Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Shamrock Rovers 8 Waterford United 1

I got my just rewards for all my harsh comments about Rovers last Friday night at the Tallaght Stadium in a pre-season friendly. Eight bleedin' one, and we were lucky it wasn't double figures.

Gone are the days in the sixties and seventies when these teams were equally matched - the scoreline is clear evidence of the gulf that has developed between the Rovis and the Blues. If anything, this disparity will only increase as Rovers benefit further from European involvement and a strong local support.

Here's the fourth goal - a classic header from the edge of the box over the despairing keeper who had no chance. Would peter Thomas have got it? Probably not.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Poetry -Shrovetide Tuesday Football Anthem

One could be forgiven for thinking the above picture was taken at Hillsborough, so pained are the looks on the faces of the people in it.

But no (thankfully) - this is a picture taken at this year's Royal Shrovetide Football Game played between the Up'Ards and Down'Ards at Ashbourne, Derbyshire, and around which several long standing rituals and traditions have evolved. The match is reputed to have first taken place in the 11th century and it is similar in rivalry and intense competition to the smokers v non smokers games which were played on the beaches in Portsalon, Co Donegal, Ireland in the late seventies of the last century.

The process of 'goaling' a ball requires a player to hit it against the mill stone three successive times. Could this be the original of the game which kept our childhoods happy and fulfilled - "three and in" or is this just a simple unexplained mathematical coincidence, with the answer only being found in a black hole?

And so to the poetry, in the form of the words to the Shrovetide Tuesday Football Match anthem, sung in a local hotel before the throw-in.

There's a town still plays this glorious game
Tho' tis but a little spot.
And year by year the contest's fought
From the field that's called Shaw Croft.
Then friend meets friend in friendly strife
The leather for to gain,
'And they play the game right manfully,
In snow, sunshine or rain.

'Tis a glorious game, deny it who can
That tries the pluck of an Englishman.

For loyal the Game shall ever be
No matter when or where,
And treat that Game as ought but the free,
Is more than the boldest dare.
Though the up's and down's of its chequered life
May the ball still ever roll,
Until by fair and gallant strife
We've reached the treasur'd goal.

'Tis a glorious game, deny it who can
That tries the pluck of an Englishman

Quiz question

He played for one of our clubs - who is he?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things aren't always what they seem......

Hey, Mister, can we have our ball back?

Planned Qatar World Cup Stadium at Doha Port.

Leinster flags

One of my pet hates in life – at present – are these hideous Leinster car-flags which seems to proliferate at this time of the year in South Dublin and in the more salubrious suburbs further North, id est Howth, Sutton and Malahide.

To be more accurate, it’s not the flags I find hideous, it’s the combination of the flag and the car occupants that causes me the greatest grief. Because let’s face it, Leinster rugby is quite simply nothing to do with the game, it’s all about the lifestyle and most of the flag-flying fans know sweet fuck all about the underlying sport.

The flags generally adorn four-wheel drives, year of registration within the last two – although there are signs that this entry requirement is being stretched a little in these troubled times.

The drivers of these vehicles add to the dysfunctional nature of Leinster rugby and have also unknowingly created a marketing dilemma for the automobile industry – how can an “off-road” vehicle be marketed to a glamorous trophy wife who needs a ladder to get into the vehicle and thinks parking on the footpath is at the extreme end of adventure sports?

The back seat of the car is usually occupied by two Willow Park schoolboys with their heads embedded in the screen of an Ipad; a copy of Rachel Allen’s newest Quickmeals cookbook; a Cavistons’ grocery bag containing white asparagus and quail, and a pristine Saxophone which had just been left in to the have the strings replaced. “Well I thought saxophones had strings”.

And what of the Lord of the Manor? A slap on the back from old rugby foes, the same foes that ran their studs down the side of your head and pushed his index finger in your eye on the back pitch in Donnybrook in 1987. Nothing serious enough to stop the business deal going through now though. “You know what you should get – a Harley – great for buzzing around in at the weekends”. Grow old gracefully you stupid prick.

Leinster rugby is the Celtic Tiger at its’ worst - spawned during those wasteful hedonistic days and surviving solely because everyone wants to be part of a winning team and sure if you don’t, they won’t want to have anything to do with you down at the golf club. And wasn’t BOD just bruuulliant against Stade de France?

So the next time I see these flag-toting idiots, I’m going to toot my horn and give them a wave – it’ll be lovely to see what they do when the see the cheery salute coming from a 2007 Ford Mondeo. A 2007 Ford Mondeo. And you know what, they’ll probably respond because it’s what the police drive and you never know when we’ll need a little favour, on the side, not a word to the common man.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A big job for Neil Warnock

Mike, he's calling you a moron......

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Who was Chelski imitating?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Leaving Cert English - Unsung Heroes

One of the great unsung heroes of the football world is undoubtedly Gordon Ottershaw.

Gordon who? I can almost hear you say, so please let me explain.

On the 17th October 1979 the world became aware of Gordon through the medium of BBC television. Gordon Ottershaw - the most loyal fan a team could ever have.

