"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/

Friday, 30 November 2012

Please read: The story of Big Stan Hibbert and a Onesie

I have never posted on behalf of anyone raising money on this site before, and I may never again.
Generally promoting one person's campaign leads to multiple future requests and a relentless stream of runners, baked bean bathers and Kilimanjaro climbing crusaders asking you to do the same, making you (unintentionally) feel guilty enough to continue posting pleas for extra money.
However, this one has caught my eye for two reasons.  One it's for a particularly personal cause and one which, I imagine, doesn't necessarily receive big cheques (or electronic transfers I suppose in this day & age) very often.
Secondly, it's because a member of the #bristolcitytwitterfamily who goes by the name of Big Stan Hibbert, is going to wear a Onesie!
For the uninitiated of you, a Onesie is like a baby-gro.  I've got plenty in my house, but they're all in 6-12 month age groups and are a bugger to undo when my Junior Robin's nappy needs changing at 2am.


The sight of grown men & women struggling to stumble out of their outfits whilst half-asleep in the middle of the night sounds like something out of a Some Mother's do 'Ave 'Em sketch, but apparently it's the in thing at present...sometimes I'm so very very glad I'm in my mid-thirties and lacking the motivation to keep up with the Joneses!
Anyway, this one particularly struck me because anyone whose Twitter moniker is 'Big Stan Hibbert' sounds like they fancy themselves a bit as a man's man.  Indeed, when you probe further and come across his profile "I own a gorgeous wife and 2 kids that I'm aware of", that picture is crystallised even further.
So for 'Big Stan' to front up at football, the ultimate in a man's macho world, where swigging too much cider at lunchtime and shouting horrendous abuse at other human beings is commonplace and seen as earning stripes, wearing just a Onesie and perhaps a cheeky Santa hat, understandably caught my eye!

Here's Stan to pick up the story...
"It started off as a bit of banter on Twitter. “I’m going to buy a Onesie” I said.   Now, a few weeks later and I have acquired said Onesie. Not only that but I have agreed to wear it to the pub and to Ashton Gate on 1st December 2012. The reality of this dawns on me a little bit more every time I write it down. I’m not the sort of bloke who would normally wear a Onesie, let alone in public, so this is a big deal for me! It is all for a brilliant cause though - the Barbara Russell Children’s Unit (BRCU) at Frenchay Hospital.
In 2011, aged 6 months my son Reuben was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus (water on the brain). He was having regular treatment and scans and then one Saturday afternoon, when City were at home to Leeds, I received a call from my wife at about 3.20pm saying that I needed to get to Frenchay quickly.  
Reuben had developed complications relating to his condition which had made him seriously ill.   To cut a long story short, I have never felt so frightened and useless in all my life and I have no doubt that the staff at the BRCU prevented anything tragic happening. 
For a while afterwards, Reuben remained at the BRCU and the level of care the staff provided was inspiring. I am thrilled to say that Reuben is now improving all of the time and able to get up to as much mischief as any other 19 month-old boy!
Back to the Onesie thing... as I mentioned, on 1st December before the Wolverhampton Wanderers match, both Kezsa Mitchell and I will don our Onesies and wear them to Bar BS3 (if our dress code allows), before heading to the Gate at about 1.30pm collecting as much money as we can. All the money raised will go towards the Play Team at the Barbara Russell Children’s Unit who do such a brilliant job in making the children’s (and parents!) time in hospital that bit easier.
Thanks for reading
If you wish to support the appeal you can donate at:
Text “BARB80” plus the amount you wish to donate (e.g. BARB80 £5) to 70070. 
Follow us on Twitter using #WearYourOnesie or message us directly @BigStanHibbert and @Kezsajm. You can also see us at Ashton Gate on Saturday, either outside or in the EastEnd, we shouldn’t be too difficult to spot! Thank you so much for your support.
Please do support Stan and Kezsa (who is lending much needed moral support), this is a fairly unique way of raising money and a special cause.  If you can't get to the Gate tomorrow the justgiving link again is: www.justgiving.com/bigstanhibbert


Sunday, 18 November 2012

A little bit of history repeating...

Stu Radnedge returns to the blog with a view - admittedly prior to the Blackpool match (it's been a busy week!)  - on City's disastrous late-Autumn:

It’s all just a little bit of history repeating…?

