Friday, April 30, 2010

Paris in the Springtime (3)

Season 1968/9

Read an article last night featuring the Division 1 season in 1969/70. Becoming a bit obsessed with the sixties I am.

The 1969/70 table was intriguing in that it was the last time that Leeds (1st), Everton (3rd), Chelsea (5th) and Spurs (6th) ended up in the top six places. Since then only Everton have stayed in the top league interrupted.

Leeds won the title with what was described as a “cult of collective anonymity”. Flashes of brilliance were often ignored by the media, who have preferred to focus retrospectively on their approach of playing only one up front (Mick Jones) for much of the season, and also the gradual emergence of their “dirty” tag under Revie. Irrespective of the tactics, their achievement of losing only two games during the season remains highly impressive.

Everton’s Holy Trinity was beginning to develop and the following season they would prove to be league winners as Leeds were pushed into second position.

The Cup was won by Manchester City, beating Leicester 1-0 in the final. Everton and Spurs were beaten by Man City, Chelsea lost to West Brom and Leeds lost in the third round to Sheffield Tuesday.

The League Cup was won by Swindon beating Arsenal 3-1 in the final. Everton and Chelsea lost to Derby, Spurs lost in the semi-final to the Arse and Leeds went down to Crystal Palace.

Leading goalscorer award that year went to Jimmy Greaves ending his last complete season with Spurs. The following season would see him transferred to West Ham in a swap for Martin Peters, and then post-season embark on the London to Mexico World Cup Rally which he completed successfully.

Of the teams in Division 1 that year, 12 (or 22) are no longer in top flight football. Amazingly, and as an aside, looking at the tables for the first year of the Premiership in 1993, 13 of the teams that participated are now in lower divisions.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Special One

Nice analogy on football365 today as they reflect on "The Special One's" victory over two legs against Barcelona - crystallised after a ten-man-behind-the-ball performance yesterday evening at the Noucamp. Not only were his after-match antics hateful (Barcelona were right to turn on the sprinklers) but his team's tactical performance was made of the stuff that destroys football.

As for the analogy, here's what he said when the pre-Harry Tottenham came to the Bridge in 2005 and played the same game as Inter did last night:

"As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal. I would have been frustrated if I had been a supporter who paid £50 to watch this game because Spurs came to defend. There was only one team looking to win, they only came not to concede - it's not fair for the football we played."

I don't think the prick was too frustrated last night.

You've done it all....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I was always Illya Kuryakin

The choice wasn't a difficult one - it was always Illya Kuryakin for me. Even the name sounded better than "Napoleon Solo" - or was it that I had unfortunately already seen Robert Vaughan in the Magnificent Seven and I just couldn't easily transpose him from the back of a horse into a superpowered Lamborghini, with machine-guns for exhaust pipes?

Eitherway there's was only one option for me and vaulting over the front hedge in Stillorgan (tea-time beckoned) it was far cooler to think you were the mysterious Russian spy-par-extraordinaire rather then the silk and suave American packaged superhero. The choice followed through in sending away for the Man from Uncle spy kit and I went for Agent badge No:2 as opposed to the No:11 which Solo wore, a decision I still don't regret to this day.
In addition to the badge and an identity card, you got a pen with invisible ink which proved to be very useful for not doing your homework.

Pure escapism in more ways than one.

Where the Man from Uncle arguably failed however was in the area of “enemy” – it was really hard to get excited about the challenge posed by Thrush, additionally so if someone in your family was complaining that the real problem with Thrush was the itchiness it caused.

Their fabulous memory lives on and lest we ever forget their enduring legacy, take a short trip back in your minds, just a few months, to the Fianna Fail tent at the Galway Races. Take a quick glance around and observe the widespread use of invisible ink pens, in the hands of fat greedy builders, as they appear mysteriously to leave the payee section blank on the numerous and significant cheques they are writing. Then, if ever, we so badly needed the guys from Uncle with their trusty machine guns.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nil-point lane

Another week gone and so much has happened.

