Club News


Non-League Paper – 25/26 September 2021

Article supplied by The Non-League Paper

THE WARNING from the Kent FA on the fall in numbers of match officials for grassroots fixtures makes for worrying reading. Put simply, without referees, the football system cannot function properly.

By David Richardson

In an open letter to clubs, the county FA’s referee development officer Nick Dunn explained the issues they, and many other county associations, seem to be facing in grassroots football.

He said: “We closed the 2020-2021 season with over 1,634 match officials affiliated; the most we have ever received. Ensuring transparency, at this present time of the 2021-2022 season we have 1,247 affiliated match officials, representing almost a 24 per cent loss.

“To put this loss into footballing terms, if each of those 400 referees lost were to referee approximately 20 games a season it results in approximately 8,000 matches being played without a referee.”

Dunn says the matches under their control without a referee are at an all-time high. Not only does this not help the grassroots game, but it makes the development of referees and the progression through the system tougher.

At The NLP, we’ve experienced first-hand the good work the FA are putting in to encourage the development of referees, and therefore retain them. But it’s always going to be hard to keep filling the tank when they are subjected to some of the abuse we see all too often.

Dunn points out that the conduct and behaviour of a minority of participants is not the sole reason for the drop-off, but he believes it is a fundamental one.

Where are we as a society and sport if a match official can’t turn up on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday morning without fear of what might happen should they dare make a decision somebody doesn’t agree with?

Remember, it might not just come from a player. But spectators or parents overstepping the mark, managers and coaches failing to conduct themselves as they should.

Football is a passionate game. Nobody wants to take that out of it. But there is a very clear line that shouldn’t be crossed. And passion isn’t a good enough reason for losing control over a game of football – something everyone is supposed to be involved in because they enjoy it.

Verbal threats, physical attacks, abusive comments on social media after the game – yes, it’s a minority but it’s far too much.

Often culprits will be handed fines and suspensions. The authorities can only do what they can do, individuals have to take responsibility.

But the game as a whole must also pull together to stamp it out. Clubs must hand out their own individual punishments to the people associated to them who go too far.

Often, this concerns adults going over board at kids football. That’s even more worrying when a parent can’t control their reactions. We’d like to think they would realise the impact it has on their own child’s enjoyment.

The majority of people get involved as a match official because they enjoy the game too. No wonder some are choosing to walk away. Let’s put on a united front to keep them safe – and in the game.

Adult teams, First team

Saturday 21 August – First Team

Knebworth travelled to title contenders Oracle Components but unfortunately the match was abandoned around 55 minutes due to Charlie Pratt needing urgent medical attention.

Contesting a challenge, Charlie landed onto an opposition player’s hip. Fortunately he left in good spirits, and everyone at the Club wishes him all the best and a speedy recovery. The response of the squad was fantastic in quickly realising the severity of the situation and supporting Adrian.

Charlie Pratt is recovering from a match-stopping injury

The First Team are back at home next week, Bovingdon the visitors for 14:00 kick off with Reserves playing afterwards.

The First will be seeking to kick start their season to reflect the strengthening of the squad and the positive work going on in training.

Adult teams, Reserve team

Saturday 21 August – Reserves

Reserves skipper Matt Cooper reports

Knebworth welcomed Aldenham Reserves in the first home game of the season, the Reserves looking to build on an opening day thumping of Bushey Rangers.

With availability and injury issues it was a different looking side from last week with first starts for Joe O’Dell, Harry Wilkinson, Marcus McKechnie, Max Smith and Ben Phillips.

Knebworth took control from the get go and dominated a first half with lots of possession and chances. The front three of Smith, George Phillips and O’Dell were running riot, and did everything but score.  The midfield was controlled and purposeful with every attack with Alfie Nellis, Liam George and Wilkinson winning the individual battles and playing some brilliant through balls.

Half time came with the score at 0-0, and after a positive half time team talk Knebworth came out looking to grab an early goal and kill the game off.

The deadlock was finally broken when a well worked move down the right hand side ended with Smith roasting the full back and delivering a ball in to be smashed home on the volley by G.Phillips, making in two in two for the head-banded attacker.

Chances continued to come for the Reserves but a mixture of close misses and good goalkeeping from Aldenham kept it at 1-0. A new look back four for Knebworth kept it very tight all game, with Cooper and McKechnie winning everything and starting numerous attacks. Jason Fleet and Nathan Garrod doing brilliantly in both defence and attack.

