will catch up with them all. Until then it is open season with perhaps next summer seeing £1 billion spent in the window. For anything or anyone to actually get in the way of big business is a flight of fantasy. Can anyone picture a herd of flying pigs?
Nottingham Forest manager Colin Calderwood always saw Hamza Bencherif as one for the future, but alas even though Hamza came up through the youth system to earn a three year pro deal, he never made it at the club that took him from his adopted homeland France. Between 2006 and 2009 Nottingham Forest was a different animal to the one at the top of the Championship this weekend. Back then Calderwood had to get them back in it and, then struggle to keep them up. Hamza kept up and on 88 minutes thumped home Newton’s corner to defeat the fishy foe and silence 1800 Grimbarians behind that very net. Such was the emotion the first three rows of the Lincolnshire Co Op Stand have pledged their daughters virtues out of admiration and respect.
Thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Hamza was actually born and brought up in the suburbs of Paris where the Forest scouts got wind of him as a cultured kid at Guingamp on the Peripherique. The strong lad had broken into the reserves and featured regularly from an early age. Young Bencherif played seven games for the Algerian under 21’s in 2005-6 and, it was decided that he would go on loan to Lincoln City, to get some valuable game time. That was when the Imps love affair with the giant of a man began. Unable to get into Colin Calderwood’s Nottingham Forest side, the manager kindly agreed to a months loan to get the Algerian under 20 international some much needed match practice. He would work under Johns, Schofield and Deehan, for just 13 days before they started the Imps annual October manager merry-go-round trend. Hamza started, the day he joined, on Oct 2nd v Bury, then scored in the 2-4 defeat at home to Chesterfield. He was brave, he was popular, but a lack of pace and youthful nativity exposed him at the centre of an Imps defence that was ransacked more regularly than Rome.
Despite hopes that he would sign full-time in both the January and the summer, a move failed to materialise. Peter Jackson did try on both occasions but money was tight and he was always, frustratingly for both managers, on the verge of breaking into the Forest first team . No doubt Matt Alexander, still a close friend, played a part in Macclesfield securing his services in the summer of 2009. Matt even Tweeted his best regards upon his release from Notts County. In his natural centre midfield berth he was magnificent, although a leg break against Rochdale, in December, brought a promising season to a close. He was fit and raring to go for 2010/11 banging in 11 goals, including a brace against Burton.
Martin Allen (alerted by Schofield and perhaps Matt, son of KA) made Hamza an offer that Macclesfield could not match in June 2011 and he signed a two-year deal starting 17 times with 8 substitute appearances, scoring against Bournemouth and Rochdale. Some poetic justice there of sorts in a 1-0 win. He was popular with the fans, his endurance endears as much as his bravery. Incoming Keith Curle, who signed 12 players in the Summer of 2012, also rated him highly, although Hamza would be little more than a bench warmer this season. He would only play 11 times, all starts and thanks to injuries, in a promotion chase that fizzled, costing Curle his job in March. Chris Kimonya gave him 1 minute of action away at Doncaster before deciding to release him at the end of the 2013 season.
With Simmo back at Lincoln City Hamza was on the verge of a second loan spell at the Imps in March 2013, until a mysterious MLS club scuppered the chance of Simmo securing a unique loan treble of Macclesfield Town heroes – Hamza (then at County), Tony Diagne and Nat Brown. Patience clearly comes to those who wait then Simmo? Last summer Lincoln missed out again, as did Hamza, in the end electing to join Plymouth i n September on a short-term deal . JS Kabylie came in for him with an 18 month contract in the January window offering a return to Algeria. Bencherif bagged a unique runners up double last term with medals in Algerian Ligue 1 and the Coupe Nationale.
His somewhat surprising arrival back at Lincoln has been a long time coming, finally linking up with Diagne and Brown to form a spine that threatened League 2 promotion for Macclesfield until the injury list and player sales caught up with the dream. But Hamza, still only 26, is at his peak, proving, pace apart, that he is the complete Conference Premier central midfielder. Thus far he has scored in each of his last four games for Lincoln. The Thoroughbred may not win the sprints but over a 46 match marathon you can bet your house on him to shine this season. A dark horse for player of the season maybe, but he is the spine that is allowing Nolan and the rest to glow. It’s getting brighter too with Lincoln also set to be there or thereabouts this season.
