I didn’t say “Football, bloody hell?”, it was “Bloody football is hell”

31 12 2018

Sudden changes of heart are nature’s way of reminding one that one is an insignificant carbon-based unit, and therefore whatever thoughts momentarily pass through one’s conscious mind do not really matter in the vast span of space and time.

For example, the sight of footballers limbering up in Glan Conwy’s brilliant October sunshine convinced me that I missed the simple joy you feel when playing football.

Anyone that has played football knows football’s wonderful sensations. The fresh air, the verdant grass, the sense of satisfaction when foot and ball connect perfectly.

I remember my memorable goals and mazy dribbles, my penalty saves and reaction saves. I can remember how my application of delicately graceful force once encouraged a self-opinionated winger to switch wings and the occasions when I felt like an unbeatable goalie for our six-a-side side. Football joy stays with you.

The pursuit of wonderful sensations kept me playing football, like the feeling when you find a teammate with a slightly difficult to see through ball, the feeling of curling the ball past a keeper or performing a wonderful save. There was also the esoteric happiness in blocking shots, cleanly dispossessing opponents and playing the ball out of defence with calm assurance (Not my words!).

It’s funny how the memories appear to you in a splurge when you are reminded of something. The sight of two groups of males receiving expert coaching was my gateway this time; Glan Conwy were doing the one touch piggy-in-the-middle thing beloved of Barcelona and Llandudno Albion were doing speed drills.

I felt the heady rush of knowledge. I could have done something at this level! Yes I could have played on a Saturday, had I felt like it. I was capable of playing the ball out of defence with a calm assurance (Not my opinion remember), I also had a keen sense of positioning.

I’m sure that I would have found a level, any kind of level. My memory tells me that I could curl a football like John Barnes, mark like Baresi and turn like Darcey Bussell and who am I to argue with that assessment? I am not the sort of person that gives out praise willy-nilly.

Within minutes of the kick-off a character-building change of heart happened. I was glad that I no longer played football. What does the fresh air and verdant grass matter when football still contains the process that turns yesterday’s joy into today’s aches; ankle pain, aching knees, sore back and nagging pains in my hand when it’s cold.

My feelings changed as soon as it became clear the technically advanced warm up hadn’t signalled the Welsh Alliance’s move to a more technical plain. Both sides still demanded that “big heads” were needed “on this”. I visualised my ankle giving way in the sticky mud and my hamstring going twang as I was outpaced by one of them tricky wingers.

I soon progressed to feeling rather glad about never playing on any Saturday. I just couldn’t imagine feeling any joy, I mean where’s the pleasure in giving up the leisure possibilities presented by the end of a working week so you can hoof a football clear or narrowly dodge a juicy whack to your shins?

My football career may have been helped if I could have been bothered with organised football but enjoyment seemed to be elsewhere. I didn’t fall through any metaphorical net, I was interrailing through Europe when the talent trawler visited.

I was already feeling like Proust before I saw the players warming up. The smallest details near Glan Conwy’s club house, the pungent smell of deep heat in the ether and the clumps of mud that fall from football boots, placed me inside that changing room of yore.

I could see the sunlight thorough the frosted Perspex slits at the top of the wall and the marks the door had made on the marble effect floor tiles, I could see the Sellotape on wall’s wood effect panelling and the jagged edges of the hole two thirds of the way down the door.

The smell of deep heat is the memory that connects me to past happenings most quickly; the crap banter, the unspoken competition about boot quality, the feeling of not feeling my legs after a hailstorm, the harsh cold gripping me after the first slide tackle in the rain.

I’d never really seen eye to eye with organised football. Two of my more palatable memories are the pitch I took to be a normal grass pitch in Bethesda, my foot sank into the liquefied soil and reemerged with a film of shiny brown liquid. There was also a school match on a day of heavy rain, a couple of us thought it would be a good idea to get used to the conditions by warming up early, obviously the rain stopped before the match and I ended up with a heavy cold.

I’ve always hated playing on teams with people I don’t know. I was usually sat quietly, trying to change quietly, as my more confident teammates treated us to a tirade of “humour”. I wish I had been able to affect an air of confident diffidence but I was quaking at becoming their target.

I must have been blessed with a little skill because I was playing for the side but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I didn’t belong. I had not received the subtle schooling of north Wales’ elite junior football so I failed to develop a cocksure air or taste for humiliation based humour.

My feelings have remained. Organised football is ill-fitting boots pinching your Achilles tendon, mud splattered cuts and omnipresent scapegoating, it’s a nebulous sense of honour that convinces someone to propel a fellow human through the air with casual violence.

Organised football is listening to an opposing captain’s passive-aggressive support of his side of thugs, it’s listening to opposition wind up merchants, the sour grapes of the defeated and “Oh it’s like that is it?” from an entitled nobody.

Organised football is the pointless effort to impress disparate people thrown together by the same colour polyester and  helping cocksure humiliation experts, it’s about protecting the honour of a group you can’t abide and risking injuries for people you can’t stand.

This thinking even seeped into my lowly level of recreational football. I once twisted my spine playing in goal one Friday after school, I have countless scars from sand infected grazes after years on north Wales’ heartless all-weather football scene. Social pressure eh!

In a cosmic sense, everything is balanced, I have coped without football and football has coped without me. I know that I feel more contented as “football watcher” than “football player”. 

This is what I love about football, it allows once the space to think contentedly about the world.

By the way, I don’t know whether Glan Conwy or Llandudno Albion won, I left for the bus stop at some point in the second half.





Everybody’s welcome

17 12 2018

Technology provides a vast ocean of entertainment for our amusement and we respect the artistic process by deleting entertainment content from our devices in a matter of seconds, even Hollyoaks requires the careful channelling of creative energy to come into being.

