Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fuck, this Irish guy is absolutely bonkers

Poor old Pat Crerand may have dealt with the euphoria of winning the European Cup with United, and the misery of marking George Best while playing for Scotland, but nothing had prepared him for the line of senseless questioning from our intrepid reporter on last year's trip.

As Mike finished his questioning he closed his eyes and drifted melodically into the first verse of "The Homes of Donegal".

I thought love was only true in fairytales

Poetry - Rafteiri an File

Mise Raifteirí, an file,
lán dóchais is grá
le súile gan solas,
le ciúineas gan crá
Dul siar ar mo aistear,
le solus mo Chroi,
Fann agus tuirseadh,
go deireadh mo shli.

Feach anois mé, is
mo aghaidh ar bhalla,
Ag seinm ceoil
le pocaibh falamh.

Blue is the Colour of Alan Hudson's Cardigan

Poor old Alan Hudson - is it little wonder he ended up traipsing destitute into the Conservative Club on the Kings Road in the new millennium when he spent the best part of the last one dressed like this?

Great shot of the real Chelsea squad about to hit number 5 in March 1972 with the legendary ditty "Blue is the Colour", produced sadly for their League Cup Final appearance against Stoke (lost 2-1!). Note Eddie McCreadie's magic glasses (ex Elton John), Paddy Mulligan trying desperately to keep up with the words, and Ossie's rounded collars on his shirt (he was humorously rumoured to be pulling Raquel Welsh at the time).

Name the person second from the right at the front.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Duisburg - The Hillsborough Disaster Remembered

The sad events at the Love Festival in Duisburg over the weekend call to mind the similar tragedy which occurred at Hillsborough in April 1989, six minutes into the Cup Semi-Final between Notts Forest and Liverpool.

One must hope that those public servants in Germany who through their actions or inactions contributed to the disaster have the honesty, fortitude and dignity to admit their part in the debacle and to answer for their actions. Sadly at Hillsborough this has never been the case.

Ninety six football supporters died at Hillsborough or in its' aftermath and the photographs of the crushed men, women and children, though easily accessible on the net, are too horrific to be placed on this page. All of us who experienced football grounds in the days before all-seater stadiums all too vividly remember the fear and apprehension as you became caught up in a crowd surge, or were swept along, feet off the ground, in a seething mass of humanity. To those that died that April day in 1989, it can only be described as a horrifically frightening way to die.

To those relatives that they left behind, the nightmare memories that came from the day have been compounded by their callous treatment at the hands of the UK Judicial system since then.

Whether someone should answer criminal charges for their incompetence in their workplace (The South Yorkshire Police) is a moot point, but the fact that those in charge have failed to acknowledge their role in the disaster and have lied about key aspects of their operational and strategic policing decisions on the day fall short of what one expects in a civilised state. However I think we all know about the record of the English police in believing that they are above the law - if in doubt ask the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four.

The Hillsborough Family Support group continue to seek answers to some key questions and to get acknowledgement of responsibility from certain key individuals on duty on the day. With regard to organisational competence:
  • why was the decision made to use the Leppings Lane end (the smaller end) for the Liverpool fans?

  • why was the decision made to open gate C to alleviate crowd build-up outside the ground without having officers to divert incoming supporters away from the already overcrowded pens 3 & 4?

  • why was the decision made to classify the initial pitch encroachment as an incident of hooliganism (rather than an unfolding disaster) and call for police reinforcements?

  • why were there only two ambulancemen (and one vehicle) inside the ground at the time of the disaster?
Of arguably far greater concern was the decision of Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield to advise the media on the day of the tragedy that the gates had been stormed by the fans rather than opened, unsupervised, under his directions. A shameful lie, part of the conspiracy to blame supposedly drunken Liverpool fans for the tragedy. Further evidence of this assumption of guilt on their part came in the formal investigation, prior to release of the dead bodies to relatives, of the drinking habits of all the deceased fans prior to the game - regardless of their age.