We may not be east Midlands giants Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Derby County or the 2 Manchester Clubs but The Lincoln City family still spans the globe according to the latest mind numbing research of The Prof. That said the Nottingham, Leicester, Luton and Sheffield based readership does make up the top 6 UK locations along with Lincoln and Manchester, although STMI have featured stories involving their clubs and players as well as the Skrill Premier zone stuff so their vast respective supports will distort the figures nationally. Numerous Forest & Foxes fans surprisingly see Lincoln as their second team?
Thanks for reading the prof
Tasked with sorting the wheat from the chaff to ascertain where the Lincoln City readership inhabit I have come up with the following table. This relates to Lincoln stories (since February) although the regular readers from elsewhere in the Skrill Premiership may still distort things a little. It shows the international (potential) reach of the club, even though many will never get to games for one reason or another. To drill down into the UK any further would infect the data with non Imps stories.
|United Arab Emirates||394|
|Isle of Man||175|
|Republic of Korea||100|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||38|
|Falkland Islands (Malvinas)||35|
|Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic||24|
|Trinidad and Tobago||23|
|Antigua and Barbuda||22|
|United Republic of Tanzania||22|
|Papua New Guinea||11|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||5|
|Lao People’s Democratic Republic||3|
|British Virgin Islands||3|
|Palestinian Territory, Occupied||2|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||2|
|Syrian Arab Republic||1|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||1|
The Lambs raided Nottingham Forest, Oxford Utd, Gillingham FC, Fulham FC, Crawley Town, Birmingham City, Bury, Barrow, AFC Telford and Accrington Stanley over the summer in an ambitious ploy this term. The huge Peniket (released by Fulham) and Lateef Alliyu from Crawley Town will be a handful up front armed by a very quick and capable midfield quartet but the six-foot soldiers will win this you feel with Wright, Tomlinson and Fairhurst all with points to prove.
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
Tuesday 8th Oct KO 7.45 PM
For a side with what has traditionally been regarded as a bottom third budget, manager Dave Belford and his chairman have certainly pushed the boat out and will surprise a few this season, not unlike Simmo’s Imps. Peniket and centre-midfielder Baker have hit the ground running with three goals apiece, but the side has understandably taken time to gel. The 1-0 defeat of Macc who had gone 3 without defeat suggests they are beginning to click with lightning rod Alliyu getting the winner as well as a booking.
The defence has enjoyed a complete rebuild, but in truth a tough spine runs down this team with 23 bookings and two reds on the board already. This one will be an incident filled battle with a few goals one feels, with the Imps and the Lambs far from shrinking violets. Peniket is huge and skilful, he will provide a very tough test for Boyce and Brown will be at full stretch to contain Alliyu. Miller and Newton (on 4 yellows now) will also have to deal with Wright and Todd, with Evans on the overlap too. The central midfield partnership has yielded 3 goals from Baker and a couple of assist from Kerry
|Position 2012/13||19th in BSP|
|STMI Forecast||Play-off fringes|
|Average Gate||968 (2012/13–993)|
|Away following||61 (2012/13–88)|
The potential Lambs team
Dale Belford 4-4-2
2 Evans 6 Richards-Everton 15 Courtney 19 Capaldi
27 Wright 8 Baker 7 Kerry 20 Todd
17 Peniket 26 Alliyu
The Heroes & Villains
The Summer Plans
Despite losing top scorer Cunnington, as well as Tate, to Cambridge and Marcus Kelly going to Forest Green the side is so much stronger this year. He brings his goalkeeping son in from Bury as a playing assistant and has assembled an admirable back four on paper. In comes Jack Evans from Gillingham, Matt Regan from Forest, imperious Jordan Rose from Telford and Tom Eckerslie from Accrington.
Richie Baker, from Barrow, is the only addition in midfield although the trio in his preferred 4-3-3, the loss of Kelly apart, were none too shabby anyway. Up front the improvement will take some stopping. Peniket from Fulham will plunder this division, Justin Richards certainly still has it in him and Ebanks from Birmingham is top draw. Let us not forget existing hit-man Darren Byfield who most Conference clubs would love to have in their team.