There’s no point in complaining about our decadent arrogance because of the inevitable reply; “Mate, mate, maaaate it’s always been like this. There have always been trends, different fashions, different styles of music, different lengths of football shorts etcetera”. They can say all that but they can’t deny that there was a time when you were allowed to keep vinyl albums.

When Stewart Lee complained about “youngsters these days” in Content Provider his words resonated. When I was younger you couldn’t find the collected works of blah blah blah with a search engine, you had to make an effort, and have the right sort of friends with arcane knowledge, to get involved in a musical subculture. I could pity the youngsters these days for missing out on a sense of gratification that took years to mature.

I happened across a football-related example whilst luxuriating on an August pavement outside Llandudno’s luxurious hipster micro pub. I sipped a luxurious drink under clouds of the deepest north Walian summer grey (Pantone 1118) and life felt alright, then three of them modern youngsters turned up to discuss their fantasy league teams with an assured air of authority.

Questions fulminated as I was forced to listen to people discuss the economic value of other people like slave owners. Did these experts know the feel of an icy blast from the Urals in the 64th minute of a humdrum league match? Did they know the stress of arriving 15 minutes into a match because a supposed two hour journey took six hours? Why is it so easy to look and sound like a proper mad football fan these days? Thankfully I had a train to catch.

To return to my salad days, the 1990s were a simpler time of unlocked doors, cheery neighbours and the ERM fiasco. Nobody wanted vulgar displays of ostentatious football analysis so nobody “curated” a “luxury football opinion”. We may not have been able to conceptualise gegenpressing or source artisan retro shirts from the internet but oh how we revelled in the joy of the moment like troglodytes.

Imagine not caring how far Marco van Basten ran in a match, imagine not being able to cash out, imagine not hearing someone add ”mate, mate, maaaaaate” to every tenth sentence. Imagine not taking football quite as seriously.

The beautiful game’s true beauty is that everyone can interact with it in their own way. Take the ex-Brazilian international Adriano. Some of us recognise him from a past world cup, some watched him a lot, some have appreciated his goals on you tube and some would need wikipedia to find out who he is. If we go by his bare statistics (played professionally for 16 years, won titles in Italy and Brazil, 50 international caps) we could conclude that he wasn’t bad, if we could be bothered to have an opinion of course.

In the luxury opinion curation game one simply has to be judgemental so Adriano is lambasted because he wasn’t as good as his avatar on a computer game, and Andrei Shevcheko (17 year international career, over 120 goals in Serie A, European Cup winner) is breezily dismissed as an elite striker whose powers slipped away in a single moment

Decline is it? If I may be permitted to wear my “freelance sociologist in trainers” hat for a moment, my informal research into the pressing issue of “football decline” indicates that most players suffer a relative decline in speed, power or skill as time passes, it’s usually called “getting old”.

I will say one positive thing about the luxury opinion curators, at least they don’t stride around grounds brandishing Stone Thailand armpits as they parrot the inane ditties of you tube.

If I may be permitted to tilt my “freelance sociologist in trainers” hat to a jaunty angle, my research process has discovered that lots of annoyed people watch football. For example last season a Bangor fan loudly complained that Bangor were “too pedestrian”, after four hours of careful consideration I filed it under “Reflex comments that angry fans use as proof that they care more than we do”.

My next piece of freelance sociology will see me attempt to discover the identity of the group that the shouters are trying to impress.

It is gratifying to know that I am not the only one that has noticed that some people are trying too hard. A wonderful article entitled SUPPORT AS PERFORMANCE – NOT EVERYTHING IS A ‘MENTAL’ has been written. Is there anything more tedious than the knowing LOOK AT ME!!! behaviour of the fan park drink throwers and IKEA store invaders?

I don’t understand the appeal of those “fan parks”? You are already sharing an enclosed public space with people that normally give “the footy” a swerve but went along with “the vibe” because “we’ve sooooo got this mate” then some legend throws the contents of a plastic cup in your general direction.

Fan parks are the epitome of sponsored cynicism, little more than insipid communal experiences for the atomised citizens of market economies. What’s wrong with staying at home or going to a pub?

When I see people displaying knowing LOOK AT ME!!! behaviour I can’t help wondering how they developed an interest in football. In theory sports marketing provides a plausible explanation, football’s original punters fell into decrepit obsolesce years ago and Fabulous Football needs new punters to buy, literally buy, into its world.

The recent history of the Ricoh Arena could be used as a good example of sports marketing’s ability to create demand. Basically speaking cold hard business logic took a dispute with landlords, coupled it to a perceived demand for the rugby product in the midlands, and consequently Coventry City, a relatively big football club with a long history, became the tenants of Wasps, a rugby club that hails from London.

On the surface the Ricoh Arena still seems to be Coventry’s home ground; Coventry play there in front of sky blue seats and there’s a statue of Jimmy Hill and a Coventry City memorial garden outside the ground. If you look more closely you can spot the subtle signs of takeover; the stadium’s superstore only stocks Wasps merchandise and Wasps take credit for organising pre-takeover events.

Sports marketing seems to have worked here; the sporting midlands now has another set of big crowds with lovely disposable incomes and few people seem to mind that Wasps have moved to a more receptive market.

There is a caveat. This is an example drawn from rugby not football and it’s well-known that rugby fans and football fans have differing concerns; rugby fans focus on freshly ironed gilets and getting to the pub for Banter o’clock whereas football fans generally prefer coats. Football is definitely different from rugby, they say that the “build it and they will come” idea would never be tolerated by football fans.

The fact that MK Dons has fans may slightly contradict that stereotype but the concept of franchising is anathema to most fans, MK Dons are an aberration. Whilst franchising lacks widespread support too many football fans tolerate the thin end of the corporate wedge. The gentrification of half-time haute cuisine and £1000 season tickets is accepted, pay TV subscriptions are renewed and plans are made to meet down “The Etihad”, “The Tony Macaroni” and “The Emirates”.

