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19 January 2014

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Saturday's game was postponed, but here you can read Chairman Nick Owen's programme notes

Good afternoon and welcome to Kenilworth Road for this latest Skrill Premier League fixture against Wrexham. A special welcome to the North Wales contingent against whom we’ve had some epic fixtures over the years.

We have a particular reason for wanting to show them what we are made of today, bearing in mind it was Wrexham who inflicted our last league defeat on us, way back in September. That was only our eighth game of the season and a bitterly disappointing night it was too.

As you know, we lost 2-0, but we’ve had a terrific run since then and, as we move into the second half of January, we are now unbeaten in 19.

Our last home game in the league, against Barnet on New Year’s Day, was bizarre, to say the least. I have never seen a match played in such atrocious conditions – credit to the players on both sides for making it such an entertaining spectacle, not only for those of us at the ground, but the many thousands watching on television. From our point of view, thank goodness it was completed, but it was a farce at times, wasn’t it?
I must pay tribute here to our head groundsman Richard Bird and his assistant Roger Osborne. What a nightmare time it must have been for them, coping with a seemingly unending series of downpours in recent weeks. Richard says he’s utterly sick and tired of the sight of rain! Since New Year’s Day, he says there hadn’t been any 24 hour spell without rain until last Saturday.

As he scanned the surface of the pitch after the Barnet game, it was Seagulls 3 Pigeons 0, he said! Richard and Roger haven’t been able to take a day off since the rains came, often working long hours to boot, but our superb drainage system has done a great job and the pitch hasn’t cut up too drastically.

One point that is unusual. They haven’t had to put frost covers on yet this season and here we are in mid-January. That’s a first. Also, they’ve never seen so much grass on the pitch at this time of the year.

Richard could do with a breather as he’s 50 next Friday - and here was I thinking he was at least 60! Happy birthday, Richard, and do take a couple of days off – in June!

I must say a word about our youngsters who have been so impressive this season. We only went out of the FA Trophy against Cambridge on Tuesday to a freak own goal. We’d made 11 changes to the side that played in our last league game, while Cambridge played virtually their full strength first team. We matched them throughout.

Our young players really have been excellent in this campaign, which is yet a further example of the terrific work being done by our youth academy. Ian Rees and Luke Trotman started on Tuesday – they’re just 17 and 16 respectively. Well done to them and, indeed, to Brett Longden and Zane Banton who’ve also shown such terrific promise this season.

While we’re talking about specific players, I would like to take this chance to welcome Ryan Inniss and Kane Ferdinand. I hope they both have a long, enjoyable and successful time here at Kenilworth Road. They’ve certainly joined at an exciting time – it’s great to have them on board.

It was also a pretty exciting time for very different reasons a year ago this month. Could we possibly forget? That thrilling cup run gave us all something to treasure for years to come. The win against Wolves in front of a rocking Kenilworth Road crowd, followed by that historic victory at Norwich. What memories! Even so, I think you would agree we are in a far better place right now and the long-term future looks extremely bright (and orange, of course).

So we have 19 games to go and we’re top of the table. It’s a great feeling but we can’t let up for a minute because Cambridge have three games in hand and there are other ambitious, aspiring clubs just behind. 

As always, I urge you to keep up your phenomenal support. It’s reached new heights this season – vocal, positive and a marvellous encouragement to the players. It has definitely helped swing matches our way. 

Let’s keep it going this afternoon.

Bye for now.

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