Friday, 30 April 2010

First step

I watched on last night as the lads gave a great performance in the first leg of the play-offs. Barring a monumentally bad refereeing decision it would have been a first leg win but not to worry a draw is still a good result. The second leg on Monday is a huge game, hopefully after it we will be one step closer to the main event. All quiet elsewhere, just the normal arguments, stress, and general discontentment!

P.S J.T got a helicopter in last night to watch his brother play (for Rushden). He then got a private car to take him the full 500 yards form the landing bay to the ground. He then received 90 minutes verbal punishment (light hearted banter) from the 3000 travelling Oxford fans!. Wife present!!. Cringe factor very high!!!.


Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Cost effective?

When I played for Hull City the club couldn't afford to pay the coach company taking us to away matches, in fact for most of the time it couldn't afford to pay the players wages! Fast forward a few years and two divisions and what a massive difference, or so you would think. Hull's chairman Adam Pearson has been lamenting his strikers goal to game, or to be precise pound per goal performance, this season. In all it has cost the club over £900,000 pounds per goal to employ it's firepower this season, equating to eight goals for six strikers. Bad times! Add to this the fact that old cockney barrow boy Jimmy Bullard has no clause in his £45,000 a week contract and that it still has three years to run and you get the feeling some serious summer business is needed.
Sir John Harvey Jones is on his way !

I have returned to my hotel and after being in nearly every room so far I was suprised to discover a room I hadn't inhabited. The layout of this room is the real suprise though. The wardrobe is in the middle of the room like a sort of divider, the sink and mirror combo is in between the wardrobe and the bathroom, and the bathroom is behind the wardrobe and next to the sink! I think there could be trouble in the night if I'm confused and I need the loo!

On the home front all is good, the children are great, my wife is giving me the silent but will be deadly treatment and my post box only seems to receive letters with randomly thought up numbers and red writing inside.
On the footy front all is (almost) good. The lads are really excited but determined ahead of the play-offs. Everything is very relaxed, as usual no predictions from me just a massive desire to see that trophy lifted on May 16th.

iPhone blogging is tough



Monday, 26 April 2010

Catch Up

All three children safely deposited at school, cup of tea made, wife at work, yes it's time to blog. It was great to return to action on Saturday and although it was in a loss (a very bizarre penalty decision at that), I managed to get through the game(just).
We now face Rushden in the first leg of the play-offs on Thursday night so it is a very important, but exciting, time for the club.
We have a day off today which is great, I can catch up on any unopened bills, buy some ice, find my phone (apologies to all!), and pop over to see Nat on the sofa. Ice will come first.

P.S I can't go without mentioning the form team in league two !!!!


Friday, 23 April 2010

St George's Day

Our patron saint St George, you know the one, the brave Roman knight who slayed the dragon (allegedly) and died protesting against the Romans' torture of Christians. Amazingly enough, for a country that celebrates someone elses Saint more than our own (St Patricks), a quarter of people living in England do not even know who their patron saint is, or when St George's day is celebrated.
Yes I accept I am slipping back into 'Stato' mode, but hell while I am on a roll, today is also by tradition red rose day and April 23rd is also the date on which Shakespeare was born - and died bizarrely enough.
You don't often see many homages to our dragon slaying hero though so it was refreshing to walk through a hotel lobby today and see a ten foot high model of St George on a horse slaying a ten foot tall green dragon, great effort!
As far as facts are concerned, at the moment I am busy digging deep into the memory bank to remember some of my early footballing days. I am busy writing away for the 'big' book, and although it is not going to be published until August 2011 there are 100,000 words to produce and a publisher to please (second batch next week Scott!) To go back to 1989 you may think would be quite difficult, and although I wouldn't say it feels like yesterday it really does feel that not so long ago I was making my debut. It is great to reminisce about the good old days on the pitch - but reminiscing about drinking Pernod and black in large quantities, fighting in nightclubs, and basically getting up to all sorts of mischief is a little bit harder to write about.
I obviously want to stay in football but this early foray into the media has been a lot of fun and something I hope to continue. In fact I am just trying to find the perfect location for a cover shot for the book, so please don't be alarmed if you have a caravan and you see me having a picture taken in front of it - 'Where's Your Caravan' sort of demands a caravan shot!.


