Bards in mid-table and according to the bookmakers, the league table is upside down!
As August drew to a close with the highly entertaining 4-2 win v Bromsgrove, The Bards (66/1 to win the league) lie in 10th place in the table scoring 9 and conceding 11 with 2 wins, 3 draws and a heavy defeat at St Ives in their 2nd game. It goes without saying that if we had managed to hold on when winning in the last few minutes of those 3 draws, Bedford, at Kings Langley v 10 men and at Redditch Utd throwing away a 2 goal lead then we would be sitting pretty near the top of the table. As it is we are a couple of points off the top 5. Apart from the St Ives game (when going down to 10 men very early), the results show The Bards have been competitive in the rest of the games and have played some good football at times particularly v Bromsgrove, the highlight of the month. Josh Hawker who scored our first goal of season in the 1-1 v Bedford leads the goal scoring charts with 3. Our only clean sheet came in our first win in our 4th game, a 1-0 win v Hednesford with an Ash volley. At 2-2 with 10 minutes to go v Bromsgrove, who included 6 ex Town players and an ex-manager, the game could arguably have gone either way but 2 late goals from Town for a change – Paul McCone’s header and Dexter’s breakaway goal sealed the points. Michael McGrath also netted for The Bards again after 6 years but playing for Bromsgrove and Josh Hawker slid in our first. Town seem to have a settled team – Liam, the central defence and midfield, with 8 players making all 6 appearances, Jack Turner (5) and Adam starting the last 3 games up front. This time last year we had 9 points from 5 games and were 5th.
League Table – in a turn up for the bookmakers and their odds at the start of the season, Nuneaton Borough (66/1) are the early pace setters with 5 wins out of 6 having struggled last year, taking over from Coalville Town who led the way until losing their last game. 2 of the teams who The Bards have played, Kings Langley (100/1 and strugglers last year) and St Ives are also in a play off position sandwiched between Tamworth. At the other end, Rushden and Diamonds (18/1), Hednesford (8/1), Stourbridge (8/1) and much fancied Ilkeston (5/2 favourites!) have yet to win a game. Bards’ opening opponents, Bedford have conceded the most goals (17) in their 6 games (not helped by losing 8-1 v Tamworth). At Step 2, Banbury Utd winners of the league last year are currently 2nd in the National League North and play off winner Peterborough Sports are in mid-table.
Players In – Adam Rooney (“probably the biggest signing this football club has ever had”), winger Chris Lait (who played for us in 2012 and then in 2013 was part of the promotion-winning team under Carl Adams), Ryan Inman (midfielder returning from United States), the versatile Taylor Morrison (who was with The Bards in 2018 and scored at Needham Market on his only appearance before playing for Alvechurch, Redditch and Tamworth) and Felix Miles (attacking midfielder) and Brennan Denness-Barrett (pacey attacker) who both joined after being released by League One side Cheltenham Town
HIGHLIGHTS ON YOUTUBE (click on the game) – Stratford Town 4 Bromsgrove Sporting 2 (Bromsgrove Sporting) – Redditch Utd 2 Stratford Town 2 (Non League Matchday) – Stratford Town 1 Bedford 1 (Eagle Vision)
Looking ahead to September, and looking to extend their unbeaten 4 game run, at the time of writing Bards face 2 winless teams and the table toppers. After the FA Cup game at Cleethorpes, Bards have another long trip (200 miles) to Leiston (on the 10th) who are mid-table a point behind us and have lost their last 3 games. We have not lost to Leiston, drawing 1-1 last year on a Tuesday night just before Christmas with an away following of two photographers, one old fan and a Director who made the trip! Then we are at home to Rushden and Diamonds on 13th. We now face a tough FA Cup 2nd round on 17th v Banbury United. Current table toppers Nuneaton visit The Arden Garages Stadium on 24th and we end the month at much fancied Ilkeston on 27th who were promoted to the league last year and have just changed managers.
Off the field, through the 50/50 we have raised over £200 from the 3 home opening games to help the club with projects. Thank you to those of you who have contributed.
DW – any opinions in this article are the author’s