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Monday
Feb272017

Preston North End Gentry Day at Craven Cottage, 4 March

Preston North End fans have designated this weekend's fixture against Fulham as their annual Gentry Day - and North End supporter Geoff Ollerton, one of the organisers, has kindly provided us with this explanation of the day's history.

WHAT IS GENTRY DAY?

North End Gentry day is a fan organised event and is in memory of any Preston North End follower or player who may have passed away in the last 12 months.

The Gentry term was first used by third division championship winning manager Alan Ball Snr in the early 1970s stating to the Press after a game that "Preston fans are the best, they're the gentry".

This inspired a number of PNE fans to don bowler hats and even pin stripe suits at Deepdale and especially amongst a loyal band of away supporters.

In 2005 supporters organisation The Preston Supporters Group (PSG) arranged the "Return of the Gentry" in memory of John Tracey, a member of the original PNE Gentry who sadly passed away. This was a massive success and even saw North End's players wearing the famed bowler hats on the pitch. 

In 2008 with the support of PNE-Online and other supporters groups, PSG decided to make it an annual event for all North End fans and the people of Preston to remember anyone they may have lost during that season/year.

Last season over 4,500 North Enders travelled the short distance to Horwich with huge numbers donning suits and bowlers and supporting Gentry Day with the players once again getting involved in the day.

Gentry Day has now become a proud tradition for the folk of Preston and it's football club and has been well received by supporters of all the clubs chosen as hosts over the years.  

We are sure all supporters will once again will be pulling out all the stops to make this season's Gentry Day at Fulham a great day in the PNE fans' calendar. A football special train has already sold out.

As ever the football club and the Lancashire Post will be backing this fan led event to help spread the word of The Gentry.

You can read more about The Gentry at gentryday.uk or you can follow us on twitter @pnegentry or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gentryday/

Friday
Feb242017

Trust February meeting with Fulham Football Club

On Tuesday 21st. February, 2017, representatives of the Trust Board (Dan Crawford, Mike Gregg and co-opted member, Gerry Pimm) met Alistair Mackintosh (AM, Chief executive officer) and Sarah Brookes (SB, Communications and Marketing Director) and Sean O’Loughlin (S’OL, Finance Officer) from Fulham FC at the Club’s Headquarters, Motspur Park. The group was joined later in the meeting by Tony Khan (TK, son of Chairman, Shahid Khan), who has been working with the Club’s analytics department since the summer.

TRUST POP-UP EXHIBITION 

The Trust formally thanked the Club for their assistance in helping to stage our ‘pop-up’ exhibition of Fulham memorabilia in the Johnny Haynes suite, prior to the recent home fixtures against Wigan Athletic and Nottingham Forest. The arrangements allowed many Fulham fans to view historical items from the Club’s past and they were very well received by participants and visitors. The Trust and the Club will continue to discuss ways of promoting the latter’s illustrious history through similar ventures in the future and we look forward to sharing more details with our members in due course.

CRAVEN COTTAGE AND REDEVELOPMENT OF THE RIVERSIDE STAND 

AM told the Trust that the Club was still considering a number of options to renovate the Riverside Stand that had been prepared by Thomas Heatherwick, after being commissioned by the Chairman. The Club is also now also talking to other companies in order to prepare the widest possible selection of options for Mr. Khan to review. AM explained that the Club was not in a rush to complete this process so as to ensure that the eventual development is the best improvement to Craven Cottage that the club can make.

TICKETMASTER

In response to the issue of repeated emails being received by season ticket holders and members in the run-up to Fulham’s FA Cup fourth round tie with Hull City, AM and SO’L told the Trust that the Club had engaged in repeated conversations with their ticketing contractors about the unacceptability of such developments. AM and SO’L also confirmed that Ticketmaster was working on a series of improvements to their software to deal with issues related to the functionality of the ticketing webpages, selection of seats at away games and improving the offer to Fulham fans. The Trust thanked the Club for the recent changes implemented to provide more information about the availability of away tickets.

SEASON TICKET PRICES FOR 2017/2018 

AM commented that the Club had begun a programme of work to set season ticket prices for next season and that this would be announced shortly.

