Monday, August 30, 2010

Whatever happened to Orange socks?

There was a time in the early seventies when any team wishing to be taken seriously would be obliged to wear socks which were either orange, yellow, or a mix in between - whoever was manufacturing them in 1971 must have been making a fortune.

Only Leeds bucked the trend, and went their own way with sock fashion - I wonder why the sock tags worn in the 71/72 season never caught on - they mustn't have looked that good raking across the shins and ankles of the opposition players at The Baseball Ground and the like.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Clearing the floor at Belvedere

Guaranteed to send the girls rushing to the toilets ..........

Frost on the Water

Dromoland Castle grounds circa January 1999.

Poetry - The Soldier by Rupert Brooke

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

What a difference you made

I’m on a roll now about churchdoor’s favourite anti-heroes. Most recently Joe Cole and now Stephen “I’ve got two dead Grannies” Ireland.

Last Saturday’s papers were festooned with articles featuring this imbecile criticising Manchester City (normally a very sound thing to do I admit) and specifically accusing them of a lack of loyalty in not retaining his services. In the following day’s papers he gives the FAI and the Irish National Team the same treatment and defiantly declares that he will play for his country again.

Is it possible that his comments about Manchester City were something to do with the fact that he had prolonged negotiations with them over a £2 million contract severance payment and in the end had to accept a paltry £1.5 million. Is he a little bitter perhaps?

How can this man accuse anyone of a lack of loyalty when he himself has turned his back on his country – whom he represented at U15, U16 and U17, arguably his formative years – and treated his own family with an appalling lack of respect, inventing stories about their deaths to suit his own pathetic and self-centred needs.

Sadly he will probably go on to forge a decent career at Villa but you have to admit it was lovely to see him on the back-end of a 6-0 drubbing on his Villa debut at Newcastle on Sunday. Well done Stephen, not many footballers can achieve that – you must have been pulling your hair out at the end of the game.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cole rejects Spurs and is Spot On at Liverpool

To the man whose sole criterion for choosing where to move was money, hope you enjoyed your introduction to Merseyside and the lovely missed penalty you contributed in front of the Kop on your European debut.

Wait till Everton get at you you little wanker.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Amazing penalty!

Amazing penalty from Calvente of Spain in the U19's European Championships won sadly by France last month.

Be sure to watch the replay.

Do you like Young Boys?

I'm beginning to think we might be a little bit out of our depth in the Champions League thingy after the debacle in Bern last night.

OK, we came away with only a one goal deficit and we scored two away goals but, artificial pitch excuses aside, we were absolutely hopeless for the first half - were it not for Harry's intervention after 30 bringing on Tommy Huddlestone we would have been annihilated. The ship having been steadied, we had a piece of luck just before half-time to make it 3-1 and then in the second half a piece of sheer genius from the Russian gave us a challenge for next week which is clearly surmountable. He needed to redeem himself with that wonder goal because he had played like a pansy up until then. Robbie Keane's role in the goal should not be overlooked.

And so to the Lane next Wednesday and the return of the Glory Glory nights. While I think we should have enough to go through, I have a sneaking feeling all of this is going to end in tears.

PS - note the new shirt and the new sponsor- designed specifically for the Cup campaigns apparently - oh yea? The reality is that (while it may be a key part of the club's secondary sponsorship arrangement for the season) it also is a "clever" way to extract more money from the die-hards who are the lifeblood of the club. That's four kits for the season to date and still counting.................

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fianna Fail zombies

Continuing despair with the ruling party lead me to dig this clip out and post it on churchdoor.

As we slide deeper into the economic mire, and as buffoons like Callely and Dempsey continue to display total disregard for values, ethical behaviour and simple decency, we try to suppress a genuine fear that, when elections come around again, the hard core that they have brain-washed over years and years of careful grooming, will vote them into power again. No I am told by everyone that studies Irish politics closer than I do - but look at the zombies at the 2009 Fianna Fail Ard-Fheis and then convince me nothing is impossible.

