The Hillsborough Disaster, A Guide for the Stupid Football Fan

26 04 2016

I wrote this 5 years ago. The truth was available 26 years ago if you knew where to look.

The Hillsborough disaster is back in the news. There is an e-petition to sign if you would like our government to release documents related to the disaster.

I used to think that the truth was self-evident about Hillsborough; it was a disaster caused by a mixture of Police negligence and Thatcher’s policies. I thought the disaster was held with the same regard by all football fans because there was the potential for something like this to have happened at certain grounds at other times. It turns out that I was a little naive about this universal attitude.

Some people think that Liverpool fans are partly, if not wholly to blame for killing their own fans. Other people don’t like the sound of ‘Whinging Scousers” from “self-pity city” spouting off. I’ve challenged one or two of them on Twitter about this attitude.  They rather alarmingly, justify their view by mentioning the Heysel stadium disaster as if this was proof that “Liverpool fans caused Hillsborough”, despite the fact that Hillsborough disaster has nothing whatsoever to do with this very shameful event.

Others go on to highlight the behaviour of Liverpool fans in Athens as a further justification for their view, as if a few scallies robbing tickets off fans is equivalent to being crushed to death.

Morons will use both events to say this “just shows what Liverpool fans (and scousers) are like”. In other words they are using their petty prejudices about scousers to justify the fact that 96 people were crushed to death at a football match.

There is no greater example of the pernicious effect of Murdoch’s tabloid than this mass logic failure. Some people have swallowed the MacKenzie line about Liverpool fans hook, line and sinker. Some of these people have used other events to create a mental tapestry about Liverpool fans that justifies the death of 96 football fans.

I wonder if any of them have ever imagined what 96 people being crushed to death involves, what it feels like, what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it smells like. Have they ever thought about the guilt of the survivors? Have they fuck, if they had thought about Hillsborough like that they wouldn’t have made their comments.

These people make me ashamed to be a football fan.

For these idiots I have gone to the trouble of reading through the Taylor Report and I’ve highlighted the salient points in red. I’ve also  highlighted the cause Lord Justice Taylor formulated in blue. Remember this is not some “jaundiced Scouser” writing about the disaster. The report was written by a judge employed by the government to find out what happened.

 Here are the edited highlights of the “Taylor Report” (You will see that Lord Justice Taylor doesn’t blame Liverpool fans for the disaster)

36. The effect of the decision was that for this all-ticket Cup Tie, Liverpool were allotted only 24,256 places as against 29,800 for Nottingham Forest. This, although average attendance of supporters at home matches was substantially higher at Liverpool than at Nottingham. Moreover, with standing tickets at £6 and seats at £12, Nottingham Forest had 21,000 standing places compared with Liverpool’s 10,100. So, Liverpool’s allocation was more expensive as well as smaller. Understandably, Liverpool were aggrieved by the allocation of places and tickets. They sought with some support from the host club and the FA to have it changed in 1988, but the police were adamant. To switch ends would, in their opinion, have involved rival supporters crossing each other’s paths when approaching the ground thereby frustrating attempts at segregation and creating a risk of disorder. In 1989, when the same plan was proposed, Liverpool again challenged it. The police, however, maintained their view, adding that those who had attended in 1988 would be familiar with the arrangements and that any change would lead to confusion.

78. In the control room no-one noticed the overcrowding or anything amiss in pens 3 and 4 until the first fans spilt out onto the perimeter track just before kick-off. Then, the officers in command assumed that there was an attempted pitch invasion. They called up reserve serials waiting in the gymnasium and all available officers elsewhere to go to the pitch. A request was made to HQ for dog handlers.

Misinformation

98. At about 3.15 pm, Mr Graham Kelly, Chief Executive of the FA, Mr Kirton also of the FA and Mr Graham Mackrell, Secretary of Sheffield Wednesday, went to the control room for information. Mr Duckenfield told them he thought there were fatalities and the game was likely to be abandoned. He also said a gate had been forced and there had been an inrush of Liverpool supporters. He pointed to one of the television screens focussed on gate C by the Leppings Lane turnstiles and said “That’s the gate that’s been forced: there’s been an inrush”. Inevitably Mr Kelly was interviewed a little later live on television. He spoke of the two stories concerning the gate – the fans’ account that the police had opened it, the police assertion that the fans had forced their way in.

116. The overcrowding up to 2.52 pm was due to a number of factors which can be considered broadly under three heads.

(i) The layout at the Leppings Lane end.

(ii) Lack of fixed capacities for the pens,

(iii) Lack of effective monitoring of the terraces.

You may have noticed that the behaviour of Liverpool fans is not called into question

117. The crushing and fatalities after 2.52 pm must be considered under a number of headings.

(iv) The build-up at the turnstiles.

(v) The blunder on opening the gates.

(vi) The barriers in pen 3.

(vii) The crushing not recognised,

(viii) The response of the police.

(ix) The perimeter gates were too small.

123. As already mentioned, there was crushing at the Cup semi-final in 1981. The match was between Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The police debriefing minutes after the incident prophetically refer, “to the late arrival of a large number of spectators who were still waiting to enter the Leppings Lane enclosure when the match started. The flash point occurred when Tottenham scored” (at the Kop end) “after only three minutes. The spectators just entering pushed forward to see what was happening and caused a crush, which resulted in the injuries”.

166. What is clear, however, is that de facto the police at Hillsborough had accepted responsibility for control of the pens at the Leppings Lane end. The evidence of the senior officers who had been concerned with policing at Hillsborough over the years was all one way on this point. Only Mr Duckenfield, who had not policed at Hillsborough for some 10 years prior to 15 April, took a different view.

183. Although the police had accepted de facto responsibility for monitoring the pens, their policy on the day was to leave fans to “find their own level” and to concentrate their own attention on possible disorder. Whilst in theory the police would intervene if a pen became “full”, in practice they permitted the test of fullness to be what the fans would tolerate.

184. By 2.52 pm when gate C was opened, pens 3 and 4 were over-full even by this test. Many were uncomfortable. To allow any more into those pens was likely to cause injuries; to allow in a large stream was courting disaster.

191. Between 2.30 pm and 2.40 pm the crowd waiting for the turnstiles swelled to over 5,000 and became unmanageable. The case made for the police was that large numbers of Liverpool supporters arrived late; a high proportion of them were drunk and unco-operative; a high proportion had no tickets; all of them were hell-bent on getting in on time. They say this was unforeseeable and explains why they lost control.

192. Whether those who arrived between 2.30 pm and 2.40 pm were “late” was much debated. The ticket simply requested its holder “to take up [his] position 15 minutes before kick-off. That may have been intended to persuade those with stand tickets to take their seats, but it would not be unreasonable for a standing spectator to arrive at the turnstiles between 2.30 pm and 2.40 pm. Whether they were “late” or not, however, there was certainly a large concentration of Liverpool fans arriving at about 2.30 pm and after.

196. Of those who arrived at 2.30 pm or after, very many had been drinking at public houses or had brought drink from home or an off-licence. I am satisfied on the evidence, however, that the great majority were not drunk nor even the worse for drink. The police witnesses varied on this. Some described a high proportion as drunk, as “lager-louts” or even as “animals”. Others described a generally normal crowd with an unco-operative minority who had drunk too much. In my view some officers, seeking to rationalise their loss of control, overestimated the drunken element in the crowd. There certainly was such an element. There were youngsters influenced by drink and bravado pushing impatiently at the rear of the crowd thereby exacerbating the crush. But the more convincing police witnesses, including especially Detective Superintendent McKay and Chief Inspector Creaser as well as a number of responsible civilian witnesses, were in my view right in describing this element as a minority. Those witnesses attributed the crush to the sheer numbers of fans all anxious to gain entry. There was no criticism of the crowd by any of the witnesses in the period up to 2.30 pm or even 2.35 pm. What happened then was not a sudden deterioration in the mood or sobriety of those assembled there. No doubt those coming behind would have had more to drink and would have included the unruly minority. But the crisis developed because this very large crowd became packed into a confined turnstile area and its very density hampered its passage through the turnstiles.

197. Superintendent Marshall and other officers criticised the crowd as unco-operative because police exhortations to stop pushing and to ease back were not heeded. How could they be? In that crush most people had no control over their movements at all. Two incidents involving police horses illustrate the point. One horse was found afterwards to have cigarette burns on its rump. Clearly that was the despicable work of a hooligan whether in drink or not. However, there were also eyewitness accounts of a horse being physically lifted off its feet by the crowd. That occurred, as the police accepted, without malice or intent but as an involuntary consequence of crowd pressure which those by the horse’s flanks could not resist any more than the horse itself.

200. It has become a fact of football life that fans do turn up at all-ticket matches without tickets. It is not possible to give an accurate figure or even a reliable estimate of the number without tickets on 15 April. Police estimates varied from about 200 to about 2,000. There were certainly frequent requests for tickets or “spares” during the hours before the build-up. Many of those warned off by the police were seen to return to the area. Some were hanging about on the bridge. Again, however, the police witnesses who most impressed me did not consider the number of ticketless fans to be inordinately large. This accords with two other sources of evidence.

201. First, there was a wide range of witnesses who observed inside the ground that the Liverpool end was at a late stage well below capacity save for pens 3 and 4. The north stand still had many empty seats and the wing pens were sparse. The match being a sell-out, there were clearly many ticket holders to come and they could account for the large crowd still outside the turnstiles. Had the Liverpool accommodation been full by 2.40 pm, one could have inferred that most or much of the large crowd outside lacked tickets.

202. Secondly, such figures as are available from the Club’s electronic monitoring system and from analyses by the HSE suggest that no great number entered without tickets. They show that the number who passed through turnstiles A to G plus those who entered through gate C roughly equalled the terrace capacity figure of 10,100 for which tickets had been sold. The Club’s record showed 7,038 passed through turnstiles A to G.

However, the counting mechanism on turnstile G was defective, so the HSE did a study using the video film and projecting figures from the other turnstiles. This gave an assessment of 7,494, with a maximum of 7,644 passing through A to G. Again, using the video, the HSE assessed the number who entered the ground whilst gate C was open at 2,240 with a maximum of 2,480. Accordingly, the HSE’s best estimate of the total entering through gate C and turnstiles A to G was 9,734 with a maximum of 10,124.1 recognise that these can only be rough checks because, for example, some with terrace tickets were allowed through turnstiles 1 to 16 and there would be other similar factors which have not formed part of the assessment. Nevertheless, the figures do suggest that there was not a very significant body of ticketless fans in the crowd which built up.

The “Conspiracy” Theory

203. On behalf of South Yorkshire police, the theory was advanced that the “late” arrival of so many Liverpool supporters was planned to buck the system. The suggestion was that fans without tickets conspired to arrive late and create such trouble as would force the police to admit them to the match. The slender evidence upon which this theory rested came from two sources: overheard conversations in public houses and the antecedent history of Liverpool supporters at away matches.

204. One witness said he heard three Liverpool supporters saying, in effect, that they would manage to get in without tickets by causing trouble so that police would open a gate, and that they had done this before. Another witness heard two of a group of Liverpool supporters say they had no tickets, that they would go to the ground just before kick-off, that no-one would stop them getting in and that they had not been stopped yet. Statements were put in relating to two other small groups talking in similar terms.

Liverpool Supporters at Away Matches

205. The South Yorkshire police prepared a dossier of reports on the behaviour of Liverpool fans at away matches with the object of showing a pattern of troublesome behaviour by large numbers either without tickets or with forged tickets. Without setting out the whole history, it can be summarised as follows.

206. On three occasions Liverpool fans without tickets were allowed into all-ticket matches upon payment. (At Watford on 13 February 1988, 1,500 were admitted; at Southampton on 24 September 1988, 150 were admitted; at Southampton again on 12 December 1988, 750 were admitted.) At Norwich on 1 April 1989, Liverpool supporters arrived without tickets but 1,272 tickets had been returned and fans from both Liverpool and Norwich were allowed to buy them for cash. A similar situation occurred at Wimbledon on 13 May 1989. There were six other occasions from 1986 to date, including the Cup finals of 1986 and 1989, when numbers of Liverpool supporters turned up without tickets or otherwise behaved badly.

207. Four points must be noted, however. On none of the occasions when ticketless fans were admitted for payment was the match a sell-out. There was therefore room in the ground on each occasion. At a sell-out fans might not expect to be allowed in, even for payment. Secondly, no trouble of the kind alleged was encountered at the 1988 semi-final when Liverpool visited Hillsborough. Thirdly, Liverpool visited Hillsborough again in January 1989 without any trouble. Finally, no forged tickets were in use on 15 April apart from three crude photocopies.

No Conspiracy

208. I have already found that there was not an abnormally large number of fans without tickets on this occasion. With one or two exceptions, the police witnesses themselves did not subscribe to the “conspiracy” theory. I am satisfied that the large concentration at Leppings Lane from 2.30 pm to 2.50 pm did not arrive as a result of any concerted plan. There were, I accept, small groups without tickets who were willing to exploit any adventitious chance of getting into the ground. They, together with the minority who had drunk too much, certainly aggravated the problem faced by the police. But that main problem was simply one of large numbers packed into the small area outside the turnstiles.

214. As to 1988, there was a very large and consistent body of evidence that, on the day, the police in Leppings Lane conducted an efficient filtering exercise designed to keep away those without tickets and control the flow of fans towards the ground. I do not believe that so many witnesses without either opportunity or reason to put their heads together could be mistaken about what they experienced on that occasion. Yet, the police maintain that no filtering exercise other than on a random basis was conducted in 1988 and that their policy and practice then were no different from those of 1989.

215. The answer to this conflict must, I think, be that whilst the policy may have been no different, in practice the policing in 1988 was more efficient and was not put to the same test and strain as a year later. There was not so large a swell in numbers approaching the ground from 2.30 pm to 2.50 pm as in 1989. Nevertheless, there had been warning signs in 1988. Detective Superintendent McKay gave the following evidence:

229. The decision to order the opening of the gates was not accompanied or followed by any other order to deal with the consequences. When gate C was opened, a steady stream of about 2,000 fans poured through it over some five minutes. Clearly they were going to go into the ground somewhere and unless they were diverted their likeliest route was through the tunnel for reasons already given. No warning was issued from the control room that the gate was to be opened. Serials on the concourse were not alerted. Neither the Club control room nor the Chief Steward at the Leppings Lane end was warned. Not even Mr Greenwood, the Ground Commander, was informed. From 2.47 pm when Mr Marshall made his first request until 2.52 pm when Mr Duckenfield acceded to it, there were five minutes in which orders could have been given as to how the influx was to be absorbed. It was not done. In evidence, Mr Duckenfield began by saying that no officer made any wrong decision but he later conceded he had erred in this regard. He said he did not consider where the people would go when the gate opened. Even after it opened, when he could see the influx on the television screen, no order was given to steer the fans to the wing pens. Mr Duckenfield said it did not cross his mind to detail officers on the concourse to shut off the tunnel. Those officers could not have known from their position how full pens 3 and 4 were. That was a matter for the control room to monitor from its own observations and using intelligence from around the ground.

230. Since pens 3 and 4 were full by 2.50 pm, the tunnel should have been closed off whether gate C was to be opened or not. The exercise was a simple one and had been carried out in 1988. All that was necessary was for a few officers to act as a cordon at the entrance to the tunnel and divert fans elsewhere. Unfortunately, the 1988 closure seems to have been unknown to the senior officers on duty at the time. It did not figure in the debriefing notes. It therefore had no influence on the planning for 1989.

Mr Hicks’ Evidence

1. Mr and Mrs Hicks’ two daughters died in the disaster. They had arrived early en famille but had tickets for different sections. The two daughters had standing tickets; they went into pen 3. Mrs Hicks had a seat in the north stand. Mr Hicks took up a standing position in pen 1 just below and to the west of the police box at about 2.15 pm From there, he had a view of the centre pens. He kept an eye on them as they filled up since he knew his daughters to be there.

2. His evidence was that by 2.50 pm he could see people were in distress. At about 2.55 pm he and others called to a senior police officer at the top of the steps to the control box to draw his attention to the crushing. Mr Hicks was only about 10 feet from the officer. He described him as wearing a flat cap with gold or silver braid and a light coloured anorak. Mr Hicks believed he was the officer who stopped the match. Mr Greenwood, who did stop the match, was certainly not wearing a light coloured anorak, as can clearly be seen on the video.

3. Mr Hicks says that he and others shouted several times to this officer in attempts to alert him to the distress in the pens. There was no reaction although Mr Hicks believes the officer must have been in earshot.

4. That officer descended from the steps and two cameramen whom Mr Hicks believed were from television came and appeared to direct their cameras towards the pens. Another senior officer appeared two steps down from the platform. He was a stocky figure; he also wore a flat cap but with black braid. Mr Hicks says that he and two or three others tried several times to capture this officer’s attention without success. Then Mr Hicks says he shouted “For Christ’s sake! Can’t you see what’s going on? We can, and you have cameras”. The officer is said to have replied dismissively “Shut your fucking prattle”.

You look at what being a  football fan has become and you wonder if it’s worth bothering with any more.

It used to be about mild joshing between work mates and friends now it’s about hate and venom. A whole generation of “fans”, or “morons” if you prefer, is being led to believe that “hate” is one of the default settings – the others being “mindless banter” and “epileptic paroxysms of joy” – and there is no middle ground between these default settings.

The old ideas of camaraderie and bonhomie are further eroded by this media conditioning. Where fans may have once had a chat,  they now feel compelled to denigrate by using words like “scum”If you think this is far-fetched then why do people react negatively about the quest for justice in relation to the Hillsborough disaster, a disaster where 96 football fans lost their lives because they went to a football match. This should affect all football fans equally.

Hillsborough was not solely a football tragedy, it was  a human tragedy. The families of the victims deserve justice.





If you see anyone with “rugby fever”……

13 10 2011

Earlier today I read an article from yesterday’s Daily Post;

“Wear your Wales shirt to work and support our Rugby heroes

 
PEOPLE are being urged to proudly wear their red Wales rugby shirts to work on Friday in support of the national team’s biggest game ever.

The Welsh Rugby Union wants businesses to encourage staff to wear their Wales jerseys and show their support for Warren Gatland’s team before the crunch game against France at Auckland’s Eden Park.

And Daily Post staff will be among those joining in, throwing our support behind the lads.

WRU marketing manager Craig Maxwell said: “While the likes of Snoop Dogg and David Hasselhoff have shown their support by tweeting pictures of themselves wearing a Wales shirt, the WRU is urging the country to show the world red is the season’s most fashionable colour”

“Businesses allowing their staff to ‘wear your jersey to work’ will help build on the excitement on the eve of the biggest match in Wales’ history.”

After Saturday’s win against Ireland, the WRU has experienced an “unprecedented” demand for merchandise in its shops and on line.

Craig said: “Jerseys, especially, are flying off the shelves.

Rugby fever has well and truly hit the country and there’s a real spirited atmosphere.

“Wales haven’t been in a World Cup semi-final since 1987 and around 10 of the team weren’t even born at that time, including our captain Sam Warburton.

“This is a young Welsh side with  a truly professional attitude.

“They are playing some really exciting rugby at the moment and everyone wants to be Welsh right now – so let’s show how proud we really are in Wales and wear our red jerseys……..”

I Love my country, love my country!!!!

Yes I love my country and I’m not going to apologise!!! I love my country because I love the way people must love “the boys”. I love the way we  must prove they love our boys, our wonderful boys, our wonderful strapping boys, our LOVELY, WONDERFUL, STRAPPING BOYS IN RED., OUR LOVELY, WONDERFUL, STRAPPING BOYS IN RED WITH THEIR HEARTS ON FIRE AND THEIR HANDS FULL OF SKILL, OUR LOVELY, WONDERFUL, STRAPPING BOYS IN RED ………. I’m sorry, I got a bit carried away by the thought of our boys in action.

I love everything about my country!!! I love hearing how much people support our boys on the news; I love hearing how proud they are to be Welsh on the radio. I love reading the pride people have in our boys on twitter. I really love the way some of them probably didn’t care one way or the other a fortnight ago.

I love the way people will feel that they’ve got to be in a pub at 8:30 am on Saturday proudly wearing their red shirt. I love the way they’ll feel they must do things correctly to honour our boys, our lovely, wonderful, strapping boys in red. I love the way they’ll be there with their red shirted mates, listening to the red-shirted crap being shouted at the red-shirted television. I love the way the red-shirted shouters will be convinced that Warren and the boys will hear them through the red-shirted television set. I love this situation even more because I know they will  only have started  acting like this after they heard that this was how everybody else was acting.

Yes I love the whole thing, the Saturday morning drinking, the ceremonial wearing of the sacred red shirt, the metaphorical grabbing of their heart during the anthem. I love the tears of joy, the tears of frustration, the shouts of pressure, I love the tinnitus of pride. I love the way they sit there with a heart full of pride for our boys, pride for Wales, pride for their motherland; one country, one team, one captain.

The thing I’ll love most of all on Saturday is the fact that I’ll be miles from Llandudno. On Saturday morning I’ll be sitting on a Llanelli-bound train.

These glory hunting fuckers used to annoy my rugby-loving dad. He could spot them a mile off; they’d turn up without the slightest bit of rugby knowledge, scream the loudest and then be the first to bugger off. That fucking article is giving the glory hunting tossers a license to befoul Welsh life with their gobshite behaviour. 

Oh yes the article. I can’t think of a reason why any person, never mind one with access to the world’s media, would claim that  by wearing a red shirt on Friday they will affect the result of a match on Saturday morning. Unfortunately the dick that wants this to happen is the marketing manager for the Welsh Rugby Union. Let’s all celebrate the great job he’s doing!!!! Without his timely ejaculation the people of Wales would have no idea that our lovely, wonderful, strapping boys in red were still in the rugby world cup. 

Yesterday I may have said that rugby’s administrators were slightly more level-headed and humble than football’s glitterati, then one of them ejaculated this article of crap into the public domain.

I like a bit of Welsh sporting success as much as the next man but I find all this a tad distasteful. When people go along with other people, or feel they have to wear the same clothes as other people,  just because that’s what everybody else seems to be doing, well the roots of Nazism lay close by.

The pressure of having to watch “our boys” has put me off watching something that I would have wanted to watch.

I’d suggest that if you see anyone frothing at the mouth with “rugby fever” do the humane thing; put them out of their misery.

 





I’ve never been “Flavour of the Month” before

9 10 2011

After this weekend’s mammoth Welsh weekend of sporting greatness it seems the Welsh are the flavour of the month;

“…..Now that England, Ireland and Scotland are out of the World Cup, it is natural for all British rugby supporters to hurl their weight behind the one remaining sceptr’d nation. We are all Welsh now.”

I’m not sure I’m comfortable with being a passing fancy. Then I read something even worse, it seems that the sporting results were part of a wider movement; Wales is officially ace;

There are three sheep for every human, and in winter it’s the wettest place in Britain. But today Wales, the most maligned member of the union, can hold its head up as the mightiest after becoming the only British country to secure a place in the semi-finals of the rugby World Cup.
 
Welsh rugby fans last night were celebrating a clinically executed 22-10 victory over Ireland in the quarter-finals, the first time Wales will play a semi-final in 24 years. And across the rest of the United Kingdom, the feeling was that we’re all happy to be Welsh now.
 
Yesterday’s triumph caps a run of recent sporting victories for Wales, which included a 2-0 win over the Swiss football team earlier last week, and last month’s 2-1 defeat of Montenegro, the team that England failed to beat on Friday

But it’s not just in sport that Wales is excelling. In food, literature and music, the country plagued by clichés of miners and male voice choirs is proving itself to be more than a match for its neighbours over the dyke.

Pontypridd actress Kimberley Nixon is the best thing about the new Channel 4 comedy Fresh Meat and Alex Jones is a semi-permanent fixture on BBC TV, appearing every day of the week on The One Show and Strictly Come Dancing. On radio, Cerys Matthews maintains a high profile on Radio 6.
 
