UKIP if you want to, I’ll stay awake.

1 04 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Upon finding a bag of old programmes…….

22 07 2012

A few months ago a shady gentleman entered the club shop and thrust a full carrier bag in my general direction before leaving in a hurry. I looked inside the carrier bag, it was full of old Bangor City programmes from the 1950s and ’60s. I took the bag home and forgot about it. Last week, as I was tidying my palatial abode, I found the carrier bag again.

The contents of the carrier bag are fantastic pieces of history. As I read the programmes I felt as though I was peering into a lost world. For example, this is what home programmes looked like for years;

You don’t see many hand drawn covers now. The away programmes were mostly from Bangor City’s time in the Cheshire League. The club names show us that the past took place in a different country;

The more modern programmes in the bag, they also suggested a lost world…..;

….. a world where Welsh club would play each other in English cup competitions;

The bag also contained a couple of notable programmes. There was one from Bangor City’s first match in the Northern Premier League (Bangor were founding members);

There was also a programme from one of Bangor City’s first matches in the Conference (Again Bangor were founding members);

As you would imagine the programmes were mostly full of adverts however, there were interesting nuggets here and there. For example there were upsetting adverts;

There were mentions of future television presenters;

There was conviviality towards Welsh visitors;

There were philosophical musings;

There was even thinly veiled sarcasm;

In case you’re wondering this page was taken from the programme for the Bangor v Southport FA Cup 2nd round match on November 26th 195….. (I’d like to tell you the exact year but the programme won’t tell me.).

And the moral of this story is…..when a bloke leaves a bag full of stuff inside a club shop have a look inside it.

Football fans and their wily ways

16 07 2012

“Normal people” would stay clear of court cases involving emotive issues. “Normal people” wouldn’t celebrate when a pantomime villain is let of. Some football fans are obviously not “normal people”.

Here’s some Chelsea fans that turned out to support JT, their “Captain, Leader, Legend” (copyright of some pricks from London), in court;

(People on twitter publicised the pictures)

Even though their hero’s conduct has been rather unseemly they still felt the need to act like that.  What the hell did they think they were doing? Did they think they were celebrating another victory? If I were a Chelsea fan I’d be deeply embarrassed by their actions.

This kind of bovine stupidity is killing the soul of football. It’s a good job that the contemptible spectacle of the world’s greatest league  has already alienated me otherwise I’d be approaching depression.

That’s no way to find out what happened!

29 02 2012

At first pressing the red button seems like a good idea. You might want to check whether Wrexham are still of the league, you may have the urge to find out who Queen’s Park are playing on Saturday, you may even want to see what’s on channel 301. You may see that Final Score is a viewing option like I did last night.

Things started to go wrong shortly after the thought “Hmmm, I wonder who’s playing tonight?” passed through my mind. I managed to disregard the garish colours and interminable moving text enough to notice that Bangor were losing 3-1 against a team that’s near the bottom of the league. My unease at this discovery wasn’t helped by the fact that I had forgotten that Bangor were playing in the league cup.

The unease became stronger…..

….and stronger.

Then my league cup dreams went up in smoke for another year. There nothing quite like stark facts for lessening the impact of a frustrating result. I’m sure that Newtown’s goals were all against the run of play. What a bloody way to find out your team has lost.

Now I’m not saying that the BBC couldn’t care less about Welsh semi-pro clubs but they had clearly forgotten that some Welsh clubs were playing last night. Neath v Llanelli kicked off at 7:30 but there was an information blackout until 9:29’s news flood;

The start of something new

24 02 2012
Bangor City 6 Caernarfon Borough 1
Bangor City 1 Wigan Athletic XI 2
Bangor City 2 Prestatyn Town 1
Welsh Premier League

After the destruction, the trepidation, the waiting and the gossip the time had arrived. Yes THE time was finally here; the new ground was ready!!!  Even with a decade of preparation this time had arrived in a sudden rush.

I spent the weeks leading up to the first match in Nantporth jumping mental hurdles, I’m sure most fans about to go to their clubs’ new ground are the same; “It took me years to get used to the last ground, am I going to like this one?”  “How will it feel?”  “Will we have the same essence?”  “Will it have the same spirit?”  “When will I begin to love the new place?”  “I can’t love a place with pristine seats, can I?”

In my head I could hear north Wales’ freelance experts in amateur psychology (opinionated local football fans) prescribing me a dose of immersion therapy as the cure for these emotive problems. “You need to grasp the nettle, confront your demons, snap out of it, blah blah blah”.

These odious loudmouths always think their brainwaves are the service that humanity needs but I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the hectoring voices in my head. I met their tones with a big “Fuck You”. North Wales’ chuntering classes weren’t going to stop me with their advice about grasping metaphorical nettles, or the application of metaphorical bay leaves.  I wasn’t going to let half-arsed loudmouths push me about with their petit-bourgeois crap, no sirree. I had it all figured out, my case of ennui didn’t need those fuckers.

Unfortunately my self-administered therapy only involved looking at the photos of Nantporth’s development. It didn’t work. I needed something else to salve my anguish, maybe I needed to go to Nantporth, maybe  all I needed was to spend time in new surroundings, could the loudmouths actually have a point?

I must say that after I actually grasped the nettle by setting foot in Nantporth my worries subsided a little. Mind you I’m not going to let the thoughts of the hoity-toity chuntering classes take all the credit, before my first visit to Nantporth  I went to Farrar Road to take some photos of the demolition of  Farrar Road. After this I realised there was no alternative.

Just because their approach seemed to work I’m not saying “follow the know-it-alls” but If you’re ever in the same situation you might like to try a little immersion therapy. If you are ever in the same position it’s probably a good idea if you don’t take photos of the destruction of your clubs’ cherished old ground, just give in to progress and be done with it.

Although the emotional side is the biggest hurdle it’s not plain sailing after you’ve started to deal with the emotion. You also  have to confront practical issues; “What’s the best way to get there?”  “How long will it take to get there by foot?”  “Where will I stand?”  “Will I be able to avoid the moaning gets?”

The first two problems were the easiest to solve, and it only took three trips!!!! The journey from station to Nantporth involves a 3 minute car journey or 20 minute walk whichever route you take (through upper Bangor or over upper Bangor). Unless it’s raining Shank’s pony is the healthiest and prettiest method.

I haven’t quite solved the next practical issue as I’m not quite sure the place from where I want to  watch matches.  I had quite a good view from behind both goal but one of the main problems with uncovered ends  is rain and it rained during two of the matches .

The historic first match against Caernarfon was played in a mist of drizzle and mist. I stayed behind the goal because the atmosphere was good. I put the atmosphere down to the festivities. It rained heavily during the Prestatyn match and again there was a good atmosphere. I liked the way the atmosphere of Farrar Road seemed to have survived the move. Although it must be said the same people that went to Farrar Road were now in Nantporth.

It wasn’t just the retention of atmosphere that I noticed from my behind the goals vantage point a lot details became evident as well; the squeaky Simpsons teenager voice used the Cofi keeper, the sly fouls of certain Prestatyn players, the Wigan Athletic  players drink Wigan Athletic mineral water. The view was generally unimpeded.

I also sampled the view from the smaller of the two stands (on the opposite side to the main stand). Watching the match from there was a bit “meh”; the view was alright – if you discounted from the areas obscured by the TV gantry –  but I didn’t really feel anything extra. The smaller stand is unfinished, when it is finished it will run the length of the pitch.

I finally made it to the main stand during the Prestatyn match. Not only was the main stand my saviour from sodden clothes it provided a wonderfully panoramic sense of the developments on the pitch. From high up I could easily sense the flow and ebb of movement, I could see how Bangor’s players made things fit together, I could see the way the players interacted with the ball, with each other and with the  space. I couldn’t believe that simply standing above the play would make things feel so different. It was such a revelatory feeling that I didn’t even notice when the floodlight pylons sometimes obscured my view, I may make this  my regular viewpoint.

Although we were far enough away to sense a real sense of skills being shown we were close enough to see all the action on the pitch, close enough to hear the odious stupidity of Dave Hayes, Prestatyn’s moronic centre back.

We may have a new home ground but we continued playing with the fluency that marked the games in December and January. Bangor played some great stuff in all three matches and in truth we should have remained undefeated. There were a couple of defensives lapses but the flowing moves and general action more than compensated for those setbacks.

There were lots of positive things about the new ground that gave hope for the future; a clubhouse that can be used for many events and to finally display Bangor City’s rich and vibrant history, the PA system that goes “BING BONG!!!!!!”, the large amount of parking. Before I go any further I must warn you about the PA system, if you stand too close to the speakers, the “BING BONG!!!!!” is akin to hearing the scratch of nails down a blackboard, it manages to hit the mainline to your central nervous system .

Nantporth may be new but there is an impressive sense to it all, a sense that may have been lacking a little at Farrar Road if we’re honest. Nantporth certainly looks impressive when you pull up to it. The watchword with Nantporth is potential. We could have something fantastic in years to come. Indeed there are great development plans already in the pipeline – the community-based 3G pitch, the development of covered terraces, the finishing of the other stand – so we can touch the fulfilment of potential already.

I hope it stops raining soon.

It’s the hype I can’t stand

15 02 2012

It seem that Brazil have a new shirt.

In the style of the times, it comes with an overblown description;

“Nike Football’s new Brasil uniform for 2012-2013, which is celebrates Jeitinho Brasileiro (“The Brasilian Way”) — the spirit that encompasses the resilience, creativity and relentlessly positive and innovative approach that has helped make the Brasil National Team the most successful in the history of football.

The Brasilian home jersey, affectionately known as Amarelinha (“Little Yellow One”), has become a revered national symbol that represents both the hopes of the Brasilian people and their vibrant and diverse culture.

In line with Nike’s commitment to superior athletic performance and lower environmental impact, the fabric of the new shorts is made with 100% recycled polyester, while the fabric of the jerseys is made with at least 96% recycled polyester.  Kits are made using an average of 13 recycled plastic bottles.

The new kit marks a return to tradition with a classic, authentic design that recognizes the country’s glorious football history. The shirt boasts a clean yellow body and a classic V-neck collar with a thin green trim. The shirt also features deep green cuffs, which can be turned over to reveal the rallying cry of Nascido Para Jogar Futebol (“Born to Play Football”) written in the style of Pichacao, a distinctive form of urban graffiti.

Printed on the inside of the back of the neck is a graphic by Brasilian artist Don Torelly. The graphic depicts an outline of the Brasilian federation’s crest containing the Southern Cross, a constellation of stars that was seen over Rio de Janeiro when the Brasilian republic was founded in 1889.

The design of the bold green numbers on the shirts is inspired by the numbers on Brasil’s national bank notes.

The new home shorts are a traditional blue color with a thick white stripe along the side. The new home socks, now with improved cushioning for greater comfort, movement and protection, are white with a green band at the top. A band of diamonds wraps around the center, echoing the tattoos of indigenous warriors.

The new kits are Nike Football’s lightest ever — up to 23 percent lighter than the previous versions. Nike Dri-FIT technology is incorporated throughout the  kits, which helps regulate players’ temperatures on pitch by removing sweat from the body to keep them dry and cool. Laser-cut ventilation on the shirts delivers localized cooling where athletes need it most.

Thanks to a new double-knit structure and yarns, the kits are 20 percent stronger than previous versions, without compromising on fit and feel. A small amount of natural cotton has been added for comfort.”

In olden days the sole purpose of your shirt was to differentiate opponents from each other. This simple idea is now not good enough they have to include a needless load of bollocks with it;

“…….up to 23 percent lighter than the previous versions ……………. Laser-cut ventilation on the shirts delivers localized cooling ………….. the kits are 20 percent stronger than previous versions”

When Brazil are on the next windswept European leg of their Nike world tour I wonder how much benefit the Brazilian players will gain from a shirt that’s 23 percent lighter. This is innovation is innovation for innovation’s sake. The marketing tossers seem to have forgotten that manufacturers generally stopped making cotton football shirts in the 1970s. Football shirts have been almost gossamer thin, therefore unable to compromise athletic performance, for several years now. Mind you adding  a superfluous scientific sheen is typical behaviour for a sportswear company trying to prove they’re one step ahead so it didn’t really get my goat, the following load of shite really goat my goat;

“The shirt also features deep green cuffs, which can be turned over to reveal the rallying cry of Nascido Para Jogar Futebol (“Born to Play Football”) written in the style of Pichacao, a distinctive form of urban graffiti.”

This sentence is yet more proof that Nike thinks that Nike is a pretty cool company.  Nike may be many things – a heartless multinational, a historic user of sweatshops (to be fair to the American multinational most multinational sportswear companies have acted like them), a ruthless pursuer of reflected glory that entails placing undue pressure on sports performers (Brazilian footballers and Chinese athletes) to act is certain ways – but Nike is not cool, and they never have been.