Those are, what I consider to be, words from one of the greatest Shirley Bassey songs ever (the Propellerheads are credited for the track but her vocals are what makes the song, in my opinion). And it’s rather a fitting description for what us City fans are hopefully enduring currently. I say hopefully, as the season after this we should be getting promoted… and not from League One.

As pointed out by the board last Monday, we’ve been here before. A string of games this long without a win was last experienced in the 2005/06 season which saw a City legend, Brian Tinnion, be man enough to step down after we were annihilated 7-1 by one of the Welsh teams (I can’t mention the name – it still hurts).

Step up Gary Johnson, but the resurgence was not instant. City were 23rd, with the same number of points, on Boxing Day as Johnson started his reign disastrously, but we finished the season in 9th.  The following season, as we all can remember, promotion ensued after finishing as runners-up.

But please don’t take this prose as the ramblings of a mad-man… yet.  I am in no way suggesting the Premier League is waiting for us next season. The focus clearly has to be on turning around this recent run of misfortune and woe – as that is all it is.

But being near the bottom now is nowhere near as bad as being in this position after the New Year. Obviously.

I imagine I’m not alone but I enjoy listening to Talk Sport on the way to and from work. The stick Arsenal get from the presenters is quite amusing, but something that was said one morning made me want to share it in this blog.

The presenter said, “Chelsea fans. What do you think of Di Matteo? Is he not winning enough games?”

Hold on. This is the Chelsea that two weeks ago was demolishing everyone, but has since lost to Man United and drew with Liverpool on the weekend…. Madness.

But it’s the same with City. The successful start to the season bred hope in us all and now the bump back down to earth has been harder to deal with.

Yes, in 2005 a managerial change helped save us, but not instantly. And at this moment in time, could we afford a new manager coming in and taking 15 games to find his feet, over the busy Christmas period. No.

Instead of looking back at history, which will play no part in our future, we should be concentrating on just that – our future.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Interview with an opposition fan: Charlton Athletic

Is it too early to talk of six-pointers?  Derek McInnes certainly doesn't think so - his comments ahead of tomorrow's matched were laced with the potential importance to City's season, so ahead of Sunday's crunch clash with Charlton Athletic, The Exiled Robin is delighted to welcome Al Gordon, host of the intruigingly named God, Charlton and Punk Rock blog, to the site, who was kind enough to answer some of my questions:

You took the division by storm last season and were deserved Champions.  Has the step up been harder than you expected?
At the beginning of the season we would have settled for mid table but had deep down a small desire for reaching the play-offs. The likes of Norwich and Southampton (the two sides we got relegated to League One with) have almost set a precedent for back to back promotions although I don’t believe at Charlton we have the resources to build a Premier League side out of a League One squad in just one season.
We’ve played some good football already this season but have been punished for defensive mistakes time and time again. We also need to be a lot more clinical, chances aren’t so frequent as last year so we really do need to take them when we can.
I believe the first fifteen games have been quite a stern lesson for the players, officials and supporters alike.
So is Chris Powell still bullet-proof as the gaffer or are questions being asked?
Obviously Chris Powell is a firm favourite with the fans and can do no wrong in many eyes. The support for him was unbelievable on Tuesday at home to Cardiff, 15,000 Addicks were right behind him for the whole 96 minutes.
He has been criticised for his substitutions, his constant playing people out of position whilst seemingly overlooking other options and also for fielding a rather negative 4-5-1 at home. Sometimes you get the feeling we’re playing not to lose rather than to win. I however want to see him get the full season under his belt, I believe we’re too good to go down and the man deserves this chance after the success he got in his first full season. He’s a young manager learning his trade, there will never be a more comfortable environment for him to do this in.
There is however a ‘but’. There are continuous reports of his relationship with the board being a little strained. They have made it clear they’ll have things done their way (it’s their money at the end of the day), but Chris Powell and director Tony Jimenez aren’t from all accounts the best of friends. Time will tell.
You've made a couple of decent-looking loan signings this week, is this a sign of desperation or just covering injuries?
Dan Seaborne is a great addition to the squad. We were down to just one fit full back in the senior ranks before his arrival as the club has been ravaged by injury. Rhoys Wiggins and Cedric Evina both left sided full backs are sidelined resulting in Chris Solly (our player of the year) playing out of position. His place on the right was taken by Lawrie Wilson who has also now entered the over capacity treatment room. Someone, much funnier than myself, joked the other day that perhaps we should get another physio in on loan too!