While not previously a destination for gourmets, Wales won its fourth Michelin star last Thursday when the 2012 Michelin guide was published. The Checkers in Montgomery, which opened only in 2008, now joins The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, The Crown at Whitebrook and Tyddyn Llan in Llan-drillo in boasting the most sought-after international culinary garland. The Checkers is part of a growing foodie scene centred on Abergavenny, home of an annual food festival, which one paper has described as being “to food what Cannes is to film”.
 
While the film scene is still nothing to give England or Scotland too much cause for concern, in books, the Welsh are on a roll. They already lay claim to Kingsley and Martin Amis, Roald Dahl and Jan Morris, but can now boast such names as Joe Dunthorne, whose debut coming-of-age novel Submarine has been made into a hit film, and Owen Sheers, whose first novel, Resistance, has been translated into 10 languages.
 
In music, Wales is recognised as home to some of the most original young talents. Yes, it did produce Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones, who both continue to entertain millions on worldwide tours, despite being in their seventies. But a new generation of artists can now be added to a list that includes Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals: there’s Marina and the Diamonds, currently polishing off a second album with Katy Perry’s producers, and The Joy Formidable gearing up for a tour with Foo Fighters.
 
Cardiff-born Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens, who is fluent in Welsh, says his country is enjoying a golden age. “The slightly hysterical vibe that came with the whole Cool Cymru thing 10 years ago, when people were really pushing being Welsh, that has faded away,” he says. “All that promise is paying off. There’s a lot of talent here – as there always has been – but it has become a lot more usual to take that talent, whether it’s for music or sports or art or whatever, outside the borders of Wales.”
 
Stephens points to TV presenter Steve Jones as another significant Welsh export. “You’ve got a Rhondda accent presenting the American version of The X Factor – that’s a big deal however you cut it. And people are bringing their good fortune and success home. Michael Sheen put on the massive Passion Play in Port Talbot this year and Manic Street Preachers have con-sistently made sure their success has benefited the communities they came from and the mu-sic scene in Wales in general. Yeah, it’s a pretty good time to be Welsh.”
Jesus have you read that! Wales is cool again. Yes Wales the place that has “three sheep for every human”, the place that’s the “wettest place in Britain”, yes Wales is cool. Yes Wales , “the most maligned member of the union” is cool…………Wait a minute if they have“the feeling was that we’re all happy to be Welsh now” why did they ask  AA Gill to write  the first sentence of the article? (In case you’ve forgotten AA Gill he was the contemptible fucker that described us Welsh as “loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls”. I don’t want to sound bitter about a cunt that uses an affectation like AA but I’ve sent a turd to the Sunday Times every week since 1998. How dare he call us “little“!!!)
 
I have a few problems with the article. Firstly it’s the patronising and hollow view of a roving eye, please take your roving eye and do one. The people that live in Wales already know Wales is cool. 
 
Secondly, a few sporting results are not an adequate barometer for the state of an area.  It’s probably true to say that witnessing a sporting victory helps people feel happy, and if it the victory is memorable enough it will be a fantastic memory, but usually it’s a momentary bit of joy it doesn’t create a substantially  “better life” for the people watching.
 
As good, and thrilling, as this weekend’s two performances were  I wonder if they really made much difference to the TATA steel workers or Conwy County Council workers that are worried about their jobs, could they put aside their worries for more than a few hours? Would someone that was made redundant a fortnight ago be able to share in the joy we’re all feeling?
 
Thirdly, I can’t stand this sort of article. Articles of this ilk are only produced when  a much maligned area or country has the temerity to do something unexpected, something that shocks funky media types.
 
All the much-maligned area needs is a few good sporting results, or a newly prominent actor, musician or tv location and the golden light of funky media types falls magically upon it. Henceforth the area becomes an erstwhile much maligned area and transforms, via the magical  golden light of the funky media types, into an area with all the gifts that civilisation can offer; charming boutique hotels, charming boutique beaches, charming boutique artisan bakers and charming boutique ipod stockists. As you can see from the article the totality of an area is involved.
 
Let’s look at what is making Wales so special at the moment; 3 sporting results, an actress, a tv presenter, a couple of radio presenters, a few over-priced restaurants, a couple of authors and a couple of new bands. This is what constitutes the fantastic new and vibrant place called  “WALES”. Hold on that doesn’t seem much, I must have misread it because the funky media types seem to be bullshitting.
 
The thing that really aroused my ire was the use of the  annoying ex-clothes horse Steve Jones as a symbol of this “new Wales”. You only need to say that this tosser is a T4 presenter and it’s enough of an indictment. T4 presenters have been described as “so annoying they make me want to punch my TV” and “the most unbearably trendy, contrived, smug, self-satisfied morons with their “oh…yah…so, like uber cool…” attitude and dress sense!”. If he’s a symbol of the new Wales I’ll turn the lights off on my way out.
 
Do me a favour funky media types leave my home alone, I already like the way it looks.
 




Trying to cheer up miserable gets doesn’t work

3 10 2011

A few weeks ago I began to worry about some of the Prestatyn fans on the message board that I belong to, ooops I mean “used to belong” to after yesterday. (I don’t want to go into this in any more detail than I have to, I’ll just say that yesterday will become known as the Day of Reckoning in the autobiography of the Llandudno Jet Set.). ……Anyway back to the story ……..  I began to worry about the Prestatyn fans on the board because they are subject to the most bestial abuse.

Try to imagine the position they find themselves in, if you can.

Try to imagine how you’d deal with fan after fan implying that your club’s manager “Neil “Gibbo” Gibson” is a snidey little twat.

Imagine how horrible it would be to read the words of fan after fan, from club after club, when they write about the “snivelling little fucker” that wears the  manager’s jacket for your club.

Imagine how you’d feel if you had to read that your club scars the league with the most horrible anti-football day after day after day.

Imagine if you had people question your sanity by calling you paranoid all the time.

Imagine it all. It would be tough.

Then I began to worry about the sanity of the Prestatyn fans. I worried that if Prestatyn suffered a heavy defeat in their next league match there would be a collective mental collapse, especially after enduring the bestial insults. I decided that I would travel  into the future to see what their next result would be. I wanted to help by forewarning them if it was bad news. Here’s what I found out;

5 mins – Town go 3-0 down, Gibbo threatens to sack himself for giving himself a lack of respect.

15 mins – Town go 4-1 down, Gibbo contemplates joining the priesthood.

25 mins – Town go 6-1 down. Gibbo stares at the deep dark abyss opening up in front of him and as asks “Why Me?”

35 mins – Town go 8-2 down, Gibbo stares at pitch, sees nature’s complexity & decides to write new series for David Attenborough

44 mins – Town go 10-2 down just before HT, Gibbo thinks the Lord moves in mysterious ways, his horoscope didn’t say this when he read Murdoch’s tabloid this morning.

60 mins – Town go 12-3 down, Gibbo is heard muttering about the advertising hoardings’ lack of respect.

65 mins – Town go 15-5 down. Gibbo is heard speaking in tongues while he paces the line.

75 mins – Town go 16-5 down. Watch Gibbo’s head spin whilst he projectile vomits a green liquid.

82 mins – Town go 17-5 down. A German priest shows up to perform Gibbo’s exorcism.

83 mins – Town are still down 17-5. The power of Christ compels Gibbo, the power of Christ compels Gibbo!!!

84 mins – Town go down 18-6. The evil spirit leave Gibbo but finds its way into Willo’s body, Willo jumps into clubhouse.

88 mins – Town go down 19-6. Gibbo mutters about “Evil’s” lack of respect for his club’s achievements.

89 mins – Town go down 20-6 in the last minute. Gibbo mutters about the illuminati’s grip on the Welsh Premier League

90 mins – Town lose 22-6. Gibbo puts on a foil hat & sits in centre circle. He starts rocking & muttering about “them”

At times I couldn’t believe my eyes, unbelieveable tekkers from the boy Monsignor Berthold made him my man of the match.

I did this to help them and what thanks did I receive? Nothing except the sound of silence. Then I thought that a bit of humour was just the ticket so I tried a few jokes;

Why did Gibbo cross the road?
Because the chicken was disrespecting him, his club and his achievements.

An Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman went into a pub. Gibbo left as they were disrespecting him, his club and his achievements.

How many Gibbos does it take to change a lightbulb?
One, but the lightbulb must show respect for him, his club and his achievements.

What’s the difference between Gibbo and the Pope?
Gibbo would never disrespect Gibbo, his club or his achievements.

If Gibbo fell in a deserted forest would anyone hear him muttering under his breath about “them”?

A Bangor Talbot fan went to the Doctor. “Doctor, Doctor I feel like a pair of curtains”
– “Well pull yourself together and stop disrespecting Gibbo, his club and his achievements”

Knock, knock
Who’s there?
Gibbo
Gibbo who?
Neil Gibson, now stop disrespecting me, my club and my achievements.

Again this was met with silence. I was stuck, what should I do? The answer came on the road to Rhuallt when I was afflicted by a blinding light. A voice boomed from above;

“JUDGE NOT, LEST YE SHALL BE JUDGED. RESPECT THY FELLOWS!!!!”

I realised that God reads the Welsh-Premier forum and he obviously thought I was being disrespectful to Gibbo, his club and his achievements. 

At first I was afraid, I was petrified, I thought I could never live with the right to chide. Then I remembered that I was meant to be helping the Prestatyn fans. Then the realisation hit me. I must respect all men!!! I must help all men!!!!!

I was so overcome by the joyful feelings coursing through my body that I wrote a ballad in celebration of the achievements of my fellow man. It has a simple title;

“Gibbo – A Ballad”

I’ll tell a tale,
                     a thrilling tale of a character that’s beyond compare,
                                heart of oak, limb of teak and steely stare.
Three decades have passed since the glorious day,
             when our hero’s birth meant sun not grey.

The road he took was arduous, winding and well trod,
          turning boy to playing man, mortal into god.
Dragon’s red graced with style and elan,
             following Earnie, Danny and Leyton the plan.

Dark clouds when the rumour of release did tease,
                     they were true, the dream did cease.
Professional men cast him out, no thought to spare,
                      the cold shoulders of cold-hearted men,
                                  how do mortals bare?

But setbacks do not a hero break,
                   of opportunities do they make.
Our hero left for pastures new,
           his steely resolve became his mental glue.

A nomad’s ride was his new life,
with moments resting on the knife.
If only one could hear the adventure tales,
of up North, the Midlands and north Wales.

Then our hero found a home,
            the only absence a desire to roam.
The fickle mistress success arrived,
                   his new abode developed as he strived.

With heart of oak, limb of teak and steely stare,
                 the battles are won without care.
Leading his charges resplendent in red,
              The last remaining battle,
                                the voices in his head.

I tried, oh lord how I’ve tried but I received nothing in return except for silence.

As for the Prestayn fans, I soon realised that they are beyond hope. Despite the evidence to the contrary they go on deluding themselves;

“Gibbo never causes any problems, this whole thread was down to Bangor Talbot fans who have the hump with Gibbo, probably down to the fact that we get results against both teams.”

No son, I’ll think you found that people dislike Neil “Gibbo” Gibson because he likes to play football like a tosser with an attitude problem.





Things that show modern football is soooooo wrong.

10 09 2011

Number 569 – When parents become convinced their child is the new Messi, and make a video to prove it;





Things that show modern football is soooooo wrong.

8 09 2011

Number 568 – Football clubs discover the joys of litigation. In this case Arsenal;

“Arsenal have finally earned their first win of the season, but it’s not an on-pitch victory: the club has won a court case in Spain forcing the owner of a hat shop to change the name of her premises.

The Gunners have won their case against Seville resident Alicia Simon, who has now been told by the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office to change the name of her hat shop ‘Arsenale’.

Simon registered the name of her shop before she even opened it in 2007 despite protestations from the club, but Arsenal’s lawyers have been petitioning the Spanish authorities ever since, trying to convince them that she has infringed their trademark.”

The stunned shopkeeper, who admits to having no knowledge of football, pointed out that her shop does not even share the same spelling or pronunciation as the English football club, and that it is a word which carries “more connotations of culture than sport”.

But despite the apparent ridiculousness of their case, Arsenal have now successfully persuaded the Spanish authorities that there was a “risk of confusion” between the monolithic English football club and the tiny hat shop.

Simon named her shop after the Italian word ‘arsenale’, which was the name given to the shipbuilders’ yards in medieval Pisa and Venice. Her premises are in Seville’s Arenal de Sevilla district, where Seville’s ancient shipyards were located – hence her choice of the name.

Her shop concentrates on selling her self-designed hats, but she also sells shoes – bringing her under the umbrella of “clothes, hats and shoes” as seen by the patent and trademark office, and thus causing the infringement.

Simon has no intention of backing down, however: despite admitting that she feels in a ‘David v Goliath’ situation, she will not change the name of her shop and has already appealed the decision – thanks to a pair of friends who are lawyers – to a Madrid tribunal which will have the final say.

“I will fight this to the end,” she insists.





Things that show modern football is soooooo wrong.

7 09 2011

Number 567 – A sign outside a north Walian travel agent (Broughton)

Only 99 pounds you say, I’ll take  two!!!





Act Local, think Global

2 09 2011

When someone dropped the bombshell that Bangor City were going to move out of Farrar Road in January I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing.

We all knew it was coming as surely as ITV1 will  broadcast another shite programme, the shadow of the spectre was always on the horizon of our thoughts, but we thought we’d be leaving Farrar Road in May. We needed the extra few month to prepare a good send off for the battered old ground, we need to prepare mentally of course.

The move seems to be going through with indecent haste. Those fucking bast …….. (Legal ed – “Please don’t carry on”). After almost a decade and a half of insecurity,  failed plans, false hopes and botched planning processes it will take about 4 months to get the new ground, Nantporth, ready. What’s the rush like?

Obviously we want to move into a great ground, we want something befitting our status, befitting the memory Farrar Road. However at the moment – due to the original contract signed over ten years ago –  Bangor City will be only getting the most basic of grounds, a ground that will have just enough facilities to satisfy the F.A.W.s  licensing regulations. Yes thanks to the fuc…… (Legal ed. – “I’ve already told you”)

Bangor’s chairman and supporters’ association don’t want to leave it there. The home that we think befitting of Bangor will be fit for European competition. We want a big main stand, we want a stand all the way down the opposite side (the Menai Straits side) and we would like terracing behind each goal. 

We know this will take time. Some of the developments should have happened before we were due to start playing in the new ground but now the timetable has moved up a gear the ground will look embarrassingly half-finished instead of “smart”.

 The developments will take time because there are also two hurdle to overcome in order for the ground to be developed past the basic features;

1) We need sufficient funding.

2) We need to have successful planning applications.

Bangor City’s powers that be tell us the money can be found for the stands fairly easily through the F.A.W.  because  they’re looking to create a stadium in the north. We can also apply for grants. We can also strike up partnerships stuck with other local stakeholders like Coleg Menai to obtain grants. Potential partnerships would not only help us obtain grants they would, more importantly, draw Bangor City further into the community.

Then we come to planning permission. We were told in the supporters’ meeting last night that before we start thinking of new stands we have gain planning permission for a 3G training pitch. The artificial pitch will have three main plus points; it helps our new ground become a proper club, it will help finance the club in the long run and more importantly it enable Bangor City to  become further part of the community.

There is only one thing preventing us from building the new pitch; we haven’t had planning permission yet.

There is a planning decision due at the end of September but before this the general public have the opportunity to add their support for the application. With this in mind I wrote the following and sent it to Gwynedd County Council;

As a Bangor City fan I feel that the 3G pitch is a must for two points; 1. It will enable Bangor City, the premier team of Gwynedd, to develop further. 2. It would allow Bangor City to become a true community club.

 In terms of 1. – The 3G pitch would allow the local football talent in Bangor’s academy and reserve team to train and develop within their home area. This may allow more local players to become not only involved but also attached to the club and to the area. Generations of players stand to benefit from the existence of a 3G pitch.

With the existence of a 3G pitch comes potential of a successful Bangor City team that’s full of locally developed players – via the BCFC Academy – in years to come. If Bangor City were to compete in European competition with a team full of locally produced players this would generate enormous pride in the area, not to mention interest. The 3G pitch would make this more likely.

In terms of 2. – If planning permission were granted this would be a boon for the whole of the northern Gwynedd area. While there are facilities such as this in Deeside and Lladrillo College, there is no equivalent facility west of Llandrillo College. Northern Gwynedd is bereft of facilities such as this, not just from the club’s point of view but from the local community’s.

The new 3G facility could create links between Bangor City and Coleg Menai and this would further cement its role within the community.

There are worries that Britain is gradually becoming an unhealthy society. The 3G pitch would help encourage people in the northern Gwynedd area to become more active because top quality facilities would exist in the area.”

To which I was presented by the following automated response;

“Gwynedd’s Planning Authority acknowledges receipt of your comments. Your comments have been noted and shall receive attention.”

I must say I’m glad that my comments will be taken seriously, the power of the pen strikes again!

Well at least I’ve done my little bit. If you fancy doing likewise click here .





World football has it in for Wales – Proof

30 07 2011

Today sees the latest draw for Wales’ national football team; the qualifying the draw for Brazil 2014.

This represents the latest installment of the hard luck story, the latest chapter in a life of unremitting bleakness, underachievement and disappointment, the latest glimpse of deferred glory, the lates………….. Well you get the idea.

At the moment we should think every possibility is possible, we should think that there’s no such thing as an easy draw and there’s no such thing as a hard draw. We should think that there’s just a draw. Unfortunately every Welsh person knows it’s not just a draw, we all know it’s fixed against Wales and we all know it always has been. Now it’s just got worse;

The final Fifa world rankings before the 2014 World Cup qualification draw make bad reading for Wales.

Despite climbing two places to 112th, Wales have been overtaken by the Faroe Islands and will be among the sixth and last Uefa seeds in Saturday’s draw……….

…….The Faroe Islands have been given the same 112th postion in the rankings as Wales but a slight points coeficient in the Faroe’s favour means Gary Speed’s side will be placed amongst the eight lowest ranked Uefa sides for the draw.

In June’s Fifa rankings the Faroe Islands were initially placed below Wales, but a 30-year-old Romanian computer programmer, Eduard Ranghiuc, who runs a football ranking website spotted that the Faroes should be 0.07 points better off than Wales.

That means Wales will be grouped alongside the likes of Liechtenstein, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Malta, Andorra and San Marino.

So now it’s not just Platini and his cabal of corrupt bastards that are prejudiced against Wales. Romanian Computer programmers are in on the act.

Let’s re-read this part to check;

In June’s Fifa rankings the Faroe Islands were initially placed below Wales, but a 30-year-old Romanian computer programmer, Eduard Ranghiuc, who runs a football ranking website spotted that the Faroes should be 0.07 points better off than Wales.

They say you’re not paranoid if they’re really after you, well I’m not paranoid.





There’s a protest in the air!

18 07 2011

UEFA are still going ahead with their plan therefore I have formulated my own plan;

For the FC Honka v Hacken match

1. I will blag my way in.

2. I will unfurl this flag;

3. The flag will be seen by 100s of millions on television.

4. In this age of social media the flag will become a beacon of protest before going on to be regarded as THE avatar of the zeitgeist.

 

For the Stadium Walls

I will make a mixture of chocolate cake and chocolate mousse to create my very own dirty protest against my disgusting  treatment at the hands of UEFA and FC Honka. I will need to buy a bucket in Helsinki for this.

 

On the Streets

I will liberally place these creations around the avenues and alleyways of Helsinki.

The Result

The corrupt edifice of UEFA will collapse within the next 4 and a half years





How UEFA broke one man’s heart part 3

12 07 2011

You just can’t sleep for the twists and turns (of the knife) in this story!!! Your humble narrator returns………..

If you care to remember the trouble began with a short message of 40 odd words. It was the kind of short message that’s spirit-crushing and numbing – a bit like being jilted by a cold disinterested girlfriend. Mind you even though a message caused all my trouble I really can’t blame the message, it’s just a group of words;

“Please note the following statement issued from UEFA: In case of qualification of BK Häcken (SWE) and FC Honka Espoo (FIN) to the Europa League second qualifying round, the match HJK Helsinki (FIN) vs Bangor City FC (WAL) must be played on Tuesday 19th July.”

The fact that this message was just like every other message of its kind – clear and unequivocal – actually helped me to deal with the situation. There isn’t a hint of grey; if Honka and Hacken won Bangor WOULD be playing on the Tuesday. I reconciled myself to this fact, it’s UEFA’s rules and….;

“…..the problem has arisen because Honka, who were beaten by Bangor in last season’s Europa League, have nominated HJK’s Sonera Stadium for their second round home leg.

The fixture would be played on Thursday 21 July but Uefa regulations state that the away side must be allowed to train on the pitch, traditionally the evening before.”

 The doubt was obliterated by a text from our man in the know and another page on the internet;

“We’ll (Bangor City’s Official Delegation) get in there for late Monday evening [and] the players can have a good rest and a light training session before the match on Tuesday evening.

“But hopefully the best thing that could happen is for Honka to be knocked out in the first qualifying round, with all due respect to them, and it won’t affect anyone then.”

Jones has admitted a change of date for the second leg in Finland could inconvenience some City fans who have already made travel arrangements.

“We do apologise on behalf of the club for that but unfortunately it’s out of our hands and [there’s] nothing we can do,” he said.”

All of a sudden I felt like the proverbial “Sonny Jim” and like I said, to be fair Graham, I was getting on with my life.

Every member of the blue army (I’m Commissar first class in case you’re wondering) reassured me that I’d have a day with the blue army in Helsinki. Then I remembered that I’d get to see a match while I was over there, not the right one but it would be something. I was even looking forward to visiting that Winter War exhibition.

Now that the world wasn’t truly black I was starting to think of other things, I’d even planned to meet up with some of my friends from Midtjylland in the Marches on Thursday. Yes life was back to normal, the fact I was missing Bangor’s away match wasn’t even gnawing at me, I was fine, never felt better mate…….

Then this afternoon a charitable soul left the following message on Bangor’s Blue Moider Message Board;

“Haha. The second qualifying round tie had been changed because of Honka in the Europa League on thursday but actually they are not even playing in Helsinki Stadium. They will play in Vantaa! Those Uefa bastards! :D

The shock of the announcement took several minutes to sink in. Then I realised the reason that UEFA moved Bangor’s game no longer applies. Just when I’d conditioned myself to certain ideas in comes the Curve Ball and it’s Strike 3 for my peace of mind. FOR FUCK’S SAKE WON’T THOSE BASTARDS LEAVE ME BE?

I was desperate to prove that the message had been left by a notorious wind up merchant so I checked UEFA’s website . Then I checked Honka’s website. Unfortunately both websites confirmed that Honka weren’t playing in HJK’s stadium anymore.

Then I had another thought; this was good news, now we could play on Wednesday!!!.

Another illusion shattering text from our man in the know shattered these illusions; “No, Bangor’s game is confirmed for Tuesday”.

Before this episode I wasn’t aware that the word  “confirmation” was so nuanced.   Honka’s nomination of HJK’s ground must have been “confirmed” otherwise UEFA would not have gone  to the trouble of notifying us of the point. I can’t see why Bangor City seem to be getting the shitty end of the deal, well apart from the obvious conspiracy.

The other news from today supported this conclusion. The referee for tomorrow’s match is Anton Genov and Monsieur Genov was suspended for dodgy dealing 2 years ago;

“Uefa has suspended a Bulgarian referee while it investigates “obvious irregular betting patterns” around an international friendly between Macedonia and Canada on 14 November. Anton Genov, will not be allowed to officiate an international, Champions League or Europa League fixture during the investigation.

“After interviewing the referee in question, Uefa has decided not to appoint Anton Genov to any European matches until further notice,” said a Uefa spokesman, Rob Faulkner, in a statement.

Genov awarded four penalties, two to each side, during Macedonia’s 3-0 victory in Strumica.

Betting operators reportedly were alerted by the number of wagers placed on at least three goals being scored and on the number of penalties awarded.

