Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Ireland we want back

It wouldn't happen today - swans in the Liffey; flowers on the bridge, awnings on the shops and the number 32 advertising Saxa salts.

Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end..........

Kate Middleton's tits

The furore in the UK over the Irish Daily Star’s decision to publish pictures of Kate Middleton’s knockers, and the subsequent suspension of that paper’s editor, raises a number of concerns to my mind which warrant further scrutiny.

Firstly let’s examine what I understand to be general public opinion in the UK on the matter.  Their affront at the publication of the pictures – an insult to a member of the royal family (does One use capitals?) – borders on hypocrisy when we think back to Martin Johnson’s failure to adopt appropriate standards of behaviour in forcing the Irish President to walk off the red carpet to shake hands with the Irish team in 2003. 

This incident was viewed as a gesture of defiance, a sporting tactic, and as a key moment in the English team’s successful grand slam campaign that year.   If the same happened to the Queen (or even Kate Middleton) at Twickenham how would the English react?

I write as a confirmed Anglophile but I have to say they've got their heads up their arse on this one.  Poor judgement on an Irish issue and not for the first time in recent decades either. 

In the week that the Hillsborough deception and corruption has been made public, there is increasing pressure on the authorities to prosecute those who perpetrated the crimes.  Let’s hope that they do.   But what of similar disciplinary actions in respect of two other recently-revealed instances of police corruption – the infamous cases involving the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four?  I can’t recall there being a public call for prosecutions in these instances  – is this because the victims were a few lower-class, close-to-illiterate, Paddies and not the women and children who died at the Leppings Lane?

The injustices perpetrated by the London Metropolitan Police, the West Midlands Constabulary and the South Yorkshire Police were equally distasteful and all warranted or warrant appropriate follow-up action.   Are we likely to get Hillsborough prosecutions?   Not if precedent is anything to go by - in the case of the Birmingham Six, Wikipedia informs us that Superintendent George Reade and two other police officers were charged with perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice but were never prosecuted, while in the case of the Guildford Four, three British police officers—Thomas Style, John Donaldson, and Vernon Attwell—were charged, but they were each found not guilty.  Not hopeful that those who were partly responsible for the deaths at Sheffield will ever be held accountable for their actions.

I now return to the Star’s photographs and the suspension of the editor, Michael O’Kane. There is something very worrying in this development.

It is a known fact that the typical reader of the Star comes from the lower socio-economic classes in Irish society. Their motivational drivers in buying a paper are probably sports, TV listings, celebrity gossip, and page 3 girls. Sitting comfortably in this mix are Kate Middleton’s tits, with the interest being not in the fact she married into the Windsor clan, but because she is a quasi-celebrity and she probably has nice tits. (I promise I haven’t seen the pictures, not to mind buy the paper for that specific purpose).

And here’s my concern – the minute we start determining what the “less educated” or “less high-brow” members of our population should be allowed to buy or read is the minute we commence on a path which will have us designing yellow badges for “other” members of society to wear when the time is right to identify them in this manner. Society has form in this regard, and I can assure you we're no better than the rest.

The pictures of Kate Middleton weren’t plastered across billboards or on public display – those wishing to view them needed to seek them out and consciously purchase a newspaper which fulfilled their needs or desires.   They should always have that right.  

Long live free speech.  Vote for Obama. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

White boots you poof ........

Alan's sponsorship deal with Hummel didn't go down too well with Billy Bremner.   

In reality it didn't turn out to be tto lucratve for Ball either as he subsequently revealed:

"To be honest they were crap, like cardboard, so I got the young apprentices to paint my Adidas football boots white. It was great, till one day it rained and the black came through. A not too happy watching Hummel rep saw what I’d done so I said goodbye to the two grand.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Big day in Liverpool

Come on, Margaret avoid senility for a few days longer.

Tomorrow sees the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel's findings into the tragedy.  Fingers crossed it fingers the gulty.  

"What would you do, if your 14 year old brother goes off to a football match with his mother and is deposited back to you a shell, after watching his mother die in front of him? 

