NEXT Friday heralds the Kenna League’s second and last transfer window of the season.
A typically scratchy affair, without a host of available players, a handful of footballers will command eye-watering sums of Kenna club war chests for showing even the briefest hint of form.
Here are eight of the most likely candidates.
1. Charlie Austin, Southampton striker
Despite rumours he spends more time in pubs than the Kenna chairman, Austin has not only managed to get into league but also scored a goal on the weekend. Albeit completely unmarked against an opposition defence struggling for form and consistency, bids will be readied from all corners of the Kenna management. Except, that is, for the Walthamstow Reds boss, who bought Austin on the basis of tittle tattle in August only to release him again at the October window when a move didn’t materialise. Kenna regulations prevent the Reds manager buying back Austin this season, so he’ll be a spectator while others court the striker.
2. Jermian Defoe, Sunderland striker
Given the choice of releasing Defoe for the promise of Anthony Martial in early October, many would have followed the path of the cash-rich Dynamo Charlton manager. Sadly for the south London outfit the Frenchman’s form has evaporated while Kenna veteran Defoe has scored five goals in the last five games.
3. Delle Ali, Tottenham midfielder
A sumptuous strike on the Saturday, and week-in-week-out appearances of guile and creativity would make one think this midfielder was a household name. Ali’s now scored more points this season than Eric Lamela, Nacer Chadli and Moussa Dembele. Will Tottenham midfielders flood the market to make way next Friday?
4. Adam Johnson, Sunderland midfielder
Eager to disassociate himself from the consequences of inappropriately touching a schoolgirl, the Wandsworth Network Solutions manager handed Adam Johnson his P45 at the October window to the sound of terrace speculation about the nature and geography of his alleged offences. Since then the winger has gone on provide nine assists and occupy a central midfield creative role. Are any Kenna managers desperate enough to sign Johnson just five days before his appointed trial date? Yes. Yes, they are.
5. Claude Makalele
Of course, the diminutive Frenchman no longer patrols the outskirts of Kenna auctions, but his patented role certainly does. The likes of Southampton’s Steven Davis, Sunderland’s Yann M’Vila, Norwich’s Jonny Howson and Aston Villa’s Idrissa Gueye don’t create many chances, let alone score, but they have all made at least 20 full appearances this season. While not appealing to the hope of flair on a balmy August afternoon, on a cold night February these players are the chance to fill those non-scoring gaps a manager’s midfield.
This compact Ecuadorian burst into Kenna consciousness in the 2014 Emerson World Cup with his explosive and direct displays for his country. He was having a stop-start sort of season but has come alive to score four goals in the last two games. Anyone in the Young Boys manager’s technical area would surely be considering the release of Diafra Sakho to make way.
8. Andros Townsend
No, not really. This is just in here as a joke. The last time someone signed ‘Dros’ Townsend in the February window they forfeit a debut Kenna League title. Literally.
“They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but it’s much better served with 13 points from Robert Huth and a Bramble player in your midfield,” scoffed the Uncertain manager, in a reference to Thai video star Tom Hopper.
The result was Uncertain’s third ‘squeaky bum time’ win of the group stage, with two other victories by just a point – Headless Chickens 18-17 and FC Testiculadew 20-19.
A whooping by Walthamstow Reds in the other game sees Uncertain progress with a -15 goal difference, the lowest of the quarter finalists.
The side will play Pikey Scum in the first round of the Narcozep knockout stage. Legs will be held on 16 February and 1 March.
IF one tired of London pubs is tired of life, what of one tired of London pub crawls?
Having visited the capital’s ale houses along bus, boat, Tube, tram and train routes over the last three years, a change in the air was needed.
There are many shortcomings to the nation’s rail services, but they do open up a whole array of towns and pubs to the dedicated drinker. And what more zealous tippler could there be than Inspector Morse?
Crime fiction’s biggest pub lover was often seen doing his best ‘thinking’ in the charming boozers of Oxford.