The 43-year-old has been on Fifa’s list of referees approved to take charge of international matches since 1999. Referees must be on the list to be considered for selection to officiate at World Cup finals.

On Monday the Bulgarian Football Union fired its referee commission which has responsibility for appointing officials to matches and assessing their performance. The BFU cited a series of mistakes made by referees in league and cup matches.”

Cartesian logic allows me to deduce  the following;

Bangor City won’t win a free kick tomorrow night.

Here the process;

HJK are worried about facing Les Davies => HJK have bigger pockets than Bangor City=>There’s a bent referee taking charge => I saw Monsieur Genev swanning around Rhyl in a brand new fur coat this afternoon => UEFA have it in for the Llandudno Jet Set => Ergo Bangor City won’t win a free kick tomorrow night.

Football stinks!!!!





As much football as you need

9 07 2011

I find that my life gambols quite nicely until I watch Question Time. On Thursday Jon Gaunt, the fat bigot  and radio “personality” – Gaunty to his friends, decided to defend Murdoch. Well he thought everybody was being so beastly towards the geriatric media tyrant. During his risible tirade he said that we had to thank Murdoch for many things. One of these things was the “fact” that “he’d revolutionised football” or something like that. I thought “Gaunty that’s brilliant, what a charming way to describe the process by which football has become an elitist pantomime!!!!”

Unfortunately even if they don’t agree with him outright people seem to tolerate the present situation. Last week I received an e-mail from a facebook group that I didn’t want to join in the first place. (I remain a member for the daily reminders that I am right). The e-mail announced that a you tube video was the “The. Best. Football. Advert. Ever”. I clicked on the box to watch the video without delay!!! I was disappointed I didn’t  I find “The. Best. Football. Advert. Ever.”, I found an advert for sky sports;

I already had suspicions the person that sent the e-mail was a moron; in an earlier e-mail  he proclaimed that;

“Women’s football is like watching the fucking paralymics… just shite.”

Now I had full-blown evidence he was a moron, I hate football fans.

The advert I was sent via e-mail highlights the approach that Sky take with football; sell, sell, sell. Since they started covering the premier league football has been the cash cow Sky have milked for a profit, indeed without football they might have sank without trace. In order to make the rest of us feel we have to have help them make a profit they have to sell us their football coverage. Sell, sell, sell!!!!!!

My god how they sell, sell, sell their product. Nothing is undersold, it’s the biggest, it’s the best, blah blah blah. The above video is wrong on all the possible levels; the forced emotions, the emphatic delivery, the faux-pathos, the exaggerated emotions. They were still using the same ideas over a decade later, as this advert shows;

If Sky really it feel like us then they feel so much self-revulsion for ruining football they’d do the decent thing and shut up. Yet they never have. When you look at a selection of their adverts from down the years you notice the approach never changes; sell, sell, sell; sky is different, sky is bigger and better, elitism, elitism, elitism…..

Starting with the first one, a whole new ball game (with excruciating player based humour)

Then there was the sweaty glitz of sweaty players in 1995. If you listen carefully you will hear that this was the time when football officially became a religion, (albeit a religion with annoyingly choreographed icons of “typical football” and guffawing stars)

By 2007  sky sports had decided that they were going to have their biggest season ever, which meant that us fans were going to have our biggest season ever too. This advert features another portentous voiceover;

By 2009 we reached a nadir. This advert was just terrible, stylised fans spouting stylised bollocks written by fuckers from an advertising agency. At least we can tell the earlier ones were crap, this one takes itself far too seriously;

Then there’s this triumph of self-promotion. Sky sports actually think they are “Special”. To make this advert they have told Jose Mourinho to say that sky sport are “special”. Very good Murdoch, he’s the “special one” boom, boom. You can call me cynical but I’m wondering if Mourinho actually knew of sky sports before he was Chelsea’s manager. (Notice that you can’t see his hands, they are holding a brown paper bag full of money, this image would be vulgar for sky’s advert.) This adverts also  highlights the needlessly hectoring style of commentating ecstacy they all seem to use now.

 Needless to say this shite is not only ripe for parody, it has to be parodied;





“How UEFA broke one man’s heart” a postscript or “Impeach, Impeach!!!!!”

8 07 2011

I now have evidence there is a conspiracy against the Llandudno Jet Set.

First of all Honka nominate a ground with a 10,000 capacity for their second qualifying round match when their average is barely 2-3,000-ish. Then UEFA make their draw and Honka are magically playing at home in the second leg, the same week that Bangor City are in Helsinki (This is fishy because the Europa League draw took place after the Champions League draw). Then UEFA casually announce their plan to shift Bangor City’s match after the club had sorted their arrangements. It’s all adding up….

The concrete evidence comes from two places. 1. Tweets from TWO different sources on Twitter;

@EganRichardson .”….or have Honka play in Vantaa, they don’t need 10,000 seats. I’ll be surprised if they get more than a thousand for Häcken.”

“….club football isn’t big in Finland, “

“Is there a chance they’ve developed a passionate hatred of Bangor, and are doing this purely out of spite?”

@mirkobolesan“I think they’ve developed a passionate hate of @LlandudnoJetSet

2. A post on the When Saturday Comes message board;

“Last time Honka played a euro game in Töölö they got a crowd of about 300 and lost to an Azeri team. During the second leg against Nomme Kalju, one of the Finnish tabloids had an article on their website titled ‘will Honka humiliate Finnish football again?‘. They’re not massively popular over here either.”

I rest my case. It’s patently obvious that Honka has a vendetta against the Llandudno Jet Set. This will not stand!!

I move for the impeachment of Platini, who’s with me?

For the first step in this campaign I will make this flag for my Finnish trip and  I will proudly fly it during the Honka v Hacken match;





The Daily Xenophobe Speaks….

1 07 2011

Just in case you’ve been hiding in a large cave you need to know that there was a national public sector strike yesterday.

As a result we were subjected to misguided morons moaning on the news. For example, take one disgruntled patron of Driving Test Centre. He was obviously intending to use the Test Centre but couldn’t because of the strike. His input to the debate consisted of the following noises; 

“Thanks very much, whoever caused this…… – (Looks really exasperated) -…… can’t they see THE BIG PICTURE?”

Look you selfish moron YOU and your kind are the problem. It’s actually people like YOU that never see the fucking “THE BIG PICTURE” mate. People like YOU suffer a temporary discomfort and YOU think that’s a major problem for society. YOU have been TEMPORARILY INCONVINIENCED that’s all. People like YOU never stop to ask why the strike may be happening because the Sun or Daily Mail have done your thinking for you.

If he had read about the real reasons for the strike he would have known that  people were on strike was because of “THE BIG PICTURE”.   That fucker Cameron needs to see that people are willing to  stand up against his bullshit crusade against civil society. This will be democracy in action because nobody voted for this assault on the public sector through privatisation and cuts.

We all know that the bloke moaning on the news is just the sort of person that’s first in the queue to moan about the denial of so-called entitlements. It’s a shame he doesn’t feel the need, or have the ability, to see that people are fighting to save the mechanisms our society uses to ensure fairness (Education, NHS, Welfare State) before it’s too late. I’m heartily sick of people like this spouting verbal diarrhea. 

Needless to say the Daily Mail didn’t like the strike one bit – well why should anyone disagree with their Etonian Turd Reich. This is to be expected, middle England is full of cunts and The Daily Mail is the number one news organ for cunts. The Daily Mail are the standard bearers for the petit-bourgeois mentality that saw Hitler gain millions of votes and saw the housewives of Santiago banging their pans for Pinochet.

I thought the limits of good taste and decency were their limits as they seem to go on about this kind of thing all the time. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have limits. They managed to come up with the following disgusting story from the bottom of their purifying barrel;

“Girl, 13, crushed to death by a falling branch as she sat on park bench on the day her teachers went out on strike

A teenage girl was crushed to death by a falling tree branch as she sat on a park bench yesterday.

The 13-year-old, named locally as Sophie Howard, was out with friends on the day her school was closed because of nationwide industrial action.

After the 1ft-thick branch from a poplar tree in Yaxley, Peterborough, fell on her from the 50ft tree two doctors from a nearby surgery helped treat her.

The girl, who has a twin brother, was taken to hospital but died from her injuries.

Police had last night cordoned off the area of the park where the incident happened.

The girl went to Sawtry Community College which was shut yesterday as thousands of teachers across the country went on strike.

One angry parent wrote on Twitter afterwards: ‘she should have been safe at school, she was just sat on a bench talking with friends….it could have been my daughter.’

A mother-of-three who went to the park after hearing about the accident revealed Sophie’s parents dashed to the scene after the branch fell.

She said: ‘They called the mother and father and they came to the tree. The mother fell on the floor in despair.

‘The family and the whole community are devastated. The doctors tried to resuscitate Sophie for at least 20 minutes.

‘The fact is if the teachers were not on strike Sophie would have been at school and this would not have happened.”

What kind of thinking has gone on here? What kind of fucking muck-raking cunt is happy to earn a living peddling this kind of horrible shit? It beggars beliefs, how the fuck can they try to make political capital out of a tragedy like this?

The trouble is that wankers and right-wing twats lap this kind of stuff up.





Lost Talents and the power of perception

27 06 2011

Yesterday Jan van Beveren, a Dutch goalkeeper from the 1970s, died.

 

Van Beveren wasn’t any old goalkeeper from 1970s Holland, he was…

“……….the ultimate goalie, gracious and elegant. Athletic and stoic. Jan van Beveren was a gem to behold in the goal. Still, he’d never reap the fruits of his talent and the generation he was part of. Johan Cruyff, Piet Keizer, Willy van der Kuylen, Willem van Hanegem, Jan van Beveren…they’d never win a prize with Oranje…”

Have a look;

So why haven’t you or I heard of him properly? Why didn’t he reap the fruits of his talent? It seems to have something to do with the almighty Johan and it’s a very sad story;

The former Eindhoven-based club’s custodian had 32 international caps for the Netherlands, though he never took part in any World Cup or European Football Championship, reportedly because of a quarrel with Johan Cruyff, with whom he failed to see eye to eye

Yet Johan’s point of view wasn’t like that yesterday;

“Like many football fans, I was completely overwhelmed by the news that Jan van Beveren deceased,” said Cruijff. “Jan was technically one of the best goalkeepers we’ve ever had. Someone with a very personal style.”

So what are the truth of the rumours of a massive feud between the two? Well they’re more than rumours;

“Jan van Beveren, the extremely talented PSV-goalkeeper, was a man who played for the crowd. A wizard, capable of doing magical things between the posts. The best Holland had ever had, by a mile. Cruijff and Van Beveren, the biggest row in Dutch football history. With the most dramatic consequences. They must have been enemies since they first met. The tall and flexible Van Beveren opposed very heavily to all privileges Cruijff had in the Dutch squad: arriving late for trainingcamps, not having to play at all because of business-affaires, smoking in the dressingroom. And, like so often in Holland, it was about money. Van Beveren, not afraid of standing up against the emancipated Ajax-players, said: we’re in it together, everyone has to work for a good result, so we all have the same rights and the same duties. But that was not the case in the Holland-team, Cruijff was the “animal to be created equal, but a little more equal than the others”.

When Van Beveren got injured badly in 1973, Cruijff immediately took his chance to get rid of this powerthreatening teammate. With his big influence on coaches, he talked Amsterdam-born Jan Jongbloed into the squad for the World Cup 1974. He was a rather mediocre, elderly goalkeeper who previously had played just one cap, as a substitute in 1962″

To any keen student of world cup history the name Jan Jongbloed will ring a few bells; he was the Dutch keeper in both World Cup finals and he liked to wear the number 8.

I knew that Jongbloed had played in both World Cup finals and I’ve let the knowledge allow me to live under the wrong impression for years. I thought he was Holland’s undisputed number one,  the truth was somewhat different. Jongbloed earned one cap in 1962, then nothing until 1974, followed by a few more caps in ’74 and ’75 and then not much until 1977 and the 1978 world cup. Half of his 24 caps came in the world cups of Germany and Argentina.

The question of England accommodating two great keepers during the same period (Clemence and Shilton) was met with a job-sharing situation. The Dutch situation was altogether darker – Freeze one out;

“Between 1974 and 1978, Cruijff again managed to keep his big rival out of the team. Because Van Beveren was in his best form they just couldn’t ignore him, again the were some quarrels (Van Beveren left the team in 1975 but came back later) and in the end he was left on the bench behind three different goalkeepers. When he asked Jan Zwartkruis why he had been picked at all when it was clear that he would never play, the coach said: “Jan, don’t blame, I am being manipulated. I have no chance.” Cruijff had threatened never to play for Holland again, with Van Beveren in the same team. And the Dutch people would never have forgiven the coach, who let Cruijff go. Van Beveren knew enough, withdrew from the Dutch team after 32 caps. It was 1977, the world’s best goalkeeper was just 29 years of age.

    Jan van Beveren is the best goalkeeper the world has ever seen. But he’s never recognized as the best, and that is mainly because he never made it to the stage of the World Cup. And that is because he wasn’t a part of the Ajax-clan of the seventies. Everybody may say I’m crazy, I don’t mind. I can judge him, I’ve seen many games of him, I can compare him to other goalies and …. I have a sense of soccer. He could stop shots like I’ve never seen anybody doing, and in a majestical style. He would have saved Müllers soft shot easily, with both eyes closed and with his left hand bound on his back. He would have had a fair chance to save Breitner’s weak penalty-kick. Don’t ever think that Van Beveren would have allowed Kempes and Bertoni to squeeze through and take Argentina to the worldtitle. With Jan van Beveren as their goalkeeper, Holland would have been World Cup winners in 1974 and 1978. Cruijff also wanted to be a world champion, but only if he could be the one and only star himself. And it proved to be not enough.”

There’s something very saddening about the denial of talent like this. This story reminded me of another example of a lost international talent (albeit for different reasons) I read about in When Saturday Comes a couple of years ago; Vasilis Hatzipanagis.

 

Hatzipanagis is considered to be one of the top players in Greece’s football history but have you heard of him? Greek football fans certainly liked him;

“Another highlight for Hatzipanagis was his only appearance for the Greek national side, in a friendly against Poland at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium in May 1976. The Athens crowd were bewitched by the long-haired wonder, who seemed to do whatever he wanted with the ball.”

Have a look at what he was like;

The Greek federation liked him so much they put him forward as their “Golden Player” for UEFA’s 50th anniversary. According to When Saturday Comes Hatzipanagis was;

“A talented midfielder whose career was damaged by political interference, Vasilis Hatzipanagis set a world record for the longest gap between international caps. He made his debut for Greece against Poland in May 1976 and got his second cap in December 1999 when he played the first 20 minutes of a friendly against Ghana. The latter match doubled up as a testimonial for Hatzipanagis who was 46 by then and had been retired for several years. He was born in Tashkent in the Soviet Union where his Communist parents had resettled after the Greek civil war of 1946-49. The family were allowed to return to Greece in 1974 after the country’s military regime was removed from power. Hatzipanagis joined the Salonika club Iraklis and made a major impact – he was voted the best Greek player of the last 50 years in 2003. However, shortly after his national team debut, Soviet officials complained to UEFA that he had already played for the USSR at Under-23 level and so was not eligible to turn out for another country. Hatzipanagis was then banned from international football for the rest of his career.”

The example of these two supremely talented players begs a question, how many lost talents are there?

 





Gove is still wrong, wrong, wrong

26 06 2011

This morning the Tory Fucker Michael Gove warned teachers…… 

“…….. against taking part in Thursday’s strikes – saying they risk losing respect for their profession.

Teachers are among up to 750,000 public sector workers striking over changes to public sector pensions on 30 June.

The strike, by members of the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), is expected to disrupt thousands of schools.

The teachers’ unions are campaigning against changes to their pensions which, they say, will mean working longer, paying more and getting less when they retire.

But Mr Gove said he had been concerned for some time that teachers were not held in the same high esteem that they were in other countries – and although that had been changing in recent years, he said taking part in strikes could mean that respect is “taken back a little bit”.”

He wants parent to get involved in the dispute. Gove encouraged………

“…… parents to break this week’s mass teachers’ strike by volunteering to turn up and take lessons themselves.”

Or in other words “strike breaking”. He added more by clearly ratcheting up the rhetoric…..

“The one thing I don’t want to do is to ratchet up the rhetoric because I think it is important we get back to talking.”

However he warned the unions: “The public have a very low tolerance for anything that disrupts their hard-working lifestyles.”

Mr Gove said he believed it was “wrong” for teachers to contemplate strike action, unlike other professionals in the public services. 

“You don’t see hospital consultants going on strike and I don’t believe teachers and headteachers should.

“It’s within their rights, it’s a civil right, but I think it is wrong in terms of the reputation of the profession.”

What does he expect? That people will meekly roll over while he and his Tory chums finish off Thatcher’s project – privatising Britain and further  embedding the power of the rich. Instead of regulating the market economy  – an economic system that caused the Wall Street Crash, destroyed Harold Wilson’s plans in the 1960s, broke Britain in the 1970s, caused the ERM problems of the 1992 – (Where George Soros made 1 billion dollars) and caused  the problems that helped scupper Gordon Brown –  for the good of our society they are  propagandizing for it.

Well it is a system that helped the families of these gilded elitists become gilded. Naturally they don’t take it out on a system that turned them into made men, instead they want to  take it out on the rest of us. They want to downgrade the only power we have to resist their ideas – legal non-complience. This is the only way we can fight this grossly unfair attack on the public sector.

Interestingly they don’t feel quite the same about the groups that caused our economic problems;

“In a Daily Telegraph interview, Mervyn King questioned the bonus system and warned that failure to reform the sector could result in another financial crisis.

BBC correspondents say the remarks are significant because the Bank of England is taking over regulation.

Banking chiefs said they “respected” Mr King but disagreed with his comments.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said the interview showed Mr King had “little respect” for the banks.

His remarks come weeks after Chancellor George Osborne signed Project Merlin – The deal agreed that in return for the banks lending more money and showing restraint on bonuses, the government would not take any more action on pay and profits

This is a government that wants to spread the market ideology further into the NHS;

“The government’s plans to outsource more NHS services have left many in the public sector with a bitter taste in their mouth and the private sector positively drooling. In the coming years, an array of health services is likely to be outsourced despite little evidence that it would improve efficiency and make savings. This will see a push to further privatise clinical services such as radiology and pathology – the latter worth £2.5bn per year. The government has recently been in talks about privatising part of the NHS blood service to make it more “commercially effective”.

Even NHS Direct is in the firing line with Capita – a company reported to the Office of Fair Trading two years ago for allegedly overcharging schools by £75m for IT contracts – lined up to manage the contract, according to reports. Major off-shoring is also on the agenda. John Neilson, head of NHS Shared Business Services, said recently that the NHS should outsource the administration of procurement to call centres in India to save £20bn over the next four years. For private companies eyeing a slice of the NHS pie, it gets better: NHS Trusts may ultimately come under private ownership with many of the services they manage also outsourced.”

This is the world our Etonian masters want us to live in. They don’t want people standing up for themselves, caring about outdated ideas like fairness and justice, they want everybody to prostrate themselves further before the power of the market. They tell us it’s the only way through the present crisis and the “economic reality”. In the “proper reality” they are feeding us bullshit and carrying out their Thatchrite wet dream.  





A new flag for Europe

21 06 2011

A big thank you to the HJK intellectuals for the inspiration;





When the cogs start a-whirring

19 06 2011

The convinience shops and petrol stations of our septic isles force  British people to notice the muck raking culture of the tabloid press. I don’t think anybody really wants to notice their existence but none of us can help noticing.

One minute you’re sauntering across the forecourt thinking about what you’re having for tea then your reverie is shattered by the contents of the newspaper rack near the front door. None of us ever mean to pay attention as we are happy in our ignorance of “Wor lovely Cheryl” and her latest setback.

These newspaper racks are the Bougeoisie’s latest ruse for diverting the proletariat from their historical mission. All some people need is a millisecond of an opportunity and they’ll buy a tabloid newspaper to save thinking time.

I went through this disturbing reflex action yesterday. I needed a drink in the harsh north Walian sunshine but  I had to wait before I could go in the Happy Shoplifter (other covinience shops are available). Unfortuantely my manners became the unwitting tool of Wapping; during my wait for the elderly person I moved my head slightly. This slight movement was all I needed to become aware of another of  Ryan Giggs’ proclivities. Now I know that he likes people to dress up as a French maid for his amusement.

At first I cursed myself but then all of a sudden I wasn’t think of Giggsy’s peccadiloes, I was thinking of Elton Welsby, the erstwhile ITV football anchor, instead. You must remember Elton “Right after the break” Welsby;

He was very much poetry in action;

I’ll bet you’re wondering how I managed to put the tabloids out of my mind so quickly. Well it’s all about my love for the band “Half Man Half Biscuit”. As soon as I saw the headline I thought of this verse from A Country Practice (from the album; Four Lads that Shook The Wirral).

(All lyrics are taken from this website.)

“Cos on Sunday next at ten to four
I’ve got an invitation for
A trip around Katharine Hamnett’s warehouse
Followed by dinner with David Emanuel
Who I can’t wait to tell about my dream
In which the almost illegal Elton Welsby
Is dressed as a french maid on a moonless byway
Licking his lips as he creeps ever closer
Fast falls the eventide
Fast falls the eventide”

Listen to it here.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Half Man Half Biscuit as rubbish from polite society enrages me in the same way. They also paint fantastically absurd images of minor celebrities. For example football commentators/presenters feature heavily. Take  “Gubba look-a-likes” (from the album“Trouble over Bridgewater”) for instance;

“They come from underneath the stairs
Into my room but no-one cares
They’re on the bus and on the train
They’re knocking on my window pane
Oh Mother telephone the nurse
Can’t you see it’s getting worse
I close my eyes yet still it seems
Everybody in my dreams
Gubba look-a-likes
Gubba look-a-likes”

Listen to it here.

There’s also “Bob Wilson – Anchorman” (from the EP  “Editor’s Recommendation”)

“Lord I’ve tried the best I can
I’ve asked everybody in Kazakhstan
But I still don’t understand
Bob Wilson – anchorman

I’ve been to Kent, Gwent and Senegal
I’ve even been to look for Jim Rosenthal
Found him on his knees at the Wailing Wall
Crying: “Bob Wilson – anchorman”

Well I marvel at the things we find beneath the ground
And that man can go faster than the speed of sound
But I still can’t get my head around
Bob Wilson – anchorman”

Listen to it here.

You don’t even need to hear whole verses snippets, little snippets are often enough for a little mental journey. Take “Uffington Wassail” (from the album “Trouble over Bridegwater”);

“Singing Sealed Knot Society, let’s see you try and do this one:
Luton Town – Millwall, nineteen eighty-five”

Listen to it here.

Or “1966 and all that” (from the album “Back in D.H.S.S.”)

“If only you’d give me my Lev Yashin poster back
Six months ago I returned your brown anorak
But you keep forgetting and it’s far too upsetting
So baby Ferenc Puskas to you, to you
Baby Ferenc Puskas to you” 

 
And it’s not just the football-tinged songs. For example “Soft Verges” (from the album “Four Lads that Shook the Wirral”); 

“So I’m walking down the road
And heading towards me
Is somebody I know
But not like a brother
He’s seen me, and we both realise
That we’re going to have to put into operation
The tricky manoeuvre that is
Acknowledgement without breaking stride
So I keep my eyes fixed firmly on the ground
‘Til I get within ten or so feet away
With a nod of the head
And a timely hello
I can carry on walking
Don’t wanna get talking
Rule number one – carry on walking
And anyway I don’t know his name
And if I were to guess
I’d guess it all wrong
And I’d be there for a long time”

And there’s “Tyrrolean Knockabout” (from the album “Cammel Laird Social Club“)

“I’ve been goading D-list Paul Ross for a laugh
By unloading outside what he would call his “gaff”
Old fridge-freezers
Doors all removed like we’re told
His face at the window on waking a sight to behold”

 “A Shropshire Lad” (from the album“Voyage to the Bottom of our Road”)

“Second greatest time I had
Was when they asked me and my Dad
To organize a festival
Along the lines of Donington
We took Chirk Airfield as our site
Booked the bands we thought were right
Received the long-range from the Met
They said it could be very wet
With this in mind, we thought it wise
To call the whole caboodle off
The greatest time I ever had
Was when we didn’t tell the bands”

Then there’s “Tending the Wrong grave for 23 years”  or “The Ballad of Climie Fisher”

So, if you would like to follow in my footsteps, if you want the ability to cast the tabloids from your mind without delay, just develop an interest in Half Man Half Biscuit.





