It’s all about looking at things in the correct way

28 04 2015

Last week FC United of Manchester, the club I co-own, was promoted to the Conference North. I have opened this post with that particular sentence because you may have missed last week’s news.

I may have only been to eight of their matches this season, I may not be a streetwise Mancunian and my claim to co-ownership may be based on the easy gesture of handing over £12 every July but I still feel proud that I feel part of something fantastic, however infinitesimal that part may be.

It’s difficult to turn my happiness and sense of satisfaction into recognisable words. I don’t feel ecstatic solely because of my own feelings, I have an inkling of what this success means to everyone connected to the club and it feels fantastic to be part of something like that.

I know that I’m slightly involved in something special. I’m entranced by FCUM’s place in the fabric of the North West’s social history, A Fine Lung, An Undividable Glow and Under The Boardwalk provided a masterly education. The interactions I’ve had, in both real life and on social media, have turned the easy gesture of handing over £12 every July into something significant.

FCUM’s political stance mean that the club is a living and breathing example of grass roots activism in action. Their political stance shows that FCUM is not just an example that football or sport should follow it is example that our wider society should follow, as tonight’s tweet from the club shows;

Our members have also agreed that the club will not work with organisations that operate Workfare as the scheme contravenes our ethics.

Success always feels great on its own terms but when you co-own a club like FCUM the success means even more. While FCUM’s success is fantastic on its own terms it’s even more fantastic in the present political environment.

The 2015 general election campaign has become the latest stop for the depressing cavalcade of scapegoating and division creation. During the last 5 years politician after politician has highlighted problem group after problem group. There’s been no end to the threats to our society faces; the public sector, “The Unions”, teachers, benefit claimants, the EU, the immigrants, the metropolitan liberal elite, the Scots.. This scapegoating has become frenzied during the campaigning season.

As you read these words rank stupidity and petty bigotry grow ever more acceptable. Rancid right wing bigots were once reviled but have now annexed the moral high ground. When they “tell it like it is” the unalienable right of free speech becomes an impervious shield of steel.

When people tell it like it is courtesy and consideration become ideas from the dark ages. When people tell it like it is prospective parliamentary candidates don’t freely use racial epithets they tell bad taste jokes and people say that it’s fine for other people to be machine gunned because they are “migrants”.

When wanton individuals shriek evocations of free speech it’s one of the most one of the most bitter ironies of life in 2015. The bastions of free speech will use their principled outlook to lambast the agents of Cultural Marxist control then complain that brainwashed cultural Marxist sheeple are criticising their point of view twenty four hours later. They sometimes threaten public sector employees with e-mails that feature their pernicious thought crimes. “Your boss won’t like to hear what you’ve said.” they say, telling it like it is.

FCUM’s success could not have come at more opportune moment for me. Their promotion is a timely reminder that there is another way of doing things in our austerity laden times. FCUM represents a better way of doing things; welcoming, inclusive, socially attentive and above all, hopeful.

It’s just a matter of looking at things in the correct way.

The seductive glamour of your glittering European elites

10 04 2015

The glorious champions league returns next week. Twitter looks on the champions league as some shimmering ideal of human achievement.

@Iptamenos23 – @pithion Επίσης η Καστοριά πήρε το Champions League.

@morrismoldov – Fyra dagar till Champions League-kvart. Ahhh peppen.

@uh_milko – На финал UEFA Champions League с Ginza Project

@movie_japan_wcu – 久保途中出場!ヤングボーイズが大勝!】ヨーロッパリーグ(EL) 欧州CL チャンピオンズリーグ UEFA Champions League オアロ スロバン・ブラチスラバ

@SamPodZvezdama – In GAZPROM’s Football Club, you can win prizes all round the UEFA Champions League.

@MoneyMaker1032 – In GAZPROM’s Football Club, you can win prizes all round the UEFA Champions League.

@frankworrall –  In GAZPROM’s Football Club, you can win prizes all round the UEFA Champions League.

@aydanels20 – In GAZPROM’s Football Club, you can win prizes all round the UEFA Champions League.

@merseypride – In GAZPROM’s Football Club, you can win prizes all round the UEFA Champions League.

