Sunday 27th March 2005

Happy Easter to fellow regulars. Yesterday preparations for the match was something not worth remembering but our first half performance was memorable. For the game against Hersham RBL , there were no need to motivate the lads for this especially as word got back to us that they “didn't think much of us” after they trounced us on the first game of the season in our backyard while we were missing key players due to international call ups.

I was not only pleased with how we took our goals, but also at how we created chances after chances and we could have scored a lot more but our last touches let us down. It could have been a whole different ending after they slammed against the crossbar at 0 – 0 but my boys came good in the end.

Now that the British Deaf Cup semi final is up next Saturday. With an improved record this season in 2005 where we have notched up seven wins out of nine games, I am more determined than ever to finish the season on a high by retaining the British Deaf Cup back into our trophy cabinet at Motspur Park for next season after our disappointment of not having gained promotion this season.

Despite the England v Azerbaijan scheduled for Wednesday night, all the lads are fully committed to train hard instead in preparation for the British Deaf Cup semi final against Manchester Deaf. See you all at Motspur Park 7.15pm as usual lads.

Sunday 20th March 2005

After watching us lose to Molesey Villa in the second half, a stark brutal truth echoed to me from the pitch during the match. We were simply not ready for the Premier division that we had hoped to get promoted into for next season. After the first few minutes of feeling as a failure for not guiding the lads to the Premier division, I quickly got rid of those negative feelings and looked at the bigger picture.

A big combination of factors led to us not gaining promotion this season but I am proud to have watched my lads work so hard to be where they are now: 4th in Division one, in the quarter finals of the League Senior Cup and the semi finals of the British Deaf Cup. We'll go flat out for the two cups and aim to finish as high up the table as we can with our two remaining League matches.

I'd like to pass on our congratulations to Molesey Villa for getting promoted. They did the double against us in the league and only lost twice in the league all season which goes to show it was all earned and well deserved.

After the match, while watching the rare sight of Wales winning the Grand Slam (be another 27 years before they do it again!), an impromptu post mortum was carried out over a few pints by several players and myself. A few honest truth emerged, some were harsh and yet it was good that they came out with their views. I have promised to take them on board, make some considerations and will aim to implement some positive changes upon consultation with the squad for next season.

A reminder that the Teck Senior Cup final between Westminster Casuals and Albert Royals is coming up on Friday – Good Friday – at Molesey FC, kick off at 11.00am. A few of us will be there to watch in what should be a good game.

While all might be lost to Fulham Deaf in terms of promotion for this season, all is not lost for Doncaster College Deaf who are not only well placed for promotion but also as possible champions. They play in the Doncaster & District Senior Football League – Division one – and have won their last two matches 12 – 1 and 17 – 0 (ok they were against the bottom team [!!] – the second match they were “only” 3 – 0 up at half time!). I really wish them all the very best in finishing the season in style and to put down to the Victorian-style thinking that deaf people cannot play football or that Fulham Deaf were the only deaf team that gained promotion.

I honestly believe that with the emergence of good quality deaf teams such as Doncaster College Deaf, St Johns Deaf, Glasgow St Vincent's Deaf, Charlton Athletic Deaf and ourselves, deaf football really are getting onto the football map. It is not only limited to deaf football teams but also to some outstanding deaf players such as Lee Farrell, the star of the Deaflympics Gold Medalists who has been snapped up by Lewes FC who are third in the Conference South. Farrell scored a brace, including one with his first touch on his debut.

Who say deaf football is not on the up, eh? Back to business on Saturday – season is not over until it is over!

Friday 18th March 2005

After a hard week work wise, I am now looking forward to tomorrow's match that will to be brutal either grant a “stay of execution” or effectively end our promotion hopes in the league. Either way our season won't be over. We'll continue and strive to finish as high up the league as we can. I do feel it is a great achievement to be third in the first division after getting promoted last season and suffering from international call-ups.

With the weather getting milder and the nights getting shorter, I am getting a little reflective about this season but we'll concentrate on the job at hand what with still being in two cups and keeping alive our slim hopes of promotion.

I am delighted to bring forward news of the first Ladies Deaf FC that will be formed on 9th April 2005. It has been a long time coming with the ladies getting frustrated being limited to 5-a-side competitions. With the growth of ladies football and also after the recent GB Deaf Ladies bronze success at the Deaflympics, it is the right time to act as the front-runners in England or GB to form a club level Ladies Deaf Football Club at Fulham.

