Tuktuk Day 112


Brentford FC Logo

Yesterday we were at Brentford FC looking at their work in the community. As I said, I have always been impressed with how focused they are on remaining true to their roots. So, today we are staying here another day to learn about another exciting initiative. I will let Nikita Rathod, Brentford’s Communication Manager explain.

Brentford FC matchday audio commentary makes football accessible for visually impaired fans

The club releases immersive video featuring Andy Godfrey, a visually impaired Brentford FC fan who attends home matches with audio commentary as a part of Thousands of Stories

A new, immersive video from Brentford FC shares the story of Andy Godfrey, a visually impaired Brentford supporter that uses the club’s audio commentary to experience matches live at the Gtech Community Stadium.

The Sound is the final video in the second series of Thousands of Stories, a collection of short films sharing the stories of Brentford’s community. The club’s fans have been the focus of series two.

The film shares the story of Andy, who was born blind and tells us what it’s like to experience a live football match as a visually impaired person.

The film, best watched using headphone, uses sounds recorded from a Premier League matchday at Brentford to create an immersive audio experience. The video is an opportunity for viewers to discover what a matchday is like for blind or partially sighted football fans.

In The Sound, Andy explains he came to Brentford to teach French and German at a local school and was approached by a colleague who suggested that Andy should try Brentford’s matchday audio commentary.

“One of the teachers said to me, “they have excellent commentary at Brentford, would you like to try that?” And I came to the club and it was everything that I could dream a football could be” said Andy.

Andy received that advice more than 50 years ago and he’s been a Brentford fan ever since.

He says, “It’s just unbelievable, that feeling of going to Brentford. I don’t miss many home games. On a matchday, I can’t think about anything else really, it’s just Brentford all the way through. I get the shakes sometimes!”

In the video, Andy elaborates on what his unique matchday experience is like, including the build-up to kick-off.

“I’ve listened to the excited shouts of the Brentford fans. I listen to them predicting a win. People are excited. There are excited conversations all around me.”

“The atmosphere is electric. You can hear the shouts of the players, the cries of the crowd. People are getting nervous, you do sense that”.

Andy’s matchday experience wouldn’t be what it is today without his access to live matchday audio commentary, broadcast by Brentford Fc in-house at the Gtech Community Stadium.

The club’s long-serving matchday commentator, Mark Burridge, is the voice behind the microphone that Andy relies on to follow the match as it happens right in front of him when he’s sat in the stadium.

“Having a commentary really enhances the whole experience of going to Brentford. When I was growing up, all the blind spectators had to sit together. In those days, you had the plug your headphones into a console.”

“Now we have wireless headphones with are absolutely super because you can sit anywhere you like with your friends. The best thing about it is the commentator keeps up with play, never misses a shot or a kick and describes everything”.

“It means the world to me, it really does”.

Wireless audio commentary at Brentford is one of the many ways that the club is making football accessible for all. To help blind fans enjoy the matchday experience at the Gtech Community Stadium, fans can bring along a carer, free of charge. Andy discussed why these initiatives are so important to him.

“Obviously not all blind people like football, but loads do. I just wish more people would come to the ground.”

“I think the more people you can get into football, the better it is. If there was no commentary at Brentford, I wouldn’t go.”

“I think football is a great introducer to other people and other walks of life. The impact of football on my life is immense. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the kindness I’ve received at Brentford.”

About Thousands of Stories

Thousands of Stories is a film series from Brentford FC that highlights the club’s community.

Following the success of the inaugural series, the series two of Thousands of Stories consists of four films which delve into the experiences of our fans, what supporting the Bees means to them and how the club has impacted their lives.

Accompanying The Sound in this series are:

  • The Moment – the story of Raymond Harrison, a lifelong Bees supporter who experienced a cardiac arrest at Gtech Community Stadium before our fixture against Newcastle last season
  • The Dream – the story of Connor Wolfheimer, a Brentford fan who came through Brentford FC Community Sports Trust’s football programme and is currently on a two-year scholarship playing for Brentford’s Under-18s
  • The Local – the story of Claire Peleschka, the landlady of The Griffin, one of the four pubs surrounding Brentford’s previous stadium, Griffin Park

So far, the series has attracted more than 1.4m views across social media.

Speaking about the return of the series, Sally Stephens, Brentford’s fan and community relations director, said: “Thousands of Stories shines a spotlight on some of the incredible individuals who make up our vibrant community. We’re fortunate to have such fantastic fans.”

“The films share how being a Brentford fan is about much more than football. Being a Bees fan means being part of a trusted community, supporting each other and showing togetherness during the good times but also through adversity.”

“We look forward to continuing to celebrate the stories that make our club so special.”


You can download The Sound video in 16×9 or 1×1, and video stills to use in your piece using this WeTransfer link.

The Sound is available on all of Brentford social media channels.

X (Twitter)

Instagram

Facebook

LinkedIn

YouTube

More information on Thousands of Stories, including all other films from this series and last year can be found on the club’s website.