Belford finished 19th last season, after replacing Marcus Law who was relieved of his duties in January. The mission was accomplished last season to halt that alarming slide, but one gets the feeling the Lambs will be well into the top half and perhaps even pushing for the play-offs this time round.
|18th July||Richard Peniket||Fulham||For||Free|
|1st July||Jack Evans||Gillingham||Def||Free|
|25th June||Cameron Belford||Bury||Keeper||Free|
|24th June||Jordan Rose||AFC Telford||Def||Free|
|21st June||Tom Eckerslie||Accrington||Def||Free|
|20th June||Justin Richards||Oxford Utd||For||Free|
|24th May||Richie Baker||Barrow||Mid||Free|
|23rd May||Matt Regan||Nottm Forest||Def||Free|
|17th May||Deqwon Ebanks||Birmingham C||For||Free|
|9th May||Adam Cunnington||Cambridge Utd||For||undis|
|9th May||Richard Tate||Cambridge Utd||Def||undis|
|14th June||Michael Wylde||Alfreton||Mid||Free|
|17th July||Marcus Kelly||Forest Green||Mid||Free|
The Lambs Squad 2013/14
1 Cameron Belford, 23 James Wren, 31 Dale Belford,
2 Jack Evans, 3 Connor Gudger, 4 Tom Eckersley, 5 Jordan Rose, 6 Ben Richards-Everton, 14 Matty Regan, 15 Duane Courtney,
7 Lloyd Kerry, 8 Richie Baker, 11 Jake Jones, 18 Kaiyne Woolery, 24 Scott James, 30 Scott Lindsey,
9 Justin Richards, 10 Darren Byfield, 16 Stuart Hendrie, 17 Peniket, 22 Deqwon Ebanks, 26 Alliyu
Nottingham Forest beat Derby County thanks to a bullet header from Ex-Imp Jack Hobbs, on-loan from Hull City, with ex-Stoke City manager Tony Pulis sitting in the stands. Steve McLaren, currently at QPR and linked with the Sunderland job is also said to be in the mix. To pile on the irony Nigel Clough was sacked yesterday against his dad’s old club.
thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.
Forest fans see our £750k Imp profile HERE
Pulis would be the perfect fit for Derby who, like Stoke, will not be awash with money, should he, as expected step through the doors in the next few days. Fluent Forest, under canny Billy Davies, currently look set to eclipse their fierce local rivals having moved 5th, just two wins from top, compared to The Rams 14th after Clough had spent 5 years at the helm.
Tony Pulis remember, father of Anthony who spent 7 games at Lincoln and is now plying his trade in the States for Orlando, was disgracefully relieved of his position at Stoke for style and tactical reasons this summer. Incredibly this was for the second time – he had saved them from relegation after taking over from Steve Cotterill in 2002/3 before falling out with the previous owners. Mr Pulis returned in 2006/7 when Mr Coates took over the club and fashioned an honest, workmanlike but exciting and attacking side. Tony almost took them to play-off glory in 2006/7, but never-say-die Stoke went up second the following season where they would finish 12th in their debut season. He kept them up and around mid-table every year, finishing 13th last term, in something of a purple patch for the Potters, including Europa League qualification and two FA Cup runs (quarter and semi-finals).
Sentimentality is rare in football, but, after letting his son come to us on loan, perhaps Pulis might think highly enough of another Imps’ work to give us a few loans if he gets the job. Simmo’s Imps are just up the road and we play a style of football that could well help Pullis who likes cultured but strong and hard-working players. Whether that fits with Derby fans, who deserve success and some Pride back at their magnificent arena, could be decided within the next 24-48 hours.
Lincoln City Captain Alan Power (ex- Nottingham Forest and Hartlepool United) feels his troops have got what it takes to combat Cambridge Utd and Wrexham to finish the month unbeaten. It may be lining us up for a fall, but STMI reckon you just have to get behind a captain who is keen to drive our boys to glory! The pessimist is never disappointed but the optimists glass is always half full!
