I’ve been somewhat distracted recently but at least the 23rd World Wife-Carrying Championship, held as usual in the small Finnish town of Sonkajarvi in early July didn’t totally escape my notice.
This year’s winners were a Lithuanian couple, Vytautas and Neringa Kirkliauskas, who triumphed over 52 other pairs of competitors, including six times world champion, Taisto Miettinen, to claim the crown. There are qualifying events held as far afield as the United States, the UK, Sweden and Estonia. A Finnish couple finished second and a Swedish pair third. There are also prizes for the funniest attempt, the best dressed and the strongest carrier.
The race, which takes around an hour to complete, is a heady mix of running, wading through a slippery pool and completing an obstacle course. Legend has it that it owes its origin to an initiation ritual established by Ronkainen the Robber in the 19th century. Anyone who wanted to be in his gang was made to carry sacks of grain or live pigs over a similar course. Others ascribe its origin to the earlier practice of wife-stealing.
Be that as it may, at least this year’s winners are a happily married couple.
Long may it continue!
The football season, at least for those clubs like TMS languishing in the Football League, starts tomorrow. Last season I included my musings on the fortunes of TMS within this blog. However, I have decided that they don’t sit easily with the rest of the material that appears in this here. So, I have set up a separate blog, InGrahamWeTrust – note the trendy use of capitals in a word made up by running a number of words together – which is where the football related stuff will appear. That means that Windowthroughtime.wordress.com will become a football-free haven of tranquillity.
If you want to follow the fortunes of TMS I encourage you to follow the new blog, frimleyblogger.wordpress.com, as well as following this blog.
Just over a week after the end of TMS’ season and the cold turkey of football withdrawal is beginning to kick in. Still, followers of TMS had some cheering news during the week in that GT has agreed to continue as manager.
This section of the blog is called In Graham We Trust because fans of TMS of a certain vintage hold GT in the highest of regard and can never forget the debt of gratitude owed to him in 1978/9 in continuing the work of Richie Barker and leading TMS into the First Division (Championship in new money) and laying the foundations for a ten-year stay there. It is unlikely to be repeated these days.
The other reason is that TMS is not one of those clubs who ditch their manager at the first whiff of trouble. Having made their choice, they see it through to the end of the season. The modern fetish for chopping and changing managers – over 40 have been replaced this term – rarely seems to work and in some cases – I’m thinking of Wolves who for the second time in their history have suffered two successive relegations and bizarrely the final nail of the second has been at the hands of Brighton on the 4th of May, 28 years apart – can be disastrous.
Clearly there is much work to be done in the close season, particularly in terms of personnel. A solid and consistent centre back pairing, a central midfielder and a couple of strikers who know where the back of the net is would do for starters. Whilst there is a place for using loanees, too many were brought in last term and an unacceptably high proportion of them developed injuries shortly afterwards.
The process has started with the announcement of the release list and the only mild surprise was the departure of Richards. His season was not as successful as the previous year but that was not helped by him being asked to play in different positions. He was at the centre of the penalty storm in the home game match against Crawley but as Brentford’s experience shows, there is risk in not following the pre-determined plan. Of course, Richards didn’t help his cause by missing!
Weale, of course, was named Player of the Year, Taylor young player of the year and Grandison’s solo effort at Notts County was goal of the season – nothing controversial there.
Roll on next season.
Just to emphasise the good fortune that TMS fans enjoy in following a financially prudent and stable club, my local club, Aldershot, has just gone into administration and face an uncertain future. For a club who went bust 21 years ago and fought long and hard to regain their league status it is criminal that those in charge should have allowed this state of affairs to come to pass. With Rushmoor’s other senior club, Farnborough, also in administration surely one solution would to be to combine the two clubs. Local pride will doubtless get in the way of good sense.
Forty six down, season finished, fifty five points secured. 16th place
TMS 3 Portsmouth 2
The Meadow saw an entertaining encounter between TMS and already relegated Portsmouth to round off the season.
TMS showing one change – McAllister in for McGinn – took an early lead, Goldson powering in a header from a Taylor corner in the 5th minute. Jacobson, rapidly becoming their dead ball specialist, scored direct from a free kick (again) in the 32nd minute, the shot taking a wicked deflection off the wall. Asante with a fine turn and a low shot made the game comfortable at 3-0 in the 52nd minute and a comfortable win seemed to be on the cards.