Sur le pont d’Avignon

19 06 2011

I have received a response from le grand Michel. It was a shame I couldn’t understand most of it.

“Cher Llandudno Jet Set

“Non, non, non. Je ne regrette de rien.

Les Pays de Galles est nul, Vous Welshies n’êtes rien. You are the sweat from the Baboon’s bottom ha ha ha ha ha.

Comment vous vont-elles les aiment-elles les pommes, connard?

Bonnet de douche et bonne chance.

M. Platini”

Well I couldn’t understand until I put it through Google translate, what a rotter! I may have to admit defeat in my quest for justice.

On the other hand if Michel costs me a holiday for the second year in a row because of UEFA’ s inherent anti-Welsh racism I’ll be sending him a load of dogshit through the post.





Putting a rocket up the powerful….

17 06 2011

I have just sent this e-mail to my hero Michel Platini, I hope it does some good….

“Cher Monsieur Platini,

On Monday Bangor City will finally take their place in the ante-chamber of the room containing the top table of European football and we cannot wait to taste the detritus of reflected glory. I say “finally” because the vicissitudes of UEFA’s blue sky thinking meant that Wales was once considered bereft of a televisual market capable of producing adequate revenue streams. As a result Bangor City was cruelly shifted to an adjacent property with smaller tables in 1994 and 1995.

But do not fear monsieur, that’s ancient history and we Bangor fans have suppressed the injustice deep within. At present we Bangor fans are too busy awaiting the draw with all of the enthusiasm that is humanly possible to worry about ancient history. We cannot sleep for thinking of the tantalising possibilities that the draw provides. Actually monsieur it is because of the draw that I am writing to you. I am asking for two points to be considered.

My first point is that I would like Bangor to be drawn at home in the first leg. If we are drawn away I can’t go due to the timing of the school holidays – As Eric might have said to Andrew Preview; “I have all the right holidays but not necessarily at the right times!!!”

My second point is that I would like a kind draw. I do not mean this in terms of the opposition’s playing strength (although this would be nice). I am referring to the proposed displays of the Bangor City flag drapers. Please indulge me on this point as experience has shown that one has to be careful with flags “on the continent”.

– In 2006 I was prevented from displaying a flag in Graz because a steward told me it was “Too Politisch!!”
– In 2003 I was waiting for a friend outside the San Siro when two muscle-bound ultras ripped a big  flag  from the clutches of two Carmarthen fans.
– In 2007 I went to watch Shelborne v Dundalk and I was nearly the victim of flag theft.
– In Montenegro Ultras value stolen flags as trophies and this was witnessed by my friend Phil

I don’t want to become the victim of a vicious attack or cause a diplomatic incident I just want to fly my flags. Unfortunately I sense my flags could cause offence if we drew the fans of the following clubs;

Dinamo Zagreb are “….predominantly right-wing in political outlook and have an extreme nationalist and Nazi element among their support.

Wisla Krakow – “Unfortunately there is a dark side to Polish football. The rivalry between Wisla and Cracovia is so bitter and idiotic that it often descends into bouts of intense violence amongst the supporters, sometimes involving unlucky bystanders…..”

Slovan Bratislava – In April 2007 a group of their supporters displayed a banner carried the words “Alles Gute Adi (“Happy birthday Adolf”) and a smiley face in a form of Adolf Hitler.

APOEL – They are known to be a bastion of DISY supporters, the right-wing party now in opposition. An unofficial website proclaims the team is “100 per cent anti-communist“.

FK Partizan – They’re mates with Rhyl F.C.

Please bare the fact I want to avoid these clubs in mind when you’re performing the draw Monsieur Platini. If it’s not too much trouble I’d also like you to bare in mind the following points as well.

The hammer and sickle flag could offend fans of clubs from ex-state-socialist countries as they might see it as a reminder of Stalinist tyranny, not as a symbol of POUM or Eurocommunism. I don’t posses the requisite language skill to debate the point.

I have another flag that contains the Palestinian flag and  I can imagine this might enrage Israelis; please can we avoid Maccabi Haifa?

I don’t want to go to Sturm Graz either because of the over-zealous stewarding

Monsieur Platini this leaves us with; Malmo FF, Shamrock Rovers, Rosenborg and HJK Helsinki as suitable candidates. Please try to make it one of them!

Please remember that your schedule from last season cost me a holiday, you owe me!!!

Yours in Football,

The Llandudno Jet Set”





Flagging up problems

15 06 2011

If my existing worries about the European draw weren’t bad enough another worry has crept into my mind; will it be safe enough to put my flags on display?

The flags of the Jet Set have a certain political stance and while the flags are tolerated in Britain’s septic isle (through support, bewilderment or indifference) I wonder if they would gain the same reception “on the continent”.

Flags have many purposes; assisting military coordination, signaling, identification and representing nation states and national groups. Flags have “varied, wide-ranging interpretations”. The  “varied, wide-ranging interpretations” of flags gets straight to the heart of my worries; flags have a tendency to excite the emotions, from pride and defiance to anger and revulsion. In football the use of flags can be political – both left-wing and right-wing fans use flags for example. Take this example;

UEFA’s Disciplinary Committee had fined FK Dinamo Zagreb 20,000 Euros because Zagreb fans had waved the Macedonian flag!

The Croatian public are stunned by this bizarre punishment and can not believe the European footballing body would be this unprofessional and racist. Dinamo Zagreb fans waved the Macedonian flag in their UEFA match against Greek based club PAOK”

The Dinamo Zagreb fans were obviously using the Macedonian flags to make a point.  (The Greek government disputes Macedonia’s right to call themselves Macedonia. Hence Macedonia has to be called The “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in the United Nations.)

It’s not just in this general sense that you should show caution. My own experience has shown that you have to be careful with flags “on the continent”.

– In 2006 I was prevented from displaying this flag in Graz because a steward told me it was “too politisch!!”. It was probably my fault, Wales were playing Trinidad & Tobago and I should have realised that Jack Warner didn’t want his eyeballs burned.

– In 2003 I was waiting for another member of the Jet Set outside the San Siro when two Carmarthen fans walked past displaying their flag. Two muscle-bound ultras tried to steal it. Fortunately their leader forced them to return it.

– In 2007  I went to watch Shelborne v Dundalk on the eve of the Ireland V Wales match in Croke Park and I was nearly the victim of a theft;

“Did anyone come across any Welsh at Tolka?? “

– “There was a ‘llandudno jet set’ flag at the corner of the riverside and ballybough end”

“That the s.kooligans spent the whole half planning to steal…”

And then there was the Montenegrin experience of our friends at Ffwtbol;

“You might want to get in early.You might also want to keep your flags until you’re inside the stadium. The Ultras value them as trophies and this photo emerged of the stolen Welsh flags being displayed upside down after the game – the Ultras message that they “won” the fight.

I’ve heard that some were taken by Dickensian street urchins being paid by the older mob to dive and run off with the flags hanging outside bars. Other stories suggest the Ultras were a bit more brazen and simply beat up anybody who protested.”

Therefore caution is needed in the display of flags;  you never know who’ll take offence, or even just take it. I don’t want to become the victim of a  vicious attack and I don’t want to cause a diplomatic incident. I sense my flags could cause offence if we drew the wrong club. Two of the flags feature the hammer and sickle, if you look at the list of cubs that Bangor can draw you will notice that half the clubs are from “behind the iron curtain” as we used to say;

BATE Borisov Belarus
Maccabi Haifa Israel 
Dinamo Zagreb Croatia
Rosenborg Norway
APOEL Cyprus
Wisła Kraków Poland
Litex Lovech Bulgaria 
Viktoria Plzeň Czech Republic
Slovan Bratislava Slovakia
Sturm Graz Austria
FK Partizan Serbia
HJK Helsinki  Finland
Ekranas  Lithuania
Maribor Slovenia
Zestafoni Georgia (country)
Malmö FF  Sweden
Shamrock Rovers Republic of Ireland

The fans of these clubs might see the flags as an unwelcome reminder of Stalinist tyranny. My protestations that the hammer and Ssckle has other connotations –  Anti-Stalinist POUM in the Spanish Civil War or Eurocommunism –  probably wouldn’t placate irate ultras shouting in a language I can’t understand.  On a similar note one of the flags contains the Palestinian flag and if we drew the Israeli club I can imagine that the display of this flag wouldn’t go down too well. (Whether I’d go there in the first place is a moot point).

With this in mind I thought it sensible to check whether the fans of the clubs we could draw would have a problem with my socialist flags. (I will then hope to avoid them in the draw.)

My research has shown the following clubs may have “problem fans”;

Dinamo Zagreb

“It was brought to the attention of Celtic Fans Against Fascism that there have been increasing numbers of Dinamo Zagreb’s hooligan gang – the Bad Blue Boys – making visits to Glasgow and following Celtic in Europe in recent seasons. Much of the information available about the Bad Blue Boys suggests that they are predominantly right-wing in political outlook and have an extreme nationalist and Nazi element among their support.

On at least two separate occasions over the years the BBB have attacked our anti-fascist friends from St Pauli at Celtic’s European matches (in Zagreb and Budapest). The attacks were politically motivated. The BBB know St Pauli’s anti-fascist reputation and attacked them because of it.”

 Wisla Krakow (and this is from a Krakow tourist website.)

“Unfortunately there is a dark side to Polish football. The rivalry between Wisla and Cracovia is so bitter and idiotic that it often descends into bouts of intense violence amongst the supporters, sometimes involving unlucky bystanders, so take our advice and try to steer clear of any fans on derby days! In general, avoid red-and-white stripes (Cracovia) or stars (Wisla) on your clothing, too. An additional blot on Polish football is that the few black players plying their trade here are often subjected to mindless verbal abuse from the fans. It’s a sad reminder that there is long way to go before we kick racism out of football (or the country in general).”

Slovan Bratislava

“On Friday 20th April (2007) a group of supporters of SK Slovan Bratislava displayed a banner to celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler.

The banner carried the words Alles Gute Adi (“Happy birthday Adolf”) and a smiley face in a form of Adolf Hitler. The letter S in this sign was replaced by a sigurnia – a symbol used as a sign for SS units.

This incident took place at the league match against FC Senec (1:1). Slovan supporters also were chanting “racist, fascist, hooligans, repeated several times.

This was not, however, an isolated incident connected with Slovan Ultras supporters. They are infamous for their similar racist and fascist behaviour – at a match with Artmedia Petrzalka on April 7th, in Bratislava, the same group of ultras chanted monkey noises directed at the German-born Karim Guede, who playes for Togo and as a defensive midfielder for Artmedia.

The approach of club officials and players is also quite disturbing. Players of SK Slovan greeted and clapped their supporters after the match. Slovan Ultras also published an article describing their meeting with club officials, which took place a couple of days after the match with Artmedia. The article says that the meeting was held in a very friendly atmosphere and they have been praised for their support for the SK Slovan team and received support for their activities from the club officials.

Not a word about the racist chanting, which happened at the same match, and not a word about the nazi symbols.”

And there’s this from November 2008;

“Bratislava – More than 50 people were injured in nationalistic-fuelled violence at a football game in south-western Slovakia. Thirty-one people were arrested in Saturday’s rioting – 18 fans for the home team in Dunajska Streda, one of the most important centres for Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian minority, and 13 from the away team from Bratislava, a police spokeswoman in Bratislava said.

Violence had been feared ahead of the championship game between AC Dunajska Streda and Slovan Bratislava as hundreds of football hooligans and neo-Nazis from Hungary were expected to travel to the match. “

APOEL (taken from Nicos Trimikliniotis’ article; “Preventing racism, xenophobia and related intolerance in sport across the European Union”)

“Despite the ethnic division of the country for the last years, even to this day the ‘left-wing’ teams (Omonia, AEL, Alki and Nea Salamina) retain supporters amongst Turkish-Cypriots, whilst the ‘right-wing’ teams (APOEL, Anorthosis, Olympiakos, Apollon) are generally seen as nationalistic and some their supporters carry the Greek Flags to the matches, whilst in their banners one may often see far right-wing symbols.

The display of Greek flags causes tension with left-leaning fans; 

“AN OMONIA FC fan burnt the Greek flag on Sunday during the Nicosia football derby with archrivals APOEL, seemingly worsening the overly hostile climate between the supporters of the two clubs.

At the capital’s GSP stadium it appeared as if two different worlds had met: on the APOEL side — whose fan base is traditionally right-wing — there was a plethora of Greek flags being waved while on the Omonia side none were on display by its mostly left-wing supporters.

That was until an Omonia fan pulled out a Greek flag from his pocket and proceeded to light it on fire. The incident occurred just a few minutes into the….”

There is also this;  

“APOEL is known to be a bastion of Disy supporters, the right-wing party now in opposition. An unofficial website proclaims the team is “100 per cent anti-communist“.

FK Partizan

It’s difficult to find evidence like the above but  it’s probably safe to assume that becuase their ultras bare the name “The Gravediggers” – and have sub-groups called “Anti-Romi” or “Irriducibili NBG” – some fans probably aren’t too liberal.

The other clubs in the draw don’t seem to carry baggage like this. For example Malmo FF’s supporters are like this;

“MFF Support describes itself as “an idealistic and non-political association working against violence and racism“.

Now I need to make a decision, based on the flag situation, about which club I’d like Bangor City to draw. I think it’s possible to deduce the following;

1. The left-wing connotations of my flags could enrage so this rules out Dinamo Zagreb, Slovan Bratislava, APOEL, FK Partizan and Wisla Krakow.

2. The Palestinian flag could enrage so this rules out Maccabi Haifa

3. The hammer and sickle could offend so this rules out the clubs from ex-state-socialist countries; BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, Wisła Kraków, Litex Lovech, Viktoria Plzeň, Slovan Bratislava, FK Partizan, Ekranas, Maribor and Zestafoni

4. Sturm Graz is ruled out because of the over-zealous stewarding

The choice we have left is; Malmo FF, Shamrock Rovers, Rosenborg and HJK Helsinki.

I think I’ll go for Shamrock Rovers. (I actually don’t care which of the four it is, as long as the draw means that we play the second leg away.)





I’m not saying the FAW are rubbish or nuffink

12 06 2011

Usually I leave  FAW-bashing to the paranoid conspiracy theorists. Of course the FAW are by no means perfect but then show me a hierarchical sports organisations that is. They are all prone to cronyism and wrongheadedness from time to time. There isn’t much point getting angry about their lack of prowess as they never mean to do things wrongly, gaffes just happen, administartors are only human after all. Besides the FAW does the things they need to do – organising the Welsh Cup and making sure the members of the national side all have the same socks – well enough

My view of a  benign FAW has shifted slightly in the last forty-eight hours. The loss of faith started on Friday (more about that later) and developed yesterday, after I had been in sustained contact with the Welsh Premier League Trophy (I actually held it on the evening we clinched the title but I can’t remember the finer details of that moment. I remember the trophy was a rather heavy blunt object but nothing more.) In the past I thought the trophy was was rather striking; an imaginative use of a plinth, polygons and metal but the past is a different country.

After studying the trophy’s form for a whole afternoon I can say that it closely resembles an ashtray on a stand that’s been left out in the rain. This once proud trophy is now in a shocking state, battered, scratched and bruised.

It’s a bloody ropey trophy to spend a whole season trying to win but it’s physical state is not the worst thing about the trophy (Indeed by using the prism of Welsh history you could actually say the trophy’s conditon reflects the turbulent economic history of Wales, maybe the FAW could say this in a glossy brochure) upon closer inspection I noticed the lazy FAW bastards haven’t engraved the names of the winners after 2008;

After I noticed this the trophy put me in mind of an unloved  Tuesday darts league trophy; once gaudy but the erstwhile gold coloured plastic is now green and one of the darts has been snapped off.

Now for the next piece of FAW treachery against polite society. Just after the trophy appeared Ish handed me a picture frame with the instruction “You can raffle this, they’ve got it wrong”. I wondered what he meant so I turned the frame over. It was one of those embroidered pieces of velveteen fabric that the FAW dishes out to the champions as a victory pennant. I have seen them in other clubs and it was usually a nice touch. I looked more closely at our embroidered piece of material, it proudly told the viewer that “Bangor FC” were Welsh Champions;

Unfortunately “Bangor FC” are from Northern Ireland. “BANGOR CITY FC”  have just won the Welsh Premier League. You’d like think that our national association  would get the name of one of its member clubs right.

As I hinted up there, Friday’s news was perhaps the most damning evidence against the FAW. It emerged that John Deakin wants Bangor City disciplined for their audacity in allowing their captain, Jamie Brewerton, to stand on the newly crowned League Champions’ platform whilst he was suspended. Deakin was so incensed that he wanted to award Jamie another two match suspension for the heinous offence of being happy. The ban was thankfully thrown out but if it had stood it will have been harsh, incredibly mean-spirited and just downright wrong; in effect Jamie will have been punished 3 times for the same offence. Here’s the background story….

Originally Jamie received a 2 match ban for a deserved red card against Prestatyn in February. About 7 weeks after the Prestatyn match the FAW decided to suspend Jamie for a further 5 matches because of an alleged incident that involving the little shit Neil Gibson, Prestatyn’s player manager. This incident is said to have  happened between the foul and the issuing of the red card. The  FAW’s decision meant that Jamie was not only  suspended for  the Welsh Cup Final but also the title decider against XXX XXX XXXXXX as well. To me it seemed that the FAW made this decision with indecent haste and indecent timing ( ten days before the title decider). It was fromulated via an odd process as well.  According to their own rules on disciplinary matters offences have to be reported to the FAW within two days. Yet this decision was taken after;

“……..carefully considering the WRITTEN AND DVD EVIDENCE SUBMITTED, the Panel decided that the charge against Jamie Brewerton be proven.”

 The whole episode is  seems rather shabby and petty as there are many incidents that are unseen by the match officials and remain unpunished. Basically Mr. Deakin wants to punish a player with a nine match ban for a single red card. We can only guess which nefarious person sent in the damning evidence.

I met John Deakin once, on the way out of Stebonheath, and found him to be pleasant enough. He didn’t seem to be the pantomime villain looking to ruin Welsh football that the urban myths had suggested and I had  partly believed. He came across as an enthusiastic, if bumbling, administrator.

I have reviewed my judgement; now he comes across as a petty and vindictive little fucker. You can stick your Summer football where the sun doesn’t shine Deakin, yeah Wales in the summer. (Wait a minute this joke doesn’t work properly….). I seem to remember that Laurent Blanc was allowed to lift the world cup whilst he was suspended for football but that’s just the world cup I suppose.

Talking of irritating officials I see that Peter Lawwell, Chief Executive of Celtic, has been laying into Swansea’s promotion to the premier league;

“But Wales now boasts a Premiership representative and Lawwell sees the irony.

He said: “It is interesting to see Swansea are now in the English Premier League.

“So it’s now the English and Welsh Premier League and that’s an interesting twist.

“From Celtic’s point of view, we have a responsibility to maximise the potential of our club and will look at anything which allows us to do that.

“In the meantime we will play in the SPL and hopefully emerge dominant and re-establish ourselves in the Champions League.”

Do us all a favour Pete baby next time do a bit of research  about the history of Welsh football clubs first, you could ask Joe Ledley or Adam Matthews for help!!! You see Pete, Welsh clubs have been involved in English leagues for about 120 years and they have played in English cup competitions for about 140 years. Therefore THIS IS NOT NEW!!! You only need to take a brief glance at the annals of football history to find that Swansea and Cardiff have both played in the top division of the English system in the past and there were no reports of birds falling from the sky.

Pete baby, the connection between Wales and England was based around  the need of Welsh  clubs to find opponents. After a while the Welsh clubs that could sustain themselves in English leagues  became assimilated into the system. For years nobody really cared about it so it became second nature to think of English and Welsh clubs playing in the same competitions. The only interest it provided was a little quirk here and there.

More recently internet-based morons have decided that Welsh clubs are unworthy of a place in English football, seeing a further dilution of native English culture. Pete I beeseech you, don’t go down this road!!! Pete think about the history of Welsh clubs and try to come to the same conclusions as a normal person. Unfortunately if you did this you’d miss out on all that headline creation.

You see Pete, your desire to move to the glorious premier league has no basis apart from profit envy. It’s not about fairness and equality within the British constitutional settlement, there is no historical precedent and you’re not a victorian football club trying to ensure progression via competition. It’s all about the Thatcherite pursuit of market share. Do us all a favour, take your Daily Mail moral equivalence and do one. If you’re going to speak Pete baby, please give us your take on other matters. Share your thoughts on FC Vaduz’s position in Swiss Football, or on how Monaco are allowed to play in the French league, or on how it’s weird that Queen’s Park still play in Hampden and Berwick play in the Scottish system etc etc etc.





Who would have thought that

10 06 2011

At present I am a supporter of the 273rd best club in Europe. 

Knowing this information forced me to wear a satisfied expression, put my feet up and twiddle with my braces. Yes I was so happy I turned into a smug businessman from a crap American sitcom. I was playing air guitar to Aerosmith because in my conservative estimation of there are 1250 clubs playing at the top level in Europe into account. What a feat, high five guys!!!!

So Bangor City find themselves in 273rd place in the European Club rankings (up from 290!!!). In this place of high importance Bangor City are sandwiched between the Liechtensteiners of FC Vaduz (274th) and Bosnians of FK Borac Banja Luka (272nd). I noticed that we’re slightly above Skonto Riga (278rd). I also noticed that  the world famous Honved are the 247th best team in Europe – another example of fading glories when you consider Puskas et al. Rather interestingly our opponents from last year, Honka and  Maritimo are ranked at 231st and 124th respectively and the Jet Set favourites, Rapid Vienna, are ranked at 114th.

Even though the news about Bangor is enough to make one stop and say “WHOOOA DUDE!!!!!” I don’t think we should break out the champagne just yet. Within the context of the rankings Bangor are miles behind Man United, Barcelona and Chelsea;  Bangor’s ranking points total is 1.924 whereas United’s total is 125.832.

The same countries that monopolise the last eight places in the Champions League are the same countries that monopolise the higher end of the European club rankings, or to put it another way, it’s further evidence of the corruption of equality in UEFA’s competitions

Clubs gain more ranking points the later the round they play in so the  richer clubs are automatically going to gain more points each season. How the hell can a club in Bangor City’s position ever hope to be an equal to the clubs at the top?





Playing against loaded dice.

1 06 2011

The week following the European Cup final is precisely the right time to think about next season’s competition.

At the moment we are, theoretically at least, in the pre-pre-season period of the Welsh football calendar. This is the part of the football calendar also technically known as the “Summer Break”. The undulating excitement of Bangor’s tumultuous season finished just over three weeks ago so we should be taking it easy and basking in the glory.  Unfortunately my senses of anticipation and worry are still running symbiotically, and they’re still running at 11.

The cause of this heightened emotion is next season’s European draw. Today we have less than three weeks to wait until Monday June 20th. As I face a summer with boundless possibilities I should be adrift in waves of joy but  I can’t help worrying; will we draw a club that will hammer us? Can we do the same as XXX XXX XXXXXX? Can I actually go? (Due to work I need the second match to be the away leg).

