Monday, February 28, 2011

Apres Toi

You put your right leg, you put your right leg out,
You put your right leg in and you shake it all about,
You do the Hokey Pokey and you don't look around
That's what the Arse are about.

Oh Obefami Martins, oh Obefami Martins,
That's what it's all about.

Useless Arsenal wankers - top club, I don't think so. Six years waiting.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Italian style - Chelsea v Copenhagen

Is it any wonder Chelsea keep underperforming? Why can't the fucker get a hat that fits him?

Election 2011

Isn’t it a terribly sad indictment on our political system when a Google search on FF reveals the following as the first hit:

Fianna Fáil: General Election 2011
23 Feb 2011 ... Ireland's governing party founded by Eamon De Valera and by opponents of the 1921 Treaty with London. Currently led by Brian Cowen.

The defining description on their official website links them back to their opposition to the Treaty – ninety years ago. Who said Civil War politics was dead. Humourously it also lists Biffo as their leader.

Anyhow as I pen this, the email pings their next gem in to me:

Moving away from the Soldiers, another Election tidbit, of which we should be aware relates to the Greens in Wicklow, whose candidate Niall Byrne is the son of our old English teacher from 5th and 6th year (out of deference to the man, I will not print his nickname on this entry). The candidate has as one of his campaign promises the removal of all old rugby goalposts from windows in classrooms in the constituency and the erection of a moving statue in honor of the noted luminary from the seventies, Twirlin’ Jim Doyle.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Come back Biffo

Never thought I’d say this but I’m beginning to actually miss old Biffo.

This general election run-in has been so languid, listless and devoid of interest that you’d want the old codger back bumbling his way through drunken interviews, brazen press conferences, unapologetic speeches and generally stirring up untold shit to put a bit of life back into the country.

We were reasonably united as a nation and we were motivated in getting to the bottom of this mess when he was in charge but now it seems like no-one cares. I understand that the five lightweights are slugging it out (using wet newspapers to batter each other) and maybe the saddest part is that one of them is going to win.

Enda is doing everything in his power to keep his feet away from his mouth (well done to the Blueshirt handlers), Gilmore is morphing into the Michelin man – I’m half expecting him to ultimately turn to jelly - while Gerry Adams is playing a stormer in driving votes away from the Sinners with his staggering lack of grip on reality. Gormley is doing his best to ensure that the Greens will indeed be pushing up the green shoots of recovery very soon.

It seems like they are all incompetent once the common foe disappears. A problem with modern day politics I guess.

So Biffo, get your big fat arse back onto our TV’s and onto our papers cos we’re fed up contemplating life in the Endsleigh League with Mike Bassett as the manager. All is forgiven, you lovely, lovely toerag.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bahrain 1983

David Dunne (ex Willow Park and Kinnegad) controls the ball under watchful eye of a Bahraini child spectator.

Wonder where that Bahraini kid is now.

Long live the people.

Poetry - Stop all the Clocks by W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

True Grit

A response from Chelski:

Dickie Murphy was so right all those years ago.

"A corner boy".

My once learned friend has deliberately chosen to misunderstand the question posed by my white collar city , investment , flute drinking mates at the Bridge.

The question was directed to those clad in Blue on the pitch. They, no more than me, do not recognize them as fit to wear the Blue so proudly worn in FA Cup battle by the likes of Harris, Dempsey, Webb, Osgood (RIP), Houseman(RIP), Hudson (Tory), Hollins, Mc Cready, Bonetti, Hutchinson. Oh for those days when a defeat could induce a tear as opposed to speculation about Carlo and who Roman might buy next.

Come back Ray, all is forgiven.

Every beaver has its' day


On Saturday the Chelsea supporters posed an interesting and valid question. It was raised shortly after their magnificent Captain with a lovely girl friend had given them a 1 - 0 lead in the 4th round of the FA Cup. The question they posed (repeatedly) was "who are you". Not sure what they meant exactly but I suspect it was short for "who are you to have the temerity , you bunch of miserable scousers, to come and challenge us the FA Cup Holders and our expensive array of super stars. Fair enough I thought. Deserves a response.

We are Everton FC, our captain is Phil Neville and our home is Goodison Park.

Some of my fellow Evertonians have put it more succinctly (and I do not approve).

Friday, February 18, 2011

League of Ireland, punk music and Crawley Town

One of the reasons I love League of Ireland football is because it is almost totally devoid of all the trappings of our modern day capitalist culture. A bit hypocritical you might say considering I go to Spurs most weeks but if it does ever come to a choice between the two, Ryanair to Stansted and the Yids will be the principal losers.