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Tuktuk Day 111


BRENTFORD FC LAUNCHES NEW SERIES OF THOUSANDS OF STORIES


I have always had a lot of time for Brentford FC and particularly their Community Sports Trust. I recently received their latest press release which I think deserves sharing with readers of this blog. Enjoy.

Thousands of Stories, Brentford’s series highlighting its people, returns with a new edition of short films focusing on fans

Brentford FC has launched the next series of “Thousands of Stories”, a series of short films sharing the stories of the club’s community. 

Following the success of the inaugural series, the upcoming instalment consists of four films which delve into the experiences of our fans, what supporting the Bees means to them and how the club has impacted their lives. Thousands of Stories shares the tales of the people that make up Brentford. Every story is important, and unique and makes the club what it is today. 

Series two kicks off with The Moment, the story of Raymond Harrison, a lifelong Bees supporter who experienced a cardiac arrest at the Gtech Community Stadium before our fixture against Newcastle last season. Thanks to our stewards and medical support staff performing CPR, Raymond’s life was saved. In The Moment, Raymond explains how his life has changed since that day. 

Three further films from Thousands of Stories will be released across the next three weeks:  

  • The Dream (17 April) – follows the story of Connor Wolfheimer, a Brentford fan who came through Brentford FC Community Sports Trust’s football programme and is currently on a two-year scholarship playing for Brentford’s under-18s.  
  • The Local (24 April) – shares the story of Claire Peleschka, the landlady of The Griffin, one of the four pubs surrounding Brentford’s previous stadium, Griffin Park  
  • The Sound (1 May) – tells the experience of Andy Godfrey, a long-standing Brentford supporter who is visually impaired and uses the club’s audio commentary to experience matches at the Gtech. 

The series last year included four stories focusing on Brentford manager, Thomas Frank and cardiac health in The Pressure, staff member Mariia Manirko in The Chance, participants of the Brentford FC Community Sports Trust’s women’s football recreation session in The Team and Peter Gilham’s legacy at the club in The Voice.  

Sally Stephens, Brentford’s fan and community relations director said: “Thousands of Stories shines a spotlight on some of the incredible individuals who make up our vibrant Brentford FC community. We’re fortunate to have such fantastic fans.   

“The films share how being a Brentford fan is about much more than football. Being a Bees fans means being part of a trusted community, supporting each other and showing togetherness during the good times but also through adversity. We look forward to continuing to celebrate the stories that make our club so special.” 

Find out more about Thousands of Stories  

With special thanks to all those who were involved in the production including:  

Mark Burridge 

Andy Godfrey 

Raymond Harrison 

Jacob Mead-Baker 

Claire Peleschka 

Jamie Tompkins 

Connor Wolfheimer 

Studio Something  

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Tuktuk Day 110


Land Of The Giants – Subbuteo

Today we move on from the Channel Islands and the intricacies of the play-offs to a “New World.” When Covid-19 struck the UK in March 2020 and the country was plunged into the trauma of Lockdown, Derek Air took his Subbuteo pitch down off the garage wall and together with his son, started playing again.  At the time, rather like a dystopian film, he believed they were the only ones still playing the game, but on closer investigation he discovered a rich and vibrant online community of players, collectors, team painters and even stadium builders.  Following the lifting of Lockdown, he decided he wanted to find out more about these people so he set off on a virtual, and then actual, journey across the country and finally abroad, to meet them and bring their stories to a wider audience.  

Land of the Giants:  My Journey Through the World of Table Football takes you on an odyssey where you will meet the players who search for glory on tables at both home and abroad; the collectors who scour the internet, car boot sales, charity shops and collectors’ fairs in search of the rarest of the rare items; the men and women who create works of art in miniature and the stadium builders who wake up one morning and decide to build a replica of a football ground in their spare room. Land of the Giants takes the reader inside the world of the table football and Subbuteo. From the collectors and team painters, to the players and stadium builders, their stories are all here. technological change.

This book is a love letter to a game that was once thought long forgotten, but which is, as you will discover, very much alive and flicking. Yes, a love letter to an old-fashioned favourite, still loved by so many, and a game which refuses to die in an age of technological change.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Derek Air has been playing the game of Subbuteo on and off for fifty years. A former school teacher, he has written a number of articles on German football for the fanzine Halb Vier and produced four series of the podcast Finger Flickin’ Good in which he chronicled the stories of the Subbuteo community both in the UK and further afield. Land of the Giants is his first non-fiction book. A proud Scot, he lives in the Black Country.

Editor’s note: I must admit that I last played Subbuteo as a chronically sick child back in the 1960s and I was surprised and delighted to find the game is a live and well. I seem to remember that there was no official Gillingham Subbuteo team (below) – so I could be Everton or Chelsea (if I lost!) or my beloved Gillingham when I won.

