“Yarrrrr! If ye be askin’ me, ye chance o’ that lily-livered scoundrel in ye thrush goblet be shipwrecked. Lallana apart, the rest o’ his side be a shower,” said Farah from next to his gold postbox in Teddington, south west London.
Many pundits have agreed with Farah’s assessment. Even after making changes at the transfer window the Spartak boss has struggled to get the best out of his team, which this week slipped into the relegation zone.
In Northern Monkeys the Somali manager will have an easy enough opening group C stage fixture this weekend, but tougher challenges await, particularly in the form of Headless Chickens, who maintain their place at the top of the Kenna table.
Responding to Farah’s comments outside the club’s Spyglass Hill training facility, the Spartak Mogadishu manager said: “Ye addled scurvy dog should be comin’ out from behind ‘is gold postbox an’ sayin’ ‘is words to me fore. I be makin’ ‘ee kiss the gunner’s daughter an’ no mistake! Yarrrrrr!”
The weekend cup action kicks off a schedule of five group games to be played over the next three months (5 November, 26 November, 10 December, 7 January and 21 January).
On each cup weekend Kenna teams will compete head to head to score the most goals, with three points awarded to the winner and one apiece if they draw.
The top four teams from each group will go through to the knockout phase, playing two legs in the last 16 in February, quarter finals in March, semi finals in April and the final taking place on the last day of the league season.
THE YOUNG Boys of Vauxhall manager has welcomed plans allowing teenagers to make their Facebook profile public.
Campaigners claim the changes to privacy settings will encourage cyberbullying and unsavoury interest from adults, but the Young Boys boss is convinced the added scouting potential will increase his team’s chances of identifying football talent and improve their chances of winning a second Kenna title.
The Welsh manager needs all the help he can get this season after suffering a catastrophe at the first transfer window earlier this month, despite signing in-form Andros Townsend.
He absentmindedly bought too many midfielders and fell foul of the Titus Bramble ruling. The team’s best midfielder was removed by the league and replaced by Operation Yewtree suspect Rolf Harris as a forfeit.
A tactic to raise quick cash by selling Vincent Kompany also backfired when only £5m was paid for the Belgian by fellow strugglers St Reatham FC.
The Young Boys had to settle for an injured Martin De Michelis as replacement. The Argentine defender joins Harris, Townsend, Nathan Redmond and Sone Aluko as new signings at the club, which failed to climb above 18th place in the weekend back from the international break.
The Young Boys manager remains upbeat. He said: “Everyone knows that the secret to future success is to groom the best talent from an early age. These Facebook changes to teenage privacy settings will let us target boys as young as 13 – a key age in their development both as footballers and people.
“Some parents can be a little overprotective of their children at this age, but they shouldn’t be concerned. Here at the club we regularly help our youngest, most impressionable players to escape distractions and focus on their game. It’s just me, Rolf Harris and 10 Young Boys in a flat in Vauxhall. What could possibly be untoward about that?”
Having taken a few minutes outside Norwich rail station to inspect a map showing the extent of the city centre’s pedestrianisation, we set off heading north on the A140. I was on my Trek 1 Series road bike, Sutcliffe his mountain bike with slick tyres.
Just after passing Norwich Airport we bared left onto the B1149, going six miles past Horsford before turning right towards Oulton Street.
Three miles, a right and a left turn later we arrived outside Blickling Hall, or as Alan Partridge once tried to convince his Ukranian girlfriend, Bono’s house.
The Bucks Arms next door served adequate sandwiches – the bread was a little dry – and a good pint of Aspall cider. Or two.
Fed and watered we took in the National Trust property which boasts “the biggest collection of hatchbacks in the country” and “the sort of dog the Nazi’s used to chase Steve McQueen”.
We were still taking photos and worrying other visitors when it started to rain. Continuing north we went through Erpingham, Aldborough and Suested.
There is plenty of woodland here, and it was wet going in the narrow lanes as the raindrops dripped from the leaves above. By the time we got to Metton we were soaked.
A brief consultation in the pouring rain led to the decision to forego a visit to Cromer Pier, scene of the epic finale of Alpha Papa, and head straight to the youth hostel Sutcliffe had booked in Sheringham.
A soggy climb up through Great Wood vindicated the choice.
Pubs in Sheringham
Asking where was good to go in Sheringham at the counter in the youth hostel, the man behind it proudly informed us there were fishermen on the coast who couldn’t read or write. The enquiry was modified to include pubs.