Nike have a different perception of Nike than we may have. Nike don’t see Nike as a mere manufacturer of sportswear, they see themselves as  a manufacturer of lifestyle…….“ Just Do It” and things will happen……… “Livestrong” and you’ll achieve your goals ………  buy our trainers and you will become a feminist icon. Their belief in their own sense of specialness runs through everything they do:

“In November of 1990, Portland became the first home to a new retail-as-theatre experience called Niketown.”

As with other sportswear companies Nike’s marketing is quite obviously a load of shite at the most basic level. Nike’s goods won’t be able to do much for you if you are born without skill, speed or even balance, and that’s even if you buy the same boots that Cristiano wears. You won’t break down any social barriers just because you’re wearing their footwear either.

These basic facts don’t stop Nike thinking they’re special; not only will their products transform you, Nike are “innovating for a better world” and will “make the world a better place” . You could argue that if they really cared about making the world a better place they would pay their workers at a reasonable rate or give everyone in the developing world a free pair of trainers.  Their claims have the hollow clang of marketing bullshit because Nike are just about making money, if they can bend towards the ideas of the time to achieve this so be it. This is not cool, concepts such as “Retail-as-theatre” are not remotely cool

Nike seem to think by co-opting an edgy street styles they are by definition cool, but as I’ve already said Nike are not cool. The trouble with companies trying to claim coolness is the methods they use to claim coolness; the cynical manipulation of ideas in order to make money.

I remember watching a documentary about Puma and their contract to supply Jamaica’s athletics federation. The doc showed how a group of well-off westerners descended on Kingston to try find the soul of Jamaica in order to distil it,  and then inject it in to their sportswear. You can’t imagine how cringe worthy these marketing twats were; self-conscious pompous hipsters trying to prove that they were “down wid ma breddren”.

One point I remember in particular was the point when one of these marketing fuckers claimed  that Puma could be an integral part of Jamaican culture despite the fact that Puma had sod all to with Jamaica before they provided sportswear to the Jamaican athletics federation. Puma are still trying to claim that Jamaica and Puma have the same values;

“When we decided to work with Jamaica some years ago, we took the decision to do so because Jamaica speaks the brand’s essence in terms of the mix of sports and lifestyle,” the head marketing fucker noted.

“Jamaica is very successful on the track, but also an attractive country, and there is the culture and the music, and this is a perfect match for Puma.”

How Music and culture fits perfectly with a company that makes clothes for people to sweat in is beyond me but this doesn’t matter to the marketing industry because they are twats. This industry believes that everything they see, write, or create is so utterly fantastic they manage to discover new universal truths;

“Further, the company began endorsing more controversial and unique athletes, such as……….. the Jamaican Olympic team, known as a laid-back, “cool” group of athletes. They produced clothing for these teams that were stylish, yet comfortable, and very provocative.”

In the real world Puma’s desire to become part of Jamaican culture resulted in “provocative” sportswear that featured varying amounts of the yellow, green and black. To put this another way, Puma spent lots of money, time and effort to design something for a national athletics team in the colours of its national flag.  I could have saved Puma a fortune by telling that national athletics teams generally wore kit featuring the colours of national flags. Nike are trying to do similar with the Brazil shirt. Here’s their bullshit again.

“The shirt also features deep green cuffs, which can be turned over to reveal the rallying cry of Nascido Para Jogar Futebol (“Born to Play Football”) written in the style of Pichacao, a distinctive form of urban graffiti”

They seem to think that by co-opting a street style they are becoming a part of Brazilian culture and safeguard their edgy style. Like Puma it’s a cynical use of popular culture, it’s the sort of act that hollows out popular culture and makes it meaningless.

Nike are not cool simply because they say they are cool, or try to act cool. Nike will never be cool. They may  think they’re outsiders but  it is an outsider status constrained by marketing definitions of what “alternative” means. In reality this alternative image is just another method of trying to make money. Besides anyone that thinks they’re cool is deeply, deeply uncool and a multinational company is definitely uncool.

Nike will simply never be cool as they have never been an integral part of a spontaneous sub-culture. While Adidas are just as bad as Nike in some ways, being a multi-national and all, they also produced footwear that was integral to the casuals movement (for want of a better phrase), and this made Adidas rather cool.

The crucial difference between this example and the tactics of Puma and Nike is that people made the choice about Adidas; Adidas did not make the choice about people. You could even say that the casual movement happened by accident;  In the late 1970s / early 1980s Adidas happened to make trainers in a certain style. At the same time certain football fans decided that they wanted to wear a new style of dress to matches. When the two things came together the casual movement was born. The casual movement wasn’t created by Adidas to show that they were outsiders and “cool”, the movement was created by people who used sportswear in a way that hadn’t been anticipated. People make stuff cool, companies do not.

The people marketing football are killing peoples’ enthusiasm for the sport, they’re taking football further and further away from the simple joy that football can provide. A joy that’s shown by the video I found on the When Saturday Comes site last week.

Exactly, exactly!!!!

8 02 2012

During  today’s internet travels I came across an interview from several years ago .

The interview featured Tony Evans, the Liverpool fan and Times journalist, and he was talking about the book in which he documented his trips around Europe to watch Liverpool play. I really enjoyed one particular part of the interview because it managed to highlight two things –  the problems with football and the joy of being a football fan that goes to matches – at the same time. It was this part;

Question: Travelling long uncomfortable train journeys across Europe to get to a game is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, with most fans these days either preferring to catch a plane to the match, or to stay in the comfort of their own home and watch the game from 57 different camera angles on the likes of Sky Sports. So are the type of passionate fans who made those long arduous treks to support the team throughout the 70′s and 80′s also becoming an endangered species in the modern game?

Answer: Yes. It will get worse. People are not forming the bonds with the clubs that we have. When I was 9, I’d go up the ground for 12, be first in at one and hanging over the fence at the front of the Anny Road for the rest of the afternoon. When Stevie Heighway took a corner, I could hear him grunt when he hit the ball. I was there, I could touch the atmosphere, was part of it. Why do I still love it? It’s because of that. Because I believe it’s my culture. Because it’s part of my identity. Can you get that from a telly?

The same with being at games. Even when you lose, you have adventures you can talk about for decades – you should come out and be bored by me an my mates still abusing each other about incidents half a lifetime ago. What adventures can you have in front of the television?

The bit that did it for me was “ have adventures you can talk about for decades”. This phrase is nearest you’ll ever get to distilling the essence of being a fan. Being a fan is not about allowing Four Four Two to go travelling for you, or repeating what you’ve heard on the internet, or sending abusive tweets, or being the first to wear a new polyester shirt in Llandudno’s cultural quarter, or indulging in Sunday afternoon banter in Llandudno’s cultural quarter, or shouting at a television screen.

Being a fan is about the flights you’ve nearly missed, the songs you’ve invented in minibuses, the impromptu 14-a-side matches in Denmark, the time you pretended to be a journalist and got in for nothing. It’s about the countless little things like booking tickets, getting time off and remembering when you’re supposed to be leaving. Being a fan is about the people you meet and the memories you’ve gained

Being a fan is not about the banter, it’s never about the over-excitable, execrable, excruciating banter

This week’s scene of destruction

5 02 2012

The last remains of a football ground

A month is a long time in football…..

28 01 2012

……but it isn’t for those with a void for a soul.

Farrar Road – One month ago

Farrar Road – Today

I haven’t got the correct words to describe this. Let’s just say it’s symptomatic of contemporary British society.

The Destruction of Farrar Road

14 01 2012

I tried to resist the urge to visit Farrar Road but I couldn’t, I had to visit Farrar Road for the last time.

After standing in the middle of destruction it’s hard to get your head around the idea that only 2 and a half weeks ago over 2,500 people were standing on the Farrar Road terraces. I know time waits for no man but I can’t help but feel that certain people sent the diggers in with indecent haste.

We’ve been made to feel like stragglers at last orders, the heartless landlord sweeping behind us as he kicks us out of our favourite place before we want to go. That’s the trouble with Thatcherite society; the people with the power to make things happen know the cost of everything  and the value of nothing.

Here’s what you call progress;

2012 1 14 (4)

I’m being stalked by Big Sam

13 01 2012

I’m sure that if I was a Blackburn fan I’d probably have warm feelings for Sam “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams” Allardyce. I’d remember the managerial genius of “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams” as it was a genius that brought us so many great times. The present difficulties would only reinforce this genius, there is an absence of mediocrity of mid- table safety in the Blackburn, Lancashire of today!!

If I was actually a Blackburn fan I’d like to think that I’d be one of the enlightened Blackburn fans that follows football in general but this wouldn’t help me as it  would mean that I’d know that “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams” was working his magic down at West Ham. Consequently, if I was actually an enlightened  Blackburn fan I’d be a very frustrated enlightened Blackburn fan.

I’d try to be hopeful but I know that I would constantly remember the good old days under “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams”. I’d remember how those were the days when mid-table mediocrity was a safety blanket, the days when I could meet the gaze of my postman, butcher and stockbroker.  I’d remember the time when BIG SAM the alchemist provided took the base ingredients of  two banks of four and long throw ins and produced a new golden era of mid-table mediocrity. Then I’d remember how the time of the great magician “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams” was cut short so horribly, then I’d be upset again.

If I were a frustrated enlightened Blackburn fan I’m sure that I would become so frustrated that I’d organise some kind of risible protest against something I couldn’t properly define. I’d even make a banner for it.

Fortunately I’m not the sort of enlightened Blackburn that protests for no discernible reason, I’m not a Blackburn fan at all actually. Like all right-thinking people  I detest Sam “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Big Sams” Allardyce. I remember his conceit;

“I’m not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter or Real Madrid,” Allardyce said. “It wouldn’t be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time. Give me Manchester United or Chelsea and I would do the same, it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s not where I’m suited to, it’s just where I’ve been for most of the time.”  – I don’t care if the arsehole thinks he was being ironic.

I remember how he used the buzzwords of sports science to disguise agricultural football with the cloak of progressiveness. I remember how he treats football with contempt, how he fills his  interviews with  optimistic hopes of something good then asks his team to hoof it to the big man up.

Most of all I remember his moaning. “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams”  is quite simply one of the biggest moaning bastards in football. In case you’ve forgotten this just type in “Sam Allardyce” and “referees” and see how many hits you get. After you’ve done this you will realise that the names “Sam Allardyce” and “BIG SAM” are naked without an extra word or two. Words like; “Claims”, “Blasts”, “Hits Out”, “Furious”, “Lashes Out”, “Accuses”, “Fumes over”…

Football has produced so many glorious and joyful moments yet I still think of  “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams” but that’s the power of “BIG SAM -the biggest of all Sams”, he looms over the landscape of British football like a morose monolith. Fortunately when I’m about to  think of the grumbling fucker I start shaking and if I catch the shaking early enough it’s usually ok. After taking medication my brain usually reboots and I shudder back to life.

Because of the effect that  “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams”  has on my joie-de-vivre  I try to forget the morose monolith but the modern world doesn’t let me forget him. Last month West Ham decided to start sending personalised e-mails from the moaning get. Needless to say he spent most of the e-mails moaning, as if what he has to say matters. Have a look;

On the 12thDecember “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams”  told me that…

“Saturday’s defeat at Reading was a day where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong………………We are still second but at this stage, and where we want to go this season, you don’t want to lose two on the trot. We have lost five overall now and we have to put it right next weekend

We lost at Reading because we have lost our cool. We had two players sent-off and it made life hugely difficult for ourselves. After we lost Joey O’Brien, we didn’t even defend the free-kick properly and they were able to score a soft goal.

If we had coped with that, we would have reorganised, put in two banks for four and tried to make it as difficult as we could for Reading to score against ten men. We would have said ‘let’s see the game out and take nil-nil’.

With eleven v eleven we were attacking and we would have every chance of getting that fifth win away from home in a row.

It looked like Freddie Piquionne was pulled down in the box as he went through but it is more about the chances we have missed. Freddie had a free header on the far post, there was a great header from James Tomkins that Papa Bouba Diop didn’t convert.

If we had scored, Reading would have found it difficult, but we went down to ten men, gifted them the goal and made it easy for them.

Players have to keep their cool whatever is happening. They know that if a team beats us it is going to be like they have won their biggest game of the season. It is a loss of control that I haven’t seen in my time at the club.

