Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fair Play Award for Nani

A bit close to the bone this one, but why do most of the cheaters in world football come from a Hispanic or Latin American background?

For years we have listened to stories of cynical tactics and blatant attempts to fool referees and intimidate opposition players - Argentina 1966, Athletico Madrid in 1974 and Maradona 1986, spring immediately to mind. And then this weekend, when Ricky Villa is quoted as admitting that a little bit of cheating is acceptable in Argentinian football, we have this little prick Nani doing it when it is most serious - against Spurs. And of course while we're on the subject of United, we also think of that thankfully-departed-from-the-Premiership-toad, Ronaldo. Thanks be to fuck that he's back in La Liga.

We need a few more like this - you see there are a few good ones.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Beautiful Game

Chelsea, London 1970.

Poetry - A Red, Red Rose by Robbie Burns

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry:

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun;
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho' it ware ten thousand mile.

On the way from the Valley

Waterford v Athlone, 22 October 2010

93rd minute 2-2 - needing a win to stay in the top three and continue the push for a play-off place.........

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Mexican Wave and me

I mbliain 1988 tosaigh an ruile buile leis an foirean sacair Eireannach. Bhi sport, craic and damhsa mor againn agus bhi Christy Moore ag seinimh ceoil brea. Is e seo an chead uair a bhiamar i European finals agus chaigh sluaite mor o Eireann go dti an Gearmanach.

I was working in Dubai at the time and I made the trip from there, via Athens, to the game in Hannover against the Russians. A long journey but definitely worth it recognising that history was being made. I sat in the higher part of the stand on the same side as the TV cameras were and I participated fully in the pre-match revelry. In the first half, the novel (for me) Mexican Wave, carried over from the World Cup in 1986, symbolised our arrival on the stage of World football. I partook fully, throwing my upper torso back, arms outstretched, and laughing deliriously.

Take a look at the clip below and observe the Mexican Wave starting at the far side of the pitch as Mick McCarthy prepares to launch his long throw. Simple mathematics should have told me that the Wave would arrive at my section of the stand just as Whelan launches his volley but with the surrounding euphoria, it was basically fuck the mathematics. And as a result, as Ronnie scores one of the most important goals in Irish soccer history, my body is contorted backwards and I'm staring at the underneath of the cantilever stand which sits above me. I come down to earth as Ronnie boy is beginning his celebratory run.

And I've come three thousand miles to witness this event.

I sit back in my seat, smack myself around the face and pray for an avalanche of goals. Sadly only one more goal arrives, an equaliser for Russia, which I see perfectly. My first sight of the Irish goal was when I got back to the pub, having agreed with everyone I met that it was an absolutely perfect strike. I took comfort in the fact that none of them knew the West Stand in the Hannover Stadium was fabricated by Salzgitter AG.

Put it in the back of the net, my son

At least one father was shouting that at this match. He looks like Wayne Rooney.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Paul the Octopus passes away

See what happens when you go against the Germans. It may take a few months, but ultimately your number is up. Natural causes my arse.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rockface Reunion Madrid Oct 2010

Come back Don Givens

Oh how we needed the big man last Friday as Russia blew us away with embarrassing ease.

Three nil down before we showed any Irish spirit and then a return the put em under pressure days of Jack Charlton. Admittedly unattractive, but give me an Irish team with spirit and no skills rather then a lazy one comprised of footballing geniuses.

Worrying displays by a lot of players and an obvious lack of match fitness as predicted.

And then Slovakia away, and Robbie fails to repeat the clinic penalty taking he displayed a few days earlier. What might prove to be a costly mistake.

I think back to that glorious day in October 1974 when we achieved one of our greatest results with the Givens hat-trick at Dalyer. And we were there.

Hero or villain?

Many people believe that England’s demise as a football nation can largely be attributed to one man.

Now if I was to ask you who you thought it were, it’s hardly likely you’ll choose a man who achieved greater notoriety as a singer of daft songs on a late night football comedy program than he did on the playing pitches of England. A man whose death appeared in the Sunday papers we read as we munched through breakfast in the Aer Lingus hotel in Kensington on our London trip in January 2002.

Yes, indeed, arise Sir Jeff Astle.

To understand the logic behind the theory, you’ve got to go back to 1970 and the World Cup in Mexico. England went there as World Champions, expectations were high and a second consecutive win would have surely have spurred them onto a prolonged period of higher achievement, at least in Europe.

And what happened - they finished second in their group thanks to a 1-0 defeat to Brazil and were consigned to a quarter final pairing in Leon with the Krauts, who as is the custom in post-66 days, sent them packing swiftly. A few years later Tomaszewski, followed by Norwegian commentator, Gazza’s crying in Italy and A Brazilian lobbing Seaman in the States.

So why blame Jeff Astle? Well here’s why. England v Brazil group game, second half, Brazil a goal up and the ball drops to Jeff, unmarked a few yards out. A nation holds its breadth – most of them 5500 miles away in the middle of the night. Only Felix, the weakest Brazilian in a brilliant team, to beat.

Displaying all the prowess of a dead cat, Jeff controls the ball and strokes it wide of the left hand post. And with that glaring miss (a sitter in schoolboy terms), England’s die is cast and the future is orange (flamboyant Dutchmen), and blue (artistic Frenchmen – 1998 not 2010) and green (plucky never-say-die Irishmen) but certainly not white or red. The Cross of St George has since then only been raised in anger. Competition after competition, they scourge themselves with new feats of underperformance.

Poor Jeff Astle – he deserves better. A lifetime devoted to the beautiful game on England’s mucky pitches and a possible cause of death linked (by the coroner) to the brain trauma he suffered as a result of repetitive heading of the heavy leather footballs used in the sixties. And at the end, he is remembered for one moment of indecision in the Mexican sun.

Jeff swinging from the big gates in the sky.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ireland v Russia 2010

Potential line-up a bit worrying in terms of match practice:

Shay Given - warming bench at Man City

John O'Shea - starting for Man United; 0 goals this year
Sean St Leger - starting for Preston; 0 goals this year
Richard Dunne - starting for Aston Villa; 0 goals this year
Kevin Kilbane - warming bench at Hull; 0 goals this year

Liam Lawrence - starting for Portsmouth; three Championship goals this year
Glen Whelan - warming bench at Stoke; 0 goals this year
Paul Green - starting for Derby; one Championship goal this year
Aidan McKeady - intermittent appearances in Moscow

Robbie Keane - warming bench at Spurs; 0 goals this year
Kevin Doyle - starting for Wolves; 0 goals this year