Things have changed a lot, I see, and I am now tempted to buy the official Gillingham 23/24 away (!)kit. Crazy world. Perhaps like vinyl, cinema visits, books and DVDs a cycle is inevitable. The book is available from our friends at Pitch Publishing

I hope you enjoyed Derek’s Journey into a New World. Interesting niche! To be honest, I am struggling to reach £500 for FC Deportivo and Prostate Cancer at £20 or £50 so this is a bit of a test/a trial if you like. I wonder how many of you would be happy to add just £1? I would be very grateful if you would consider a donation however small to support  Prostate Cancer UK  If everybody chipped in £1 I would easily hit my target of £5,000 and the charity would continue to fund their great work. Every single penny goes DIRECT to Prostate Cancer UK. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can donate. If you can’t you can still help massively by sharing this page about the work of Prostate Cancer. If you prefer to support FC Deportivo Galicia, their link is here

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Tuktuk Day 109


I am delighted to introduce you to a new guest writer. I have been following Ollie Boletta on social media for a while and he was kind enough to agree to add a post about his beloved Jersey Bulls FC. Welcome, kind sir, your stats are very impressive.

On Saturday they played my local Spelthorne Sports in the Combined Counties, Step 5 with a crowd of ca. 700 and earned a 3-0 win. Their regular season thus ended and they finished runners up to Farnham guaranteeing a home game in the play-off semi-finals. Their next game is in the play-offs against AFC Croydon Athletic on Jersey this Saturday. A crowd of 1000 are expected – incredible on a tiny island at Step 5.

It seems only yesterday that FC Deportivo Galicia hosted them in their first ever away game in Step 6 and it was clear from that day back in August 2019 that this was a phenomenon waiting to happen. Two seasons were voided by Covid but the Bulls eventually made it to the Combined Counties Premier Division South.

As I said, this was the last game of their regular season and it is clear that despite their second spot it has not all been plain sailing. Ollie mused, “There was a certain point in the season where I thought this isn’t looking good. Goals hard to come by, and general performances lacking quality.

I am delighted to introduce you to a new guest writer. I have been following Ollie Boletta on social media for a while and he was kind enough to agree to add a post about his beloved Jersey Bulls FC. Welcome, kind sir, your stats are very impressive.

On Saturday they played my local Spelthorne Sports in the Combined Counties, Step 5 with a crowd of ca. 700 and earned a 3-0 win. Their regular season thus ended and they finished runners up to Farnham guaranteeing a home game in the play-off semi-finals. Their next game is in the play-offs against AFC Croydon Athletic on Jersey this Saturday. A crowd of 1000 are expected – incredible on a tiny island at Step 5.

It seems only yesterday that FC Deportivo Galicia hosted them in their first ever away game in Step 6 and it was clear from that day back in August 2019 that this was a phenomenon waiting to happen. Two seasons were voided by Covid but the Bulls eventually made it to the Combined Counties Premier Division South.

As I said, this was the last game of their regular season and it is clear that despite their second spot it has not all been plain sailing. Ollie mused, “There was a certain point in the season where I thought this isn’t looking good. Goals hard to come by, and general performances lacking quality.

Since that game against Alton when I went home feeling that, we have put 120% effort into every single game, huge or less so.

Couldn’t be more proud of this group of players, from the ‘where do we go from here?’ after Alton at home, to ‘who are we beating in the playoffs?’ after yesterdays brilliant win. What an amazing group. The youngsters that have come in have been stellar week in week out, genuinely think the older players have had their best seasons too. Whatever happens in the playoffs, this group have done the island proud and made us some great memories along the way.

35 matches. 86 goals. Take this game against Croydon as a chance to get a cup final and as a chance to move island football up. Let’s get up to the same level as ‘them’.*

See you in the playoffs. Thank you @jerseybullsfc

Editor’s note: *Them are Guernsey FC who play in the Isthmian League – South Central Division – 2023-2024 which is one step above Jersey Bulls.


He says, “Hi! My name is Ollie Boletta. I am a 17 year old aspiring Sports Journalist from Jersey, Channel Islands. I run a TikTok channel, a Spotify podcast, an X page and an Instagram account documenting my football adventures and getting genuine opinions from genuine fans, mostly following Chelsea and Jersey Bulls. I started social media properly in March. Since then, I’ve hit 140,000 likes on TikTok, 1400 Instagram followers and 300 X followers as an example. I’d really appreciate it if you joined the journey, and followed me on any of these channels. You never know, you could be the next interview I do after a toughly-fought step 5 non-league relegation battle! Thank you, Ollie.