Immortalised by Michael Palin in Ripping Yarns, Gordon is the long-suffering supporter of Barnstoneworth United, a small-town football club playing in the Yorkshire League that has seen better days and is now in the habit of losing week-in, week-out. Gordon spends his entire life surrounded by everything Barnstoneworth, he has named his son Barnstoneworth, and he assists in his schooling by getting him to recite the entire 1922 Yorkshire Premier League Team instead of British Prime Ministers. However this is now 1935 and the glory days of the twenties are long gone. Gordon has therefore developed the habit of coming home after every game (always a defeat) and smashing the furniture in fury, while his poor wife tries desperately to tell him that she is pregnant.

The demise of the team comes to a head after an 8-1 defeat, when the club owner Mr. Foggen decides that the club should be sold to a scrap dealer. A crushing mill to be erected on the Sewerage Works Ground is to be named in the club’s honour. The upcoming match against Denley Moor Academicals is therefore to be the last.

Learning that the club only has four players for the final fixture, Gordon single-handedly rounds up the great 1922 team and arrives with them just at the last minute to allow the fixture to proceed. Amazingly, the Zimmer-framed team win the game with Neville Davitt scoring two “in't last minute” and Frank Haggerty saving a penalty.

Gordon is seen arriving home and the family smash the furniture together in happiness.

For the record the Barnstoneworth team on the day was as follows:

Goalkeeper - Haggerty F (1)
Right back - Haggerty R (2)
Left back - Tomkins (3)
Wing backs – Noble (4) & Dobson (6)
Centre-half – Carrick (5)
Wingers – Dewhurst (7) & Davitt (11)
Inside forwards – Crapper (8) & Treadmore (10)
Centre-forward - McIntyre (9)

Part A

Candidates must answer any two from three questions (equal marks apply to all questions):

A. The story is set in working-class middle-England in the nineteen thirties. Describe the underlying family chemistry which would have been prevalent at the time, making reference to the text.

B. The story is a classic tale of a heroic Englishman fighting against the odds to make the dream come true. Discuss. In your answer, make reference to other comic-book heroes who entered national folklore through their sporting achievements i.e. Roy of the Rovers; Tuff of the Track or Billy (of Billy’s Boots fame and not to be confused with Billy, Don’t be a hero by Paper Lace).

C. How close do your own feelings for your team come to Gordon’s level of devotion for Barnestoneworth? Describe the key traits, referring to your own life experience, which makes him the nutter and you the sane man.

Treasure Hunt 1982

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Update on the little Z

Ok Eamon Zayed didn't win the African Cup of Nations with Libya, in fact he didn't even get a run, but it didn't stop him becoming a hero with one half of the Tehranian sporting population as he came of the bench with ten minutes to go in the local derby.

In front of 90,000 fanatical fans, he scored a hat-trick in eight minutes to enable his team to over come their bitterest rivals 3-2.  Superman or what?

Beats scoring in front of 900 people at the Carlisle Grounds, quite a number of whom are just killing a few hours before heading off to the pub on a Friday night.

Monday, February 13, 2012

'Arry, Rosie and the Law - from the Colonel

Well that was exciting! How we all laughed as poor ol Arry was forced to grovel before the bar of public opinion. We howled at references to Rosie 47 and his proud boast that while being a "phantastic manaja" he could not write (Arry that is and not Rosie - although presumably his canine partner in crime is equally challenged when it comes to putting his thoughts on paper). The key actors even got their lines screwed up as the Slav said it was one thing and Arry screamed it was another. In fact Arry did a lot of screaming. He screamed at the Detective leading the investigation that he was to stop "staring at me". The pantomime was complete when the curtain came down with a resounding "not guilty". Fair enough. We have a jury system so we cannot and really should not challenge or scoff at it's findings.

The circus has moved on and a Mr Suarez has entered stage right and is now the focus of the media. Forgive me therefore if I linger a little longer in the High Court with the evidence of one Mr Harry Redknapp formerly of White hart Lane, 3 Sisters North London.

Harry went to great lengths to explain to the simpletons in the jury how "football" works. If Arry was able to sell a player for more then he bought him then he was entitled to a share of the "profit". Sorry Arry - run that by me again. Arry was given a financial incentive to sell on players! Why? Incentives are there to encourage a particular type of behaviour. In the world I live in such behaviour must be of benefit to the person or entity paying the incentive. Are we to infer that Portsmouth Football Club (on the verge of administration) really considered it to be in their interests to have Arry run his skilled eye over the human assets belonging to the club and then proceed to sell those where he thought he could turn a sizeable profit. Was West Ham delighted when Arry picked out Rio Ferdinand and like some Arabic slave dealer of old announced that he could get a good price for the "Big Guy" at the back. Were they of the view that without the "incentive" Arry might have sold on the cheap? Did nobody say "Mr Redknapp you focus on the game next Saturday and the club will value its own assets if it becomes necessary to sell them"? Did or does nobody recognise that an "incentive" to sell creates a clear conflict of interest. Did or does nobody question why all the fee should not go the club that has nurtured the player since he was 16. Did nobody suggest that Rosie & Arry were already drinking deep at the none too deep well that was Portsmouth Football club.

