Often Partisan

Kids and Practice Games

Blues were forced to play a seventy minute practice match at Wast Hills yesterday after the planned friendly against Mansfield Town was cancelled due to escalating police costs.

I have to say I was quite disappointed that the game was called off. It seems like an age since I last saw the team play and I was looking forward to seeing the new players and how they fit into the line up. Blues had sold a fair few tickets but it would appear from the police’s point of view there was a whiff of planned trouble about the fixture and one can hardly blame either side for pulling out of a friendly when the police costs would in all likelihood have dwarfed gate receipts.

While playing one half of the squad against the other half isn’t going to be as competitive, in a strange way it might have helped the team as it will have meant pretty much all of the squad will have gotten a run out on Saturday.Pre-season is as much as about getting match fitness into the players as it is looking at potential lineups and tactics and I’m sure Clark will have appreciated being able to see all of his players get some game time as the new campaign approaches.

Among those players was teenager Denny Johnstone, who is out of contract from Celtic. The 19-year-old Dumfries-born striker got some first team action for the Bhoys last season and scored eleven times for the Parkhead outfit’s u20 side which pipped city rivals Rangers to the U20 league title in May 2014. Johnstone was linked to Dundee United at the end of last season but the Terrors backed off due to uncertainty over compensation that would need to be paid to Celtic as Johnstone is under 24.

That financial issue may well force Blues out of the picture too; however I think it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of probability that a deal could be agreed with a down-payment of very little and clauses for first team appearances, goals, national recognition, promotion and a cut of any sell-on value. Celtic would be entitled to compensation even though Johnstone is out of contract as he is still under 24, although under the Bosman ruling it does come with the proviso that they must have offered Johnstone a contract equal to or better than the one he is already on prior to the youngster agreeing a move.

It appears Johnstone would very much be the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle with Clark being so impressed by youngsters Demarai Gray, Reece Brown and Koby Arthur that he has seen much less need to bring anyone else into the squad. This pleases me for two reasons – firstly I think it’s more sensible to blood your own youngsters than some raw trainees from Premier League clubs as those kids will become assets to the squad financially at least; secondly with the squad looking fuller than it was we won’t be so reliant on kids one would hope and it means that Clark will be able to introduce them from the bench and build them up gradually rather than chucking them in at the deep end.

The thought of a raring to go Dimmy Gray or Koby Arthur coming on against a tired defence, being told to run at defenders and scare them pleases me immensely and I hope we can get to a situation by the end of the season where they are playing week in week out on merit – not by default due to lack of players.

Despite not being able to see the team play I’m feeling positive still about the new season; no doubt this may change slightly when Wes Thomas is put through one and one and puts the ball into the Tilton but I have faith that we’re in a better shape than we have been at the end of last season – and that in the longer term things will improve further.

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86 Responses to “Kids and Practice Games”

  • Staffs Blue says:

    I read in the BM that Wes Thomas is much improved.. so I would assume that, at least, one of the journos have seen him play recently.

    As for the new season, I’m feeling fairly confident. We seems to have more than enough about us going forward, so if we can keep on the front foot, the defence will be under much less pressure. The $64,000 question is, will the defence be a more solid unit than the last 2 seasons. We have to hope so.

  • Chris W says:

    I too was disappointed that the game was called off and shall have to wait for the Notts County game before I can see the team play.
    If it is any consolation the weather in and around Nottingham yesterday was appalling, very heavy rain, localised flooding, thunder and lightning, which could have lead to injuries on the pitch or accidents on the roads.
    Have to agree that we are in a much stronger position than last season, the younger players have some experience and appear to be taking their opportunities with both hands and impressing when given the chance.

    Full credit to LC for his diligence in attracting what looks to be an exciting group of players, just hope they live up to their promise.
    KRO+DNM

    • Raymondo says:

      I think we were lucky yesterday that the cancellation meant our fans and team were not involved in a storm of biblical proportions. It also happened around here slightly earlier in Ashby de la Zouch as it moved north. It was as dark as night at 3.30 in the afternoon and we had to put the lights on!

      • Chris W says:

        I was unfortunate to be caught out in it, several local floods made a 20 minute journey the best part of 90 minutes.
        It would have been really miserable, if not dangerous to play in those conditions, I think it would have been abandoned anyway.
        KRO+DNM

  • Jazzzy786 says:

    Denny Johnstone would be a good addition to the squad. We are a bit light up front and if LC wants to play 2 up top we need another striker. The youngsters appear to have learnt from last years experience especially Gray. A few years back we were hearing good things about Koby Arthur maybe this is the year he breaks through. I hear though he hasn’t even got a squad number this year.