We have lost two to suspension and with Guy Demel’s injury after two minutes, it means we are short on numbers for Barnsley next week. The challenge is to come back…..” (Boo Hoo, football’s rubbish)

On 20th December there was “a fantastic win against Barnsley in front of a sold-out stadium on Saturday”  but……

”We had injuries and suspensions before we started and when we did start, Abdoulaye Faye pulled up in the warm-up meaning we had to give Daniel Potts his debut at the age of 17……………..The squad situation went from bad to worse to desperate but we still won the game and won well. We should have scored more than Papa Bouba Diop’s header but the major decisions did not go our way………………It was a great debut from Pottsy, really very good defensively and in possession…………It is great to see a man of such young potential, a local boy who has had a massive trauma in his life with overcoming leukaemia. All credit to him as a 17-year-old for withstanding the pressure in such an important game.…….There were a lot of massive contributions from a squad that is being stretched to its very limit and we still managed to come up with a victory.” (Boo Hoo, Football’s rubbish)

On 28th December Sam told me he was “happy overall”  but ……

“..not with the last four games. We have only taken four points which is nonsense compared to what we have done and it tells you we have to go and win three or four on the trot now………………..We have got to put a run of wins together to get back in touch with Southampton and not let the gap get too big.………. ……I have been pretty critical to a patched-up team which has been patched up for a long time now. We have got a 17-year-old at left-back away from home for the first time while George McCartney was playing centre-half. …………… The loss of four players to suspension for Derby on New Year’s Eve is a massive blow.” (Boo Hoo, woe is me – Have you stopped and thought why the players were suspended?) 

On the 3rd of January Big Sam was “optimistic for 2012” but …..

“it was a shame that we could not get more goals than the one we did.” ……….……. In an ideal world, I will bring in two new players this month – a forward and a defender – because we only have five subs and we have to rotate the squad. Two quality players would be great. Maybe we will go for a wide player as well……………….We have already started the process of bidding but without any success at the moment, either permanent or loan deals. The co-owners Mr Sullivan and Mr Gold have pressed the button on a lot of potential deals already……………………..I can’t be more pleased with the way they have supported me. More goals is what we are after but we haven’t managed to clinch one yet………………. I am optimistic for 2012. My hope is we can get the players in the squad fit and have a full squad to choose from. That would give me the opportunity to pick the best eleven for each game rather than just who is available…….. (Boo Hoo, woe is me)

On January 9th  “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams” wanted me to “look forward‏” with hope but……

“……..Where we are in our position is to look at the squad and say ‘Are we going to take enough chances with the squad that we’ve got?’…………………We’ve already made offers for six or seven players that have been unsuccessful, but we’ll carry on trying as hard and as efficiently as we can to ensure that we acquire a new player if that’s at all possible………………………. But I will only buy a player who I think can make us better.” (Boo hoo, the world’s against me!!)

You can see the problem with “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams”’ ‘s take on football. He has a squad of 32 players to choose from, he’s a self-proclaimed managerial genius, he’s a wonderful tactician yet this is still not enough for success – see how he casually drop hints about needing extra players. The fact that he’s already got his excuses ready for a potential  lack of success highlights what a negative bastard he is. He reduces football to a series of grumbles. He’s the avatar of what’s wrong with football; the lack of calm acceptance.

In the Championship there are two automatic promotion places available and to any normal person if your club remain in one of those two places it will be good enough for promotion. This is not enough for “BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams”. I hope he doesn’t transmit negative waves over to the players as they’ll never get promoted

I presume that West Ham are still bombarding people with e-mails to get people interested in West Ham. I’m not sure how succesful they’ll be if they’re going to subject people to a  litany of moans

BIG SAM – the biggest of all Sams”   doesn’t seem to get much enjoyment out of football, why does he bother? I’ll send him an e-mail to ask him why.

Building a ground the easy way

8 01 2012

Here’s quick step by step guide to improving your club’s football ground problems!

Step 1

Pay 2 quid for a ready made new ground kit!

Step 2

Open the packet!

Step 3

Read Instructions and follow them to the letter!

Step 4

Watch the ground spring up!

Step 5

Marvel at the quick process!

Step 6

Admire what’s happened and wonder why more clubs don’t take this approach.

The Farrar End – 27/12/11

4 01 2012

Bangor City 5 Prestatyn Town 3
Welsh Premier League

With a decade to prepare for this match I took the last few weeks in my stride. I didn’t feel as emotional as I thought I would be. I remembered that I’d be working in a new, damp-free, club shop on matchdays. I’d also have a longer walk to the new ground but that didn’t really matter did it?

Last night I gave Joel two tickets (for him and Rhian) for today’s match and the situation felt so normal. I’d grown so used to hearing the words “Farrar End” (I even helped to plan the events of the last day by helping to arrange the brass band) that the final day began to feel like just another important event organised by the supporters’ association. The words “Last Ever Day” had lost their significance, there was no poignancy. When I thought of the last day at Farrar Road there was scarcely a sad thought in my head, my mind was filled by stories, memories, jokes, goals and muddy boots instead. Rhian told me that she used to go with her dad and this added to my joy. I think the medical qualities of cider also helped my joie de vivre..

As I stood on the platform this morning I cursed my bag, it was heavy enough without the two packets of scarves that I’d stuffed inside them. Today was going to be a flag day, today we were going to give the old girl the send off she deserved. Then my hangover kicked in and  I worried that the rain would ruin my flags, why was everything so complicated? Why were flag days so bad for my back? My hangover and the potential of a sore shoulder occupied my mind on the train.

The fresh air was invigorating so I walked to Farrar Road without a care in the world; I knew I was early enough to set up the shop properly, I knew that I would cope with the expected massive crowd. I got the shop ready as normal and just knew that it was going to be busy (You get to know the little signs –  like loads of people walking around the ground when there are still two and half hours before kick off.) Mark gave me one of the 20 disposable cameras that would record the day (and  hopefully lead to  a fantastic collage)

Before the crowd arrived in earnest I decided to have a walk around the ground for the last time. I already knew that the roof had been removed from the Farrar End so I was expecting a big shock but when I saw the now roofless end I didn’t feel the shock I had been expecting. I decided to stand on the shelf at the back of the Farrar End for old times’ sake.

It was only when I was on the shelf that the significance of the day finally dawned on me. Today would be the last ever day that I would be standing here to watch a football match. After today these terraces would be silenced forever, it was quite an eerie sensation. I gazed at the historic ground, I tried to drink it all in for one last time. I drifted away on reverie. Oh what tales the walls of Farrar Road could tell us!!!

Without a crowd I was able to clearly gaze at the St. Paul’s End mural for one last time, I was about to drift away again when I noticed something untoward. Caernarfon fans had decided to deface Nige P’s hard work with crude Neolithic daubings, I noticed that they had tried to do the same on the pitch. You have to laugh at their pettiness really, thinking that their primitive cave drawings would have any effect upon today’s events!!!

Thanks to the very, very brisk trade I missed most of the planned events. I only caught glimpses of Chris’ brass band, the Samba parade and the parade of ex-players. While  I managed to gain a distinct sense that the atmosphere was building I forgot to add my flags to the flag day.

I made it out of the shop for kick off., then I had to go back in for the disposable camera for the BCFCSA art project. Unexpectedly Prestatyn’s players made a guard of honour for the Bangor lads. My God, how I’d misjudged Gibson!!! What a gesture. The Prestatyn fans were in the Santa spirit too.

While Farrar Road is certainly historical it also has crap sightlines when it’s busy. I couldn’t see the pitch from my place near Joel so I decided to move around to the side to take some pictures. This turned out to be an inspired substitution of position as I was able to see Les open the scoring.

I returned to my original spot near Joel to find that I still had a crappy view. Luckily Dylan Reggae was standing near by and we both agreed that the lack of a good view didn’t matter today as today was more than about one silly match. It was about having a laugh, reminiscing and celebrating an occasion in the company of good people. As if to underline this point with a red pen I saw Harry and Darren from Llandudno. The whole world was there!! Just after I saw those two fine gentlemen Sion scored Bangor’s second.

Unfortunately Gibson managed to score a rather good goal by dribbling the ball through our defence, which unfortunately this led to a bit of silliness behind the St. Paul’s goal as the santas went a bit mad. The scoreline remained 2-1 until half time.

Thanks to the vast crowds I was busy all half-time but this wasn’t a day to worry about missing anything. Besides I didn’t miss Dave Morley’s thunderbolt of a strike. This was truly a magical way to turn things back in our favour, it was a truly apt goal for such a historic day. We scored again as I made my way around the ground to take my normal place in  the St. Paul’s end. We were playing some truly great football today. Then Prestatyn scored again.

The score was now 4-2. Would Prestatyn and Gibson succeed in spoiling the party just like their message board idiots claimed they would? Thankfully this didn’t look likely when Dave Morley scored his second goal. Then it looked more likely when Prestatyn made the score 5-3. They couldn’t actually spoil the party could they? They didn’t spoil anything in the end.

It was such a fantastic game for a last game. I was worried about the opposite happening before today as emotion can weigh heavily on occasions like this. Fortunately today was a real celebration. I made my own sedate pitch invasion to join in with the festivities.

For the rest of my time in Farrar Road I stood against the Farrar End wall thinking, silently thinking, about what I’d seen today and what it all meant. I was going to miss this place.

Here’s a bit more of a flavour of today

At last, the Jet Set review of 2011

31 12 2011

Not bad, much better than 2010

My last ever picture of Farrar Road

29 12 2011

It’s not often you can say THIS is the last of anything, well this photo will literally be my last photo of Farrar Road.

Well unless I go back in the next few weeks for one last, long, lingering look

My pictures of Farrar Road

29 12 2011

Here is a selection from the photos I’ve taken since I bought my first digital camera.

More from the Jet Set Archives

26 12 2011

When Rhys Williams was still Welsh, just before he decided to be Australian again;

20 Things I love about football – Part Two

24 12 2011

11. Fashion

I’ve always loved football-related fashion because it seemed to be the preferred style of the best dressed people.

For years I didn’t know the style was football-related because  like all north Walian teenagers I was ignorant of cultural nuances,  or to put it another way, I was a bit of a woollyback. If you had asked me I would not have been able to precisely define, or even tell you its name, the style that I liked. I only knew two things for definite about the style;  it’s general look; smart trainers and jeans, and where to find it; the streets of Liverpool and Manchester.

When I was a teenager we would often make family visits to Liverpool or Manchester. Whilst we were there I always seemed to notice that lads wore trainers  light years away from what was available in Llandudno.  Their look felt unobtainable. Their footwear came from the cutting edge of style.

I already had a desire for sportswear before I started visiting the north western cities. Adverts like the one on the back of the Wales v Spain programme were to blame;

In 1985 my only interest in the Gazelles was the particular shade of  green. I didn’t know, there was no way I could, about the cultural trends attached to wearing certain clothes.

Over the next few years I became  fascinated by the world offered by 1980s sportswear. Those trips to the north west put certain ideas in my mind. I also watched tennis on tv.  I wanted the styles worn by Borg (as seen in old clips), Becker and Edberg.  I used to paw over the photospreads of players at home in Shoot! and Match because they were wearing similar styles as the tennis players. I wanted those styles so much!!!! The link with footballers meant I wanted the stuff all the more. Whenever I went to sports shops (at a time when sports shop were actually manned by people who knew what they were talking about) I saw adverts and I wanted those shoes, I wanted those shirts!! 


Unfortunately the stuff still felt unobtainable. I was such  a nice child I didn’t pressure my parents into trying to find stuff for me. Even though I had a clear idea of the style I was still unaware that a footballing subculture was related to the style.

The French must share some of the burden for the development of my burning desire to own a certain style of sportswear. Whenever our school had French exchange students they wore such exotic adidas footwear I couldn’t help but want some. One of my friends had a copy of the monthly French football magazine Onze Mondial and this made my longing even greater.

In the back of the magazine there was an advert for a shop called “FOOT CENTRE”. This magical and mythical shop offered a range of football shirts and sportswear that I could only dream of. Thanks to the advert my dreams became colour pictures in front of my eyes. I fantasised about the stock that the shop contained. The objects appeared to be tantalisingly in reach, all I needed to do was fill out the order form. In reality there were a couple of snags with this; a french order form is not like a British order form plus I needed to pay in francs. The objects of my desire were so close yet still so far away still. Therefore the sportswear was still an unobtainble ideal. I didn’t know where I could lay my hands on it in Britain and I lacked my own money. I couldn’t see a way to past this problem. 

By the time I was able to gather funds through legalised child labour I still had problems. In my naive mind I thought I knew where I could get the stuff from!!! All I needed to do was order stuff from the catalogues that were owned by the family  next door!!! Unfortunately streetwise people didn’t shop with Great Universal. I was still a woollyback in a streetwise world.

