Saddlers hand out a lesson in football reality

It is so typically Walsall that we only got three short days to savour our place in the top five before being brought back down to ninth with Tuesday’s defeat at Stevenage, writes Walsall blogger Mark Jones.

Bowerman scores

Losing is never good, losing to arch-exponents of Donkey Football is always deflating too. True Stevenage are not quite as anti-football as they were last season, that would be virtually impossible, but they are horrible opposition for a raw, young, developing side like ours.

Putting a positive spin on things however, the defeat should serve as a reminder not to get too carried away as the current side is very much a work-in-progress.

After getting back into the game courtesy of George Bowerman’s fine equaliser, maybe we should have been a bit more street-wise and closed the game out but that is something that should come with experience and I’m sure that Dean and Richard are well aware of this.

Winning games and climbing up the table should be enjoyed for their own sake but the reality is a hell of a lot can happen over the next eight months.

Portsmouth was a fantastic day out. There was a cracking atmosphere, as there always is down there, with both sets of supporters getting behind their team throughout.

Baxy deservedly got some of the limelight with his stunning opener  only for Flo to cap a stylish performance, ironically against the club who brought him to England in the first place, by coming along and scoring in equally spectacular fashion. Both strikes would have been overshadowed if Jamie Paterson’s late swerving screamer had broken the net instead of smashing the post.

Sure Pompey, who are in even more trouble than I thought they’d be, had their moments and our defending for Izale McDive’s goal left a bit to be desired,  but for the second game running we deservedly held out.

We haven’t had that many great awaydays recently so it was worth savouring nonetheless, fingers crossed for a few more.

* A big well done to the Supporters Trust for organising the Legends match last Sunday, something which I did try to publicise last week. To see Deano, Ian Roper, David Kelly, Mark Taylor, Mark Kinsella and Ron Green amongst others all on the same pitch was tremendous. The Supporters’ team looked extremely useful too.

The Walsall FC Ex-Players Association is now up and running and a lot of money has already been raised for this season’s nominated charities, which include CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) a charity which the family of the late Matt Gadsby are involved with.

Whilst this is not the main purpose of the Trust, which is still very much an organisation seeking to increase supporter involvement at Board level, it is something very worthwhile and something that should probably have been done by the club itself years ago. We should always look after our own.

In the wake of the publication of the real truth (the one we as football fans knew anyway) about Hillsborough last week, the wider football family has shown that it too will always come together to look after its own. Hopefully those politicians, police and journos involved in the lies, deceit and general cover-up that followed the 96 deaths,  arrogant enough to think they’d never be brought to task, will be exposed for what they really are.

It will be interesting to see what develops in the coming months.

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Comments for: "Saddlers hand out a lesson in football reality"


Ah...its good to know that when everyting else changes we still sort of end up with someone from Pompey reserves on loan in our midfield.

G B Boro

You should have come to the game. You'd have enjoyed it. The view from the south stand of Shroot curling one inside the post would probably been almost as good as Tansey's 35 yarder would have looked from behind. Mind you, I don't think you would have had the greatest view of Akin's third, but it loooked good from where I stood.

Had you come, you would also have noticed we were far from a team of Donkey's, and you wouldn't have had to rely on what you were told by others before writing the blog.

Michael (Stevenage fan)

Bitter much. Your performance at our place last season was rancid. Fortunately this season we managed to take the lead. It's funny how your players soon gave up with the time wasting.


Interesting that you talk of lessons learnt, well maybe the lesson to learn is that you should not believe the hype. Contrary to the report above, Freeman's goal was a lovely swerving effort, Tansey's was a 30 yard net buster, and Haber managed to pick his way an inch from the sideline to deliver an inch perfect cross to Akins, who ran three of the Walsall players ragged.

Which leads me to ask the question, where you actually there at the game. I agree that we are horrible opposition, and that is because we close down, work hard for 90 minutes and are defensively tight. We have not lost in the league since January, and lest you forget we made the play offs in our first season in League 1. Early days I know but we are currently 2nd. If we were exponents of Donkey Football we would be at the other end of the table.

I must admit that the Shrews gave us a hard game, and Crewe were difficult to begin with, but please do not run away thinking that Walsall are the Barca of League 1. I expect some bias in a local blog, but if I am ever in the vicinity I will not frequent a wine bar, I feel that the locla plonk would be somewhat bitter, if made from local grapes. Also I think that I once saw John Lennon wearing glasses the same shade of rose as yours. So credit where it is due, we scored some fine goals for a pub team.