Thursday, 22 April 2010

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

OK, now that the computer is alive again I will begin. I had to smile when I read Rafa Benitez war cry about how his players team spirit has been roused because of their travel chaos. With their Europa cup game against Athletico Madrid going ahead, regardless of the volcano in Iceland, the Liverpool squad were forced to go a fair distance on a coach, travel on a long train journey, then take a short flight, and finally jump back onto a coach to their final destination, Madrid.
Rafa explained how his players were actually talking to each other now, as appose to sticking to their normal routine of playing with Playstations and having their own little cliques. Adding that the usual short flights to grounds and cities to play games often meant for a quiet squad this experience had actually brought the squad closer together. I don't doubt that out of adversity sometimes comes inspiration but I would have loved to have seen Rafa cope after a season on a coach with Elliot Benyon and his various 'habits' or even on a journey with old 'Marti' Rice and his 'splat the rat' demonstrations. A hundred years ago when I played for Grimsby we used to have some epic journeys around the country on an old St Trinians coach. If you won at cards it was great but if you were heavily down or beating the manager Alan Buckley on arrival at a ground your mood could be at best, tense!
Rumour has it that on an England coach not so long ago a very well known player was £40,000 down before he even got to the game. After a few tears he proceeded to have an absolute stinker in the game. I must admit that back in those black and white days the old 'fisty cuffs' spilled out a few times - in the tunnel before a game if I remember rightly, we were fine at the final whistle but it definitely helped that we had won the game. That is why cards are now banned on most team coaches en route to matches!!!.
Elsewhere and over the last week our true British spirit has shone through during these Volcano troubled times. With so many people unable to get back to Britain it was left to Battleships, private jets, helicopters, trains, ferry's, and good old buses to help the stranded return home and onto Terra Firma.
In choosing my next holiday location I am determined to find a hot spot of Volcanic activity so that my stay can be 'extended' by at least a month!



In true twitter style I will speak later as the computer is nearly dead and I am drinking tea!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Big apologies all round for my recent lack of keyboard action. I have been up and down and round and about for the last week or so, add to that the fact that I have had no laptop with me you kind of get the message - iPhone not great for long blogs and I didn't want this site to turn into 'Twitterdom' e.g 'just popping to the shop, could be a shortage of limes due to the volcano'
Well on the football front we are heading for more play-off excitement/stress after a great spell over the last few weeks. The first leg is a week tomorrow and three days later we will have played the second leg and I will know whether it is going to be Wembley three seasons in a row. I am still yet to fight off my ailments but hopefully I will return to action on Saturday.
As far as my old 'muckers' at T.U.F.C are concerned I am just delighted for everyone at the club that safety is guaranteed. A great run of form has seen them leave the pack at the bottom and now everyone can breath a big sigh of relief. Beating Grimsby on Saturday was a brilliant result but for my old hometown club it is a shame that relegation looks an almost certainty. After surviving last season more by luck than judgement I thought that the club would have learnt their lesson but to be fair once you are at the bottom it is very difficult to drag yourselves out of it. I have said before in their local press that it isn't a complete disaster to drop into the conference but that it is vital within a couple of seasons at most to get back in. So many league clubs have dropped out of the league and have never recovered so fingers crossed it will be a quick return for the Mariners.
Together with the rest of the team at Oxford I popped in to see the sponsors after Saturdays game, basically to have a few photos and more importantly a chat about the season. The feeling of support from the fans reminded me of a night last year with the Torquay fans. Just go and do it!
This week the children have started back at school with their normal enthusiasm, my wife is back at work, and I am back on the motorway. I was actually relieved to get home last night though after seeing a few odd sights on the roads during my journey back. Firstly and worryingly I saw a car just sort of carry on through the central reservation and plough over the top of the barriers and into some rough ground. I couldn't stop as I was pulling off the M4 onto the M5 with cars all around me but I seemed to be the only one to spot it. It was a miracle that the car landed on its wheels, but it did which was obviously a major bonus. I rang the old 999 lot and after giving some directions put the phone down. They took my number and said they would let me know if they found the car and if all was OK. Ten minutes later the phone went and I actually had a feeling that is was going to be bad news but to my relief the officer said they had found the car and that the bloke in it was OK. He had been confused, had misjudged the junction in a massive way, and before he knew it was flying through the air and into some soft grass and bushes. All this at at least 70 mph. A minor miracle me thinks!.
From that point on I was driving like Mr Bean again and everything seemed to be in 3-D. About five random animals ran into the road at different intervals just missing the wheels, from nowhere a boulder hit the windscreen mercifully not smashing it, and finally a jeep swerved full on towards me with the driver totally oblivious he had veered over three empty lanes - until I battered the horn, lowered the window, and gave him some well known hand gestures that is!.
As you can imagine I was delighted to finally roll onto the drive and after a quick security check in next doors garden (their gate slammed shut when I got out of the car at 1 a.m and they are away!) I crawled into bed traumatised after a night of madness.