I hope you liked Ollie’s blog. Like Christian and Darren he is doing a great job promoting non-league football. There is NO cost to subscribe to any of their blogs/vlogs. On the other hand, I would like your money, just £1 of it! I am struggling to reach £500 for FC Deportivo and Prostate Cancer at £20 or £50 so this is a bit of a test/a trial if you like. I wonder how many of you would be happy to add just £1? I would be very grateful if you would consider a donation however small to support  Prostate Cancer UK  If everybody chipped in £1 I would easily hit my target of £5,000 and the charity would continue to fund their great work. Every single penny goes DIRECT to Prostate Cancer UK. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can donate. If you can’t you can still help massively by sharing this page about the work of Prostate Cancer. If you prefer to support FC Deportivo Galicia, their link is here

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Tuktuk Day 108

So, it’s Sunday and that means spotlighting one of Darren’s awaydays that have been so popular on this blog. See last week at Kettering for example. If you thought that had a great story, wait until you see the twists and turns in this week’s trip to Staffordshire. Let’s hear what he says,

“Yesterday, my Non League vlogging took me up to the Black Country for a clash between Walsall Wood & AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Wood came into the match, having, in effect, nothing to play for. However, for the Diamonds, they were hoping to pull of one of THE greatest relegation escape acts from the Northern Premier League – Midlands Division. Actually it would have been one of the greatest escapes ever. Why am I thinking Wark, Stallone, Bobby Moore, Ossy Ardiles etc?

They were on FOUR points in January, fourteen off survival. Yet they had since hauled themselves to, basically, having to better relegation rivals Rugby Town’s result today to ensure survival at Step 3.

The ensuing 90 minutes footy that I saw was dramatic, and, nerves aplenty amongst Diamonds fans, with everyone knowing exactly what was going on in the Rugby match. At the end of the match, despite winning 2-0, it was despair for the away contingent, as Rugby had ended up winning 3-0 at Boldmere St Michael’s.

I did an interview at the end of the game with a clearly despondent Diamonds player Cairo Taylor, and as I was wrapping up my filming, shock news came through that Loughborough Dynamo had issued a statement, basically, saying they wanted voluntary relegation.

Absolutely shocking news for the players, fans and staff from Dynamo, but, a possible relegation lifeline for Rushden?????….who knows?”

Obviously the story from Loughborough Dynamo is breaking news but here is the official club statement.

Loughborough Dynamo Chairman Darren Rodgers makes a statement.

“To all loyal Loughborough Dynamo Football Club volunteers, supporters, management and players.

As you are all aware, Loughborough Dynamo Football Club has stood shoulder to shoulder with the top teams in the league and will finish in the clubs highest position ever.

LDFC has a unique and proud history within the game and is well respected for its integrity on and off the pitch.

Taking all factors into consideration, this season has identified the strain that possible promotion could place on the club.

With this in mind and the current stresses that step four places on us, Loughborough Dynamo has decided to take a step back to grassroots football and is setting up a community interest club (CIC).

This approach has been carefully devised with a local benefactor and the local council who seek to enhance the infrastructure at Nanpantan Sports Ground with the goal of fostering a thriving community capable of forging a sustainable future for LDFC.

I would like to thank everyone who has been on this brilliant journey so far and we look forward to a bright and exciting future for the club.

Darren Rodgers.”

I thought this was a class response from AFC Rushden & Diamonds. “Following the statement released yesterday evening, all at AFC Rushden & Diamonds wish to express their sympathies with all players, officials and supporters involved with Loughborough Dynamo FC.”

Anyway to move back to events ON the field hop over to Darren’s great vlog, enjoy the game and don’t forget to register completely free of charge to get all future games and, of course, an opportunity to see all the previous awaydays. Flackwell Heath is particularly recommended. Congratulations, guys, on your promotion.

I hope you subscribe to Darren’s blog. Like Christian he is doing a great job promoting non-league football. There is NO cost to subscribe to either blog/vlog. On the other hand, I would like your money, just £1 of it! I am struggling to reach £500 for FC Deportivo and Prostate Cancer at £20 or £50 so this is a bit of a test/a trial if you like. I wonder how many of you would be happy to add just £1? I would be very grateful if you would consider a donation however small to support  Prostate Cancer UK  If everybody chipped in £1 I would easily hit my target of £5,000 and the charity would continue to fund their great work. Every single penny goes DIRECT to Prostate Cancer UK. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can donate. If you can’t you can still help massively by sharing this page about the work of Prostate Cancer. If you prefer to support FC Deportivo Galicia, their link is here

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Tuktuk Day 107

Well, it’s the last day of the season in League One and Two today. Gillingham have successfully fallen from the play-off spots to mid-table and as usual the August optimism turned into the April reality! No problems, it’s only nine or ten weeks to the pre-season friendlies where we all making ridiculous claims about “Title contenders, Stronger back four, I see goals, new manager will set his mark etc etc. “Such is football.

As I said yesterday what we have seen this week is a huge amount of opposition to the FA’s proposals for its FA Cup Competition. In scenes similar to the Tories ripping themselves apart, everybody is trying to distance themselves from the who said what to whom, when and why. What we do now is that so far not one single EFL club has come out to support the FA. That is a big fat ZERO which is a unique outcome when you normally have 72 clubs with 72 agendas! Going further down the pyramid clubs in Steps ! and downwards have come out against the performance with particularly erudite statements from Dover Athletic, Cray Wanderers and Macclesfield. I am struggling to agree with Savage but in the interests of transparency I must say, he is correct!

