From the Press box

Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Positive Progress

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Another week has passed for the Premier League, and Blues are slowly but surely making progress towards that imaginery forty point marker which should guarantee us a third consecutive top flight season.

Four matches into the 09/10 season for Blues left us on 4 points, with results looking like this: LWDL, whereas four matches into this season leaves Blues 2 points better off with a record of DWDD.

With 6 points on the board, it means that Blues are now 15% towards a 40 points marker, and look to be already making progress on last seasons performances.

This shows on the like for like matches of last season. Here, I’ve tallied our results so far with the corresponding fixtures from the previous season, and it shows that as well as improving on our overall starting performance, we’ve already picked up points off teams we failed to beat last season in the same fixture.

If we can continue to pick up the extra points off those teams we may have struggled against in away fixtures last season, we could see Blues finish quite comfortably once again. However, it is early days, yet it is encouraging to see Blues making progress both on a game by game basis, and also comparatively.


Written by Nicole Carroll

September 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Stuck on Non-League day? Go to Worcester FC

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The twitterati is back in action, and those who are interested and involved in football are getting behind a scheme which should hopefully see fans take a visit to non-league grounds this weekend.

Non-league day is being held this weekend to coincide with the international break. Fans of the Premier League, Championship and Leagues one and two are being encouraged to use their Saturday “off” as such to visit those clubs who are most likely local to them, but they’ve never visited.

Unfortunately, I’m working this weekend. However, if I had a Saturday to myself, I’d be making my way to Worcester FC to watch them take on Nuneaton town, and I would encourage anyone in the area to go along.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Worcester, they currently reside in the Blue Square north league in the heady heights of 8th place, just one place below tomorrows opponents.

If the weathers nice, taking yourself to St. Georges Lane for the afternoon could just be an enjoyable way to kill a few hours Saturday and a good way of showing support to the lower leagues.  I’ll be there in spirit..bovril in hand.

Adults are priced at £11, OAP’s students concessions are £7 and kids are £3.

Written by Nicole Carroll

September 3, 2010 at 7:01 pm


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After a somewhat disappointing draw against Bolton, it can sometimes be difficult as a Blues fan to see the wider picture and keep our eyes on the overall game plan, which is obviously staying in the Premier League for yet another season.

As a match by match feature now, I’m proud to bring you to you, the reader, the stats-o-meter. I’m hoping that it can provide happiness when things seem to be going wrong for us, or it’ll point out the doom and gloom.

Quite frighteningly, we’re already 3 games into the season. Blues current points total of 5, made up of two draws and a win, is 1 point ahead of last seasons standings after 3 matches (LWD).

In my previous article, “Has the forty point benchmark disappeared?”,  my table pointed out that the average point tally for staying up in the Premier League is 38.1 points, but for safety’s sake, it is probably useful to say that we need 40 points to feel any sort of security in this league.

With 5 points on the board, we are 12.5% of the way to earning a third successive Premier League campaign, compared to 10% of the way at the same point last season.

Here is a random comparison between this and last season: This season we have scored 6 goals in the league, compared to one goal in the same number of games during the 2009/2010 season.

Written by Nicole Carroll

August 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm

The Zog Factor

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The public pursuit of one Mr Charles N’Zogbia has been almost like an elaborate game of kiss chase for Blues. Since January, Blues have fairly publically courted their admiration of the talented Wigan wingman, and he seems to be the man earmarked by McLeish to add width to what is a very narrow team.

I don’t mind public pursuits of players. It gives fans something to get excited about sometimes, a juicy name here or there generates interest. We’ve not been alone in chasing players, Manchester City, backed with financial clout, tracked and got their man James Milner.

What is starting to annoy me ever so slightly though, is the public knock backs. From what I’ve read, which I can’t is extensive, is that Wigan and their Chairman Dave Whelan have a definate price for N’Zogbia. I’ve gathered that this must be around £10 million, and after our £8 million approach was knocked back, I would have thought that with the new backing of the clubs owners, we’d of gone back in their and matched their offer.

At the end of the day, I see it a little bit like this. Some things you have to buy in your own lives, you’d class as essentials. For me, I’d class pants as an essential (although one man I dated did not class pants as an essential – I did question how he could handle wearing jeans but I digress).  Anyway, if I’m in desperate need of pants, I can shop around and see what pants I can get for my money. However, I can’t go to a shop, go to the till with the underwear I require and only offer 80% of the asking price. I could possibly negotiate, ask whether taking out a store card would allow me further discount, but essentially, I would need to pay the asking price.