Since growing up I have managed to find out the name for my cherished style; ; “the Casual look”. Through reading around the subject and talking to other people I’ve found out that the look that I saw on the streets of the north west was actually a slight development on the original Casual style from the early to mid 1980s.

I may have liked what I saw in the late ’80s but I have grown to love the original style. Because I liked tennis in the 1980s the names Fila and Sergio Tacchini already had a certain resonance, they spoke of playboys at the tennis club in Monte Carlo. They spoke of living the good life; 

The resonance became even stronger when my love of 1980s sportswear intertwined with my love of the casual style. 

There has been good news in the last few years; the 1980s and the casual look have become fashionable. Thanks to the internet I finally have access to the look I’ve craved. As a consequence I have Llandudno’s largest collection of reproduction adidas trainers. I know that in a strict casual sense the reproduction sportswear is probably a bit of a cliche, and therefore bit of a no-no, but I’m not a casual. I just like the threads. I simply rejoice that I can finally wear stuff that I’ve wanted for ages.

In case you’re wondering I don’t endorse all aspects of casual culture, I can do without the violence and right-wing tinges. I just like the threads. In my own stupid mind the casuals were a re-incarnation of the 1960s mods and I like that.

12. Witnessing you team getting Hammered

Watching your team win is all fine and dandy and watching your team hammer another has a certain charm but these outcomes don’t tell you much. The only clear thing that both results  tell you is that your team has scored more than the other team. The hammering goes a bit further because it tells you that the other team didn’t play very well, but that’s it. Neither of those possible match outcomes teaches you anything about life, they don’t allow spiritual growth.

On a superficial level watching your team hammer opponents appears to be very satisfying but this is pure illusion.  When your team starts to dish out a real hammering you may even end up feeling  a little frustrated. For example one day you may be watching your team and they happen to be leading 4-0 after 40 minutes. Of course this will probably make you feel happy but, will you remain happy? The scoreline offer hopes of seeing a record score but you can’t control the situation. Invariably the scoring does stop. Consequently you have to deal with failure of those hopes. This is not a good feeling. 

The situation can become even worse if you manage see your team score the 5th or 6th goal. This may seem even better on a superficial level but in these circumstances one person’s joy is another’s humiliation. What kind of person actually truly enjoys seeing people humiliated? Which human will see hurt in the opposition keepers’ eyes, or the resigned slouch of his shoulders, and then wish futher embarrassment upon him? Watching your team hammer another does no good for a fans’ spiritual side. You gain nothing from humiliating an opponent.

Watching your team suffer a hammering is the most beneficial result for your soul. This statement may sound odd to the lay person but who really cares what they think, they usually know nothing. You benefit from a hammering in several ways;

Firstly your soul benefits from watching a humiliation; by witnessing a humiliation you have to deal with the humiliation. To succesfully deal with the so-called humiliation you have remain on a spiritual even keel. By remaining on an even keel you become a zen master. When you’re a zen master, nothing will ever faze you again, nothing in life and nothing on a football pitch. Your soul will remain balanced.

Secondly, it helps you to put  the events in football matches, and life, into some kind of perspective.

Lastly, if glory comes too easily it’s not a glory that’s not worth having. Witnessing humiliation is therefore a necessary stop on the road to glory. If your journey does not take in some form of humiliating defeat can you say you deserve to see the glory? Without a hammering I doubt that you would appreciate the glory when it comes.

There are other, less spiritual, up sides to witnessing a hammering. Any idiot can enjoy the time that your side dishes out a hammering, and they often do.  Hammerings draw gloating idiots like baying mobs draw morons, everybody wants the reflected glory. Idiots invariably choose me as their Maypole for dancing around.It’s weird when people turn up and celebrate as if the result actually means something. Sometimes these people even go off their heads with joy and start gloating. How can you enjoy the moment properly with people like that around you? There is no kudos in excessively gloryfying momentary success.

If you’re after kudos there is some to be had  in uttering the immortal words; “Yeah very good, I see you’re enjoying our title win, but where were you when we lost 9-0 in the league cup?” Watch their unearned jollity crumble. It takes someone special to not only witness a hammering, but grow from it. Plebians watch a hammering, the special few grow from the experience. In short I take the Lutheran point of view ; a little suffering is good for the soul

13. The spirit of Ultra Culture

The world of the Ultras is mis-understood. To a lot of people an Ultra is a hooligan, a fighter, a scumbag with a scarf around their faces to protect them from the police’s tear gas or a right-wing psychopath that showers black players with racial abuse. This is obviously a narrow view of ultras. Ultras, accoding to Wikipedia are;

“………a type of sports fans renowned for their fanatical support and elaborate displays. They are predominantly European followers of football teams. The behavioral tendency of ultras groups includes the use of flares (primarily in tifo choreography), vocal support in large groups and the displaying of banners at football stadiums, all of which are designed to create an atmosphere which encourages their own team and intimidates opposing players and supporters.”

When you see fantastic pyrotechnics and amazing displays at football matches this is the mark of the Ultras. The displays don’t just happen, they need organizing, so the Ultras organise. 

The giant banners that you see at matches don’t just happen either. A banner needs to be designed, then material needs to be bought, then the banner actually needs to be made. Ultras organise all this to help create the right display. The spirit of the Ultras is vital for football.

For example  take the card displays  that happen at British grounds  they don’t just happen. they need physical  help and computers to make them happen. Without the spirit of the Ultras they wouldn’t happen.

The spirit of the Ultras influenced me to make flags for Bangor City,  I tried to introduce a little of Serie A into the Welsh Premier League by doing this and people seem to like them.  The spirit has influenced the good people at Port Talbot too. Football needs flags and banners, therefore football needs Ultras.

Without the spirit of the Ultras football would be blanded into another branch of the grey leisure industry.

14. The anticipation

Without this there is nothing.

You wouldn’t get out of bed with a smile upon your face, you wouldn’t walk down the street with a skip in your step, your thoughts wouldn’t be taken over by fantastic possibilities, you wouldn’t spend all week looking forward to Saturday. It’s easy enough to think of examples that shows the place of anticipation but it’s probably morte effective to ask what life would be without anticipation ……………….

Well I’ve had a thought about that, I don’t think I would like that version of the world.

Football constantly gives me a sense of anticipation.

15. The Adidas Tango 

The adidas Tango is simply best ball ever and I love it for this reason. I don’t mean I love it in that ironic “Weren’t the 1980s fantastic” kind of way (Thank you E4 and Top Man) and I don’t mean I love it in that laddish Four Fout Two kind of way either.  I mean it it in the old fashioned love of objects way. I think that the adidas Tango is the most beautiful ball ever created.

The curved  Tango shape moves a game more gracefully than any other ball. This is why I love the Tango, it makes football look better.

When I was younger I used to like watching  “Race for the Championship”, the Video review of the 1983-’84 season. I remember a goal from a Norwich City v Notts County match more than anything else. Basically a Norwich player scored with a 20 yard shot that had a trajectory that  was parallel to the ground. It was quite a special goal anyway but the Tango made this goal look even better than it was.

On the action reply the ball seemed to spin through the air as it flew into the goal at great speed. The Tango shape appeared to give the ball a more beautiful trajectory. The goal looked even better because the ball span at the foot of the net.

When I was younger I wanted a Tango and luckliy I was given a rather good Tango for christmas one year. When I developed an interest in Subbuteo there was only one style of ball that I was going to have;

I liked the Tango so much I even had trainers with a Tango design;

The basic Tango design was so good they used a ball baring it in every World Cup and European Championships from 1978-2000. Of all the other examples I particularly liked the Azteca from Mexico ’86.  I have such cherished images of the Tango shape from World football I can’t help but be attracted to its image.

When adidas announced the Tango shape was due to make a return for Euro 2012 I couldn’t help but feel happy.

16. Segregation

I don’t like the point behind segregation but I like the effect it creates in stadium. I like to see a crowd where there are distinctive colour blocks as it’s a great sight. You can see the effect of colour in the following examples;

17. Getting Lost in Wikipedia

If you’ve never gone on a Wikipedia safari you should. I can’t recommend it highly enough as it’s amazing what you can find out during its course.

A Wikipedia safari is the easiest thing in the world to go on. All you need to is click on some of the blue hyperlinks when they take your fancy. It’s amazing where they will take you. After my latest safari I now know the following;

– West Germany played part of West Germany (The Sarrland) during  the 1954 world cup qualifiers.

David Rocastles’ Cousin, Craig,  plays in the MLS, as does Konrad Warzycha,  the son  Ex-Everton player Robert Warzycha .

– Ex Liverpool and Newcastle goalkeeper Mike Hooper is now a Door Supervisor, that’s bouncer to you and me.

– In Puerto Rico there is both a River Plate and a Sevilla, in Baltimore (U.S.A of A) there’s another Crystal Palace.

– Ex-Everton shortarse Adrian Heath now manages the Orlando City Soccer Club.

– Roy Wegerle was voted NASL Rookie of the Year in 1984.

– The Brooklyn Bridegrooms and Boston Beaneaters were once professional clubs in America, as were the Harrison Alley Boys .

76 countries have qualified for at least one world cup and 27 countries have appeared at the European Championships.

Rainer Bohnhof is the only player to have played in 3 European Championship finals.

Catalonia, the Basque Country, South Ossetia and Abkhazia are members of the European Union of Futsal.

The USSR and Wales made their World cup final debuts in the same year.

Why not try it for yourself, it’s bit of fun.

18. Looking at football photos

There’s nothing to this, you just look at photos and use your imagination. Try to imagine what it felt like to be around then, try to imagine what happened just before the picture was taken. Try to imagine what’s happening;

(A big  acknowledgement to Footy Sphere for finding some of these)


19. Playing in defence

Strikers may get all the glory but your football afficienado will know that the success of team is built on the sturdy foundations made by a sturdy defence. The fancy dans up front may be the pin ups  but without the steely defence they would not be able to flounce around with the ball.

If football is a house the defence is not only the foundations it’s also  the main load-baring wall because it takes the strains placed upon it and remain in place.  The defence is also mortar between the bricks of the house because the defence hold things together. The defence is also the bathroom and washing machine because it cleans everything up. The defence is also the spare key that’s attached to a string by the letterbox because i also rescutes hopeless situation. The defence is the key to football.

When you’re a defender you gladly accept the historic resposibility that is placed upon you. You wear your badge of homour with pride. When I played in defence I gained such a special satifaction from blocking shots, tackling people and disposessing others that I began to take on the persona of Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”. I literally exuded authority and this led to the moniker “The Wall”  from the denizens of  Llandudno’s cultural quarter.  

In one legendary match – a match that is still talked of in Llandudno’s not very easily pleased cultural quarter – I performed my defensive duties which such aplomb that the right winger swapped sides. This is the ultimate admission of failure from an attacking player and it was the first time that Llandudno had seen this event in the flesh. At the time I remember that this was particularly satisfying as the bigmouth fancied himself as a bit of a player.

Here’s how the legendary match panned out; for the first few times that I beat him to the ball he remained calm. Then I kept on beating him and the muttering started, there is no sweeter sound than this for a defender.  After the next few times he started swearing at his teamamtes, as if it was their fault he couldn’t beat me. He tried nudging me, he tried pushing me but that didn’t work, he tried  leaving his foot in and I laughed to myself. I’d got him in my pocket. Then he swapped sides, so I followed him and stopped him time after time. I felt an enormous sense of well-being at the end of the match.

Strikers have a tangible and self-glorifying sense of glory, defenders have a more self-efacing style of glory. We have a quite determination to keep the score at nil. We are proper players, we are proper men, we are complete men.

20. The official world cup films

I like the official world cup film because they provide a different view of the action. For example the Mexico ’70 film used cameras on the opposite side of the Azteca Stadium from the TV camera.

All of the world cup films are great  but Hero is my favourite. Here it is;








Recalling lost times and losing time at the same time

17 12 2011

If you’re like me you will not only enjoy reading old programmes, you will love reading old programmes. You will love reading old programmes so much that you won’t care if you lose hours doing it, you will think that you have spent your time wisely. You will have been amusing yourself AND studying social history because programmes are chock- full of interesting nuggets old so they provide a great flavour of the time they were printed.

If you have yet to make reading old programmes part of your lifestyle don’t worry, you can start at any time as the only thing you need is a load of old programmes.

There are many methods of finding old programmes, here are three of the simplest; 1. Buy them from shady looking blokes at a car boot sale. 2. Buy bargain bundles from shady looking blokes loitering outside Molineux. 3. Buy them from second-hand goods shops owned by shady looking blokes.