    It’s nice to hear everyone seems to be positive about the new season. I still think we will struggle to score goals with no proven (at our level) goalscorer though defensively I think we will be better. Just saw the new home top and it is the best shirt we’ve had for a good few years. I’ll definitely be buying that.

    • Chris W says:

      My only complaint about the new kit is, when on the line it now blends in with all my neighbours who are Forest fans. Our new top is similar to the forest training top, at least with the Penguin top I stood out. :-)
      I think Koby maybe loaned out this season for added experience, Damarai looks the more stronger of the two.
      KRO+DNM

      • Staffs Blue says:

        Didn’t Arthur spend a month at Lincoln (?) last season? He may have scored a couple as well.

      • Geoff S says:

        The Forest training shirt won’t bear that rather good globe and ball crest so you’ve got that on ’em.

        • Chris W says:

          True but it always stood out on a Monday morning when the washing was on the line.
          It always drew comments when I called at the paper shop on my way to a game, many prefered it to their own styles.
          Shall see what they say when I wear the new one.
          KRO+DNM

          • Geoff S says:

            My view is that the original ‘penguin’ design Blues shirt from the very early 1970s was okay for a temporary change. The white “breast” on that shirt only covered about a third of the way across the front of the shirt.

            More recent penguin styles have had the while section widened (largely to accommodate unsightly corporate logo) to the point where there looks to be more white on the front of the Blues shirt than blue. I know some early Blues shirts sported a white “V” but I personally agree with Staffs Blue that a traditional plain blue shirt is best.

          • Chris W says:

            Don’t get me wrong, I Like the new shirt, I shall wear the penguin in the garden and the other half can wash both on a Monday and hang them side by side, especially if we win and the neighbours all lose. thats Derby, Forest, County and the one Mansfield supporters.
            Not a Viler in site either…
            KRO+DNM

  • Big Al says:

    In every Blues team I can remember, there’s always been a player the fans pick on. Wes Thomas is the prime contender for this new season. Be careful you don’t add fuel to the fire.

    • Staffs Blue says:

      Also, Blues fans tend to love a player who puts 100% effort in… and I think Thomas could be the new DJ in that respect. I think the first 10-12 games could answer a lot of questions.

      • Chris W says:

        I certainly think the new look team should be given a chance before the boo boys start chanting.
        10/12 games is the ideal benchmark for all concerned, we should be sitting comfortably mid table at that stage of the season, anything less then we should look at where it is not working or who isn’t pulling their weight, anything more will be a bonus.
        KRO+DNM

  • Geoff S says:

    If Denny Johnstone is any good, why not try a loan?

    • Chris W says:

      Might be an option but I think LC is saving his loan options and hoping the current squad will do the job.
      KRO+DNM

      • Staffs Blue says:

        Looking on You Tube, it seems there was a bit of handbags between Johnstone and Gavin Gunning. So they should know each other well. :-)

    • Jim Brierley says:

      He is out of contract

  • williammorgan says:

    The signing of Denny is to strengthen our future ,we have some very good wingers ,so to succeed we need plenty of strikers to be on the end of the crosses

  • Tony says:

    Just has to smile our keeper bless him reckons he could still play for the USA, Dont think Tim Howard has much to worry about.

    • Steve says:

      Which keeper ?

    • Staffs Blue says:

      He’s living in Cloud cuckoo land. Even Brad Friedel is still better than Randolph.

      • Raymondo says:

        Colin Doyle is too! IMO. I think he’s had a raw deal!

        • Chris W says:

          Not sure what the set up is but I do think Colin Doyle deserves a chance to stake a claim on the No1 jersey.
          CD has his faults, but so does Randolph and I believe he cost us a few points last season and conceded a good few goals he should have saved.
          KRO+DNM

          • Raymondo says:

            Especially that howler at Bolton! We might have stayed up on points rather goal difference if it hadn’t been for that.

          • mark says:

            tbh raymondo this was his first season in the championship granted he made a mistake, but where were other times he has helped the team out of the sh*t. This will certain test Randolph if he does drop below his standards, i personally doubt Clark will have any qualms dropping him this season.

          • Staffs Blue says:

            if you look back, you’ll find he was responsible for 10 or
            12 goals in the second half of the season. he rarely takes the blame either… bolton being the exception

          • Tony says:

            I would certainly give Doyle a crack this season, agree he is in a comfort zone but half a dozen games would do no great harm.