P.S Massive thanks 'pops' for the car TLC, and to all the Grandparents for two weeks of top hospitality and entertainment for the clan.

P.P.S I did the co-commentary for Plymouth v Newcastle on Monday night and what a sight it was to see those fanatical Geordie fans in full swing. I was really gutted to see Plymouth relegated because I think it is important to have a South West club in the Championship but to see those Newcastle fans travel down all that way to Plymouth and see their team promoted you have to hand it to them - and the twenty lads on the front row with their bellies out, 'Newcky brown' and a pasty kept the warmth in!.


Sunday, 18 April 2010

James Paul Carroll

In Loving Memory of James Paul Carroll
13 July 1991- 18 April 2009

My thoughts are with you every day, Paul, Becky, and Hannah.

With love Christian x

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Happy Birthday Avy Hargreaves. 16/04/?
Mum of the Year 2010, 09,08,07,06,05...........

Love CH

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The M1 is now on my list of places not to visit (admittedly that will be quite difficult considering that it runs for half the length of the country) I shot up north to see my clan after the game on Tuesday night only to be trapped in a 40 and 30 mph zone. This continued for roughly 40 miles of the motorway, and why was the speed restriction in place? The white lines were being power washed!.
Withouth going into great detail, it was great to see the clan, both sets of granparents, my bro, and of course Martin Hargreaves Motorcycles- the bike to space ratio is now reaching a critical level at HQ.
The season is coming to an end for most clubs and for many of them it is still an uncertainty as to which division they will be in. Our season is going to be extended for at least two weeks but hopefully it will be four weeks as the prize of promotion is still very much alive. It is incredible that the club I gained promotion with last season could on Saturday end up sending down the club that I made my debut for. Oh and the team that I am at now could end up taking their place!
It's a cruel game.



Monday, 12 April 2010


I have spent most of today hating the M4 motorway having been on the road for a combined, traffic jam filled, total of six hours. The only high point was seeing a lorry with a message scrawled into the dirt on the back doors. It wasn't the usual message about the (or someone else's) wife, it just simply said 'GET OUT OF THE MIDDLE LANE' and I couldn't have agreed more.
In between those hours of driving I have pushed, pulled, swam, cycled, and rowed my way around the gym. I did jump in the jacuzzi for a rare dose of bubbles but an old couple in there gave me one of those looks, the sort of "What on earth are you doing in here, why aren't you at work. You footballers are all the same, always womanising, gambling, swearing, and lazing about'...oh those days!!!!!!
Seriously though, admittedly I am analysing, psycho analysing, and annihilating what were essentially a few momentary glances of disapproval but you sort of know when you are being judged. I should really have known better -I have avoided Jacuzzis for about ten years and I am usually too busy to 'faff' about in the spa area!