I was 19 years of age, 19 fucking years old and I was left with this shell of a brother to raise, and told my mother was dead?  What would you fucking do???"

This weekend 40 years ago

Leicester City v Everton FC 1-2 (0-2)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, Filbert Street, attendance: 22,854

LCFC: Shilton; Whitworth, Rofe, G.Cross, Woollett, Sammels (1), Farrington, F.Worthington, Weller, Stringfellow (Partridge), L.Glover

EFC: Lawson; T.Wright, H.Newton, Kendall, Kenyon, Seargeant, D.Johnson, Bernard, Royle, C.Harvey (M.Lyons), Connolly (1) – 1 o.g. Cross

Tottenham Hotspur v Crystal Palace 2-1 (2-0)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, White Hart Lane, attendance: 28,545

Spurs: Jennings; Kinnear (Pearce), C.Knowles, Pratt, England (1), Naylor, Gilzean, Perryman, M.Chivers, Peters (1’), Coates

Palace: J.Jackson; D.Payne, Roffey, Kellard, McCormick, Blyth, Pinkney, Tambling (Craven), W.Wallace, R.Jenkins, A.Taylor – 1 o.g. Knowles

Chelsea FC v West Ham United 1-3 (1-2)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, Stamford Bridge, attendance: 34,392

CFC: Bonetti; Mulligan, McCreadie, Hollins, D.Webb, R.Harris, Garland (1), Kember, P.Osgood, A.Hudson (W.Garner), Houseman

WHU: Grotier; McDowell, Lampard, Bonds (1), T.Taylor (1), R.Moore (1), Tyler, C.Best, Holland, Brooking, B.S.Robson

Liverpool FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-2 (1-0)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, Anfield Road, attendance: 43,386

LFC: Clemence; Lawler, A.Lindsay, T.Smith (1’), Lloyd, E.Hughes (1), K.Keegan (1), Cormack (1), Heighway, Toshack, Callaghan

Wolves: Parkes; B.Shaw, G.W.Taylor, M.Bailey, F.Munro, McAlle, McCalliog, K.Hibbitt, J.Richards (1), Dougan, Kindon (1)

Newcastle United v Arsenal FC 2-1 (1-0)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, St. James Park, attendance: 23,849

NUFC: McFaul; D.Craig (1), F.Clark, D.Young, P.Howard, Moncur, Barrowclough, J.Smith, Macdonald (1), Tudor, T.Hibbitt

AFC: Barnett; Rice, R.McNab, Storey, McLintock, J.Roberts, Marinello, Ball, Radford, R.Kennedy (1), G.Graham

Manchester United v Coventry City 0-1 (0-0)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, Old Trafford, attendance: 37,073

MUFC: Stepney; T.O’Neil, M.Buchan, Fitzpatrick, S.James, Sadler, McIlroy, Law (A.Young), R.Charlton, G.Best, Storey-Moore

CCFC: Glazier; Coop, Cattlin, E.Machin, Blockley, R.Barry, D.Mortimer, Q.Young, Rafferty, W.Carr (1), W.Smith

Stoke City v Leeds United 2-2 (0-1)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, Victoria Ground, attendance: 26,705

Stoke: Banks; J.Marsh, Pejic, Skeels, W.Stevenson, A.Bloor, J.Robertson, J.Mahoney, Ritchie, G.Hurst (1), Conroy (1)

LUFC: Harvey; Madeley, Cherry, W.Bremner, J.Charlton, N.Hunter, Lorimer (1), A.Clarke (1), Jordan, Giles, E.Gray

Norwich City v Sheffield United 1-1 (0-0)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, Carrow Road, attendance: 22,449

NCFC: Keelan; C.Payne, Butler, Stringer, Forbes, M.Briggs, Livermore, Bone, D.Cross, Paddon, T.Anderson (O’Donnell) – 1 o.g. Goulding

SUFC: McAllister; Goulding, Hemsley, J.Flynn, I.MacKenzie, Hockey, Woodward, Badger, Dearden (1), Currie, Scullion

