Interview with YouTuber and Fleetwood fan – Ben Knapman: “the atmosphere that day was immense!”

I spoke to young Fleetwood supporter and football vlogger Ben Knapman (@Benknappy) about his beloved Fleetwood Town, and of course general musings about his ever-growing YouTube channel.

Hi Ben, first of all I’d like to ask you, why do you support Fleetwood Town FC?

“I was about 8 years old, and a footballer called Jamie Milligan gave me complimentary tickets to a game. It was against Preston North End and we drew 0-0. After that, I kept attending games until in 2011, I finally got my first season ticket. So I’d say it’s down to Milligan who was trying to get more kids to go to Fleetwood games, and it worked with me.”

Jamie Milligan played for and captained The Cod Army between 2005-2013, scoring 42 goals in the process.

After a solid start to the season with a 2-0 win over Rotherham and 1-0 win away at Northampton Town, has your initial prediction of a 10th placed finish for Fleetwood changed?

“My predictions haven’t changed. I think you get a real feel for where you’re going to finish after the Christmas period. I still think we’ll finish around 10th. Moreover, against Northampton we did actually struggle to score. I think we’ve played two mid-table sides at the minute, the real tests will come when we play teams like Blackburn Rovers and Wigan.”

A Conor McAleny brace ensured Fleetwood were victorious over Rotherham on the opening day, while Devante Cole’s 75th minute strike ensured Fleetwood gained all three points fromThe Cobblers on Saturday.

 

Who will be Fleetwood’s key player this season?

“I can’t pick one but I’ll name two, these two are quality every week. Alex Cairns our goalkeeper is the first, I mean look at his triple save yesterday! My second choice is Kyle Dempsey, our number eight. He runs things in midfield and I think he got 9 assists last year!”

So let’s talk about your YouTube. What do you like the most about YouTube?

“I like the fact you can broadcast your thoughts and be yourself, I think other YouTubers are always better when they’re themselves on videos too. I love that I can share my experiences from Fleetwood games with other Fleetwood or football fans, and I feel that you can meet a load of good people through YouTube. I also enjoy watching my memories back of the games I’ve attended.”

The 15 year-old has over 1200 subscribers on YouTube. Ben vlogs the Fleetwood Town games that he attends, in addition to other football related videos.

Do you have a favourite video on your channel?

“This is a very hard question! It’s going to be a Fleetwood vlog… I’ve made so many of these! *after naming a few of his videos, Ben finally enthuses:* I think the Bristol City video is my favourite because the atmosphere that day was immense. We didn’t stop chanting ‘red and white army’ throughout the whole game, and we deserved to equalise. That day made me proud!”

Finally, what are your aspirations for your YouTube channel?

“Obviously now it’s just a hobby, but I’d like to make a career out of it when I’m older!”

Ben, who was also named as Fleetwood’s ‘Fan of the year’, recently raised over £700 for The Bradley Lowery Foundation. He did this with a charity walk prior to Fleetwood’s pre-season game with Bolton Wanderers. Well done Ben!

 

My thanks go to Ben for taking the time to talk to me. Check out his YouTube channel here.
Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

 

 

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Match Preview: Rotherham United vs Southend United

A buoyant Southend United side travel to Rotherham United this weekend on the back of an impressive 2-1 victory over former Championship side, Blackburn Rovers in League One.

Meanwhile the Shrimper’s opponents Rotherham, who were also relegated from the Championship last season, faced a baptism of fire on their return to League One. They lost 2-0 away to Fleetwood on the opening day.

The South Yorkshire side actually had a fair amount of the possession, and indeed imposed a significant amount of pressure onto Fleetwood, but Paul Warne’s side lacked the final product. Two goals from Fleetwood’s new signing Conor McAleny (who joined the club from Everton) sealed Rotherham’s fate.

 

This is unlike Phil Brown’s Southend, who had little trouble rekindling their impressive form from last season. Goals from Ryan Leonard and new signing Michael Kightly put the Blues 2-0 up, before what would turn out to be just a consolation goal for Blackburn, from a free-kick by Charlie Mulgrew.