To a certain extent it comes with the territory. When I first used to pick my children up from school in Northampton I think people really believed I was an out of town drug dealer - to be fair I was seemingly off everyday, drove a flash jaguar, and had long hair!
Getting to know most of the parents, through the children and through the football club, and becoming great friends with some of them had certainly changed a few of those early perceptions.
The saying 'looks can be deceptive' may often be the case, car wise anyway.
I am temporarily bombing to and from Oxford in my mate Ian's little Renault clio (Katie) and the difference in peoples perceptions of you is incredible. Mr 8 series man pulls up beside me in traffic and looks down on me. The same man may nod in acknowledgment if I were driving a BMW. I have been lucky enough (or silly enough!) to have had a few nice cars over the years and have loved driving them but it still amazes me how successful people think you are if you drive a nice car yet if you drive a 'normal' car that you are 'struggling a bit'.
You never know, ninety five percent of the time the man who looks a real success in the 'beamer' may be up to his eyeballs in debt yet the man in the old Mondeo has paid for his motor and has no debt at all.
I suppose the motto is 'Judge as you would like to be judged'. Oh god that is so David Brent it is worrying, definitely time for bed.

P.S None of the above is meant to offend the many hard working folk who have rightly and deservedly bought themselves a spanking new BMW. I am just horrendously jealous. I also have nothing against the BMW car, I have had three and have loved them all. It's just the paying for them that's been the problem!.


Saturday, 10 April 2010


A great result for the lads today. Altringham is not an easy place to go, as a player or a fan, so to come away with three points is excellent. I must also give a huge well done to all at my old club for thrashing the leaders Rochdale 5-0. A great result and i'm sure a few well deserved glasses of sherry tonight.
It's all quiet here at Hargreaves towers, it's just El Classico and Chianti Classico for moi. Enjoy the weekend one and all.


Friday, 9 April 2010


You would think that most people in this country would be gutted that no English teams remain in the Champions league. This is not the case however, as I have witnessed first hand in the last few weeks. During Chelsea's recent defeat to Inter Milan - I was in the hotel bar at the time - some lads actually got up and cheered when Inter scored and at the final whistle, and no, before you say it they weren't Italian!. I was actually a bit shocked and had I of been a Chelsea fan I would definitely have been relieving some of them of their pints of beer.
Then at my mates Jase this week the TV was turned on at the point Man Utd were going out. The jubilation shown by both Jase and Sarah (both Liverpool fans) was clear to see. I had to point out that it was essentially Germany versus England but it was to no avail the celebrations had already started.
I suppose in all these cases the defence lies in the fact that the rivalry between opposing fans in this country is so huge and that this could explain the lack of patriotism.
It is a little bit different for me. After growing up through some of the barren European football years - the long ban on British clubs - I now just want any one of our clubs to win the Champions league. This tied in with the fact that I don't really support any club in particular means that I have no problem with anyone winning it.
As far as our national team is concerned bizarrely enough I am not that bowled over during major championships with the old flags out of windows shout, flags on car aerials, England bunting, and or the England shirt worn whilst on holiday. Either I am used to seeing us lose, get wound up by people saying stuff like "Your rubbish Gerrard I could do better than you" or the fact that by the time the competition starts I have (or my wife has!) had enough of football after playing fifty or so games that season.
Of course I want us to win the World Cup though but I am just not going to be wearing Union Jack shorts and throwing my beer at the big screen, unless we get to the final that is!. If I had the required amount of 'spondoolics' I would love to fund a sort of documentary in South Africa showing the fans, players, and coaches reactions to the games, heat, and locations. Also to see the different atmospheres and tensions that the other countries teams and their players face would be a great contrast. Plan B it will have to be, I just have to think of it first.

