A BSaD first
By Matt Rowson
Welcome to a BSaD first...the first match preview to
be written in Addis Ababa!
One week here, one week left. Missed two games, will
miss one more, get back late on Friday night,
Stockport may be an option, driving after a long
flight may not be. Train, then.
Stockport station closed Saturdays until October due
to engineering work. Brilliant. Public transport,
what a hassle.
Well, no actually. Being out here puts little issues
like how to get to Stockport somewhat in perspective.
Train journeys across Ethiopia aren't an option, as it
goes...there's only one (wooden) track heading
north-east from Addis to the ports of Djibouti.
As for the roads...well, in certain privileged areas,
there are lane markings (eg, outside the astonishingly
out-of-place Hilton) but forget any semblance of
highway code. The roads are pitted with potholes and
pedestrians, in the absence of pavements worth talking
about, wander nonchalantly through, across, in front of
the traffic. Occasional laden mules and cattle add to
the excitement, and the frequently burst tyres tend to
be replaced where they expire...whichever lane you're
in. It's utter, fabulous chaos. I will never
complain about the M25 again.
Stockport. Not, in all honesty, looking great. If
one of the most encouraging aspects of our season so
far has been the ability to win games and take points
when our performances have been below par, County must
be concerned that their results haven't mirrored their
Lee Jones is the keeper, signed from Bristol Rovers in
the summer and now in the side following a broken
finger to regular number one Carlo Nash. Cover is provided
by ageing journeyman Andy Dibble.
Right-back is regularly Sean Connelly, but he is
reputed to be following favourite Tony Dinning out of
the club and his place may be taken by youngster Rob
Clare. On the left, Peter Clark, signed in the summer
from Carlisle, although the return to fitness of Shane
Nicholson provides competition here.
In the absence of Dinning and the injured Jim Gannon,
a lot will depend on the presence of Mike Flynn,
diplomatically described as "not a great technician"
on an unofficial site. Youngster Glyn Hancock may
play alongside him, although Swede Frederik
Bryngelsson may move to the centre if he recovers
fronm a knee injury.
In midfield, winger Ali Gibb, once of Northampton, has
failed to impress this season, and Dave Smith, ex- of
Oxford, is also uncertain of his future. Left-sided
Colin Woodthorpe can also play at the back, whilst
Kevin Cooper is a fans' favourite. Former Bury men
Rob Matthews and Ian Lawson and Frenchman Karim Fradin
are also options here. Leyton Maxwell was signed on a
year's loan from Liverpool and is deployable in
midfield or up-front.
Ian Moore is starting to fulfill some of his early
promise, but has not enjoyed his lone striking role
this season. He also still has a chip on his shoulder
the size of Brett Angell, and was sent off at Preston
last weekend. Another option up front is former Clyde
man Brian Carrigan.
Stockport finished last weekend poorly and have only
won once this term, exiting the Worthington Cup to
Blackpool. Young manager Andy Kilner is under
pressure, the players being sold are undoubtedly of a
higher standard than those coming in, players are
injured and it doesn't look good for County. It's not
too long since we were in a similar position, we
One thing, though...and indulge me this, I'll try not
to harp on about this too often. This weekend, whilst
the Hornets were beating Crewe, I was visiting
Lallibella in Ethiopia's famine-hit north with my
fiancée and her father. We went to see the ancient
churches, astonishing feats of construction, dug out
of the mountainside eight hundred years ago, but the poverty of
the people is impossible to ignore. These people,
real people, have nothing. The children learn English
because begging from tourists is their only source of
income beyond handouts from aid vans. In some ways
this has been like stepping into one of the 1984
documentaries...except this is very, very real. And
these are real people, so save your pity and sympathy
for them. I have never felt more ashamed of my
(relative) affluence, of my beergut, or of the
disproportionate importance football has in my life.
Not an experience I'm going to forget.
Enjoy the game.