Sports Marketing could be the cause of this acceptance because it seems to be everywhere. I certainly see the beautiful game’s version of sports marketing whenever I wear my “freelance sociologist in trainers” hat. For example I came across Sky’s football advert whilst undertaking informal participant observation as a commuter this summer.

The televisual part of the campaign featured people with excited little faces rushing to fill sofas in a gianto-stadium, as soon as I saw it I suspected that it was just the sort of froth that encouraged a certain sort of person to have a go at the old footy.

I developed similar observations after Easter Monday’s unexpected field trip to Macclesfield. To cut a long story short I ended up in Macclesfield because FC United v York was postponed whilst I was in Manchester. Only two local matches had survived the rain; Crewe v Port Vale and Macclesfield v Chester, Crewe’s match was all-ticket so Hobson’s choice sent me to Macclesfield.

Whilst there I encountered a Carling advert that claimed “Football is never just 11 v 11”.

Even non-“freelance sociologists in trainers” would be able to spot the common tone of the two adverts; “SEE YOU, YOU’RE DEAD IMPORTANT, FOOTBALL IS YOUR SPORT, SO GET INVOLVED WITH THE FOOTBALL AND GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY”.

Sports marketing seems to encourage people to act in a certain way so it’s tempting to blame it for the behaviour of the easily led, before we join two and two together it is worth bearing in mind that people are never just willing dupes.

The adverts contain such ridiculous stereotypes that it’s difficult to see how people would use them as behavioural advice. Who actually watches football in this sort of ecstatic state?

HE’S HOLDING A BLOODY TEAPOT.

It is amazing that twenty-six years have passed since Sky invented football and they have still to work out how the fans of their sport behave. Fans are not continually on the verge of beatific ecstasy or volcanic rage, nor are we gibbering morons hooked on the buzz of watching televised football in pubs. sadly the stereotyping appears to be contagious.

Simple ideas undermine sports marketing. Firstly, repeatedly saying something is great does not make that something great. The esteem with which the sports marketing industry coats itself isn’t matched by reality. Sports marketing may motivate someone to consider something, or spread the awareness of an event, but it cannot force people to pay attention, or attend something, if people don’t want to do something, they won’t.

Secondly, a carefully crafted image isn’t always a true reflection of reality. Free market propagandists tell us that a free market is the best way of organising society because it “democratises opportunity” but you cannot access the free market if you have insufficient resources. Similarly sports marketing has created an inclusive image for premier league football but poorer fans are unable access the premier league dream.

Sports marketing cannot eradicate football’s earthier qualities. On my way back from Easter Monday’s excursion to Macclesfield I noticed an A4 piece of paper on the door of a Crewe station buffet;

The football world painted by that piece of paper is a place beyond the ken of the sports marketers, a place that smells of the petty regulation of fun, League Two aggression and “No Football Colours Allowed”, 

They can market the glossy premier league jamboree all they like but football is about more than 22 sweaty millionaires, it’s about local affiliation, long coach journeys, sharing stories in the pub, trains with standing room only and other heady things. Some people are actually drawn to football by these earthier qualities, odd no?

So why do some people take an interest in football? I haven’t got a clue but here’s my best speculation. Perhaps some of their workmates only talk about football. Perhaps their friends discovered the japes one can have at the footy. Perhaps they’re following stereotypical behaviour patterns because they adore the intoxicating personalities of alpha males.

Perhaps it’s fashion. Perhaps it’s You Tube. Perhaps they once followed a crowd to see where it was heading. Perhaps they like polyester clothing. Perhaps the world is merely a stage and people are merely playing the role of “football fan”.

If the last point was true I could become north Wales’ very own Lee Strassberg with a downbeat football actor’s studio; “Luke Darling! That was wonderful! But where is your sense of realism? Where’s your true sense of self? Try to be the bored football fan, not act like a bored football fan!”

I realise that you read “everyone can interact with it (football) in their own way” some time ago so most of this post may sound a little illogical (people are only interacting with football in their own way) or misanthropic (none of these people directly impinge upon my life) but I can assure that I am neither illogical nor a full-time misanthrope.

To be honest I don’t really care why other people like football, or how they interact with the sport, because it’s none of my business.  It’s just that I prefer to interpret football’s culture in my own way and I’ve lost count of the occasions when tedious behaviour has shaken me out of a carefully constructed reverie.

For me it’s like the concept of free speech; anybody can speak but nobody is compelled to listen. I wish that other people would stick to their part of the deal that I have just implied. I am only asking for ignorance of irritating details and a bit of peace, is that asking too much?





What do you do when you’ve nowhere to go?

2 11 2018

I haven’t really been going to watch Bangor City this season. I’ve been to the odd away game in grounds I’ve never visited but I have failed to yield to the selective appeal of home matches.

Other fans have also developed similar viewpoints, For example John and Joe have offered two fantastically evocative expressions of despair.

So here we all are, a football team in blue continues to play but we no longer care. How does one cope when one feels one’s club has left them?

In my case you make threads of tweets written in the purest sarcasm. My shattered peace of mind wasn’t my only inspiration. there was also the more official social media sources.

With gaps between the tweets and the date on the left, what follows is an illustration of the first four months of the footballing season.

 

In truth the removal of the obligation to care has been quite liberating.

 

 

Now is the season of our Discontent (Part One)

 

JULY

 

July 17th (Some twitter user had claimed any critics of the present regime should bugger off to be Caernarfon fans)

– It would seem that I am now no longer a true Bangor City fan, I imagine that my wife will be delighted.

 

July 19th (The Telford match had already been called off and I was indulging in sarcasm)

– To prove that I’m not as much of a false Bangor fan as I claimed I shall go to the home friendly with Telford a week on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it immensely. Can’t wait!!!!