Unfortunately the old programme game is controlled by shady looking blokes. If you want to develop this hobby there are two ways to deal with the problem; 1. Console yourself that hobbies without a hint of danger are usually crap. 2. Avoid  the shady looking blokes by working in your local semi-pro club’s club shop (This also has the clear benefit of being the best way to gain programmes as people will invariably see you as the ideal target to foist old programmes upon).  When you’ve dealt with the problem of shady looking blokes and then gained access to programmes you can start!

In case you’re still wondering about which method to use in this hobby, this is how you use old programmes to conduct social history; read the programmes and then remember what life is like at the moment. Now you know how to start your hobby!!

I’ll give you an example of how it works – Earlier this year someone presented me with a programme for the 1969/’70 league match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford (cost; 4d). It only took a solitary paragraph to become aware just how differently they used to do things. Yes it can be that simple, one paragraph is all that’s needed to conduct social history.

The paragraph in question concerned the forthcoming Liverpool V Manchester United match. United not only told their supporters that the match was not all ticket match but they advised their supporters to use the Anfield Road end. Advised!!! Yes, that’s advised not ordered.

Nowadays British society seems to enjoy the fact that Liverpool v Man Utd is a hate-filled hype-fest.  Even if you combined Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Eve, May Day and Llandudno’s victorian extravaganza into one politically correctness gone mad non-denominational festival called “YESTIVAL”  this would be nothing when compared to United v Liverpool. In the 1960s, as you can see, the match was treated as just another. 

The paragraph also shows that football, although popular in the ’60s, was not the all-consuming behemoth it is now. At Man Utd v Liverpool matches in the 21st century you will remain ticketless unless you know Ryan Giggs or Stevie G or you’re Irish. In the 1960s you could just turn up and pay on the turnstile.

The paragraph also highlights the changing leisure patterns of the British people since the 1940s. The fact that there was an announcement indicates that the clubs were actually expecting people from Manchester to go to this match. This highlights the development of transport, higher earnings and greater free-time since the “You never had it so good” 1950s. The announcement in the programme is enough to make you pine for the days when football fans were trusted, or was it “uncared for”? Look at the knowledge and understanding that can be gained from one simple paragraph!!

Societal changes can be seen through the simple comparison of programmes. Take two Liverpool v Chelsea programmes, one from 2003 (£3) and the other from 1966 (4d

In 2003 the programme says that Liverpool had “Fantastic fans” who were “World Famous” but that didn’t stop their Stadium Manager, a Mr. Ged Poynton, telling these fantastic fans that he didn’t like it when they stood up at matches;

 “All clubs have signed up to the Health and Safety Package………..Many fans find their enjoyment of the game wrecked when a small number of people choose to get on their feet for long periods……….Fans who persistently stand and ignore requests…. may ultimately not be renewed under the Ground Regulations.” And you can use the space under the seats to store club superstore carrier bags safely. However the fans with carrier bags had better watch out. On the same page as Mr.Poynton’s piece was a warning from the saintly Michael Owen; Beware pickpockets!! – “especially in crowded areas”.

The 1960s were obviously free of moral panics and hysteria of the 2000s, they were a more carefree tim. 37 years earlier the only thing that the Liverpool v Chelsea programme urged fans to do was ”wet your whistle with a Threllfalls”.

Other differences between then and now can be seen. Nowadays managers like Wenger and Ferguson will blame poor pitches for defeats  but managers in the 1960s would have no truck with such bullshit, the 1966 Liverpool v Chelsea programme tells us that Anfield would be hosting an Everton reserves  home match (yes, the hated enemy) and a police match (Liverpool City Police versus The Met within two days of each other. Shanks could have stopped these games but chose not to.

You can also see that people used  more polite and more circumspect language in the 1960s;  if you were “Extra Broad or Extra Small” you had no need to worry according to the advert for the “Outsize mans shop”. There was less hard sell as well; an advert offered train travel up to Glasgow by train (to watch Liverpool play in the Cup Winners’ Cup final) for only 70 Shillings return. The club didn’t make the advert sound like they were taking the opportunity to make a fast buck, they made it sound like a public information announcement.

It’s not just the 1960s programmes that show you a different Britain, 1980s programme also highlight differences as well. The 1980s were the heyday of my programme collecting days so I have lots of examples.

For example take an Aston Villa programme from 1980 (Villa V Brighton 35p). That programme made the 1980s feel like an era where football made a blatant attempts to woo businessmen. Villa told us that; 

Business executives from around the world” would  ”have taken away very tasty impressions” due to the “…..Luxuriously appointed amenity in the new stand…..”. 

Businessmen have always played a part in professional football but the tone in the programme showed that Villa were open to new ways of attracting people using the new methods to do business in Thatcher’s Britain (Villa were probably hoping that the businessmen would bring some cash with them). You could quite plausibly argue that an appeal of this nature  highlights the move away from the discredited ideas of John Maynard Keynes towards the thrusting  monetarism of Thatcher.

Although you could claim that football started to reflect the more political climate we’re not talking about 2011 just yet, the Villa didn’t just cater for the international Jet Set they also tried to remember that  their club was still a family. If you wanted to join“…the big happy family that is working for Aston Villa, just give Peter Young a call.” I wonder if Peter’s still there? You don’t here this kind of talk now do you? You could say that the programme also highlighted the developing tension between the brave new Thatcherite world and the cosy old world.

Generally speaking there was a nice warm glow about 1980s football programmes that a fan from the 1960s would find recognisable. The outlook was still local, interviews or profiles were non-judgemental, and the adverts were quaint. In 1985 I found a shop near Anfield that sold mystery programme bundles for a pound. As a consequence I still possess many examples of the 1985-‘86 vintage. Here’s a small taste of that time.

From the Aston Villa V Newcastle programme of that season (50p) you would have learnt that Villa’s talent scouts had the North of England well-covered and that Mark Walters was engaged to Tracey, a Coventry girl, but had no immediate plans to marry. The approach was purely anodyne – clichéd Steak  ‘n’ chips, Diana Ross stuff – but the lack of intrusion did have a sort of charm when compared to the hectoring style of the present.

You could find all sorts of interesting curios in mid-1980s programmes. For example, badge collecting was a big scene in the 1980s. Wojtek Wisinski from Poland wanted to swap pin badges with some people from the decadent west and for some reason he chose Bolton (Bolton V Fulham, 1987, 60p), he promised to reply. Another Pole, Andrej Porzuczek chose Man City (City v Bury, 50p). The programmes also reminded me that pen pals were a big thing in the 1980s.

The backpage of a Leeds programme in 1986 (Leeds v Sheff. Utd, 50p) often contained an inter-generational line up featuring Terry Phelan, Denis Irwin and Peter Lorimer. At Crystal Palace (Palace v Charlton, 50p) Roger de Courcy and Nookie Bear were always keen to “visit” Selhurst Park when their “professional duties permit”. A Shrewsbury programme (Shrewsbury v Hull City, 50p) could even offer an academic enquiry into the effect of kit colour on performance.

When you look at the programmes through the eyes of today they could contain strange adverts.  Chester were supported by their local Nuclear installation at Capenhurst because this facility was “A factory enriching the future” that was “alongside a city rich in history”. I couldn’t help but wonder what the facility thought they would be  enriching the future with, maybe they foresaw a large leak of enriched uranium gas. (Chester V Scunthorpe, 40p)

If you were staying in the Ipswich area for a few days at that time you could get in touch with the Allthread Distributor Group for “..all your industrial threded fastener requirements” or nuts and bolts to the rest of us. (Ipswich v Birmingham, 50p)

Some of the adverts spookily predated later developments. Sandoms of Peckham (Palace v Charlton, 50p) beat Claims Direct by 20 years with this direct plea; “You Got Bovver? Phone a lawyer! This advert, for such base matters, was placed unfortunately next to the page of the club chaplain unfortunately, how would people concentrate on the spiritual message?  Maintaining concentration on spiritual matters was probably made more difficult by the tempting offer at the bottom of the page. Your wife could be the proud owner of  a “Ladies Leisure Suit” for less than 18 pounds if you were quick enough to buy one.

Everything cost less in 1985. You could also pick up a half-season ticket for the Holte End for £30.00, (a saving of £12 from paying at the turnstile) and a new Villa shirt for £13.99 (or £14.99 if you wanted one with a sponsor’s logo). (Aston Villa V Newcastle 50p). At Cardiff  it cost 10p for a child’s pass to the Family Section at Ninian Park, £3 for a Tonne of coal if you went to the right place and £30 to sponsor Tarki Micallef’s tracksuit. (Cardiff v Derby, 50p). If you wanted to get the coach to a Norwich home games it would only cost you £2 but you’d have to catch it from outside Swaffham Toilets. (Norwich v Barnsley, 50p)

During the 1980s it seems that supporters were far more trusted by clubs, it seems that they were considered to be a proper part of the club. I’m not sure the same feeling exists in 2011, at least not in the same way as back then.  There was also a good spirit between fans back then; at Ipswich three supporters’ clubs (Ipswich v Birmingham, 50p)   had raised several hundred pounds for the Bradford City Disaster Fund in 1985.  There was more of a community feel as well. In programmes of this era clubs would entice you into joining lotteries, scratchcards and  totes etc to raise money for the clubs. Fans evidently played an important part in raising revenue for the clubs. In today’s light this is an unbelievebly quaint idea. Imagine fans helping to raising money to help premier league clubs pay the bills!!!!! 

However it wasn’t all warm lager and sunshine in the mid 1980s programmes; the spectre of hooliganism was also present. Every club ran a coach service to games, alcohol-free and stewarded coaches. (How different from the unguarded 1960s).

By the 1980s most programmes began to carry the legend; ”official programme”. The addition of those two words begs the obvious question; who would want to go to the trouble of making an unofficial Walsall programme? An article in Walsall v Newport programme may suggest a reason for the addition of those two words. The article complained that there were “7 and a half” pages of adverts in the last programme, maybe underground fan groups wanted to produce an advert-free programme?

I can’t talk about the subject of looking at old programmes without mentioning Welsh international programmes.

It’s amazing how much the Welsh international programmes highlight both how things have changed and how they have remained the same. The opening message, always on the third page of the programme, has always been upbeat with it’s optimistic tone; “this could be the time”. In the 1970s & ’80s you start to sense that there’s a history of frustration of  “nearlys” and “not quites” if you look at enough programmes. In later years the programme’s message still tries to remain upbeat but the style has a hollowness, instead of hope it feels more like “abject failure disguised in the language of hope”.

In 1973 (Wales v Scotland, 10p) Wales were one good result in Poland away from the World Cup. Wales didn’t qualify.

In 1975 we had a vital game in front of us for qualification (Wales v Austria, 1975, 15p).  Wales “qualified”.

By 1983 Wales were top of the group (Wales V Bulgaria, 50p), still had a “fine chance”.  6 months later we were “one win from qualification” (Wales v Yugoslavia, 60p). Wales didn’t qualify.

In 1985 Wales “still had a good chance” of qualifying for Mexico (Wales v Spain, 80p). Wales didn’t qualify.

By 1999 a win against the ex-Soviet republic Belarus had “lifted the spirits of the nation” (Wales V Switzerland, £3). Wales didn’t qualify.

Yes Wales used to ride the wave of hope but now we can’t be bothered to hope. Not only are  you able to track the dwindling hopes of the national team you can notice curios too; Sectarian issues are nothing new in the Welsh support; Mike England bemoaned the north-south divide in the crowd as early as 1980 (Wales v England, 40p).

We can also notice differences over time.

In 1979 (Wales V Germany, 30p) Clive Thomas decided to proclaim “No” to Pro Refs”. He remained so resolute it was tempting to think that the Sweden V Brazil match in Argentina ’78 had never happened. If refs went professional Clive might  have to give up his job as a promotions executive with “one of the largest industrial cleaning firms in Europe” so he may have had ulterior motives for dismissing the idea out of hand. On the subject of adverts,  if any fans at the Germany match were after insurance they had prospect of “keen quotes” from T& J Lewis or if they wanted Hi-Fi equipment they could have gone to T.E. Roberts as it was ”All At Discount Prices!!!”.  

11 years on (Wales V Belgium £1) the FAW obviously weren’t arsed about the programmes; the opinion pieces and articles had  been virtually dropped and the only advert was  for the “Main Contractors for the Refurbishment of the Welsh Football Association Headquarters.” I’m not sure I would accept a recommendation from an organisation from that can’t even get their own name right. – The correct title of the Welsh F.A. is the  “Football Association of Wales” in case you’re interested.

At least we know this has now changed, the FAW now knows its own name.

To cut a long story short I recommend reading old programmes.

A Pop Video

17 08 2011

It might be the Super Furry Animals and it may not be football but I like this;

Ans there’s a part 2;

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking why Cheryl Cole can’t be more like this. Well my friends that would require imagination and Wor Cheryl has none of this magical quality.