“Macclesfield FC wholeheartedly condemns the decision to scrap Emirates FA Cup replays from next season.

The Emirates FA Cup is the most magical competition in the world and in our view, to impose this decision devalues it and disrespects all those teams that enter.

In addition, it is illuminating that this decision was made without anyone other than the FA and Premier League being consulted.

We appeal to the FA and Premier League to retract this decision and hold meaningful discussions with all those impacted, not just those in the top tier.”



Dover Athletic stand with clubs across the football community following the recent FA Cup replay changes. This decision is contributing further to the degradation of the football pyramid caused by multiple poor decisions by the league authorities We urge the FA to reconsider these major changes to this famous competition and to consult widely with clubs below the Premier League before making any further changes.

Perhaps the most interesting story comes out of Championship club, Millwall.

Millwall chief Steve Kavanagh accuses the FA of deflecting blame in FA Cup replays controversy

Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh has responded to claims that he and other members of the Professional Game Board signed off a new deal to scrap replays in the FA Cup

Steve Kavanagh

Steve Kavanagh has spoken out on the decision to scrap FA Cup replays 

Steve Kavanagh has hit back at claims that the Professional Game Board approved the scrapping of FA Cup replays and accused the Football Association of trying to deflect blame following a backlash from fans.

Kavanagh, the chief executive of Millwall, is part of the PGB through his role on the EFL board alongside EFL chief executive Rick Parry, Peter Risdale and Jez Moxey. He is also the vice chairman of the FA Cup committee.

Kavanagh has insisted that he and others were given no say in the matter and slammed the FA’s attempts to deflect blame. He told Mirror Football: “The first I knew of this announcement was when people were sat around the table [yesterday].

“The FA statement is very clear: this is an agreement between the FA and the English Premier League. This has nothing to do with the EFL. We’re not party to that agreement and we’ve not been included in that agreement. We’ve not been consulted and in fact, I’ve got no idea what’s in that agreement. This is the FA doing a deal with the Premier League, and that’s their right, however, it does have impacts on the rest of the pyramid.

“The FA have now done that deal without agreeing any compensation for EFL clubs. For a faceless spokesperson to then go out and try to shift the finger of blame when they’re getting flack to the EFL and, more pointedly, naming people such as myself, Rick Parry, Peter Risdale and the clubs as having, in some way, signed this off. That’s a deflection of the highest order and it’s not true of reality.”

Full story here

So, this story is going to run and run. Who is telling the truth, which of the Top 20 clubs are calling for these changes to the competition? Surely, not Spurs ….. who bleat about “too many games” but then shoot over to Japan for 24 hours to play in some meaningless “competition.” (Cough) Surely not Manchester United ….. who bleat about “too many games” but then shoot over to the USA post -season to play in some meaningless “competition” against, for example, Wrexham!

In the meantime, please remember that the purpose of this 90 day challenge is to raise funds for my local club and an equal amount for Prostate Cancer. As always, I HOPE you are all enjoying the tour of the UK and that you will consider a donation to support FC Deportivo Galicia and/or Prostate Cancer UK If everybody chipped in with just £1 I would easily hit my target of £10,000 and life would be easier in West London whilst the charity could continue their great work. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can.Share

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Tuktuk Day 106

Exeter City

Welcome to Exeter City. I hope you enjoyed the two days on the Devon/Cornwall border. Now it is St James Park and the Grecians in South Devon who are Plymouth’s nearest Football League Club. They will finish mid-table in League One but perhaps their biggest claim to fame this season is an amazing away record since Christmas. Just about the best in the EFL. Gillingham take note!

Today we talk about changes in the greatest club competition in the world. In honesty, I could have chosen one of many clubs for today’s post but I thought Exeter City put it succinctly. The social media forums have been melting this week with 99% of the comments being aggressively anti the decision by the FA and The Premier League to change the format of the FA Cup competition. The whole of the football world bar perhaps a dozen PL clubs, seem to be in agreement. This is WRONG! It should not take place. Tragedy.

Exeter City Football Club and the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust are bitterly disappointed, but not surprised, to learn of the fundamental changes that have been agreed to the format of the FA Cup, with seemingly no consultation of EFL and National League clubs.

Our football club, like many others, owes its past, its present and its future to the FA Cup replays that have now been taken away from us by those who sit at the very top of the game. The televised replay against Manchester United that helped keep the Club alive in the early years of supporter ownership. The trip to Anfield after holding Liverpool to a draw at St James Park. The home replays against Leicester City and Newcastle United on our way to the Quarter Finals in 1981. And so many more.

That only a select few clubs are allowed to slowly chip away at the very fabric of what makes the English game the envy of most with complete impunity serves only as a reminder of why the Independent Regulator is so desperately needed.

Exeter City Football Club and the Exeter City Supporters’ Trust condemn the decision to scrap FA Cup replays and call on The FA to suspend these changes with immediate effect until a consultation of all stakeholders has taken place.”

