IT HAS never been remarked upon that any team won a top-level football league because they ‘transfer windowed well’.
In the brief hiatus between the end of the season in May and the start of the World Cup in June, whoever the winners are will be noted for their long-term strategy, the conviction instilled into the team by the manager and most of all their luck.
They may have signed a useful player in January who immediately gels with his teammates, but that will only be a footnote in the side’s chronicle of success.
The Kenna League takes pride in reflecting this particular nuance of modern football. In every Kenna season to date, the winning manager’s preparations in the summer, his approach to the auction, the core of team purchased therein and good fortune, has decided the campaign.
That’s not to say that transfer windows are obsolete, despite the Pikey Scum manager’s claim today that his Senderos/Jenkinson swap in the last window was like ‘rearranging the deckchairs the Titanic’. To remain competitive Kenna managers must ensure their peripheral players are making appearances – it’s little surprise that three of the bottom four managers didn’t attend the October window.
Transfer windows are as integral to the Kenna League manager as they are to the Premier League manager, but for the most part of the season they must both rely on the finite resources at their disposal.
Which is why other, much less exclusive fantasy football competitions have got it wrong.
If any manager wants to remind himself of the superiority of the Kenna all he needs to do is enter the ‘official’ Fantasy Premier League.
At this point it would easy to list the many faults of this contest, that everyone ends up with pretty much the same players in their team, the ridiculousness of picking a captain and vice captain each week, the folly and oversight of not giving prominence to manager darts entrance music, but the argument will be kept to one strain – transfers.
The season is one long transfer window. The manager is essentially picking his team from one squad of every player in the Premier League. No player is off limits. How does that mirror the game?
Of course, the banner advertising on each page hints at why the FPL wants ‘managers’ to keeping checking back on their selections for the upcoming week. The Kenna suffers from no such obstacle to improving manager experience, as the trifling amount of visits to these pages testify.
But satisfying sponsors at the expense of sophistication is nothing compared to FPL’s single biggest foible.
The crucial period of the FPL manager’s week is time between Friday morning and Saturday lunchtime, between squads being announced for the weekend’s fixtures and the cut off point for making changes to your team.
So why does the chairman kick himself every week five minutes into the Saturday early game on the Kenna HQ kitchen radio? Because for any self-respecting Kenna manager this 36-hour ‘transfer window’ is dedicated to planning, executing and recovering from a Friday evening’s entertainment after the working week.
Almost exactly a third of the way through the season it’s a welcome reminder of why the Kenna was founded, and why the preferred time for the next Kenna transfer window is a Friday night.
It’s also the best way to explain why the chairman is bottom of every FPL league he’s entered.
Canesten Combi Cup – group stage standings after two match weeks
Taking on the whole network during licensed hours would be optimistic and unnecessary, so on Saturday 2 November 2013 just after 1pm tipplers gathered at Kennington underground station to visit a pub for each stop of the Charing Cross branch.
The route offers excellent highlights of London’s famous landmarks and includes a river crossing. As always, this review is provided to advise and entertain the prospective pub crawler, walker or tourist. Here’s the itinerary:
Kennington – The Prince of Wales
Waterloo – The Kings Arms
Embankment – The Princess of Wales
Charing Cross – The Harp
Leicester Square – The Porcupine
Tottenham Court Road – Bradleys Spanish Bar
Goodge Street – The Rising Sun
Warren Street – The Prince of Wales Feathers
Euston – The Crown and Anchor
Mornington Crescent – The Lyttleton Arms
Camden Town – The Worlds End
Each heading below links through to the pub profile page on the excellent Beerintheevening.com.
A gem anyone would be happy to call their local. The Prince of Wales is set in the corner of a quiet square with a couple of tables and chairs outside, and a cosy snug.
Sutcliffe, Binksy and the Kenna League chairman became the only three crawlers to continue their unblemished attendance record. They were joined by the Young Boys of Vauxhall manager, the Still Don’t Know Yet manager, Lady Norman and sundry others.
One pint down, the short walk to Kennington station was taken for the route’s only tube journey. Unlike the two previous crawls, the sun was out.
Sutcliffe: What can I say? Nice choice of carpet (matched my shirt). Quiet backstreet boozer. I think we shocked the locals.
Dazza: Nice area. Standard pub. Impressive carpet design like Sutcliffe’s shirt, although I think the shirt had more stains. People outside seemed confused why we were taking a photo.
There are many other pubs closer to Waterloo station but they cannot compete with this firm favourite, let down only by the lack of apostrophe in the signage.
The public bar and saloon bar are served by a central counter with a singular recruitment policy. The curious conservatory area out the back was closed and pieces of a fireplace blocked a door onto the Victorian splendour of Roupell Street.
An open fire roared in the public bar where Rounders and Simon were found Kenting it up. The former Wandsworth Window Lickers manager arrived and within minutes was telling his Nurburgring story to the first person who listened.
Drinks finished, the crowd walked back past Waterloo station, alongside the Royal Festival Hall and over the River Thames, where Simon’s story of investigating Kent dogging spots as a local reporter prompted Binksy to enlighten everyone with the phrase ‘seagulling‘. Car windscreens will never look the same again.
