Monday, November 7, 2011
Fleetwood whack, Cracking Barnett
Welcome to an FA Cup first round special edition of The Trawler, your weekly submersion through the teeming waters of life in the Championship, League One and League Two. You might be surprised what you find down there.
Non-league Fleetwood Town harbour serious ambitions of making the big time. The Lancashire outfit have invested £4 million in their renovated stadium, and there appears to be plenty of spare change rattling around in the pockets of chairman Andy Pilley. Seeing as one of their nicknames is 'the trawlermen' (their other is "the cod men") this column clearly wishes Fleetwood every success, and they got some on Saturday.
Fleetwood achieved a notable FA Cup first round scalp with a 2-0 home win against League One strugglers Wycombe. Andy Mangan and Jamie Vardy got the goals for the part-timers, who played for 45 minutes with 10 men after having Richard Brodie sent off. For Vardy, it was his 12th goal in 12 games, and the 24-year-old former Sheffield Wednesday reject was watched by a host of scouts from clubs in higher divisions.
"I know there is a lot of interest right now but this win was certainly not about me," Vardy said. "I am really grateful to Fleetwood for coming in for me this season and giving me a chance to go full-time. I am having a great time with a great club and great players around me."
Up next for Fleetwood will be Yeovil Town, the only team below Wycombe in League One right now. With a lucrative berth in the third round in their sights, 'the cod men' may already be counting their chips.
Sweeper on target for Hatters
Twenty years ago Luton Town were about to embark on a spectacular fall from grace. Having won the League Cup in 1988 and lost in the final in 1989, the Hatters had enjoyed decade rubbing shoulders with the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. But financial problems were about to see them slide out of the football league altogether.
On Saturday their long-suffering fans had a glimpse of the way back. Luton beat League Two Northampton 1-0, with the winner coming from lifelong Hatter Adam Wadkins - a young midfielder who spent pre-season sweeping the stands to top up his paltry pay packet.
"In the off-season I have helped the groundsman or done a bit of scaffolding because I wasn't earning enough money here to keep myself going," Wadkins said. "Hopefully, I won't have to worry about that next summer.
"I was in the stands only three years ago so I know what the fans want. They mean the world to me. When I score I get a shiver down my spine. I see G Block and the main stand go mental. So to get the winner here was special - a great feeling."
Teenage bombs for Dons
Teenage striker George Williams set three records on Saturday, as he helped MK Dons to a 6-0 romp against non-league Nantwich. The 16-year-old became the youngest player to score in the FA Cup proper (beyond the qualifying rounds), the youngest player to be booked in the FA Cup proper, and the youngest scorer in Dons' history.
For three minutes he also became the Dons' youngest player full stop, but his mark was beaten when 15-year-old substitute Brendon Galloway entered the fray.
Staying with the Dons' next generation, this week's "telling it like it is" awards goes to their manager Karl Robinson, who will be making a complaint to the FA on Monday after observing scouts at a youth team game on Saturday morning.
"There were three agents going round trying to sign the kids, who are aged 14 and 15 - I've got them on tape and it (the complaint) will be done properly," Robinson said.
"I know who they were, they were asked to leave and I'm going to make sure this doesn't happen anymore. It made me sick, it was like a cattle market and they know now with this new ruling that's come in that they can get these players for minimum price."
Crawley manager Steve Evans was predictably full of it after watching his League Two promotion hopefuls beat League One Bury 2-0 on Saturday.
"Some of the passing and movement was exceptional and a lot of players have answered my question of whether they are going to be good enough if this club steps up again," Evans said. "...Some of our players produced big performances and if there's a better striker outside the Premier League than Tyrone Barnett, then I haven't seen him."
Red Devils fans may have preferred he keep that last bit under his hat, but that's just not the Evans way. Offer for Barnett anyone?
Gradi steps down
Last week Crewe boss Dario Gradi answered the boo-boys by saying: "I won't leave this club because of them. I shall hand over when it suits or when someone else tells me it is time to go. It certainly won't be because of the supporters."
Pretty soon after we can only assume it suited, or somebody else told him, because on Thursday he stepped down to become academy director and handed the team over to his assistant Steve Davis.
"When I go to my grave, I'll probably feel as though I've achieved something with my life," said the 70-year-old Gradi on making the announcement - 28 years after he first arrived at the club.