I strongly encourage any interested deaf ladies to come along on the 9th April (information on front page) and if you have any questions, it'll be your opportunity to ask them on the night. It is very important to show the commitment and keenness from the start so do come along.

As for me becoming manager of the Fulham Deaf Ladies – forget it – I have enough trouble with my lads! Despite the up and downs that comes with the job, I would not swap my squad for anyone or anything else.

Monday 14th March 2005

A good solid win against AC Malden even though it took an own goal to get us started after half an hour. The lads found it hard to settle into the game and simple mistakes were all often too frequent but at the end of the day a win is a win and three points are three points. Morally deserved his man of the match award with a clinical performance but Ajadi came very close behind after coming on as half time sub, controlling the midfield and adding some nice touches stringing together some excellent attacking plays.

The league season now boils down to this Saturday as we put ourselves into this position of having to depend on other results but as things stand, if Molesey Villa beat us this Saturday they will get promoted alongside Westminster Casuals. Molesey Villa beat us in the league 4 – 1 and then we returned the favour with a fine 5 – 1 win in the League Senior Cup so who knows what fate has in store for either of us this Saturday. A real six-pointer match which I am looking forward to as it is these kind of bum-squeak matches that really matters.

Congratulations to Albert Royals who reached the Teck Senior Cup final. The Royals knocked us out in the earlier rounds and the Teck Senior Cup final between Westminster Casuals and Albert Royals will be held at Molesey FC (not Molesey Villa so don't get confused) on Good Friday, kick off at 11.00am. Should be a good final which I'll be coming to watch.

Friday 11th March 2005

Tomorrow we'll be back in action against AC Malden away in the league and the lads are itching to get back into action after our last two matches were postponed due to weather. I was delighted with the turn out at training and even more so with no injuries throughout the squad apart from the two long-term absences.

At the League meeting on Wednesday, I learnt that Westminster Casuals from our division and Kingston Albion, Maori Park, Chessington KC from the Premier division are in the semi finals of the Surrey Junior Cup. Chessington KC are also in the semi finals of the National Christian Cup while we ourselves are in the semi finals of the British Deaf Cup. All this shows that our League is one filled with some quality sides. We can be proud to be a member of the Kingston & District Football League and we must and will continue to strive to push for promotion with all our might until one of two things happens; either we get promoted or it becomes mathematically impossible for us to get promoted.

Please don't let it snow three feet tomorrow!

Sunday 6th March 2005

To my surprise, when I landed at Budapest, there was a welcome party with the Mayor of Budapest on the tarmac. In my utter disbelief, Michelle and I were ushered into a limo with blackened windows and we travelled to the city centre where there was a huge crowd waving Fulham FC flags!

The people of Budapest are avid followers of and wanted to honour my visit to Budapest by naming a street after me. I did not have the heart to tell them they got the spelling of my name wrong!

After the ceremony, I opened my eyes and realised it was all a dream!

After two postponed matches in a row, I am hoping we'll be back in action against AC Malden this Saturday. I sense the lads are up for it after being left frustrated at the lack of playing opportunities in recent weeks. With the season now in its final quarter, there is everything to play for and we'll aim to finish the season on a high whatever happens.

Training on Wednesday at 7.15pm as usual lads!

Sunday 27th February 2005

AFC Ham forfeited their match against us last weekend and so we were awarded three points and moved up to fourth in the table. An unfortunate turn of events but Danny Buckland of AFC Ham wished us the best of luck for the reminder of the season which was a nice gesture.

So the League quickly arranged for us to play against Hersham RBL but by some strange twist of fate we simply were not going to be able to don our kit and play football this weekend as the match was called off due to the weather! Still it give us the opportunity to rest our weary limbs and recover from some minor injuries.

Tomorrow I'm off to Budapest with the missus in what will be the last holiday for a while after Edinburgh, Prague and Cork in the past ten weeks! I blame the 'too-good-to-miss' special offers from Easyjet but I did have to use my holidays up by the beginning of April anyway!

Back on Friday and then it is away to Hook Venturers in the League on Saturday. They held us to a three all draw at home back in November in the League so we'll have to be at our best if we are to gain three points from them. Roll on Saturday where I'll be sporting my new winter hat from Budapest!

Thursday 24th February 2005

Just a quick update tonight! Last Saturday match referee Brian Clark said after the match that it was the best game of Saturday football he had officiated on this season which is a tribute to both sides. As I said previously, my lads can hold their heads up high from their performance.

Alas unfortunately someone had to let off a couple of stink bombs in our changing room after the match.

