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About tenthreeleader

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    25-time FMS Award winner / Rob Ridgway's doppleganger

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    FMS Hall of Fame Class of 2012


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    "Malone Again, Naturally" - 2015 FMS Story of the Year

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    Rangers, MUFC, Reading

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  1. “How are you getting on?” That wasn’t what Kyle wanted to see in a text message. It wasn’t the words themselves that caused the issue – but rather that they were on Stacy’s phone and they came from Boyd Stokes. Judging by the other messages Kyle found, his wife’s onetime boytoy was having a hard time not being around someone he couldn’t have. There were no reply messages from Stacy on the phone that Kyle could find, and he hadn’t meant to snoop but when she went shopping, forgot her phone at home and the thing kept buzzing, Kyle finally went to shut it off. And then he got to read the messages. “I miss you.” “How’s that lump of yours treating you?” “Baby well? Would love to see him even if he’s not mine.” So it was that when Stacy returned home, Kyle simply said, “you forgot your phone” from behind his copy of the Mail, and let her do the rest. Kyle didn’t dare watch from around the newspaper but if he had, he would have seen Stacy’s face first go white, and then turn red with embarrassment. She texted a quick reply and erased the correspondence. “I’ll start dinner,” she said, heading toward the kitchen. “Yeah, do that,” Kyle said, deciding to let Stacy and her attitude twist slowly in the wind for a moment. “How’s Owen sleeping in the afternoons?” “The day care providers say there aren’t any problems,” Stacy said. “Good, because if you get too many more text messages like you got today, you’ll be on your own.” Stacy blushed a bright and furious red, and for a change, had nothing to say. 4 August 2015 Thame United v Oxford United – Friendly #6 Meadow View Park, Thame If Kyle thought that Corby Town was a speed bump, this Hellenic League Premier Division opponent was potentially even more so. Thame United was founded in 1883 – making them ten years older than Oxford United – but unlike their visitors, they never advanced into the Football League. Their home ground, Meadow View Park, is a lovely little community football facility which is groundshared with Aylesbury United and has a main stand on its western side. The community is about ten minutes east of Oxford proper so the road trip, such as it was, wasn’t too onerous. Neither was the opposition, truth be told. By the time Kyle had finally found a more or less comfortable place to sit on the bench, his team was already ahead 4-0, but one of his best players had been carted off with an injury. The reason it was so hard to find a comfortable place was that the match was started in a driving rain, so slickers and rain gear – not brollies – were the order of the day on the Oxford bench. The rain didn’t bother Will Hoskins at all, though. He netted nine minutes into the match on a fine cross from Tom Richards, who deputized for Skarz in the starting eleven, and did it again four minutes later, taking advantage of an entry ball from the United loanee Josh Harrop. It was pretty clear that Harrop wasn’t going to last long in the match because he was in the very earliest stages of playing his way back into condition after a hamstring injury suffered in training with United – the latest in a rather annoying string of injuries for the teenager – but while he was out there, he looked very good indeed. Five minutes later, it was Meades putting a useful ball into the box, which was turned past keeper Stacy Skinner by the mortified defender Kevin Maxwell for an own goal and a 3-0 lead to Oxford inside the first eighteen minutes. But then it was Hoskins rolling on the ground in pain, the victim of a ridiculous and unpunished challenge from Maxwell, who caught him studs up right on the right thigh on the 22-minute mark. “I don’t care if it’s a friendly, that’s a bloody red card!” Kyle screamed from the touchline, but referee Chris Kavanagh wasn’t interested for some unknown reason. Play resumed, Kyle removed both Hoskins and the already-gasping Harrop, and replaced them with MacDonald and Hoban, looking for more goals. A minute later, Hylton was celebrating a goal, which was just what Kyle wanted to see. Most friendlies aren’t designed to be bloodbaths, but the nature of Maxwell’s challenge had really gotten his blood up. There wasn’t a whole lot else to the first half, but Kyle reminded his players that places were still up for grabs in the team and that those mindful of that fact would be more likely to earn them. He then sent his team out for the second half, and was happy to see Hoban get on the scoresheet five minutes after the restart. His team was dominant even though Thame was getting a surprising amount of the possession, and O’Dowda rounded out the scoring eleven minutes from time with a really cracking effort from outside the area that had even the home fans applauding. The final was six – matching Kyle’s personal best at Oxford – and that was enough. Oxford United 6 (Hoskins 9, 13; Kevin Maxwell o/g 18; Hylton 23; Hoban 50; O’Dowda 79) Thane United 0 H/T: 0-4 A – 806, Meadow View Park, Thame Man of the Match: Armand Gnanduillet, Oxford (MR 9.2) # # #
  2. We might as well make a list. PM me if you don't want to spill it here on the board. Like anything else new, we'll have bugs to iron out.
