Some Summer Photos

5 09 2017

I’ve been to some matches this summer.

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Yet more of the photos what I’ve taken

25 12 2016

This is the final part of a five part festive trilogy.

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The one that When Saturday Comes didn’t like – 2016 Edition.

13 06 2016

Last month I entered the WSC competition for football articles written by amateur writters, needless to say I didn’t win again.

Here’s the rubbish what I wrote this time, now with added photos!

La Dolce Vita

How a hopeful email led to an unexpected reconnection with happiness via the fulfilment of a long forgotten ambition in an Italian port.

The banter bus and the rapacious exploitation of football had reduced me to the annoyed cynical husk of a football fan by the start of February 2016. A few days into the month I was briefly freed from world weary prejudgement by the fulfilment of my long forgotten ambition of visiting Serie A.

The undeniable exotica of Italian football has long exerted a pull on me. A potent mixture of World Soccer team groups, Simon Inglis’ Football Grounds of Europe, Italia ’90 and S4C’s Sgorio stirred my imagination and the apparent jet set world of Channel 4’s James Richardson inspired me to go out there. I longed to see the cubic terracotta lines of Genoa’s Stadio Luigi Ferraris at first hand.

I finally made it to Italy when Wales played in Milan in 2003. When I saw the mythical San Siro through our coach windows I could barely contain myself. When we set foot outside the ground I was presented with an area pockmarked by crumbling tramlines and a pervading atmosphere of menace. There was fascist graffiti in the toilets, the home fans threw stuff at us and Wales lost 4-0. It was a deflating and dispiriting experience.

It would take fate over a decade to present me with another calcio opportunity in the shape of February’s work-related trip to La Spezia. Just after Andy and I arrived in the charming northern Italian port we realised two things; our free evening coincided with Sampdoria’s home match with Torino and Genoa was only around the metaphorical corner. After years of unconscious suppression my long forgotten desire bubbled to the surface. I sent an email to Sampdoria’s ticket office without the expectation of receiving a reply.

I received a personal reply, written in English, within twelve hours and my well-worn cynicism started to crack. It turned out that buying tickets in Italy was easy. We could just turn up at the ground and buy one or buy one from the betting shop / bar near our hotel. We only needed our passports rather than ticket accounts, passwords or buying histories.

The simple act of going to buy tickets also put a spring in my step. Andy, Serdal and I strolled across La Spezia’s sun-dappled piazzas and along its orange tree lined streets towards the crowded betting shop / bar. I was persuaded out of buying the cheaper terrace tickets so we bought seated tickets for the equivalent of £22 instead. I was now going to a Serie A match and I was beyond elated.

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The train journey to Genoa was also soul-affirming. My coastal train journeys always involve a cheerful reverie but this was even better, everything outside our windows was a sun-enhanced vista of breathtaking beauty. It was clear why Cinque Terre and Liguria had influenced Shelley and Byron.

When we arrived I was adrift in a sea of giddiness. I already felt the excitement of an impending match in a new ground but now we were also surrounded by evocative architecture and fantastic public art like the Christopher Columbus monument near Principe Station.

As we walked I enjoyed our immersion in a viscerally intoxicating culture of hidden ornate chapels, political graffiti battles and an evident eventful history. Not even the joy deadening opinions of Alan Green or Robbie Savage could have blunted the joie de vivre that was coursing through me.

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The tourist information office confirmed that we were meandering in the right direction and that we’d be able to catch the post-match train from Brignole, Genoa’s other main station. They furnished us with a map and directions. We had to turn left at a big fountain and walk towards Brignole via a long street with ornate archways. I’m the kind of guy that loves to take everything in when they’re on an unhurried stroll past neon signs that remind you of famous films.

We were enveloped by the familiar football throng near Brignole. In the under station subway the political graffiti battle had cross-fertilised with football thanks to Genoa’s anti-fascist fans. It took about ten minutes of excited shuffling before we saw the ground’s floodlight haze and cubic outline from across the dry river.

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A short break seemed very apt so we stopped for a coffee and a chat. The bar was very civilised, a family owned place filled by families of Sampdoria fans. I basked in the warmth of it all. People seemed to sense we were visitors in search of a memorable evening and we left for the ground with “Grazie” in surround sound.

The trip was turning out exactly as I hoped. Groups of friends crowded tiny bars, young fans carried giant banners around and scooters were everywhere. The fans had a certain way of carrying themselves with a certain attitude and a certain way of wearing scarves. After I bought one of those scarves we headed towards our seats via two ticket and passport checks.