It is rare to get much unity of thought but this quotation by Tranmere Rovers FC is in a similar vein and good overview of general opinion. Football is about opinions. In August 92 sets of supporters believe their team will have a great season and get promotion and a run to Wembley. The reality is that is impossible. That does not stop us believing. What the “Powers that Be” have done is to suck the romance out of the competition. Who can ever forget Hereford Utd v Newcastle Utd or, just this season, Cray Wanderers v Charlton Athletic. As a Gillingham fan, I can cite iconic ties against Everton, Leeds United and Maidstone United. Under the new format these games

Tranmere Rovers condemn the disgraceful decision taken by The FA and the Premier League to change the format of the FA Cup, including the scrapping of replays.

There was no consultation with Football League clubs, National League clubs or grassroots clubs to whom the competition represents not only their best opportunity to create life-long memories for supporters but also a hugely important source of income. We also understand that FA Council members were not consulted about the changes.

The decision, and the way it was taken, demonstrate a total lack of respect for the football pyramid and its fans. Football belongs to all of us and decisions should not be taken in back room deals in which only the very wealthiest clubs are allowed to participate. It is yet another eloquent example of the 19th-century governance that means that football simply cannot regulate itself and needs the Independent Football Regulator to have real teeth.

We condemn the changes wholeheartedly and urge The FA to suspend them immediately until all stakeholders in the game are properly consulted.”

Moving on, Robbie Savage, Neil Harris and Stan Collymore are not usually people I have a huge amount of time for but both have come out strongly to condemn the changes. #respect.

Harris reached the FA Cup final as a player for Millwall in 2004 and as a manager he took the club on memorable cup runs to the latter stages of the tournament in 2017 and 2019.

The Millwall boss did not agree with the decision and believes it comes down the issue of money.

Speaking in his virtual pre-match press conference before the Lions go to Sunderland tomorrow, Harris said: “I don’t blame the FA and I don’t blame the EFL certainly. I’m passionate about the FA Cup – it’s a brilliant competition. I played it in my non-league days and I was unbelievably fortunate to play in the FA Cup final for Millwall.

“It’s the football calendar. It’s absolutely ridiculous. European football is a joke, it’s all about money. And all that’s doing is affecting teams down the pyramid system.

“The Premier League look like they don’t want to share that wealth and don’t want to do the deal with the EFL – that’s a shambles in itself. But that’s not for me to discuss now but as you can tell, I feel quite strongly about it.

“And now we’re going to lose replays and the chance for teams to go away from home, fight tooth and nail to scrape a 0-0 draw and then take it back to their place in a sold-out stadium against a Premier League, Championship, League One or League Two side.

Full statement here

Perhaps more interesting are the thoughts of Millwall chief executive Steve Kavanagh who has come out swinging against the FA, accusing them of passing the buck in the recent uproar over the decision to scrap FA Cup replays. As a key figure on the Professional Game Board (PGB) and vice chairman of the FA Cup committee, Kavanagh has denied that either of those bodies signed off on the major changes to the FA Cup

The controversy erupted following the FA’s announcement of significant changes to the beloved FA Cup, including the elimination of replays, as part of a new agreement with the Premier League. The move sparked immediate criticism from clubs and supporters alike, though sparked claims that Millwall chief Kavanagh and his fellow EFL board members on the PGB had also given their approval.

However, Kavanagh has vehemently denied having any input and has criticised the FA for trying to shift the blame onto others. Speaking to Mirror Football, he expressed his frustration, saying: “The first I knew of this announcement was when people were sat around the table [yesterday].” His full statement here

This story is not going to run away and I am sure I will be back to it soon. What say ye all?

In the meantime, please remember that the purpose of this 90 day challenge is to raise funds for my local club and an equal amount for Prostate Cancer. As always, I HOPE you are all enjoying the tour of the UK and that you will consider a donation to support FC Deportivo Galicia and/or Prostate Cancer UK If everybody chipped in with just £1 I would easily hit my target of £10,000 and life would be easier in West London whilst the charity could continue their great work. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can.

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Tuktuk Day 105

Yes, we made it through another week. Sadly, the situations in Gaza and the Ukraine are still deeply worrying and at home the Tory Party is rocked by yet another scandal. The good news is that Darren has forwarded a great vlog of a visit to Kettering Town and that FC Deportivo Galicia kept a clean sheet. I was going to focus on the “improvements to the FA Cup” which prove that the Powers that Be are hopelessly out of touch with 99.9% of fans. That can wait until tomorrow. I MIGHT have calmed down by then.

Darren saw Kettering Town last week and was invited to their ground yesterday and what an occasion it was!

He writes, “With the furore of the FA’s controversial decision this week to scrap FA cup replays, I visited all time FA cup leading goal scorers Kettering Town FC for this weeks vlog. The club themselves have joined a list of teams by issuing a statement of being very much against the decision, and that was the feeling among all the supporters I spoke to yesterday.