Ones to watch in this fixture:

Jon Taylor – Rotherham United

The 25 year-old signed for the Millers from Peterborough in 2016 and instantly impressed Rotherham fans with his pace and work-rate. The winger also boasts a powerful shot and despite being in a belated, rock-bottom Millers side, he managed to score goals against Nottingham Forest, Birmingham and Blackburn last season.

Anthony Wordsworth – Southend United

Rotherham United fans will recognise midfielder Anthony Wordsworth from his time on loan with themselves and may remember his only goal during his time at the club – a fantastic free-kick against Bolton Wanderers in September 2014. The Camden born player played a key role in Southend’s impressive campaign last season, scoring 12 goals in the process. It has also emerged that Wordsworth played despite the influence of injury.

In the dugout:

Paul Warne – Rotherham United

Many critics have slammed Rotherham United manager Paul Warne ahead of this season, but if the club’s fantastic pre-season, and the squad he has assembled is anything to go by, he could well prove them wrong. The club’s former fitness manager assumed the role as permanent manager after managing The Millers in the latter stages of last season’s Championship relegation, which at first appeared to be temporary.

Phil Brown – Southend United

Experienced manager Phil Brown took his Southend United side to an impressive 7th place finish in League One last year, just one point behind Millwall in the final play-off spot. Brown’s Blues side clearly have a significant amount of tactical finesse as they clenched ‘shock’ results last season too, such as a 3-0 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane and a 3-0 victory over Bradford.

The last time they met at Rotherham:

The last game between the two teams at Rotherham’s AESSEAL New York Stadium saw Steve Evan’s Millers side lose 3-0. A brace from Britt Assombalonga and a goal from Dave Martin left Evan’s promotion seeking side looking red faced at the full-time whistle. In fact, Rotherham have not had a victory over The Shrimpers on home soil since 1980.

Full-time result?

With the plethora of attacking talent, both in midfield and upfront that both teams possess, I can see this game having goals in it. That said, I feel like the squads are fairly evenly balanced but I predict a 3-2 win for Rotherham, the recent cup games playing a fair role in my decision, even with different line-ups.

Paul Warne should narrowly clench his first win managing Rotherham in League One, and they will build on the positive signs from last weekend’s defeat to Fleetwood and their recent 2-1 victory over Lincoln in the Carabao Cup. Southend will have to pick themselves up following their 2-0 loss to Newport in the Carabao Cup and the impressive link-up play between Rotherham’s strikers may be enough to send them back to Essex with no points.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

 

 

 

 

 

Fan’s Perspective: I have faith in Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett

Portsmouth’s title winning campaign in League Two last season has been a refreshing change for the club’s supporters following years of financial turmoil and relegations.

With Pompey embarking on a campaign in League One this season, I spoke to someone who would know the club best, lifelong supporter Adam Murphy (@adampfc40), to explain in brief what is has been like following the club in recent times, and what he expects for the upcoming season.

Hi Adam, first of all, why do you support Portsmouth Football Club?

“First of all I grew up in Fareham, a town outside of Portsmouth. I then went to my first game when I was young, it was a pre-season game and Lua Lua scored two.”

Following a turbulent few years for your club, how do you feel after last season?

“Last season was brilliant. It wasn’t easy but we showed unbelievable character to close the gap on Carlisle and get that last automatic place. Also, to win the league how we did, just unbelievable!”

 

Former Portsmouth manager Paul Cook departed the club following the 2016/17 season and has since joined fellow League One side Wigan Athletic. Former Wolves and Rotherham United manager Kenny Jackett has now took the helm at Portsmouth.

Do you think Paul Cook’s departure will have hindered the team’s chances of success this season?

“No, Cook took us as far as I think he possibly could. Jackett is a good league one manager and I have faith in him to do the job.”

Is there any particular fixture(s) that you’re looking forward to?

“I’m looking forward to games like Bradford and Rotherham because they’ll be new stadiums for me to go to!”

 

Who will be the key player for Pompey next season?

“Christian Burgess at centre-back will have to be on top of his game, he’s a very good player. However wingers such as the likes of Kal Naismith and Kyle Bennett will be crucial to our success.”

How successful has this transfer window been for yourselves so far?

“I’m happy with the signing of Brett Pitman. Good striker!”

Pitman has joined Portsmouth on a three-year deal from Championship side Ipswich Town. The 29 year-old believes that joining Pompey is an: “opportunity to push on and hopefully get promoted again”.