Keeper B.Phillips had little to do and the boys saw off the game comfortably to win 1-0 and secure a second victory of the season.

Raja Tandoori man of the match: Joe O’Dell

Stevenage Couriers man of the match: Matt Cooper

Back to back wins and the Reserves are at home again next week, Chipperfield Corinthians the visitors for 16:00 kick off.

Skipper Matt Cooper


Non-League Paper – 21/22 August 2021

Article supplied by The Non-League Paper

THE ONLY problem with pre-season predictions in print is people remember them. Sometimes they even cut them out and keep them. Some get stuck on a dressing room wall and used to create motivation or a siege mentality.

Of course, a correct pre-season prediction is worth its weight in gold. If you’ve delivered your tips in late July or early August and they come off by the end of April or May, then you can take your lap of honour. 

It’s part of the new season fun. Who has signed well? Who looks to have strong foundations from last season? Who might drop off? 

This season that has been harder than ever. The majority of Steps 3-6 didn’t kick a ball from November onwards last season, Step 2 stopped early, with just the National League’s top flight completing a full campaign. 

So it’s difficult to quite know how teams will come back. How players will return after missing so much competitive football. But, even when a full season has been completed, predictions are just that. Guess work! 

Because if we knew what would happen, then there wouldn’t be much point in all turning up every Saturday. 

The opening weeks are always fascinating. Most teams fancy their chances of having a special year, believing they can be the ones fighting it out even when no one else thinks they will be.

Just ask Sutton United. Not many expected Matt Gray’s side to be in the title race. Outsiders for a play-off place? Sure. But not leading everyone else and lifting the championship. 

Yet, last week they were at Cardiff City in the EFL Cup as they embark on their first ever season in League football. It’s quite a story.

And this season will throw up many more. Every league has its fancied sides, the big spenders who ‘should’ be in the mix. But every league will have some who come from nowhere, where everything falls into place and it they really do have the season of their lives. 

Like Hornchurch last season celebrating FA Trophy glory under the arch. There can’t have been anyone in the country who foresaw that happening. 

This weekend the Step 1 clubs are getting underway to make it a full Non-League house. 

The FA Cup is in full swing, crowds are up, goals are flying in. It feels almost normal again.

There may be some bumps in the road this season, Covid hasn’t gone away and a glance across the fixture list shows the pandemic is still having an impact on postponements. 

But, after a long absence, it feels good to be inching back towards that routine. And the normality of all my predictions falling flat on their face by the end of September! Enjoy your game…

Adult teams, First team

Saturday 14 August – First Team

First Team coach Tristan Potkins reports…

Knebworth hosted Hinton at The Rec in a repeat of last season’s opening fixture. The Ks were supported by members of the U7s squad who became our first mascots of the campaign; thank you Archie, Jack, Jacob, and Maxwell! Both teams paid tribute to former Herts FA President Bert Dearman who sadly passed away recently.

Mascots from the U7s squad

The game started well for the hosts with Knebworth on the front foot after a very productive pre-season. A move that started on the left wing, worked its way back to Ben Phillips in goal and all the way out the other side, ended with a great through ball from Joe Swadling into Reece Hurren who just couldn’t quite direct it goalwards. The game’s first big chance.

It became apparent quite quickly Hinton we’re looking for the ball over the top, being unsuccessful on the whole with Jack Holmes and Myles Thomas dealing with it effectively. Another two chances then fell to the returning Charlie Pratt, one where he was unfortunate not to make contact at the back post and another with the defender backtracking where he just couldn’t quite curl the ball into the back post.

Hinton then on the break got in down the left wing, crossing it into the box to score from a header.

Just before half time a quick corner from Hinton resulted in the Ks going in two goals down. Chris Grindal, unfortunately injured in pre-season, finding out he’s not quite as naturally fit as he was 10 years ago, declaring as he came off at half time that he is going to get fit, no matter what it takes.

The second half followed a similar pattern but with Knebworth seeing the effects frustration can have on performance, things not quite going our way. Hinton to their credit stuck to their game and some good additions to the side from last season made a difference. A notable volley from Kieran Flynn the highlight for Knebworth just being tipped over the bar, Hinton scored a worldy free kick to make the final score 3-0 after Marcin Bator had stopped a counter attack.

Raja Tandoori man of the match: Marcin Bator

Positives to take away, but overall a frustrating day not to get the result we were hoping for and we felt our preparations deserved.

Next Saturday, 21 August, sees the First Team travel to Oracle.