Anyway, onto my match days experience there. Basically, it was bloomin’ fantastic, and hopefully a club on the up.

I had been invited to their Club 1872 pre match hospitality, so, I had to get there early, as I had to fit 3 courses of food around bits and pieces of filming. Silvano was there to meet and greet me, and told me what to expect. …food, drink, next season’s shirt unveil, and the manager on the mic for a quick pre match interview. That was pretty exciting to hear…and Silvano also happened to be a really great guy, who was mingling among people with effortless charm!

Food, when served, was great, and, luckily, I was placed on a table of Poppies fans who were really nice with me and answered anything I asked about the club.

I hadn’t heard of club 1872 pre match hospitality before, it seemed to me hidden treasure, but, after speaking to Silvano and club directors, they are very keen that people know about it and away fans are very welcome to book there, where they would be welcomed with open arms.

The match itself was, on paper, one of those end of season affairs, where Kettering Town, or opponents, Coalville Town Football Club seemingly had little to play for, except pride, but it turned out to be a pretty decent watch with a fair amount of goalmouth action and a sending off ……. which always helps the drama of a match.

Again, I won’t give anything else away, as I hope you watch the vlog…which is here

One final thing happened at the end of the match sums up, yet again, why I think Non League is best. As I was filming the 2nd half with some older fellas, a young Kettering Town fan joined us. He was showing us badges of all the grounds he had visited with the Poppies, then mentioned that today was his 11th birthday. He hadn’t got a programme, so I was happy to give him mine and a team sheet.

I said I would try to speak to people so hopefully his programme would get signed by players. I went onto the pitch at full time and mentioned it to only a couple of Kettering players. After doing some filming, I went over where the lad was. He was beaming with joy and telling me that EVERY player had signed it.

Honestly, he really was…footy cliché time…”over the moon,” and had a birthday to remember, simply by the kind actions of the players.

How good is that….and, how good is Non League in general?

Darren later told me another tale from yesterday’s game. I thought it was wonderful and reflects well on Kettering Town. “I’m the clubhouse at the end of the match, Steve. They have this table where the kids sit. They have their balls and programmes. When the players go in the first thing they do is talk to the kids and sign stuff. It’s brilliant. Never seen that before on my non league travels.”

What a fantastic idea! Other clubs take note!

So, let’s all shoot off to enjoy Darren’s Vlog and feel free to subscribe, at no cost, so you will never miss a game. Please remember, if you would like him to visit your club, do make contact. I know he will be delighted to try to fit in another 40 games next season!

Yes, kindly remember that the purpose of this 90 day challenge is to raise funds for my local club and an equal amount for Prostate Cancer. As always, I HOPE you are all enjoying the tour of the UK and that you will consider a donation to support FC Deportivo Galicia and/or Prostate Cancer UK If everybody chipped in with just £1 I would easily hit my target of £10,000 and life would be easier in West London whilst the charity could continue their great work. A HEARTFELT thanks, if you can.

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Tuktuk Day 104

I hope you enjoyed the thoughts of Matt Mitchell at First Class Supoort yesterday. As you read, he is very positive about the benefits for his company of sponsorship. By total chance I know another sponsor at Argyle through Mike “My Plymouth” Turner so it would be rude not to say “hi” to Trevor at Portcullis Legals and hope I can catch up with him for his thoughts in the next few hours. I was recently with him at Home Park and I see that that the ground and club have moved on a long way since the dark days of 2010. This blog was a more polite version of what I had previously written.

PORTCULLIS LEGALS

British Wills & Probate Award Winners – trusted specialists since 1988 in Plymouth and the whole of the Great South West. Discover our estate planning services in Devon & Cornwall.

Friendly and First Class customer service on Wills, Trusts, Estate Admin , Powers of Attorney and Global Pioneers of the 4 Day Week. Appointments at your home or at our place or by video on Zoom, Teams or FaceTime to suit you from 8.30am onwards. Unlike many other legal firms, we give a Fixed Fee Guarantee on all of our services,

How are they different?


The Portcullis Promise – Here at Portcullis Legals, we want to be the antithesis of old school pin striped traditional solicitors. Innovation is at the core of our thinking and we encourage it throughout the organisation. We want our team to be heard and everyone is encouraged to be creative and to come up with better ways of working.

We are also passionate about supporting our community and we like to give back with our time and our skills through our active Corporate Social Responsibility commitment. We support a number of local charities through a variety of means.

Send Trevor a message if you need any legal advice.

Chestnut Appeal


My final port of call in Plymouth (naval metaphor?) is another close friend of Mike Turner’s, Lesley-Ann Simpson at Chestnut Appeal. She is a tireless worker for the Prostate Cancer cause and it would be rude again (!) not to give her a huge shout out in appreciation. THANKS!