It should be different of course. Just the knowledge that Bangor are ready to make another European voyage should be enough to keep me happy. My imagination should be flowing, my mental map of Europe should be unfolding with all the potential that  an international jet setter can visualise – The possibilities are almost endless, from the barren Arctic circle to the rocky middle east, from the foothills of the Urals to the shimmering almost mid-Atlantic. No possibility seems out-of-bounds, but – and there’s always a but – UEFA’s seeding process ends romantic thoughts with its harsh light.  Bangor’s travel possibilities are limited. Here are our potential opponents;

BATE Borisov Belarus
Maccabi Haifa Israel 
Dinamo Zagreb Croatia
Rosenborg Norway
APOEL  Cyprus
Wisła Kraków Poland
Litex Lovech Bulgaria 
Viktoria Plzeň Czech Republic
Slovan Bratislava Slovakia
Sturm Graz Austria
FK Partizan Serbia
HJK Helsinki  Finland
Ekranas  Lithuania
Maribor Slovenia
Zestafoni  Georgia (country)
Malmö FF  Sweden
Shamrock Rovers Republic of Ireland

It probably won’t be a straight choice from these 18 clubs either as they will probably regionalise the draw as well. At the moment I fancy Shamrock Rovers for a better chance of progressing, Slovenia or Bosnia for the Balkan exoticism or Austria for a chance to see the real  Harry Lime.  The other clubs are either too good or in locations that Ryanair don’t fly to.

You probably noticed Malmo in the list, they certainly leapt out at us. I looked twice and Malmo was still there. I checked on Wikipedia whether this was the same Malmo that featured in the 1979 European Cup Final.

 

Now what’s the cliché about the mighty falling? I have always thought that Swedish football was of a relatively high standard. I seem to remember IFK Gothenburg winning the UEFA Cup in 1987;

 ,

 I seem to remember IFK beating Man United in the mid-nineties;

.

And I definitely remember that Sweden did very well in the American world cup;

 .

When I think of Swedish players I think of Glenn Stromberg, Henrik Larsson, Freddie Ljungberg, Zlatan, Dahiln, Brolin, Brilliant ……

Now the Swedish champions are considered to be  at roughly same level as the semi-pro leagues of western Europe. My vague recollections show the power of perception – the last of the matches I remembered happening actually happened about 16 year ago and 16 years is a long time in football. However even with this relative drop in standing I still  don’t want to draw Malmo, the last time Bangor drew a Swedish club we lost 11-0 on aggregate.

Malmo’s apparent fall from grace is not exactly self-inflicted. It has a great deal to do with UEFA’S ideas. In 1994 UEFA decided to restrict entry to the top table. Therefore Bangor City’s 1994 side of  Welsh champions were forced, along with the other half of Europe , into the UEFA Cup for the crime of not possessing a buoyant market television market . The same thing happened when were champions in 1995 as well. The logic behind this decision has remained ever since.

The rationale behind the move has not only remained in the thoughts of UEFA it has become entrenched. In one way you can’t blame  UEFA for thinking like this, they were partly forced into it . In the 1990s plutocrats with erudite money felt unencumbered by traditional ideas -well they hadn’t used traditional methods to make their money. They became interested in football and brought their new-fangled ideas with them. They saw the wealth created by sky and the premier league and deduced that  the next logical step in football evolution was a self-contained “European Super League”. A bulwark was needed. Hence in 1998 UEFA allowed the top leagues of Europe to start taking over allowed the once elite European Cup. First the glamourous national leagues were allowed two clubs in the revamped champions league, then it was three, now it’s four. After a bit UEFA allowed the slightly less powerful national league to have two places in the champions league to reflect fairness.

The cumulative effect of this trend is seen in next season’s draw. Twenty-two clubs from thirteen countries gain automatic qualification to the so-called “money-spinning” group stage. This means that other forty associations are left to fight for the scraps of the other 10 places. Unfortunately for the other 40 association in Europe there are also 5 big clubs from the top five national leagues waiting for them in the play-off round. In effect the clubs from 40 national leagues are fighting for 5 places at the top table of European football.

When you add the weighting of the draw to the raison d’etre of the champions league – wealth creation via sponsorship and TV deals – you end up with major problem for simple idea that motivates sport; equality of competition.

The group stage is where millions are made from six guaranteed games. When access to this money is virtually denied to at least four fifths of the clubs you won’t create an equal Europe. But then that’s always been the plan, both decisions were made to protect the interests of the rich clubs from the biggest tv markets.

Now there seems to be a self-perpetuating elite in the champions league and this is not only wrong on a moral level, it’s wrong from the angle that UEFA and the clubs are selling this bullshit to us; entertainment.  Even with Barcelona’s heavenly football the Champions League is mostly boring because the same clubs are always there, the same players are there. Or at least that’s my perception.

I decided to check whether my perception was correct so I decided to do a bit of research.  The table below features my findings, it shows which national leagues provided clubs in the last eight of the European Cup/champions league through historical periods.

Country 1956-‘66 1967-‘80 1981-‘92 1993-2000 2001-’11
Spain 14 (16%) 9 8 (8%) 9 (14%) 20 (23%)
Italy 9 (10%) 7 9 (9%) 9 (14%) 15 (17%)
England 7 (8%) 11 (10%) 7 5 27 (31%)
W. Ger / Ger 7 (8%) 11 (10%) 9 (9%) 10 (15%) 9
Scotland 5 8 3 1
Holland 5 10 (10%) 3 4 3
Czech 5 5 3
Portugal 5 5 7 5 3
Yug / Serb 5 5 5
France 4 4 5 6 6
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 2
Poland 5 1 1
USSR / Russia 4 9 (9%) 3 1
N. Ireland 1
Romania 5
Finland 1
Ukraine 2 1
Croatia 1
Norway 1
Totals 88 112 96 64 88
Top 3 37 (42%) 32 (30%) 35 (35%) 28 (43%) 62 (71%)
 

So what does this table tell us?

  • Firstly, certain leagues seem to be most powerful in each period (they produce the most clubs in the last eight.)
  • Secondly, historically the locations of  the most  powerful leagues change. (Any student of football history will know that this coincides with the succesful periods of different clubs in different eras –  Real Madrid in the 1950s / Inter, Milan and Benfica in the 1960s, Liverpool, Ajax and Bayern in the 1970s/’80s, Milan / Juventus in the 1980s/’90s.)
  • Thirdly, since 2000 the range of national leagues represented in the champions league last eight has been restricted – 28 national leagues supplied clubs in the last eight between 1956 and 2000, only 11 national leagues have likewise since 2000 . Therefore,  the domination of the so-called “most glamourous” leagues is almost total.

The last point shows the corrupting influence of money upon competition. The table highlights the fact that 3 national leagues virtually control champions league income; 71% of the clubs in the champions league last eight over the last decade come from 3 national leagues. In the previous four and a half decades the three/four most successful national league only produced between 30% and 45% of last eight clubs.

This is all due to UEFA’s decisions to allow the most glamourous national league more places. In modern football parlance “glamourous” is usually a synonym for “richest”. Unfortunately the decision to allow 4 clubs from the most glamourous national leagues and only one club from the “lesser nations” ossifies the divisions within European football. Whilst the most glamourous league are treated in this way there isn’t a hope for fairness. Richer clubs are simply awarded entry to the “money-spinning” group where 6 guaranteed matches guarantees money.

Divisions within national league also become ossified, only certain clubs  can improve, or maintain, their wealth. For example when good players come on the market only certain clubs can afford them. When these clubs have the better players they are more likely to qualify for the champions league again and the vicious circle continues. It’s no wonder we see the same clubs each season, the same ones keep getting the money. The only way a new club comes into contention is thanks to the passing fancy of a plutocratic owner. This is hardly the message that Platini likes to present.

The way that people are now complaining about Blatter’s corruption they seem to think that by getting rid of him the problems in world football will simply disappear. However the gross situation in the champions league suggests otherwise. It suggests that the money created malaise in football is deeply entrenched in contemporary football culture and will not stop so easily.

It all needs to change fundamentally.





Things can be different.

20 05 2011

Just when you’re in despair with association football something comes along to cheer you up. It turns out that there is an alternative way of doing things

The existence of an alternative is fantastic because the world of football desperately needs an alternative to the business model favoured by the premier league, FIFA and UEFA. Football is just too overblown and too rapacious. The situation is so bad that even the “best fans in the world” are staring to notice, look at this article from the Guardian ;

Close to one in seven season ticket holders across the four divisions of English football will not be renewing their season tickets next season as costs rise, according to a new survey.

The survey of 4,091 season ticket holders and other regular match-goers found that, with the average cost of a match day rising 18% since last year to £101.04, 13% of fans would not renew, while 18% of non-season ticket holders also planned to cut back.

The findings, from Virgin Money’s Football Fans’ Inflation Index, shows the trend appears to be strongest in the Premier League, where 15% of season ticket holders say they are not renewing, and 31% of non-holders will be cutting back on the tickets they buy.

Among specific clubs, Manchester United’s figure for non-renewals is 28%, Aston Villa 27% and Arsenal 22%. By contrast, only 4% of Liverpool fans surveyed claim they will not renew.

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters’ Federation, said: “Football fans face the same economic difficulties, including redundancies, short-time working, soaring petrol costs and wages not keeping up with inflation, as everyone else.

“In this situation it would not be surprising if many of them are forced to cut back on watching the game they love. The tragic paradox is that the football industry still has huge sums of money coming into it at the top of the game, mostly through media rights. But too much of it stays at the top and too much of it is used on ridiculously high player wages, rather than on helping its loyal customers through these difficult times.”

Of course when there is economic uncertainty superfluous items like football season tickets can easily be shed by people. When you add in the “natural” price rises the choice to relinquish a season ticket becomes less like a choice. Earlier this week Liverpool announced rises in the cost of their tickets. If you want to watch the world-famous reds you will now have to fork out at least £39. But this doesn’t matter as Liverpool. “… believe that this rise represents the fairest level of increase we could offer, whilst helping to ensure we maintain our significantly reduced debt position and our aspirations to improve our playing squad.”  Don’t worry about the economic situation lads!!!

Liverpool don’t seem to mind trends like  “the average cost of a match day rising 18% since last year to £101.04″, a trend the Jet Set noticed earlier this season. Unfortunately Liverpool, and other clubs, don’t mind using inflated prices as a method to make  us pay off the massive debts they ran up trying to retain status of the “platinum club2. As Liverpool’s spokesman puts it; by buying tickets the fans are “…helping to ensure we maintain our significantly reduced debt position….”  Unfortunately this logic seems to be rather shockingly accepted as self-evident logic by most fans. Unfortunately there are still enough of them willing to buy into the premier league dream.

I have read in the past that these rising prices are ok because “in real terms” they are usually not that great. To put this idea another way, in “real terms” it used to cost £6 to stand on the Kop in 1992, but now it will cost at least £39 to sit there. That’s a rise of over 600%. In the same rough period a kilogram of sausages went from £2.25 per kilo on average to £3.16 per kilo on average, which is a rise of about 40%.  How long will clubs go on expecting us all to swallow this crap?

The funny thing about the inflation of football ticket prices is that it is not linked  to other economic indicators, it’s tied to the simple idea that people will charge what they think they can get away with. Or to put it another way; it’s the blessed market economy in action. So how long will clubs go on expecting us all to swallow this crap? About as long as we’re willing to open our mouths.

It’s “our” fault because “we” are the mugs that are willing to pay. Unfortunately mug punters are particularly rife in the premier league’s higher echelon, so if one fan decides against renewing all this means is another space is freed up for one of the 100s of thousands in waiting. Due to the holy market economy we live in, the highest echelon sets the bar for the rest of us. It’s not hard to imagine that before long we’ll see most tickets costing over £30 in the n-power championship.

Every Sky subscription, club card and replica shirt sold is further justification that the owners will use to continue ripping us all off. It’s a shame that more fans of English clubs aren’t as radical as Italian fans or French journalists in matters like this.  If we don’t stop paying for it then it’s hard to know where the clubs will stop. Just look at this excerpt of an e-mail I received from When Saturday Comes

“I got this from the North West Business Insider email. The only surprise is that Garry Cook hasn’t put his name to it.”

Manchester City FC have unveiled a new trial design for their platinum level corporate boxes at the City of Manchester Stadium, dubbed the “corporate box of the future”. For last night’s match against Stoke City, two boxes were cleared to make way for the installation of two, 8ft high by 11ft wide, bespoke sets sponsored by Heineken and Harvey Nichols. The “his” box is inspired by Heineken’s “walk in fridge” advertising campaign and is billed as a chill-out zone, housing 350 chilled bottles of beer. The Harvey Nichols box features more than 100 pieces of designer clothes, jewellery, handbags and shoes from Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin.

The club stressed that this is a trial run as it looks to increase the range of “matchday experiences”. City’s new corporate marketing manager Justice Ellis said: “The objectives were two fold; to create a fans’ tribute to the walk-in fridge commercial, while working with two business partners to create the corporate box of the future. We know our customers value a bespoke and unique experience every time they visit. This concept turns the traditional corporate box on its head, showing that anything is possible in creating an experience that excites and engages. We want to show brands that they can do so much more than a standard box set-up. We’re prepared to work with them to make every game an event.”

Yeah, why let the match actually become the foical point of going to a football match whena “……… concept turns the traditional corporate box on its head, showing that anything is possible in creating an experience that excites and engages. Without that every game would not be an event and what a crying shame that would be for the world. an event.”

The tackiness just oozes through the wortds. The situation we face may resemble “one step forward, three back” but at least with clubs like FC United and AFC Wimbledon there is a step forward.





Something I found on the internet

12 05 2011

You come across the best stuff on the internet by accident. I found the site “THE VINTAGE FOOTBALL CLUB” whilst looking for something else. It has gems like this on its pages;

Have a look at it but you may lose an hour or three!





Where passion is a fashion

11 05 2011

On Monday I was casually food shopping in Llandudno’s premier supermarket. I was casually minding my own business in the sauces and condiments aisle when some inconsiderate creature walked into me. This creature was wearing last season’s Manchester United shirt. I would have turned around to remonstrate but I was distracted by the name on the back of his shirt; “CHAMPIONS”. “CHAMPIONS” had been issued with the squad number 19. I sidled over to him to ask if he knew that “WELBECK” had been misspelt on the back of his shirt. He didn’t appreciate my eye for detail.

I made for home while he frantically grasped for a witty retort. 3 hours later I went back to the supermarket for the bottle of milk I’d forgotten. The inconsiderate creature remained, trapped in a fug of befuddlement. I saw him, he saw me, he moved towards me then started to open his mouth but thought better of speaking, as one often does when they are unsure about what to say. I left him developing his worry lines.

Yesterday I arrived home from work to find that a United supporting friend of a friend had re-tweeted the following on twitter;

“three mistakes by the keeper and the scousers are at it again. #gonawintheleaguenextseason
Later in the evening I found that a friend had added this picture to his facebook profile;

Then it hit me!! I was walking in United wonderland!!!! Manchester United are about to surpass Liverpool’s total of league titles, or to put it in tweet form (from a friend of a friend);

 “Liverpool have took out a #superinjunction to stop the press from publishing an image of Ferguson kicking them off their fucking perch”

To think that United fans have the cheek to call Manchester City fans “The Bitters”. North Walian United fans appear to be rather bitter about Liverpool’s erstwhile success.

On Sunday’s journey down to Llanelli Ian and I struggled to think of reasons why most people in north Wales can justifiably claim a strong connection with Liverpool or Manchester United, or any premier league club for that matter. Buying a polyester shirt and wearing it to a pub doesn’t feel a strong enough reason to profess complete devotion as any tosser can do that. 

By shopping for their football identity they are propping up the whole edifice of hype and bullshit. I find it hard to believe that anyone still chooses to glorify success in this morally grey version of football. So “their” gang of millionaires is now more successful than another gang of millionaires, big deal. 

Of course north Wales’ United fans don’t see it like this. Knowing them as I do – I’ve worked with plenty over the years –  they don’t see supporting United as a choice. They think United is actually part of them, something “in their blood”. They seem to think this club from 80 miles away it’s a reflection of themselves; when United are doing well, they look better to everybody. If anyone dares to cast doubt upon their fandom they are given short shrift. You can’t just tell them that purchasing a mass-produced United shirt and talking too loudly about football doesn’t make them fully fledged Stretford Ender from the 1980s. Watch them become quite irate if you persevere!!!!!

If you ever have the temerity to do this (and I suggest you do) you are met with a memory that would shame a laptop. Every slight they have encountered against the good name of Manchester United Football Club PLC (or is it “limited” now?) during their lives has been logged. The slights will be returned with interest when the opportune moment arises. By doing this they will prove that to prove they are proper fans to everybody; “Why else would I be arguing eh?”. The score-settling will involve the twisting facts like a twelve year old. Take the picture above, an almost off the cuff Liverpool banner is well remembered 18 years later.

On one level the picture of the two banners looks like harmless fun, an off the cuff Liverpool banner has a retort from a United fan with a long memory. However the use of this picture by my friend shows the problem with north Walians co-opting Manchester United. A lot of them seem to believe any rumour whatsoever if it makes the “dirty scousers from self-pity city” look bad. They seem to think that Kenny Dalglish used the sentence “We’re Liverpool and the perch is ours” as a mantra. In fact Sir Alex Ferguson was the first to mention “Fucking Perches”, odd no?

It’s as if they feel doing all of this somehow matters in the scheme of things. For example the buying of the shirt. I hate to bang on about the bloody shirt but it has a quasi-religious significance to them. Firstly they think shirt bestows magical powers like Jim Carrey’s Mask; because they have chosen to buy this shirt they can slag off “dirty scousers”. It turns the most mild-mannered of people into gibbering buffoons. Secondly the shirt has mind control facilities; they seem to think that wearing the shirt on the mean streets of Colwyn Bay somehow actually matters to Manchester United.

All they are doing is stirring up unnecessary antagonisms and legitimising the capitalist exploitation of the name Manchester United. The gesture of buying the shirt requires no more effort than a walk to local shops yet they think wearing it gives them the right to act like a proper fan. These people don’t truly care about football, they are simply following fashion.

I appear to be different from the rest of north Wales. I had a schoolboy infatuation with Liverpool FC yet I can still see that Manchester United is a great institution in football. I am reading Denis Law’s autobiography at the moment and the charming sense of time past comes across. I watched the drama “Munich” on BBC one over Easter and was affected by the loss of life, the sense of human waste and lost promise. Last week I saw clips of United winning the European Cup at in 1968 and I couldn’t help but be reminded of the style of that team.

It’s sad that more “football fans” in north Wales don’t see United  and Liverpool like this, we don’t really have any business caring after all.





Hands across the sea

7 05 2011

The internet can be a fabulous thing, it allows people from opposite sides of the world to develop connections very easily. This idea allows people to experience culture in a way that would have been unimaginable a few deacdes ago. Sharing culture is undeniably a good thing as it breaks down the mythical barriers between people. 

Take the article  I read yesterday for example. It was written by an American and I was made aware of its existence by the WSC  message board. The article contains the following section;

“…..The problem is (and again, I’m not the first person to notice this) that for a lot of people, that rage-tap is getting harder and harder to shut off. Anger is increasingly becoming a default element in how people interact with the games they follow, and that’s true for soccer fans to a much greater extent than most sports fans. That’s my impression, anyway, though admittedly I don’t spend much time in water polo forums. It’s becoming a constant. The ubiquity of the unhinged managerial press conference is an obvious symptom of this. It’s as if flashes of brief, intense fury still occur, but instead of dissipating all the way, they now leave behind a weird residue of obscure rage that releases itself in conspiracy blather and persecution complexes. Real Madrid fans think the universe is against them and for Barcelona. Manchester United fans think referees are out to target them (why? because they’re Manchester United); fans of other teams think Manchester United get all the breaks (why? same reason). When you become a low-grade-rage fan, your club is always in the right, and truth has nothing to do with it. “If you simply look at the evidence…” was the cry I heard from both Rangers and Celtic fans after my piece on the Old Firm rivalry last month. Earlier this week, when I was writing for Slate on El Clásico, it hit me that soccer has devolved into a realm a little like politics, a realm where fans’ access to preconceived explanations that suit their emotional allegiances is drowning reality out of the discourse.”

That’s the thing about the internet, without it I may not have been exposed to fantastic writing like this. Without the internet I certainly would not have known that people in America feel the same way as I do  about football. It’s almost humbling to realise that you are not a lone voice in the wilderness, especially when the other voice comes from thousands of miles away.

This feeling returned earlier today when I noticed that I had some visitors from the left-wing message board TAL . Comrades from Portugal (Low Profiler 16) had posted a picture from here on that message board. Again it’s very humbling to be reminded that we are all part of something bigger.

It’s good to know that when you’re swimming against the tide there are others with you.





Making a flag, Jet Set Style

6 05 2011

Here’s a step-by-step guide.

1. Try to picture something

2. Scour the internet for inspiration

3. Buy some flags

4. Check they’ve sent the right stuff

5.Buy some acrylic paint

6. Start creating your designs and wait for them to dry

7. Get stitching

7. Eh Voila!!!!

And there you have it, a new flag in the collection!





The Llandudno Jet Set has been shamed

6 05 2011

Last May the good citizens of Llandudno saw fit to elect a Conservative MP. As of this afternoon Llandudno is represented by a Tory Assembly Member as well. Thanks very much.

Underneath the charming exterior of “The Queen of Welsh Resorts” there lies a deep and dark void.  Only 5 other areas in Wales elected Tory AMs; Clwyd West and the “English Wales” of Monmouth and Carmarthenshire. In other words while everybody else in Wales seems to care about their community, the people of Llandudno worried about house prices.  Well done Llandudno for showing just how petty our petty little town can be.

Once again thank you very much Llandudno, you make me sick.





Why contemporary football has no soul part 567

5 05 2011

From the Guardian;

Champions League final ticket £225, bus to Wembley £349

• Manchester United sponsor sells packages for £574
• Keith Prowse offer final hospitality for more than £3,800

Premier League football fans are quite used to paying through their noses for tickets but, much to the anger of supporter groups, there was only one way for Manchester United‘s followers to get a seat for the Champions League final on the open market on Thursday – and it involved paying £574 for a return coach trip and dinner.

Thomas Cook Sport, one of United’s sponsors, were selling packages for that sum despite a face value on the tickets of £225. It means the bus trip down the M6 to Wembley (admittedly stopping at the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche en route) costs £349 – a pretty expensive way to travel in anyone’s book.

The packages, which include an alternative option of paying £499 plus the cost of a match ticket to travel by train and stay overnight in a London hotel, were on offer to all United members, whereas the vast majority of the 25,000 allocation from Uefa for the final will go into a ballot for season-ticket holders.

“It is only a small number of tickets but it’s the principle,” said a spokesman for the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust. “To get a ticket for the Champions League final from the club you either have to be a season-ticket holder who has been to all the cup games and, preferably, all the Champions League away games. Then you take your chances in the ballot. Or you can pay a large amount for a coach trip that guarantees you a ticket.”

The packages sold out in three hours, a Thomas Cook Sport spokesman said. But even the price of the costly coach trip pales alongside the hospitality offerings. Keith Prowse was offering hospitality packages for £3,190 per person plus VAT. A seat in a Wembley “Sky box” with the firm will set you back £4,290 plus VAT.

United argue that Thomas Cook are entitled to a proportion of tickets, which they put at less than 1% of the total available, as part of their sponsorship deal with the club and are free to sell them as they wish.

Uefa’s president, Michel Platini, has already had to apologise for the high price of tickets to the final, which cost between £80 and £300. The cheapest of the 11,000 tickets on general sale was £150, forcing Platini to promise a review ahead of next season.

The 25,000 tickets allocated to each club are priced at £300, £225, £150 and £80. A further 11,000 were sold to the general public and 25,000 are accounted for by the Uefa “football family”.

Only those United season-ticket holders who have attended all 10 home cup ties will be permitted to enter the ballot, with priority given to those who have attended Champions League away matches. If any tickets remain after successful applicants have been notified on 13 May, there will be a second ballot.