Sutcliffe: The ‘back’ was closed due to building work which meant we had to squeeze into the tiny public bar. Nice place with staff who are very understanding when you’re drunk (from experience). Unfortunately it’s usually full of rich local bankers and lawyers who wish they were working class (a la Jamie Oliver) complete with plummy mockney accents and flat caps from Harrods. Some of the team fitted right in here.
Dazza: Small and pokey. Quite dark and bloody hot in there.
The Wandsworth Window Lickers manager: A lovely pub, as always serving up some delicious beer. Shame about having a chimney by the front door.
Sutcliffe: I don’t really remember much about this one which is probably as good a description as it needs.
Dazza: Bit more trendy, very sporty. Expensive drinks. Steep stairway to the toilets, or maybe I was starting to feel drunk at that point, not sure. Michael Buble (not in person I hasten to add, that would be awesome) playing in the toilets which was nice to whistle to while taking a piss.
The Wandsworth manager: I believe that this was the introduction of the first 50p. Well done the chairman for seeing it off. Average pub, nothing to report.
Crossing the Strand, crawlers were treated to one of the West End’s more compelling pubs.
The Harp has a great range of beers, although patrons are made to enjoy them in a narrow, crowded atmosphere. Unusually for an Irish pub, singing is not allowed. The sour member of staff who ordered crawlers to stop made one wonder if, for a place named after a stringed musical instrument, the barmaids should not appear more regularly plucked.
Having claimed the chairman in the Princess, the 50p game struck the Still Don’t Know Yet manager, who was still complaining of a night shift and three hours’ sleep.
Sutcliffe: Cosy, little place (small and over-crowded) with an impressive collection of beer pump clips.
Dazza: Impressive collection of beer mats. Narrow pub with beer-goggle looking staff behind the bar. Lots of portraits on the wall, can’t remember who they were of though.
The Wandsworth manager: Interesting boozer with a seven per cent beer called Black Jesus, not for the faint-hearted, no-one manned up. I was given serious grief for drinking from a bottle. In hindsight I wish I had stuck to these.
The Porcupine sits halfway up Charing Cross Road in a swirl of tourism. Refraining from any jokes about the place being a bit pokey or full of pricks, more crawlers found themselves necking pints of ice cold, gassy lager because of the 50p coin dropped into the bottom.
Being part of the Nicholson’s chain, the décor goes for the ‘Olde London like Jack the Ripper used to take a drink there guv’nor’ that few of that pub franchise manage to pull off. The Porcupine is no exception.
Sutcliffe: Dull, touristy, but a reliable watering hole
Dazza: I think the Still Don’t Know Yet manager 50p’d me in there. I managed to pass it on to Martin’s mate. Sutcliffe has a photo of him holding the 50p. Sutcliffe got rather excited as it was really in focus!
The Wandsworth manager: Another 50p in play, goosed! Here starts the slippery slope, besides that not a bad boozer.
This bar’s website has a whole section dedicated to their ‘pride and joy and centrepiece’ – a jukebox that plays vinyl. As they crammed into the tiny bar area of Bradleys five pints down, many crawlers were rebuked by staff for knocking into the music box and causing it to skip.
Retreating outside to the quiet street just behind Tottenham Court Road station, a pint of Cruzcampo became the first casualty of the day when it smashed into the pavement.
This is a great bar, if you’re one of the five people in it.
Sutcliffe: Nice Spanish back street bar. I imagine it has character but I was getting too pissed to remember at this stage. I remember Dazza getting shouted at for repeatedly bumping into the vinyl jukebox. Someone dropped their pint. I think we disgraced ourselves.
Dazza: Wasn’t this one the Spanish bar? Really small. I fell against the jukebox and skipped the track which the locals didn’t like. Someone dropped a glass outside so I’m sure the regulars loved us frequenting their dark pit of a bar.
The Wandsworth manager: Classic “don’t touch the f*cking jukbox” I believe was heard as someone again made the record jump. First breakage of the night and 50ps flying round all over the place.
Calls throughout the day to watch the football were briefly met when crawlers filed into a packed Rising Sun. Several large screens high up on the walls of this airy pub transmitted events from Ashburton Grove to a sea of upturned faces.
Sutcliffe: Don’t remember this one. I think Dazza didn’t come in due to mounting drunkeness.
Dazza: Really crowded. Much bigger bar. Lots of sport on TV. Took me ages to find the toilets (which were right by the front door). Getting seriously pissed. Eyesight starting to blur.
The Wandsworth manager: Aresnal were on, the beer was a flowing and it was starting to get a little bit messy. Very windy outside.
The third and final pub of the day named after Welsh royalty, the Prince of Wales Feathers is an expansive place. It was still early in the evening and the party largely had the floor to themselves. Finding themselves ahead of schedule, everyone had a second drink.