AWAY TRAVEL

After a discussion about the swift action to provide discounted coach travel for the hastily rearranged fixture at Bristol City, both AM and SB confirmed that the Club was looking at promotions and discounted travel options for a number of away fixtures in the Championship run-in and more precise details about arrangements would be provided when tickets for forthcoming matches are released for sale.

FULHAMFCTV

SB commented that a number of pieces of additional material would soon be in production for FulhamFC TV subscribers. The Club had hired a new member of staff to provide assistance in the communications and media department and ‘Gentleman Jim’ McGuillion and Jamie Reid were working on a number of features based around their matchday commentary. The Club was currently reviewing pricing arrangements for FulhamFCTV for next season, having launched an extended offer for new subscribers earlier this month.

The Club told the Trust that, whilst subscription numbers to the service are high, the income raised does not come close to covering the production costs of FulhamFCTV. For example, the cost of filming a first team game and producing the match highlights that appear the day after the fixture is in the region of £7,000-£10,000.

There was a discussion about the possibility of adding the price of FulhamFC TV to season tickets from next season as an additional benefit to season tickets, but it was felt that the cost of doing this, the complexities involved and other issues would make it difficult to manage.

SB revealed that the Club is looking to produce more live coverage of Fulham’s Under 23 and Under 18 matches before the end of the season, as well as offering further live streaming of press conferences. The cost of live streaming via the website and implications on bandwidth use has limited the number of live events so far, but Club is very keen to keep improving the amount of material available to Fulham FC TV subscribers.

ANALYTICS, JANUARY TRANSFER WINDOW AND SLAVISA JOKANOVIC 

TK joined the meeting at the point we were poised to discuss the January transfer window. He explained that he founded an American sports analytics company, called TruMedia, that already operated across American sport, working with 18 of the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, throughout the NFL and provided data and other statistical information to support ESPN’s coverage of the Premier League and the EFL in the States. His unique data collection, honed in American sports, works closely with the leading British sporting data gatherer, OPTA, and, alongside data analyst Craig Kline, TK has been involved in improving Fulham’s analytics approach since 2014.

TK mentioned that the first players recruited by Fulham with an emphasis on data were Sakari Matilla, who was signed as an early test of the methodology, and then Michael Madl, who joined initially on loan from Sturm Graz. Since last summer, the Club has adjusted its transfer policy in line with the ‘two boxes ticked’ philosophy that was outlined by AM during the January meeting. TK, who has taken a more ‘hands on’ role at Fulham since the summer, felt that the summer transfer window, where the Club recruited fourteen players to revamp the squad in the manner that Slavisa Jokanovic had requested, was very successful.

TK admitted that the use of analytics and the acceptance of its success was much more widespread in American sports and agreed with the Trust that offering greater details to the fans about the processes Fulham were adopting would provide more transparency and wider understanding. He reiterated that the data is not used in isolation and that the Club’s scouting network, the head coach, the chief executive and the financial departments worked together on identifying potential targets and securing deals. He believed this way of working would help to eliminate some of the previous mistakes that Fulham – and other clubs – had made in the transfer market when they gave complete control over acquisitions to the manager in the past and reiterated that this new approach would continue.

TK felt that the Club’s recruitment during the January transfer window was strong. He described the deal to retain the services of Lucas Piazon on loan from Chelsea until the end of the season as almost like a whole new negotiation, as Chelsea had not previously envisaged the player remaining with Fulham beyond January. He believed that Thanos Petsos, although he had unfortunately picked up a training injury last week, offered valuable cover in the defensive midfield position and had a strong pedigree in European football. TK and AM were both very satisfied with the deal to bring in Cyriac that was concluded on deadline day, as he had been a player that the Club had been interested in signing during the summer, and that the loan arrangement with K.V. Oostende also included an option to purchase.

The Trust put forward the analysis that, should either Chris Martin or Cyriac become unavailable during the run-in, that Slavisa Jokanovic’s striking resources would become significantly stretched at a crucial time of the season. Both TK and AM recognised the relatively light nature of the squad in forward areas – and attempts were made to sign another striker – but TK also highlighted the ability of Piazon, Neeskens Kebano and Floyd Ayite to fill the forward role if required. TK and AM believed that the fee offered to Fulham by Queens’ Park Rangers for Matt Smith represented an excellent return on that player, whilst Cauley Woodrow would benefit from the opportunity of playing regular first-team football for Burton Albion.