P.S Reading a great book at the moment about one of my childhood heroes, the legendary motorcycle rider Barry Sheene. Oxford fan, commentator, and motorbike media guru Nick Harris helped write the book and I cannot wait to pick his brains about all their antics, on and off the track!. As a youngster I was lucky enough to be at some of these big races, hanging around the paddock and watching the action unfold. The risk the riders put themselves through was incredible considering that the prize money was so low for most of them. My Dad raced sidecars around a lot of these circuits including crazy venues like Olivers Mount in Scarborough and like him and the rest of the riders the saying 'a medal as big as a frying pan' really was a deserving one.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Long way round

I wasn't going to talk about football today and I will stick to my guns for the most part on that score, but, and it is a huge but, I have to give a small mention to a small player with the footballing world at his feet. I will only use two words, Lionel Messi.

So away from football and seeing as I am clocking up a fair few miles a week on Britain's road networks I thought I would talk about cars and roads, and the people in those cars and on those roads.
I will start with the morning run, the run that usually includes the late mums, the late businessmen, the late white van man, and the late footballer! I doubt that there is anyone setting off early in the morning who hasn't got next to them the most important tool for any commuter, Sat Nav you may think? but no it is of course caffeine. Spilling it on the first bend after leaving home is always a must to set you up for the day.
The first choice en route is what radio channel to choose and I usually flick between Radio One and Two. Chris Evans is miles better than old Terry, sorry Tel! You can always tell what your fellow commuters are listening to by their behaviour. Laughter equals Radio 1, nodding in agreement equals Radio 2, whilst singing and throwing a few shapes about definitely equals an ipod mix.

The pace is frenetic in the mornings with the worst offender being my nemesis, the Mercedes Benz sprinter van. Contents include three blokes in the front, plenty of packets of crisps strewn across the dash, the News of The World, and a turbo booster in the back. The aim I think is for the lads to egg each other on to reach the 'ton' mark and to see how close the front of the van can get to the back of the Ford Mondeo in front.
This also applies to the small rotund man who drives his 7 or 8 series BMW and suddenly feels so big and strong that he sprouts imaginary muscles and bullies his way through the traffic. His wife (or mistress!) fingers her way through TV quick magazine oblivious to the fact that her husband is having a game of road Pac Man.
You obviously get the lane hoggers and the lane changers, also the overtakers and the undertakers, the drivers who want a race, and the ones who love to test their brakes constantly by braking for no apparent reason.
The middle lane hoggers annoy me as much as 7 series man. Under no circumsatnces will the middle lane hogger move over, not if their isn't another car on the inside lane for ten miles, not if an ambulances sirens are on, not even if the inside and outside lanes are giving away free petrol and coffee. I want my middle lane and that's that, if you are undertaking me I just don't care!. Then you the get the mental 'weaver' who sees the traffic as a challenge in his Renault 5 Turbo - with loads of spoilers mounted on board for extra speed. He will take any lane going as long as their is space and danger on offer.
Other lane maniacs include the poor fellows who have simply nipped out to the garden centre for some pot plants, somehow they soon find themselves on a four lane motorway being battered from lane to lane by the crazy youth of today.

I think everyone on the road feels the strain of the speed cameras, 50, 70, 50, 70, 50....oh I can't be bothered it's 70 and I will take the consequences - for me that meant last weeks sixty quid fine and three points thank-you very much!.
I always feel sorry for those poor souls who have broken down, and who look broken whilst waiting for help to arrive or who are attempting to walk the fifteen miles to the nearest services.

Phone crime on board is rife, eating on board is constant, the serices are a joke and all lorries love stopping you entering any motorway from any slip road, and also love swerving around bends on B-roads towards you until a last minute sixteen wheel, twenty tonne manoevere averts any danger.
Return journeys to Devon are great, the surfboard count starts, although so too does the caravan count, the traffic eases up (at the time I travel anyway!) and home is in sight. The pedal is still down to the metal but the stress has most definetely eased.
And pray tell what I am like you may say "Mr Peter Perfect". I am a combination of all of the above!
At the moment my knees are on the steering wheel, my back is in spasm and my coffee is finding it's way around the whole car - I am driving 'Katie' at the moment - Named affectionately by Harriet, my wife's loaned little Renault Clio is going great guns on the highways. I am like a cross between Jeremy Clarkson and Mr Bean with my 1.4 litres of power behind me. The best thing about driving it though is the fact that Hatties toy kettle is still in the boot, so every time I turn a corner the the kettle makes a boiling sound!.