It’s been a long-held view that seaside towns produce the worst pubs because they don’t need to produce good ones. When it’s sunny and everyone’s on holiday they’ll drink anywhere. Unfortunately we discovered this to be true of Sheringham.
The public bar in recent CAMRA winner the Windham Arms was the scene for first pint of the evening where there was a good range of beers and an excitable group of tradesmen playing pool.
Pint number two was in The Lobster, a pub more tourist-friendly but insipid. The Two Lifeboats on the seafront gave views of the sea, but the beer, the interior and the food all felt like it was assembled, fittingly, by Allen key.
We stopped into the Robin Hood for a nightcap on the way back – plenty of memorabilia on the walls, but like every other pub we visited lacked Friday-night zing.
Back at the hostel it turned out we were sharing the dormitory with a middle-aged man who spoke very passionately about welding. Sleep came in no time.
Don’t take the croissant option for breakfast at Sheringham youth hostel. Just don’t.
A seven on ten fry up and a bright, sunny morning were an excellent start to day two.
Before leaving town I popped into the brilliantly-named Fudgetastic to pick up a present for the war office – whose indifference towards to middle-distance cycling is dwarfed only by her indifference towards Alan Partridge.
It turned out the friendly lady in the fudge shop was a huge Partridge fan. Apparently some of the cast of Alpha Papa stopped by after filming had finished at Cromer and she’d met Sean Pertwee. I got the impression she’d wanted to do a lot more than sell him fudge.
Setting off at 10am west along the A149 we reached Weybourne after three miles up and down along small rolling gradients.
Just after Weybourne is The Muckleburgh Collection, a private museum of tanks and other military hardware. With quite a few miles to cover that day, we decided not to part with the £8 entry fee and settled for a peek through the fence.
This was fortunate. Sutcliffe gets a bit intense around tanks…
At Kelling we bared left onto Wood Lane and climbed up to join a national cycle route. It was around six miles from Sheringham I realised my waterproof jacket was still in the youth hostel drying room.
Rather than add 12 miles to my day while Sutcliffe gloated and dozed in a hedgerow I decided to get them to post it to me later (which they did). Anyway, the weather showed no signs of rain…
We passed through Wiveton, Langham, Binham, stopped for some Terry’s Chocolate Orange on the River Stiffkey at Warham and headed into Wells-Next-The-Sea.
The rest of the coast may have gone into hibernation for the winter, but Wells was alive with tourists.
On the sea front we stopped at The Golden Fleece for refreshment. It was Sutcliffe’s round so I didn’t really see the inside. It gave the impression of being a bit ‘dog on a string’. Sutcliffe quite liked it.
An aperitif later we decided to dine on the Albatross, a pub pancake Dutch boat moored at the quay. It was full of families and the crepes took 45 minutes to arrive. Sutcliffe seethed and I lost count of the number of times he used the phrase ‘sh1tting out kids’.
After lunch we took the tourist cycle route around Pinewood Holiday Park, which boasted many static homes but to the ear no air bass being played.
The ‘cycle’ route became very sandy. It would be inadvisable to attempt this on a road bike. Even Sutcliffe’s mountain bike struggled.
Back on tarmac, we took the A149 to Burnham Overy Staithe rather than the more well-cycled route through Holkham Hall because Sutcliffe wanted to revisit the holiday cottage of his youth. One flashback to his first experience with an older man later, we turned left up to Burnham Market.
Most of the local folk we’d met in Norfolk had been friendly, helpful and even glad to see us. The women in the shop in Burnham where we stopped to get ice cream had such appalling customer skills it felt like we hadn’t given her a much-hoped-for second series.
The weather was fresh and sunny for most of the day, but somewhere along Burnham Road near Cresent Wood the heavens opened.
Having brought two waterproofs with him, Sutcliffe was overjoyed as I pulled on his budget poncho. We took refuge in a hedgerow for 10 minutes as the shower passed over.
Needless to say, I didn’t have the last laugh.
At Ringstead we turned right and having nearly completing the day’s ride stopped at a cafe by the lighthouse in Old Hunstanton for tea and cake. In Hunstanton we checked in to the youth hostel and hit town.
Pubs in Hunstanton
Yet further evidence to prove the ‘seaside town pubs are rubbish’ theory was to be found here.
We started with a pint in Waterside Bar which was full of all sorts of human life clinging on to the summer season. The pub did offer a good view from Hunstanton’s west-facing coast and the sunset.
Feeling peckish we dined in Fishers of Hunstanton – a fully-licensed fish and chip shop – for a mountain of tasty food and bottled Peroni. It being the interval, we washed down dinner with a couple of drinks at the Princess Theatre bar nearby before heading over the green to the Golden Lion Hotel.
