Friday, March 26, 2010

A view of the pitch

Nairobi, Kenya - from the corporate boxes.

Tottenham, London - from the corporate boxes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A popular nursery ryhme

Polly put his rugby boots on,
Polly put his rugby boots on;
Polly put his rugby boots on,
We all got our faces mashed.

So he gets the ball again,
So he gets the ball again,
So he gets the ball again,
We all run away.

I took my life in my hands taking this picture in Dun Laoghaire last Saturday - the blurred image is cos I was shaking in case he'd see me. My first line of response was going to be that I was really friendly with Brian in school - this line of defence came to me from my kidnap and ransom insurance training when they tell you to try and forge a bond with the oppressor by talking about something they're really interested in. Manchester United is sadly the example they give but if you've got your own ideas, well why not?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The greatest pensioner of them all

Nice page long feature in Friday’s Waterford program on Bobby Tambling who played for the Blues in the 1977/8 season and scored eight League of Ireland goals in that season, alongside a newly-signed Syd Wallace.

Bobby holds the Chelsea record for goals scored with 202 and was voted in the Chelsea fans all-time eleven in a recent poll – not sure however if he made it onto Gerry’s “As Good as it Gets” t-shirt, a far more relevant recognition of genius.

Tambling played with Chelsea from 1958 to 1970, leaving them to join Crystal Palace where he continued his Football League goal-scoring for three years. He left England for evangelical duty as a Jehovah’s Witness in Cork, and signed for Cork Celtic whom he assisted in winning their one and only League title in 1974. Tambling still lives in Crosshaven in Cork.

Another footballer of that vintage who retired to become a Witness was Peter Knowles of Wolves (brother of the late Cyril). He played 174 games for Wolves, scoring 61 goals, yet retired at the age of 24 to follow God’s calling. It’s an awful shame the Witnesses didn’t think about forming a team as they would have been pretty useful based on their first two signings.

A third footballer who was deeply influenced by his religious commitment was Frank McAvennie of Celtic, who always blessed himself immediately after scoring against Rangers. I assume this was a way of saying thanks to God for the inch-perfect pass he had just received, and part-apologising for the fact that he wasn't going to retire just yet. And Gazza, poor innocent fool that he was, playing the flute in the background, and wondering what the hell was going on on the terraces.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another left wing genius?

Interesting fact - left-winger Michael Foot, who died earlier this month is officially the older person to have been registered with the Football League as a player.

To honour Foot on the celebration of his 90th birthday in 2003/4 Plymouth Argyle registered him as a player and listed him in their squad with the number 90.

Foot was a lifelong member of Argyle's Green Army and a club director for two separate periods. During his early electioneering work, he is reported to have canvassed each day of the week with the exception of Saturday afternoons when Home Park beckoned.

Gareth Bale

Occasionally you get one of these players who have you on your feet in anticipation as soon as they get the ball. Well Spurs have one at present in the shape of Gareth Bale. His start with us after signing from Southampton was hardly inspiring - injured for a significant portion of his first two years (perfect Spurs material) he then developed the unenviable record of failing to end up on the winning side in his first 24 games for the club. This sequence was broken when he played the final five minutes in the 5-0 defeat of Burnley in September 2009.

This has all changed now and with Bale holding down a first team spot, Harry’s tactics include a simple instruction to the other ten – give the ball to Bale. As soon as he gets the ball at his feet, the crowd rise expectantly and nine times out of ten, he beats the opposing right-sided players and either crosses fro the bye-line of gets in a shot on goal. It is quite simply electric.

I tried to think of others who had this impact and can really only come up with Ginola and Waddle, and before my era they talk of Cliff Jones in similar vein. Others would include Gigs, for Leeds Eddie Gray and for Chelsea Charlie Cooke. Sadly Everton never had anyone with this amount of flair.

Seanie Fitzpatrick

They arrested Sean Fitzpatrick (Seanie to his mates) today on charges which will no doubt prove to “unenforceable in a court of law” and therefore short-lived. Or worse still maybe if won’t be short-lived and the taxpayer will pay for years and years of protracted legal debate and dispute culminating in many people forgetting what it was all about in the first place. Those that remain in jobs, or regain employment, in typical Irish fashion will lose interest in the rightful pursuit of justice. After all, I’m all right Jack.

On this day, therefore let’s lament another and much earlier instance of greed and ruthlessness, when the legacy left by the bankers and developers was not the destruction of the financial future and well-being of so many, but rather the cultural and social heritage of a small but important sector of our society.

Pictured above is Glenmalure Park, home of Shamrock Rovers football club from 1926 until midway through the eighties. In 1986, the then owners of the stadium, the Kilcoyne family sold the stadium to property developers. The family had acquired their ownership of Rovers in 1972, and their freehold interest in the stadium at a subsequent date (purchased from the Jesuits).