 

July 22nd – I can’t believe it’s less than a week until Bangor City host Telford, I cannot wait.

 

July 24th – I didn’t leave Welsh football, it left me.

 

July 28th (Football PR babble masquerading as #ClumsyHashtags began to appear in official social media output) 

– On my way to the station to get the train to Bangor. It’s just like Christmas Day! #cantbeatmatchday #youjustthatcrackleofpreseasonexcitement

Train delay, oh no. I’ll have to wait a little bit longer to to feel that crackle of preseason excitement course through me as I walk past Morrison’s. #matchdayexcitementboilingtofeverpitch #delayscantbluntthegloriouscrackleofpreseasonexcitement

We’re on our way, after a delay, it’s gonna be a great preseason day! #cantbeatmatchday #cantbeatthecrackleofpreseasonmatchesinpreseasonbeforetheseasonstarts #excitement #anotherhashtag

Off the train, on the way to my first pre-season match of the pre-season and the excitement is crackling away. Walking down the Holyhead Rd to see the pre-season! #cantbeatthecrackleofpreseasoninpreseasonbeforetheseasonstarts

So I got to the ground and what do I find? The turnstiles are shut, that’s what. The main door was locked too. It’s like there is no game or something. Why weren’t we informed. I’m too disappointed for words.  #thecrackleofpreseasondissappointmentisthebestkindofdissapointment

On the upside if I rush I might make it to St Mirren v Dumbarton now  #youhavetotaketheroughwiththesmoothinpreseasonbeforetheseasonstart

Made it just in time for kick off! #dontstopbelievinginpreseasonexcitement





Just get behind the lads, go on, just get behind the lads

30 05 2018

Get behind the lads, get behind the lads.

That’s our job, we have to get behind the lads, that’s what fans do!

Just get behind the lads.

“But one of our strikers has been cautioned by the police for tweeting racial abuse”

Look, just get behind the lads. That’s our job as fans.

“But our captain is the biggest buy-to-let landlord in the north.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But our left back abuses our fans on team bonding sessions in town.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But our manager is an insufferable bore.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But our left winger diverts his wages through the Isle of Man, Liechtenstein and the Cayman Islands in the name of tax efficiency.”

Just get behind the lads

“But one of our midfielders spoke in support of Tommy Robinson whilst he was on Question Time.”

Just Get behind the lads.

“But our vice-captain has been dubbed as “the worst landlord since Rachman”.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But our right back co-wrote an episode of Mrs. Brown’s Boys”

Just get behind the lads.

“But our reserve keeper founded a company to deal in conflict diamonds.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But one of our midfielders still likes Morrissey.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But our reserve full back like speaks like a university student…….and stuff”

Just get behind the lads.

“But one of our midfielder wears a Make America Great Again cap in post-match interviews.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But one of our strikers is a part-time DJ in a local pub but tells people, via his own you tube channel, that he curates a cultural happening that highlights the synergy between cool people, cool places and cool times.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But one of our defenders has launched his own right-wing populist party and they’ve staged a coup in Peru.”

Just get behind the lads,

“But our board members are nothing more than a plague of goodwill locusts that have already ruined nearly a dozen clubs.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But the football world is now little more than a cynical homage to Thatcherite logic. It’s two millionaires arguing over a throw in, it’s match tickets with prices in three figures, it’s imperialistic giganto-clubs replacing the alienated fans from their local communities with tourists that offer strident opinions on trains, it’s a media that won’t let you think about anything else, it’s an industry continually expectorating PR flim-flam. Football is now a moral vacuum where the only measure of worth is the illusion of success.”

Just get behind the lads.

“But what about the morally relative jargon that’s employed to obscure the pandemic cheating?”

Just get behind the lads.

“But what about our well known internet fans? One of them says that we can’t doubt him because he has an moral MA in the Sociology of the false number 7, an apparent MPhil in Football Analyticalness and a virtual Phd about Franco Baresi’s running gait whilst wearing asics boots. Needless to say he will have already had the last laugh at least 96 hours before you’ve heard the question you worthless cretin.”

Just Get behind the lads.

“Right then, I’m Offski.”

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just get behind the lads.

Just Get behind the lads.

Blah,

Blah,

Blah,

Blah,

Blah,

Blah,,

Blah.

Blah.

In other words, never silence them analytical sensibilities.





Well I wasn’t expecting that!

27 12 2017

Let’s imagine that people once predicted football results without the warming embrace of the thrusting venture science of looking at football-related numbers.

Honest guvnor it happened just like that, we didn’t have no venture science to fall back on, you can trust me on that guvnor.

People like me Nan predicted football results for forty years trying to strike it rich on the pools, even your humble narrator and his equally humble friends predicted football results on a fixed odds coupon from time to time, and none of us had no venture science.

Back then everybody predicted them results without no venture science.

It’s mad ain’t it guvnor, we still gave it a go even without them numbers of science behind us. 

You couldn’t keep us down guvnor, we was happy go lucky we was. We was all in the gutter but some of us was looking at the stars

Consider two things that happened in the last few weeks.

The first was the production of this tweet; “Arsenal Expected Goals 5.01 Man Utd Expected Goals 1.82″. I didn’t discover the tweet after the match but I still had the following thought “That’s uncanny!!! The final score was Arsenal 5.01 Manchester United 1.82. If only I could go back in time and put £100 on the result”. If only I could go back in time!

The second was the resumption of the social media debate between the proper football Neanderthals and the thrusting venture scientists that look at football related numbers. It was all Jeff Stelling’s fault because he had the unmitigated gall, if not sheer audacity, to be one of them typical proper football Neanderthal types. He doubted the efficacy of the concept/phrase called “Expected Goals” in a particular context.