@T_Nambahu – THE MAGIC OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE… Got that child like excitement…and I’m a neutral

I look on the champions league as a giant leech draining my enthusiasm for interacting with other human beings. I prefer to remember the time when the European Cup was a mere sporting competition, the time when Swedish clubs were able to win one of UEFA’s competitions.


Everything changed when UEFA jazzed things up in 1994. I was at the dawn of their bluesky thinking. I should have been watching Bangor City in the European Cup but the champions of Wales, along with the rest of Europe’s dead skin, were forced into the UEFA Cup. Their crime was to exist in a less buoyant market television market. UEFA have entrenched this approach in the last 21 years. The European Cup had to wait another 17 years to see Bangor City.

It wasn’t solely UEFA’s fault, a new breed of plutocrat appeared on the scene. Not only were they unencumbered by traditional ideas of football they threw erudite money at a coquettish sport. The plutocrats said the next logical step in football evolution was a self-contained “European Super League” and UEFA allowed the top leagues of Europe to take over the European Cup.

First the glamourous national leagues were allowed two clubs in the competition, then it was three, then it was four. After a bit UEFA deigned to allow the slightly less powerful national leagues to have two places in the champions league to reflect fairness.

The cumulative effect is seen every season. Twenty-two clubs from thirteen countries gain automatic qualification to the so-called “money-spinning” group stage. You might think that this would mean that the other forty one associations are left to fight for the scraps of the other ten places but it’s not that clear cut.

The play-off round contains another five big glamourous clubs from the five most glamourous national leagues and the third qualifying round contains thirteen clubs from the next ten most glamourous national leagues (some of which are represented in the group stage). In effect the clubs from forty national leagues are fighting for the hope of a smell of five places at the top table of European football.

I decided to check whether my outlandish perception was correct so I decided to do a bit of research.

In the history of the European Cup (1956-2015) 123 different clubs have reached the quarter final stage. If we add a watershed of 1992 (The creation of the champions league) we can see a difference. Up to and including 1992 107 clubs reached the last 8 of the European Cup, therefore only 16 new clubs have qualified for the last quarter finals in last twenty three years.

To spin this in a different way;

  • Before 1992 there was an average of 2.97 new clubs per year.
  • After 1992 there has been an average of 1 new club every 1.4 years.

The overall stats for quarter final clubs in all three competitions point towards a measure of equality;

  • In the EURO. CUP/champions league (1956 – 2015) 123 clubs from 30 countries qualified.
  • In the UEFA CUP/europa league (1970-2015) 158 clubs from 28 countries qualified.
  • In the CUP WINNERS’ CUP (1960-’99) 170 clubs from 26 countries qualified.

Other stats reinforce the idea of a developing elitism in the European Cup / champions league;

  • Between 1956 and 2015 123 clubs representing 30 countries qualified for quarter finals.
  • Between 1992 and 2015 33 clubs representing 12 countries qualified for quarter finals.

A comparison of champions league quarter finalists and UEFA Cup / europa league quarter finalists since 1992 reinforces the idea even further;

  • champions league had 33 clubs from 12 countries
  • UEFA Cup/europa league had 77 clubs from 19 countries.

The table underneath underlines the idea with a red pen by showing the national leagues that have provided the European Cup/champions league quarter finalists in different historical periods.

Country 1956-‘66 1967-‘80 1981-‘92 1993-2000 2001-’15
Spain 14 (16%) 9 8 (8%) 9 (14%) 31 (26%)
Italy 9 (10%) 7 9 (9%) 9 (14%) 18 (15%)
England 7 (8%) 11 (10%) 7 5 30 (26%)
W. Ger / Ger 7 (8%) 11 (10%) 9 (9%) 10 (15%) 15
Scotland 5 8 3 1
Holland 5 10 (10%) 3 4 3
Czech 5 5 3
Portugal 5 5 7 5 5
Yug / Serb 5 5 5
France 4 4 5 6 11
Hungary 4 4
Austria 4 3 2
Belgium 4 5 6 2
Switzerland 3 3
Sweden 2 2 3 2
Bulgaria 1 2 3
E. Germany 1 5 2
Denmark 1 1
Greece 2 2 2 1
Turkey 1 1 2 1 3
USSR / Russia 4 9 (9%) 3 1
N. Ireland 1
Romania 5
Finland 1
Ukraine 2 1
Croatia 1
Norway /Cyprus 1 1
Totals 88 112 96 64 120
Top 3 37 (42%) 32 (30%) 35 (35%) 28 (43%) 84 (69%)

The implications of this evidence against UEFA’s bluesky thinking are as clear as an azure sky of deepest summer.

