Thursday, 23 June 2016

Ian Watts' County Challenge- 1


Whilst Jim Gannon's summer recruitment campaign continues there is not a lot of County related news to report until the pre-season games kick off. To help hedgegrower keep the blog ticking over I've put together a few brief County related matching challenges.

With the first stage of the Euro 2016 competition now completed and all six ex-Hatters still involved (Fraser Foster of England, Wayne Hennessey, Ashley Williams and Owain fon Williams for Wales, with Jamie Ward and Gareth Mc Cauley for Northern Ireland) )this first challenge is concentrating on players who were capped at full international level whilst or after being at EP.


With the only ex-Hatter to hit the net in France so far being 2004 trialist Mc Cauley, who made a few pre-season matches that year but decided  to join Lincoln City;; I have included a few men who didn't make a competitive FIRST TEAM GAME.

So here is a selection of men who have worn the County shirt:

Keith Alexander - Liam Bridcutt - Craig Davies - Laurent D'Jaffo - Kevin Francis - Tryggvi Gudmundsson, - Paul Gundani, - Carl Ikeme - Brad Jones - Shefki Kuqi - Li Ming - Martin Nash - Anthony Pilkington - Mart Poom - Ron Staniforth - Paul Williams

And the list of countries they gained caps for:
Australia - Benin - Canada - China - England - Estonia - Finland - Iceland - Nigeria - Northern Ireland - Republic of Ireland - Saint Kitts and Nevis - Saint Lucia - Scotland - Wales - Zimbabwe

No prizes but see how many you know, but see how many players you can correctly match to a country. Answers in a week or so when I put the next challenge together.

Ian Watts

Monday, 13 June 2016

A Close Season Ramble – of the none hiking variety

Swapping away trips to places like Solihull and North Ferriby (well not next season) for mowing lawns and watering hanging baskets may not be to every fans liking ......

Photo ;

........but there you are, little choice, but at least we can savour the Euro’s ......

Photo: TheIndian Express

........if that floats your boat.


 The clubs cheeky little game in making us wait for the chance to buy next seasons season tickets is over and we can all speculate on the next signings, the pre season and all the ritualistic, eternally optimistic dreaming for the next time round starts to embed. I’ve been doing it for nearly 50 years and I could not stop now even if I wanted to. I suppose this happens to every fan of every club, every season whatever the status or circumstances. I feel sure that even if we could only field a team of 10 old age pensioners with a three legged dog in goals we would reckon that this formula would baffle all the opposition and we would walk the league. 
This bunch perhaps( courtesy

Strangely though I feel a little more muted this close season than the one before. I think that some of the blind hope and eternal optimism of previous campaigns has been replaced with an actual realisation that we have actually got the right management team, the right players backed up with a stabling financial situation and sensible ownership/stewardship of the club to actually push on, on a sustainable basis. Of course 3000 fans added to this mix do no harm at all.  What could possibly go wrong?

So what else has been occupying my head this spring? I will tell you what; Ebbsfleet, that’s what. I was going to pen an article based on the teams that got relegated from the Conference National with us. That would be Barrow, Telford, ourselves and Ebbsfleet.  However painful, you will recall we finished at top of that miserable pile with 50 points, an amount usually guaranteed to sustain football in that division for another season and anyway it does not usually matter if you do finish at the top of the relegation foursome because some club, somewhere always commits some sort of foppery, usually financially based but really anything normally does the trick.......
Thanks to for this.

......... the mascot caught in a massage parlour dressed as a dog/bear/lion, the finance director absconded to the Caribbean with the team physio, etc....err...... etc .......
This one via

 But of course we were not treated to any such aberration. Probably everybody’s favourites to make a quick return to the National League we then watched as Telford made an instant return – OK they came straight down again, to be followed by Barrow going up and then this season watching Ebbsfleet at one point running away with the Conference South and indeed in their play off final were 60 seconds from winning it in extra time when they succumbed to a last minute equaliser and then lost the penalty shoot out.
Matty Golden ( Ebbsfleet'EUFCofficial)

 In an instant my article was ruined and no longer could I ponder on the logic of watching three small clubs that came down with us, all, bar us, returning to the National level.

If Ebbsfleet have upset me then the Football League have really got to me. The now named EFL – very American don’t you think. Just to pile on the ridicule the Premier League will now get to enter teams into the Johnson’s Paint Trophy.

EFL Spokesman ( courtesy

 A competition designed to both generate income for lower league teams and also give them an opportunity to play in a Wembley final has now been infiltrated by the greed league. I feel I may be partly to blame for this having penned an article a couple of years ago suggesting that top level sides may like to compete in the FA Cup and League Cup at the early stages of those knock out competitions hence making the competitions fairer, generating income for the smaller sides and perhaps giving the top level sides young fringe players an opportunity to play competitive games. The powers that be clearly could not stomach an FA Cup final between Accrington and Carlisle but feel that a JPL trophy final between Southampton under 18’s and Manchester City under 21’s would be a good thing!

So what else, not a lot really, none football related matters – how could we miss the upcoming Euro elections.
Our PM caught by 'em.

 Stay in and 300 million immigrants will be camped in our gardens, come out and World War 3 starts in August and then we won’t have a football season at all as we will be all vaporised.
 I would be very cross indeed !

Adrian Caville 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

EPWP 6 and Hedgegrowers 2016 Stat Blast !


First off some photos from last Thursdays Help the Hatters Edgeley Park Working Party that again saw 20 of the usual suspects turn out to do the biz....