Alan has the quality and the captaincy has certainly helped, remember both Nottingham Forest (debut V Posh at 19) and Hartlepool United offered him two year deals, which says something. Indeed during his time at Forest he became reserve captain and was a highly regarded, busy, scheming, tenacious lad, who not only graduated with sufficient honours to earn a two year pro-deal, but also played for the Ireland youth set-up through to the under 21′s.
Kick-Ass Captain Alan came back strong this summer and has shown a new-found determination, aggression and physical presence to go with his growing leadership qualities. The more defensive bias to his game has certainly been at the forefront in the opening three but he has lead by example by also had the energy to be a big part of our counter offensive set-up.
STMI urge the Imp hordes to follow the Captain’s lead tomorrow: Be Loud, Be Proud!
Power’s 2013/14 Stats
Power’s 2012/13 Stats
Power’s 2011/12 Stats
While Chesterfield FC contemplate signing former Nottingham Forest & Notts County man-mountain of thrills, spills & skill’s Hamza Bencherif, the Imp that got away – twice – the bean-counters fear they are £130,000 over budget after signing winger Gary Roberts from Swindon Town and defender Ian Evatt from Blackpool. Could Simmo – his business all done before the coming of St Luke remember – yet have the time and energy for one last miracle?
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs
The Spireites are determined to get back into League 1 this season and have assembled a side of serious contenders (they beat us 3-1 behind closed doors) for the season ahead. Hamza who had hoped to be plying his trade in the MLS until the deal fell through after leaving Notts County, has been impressing but budget’s are budgets even at the ambitious Spireites it would seem. Chances are they will find the cash, but if not, could Gary Simpson pull another rabbit out of the hat? Far fetched perhaps but Foster? Tomlinson? Rowe? Nolan? Wright? First let us make some semblance of the riddle over the matter of Hamza getting away twice.
Unable to get into Colin Calderwood’s Nottingham Forest side, the manager kindly agreed to a months to get the Algerian under 20 international some much needed match practice. He would work under Schofield and Deeham for just 13 days before they started the Imps annual October manager merry-go-round trend. Hamza started, the day he joined, on Oct 2nd v Bury, then scored in the 2-4 defeat at home to, of all foes, Chesterfield. He was brave, he was popular, but a lack of pace and youthful nativity exposed him at the centre of an Imps defence that was ransacked more regularly than Rome.
Hamza, played twelve inspiring games before going back to Forest but despite no first team opportunities he was not allowed back in the January, with the cash-strapped Imps unable to make a bid. We wound down the days until his contract expired at the end of the season, but again Jacko made no move and he elected to join Keith and Simmo at Macclesfield, during a summer of woe.
Despite breaking his leg in the first season at Macc, Hamza, part of the French Connection, was the midfield rock, scoring 16 in 60 appearances as the club battled back from the death of first Keith and then Butch. The all-but-butt-naked Silkmen flirted with the play-offs until the previous owners sold everything that was not nailed to the floor. Then of course post Xmas scurvy overcame the crew with more on the sick than Merseyside, to end the Simpson tenure. To top it Simmo was allowed to get a Scouser, of the Everton persuasion, in on loan and he returned home twenty minutes into a goal scoring debut – you’ve guessed it injured.
Like most things that have been and gone at Lincoln, they seem to end up at Notts County. Martin Allen (alerted by Schofield and perhaps Matt, son of KA) made Hamza an offer that Macclesfield could not match in June 2011 and he signed a two-year deal starting 17 times with 8 substitute appearances, scoring against Bournemouth and Rochdale. Some poetic justice there of sorts in a 1-0 win. He was popular with the fans, his endurance endears as much as his bravery in truth.
Incoming Keith Curle, who signed 12 players in the Summer of 2012, also rated him highly, although Hamza would be little more than a bench warmer this season. He would only play 11 times, all starts and thanks to injuries, in a promotion chase that fizzled, costing Curle his job in March. Chris Kimonya gave him 1 minute of action away at Doncaster before deciding to release him this summer although he can undoubedly do a job at League 1. Pace is his enemy at the back but in the middle he is a midfield matador, and irresistable precence and an immovable force.