Apologies for the poor quality of recording and the audio delay but remember the beauty in this clip is purely visual - right down to the prick who falls off the stage and then re-emerges the wrong way around. He has to be "righted" by a few party colleagues who have noticed he is facing the wrong way. I have to assume he is one of the up and coming leading lights in the party.

And by the way David Davin-Power did get out safely and still works for RTE.

Cole rejects Spurs and chooses Red of Liverpool

To the man whose sole criterion for choosing where to move was money, hope you enjoyed your introduction to Merseyside and the lovely red card you earned on your debut.

Wait till Everton get at you you little wanker.

And we're off 2010/11

Thankfully the Premiership (and other related divisions) are up and running again and the long wasteful nights around the fire listening to Peig being read are over.

At the Lane yesterday, it was genuinely hard to see how City will qualify for the Champions league next year, not to mind win the League, so comprehensive was Tottenham's dominance. Were it not for Hart's display Spurs would have won by four or five and it augurs well for us, particularly if 'Arry can do a few pre-deadline deals (or post-deadline if you know what I mean, knowing Harry).

Everton certainly looked pretty in pink but until they get a decent striker, they will continue to "average-perform" in the "just-off the leaders" section of the table. Howard also can't afford any more of the circus acts like the one he performed yesterday. Too much is expected of key players like Jagielka, Cahill and Arteta, and unless the rest start raising their mediocre game, they may struggle to achieve Europe.

Chelsea had a good start but let's remember it's West Brom they beat. Still the title must rest between themselves and United and I have a stronger feeling about United shading it this year.

Leeds have a single point after both the Brian Clough nostalgia trips - Forest and Derby. Looks like consolidation will be the best that they can achieve and having watched portions of both games, I have to conclude that they look quite ordinary. Also I'm still not sure of Simon Grayson's calibre as a manager. They'll need to oput soem form together and find a goalscorer, to challenge for the play-offs.

Anyway good luck to everyone this year and we'll talk as we go along.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Beautiful Game

UAE v Iran Dubai September 1985.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chariots of Fire

Myself and the missus had the embarrassing experience of going for a weekend to Donegal with Gerry when he was going through his Chariots of Fire period.

Down the beach we'd go day after day (the same beach that Bomber Byrne got pummelled on three years earlier), the radio would get turned on to loud and he'd start running down the beach for hours on end like a madman. No doubt Jon and Vangelis were pounding through his cranium and he was dreaming of gold.

This desire to run stayed with him for many years and you can look for him now in any marathon, half-marathon or 10k that is being run in the greater Dublin environs. Sebastian Coe, principal organiser for the London Olympics, has been rumoured to have looked for him when searching for a role model for the over sixties.

The video recording I got of him on the beach in Donegal is old and grainy but I think it shows enough to give you a feel for the determination and will to win he had back in the early eighties.

Truly stunning.

Spurs v Everton trip off

Sadly the timing for the Spurs v Everton & Chelsea v Wolves matches clashes with alternative plans for Brusselsblue so it's back to the drawing board for the trip planners. We will now need to find a date when Hopkins is not giving instructions to the new junior partners in "the firm" (if you know what I mean).

More to follow.

Spotland: The Sun also Rises

Great piece of journalism in the The Times on Saturday featuring Rochdale's first game in Division 1 following their hard earned promotion last year. You might remember that at the end of last season they earned only the second ever promotion in their history and that they have spent 85 of their 89 football league years in the lowest division.

I now officially adopt the Dale as the fifth team for Churchdoor interest focus for season 2010 /11.

Mark Hodkinson's abridged piece from the Times:

The Cemetery Inn will spark to life at lunchtime today. Dads and lads and mums and girls will saunter in, jackets over their sleeves. They'll nod to one another and utter the legend, "Up the Dale". These three words only make sense if you are one of the chosen few, a devotee of Rochdale AFC. Then, they mean everything. They frame you as a supporter of your hometown football club, a champion of the underdog, someone who is loyal and steadfast.