  3. If I can answer it and you can't find it in that mass of HTML, let me know.
  4. It opened for me just now. However, it appears to have been transferred in raw HTML code which means it all shows (and the links I spent all that time entering in a futile attempt at humor) are not. We'll have to see what happens in the coming days.
  5. Sniffy? No. I just have it on good authority that your bride is good people.
  6. Good start you've got going -- glad to have you posting here!
  7. Congratulations to Mrs. Horse, who apparently knows as much about the beautiful game as her husband
  8. Looking forward to this, are we? Only a month early
  9. Kyle got a text from James Maddison the day after the Oxford match, which simply said “thank you”. He wasn’t sure what it meant until he checked the football headlines that day. Portsmouth had just bid half a million pounds for the boy from Coventry City and the Sky Blues had accepted. For Kyle’s money, James Maddison had been the League Two player of the year the season before, and now he was reportedly getting a contract for five times the salary Coventry had paid him just a season before. That leads to thank-you texts. Pompey’s promotion to League One as champion of the prior year’s League Two meant Kyle wouldn’t have to face his would-be protégé in the league, but he did wish that there could have been a way to have him in blue and gold for another season. The boy could play and clearly Portsmouth had seen that. So had Kyle – but the south coasters were a bigger club and that was that. For the time being, Kyle’s task was to try to elevate Oxford United to Portsmouth’s level. That would take a bit of doing but he also saw that the squad of players he had was generally better than the one he had inherited a season ago. Certain players were better than a year ago – Ashby most notably, and he looked ready to break out – and others such as Willock and Rothwell looked ready to do a job. But there were other moves as well. Kyle wanted to sign Conor Townsend and when he refused, Kyle ended his trial. There were other players who wanted to stay at Oxford and those were the ones he needed to focus on. Colchester, recently relegated from League One, immediately expressed interest and Kyle wondered whether another League Two team would be big enough for Mr. Townsend. There were two other players who attracted Kyle’s interest and his new Director of Football was instructed to get deals done for both. Kyle was very pleasantly surprised when they actually happened. Armand Gnanduillet, the former Chesterfield striker with a world of physical talent, was too good to pass up. His presence would give Roberts time to develop and give Kyle four senior strikers under his contract. The other was definitely a player for the future – Jassem Sukar, who had played five games for Sunderland in the Premier League two seasons before, was cut loose and Kyle snapped him up. Still only nineteen years of age, he had great physical skill and simply needed polish. Both players signed on the dotted line just before the friendly at home to Corby Town. 29 July 2015 – Oxford United v Corby Town Friendly #5 – The Kassam Stadium, Oxford Referee: Kevin Wright Half an hour in to the fifth friendly, before a modest crowd at the Kassam, Kyle was wondering what his team would have to do to find a goal. Two shots off the woodwork and eleven chances from right in front of goal had led to a stalemate, with Sam Baxter playing like an acrobat in Corby’s goal and their overly optimistic 4-1-2-3 formation in tatters before Kyle’s men. The Southern League Premier Division team was backed as firmly against the wall as it could be at the Kassam without being pushed onto Grenoble Road, but it had not conceded. “Maybe if we shot a football out of a cannon,” Kyle suggested to Fazackerley, but the assistant manager simply smiled and urged patience, something which had traditionally come to the boss in pitifully short supply. “Give the lads time, it’ll come,” Fazackerley said. “How could it not?” The answer, of course, both men knew perfectly well. There was no guarantee that anything at all would come. Both men had seen occasions where a team would dominate for 89 minutes, slip up once and get itself beaten. Someone had to be first. Thankfully for Oxford, it was Hylton, who bundled over from about three yards out with three minutes to play in the half, and that really