          • Staffs Blue says:

            I think he’s earned another chance, just for his loyalty and perseverance.

          • dave mann says:

            he will play the cup games Tony but thats is lot except for injury pal. KRO.

          • Chris W says:

            That was one of several over the season.
            He did save us with some MoM awards on at least three occasions, but with keepers a mistake usually ends up in the net.
            He is certainly susceptible on free kicks, hopefully with a taller defence his walls should not be as leaky.
            It was his first season so give him the benefit of the doubt, but he will have to be more commanding this season.
            KRO+DNM

          • dave mann says:

            fair point Raymondo but he did make a good save shortly after that to keep it 2-1 and then caddis done the buissiness. KRO.

        • Jim Brierley says:

          If Doyle was any good or had any ambotion,he would have moved on years ago,under threed different managers he has only had one run in the team,and that was down to injury,he is happy to sit on the bench at Blues,think that tells you all you need to know.

          • Chris W says:

            He is settled in Birmingham, he has 3 young children, one with health issues, so maybe he is happy to bide his time.
            The club has been loyal to him and he is repaying them, loyalty is something rare in the modern game.
            KRO+DNM

          • dave mann says:

            very true Chris W but he has been loaned out many times and always comes back so that might tell you comething else….? KRO.

      • mark says:

        for me it great that colin wishes to excel himself this season, and keep randolph on his toes…..its all about health competition imo and only bodes well for the team…..

      • Richard Granfield says:

        I have to disagree with your assessment of Randolph. Considering the defensive cover, or lack of it, he received from our defence he made remarkably few mistakes.

        • Staffs Blue says:

          Weak over his head (quite a few goals went in between his head and the crossbar) and seems to lose sight of long range shots/free kicks. But, we can’t all agree on everything. ;-)

          • Chas says:

            Staffs, did you see the Pics in the Mail of the Blues Villa match from days of yore?

          • Staffs Blue says:

            Yeah, they were brilliant. Whoever did the article made a number of errors with the names though.

          • Chris W says:

            I’m trying to work out the Peter Shilton picture playing in a Blues/Vile Derby?
            KRO+DNM

          • Staffs Blue says:

            Picture 1. ‘.. On the floor are Tony Coton and Ken McNaught.’ McNaught is actually the blonde player standing on the right.

            Picture 2. ‘Peter Shilton’ is actually Dave Latchford.

            Picture 24. ‘Villa’s John Robson was marking Francis , but he could only watch him score.’ It was actually Villa’s record appearance holder, Charlie Aitken.

            How can any self-respecting Birmingham newspaper get those facts so wrong lol

          • Chas says:

            Doesn’t really matter to me if they got the names wrong for m but I take your point. It was a joy to see the pictures , and I know the names myself. The mail was crap then and it still is now.

          • Chris W says:

            Bet Dave Latchford pleased to be mistaken for Shilts,I knew the two keepers but I see they have changed the caption now.
            “Budgie” holds the record of having played for something like 30 clubs over a 30 year career, 14/15 league clubs if my memory is correct, most of which were as emergency cover.
            KRO+DNM

          • Staffs Blue says:

            Burridge was also the man who discovered and mentored Ali Al-Habsi of Wigan.

          • Chris W says:

            He always appeared overweight but he was a half decent keeper, like a laugh and a joke too while he was playing.
            Randolph could learn a thing or two off him.
            KRO+DNM

          • Staffs Blue says:

            I remember Budgie mostly from his Blackpool days. He was an excellent keeper. His size was very deceptive… he was extremely agile.

          • Chris W says:

            Beaten several times when he set up a wall, not too hot on crosses, flapped regularly and his punching was poor.
            Failed to take command of his 6 yard box, quick to point the finger even when he was at fault, berated the younger players instead of helping them.
            Yep, overall a decent keeper.
            KRO+DNM

  • beegeeblueboy says:

    There was a reason DJ cost only £15k and it wasn’t due to the fact he was near the end of his contract

    • Richard Granfield says:

      What are you talking about?

      • Staffs Blue says:

        DJ as in Damien Johnson, or DJ Campbell?

        • beegeeblueboy says:

          DJ was rated so highly by Bruce that he was his first signing at Wigan. Er no he wasn’t wanted at all. He and Stephen Kelly were two of the first casualties under McLeish because they couldn’t pass or cross accurately under pressure

  • Mark Galloway says:

    IMHO we are sleepwalking into oblivion!