Brusselsblue gets stuck in South Africa - nice one , my son - a brilliant military manoeuvre some might say.

Chelski come to the Lane, which has been renamed nil-point lane for them in recent years. A true reflection on the scoreline would have been 7-1 as opposed to the measly 2-1 we ended up with. Still beggars can't be choosers as they say and we'll take what we can get. It's a pity we can't play them every week.

Nice to see Jenmaine Defoe (he's a yiddo) getting back on the penalty score sheet - greedy bastard isn't he, recognising that he's missed about five this year already.

Nice win for Evtin at Blackburn - Arteta back to form although can't say the eye poke was pretty or sporting. Something about the Spanish temperament.

Leeds won the second half against Gillingham 2-0, shame they were 3-0 down at half time. Still, none of the others made up ground so they are still in the driving seat.

Things are getting interesting now and we all have something to play for - Chelsea should win it, Spurs have a 50/50 chance of 4th, Everton could yet get 7th and Leeds will do well to hold on to automatic promotion.

Good luck to us all.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Broadway Danny Rose

Wasn't it great to see such such unbridled skill last night as Danny boy set us on the road to victory against the evil Arse. Sadly football at this level is such that, next year, in the exact same circumstances, Rose will play a simple knock-down to someone standing five yards away from him and Spurs will "retain possession".

Sad but inevitable, and therefore all the more enjoyable when it does happen. Watch it again and see that twat Almunia (how do Arsenal manage to continually have pricks playing for them in goal?) tee the ball up so perfectly for the kid. Go on my son, hit it.

So Spurs do Chelski a favour and Everton, not for the first time, do Spurs a favour. Maybe, just maybe, we'll forgive you that spirited comeback at Goodison in December.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our book club 1970-1975

"When i think back on all the crap I learnt at high school, it's a wonder I can think at all" - Paul Simon.

True or false? To put it to the test look back on eight of the classics of literature which were pounded into us as kids and see whether this assessment is fair:

The Mayor of Casterbridge

From a literary perspective, quite poor as it tended to ramble on aimlessly about Wessex forests and hills, and country bumpkins loafing around with empty milk churns. However will always be one of my favourites because of its main character Michael Henchard. Any man who can sell his wife and his kids for a fiver and then make mayor has got to be top of my list of dudes with cool. Henchard is not to be confused with Michael Henshaw, who used to break a snooker cue over your head if you called him “hen” in the poolroom in Belfield.

Verdict – not recognised then for what it was – a tale of a superhero to beat them all.

The Old Man and the Sea

The poor man’s Moby Dick.

Thankfully this one wasn’t one of the prescribed novels and appeared only in the additional reading section (or whatever they called it). If memory serves me well, others falling into this category were Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.

The benefit of the optionals is that, unnoticed, you could whizz through the Folens or Longmans Notes for a summary as opposed to reading page after page of the same stuff – old Mexican geezer with wife and kids to feed, nearly catches big fish, goes to sleep, wakes up next day, nearly catches big fish, goes to sleep, wakes up next day, nearly catches fish and ultimately falls asleep again.

The only travesty is that this one wasn’t written by Cecilia Ahern. It is patently obvious that Hemingway was up to his gills in vodka on his trip down the Florida Keys as he penned this little beauty.

Verdict – using an appropriate nautical term, give this one a wide berth.


Shakespearean tragedy for all those who had to read it.

Promised a hell of a lot (bubble bubble toil and trouble) but ultimately got a bit lost with moving forests and invisible daggers. The real tragedy with this play was having to study it for two of the formative years of our academic lives, particularly in a class which had moving desks and very visible laggers. How the hell did Mike and Gerry get into 55?

Verdict – a total bore, rescued only by twirling Jim Doyle's reaction to the goalpost coming through the window as we commenced Act IV Scene III.