The main emphasis this week was concentrated on the Danny Bergara Stand and the Railway End.
Ann, Natalie and Pat got stuck into cleaning the main stand....

....whilst the lads got busy applying grey to the gangways.

David continued to sort the Railway End gates......

.....allowing Biggles to set at it painting the gates a fetching shade of yellow.

He had good company and many hands made light work of things..... gaffer John Gaskin supervised matters.

A short break , and it was back to it, working finishing circa 8.45 

Thanks  to all who again turned out this week....your efforts are appreciated and help the Club no end!.Next session at Edgeley Park is this Thursday 16 June. Report from 6pm at the Railway End, come prepared to paint if necessary.

Hedgegrowers Blog Stat Blast 2016 !!!

Yes ....another blog year has gone by...the third since hedgie's first appearance in June of 2013. have we done?
Well...whilst we did not reach 2014/15's   massive 127000 hits for the year, we did pass 100000 again for the third successive year, so thank you to our regular and occasional authors who have contributed hugely to the blogs health, and to you ...County supporters and none blues alike who have kept reading our stuff ( weekly average in 2015/16 was 1920 hits)

 Total Page Views ( since June 2013)   :      327901

           Total PV's 2016 ;             100201
            Total Average Weekly PV`s :     2102
AverageWeekly  PVs' 2016 : 1920 
            Average Views per article:  665

Who`s reading us currently ( by Country) ?

Top 10  Country's reading us....                             
1.                          UK           265047
 2.                          USA           26845
 3.                        Germany      4056
 4.                        Russia         3713
  5.                         Ukraine     2474 
  6.                        France        2454
  7                          Australia   2286
   8.                         Spain          2033
   9.                          Canada      1060
10.                         Turkey         934

Traffic Sources......

Top Source again......

1.    Marionsboard             114229
2.    Google                           10546
3.    Facebook                       5732
4.    Yellowboard                  4674
5.    County Heaven              3191
6.    Twitter                           2373
7.    Vital                                1634

Most Popular Articles ( All Time)

1.     Sea of Blue -A Historic March points to the Future( 22.12.13)  1391
2.  Alan Lord Pro Academy- The Future Beckons ( 16.8.13) 944

3. County v Academica( 24.7.14)   864

4. Match Off......Hmmmm!....  ( 11.1.14)  799

5.   That Vacancy- An Opinion( 13.1.16)        764

So another blog year another season beckons. I am off to get my season ticket next week  and if I do not bump into you whilst about that task, I will hopefully see you at some point in 2016/17.
IO County.

Ian Brown

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Club v Country : Why Choose ?

CLUB v COUNTRY: Why choose?

By Nick Lee.

Euro 96 will forever go down as one of the greatest times in English sporting history........ Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds had captured the mood of the nation with 'Three Lions'....

........lad culture was on the rise, and County were starting to look quite good under Dave Jones. Hell, even the Gallagher brothers remained mildly tolerable.

It'd be unfair to say it was Euro 96 that got me into football. My dad had taken me to Edgeley Park for the first time early in 95.

 Big Kevin Francis scored the winner against Bournemouth and I was hooked. I went to every home game the following season, and got to see us narrowly lose to top flight Everton after three hours of fantastic football. 

Looking back on it now, I think watching County in the 1995/96 season was the perfect preparation for the summer tournament. My uncle took me to Wembley to watch England's final warm up game with Hungary, and I remember thinking that this football lark was right up my street.
England team v Hungary.

I've always felt there was something magical about international football, especially in a tournament summer. Of course, I didn't know back then what a letdown England could be, so imagine the look on the face of this 8-year-old as Terry Venables' side stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Switzerland. 

This meant we had to get a win against the Auld Enemy Scotland, and follow it up by defeating a Holland side in disarray, having sent home world class midfielder Edgar Davids. Of course we won them both, with Gazza's goal the highlight of the Scotland game, and the 4-1 win over the Dutch is widely regarded as one of England's greatest ever performances.

Gazza milks it v Scotland !

After riding their luck against Spain in the quarters, a penalty shootout win saw the team head to a semi-final against old rivals Germany. The rest, of course, is history, as England's penalty hoodoo claimed another victim in Gareth Southgate.

You'd think this would've left me deflated, but I simply couldn't wait for the 1996/97 season to start. West Ham signed a couple of European mercenaries in Paulo Futre and Florin Răducioiu. County went off on tour to Portugal and came back with Luis Cavaco, Nelson DaCosta and Kiko Charana. I honestly thought we were part of the big league now.

The great Louis Cavaco at Flynny's big one!

Such feelings were borne out that season, as County played an astonishing 67 games on the way to promotion from the then Second Division. A run to the semi-finals of the Coca-Cola Cup saw County rise to greater prominence, with the tabloid press loving the exploits of Dave Jones' side as they dumped out top flight sides Blackburn, West Ham and Southampton.


 For most County fans, this was dreamland. I just didn't think there was anything different. As far as I was concerned this was the norm.
Now, twenty years on, I still feel enormous gratitude towards my father for taking me to those early games, and giving me the chance to see County's finest season. It astounds me that we have such a hardcore section of loyal fans, unwavering despite the fact they've seen nothing the like of what I witnessed in the 1990s.
Of course, history shows us that seasons ending in 6/7 tend to be good for County. 1936/37 saw the Third Division North title, 1966/67 the Third Division, and everyone knows what happened thirty years later.

 With some much-needed stability behind the scenes, and a management team we can put our faith in, there's no reason why this season can't be every bit as successful as the others I've mentioned.

Nick Lee