TK also pointed out that a number of players on the fringes of the first team were now getting an experience of regular football, with Lasse Vigen Christensen already performing well at Burton Albion, Ryan Tunnicliffe featuring for Wigan Athletic and Stephen Humphrys continuing his impressive development with Shrewsbury Town. A significant factor in loaning Woodrow and Christensen out to Burton Albion was the fact that they would be playing Championship football and that they would be in a position to impact on the fortunes of Fulham’s divisional rivals.

TK stated that the Club had worked hard to focus their recruitment on attracting players of considerable value in the prime of their careers and offering them long-term contracts. He believed that this placed Fulham in an excellent position in comparison to their rivals in the Championship should the club remain in this division next season, with no other Championship side having a comparable number of talented players at their disposal from the summer onwards.

TK stated the Khan family remained fully committed to Craven Cottage, the Club and the goal of seeing Fulham return to the Premier League. Significant funds would be made available to the head coach to strengthen the squad in the summer and the recent investment of around £6.5m in the renovated Motspur Park training ground facilities proved that Shahid Khan was committed to maintaining a Category One level academy and investing in the football club.

AM confirmed that discussions with Slavisa Jokanovic over an extension to his current contract were ongoing, although the head coach was focused on preparing the squad for important run of fixtures. TK expressed confidence that Jokanovic would still be in charge at the start of next season.

FINANCIAL FAIR PLAY

Both AM and TK confirmed that Fulham remained well within the Financial Fair Play regulations for the current year. In response to a question from the Trust, AM revealed that the EFL clubs are anticipating an announcement about the verdict on QPR’s breach of FFP regulations imminently.

The meeting closed at 12.05

Friday
Feb242017

Cardiff City awayday guide

GETTING TO THE CARDIFF CITY STADIUM

BY CAR

To avoid being caught up in city centre traffic, exit the M4 at junction 33 and take the A4232 towards Cardiff/Barry. Keep on the A4232 towards Cardiff and then leave the dual carriageway at the B4267 exit. At the end of the slip road, turn left at the roundabout, following the signs for 'Cardiff International Athletics Stadium'. The stadium is situated a short distance down this road on the right. Parking in the nearby retail park is only available for 90 minutes and traffic wardens also operate in the area on match days. .

BY TRAIN

Most trains from London will head into Cardiff Central. You can walk to the ground from this station, which takes approximately 25 minutes. As you come out of the entrance to the station, bear left and at the bottom of the station approach road, turn left. Continue straight on into Ninian Park Road, for around a mile passing the Millennium Stadium on your right. At the end of Ninian Park Road turn left and then left into Leckwith Road and you will soon see the stadium on your left hand side. You can take a taxi from Cardiff Central (cost around £7) or catch the 95 bus – heading towards Barry – from the stop next to the station.

The closest station to the ground is Ninian Park Halt, which is about five minutes walk away. You can reach this station from Cardiff Central and trains run roughly every 30 minutes on Saturdays. When you come out of the station, go left along Leckwith Road and the stadium is clearly visible on the left hand side.

Grangetown Station, which is between 15 and 20 minutes walk away, is also served by trains from Cardiff Central. After exiting the station, turn left, go across the main road and turn right into Sloper Road. Turn left into the protected compound at the HSS Plant Hire and you will see the away supporters’ entrance right in front of you.

TICKETS

Tickets are currently on sale to away fans at £23 for adults, £19 for those aged 60 and above, £14 for those aged between 16 and 21 and £11 for juniors under 16. Fulham fans will be able to purchase tickets at the Cardiff City Stadium on the day from the away ticket office at Gate 12, but these are available through cash sales only and will increase in price to £25 for adults, £21 for those aged 60 and above, £16 for those aged between 16 and 21 and £14 for juniors under 16.

AWAY PUBS

Most pubs in the vicinity of the ground are for home fans only. The traditionally recognised away pub is the Lansdowne Hotel, 71 Beda Road in the Canton area of Cardiff, which is about a fifteen minute walk from the ground. A good selection of draught ales and lagers are available and there are large screens showing Sky TV as well as an award-wining food menu. The Lansdowne does get very busy on match days.

Visiting supporters could also try the Gol Centre on Lawrenny Avenue, which runs a bar that welcomes away fans and is about an eight minute walk from the stadium. Anyone wishing to park at the centre will be charged £5 – but will be given a bar voucher for the same amount that can be redeemed for food and drink purchases.

