one johnny neptune

A curmudgeon’s response to the return of Eddie Howe.

October 11, 2012

Oh how fickle we all are. Erstwhile club saviour and boo hiss turncoat Eddie Howe is expected to re-sign on the dotted line at any time today and us, the supporters are falling over ourselves to be #gayforeddie. In some quarters, people are even starting to praise chairman Mitchell for bringing him back.
While his return is exciting, and will, hopefully lead to an improvement on the football side of things, ultimately this is a desperate last throw of the dice by our Chairman, one that, cleverly, means that any future failure is our fault, not his. He’s done *what we wanted*, we’ll be to blame if it doesn’t work out. Whether it is actually what we wanted before the rumours that he was want we wanted started is a moot point. The chanting of Howe’s name prior to Groves’ sacking was more likely a standard response to mistakes made by Mitchell than a demand to get him back.
What, really, changes with his appointment? Has our debt level been wiped out? Are we suddenly not paying around 250% of income on wages? No. If anything, debt will be rising further. Compensation to Burnley (albeit countered by the vast sums they still owe us) for Howe, Tindall and anyone else who comes back, our backroom staff needing to be compensated when they’re laid off.
Not to mention inevitable new signings in January, who will all want parity, no doubt, with our current top earners, and will we be able to ship out any players already on over-inflated wages that Howe doesn’t want?
And what of Mitchell? Will he really have accepted a need for him to be nothing but a figurehead, will he really accept that he can’t just barge into the dressing room whenever he feels like it. Will his son (our, no really, Director of Football) be reined in? Have the Mitchells accepted the need to put the Club before the Mitchells? Time will tell.
We’re still hurtling towards oblivion, the appointment of Howe just means the view on the way will be slightly improved.

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i’m not “enjoying the ride”

August 22, 2012
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there’s some debate (ha, some) about the pros and cons of everything going on at, um, the Goldsands Stadium, at the moment. in a fit of pique i wrote the following… i may expand on it later.

(Yeah, the Goldsands Stadium. Dean Court. We sold the naming rights to a company that didn’t exist til after we sold them the naming rights. Something’s not right here)


it’s possible to have an influx of money and still grow the club organically.

no one here signed up for glory. if it came then great but it wasn’t, or shouldn’t, be the be all and end all.

we’ve been competitive with no money. machin, o’driscoll, howe, god, even pulis made us competitive.

you can bring in money and grow the club and keep the fans onside.

for the price of 1 years of demouge’s wages: subsidise tickets by £2 – encourage fans through the turnstiles.

for the price of 4 months of barnard’s wages: sort out “the matchday experience” – get the catering right, employ enough staff.


brilliant, we’ve got* some money – it should be a 3 or 4 year project. first step should have been ensuring the supporters are well treated and happy to return.

then growing the playing staff in a best fit manner. slight increases in wages, coupled with better bonuses. we’ve proved, just 2 years ago, you can have a good go at this league with div 2 and non-league players.

too much of this influx of money has gone to the wrong places. let’s not forget the cost of the training pitches doubled overnight as soon as demin got involved (lucky for some eh?) – did we even need new training pitches – canford has sufficed for years. hamworthy sufficed for years. but no, we alienate them and spank cash we can’t pay back on new facilities.

carparks we don’t need. takeovers of failing businesses in poole park only stopped once fans get a sniff of it. the endless drawings of new gates and other nonsensical ‘improvements’ to the park. the list goes on and on. and who’s benefitting? not the club. not the supporters.

ok, a fair sprinking of supporters have bought into this buy now pay (and really pay) later nonsense but thankfully not everyone.

given our starting point of just shy of £4m debt in july 2011, even the most conservative supporter now has to agree that our current debt must be pushing £12m at a minimum. or 240% of the level of debt that led to the last administration.

this can’t go on. if we don’t go up this year, is it going to be another £10m of debt to push again? it worked, after 2 seasons (and £24m) for southampton. look back through the last 20 years. no one has got out of this league at the first attempt spending big money. peterborough, yeah, but they did it the right way.

reading, wigan, leicester, charlton, southampton, all took time to get promoted. and on the way became universally hated.