Portsmouth had other ideas, however, and the introduction of Webster changed the game round. The normally reliable Weale let a shot escape his grasp and Harris was the quickest to react on the hour mark. A fine run down the wing by Webster and a cross enabled Agyemang to score in the 77th minute to set up a rousing finale.
TMS held on to secure their second win in four days. Results went in their favour and so they ended the season in the heady heights of 16th. An entertaining end to what was a hard campaign.
Forty five down, one to go, safety achieved
TMS 1 Oldham Athletic 0
This victory saw TMS break through the fifty point barrier (the target at the start of the season) and ensure that there is at least a four point gap between them and the final relegation place. One change – Summerfield in for McAllister.
The match was won by a Jacobson direct twenty yard free kick – you would have got a tidy pay out for a small wager if you had bet on this one – in the 48th minute. Weale made his customary couple of good saves to keep the Latics at bay and Taylor missed a good opportunity at the other end. The major positive was another clean sheet from what is by any standard a fairly callow back four.
If results go our way on Saturday TMS could finish as high as 15th – it is amazing how supporters believe that results can’t possibly go against them when the result will be the demise of their team but optimistically clutch every straw when the out-turn can be a position beyond their wildest dreams. For me, I will be satisfied if we stay where we are – ambitions (modest though they were) satisfied.
A lot of hard work is needed over the summer to rebuild the team, drawing on the many lessons learned painfully during this campaign.
The final game sees the rejuvenated Pompey visit – I for one am glad that they seem to have emerged from their recent traumas and have an ownership model that is likely to serve them well in the future. However, you cannot ignore the recent past and for serial offenders who have traded with little regard to the financial consequences they clearly sought to gain an unfair advantage over their rivals. The Football League should take a stronger stance against such clubs than they have to date, otherwise what is the disincentive. Still, looking forward to hosting the Pompey hordes.
Forty four down, two to go, safety achieved
Colchester United 0 TMS 0
This point meant that Scunthorpe cannot catch TMS and that the first season’s mission of securing safety had been achieved.
TMS’ first visit to the Weston Homes Community Stadium – a modern, functional, soulless stadium in the middle of nowhere – £6 to park your jalopy 10 minutes away from the ground was a bit rich – was a fairly uneventful affair. GT had rung the changes, some forced, others not, with Gayle, Goldson, Wildig, McAllister, Bradshaw and Asante coming in for Hurst, Grandison, Richards, Summerfield, Morgan and Eaves.
Given their predicament Colchester were particularly lacklustre. Their failure to win means that if they lose their away game next Saturday and Scunthorpe beat Swindon and overcome a three goal goal difference, it will be Div 2 for the Us. Their lack of cutting edge meant a fairly quiet day for Weale and the back four. Goldson showed some promise with his distribution and Wildig, Asante and Bradshaw combined well, although they are too lightweight for my taste.
The nearest we got to a goal was a 30 yard rasping shot from McAllister in the second half which the keeper did well to tip over. Taylor did head the ball into the net in the dying seconds but Bradshaw was adjudged (rightly) to be in an off-side position when he put the cross in.
The final whistle was the cue for celebrations and anticipation of a visit to Molineux next season.
TMS round off the season with two home games – the re-arranged clash with Oldham on Tuesday which would have been a crucial game had it taken place when it was scheduled to but is now academic and the visit of the reincarnated Portsmouth on Saturday. I expect GT will take the opportunity to try out some of the fringe players.
Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while
Barring the most incredible sequence of results – Scunthorpe have to win their two remaining fixtures (against M K Dons away and Swindon at home) and TMS lose their three remaining games and surrender a nineteen goal difference – TMS are safe. This state of affairs was brought about by Ajose’s 70th minute winner for Bury against Scunthorpe. TMS didn’t have a game. I often find that TMS are at their most successful when they don’t play – perhaps this is a modern tactic along with the virtual no 9, a tactic they will be deploying for the rest of the campaign following Eaves’ recall to his parent club, Bolton.
Seriously though, this is a tremendous achievement, fulfilling our (modest) ambitions at the start of the season. At least it will make watching the last three games a more comfortable experience.
Well done, GT and the rest of the squad. Onwards and upwards!