Eggert Johnsson had a great reputation in Scotland with Hearts but the Icelandic midfielder has struggled to turn heads at Wolves. In fact one Wolves supporter remarked to a friend of mine that he was one of the worst players he’s ever seen in a gold shirt. I’ve faith in Chris Powell’s judgement albeit out of loyalty, and to the players credit he can fill a full back berth if needs be.
How was Tuesday night for you (Charlton came back from two goals down, to go 5-2 up and eventually defeat Cardiff 5-4)?
There are some nights that will stay in your mind for years to come, this was one of them. We’d had a real footballing lesson from Middlesbrough last Saturday so expectation wasn’t too high as the league leaders at that time came into town. Three minutes in and a goal down, I began to wonder if I should have just stayed in the pub.
We showed some determination and desire to claw our way back into the game, the crowd sensed it and it was like flicking on an electrical power supply resulting in an atmosphere the likes of which were long forgotten in recent times.
In fairness the defending was comical from both teams and I’ve no idea where the referee got six minutes of stoppage time from. They were six of the longest minutes of my life, only Charlton could come back like that and then nearly throw it all away. (ER - True, City could come back like that, but they would have thrown it all away; Burnley a few weeks ago springs to mind!)
The one dampener on the evening was Palace going top.
Bearing in mind we've already lost 3-5 and 3-4 at home this season, do you think Sunday will be another goals galore bonanza or will Powell look to tighten up after midweek?
I’m certain Chris Powell will want to tighten up, eight goals conceded in the last two games is unacceptable at any level, but with a new face guaranteed to start at the back communication may not be at its best across our rear guard.
Concentration is a must for the full ninety minutes, we can’t afford to start slowly again, or lose focus at the end. As I said before, switch off at this level for just the briefest of moments and you’ll get punished.
A clean sheet will not only be a welcomed addition for the boss but also Ben Hamer in goal who must have enjoyed the midweek win less than anybody. Quite simply we cannot afford to keep shipping goals the way we have been.
Both sides have proved they can not only score goals but also leak them as well, what price on a 0-0 now?
Danny Haynes appears to have had his injury problems but was at the heart of Tuesday's win?  How has the former Robin been for you and is he likely to start on Sunday?
Danny has been a forgotten man at Charlton. He has been well down the pecking order since his arrival at the club with I believe just three starts before Tuesday. His performance against Cardiff was, in my eyes, worthy of a man of the match accolade.
I hope we get to see a lot more of him as the season progresses but I fear Sunday he’ll be travelling back to Ashton Gate as a spectator only.
He came off on Tuesday night I believe carrying a knock but there is a possibility it was just cramp.  Not a game goes by without someone limping off the pitch.
In this season preview for The Exiled Robin, @ramblingaddick was raving about Yann Kermorgant.  Other than a potentially inevitable Haynes goal, is he the man City should be watching out for or is he still some way from full fitness?
Again, you’ll be watching him in the stands. He’s been out injured for nearly two months. Don’t panic, I’m sure we can field eleven players come Sunday.
Yann was instrumental in our success last season, a target man that can also use his feet to great effect. So popular with the supporters that they often sing “we all dream of a team of Kermorgants” although I have to hold my hands up and say he does go to ground a little too easily for my liking.
I believe Yann is still a couple of weeks away from returning so Rob Hulse is likely to continue alone up front. Having been told By Queen’s Park Rangers, who still hold his registration, that he has no future there (and also no squad number), he is very much in the shop window and hence has everything to play for. His performance on Tuesday was also immense and on par with that of Danny Haynes.
Bradley Wright-Phillips seems to only appear in a twenty minute cameo role these days, full of running and enthusiasm he does seem a little out of his depth at this level. We don’t have an out and out twenty goals a season player, just a team that are all more than capable of getting their names on the score sheet.
From what you've seen this season, who are the best and worst sides you've faced, and have you been impressed with any one particular player at the higher level?
Middlesbrough last weekend thoroughly proved why they occupy top spot as we speak, and did look a class above. However, both Leicester and Cardiff have come to SE7 and lost which emphasises that everyone is beatable in the Championship.
Nottingham Forest chose our visit to show the rest of the division what they are capable of, yet it remains only Boro and Forest (for forty five minutes) that have played us off the park.
Arch rivals Crystal Palace came to The Valley back in September and took all three points although they failed to dominate, the one difference between the sides being Wilfried Zaha.
He twisted and turned his way through the full backs all night, even swapping sides to tease on both flanks. Definitely head and shoulders above the rest, it’s no wonder all the big clubs are not just monitoring him but waving big fortunes under the nose of Palace. I would be amazed if he isn’t getting the likes of Hansen and Shearer excited every Saturday night on Match of the Day after January.
And finally, the inevitable score prediction.  These are incredibly hard to pick for City home games this season!
I’m really hoping the momentum of Tuesday will carry us through and we can return to London with all three points. It’s still too early to be calling this a six pointer isn’t it?
With all due respect to yourselves, we cannot afford to be going to a bottom three club and coming away with less than a point, otherwise it won’t be long before we’re also a member of the exclusive three.
I do still foresee defensive nightmares though so I am plumping for a 2-2 draw. I’ll take a point away from home all day long, whoever the opposition.