 

Finally Adam, where do you think you’ll finish come the end of the season?

“Anywhere but in the relegation zone! But ideally the playoffs or automatic promotion would be great, but a season to find our feet wouldn’t be that bad for a club like us, especially after what we’ve been through.”

Portsmouth will face Rochdale at home on August 5th to start their campaign back in League One.

Many thanks to Adam for talking to me, and the best of luck for the upcoming season. Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

 

Why I actually voted Labour – from a young person

I have seen a lot of negative comments on social media about how the high youth turn out in the 2017 General Election ‘ruined’ the election. I’d like to put forward my opinion on this, particularly as I did indeed vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.

Now first of all I’m not claiming to be a political genius, though people who have read my fairly constant political posts on Facebook may like to differ on that! Nevertheless, after all, as you will have noticed this is a sports blog, so apologies if this isn’t what you were expecting.

I am merely trying to explain to people my reasons for voting Labour, and to hopefully change some people’s minds who perhaps have a narrow view of the youth vote, which was reported to be an impressive 72% turnout. Well done by the way guys!

We proved many people wrong and had our say. Leaving Theresa May worse off than before and her party losing seats in places like Ipswich which has returned to Labour, fantastic!

However for some people it appears this youth turnout was a negative. It was seeing tweets like this that has enraged me over recent days:

Now firstly, I feel that the mobilisation and activity of young people this election has disproved the stereotype that we are all lazy. (Well done, again!)

Secondly, Labour did in my opinion, offer young people the most positives in terms of policies. The scrapping of tuition fees was one of the key policies which probably clenched Labour the vote of many young people.

As a working class University student myself, at times money has indeed been tight. However I have always managed to get by and I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year at university. But I must stress that this free education was not the key reason why I voted for the party.

I voted Labour because I believed that the poverty levels here in Britain are disgustingly high. I could only see it worsening under the Tories.

Moreover, the threat I perceived the Conservatives also posed to our public services like the NHS was far too great. It was clear to me cutting services was not the way forward and I genuinely feared what another Tory government would bring.

Not to mention that the Labour manifesto was costed, unlike the Tory one.

I also felt that besides the Conservatives’ policies, which did not appeal to me at all, that Theresa May appeared to be very robotic. She would blurt out ‘strong and stable’ while she U-turned some of her manifesto’s points and would refuse to debate with Corbyn. It’s like applying for a job and refusing to attend the interview!

This was a stark contrast compared to Jeremy Corbyn, who was very comfortable in his own skin, proud of his manifesto and was happy to meet the electorate.

I voted for sensible, caring politics that I hoped would help re-build the country. NOT because I am a lazy young person who wants everything handed to themselves on a plate, which I fail to see how Labour were doing anyway.

In addition to this, I am confused when I see tweets like the one below. But I am not surprised that so many people voted for a Tory manifesto that offers little hope for the future, if people genuinely believe things like this:

Now everyone is entitled to their opinion but answer me this. How is just that a nurse for example, who does an extremely hard job in my opinion, is then labelled ‘lazy’ by some people, because they have to use a food bank to live?

We live in a wealthy country, this harsh situation that many hard working people face is disgusting.

Now I recognise that there will always be people better off than others in society but surely the richer people in society should pay some more to ensure this doesn’t have to happen. We shouldn’t have to have food banks in the first place, it is unacceptable.
How can you not want a society that has benefits for everyone?!

May’s gamble hasn’t paid off and the country is thrust into an even more uncertain place with Brexit negotiations just around the corner.

When she tried scaring people that Corbyn would make a ‘coalition of chaos’, just look at her links now with the DUP, ah irony.

Finally, Corbyn should be immensely proud.

He rocketed by as much as 20 points in the polls and defied every expectation this election. Labour put forward a set of exciting and caring policies and have realigned British politics for at least a generation. Let’s just work on those high fives ey, Jezza?

*Please do not send any abuse to the social media links featured on this piece*
Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERVIEW: Leeds Trinity Saints miss out on title, but are hopeful for the future

Rugby Union side Leeds Trinity Saints narrowly missed out on winning the title this season despite a rampant 102-0 victory over Bolton on the final game of the season.