Successful Manchester United fans will each be forced to collect their tickets individually from Old Trafford under measures to prevent tickets getting into the wrong hands. The last time United reached the Champions League final, in 2009, a number of tickets went missing in the post.





Baneful Banter Besmirches – STOP IT NOW!!!!!!!

3 05 2011

There now follows a short appeal on behalf of the “Anti-Banter Collective”

“Banter” is defined as;

–noun

an exchange of light, playful, teasing remarks; good-natured raillery”

When put like this “Banter” is something that sounds positively charming. It sounds like  just the thing to lighten a mood when stressful feelings are building. In the realm of football “Banter” can clearly play the role of safety valve. This is a very important role as everybody knows how important footy is to the glorious country of Britain.

In fact “Banter” has always played a role in football.  For years football would be the first thing that workers  talked about  on Monday mornings. You wouldn’t need to engage in a deep discussion just make a few light observations before work took over your week “Alright mate, I told you you’d lose didn’t I?” ETC ETC ETC ETC…….. There must have been countless times when a well-timed volley of “good-natured raillery” has diffused tension as well. “Banter” could be avoided but unfortunately our society’s ability to avoid “Banter” was outlawed in 1994.

1994 was the year that “The Man Laws (1992)” came into effect in England and Wales. These laws finally made certain social practices acceptable in Britain, practices such as; the wearing of shirts with button-down collars, listening to soulless reinventions of 1960s guitar bands and casual sexism. The laws also made liking “The Footy” compulsory.

One of the unintended consequences of the “The Man Laws (1992)” was that “Banter” became ubiquitous and incessant. In fact “Banter” has become the only way  football fans communicate with each other, in fact that football is now all about the “Banter“.

If you bear the definition of banter in mind you may think this is all a bit of fun; some joshing, some high jinks, a bit of “good-natured raillery”. It can bring families closer together; “As well as getting more involved in football banter with my 8 year old son….” But this is not the case any more.

Comrades, all this must stop, and it is within our power to end it.

We, the Anti-Banter Collective, only have only policy; The Man Laws must be repealed, AND THEY MUST BE REPEALED NOW!!!

They must be repealed for the sake of British humanity, our society must be saved. The new outbreak of “Banter” was not the “good-natured raillery” of the past. This “Banter” was just like Oasis – It appeared to be the same as the nice stuff from the past but it was only a shell covering a black void.

Some people now consider “Banter” as the one of the main characteristics that makes “British Lads” special. In case you are unaware of “British Lads”, they are “a british phenomenon; beer chugging, banter loving, footie watching, womanising man.” Naturally you should avoid anyone conforming to this profile as they will be complete morons.

If you want to see the negative effect of “Banter” in football just go onto any internet message board, 99% of the stuff is “Banter”. Deviants wanting to commit the degenerate crime of using thought before expressing an opinion are herded into the ghetto sections of the boards. Consequently “Banter” is almost exclusively used by complete morons and complete morons don’t know where the “Banter” stops. In the hands of morons “Banter” soon ceases to be “good-natured raillery” to become “uncouth shouting” or “hate-driven shite”, as many of us will have experienced on a train journey after a football match.

But it’s not only that Comrades, the Man has been using “Banter” to sell us his world view. The Man has been telling us that “Banter” is what real fans do, just like the  “Real football banter from real football fans” available  here. The Man’s ideas force companies to involve themselves in the “exciting” world of “Banter”. During the last England match the world was made aware that Umbro wanted us to get involved in “Banter” with them on facebook.

Comrades I have found a direct causal link between “complete morons” and “hate-filled shite”. During my research I came across a group on Facebook glorifying the fact that 96 Liverpool fans died as the result of the Hillsborough disaster. As the Liverpool Echo put it;

“A FACEBOOK group set up to mock victims of the Hillsborough disaster was shut down after concerns were raised about its content.

The social network page was entitled “96 not enough”, in reference to the number of Reds fans who died in the tragedy.

Pictures of the 1989 tragedy were posted on the site, along with offensive and upsetting comments.”

The piece of excrement that had started this group looked and sounded all of 20 years of age. He’s obviously too young to fully grasp the impact of the Hillsborough but that didn’t stop the disturbed little cunt . The excuse he used for the groups’ existence was “Banter”. You don’t need to search far on Facebook for other gross misuses of the word “Banter”;

1) From the group “KOPITES ARE GOBSHITES!”

“The babies not yoursssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss, the babies not yourssssssssssss, Oh Steven Gerrard, the babies not yours………..ITS ADEBAYORS, ITS ADEBAYORSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.” (A Reference to rumours about Steven Gerrard)

2) From the group “English Football Banter Come on LADS lets have it”

“Chelski are rentboys Manure are glory hunterss its a disgrace that every season the title ends between them”

3) Also from the group “English Football Banter Come on LADS lets have it”

“‎(WE ALL HATE SCUMCHESTER AND ALL THEIR SUPPORTERS :P) then u put (United will do the double) u know what ur so fukin bright u tit u got it right the other day u sre so fukin boarin lfc for life.”

4) Yet more from the group “English Football Banter Come on LADS lets have it”- Look at the badinage!:

Andy Niven: what a shite page 

English Football Banter Come on LADS lets have it: Suck out!

Richard Howlin Foster: then dont use it and leave muppet 

Andy Nevin: Paedo

All of these examples are  fairly tame compared to the slow death of western civilisation represented by football message boards.

Comrades we can stop this!!!

On the message boards people seem to think that by typing a sentence unbound by intelligence (or the  rules of grammar and spelling) they are actually adding something to civilisation. Comrades we must stop these people like this!!!!  

These people must be challenged. They are the endpoint of Thatcher’s Britain; a place where there is no such thing as society, just people and their stupid opinions.  “Banter” represents the triumph of the individual over the rest of us, as if we have the right to listen to what these tossers say. Comrades we can fight against the last vestiges of Thatcher by educating this morons with ideas of etiquette and logic.

The problem is so large that Thatcher’s world view has even made its way into the murky world of the Welsh Premier League. Bangor lost a few games early this month so out “they” came with their “Banter”;

Bonio – “Its all gone quiet on here from you lot. I wonder why?”
 
daggerman – “all viewing their interiors via their posteriors – all got their heads up their arses :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

The thing about football is that your team can win but they can also lose, Comrades we must remind these people of that fact.

To these people it’s easy to bask in the glory and join in with others when they start “Bantering” but the trouble occurs when their emotion replaces their consideration. My research has shown that there is a causal link between dishing it out and not being able to take it. Tension inevitably results from this. If all situations were considered properly most people would see that “Banter” creates an unneccesary vicious circle of one-upmanship. 

The main problem with this type of “Banter” is that it usually involves no thought or effort. We need to pressure these idiots into putting a bit more thought into their posts, it’s not too much to ask surely. A bit of deliberation never hurt anybody, in fact a bit of thought usually prevents message board embarrassment. A bit of thought can even lead to amusement via a person writing something entertaining or even witty. I always live in hope but I prepare for disappointment, we need to make a stand comrades

They say the past is a different country and they are probably right, There used to be a time before the hate, a time when supporters of different clubs could get on, and even work next to each other in a factory,  without feeling the need to use the word “scum” when talking about football.

We must fight for the older, better values to reappear. We must fight for better standards comrades!!!





They shall not pass!

30 04 2011

Today, glory is approaching.

The heroes in Blue will be trying to stop the non-enitities in Green. In honour of this day we have completed a new flag (one in a set of three);

Others will be appearing very shortly…..





I don’t think I get football any more

24 04 2011

Last Tuesday, when I was in Port Talbot, a player from the Welsh Schools side lay on the ground. He’d been fouled and the foul had obviously hurt him.

Consequently the referee stopped play, consequently some bloke (The first bloke) shouted  “Jesus man, it’s not a head injury. There’s no need to stop play!!!!” . It was as if he felt human evolution depended on this moment. Consequently another bloke (The second bloke – seated roughly 10 seats away from the first bloke) said “It could be a head injury”. Consequently a mate of the first bloke (The third bloke) realised that his mate’s honour was at stake  so he shouted at the second bloke; “What was that you fucker? Shut the fuck up!! etc etc” Consequently the second bloke said something unintelligible. Consequently the third bloke wanted to attack the second bloke. Consequently a fourth bloke told the third bloke to calm down. Me and another bloke shook our heads.

Secretly I felt ashamed I couldn’t get worked up over a friendly between two Welsh sides (a Welsh schools u18 side and an FAW u18 side) to celebrate the centenary of the Welsh Schools’ FA. I wondered if I was a real fan.

This feeling returned yesterday when I was watching Cardiff. (I had borrowed Phil’s season ticket for the Cardiff v QPR match). I enjoyed the match even though I felt the tension inherent in such a match.

The tension did funny things to people. Bothroyd smashed a goal in and one bloke lost control of himself, he actually looked like he’d been possessed. Then QPR equalised and despondency enveloped him. For the next 20 minutes he muttered, shouted and swore loudly at his erstwhile heroes. For some reason he didn’t offer any encouragement. Then Cardiff scored again and he was possessed again; singing, dancing, asking the QPR fans what the score was. He was back to moaning when QPR scored their second equaliser.

I thought his behaviour was a touch odd as he’d brought his family with him (I was sitting in the family section). Evidently I wasn’t the only person to find his behaviour odd; the bloke at the end of the row smiled an incredulous smile. You have to wonder why the possessed bloke goes to football matches, he doesn’t seem to enjoy the experience.

The sort of behaviour displayed by the possessed bloke seems to influence others. This idea is almost scientific fact; they say that “humans evaluate the acceptability of behavior using social norms and regulate behavior by means of social control”. Younger fans are often  sponges for this social behaviour; cheeky monkey see, cheeky monkey do.

The kids of possessed man also gesticulated at the away fans; other kids gesticulated at the away fans; one kid banged his seat like he was about to have a tantrum when any Cardiff attack failed; another kid kept shouted, with all the authority that an 8 year can muster,  “GET TO HIM!!!!” whenever QPR got anywhere near Cardiff’s area .

Again I wondered why I couldn’t get this worked up over a football match. Again I wondered if I was a proper fan?

Then last night, as if going through an existential crisis wasn’t enough, I realised I know nothing about football.

About 4 months ago I was clearly an expert in football, I knew Bangor would win the league. We were slaying allcomers. A month and a half later I was still an expert, we may have lost 2 games in January but we’d nearly beaten XXX XXX XXXXXX on their five-a-side pitch. We were still there!!!

Then Neath beat us. Then Llanelli scored their equaliser in the sixth of four injury time minutes. Then XXX XXX XXXXXX  beat us. The game seemed up, the season was going from “Great” to “Dodgy”

Then we played Port Talbot at Ffordd Farrar; we heard XXX XXX XXXXXX  were drawing, then we heard they were losing, then we heard they were drawing again. It didn’t matter really as we were beating Port Talbot, we’d go further ahead of them!!!! Then Port Talbot scored an injury time equaliser. Then XXX XXX XXXXXX won their game in hand. The tension was horrible.

The season went from “Dodgy” to “Disaster” – We were second in the league,out of contention. All of a sudden we were “a joke”, or at least that’s what my sources told me. Then Llanelli beat us 5-1 at home, the pressure was off, we weren’t going to win the league. My sources now told me that we were more of a joke.

I didn’t see it like this, the league situation obviously wasn’t good after the start we’d had but the tension since the end of January had been horrible. When I realised that finally Bangor weren’t going to win the league it was partly a relief. I knew our form hadn’t been good, and I knew that we’d blown a 15 point lead but I had made peace with these ideas. Life goes on as they say (plus “If you’d have told me at the start of the season that we’d be in another final and second in the league with three games to go I’d have bitten your hand off, blah, blah, blah, blah”.)

Then XXX XXX XXXXXX lost on Friday and Bangor won yesterday.

We can win the league again.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

The lovely horrible tension is building in the pit of my stomach as I type.





I used to think the truth was elementary*

18 04 2011
 
*When reading this article feel free to use the words “truth” and “reality” interchangeably.
 
 

I suspect that North Wales isn’t that different from other areas of  Britain – “the truth”, or “reality” to use another word, is a relative concept. There are slight differences in the interpretation of untruths however. In most areas of Britain they say “There is no smoke without fire”, in north Wales we go straight to the forest to look for traces of smoke.

If you were like the Llandudno Jet Set you would spend a lot of time in the football grounds of north Wales. Consequently you  would find that north Walian football is a den of intrigues, where gossip is around every corner and rumours are the currency of acceptance. In fact you would hear enough rumours to keep tabloid editors in work for months. It’s another question whether the world is ready to hear about the extraordinary eating habits of Ruthin Town’s star striker or the extra-marital activities of Porthmadog’s stalwart captain.

When you’ve heard a lot of this stuff you will know when a bloke has something to say  as the signs become easy to spot. Firstly the bloke will stand near you wearing  the smug expression of somebody that’s “in the know”. Then he’ll look you in the eye and start to open his mouth. Then he will pause dramatically for effect – not only will he wait for your full and undivided attention, he will wait until you are agog. When he starts to speak again he will use  the words  “I’ve Heard…..”. He will think he is John Simpson.

Unfortunately he will sound more like Marge Simpson. Here’s a tip, when you hear those words stop listening and disregard everything else. The rest of the sentence will be a load of bollocks. For example;

“……player X wants to leave club Y because the players A and C are getting £4.50 a week more at club Z ”

or

“……that players S and T had a fight with player U over the last Jaffa Cake so player B wants to leave”.

Of course, he’ll try to assure you that the information is the gospel truth. He’ll claim  he’s  heard the information from the  secretary of ( Llangefni  / Cefn Druids / Llanrwst United / Nantlle Vale Reserves)  in ( Menai Bridge’s chip shop / Bangor’s high street bookies / Llanrug’s house of ill-repute / the witness box of Caernarfon’s crown court ). It’ll still be a load of bollocks.

It’s not only gossip that features in north Wales’ internecine network of whispering;  the smearing of a club’s reputation features heavily too. In this shadowy network  tall tales are reality. Incidents seen and heard by the members of the network will be unseen and unheard by the other members of society.

Unfortunately this group is not part of the plot in Dan Brown’s latest crap novel, this shadowy group actually exists.  For example a splinter group from the main movement controls the message board used by fans of all Welsh Premier clubs.

In the last few months this message board has seen more shit spreading than an overworked farmer. Phantom incidents involving “Bangor’s scum fans”  have been witnessed and described in intimate (and breathless) detail. Phantom rumours about Bangor have been spread for the good of society.

The board is ruled by three groups. The  diseased opinions of these three groups has created a melange of multi-level stupidity, scientists say this melange is threatening to obscure logic. The first group are the fans of clubs that have lost to Bangor at some point this season. The second group are idiots nursing the chips upon their shoulders. The last group are people displaying a long-term, irrational hatred of the righteous values of Bangor City.

Bangor City’s faltering quest for glory in the WPL has  presented these twats with the only moments of glory worth anything in the 21st century; message board laughter via a smiley 🙂 .

Recently the Bangor-Baiting season commenced, it wasn’t particularly pleasant but knowing a confederacy of the spiritually braindead  was controlling events diffused the pain.

This atmosphere has added a new layer of antipathy towards Bangor. (The existing core of ill-feeling was mostly propagated by morons following Rhyl). The bizarre situation of “hatred” between Bangor City and Rhyl is a fantastic example of the effect of the absence of truth in north Walian football; no-one seems to know why the rivalry appears to be so fierce yet it exists. The Rhyl fans have created or encouraged this, used it and actually succeeded. They have made the Bangor fans look like the perennial villans.

Now I know that there have been a couple of silly incidents involving Bangor fans that haven’t helped our image, but in the grand spread of world history they weren’t earth-shattering events. Unfortunately a direct result of the loudness the Rhyl fans use when talking about “Bangor’s scum fans” is that we Bangor fans have gained the status of  folk devils in the eyes of other, easily-led, fans.

It doesn’t matter that 99.5% of Bangor fans have absolutely nothing to do with anything remotely unsavoury, people just listened to the noise, added one 2 to the other 2 and concluded there was no smoke without fire. The main thing was that Bangor’s reputation was tarnished, there wasn’t much truth behind it all but since when did that matter? Consequently Bangor are now subject to segregation  in any big match, a situation befitting the folk devils of the Welsh Premier League. 

“……In consultation with Rhyl Football, the FAW and the football unit of North Wales Police, it has been decided to use the segregation facilities available at Belle Vue on Saturday, for the Welsh Cup Semi Final match between Bangor City and GAP Connah’s Quay.

Clear signage will be shown outside the ground to assist fans to make their way to the appropriate turnstiles.

Bangor City FC fans should enter the ground through the left hand turnstiles, and occupy the Grange Road Kop End terraces behind the goal together with the George James covered stand on the left hand side of the ground.

Neutral supporters and Gap Connah’s Quay supporters will enter the ground through the right hand turnstiles, and will therefore occupy the Arriva Stand and Coronation Garden goal end.

Sterile areas will be manned by the police and stewards provided by both particpating clubs and Rhyl FC, and passage between areas will not be allowed.

In a statement, Rhyl FC, our hosts for the day, “wish both clubs the best of luck for the semi-final, and look forward to your co-operation on the day with the hosting club.”

Yes that’s segregation with Connah’s Quay, a club for which nobody could conceivably have any ill-will.  In fact we were not only segregated, all pubs, watering holes and dens of inequity were off limits, daughters were locked up and the area was locked down. Loudmouth morons had obviously been adding the to their creation of “Bangor Scum” by putting the word about. This is the effect of rumour, gossip and scaremongering as the truth about the behaviour of Bangor fans was somewhat different;

Mind you twats never want the truth to get in the way of things do they?





An appeal to lunacy*

13 04 2011
* A Polite Warning – this post is full of bile and poorly hidden prejudice

  

Yesterday morning the Daily Post, a newspaper with strong roots on Merseyside, made an appeal towards north Wales’ Manchester United fans. They, and the Welsh book publisher Quick Reads, want to hear from north Wales’ number one Manchester United fan, and they want them to communicate in THE contemporary style as well;

“…….please RT (Retweet) Competition in today’s @dailypostwales to find North Wales’ biggest Man U fan. Prize inc Old Trafford tour passes”

I see a few problems with the idea of proclaiming yourself to be north Wales biggest United fan.

Firstly, I can’t conceptualise how a north Walian United fan would start to think of themselves being north Wales’ number one United fan. I mean how exactly do you think that you’re above other fans?

“Well I’ve been to 10 games this year and you went to seven”

     – “ Well I was more upset about losing to City than you were”

“But when we were in Junior 2 you supported Aston Villa, then you changed when United got to the Cup Final”

    – “Yeah, well I’ve got more programmes than you”

 

Secondly, quite a few of my Manchester United supporting friends on Facebook describe their religious beliefs as “Manchester United”. But as a lot of them are believers how can one be better than all the others? How can there be a “Number One Religious Believer”?  

Wait a minute how can the hell can football fans ascribe religious qualities to a multi-million pound generating football behemoth anyway? There’s no redemption, there’s no offer of a place in heaven. If United is a religion then Sir Alex Ferguson must be some kind of Saint within its belief system. If this is the case Manchester United must be a very vengeful, “Old Testament”, sort of religion. Do these people actually want a religion like that? The fact I’m talking about people I actually know, and actually like, in this context is a little upsetting.

The problem is that if the common-or-garden fans display support of religious fervour for United how is the “Number One Manchester  United Fan in North Wales” going look different enough to be judged “Number One”? Will a supporter have to sacrifice his sister to the Holy Trinty of Law, Best and Charlton to prove how great a fan he is?

Thirdly, how can the United fans possibly cram their thoughts, their essence, their being, their raison d’etre, into 140 characters (the amount permitted for one message on twitter). But let’s not allow that to stop us imagining what the bovine pub bores could say;

“I’m da gretest Utd Fan coz I 8 da Scousers coz de r scum, I sold my cat 4 da nu shirt. lol”

It’s certainly not easy to encapsulate your raison d’etre into only 140 characters . I apologise if that example doesn’t come up to muster but it’s not easy to channel the spirit of the spiritually braindead..

If they wanted I could save the Daily Post and Quick Reads a lot of research. The opinions of the fans will be in two parts, one part will be a rehash of what everybody else says about United’s glamorous history and glory. The second part will be about how much they hate Liverpool. If there is a defining characteristic of north Walian United fans it is an abhorrence of “The Scousers”, even though they live hours away from either city and probably like the Beatles. The trouble for the United fans is getting both of these ideas into 140 characters, the skill to do this well will determine the likely candidates for the title of “Number One Manchester  United Fan in North Wales”.

Anyway back to north Wales’ finest fans. If their prejudices weren’t bad enough most,  they are absolutely certain they are right about football. (but to be fair to the north Walian Utd fans this is an accusation you can throw at most premier league fans in north Wales) There’s an image from my past that illustrates……

……….It was the day of the 1990 world cup final and I was playing for Llandudno U14s in a football tournament on Llandudno’s Oval. During that world cup three of us had picked teams. I had chosen West Germany, Paul had picked Argentina, Mark had plumped for Holland. Therefore I was attuned to any mention of German things.

As it is with these day-long tournaments, most of the day is spent waiting for a match. It was during one of those gaps that I happened to be standing next to a fat bloke, I guessed he was the manager of another team. The fat get didn’t hold back with his opinion; “Well Argentina will just soak up all the German pressure, Germany won’t win, I know this” To my young ears this was the inconvenient truth and my indignation was pricked, all I could think was; “Shut up, you fat get. Matthaus and Klinsmann will show you!” The “fat get” was wearing a Manchester United polo shirt.

This moment was the trigger for several behaviours; Firstly I haven’t been able to truly believe people’s opinions about football – West Germany won quite easily in that final. Secondly I started to link talking bollocks with being a Manchester United fan. My experiences with United fans reinforced my viewpoint. Eventually this eventually manifested in a Pavlovian response; moving rapidly whenever a tosser started “going on”. Unfortunately this conditioning has led to some embarrassing scenes!!!. As far as I could tell all United fans were like that obese loudmouth from my youth; displaying an unshakeable belief in the self-evident truth of their opinions.

Now that I’m a well-adjusted adult I can see that talking bollocks afflicts a lot of north Walian” football fans”, no matter the shade of polyester they wear to the pub. Incidentally here’s a joke, how do you know when people in a north Wales pub are discussing football? You hear the words “Yeah But….” get gradually louder and louder and louder.

It’s odd but I’ve noticed that the only happy-go-lucky United fans in Llandudno are the ones that have moved from Manchester. You can actually have a chat about football with them and it’s like you’re conversing with a fellow adult. Maybe it’s because they feel they have nothing to prove. The north Walian fans seem to be on the defensive all the time, as if they have to prove how great a fan they are all the time or God will take their power to brag away.

The most  interesting question in all of this is not “Why are you north Wales’ biggest Manchester United fan?” it’s “Why is north Wales biggest newspaper helping Manchester United fans justify the fact they are metaphorically shitting on north Walian football?”





In Wales the compasses point south

10 04 2011

During the half-time period of yesterday’s semi-final I read the programme. Two thoughts struck me.

Firstly, I was glad that the FAW has enough confidence in the work experience kids to let them near the company PC, let’s hope they didn’t delete the accounts!!!

Secondly, why does the FAW hate north Wales so?  There was an advert for a Women’s international against Luxembourg. The game will have free admission and be played in Afan Lido, a place near Port Talbot in south Wales. Incidentally, it was the most professional part of the programme, but the FAW farms out their power to publicise.

The second thought came to mind because funnily enough, there were also adverts in the Wales v England programme for internationals in south Wales where admission will be free. (U19 Women’s qualifiers against Germany, Iceland and Turkey in Llanelli and Carmarthen AND an U18 game in Port Talbot). There was an advert for internationals with free admission in last October’s Wales v Bulgaria programme as well. (Men’s U19 qualifiers against Turkey, Iceland and Kazakhstan in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Bridgend).

At this point of this post I’ll throw in the fact that Bangor were playing for a place in the final of the Welsh Cup, a game that’s due to take place in a rugby stadium in south Wales, on a Sunday.