The ancient university city is an hour by train from the capital, making eight bars in the environs of Jericho and the city centre a walkable target for the London day tripper.
Paddington station was the rendezvous for five regular crawlers on Saturday 14 November 2015: the Kenna League chairman, the Pirate, Lady Norman, Sutcliffe and Dazza – who was once again on gents hand dryer rating patrol.
Despite the gloomy weather at Oxford train station, crawlers felt refreshed from a journey in which fellow passengers on the 11.21 had engaged in both conversation and our supply of brandy and coke. Pub recommendations flowed with the chat, and at least one pub was added to the itinerary.
Making our way east towards the city, umbrellas were up. Moist from light rain, we entered the small cocktail bar of The Randolph Hotel. It was filled with a mix of tourists and older patrons who looked a regular feature.
The waiter baulked when we ordered five Morse cocktails. A fiddly drink to make for even the most skilled barkeep, our man persevered. After a brief interlude five tipplers were showing signs of either displeasure or enjoyment depending on their interpretation of champagne, vanilla spirit, bourbon and something else garnished with long strain of orange zest.
The drink divided opinion but the surroundings did not. The wood panelling and nod to the fictitious chief inspector hanging above the fireplace was by far the most salubrious snug this posse had found themselves on a crawl. At £66 for the round, it was a pity Sergeant Lewis wasn’t ‘in the chair’ to pick up the tab.
The whip decimated, we made our way into the neighbourhood of Jericho and The Olde Bookbinders Ale House. The rain had not yet let up, so it was with great pleasure we crowded into what would turn out to be one of the best pubs of any crawl.
Situated opposite ‘Canal Reach’, the murder scene from the first televised Morse The Dead of Jericho, the Bookbinders is a tremendous pub. Authentic, cosy and a fine selection of drinks, it seemed a pity to stay for just one. The French landlord was as welcoming as his pub. His bonhomie and hospitality was extended to the toilet artwork. Captivating.
It’s a short walk from the Bookbinders to The Jericho Tavern. A spacious, echoey pub with wooden floors, a high ceiling and according to the pin board a fine heritage as a live music venue.
Morse was seen disappearing into this establishment in the closing scenes of The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn. An adult film at the cinema next door proves crucial in solving the case. At the end of episode the chief inspector is disappointed to find the skin flick has been replaced by 101 Dalmatians, so he ducks into The Jericho Tavern instead. Classic Morse.
And a wise move. The beer selection was little short of outstanding. That is unless you’ve got the palette of Sutcliffe, whose customary resort to ‘the darkest thing on the menu’ – in ale, as well as life – was rewarded with the amber Doom Bar. He found little recompense in the balance-the-20p-on-the-bobbing-lemon-to-get-a-free-drink game, as did all crawlers.
A heated discussion on Stephen Fry’s value to society later, we cut east across a footpath through academic buildings. The brandy and coke, cocktails and beer manifested themselves in another debate: what constitutes an afro. In hindsight, how a man with a ginger beard offered a valid point on this matter was a mystery with which Morse would have wrestled longer than The Times crossword.
JRR Tolkein and other literary big hitters used to hang out at the Eagle & Child, but on our visit there was no more than tourists and wet umbrellas.
The pub is narrow and wood panelled. The number of tourists ordering mulled wine meant one could have read The Lord of the Rings trilogy while waiting to get served.
Finding a table in the conservatory area at the back, I can’t imagine anyone from Oxford wanting to visit this tourist snare. Indeed, the closest it came to the chief inspector it was dressed up as a background wine bar.
Taking advice from an Oxford graduate on the train that morning, crawlers traversed St Giles to the Lamb and Flag. This wasn’t in the original plan, but its proximity and the scholar’s conviction gave it a solid recommendation.
The Lamb and Flag is much preferable to the Eagle & Child. Open, warm and with beer options adequate rather than outstanding, crawlers saw for the first time that day some real students celebrating after their graduation ceremony. And I thought girls only wore bow ties in gentleman’s magazines.