(edit: shit, i forgot hull, how could i forget hull? it took them vowel-less idiots YEARS)

and even if we do go up – full houses (and how long will they last if we’re lower-bottom mid table) and increased tv money still won’t pay down this level of debt. what happens then?

fine. people are welcome to do what they want. don’t expect me to cheerlead for what is clearly an unsustainable and idiotic way of going about things.

we’re run by an arsehole with only his best interests at heart. this makes me sad. this club used to be something to be proud of. now? we’re fast becoming a laughing stock.

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October 18, 2011

Today, it’s rumoured, will see the return of the Stone Roses, with a host of dates announced, and possibly an new album.

I’m not sure what to feel. This was the band that, basically, defined what I am today. At 16, on first hearing their album back in 1989, I finally found a direction. While everyone else in my middle class, 99% white grammar school seemed to be listening to NWA, I found, through the Roses, and subsequently through the weekly devouring of the NME and Melody Maker a whole new world and new friends. Everything I’ve done since can be directly linked back to clicking play on my tape recorder and having the start of “I wanna be adored” wash over me.

I missed their great gigs, Blackpool & Ally Pally. Spike Island was too far away for a small town seventeen year old to get to. So I’ve never seen them.

Five long years went by, waiting for a follow up. Second Coming finally arrived. Along with a brand new needle for my stereo to ensure the best listen I could get. Curtains drawn, shut down one sense and the others get stronger and all that. I was, if not disappointed, then slightly underwhelmed.

Then it all fell apart and it felt like the right thing.

And now fifteen years after the band split up we’re waiting for news of a reformation. I’ve seen many bands reform these past few years. From the Happy Mondays (because of a tax bill the size of Canada) to the Pixies (unfinished business and a chance to finally make the money they were due) to Pavement. Some have been great (Pixies, pavement), some have been awful (Happy Mondays).

The jury’s out on the roses. If they’ve done it just for the cash, while not being able to blame them, it’s not going to work. While you feel Reni, Mani & Squire could still just phone in a performance without trying if the chemistry isn’t there it will basically shit over their past reputation.

If they’ve done it because, after 15 years, they’ve rediscovered what made them so very very great back in the late 80s, being best mate scallies that wanted to change the world, then it could be amazing.

It could be, and you’ll excuse me here, what the world is waiting for.

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don’t mind me….

July 1, 2011
1 Comment

…. just lighting up the calendar.

it’s what he would have wanted x

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The strange case of Edward Howe

January 13, 2011

It should be being primed as a regional holiday, Tuesday 11 January. After days of frenzied speculation and hyperbole and rumour and fact disguised as guesswork Eddie Howe came out of the AFC Bournemouth board room to announce to the collection of national press and (presumably out of work) fans that he (and assistant Jason Tindall) were staying at Dean Court. The players and fans, he said, had persuaded him to stay and finish off the job he had started. Cue mass hurrahing from Boscombe fans and a probable surge in children called Ted in 9 months time.

It should have marked the next chapter in the frankly far too small book ‘How to stay loyal in modern Football’ which, at the moment, contains entries on Matt le Tissier and Ryan Giggs and not much else. It should have seen, Roy of the Rovers style, Bournemouth carrying on their current form and gaining promotion to the Championship. What it shouldn’t have done is lead to the whole charade starting again today, Thursday 13 January, with frenzied speculation and hyperbole and rumour and fact disguised as guesswork over Eddie (and Jason, they’re tied at the hip) moving to Burnley.

His words from Tuesday now seem hollow and empty. What else are we to think? Both Eddie (and Jason) have been in contact with the local press today, as has the chairman. It would be the easiest thing in the world for a statement to be released saying that there was nothing in this story, that Eddie was indeed staying put and finishing the job he began.

Because Eddie’s been here forever. He started on the terraces and has progressed through player and coach to manager. His years in the wilderness at Portsmouth were ended when a plaintive cry for help from our chairman of the time saw fans donate £15000 in 2 days to bring him back. It’s unlikely we’d have done that for any other former player, not even Christer Warren. It was EddieShare that cemented the belief that he was one of us, that there was a symbiotic relationship between him and the fans.