    • Firstly, certain leagues seem to be most powerful in each period.
    • Secondly, the locations of  the most powerful leagues can change.
    • Thirdly, since 2000 the range of national leagues represented in the champions league last eight has been restricted.

Since 2001 69% of the clubs in the champions league quarter finals have come from three national leagues, therefore the three most glamourous national leagues have a virtual stranglehold over champions league income, their glamourous domination is almost total. If we ever needed evidence of the corrupting influence of money upon sporting competition this table this contains it.

In the previous four and a half decades the slightly shifting location of the three/four most successful national league only produced between 30% and 45% of last eight clubs. While it may appear that the successful European clubs have always come from the same cluster of national leagues (Spain – Italy – England – Germany) the successful clubs were never concentrated to the degree they are now.

In modern football parlance “glamourous” is usually a synonym for “richest” and the divisions within European football have been ossified. Pep, Zlatan, CR7, Messi and the rest of our heroes may thrill us with their multinational ballet of football art and their post-modern paeans to Rinus and Valeri but should we be cherishing this kind of football world? What if the moral core of the entire activity is rotten?

Book Review – “Is He All That?” by Adrian Durham

8 04 2015

To give the book it’s full title “Is He All That?- Great Footballing Myth SHATTERED -TALKSPORT” by Adrian Durham. According to the dust jacket Durham was going to “vent his explosive opinions” in the book I was about to read. Here’s the combustible comment in digested form.

Wenger – No back to back titles, no champions league, basically pointless person and useless manager. END OF.
Arsenal – Irritating. END OF.
Arsenal’s Invcibles – Went a whole league season without losing but basically crop. END OF.
David Beckham – Superhero. END OF
Wales’ 1958 world cup side – The boyos from the valleys think their team was the best ever. They are morons living in dreamland waving leeks and daffodils. END OF
Italy – Should have not won no world cups, Mussolini, Cheating, Paolo Rossi match fixer and Zidane headbutted someone. END OF.
Ashley Cole – Legend. END OF.
Mourinho – Lucky arsehole. END OF.
New Wembley – Brummies wanted it but they are wrong. END OF.
Alf Ramsey – Legend. END OF.
Stanley Matthews – Dribbled a bit, philandered with a commie spy, apologist for fascism and pre-war spiv, alright though. END OF.
Michael Carrick – Legend. END OF.
Pele – Had a strop in 1966, not the best ever because Muhammed Ali wasn’t as good he said he was either. END OF.
Maradona – Cheating drug addict. END OF.
George Best – Actually good. END OF.
Jimmy Greaves – Not bad but did nothing at the world cup. END OF.
England 0 USA 1 – Not the world’s biggest ever shock, USA was dead lucky and everything, the world cup was terrible in this era anyway. END OF.
Penalties – Terrible idea because Peterborough’s keeper was once unjustly penalised for moving off his line. END OF.
Thierry Henry – Cheat. END OF.
Video Technology – My computer stopped working once. END OF.
Substitutes – They’re a mad idea aren’t they! END OF.
Football fans singing – They’re mad aren’t they! END OF.
Old Wembley – The ball was clearly over the line, end of. END OF.
Brian Clough – What a character! END OF.
Champions League – All the big players and big teams are involved, what’s wrong with that? END OF.
Meeting your hero – Could go either way. END OF.
Underdogs – Teams like New Zealand and Tahiti are basically pointless. END OF.
Spurs – Not as good as they or their fans think. END OF.
Tactics – I like tactics. END OF.
Dennis Bergkamp -I don’t think he’s that good. END OF.
World Cup – Some don’t want to play what’s that all about eh? END OF.
Shilton v Clemence – Clemence would’ve got to the ball before that cheat Maradona. END OF.
England fans – Football, it’s in your English blood ain’t it guv. END OF.
Gary Lineker – Good but I’ll never forgive him for not punching the ball in like that cheat Maradona. END OF.
Pep Guardiola – Stone cold genius. END OF.
1966 – Germany were awful, I said so. END OF.
England beat Brazil on their first Wembley visit – I’m sure he was trying to make some point. END OF.