Taking the Lamb and Flag passage from the pub, the crawl reached Parks Road and took at right. A few minutes walk through yet more sandstone university buildings and now the pubs come thick and fast.
The King’s Arms was up first. It was packed with more bow ties than the Playboy Mansion. By now the day’s repast was beginning to take it’s toll and events slid past with remarkable ease and conviviality.
Immersed in the academic world, for the Pirate it was time to put some of that Somali charm to work. While not disastrous, other audiences have been more receptive to his chat. Pity, with his prolific London Tinder history he could have found an ideal match in a freshly-graduated immunologist.
Undeterred, we bounded around the corner onto Broad Street and The White Horse. With three of the five crawlers standing over six feet tall, it’s a bit of a crouch from street level down the step and through the low doorway.
A corridor of a pub with bar one side and banquettes the other greets the visitor. Peroni was the pick of the lager in here, but we were straying dangerously close to the jaws of the tourist trap again.
It was with relief then, we piled into Turf Tavern 50 metres away. A firm favourite with Morse, this labyrinthine boozer appears to be built on the design of a rabbit warren. By now steady rain was falling, so we huddled under one of the giant umbrella squares erected to protect patio tipplers. The ebb and flow of the chatter was pleasant and effortless. If only I could remember what the hell was being discussed.
From here the crawl became unwieldy. Walking south on Catte Street and turning right at the High, crawlers made another bonus pub visit. I say pub, but The Mitre is a Beefeater.
Morse does happen into here in one of the books, but waiting for Sutcliffe’s bowl of chips while drinking over-commercialised pilsner fails to fire many synapses, or to inspire Sutcliffe to get his camera out. The chief inspector would have solved few crimes in such a setting.
Crossing the High and going down Alfred Street the crawl made it’s last official stop at The Bear Inn. This pub is old with dark beams and plenty of trade. After eight hours on the pop, other details are scant. We had something to drink. It was in a pint-shaped glass. Probably beer.
Having completed the crawl with at least 90 minutes until the 8.21 to London, it was a meandering path back to the station. We stopped at one of the many new new and characterless bars along the road back to the station to kill time.
We stocked up on Polish lager outside the station. The train ride home is a complete blank.
The spires and sandstone of Oxford were a welcome change from the suburban dives and city centre faux show of London. The pubs are by and large fantastic too, and one can see why Colin Dexter made Morse such a lover.
The proximity of the drinking houses means any able bodied drinker can stroll between them, and going at the customary 40-minutes-a-pub pace, we completed the objective in less than six and a half hours, including an additional three pubs.
Perhaps in hindsight it would do better to visit the older pubs (The Bear Inn, Turf Tavern etc) first, in order to better enjoy their historic environs. However, the direction of the crawl would be difficult to reverse. The Randolph Hotel doesn’t feel like somewhere one would be welcome 10 pubs to the good.
Even if one could negotiate the doorman with a skinful, consuming the Morse Cocktail would be a Pyrrhic victory.
LEAGUE leaders Young Boys of Vauxhall could be shunted out of the Narcozep Cup at the group stage…by rejects team Real Threat.
Matches on Tuesday and Wednesday this week saw Young Boys fall a whopping 21 points behind in their final round tie with Pikey Scum in group A. Real Threat now sit in the second qualifying spot after a hat-trick from Jermaine Defoe.
The Young Boys manager must conjure stellar performances from the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Riyad Mahrez this weekend, or his chances of a league and cup double will be put to sleep.
Should Real Threat qualify, the team will be disbanded before the window and then made up of a fresh set of rejects afterwards.
MASS murderer lookalike the Judean Peoples’ Front manager’s court case against the Kenna League over his mid-table conditions, which he likens to torture, will take place in mid table, a court has ruled.
The Anders Breivik doppleganger, which was first called in April 2012, regularly dons tweed and a Tyrolean hat to kill pheasants in shooting assaults because he is opposed to their multiculturalism.
