Clutching to Straws

By Will Farr

28th February 2018

Living in Essex must be tough. A couple of years ago you would have been placed in the same bracket as the ‘characters’ on ITV2’s staged and over dramatized drivel, TOWIE. I’m not a lover of reality TV as you might guess. Fast forward to nowadays and after escaping the Essex stereotypes created by the programme, a new showman has been appointed. Placed second in the “Essex Rich List’ and arriving with a very familiar arsenal of fake tan and the ability to attract widespread media coverage and attention is none other than Mr Glenn Tamplin.

Pretty much unheard of outside the borders of Essex, Billericay Town FC have had a reasonably successful history in the lower divisions of England.  They’ve never been out of non league despite multiple titles in the Essex leagues. This makes Glenn Tamplin’s mission to become a Football League club all the more ambitious.

After taking over in 2016, I think its fair to say Tamplin has left his mark on the club. Its currently the 28th of February and at the time of writing ‘Ricay’ are currently sitting one point clear at the top of the Isthmian League Premier Division (the seventh tier of English football to you and me) with seven games in hand.

That’s brilliant, right? You would have thought so but within the past seven days Glenn has caused quite a massive stir on the worldwide web. Now, take a good Google look at some of the things that have happened and may have at Billericay’ – remembering it’s the seventh tier of English football! I mean, imagine if our manager/owner of the club is offering to resign on social media!

Pulling no punches here, last season was the worst of my life as a Stoke fan. However that’s only because I was introduced to Stoke in the promotion season (pretty much an 08’er if you like) and we haven’t really looked back since but last season was a lot different. News came out that certain players were ‘unfit’ which for me is absolutely baffling. The fact that Paul Lambert has come in and within a couple of months has identified these problems makes me ask the question, what were doing in pre season and before Christmas?

In an interesting interview with Iwan Roberts in Mundial magazine, he comments how Mark Hughes was ‘probably the worst trainer that you could ever, ever have.’ Don’t get me wrong, what Sparky did for us will not be forgotten, and its because of him that I have witnessed some of the best football I will ever watch Stoke City play. However, have we reaped what we have sowed?

 2nd April 2018

Mark Hughes has a new job, Stoke haven’t won in eight games, Billericay have dropped to 2nd with two games in hand, Afellay has left Clayton Wood, Glenn Tamplin left a game early to catch a flight – crikey!

I didn’t expect either club’s situation to get much better but I never expected it to get this bad. By all accounts, on the 24th of March Glenn Tamplin left his dugout, hopped over the fence and walked straight down the tunnel with his team 3-0 down away to Hendon. With twenty minutes left on the clock. The stories and rumours followed, leaving the Billericay twitter issuing a statement saying that; ‘We would like to announce Glenn was always going to leave early due to having a flight to catch and is now away on business for the next few days‘. In a particularly David Brent-like move, the club posts a picture of Glenn sitting in the back of a taxi almost modelling the taxi sign which is usually on the roof. All of this when they had a game on Saturday against Leatherhead.

As for things closer to ST4, not much had improved. The optimism around the club after the win against Huddersfield is now long gone and normal service has been resumed with us getting one win in eight games. In my eyes, were doomed. I’ve seen nothing from the Watford, Everton and Brighton games to make me think we’ll turn this one around. We struggle to score goals and the defence has only been marginally improved with the addition of Bauer (who Lambert thinks is ok to play left wing against Arsenal? No idea what’s happening there.) and so the problems remain. Please prove me wrong Stoke.

Monday 30th April

Stoke have gone 12 (twelve) games without a win. Billericay have won the title. Since the start of writing this, both clubs have gone in opposite directions. Billericay have won their league and are promoted, despite the media circus that has surrounded their every move.

I’ll be honest with you, for a while I wasn’t sure where this article was going, but it made me remember something. In a time where the Blackpool has been left in a big rotten pile of tangerine, Coventry City in a right mess, and a seventh tier club are paying big wages and getting a big press etc……..our situation isn’t as bad as some might think (myself included). Yes, decisions at the top have not been spot on, but they’re problems we can fix.  This city needs us to be in the Premier League but let’s hope we learn from their mistakes and guide us back to the Premier League again. It could be better, but it could be a hell of a lot worse.

WILL FARR