I excitedly approached the entrance to the terrace and the inimitable moment that a football lover waits for; the first view of the pitch in a ground they’ve never visited. What a glorious sight! That fact I was standing in the location where Scotland beat Sweden and Ireland beat Romania a quarter of a century earlier probably wouldn’t mean anything to most people but it meant something to me.

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They say that the anticipation is often better than the event but it wasn’t true today. Our seats appeared to be in the family section but this wasn’t a bad thing. We had a great view from the fourth row and we were surrounded by the most charming Genovese you could ever hope to meet. They not only helped us negotiate our way to our seats they wiped them before we sat down.

Our new friends were particularly taken with Serdal’s new Bangor City scarf (a present from me). “Ah Galles…….Bale!” they said approvingly. I didn’t know what I was hearing during the match, it could have been the same generic drivel I normally hear, but I didn’t care. It sounded charming and I was in a ground I’d always wanted to visit.

The ground wore a fantastic lived in look. The pitchside glass fences were one of the things I’d noticed in Italia ’90 and I worried that they’d be view obstructing but they weren’t. Legroom was at a premium but an empty row in front allowed us drape room, amazingly a steward didn’t threaten to chuck us out.

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There was a social feel to everything, unaccompanied children ran around and friends warmly greeted each other as they wandered. At no point did a steward intervene with curt directions. I could get used to a matchgoing experience like this!

When you consider stellar names like Mancini, Vialli, Pagluica, Gullit and Veron have played for Sampdoria I could’ve been disappointed that I only recognised three names in either squad – Sampdoria’s Quagliarella and Cassano, Torino’s Immobile – but I wasn’t. The past is a different country and other televisual markets are now more lucrative. This background knowledge didn’t alter my small taste of Serie A, I was enjoying myself too much.

The match was as expected anyway; the players displayed good touches and the defences were comfortable on the ball. Most of the play was down our touchline so I was able to see the pattern of play quite easily. We saw two goals before we left but neither were classics.

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The fans were good value. This may have been a run of the mill bottom half of the table contest on a warmish February evening but the teeth rattling fireworks of Sampdoria’s Ultras meant that it the first match where I literally felt the atmosphere. Perhaps it had been a good idea to avoid the terrace.

We left ten minutes before the final whistle to be sure about catching our train. After a few vague directions from the bloke on the gate we made it to the deserted yet scooter infested pavements. We heard a large roar that suggested a late Sampdoria winner and a second muffled roar that suggested something else; a disallowed goal? A bad foul? A Torino goal?

We made it to Brignole with about ten minutes to spare but our train was delayed anyway. I lamented our now misguided desire to leave the match early. Judging by the demeanour of the Sampdoria fans that arrived after us the muffled roar had been caused by a Torino equaliser. A bearded gentleman ranted at me but I smiled the international language of agreement and he left me alone.

As the train progressed towards La Spezia I felt an almost spiritual sense of well-being. Not only had I fulfilled an ambition, my cynicism had lessened and I knew that another way was possible. I had paid roughly £22 to watch a match whilst surrounded by decent people in an architecturally beautiful ground in one of Europe’s famous leagues. Why couldn’t football feel like this more often?

 





Stickers here, stickers there, stickers every blooming where.

5 03 2015

As already noted the Jet Set see a sticker album with loads of missing stickers where others see an urban landscape.

We’ve been abroad recently so there’s been a few updates of our sister site, updates like this one.

Feb 13 069Here’s a few of our favourites.

Aug 13 064Aug 13 177sept 20 043aUG 20 132

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The “Bag of programmes tombola style game” Part 2

25 08 2014

Whilst playing the “Bag of programmes tombola style game” you may also see some interesting front covers.

From a stylistic point of view you can see Kilcline looking fine or Leeds in short shorts……

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From an aerobic point of view you can see pictures of training sessions……

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From a starstruck point of view you can see celebrities……

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From another stylistic point of view you can see interesting attire……

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Cutting ties, that’ll be the Crazy Gang.

More discoveries to follow………….





It’s amazing what you find in the carrier bags left in club shops, part 2

31 10 2013

The week after I found the green carrier bags someone came in the club shop and handed me a bag of programmes. There were a couple of interesting Perestroika-tinged examples inside.

One featured an interesting juxtaposition of comradeship….

(Click on the photos to enlarge them)

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…the thoughts of Chairman Edwards….