Naturally like all other proper football Neanderthals I was aware that a concept/phrase called “Expected Goals” existed. I naturally presumed, like all other proper football Neanderthals, that it referred to the number of goals that one expected to see in a particular match. Presumptions get you nowhere so I fired up google’s banter engine.

It seems that Expected goals is……

“…a metric which assesses every chance, essentially answering the question of whether a player should have scored from a certain opportunity.

Put simply, it is a way of assigning a “quality” value (xG) to every attempt based on what we know about it. The higher the xG – with 1 being the maximum – the more likelihood of the opportunity being taken.

So if a chance is 0.5xG, it should be scored 50% of the time.”

Unless I have grasped the wrong end of the metric stick “Expected Goals” appears to be more than just a method of determining the number of goals that one expects to see in a particular match, it also involves the scientific knowledge of knowing whether a player should score when they find themselves in a position that appears to be a goalscoring position. What a breakthrough!

For a century and a half we proper football Neanderthals have been lumbering around in the dark distinctly unable to tell whether a chance should, or should not, have been scored. Now it seems that we had better pipe down because society finally has a scientific way of determining whether someone should have scored or not from a particular goalscoring position.

Mate, mate, mate, let that sink in, proper football Neanderthals have been quite literally wandering around in the literal darkness of literal football ignorance. Yeah mate let that fact literally sink in.

AND LO they did tweet “THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY” and other social media phrases. AND LO, it did sink in.

For the last century and a half us proper football Neanderthals have allowed players to blithely run around without the correct knowledge, we simply have not been able to tell whether a goal should have been scored or not in a given situation.

Well begone thy darkness, begone!

For now we can see the light!! Rejoice!! Rejoice!!

If I weren’t a proper football Neanderthal I would be really, really angry at those bloody proper football Neanderthals for subjecting us all to the terror of their deeply unscientific football. If only they had been furnished with simple understanding, if only they had been able to assess whether a player has the ability to score goals or not.

I think I need to let that sink in a bit more mate, all those wasted years mate, all those years, wasted! WASTED! I definitely need to let that sink in a bit more mate.

I am telepathic so I know what you’re thinking

“Mate mate mate what do you expect from your proper football Neanderthals? Decisions have never been part of their job descriptions. They’ve literally NEVER had to make decisions about players based on a comparison.

They’ve literally never had to look into the eyes of young hopeful and literally say “I’m sorry Son but you just haven’t quite got it. We wish you all the best for the future.”

You start to ask yourself how could they literally be like that, then you literally remember that they are proper football Neanderthals and they literally can’t tell which players literally haven’t quite got the skills required for a career as a professional footballer.”

Do you know something mate? You’d be correct. Your proper football Neanderthal can’t make decisions based on judgement because they’ve only gained a lifetime’s craft knowledge in the specialised employment sector called association football.

Praise Be!

It’s only thanks to the scientists from the thrusting venture science of looking at football related numbers that we can now predict football results with any level of scientific rigour.

I look back at the time before scientific rigour and shudder. How did we have the audacity to try and predict results? How did we have the audacity to enter betting shops with just the hope of future riches to guide us? It fair makes my blood run cold. How did we cope with that darkest of dark places?

Predicting football outcomes!!! What a breakthrough!

Let us gaze at the glorious idea of “Expected Goals” and hail the breakthrough!

Let us hail all of them science type people mate!!

LET US ALL LET THAT SINK IN TOGETHER!!

AND LO they did tweet “THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY” and other social media phrases. AND LO, it did sink in.

Having said all that, knowledge in this area would be extremely useful for coaching staff, as the BBC article says

“To the naked eye they were struggling, but xG was identifying a team that would improve soon,” said Duncan Alexander, Opta’s chief data analyst.

“Lo and behold, around matchday 12, their fortunes changed, with the team starting to score at – and above – the expected rate. This led to them actually performing better than their xG said they should have in their eventual stroll to the title.”

The concept of “Expected Goals” could help player development. For example it could provide the pictorial tools to support coaching like “Have you thought about standing here instead of there?”. It’s an obvious thing to say but performance in a particular match situation could be improved by thinking about that particular match situation, especially when you may be able to call on data.

I can see how the data may inform tactical thinking. It is extremely difficult to control every aspect of a match but individual incidents in specific regions of the pitch, i.e. the penalty area, can help to determine a result. Relevant data about those regions of the pitch may provide insights.

While data is useful within the work environment of football but I am not sure it is much use outside that environment. Coaches have to analyse options and possibilities dispassionately but fans only need to hope for the best, in other words coaches can directly affect match situations but fans cannot.

Concepts such as “Expected Goals” have been sold as part of an analytical approach that will provide layman with a more refined understanding of football. On a fundamental level this idea has potential. The understanding gained through study allows human society to evolve, everybody is capable of understanding society through study, therefore everybody is capable of understanding football by studying it.

The academic study of football would probably require a level of time and effort that most people would be unable to devote but fans wouldn’t actually need to produce data because the media would probably digest and present research.

Therefore in principle the process of study would allow fans to understand more about football. I can see the potential in debunking commonly held attitudes about typical terrace scapegoats. Before we move on too quickly it’s worth considering whether the information provided data concepts actually adds anything worthwhile to a layman’s understanding of football, can fans benefit from data concepts?

Imagine your side lost 2-0. It won’t matter how much detail the stats convey, or how many times you look at them, your side would still have lost 2-0. The scoreline, and perhaps a brief match report, will tell you all that you need to know. There’s a choice to make; accept the score or howl at the moon as an appeal to the deity of football fairness on the basis of favourable match stats. Football has never been concerned about the fairness of outcome, somebody has to lose after all (unless there’s a draw).

Concepts like “Expected Goals” gild a lily that doesn’t need to be there. Aside from providing a slightly clearer view for betting purposes fans cannot do anything practical with the statistical knowledge.