It may well be that he stays put and does finish the job. However, there is a groundswell of opinion amongst supporters that, given his protracted statements about staying, going for his 5th interview in under a year suggests a desire to leave at the earliest opportunity. That requesting to talk to another club two days after saying he is staying is not quite the done thing. That, frankly, Eddie may not be the man we thought he was.

But this presupposes two things.

One: there are things going on behind the scenes that are forcing him out of the club. We can only speculate on these – boardroom interference is the most likely, of course, and given public opinion of our chairman most probable.
Two: he’s had two years of solid non-stop success. Surely, he may be thinking, it’s best to get out now while his reputation is untainted rather than wait a bit longer. This upward curve cannot continue forever. Does he want his time at Dean Court to end like that of Mel Machin and Sean O’Driscoll – two other great servants of the club, who achieved great things (for a couple of years) but had the fans wishing them out before they went.

It seems odd to say that Eddie has had it easy given our well documented problems in the past 2 years but there is an argument that supports this. AFC Bournemouth has existed in a bubble of late. These problems have given the club a uniqueness that no other club can match. Relegation, administration, points deductions, embargoes have all led to the management and players developing an excellent spirit, of them against us, that has led to the complete turn-around we see today. Eddie is unlikely to find this anywhere else. He’s unlikely to get time, in the event of problems occuring, to sort them out. He’s unlikely to have support from the fans if things go wrong. But then, Brian, that’s football.

If he had left two days ago he would have gone with the supporters best wishes. To go now just seems a bit rude.

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We’ve all got good degrees in hindsight

October 20, 2010
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I’ve just read what i wrote below again.

“Over the next few days, initial feelings of despair at a Tory government dissipated as the first reports of how the coalition might work came out. The first draft of the ‘agreement’ was released and I found myself nodding to the majority of it. Civil liberty repeals! Green stuff! This is all good surely. Yes, there’ll be bad stuff but surely the liberals, with their “Minister for Biscuits” and “Minister for Cabinet jobs just to keep you sweet” portfolios would be able to rein in the most excessive parts of the Tory ideology.”

How wrong can you be?

More later.

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Now the dust is settling…

May 15, 2010

I found myself, last Tuesday, in the lucky position of being in central London during the final frenzied hours of the denouement of the 2010 General Election. As I made my way past College Green, with it’s vast refugee village of journalists, up towards Whitehall and then on to Downing Street you could feel the tension and atmosphere growing palpably. My friend and I settled in the Red Lion pub, just across the road from where Gordon was finally writing his goodbye speech. You could have got drunk on the atmosphere in the pub, civil servants giddy at the day’s occurances were huddling round the telly.

The next three hours flew by, we saw Gordon resign on the telly and then saw him drive past the pub on his way to see the Queen. This was ‘really happening’ and right in front of my eyes. The lib dem and tory negotiating teams walked right past us, drunkenly I expressed my feelings toward them. Then police came and moved us back in the pub.

Then it was time to go back over the road, the new leader was coming, we could see him arrive.
here's dave

I tweeted my feelings on this at the time. My tweet simply said ‘FUck’

Over the next few days, initial feelings of despair at a Tory government dissipated as the first reports of how the coalition might work came out. The first draft of the ‘agreement’ was released and I found myself nodding to the majority of it. Civil liberty repeals! Green stuff! This is all good surely. Yes, there’ll be bad stuff but surely the liberals, with their “Minister for Biscuits” and “Minister for Cabinet jobs just to keep you sweet” portfolios would be able to rein in the most excessive parts of the Tory ideology.

Maybe this is what David Cameron needed to realise his ambition of pulling the Conservatives towards the centre. Blair had Mandelson and Campbell to help drag the Labour Party away from it’s left wing excesses. Two dark knights that you wouldn’t want to cross. Cameron had no-one to help him modernise – the tory grandees were still disciples of Maggie. The 306 seats the Tories won were clearly a ‘we want to trust you but you’ve still got too much baggage’ cry from the electorate. With the liberals on board pulling to the left David has enough of ‘his’ party on his side to be able to ignore the more rabid shoutings of his party.

