Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Auf Wiedersehen, Pet

Dear Tim

So you are leaving us. There is something you should know before you go to pastures new. Firstly I am normally very unforgiving of any player who gives up, on his own volition, the opportunity to wear the Everton shirt. Secondly and thinking back to your arrival on Merseyside, I was not your biggest fan. A “Socceroo” from Milwall did not, to put it mildly, get my juices flowing. Getting sent off in your first game, albeit for over celebrating a goal against Man Utd, only confirmed my fears that you would be a one season disaster best suited to scrapping against Southend rather then gracing the “Old Lady”.

Not sure when my views changed. Cannot recall if it was a gradual appreciation of if it happened all of a sudden. Maybe it was the derby game against Liverpool as you pummeled the corner flag having scored the equalizer. Or was it when I saw you in the stand at Goodison with your two young boys watching Everton v Sunderland when you were injured. The over-head goal at Stamford Bridge that had my Chelsea loving mate close to tears. It does not really matter when or how and I want to keep this short and to the point because I am in danger of dropping a few tears myself. The point is this. Thank you. Thanks for the 68 goals. For your never say die spirit. For your love of and dedication to our football club. For being a true and honest professional. For being one of us.

Wishing you and your family much success and happiness in New York. Hope those corner flags have been prepared for your arrival.



Dear Ledley,

So you are leaving us. Or should I say you’re leaving us in a playing capacity, yet thankfully staying as a Spurs ambassador, and as an inspiration to those who believe football still attracts people who value the principles of loyalty and commitment.

In fifteen years at Spurs you only got to play 315 times (an average of 21 a season) and you have only one winners and two runners up medals (all in the Carling Cup) to show for your endeavors. But behind those statistics lies the true story.

You committed your playing career to our club and every time you played you were an inspiration to everyone else wearing the shirt, whether on or off the field. Your well-publicized dicky knee never stopped you demonstrating how good you were – incomparable in the Premiership, even in the presence of stalwarts such as Terry, Ferdinand and the like. Not fit to lace your boots, not one of them.

You came as another left – Sol Campbell – and you gave us back everything he took away. You were honest, truthful, and you expressed gratitude for the chance our club gave you. "I have been here since I was a boy, I have always considered it my club and have always found it hard to imagine myself wearing the shirt of another team" – your words will ensure you are revered at White Hart Lane for centuries to come.

Ledley, we know you could easily have chosen to drop down a division and play out a few more years in the Endsleigh League or equivalent. Go through the motions and collect the wages in the easiest manner possible. Then drift into management on the basis that if you were that good on the pitch, you must know a bit about management.

But no, you chose to assume an ambassadorial role at Spurs and work on local community liaison. How fitting a choice. In an area devoid of role models, where social dysfunctionality is the norm, football can inspire and your involvement will surely lead to a greater hope for a lot of kids. Well done, my son, you made the right choice again.

Thanks for the memories.


Dear Didier,

So you are leaving us.   You big fat greedy prick, you’ve buggered off to China to line your pockets with more money and to kiss the shirt of the Hzechuan Province, or whomever else you’re pledging allegiance to for the next few years.

I hope you fucking choke on the first egg fried rice to pass down your greasy windpipe.

Best regards,


Monday, July 23, 2012

Fat twats who shoot little birds

Olympic hero

The Euros gave us the opportunity to spend some time in Gdansk and to visit the “Paths to Freedom” exhibition charting the rise of the Solidarnosc movement and outlining its’ role in liberating much of Europe from the grips of Communist Russia.

In touring the exhibition it is evident that the Poles feel slightly aggrieved that the defining moment in the collapse of Communism was the much-publicised knocking down of the Berlin Wall in early 1990, while in actual fact, the real battle to take on the might of the Soviet regime took place in the shipyards of Gdansk and commenced ten years earlier.

The inability of the Russians to achieve a decisive victory in the war in Afghanistan (their “Vietnam”) was a contributory factor in preventing them from adequately diverting resources to solving the issues of civil resistance created by the striking shipyard workers in Poland. Despite several years of martial law throughout the eighties, the civil disobedience continued and intensified and the Russians eventually had to concede defeat and commence negotiations with Solidarity towards the end of 1989.   With their power base shown to be penetratable, other repressed social groups across Eastern Europe went to work and in a domino-manner the corrupt dictatorships collapsed one-by-one in the matter of a few months.  Like thr Arab Spring.  Similar to the deaths of JFK and John Lennon, who cannot remember where they were when Nicolae Ceausescu was assassinated?   It was of course Christmas Day 1989 - I sincerely hope to fuck you were at home.

Anyway back to Solidarnosc and the start of the Olympic Games this week in London.

And Kozakiewicz's gesture.

Competing in the pole vault in the 1980 Olympics, Polish Władysław Kozakiewicz was competing for the gold medal against Soviet vaulter Konstantin Volkov and during a tense head-to-head conclusion to the competition, he was subjected to a highly unsporting display of booing, hissing and jeering by the home crowd as he went through his critical jumps.