Knowledge about what could, or even should, happen becomes pointless when a match ends with a different scoreline. The fact that scorelines often differ from predictions immediately calls the utility of a metric such as “Expected Goals” into question.

If the concept of “Expected Goals” had never been conceived it would not matter in the slightest, most fans do not need extravagant methodology to prove what they can recall from memory. Let us look at the following quote from the BBC article;

“So if your team is performing above or below expectations at the start of the new season, a look at their expected goals difference could tell you whether that run is likely to last.

And it may also be something worth thinking about the next time your striker misses what you always thought of as an easy chance.”

Fans will already know when their team plays well, whether a season has been below expectations, which players make a difference and which sides are the strongest in their division. These ideas are hardly new, they’ve been around since the 19th century foundation of association football. It’s not hard to pick theses insights up, you just have to follow football,

OOOOH SCIENTIFIC “Expected Goals”!!!!!! Get you, with your magical powers!!!!!

I’ve managed to notice that fans are also able to recognise what happens in individual situations, I haven’t done any research like, I have just noticed by looking.

Let’s imagine that a particular striker is standing in their typical sort of position, a similar position from which you’ve seen him score many times. You know that when the ball is crossed you could be milliseconds away from seeing a goal. You can picture him striking the ball cleanly and the ball flying past the keeper. The football dopamine factory is in full effect during the milliseconds of anticipation between the crosser’s leg moving backwards and the ball flying through the air.

Now imagine that just before the perfect cross lands on the proverbial pre-decimal coin the striker slightly loses his footing in the slippery conditions, so when he connects with the ball he scuffs it well wide of the goal. You don’t need an expert venture scientist to explain why the striker missed because you saw the striker slip. QED or something.

The naked eye can see the effect of a momentary loss of concentration, or when crosses are slightly too fast, or defenders are marking too tightly, or when strikers stumble slightly. Surely we don’t need a complicated theory to explain what we already know. Like I said earlier I haven’t done any research, make of that what you will.

LET THAT SINK IN MATE.

I appear to have been light years ahead of the curve, I already knew that van Nistelrooy would score more than Gary Neville and Ian Rush would score more than Alan Hansen and Ian Wright would score more than Steve Bould. If I wasn’t so humble I’d ask the Nobel committee to consider my thesis entitled “Expected Passes That Set Up Goals” for next year’s Nobel prize in the thrusting venture science that looks at football related numbers.

I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here but I would be a shoe-in for the award for I doth have a PhD in thinking up stuff what is bleeding obvious. As part of my submission I will tell the Nobel committee about the people of Llandudno; they often crowd around me in order to touch the hem of my garments and tell me that they would love to have the level of intelligence and sophistication like what I have got.

Greater knowledge can lead to greater enjoyment but bare statistics only explain so much. A misplaced pass has the same statistical worth whether it happens just outside a penalty area or near the halfway line. Stats can tell us that a side with 75.4% possession lost a match by conceding injury time goals but they can’t tell us why did that happened, which is the most interesting bit.

The concept of “Expected Goals” appears to have more explanatory power than bare statistics but it still lacks utility for fans.

There are two main reasons, firstly it’s pointless to expect something in football because uncertainty lies at the heart of the sport and secondly, people are attracted to football by emotion not logic.

You can roughly predict general outcomes but it would take a genius with preternatural abilities to continually make correct predictions. A friend that regularly bets on horse racing once told me that football’s inherent uncertainty is the reason he didn’t bet on football results, there are just too many things that can go wrong.

The flow of matches is dictated by the fluid interaction of single events that can alter the course of a match in a split second. A player could slip, someone could pass the ball to the wrong player, a player could stand in the wrong place, a goalkeeper might fumble a cross, a defender’s concentration may wander momentarily. Football’s nature means that similar mistakes don’t always lead to goals.

Uncertainty sounds messy and random but the uncertainty created by football’s inherent drama is the thing that draws people to football, can you imagine how boring it would be if all matches ended in the predicted score?

The proponents of ideas like “Expected Goals” imply that greater enjoyment will come from greater enlightenment but an attachment to football’s vibrant culture is something that people feel on an emotional level and I doubt whether it is possible to explain an emotional attachment with data.

We know what we feel when we see flowing moves, superb skill, precision shooting, great comebacks, unexpected goals. Fans can get behind their side and roar them on, or make the opposition wilt, and we don’t need a detailed scientific outlook to do that.

We all know what it feels like to long for a result, or to taste the glory, or to feel mesmerised by history, or to feel a sense of belonging, or to enjoy the camaraderie, or to hear the stories. We know that the match will probably be dull but there’s always the hope that we could see something fantastic. A recording of a memorable match can enable you to relive the feelings, looking at data won’t elicit the same response.

Let us consider Wales in Euro 2016.

Let’s start with the data perspective. Ladies and gentlemen may I present the minutes in which goals were scored in Wales’ matches between September 2014 and July 2016.

Euro 2016 Qualifiers

Wales – 13, 22, 23, 26, 45, 50, 50, 77, 81, 82, 86
Opponents – 6, 36, 71, 90
 

Euro 2016

Wales – 10, 11, 20, 31, 42, 56, 67, 75, 81, 86
Opponents – 13, 50, 53, 56, 61, 90

Now let us turn to idea of an average score, the “Expected Goals” if you will, from those matches;

  • In the qualifiers the average score was Wales 1.1, Opponent 0.4 (10 matches, 11 goals for, 4 goals against).
  • In Euro 2016 the average score was Wales 1.6, Opponents 1 (6 matches, 10 goals for, 6 goals against).

According to the Venture Science of Looking At Football Related Numbers we should have been able to take the knowledge indicated by the above information and prepare ourselves for the unexpected joy dans la belle France, the average scorelines have a degree of similarity do they not?

The fact that we obviously didn’t know what was going to happen shows the limitations of concepts like “Expected Goals”.