Canton Rugby Football Club, further along Lawrenny Avenue, has an inviting bar, large screen TVs showing Sky Sports and offers free parking.

Otherwise, Fulham fans are best advised to drink in the city centre before heading to the ground. Some pubs will decline to admit away supporters wearing colours.

Wednesday
Feb222017

Bristol City awayday guide

GETTING TO ASHTON GATE

BY CAR

Exit the M5 at Junction 18 and travel along the Portway (A4) following signs for the Bristol Airport/Taunton (A38). As you go over the swing bridge (Brunel Way), branch left into Winterstoke Road, and you will see the ground on your left. There is no parking at the ground so you will need to park in surrounding residential streets or Bedminster Cricket club on Clanage Road (A369) at a cost of £5.

BY TRAIN

Bristol Temple Meads station is around two miles from Ashton Gate. Supporters can get a taxi (about £8) or join one of the shuttle service buses from the station to the ground (£2 return). The closest station to Ashton Gate is Parson Street, which is served by an hourly train from Temple Meads. Parson Street is about a mile from the ground.

TICKETS

Away tickets are not available on the gate tonight. Supporters will need to contact the Fulham ticket office by 2pm to ensure entry. Visiting fans will be seated in the Atyeo Stand behind the goal.

PUBS

A number of pubs in Bristol have been recommended for away fans.

The Knights Templar, 1 The Square, Bristol BS1 6DG, a Wetherspoon’s near Bristol Temple Meads station, is a two minute walk from the station.

The Nova Scotia by the waterfront, Nova Scotia Place, Bristol BS1 6XJ, is a historic nineteenth century pub that welcomes visiting supporters.

The Cottage Pub, in Baltic Wharf, Cumberland Road, Bristol BS1 6XG is also situated on the waterfront and serves real ale from the Butcombe Brewery.

The Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Rd, Bristol, BS3 1TF, is about five minutes walk from the away stand entrance, welcomes visiting supporters and serves good food.

The Orchard Pub at Hanover Place on Harbourside is listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and was voted Britain’s best cider pub in 2009. It has a number of ales and 24 ciders available.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

Supporters arriving early in Bristol might wish to view first iron hulled, screw propeller-driven steamship, the SS Great Britain, which is moored at the docks. The Clifton Suspension Bridge that overlooks Ashton Gate is well worth a look and outside the ground itself is a statue, designed by Tom Murphy and largely funded by our friends at the Bristol City Supporters’ Trust, of City’s record goalscorer, John Atyeo, who scored 351 goals in 645 appearances for the club between 1951 and 1966.

Monday
Feb132017

Fulham history exhibition at Craven Cottage on Tuesday night

The Fulham Supporters' Trust is pleased to offer fans a further opportunity to view a selection of iconic Fulham memorabilia before the Whites' home fixture against Nottingham Forest at Craven Cottage on Tuesday night.

In association with Fulham Football Club and supported by kind donations from Trust members, the Trust will be staging a pop-up exhibition of items from the club's past, including match-worn shirts and signed photographs depicting some of Fulham's finest moments. 

Among the items on display in one of the Hammersmith End superboxes are shirts worn by England captain Johnny Haynes, Fulham's record goalscorer Gordon Davies; one of Rodney McAree's shirts from the 1996/97 Division Three promotion season; the shirt worn by Sean Davis when he scored the goal against Sheffield Wednesday when Fulham clinched the Division One championship title; Dickson Etuhu's shirt from the first leg of the Europa League tie against Juventus and Louis Saha's shirt from Fulham's first Premier League fixture against Manchester United, when the striker scored twice at Old Trafford. 

Also on display will be a photograph of former Fulham captain Simon Morgan taken by former club photographer Ken Coton and signed prints from Moussa Dembele and Roy Hodgson, the latter celebrating Fulham's Great Escape from relegation in 2008.

The exhibition will take place between 6.30pm and 7.15pm, before Fulham's fixture with Nottingham Forest on Tuesday 14 February, in the Johnny Haynes hospitality box at the Hammersmith End. 

Supporters interested in seeing part of Fulham's illustrious history are kindly requested to email info@fulhamsupporterstrust.com with their name and contact details by 5pm on Monday afternoon, 13 February.