In that fixture the Saints scored a whopping 16 trys and 11 conversions.

The Saints finished in second place in the league table. Just one more victory would have seen them clinch the title, however in the end the Saints trailed just 5 points behind the eventual title winners.

The University of Liverpool Men’s Rugby Union 4th Team secured the title with a 73-6 win over Bangor, in a game where Liverpool scored 12 trys and 6 conversions.

I spoke to Leeds Trinity Saints’ flanker Joe Sanderson about his first season playing for the Saints.

A visibly disappointed Sanderson exclaimed: “Missing out on the league by such a narrow margin, is not good in any way”.

He added: “To lose it by one game is devastating especially when we’ve played so well all year.”

The Saints only lost one game all season, which happened to be against the league winners, in a 12-27 loss at home.

However the first year who applied to be team captain last month, was optimistic about the team’s chances of success next year, and remarked: “We want to build on what the captain’s done and we’ve got a team that can get promoted.”

The full interview with Joe is available below:

Many thanks to Joe for taking the time to talk to me.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

 

 

Midlands’s managerial changes: Struggling Nottingham Forest announce Mark Warburton as manager, while Derby County appoint Gary Rowett

Nottingham Forest, who find themselves just two points above the Championship relegation zone in 19th place, today announced former Rangers boss Mark Warburton as their new manager.

Warburton who has also successfully gained promotion with Brentford in the 2013/14 season has signed a 2 and a half-year deal at the Midlands club.

Warburton may face a baptism of fire as his first game in charge of The Reds is in the East Midlands derby against 10th placed Derby County on Saturday.

Derby are a team who have lost their last 4 away games going into this fixture and are also going through their own period of change.

This is due to the sacking of Steve McLaren, and the recent appointment of the former Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett. The 43 year-old has signed a contract that lasts until the end of the 2018/19 season.

Gary Rowett told the official Derby County club website: “I feel a special bond with the club having been here as a player”.

Both managers will have a tough task of rejuvenating their sides, with relegation looming over Warburton’s side, and a seemingly unlikely chance of securing a play-off place for Rowett’s Rams.

The last time the two teams met, Forest triumphed 2-1 over the Rams courtesy of a 92nd minute winner from Ben Osborn.

The upcoming game between the two teams takes place at The City Ground this Saturday, 1pm kick-off.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport

Preview: Sheffield Wednesday vs Reading 17/03/17

Promotion rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Reading will take on each other at Hillsborough this Friday in what could prove to be crucial fixture in the battle of securing a play-off place.

The last time the teams faced each other saw Reading triumph 2-1 over the Owls in November of last year.

Now, Reading travel to South Yorkshire on the back of having lost their previous three away games. Most recently they slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Preston North End, in a game where the Royals had 63% of the ball possession, but failed to make use of it.

Furthermore, The Royals have enjoyed just one victory in their last five fixtures, with three defeats and one draw.

Meanwhile over in Sheffield, The Owls have also ran into a rough patch of form, and due to their recent 2-0 loss to Aston Villa, The Owls share the exact same form as Reading in their last five games.

In addition to this poor form, a lack of available defensive players has occurred which will concern Owls supporters going into this fixture, with Glenn Loovens, Tom Lees and Sam Hutchinson all reported to be injured. Vinent Sasso is also suspended.

Despite of this, Wednesday manager Carlos Carvalhal seems to be upbeat about his side’s chances this Friday, and stated: “We will be a strong team on Friday. It will be a massive game to us.”

Reading may focus on exploiting the lack of regular first team defenders at Wednesday’s disposal, using the likes of the skilled attacker Yann Kermorgant, who is their top scorer with nine goals, to unpick an irregular looking Owls defence.

However, Reading will still of course be facing a tough test, and will also have to contend with Wednesday’s own plethora of attacking players, which includes the likes of Fernando Forestieri who has scored eleven times so far this season.

If Fulham win tonight against struggling Blackburn Rovers, it will ensure that Wednesday would fall out of the play-off places, putting even more pressure on Carvalhal to muster a response from his players rapidly.

This Friday’s game is of vital importance for both of the clubs’ chances of securing a play-off place.

The game kicks off at 7:45pm.

Follow me on Twitter: @GeorgeS_Sport