Even a cursory analysis of the data tells us that most predictions would have been wrong; during the tournament Wales were not only more potent, playing four fewer matches but only scoring one goal fewer, they also conceded more second half goals. This impression is also reflected in the average scorelines.

All data has limitations, in football it is more useful as an indication of what happened rather than as a signpost of what will happen. But then football results of the past have never determined future football results.

In terms of Wales at Euro 2016 bare statistics cannot even begin to explain what happened because they cannot begin to explain what it felt like to witness the events. Watching Wales play in Euro 2016 was the sort of fantastically bewildering experience that any football fan would enjoy.

The utter joy of qualification did not transfer into expectation. Not even the most positive Welsh fan would have even been able to conceptualise what actually happened in France, and that includes those that bought follow my team tickets.

Data was useless for mental preparation. Wales’ pre-tournament form guide told us that they lost their last four matches, and one of those was a week before the first match yet they reached the semi-final. Hopes, dreams and general football knowledge would have been as reliable an indicator as the data. The only thing we could have expressed with any degree of certainty is the idea that Wales might score and they might concede.

Not even the simple knowledge what happened when Wales play against the same sides helped. The qualifiers against Belgium yielded an aggregate score Wales 1 Belgium 0, when the sides met in the Quarter Final Wales beat Belgium 3-1 in one of the most memorable matches Wales has ever played. The first two matches are unable to explain the third. I still feel warm and fuzzy when I picture Hal’s Cruyff turn.

Data can’t explain what it felt like to see Ashley Williams’ equaliser, or Hal Robson-Kanu’s skilful finish, or Sam Vokes’ late header and it certainly can’t explain the once-in-a-lifetime experience for those in Lille or the open mouthed joy for those that watched on TV.

To underline the point further let’s consider qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup as well. From Euro 2016 to Euro 2016 to World Cup 2018 qualifiers the average score only changed slightly; from Wales 1.1, Opponent 0.4 to Wales 1.6, Opponents 1 to Wales 1.3, Opponents 0.6. 

The similar average scores suggest a similar experience yet the three stages caused distinctly different emotions. The first stage had the glory of an historical qualification, the second stage had the glory of an unprecedented semi-final, the third stage had a very irritating defeat caused by Ireland in the most important match.

In other words the knowledge from the Euro 2016 qualifiers didn’t prepare us for didn’t prepare us for Euro 2016 and the knowledge from Euro 2016 didn’t prepare us for the World Cup 2018 Qualifiers.

I may believe that facts and stats don’t really add to a fan’s enjoyment of football but in our gossamer skinned times people actually enjoy using stats on social media to prolong pointless arguments. I quote verbatim;

“Mate mate mate, you can’t challenge me for I have the right to free speech. THAT’S “ME”, YES ME.  I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH. I’m entitled to my opinion mate and it happens to be better than your opinion mate. You know sod all about football. Get over it SNOWFLAKE. LET THAT LITERALLY SINK IN MATE”

Verbatim and ad nauseum, the reduction of football to a never-ending struggle to finally prove which judgement based opinion is the bestest ever mate. They’ll use anything in these social media spats; Net Spend, Shots, Possession. Look at me, Look at me, Look at me.

It’s like some people have forgotten that data does not predetermine the future. A player can play against the same club twice and play well in one match but play poorly in the other, or they can eradicate the mistakes from the first match by the time they play the second, confidence can be regained in the intervening period.

Anybody with a semblance of football knowledge can make rough predictions, fans don’t need data. Knowing that a side has error-prone keeper from watching Match Of The Day highlights is as enlightening as a set of data. Emotions and experience prepare fans for football outcomes rather than data.

If somebody wants to interact with football on the basis of a statistical relationship that’s fine and dandy, it’s between them, their conscience and their free time, it matters not a jot. I just wish they’d keep it to themselves. The thrusting venture science of looking at football numbers has become yet another example of football’s imperialistic tendencies.

Football should be a hugely enjoyable diverting pastime that’s reasonably important to those that are interested but it seems to have developed an extreme sense of self-importance.

I try to ignore the tedious flotsam and jetsam but other people won’t allow me and football continually encroaches too far into my peace of mind. Take last weekend, I was getting ready to go to Rotherham when I caught the short BBC Breakfast News report about the previous night’s Arsenal 3 Liverpool 3 match. The reporter told us about culpability, mistakes and pressure rather than a “clearly exciting and pleasant way to spend a couple of hours”. It was as if somebody needed to be held accountable and punished

As Thom Yorke once sang, I’m a reasonable man get off my case.

I read “Expected Goals” and foresee a new stick to beat a team with.

“I know mate, won 2-0 but our xG was 4.2. That’s not good enough mate! He’s gotta go!”

I foresee the whimpering of data acolytes.

“Mate, Mate, Mate, It’s not my fault the cretin scored in the 83th minute instead of the 9th minute. He’s a proper football man at heart and didn’t know that most of his own goals come from the 8.4-11.7 minute window within the hidden trapezium of max. goal scoritude.

Stats don’t lie mate. Stats don’t lie. He’s just a proper football Neanderthal mate, he’s basically a performing monkey, a lab rat.”

Mate mate mate football doesn’t really matter.

Isn’t it enough to know that football runs by the internal logic of its own nature? It’s like the man on the When Saturday Comes message board implied, you don’t need to know the serial number of pantones to be affected by the beauty of art.

LET THAT SINK IN m7.





It’s cliched to be cynical at Christmas

24 12 2017

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. a half season ticket for MK Dons.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. tickets for a match where both sides wear away kits.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me….three dog-eared protest placards written in felt tip.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. four deeply serious pundits around a deeply serious table.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….FIVE banter bus companies.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. six hundred people willing to buy the season ticket I relinquished in protest.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. seven thousand clichés.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. eight players tag team fouling.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. nine insipid newbuilds.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. ten showboaters engineering contact.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. eleven hours of build up.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me….twelve away fans in identical baseball caps and khaki polyester coats doing the provocative outstetched arms dance they learnt from that you tube.