Many thanks again to Al for these words, you can follow him on Twitter here:

Friday, 9 November 2012

McInnes' anniversary celebration falls flat

After another reasonably-sized absence, The Exiled Robin returns with a vengeance this weekend with two posts in as many days.

First up is guest writer Stu Radnedge, who mulls over City's poor run of form on the anniversary of the appointment of Derek McInnes, and debates what's next for the Robins:

"It’s time to stand up and be counted…already.
It’s been just over a year since City fans rejoiced in the arrival of Del with many, if not all, dreaming of a new beginning for our club and wondering if he really could be the one to take us to the promised land.
Yet again however, we find ourselves asking that time old question of “Where did it all go wrong?” Just one point off the bottom, Del sees the club in pretty much the same position as we were in when he took over in 2011.
The boo-boys, the self-proclaimed realists - whatever you want to label them as - are calling for heads to roll. The eternal optimists are at the polar opposite saying a new man in charge would have the same issues. Then there are those fans in-between both those opinions, praying or pleading for our luck to change. And this is the camp I find myself sitting with.
Luck is a lady worth being on the right side of as, when she’s not on your side, life is not worth living.  The start of this campaign was good, if not excellent. Beating Palace and Cardiff, Wooly finding form, the team playing as a unit – life was good. Then Cunningham suffered an 8-week lay off due to injury and it seemed like everything went down hill from there. Results in particular but also injuries, some horrific, to our emergency loan signing Big George, this week to McManus and knocks to Fonts, Skuse, Carey, Marv, etc…
The injuries to defenders has exemplified our frailties in defence and shown a lack of depth of quality.
But it is by no means the end.  While it is truly disheartening to see our team on a run like this, it must only get better. We just have to ride out the storm. Changing manager will not achieve anything except winning a disruptive round of the blame game.
My fear is that recently we have been saved from the drop by teams losing points by entering administration. Is that what we will need to rely on again this year?  I hope not. But results will not change and the lovely lady called luck will not return to help us if we are not unified.
Sunday is a very important game.  I’m making the journey up from Cornwall to watch the game and I would like to take this opportunity to say I’m behind the gaffer, behind the team and will be forever more. I’m not so blinkered to not see when things are going wrong, but to me all that has been against us is disruptive injuries and luck being against us.
But now it’s time to stand up and be counted."
Thanks very much to Stu for his latest view and he's right in saying Sunday is a critical game.  Something must be gained out of this, the first of two winnable home games, if we aren't to be cut adrfit at the bottom. 
Injuries are taking their toll and it will be interesting to see if the initial interest in former Middlesboro defender Matthew Bates develops.  Reinforcements are certainly required - more so with every passing week.
One thing is for sure, we all need to get behind the team on Sunday and help them towards three points.  The spirit showed in the run to survial at the end of last season must be reignited and we can all help.

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