N.B All of the above is a generalisation and in no way reflects all drivers.......apart form the bloke right up my **** today in his 7 series that is!

P.S Great meal last night for my wifes ?th birthday and an even better meal tonight at Jase and Sarah's. Just don't mention fillers!

Monday, 5 April 2010


It was great to see the team win today after what has been a pretty tense couple of weeks. It was a case of back to basics and hard work and the result was that the lads got a much deserved victory. I have mentioned before how hard it is to watch the game when you are out injured and today was no exception. You feel helpless really, all you can do is to try and help the team with a few bits of advice in the changing room.
As far as my injury is concerned I am praying that I have not torn my cartilage and will hopefully find out the extent of the damage this week, their is definitely no substitute for playing.
Tonight, instead of being sat in a hotel room, I am actually sat at home. With the family 'up north' I am doing what blokes always do best when at home alone (no, I'm not in the pub!...yet). I am eating fish finger sandwiches, watching the football and leaving a trail of destruction behind me.
Tomorrow I am going to lift weights for a few hours, window shop for a future Ducati, do a bit of writing, oh and buy my wife a birthday present - it is her birthday tomorrow after all!


Saturday, 3 April 2010


I don't know what to say after Fridays game. To have a man sent off, then take the lead, have your manager sent off, and then lose - and all in front of 1200 travelling fans - it's almost too much to take. I spent the whole second half (after watching us be in total control in the first and take the lead) holding an industrial sized torch over Clisty's head (our midfielder) whilst the Hayes club doctor tried to stitch his head up - it took him twenty minutes to locate the clubs suture kit!
I returned pitch side to see us 2 - 1 down and with no manager. I can't believe the referee sent him off and then to add salt into the wound he wasn't even allowed in the stand (conference rules!). An absolute shambles of a day and it has left a bitter taste in the mouth. As everyone else is thinking, to add insult to injury, our title rivals then lose and a team a million miles away from us a month ago are now ahead of us. I don't want to talk about it any more as it is too frustrating and disappointing and I'm sure no one wants to hear about it anyway.
My family are now heading up north for a couple of weeks, away from school, work, and football. For the last two days though we have been in our old neck of the woods and have been absolutely spoilt rotten by the Andrews family. Great friends and great hosts, and even the combined amount of five children has not fazed us!. Carl has been knee deep in Jamie Oliver books and Ange has kept wine levels topped up to the max (not mine as I am in way too bad a mood). Harriet is still on top form, even though I am constantly checking league tables and swearing under my breath about football, she has kept us all on our toes. Imitating Michael Jacksons 'Crutch' move whilst naked and shouting "Chica chica ow" then dominating everyone else she comes across to feed and entertain her, it is truly a worrying sight.

P.S Well done to the T.U.F.C boys, lets hope that today's result finally sees the club safe, and let's hope we do see them next season - and that means us promoted. I don't care what people say about our form and position, and plenty will have strong views about it at the moment, some will even be delighted, but I am as determined as ever to succeed at Oxford and that starts with some more serious rehab work.


Thursday, 1 April 2010


As a footballer you certainly have plenty of highs and lows and at the moment it is definately a low for me. Having lost to Stevenage on Tuesday night winning the title is now going to be extremely difficult, not impossible, but now out of ours hands. I am gutted to have picked up another injury, it has been so frustrating to have carried an injury for so long and then to get another. Some may say it's old age! But I think it's just bad luck.
So what now? Now we pick ourselves up and go again, we have to believe it is our year to get promoted, as we did at Torquay last season. Too much has been sacrificed to let this chance slip away and that is the message I say to myself, daily!. The fans are ready for league football as are the staff, it now comes down to us players to show the fight required. It may be a serious blog but that's the way it is.


P.S Great to see some of the T.U.F.C boys on Wednesday. They had just been go-carting, with Tyronne T being victorious (Im not suprised he won though with a bunion of that size on his foot, he couldnt press the brake!)