When you know all that you kind of get the feeling that the FAW’s main motivation is to provide entertainment for south Walians. Mind you I’m not the only one to come to this conclusion, my good friends over at Ffwtbol highlight the problem very well.

Last night I got to thinking that maybe I was wrong. Sometimes the perception of a problem is not supported by evidence so I decided to do a bit of research. I decided to look at the history of Welsh representative matches using the FAW’s own website and here’s what I found;

In the last eleven years Wales have played about 145 representative matches at home.

The above statement needs qualification. When I say “representative matches” I mean matches played by Wales. These matches include Mens matches at Full, U21, U19, U17, Semi-professional and Semi-pro U23 levels and Women’s matches at Full, U21, U19 and U17 levels.

In fact thinking about what I wrote just up there, I should have written that in the last eleven years Wales have played “at least” 145 representative matches at home. I can only say “at least” because the FAW’s records don’t seem complete; for the 145-ish matches in the records only 138 have their venue noted.  But enough about the problems of research.

Of those 138, 28 were played in north Wales (about 20%).  It gets worse when you look at the situation since August 2008, out of 46 matches at all levels, they’ve deigned to hold 7 in north Wales (15% of the total). For Men’s full internationals in the last 11 years, north Wales has hosted a grand total of 4 matches out of 48 (8% of the total).

Mind you this is understandable, why would you want to hold friendlies in Wrexham when you can hold them in A RUGBY GROUND IN LLANELLI THAT’S VERY INCONVENIENT TO GET TO? Why the FAW decided to play matches in the Brewery Field (a rugby ground), Bryntirion Athletic FC, Garden Village AFC and Plough Road, Goytre is less clear.

What do these grounds possess that Llandudno, Rhyl or Flint don’t? Those grounds have gone through the tough licensing procedures demanded by the FAW for the privilege of hosting international matches. Why aren’t we allowed our turn?

It seems that our perception is correct, the FAW don’t seem to like north Wales.





In the worng place with the wrong priorities

2 04 2011

When I went to Cardiff last week I felt a constant nagging sensation all the way down, it felt like I had forgotten something. When I turned into Cathedral Road I saw a sign for the union “Unite”. Then I remembered what it was.

I should have been in London at the demo against the Tory cuts, I was letting myself down. I went to the Mochyn Du to supress the nagging, a mixture of football chat and cider managed to work.

When we left the Mochyn Du, the nagging sensation returned. As I walked through Sophia Gardens I realised I should be in London. As I walked past the crowds I realised that I should be far from the studenty wannabes in their ironic England shirts and boat shoes without socks, I should  far from the English scumbags singing about how “their” RAF  shot down 10 German bombers. The nagging stopped outside the City Arms when fresh cider  and conversations with Ian were back on the menu.

The nagging didn’t resurface for the rest of the day. It withstood the anthems, it withstood the anaemic first half from Wales, it withstood being 15 feet from John Terry and Ashley Cole, it didn’t even resurface when it became clear Wales weren’t going to get a shot on target. The nagging didn’t even return when I heard the patriotic monkeys belting out God save the Queen with the lustiness of the drunken xenophobic pricks they are. My conversation with Ian helped to pass the time very nicely so I felt no nagging. The nagging didn’t return on the train home.

It wasn’t until I got home and turned on the television news that I finally realised what I had missed. Then Oscar sent me the following message on Facebook;

“You should have been in London, not watching bloody football comrade. Wales should have played Sam Vokes, then they might have stood a chance”

“What hell are you playing at?” came to mind quite quickly, followed by a sense of shame.

I could have been part of something fantastic, I could have stood up against those Tory bastards but instead I went to watch a football match. Watching the pictures on  the news reminded me of those World War one recruiting posters with children asking their father “..and what did you do in the war Daddy?” “Well son I went to watch Wales play England.” – “I’m ashamed daddy, why did you do that?”

I could use the excuse that this part of north Wales is the end of the world for radical politics but I could have found out more. I could use the point that the march probably won’t changed anything – Good Old Dave will push on with battering the poor in Britain for the benefit of the rich, but that’s a cop out.

I could tell you about the marches I went, I could tell you how they failed to  on stop our government from bombing Iraq or introducing university tution fees. We could talk about how the Greenham peace camp failed to stop Cruise missiles or the Jarrow march failed to ensure justice but it doesn’t erase the fact I stood by, that I copped out of the decision.

What if everybody did this?

What if everybody abdicated their responsibility for what’s happening in Britain?

What if everybody stood by?

I still feel the shame today.

 





Footballer in “He’s Normal” shock

18 03 2011

The Jet Set can reveal the following exclusive news, some footballers are normal people;

“Stewart Downing, the Aston Villa and England midfielder, was forced to disclose how he spends his income to York crown court on the second day of the trial of his former agent……….His home cinema cost £45,000, an extension £30,000, a walk-in dressing room £6,000, a new bathroom £6,000 and a conservatory £45,000. He also made gifts to family members totalling about £180,000”

Who can honestly say that if they were a person with a passion for cinema, and a load of disposable income, they wouldn’t build themselves a home cinema? Unfortunately we can’t  draw any conclusion about “footballers” from Stewart, within the same story the following line appeared;

“Manchester United’s Nani has invested a proportion of his wages in a life-size marble statue of himself

Apart from dictators and roman emperors what kind of person  actually wants a fucking marble statue of themselves (at least dictators and emperors have absolute power and a God complex). You need a mile-long narcissistic streak to actually want this sort of  ostentatious vulgarity. Mind you a lot of players seem to think they are “playas“. M’lud I present the automobile of El Hadji Diouf esq.;

Obviously footballers are not a monolithic group and  it’s unfortunate that the “playas” hog the headlines. But that’s the trouble with the mass media. They think that we want to hear about the bling and the scandal, they think we don’t want to hear about the steady nice players as it would be boring. They don’t ask us first, they just present this idea as “fact”. 

They never think we might not be interested do they?





On the wrong side of the”Lefties”

17 03 2011

Despite the amount of rubbish on the internet you can still find great stuff. A few weeks ago I found the beautifully written blog  Twisted Blood.

Whilst I perused its content I came across a post based around the New Statesman piece  “How on earth can lefties like football?” . The New Statesman piece was written, in that annoyingly smug liberal middle class style (think Observer Magazine article), by someone called Ms. Helen Lewis Hasteley.

To say that Ms. Lewis Hasteley doesn’t get football would be a massive understatement. Firstly she thinks “football” is all about  the annoying pantomime that excites our tabloids (as well as the less discerning visitors to Llandudno’s cultural quarter). Like most of the “liberals” writing for the “progressive” media a sneer is never far  away, and a  “right on” middle class sneer  doesn’t seem much different from a reactionary middle class sneer.

You just can’t beat the sneering middle classes for crude stereotypes;

“Every time you buy an absurdly overpriced ticket, every time you buy a dubiously sourced replica shirt, every time you cough up for that Sky Sports subscription, you are propping up this whole edifice. You are using your spending power to say that the misogyny, the homophobia, the rewarding of people for a fluke of genetics rather than a worthwhile contribution to society — that’s all OK. Or, at least, that you don’t care enough about it to find something else to do with your Saturday afternoons.”

Whatevs.

I’m sorry to shatter your illusions Little Ms. Smug but football fans have finer feelings too. For a start some of us don’t even like the premier league. Then consider that some of us are  able to not only see the aesthetic quality in football – a sport that Billie Whitelaw once comparing to Ballet – but we can actually appreciate its aesthetic quality too. You can call it multi-tasking.

Little Ms. Smug you should also consider the idea that me, and others like me, enjoy going to matches because we like spending time in good company and forgetting about our worries for a few hours. We may not spend our Saturday afternoons in fashionable trattorias disscussing the merits of intermediate Swedish for little Charlie, or searching for that statement handbag, but that doesn’t make us less human. Why won’t you let us be? (Oh dear, I seem to have stereotyped in this paragrah. I must be smug and self-satisfied)

Now Little Ms. Smug, see if you can get your head around another idea. If proper football fans were posed the following question; “Do you consider the tabloid coverage of football to be abhorrent or riveting?” I’m sure that a lot of fans would opt for abhorrent.

On the other hand….

You could argue that Ms. Lewis Hasteley has a point. You can’t be a proper “lefty” and actually like watching a load of sweaty men, wearing  overpriced sweaty polyester shirts made by children in Indonesia, kicking an overpriced ball made by kids in Pakistan.

To be a proper “lefty” you need to be an ardent revolutionary, and when you’re an ardent revolutionary you don’t have much time for football. It’s all class struggle, permananent revolution and Internationalism. Or at least that’s the way I remember it……….(Here Comes Jet Set Memory Corner)…………..

……………..Every Wednesday afternoon  I was there, outside a Midlands University with the Socialist Worker in one hand and a petition in the other. It didn’t matter whether my comrades and  I were caressed by the warm sun or buffeted by an arctic gale we were there, pacing around our trusty tressle table laden with posters and pamphlets.

Trying to sell the Socialist Worker to class traitors was an intestesting way to spend a Wednesday lunchtime (even if keeping warm was a big issue); you just never knew who would ignore you next. You never know who would sidle up for a chat and a quick thumb through the  pamphlets about The Interfada and the Spanish Civil War. You could never tell which place a person had to hurry off to when you approached with the petition. 

On one particular Wednesday an earnest chap turned up. We thought he was something to do with the Muslim students’ society but he turned out to be a nutcase. He tried to engage us in a debate but found the idea of a two-way debate to be a novel concept. We declined his request. During in the following weeks I noticed his pronouncements of religious ferocity on A4 paper around the campus.  I got a chill down my spine when I read this and remembered meeting him. 

Anyway back to the point, I don’t know if you’re familar with the layout of the Socialist Worker but I think Oscar put it best when he said, in his usual cynical style; “Once you’ve read 10 you’ve read them all”. All of the articles were about the exploitation of the proles, the corruption of soictey and the potential for revolution. The analysis was good but it was all a bit ” samey”. The self-proclaimed point of the Socialist Worker is to encourage the proletarian revolution so I thought that it should include a bit of Proletarian culture to encourage interest in the argument. But the Socialist Worker was not the Morning Star, there were no sports pages.

Football was not a feature of many conversations when we were freezing for the workers (and being ignored by the ungrateful bastards). Our organiser was called “Jake” and he knew what the workers wanted. He knew his Marx and Trotsky backwards. He didn’t care about the beauty of  Johan Cruyff’s footwork. When I asked if “Jake” liked football, I was told he liked Chess.

To be truthful, revolutionary agitaion wasn’t always a clinical ascetic experience. Two comrades helped me to retain a balance of normailty; Byron, a Cardiff supporter and Oscar, a Wolves supporter. They both kept me sane, not just with dry wit but with un-revolutionary football chat aswell, both are important when you were swimming in a sea of cold hostility. It was a shame they only turned up occasionally.

Unfortunately you can’t have a really good time when time you’re trying to bring down the corrupt rule of Bourgeoisie.   The glorious example of our glorious organiser told us that there wasn’t much time for such momentary interest, as Lenin calls such things. Besides knowing the latest scores won’t convice students to revolt.

From this point of view Little Ms. Smug may be right. There are far too many important issues in the world to be bothered by 22 sweaty men in shirts made in Indonesian sweatshops. Football will only divert the bovine workers from their historic mission, as Trotsky once opined;

“The revolution will inevitably awaken in the British working class the deepest passions which have been diverted along artificial channels with the aid of football.”

Mind you, at the end of the day, to be fair, on the other hand, people started to play football and organise football so people can shape football in anyway they want to, if they like. For example, consider the fact that  Bath City have decided to offer the Polish residents of Bath a discounted entry into matches;

“A football club is attempting to boost its crowds and reach out to a minority community by offering an 80% discount on matchday tickets to Polish people.

If they produce their Polish ID card, football fans can watch Bath City FC take on Grimsby Town on Saturday for £2.50. The normal price is £13 to stand on the terraces and £14 for a seat.

Film director and City fan Ken Loach welcomed the club’s call to the Polish community. He said: “It is a good idea, I hope they will chant in Polish. There is a fantastic opportunity on the playing side and we just want to boost the attendance.”

Officials at Bath say they are simply trying to draw in a minority group and have checked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission that they are within their rights to offer the discount.”

This example shows a couple of things. Firstly it shows that a football club is part of a community, secondly it shows how that club can add to community cohesion. Schemes like Bath’s are useful for immigrant communities, and the wider community, because immigrant communities can become isolated. In Llandudno, the small Polish and Slovak communities seem to keep themselves to themselves. For example there’s a Slovak team in our 6-a-side league yet I’ve never seen any of them out on a Saturday night. This is a shame becuase they seem to be one of the more sociable teams after a match (shaking hands and having a chat that sort of thing). Unfortunately we  see plenty of dickheads from the other teams out and about.

Scheme’s like Bath’s can work too; we tried a “Students in for free” match at Bangor and  some students are now regulars. To judge from the students that I have spoken to, they feel a bit closer to Bangor because they go to Farrar Road. So football can be an agent for social cohesion and to “lefties” social cohesion should be a touchstone idea.

Consider the fact that several clubs have been set up by people with “lefty” ideas about “Community” and “Fairness”. FC United of Manchester, AFC Wimbledon and SV Salzburg are three examples of this. For example, FC United are run as a co-operative and they are part of the Co-Operative Society’s “Join the Revolution” advertising campaign;

As far as I can tell the co-op movement has impeccable “lefty” credentials. I wonder if “Little Ms. Smug” is aware that FC United shatters her stereotype because they were set up by football fans alienated by modern football.

Clubs can actually help “lefty” aims as well, consider the example of  Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War, they went on fundraising tours for the Republican side. Spartak Moscow are the so-called People’s Club of the USSR and Russia. The Zapatistas have their own football team. Hapoel Tel Aviv are affiliated with a Trade Union. Livorno are based in the birthplace of Italian Communism and are a workers’ symbol, etc etc etc.

Consider the fans. Here is a tiny selection of clubs with fan groups with a “lefty” point of view; Hapoel Tel Aviv, Celtic, St. Pauli, Bath City, Swindon Town, Clifftonville, FC United, Livorno, Atalanta, Pisa, Bologna, Bangor City, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Rayo Vallecano, Tenerife. Not many of these fans would tolerate football as described by “Little Ms. Smug”.

Consider the “lefty” players. Spurs players Tony Galvin and Chris Hughton were Socialists. Galvin backed the TGWU’s ‘Campaign for a Living Wage’ during the Thatcher years and  appeared on a Union poster and  Hughton  “formerly wrote a column for the Workers’ Revolutionary Party publication News Line”. Brian Clough was a well known supporter of Arthur Scargill. Brian McClair “was once asked in a Match questionnaire: “What scares you the most?” to which he answered: “A Thatcher government.”Gordon McQueen was well known as a Labour party supporter; “I came from a family and from an area that was and still is solid Labour…………In fact, there were more communists than Tories. I just did what I was asked to do. I went to local meetings. I helped with fundraising.” Javier Zanetti has supported the Zapatistas, Romario has declared support for the Socialist Lula. Socrates made a subtle protest against Brazil’s military leaders by co-founding “Conrinthians Democracy“.

Cristiano Lucarelli is “of an increasingly rare breed of Italian footballer who openly brought his politics onto the pitch; his goal celebration consisted of a dual clenched-fist salute, a gesture made famous by the Communist party. He has openly admitted that he, like most of Livorno’s fanbase, is a supporter of communism. One of his cell phone ringtones was Bandiera Rossa, and he once gregariously declared, “We Livorno get no favors from the referees because we are Communists!”. A more recent example is the three Austrian women footballers that stood up to their far-right chairman.

There is enough evidence here to suggest that not only do “Lefties” take an interest in football, they try to shape football into a more pleasing form. Take that “Little Ms. Smug”!!!!





The “Jet Set Photos Of The Year Awards”

8 03 2011

Welcome to the Jet Set photo awards. Here are the winners!

The winner in the “Landscape shot from a football ground” category is;

The winner in the “A Goal Kick” category is:

The winner in the “Cameramen shot” category is;

The winner in the “Crowd Shot” category is;

The winner in the “Product Placement” category is;

The winner in the “Manager posing in front of a cage” category is;

The winner of the “Peter Hoy clapping in Port Talbot” category is;

The winner of the “Most authoritative pose whilst indicating a player is offside” category is;





They’re bloody everywhere they are

5 03 2011

Last Thursday I was in Shrewsbury’s train station. Whilst I waited for my train I noticed two men near me, I could tell they were going to a match. There was a certain bawdiness to their conversion, they had a certain look and a certain baring, they both had a carrier bag of beers.

We all left Shrewsbury on the next train possible. The two men sat by me. Shortly after our journey to Crewe began I noticed the clincher; one of them wore a very small pin badge. I tried to guess if they were en route to Anfield but couldn’t work that out, I also struggled to work out why Shrewsbury wasn’t good enough for them.

I saw my first confirmed Liverpool fans roughly 2 minutes after arriving in Crewe. There was a pair of them by the Platform 5  Café. One of them was called “Boydy” to judge from the name on the back of his shirt. I should have recognised “Boydy” as he wore the “iconic number 7”. “Boydy” also wore espadrilles with sincerity.

I found more Liverpool fans inside the café, all wearing red and white scarves with ersatz pride. One of them spoke as though he and Stevie G were good buddies, “I think we’re going to win, but—t,     knowing us this season,     we might lose”. The words weren’t delivered with a scouse intonation

As I waited for the train to Chester I gazed out of the café’s window, I saw two Liverpool fans striding down the staircase. Then there were two more, then two more. I left the cafe and I found myself in the midst of a herd of Liverpool fans without a scouse accent between them. After a couple of minutes the Liverpool fans entered the delayed train two by two. The train was so packed it resembled a red and white cattle truck, a suitable analogy for bovine behaviour of “out-of-town tourist fans”.

I have noticed this type of behaviour  in other places too (Murdoch’s mind-control project is insidious); in Llandudno’s cultural quarter, on Radio Five live, on my commute home. I have even noticed it on the When Saturday Comes message board, even though that’s a place priding itself on erudition and enlightenment.

Unfortunately several members of the WSC message board have an uncanny ability to turn any thread, on any subject,  into a ding dong battle between Manchester United and Liverpool. After the hijacking occurs the WSC message board develops the “Yeah but, no but…” quality of inferior message boards, the only difference is longer words are used.

On some level I’m sure it’s interesting but I have yet to find that level. Like the train passengers, few of these posters seem to come from Manchester or Liverpool. It’s funny how a train journey from Shrewsbury to Crewe and a football message board become connected.

There’s nothing wrong with people liking a club from outside their home area of course, it doesn’t hurt anyone. In fact it’s quite touching when a person from thousands of miles away takes an interest in your club. For example, last Saturday Bangor’s secretary, Brain, produced a letter he’d been sent from the unheralded “Bangor City Supporter Association – Espana” and it felt nice to  know that a few Spanish people felt something for our little club. In fact taking an interest in clubs from outside your home country is a fairly common thing;

Liverpool Football club have millions of fans all around the world. How dare you insult us like that? I’ve gotten mail from people from the US, Kuwait, Austria, India, Malaysia, all of them having one thing in common. Being a red, through and through

In fact I don’t many people without a soft spot for a club in another part of the world.

While international fans are relatively harmless the existence of the “out-of-town tourist fans” cause problems that are obvious to most people interested in football. These fans make value judgements. They place a greater attachment to the “glamorous” clubs than their “unglamourous” local clubs. This choice has two effects; One, it makes smaller clubs suffer and  two, the local fans of the glamorous club may not be able to obtain tickets because the “out-of-town tourist fans” buy them. 

My basic position on these matters has two main points;

Firstly, I see football clubs as representative of an area, they are named after places after all. They are institutions that have grown organically in a community (whether they were started by a church, by university graduates, by a youth group, by railway workers, by dockers, by cricket clubs or even by less charitable people.) After football became popular these clubs became signifiers for local identity. To me football clubs are one representation of civic pride in a place. Therefore in modern Liverpool, Liverpool FC becomes a badge of honour for some scousers. This pride is built on decades of collected memories and shared experiences. It’s a pride that  provides an informal education in social history and a sense of connectedness to a place. This sort of pride is shown in this song about Gary McAllister. It is probably still heard today and he left Liverpool 9 years ago;

Secondly, fans from “out-of-town tourist fans” made a choice about who to support based on the  glamour or success of “their” club. They cannot feel the same as the fans in that clip, in fact they can disrupt the link between a club and a local area.

The endless “debates” on the WSC message board highlight the problem posed by “out-of-town tourist fans” very well. Several of the United and Liverpool supporting posters are Irish. Rather annoyingly they are very convinced their analysis contributes to human development. 

Considering they are from the other side of Irish Sea, it’s amazing how het up some of them get over matters related to this clash of these particular football clubs. To a person with some historical knowledge Irish people fawning over a part of British culture seems a little odd. Indeed some people in Ireland (to judge from the WSC message board) think the Irish are above the rest of ”le monde Celtique” because they managed to overthrow the yoke of Royal oppression in 1916 and we are still subjects. Unfortunately the same people that assert justifiable pride in overthrowing the yoke of imperialism are willing to submit to the imperialism of the premier league.

I have witnessed many examples of “Irish tourist fans” people submitting; a train to Chester full of “Irish tourist fans” bound for Anfield, a Liverpool hostel full of “Irish tourist fans”, a family of 6 “Irish tourist fans” (I heard their accents) leaving Anfield with shopping bags full of souvenirs, Holyhead’s ferry terminal featuring dozens of “Irish tourist fans”, a stroll around Dublin in the company of  hundreds of people in Liverpool and Man United shirts.  Have you ever noticed when they want an interview with Liverpool or United fans there are always “Irish tourist fans” willing to go in front of the camera to talk about “we” like a proper fan;

There is so much anecdotal evidence (you don’t see many people wearing Shamrock Rovers or Bohemian shirts around Dublin for example) of  “Irish tourist fans” supporting the big English clubs you could wonder if Ireland has it’s own national league. Well “The League of Ireland” exists but it’s treated with disdain.

Someone started a thread about the League of Ireland on the WSC message board and it looked a lot, lot thinner than the other threads featuring Irish posters. It didn’t take me long to figure out why; none of the well-known Irish posters deigned to post on the thread. I double checked to see if they were still members, they were. I wondered if they had gone off football, they still gushed half-arsed opinions and petty prejudices on proper football.

Wait a minute, these proud Irish people can’t think their national league is beneath their contempt can they? Even though my anecdotal evidence pointed to this idea I still wondered if this was par for the course in Ireland, so I have conducted a bit of research in the last week. I have found out the following things. 1) football in popular in Ireland, 2) the premier league is popular in Ireland 3) the League of Ireland is not popular in Ireland.

I also found evidence of how “Irish tourist fans” view themselves as football fans, which I found very illuminating and mostly annoying. You can generalise my findings to all “out-of-town tourist fans” if you’re so inclined. Take this blog piece as a starting point.

“It’s one of the biggest argument all non Manchester United fans have against United, that none of United’s fans are from Manchester and that where all glory hunting supporters that don’t truly follow the club, well here’s my retaliation in defence of myself and United’s foreign fans all around the globe.

You always hear something among of the lines of “So who do you support? – I support Manchester United – Really? So what part of London are you from?” when jokes are made about Manchester United’s fan base. You’ll see in many different internet debates someone mention the line “I bet your not even from Manchester”, or “I bet you haven’t been in Old Trafford” or something among those lines.

As an Irish Manchester United Supporter I’m here to tell you why foreign fans ‘can’ be just as passionate about the club as a person from Manchester. While I do admit there are some so called Man Utd supporters who still think David Beckham and Roy Keane still play for the club and when they refer to the team they say the offensive name of ‘manu’ instead of Manchester United and the only reason they follow the club is because they win so many trophies and its much easier to say they follow United rather then say “I don’t watch football”.

