NEXT GAME

The following is a questionnaire style interview with Ian Burke, whose blog ‘Talking Turkey With Burkey’ is an almost exclusively Manchester-centric view of Non-League football.

 

Who are ya?
I’m Ian Burke, Hyde fan of many moons. Since 1988-ish, anyway. I’m also BBC Radio Manchester’s grandly-titled “nonleague expert”, although I think that’s probably a bit optimistic.

Have you ever been to Nuneaton. What were your impressions?
I’ve been through Long Eaton before, but Nuneaton has always managed to elude me. The BBC stuff means I have to stay fairly local, really, so I don’t go on anywhere near as many away day adventures as I’d like.

Leading goalscorer Scott Spencer was once trumpeted as the new Wayne Rooney when he signed for Everton. How good is he now?
At the risk of getting all statto on yo’ asses, Scott has scored 13 goals in 9 league games giving him a strike rate of 144%, whereas Rooney only has a paltry 9 goals from 7 league games which equates to 128%. Thus, Spencer > Rooney in mathematical terms.
Figure massaging aside, Spencer has been outrageously good this season. As well as a couple of penalties and relative tap-ins, he has already scored a full YouTube showreel of 20+ yard screamers with both feet. In short, he’s far too good for this division on the current evidence.

Who are Hyde’s other stand out players?
I’m pretty sure everyone here has some kind of crush on Callum Byrne. He’s a slight midfield playmaker who joined us from Rochdale in the summer after a few great performances on loan at the end of last season. In fact, he’s the only player retained from the last (very painful) campaign.
It seems churlish to pick out more star players as there hasn’t really been any truly weak links, but I’ll go for it anyway. Andrew Pearson has been colossal at the back and ‘Spaghetti Legs’ Ryan Crowther has been mesmerising coming in from the left wing. It’s all a bit of a shock after the last few years.

What’s the food like at the ground? Do they have any local specialities like tripe pies or black pudding baguettes?
It’s solid if unspectacular at the moment. The meat & potato pies are well worth a nibble, but as for local delicacies, I’m afraid we’re severely lacking on the offal front. I can’t really think of anything that’s peculiarly Hyde, or even Tameside, in culinary terms.

Do Hyde have any famous ex-players who have gone on to greater things?
There’s not been anybody really stellar in footballing terms, although Colin Little banged the goals in consistently for a couple of season in the mid-90s and we were briefly graced with the presence of Rob Hulse. Our most famous ex-player, though, is probably scouse gagsmith, John Bishop, who I reckon probably qualifies as a household name these days.

Larry Grayson was a Nuneaton lad and ex-manager Graham Carr is the father of TV celebrity Alan Carr. Do Hyde have any gay icons associated with the club?
The tiger on the club badge looks especially effette now that it has a light blue colour scheme. He never looked especially snarling on the old red one, but the new logo has really ramped up the campness quota. I’m not sure whether whacking kids with a pink hammer, getting to No.1 in the hit parade with ‘Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’, and having a radio show called ‘Timmy On The Tranny’ qualifies you as a gay icon, but if so, Timmy Mallett has a soft spot for us.

Is Ricky Hatton a Hyde fan?
He’s Man City all the way, although I’m sure he buys the Non-League Paper every Sunday to see how we’re getting on.

Is there any chance of arranging a fight between Ricky Hatton and Stuart Hall as a warm up to Saturday’s match? We could call it ‘It’s A Knockout’
I’ve just spoken to Stuart and he’s up for it with there being no Premier League games on this weekend, but I’m afraid Ricky’s adamant that he’s thrown his last punch. I’ll get onto Oscar De La Hoya to see if he’ll have a word, but I can’t guarantee anything…

If Hyde maintain their early season form and get promoted would they be able to compete in the BSP?
Very unlikely if we stay part-time, and although I’d be surprised if we did take the plunge and go pro should we get promotion, I suppose it’s not beyond the realms of possibility, especially as crowds have near enough doubled this season. However, Droylsden got smashed to bits when they went up with a decent side, and Altrincham were perennial strugglers in that division. As much as it pains me to say it, Stalybridge are probably the best equipped to make the leap.

What are your feelings on the relationship between the club and Manchester City and what do you think of the colour changes, etc
I think it was slightly megalomaniacal of City to suggest us dropping the ‘United’ from our name (it’s not stopped the songs, of course, just like you’re still Nuneaton Boro to the fans), but I don’t know if we’d even have a club if it wasn’t for them. Saying that, they’ve apparently paid for the pitch to be relayed this season (it was like the surface of the moon in April) so that their reserves don’t do themselves a mischief, and it really is very, very good.
The stadium being dark blue with a City badge on the main stand is still a bit weird, especially as we’re back to playing in red after a season in white, but I suspect it was a necessary evil at the time.

We used to have a very lively rivalry with Tamworth back in the day. Who are Hyde’s fiercest rivals?
It actually makes my fingers sweat having to type Stalybridge Celtic, and there isn’t a Hyde fan who’d even consider washing the pots with a ‘Bridge shirt. That’s ignoring the total unsuitability of using a football shirt to do the dishes with, but even if they did produce a shirt with sponge on one side and a scourer on the other, it’d be totally out of the question.
The whole town is like a compilation of violent Greek myths, with barely human cyclops’ and minotaurs beating lumps of meat out of each other in an alcopop-fuelled frenzy, scrapping over the contents of pink limo trojan horses full of lecherous gargoyles. And that’s on a quiet Tuesday. Weekends are beyond description or comprehension.
By comparison, our rivalry with Droylsden is merely a vague disliking. Like a schoolyard grudge you never quite got over.

If you buy a burger at Nuneaton, they charge 10p extra for onions. Do Hyde have an onion pricing policy and would the fans be happy to pay extra?
Ooooh, you know what, I don’t know. I’m strictly a pie man and wouldn’t even countenance the idea of having anything not encased in pastry at a football match. Unless it’s faggots and peas, but you never seen them up here.

What’s the beer like in the social club?
It’s well kept and served with wry grins and equally dry comments from Julia and co. There’s not a great range, but it is a small bar, and as there’s always plenty of Guinness, that’s not a problem.

Your prediction for Saturday?
I’m duty-bound by my ridiculous series of superstitions to say Hyde 0 – 2 Nuneaton. Thanks to always betting against Hyde, I’m bottom of the predictions league and a few quid out of pocket, but I wouldn’t have it any other way

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