As Hamza was in and out more frequently than wedding tackle, he knew the Meadow Lane gig was up last March within a fortnight of Curle moving on. Simmo was fighting fires at Lincoln, not to mention time with the loan window fast approaching. He twisted the boards arm for some money for loans and, with the Queen blinking on the Bank notes, he moved for an ambition trio. Nat Brown and Tony Diagne came, but alas Hamza, who shares the same agent as the other two, had to turn the deal down at the last minute. At the time an MLS club looked set to take him, but then the deal cooled, leaving him to sit out the final few week of the season at County due to the closure of the loan window.
|FULL NAME||Hamza Bencherif|
|DATE OF BIRTH||February 9, 1988 (age 25)|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Paris,|
|HEIGHT/WEIGHT||1.91 m (6 ft 3 in) / All musclet|
|SENIOR CAREER LGE & CUP|
|2007||Lincoln City (loan)||12||(1)|
Nottingham Forest will complete a deal for Hull City defender and record Imps Youth Transfer Jack Hobbs today. Leicester City got a bargain after he failed to make the grade at Liverpool who paid Lincoln a small fortune for his services, when he was just 16. The initial deal is a curious one, Forest will agree an undisclosed fee which will Jack join on a season-long loan, with the added condition that the move then becomes a further two-year contract.
thanks for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.
The deal with Liverpool was reported to be worth £750,000, however this included a down payment (just under £200k), a game against a full Liverpool side and add-ons. The game itself saw 10,000 pack the Bank at £15 a head, but even though he did make two Premiership appearance for Liverpool that added a little more to the kitty the Imps received just over half of the headline figure. Not bad for a lad that played just 3 minutes in the red and white stripes, in a 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers.
Liverpool loaned Jack to Scunthorpe and then Leicester for a season. The Foxes won the league 1 Championship with Jack inspirational and worthy of the League 1 player of the year award. He was then signed on an undisclosed fee (reportedly £500k plus add-ons), signing a four year contract that would yield Lincoln another six figures. Jack made 44 League appearances in the first season and 26 in the second. His cool head on young shoulders style and an uncanny awareness seemed to make defensive duties simple. After going down the pecking order Jack joined Hull in February 2011/11 and made 13 appearances.
Hull made the deal a permanent one, forking out just over £830,000 for the start of the 2011/12 season and manager Nigel Pearson made him Captain as Jack cited his ambition to play in the Premiership as the reason for coming. He had a torrid time at the hands of Gary Taylor Fletcher in the opening game (GTF bagged an 81st minute winner) but went on to form an immense 43 match central defensive partnership with James Chester. This was curtailed in the March when he ruptured to his anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that kept him out of action for up to eight months. He came back last season and made 22 appearances, yet Bruce does not feel he is good enough for the Premiership, even now.
Forest may yet prove Liverpool and Hull wrong on that one. They are our tips, along with Leeds to be there or thereabouts this season. The initial deal remember is a curious one, Forest will agree an undisclosed fee which will see the 24-year-old join on a season-long loan, with the condition that the move then becomes a further two-year contract. So what are The Reds getting for a reported million or so? Quality, dependability and strength, both physical and mental. His awareness and tactical skills are first class and they certainly make up for a lack of pace that appears to be the closest thing he has to a weakness. That said this is a linchpin signing.
We are going to see what Nottingham Forest, Hartlepool United and Ireland U21’s saw from Captain Alan Power this season. His goal at Lincoln United illustrates his desire to lead from the front, but it is the condition he is in that is most inspiring to fans as well the Sincil Six foot soldiers who only appear to be towering above him from a heigh perspective.
When Forest and Hartlepool offered him two year deals they felt he would kick on. Indeed during his time at Forest he became reserve captain and was a highly regarded, busy, scheming, tenacious lad, who not only graduated with sufficient honours to earn a two year pro-deal, but also played for the Ireland youth set-up through to the under 21′s. As a 19 year-old Alan made one first team appearance for Forest against the Posh in (2007) in the FL trophy.
He was then loaned to Grays, then a BSP club, but, after his contract at Forest ran down, The Monkey-hangers of Hartlepool stepped in and offered him a two year deal. He made just 8 non-appearance, unable to break into the first 11, before going to Rushden. He was reborn, albeit at a struggling club, with the Imps stepping in, just in time, at the end of the season. Ditto Lincoln until Mills finally got the boot to give him the responsibility it appears to have needed to kick-start his energy and talent.
He signed a new two year deal at The Imps and cannot wait to add to last season’s 6 assists and 11 goals – those stats are not too shabby (in a struggling side to boot) are they? At times you feel he has the ability to run the show, to bob and weave and find that killer pass. Despite an injury leading up to Christmas he came back strong and struck the penalty that saved our skins at home to the Lambs. Arguably his assured penalties won him the player of the season award, but he certainly deserved a new two year deal.
It took him a while to sign it and in reality he will have to be at his best if he is to get ahead of Nolan and Rowe in the central midfield pecking order. Competition is not a bad thing for the club, but let us hope it does not weigh too heavily, on a true Sincil free spirit. But so often, games and midfield battles can pass him by. Perhaps it was the off-field turmoil and morale sapping defeats endured by a side who genuinely expected to fair much better; that saw most of the side disappear into their shells for large periods, before Simmo’s galvanising arrival.
Power’s 2012/13 Stats
Power’s 2011/12 Stats
|Sq no||Name||Starts||Sub||Mins||Goals||Shots||Shots on||Assists||YC||RC|
Leeds United and Nottingham Forest look set for a three-way transfer tussle along with Hull City over Reading FC striker Adam Le Fondre (formerly of Rotherham United, Rochdale FC and Stockport County). ALF will surely plunder plenty more in the Championship, after a scoring for fun in the Football League with the Millers, The Dale and the Hatters, his home-town club. United and Forest are favourites to go up next season and, even though Reading are in no rush to sell, they will surely accept a handsome return on their £350,000 investment, should a bidding war take place.
Thank you for reading Neil Gentleman-Hobbs.
Glenville Adam James le Fondre, aka ALF, has proved to be a goal machine at every level he has played at, poaching 146 goals from 360 games in all competitions. These are the kind of stats that are interesting more than just Billy Davies and Brian McDermott, managing two of the favourites to go up next season, with newly promoted Hull City also sniffing around. ALF got 14 last season in all competitions and was signed by Mr McDermott along with Matt Mills, now at Bolton, who is another target. McDermott knows the Royals inside out, after being unjustly sacked last February, so he will be doubly keen to plunder the side he built.
Le Fondre is the diminutive fox in the box. He started just 14 games last term, coming from the bench in the other 23 games, but still managed to notch 12 Premiership and 2 FA Cup goals. He got 4 braces, against Everton, Crawley, Newcastle and Chelsea, the latter two coming as a 69th and 65th minute substitute respectively. In 2011/12 he bagged 4 goals in 5 for the Millers, scored on his Reading debut against Doncaster (again as a sub), before finishing on 16 for the season from 22 starts (15 sub). ALF destroyed League 2 with 27 goals for the Millers in 2010/11 and 30 in 2009/10. The season before saw 20 for Rochdale, with 16 the season before that.
As an Imp fan, he was a killer, a constant thorn in our side, yet beyond our reach on a four figure a week wage. He had the tricks of the trade alright, but his first touch, poaching instincts and ability to take it in his stride, or get a clean shot off, was obvious. An all-round awesome predator, he nearly always scored against us, ALF looked destined to play higher and, despite not being the fastest or strongest of adversaries, he has already attracted £200,000 in officially undisclosed transfer fees courtesy of the Dale and The Millers. He can lay on a goal or two but a true striker has to have a selfishness, it makes them what they are, goals after all are the stock-in-trade. It was of no surprise to see him instantly click despite a two league jump, when the Millers sold him to Reading.
The chances are he will finally net the 7 figure fee his talent deserves. But this is a small price to pay for someone, who, if he starts every game as he should, has the pedigree to get the 20 odd-goals that would prove to be the Edge for Leeds or Forest. Then of course there is the not to small a matter of the mega money the Premiership will guarantee.