We used to be non league dont you know. You are not the first and you will not be the last to come to the Lamex expecting a pub team to roll over, just to find that we are not the donkeys people may think we are. Underestimation of us, is our greatest strength.

Good luck for the rest of the season


I really wouldn't bother blogging anymore, because you clearly have zero ability in being able to take a fair viewpoint and share it with readers.

Any self respecting Walsall fan should blacklist this blog, it stinks of self-pity, jealously and bias.

It views like this that taint a club.


What a ridiculous viewpoint. I hope you feel particularly embarassed.


Don't make a report without going to a game. 0.1/10


I think you need to get a new job.

Reporting in matches you've clearly not been to isn't your thing.

All the best.

James Walker (Stevenage supporter)

I must say - if was funny seeing your keeper act like a child in a fight with its sibling when trying to get the ball off Robbo in the first half just to lump it out of play - when you can actually play proper football and not time waste then come and write reports and out your opinion on us


What a terribly lazy and under researched piece of tripe this was. Perhaps it's time you stopped pretending you were some kind on journalist and leave that to the professionals.


Re the comments above, I was at the game and if that is the type of football that you are happy to watch then that is your opinion and I respect it. From our point of view we are young team trying to find our feet in the league, attempting to play attractive football on the floor in a style that is being coached by our management team. You beat us on Tuesday with a couple of decent goals mixed in with some very robust challenges that on a different day with a different referee you would not have got away with! Our players will benefit and develop from such games and hopefully in the longer term the skill and style of play will allow us to beat the likes of Stevenage. Enjoy your lofty position, you may have a decent season but for entertainment and good football Stevenage is not the place to visit.

Roger Harbinger

Please could you leave the FULL address of the charm school you attended in your next stream of drivelling egoism, sorry blog?

Look up 'magnanimity' .... And apply some.

Andy (Stevenage fan)

Do you think you're some kind of lower league Barcelona or something? Were you actually AT the game? Jesus wept!

Richard (SFC)

Mark, you talk about Stevenage not being a place for entertainment... All you have done since 2008 is fight for survival. We have been to Wembley twice (stretch back to 07 and when we became the first team to win at Wembley too); won a league; won the playoffs in our first season in league 2 from something like 17th in January; knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup convincingly; knocked Reading out of the FA at the Madjeski last season when they walked the Championship; taken the lead at White Hart Lane; been in the FA Cup quarter final draw; seen a defense break record after record; doubled Sheffield Wednesday in our first season in League 1 (6-1 on agg); made the playoffs in our first season in league 1.

I'll take what we've been through, thanks.

You keep telling yourself that referee's should protect you because you play football with 'skill and style' and maybe, one day, you'll believe it yourself.

On your style, you do realise your only chances came from long balls over the top and the goal from a cross which only came to be from a mishit by your player? Very stylish that.


Robust Challenges that we got away with, that was something your manager commented on. There was 2 the whole game that could have been interpreted as Robust, but they were not dangerous in any way so whats the problem? Your players need to man up, you are a rather small team in size and will be out muscled a fair few games this year.

FYI, this is not the Premier League were falling over is part and parcel of the game to gain free kicks by cheating. This is one of many reasons I do not watch top flight football. Tackling is still allowed last time I looked at the rules.

The opinion that football should only be played one way is media driven nonsense, think Chelsea fans give a hoot being Champions of Europe?

FYI, I enjoyed the game as a whole and thought Walsall looked pretty good on the ball. Just not good without it, poor positional play and no general in Midfield to lead the troops (like a Roy Keane, Pat Viera etc...)


Do you not accept you were outplayed and outfought by a team that wanted it more?

Yes we can mix it up a bit, it's L1 not the PL, but do you honestly think you played 'better' football than Stevenage? it's about winning, which we did with a large dollop of attacking flair on Tuesday.

If you consider our style to be physical wait till you see PNE. We have built our success over the past few years under Westley on team spirit and being hungrier, better organised and stronger than the opposition. Expect more of he same against Westley's Preston.

Any accusation that we are not entertaining is a bit 'pot and kettle' after your uber cynical time wasting last season, an absolute garbage couple of performances. Granted you tried to play football at times Tuesday but I think you played as many direct balls as us if not more, it's all about getting the balance right, just ask Wycombe and Chesterfield.

I'd take our recent history over yours every time, its about success.

Stally (Boro fan)

I am adamant that this guy didn't go to the game. He just read his managers comments and looked who scored then wrote this.