I was born into a family of Manchester United lovers who were big supporters of the clubs during there long wait for the title. I was born the day before Manchester United came back from behind to beat Manchester City 3-2 at Maine road where they came back from 2-0 down after enduring some ‘Turkish delight’ in the Champions League days before.

My father was convinced I was good luck and he wanted to take me to a game as a baby! My mother heard my name Ryan from my brother mentioning Ryan Giggs during a game, or so they say (more likely they just said that to make me feel like I was named after a true legend).

I’m a Manchester United season ticket holder who went to 18 Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League games last season (would have been more had we not lost 1-0 to Leeds in the 3rd round and to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in a game I wish I could just forget about).

This season I’ll be spending games at Old Trafford in the north stand (was a member of the east stand last season) in the most expensive seats that are not boxes or corporate seats and I intend on paying for every game I go to, to my father, who I’m so very grateful for taking me to so many games. Every game I go to does mean I travel a fair bit and what to I usually see, hundreds upon hundreds of United Irish season ticket holders, and I usually see the same faces every time. This is an average match day myself and my Dad:

  1. 6 AM: its time to get up and off to the airport. Flight at 8.30.
  2. Check in through security and wait an hour for the flight.
  3. On the plane now for an hour flight.
  4. Half 9 we arrive on time in London.
  5. Get the tube to Euston train station.
  6. Have my breakfast and wait until half 11 for the train.
  7. On the train now a further two and a half hours until we arrive in Manchester.
  8. Around one o’ clock  we’ve arrived in Manchester.
  9. Check in to our Hotel.
  10. Have a look around the Arndale Center until an hour before the game.
  11. Get on the packed tram to Old Trafford.
  12. Arrive around 15 minutes later and off to the ground.
  13. Take our seats and wait for kick off.
  14. Around 2 and a half hours later the game is over.
  15. We get our traditional burger and discuss the match.
  16. Back to the hotel room.
  17. Out for dinner and then back into the hotel room to watch Match of the Day.
  18. Bed time twelve o’ clock.

This is our usual three or later kick off game. Waking up at 6 in the morning to arrive in Manchester at one in the day. Now you might say why are you going to London? Well we don’t always go to London but we do when we can because at the end of a day were just after suffering a recession and money is tight!

Sometimes if our hands are tied we take the option to travel directly to Manchester other times we travel to Liverpool and get the bus to Manchester which is very popular option for many Irish people and sometimes we fly to Birmingham. Next season we’ll probably have to take the ferry at some point. This is the normal routine for many Irish season ticket holders, and anyone from Manchester will tell you especially taxi men that we come in herds to support our beloved team.

On one occasion we were getting the train from Birmingham to Manchester to see Man United play Tottenham only to find two stops down the line they had to get everyone off the train and out of the station for technical reasons so we were forced to get a taxi to Manchester with two Dublin people who where, wait for it, Tottenham supporters!

So this is why when people write and say stuff about Manchester United I act like a child throwing a tantrum because while some of the abuse is completely justifiable some of it is not completely fair, because the amount of money city’s generate from foreign fans is huge so really where doing England a favor!

Also many Irish players and foreign players have proved good player’s for there clubs like Roy Keane and Niall Quinn and Paul Mcgrath so why can clubs play Irish and foreign players but shouldn’t have any foreign fans?

Look this is a message to many anti-united people who will read my blogs and go are you even from Manchester? I support them just as much as anyone could in my situation I despise Liverpool just as much as people from Manchester do because they are plenty of Liverpool fans who love to see United fail and when United beat Liverpool I can walk down to my friends with a cheeky grin and my head raised high.

However when Liverpool do get one over on us, the next day I tend to avoid as many Liverpool fans as possible. I love United and I always will, I make videos of Manchester United players, I’m writing articles about United and I go to plenty of their games so please future readers please don’t question my loyalty and the loyalty of many other United fans because a lot of us do the same.”

Yes very good you spend vast amounts of time and effort following United, but you’re not from Manchester. How could you feel the civic sense that United are representing you like someone from Greater Manchester. Let’s deconstruct his argument further.

I’m here to tell you why foreign fans ‘can’ be just as passionate about the club as a person from Manchester.” No, no, no, this is the central conceit from which all the behaviour flows. No-one can truly feel an attachment to club like a local. You can feel happy when “your team” win and very sad when “your club” loses but you won’t have the sense of civic representation that some one from Salford feels for United or Toxteth feels for Liverpool.

“I was born into a family of Manchester United lovers who were big supporters of the clubs during there long wait for the title.”  –  Aaah the Justification! You were actually born into a family of people who chose to support United, this is not genetic you idiot.

“hundreds upon hundreds of United Irish season ticket holders” – The extent of the problem

“This is our usual three or later kick off game. Waking up at 6 in the morning to arrive in Manchester at one in the day.” – Well it’s your bloody choice, you are not some kind of hero.

“…we come in herds to support “our” beloved team”Jesus “our”, YOU’VE MADE A CHOICE YOU IDIOT!!

The following quotes are the absolute clinchers,

“…because the amount of money city’s generate from foreign fans is huge so really where doing England a favor!”

 “I support them just as much as anyone could in my situation I despise Liverpool just as much as people from Manchester do because they are plenty of Liverpool fans who love to see United fail and when United beat Liverpool I can walk down to my friends with a cheeky grin and my head raised high.”  Get over yourself lad!

For fuck’s sake, if the fact they can get tickets easily wasn’t bad enough, these arrogant twats actually think they are the lifeblood of the club. Well lad, how many people from Salford have been deprived of tickets because you’ve got them? Do you ever think of that? Or are you too busy being Manchester United’s superfan? You may be clever, you may have seen how other people do it and you may think you know the outline of how to be a proper  football fan but there’s one thing lad, you’re playing a role learned via the behaviour of other chancers like you.

It doesn’t matter how much money you spend, this is a fashion, it’s ersatz support. Supporting United is not part of your soul and it’s not a birth defect, IT’S A CHOICE! You’re just too busy being Man United’s superfan to see this. You and your mates will never be Manchester-born United fans.

Mind you, arrogance seems to come as standard with a lot of “out-of-town tourist fans”. There is a perceived entitlement to tickets and there are well-known methods of obtaining them; (All of the following quotes are taken from the The Irish Kop message board.)

“Hey folks . Looking for a wee bit of advice re heading over to the “Pool . Its been ages /AGES since I was over for a game and want to go over in case the ground I love is changed forever ( practically lived there as a nipper ) . So ,,was getting me hair cut a few days ago and the guy cutting said he could get me a ticket for most games -phone over to someone he knows and I pick up and pay over there . The thing is,travel- whats the best these days and the cheapest way to get over ??? I know there is an advice thread but I dont do credit cards and would be just going into a travel agent and booking boat or plane and paying cash. I would be just doing the game and returning home same day .”

Thanks for any advice given ,,,,,,,,,if ya aint fallin asleep yet .”

Then the reply came.

“if ye don’t do credit cards then the cheapest option would be to do the sail and rail but you’d only be able to do it for an evening KO,doubt you’d make it for a 3pm KO and you’d be cutting it fine for a 4pm KO.it cost about 75 euro return,that’ll get ye from dublin to lpool and back but ye wont get back to dublin till about 0630 the next morning.just go down to the port the morning of the game and pay at the desk.you might be able to book it in advance in a travel agents,i don’t know.

i don’t know if travel agents even book flights for people any more,thought those days were long gone.

you could do the sail and rail for the prague game next thursday and you’d probably pick up a tkt handy enough at the ticket office..
did the lad cutting your hair say whether or not the tkt would be face value?”

They even have ways of distributing the spares;

“On occasions spares have been offered up on the site that eventually end up in an arse pocket and so on that go to waste.Well with current financial conditions some top reds are having to miss out on games because of financial constraints yet tickets for said matches are going to waste.My hope is that on this thread were somebody has a spare at a late stage they know they wont shift that maybe there willing to offer it up as a goodwill gesture to lads that just cant afford to make the match…”

How very public-spirited, maybe someone from Liverpool might like to take the ticket!! Here’s a bit more of the shit they come out with;

“our” wonderful ticket office..  are a bunch of incompetent fcukin retards.

i got 2 lots of 3 tickets for tonight’s game for 2 different lads,1 lot arrived in the post and the other lot didn’t.at the time i was buying them i printed off the checkout order confirmation pages cos i wasn’t confident at all of them arriving on time.
i gave 1 of the lads his 3 tkts on monday and yesterday i gave the other lad a letter of authorisation to collect duplicates.i wrote the letter on the bottom half of the checkout order confirmation page,it had the payment reference number and the 3 fancard numbers and names on it.
how they managed to do this i do not know but the stupid cnuts gave out duplicates of the 3 tickets that had arrived in the post instead of the ones that didn’t.3 of the lads were fooked out by the stewards through no fault of their’s or mine,they had to buy another 3 tkts to get back in.fowler knows how much they paid for them.
how do these stupid cnuts get jobs?”

Words almost fail. “Out of town tourist fans” even think there’s a hierarchy in their numbers, as if there are proper fans amongst them;

 “i miss all the fairweather fans… looking for tickets with their first post…”

Here’s a tip gentlemen, there are plenty of perfectly fine clubs to support in Ireland. It’s privilege that you are able to buy tickets for a football club miles from where you live, not a fucking right!

“Out-of-town tourist fans” are not needed to buy tickets. Let’s consider the idea that people in Liverpool like to go “to the match”. Now let’s say, for argument’s sake, that of Liverpool’s 430,000 inhabitants roughly 200,000 people don’t like football. This leaves more than 100,000 possible fans for both Everton and Liverpool, and this not counting the scouse diaspora. 

In both cases that number of fans is more than twice the capacity of their grounds. In other words  you could  easily fill each ground with people living in Liverpool. These “out-of-town tourist fans” are not vital despite what they think. I doubt whether any of the “out-of-town tourist fans” give enough thought to this  idea to let it stop them going to Anfield, or Old Trafford, or Goodison for that matter.

Speaking of Everton, the evidence I found about Irish fans on the internet reminded me of an Everton fan I know from Llandudno. He was born in Bangor, he lived in Llandudno, he went  to school in Llandudno, he worked in Llandudno and he played football in Llandudno with me.Naturally he supported Everton with all the bitter vigour of a true scouse Evertonian. 

It was all “Kopites are Gobshites” this and alll “Liverpool fans are all Norweigan” that. He didn’t seem to have time to consider the idea that to Everton’s scouse support he may appear only slightly less foreign than a Norweigan. In fact he bangs on like a proper “died in the blue wool” scouse Evertonian to this day. Why does he do this? It’s probably the Murdoch-led hype making him think he has to act like this, just like it is with all the other  “out-of-town tourist fans”.

If you doubt that these “out-of-town tourist fans” have an effect then you should have been with me in a Liverpool pub watching Liverpool v Man United in 2007. It was jam-packed with scouse Liverpool fans who would have been only too happy to go to the match at Anfield. The “out-of-town tourist fans” don’t only effect Liverpool and United they also effect the clubs from their home town, and that’s even if they’re in the premier league like Wigan. Here’s the Mudhutters’ view;

“…We’ve even got devoted fans of teams like Leeds and Newcastle in the town as people gravitate to success and big clubs and only focus on their local lower division club perversely when they play a big team. Can we change them? In some cases no but then many have, they might have followed a top club from afar whilst taking a passing interest in their local team and looking out for their results. Some have developed that interest further and good on them, what’s the harm in that, anyone who has never taken an interest in their local football club probably shouldn’t be living here. The REAL enemy and embarrassment in Wigan are those football fans who support another team from another town whilst looking down their nose at their own town’s club. It will take time, and generations to change this mentality….”

The “out-of-town tourist fans” are a major problem for football. They help to reinforce the market view of football and  they bolster the status quo. They obviously have disposable income to buy the tickets and because they claim to love “their” club they are willing to pay that little bit extra to go. They’re willing to stomach the price rises without complaint because they only go to a few matches,  matches that are a highlight in their drone-like existences.

By acting like this the “out-of-town tourist fans” provide a justification for the price rises we all have to suffer from. The market’s logic is proven because they provide the demand.  By buying tickets these twats  not only deprive local fans of a chance to see their local club, they also tip the balance of power away from the local fans of a club. The local fans are more likely to make a stand against the way their club is run, or if they feel exploited. Indeed the diluting effect of the “out-of-town tourist fans” on atmosphere has led to campaigns like Reclaim the Kop and it was one of the  starting points of FC United.

The worst thing  about the decision of “out-of-town tourist fans”  is that it’s an action based on fashion yet it has negative consequences far beyond looking good to your mates.





It used to be simpler

18 02 2011

Usually when a big and brash club meets a non-league club in the FA Cup most people are on the side of the underdog. Therefore when Crawley play Manchester United tomorrow you’d think that most neutrals will be rooting for the non-league red devils. Hence;

“Crawley Town FC are preparing to take on Manchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford.

They’re only the sixth non-league club to reach this stage of the tournament since the end of the Second World War.

On their way, they’ve knocked out League Two’s Torquay, League One’s Swindon and Championship side Derby County.

More than 9,000 Crawley fans will be in Manchester after their allocation of tickets sold out in four hours.

The club go into the match sitting second in the Blue Square Bet Premier table and have gone 11 games unbeaten.

Here’s what people in the town are making of the match ahead of this weekend, which is live on BBC Radio 5 Live at 5.15pm on Saturday 19 February.”

 Which leads to Bianca Delacotte, a 24 year old office worker, feeling a town’s pride

“There’s such a buzz around town. Everyone’s talking about it, everyone’s watching it.

“People at work are trying to get their shifts changed so they finish early and see it.

“Everyone knows it’s going to be immense. I’m not going, but will be heading down the pub.

“To be honest, I think they’ll lose, but it’ll be so brilliant to see them play such a big club.

“You never know we might get a lucky goal but we’re ready to lose.

“And even then, we wouldn’t be disappointed. We’re playing Manchester United. It’s huge.”

But what appears to be Goliath against the upstart David on the surface is nothing really of the sort if you go beyond the surface. There is a marked difference between Crawley Town and Sutton United, Woking or Yeovil and Petters. Crawley are…;

“Painted as the Conference’s answer to an unholy Manchester City-Millwall hybrid — no one likes ’em, but they don’t care when they’ve got loadsamoney — and run by a controversial manager who laps up playing the bogeyman, has there ever in the competition’s history been a more lukewarm response towards the prospect of a non-League side possibly reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup?”

When Saturday Comes put it even more succinctly “Creepy Crawley buying their way out of the Conference

As you may imagine they’re not liked by the fans of other clubs for this approach. There are probably several reason for this ill feeling. Firstly, they have no fans.

“The Supporters Club have announced that despite only having 17 people booked on the coach for the Wrexham match on Tuesday 15th February it will run to the game.”

Secondly, there is a history of “financial irregularities”.

Lastly, you could chuck in a lack of modesty too. Here’s their captain Pablo Mills talking about tomorrow;

“Mills, 26, told BBC Sussex and BBC Surrey: “We’re going to go up there to win a game. We’ll treat it as if we are playing a Conference team.”We’ll prepare the same way and try and play. Nothing is impossible.”

And here’s their manager Steve Evans doing the same;

“If there is any non-league club capable of beating United then it’s Crawley Town. We have the best team at this level for a long time and we’re more organised than other teams. It will take a miracle for that to happen but miracles do happen.”

In case you’ve forgotten about Steve Evans, he was the manager of Boston during their brief sojourn in the football league. Evans received…;

“…… a one-year suspended jail sentence in 2006 for his part in a tax fraud conspiracy when he was manager of Boston United in 2002.”

If whoring their way to success and associated arrogance wasn’t enough the money obsessed twats have sold their souls for filthy lucre. They have not only unveiled a new sponsorship for tomorrow (Cashing in you see!) with a bunch of twats, they’re actually  proud of their decision;

Crawley Town Football Club and their sponsors, Alamo International, are pleased to announce that the big match on February 19th against our rival ‘Red Devils’, Manchester United, will also be sponsored by the World famous S## newspaper.

Let’s leave the last word to the their captain.

“I don’t think there’s any club in the Conference who’d turn down what’s happened to us. We’re there to be shot at and a lot of teams are going to be envious of what’s happened to us.”

I can of a few fans that wouldn’t like that kind of billing for their club but maybe I’m odd, or jealous.

 Why can’t football be simple any more? Why can’t giantkilling teams consist of tradesmen and students any more?





Good Old Dave never told us about this!

15 02 2011

Good Old Dave, say it ain’t so, say it aint so!

From today’s Independent;

The Independent has learnt that LSSI, an American firm which manages 13 public libraries across the US, has set itself a target to manage libraries in eight British local authorities by the end of the year and to capture 15 per cent of the market within five years. Libraries could house coffee shops and bring in self-scanning technology.

 Ministers say they are relaxed about having “a Starbucks in the library” if that keeps libraries open. Nearly 400 are threatened with closure, a figure that could rise to 800 by the end of the year.

UK firms will also bid for library contracts. The private sector’s interest could undermine the Government’s attempt to “sell” the Big Society as a way in which local people can take over community assets.

Stuart Fitzgerald, UK vice-president of LSSI, said: “It’s not impossible to imagine a mixed market economy for libraries that will raise overall standards and encourage further competition.”

Roberta Stevens, president of the American Library Association, said that private-sector firms “cannot guarantee the same level of transparency. Local authorities have to be absolutely clear on the terms of contract when entering into these deals. British taxpayers risk losing their own tax pounds to American firms.”

On the day of Mr Cameron’s big relaunch, it also emerged that:

* The £200m Big Society Bank will lend money, rather than give grants to charities and other groups aiming to run projects, and will have to get a return on its loans to cover its costs.

* The Bank will not lend directly to social enterprises but act as a wholesaler, lending to operations that decide on direct investments.

* Private firms Serco, Sodexo and Mitie have been chosen as preferred bidders to run the Community Payback scheme for offenders, currently run by probation staff, with no voluntary groups making the shortlist.

* Only two voluntary bodies are among 35 groups to qualify to bid for welfare-to-work contracts worth an estimated £2bn.

* Only 8 per cent of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs say they do voluntary work, according to a survey by the http://www.the-big-society.co.uk website.

 The big society explained

The soundbite: ‘Devolving power to local communities’
What does it mean? Councils to be given power to decide where they spend money, with no “ring-fencing” of funds. Voters can demand local referendums. Communities will be able to overrule planning decisions.
Is anything happening yet? The cornerstone of the policy is the Localism Bill which is currently going through Parliament. Already the number of “ring fenced” areas of funding has been dramatically scaled back.

The soundbite: ‘Reforming public services’
What does it mean? Councils and government departments will be able to outsource services from libraries to “free schools”. Providers could be private companies making a profit such as Serco, or social enterprises set up by groups of individuals. Michael Gove’s free schools fall into this category.
Is anything happening yet? Some councils have announced plans “contract out” services. Suffolk wants to become a “virtual” council and provide no services directly at all. Critics fear that private companies will only be able to make a profit by cutting back on existing services.

The soundbite: ‘Supporting social action’
What does it mean? Ministers want to provide money and support to local groups with ideas to improve their community. The Big Society bank will be financed by an estimated £400m from dormant accounts and £200m given by the UK’s largest banks. Charities and local groups will be able to apply for funds.
Is anything happening yet? Pilot schemes have been launched in Cumbria, Sutton, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Liverpool. But Liverpool has already pulled out of the programme, saying that they cannot afford to take part because of the Government’s cuts.

Jesus, it only took 12 hours to find giant holes in Good Old Dave’s bullshit, sorry old bean.





Despise is such a horrible word

15 02 2011

Football fans being football fans they will try to watch football. Most will do it legally, but some will spoil it all by trying to watch football illegally. Let’s call these people amoral cowards.

Amoral cowards want to watch football on unlicensed television channels in pubs. By making this choice these scumbags won’t allow pubs to use sky tv to “Boost (their) business with an exciting live sports, news and entertainment package that’ll bring the customers in, get them to stay longer and, most importantly, encourage them to spend more.”.

Incidentally, Sky tv don’t like it when pesky little pubs abuse their noble ideology. They will try  to prosecute  the landlords that don’t submit to their wholesome monopoly. Well sky tv are bastards and protecting revenue is second nature to bastards. 

Mind you to give the bastards some leeway you can almost understand why they have this attitude. Firstly the amoral  cowards literally steal bread from the mouths of Murdoch’s  grandchildren. Secondly the glorious premier league allows sky tv to charge  pubs thousands of pounds a year to gain access to sky tv’s wonderful football product;

“A typical 12-month contract, based on a pub’s rateable value, can cost between £5,000 and £10,000 to show Premier League football and other sports.”

With just over 53,000 pubs in the UK sky tv stand to make a vast profit each year, you can definitely understand why they want to protect this.

Unfortunately for the bastards the amoral cowards may be winning. Last week Karen Murphy, the  landlady of the Red, White and Blue pub in Portsmouth, won the right to show football in her pub via an illegal foreign decoder. This ruling could potentially cost sky tv 100s of millions of pounds as EU law protects choice, or to put it another way;

“exclusivity of the rights in question have the effect of partitioning the internal market into quite separate national markets, something which constitutes a serious impairment of freedom to provide services”.

Unfortunately a situation that produces winners naturally produces the corollary, losers. Sir, can spare a thought for the football clubs? Clubs are already suffering greatly from the existence of amoral cowards. Niall Quinn simply despises” what these amoral cowards are doing to his beloved multi-million pound institution.

”I would never criticise anyone who doesn’t come to the stadium because of financial constraints, but I despise those who spend far more than the price of a ticket watching some overseas commentator describing the action at the nearby Stadium of Light.”

It gets better when you discover how he came by this information;

“…….a covert investigation had exposed evidence of the numbers who were viewing Sunderland games on Saturday afternoons without setting foot inside the club’s stadium.”

He obviously wants these fans to come back, yet he “despises” them and he’s spied on them. While he’s at it there’s another thing Niall can’t stand, there are “….a significant number of these people taking the easy option of spending their money in the pub watching their team as opposed to supporting their team and helping to create a better atmosphere at the Stadium.”

Taking the easy option, how very dare they!!! Staying in a pub with their mates, the very idea!!! You ain’t going to get people to come back with this attitude Niall.

On the other hand Niall if you weren’t charging £30 for less-than-total football more people might feel amenable to popping along to the Stadium of Light. You see Niall, tickets may only cost £30 each but if you add in the incidentals (a programme/fanzine, a bit of food, a few drinks, getting to the ground) that cost can go up to £50/£60 quite easily.

Even when there isn’t a recession/depression who the hell wants to spend £60 on 3/4 hours of entertainment where there’s no guarantee of any entertainment? If a Saturday night out  is added the day’s cost could go up to £100.  You don’t have to be a long distance Sunderland fan to incur these costs, you don’t even have to leave Sunderland.

The thing that makes this situation even worse is that we’re not even talking about a special weekend, it’s just one of 19 ordinary league games. Who can afford this kind of expense on a regular basis? Who actually wants to spend this much money on an ordinary football match?

Yesterday Niall clarified his point with a hole and a giant spade. Apparently “It’s not about the money thing”. Yes Niall how can it be about the money? It’s not as if Sunderland is one of the most deprived areas in Britain is it?

As usual the bloated premier league can’t see past it’s greed. Niall, you’re only moaning because you think this problem directly affects you and your club. If you really cared about football you’d be upset that people have prostrated themselves  at sky tv’s hype instead of supporting their smaller local clubs.  What about the effect of Saturday drinkers on the  smaller clubs in the north east Niall?

Yeah, what about the famous clubs like Blyth Spartans, Spennymoor Town, Norton & Stockton Ancients, Billingham Synthonia, Ashington, West Auckland Town and Whitley Bay? What about clubs like Sunderland Nissan FC,  Billingham Town, Bishop Auckland, Consett,  Tow Law Town and West Allotment Celtic? If Sunderland are suffering what about the effect of Saturday drinkers on all of these clubs Niall?

Mind you the premier league couldn’t care less about the effect of its hype so why would Niall care? 








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