But is it enough?

Just five days into the new brave dawn of coalition politics there are mutterings from the Tory backbenches that they haven’t been consulted on the policy reworkings. Several from the right are already beginning to voice their doubts on how the new policies can work. While the liberals have clearly given up more of their manifesto to come to a compromise there are those on the right of the Tory who think they should have given no ground at all. Certainly in the area of political reform.

The new proposal of 55% of MPs being needed to bring about the dissolution of parliament is causing consternation across all sides of the house. While 50%+1MP is still all that is needed to bring about a vote of no confidence, the 55% idea means that the ruling government can still carry on despite having lost a confidence vote.

Obviously the 50%+1 rule needed amending now that we are working under a coalition. When a party has an absolute majority 50%+1 works well, you need to have an element of the ruling party that has lost faith for the vote to count. Under a coalition, where the ruling party has less than 50% of MPs it makes for an uncertain parliament where the minor party in the coalition could bring down the Government whenever it pleases. As can be seen in Scotland, under a proper coalition government, you need 66% to win a vote of confidence, as the party share of vote is that much smaller.

So how best to resolve this issue? Maybe the ‘dissolution’ percentage needs to be not set in stone. It needs to be flux in a way that allows the system we currently have to be maintained but in a way that recognises that a largest ruling minority party has to lose some of it’s own support before dissolution can be acheived.

Cameron has come out and said today that 55% can be debated in the house. That it has taken only 5 days for him to have to backtrack on a ‘fixed’ policy does not look good for the long term running of the coalition. We have to hope that it can be strong and that the backbenches can be kept in check. Because if they can’t we will be seeing the events of last Tuesday a lot sooner than we thought. Except they won’t be as exciting.

Rockin’ around the christmas tree….

November 28, 2009

Just down the road there’s a big town, goes by the name of Poole. The council there have decided against a 30ft ‘real’ fir tree this year and plonked a great big green cone in the middle of Falkland Square. The locals are up in arms about it. ‘WE WANT A TREE’ they shout, forgetting that last year they all complained about having a tree because the guy ropes needed to keep it secure made the square look like a building site.


Me? I quite like it. It’s a pared down version of a concept of a tree. As an example of abstract minimalism it’s perfect. It’s green, it’s thinner at the top than at the bottom and it’s taller than it is wide. What more do you need?

We should also not forget that it’s sited in the ugliest part of the ugliest part of town. Poole town centre is an abomination compared to the rest of the area. Any attempt to make Falkland Square look ‘pretty’ fails because of the nature of Falkland Square (and while we’re here, what a fitting tribute to that Conflict a concrete shopping area is)

So hurrah to Poole Council. And hurrah to the tree.

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La Belle France & A New Non-Fiction release

September 2, 2009

I’ve been away, for a few days. We took two disparate holidays in one: 7 days in the remotest of remote cottages in Brittany followed by a sop for the children; 3 days at a Eurocamp.

The day of the interchange didn’t really work. From being friends with no-one except Mr Vin de Pays de l’Aude and Mr Minervois for a week we had to suddenly be part of what appeared, at first sight, to be Blackpool a la France. The 7 hour (when it should have been 5) journey didn’t help much, it has to be said.

Eurocamp got better: in a matter of hours high season became low season and a *lot* of people went home, leaving us with a fantastic site and precious little badly mangled vowels.

Cross blog promotion: I read the new canon from ‘Sunday Times Bestseller’ Stephen Foster while away. I wrote a few hundred words for the book that didn’t really work- having read, rather than looked at (part time stay at home day, even more part time blogger, even more than that part time proofreader), the text it seems obvious why, so I’ll add them here (and maybe to Amazon) as a precis of the book.

