I HAVE been the main Basingstoke Town reporter for the last eight years, and it's fair to say that disappointment has over-ridden excitement for most of that period.

A few dramatic weeks in 2012 aside, Town have spent the entire time I have been covering them as a low to mid-table side in the Conference South.

Interest and crowds have dwindled as the years have gone on - but a bold move by head of marketing Simon Hood has suddenly resulted in the club being the talk of non-league football.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the club have entered a one-year partnership with Sky Sports' popular Saturday morning football programme, Soccer AM.

The club have agreed to rename the Camrose, with their ground being known as the Soccer AM Stadium next season, and in exchange, they will be featured regulary on the show.

The announcement immediately became the talk of the Town, with more than 4,000 people reading the article on this site on Wednesday alone.

There has not been any talk of money changing hands, but that statistic alone is evidence that the deal could be worth a fortune for Town in terms of publicity. Hopefully, that can be turned into increased crowds and additional sponsorship deals.

I was a little concerned that the old guard would be very upset by the absence of the word Camrose, but so far my fears seem to have been unfounded and there has been nothing but support for the move.

Hood, who only took over as head of marketing earlier this year, should be very proud of this deal.

I'm guessing now, but I would imagine that it was him who came up with and approached the Soccer AM bosses with the idea.

It's a masterstroke that could help the club for years to come, and I'm certainly more excited about the forthcoming season because of it.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Germany, worthy World Cup winners

THE World Cup sadly came to an end on Sunday, but it's hard to argue that the Germans didn't deserve to win it.

They were the best side over the course of the tournament, and while they lack outstanding individuals like Messi and Ronaldo, they came together to form a fantastic team.

Many observers have pointed out that this might be because five of the starting 11 (six if you include Sami Khedira, who was injured in the warm-up) were in the under-21 side that won the European title in 2009.

People like Stuart Pearce have been using this as an example of why England should focus more on under-21 football, but it's an arguement that I'm sick of listening to.

Those six players have made the transition to the senior team because they are exceptional talents, not because they got experience at under-21 level.

England were runners-up to Germany in that European Championship, but just one player who featured in the final, James Milner, was in the squad for the World Cup.

That has been used as an example of how England are failing to bring players through. It's an arguement that has some weight to it, but there are several mitigating factors.

For a start, the only reason Joe Hart didn't play in that final was because of a suspension, while Theo Walcott would undoubtedly have been at the World Cup were it not for injury. That means that three players have made their mark on the senior team.

It's fair to say that the careers of Micah Richards, Kieran Gibbs, Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell have stalled since 2009. All four of them are undoubtedly talented enough to have been involved in Brazil this summer.

Gibbs has had a hard time with injuries, so we'll let him off, but the other three have something in common - Manchester City. 

Richards was already there, while Johnson and Rodwell have since made big-money moves there. All three struggled to make an impact or even get on the pitch ahead of the club's galaxy of stars.

More importantly though, let's not forget that England were beaten 4-0 in that final by the Germans.

Even if they had fulfilled their potential, are we really saying that Richards, Gibbs and Rodwell would have been as good as Hummels, Boateng and Ozil?

They are decent players, but they would never have got to the level of the Germans.

It is an amazing crop of players produced by the German system. Rather than concentrating on making sure youngsters compete at under-21 level, it's far more important that we get coaching standards up at youth level.

That's where world-beaters are made.

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