After writing that all out, maybe it’s not quite the same. However, in an age where fans seem to be comparing old board to new board, is there essentially anything different in the way they are supposedly conducting transfer dealings? The old board were criticised for offering less than the asking price in an attempt to make it appear as if they were interested in a higher calibre of player. If we have the money, why don’t we enter into a negotiation with Wigan in which they will react seriously too, and where we might see N’Zogbia seriously consider a move to the Midlands.

Perhaps I’m just just reacting to new speculation that a further bid has been rejected, and maybe I should let things just play out for the next few days. In the Milner transfer, it was protracted over a number of weeks, bogged down with discussions over fees, player swaps and compensation.

With only a week to go though, messageboards will be tense as the clock starts ticking. Will the elusive wideman ever appear at St. Andrews, or will the last few days turn into the Zog Factor of massive disappointment? Watch this space.

Written by Nicole Carroll

August 25, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Are twitter footy predictions the future?

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I’ve been on hiatus for a while. Life seems to get in the way sometimes, and I’ve taken a step back from being too involved with football and I’ve just observed everything happening around me.  Birmingham have started the season well, and the Premier League is seeing a flurry of goals and early excitement.

The return of the Premier League means I usually return to the bookies to write out my accumulator, stick on a pound, and hope my fortune is going to come to me sometime soon. Thus far, it hasn’t.

Football predictions can be quite fun though, it’s nice to see how unpredictable football really is sometimes, and if you can spy a shock result before it has even been played, then you could be on to a money maker.

In my inbox this afternoon was an email from Wisdom of Fans, a new twitter based football prediction game. As a keen member ofthe twitterati, I was interested by the concept of tweeting my predictions and seeing how good I really am at predicting matches (which I’m not). Even better, at this moment in time their are cash prizes for the best predictor.

This isn’t an endorsement, rather it is an experiment. In the age of social medias such as twitter, can a service like this catch on? The nifty thing I’ve found by searching and playing with the site for ten minutes is that you can search for fellow twitter users and view how they are doing – perhaps friendly rivalries will fuel the popularity of such a site?

Football is the main interest to me quite naturally, however, these side show type games are always welcome, and it should be quite interesting to see whether the idea of sport and social media can cross over effectively to become a service which is widely known.

For anyone interested, my own predictions for this week can be viewed on my page here.

Written by Nicole Carroll

August 24, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Can fans accept jail bird players?

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Today is a big day for a player who is currently a free agent looking for his next club. Ex-Wigan striker Marlon King will today be released following his stint inside for sexual assault and actual body harm on a teenager.

King certainly isn’t the first player to go inside during his playing career and most definitely won’t be the last. In 2004, Lee Hughes who at the time played for Albion, was convicted with causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to six years imprisonment. After his release in 2007, he signed for Oldham Athletic and currently plays for Notts County. Newcastle’s Joey Barton also spent time in jail in 2008 for common assault and ex-Birmingham City player Jermaine Pennant spent 30 days in jail for drink driving related offences in 2005.

Following King’s jailing, his former employer, Dave Whelan, stated that he didn’t want convicts at his club although he recognised that other clubs would take a chance on players who had committed crimes.

Perhaps Whelan felt he’d been stung by a player in quite a serious way. Although King got sent down for this crime, he arrived at Wigan with other crimes to his name, including a previous time spent at her majesties pleasure in 2002 whilst playing for Gillingham, who paid his wages during the time he was inside. Steve Bruce signed the player at Wigan, and perhaps Whelan felt that Bruce could change King’s ways, following Bruce‘s successful gamble with Jermaine Pennant at Birmingham.

I suppose it’s the same as any person who has committed a crime, has a criminal record, yet wants to find a job. Any employer needs to assess whether the crime and record of that person can be accepted back into their establishment.

Some fans however will find it hard to morally stomach watching and supporting those who have possibly committed serious crimes, for example Lee Hughes who was charged and convicted of causing death by dangerous driving. The problem with fans rejecting having those on the pitch with criminal records is, where does the buck stop? Do we refuse to support all of those with a criminal record, or do we differentiate between the different crimes?

At the time of King’s sentencing, Gordon Taylor of the PFA gave an interview to BBC 5 live stating, “If he serves his time, is contrite and shows a willingness to get his life back on track then that (football) is his skill and that’s the right of every individual.