The good news is we know it was who it was after some good quality investigation work that Sherlock would have been proud of…! Yes, we know it was you – Sam Holder – and so you have been earmarked for a special surprise. You have been warned Sam!

Sunday 20th February 2005

It was with a heavy heart, I woke up this morning after realising that our 4 – 2 defeat against the Casuals was not a dream. After a while, I changed my attitude and was immensely proud of my lads for their attitude and spirit shown yesterday.

It was the first time the Casuals had ever been on the losing side at half time this season. I could see it in their eyes they knew that they were fortunate to leave Motspur Park with a somewhat flattering score-line after grabbing two late goals to seal their 20th win on the trot.

Without wanting to sound ungrateful or anything like that, I felt we deserved a lot more than we got out of the match. The first half we really raised our game and took the Casuals to their game, matched them position-by-position, strength-by-strength and went ahead on merit with two well-taken goals by Morally.

The second half, the Casuals to their credit came back strongly and we were pinned too deep inside our own half. Something had to give at how we defended so deep inside our half and it came with a deft lob by Hardy to equalise the match. We had chances to go ahead again or equalise when we went 2 – 3 down.

Too many ifs and buts arose from the second half. All credit to the Casuals at how they responded in the second half. We will now concentrate on finishing the season as high up the table as we can.

The Casuals have recruited some good quality players over the years notably the new faces this season. I'd like to acknowledge Phil 'The Crab' Malcolm for not only putting together a quality squad but also for creating an excellent team, being able to change tactics to change the course of the game to secure the result they wanted as they did yesterday in the second half.

Remember, we are a deaf team with limited choices of where we can get deaf footballers from in London. The Casuals, no offence to them, are a mainstream team with a much wider berth to get their footballers from. That is why I am proud at how we took the Casuals on especially in the first half and they left knowing they had been in a game for sure.

My dream would be to reach the League Cup final and have another crack at the Casuals in the final. First of all, we'll have to overcome Hook Venturers and then a Premier team on the way.

My boys will relish the challenge if only just to get another crack against the Casuals. Something tells me this is not all over as they say!

Thursday 17th February 2005

Many thanks for all those congratulations via text messages and e-mails since we got back from Ireland. Yes, it is indeed true that I can be an 'old romantic' at heart after proposing to Michelle with some well chosen words written in the sand and getting down to my knee in the traditional way. And all this on Valentine's Day!

Thank goodness the wet sand on my trousers was worth the effort as she said yes!

Before you ask! No ring yet! No date fixed yet! No location decided! Besides we would not dream of stealing the limelight from Charles and Camilla! Unknown to Michelle I am waiting for Argos to come up with a £19.99 replica Camilla ring!

Have I even thought about booking the church, the wedding photographer, the frightening astronomical costs of the wedding or anything like that! No, no, no! (well perhaps a few ideas for my stag night where the Casuals' regular strippers could come in handy!)

“Why the delay then?”, I visualise you asking…?

Because we got a titanic clash against the Casuals this Saturday and I simply have to divert and gather all my thoughts to deliberate, concentrate, mull, and dwell on this thought-provoking king-size priority of all priorities!

Three points against the Casuals is what I would like. In fact, I demand it. We need to collect as many points in order to pile the pressure on other teams in our slim chance for promotion.

The Casuals will be looking for their 20th win on the trot and as it happens we were the last to deny them all three points or a win in the draw at the end of last season. I can certainly promise you that we as a team will be going all out guns blazing to end their winning streak. And I don't mean by holding out for a draw, as it won't be enough in our book.

Phil “Ray The Crab Wilkins” Malcolm said on “I think it will be a very different game. We are certainly a much stronger and more confident team now and they come into the game on the crest of a wave, unbeaten in 2005 and on the back of a 5 – 1 crushing of Molesey Villa in last Saturday's League Senior Cup second round. Furthermore, they have the added boost of four gold medal-winning players from the recently triumphant GB Deaflympics victorious squad. They will be confident of exacting revenge but they will find that we are anything but complacent.”

I have no doubt that The Casuals fully deserve and will win promotion to the Premier Division but not this week if we can help it. I expect them to play their own game to maximum effect but there comes a time when not even the maximum effort is enough when faced against a very determined highly focussed first XI I shall field this Saturday.

On the Casuals' website I noticed an error, possibly a typing error when Phil said “…hopefully it will be a terrific game with worthy winners – us.”

Replace the word 'us' with 'Fulham Deaf'. Enough said. Let battle commence…