Birmingham City v Manchester City 4-1 (2-1)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, St. Andrew’s, attendance: 32,983

BCFC: D.Latchford; Carroll, Want (K.Burns), A.Campbell, Hynd, Harland, Pendrey, T.Francis (1), Latchford (3), R.Hope, R.Hatton

MCFC: Corrigan; Jeffries, Donachie, Doyle, Booth, C.Bell, Summerbee, R.Marsh, W.Davies (Oakes), F.Lee, Towers (1)

West Bromwich Albion v Derby County 2-1 (1-1)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, The Hawthorns, attendance: 17,279

WBA: P.Latchford; Nisbet, R.Wilson II, Cantello, Wile, A.Robertson, Suggett, A.Brown (1), R.Gould (1), A.Brown II, Hartford

Derby: Boulton; S.Powell, Nish, Hennessey, McFarland (1), C.Todd, McGovern, Gemmill, O’Hare, Hector, A.Hinton

Southampton FC v Ipswich Town 1-2 (0-0)
Saturday, 9 September 1972, The Dell, attendance: 13,919

SFC: Martin; R.McCarthy, F.Burns, Fisher, J.McGrath, J.Steele, Paine, Channon (1’), R.Davies, A.Byrne, Stokes (Gilchrist)

Town: Best; M.Mills, Beattie, Collard, A.Hunter, Jefferson, B.Hamilton (1), Viljoen, Belfitt (1), Whymark, Lambert

Monday, September 10, 2012

Making a stand - Argentina 1978

The Argentina World Cup took place in the pivotal year in which I left university and entered the real world. A big change from a lifestyle perspective beckoned and perhaps prophetically the World Cup was very different from what we had experienced before.

While the ticker-tape, the music and the fanfare contributed to the marked improvement over dull and dreary Germany in 1974, perhaps the greatest influence was the re-emergence of Argentina as a footballing power. Choreographed by chain-smoking Cesar Menotti and featuring the free-flowing magic of Kempes and Ardiles, this Argentina were a long way away from the villains of 1966, when Ramsey forbade his players from swapping shirts and Rattin incurred the wrath of the English nation.

There is a peculiar phenomenon which afflicts supporters in that there are specific matches for which they can remember vividly their viewing experience – who where they were; who they were with – in some instances even the peripheral vision surrounding the TV screen reappears. Argentina v Peru for some unknown reason is one of those matches for me. It makes no sense that I should remember this particular game but the mind is peculiar in its’ workings and that’s the way it is. Mark Ryan’s parents’ house – the front room, during the time of Dallas and the Deerhunter, and the Merrion Inn. Argentina won the game 6-0, having needed a four goal margin to proceed to the next round at the expense of Brazil. Suggestions that the match was fixed are not without support, recognising the performance of the Peruvian team up to that stage – they had won their qualifying group, outperforming Holland in doing so.

Further support for the theory must rest in the ruthlessness of the right-wing military junta which was running Argentina at the time, having overthrown Eva Peron two years earlier. For a regime struggling to achieve popular support (quite the opposite in fact) a World Cup success was considered important for the feel good factor it would create. The extent to which the victory was embraced in Argentina is not clear but it certainly assisted in improving the country’s reputation internationally, at least in footballing circles.

While the competitionl took place in 1978, demonstrations took place in front of the Casa Rosada, or Government buildings, organised by the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, the association of Argentine mothers whose children "disappeared" during the military dictatorship, between 1976-1983. It is estimated that 11,000 young men were kidnapped and executed during the period of the “Dirty War”.

While it has been suggested that Johann Cruyff stayed away from Argentina on political grounds (later denied by him) it is a fact that only one footballer from the combined squads of the 15 visiting nations is known to have attended the demonstrations – Ronnie Hellstrom, the Swedish goalkeeper who played in all three of their group games. You can generally trust the Swedes to get these kind of things right although it is surprising he didn’t persuade more of his team mates to attend.

Anyway hats off to the hairy Ronny.

BBC theme music Argentina World Cup 1978: