Footballers eh

I hooked up with a very old mate from uni the other night for a beer. He’s a semi-retired Cardiff-based teacher who’s been on a 6-month assignment at a very good girls school in Kingston and we’ve been catching up a bit over that time. His contract finished at Xmas but he has sort of fallen for this part of SW London so he’s continuing to come back to do some tutoring and some rowing. He’s one of my oldest mates – well he would be given that we left Aber Uni 40 years ago – and he’s lived a life as a sports mad, red-blooded bachelor ever since. In fact his life style has hardly changed since I first met him. Continue reading

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Mandela

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Here’s an image of the great Nelson Mandela on the day of his release from prison. Those images of him strolling down the road proudly will never fade. He could have been a bitter man but with massive grace and statesmanship he went on to repair a broken country and create a rainbow nation. Frankly only he could have done it and in doing so he became a hero to the world. His passing leaves an unfillable void.

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odd sights

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You must have noticed something rather odd about the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling. It’s not that he’s still in a job (which is inexplicable rather than odd), it’s his extraordinary eyebrows. How on earth does he end up with pure white hair and jet black bushy eyebrows? Just look at them; it’s like looking at Jimmy Saville after he’s received a face transplant from Grouch Marx. Very odd. And this got me thinking about  things that look decidedly strange, unbelievable or plain funny.

Take sport. Have you ever seen anything as ridiculous as the nonsense sport of competitive walking? It’s like watching a group of people who are attempting to run a race but they can’t get beyond a scuttling action because they’ve got a very large stick of cucumber  lodged up their bums. It just looks so unnatural. How can they describe this as sport and why do you they persist in allowing it as an Olympic event? Its world-wide popularity?  I don’t think so. Do you know anybody who does it or enjoys watching  it?  No, but some people with very odd habits must get tuned in and turned on by it.  On that basis morris dancing must be a shoe-in as the 2012 demonstration sport – and I bet we’d do no better than bronze even though we are the only country on earth which does it. 

But even in the world’s greatest game I still get amused by some of the things I see. Have you   
noticed the tendency, particularly amongst the Premiership centre back fraternity, to wear their socks completely unravelled so that they extend above the knee? This has the effect of making the socks look like stockings which are very fetching of course…on women. But on John Terry and Rio Ferdinand  it makes them look like the chorus line from Lady Boys of Bangkok. Bobby Moore must be turning in his grave at the sight of them. Sigh.

And have you ever noticed that strange warm-up routine that coaches get players to do in training sessions and on the touchline? I can’t find a vid to show you but they jog sideways and swivel at the waist with arms out swinging to the left then the right. I guess it’s intended to limber up the players’ upper bodies but get 3 or 4 subs doing it in sequence and it looks like the chorus line warming-up on the touchline. It’s about as camp a routine as you can get. And nobody seems to look or feel embarrassed, apart from me. Back in the day I had to endure squat thrusts from a rather sadistic footie coach. ….but that’s another story.

This seems to be turning into another camp rant because the next thing which has caught my attention a lot of late is the number of cars coloured pink. Pink! I know we spend most week-ends with the kids in Brighton, a town which has it’s bohemian side, and you  might expect to see a few cute-coloured Clios down there. But no it’s here in staid Staines that pink pops up on Puntos and Polos with alarming regularity. Why would you buy a car coloured candyfloss? Who do you think’s going to buy it from you when you’re fed up of people pointing at it? And why is Staines so shockingly pinkophile? It’s a complete mystery to me but if anyone can throw some light on it, I’d be interested to know. Pink Staines – sounds like something Blackpool hoteliers have to put up with when they change the sheets each morning. Nice. 

Staines is also famous for Ali G and his Massive (noun not adjective – though who knows for sure with Sasha BC?). And I’m pretty sure that a stylistic feature of the Massive is the jeans worn very low on the hips by fellas showing almost all their underpants. Now this makes the crotch of the jeans feature somewhere close to their knees and it makes them look and walk like they’ve truly cacked their pants. Who dictated that this was a look to be copied? I’ve worn some right fashion faux pas, as I’ve admitted to before on this site, but this has got to be the most unenviable and unfathomable style statement ever hasn’t it? Do young girls really find this fashion look attractive? Really? If so can somebody please explain its appeal? 