Today is the first day of a new Football League season, when the pitch shines green, and hope is as tall as a floodlight. For Rochdale fans it is an especially beautiful day. After they've supped their last in the Cemetery, and made their way to Spotland, they will see their team playing outside of the basement division for the first time in 36 years, following last season's promotion to npower League One. To those, like me, who have followed the club since we were knee-high to a mill worker, and who have endured decades of failure, it feels, at last, a fair and apposite reward.

Over the years I have been made aware of our "rightful place". I'm a' realist; I know the pecking order. This week, however, it-all went awry. "I'm actually a bit jealous of you," said my Liverpool-supporting friend. "You get to see proper football, and it's your club." I know what he means. The football is "proper". It's played by blokes on wages not dissimilar to those earned by a decent proportion of the crowd. They run around a lot; they get stuck in. If any of them resort to diving or ref-baiting, there's usually a fat bloke in an anorak slavering at the perimeter fence, telling them to grow up, yer big jessie. Or worse.

The bigger issue perplexing fans of Premier League clubs is the metaphysical question of what actually constitutes a football club. If your team is an assembly of foreign players, and your club is owned by, say, the Chinese Government or a Saudi tycoon
(or a Russian oligarch - Ed), what are you actually cheering for and believing in? How disheartening it must be to see your club, which may have been passed down through generations of your family, turned into a magnate's trinket or (clench your teeth) a portfolio extension. Sure, it brings instant wealth, but these benefactors cut a cute deal. They want exposure, profit and ego fulfilment, none of which form the natural constituency of football support.

When Thaksin Shinawatra became the owner of Manchester City, he put a photograph in the boardroom of himself with his junior football team, next to various shots of cup-winning City sides. No one dared point out how sacrilegious this was for fear of him not buying another Brazilian show-pony..................

Unfortunately Rochdale itself is on its knees. Some districts have 75 per cent unemployment. Businesses and shops are closing at an alarming rate. The football club is the only flag to which we can rally. Many gave up on the club years ago. The rest of us, the believers, view a trip to Spotland as a chance to pass through a portal, to leave behind the muck and grime, and enter another world, where a game such as today's, against Hartlepool United, is a bonfire of faith and hope.

It is easy to become sentimental about lower-league football, to focus on the pie and peas, mud' and thud. Many eschew it because they prefer the greater technique of players in
higher divisions, and are prepared to pay the higher admission. Excessive TV coverage has atomised football so that we see individual pieces of ornate skill that are thrilling in themselves, but largely ineffectual in the overall game. At our level, a team has to he true to its name, and muster a collective effort that surpasses the opponent's. It feels evenly matched, and is therefore more absorbing.

What Rochdale fans share with Liverpool or Manchester City is addiction. This is our greatest strength and weakness. We love our clubs unconditionally, and we put up with outrageous mistreatment.

But those Premier League supporters are now seeing their power recede as the income they supply to their clubs is eclipsed by that from commercial sources. Where they were once the lifeblood, they are now the periphery, extras to a feature film that has profit accumulation as its leading man. Many understandably feel cheated. From the first time we hear the click of a turnstile, we learn the legend of our clubs, former players and glories. We are led to believe that we form part of its fabric, but this is largely a fallacy: we are expendable in the greater scheme.

Rochdale, in its 103rd year, remains, for now, largely unchanged, but if we are to garner more success, we too will have to court outside agencies and see the distance between fan and club expand. Until we face this dilemma, alongside fans of bigger clubs, we must look around us, to fellow fans, the streets pressed close to the ground, the atmosphere we create and the emotions we share, and think that this is our football club, this is us, always has been, and it can't be bought.

Rochdale 0 Hartlepool 0.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The good old days

Leeds 1 Derby 2

Disappointing start to the season for Leeds and a throw-back to the era of Clough and Revie with Nigel securing what the father wanted so badly in the late sixties and early seventies - an away Rams victory at Elland Road.

After all they were a cynical bunch of cheaters according to old bigmouth.