While the Kilcoynes pointed to the fragile state of the LOI at the time, and their difficulties in attracting crowds, it is not circumstantial that large profits were made from the sale of the ground. The Kilcoynes’ proposal to the local football community was to move home games to Tolka Park in Drumcondra, a plan which they themselves must have known would not have worked. If it was difficult to get bums on seats in Milltown, how could moving the club to the northside make “social” sense.

And therein lies the rub.

Football is built around local communities and it remains an integral part of the social fabric of the cities and towns in which it is played. Witness and understand the fanaticism of the ultra supporters in the Italian cities, or the devotion of the father and son combinations trudging along Saturday after Saturday to Burnden Park (Lowry’s famous painting Going to the Match) and then ponder the irrationality of the proposal to move the Hoops from South to North Dublin. In selling Glenamalure Park to the developers the Kilcoyne family showed no appreciation for the core values and motivations of ordinary people and like so many others (nowadays) opted for the money. Thankfully the worst of those days are behind us for a while. Long may they stay away.

If ever there was a silver lining to a story, it is that over twenty years later, Rovers are thriving in their new stadium in Tallaght. Crowds of in excess of 4,000 are commonplace and if the club can put a management structure in place to match its’ fine surroundings, it is likely that they will dominate League of Ireland for years to come.

And good luck to them, they might just deserve it ……. the latter bit said through gritted teeth.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Quiz No. 2

The answer to the first quiz - the 20 most frequently occurring words in the English language are:

the of and to a in is that for on with was it he be I by as at you

The next question is - identify the seven characteristics common to all living things. No referring to the internet.

Romance of the Cup

Chelsea's exit from the Champions League is really bad news for us yids. With ManYoo favourites to win the league, it could mean that the FA Cup is the only trophy that the Russians can win. And sadly, it's the same for us.

That's my problem as they say, but the issues for Chelsea fans appear graver as the wheels are slowly coming off the wagon. Another barren season by their standards, continuing difficulties with their choice of managers and petulant players behaving with their interest above that of the club or team. Terry breaking legs off the pitch now as well.

What odds on the cheque book coming out to bring the special one back?

I want you to go back, back in time.......

Out on a wild and windy moor

All we need to accompany this track is Gerry gliding around the room, wailing loudly and with arms flailing as he knocks all the birds out of the way.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beautiful game

Malawi's chances in the next World Cup?

I want you to go back, back in time ...........

I can put a precise date on this one - 11th of November 1980 in O'Dwyer's pub in Leeson Street. Richard Hudson's stag night.

The Ormonde Cinema

A little travelogue came from my trip back from WHL to Stansted yesterday.

A couple of deeply-in-love young foreign kids sit down opposite me and I can't help thinking to meself - it's Rolf, the German who betrayed Liesl in the Sound of Music. You know, the guy who snogs her in the summerhouse and then blows the whistle in the cemetery when they're trying to escape from the evil Nazis.

I started thinking about the messages, subliminal or otherwise which the the movie left viewers with (triumph of good over evil; true love will always shine through; if you're in a nunnery and like the odd rub of the relic, get out quickly) and it struck me that poor old Liesl got an awfully raw deal from the scriptwriters. All very well assisting in the climb over the mountains to freedom in France but not much good if you end up traumatised for life because you've been rejected by the first real love of your life, just before the trek. I really felt for her and I concluded again that that guy Rolf was a total wanker.

Anyhow, this brought to me to think about the Ormonde Cinema in Stillorgan and the pivotal role it played in educating me in the ways of the world. Reel-to-reel shows -earliest memories were of a French movie called the the Red Balloon, another about a young kid making his Communion, followed by The Greatest Story Ever Told and Ben Hur, and from there the list becomes seamless. The slightly girlie-ish Sound of Music, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were thankfully replaced by countless westerns, then in drove (and flew) James Bond to, in turn, be blasted out of it by Robert Vaughan and Telly Savalas in the Battle of the Bulge. Serious shit at this stage.

Finally, in 1970 however we put away the things of children and we moved into adulthood with the brilliant "World at their Feet" - the story of the World Cup of that year. After that, things were only going one way.

The Ormonde Cinema opened in 1955 as a single screen establishment with a capacity of 1,000. It now has in excess of ten screens and continues to provide endless entertainment to kids in the area. Long may it stand!

Leeds self-destruct button firmly engaged

I'm getting obsessed with the Leeds self-destruct initiative. Another defeat, but this time they lose no ground as Charlton and Colchester. Hardly the form of a team deserving of automatic promotion - 15 points from 42 - more like relegation material.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What Fellaini did in the Seventies

I can remember our hosteling trip in Kerry in 1973 and standing, mid-morning on a beautiful July day, in a grocery store outside Killarney (I think) listening to this song on the jukebox.

Didn't realise that Terry was going to reappear in the noughties playing for Everton. Funny game football.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Comic book heroes

God now that Plug is CEO designate for the largest hospital in the country and deciding who stays and who goes, I think it's time we finally coughed up and got him that present for his 21st. All you miserable bastards who preferred to spend the £3 on booze will get your comeuppance in the end.