Sitting amongst the retirees in the hotel bar, we were quietly enjoying that most precious commodity in Norfolk, free wifi, when an unusual noise came from behind Sutcliffe which for once didn’t originate from his alimentary canal.
The only other time I had heard the metallic, vibrating sound was during an episode of Alan Partridge when he meets the Hamilton’s Water Breaks video production team in the bar the night before filming.
I surpressed a few moments of inner mirth as it dawned on us that a man was using an electrolarynx. He left with his wife before we had a chance to offer him a pint of lager, a G&T and a Baileys.
Having not stayed in a British youth hostel since a school trip to Stone Henge, by Sunday morning I made some curious observations of that particular accommodation.
Youth hostels in Latin America and south east Asia, likely due to climate in those regions, are full of dark, exotic, young people, bright eyed and smiling. As ready to swig the local jungle juice as buy a pillow case full of marijuanua from friendly locals.
From the available evidence in Norfolk, the inhabitants of English hostels share the same wide eyes, but it’s more of a fixed stare, growing more vacant as drops of rain gather on the windows.
In place of bikinis, ethnic jewellery and ‘holas‘ are Berghaus jackets, Ordnance Survey maps and awkward social skills. Sutcliffe was in his element.
After crushing Sutcliffe’s morale over 18 holes at Blackbeard’s Adventure Golf, we followed the A149 south (Lynn Road) for a couple of miles before turning left at the Norfolk Lavender Centre.
A brief push uphill to Sedgeford and we rejoined the national cycle route through Ingoldisthorpe, on to Sandringham House. We stopped to get our picture taken with an oversized squirrel.
The cycle route struck through a forest before hitting the A149, or a tarmac way parallel to the main road. Peeling off right the last few miles went through the quaint village of Castle Rising before the suburbs of King’s Lynn and the train station. We hadn’t seen a single BP petrol station in three days.
Pubs in King’s Lynn
Enjoying status as an historic port, strategic coastal town and the birthplace of Alan Partridge, I always thought King’s Lynn would be a classy, Cheltenham-on-sea type of place. I was to be heavily disappointed.
Our chief concern was to find a good pub for lunch to celebrate the completion of our tour. Even with technology at our fingertips this was an impossible task.
Upon request a chubby policeman on duty in the pedestrianised town centre suggested Weatherspoons. The sun has certainly set on King’s Lynn’s glory days.
We decided to try the Crown and Mitre next to the River Ouse. Aside from the interesting pint of obsucre German lager, a poor choice. We weren’t from around those parts.
And so we fell into the beer garden at The Globe, a Weatherspoons pub bursting with the living wage and all the finesse of turning up to a funeral in a Castrol GTX bomber jacket.
Two beers and a burger later, with the theme tune from Black Beauty in our ears we returned to the station to bring our stay in Norfolk to a close.
For those thinking right now that a visit to Blickland Hall and a weekend cycling round Norfolk hardly constitutes a ‘Tour de Partridge’, I’ll leave you with the words of Alan himself: “You could try Watchdog, but I think they’ve got bigger fish to fry.”
Coming round he knew he had at least broken a rib. His shoulders ached too and he could feel his wrists burning behind his back. The cold concrete pressed against his cheek, the throbbing in his ankles. He was bound to a chair, upturned so that he was lying on the floor in a sitting position. His head hurt.
As the synapses of his mind came to terms with the situation his heart pounded in his chest. Why was this happening? He tried to think back to his last memory but his mind was ablaze and it just made the pain in his head even worse. He opened his eyes.
A wall. Cold and unforgiving like the floor on his face. Mouth dry, except the blood, his blood, he could taste. Blood and, was that turrón? It hadn’t been long since he’d last snacked.
Minutes passed. He cast his mind back over the evening. He was on a business trip in Boston. The flight from London was pleasant. It was on the firm. The conference had been work, but interesting, and there were some good people, with chat and laughs and company credit cards behind the bar.
That seemed like another era now. It smelt of damp and there were no windows so he assumed he was in cellar or basement or whatever English speakers called them. The light was dim so guessed it came from a single, low watt bulb somewhere behind him. He tried to move but immediately whatever bound him cut into wrists and ankles. He wondered if he’d ever see Mornington Crescent again.
Slowly moving his head around to try and see what was behind him he froze with fear. Standing right there was a silent person looking down. The silhouette of the light kept the stranger’s face in darkness, but he could make out an athletic figure and the glint of a knuckleduster.
“Where am I?” he began to demand, but his mouth and throat were so dry he choked on the words.
The shadowy figure took a step back and the creak suggested he’d taken a seat on a table, saying nothing.
“What do you want from me? I have money. Take it. Just please let me go. I haven’t done anything. I don’t know who you are,” the adrenalin was firing now and the pain all over his body numbed a little as he pleaded. The stranger was unmoved.
“People know I’m here. When I don’t turn up tomorrow questions will be asked. They’ll come looking for me. I was the website’s top salesman last year. I’m a big deal. It’ll be reported back to Spanish embassy. You’ll be in big trouble,” the last threat was a bluff, no Castilian diplomat would ever concern himself with a missing Catalan, but he had to try something to get this man to talk. The suspense was killing him.
The stranger took a deep breath. “How are PSV Mornington getting on?” he asked in a southern drawl. He may have been asking the time.
“PSV? My football team?” he spluttered. Whoever the American was he was well briefed.
“Only I heard you weren’t faring too well this season,” said the American. Texas. That was the accent.
“Well, the season is only just beginning. Gutierrez and Cazorla are returning from injury, and Charles N’Zogbia will surely find form soon,” this was surreal, under the circumstances the last thing he expected to be explaining away was his team’s lack of creative spark in midfield.
“You didn’t feel you could improve your team?” said the Texan.
Panic. Blind panic like he’d never experienced before gripped his whole body. The tensed muscles pinched his broken rib and he let out a small gasp. A tear formed in his eye.
“Because if my team was bottom of the Kenna League,” continued the sinister stranger, “I would probably make changes at the first available opportunity. I would at least front up to wear the Bramble jersey.”
He knew only too well where this was going and the outlook wasn’t good. It was clear this American was acting on behalf of Kenna HQ. Rumours were everywhere of the ruthlessness of the league’s manager experiences department. Stories of players mysteriously disappearing in the night from team hotels or managers returning home to find the family pet nailed to the floor were far from uncommon.
“Okay, okay, I know I missed the transfer window. It’s just, I felt I couldn’t improve the team and this trip took priority. And I didn’t want to face the shame of wearing the Bramble jersey,” he admitted.
“I may have to teach you something about priorities,” said the Texan and with that knelt down behind the chair.
There was a swish of movement. The stranger grabbed his head with one hand and with the other used a pair of pliers to take hold of the manager’s front tooth.
“No! No!” screamed the PSV manager into the American’s tool. Tears were rolling onto the concrete.
“Where will you be for the February transfer window?” demanded his interrogator.
“I think I’m due to speak at a dinner for Catalans UK,” the American took firmer grip of his head. “No, no wait! I’ll be at the window. I promise, I’ll be at the window!”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, absolutely. I’ll be at every Kenna event from now on. I promise,” he pleaded.
The Texan maintained the position in silence for 30 seconds or so, as the manager felt the cold steel of the pliers in his mouth and a warm sensation fill his trousers.
“You see that you do. These bruises will heal, but a missing tooth, that’s a lot of work for your dentist. Don’t go to the police. You were never here, chorizo boy.”
With that, the Texan released his tooth, quickly cut the ropes around his wrists and left the room with an aplomb the PSV manager thought he recognised from the football pitch.
Just before he passed out from the pain and the shock, he caught a glimpse of the stranger’s face in the dim light of the bulb.
THE KENNA League is only 17 per cent English, according to Jack Wilshere.
Only four managers come from below the Watford Gap to qualify as English under the midfielder’s nationality test.
The largest portion of managers, 52 per cent, fail to meet Wilshere’s English test point blank as they hail from ‘the Norf’.
Another 13 per cent of managers who come from Wales were dismissed as ‘facking sheep shaggers’.
Of the rest of the league 13 per cent are Catalan – or in Wilshere’s opinion ‘facking Spanish in’it, sangria cants’ – and four per cent Somali.
Wilshere, who is currently signed for Kenna outfit Judean Peoples’ Front, said: “It’s a facking disgrace all these Johnny Foreigners comin’ over here with a soppy bollocks brand of football. If it were up to me we’d put ’em all on the banana boat they came here on and send the buggers ‘ome.
“I don’t trust these Spanish. I heard they eat their tea at midnight. What the fack is that about? That’s over six hours after you’re s’pose to. And I mean seriously, a Somali? In London? Who does ‘e think ‘e is? Mo bleedin’ Farah? I actually quite respect Mo for ‘is runnin’ and stuff, although if me daughter brought ‘im home that would be a different facking story.”