Upon finding yourself in second hand book shops…

5 08 2011

Yesterday I found myself in Colwyn Bay’s premier second-hand book shop and it was like a treasure trove. Firstly I found these two photos from Llandudno’s football history;

The photos were not my only, or my best, find. This honour goes to the philosophical opus; “Kevin Keegan: Against the World” (only 5 pounds!!!). To find such a work of genius in Colwyn Bay was a shock, but to say it was a shock would be a gross, gross understatement. After reading this treatise on the human condition I just don’t know how it came to  be disregarded.

Behold the gems of insight……

“It’s in grim Iron Curtain cities that character is proven……”

“A whole combination of factors are to blame (for England’s 1970s malaise); one of them in Wembley itself. We play our matches on a foreign ground……”

“Lawrie McMenemy…… said of the need for “seven roadsWeeper and four violinists”………..You need a gambler and someone who is the soul of caution. A girl-puller must be balanced by one of nature’s monks. You need a clown, and he needs team-mates prepared to be the audience. You need card schools, and a few fellows who prefer paperbacks. Drinkers should be offset by teetotallers, the nightclubbers by loving husbands who go straight home”

“I’m a fan of (Alan) Ball only as a player, for there are aspects of his personality that don’t appeal to me…….”

“Another drawback to the home international series is what I call the “treason factor”. In all the camps players’ tiniest weaknesses are being revealed by club-mates to men who will opposing them in League matches a few months later.”

“The English attitude – or arrogance, if you like “We’re being set up here, with everything to lose and nothing to gain.” Our team tends to feel like a champion compelled to meet a club player for a worthless prize……….”

“Put any international team in the world on a pitch and, if you like, disguise their strip. And I will bet that after five minutes of studying their play I will name their nationality – and be right 9 times out of 10”

“I’ve called the Russian a set of robots, look at this picture and see if you agree”

“……Luckily I had the last laugh again!!!!”

With such unpolished gems out there I’m off to hunt more of them out. At the moment I’m really anxious to find “Kierkegaard and Me” by Alan Mullery and “Contemporary Art Criticism – My Take” by Ronald “CHOPPER” Harris.

Get out there, there’s a whole world to discover!

Another New Flag!

1 08 2011

This time we’ve taken inspiration from John Lydon and his Public Image;


Set adrift in a beautiful dream

16 07 2011

No Rupert, none of this shit;

Unfortunately Kelvin McKenzie would probably still be a cunt. Why the Sun is full of shite;

If only it were like this.

A couple of Bangor City questions

11 07 2011

Question number 1

On Wednesday Bangor City will have something in common with the following list of clubs, what is it?

  • Sturm Graz, Rapid Wien, Tirol Innsbruck, SV Austria Salzburg, Austria Wien, LASK Linz.
  • KS Dinamo Tirana, KF Partizani Tirana.
  • F.C. Dinamo Minsk.
  • Royal Antwerp, Standard Liège, K.A.A. Gent, K.R.C. Genk.
  • CSKA Sofia.
  • NK Zagreb, HNK Rijeka.
  • Apollon Limassol, Anorthosis Famagusta FC.
  •  AaB Aalborg, OB Odense, AGF Arhus, Esbjerg, Lyngby Boldklub, FC København
  • Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur.
  • B36 Tórshavn, HB Tórshavn.
  •  TPS Turku, MyPa 47, HJK Helsinki,
  • Lens, Auxerre, Marseille, RC Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Marseille, , Paris Saint-Germain F.C., AS Saint-Étienne, FC Nantes Atlantique, Olympique Lyonnais, OGC Nice.
  • FC Dinamo Tbilisi.
  •  Stuttgart, Hamburger SV, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund Hamburger SV, FC Schalke 04, FC Koln, Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen.
  • Budapest Honvéd, Vasas SC.
  • Keflavík.
  • Bohemians, Sligo Rovers, , Shamrock Rovers F.C., Shelbourne F.C.
  • Napoli, Sampdoria, Lazio, Bologna, Juventus, Maccabi Haifa F.C.
  • Floriana, Hibernians FC.
  • FK Ekranas
  • Union Luxembourg, CS Grevenmacher.
  • FK Vardar
  • FC Twente, SC Heerenveen, Willem II,
  • Cliftonville, Ards.
  • Rosenborg, Lillestrøm, Kongsvinger,
  • Górnik Zabrze, Lech Poznań, Ruch Chorzów,
  • Rapid Bucharest, Dinamo Bucharest, Universitatea Craiova,
  • Torpedo Moscow, Dinamo Moscow, FC Spartak Moscow,
  • Hibernian F.C.
  • Slovan Bratislava, MŠK Žilina, Košice.
  • NK Maribor, Olimpija Ljubljana.
  • Deportivo, Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia CF, Atlético Madrid, RCD Mallorca, RCD Espanyol.
  • AIK Solna, Kalmar FF, Djurgården IF, Halmstads BK, IFK Göteborg, Malmö FF.
  • Grasshopper Club, Neuchâtel Xamax, FC Basel, FC Luzern, FC Aarau, BSC Young Boys, FC Zurich, St. Gallen.
  • Trabzonspor.
  •  Shakhtar Donetsk.

Well the answer is quite simple – These clubs have played in all four of UEFA competitions (European Cup / Champions League – Cup Winners’ Cup – Inter-Cities Fairs Cup / UEFA Cup / Europa League – Intertoto Cup). Bangor City will become the first Welsh Club to achieve this feat.

Incidentally here’s the proof for Wednesday;

Question Number 2.

What does Bangor City player Mark Smyth have in common with the following list of players? 

Wayne Rooney, Gaël Clichy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Philippe Senderos, David Silva, Lukas Podolski, Mario Gómez, Łukasz Fabiański, Tranquillo Barnetta

Again the answer is very simple – All of those players played in the 2002 Under 17 European Championships and Mark played for England in those championships.

Incidentally, it’s funny how all players sound the same before the hype sets in;

“……when Mark Smyth found Rooney in acres of space and the Everton FC man had no trouble completing his hat-trick.”


Jesus Christ, what the f%&@ is that?!?!

3 07 2011

I was casually looking at the internet yesterday and I found the new England goalkeepers’ shirt;

If you’re wondering about the lower sleeves;

“The lower part of the arm on the goalkeeper shirt are also crafted with the specifics of the player in mind, with a tight kit offering articulation and compatibility with goalkeeping gloves”

It’s good to know that during the innovative design process they managed to remember to make a goalkeeper’s shirt compatible with the basic equipment of goalkeepers.

I thought Umbro were doing really well with their “Tailored by Umbro approach”; Man City looked classy, Wales looked stylish, even Northern Ireland looked smart in their rugby league-esque creation. Then they go and produce something like the new England goalie shirt. The last something I saw something that horrific was 1996;

Or as David Seaman saw it;

The red kit from the Semi-Final of Euro 1996. I had worn it before, the one with the stripy socks that made it look like I had two packs of refreshers on my legs. I remember before Euro 96 we were in the line-up for the national anthems and it was the first time I wore it, and I looked down the line and two of the opposition players were laughing at my socks. I was fuming. And then after the game a reported asked me what I thought of the kit, I said: “It’s shit!”

You might think there’s something about England’s goalkeeper jerseys  but it’s not just them. This picture features a Welsh kit from 1995;

In fact Umbro had an ignoble record of design horrors in the mid 1990s. Chelsea……



Are Umbro returning to the bad old days? I thought they were doing the right thing as they were producing clean, crisp and sharp designs. They even employed Peter Saville to design the present England shirt.

This was a brilliant step in good football kit design. Peter Saville is a great designer. He was  a partner in Factory Records and he produced some of the best record sleeve designs in music history, as well as other fantastic work;

He sounded a bit like this;

So why did he design the present England kit? Well he puts it like this;

 “…Football shirts are not about anything – this was about ‘something’ and it’s reach is massive. But I didn’t see how it could go the distance.”

The “this” that was “about something” was the addition of multi-coloured crosses on the shoulders;

The multi-coloured crosses were an attempt to use the shirt as  “a vehicle of cultural provocation“;

“It’s beautiful but it’s very loaded,” Saville claims of the design. Taking the cross of St George and rendering it in a rainbow of different hues is, he says, about acknowledging difference and promoting tolerance of those differences. “I was frustrated, along with many others, by the marginalisation of the cross of St George. It has acquired connotations that some of us don’t associate with and I find that frustrating because there is nothing wrong with it as a symbol. [The design] is a provocation. It’s not negative, it’s not aggressive, it’s not critical and I think it feels like England 2010. This is a country of lots of different people, get on with it.”

It’s the little things like that show the “Factory Spirit” – Subversion –  lives on, unfortunately I’ll bet the point was lost of England’s less intellectual fans. I’ll bet they thought the shirt was “a bit gay” because of the little detail.

Anyway why this slightly in-depth discussion about Peter Saville? Well it seems he doesn’t just design striking and iconic images, he designed the new England Goalkeepers’ kit as well.

Jesus Christ!

Welsh Premier League managers and the world cup – It’s a rich history!!!!

29 06 2011

I might as well come clean. I lied yesterday. I lied about the Welsh Premier League managers that have featured in world cup squads.

There are the three that everyone will know straight away. ex-Bangor City manager Graeme Sharp (Scotland, Mexico ’86), new Newtown manager Bernard McNally (Northern Ireland, Mexico ’86) – Read Mark Pitman’s blog post about him –  and ex-Inter Cardiff boss George Wood (Scotland, Espana ’82).

Mind you these are the only ones that everybody knows about (we can now add  Tomi Morgan to the list) there is a hidden history of Welsh Premier League managers at the world cup;

John Hulse

Hulse played for Australia in 1974;

Ken McKenna

As you would imagine from the name he is Scottish. He played for Scotland  in Italia ’90.

This piece of news is inexorably connected to two things; 1) Tomi Morgan’s appearances for Costa Rica. 2) Tomi and Ken’s long-standing grudge – it’s so bad they haven’t spoken civilly for years.

Many have thought that the bitter rivalry stems from that notorious post-match interview in 2006 when Tomi famously quipped  “Llansantfraid still had a soul when I was there” but this is not true. The feud goes back to Italia ’90, more specifically the match between Scotland and Costa Rica.

The start of what would become Welsh football’s most infamous feud is recounted by Bryan Gunn in his world cup diary; Three weeks on an Italian bench (plus other adventures)”;

“We were warming up at half time in case we would be needed. We were in one half and Costa Rica were in the other.

At one point during half time a ball bounced several times near the halfway line. It came to  rest about a yard inside the half we were in. McKenna was the nearest of our players, Morgan was the nearest of theirs. Both men saw the  ball and both men wanted it. You could see a disaster unfolding.

Both men leapt at the ball but Morgan was quicker and won the ball. In fact he didn’t only win the ball he proceeded to showboat in front of McKenna  (remember this was the time before Lovejoy made showboating cool). This didn’t go down too well with McKenna as he hates this rubbish.

I could see the red mist descending around McKenna. After it had descended he tried to set about Morgan but Morgan was too quick, he avoided the clumsy attempts at capture. Kenny was normally so poised but you know what it’s like when you’re in a rage, your co-ordination is the first thing to go. 

The worst thing about it all  is the two players forget they were in front of a crowd. The duel became very personal. The most embarrassing thing for McKenna was that not only did Morgan evade capture but he also retained possession of the ball. Morgan’s touch was just too deft for the enraged and lumbering McKenna. I actually had to stop laughing at one point.

Morgan nutmegged McKenna over and over again. After the fifth nutmeg Morgan put one foot on the ball, looked down at McKenna, looked him straight in the face and then extended his hand before exclaiming “OLE” with a matador’s flourish. This was the last straw for Kenny and he arose like a volcanic eruption.

If the restraining presences of Stewart McKimmie and Ally McCoist had been absent blood will have been spilt on that Genoese evening. Luckily the second half was about to start and Morgan was due to replace their ineffectual number 9.

Unluckily for the rest of us Morgan was not finished. Early in the second half Morgan created what would turn out to be the only goal of the match with a cheeky backheel.

Instead of celebrating with the rest of his teammates. Morgan made a beeline for our bench, he pointed at Kenny before saying in what sounded like a Welsh accent, “That was for you Bollocks!!!”

Then he performed another matador flourish with his right hand. “OLE” said Morgan. “I’M GOING***@<>?  TO GET THAT PIECE OF F£$%^&*( COSTA RICAN S$*&” said McKenna. McCoist and McKimmie were again the peacemakers. Kenny finally got on to the pitch but didn’t touch the ball.

