Rants and musings from the magazine team
It was a bad weekend for…
England 2012 In October 1962, The Beatles issued their first single, Love Me Do. The significance of the debut was of course lost on the unknowing British public who purchased only enough copies to see it eventually limp to number 17 in the charts.
In that same October – in fact, the very next day – Dr No, starring a bewigged Sean Connery as James Bond, was released nationwide, marking the very first instance of 007 on our cinema screens and sparking a dynasty what would last six Bonds, 23 movies and counting.
And later that month, following a disappointing 1-1 home draw with France and an underwhelming 3-1 win in Northern Ireland, Alf Ramsey was appointed as England’s first “proper manager”.
So what have those monumental events from fifty years ago got to do with England’s run-of-the-mill 5-0 victory over San Marino on Friday? Not a lot, to be honest. In that era-creating month of October 1962, The Beatles, Bond and England all stood on the verge of global greatness; the same cannot be said of ‘Roy’s Boys’.
San Marino are, undoubtedly and demonstrably, terrible. Such is their slate of results and reputation that almost 90,000 bloodthirsty England fans bought tickets for Friday’s game, packing out Wembley in the manner of Romans attending a gladiatorial battle or, to bring it back to 2012, attendees at The Hunger Games.
Yes, England won 5-0 and yes, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first England goal was as welcome as it was well-executed. But to give the result some context, when San Marino last visited Wembley in February 1993, Graham Taylor’s men ran out 6-0 winners with goals from David Platt, Les Ferdinand and Carlton Palmer. Yes, Carlton Palmer.
CarlisleCarlisle United had enjoyed a quiet week since their creditable away win at Walsall last weekend. They weren’t called upon for Football League Trophy action (having been knocked out by Preston in early September) and other than a bit of admin required to rearrange a postponed trip to Bury, the preparation for the visit of Notts County to Brunton Park on Saturday was more than satisfactory.
Until The Magpies showed up. County dominated throughout, scoring two goals in each half to come away with a 4-0 win. When you’re the oldest professional side in the world, as County are, it’s not very often that you break club records (150 years’ worth of football means that most records have already been set and are unbeatable – their biggest win was in 1885 for instance) but the win was the 13th consecutive occasion that Notts County have avoided defeat on their travels – the first time in their history they have achieved this feat.
But where do Carlisle go from here? To Bury, for that rearranged game. And with the Shakers' 3-2 defeat at Crawley leaving them rooted to the foot of the table, Gigg Lane isn’t a bad place to go when you’re looking for a morale-boosting win.
Exeter CityIt would be easy, when searching for Saturday strugglers in League Two, to look no further than Barnet’s 4-1 home reverse to Plymouth and Aldershot’s demoralising 4-0 hammering at Gillingham (the Shots' fifth defeat in a row). But the woes of the league’s bottom two clubs are well documented and neither loss was unexpected.
Further up the table, however, supporter-owned Exeter City are starting to watch the wheels fall off their season. Relegated from League One in May, the Grecians started the season poorly with a 3-0 defeat at home to Morecambe but then went on a six-game unbeaten run that included five victories and put them within touching distance of the top.
But a defeat to promotion-seeking Southend at the end of September sparked a sequence of losses that was broken only by the regulation victory over Barnet. Losing 3-0 on Saturday to Northampton, who have had a mediocre season so far, has left Exeter clinging on to the play-off places.
The play-offs would be a decent return from a season that manager Paul Tisdale admits is all about rebuilding his side following the departure of key players, but fans will hope that this dismal sequence doesn’t see a return of last season’s habit of putting together poor runs. Exeter only won two of 2011/12's opening 13 games – and only two of the season's final 14 fixtures.
Will the visit of under-achieving Chesterfield and a trip to over-achieving Dagenham & Redbridge breathe new life into their season or will the bad form continue? It depends which Exeter turn up.
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