He has complained repeatedly about being mid table, which he argues is a violation of his human rights, especially since he has the in-form duo of Ross Barkley and Toby Alderweireld in his side.
Kenna HQ had proposed holding the trial in mid table, and the Breivik lookalike’s lawyer agreed to the idea.
“Practical considerations justify that the case be heard between sixth and tenth league positions, where Judean Peoples’ Front have spent the last 17 weeks,” the Kenna HQ ruled on Monday.
The mid-table conditions could be more closely studied on site, it added.
Despite Julian Speroni not making a single appearance, and disappointing performances from Santi Cazorla, Ander Herrera, Papiss Cisse and Jay Rodriguez, the manager failed to attend October’s transfer window to make new signings.
In a report published in November, chalk stripes in the Kenna speculations department said the Breivik ringer’s consistent grumbling while failing to engage in league activities made him “look less like a mass murderer and more like a massive twat”.
Narcozep Cup – results
Carles 24 – 29 Hairy Fadjeetas
Young Boys 22 – 17 Real Threat
Uncertain 20 – 19 FC Tescticuladew
Newington Reds 33 – 31 KS West Green
Dynamo Charlton 33 – 15 Bala Rinas
Lokomotiv Leeds 29 – 15 ISIL
Cowley Casuals 15 – 25 Wandsworth Network Solutions
Judean People’s Front 15 – 22 Thieving Magpies
EYEBROWS were raised at Kenna HQ today when it emerged unsigned defender Wes Morgan put in the performance of the week.
Surely someone’s already bought him, double-taked chalk stripes in the speculations department? It turns out they haven’t.
No matter what your predictions of Leicester City’s chances back in the August auction, the club captain who made 40 appearances last season would surely be a good bargain basement punt.
But while Mahrez, Schlupp, Schmeichel, Ulloa, Huth and Fuchs were all Foxes to be snapped up, managers deemed the Jamaican – who made five appearances on loan at Kidderminster Harriers in 2002 – surplus to requirements. More of Vardy’s omission later.
This week Morgan brought his points total to a rum 58. That’s a little more than three points a week. As research proved a couple of years ago, if all eleven players in a team scored three points a week, that manager would go on to win the Kenna.
Which begs the question: given chances in both August and October to buy such a solid player as Wes Morgan, which managers passed them both up?
Others ruefully looking at their auction back four include the managers of ‘Pies (Kyle Naughton, 19 points all season), Panda (Steven Caulker, 11 points), Bala Rinas (Jolean Lescott, 7) and the FC Testiculadew manager (Gael Clichy, 2).
Come the transfer window in October managers were so busy gazing at Jamie Vardy’s £31m signing by Hairy Fadjeetas, Morgan slipped through the net. Big mistake.
The Lokomotiv Leeds manager released Christian Fuchs in favour of Allan Nyom. Fuchs had only scored two points in as many months, but since the window has scored 4.5 points a week. Nyom is averaging 3.75.
But what got the chalk stripes really howling today was the curious decision making of the Northern Monkeys manager.
Firstly, Per Mertesacker had only scored four points by the window, so selling him to Hairy Fadjeetas for £0.5m to fund Russell Martin’s signature seemed like good business.
Form is fickle. The German has been marching along at 3.4 points a week for Fadges. Martin has only scored at 1.4 since October.
Secondly, the Northern Monkeys manager’s wisdom dictated in the wake of scoring an own goal Kasper Schmeichel be released in favour of Boaz Myhill.
Since moving to Walthamstow Reds for £0.5m, Schmeichel (3.6) has been scoring a full point a week more than Monkey’s new goalkeeper (2.6).
And Monkeys paid £9m for Myhill!
Narcozep Cup – fixtures
Just Put Carles v Hairy Fadjeetas
Young Boys v Real Threat
Uncertain v FC Testiculadew
Newington Reds v KS West Green
Dynamo Charlton v Bala Rinas
Lokomotiv Leeds v ISIL
Cowley Casuals v Wandsworth Network Solutions
Judean Peoples’ Front v Thieving Magpies