“There are many managers who have taken on players who’ve had chequered careers both on and off the field. Sometimes they have been able to change them and other times not.

“It’s not going to be an easy situation to accept but I would hope with the passage of time, with the right approach from Marlon and the willingness to get his life back on track then that’s a situation that hopefully may resolve itself and he’s still young enough to be able to do that.”

What is interesting however is that at the time that Gordon Taylor gave the interview, the PFA had received no approach from King or his management to ask for support. I can see the argument behind giving people second chances and allowing them to continue in the profession they have trained in. However, when someone continually flouts the law giving no regards to their employers or fans who contribute to the wages, when do clubs finally decide enough is enough and stop taking a gamble on a player?

With around a week before the league kick off, and two weeks before the Premier League begins again, I’m almost certain that King will be signing for a club somewhere in this country. There is no doubting that he has talent, which is why people have gambled on him in the past despite of his wrong doings. Sadly, however, it would appear that without a real willing to change, history will repeat itself for Marlon King.

Written by Nicole Carroll

July 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Girls know nothing about football

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I’m incensed and enraged. I’ve spat out my morning tea and have almost choked on my toast whilst digesting today’s football news.

I shouldn’t be getting wound up about what I’m going to talk about, because its link with football is almost farcical, but I will continue to wind myself up over it.

This morning I was pointed towards this article at hereisthecity, entitled “Birmingham City Fans usually have big bellies“. If you don’t want to read the drivel, the basic premise for this article is Ivana Takitall is rating all 20 Premier League clubs according to the male fans attractiveness.

The delightful article then goes to rate each clubs fans, with no fact or reasoning flung in. Just 20 paragraphs of made up stuff about the respective male fans of each clubs. One thing I get a whiff of here is the fact she’s probably a Cockney bird or a Cockney wannabe bird, seeing as on the whole she generally gives London clubs male fans the massive thumbs up, for example Fulham, “A Fulham supporter is every girl’s dream. Well off, daft as a brush, and able to go like a train for hours” although she is massively disparaging about Chelsea “In the same way that many Chelsea fans arrived from other clubs without warning, so Chelsea man will often return home after a visit to another man’s wife. Don’t trust him, or at least accept him for what he is – a selfish, flash-harry with a Narcissus complex.”

Just by reading the pieces title, you know she isn’t going to be kind about Birmingham City, who she duly describes as “These men are a little more basic than their Brummie rivals. All those years letching after Karren Brady have take their toll. And so have all the pies and pints. The biggest thing about the average Birmingham City fan is unfortunately usually his belly”. Where is her proof that all Birmingham supporters are pie eating letches? Why doesn’t she provide the stats that show that all Birmingham loving males have big bellies? If anything, I’ve sat with some very nice looking young men at the football!

Even the opening statement is nothing more than obvious, “My research has led me to believe that couples are better off not going to watch matches together’, she continues, ‘As particularly younger men much prefer to watch their teams with their ‘proper’ mates, having a few drinks before and after the game, and stuffing pie and chips like it’s going out of fashion. Arguments can often ensue when a female partner wants to join in the fun. In many way, the perfect partner for the average football fan is one who actually dislikes football – that way, the guys will be free to support their team without any ‘interference’.”

How many people have you seen on a night out who go out as a couple and end up arguing? That is just life. Generally, couples and days out together do not mix. It only takes a snidey comment from one partner in front of the other partners friends to light the blue touch paper and it all goes up.

Saying that though, a football loving bird is sometimes a massive coup for some men. Sometimes, it is quite amusing to let the woman tear apart a friend’s football theory and their only comeback is “she’s a girl, what does she know about football?”.

I know many of you will be banging your heads against the wall right now, telling me I’ve missed the point. This is obviously a tongue in cheek piece, mildly mocking each football club, using small anecdotes about each club to validate the facts in some way. I must have had a sense of humour by pass this morning though, because it just isn’t funny.

Being a girl and writing about football is tough. Horribly tough. If you have an opinion on anything which is traditionally male, the response is usually to get back into the kitchen and have a sandwich, or people view you with massive suspicion. The only way to gain any respect as a female writing about football, in my opinion atleast, is to write about football topics that men want to hear about. On the pitch formations, transfer speculation, history of the club. Those kinds of subjects always go down well. Topics like what Takitall wrote today only add to the argument that girls really know nothing about football.

Written by Nicole Carroll

July 27, 2010 at 10:08 am