changed Kyle’s team talk. “You’re going to roll on these guys in the second half if you just keep doing what you’re doing,” he told them. “Stay the course and have some fun out there.” So it was that Gnanduillet showed his gratitude for his new contract by setting up Hylton for a goal and bagging one himself – within the first three minutes of the second half. And with that, Fazackerley turned to Kyle. “Oh ye of little faith,” he laughed, and Kyle sat back to enjoy the rest of the match, which saw his team rack up 24 attempts at goal to two for their visitors. The substitution pattern started a bit early with the score 3-0, and both Mullins and Meades found the range in the final ten minutes to make the final score a very comfortable 5-0. Hylton had been wonderful, the new guy Gnanduillet had been every bit as good, and Oxford had made very short work out of inferior opposition for the second straight match. Things like that lead to confidence. Oxford United 5 (Hylton 42, 47; Gnanduillet 48, Mullins 81, Meades 90+1) Corby Town 0 H/T: 1-0 A – 2,176, The Kassam Stadium, Oxford Man of the Match: Danny Hylton, Oxford (MR 8.7) # # #
  10. There were housekeeping items in a footballing sense that week as well. The bookies put out the promotion odds – and gave Oxford no respect at all. As you might have expected, two of the relegated League One teams from the prior year – Colchester and Walsall – were at the very top of the list at 3-1, with also-relegated Scunthorpe at 6-1. The fourth relegated team, Crawley Town, was fifth at 33-1 with Luton sandwiched in fourth place at 10-1 despite losing a two-legged playoff to Kyle’s Oxford. Down the list, there was Oxford – in a tie for sixth with Tranmere, Stevenage, Burton Albion and Southend, all at 40-1. “If I were a betting man, I’d get those odds while I could,” Kyle bravely told his team at training the day the odds were released. However, betting on the game when a part of it was an extraordinarily bad idea, and everyone knew that. Better news came later that morning, when Eales told Kyle that he could now use fifty percent of the revenue from player sales to reinvest in the squad. That was a sure sign that the club’s financial position was improving. But the talk now was about the city rivals and the eight-mile coach trip from the Kassam to Court Place Farm was done in less than twenty minutes. 25 July 2015 – Oxford City v Oxford United Friendly #4 – Court Place Farm, Oxford Referee: Pat Wright Kyle met before the match with Johnson Hippolyte, who had earned his managerial spurs at Maidenhead United and had spent his entire career in the lower leagues, never playing or managing at the Conference level. City might just get him there this season, though, so he was looking for a good performance against his Football League neighbors. And as the managers talked, Kyle watched Miles going through his paces. “I’m going to play the boy against you,” Hippolyte said. “He’s for it, that’s for sure.” “Good,” Kyle said. “I’d like to see how he’s progressing.” “He won’t break into my first team any time soon,” Hippolyte replied. “He’s raw. I think he can play at our level if he keeps working.” “Drax, that’s the problem I had with him,” Kyle admitted, using the City manager’s nickname. “A change of scenery was what he needed.” “How are things with your daughter and him?” he asked, knowing the answer would provide insight into his player’s mind. “Hard to say,” Kyle said. “I think they’re good but my wife won’t let him into our house any more. Jenna’s pregnant, though that’s not for public knowledge at this time, and he’s going to have some real decisions to make. He was a huge distraction for me and for my team and I had to do something. I hope he works out for you for a number of reasons.” “I see,” Hippolyte replied. “Well, if he keeps his head down he has a chance at a lower league career. He’d need to really advance to get beyond that point. Still, though, he can be useful for us.” Kyle answered that he didn’t want Hippolyte to think he was getting leftovers, but after Ashby had gone in the opposite direction the season before and now looked to be a legitimate League Two player, the inference couldn’t help but be made. “Maybe this one will work out to my advantage,” Hippolyte joked before shaking hands with Kyle and retiring to his changing room. The match started – and there he was, looking confident and a bit full of