It was there that the Young Boys manager paid for an ill-advised wager on Australia to beat England at rugby that afternoon. As an Englishman, there are few better sights than a Welshman having to down a glass of pink gin because your country won a match they shouldn’t have due to a controversial refereeing decision that infuriates Australians.
Sutcliffe: Posh and polished but I don’t remember any character. I do remember Dazza having to sit this one out and walk up and down the street outside to try and avoid throwing up. I was talking to him with the aid of a doorway’s support when I was subtly informed by the owner of the flat above to stop ringing his doorbell with my shoulder. Someone wussed out (Martin?) and bought themselves a cup of tea instead of beer. £3.75 for a cup of tea, £4 for a pint of Peroni.
Dazza: Can’t remember much about this one. Really drunk. Had to take a breather outside.
The Wandsworth manager: My usual piss stop on the way home, so good to have a pint in it for a change (the pub not the…). I believe that Barry White made an appearance here. It would have been a good idea to get some food in at this point.
On the other side of Euston Road, the Crown and Anchor offers a pleasant bar area. Apparently the place does good food, but if in Drummond Street it’s better to try one of its amazing traditional Indian restaurants.
A key lesson learned from the number 38 bus route pub crawl was that minimal time between pubs leads to shaky decision making later in the evening. By walking between each boozer, crawlers are given adequate opportunity to take some air and regulate their intake. The tactic was paying dividends at this point in the night. Except that no one remembers what happened in the Lyttelton.
Dazza: Sobered up a bit here. Didn’t take much notice of the pub. Crap report. Hit the lemonades!
The Wandsworth manager: Erm…not sure if I made this one, no memories….hhmmmmm.
The crawl had finished way ahead of schedule and presented the central committee with dilemma. Follow the Edgware line to the superb Enterprise in Chalk Farm or the High Barnet line to The Abbey in Kentish Town where Sutcliffe’s mates were having a party? The bearded wonder successfully pushed for the latter and the crowd traipsed up Kentish Town Road for shooters and dancing.
Sutcliffe: Bonus extra pub to join my friend’s birthday party. After the initial setback of Lady Norman farting (which cleared the room) and then blaming it on me, I warmed to this place. I vaguely remember someone losing a jacket and some very over the top Halloween costumes but I was quite far gone now. The chicken kebab in New Cross Gate made the long slog home worth it.
Dazza: Was this the bonus pub? Lady Norman lost her coat and Tim farted, which caused the back room to clear and many disgruntled people.
The Wandsworth manager: Vague recollections of dancing with the Pirate and attempting to chat to anything with boobs, skirt and a pulse.
Having organised three London transport-themed pub crawls in 12 months, the central committee patted themselves on the back at how simple and entertaining the Charing Cross branch event had been. Everyone was in good spirits, the crawl had finished way head of time and even the weather held out.
But there was something missing, and it wasn’t until the hangover had finally subsided a couple of days later that it became apparent. Blunder, or the lack of it, hadn’t visited itself on anyone. Nothing went wrong. No one truly disgraced themselves. No peculiar locals sharpened their pitchforks. The whole crawl was as functional and unobtrusive as most of the taverns visited. Even Sutcliffe lost interest in taking photos by the end.
Plans are afoot for a crawl of the Croydon tramlink in spring. The central committee can only hope the locale throws a few curved balls. Perhaps dropping into the New Addington pub where an infamous regular once turned up with a machete would be a start.
Cup rules were amended by Kenna HQ at the beginning of last season so that goals scored rather than points would decide the result between two opposing teams.
The new arrangements made it easier for managers to follow their team’s progress over the weekend. At the time the move was widely praised in the media as a masterstroke of the chairman’s administrative acumen.
The Young Boys manager, who didn’t enter last term’s Kenna for suspicious reasons thought to be counter-revolutionary, said: “This is ridiculous. When did this rule change? What a joke changing it to goals. What’s next? Why don’t we have a cup based on assists or clean sheets or yellow cards?
“This is symptomatic of a Kenna leadership which becomes more and more authoritarian with every season. He treats the league like his own personal fiefdom, making up rules to suit his team whenever it suits and punishing managers on a whim. Why do you think he founded the manager experiences department? It’s just a pseudo secret police unit to use as a means to control the docile management in the league.”
Reacting to the defamatory and provocative comments made by the Young Boys manager, the chairman retained the munificence and wisdom that has so often been characteristic of his time in office.
He said: “The Young Boys manager is free to air his views about cup regulations and I would be very keen to hear his thoughts face to face. I’ve arranged for representatives from our manager experiences department to collect the manager from his home and bring him here for questioni….further dialogue.”
HUGO Lloris may still be struggling to remember his daughter’s name and feeding his cat drawing pins after Sunday’s knock to the head, but the clean sheet means he’s made it into the Kenna team of the season so far.
Unusually for a Frenchman, the FC Testiculadew goalkeeper represents one of the best value for money of the eleven over performers, scoring 45 points for his £500k auction price tag.
Yaya Toure is the most cost-effective purchase with 57 points for his £500k. Alongside Leighton Baines, the Ivorian midfielder is one of two players featuring for league leaders Headless Chickens.