These PHWs know nothing. There are those of us who have been honing the art of Pulis hating since the early 1990s.
Dateline Bournemouth, 1992. The Redknapp era of glory, cup upsets and promotion has come to an end. Harry’s had his head turned by the prospect of stealing his best friend’s job. His suggestion as successor: Anthony Pulis. Overnight, we went from exciting wing play to dour midfield battles. One by one anyone with any talent was sold and replaced by a workmanlike drone. Crowds dwindled, revenue dropped, watching Bournemouth ceased to be fun. The day before the 1994/95 season started the board, in their wisdom, sacked Pulis. Things had got so bad that having a collection of players with no experience whatsoever pick the side was preferable to anymore of the dross Pulis was serving up. As a mark of respect to their former boss’ ideas and tactics, the team started the season with the following set of results: LLLLLLL.
I kept an eye on his subsequent career, with an ever growing incredulity that he continued to find gainful employment as a football manager. In some instances he was even head-hunted! This incredulity came to a high-water point last year when, somehow, he led Stoke to the Premiership. At last he would get the national humiliation he richly deserved. Stoke would be relegated before Christmas. This, as your author has spent a whole book describing, did not turn out to be the case. Indeed, far from revelling in Pulis’ humiliation, my opinion of him swayed and I began to revel in his new found success.
Provincial teams have been promoted and survived before and I’ve managed to maintain a distinct lack of interest in their achievements. What was different with Stoke (author’s note: we are not provincial) and their unique brand of Pulisball was the element of reductionism that was introduced to achieve their success. In utilising Delap’s throws they managed to distil football to its sheer essence. The aim of the game is to score goals, how this is achieved is of little import. For all the artistry of your Liverpools or your Arsenals, a 1-0 win is a 1-0 win. If the tiny brushstrokes of Wenger suggest Monet then the clarity and straight lines of Pulisball suggest Mondrian. Going further, if we are to argue that Pulis has taken the functional and turned it into art, then maybe his Stoke team can be compared to Duchamps’ Urinal (a crude, yet valid analogy: after all, most supporters of Stoke’s opponents last season would have expected to, to use the vernacular, ‘piss all over them’.) This, however, is not what impressed me most about Pulis. No, my own Damascene conversion came about not in his success on the pitch, but his success in the minds of the players.
Many managers have tried their own Route One variant, few have had success. At Bournemouth in the past two years we have had two. Kevin Bond (narrower of the pitch & hump it long merchant) and when he failed, Jimmy Quinn (hump it even longer and hope more merchant). Last season Bournemouth started the campaign with a 17 point deduction and were odds on favourites for relegation. We were playing for survival, not for plaudits. But even the fear of relegation to the Conference and almost certain loss of livelihoods for the players could not get them to buy in to the manager’s philosophy. Following Quinn’s sacking on New Year’s Eve and the installation of (another) ex-player Eddie Howe, who wanted to at least try and play football, results picked up and the fear of relegation receded. Even Big Phil Scolari, who knows what he’s doing, couldn’t get the likes of Terry & Lampard to ‘get’ his ideas. Clearly then, to unite 20 odd players into believing one-hundred-and-ten percent in what you are trying to do, when what you are trying to do is so evidently against what these 20 odd players would prefer to have been doing (these guys would have been in the playground during Beckham’s pomp, do you think they were running around pretending to be Robbie Savage?), is to have a touch of genius about you. It is this which finally swayed my opinion of Pulis. He is Pete Waterman to his squad of Rick Astleys, Simon Cowell to his Gareth Gates. Without him, they are nothing. He is a modern day Svengali.

Lawrence Weiner

June 30, 2009
1 Comment

We were down in Cornwall, these past couple of days, and decided to go to the Newlyn Art Gallery to see the work of the above named artist, as he is, apparently, one of the leading figures of post-war conceptual art. His manifesto is this:

—1. The artist may construct the piece.
—2. The piece may be fabricated.
—3. The piece need not be built.
—Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.

Which, to my tiny mind, seems to be taking the concept of conceptual to it’s illogical conclusion. He wants to elevate the idea above the execution. Obviously, this falls deeply into the ‘that’s bollocks, anyone could have thought of that’ category. And it is bollocks, but it is also, clearly, genius.

Part of the exhibition was a series of instructions by Lawrence Weiner and his contempories. The idea being that your common or garden man in the street would act on these instructions and the art would be the result. I like to think of myself as fairly broadminded when it comes to art but this, i found, was a step further than i was prepared to accept.

It was a fantastic building though.

Posted in art, cornwall
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