This book was quite simply one of the worst books on the subject of football that I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. When I saw it in Llandudno’s library I knew it would annoy the hell out of me but I still had to read it. Is there a word for feeling simultaneously happy and disappointed?

Adrian Durham is literally one of those DeeJays that likes to literally throw breezeblocks of screeching opinion into the literal lake of polite contemplation, then he’ll say the opposite just to literally “stir things up a bit”. Aside from Robbie Savage Durham’s double act with Darren Gough is quite literally the worst thing I’ve ever heard whilst trapped in the back seat of a taxi.

A book is written by a bloke that trades on his ability to shout an angry opinion down a microphone wasn’t going to be pretty but I knew what I was literally getting into.

All he had to do to be up their with Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Jeffrey Archer was shout an opinion. It doesn’t matter if his shouty opinion is based on shaky evidence;

“with little evidence against him Rossi was cleared by a criminal court, but a soccer tribunal banned him from playing for two years. His supporters said he had been made a scapegoat. Rossi always maintained he was innocent.”

It doesn’t matter if his shouty opinion is based on zero evidence;

“Now I never saw him play, and the footage shows a right winger getting to the by-line and crossing the ball. How can I judge someone on that?

Paolo Rossi is still a match fixer and Stanley Matthews still wasn’t all that or something.

This book exists because we all love to hear those don’t we? Yeah we all love to hear opinion, especially the bloke what literally wrote the book, oh yes he literally loves the old opinion game. Well he loves it until an opinion literally doesn’t tally with his authority;

“Chris Waddle, for example, is one of my favourite players ever. He claimed Beckham wouldn’t make it into the top 1000 Premier League players ever. I’m still waiting for him to name the long list of players ahead of Beckham. It’s a ridiculous statement that cannot be backed up. He’s entitled to an opinion, but he needs to name all those better players and back up each claim for his view to be taken seriously. Dare I suggest Waddles played at a time when he didn’t earn the kind of money his talents would have commanded in the modern game? Let it go, Chris, you were a terrific player, don’t bring others down for no reason.”

Yeah Chris take that. what do you know about football compared to a bloke that literally shouts opinion to stir things up a bit. Take that you fucking fraud.

I’ll end this review with one of Durham’s situations.

“Ask someone what they immediately think of when you say the name Maradona.”

This would be my reply.

“I think Maradona is a footballing god because he annoys people.”

AVOID THIS BOOK LIKE THE PLAGUE, myths remain quite literally intact. This was literally my opinion of a terrible book. END OF.

Decay, Decay, Decay.

4 04 2015

A burning desire to see the Magna Carta and Mappa Mundi, and a coach, took the Jet Set to Hereford on Saturday.

Our proximity to such important artefacts was an awe-inspiring reminder of our infinitesimal place in both human history and our cosmos. A reminder of this nature once in a while helps one to deal with the day to day stresses of capitalism.

After we took in the majesty of the graphical representation of the muddled medieval mind we neatly segued into the purgatory represented by the graphical representation of the moribund modern mind of the UKIPs. The interactive part of the Magna Carta exhibiton included a question; “What would be included in a modern Magna Carta?” and a stack of sticky reminder notes. A legitimiser of the UKIPs wrote this;


Naturally I replied with “More Political Correctness, Less Common Sense”. Our coach was parked near Edgar Street so we headed there after leaving the cathedral.

There are few more poignant sights than a disused football ground. Like all other abandoned buildings the pall of urban decay permeates the erstwhile vibrant area.

Edgar Street’s present state is a stark reminder of the ease with which people are discarded when their activities are no longer valued. The locked doors and peeling paintwork speaks of the grim inevitability of productive human beings wasting their efforts, experience, care and attention. Once vital endeavours become folk memories.

The world has moved on laddie, deal with it, man up and other pithy stuff they say on soap operas et cetera et cetera.
