Animal Farm

The Celtic Tiger generation changed the words of this by deed poll to “four wheel drive good, two wheel drive bad” but even they must now have twigged the underlying message in this novella.

While this was supposedly a satire on the Russian political system, I question whether the critics and literary analysts made a little geographical mistake along the way.

Perceived grievances (British rule) leads to uprising (1916) and independence followed (1921) swiftly by an even-worse political system (Dail Eireann) which centres around a small few taking control and making rules for everyone else and then ignoring them themselves (Fianna Fail). Not sure how Orwell would write the greedy bankers and developers into this one if he was doing it again.

Verdict - a spiffing good read!

Lord of the Flies

The latter-day equivalent of “Lost” although my kids don’t exactly see it that way. If is was out in a box-set, well maybe - but a book about civilisation, tribalism and morality – no fuck that, I’m going back onto X-Box.

This book is truly brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

The smashing of Piggy’s glasses was a truly devastating moment (more so than his death) as it marked a move from the happy-ever after endings of our nursery-rhyme youth to the real cut and thrust of the modern world.

The face-paint and tribal behaviour of Jack’s group mirrored the football allegiances and hooliganism of the seventies and with which we could all associate, rife as it was.

It gave us a chance to look around the class and simply change the names for the real-life characters, bullies and victims around you. Aside from Brian’s treatment of a few of our own, I’m happy to say we never entered either camp.

Samneric - the twins - falling asleep and letting the (Pascal) fire go out on the island. Did they know then that something was evil going on in the brotherhood?


Top of the book list – relevant, influential and thought-provoking.

The Merchant of Venice

This play to my mind actually rescues Will from the B League as most of the rest of the stuff he wrote would actually put you to sleep. I don’t mind the language being different (it was five hundred years ago) but the story-lines were so insipid it’s frightening.

This one however is dear to my heart because of the modern-day parallels – Jewish trader (Spurs) sells commodity (Keane) to another suitor (Liverpool) and then buys it back at a lower price – and what happens – they call us misbelievers, cut-throat dogs, and spit on our Jewish gabardines – and why – “for use of that which is our own”.

And now Celtic have now come calling and we try to screw them as well.

Why is it that this is still our educational “piece de resistance” – contributing the most memorable quotations and parallels of all we learnt? One simple answer – because of the greatest Shakespearean character of all time – Shylock. Long may he endure and if you’re ever down the Lane at a match soon, I’ll formally introduce you – you’ll like him, he's a top man.

Hard Times

The book which put the dick back into Dickens.

Hard to think that at a time they’re trying to get kids interested in schooling, education and self-development that they force them to read this frightful drivel. Three hundred pages of unadulterated nonsense, in a soft hairy red cover with gold lettering on the side. Better suited to Christian Brothers schools that the progressive Holy Ghost fathers.

The hair rises on my back every time I see this book in the attic. I’m afraid to throw it out in case it is ever traced back to me.

Verdict – the only redeeming feature is that it is set in a fictitious English setting called “Coketown”. The mind boggles what Gradgrind and Bounderby were really up to.

Peig Sayers

This book gave us an insight into life in Ireland in 2010 and beyond. It was supposed to be about life in the Blascaidi in the fifties but the whole thing got turned on its’ head in recent times. Instead of telling us about the life we might have to endure if we didn’t work hard, it now tells us of the life we can aspire to if we get a few lucky breaks.

Smoking the dudin round the fire, without Marion Finucane or Joe Duffy drifting over the airwaves, and staring out through the rain to the mainland and the imminent arrival of the currach mor with provisions for the next few months. And the body laid out in the bedroom and caoineadh O’Leary about to commence.

The whole thing sounds a lot more attractive to me than it used to.

Verdict – very poor early appreciation levels but maturing with age.