Finally a list of things that are very odd to look at but I can’t be bothered to expand upon them:

–  cravats, sovereign rings, facial tattooes, men wearing lurid-coloured crocs or flip-flops on the train to work;

–  that Shirley lass off Eastenders who’s at least 50 years of age but wears skirts so short they’re almost belts. Cover up love.

–  Newcastle Utd’s new away strip – lemon and custard coloured! It’s a trifle odd;

–  Real Madrid’s triumphalist public unveilings of their new signings. It’s a Real circus show and oddly amusing and how I pray that it all ends in tears;

–  the Marquess of Bath, owner of Longleat House and a complete wacko. He’s shrill-voiced, rarely washes or takes a bath (a little odd given his title) and has a wilder dress-sense than John McCririck. Somehow the extraordinarily rich aristocrat has managed to have a wife and more than 75 ‘wifelets’ in his time despite looking like this. If that’s not odd, I don’t know what is.

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I could add to this list a lot and will do so over the next few days but happy for you to suggest other oddities!

pp

the beautiful game?

What is it with these over-paid petulant prima donnas, we call footballers? I love the game and the Premiership is the best league in the world but I’m getting to the point where I’ve had enough of their antics and behaviour. This week alone we’ve seen:

–  Ronaldo flouncing off the pitch after being substituted and then throwing away a track-suit top offered to him by a well-meaning member of his back-room staff. He continued his very public sulk on the bench with that mock disbelief head-shaking whilst mouthing ‘f*cking joke’, all for the cameras’ benefit. The poor lamb was clearly in a state of total shock at Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to take him off after 58 minutes of the Manchester derby with the match seemingly decided in United’s favour at 2-0. The fact that the manager probably felt that Ronaldo had done enough for the team with yet another stunning goal after 18 minutes and needed to be kept fresh for the critical last few games of the season with the season’s two most significant trophies still to be won (or lost), was clearly not totally appreciated by the player. After all, what on earth was Ferguson doing? As manager’s go he’s achieved what exactly, eh Ronnie? Take a look at the ingrate:

In fact Ronaldo’s been on a season-long sulk at not being allowed by SAF to leave the club that had developed him into the World Player of the Year with probably the highest earnings in world football, for the non-achievers at Real Madrid. To say that I’d be prepared to off-load him for a world-record transfer fee and replace him with Ribery or Benzema or even Wigan’s Valencia, is an understatement. He is an idol to my football-mad grandson but a truly poor example of a sportsman. If I were SAF I’d pay his air-fare to Madrid, pack his suitcase and stick in it a video on the career of Ryan Giggs (another good-looking lad with outrageous talent) and slap a post-it note on saying ‘that’s the way to do it’.  Such a talent but his totally self-regarding manner is becoming simply unbearable and I think a real problem for the outstanding United team ethic. SAF’s unloaded great talents before, like Beckham, Ince and Keane, when their egos and personal agendas started to become more important than the team and the club. Surely Ronaldo’s United career is going to reach its expiry date in Rome.  

– It seems incredulous but that wasn’t the only petulance on display yesterday (and it didn’t even involve Robinho). Team-mate Carlos Tevez scored a great little goal to seal the game for United then ran to the touchline and, addressing the Directors’ box, cupped his hands to his ears as if he was asking them whether they had heard the cheers of the fans:

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Of course it was a little gesture intended to remind David Gill and his Board members that the club have still to decide whether to pay £32m to make his move to Old Trafford permanent. I have said before now that I really enjoy the skills, commitment and energy that Tevez brings to any game but I cannot believe that his constant moaning and mouthing off to the Argentinian footballing media and attempting to publicly humiliate the United Directors will serve his cause well. He’s a great footballer but  just not worth that much. Still his display yesterday probably did impress a set of Directors with more money than footballing sense so it’s over to Eastlands at season’s end for Tevez methinks.

