A Walk in the Game

A Walk in the Game…..

So we all know that I am a bit of a Football Management Simulation addict…. I am getting counselling but it takes time….. Anyway….. last year I was excited at the inclusion of Norton United for the very first time. I was speculating about one day the possible inclusion of Norton player and staff details in the game’s databse….. Well we haven’t got that far yet.

But a familiar face to Norton fans and players has made it. Dave Walker spent the last 5 months of last season at Norton, but left in the summer to join Conference North club Stafford Rangers. They are now a managable team on the game and here you go….. Dave Walker is included in this year’s edition of the game.

Norton midfielder Aidan Callan was also on a previous incarnation of Championship Manager, during his time at Leek Town, but in the days before the player photos appeared.

So here it is….. Dave Walker…… a reality football superstar….. well almost….

Paul Norris

The Season Ahead

The Summer is over folks. Tim has disappointed at Wimbledon again, the Ashes are nicely poised….. but now the real stuff starts again. It’s time to ditch the Saturday afternoon shopping trips with the missus……. The FOOTBALL season is back!!!

So what’s happened whilst we’ve been away?? Steven Gerrard has walked out then walked back at Liverpool. Chelsea finally found somewhere to throw this summer’s millions, in the direction of Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Patrick Vieira has finally left Arsenal. Manchester United have sold a lot of shirts in Asia, (and bought a winger apparently, I’m not going to try his name……) Kieran Richardson and Peter Crouch are the new great white hopes of English football and Crouch becomes the only English speaker at Liverpool (unless you include Jamie C or Stevie G mumbling something very fast in scouse.)

Stoke City have sacked a manager for not signing enough foreigners…. Port Vale have hardly signed anybody and Crewe have another crop of exciting youngsters.

That wraps up the professional game I’d say??

So onto the big news lower down. I wrote an article last year about the day when Norton United could dream of playing Real Madrid. Well….. it may not be the Bernabeau but this year does see us taking on the Manchester United breakaway club, FC United of Manchester. The club has been set up by fans who feel cut off by the American ginger bloke with the high waistband. But at least if Phil Neville switched sides he’d finally be playing at his true level……

It is hoped that FC United’s presence will give the Northern League structure the same kind of publicity that AFC Wimbledon created in the Southern set-up. Expect lots of fans following FC United’s first few games before they all realise that it mightn’t be so bad supporting the real United after all……. I mean they win a lot don’t they??? Or at least used to…….

But what does all this mean for Norton?? Well, after last season there are some high expectations going round this year. Understandable really. After a poor start our league form was superb and there was also of course our best EVER FA Cup performance. From what we saw last season only Cammell Laird were an exceptional side and we gave them a fright almost recovering from 3-0 down when losing 3-2 at their place in the run-in. They have rightly been promoted and we should feel able to compete with the rest.

BUT….. I do actually know the Norton manager…… ssshhh it’s a secret… and he’s quite a boring old soul. I’m sure he’ll be absolutely adamant that what was achieved last year came down to sheer hard work from the coaching staff and in particular the players. In order that we are competing at the right end of the table again this season that work rate and effort must be matched, repeated and probably even surpassed.

Teams will be a little more wary of us this season…. maybe play more defensively against us… and who knows… one or two of them might even start marking Powelly at set pieces?!?!?

But before a competitive ball has even been kicked it has already been a historic season for Norton United. Our pre-season friendly against Port Vale was seen by an official attendance (and I had to pay to get in!!!!) of 1, 241. It smashed our record by so many that the number hardly matters. It was a great night and our players gave their best against a Vale side that included Danny Sonner who just 5 years ago was a mid-table Premiership player with Sheffield Wednesday and commanded a transfer fee of over half a million pounds. Despite the 3-0 defeat it was an enjoyable evening and we even got to see Vale legends Andy Porter and current boss Martin Foyle get a late run out!!!

But that was just the start. It seems a long way to May right now and there is much hard work required by everyone involved with Norton between now and then. But if we all put it in then we may be looking at another successful season. Let’s certainly hope so….

And let the games begin……

Paul Norris