BBC BLOGS - Paul Fletcher

Archives for September 2010

Dickov puts the buzz back in Oldham

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Paul Fletcher | 11:27 UK time, Thursday, 23 September 2010

Paul Dickov had several nicknames during his lengthy playing career. The Wasp and The Pest were two of them.

I think they accurately convey the image many of us had of the feisty Scottish striker whenever we watched him in action.

Dickov was never afraid to throw himself into a challenge or let an official know if he disagreed with a decision. He might not have been to everybody's taste but nobody could accuse him of lacking energy, commitment and desire.

Perhaps best known for scoring Manchester City's vital equaliser in the last minute of their then Division Two play-off final against Gillingham in 1999, the 37-year-old is now attempting to impose the template of hard work and effort that shaped his career upon Oldham Athletic, where he is in his first season as player-manager.

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MK Dons boss wise beyond his years

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Paul Fletcher | 07:13 UK time, Thursday, 16 September 2010

At stadium:mk

MK Dons boss Karl Robinson celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday by selecting his team for Wednesday's match against Southampton and enjoying what he dryly described as "a romantic evening meal" with assistant manager John Gorman.

It might not be everybody's perfect way of waving farewell to their twenties (I spent my 30th in Amsterdam with my girlfriend and 12 mates watching Rafael van der Vaart score a hat-trick), but it is difficult to argue with the end result.

Robinson's team won their third straight home game in League One on a wet Wednesday evening at stadium:mk to ruin Nigel Adkins' debut as Saints manager and move up to third in the table.

Angelo Balanta, who had been dropped to the bench, and Peter Leven struck in the second half for a 2-0 win, Robinson celebrating both goals with a double fist pump in the direction of the home fans. Afterwards, Robinson quipped that his players were giving him so many selection headaches that he was running out of paracetamol.

But there is clearly more to Robinson than his sharp scouse wit, like a burning desire to preside over a successful period at the helm of MK Dons.

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Persistence pays off for Bond

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Paul Fletcher | 12:33 UK time, Monday, 13 September 2010

Any player in the world would have been delighted to have claimed the goal scored by Colchester's Andy Bond in the League One clash with Sheffield Wednesday on 14 August.

It was a beautiful, technically brilliant strike from the 24-year-old, who smashed the ball beyond Owls keeper Nicky Weaver from 25 yards with the outside of his right boot.

The goal had extra significance for Bond because it was the first of his Football League career and, in many ways, vindicated his decision not to give up on his dream after being released by Crewe in 2006.

"If you stick at it and work hard, then you don't know what will happen," Bond told me. "The hunger has always been there."

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Lindsay pulling Preston back from the brink

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Paul Fletcher | 09:19 UK time, Thursday, 9 September 2010

Preston North End will be delisted from the Alternative Investment Market at the end of September after 15 years and re-register as a private company, in the process completing Trevor Hemmings's takeover of the Championship club.

Hemmings, 75, was raised in the small town of Leyland just down the road from Preston and has been so successful in his many business ventures that he regularly features towards the higher end of the Sunday Times Rich List (although he suffered during the downturn in property prices).

He owns a huge number of pubs, industrial property, hotels, racecourses, horses (including 2005 Grand National winner Hedgehunter), Littlewoods Pools and, until recently, Blackpool Tower.

There have been rumours around Preston for years that the media-shy Hemmings, supposedly a life-long fan of the club and a director at Deepdale in the 1970s, would do for North End what Jack Walker did at nearby Blackburn.

However, any suggestion North End are about to be transformed by a significant cash injection are quickly and emphatically dispelled by new chairman Maurice Lindsay.

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Kit chaos at Stevenage as Crewe's latest star shines

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Paul Fletcher | 20:55 UK time, Saturday, 4 September 2010

At Broadhall Way.

I had not been inside Stevenage's stadium for long before I realised all was not quite going to plan.

There was just over an hour until the newest addition to the Football League was due to meet Crewe for their first competitive fixture and in many ways everything looked to be in good order.

A milky September sun beamed down on the superb playing surface and the fans slowly started to make their way through the turnstiles as Stevenage prepared for their third home fixture as a League Two club.

But close to the the middle of the pitch, a circle of officials and club representatives in the midst of a very serious discussion told a different story.

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