Anyway everybody knows that Scotland lost and this ranks as one of our most embarrassing defeats. Morgan wouldn’t let us humiliated Scots wallow in self-pity, he was intent on humiliating Kenny once more. He did his Matador flourish with his hand – “OLE!!!” once more, again McKenna was restrained.

Morgan wasn’t finished, he then began to cluck like a chicken, which only  further enraged McKenna. The last thing I heard was “Leave it Kenny, he’s not worth it” as McKenna was bundled down the tunnel.

Even then Morgan still wasn’t finished.  Archie MacPherson wanted  to talk to one of the subs after the game because he wanted a perspective from the bench. Kenny was the only sub willing to talk to Archie. Morgan stood around in the background clucking and perform what would go on to become his well-known “chicken dance”.

If you listen to the replays Morgan’s antics are very audible on tv. Again McKenna was restrained but this time it was by Archie. The last thing I remember about this was Morgan’s laugh echoing around the bowels of the ground, it was a chilling sound for every Scot there”

Neil Gibson

Neil Gibson is older than you think. He may look like he’s in his early 30s but he’s actually 48. In case you doubt this fact I should let you know that he was part the Austrian squad for Espana ’82. He was a raw nineteen year old at the time (you do the maths);

They say he learnt the effectiveness of cynicism in the “squalid non-aggression pact” that masqueraded as the West Germany v Austria match (both sides engineered a result that would allow them both to proceed at the expense of Algeria). They say he uses this match as a template for the Welsh Premier League matches his horrible little team plays.

A little known fact

28 06 2011

Earlier today prominent Port Talbot fan Mark Pitman asked a question without a question mark; “Bernard McNally is the second ever manager to arrive in the Welsh Premier League having previously been part of a World Cup squad.”

We all speculated, was it Ken McKenna? Was it Neil “The Gobshite” Gibson? Was it John Hulse? Was it Graeme Sharp? 

Well ladies and gentlemen, we were all wrong. The answer is Tomi Morgan.

 Tomi played for Costa Rica in Italia ’90, look at the photographic evidence!! (In case you can tell which one he is, he’s in the middle of the front row.)

No Jazz hands then?

28 06 2011

After scouring the world wide web for entertainment I think it’s the decent thing to share stuff when you find something good. 

I stumbled across the following video whilst looking for action of Bangor City’s European opponents HJK Helsinki. The video shows some HJK fans in full effect and it’s rather interesting stuff;

Nothing says “European Football” like fan groups using the medium of contemporary dance for the expression of primal urges.

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?


That was the day that was

20 06 2011

6:55 am – I wake up with a head full of unshakable bleakness.

8:20 am – I walk to work in the lovely summer sun. The joy I should be feeling is masked by the darkness.

9.40 am – I log on to UEFA’s website to check time of draw  (Midday CET) I do this to check if they’ve managed to include Bangor City also  – They have. The doom clouds everything.

10:35 am – I get final confirmation from our man on the inside that Bangor are in a mini group of 12. We can draw BATE, Rosenborg, Wisla Krakow, HJK Helsinki, Malmo or Shamrock Rovers.

I have two emotions; Anger (Platini didn’t listen to me) and Hope (I’m not asking much; Shamrock Rovers, home leg first, both matches on Wednesdays). The darkness starts to have a silver lining. My sun is rising!

11:05 am – Second Qualifying Round draw commences. My sun is back, bring me sunshine, bring me Shamrock!!!!

11:19 am – Bangor City draw HJK Helsinki. Jesus Finland again. We are away first. I can’t go.

My worst fears are confirmed, I have a mental eclipse.

11:20 am – Despair has descended, Platini actually hates me.

11:34 and 10 seconds am –  HJK Helsinki’s more intellectual fans start leaving messages on Bangor City’s main message board;

– “What do you think the next happen now? RAPE TIME!”

“HAMMERTIME! will be a knockout in the first leg. “

– “Listen now you cunts! You’re shit and you now you are. I say that 5,6,7-0 atHelsinkiand maybe a draw away. I’m sorry but you don’t stand a change. You somehow won against Honka but you most certainly wonät win against us!”

“It’s rapetime! Bangor’s pub fatties will be in big trouble.”

– “It’s barbeque time!”

“We have Litmanen, Jari Litmanen! You have fatties, pub fatties!”

– “massage it with an egg! HJK to win on 9-1 aggregate.”

“Be careful when you arrive to Helsinki. This time it will not be funny village team in the forrest like Honka was. HJK is a huge club and they have notorious firm called sakilaiset. Avoid them if you can:

– “We have won professional teams 5-0, 5-1 and 6-2 so far this season so I can’t see no reason why we wouldn’t hammer an amateur team on the field.”

“Most of your players are at work now and meanwhile inHelsinki.. The professional players are on the training field practicing for the next game.”

12:09 pm – The more sensible HJK fans have their say;

–  “I think most of the trolls you’re getting at the moment have nothing to do with HJK and more with you humiliating Honka last year.

Granted HJK is the most hated team inFinland(23 times champion). We expect to go through from this draw, but past results have shown there is no room for arrogance. See you in Helsinki and Wrexham?” 

“Welcome toHelsinkiand friendly apart from those monkeys like sakilaiset”! Most of the people will be nice”

12:35 pm – I curse the soul of Monsieur Platini.

12:50 pm – I curse the soul of Lennart Johnansson.

12:55 pm – I curse the soul of Artemio Franchi.

1:05 pm – I curse the soul of David Cameron.

1:30 pm – I curse the soul of Jamie Redknapp.

2:00 pm – I curse the soul of Harry Redknapp.

2:30 pm – I curse the soul of Louise Redknapp, and Tim Lovejoy.

3:00 pm – Our man on the inside tells me that they’ve switched the ties around. Now we are at home in the first match. Now I can go! NOW I CAN FUCKING GO!!!!

3:20 pm – Someone else texts me; “Nothing’s been confirmed yet, don’t book anything!”

3:25 pm – I wonder how long the flights to Helsinki will be available.

That’s inflation for you!

13 06 2011

About 18 months ago I tried to find the most ludicrously priced football products, let’s see if we can better that!

Football – A snip at £89.99  (£10 less expensive)

Shirt – Why not buy this natty box set (but with German shirts instead) only £249.99 – (£100 more expensive)

Boots – Get these cheeky little numbers for £279.99 (£139 dearer)

Gloves – Just look at these dreamy creations, only £109.99 (£10 dearer)

Yipeee, what bargains we can still pick up for the people’s game.

The season through the lens of the Jet Set

8 06 2011

I suppose I must apologise about this, you’ve probably seen most of these before.

Poetry Corner

6 06 2011
With a nod to H.M.H.B. and knowing wink toward M.N. I present this;

At first they came for the people queuing up for the latest Manchester United shirt

but I wasn’t in the queue for the new Manchester United shirt so I did nothing.


Then they came for ITV but I didn’t work for ITV,

I told them where Townsend was hiding.


Then they came for the opinionated radio commentators

but I detest opinionated radio commentators so I did nothing.


Then they came for the people who only remember they have local club before a big match

but I know where my local ground is so I did nothing.


Then they came for the fans that welcome oligarchs like saviours whilst wearing the oligarch’s national costume   

but these people are morons so I did nothing.



Then they came for the fans that go to a pub to watch Sky Sport News on a Saturday afternoon,

I can’t stand Sky Sport News so I did nothing.


Then they came for the badge-kissers

but I wasn’t a badge-kissers so I did nothing.


Then they came for the sneering Cockney touts

but I can’t sneer so I provided the authorities with a full description

 anonymously of course.


Then they came for the advertising execs helping companies to bring football to us,

I held the door open for them.


Then they came for the fans that wave when they notice themselves on the big screen  

but I remain aloof so I did nothing.


Then they came for the people who pepper their conversation with “QWA-LI-EEE”, “Different Class” and “Barça!!!”

but I don’t speak like a twat so I did nothing.


Then they came for the fans that you know didn’t like football 10 years ago but have a contact for premier league tickets

but they are beneath my contempt so I cheered.


Then they came for the women in pubs that scream when England are about to concede a goal,

I just covered my ears and did nothing.


Then they came for the people who boo at half time

but I don’t boo at half time so I pointed them out.


Then they came for the people who spend £40 on a match ticket and still leave with 10 minutes left,

I felt vindicated.


Then they came for the fans with outstretched arms

I cheered again.


Then they came for the people who use Soccer AM as a guide to life

but these people are obviously morons so they deserved to go.


Then they came for the people who taunt the opposition fans even though they weren’t singing in the first place

but I have a soul so I did nothing.


Then they came for the loudmouths for which everything  is ”Only Banter!!!”

but I think about what I say so I did nothing.


Then they came for the preening six-a-side showboaters,

I told them where to look.


Then, when they’d all gone,

 the world was at peace.

The road to Dublin

13 05 2011

With the Europa league final fast approaching let’s cast our minds back ten months. How did we get from Bangor’s epic victory to Dublin?

Here’s how;

2nd Qualifying Round   (15 July / 22 July)

Honka Finland  V Bangor City Wales  – Bangor City won 3-2 on aggregate

3rd Qualifying Round    (29 July / 5 August)

Marítimo Portugal V Bangor City Wales  – Maritimo won 10-2 on aggregate

Play Off Round   (19 / 26 August)

BATE Borisov Belarus  V Marítimo Portugal  – BATE Borisov won 5-1 on aggregate

Group Stage   (16 September until 16 December)

Group E

Dynamo Kyiv Ukraine  2  BATE Borisov Belarus 2
BATE Borisov Belarus AZ  Alkmaar Netherlands 1
Sheriff Tiraspol  Moldova 0  BATE Borisov Belarus  1
BATE Borisov Belarus 3  Sheriff Tiraspol  Moldova  1
BATE Borisov Belarus Dynamo Kyiv Ukraine 4
AZ  Alkmaar Netherlands 3  BATE Borisov Belarus 0

BATE Borisov Belarus  finished second in Group E

Round of 32  (17  / 24 February)

BATE Borisov Belarus  V Paris Saint-Germain France – PSG won on away goals

Round of 16  (10 / 17 March)

Benfica Portugal  V Paris Saint-Germain France –  Benfica won 3-2 on aggregate

Quarter Final   (7 / 14 April)

Benfica Portugal  V PSV Eindhoven Netherlands – Benfica won 6-3 on aggregate

Semi Final   (28 April/5 May)

Benfica Portugal  V Braga Portugal Braga won on away goals

Final  (18 May) 

Porto Portugal  V Braga Portugal – To be played in Dublin

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!

Do you want to see my badge collection?

9 04 2011

Earlier I saw this photo on this website.

If you look closely at the Inter shirt Javier Zanetti is wearing you will notice that it’s covered in shirt furnitture. Thanks to Italian tradition and the modern way of doing things we can see Inter’s present status.

At present Inter are; 1. World Champions (The gold shield in the centre of the chest), 2. European Champions (The navy badge on the sleeve), 3. Italian champions (The shield above the nike swoosh – “Scudetto”) and 4. Italian Cup Holders (The cockade under the nike swoosh – “Tricolore”). In case you’re wondering the other badge is Inter’s club crest.

In days gone by it was so different. You would only see a Scudetto;

a “tricolore”,

a star (worn by clubs that have 10 championships),

or a combination of them.

Of course they may have worn a plain shirt,

or they could have worn a club badge.

But then was then, they were less complicated times.

The clutter of the contemporary Inter shirt is yet another sign of the commodification of world football; the modern badges signifying glory are expensively designed and copyright protected. 

Inter’s present shirt is yet another thing that makes you pine for the good old days, the time before “the man” discovered that everything needs a corporate identity.

The top kits of all time (according to the Jet Set)

5 04 2011

1. Wales 1984-’87

1. Wales 1987-’90

2. France 1984-’86

3. Barcelona Away, 1980s

4. Hungary, 1953

5. Juventus, 1986

6. Dino Zoff’s kit, 1982

7. Olympique Marseille, 1989-’91

8. Sampdoria 1990

9. Saint Etienne 1981

10. Uruguay 1990

10. Inter 1960s

Yesterday’s matters

27 03 2011

And in other news, world beater Phil Jagielka was good enough to play for a full 5 minutes (including injury time) today.

The possibilities, the possibilities

20 03 2011

When it comes to football matches there is one truly neutral moment;

This moment represents hope, it represents possibility. This moment gives the supporter the chance to dream, the chance to wonder. This moment offers the possibility of watching something special, something unforgettable, history. “We could….”, “We can…..”, “What if?”, “We can beat these twats!!” “COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

This moment also offers the possibility of false hope. It’s the last moment before things start to unravel, the last-minute before your dreams start to turn sour. It’s the time when your carefully formulated ideas are still following the plan….. It’s the time when the little voice in your head starts  feeding you doubts; “I don’t like this!”, “Oh bollocks, I thought he was suspended”, “I forgot our right back was injured”, “Why have we dropped  him?”, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this!”, “Oh Jesus, that dirty bastard is playing”, “Please let us get through this ordeal with a win!!”