Jack Wilshere’s English test includes eating pie and mash, smoking ‘Silk facking Cat’ and walking like ‘a bit of a geezer’.
THE CHAIRMAN has revealed that the Kenna is one of several leagues keen to sign up Adnan Januzaj.
The Belgium-born, 18-year-old marked his full debut on Saturday with a match-winning brace and is already being touted as a possible candidate for the PFA Young Player of the Year.
But Januzaj, who is of Kosovan descent, is eligible to play for a number of different leagues already: Belgium, Albania and Turkey among them.
Speaking outside Kenna HQ, the chairman said: “Obviously the Kenna is made up of 23 of the finest managerial footballing brains in Europe, so clearly this boy Janachuck or whoever has been on our radar for some time.
“I can confirm that the only reason he hasn’t been signed by one of our managers is because of confusion over his eligibility and nothing at all to do with them not knowing anything about him. That suggestion really is laughable. I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone in the Kenna when I say ‘Adam Janachuck, remember the name’.”
Asked if the Kenna had ever been in touch over Januzaj, the youngster’s parents replied: “A few seasons ago, the Young Boys manager offered to show him some puppies in a disused farm building, but we’ve heard nothing more from the Kenna until now.”
It’s understood that Kenna blazers are now hastily drawing up dossiers to discredit the “dubious claims of Belgium, Albania and Turkey.”
Speaking through an electrolarynx he said: “It was a Friday night drinking injury that caused my Kenna non-attendance, not a lack of commitment. I’ve got a big fat lip and a face that has swollen out of all proportions.”
THE KENNA’S sexuality has been called into question as just eight managers turned out for the first transfer window of the season – a record low since the league expanded to double figures.
And in scenes reminiscent of the graveyard shift at BBC World only a handful of players changed hands in the first two hours of the event on the upper floor of a south London boozer.
Fans’ groups are now demanding root and branch reform at Kenna HQ starting with a cull of ‘otherwise engaged’ bosses.
The league quickly cranked its PR machine in to gear in an attempt to deflect the criticism, with the St Reatham FC boss fronting the backlash.
Skyping in from Woking he said: “We’re all 110 per cent fully committed to the Kenna, but Saturdays are difficult with so many distractions.
“I’m sorry but I’ve got to go now, my mum says dinner is ready and Strictly is on in half an hour.”
Kenna chiefs have yet to comment on the debacle but a source close to the league said: “This is yet another example of useless Kenna blazers losing the plot. Even the 50p game was so embarrassed it only made a brief appearance.”
ROYAL Mail chiefs last night warned of further disruption to services after the Kenna transfer window was blamed for bringing the postal system to the brink of collapse.
Managers notifying the league of their unwanted players by mail ahead of tomorrow’s first transfer window caused an unprecedented surge in correspondence.
As of this morning, Kenna HQ has received 11 letters from managers eager to get their hands on the £10m transfer kitty bonus for getting their requests in by post before today’s deadline. The volume of mail is expected to double today.
The £10m bonus will be added to the remaining funds from managers’ £100m budget from the Kenna pre-season auction. Gathered in the pub tomorrow at 3pm, the managers will bid against each other over unsigned footballers at the transfer auction to fill the gaps in their teams.
The league chairman said: “This is the top, top, top level of football in the world and managers are keen to give themselves the best advantage as they look to freshen up their teams heading into winter. There’s a long way to go to the second, and last, transfer window of the season in February.
“I can confirm that I received a telephone call from the Royal Mail chairman Donald Brydon CBE who begged me to change Kenna rules since additional strain was being put on their services. It seems the volume of under-performing footballers’ names being sent by post was interrupting deliveries of vital, lifesaving equipment.
“I said to him ‘Don, calm down, it’s not like anyone’s lost a kidney. Also, stop using the phone, it’s bad for your business’.
“The call ended well. We’re playing golf next week.”
Photos of managers posting their submissions have flooded social media sites. A prize will be awarded for the best offerings. Here’s a pick of the entries so far:
THE MICHAEL Jackson statue removed from Craven Cottage last week is being lined up as a like-for-like replacement for Nani ahead of this Saturday’s first Kenna transfer window.
The Portuguese winger has failed to make an impact for Kenna newbies Team Panda Rules OK and the manager is taking no prisoners.
“That shabby tribute to the King of Pop has shown as much movement this season as, well, that shabby tribute to the King of Pop,” complained the Panda manager, as he prepared to table a bid for the statue to owner Mohamed Al-Fayed.
The Egyptian business magnate declined to comment.