Press Watch – Carlisle, Belgium and the Pompey Chimes

Welcome to Press Watch, the Washbag’s new sideways glance at all things Town related in the media. If you see anything remotely concerning Swindon Town in the worlds media get in contact with me via Twitter @mrbraindown

Well, where to start this week, I mean it’s all been a bit quiet hasn’t it? No controversy, no massive rows, no kicked water bottles, rants or gaskets blown. In fact I was a bit worried about the general health of the whole column this week, earlier it was seen wrapped in a blanket, shivering in front of the fire – furiously coughing and retching but somehow unable to bring up any worthwhile content. With no Paolo meltdown around to mop its fevered brow, it was struggling for life.

So, with the excuses in early we shall make a start and this week we were in sunny Carlisle, the border city, home of Kangol, the hat maker of choice for Grandmaster Flash and LL Cool J no less. For most southern based fans though it’s only really well known for being so blimin’ far away.

Don’t agree? Put the theory to the test, tomorrow say to someone you know “I’m driving up to Carlisle this weekend” and I’m pretty sure they will say “wow, that’s one heck of a drive!” They probably won’t say “What, the charming former Roman garrison town, famous for its castle and 19th century textile production?”

Seriously, it’s so far away I worked out that Swindon could’ve been playing away in the Belgian Jupiler League that week,  at any one of four of the top five clubs – and our fans would’ve travelled less distance (as the crow flies.)

Yep, step forward Club Brugge, Zulte-Waregem, KAA Gent and KV Kortrijk all of which are located closer to my home than Carlisle. The only team letting the side down are perennial champions Anderlecht, but if Carlisle had been 40 miles further up the road then I could’ve included them as well. There, you can have that – my gift to you, you can be champion trivia king at the local boozer tonight with that little titbit.

On further analysis I found out we would’ve had a closer fixture if we’d been playing 2011 French double winners Lille, or fellow Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais. But enough talk of all these foreign places because at this rate, with all these reference points I’m giving out it would be possible for a trained government assassin to triangulate my exact position within British Isles and that’s not a good thing.

Where was I? Oh yes I’m giving you definitive proof that Carlisle is really far away…. as most of the Town faithful might have noticed when they finally arrived at Brunton Park traffic problems notwithstanding.

Although most fans missed all the goals, they were treated to “oodles of breakneck action” according to the local rag The News and Star. We are treated to a fantastic match report though, seriously one of the best I’ve read in a long while, it reads more like an extract from a ‘lads mag’ rather than an analysis-deep piece of serious prose. More flippancy and less accuracy, more me and less Alex Cooke.

The opening paragraph is superb:

“Few contests involving Swindon Town this season will offer enough to divert the attention from you-know-who, and most reports concerning Carlisle United’s latest opponents are required by law to start with reference to the Robins’ manager. But here, for once, there was plenty more for the eyes to feast upon.”

The report then does the total opposite and focuses on Di Canio quite a bit, which is common not just in this particular piece but in the seven hundred or so articles that follow, more on that later, but as way of an example:

“….the attention magnet was front-of-house in his technical area”

As well as a fantastic match report The News and Star also provided some spicy pre-match tasters, apparently Jake Jervis was out to give Paolo a darn good hammering, the report focuses nicely on Jake’s size and age, describing him as a “Towering Kid” and a “6ft 3in youngster”. I read on excitingly, full of expectation of a “Juvenile Giant” or a “child-like behemoth” but I was left wanting.

The pre-match ramp up continued, with apparent ‘goal hero’ Danny Cadamarteri urging his fellow players to ignore the Di Canio Circus.

Seriously, the pre-match blurb continues, another article carries the warning from Carlisle boss Greg Abbott that Di Canio will need a tin hat to cope with the verbal bombardment that is coming his way from the home fans. Clearly Mr Abbott hasn’t heard the one about ‘laughing in the face of 70,000 Manchester United fans’ as we all have, several hundred times.

Now I know you think I’m making this up, but yet another Di Canio focused article managed to roll off the News and Star press: Paolo Di Canio – The Italian GOB screamed the headline, and promptly reels off all the labels attributed to him over the years “Maverick. Monster. Managerial genius. Mad man”. How great is that? My latest CV now has a new profile statement.

Amazingly there was still time for another – “WE’LL FINISH 20 POINTS AHEAD OF CARLISLE UTD IN LEAGUE, SAYS SWINDON BOSS DI CANIO” crows the inflammatory headline. Special praise goes to ‘petethegreet’ who in the comments section comes out with this gem:

“I must say i find paolo di canio’s remarks a little disappointing …. i thought he was more ambitious than that, if they only finish 20 points in front of carlisle they’ll be lucky to get near the play off’s …. Aim higher paolo don’t settle for third division mediocrity like us.”

And that’s your lot, so to recap, the News and Star managed to use the following to describe Paolo: Firebrand, Attention Magnet, Flamboyant (x 3), Fiery, Hot Headed, Melodramatic and Rookie, have I missed any?

Onwards to Portsmouth then, or should that be southwards? Again, another match that went by without a whiff of controversy to report which left this stricken column downing endless shots of Night Nurse like they were black flaming sambucas. Its hopes were raised momentarily when Collins was hauled off before halftime, the tension was palpable as the player trudged disconsolate to the touchline. I made a quick mental note as to where all the water bottles were – lest he tried to lamp one into row M, but alas, he acted like a true professional.

Not so many articles on show from the Portsmouth local press compared to the fare served up by the News and Star. The match report bemoaned the loss of ‘one of their own’ making Matt Ritchie sound like an east-end gangster taken out in a professional hit, it does makes for some sombre reading.

Oddly, Portsmouth’s manager Michael Appleton seemed pretty pleased with his teams second successive 2-1 home reverse, exclaiming: “That’s more like it”. So do I take it that they only played well for 5 minutes instead of 10 during the Walsall defeat then?

Matt Ritchie revealed that he ‘sneakily’ joined in with the Pompey Chimes during his emotional return to his boyhood club. “I was joining in under my breath” he explains to the reporter, presumably under his breath with a cupped hand to his mouth.

Speaking of former players, Brian Howard calls for patience from the Pompey faithful. A fair few fans in the comments section tell Brian where he can stick his patience, but he has a point. Expecting a bunch of players who only met a week ago to be world beaters is asking a lot, the question is whether they’re going to gel before its too late.

I think the journalist missed a trick here, lots of talk of Ritchie returning to haunt his old club like some sort of disrespectful ghost and not one mention of the fact that Brian used to turn out for the opposition. It would’ve made for a nice book-ended, juxtaposed article.

Due to fact there wasn’t a Di Canio MeltdownTM this week (to be known as a ‘DCM’ from now on); the nations papers seemed pretty uninterested in us. But in at least some miscellaneous Swindon news, Di Canio is on the wrong end of a pen lashing from journalisms biggest face – The Daily Mail’s Martin Samuel, who apparently has just worked out that ‘big man’ Di Canio is just plain crazy.

He should read this column a bit more.

Till next week, unless the government assassins get me first.


  • Nice work from Martin Samuel. Of course, now that we’re back on track and Orient have won their third in a row, it all looks a little less ‘crazy’.

    Wish Paolo would say something about the fans again, tbh. Nervous about this weekend because if we aren’t 4-0 up and purring after 10 mins sections of the ground are going to start moaning again, and then booing. How are the team supposed to deal with that (which I think is much less damaging than the threat of being hauled off by Paolo)?

    Heard lots of comments that we could learn a think or two from the Pompey fans about how to support your team through thick and thin…


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