    KRO

  • mark says:

    well done to lee moved very quickly to offset the problem of the mansfield game been cancelled…. Looking forward to the kidders game with great relish upon hearing blues are taking great numbers of fans to the match………

    • dave mann says:

      was looking forward to mansfield but to cancel it 24 hours before because the police couldnt cope and there was a threat of trouble is a load of crap….why sell so many tickets then to blues if this was the case?……why cause trouble at mansfield? total garbage, mansfield new that we would bring a crew on a summer saturday at 3.00pm …..they should have worked out the expense before hand….unexceptable in my eyes, sorry to say………lets wait till friday when kidderminster will come up with the same excuse, was looking forward to going there to but looks unlikely because TO MANY blues fans will want to go.
      KRO.

      • Chris W says:

        Totally agree Dave, the excuse is a little lame, the only consolation is the weather would have probably lead to the game being abandoned. The roads around Mansfield became rivers, check out “Roads turn to Rivers” for some photos.
        I live in Nottingham and did a 20 minute journey that took 90 minutes on Saturday.
        I can see the Kidders game going the same way and their ground is smaller than Mansfields. Don’t know why they don’t move it to St Ans.
        KRO+DNM

      • beegeeblueboy says:

        The police don’t sell the tickets do they?

  • mark says:

    regarding johnston looks like blues are looking at a deal with the offer to celtic having bigger sell-on clause in rather than a tribunal setting a figure…..might be worth a punt for blues! kro

  • mark says:

    yeah daniel some will be waiting in the wings waiting for thomas to do a wade miss in front of goal…..to give them a reason to slaughter him…..

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Check out Denny Johnstone on Youtube, especially the video that shows him having a shoving match with Gavin Gunning. He looks a useful player.

  • Richard Granfield says:

    Am I the only one not looking forward to the start of the season, as we will lose our place at the top of the Championship alphabetically!!

    • Staffs Blue says:

      You never know. Boro are no great shakes. They’ve lost Emnes too, who for me was their biggest danger.

      • Chris W says:

        Won 0-1 in 2013, but you have to go back to 1st Nov 1980 for another win, not really a happy hunting ground for us. I’d settle for a draw up given its the first game of the season.
        I am really looking forward to the new season, who knows we might stay top for all 46 games.
        Is that coffee I smell… :-)
        KRO+DNM

        • Staffs Blue says:

          I’ll take a draw up at Boro too. It would be a nice start to the new season.

          I’ve read that former Blues apprentice Jack Deaman is close to signing for Cheltenham. Has already turned down Bristol Rovers and Oxford apparently. I’m glad the lad’s got himself fixed up with a new club.

          • dave mann says:

            ime going on my mates coach staffs to boro and last season i went on it six times we won five and drew one and that was bolton so dont worry mate were get atleast a draw if not a win because i like to think ime a good luck charm…bring it on!!! KRO.

          • Staffs Blue says:

            Well done that coach. :-)

        • Richard Granfield says:

          I was at that game at Ayresome Park in 1980. Frank Worthington scored our goal and we didn’t win another away game that season.

          • Chris W says:

            Might be better off not winning then, I’ll settle for a draw on the opening game of the season.
            KRO+DNM

  • bluenoserob says:

    I am told that its the police who decide how many coppers are needed for each game .If they got a wiff of “planned trouble ” (what is this 1986?) then they can say that many more cops are needed .At a couple of hundred quid per head i could see how this would soon become a lose maker.If there was some “supporters” who had arranged to have a middle age fat bloke dust up for old times sake , then they are the ones who have cost the bluenoses the chance to see our team.not the police or mansfield.

  • Staffs Blue says:

    Just read that Julian Dicks is the manager of the West Ham Ladies team. :-O “Women footballers don’t have egos like the men, they want to learn and
    they don’t talk over you when you’re speaking. It’s different and
    refreshing,” says Dicks.

  • The Timms says:

    We’re gonna win the league man.

  • Staffs Blue says:

    Akwasi Asante is on trial at Notts County.

  • Staffs Blue says:

    Looks like a very useful tour coming up for the academy. http://www.bcfc.com/news/article/20140727-blues-academy-goes-dutch-1782787.aspx

    • Chris W says:

      Anything competitive has to be welcomed, European football is an advantage.

      It is credit to the academy and backroom staff to get this recognition.
      KRO+DNM


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