Thankfully there will be a happy ending to this story, the decay will be undergoing a renewal.


UKIP if you want to, I’ll stay awake.

1 04 2015

It is said that the supporters of the UKIPs have grave concerns about the state of Great Britain, the greatest of all nations.

The out of touch commie scum in the media are compelled to interview the supporters of the UKIPs because they express their grave concerns in loud hectoring voices. The people of Great Britain, the greatest of all islands, are legally required to listen and solemnly respect these grave concerns.

We have to listen to the justifications of UKIPs support because it’s crystal clear that the EU and PC have ruined everything and that you definitely “can’t walk down the high street and hear English being spoken”. We literally cannot question the compelling paucity of evidence.

We have to respect the grave concerns of the supporters of the UKIPs because they’re alienated from politics and they’re worried by “stuff” and they have a vague dissatisfaction with “things”, blah, blah, blah, blah, bollocks BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BOLLOCKS BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.

On the other hand, why should we listen to the grave concerns and justifications of the legitimisers of the UKIPs? When you subject their thoughts to 10 milliseconds of less than forensic inspection they appear to be a collection of badly expressed prejudices. Why are we expected to not only tolerate but normalise badly expressed prejudice? The legitimisers of the UKIPs need to be challenged.

If we allow prejudice to dictate the outcome of the election we’ll end up with a collection of bigots, morons and quacks as our MPs. The UKIPs are little more than a League of Gentlemen sketch that’s too far fetched. They are so laughable it’s difficult to tell the difference between their policies and April Fools’ jokes.

“The UKIPs Don’t Want 16-Year-Olds To Vote In An EU Referendum Because Of Pro-EU Colouring Books”

I know from uncomfortable conversations that some people see them as a protest against “them bloody politicians in that London” but as Stewart Lee articulately explains, they are a risible vehicle of protest.

The UKIPs aren’t different from other politicians, even their “we’re different from the others” angle is the sort of trick a normal politician uses to find space in the political game.

It has been said that the worries expressed by the legitimisers of the UKIPs are the worries of the overlooked, and therefore “understandably” racist, working classes. This is not only completely false it is an insult to working class people.

Despite what some people may think working class people are not inherently racist. For example I come from a working class background and I never heard my parents scapegoat others. If there is strata of British society that’s least likely to be racist it is the working class. Working class people are more likely to come into contact with, and mix with, people from different backgrounds; working class people and immigrants have always lived in the same areas in the same relative poverty. This may be slightly simplistic but there’s more than a grain of truth in it.

To say that it’s fine to hear people justify their unmasked racism because it’s their nature is to encourage other people to speak in an unashamedly racist manner. There is nothing to be gained from hearing more unashamed racist language.

Insecurity is not a good enough justification for supporting the UKIPs either. Millions of people are worried about their jobs, both the public and private sectors are surrounded by a sense of insecurity. Scapegoating people will never lead to job security.

If people are looking for something to blame for our problems why don’t they look at the market economy? The market economy causes problems in most areas of our lives. It was the market economy that caused Labour’s economic problems before the 2010 election. It is the market economy that’s used as a justification for application of a pernicious Tory cure to “Labour’s mess”. It is a market economy that’s used as a justification for most things, from the level of footballers wages to the cost of train tickets and food, from the low pay levels of farmers to the closure of libraries.

The logic of the market economy causes job losses, stress and budget cuts but Cameron, Osborne and Clegg, like most governments, have refused to regulate it. Why aren’t we targeting the market economy? Why aren’t more people calling for something to be done about it?

The legitimisers of the UKIPs shouldn’t be granted an audience simply because they have an opinion. Would we listen to the people that tell us that they are voting a certain way because they truly believed the earth was flat and the sun orbited the earth? The legitimisers of the UKIPs need to be challenged.

The good old anti-Thatcher days

31 03 2015

Now that we’re deep in to the general election campaigning season it might be an opportune moment for another bracing promenade down Football Politics Avenue.