One thing is for sure, Spurs supporters can be confident that when Mr Bale moves to a warmer clime they will get a shed load of money as result of Arrys standard agreement with his employers - but can they be ever confident that Arry will snub the sale in favour of trying to persuade the player to see out his career at WHL. As Arry himself would say "not on your nelly".
Anyway the show is over. Let move on.

Ed. - when Spurs release Bale, and it really appears that Levy, will decide this and not Arry (after the Modric success), well maybe just maybe they'd be happy to split the proceeds with the raincoated cigarette-smoking tout who screws the diegos rightly.

Ok, maybe not glamorous bank-rolled attractive Spurs when selling the crown jewels, but what of a small unfashionable club down on the south coast of England offloading Peter Crouch for £4.5 million? Not so much of a conflict of interest (90 for you, ten for me), but more of a let's work together to part this fool from his money. As long as people like Abrahovic, Mandaric and Sheikh ManCity are in the game, this kind of questionable behaviour will continue. Let's get back to basics.

Pic courtesy of the British Dog Breeders Association - Harry, Rosie and Buster. Buster was sold for £235,00 in 2011.

What the hell has happened to Chelsea?

Not to take anything away from Everton, who have a laudable record against the top clubs particularly at Goodison, but following Chelsea's capitulation on Saturday you really have to start wondering what the hell is going on?

Currently fifth in the table, with thirteen games to go, their challenge now has changed to qualification for the Champions League rather than getting into the top three. So where has it all gone wrong?

Several potential explanations and probably a combination of these has resulted in them falling from grace. Is it that:

They have a manager who appears incapable of adapting to the English game, or who is overawed by it?

Their billionaire backer has lost interest in his English leisure pursuit and may be under pressure at a political or litigious level?

The over-influence of poor role models such as John Terry and Didier Drogba has impacted team performance and morale?

The singular failure of Fernando Torres? His failure mirrors Chelsea's demise - Torres = £50 million = Chelsea.

There is an argument to be made that they are still in the Champions League and the FA Cup, but even so there can be no doubt that by their own high standards, this year is a huge disappointment.

Receiving the despairing e-mails from poor Chelski on Saturday afternoon as I strolled around rainy Waterford, ducking in and out of Paddy Power's, nearly had me looking for the number of the Samaritans to pass on t0 him. As he gazed out into the blizzard miles away in Northern Sweden, I had visions of him staggering out of the hotel into the gale-force winds, while muttering something along the lines of "For God's sake look after the children".

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ten people I'd love to have met - Mahatma Gandhi

Second person in the “Ten People I’d love to have met” list is Mahatma Gandhi.

In our sanitised Western commercial world, we have little need (and maybe time and desire) to consider and identify individuals who provide true inspiration on spiritual or life matters. As a generation, we have drifted away from the Church and have failed to replace the unthinking singular devotion to Christ with respect, dependence or admiration for anyone or anything else. Ideologically we have become self-sufficient, driven largely by financial well-being.

In looking at those who could provide inspiration, if we were to seek it or need it, Mahatma Gandhi is right up there at the top of the list.

He was assassinated in 1948 by one of his own religion who felt that he was moving to close to the Muslim world (and specifically Pakistan). His violent death was contrary to everything he stood for – he espoused the virtues of peace, preferring non violent civil disobedience as a method of achieving change. He lived a simple life and worked to alleviate poverty and end the Indian caste system.

Having gone through the debacle of the Celtic Tiger, which destroyed the fabric of our own country it would be interesting to know how things might have turned out if we had more of Gandhi’s leadership than that provided by the evil troika which influenced our country in recent years – the Government, the banks and the builders. I have to think we be in a far better place.

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed” – Gandhi.

My debate with Gandhi would centre around the question of whether he was too naive and too idealistic, and whether living a longer life would have resulted in his philosophies having a greater influence on the shape of the newly established state of India. And how similar was he to our own De Valera, whom in equal measure I castigate for his policies of independence, isolationism and self-sufficiency - dancing at the crossroads and all that went with it?

As Wikipeia sumarises, The modern India with its rapid economic modernization and urbanization, has rejected Gandhi's economics but accepted much of his politics and continues to revere his memory. Reporter Jim Yardley notes that, "modern India is hardly a Gandhian nation, if it ever was one. His vision of a village-dominated economy was shunted aside during his lifetime as rural romanticism, and his call for a national ethos of personal austerity and nonviolence has proved antithetical to the goals of an aspiring economic and military power. By contrast he is given full credit for India’s political identity as a tolerant, secular democracy.”

And therein lies his legacy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Animal Farm

With all the focus on Rosie the Dog of late, we shouldn't forget an animal of another kind - Anfield Cat who has its' own twitter feed and who has won the nation's hearts with his / her display on Monday night.

Nice Venn diagram on the pies website with a dig at old Anfield favourite Fernando Torres, the man who couldn't score.

Thursday, February 2, 2012