Plug's played a starring role on yesterday evening's nine of clock news responding to the fact that 58,000 x-rays at Tallaght hospital never received the benefit of a radiologist's review in the period from 2005 to 2009. It seems that Leonardo de Caprio was doing the work part-time in between flying jet airplanes and driving Formula 1 cars.

Still we now have the man who will sort the whole thing out - a Trinity Fellow no less - far higher an achievement that either of our two esteemed travelling partners ever reached. I bet the boss is well proud of how Plug now rules the Metropolis. I knew I hung onto the coat-tails of the wrong friends from school. Wankers.

The sad case of Albert Johanneson

The current crop of Leeds players are beginning to annoy me. Let’s face it – Leeds are a Premiership club with a shitload of pedigree and listen – they even won it once, which is something the yids or the toffees cannot boast.

And where are they? – languishing in Division 1 (the old Division 3) playing the likes of Walsall and Gillingham. This season they put an early-season run together which got them way out in front and a virtual cert for the title. However, an away cup victory at Old Trafford and delusions of supremacy set in and the egos start getting inflated. The day after the victory Beckford insists on going on the transfer list and the rest of them start thinking they’re world beaters. The sequence of league results post Man Utd is alarming – 1-1, 0-2, 0-3, 2-0, 1-3, 2-2, 1-1, 1-2, 1-1, 2-0, 2-2, 1-1, and 4-1. In other words 15 points from a possible 39.

These over-paid clowns would do well to look back for inspiration at their clubs’ history and some of the players who wore the shirt with pride. Take Albert Johanneson for instance. Albert hailed from South Africa, where he played with Germiston Coloured School and Germiston Colliers and following a three month trial in 1961, soon made his debut in the Leeds first team. His bewitching skills at outside-left caused havoc in Second Division defences and he finished joint top scorer as Leeds won the Second Division Championship in 1964. On promotion, he continued to mesmerise his defensive opponents in the First Division but was a constant target for racial abuse, representing a class and culture which was rare in the football league in the sixties. Sadly, his confidence was reportedly undermined by the jibes of his opponents.

After exactly 200 appearances, Johanneson joined York City in 1970, where he only played a handful of games before retiring. Upon leaving the game, without the comforts modern players enjoy, his life went downhill rapidly. His marriage broke up, alcoholism set in and he lived his final days in squalor with his brother Trevor in a tower block in Leeds. At the age of 53 he was found dead. Mourners at his funeral included many of the great Leeds team he saw and assisted in its formative stages.

So, Beckford and Bechhio, before you secure your million pound transfers to the Premiership – remember there are men who have gone before you who have given more to football and to Leeds United than you ever will and you need to start playing and delivering results to justify your trip to back to your crib every Saturday evening in your Maserati.

Our summer of love

Never mind Haight Axbury, dope and flowers in the hair - all that was pure bollox when compared to our summer of love in 1983. Endless sunshine, new-found wealth, the end of exams, the beauty of Kerry, scores of pints, a little bit of draw, a Championship winning Dublin team and of course Gerry vomiting over the side of the boat and scaring all the fuckin fish away.

Why is it that there's always some gobshite who wants to ruin everyone's fun?

There we were, with the flyfisherman of the year (himself boring the arse off all of us with stories about plankton, before of course he went on to try to light the fire on the beach without matches - "I learnt this in the seascouts - useful if you're stranded in Antartica" - fuck all good if you're stuck in a field with him in Mallow though), and Gerry decides to barf in the water all the way out to Skellig Michael. Fungi the Dolphin is still feeding on it 27 years later.

Anyway, needless to say it was meat again for dinner that evening.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We were born ten years too early

This would have been the business... all we got was Ballisodare.

Romance of the Cup

Getting serious now and the draw has been kind to us in that we will avoid the Russians until the final. Poor old Martin O'Neill.

A repeat of the 1967 Cup Final is on the cards and the chance for Chelsea to make it third time lucky, following 1967 and 2008. Somehow I feel they might do it this time but I would like the gift of a goal in the first minute to put it up to them.

Visit to Wembley February 2008 below shows John Hollins signing autographs for the Chelski fans (and one Clancy imposter - no autograph requested) plus Woodgate's headed winner.

But lest we all get complacent, there is the simple matter of Fulham, Portsmouth and Villa before we have a day out in May.

Here we go again

The new season is upon us and Friday nights lead to the RSC in Waterford via the catflap or the McCarthy bypass as the Kilkenny GAA fraternity have christened it.

Last Friday saw the visit of Wexford Youths - the term Youths is interesting and implies they may play girls as well as boys sometime soon - not wanting to sound homophobic but it might explain their performance in their lovely pink gear as they failed miserably to offer any resistance to a Waterford team whose credentials remain unproven.

Still 3-0 will do us for the first night out and though we'll miss Cummins and Browne (with the Red Army Supporters and Sporting Franchise respectively) Kearney looks like he's going to set the division alight.

A season half as entertaining as last year and we'll be doing well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010