– The situation at Newcastle is dire of course; tonight they play troubled Boro for an absolutely critical match which will probably decide which of either of these sides can possibly escape relegation. A loss or draw and one or both are doomed. In this situation a manager tends to select his in-the-trenches players; the ones who give everything for the team and inspire others with their performance. For rookie manager Alan Shearer the challenge was always going to be enormous but it was understandable when last week he decided to test this theory when he dropped Michael Owen and selected Joey Barton for the difficult away match at Liverpool. Surely this was a now-or-never moment for the recidivist Barton. Would he at last turn in a performance that had the fans in raptures? Nah. Have a look at this piece of beautiful football from the thug Barton – he deserves to be run out of the club. No doubt Sam Allardyce will be in for him come the summer:

– Then we have two choice examples of great role-model behaviour from two of N London’s finest. Firstly  Nicklas Bendtner (alright perhaps not Arsenal’s finest player) emerged from Bouji’s nightclub at 4am with his trousers around his knees. Earlier he’d been a member of the Arsenal side which had suffered a telling defeat to Man Utd in the Champions league semi-final. Ah well good to see you weren’t too upset – there’s always next year eh Nicklas? I bet Arsene Wenger must have been so proud to get the call from the club’s press office at 4.30am.

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Then yesterday morning the captain of the Spurs side Ledley King also out on the razzle  ends up being arrested and detained on suspicion of assaulting a nightclub doorman. Apparently he’d been doing nothing more than goading the guy about how much money he had and calling him a ‘Paki’. Despite being almost incapable of standing Ledley did  have the presence of mind to ask if the bouncer knew who he was. It’s classy stuff. Here’s the late night action shot that must have gladdened his manager’s heart the next morning –

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– And speaking of Champions League we then had the spectacle of Drogba, Ballack and others from the Chelsea team berating the referee for his hapless performance in the semi-final against against Barcelona. It had been a thrilling match and the frustrations of the players were understandable but not the way they conducted themselves –

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It was ugly and you just know that lots of kids are going to emulate their actions the next time they don’t agree with a ref’s decision. Drogba’s subsequent re-appearance on the touch-line to shout and swear openly into the Sky cameras and virtually accuse EUFA and the referee of a fix was quite unbelievable. How he was allowed by the club’s officials to do this is beyond comprehension.  He and the club will get a stiff fine no doubt which won’t harm them one jot but the real damage is done and unmendable. They really are a charmless, graceless bunch at the Bridge.  

I know I’m sounding like some moralising saintly ne’er do badly, who’s never got annoyed on the pitch, never fouled someone badly, never had a drink after a match nor argued with a ref over a poor decision. Because I have. But in every case I just about managed to retain a tiny shred of self-respect and, I’d like to think, never showed total disrespect for others. Unlike these half-wits who remain role models for thousands of young kids. Bear in mind this is just  one week’s headline activity and none of it relates to the fantastic action we’ve seen this week. That’s the sad thing. One again the image of football in this country (and quite probably world-wide) has been damaged by the self-serving and boorish actions of some of the Premiership’s so-called leading players. It’s about time the game got a grip and made examples of them rather than everyone making excuses for them. The beautiful game? Not from where I’m sitting.

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ps Well wouldn’t you know it, redemption arrived this morning with the news that one highly-paid footballer at least this week has acted with huge dignity in the face of a shocking family tragedy. Wilson Palacios, another Spurs player, learned during the night that team-mate King was out getting drunk and  arrested for assault, that the body of his younger brother had been found, several months after disappearing following his kidnapping. It’s hard to imagine quite how devastating this news must have been for Palacios but he had the grace to wait out the night in the lobby of the team’s hotel until he felt it a suitable time to disturb Harry Redknapp, his manager, to seek permission to fly home to Honduras to be with his family. What a contrast in attitude and I’ve got nothing but admiration for the young guy.

so more not less, wes eh?

I’m just listening to the Man U v Fulham match on the radio. Man U 2-0 up and seemingly coasting to victory. Two goals from Ronanldo who’s added, what, 12 goals in 11 games now? And they said he’d never repeat last year’s scoring achievements. At this rate and in this form he could well exceed them. He’s that special. Anyway my mind was wandering a bit and I was thinking of this football snippet I saw over the weekend. It was a little piece which reported that Man U’s Wes Brown had rejected a new offer from the club of £50k per week on a 4 year deal.

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