With a few notable (and costly) exceptions (Shels; Drogheda; etc) Irish football remains substantially untouched by the blight that has beset the beautiful game in other territories – the replica shirts, the over-paid prima-donnas, the inflated prices and the pure greed. To its' loyal devotees, this is part of its' endearing charm.

In this regard, its' position in the soccer world can be likened strongly to Punk's position in the musical world of the seventies.

Punk became the alternative for a small section of the populace who felt under-represented in the wider culture, and more acutely in its’ musical façade. Pre-punk music was conformist and mass-produced – three minutes of pop, produced by chinnichap and retailing at one ninety nine, not two pounds. The punk movement arrived and quickly became about more than just the music – it described attitude, appearance and social status. It also represented a lifestyle, one born out of opposition to those in power.

It also started dying as soon it reached any form of public consciousness - once it lost its underground, subversive and anarchic nature, it effectively lost its’ core appeal. If League of Ireland football was to obtain national appeal, and as a result ultimately become a commodity, sold and marketed by financial vehicles rater than football clubs, its’ attraction would diminish immeasurably to those who love and support it.

Again, the key to this is community. As more and more money is pumped in, the game automatically moves further away from its' community basis. Some players earn more in a week than many fans earn in a lifetime, and perpetuate this gulf with appalling egotistical and self-centred behaviour, unacceptable to those who effectively pay the wages.

In some recent club formations - FC United of Manchester and AFC Wimbledon - the importance of community is written in the very charter of the club. Perhaps these two are the best examples of ‘punk’ clubs in England. Both were set up as a mark of protest, or reaction, to something that had happened to the club to which the fans were previously connected. This parallel with punk’s heyday seems to stand out and whatever ones view on FCUM, they must be applauded for doing something about the issue impacting them.

Some other clubs have sadly gone the other way – Chelsea and Manchester City are obvious examples - but worst still are the examples from further down the League where small community clubs are purloined by high-rollers to be used as playthings in the ultimate pursuit of medium-term financial goals. This weekend we will see one such club in the middle of this journey reach new heights with their first televised game on the national airwaves. Crawley Town away to Manchester United, and perversely - guess which one is the big-spender?

With assets and wage bills larger than most clubs in League 1 (funded through large capital injections by their anonymous new owners - "a group of people in the far east"), Crawley Town have become the Chelsea of non-league football. They have set about a strategy of buying success in the same way as Chelsea did and have become equally as unpopular, even it is at the lower level of non-league football.

Their unpopularity is also fuelled by the abrasive manager Steve Evans, who despite proving himself a capable non-league manager, has "a bit of baggage" as they say. The FA banned him from the touchline for 12 matches in 2008-09 for improper conduct and 13 in 2009-10, including three when he was not allowed in the ground. In November 2006 Evans was convicted for his part in a £245,000 tax fraud committed when he was manager at Boston United, failing to pay tax on the players' wages, and was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. Put the whole package together and you've got a very poor representation of what the game should be about.

And so, for the first time in my life, I will be cheering Manchester United tomorrow and hoping that they can live up to their billing as overwhelming favourites and romantic "overdogs".

Let’s hope that the Romance of the Cup falls flat on its’ face this Saturday evening.

Election 2011

"The ruling ideas are, in every epoch, the ruling ideas.

We live in a world where those with power only present ideas that confirm their place in society."

Karl Marx

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

World Press Photo winners 2010

The results were announced yesterday.

The photograph which caught my eye was the winner of the The Daily Life Stories category - taken by Martin Roemers, entitled Metropolis, documenting life in Calcutta, India.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On the blanket at Goodison

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

There's no Rope as long as Time

Eight months later, I stop to contemplate World Cup 2010 in South Africa and whether or not it was an appropriate choice of venue for the world’s largest sporting (and arguably social) event.
Yes, I went there with few qualms – after all it enabled us to combine a “passing of age family holiday” with a beautiful country and my / our primary waste of time – the beautiful game. These benefits conveniently outweighed any moral dilemmas we had over the economic impact the World Cup would have on the country and the inequity of granting of a major global franchise to a country still seeking to rid itself of the hangover of apartheid.

Soccer plays a huge part in the lives of black South Africans. While much has been written (and filmed) about the 1995 Rugby World Cup triumph and Mandela’s role therein, the real triumphs in the ongoing fight against discrimination come through the beautiful game.

On our visit to Cape Town, we visited, as everyone does, the island prison colony of Robben Island. Here, in 1967, the inmates formed the Makana Football Association and matches commenced during the two hours of every Saturday which was allocated to the inmates outside their prison routine. Sunday evening was reputedly for talking about the game, Monday to Wednesday for dealing with breaches of rules, and Thursday and Friday for choosing squads and strategizing. Many of the advanced political strategists believed that if a league could be run effectively in such extreme conditions, then there was no reason why they should fear running a country.