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…adverts for Manchester United…

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…and a “Pre-Match Penalty Competition Involving 100 Schoolchildren”

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The other example was an Ipswich programme that made a more direct link between football and Perestroika;

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The girl in the picture grew up to be Britain’s number 1 female tennis player.

There was a commemorative reproduction of an FA Cup programme from 1939 in the middle. Back then things were more charming, the adverts were charming – Actually, baring in mind the second world war was eight months away the last advert feels slightly less charming -;

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and the stories about the empire were more charming;

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Incidentally, I found a charming thing in the modern part of the Ipswich; half a portrait of Gavin Johnson with an adidas Azteca. The image transported me back to happier childhood times.

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So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 9

18 09 2013

38. The Death of Umbro?

This post tells you all about it.

39. Non-League Day

This post tells you all about it.

40. “Aston Villa fan” David Cameron

There have been several articles about Tottenham supporters and the use of the word “Yid” in recent media outlets therefore the uncreased one did spake forth earlier today. He told us that in the right circumstances  (If you were the right sort of person, and used the word ironically, and there was an “R” in the month) there was absolutely nothing wrong with using the word “Yid”

David Cameron embroiled in race row over Tottenham Hotspur ‘Yid’ chant 

We should have expected a comment on this issue, Dave just absolutely loves to comment on the burning issues facing the beautiful game. You can tell he loves the beautiful game from the headline and first line of this story;

“David Cameron jogging in Aston Villa shirt

“Prime Minister is down with the kids, running in t-shirt reading “Cameron 10”.”

You can tell that Dave really loves commenting on the burning issues facing the beautiful game, he just can’t keep quiet about them;

Luis Suarez: David Cameron criticises ‘appalling’ bite

England v Scotland? David Cameron wants a ‘good game of football’

David Cameron backs Pompey takeover amid criticism of court delay

Cameron wades into England football row with criticism of Capello

David Cameron: Fabio Capello was wrong over John Terry captaincy

That’s not to say that he doesn’t proffer opinions about other sports;

British Lions tour win inspired my son to play rugby, says David Cameron

Andy Murray deserves knighthood after Wimbledon – David Cameron

A cynic might decry these outbursts as pathetic, Jim Hacker-esque, attempts to prove that he hasn’t lost touch with the man on the street, or transparent attempts to gain reflected glory, or bullshit that’s intended to take our attention away from his government’s odious policies, but to be that would be rather churlish cynicism, and that’s the worst kind of cynicism.

41. Adrian Chiles

When Adrian has to make a point the permanently incredulous pain in the arse simply has to make a point. Just before Man Utd’s first game in the 2013-14 European Cup the overexposed dickhead introduced Davis Moyes with this line;

His predecessor ONLY won 2 European Cups” (or some such rubbish)

To put the comment in some context, Ferguson is generally perceived to be a “quite successful” manager and only one manager (Bob Paisley) has won the trophy more than twice, and to think there was a time when Chiles was an irreverent breath of fresh air.

42. 2013 – The summer of Rooney

Here are some stories taken from the BBC’s website about this summer’s “Wayne Rooney Saga” ™.

July 1 – “Wayne Rooney: Man Utd striker to hold talks with David Moyes

July 2 – “Wayne Rooney: Man Utd star may want new challenge – Mike Phelan

July 16 – “Wayne Rooney ‘angered and confused’ by Manchester United

July 23 – “Jose Mourinho denies David Moyes mind games

Aug 6 – “Wayne Rooney: Man Utd striker ‘will need to force Chelsea move’

Aug 7 – “Wayne Rooney: Man Utd and Chelsea play high-stakes game

Aug 12 – “Wayne Rooney’s ‘mind is fine’, says England boss Roy Hodgson

Aug 21 – Wayne Rooney: Chelsea delay third bid until after Man Utd game

Aug 27 – “Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho sets Wayne Rooney 48-hour deadline

Sept 18 – “Wayne Rooney on road to legendary status at Man Utd”

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the coverage of football in our media but or the same journalist is responsible for both of the last two stories.

It would be too easy to notice how easily our media turned two months of “Rooney’s a turncoat!!!!!” in to “Rooney’s a legend!!!!” after a single evening and then criticise the media for treating us with contempt. It would be ridiculously easy  to ridicule our media because it manufactures content and blows things out of proportion in order to engineer a demand for their message. It would ridiculously easy to either but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

43. Clubs that have the wrong sort of match posters

There should more like this one;

(A big thank you to Mr. Derris for pointing me in its direction)

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