If there was one match I would have liked to attend it was the 1988 Scottish Cup Final. A respected member of the When Saturday Comes messgae board wrote this a couple of years ago;

In 1988 Thatcher deigned to visit her northern socio-economic experimental laboratory. Whitehall carried the code name Scotland for this top secret scientific institution and Thatcher wished to see the lab rats at play and in leisure indulging their favourite past time, football. Just as she was innoculating them with the Poll Tax.

Accompanied by her chief ghillie, Malcolm Rifkind and the sniveling Peter Lorre-like Michael Forsyth (who remains my most hated Thatcher/Major era Tory figure ever) she popped up like Fenella the witch (without the Welsh accent) from Chorlton and The Wheelies at Hampden to present the trophy to the winner. No one wanted her. She didn’t care.

Before the match, thousands of these red cards were dished out outside the ground:

As Thatcher emerged Dundee United and Celtic fans brandished the cards turning Hampden into a sea of red and chanting that age old fan favourite “Maggie, Maggie get tae fuck, Maggie get tae fuck”. Unfortunately I cannot find any footage of it on youtube and I would be much obliged if anyone has any.

But the most revealing aspect of Thatcher’s relationship with Scotland turned up by the ’88 final was her answer to Alex Salmond in PM’s questions the following week. Goading Thatcher as to her unpopularity in Scotland as evidenced by the reaction to her attendance at the ‘red card final’, Thatcher replied:

“I had a very good day in Scotland. Whatever the Hon. Gentleman tries to say, Scotland’s economy and people are benefiting enormously from the way in which the Government are handling them”.

“The way in which the Government are handling them“.

There in a nutshell- the Tartan curios with their bizarre rejection of Thatcherism borne of course out of socialism and alcoholism. Specimens to be contained, quarantined and experimented upon.

Scotland never, ever, ever voted for Thatcher and her particular brand of political sociopathy, but we got it all right. Tory vengeance rained down upon us from a great height. So much so that the only popular weaponry we had at our disposal was to wave red cards at her in a Scottish cup final.

Here’s the Glasgow Herald’s view of the day, there’s also a you tube clip that gives us a taste of proceedings. (From 6:55 on but the whole clip is worth a view);

Our Banter addled present is in dire need of something like this, if only we had a contemptible prime minister leading a mailgn government with pernicious policies.

Some matches

29 03 2015

Bangor City 3 Conwy Borough 0
Welsh Cup 4th Round,

Could have been a worry, it wasn’t.


Bangor City 5 Cefn Druids 3
Welsh Premier League

We went 2-0 down after 20 minutes, 2-2 at half time, won 5-3. I missed the match due to the fact I’d was travelling back from Italy

Connah’s Quay Nomads 1 Bangor City 1
Welsh Premier League

The pitch was muddy, Bangor’s equaliser was fantastic.


Bangor City 4 Prestatyn Town 0
Welsh Premier League

A Dave Hayes own goal was the most beautiful moment of the most beautiful evening of the season.


Llandudno 3 Rhyader Town 0
Cymru Alliance

Llandudno edged nearer to the cultural hinterland of the WPL, not every Llandudnoer was able to forsake the charms of the town’s bustling cultural quarter.


Bangor City 1 Newtown 2
Welsh Cup Quarter Final

We were knocked out by a time-wasting, “HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!!”ing at everything that moved, bunch of twat ahem, what I meant to say was, we were bested by an excellent team of UEFA pro-license coached players that created their chances of maximum opportunity with all their efforts. Huzzah for the brave new future,


Rhyl 1 Bangor City 1
Welsh Premier League

A fantastic goal from Bangor, a draw and a load of spilled chips in the stand. When I saw the chips and their forlorn polystyrene cone I thought “Hello, here might be an apposite metaphor for the Welsh Premier League”. Picture the following slogan on a poster; THE WPL; A LOAD OF WASTED CHIPS. That’ll get the beautiful people involved.


Bangor City 1 Carmarthen Town 0
Welsh Premier League

A very pleasing win over a team of annoying “HAAAAAAAAAAAAY”ers.


Cefn Druids 0 Bangor City 2
Welsh Premier League

Another victory over really annoying “HAAAAAAAAAAAAY”ers, Bangor out of the relegation zone for the first time since last season and in the post-match clubhouse, the most confident performance I’ve ever seen Wales give.



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