himself. Miles pulled his Oxford City shirt close to his chest, smoothing it out so people could see the logo, and looked at Kyle with a big smile. He wasn’t smiling only five minutes into the match, when Rose skinned him and left him for dead at the right side of the City penalty area, penetrating with ease to take a rising shot that eluded Spanish goalkeeper Salva to put United ahead by a goal. Rose reacted like he did it every day while Miles threw his head back in an expression of genuine frustration. He really did want to perform well, and Rose had abused him in a footballing sense. One-nil to United. Miles got his revenge, though, with a crunching tackle that stopped Rose in his tracks three minutes after his goal – but when Rose couldn’t continue, Kyle frowned at the transgression in a friendly. He grew angry, in fact. That sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen in a friendly. So Kyle countered with trialist Conor Townsend, recently released by Hull after spending last season on loan at League one Gillingham. “Number twenty-four?” Townsend asked before heading on, pointing to Miles. “Yes,” Kyle said. “Don’t hurt the kid, but make him pay for that tackle.” Townsend did, skinning Miles for the second time that day five minutes after introduction and ripping another drive past Salva to make it 2-0. Miles calmed down a bit after that but there was no stopping United in the first half. The Us treated City like a speed bump. They were everywhere. They were that much better than City, and despite Miles’ industry, Townsend and Skarz made absolutely sure the smaller club wasn’t going to build anything down the right. Townsend was a curious sort – Kyle knew he wanted to sign the player but he was of the opinion that Oxford simply wasn’t big enough for him. Some players are like that but for today Kyle had one task for him and he had already performed it admirably. The halftime talk was short and sweet – don’t let up – and the substitution pattern in the second half took place as scheduled with Hippolyte’s men doing a better job in the second half than they had in the first. Miles left shortly after the start of the second half but it didn’t matter – Hylton and Willock netted three minutes apart midway through the second half, to decide the issue beyond a shadow of a doubt. For his part, Hippolyte was apologetic about the injury to Rose, but once Kyle learned that it wasn’t terribly serious he was willing to be generous – to the manager. As referee Pat Wright blew his whistle to end the match, players started shaking hands with each other and Miles approached Kyle, hand extended. Kyle accepted the peace offering but couldn’t resist. “You’re drawing a professional’s salary now, Miles,” he said, with a touch of anger in his voice. “But that tackle on Danny shows you have a long way to go before you learn what being a professional really means.” Oxford City 0 Oxford United 4 (Rose 5, Townsend 14, Hylton 74, Willock 77) H/T: 0-2 A – 1,150, Court Place Farm, Oxford Man of the Match: Conor Townsend, Oxford United (MR 8.6) # # #
  11. Rather embarrassed that I haven't posted to you yet, Mr. Fuller. This is a very nice piece of writing. Going to spend a bit of time catching up.
  12. Just catching up to you here. Great idea, and you are quite right, international stories not done by Mr. Wilson are fairly rare around here. Good luck!
  13. You've had a rough go of late, friend. Prayers for you and yours. Parents aging can be very hard to deal with. My dad was like yours but went downhill so quickly I could hardly believe it. I wish better for your family. Do the best you can to be there for him and take it nice and slow.
  14. See what you did?
  15. One thing I'd like to see the new England manager do is decide on a specific style of play. Hodgson didn't seem to really do that but then, when you look at England at present it's hard to see what style would suit all eleven players. They can't really play a possession-based style, despite some pace up front they aren't really a good pressing team and who knows if they are good enough technically to play the patient game. Having just watched the Copa America I've watched Jurgen Klinsmann play the United States in a direct style because we haven't really got the skill to play anything else, but I would love to see an American team be able to play like Chile did. Damn, they're fun to watch. They are relentless.