We visited the “Fields of Play” exhibition which charted the development of soccer in the Cape Town and indeed in South Africa. Despite a sporting legacy so bitterly entrenched in the horrors of the apartheid regime, the exhibition was admirably non-political - albeit a portion of the exhibition did focus on the relocation of clubs during the District 6 racial segregation removals in the sixties.

“The Afrikaner officials of the apartheid regime never embraced soccer, preferring rugby and cricket. Funding for soccer was initially withdrawn and subsequently some matches were banned. Apartheid's opponents quickly seized on the potential of using soccer to rally support and raise funds. The African National Congress (ANC), then a banned underground movement, quickly realized that wherever there was soccer, there was a crowd.

Political meetings suffered a blanket ban from 1976 onward, but it was far harder to prevent several members of a political party from sitting together in the stands, amid thousands. By the 1980s, activists commonly organized themselves into soccer squads (the most infamous was sadly the Nelson Mandela Football Club) to confound the regime. They could travel easily across international borders, and matches represented a valuable source of money for underground anti-apartheid organizations.

By the late 1980s, soccer matches were at center stage of the country's rapidly evolving politics. ANC flags, which were still banned, were seen openly in soccer stadiums, a sign of the regime's weakening grip on power. In 1991, two years before the collapse of apartheid, South Africa's current soccer federation was founded. During its inaugural meeting, it stated that its’ formation was "only natural ... as the sport of soccer had long led the way into breaking the tight grip of racial oppression."

The Fields of Play exhibition also turned up our old Leeds friend, Albert Johanneson the first colored player to appear in an English FA Cup final.

Apartheid fell in 1993 and seventeen years later the country hosted the World Cup finals. The football was circumstantially poor but the event was a sparkling success. The event was well organized, the hosts friendly and the facilities top class. The perception of South Africa as a modern nation improved globally.

But perhaps the most important observation that one could make was that a host team, with only one white player in eleven, received the support of a whole nation – the Bafana Bafana shirts were worn by children and adults who were both black and white, or differently put – were neither black nor white, but who were South African. In a manner that appeared to mimic Mandela almost single-handedly embracing the Rugby World Cup win, the population at large seemed to adopt the Zulu boys and will them (sadly unsuccessfully) to further glory. For a short while, the past seemed like the past.

Perhaps this spirit of togetherness will prevail when the true financial cost of hosting the World Cup is worked out and assessed. And when the incredible harmonising powers of Nelson Mandela are no longer there, and younger and more militant influences within the ANC are more prevalent. If the togetherness prevails, and let's pray that it does, then the decision to place the competition in South Africa will have been an immeasurable success.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Steelers get turned over

Commiserations to Mark Cusick on the Steelers defeat last night.

At one stage it looked like they would tie the Packers but MVP Lennon showed true leadership qualities in pushing the Greenbay offense to crucial touchdowns. One can't help wonder how Steelers would have scored had they left Ben Roethlisberger off team. His off-field problems impacted strongly - remember Roethlisberger was accused of misconduct and the sexual assault and rape of a 20-year old college student - and he was only cleared after paying hefty fees to a bunch of maverick small-town American attorneys, Squint, Sandblasters and Dumpsters.

Top receiver was Nelson, while Mendenhall was top rusher with 64 yards and a touchdown.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The irresistable charm of Peter Osgood

One of the great unsolved mysteries arising from seventies football is whether or not Peter Osgood actually gave Raquel Welch one in the dressing rooms at the Bridge after (or maybe before) a game during the 72/73 season. The tv cameras recorded the visit, it appeared on The Big Match , and let's face it - there really can be no other reason why she was frequenting the Bridge at that stage in her career - after all, he interest in the game did appear to wane as her acting career progressed. Acting career in the loosest sense of the word.

Maybe she will reveal all before she passes away but even if so, sadly we won't hear the real juicy bits as Ossie took his side of the story to the grave when he passed away in 2006. Long live the king.

Raquel wasn't to be the last doll to get the Chelsea kit on for a bit of frivolity as we remember Peter Mellor's friend, Antonia de Sancha who famously donned the home kit for the 1991-2 season to assist Peter get dumped from the cabinet.

The Beautiful Game

I see a little silhouette of a ball, Scaramouche can you play the fandango.....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Romance of the Cup

Despite there being a 1 in the year it's hard to win the FA Cup when there's a 4 in the score and the others have it. So another ignominious exit for the Yids, at the hands of Fulham this time and that means just the winner of the Chelsea v Everton replay will remain in the Fifth Round.

Probably the worst fifteen minutes of football anyone has ever had on Sunday - Michael Dawson OBE.

Sad state of affairs.