Outside the Box: Croydon Athletic's rise has been as rapid as a Pakistan no-ball
Sunday 05 September 2010
So, who are Croydon Athletic, propelled on to the news pages last week by the revelation that their owner is Mazhar Majeed, the friend and alleged fixer to the Pakistan cricket team? Theirs is a classic story of a small club rising through the ranks with great speed and attracting much controversy along the way. Barely two decades ago there was Wandsworth & Norwood FC, amalgamated from a club that played on Wandsworth Common and another from the Herne Hill cycle track. The name was changed to Croydon Athletic, "The Rams", in 1990 and they would have moved through the leagues even faster but for their ground needing improvements along the way. Majeed, born in Croydon, became co-owner in 2008, stating that his ambition was to reach the Conference, one tier below the Football League. Operating on what appeared to be a far greater budget than most, Athletic comfortably won the Ryman League First Division South last season to reach the Premier Division. Majeed boasted to the News of the World 's undercover reporters about using the club to launder money from his gambling winnings. The former chairman Dean Fisher has been sent to prison for three months for defrauding his employers of more than £525,000, some of which, he claimed in court, went to the club. Meanwhile the team have made a confident start at the higher level, with two away wins and a home draw. The club, and the Ryman League, have promised to co-operate fully with investigations being made by the police and the Football Association.
Fort William under attack
Still on the non-League beat, Fort William, mentioned here last week after an 8-0 home defeat by Inverurie Loco Works in the Highland League, might have assumed that things could only get better. Nope, they stayed just the same: Keith Athletic 8, Fort William 0. That made five straight defeats to start the season.
A Hawthorn in the side
Some people will do anything to sell a book. Bobby Gould, one of the most unpopular of West Bromwich Albion managers, is even prepared to go back to The Hawthorns to launch his autobiography 24 Carat Gould, which is published next month. As well as leading the club into the old Third Division for the first time ever, Gould was disliked for what supporters regarded as a betrayal of their purist footballing values. He was even advised to stay away from The Hawthorns in his role as a broadcasting pundit. Never one to shy away from a challenge, however, he will be the guest at a Supporters' Forum at the ground on 2 November for a question-and-answer session with his former detractors. "In hindsight, I think they appreciated me getting Bob Taylor, who was my best signing for them," he tells us. "But I did make some bad ones!"
A long, very good Friday
It's been a long weekend for the footballers of Warwick Wolves and Leeds Badgers, due to finish their match at the University of Warwick at 8pm tonight having kicked off at 11am. On, er, Friday. That adds up to 57 hours, which is the equivalent of a full Premier League season of 38 games and will set a new world record. The same teams had set a record of 36 hours, only to see it beaten in Qatar. It's in aid of the Meningitis Trust and is supported by Ian Rush, who contracted the disease as a boy.
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