Having secured his gold medal position, Kozakiewicz celebrated with a gesture of defiance to the Soviet crowd which was captured by the photographers and transmitted all over Europe.  Its’ symbolism was far-reaching, representing Polish society's resentment to Soviet control in their country, and indeed all over Eastern Europe.

Solidarity in its’ modern form was founded one month after the Moscow Olympics and maybe this gesture assisted in rallying popular support to go against the adage that "might is right".  

Per wikipedia, after the 1980 Olympics ended, the Soviet ambassador to Poland demanded that Kozakiewicz be stripped of his medal over his "insult to the Soviet people".  The official response of the Polish government was that Kozakiewicz's arm gesture had been an involuntary muscle spasm caused by his exertion.  Signs of attitudes to come.

Olympic Games, London 2012.    What underlying politics will play out - what will we fail to see, or more importantly what will we choose to ignore?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I know Samways was ugly but do we need this?

The Premier League's initial official photograph of the bold Vinny, complete with Warren Barton's bollix.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Ireland we want back

"I can see the hostel from here" spluttered Richard, still shovelling cream buns into his big fat gob. 

Indeed, it was Ballinskelligs Hostel he could see n the distance.   They were safe for another night.

Monday, July 2, 2012

First signs of dementia?

The recollections from Blennerville begin to worry me.

I do know that four of us travelled by plane, during which we took the opportunity to steal the Aer Lingus pillows which we realised would come in very useful - now that we had made the upgrade from An Oige hostels from the year before to the independence of camping in our own right.

From memory I then travelled from Shannon to Blennerville with Steve, Rich and Noel where we were to await the arrival of the rest of the group the following day.   Communication to confirm arrangements can only have been by phone box, with a Press Button A to connect.  A four man tent or two one man tents I don’t know but after a bright afternoon which generated endless repetitive games involving a ball, and then the onset of rain, we sought to shelter hopelessly in the tents, with a forced retreat to the centre of the enclosed area in the hopeless intent on staying dry. A useless pursuit.

The following day, the others arrived (Train to Tralee?) by which time we had engaged with the locals and had secured accommodation in the local outhouse, straw, cowshit and all. The only thing missing was the Baby Jesus.

The openness and generosity of our hosts now appears wondrous and alien, yet then it was commonplace. Their house was made free to us although in retrospect it lacked a lot - I cannot recall there being an open fire, nor brownbread or a dog, not even a parent keeping an eye over things. Very peculiar. Tubular Bells was scratched - and we of all people appreciated a good LP - but it didn’t stop Roddy Wood chatting-up the good-looking daughter, a chase orchestrated more for our wonder than his own benefit I now suspect. Roddy always performed better when the subject of voyeuristic envy on the part of others.

The outhouse had its’ own inhabitants, small white microscopic mites who found an attraction to Brian’s mountain boots. The boots saw little of the following morning, so deep was the infestation.

And you know what – after that eventful and difficult start to the trip, the rest is genuinely hazy with only fleeting memories of places we went, people we met and events that occurred. It was the summer of 1975, and I have memories of being outside a Church on a Sunday morning and reading about (or hearing about) Arthur Ashe beating Jimmy Connors in the Wimbledon mens final.

We also slept on solid concrete in a boatshed, courtesy of Barry Fenton, who slipped away the following morning under cover of thinning darkness. Aside from this – little remains in the memory – no pubs, no bikerides, no ceilis, and no stolen potatoes. I sincerely hope that that’s the way it was and not a fabulous, youthful, energetic fun-filled escapade which old age will no longer let me remember. Please, oh please.

You are invited to help the author in his fight against dementia by submitting other recollections of this particular holiday to him by email.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Euro 2012 - it's come a long way

So, it's over and Spain run out as deserved winners.  Well done to all our Spanish in-laws.

In closing I'd like to record a little-known fact about the history of the competition.  The most recent goalscorer in the long line of celebrated players is Mata but the first goalscorer ever was our own Rashers Liam Touhy, who scored after 22 minutes of our home game against the Czechoslovakia on the 5th April 1959.   This was the first game in the newly formed Henri Delauney Cup for European Nations.

In a home and away series to determine participation at the 1960 competition, we won 2-0 at home, only to concede four without reply in the away leg.  And so commenceth our familiar habit from the sixties and seventies of getting turned over in away fixtures.

Still, the notoriety of scoring the first goal will always rest with the Rasher, the man who later in his coaching career, gave Mise le meas the hard news that he was never gonna be a star.   Arise Sir Rasher.

Fuck off, Roy Keane we'll sing when we want

...and we'll dance, and we'll laugh, and we'll cry, andf we'll party - and we'll do it when we believe it's right and not because we're winning or losing.  

Life's too short, man - get a grip.