And so the final league table:

1. Lord of the Flies
2. The Merchant of Venice
3. Animal Farm
4. The Mayor of Casterbridge
5. Macbeth
6. Peig
7. The Old man and the Sea
8. Hard Times

It's Europe for Lord of the Flies and the Championship for Hard Times!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Give us a song, Gerry

It was either this, or The Mountains of Mourne, when our best crooner would get up on stage.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

For the day that's in it (2)

Easter Sunday is a notorious time for silent collections in the pubs around the border counties and a lot more come out wearing Easter lilies than went in.

Released under Freedom of Information laws thirty years after it was taken, the above photograph shows locals responding to the playing of "A Nation Once Again" in Dorrians pub in Ross na Kill, Co Donegal.

In those dark and distant days, misguided allegiance to the cause was commonplace and it was also relatively easy for a few dominant personalities to force less assured members of society to contribute large sums of money to the struggle. The picture above illustrates this - the cell leader is on the left and note the definite pointing of the fingers in aggressive support of the underlying lyrics in the rebel song. The two new members (the targets) appear uncertain, looking for guidance from the leader and the one in the leather jacket almost appears to be waving - quite pathetic. Can't see him lasting long in the organisation and I bet they took him down the beach and battered the shit out of him the following afternoon.

Easter Sunday 1980.

Five out of five for Blues

Good start to the season for the Blues - played 5 won 5, scored 10 conceded 2. As they say we'll take that.

We might have got a bit lucky with the goal that put us 2-1 up last night as it looks a bit offside. Purcell's ball from the left fed Sullivan, who tapped into an empty net.

Poetry - Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted, pieced -fold, fallow and plough;
And all trades, their gear, tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled, (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Mike gets this weeks' Leeds result

Jesus, Mike your team are totally fucked (with apologies to the NIB censor).

Your next challenge is to win a place in the play-offs. Not sure if they're up to it.

Rochdale AFC

Hearing that Darren Bent had taken three penalties against Spurs, scoring only one of them, led me to think of a couple of other matches involving multiple penalty awards. Firstly I remembered Pat Jennings saving two penalties at Anfield towards the end of the 70-odd years when we couldn't win there (1974 to be exact), but then I immediately thought of Bary Conlon's two goals for Chesterfield yesterday afternoon (again) against Division 2 league leaders Rochdale.

Nothing to spectacular nor controversial about either penalty, but it's just that they begin to undermine, only slightly, Rochdale's push for the title. They are being hotly pursued by Notts County, who are buoyed by (jailbird) Lee Hughes's goals as they put together a fine string of form.

When I despair at Tottenham's constant inability to deliver (substitute Mike Leeds or Brian Everton for I Tottenham), we should really think of the loyal Rochdale supporters as they enter the last couple of months of the season.

Rochdale AFC joined the Football league in 1921 and for all but five of their years in existence, they have resided in the lowest division of the league. They won promotion once, in 1968-9 and held their place in Division 3 (as it was then) for five years. Their most notable cup success was getting to the final of the second Football League Cup in 1961-2 where they lost to Norwich - since then in the same competition they have gone out in every year in either the first or second round. That's 48 years of early exits.

So, next time you get frustrated at your team (Mike take note) think of the poor people of Rochdale! Here's hoping they have a good run-in.

Friday, April 2, 2010

For the day that's in it

Photograph taken on the Via Dolorosa in May 2007.

Thick or what?

In the African Cup of Nations two months ago, the Togalese team were attacked by terrorists and three of their entourage were shot dead. Emmanuel Adebayor was part of that squad and, in dressing on Wednesday week (the day Everton beat them 2-0) he appeared totally insensitive to the nature of the attack. The Guardian (again) picked up the issue and featured his picture wearing the offensive t-shirt. If only he had the same t-shirt sense as the four poofs with the piano.

I suppose it's hard to expect more from a man who continues to display shameful behaviour as he did in celebrating his goals for Manchester City in front of the Arsenal fans earlier this season, in a breathtaking display of aggressive arrogance. He could do well to take a leaf out of Robin Hood's book by having the good grace not to celebrate having scored against a former team.

Adebayor needs to crawl back under the rock from where he came.