In trying to write about this event as a genuine football fan, it is hard to know when to stop in cataloging the grievances. The appalling mismanagement of the process of identification of the dead bodies and the return of their remains to family members, and the shameful investigation by the West Yorkshire Police into their neighbouring constabulary in subsequent years are further aspects which also deserve scrutiny.

Justice has not been served and there must be significant doubts that under the supposedly greatest legal system in the world, it ever will be. As often is the case, it will be left to the ordinary man and woman to remember and pay tribute to those that died on the fateful day. The memorial at Anfield is testimony to the memory and it is fitting that among the shirts festooning the memorial gates, hangs the shirt of Liverpool's arch-rivals, Everton, with the handwritten tribute:

"Once a blue, always a blue, but today, I'm also Red - Justice for the 96"

Long may they live in peace.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Didn't you once used to be?

Maverick, hairy, hat-trick heroes.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A minute's silence

A minute's silence being observed by the Waterford squad before the fixture with Finn Harps on Friday evening, to remember the tragic loss of lives on the Inishowen peninsula the previous weekend.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wavin' Flag - South Africa 2010

This is Africa

And the winners

Paul the Octopus - Slithering right and left, this guy got it right time after time and predicted the winners. Now rumoured to be working for Paddy Power - calamari this guy ain't.

Diego Forlan - lovely to see a Manchester United reject come good on the big stage and some of his goals were superb. No mention please of the Spurs rejects, who also excelled - Kevin Prince Boateng for Ghana and Lee Yung Pyo for South Korea. There's also someone else but I can't for the life of me remember.

Ivor Casillas - clever boy, the Spanish captain. How do you get around the ban on wags during the competition? - you get your missus a job doing commentary and reports on the games, and in particular those in which your team are playing. Not only is she past the beady eyes of Del Bosque, but no-one queries why she's climbing into the bath at the end of the game to ask you a few tricky one-liners.

Spain - worthy champions, even if there has to be a question mark over the clinical nature of the 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 path through the knock-outs to the winners podium.

South Africa - sadly not on the pitch, but as hosts they did an excellent job of facilitating the influx of visitors and in ensuring the competition ran without ant major embarrassment or controversy. Team selection for the Bafana Bafana probably led to their downfall (rumoured to be driven by commercial interests in showcasing specific players) but all-in-all the overwhelming majority of visitors left with a very positive impression of a beautiful country.

....... and before we finish how could I have left out of the list of losers the following worthy members of the list:

Maradona - Germany's ruthless demolition of Argentina in the quarter-finals proved that to be a successful football manager you have to be more than a crazy, cheating, drug-crazed criminal.

Holland - the team which betrayed the spirit of the great Dutch teams of the 70's and 80's by turning their back on the fluid, flowing Total Football of their predecessors.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The World Cup - losers

Ok time to get posting again and let's start by looking back at some of the winners, losers, high points and low points from the World Cup.

Starting with the losers:

Rooney - delightful to see him flop totally and then lose it in front of the TV cameras, castigating the fans who effectively pay his wages. A prime specimen of low life this boy.

France and their Manager - the team's performance and their manager's refusal to shake hands with Carlos Perreira after the defeat to the Bafana Bafana confirmed what they were - a bunch of underperforming cheats who were unable to accept defeat and humiliated themselves on the greatest football stage of all. The biggest regret was that they took the place of an Irish team of average ability who would no doubt have done the World Cup proud.

Luis Suarez - the Uruguayan marksman's shameful display of gamesmanship in denying Ghana a last minute winner and turning tears of shame to tears of joy typified the type of behaviour that we associate with Uruguayan (and South American - Brazil excluded) teams. The competition needed an African team to progress and Ghana were deprived of a semi-final place by Suarez.

The viewing audiences - for two reasons. Firstly, being deprived of the chance to see Jimmy Jump's audacious attempt to lift the World Cup by the South African TV Broadcast Controller who decided to censor it. The world needs more people like Jimmy and less people like the fat controller.

And secondly, for having to listen to the Vuvuzuelas. Bloody great if you're in the Stadium blowing them, but less attractive coming from the 20 inch Ferguson in the corner of the living room.