Yesterday the positive and negative voices vied for my attention in a battle of attrition. This battle seemed a long long way away by the end of the match; The 5-a-side club professionals from the non-football club had oozed their way to victory. The braying simpletons in the stands taunted us as if they were proper fans of a proper club. If they were cogniscent of basic etiquette these idiots should be making public displays of contrition for not only tolerating this crime against football, but for justifying this marketing wet-dream of a football club.

Having said all that, we’re still top of the league, at the moment.

Message Boards aren’t what they were

15 03 2011

Earlier today I logged in to the WSC message board and noticed that someone had left me a message. It was a bit of a surprise to find that the message was as follows;

“You do come across on the forums as a bit of an arsehole – just saying.”

It had been sent by somebody that I’d never met. This person obviously didn’t agree with something I posted but as I don’t go around insulting people I wondered what had made them react like that. I think it may have been the way I questioned their Daily Mail-esque postings but I’m not sure. After a little investigation I realised that this person may have a chip on their shoulder; other people had received messages like this as well.

This is the trouble with message boards, people can use the anonymity of a username as a mask to allow them to act in ways that are totally alien to their “normal” lives. Yesterday, on a different message board I indulged in another discussion with another person that I’d never met, he also seemed  to hold a different point of view. First of all, he insulted the Jet Set’s flags;

“Donnt mention the flags haha!! BLUE army written in BLACK on a RED VIETNAM flag!! :lol: :lol: viva le Che, the communist mass murderer!! Communist filth!!”

I put him straight over the flag’s history and attempted to put him straight on other matters. He came back with;

“I do not need the history of Cuba, thanks. This is Britain :roll: Although I do now realise why you use the flags you do. I dont agree with communism/internationalism etc… I believe in National Democracy! So we would obviously disagree.

Franco haha :lol: The fact is, you are glorifying a mass murderer (regardless of what side of the political spectrum he falls) The same goes for the guys that have posters and t-shirts of Che. Its like me bringing a flag of Benito Mussolini to games! (im not a fascist by the way, just an example) Whats next for you guys then, flags of Lenin or Moa Zedong???” 

Again I attempted to put him straight (with the help of comrade Rude Bwoy) but he came back with;

“I have absolutely no interest in South American politics, communism is irrelevant to me as it will NEVER take off in the UK. I cant take you guys seriously, the 2 communists I know are absolutely bums and despise the people that do well for themselves (ive heard there conversations, amusing to say the least :lol: ). Losers turn to communism because they havnt done anything with their lives. I’ve encountered the Socialist workers party in swansea, all bums! Grow a pair and stop blaming the upper classes ffs!”

I tried to put him straight again. He didn’t come back today.

You have to ask why he bothered in the first place, neither of us were going to change our minds. In the end I just felt annoyed that I was dragged in. But that’s the annoying side to message boards, they draw in all manner of idiots

Be careful with  message boards, it’s a jungle out there!

My arms are shaking and my knees are weak

12 02 2011

The Welsh news has been telling me all week that today is a big big day for Welsh sport.

Because it’s such a mammoth day I’m acting like a man in a fuzzy tree. I just can’t stop wondering and worrying about our boys, are they going to win today? The Welsh news tells me that today’s match is a “MUST WIN MATCH!!!!!!”, I am worried, must win, if we don’t win the world is up.

I know the players got to the airport ok, the Welsh news told me. I know they got to the hotel ok, the Welsh news told me. I know they are worried, the Welsh news told me. I am worried, the brows seem furrowed. Rob Howley looked pressured, he was on the Welsh news looking worried. Warren was on the Welsh news looking worried as well. I am worried.

I’m worried about the pressure because the Welsh news told me. I’m worried about the 8 game losing run because the Welsh news told me about its importance. I’m worried about Warren’s effectiveness as the pressure bulids because the Welsh news told me he’s suffering. I’m struggling to see a way back to the glory, I’m struggling to sleep because of the disquieting news that I heard on the Welsh news.

There are some other thing happening in the world today but they’re not half as worrying, only I’ve forgotten what they are. I think I’ll go to watch a football match instead of worrying. Fuck You Welsh news.

Some proper football songs

11 02 2011

Football is the new Rock Roll

28 01 2011

Music and Welsh football are umbilically linked.

Gruff Rhys supports Bangor, Dafydd Iwan’s son played for Bangor…..

Robert Plant’s Son, Raith, played against Bangor in 2009’s Welsh Cup semi final………

Gruff Rhys’s film “Separado” was produced by the sister of Haverfordwest’s Tom Ramasut……

Cardiff were once sponsored by the Super Furry Animals…….

Goldie Lookin’ Chain once sponsored Newport County…….

Clive Allen’s Q.P.R Shirt appeared in this Manic Street Preachers video……

Westlife landed on Llandudno’s pitch last year…….

Stevie Wonder used to be Colwyn Bay’s Chairman…….

Janis Joplin was Rhyl’s player manager for one month in 1968……..

Shakin’ Stevens used to be top boy in Dynamo Aberdare’s firm………

What’s in a name?

11 01 2011

We’ve just found the perfect ghostwriter for the autobiography of Welsh football legend Leighton James;

So Leighton James meet James Leighton!

He’s a legend!  He leads children across the road safely! He hates Savage! He was quite good too!;

It all happens in Llandudno!

8 01 2011

Did you know that there is a connection between the town of Llandudno and the match on the following clip?

Don’t worry if you have no idea, the answer is long-winded and a little esoteric.

The process of connection began with Bellone’s penalty in the penalty shootout. The clip shows us that the ball rebounded off the crossbar. hit Carlos, the Brazilian keeper, on the back and went over the line.

The process developed thanks to the fog of mystery; in 1986 nobody was sure when a ball should be declared dead after a penalty kick. You probably noticed the Brazilian finger waggers announcing their uncertainty in the clip.

At the time this issue was literally the slightly tepid potato of world football. I can hear you now, “This is all very well, but what does it have to do with Llandudno?” Bare with me, all will be revealed!

Now is the time to introduce the  body that reforms the laws of football, The International Football Association Board (IFAB for short), into our story.  The words of FIFA tell us this about IFAB ;

The first-ever IFAB meeting took place in 1886 when the English FA, conscious of the need for standardisation, invited their Irish, Scottish and Welsh counterparts to join forces to come up with a uniform code. Up until then, different rules had applied in different countries.

Since its foundation in 1904, FIFA, as football’s world governing body, sought to team up with IFAB. The first real steps were made in that direction two years later, in 1906, when Englishman Daniel Burley Woolfall became FIFA President. And although the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Football Tournaments were run under the FA’s supervision, FIFA began to take part in meetings from 1913 onwards.

Four representatives from FIFA and one each from England, N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales meet at an Annual General Meeting where they set out to identify, study and accept or reject possible alterations to the Laws.

This IFAB seems a little anachronistic doesn’t it? Generous people would say that the body is one of the few historical anomalies, or charming little quirks, that the onward march of commercialisation hasn’t managed to  destroy. Less than generous people would say that it’s one of the last vestiges of a Victorian worldview that told us Britannia ruled the waves.  

The composition of the board (Four members from FIFA, four members from the UK)  is so obviously outdated common sense doesn’t need much encouragement to suggest  questions like; “Why should England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales naturally exercise more power than the other 204 non-British football associations combined?”. The logic of such questions is hard to refute. Some groups and people use this logic to infer that the very existence of the United Kingdom’s four separate football associations should be questioned.

Despite unflattering opinions the IFAB continues to meet on an annual basis. The venue rotates amongst the membership therefore Wales hosts a meeting every fifth year. I’m sure you’re ahead of me now…

The IFAB connects the penalty, the slightly tepid potato and Llandudno. The full answer to the question at the beginning of the post is………..

In 1987 the annual IFAB meeting was held in the Bodysgallen Hall, Llandudno and they clarified the matter of the penalty……..DAAAAAA DAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH;

Prior to a change in the Laws in season 1987/1988, the Penalty-Kick Law 14 was not clear in defining when a penalty kick had been completed; both when time had been extended at the end of a half to allow for the taking of a penalty kick, or when kicks are being taken from the penalty-mark to decide a winner after a match had ended in a draw.

The so-called ‘Madrid Law’ (more correctly the Mexico Rule!) sought to minimise future confusion, following a controversial penalty goal, scored by the French player Bruno Bellone in the classic 1986 Mexico World Cup Quarter Final game between France – Brazil. 

The French player Bellone, hit the crossbar during the penalty shoot-out, and the ball came back out and hit the rear of Brazil goalkeeper Carlos and went into the goal. The Referee allowed the goal to count, and France went on to win 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw following extra time. The Referee was Ioan Igna (Romania), and his linesmen were, Vojtech Christov (Czechoslovakia) and Lajos Nemeth (Hungary).

There was a lot of controversy about the French penalty kick at the time. But it was the Scottish Football Association who successfully sought clarification, by proposing the following Law 14 (Penalty Kick) change that was accepted at the 100th International Football Association Board (IFAB) meeting held at Bodysgallen Hall, Llandudno in Wales on Saturday 13th June 1987.

The approved text, was inserted at the bottom of the first paragraph of Law XIV, page 31 of the revised 1987/1988 ‘Referees’ Chart and Players Guide to the Laws of Association Football’, and was as follows: 

“When a penalty kick is being taken during the normal course of play, or when time has been extended at half-time or full-time to allow a penalty-kick to be taken or retaken, a goal shall not be nullified if, before passing between the posts and under the cross-bar, the ball touches either or both of the goalposts, or the cross-bar, or the goalkeeper, or any combination of these agencies, providing that no other infringement has occurred.” 

At the same time, the following words, were also added to the end of the F. A. Board Decisions No. 6 paragraph as shown in italics below: 

“When a match is extended, at half-time or full-time, to allow a penalty kick to be taken or retaken, the extension shall last until the moment that the penalty-kick has been completed, i.e., until the referee has decided whether a goal is scored or not, and the game shall terminate immediately the Referee has made his decision.” 

In other words, IFAB decided that something was alright unless it wasn’t alright. You can see why the confusion around this issue arose;

“Previous to season 1987/1988, the wording originally introduced by the IFAB on 17th June 1901 at Llangolen Wales, only referred to a goal being allowed if the ball touched the “goalkeeper” before passing between the posts. It made no mention of the ball bouncing off the framework of the goal and then deflecting into the goal off the goalkeeper.”

The connection between FIFA and Llandudno is deeper than this single meeting; the IFAB visited the home of the Jet Set on 4 prior occasions; June 1966, June 1956, June 1937 and June 1932 . You could check out the IFAB archives here in order to find out what they got up to but I’ve taken the trouble of finding out for you.

– In 1932 they decided against substitutes and redesigning the area into a square shape but decided in favour of international referees wearing blazers of “distinctive” colours. After this hard work they had a nice tour of “Saxon” north Wales that ended with tea in the Dolbarden Hotel. The “Ladies of the Party” had a “morning programme” written for them.

– In 1937 they proposed adding an arc to the area, which was adopted. This was followed by another tour of north Wales and entertainment “for the ladies of the party”., including a visit to “The Shops” where “The Ladies” could “…make hunting whilst the going is good”

– In 1956 they still decided against substitutes but they decided that children of 17 were not to be considered as full professionals. The entertainment this time consisted of a trip to “Betwsycoed” but there were no special arrangements “for the ladies of the party”.

– In 1966 they really tried to introduce substitutes but referred the matter “back to the committee of Study for further evaluation”, they decided that a crossbar was needed to judge whether a goal had gone in and that the goal could only be made of metal or wood. They also decided that refs for internationals would be paid £18, linesman would be paid £9. For entertainment they could eat a “Bombe Cymru”.

– In 1987 football’s Godfather and his stooge turned up. Yes Havelange and Blatter managed to  make it all the way to the cherished home of the Jet Set. All of a sudden I feel dirty. There was no sign of entertainment this time so we’ll have to imagine how they entertained themselves…….

………Blatter promenading down Llandudno’s pier before buying a bargain book…………..Joao in the Golden Goose amusements trying to cause an avalanche of 10p pieces by tipping up the coin pushers……………Joao trying to force Sepp to leave the fruit machines alone but Sepp says; ” They’re going, they’re going!! (In French of course)”

We’re surprised that Llandudno’s tourist board haven’t thought of using these images to promote LLandudno around the world.

It’s funny to see the effect that Llandudno has had on the world of football!

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