Lesley-Ann Simpson, Chief Executive, says, “I have been incredibly lucky to have been at the helm of this amazing charity for over two decades. My work is all about ensuring men and their family get the support they need in the community, and raising awareness is at the heart of everything we do. For the most common cancer in men, it is incredible that no screening programme is available to them, I won’t stop until we have equality for men with regards to their health.”

How can I not support that?

The Chestnut Appeal was founded in 1999 at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, however we work right across Devon & Cornwall.

We believe that every person suffering & affected by Prostate Cancer, Testicular Cancer and Penile Cancer should get the help and support they need, and we will continue to raise funds to pay for the very latest equipment to make treatment of cancers easier, we continue to help fund the work of specialist nurses, we endeavour to develop and help patient led support groups and offer free holiday breaks for those recently diagnosed with cancer.  

We believe it is vital to get more men talking about their health and taking action when they feel like something could be wrong, and a lot of our time is spent out in the community giving free talks and seminars about these three cancers. 

Normally at the end of my blog there is an appeal to donate direct to Prostate Cancer. Obviously you are always free to do that but today I would make a special appeal to all of you and in particular any in the South West to donate direct to The Chestnut Appeal. Thanks, if you can and thanks again if you could check their website for FACTS re Prostate Cancer.



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Tuktuk Day 103

Open photo

After the fleshpots of the capital, it is now down to the more genteel Plymouth Argyle who coincidentally sit one place above QPR after a HUGE win against Leicester City. It is the club where 20 year friend Matt Mitchell has been a lifetime fan. Not only is he an ardent fan, he has also put his money where his mouth is and has sponsored the Championship team. As sponsorship blogs have always received record views and interaction, I am sure you will appreciate this one too.

Plymouth Argyle & First Class Support The Power of Partnership:

Why Our Company Sponsored the Shirt of Plymouth Argyle Football Club during their FA Cup campaign in 2024.

In the world of football, sponsorship plays a vital role in supporting clubs and enabling them to achieve their goals. As a forward-thinking company, we are proud to have sponsored the shirt sleeve of Plymouth Argyle Football Club. This article explores the reasons behind our decision and the benefits it brings to both our company and the club. Shared Values and Community Engagement: Our decision to sponsor Plymouth Argyle FC’s shirt was driven by our alignment of values and commitment to community engagement. First Class Support is a multi award winning company that provides academic, employment, healthcare, and mental health support to individuals (and groups) across the United Kingdom. We became incorporated in 2015 and due to outstanding professional expertise, the company has recorded an annual growth averaging 30% year on year, thus making FCS one of the most popular and in-demand support providers in the country. Matters relating to equality are at the core of all of our support operations, which are reflected across demographics including accessibility, ethnicity, national identity, religion, sexual identity, gender identity, and age. 

Like us, the club recognizes the importance equality and fostering strong relationships within the community. By sponsoring the shirt, we demonstrate our dedication to supporting local initiatives, promoting unity, and giving back to the community that has been instrumental in our company’s success.

Brand Visibility and Market Reach:

Sponsoring the shirt of a professional football club provides our company with significant brand visibility and exposure.

Plymouth Argyle FC boasts a loyal and passionate fan base, locally, nationally and even internationally. By having our logo prominently displayed on the sleeve of the shirt, we increase our brand recognition among a wide audience, reaching not only the fans attending matches but also those watching games on television and following the club’s progress online. This exposure allows us to strengthen our market reach and increase brand awareness. Positive Association and Brand Image: Sponsorship of a reputable sports club like Plymouth Argyle FC helps enhance our brand image and creates a positive association. Supporting a team with a rich history and strong fan base reinforces our reputation as a company that values excellence, teamwork, and community spirit. Our company, even though we are national, was founded in Plymouth. By aligning our brand with the club, we aim to instill trust and loyalty among existing and potential customers, as they see our commitment to supporting local sports and communities.

Employee Morale and Team Building:

Sponsoring Plymouth Argyle FC’s shirt not only benefits our brand externally but also internally.

It creates a sense of pride among our employees, who can see our company’s name associated with a professional sports team. This association creates a positive work environment, boosts morale, and encourages teamwork among employees. Supporting a local club also helps build a stronger sense of community within our company, as employees feel connected to the team and its supporters.

Open photo

Adam Randell, a local lad dubbed the Plymstock Pirlo

Business Networking and Partnerships:

Sponsorship provides valuable opportunities for business networking and partnerships.

By associating ourselves with Plymouth Argyle FC, we gain access to a network of local businesses, sponsors, and influential individuals connected to the club. This opens doors for collaboration, joint marketing initiatives, and potential business partnerships that can further enhance our brand’s reach and growth prospects. Sponsoring the shirt of Plymouth Argyle Football Club has proven to be a strategic decision for our company. It aligns with our values, enhances brand visibility, creates positive associations, boosts employee morale, and opens doors to new business opportunities. Our partnership with the club goes beyond a mere sponsorship; it is a testament to our commitment to the local community and our belief in the power of sports to bring people together.

Day 2 in Plymouth is here….

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