On the thirteenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. attention fatigue.

On the fourteenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. fourteen angry phone in radio shows.

On the fifteenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. fifteen hours of build up.

On the sixteenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. sixteen rearranged matches.

On the seventeenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. seventeen thousand tweets already tweeted.

On the eighteenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. a club with eighteen players out on loan.

On the nineteenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. nineteen HD views of a foul that wasn’t a foul.

On the twentieth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. twenty hours of build up.

On the twenty first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. twenty one needlessly judgemental commentators.

On the twenty second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…. a book about films.

That’s the thing about soul mates, they know exactly what you like.





That would be an ecumenical matter

15 11 2017

Once upon a time I took a binary view of certain sides. Negative experiences were the key, as soon as I witnessed the fans of a particular side doing something offensive or cringeworthy they were beyond the pale.

My time at university led to a real dislike of the England side. My preconceptions about academia unravelled as soon as I discovered that students preferred buying cheap posters to discussing higher matters over a few beers but the most dispiriting discovery was the atmosphere around football matches and the air that surrounded tournaments.

I like to think that my Celtic periphery chippiness had nothing to with it because I witnessed plenty of annoying incidents; groups of lads singing songs about the IRA or German bombers, university football team drunks using karaoke equipment to abuse Irish people, university football team drunks abusing French students for celebrating a goal, the very heated discussion between my Brazilian friend Carlos and someone that said “Yeah, but he’s saying WE cheated.” as if I’d naturally agree, two loud specimens using the composition of World War Two’s alliances to decide which side they should get behind in a particular match. I could go on, and on, and on.

I knew I could minimise opportunities for annoyance by avoiding certain places at certain times, hence I stayed in to watch the England v Germany match in Euro 2000, but I couldn’t hide from the cloying tournament atmosphere that transformed my fellow students into football supporter clichés.

The clichés were loud in 2002’s Leicester University. I may have felt differently if interest had been limited to the people I’d befriended that year; a group of us decent souls had congregated in The Ratcliffe Bar, or “Rat Bar”, to watch football.

We were from all over place; Greece, Jordan, London, Coventry, Manchester, Ireland, Belfast, Switzerland, Brazil, Scotland, Merseyside, even Wales. I liked this time a lot, it was communal and convivial and nobody was ever angry about a result, I remember striking up a friendship with an Arsenal fan from Islington. The crucial England v Greece qualifier may not have been popular but the joy locusts arrived for the world cup and occupied every square centimetre.

I despised the easily led for encroaching on our preserve. I despised their shrieking and shouting, their ersatz excitement and fake disappointment. I despised their fashionable emotional tension and spirit crushing breeziness “Well you had to go and support them didn’t you”. I despised their arch postmodern jingoism and irritating look at me behaviour. I despised the likes of Chris Evans for popularising that sort of thing.

On one hand I caused my own discomfort because I kept going to the Rat Bar. On the other I wanted to watch as much of the world cup as possible. My options were limited by simple facts; I didn’t have a television in my room, we were miles from the rest of the university and the Rat Bar was part of our halls of residence. The only choice was limited to the unwelcoming TV Lounge or the palatial Rat Bar. I didn’t see why I should miss out because of the irritating people, if I managed to see Japan v Russia on a wet Sunday I was going to watch England v Denmark, I mean who were these interlopers to deny my human rights?

I already disliked Chelsea because of the political affiliations I’d seen their fans display on documentaries but I had to wait until December 2003 to see Chelsea fans at close quarters. During the afterglow of Aston Villa’s League Cup Quarter Final victory over Chelsea one of the Chelsea fans adressed “You ain’t ever been to the San Siro mate……….What’s that?………… That weren’t even in English mate” to nobody in particular. A couple of others reminded us that Chelsea had recently been purchased by a rich person by singing “Shall we buy a team for you?”.

Chelsea may not have won the league for forty nine years and Villa may have been Champions of Europe but what did such “details” matter to missionaries from the centre of civilisation? And lo! They did they spread the gospel of plutocracy to the heathen areas what only did make the industrial revolution. And lo! They only gone and seen their team get beat guvnor! All hail the centre of civilisation and its ability to attract plutocrats!

I already disliked Rangers for the same reason I already disliked Chelsea. When I visited Ibrox I found tangibly hostile environs; scowls, scarves that demanded a disbelieving second look and less than subtle use of language on flags. For they are “THE PEE-PUL”, and some other people just aren’t “THE PEE-PUL”.

I disliked Halifax Town after their fans visited north Wales. On both occasions inflatable sheep were thought to be just the witticism for an area with a relatively low population density. They was much pride, pride in inflatable animals, pride in a joke that upwards of three hundred strangers will see, pride in a pub discussion, “EEEEEEEE that’s dead funny that is son. That’s A REAL Bobby Dazzler of an idea son. Let’s get t’ sheep from t’shop on’t way to north Wales………..Martin ‘ave yer heard about Colin’s idea? It’s a real Bobby Dazzler!!!!!!” Something told me that they “only say it like it is”.

In the ‘80s my Dad used to take me to Llandudno Rugby Club on Sunday afternoons.  I still fondly remember the details; the smell, the brickwork, the tables with dimpled copper effect tops, the Proustian sounds of the pool table; the coin mechanism’s metallic push, the release of the ball rack, the collision of balls as they rolled and the cue ball’s high pitched thud as it returned to the back of the table. They had an ever-changing selection of crisps and their glasses of coke tasted better than the usual.

It would have been utterly blissful apart from one small issue; an opinionated Leeds fan was often there. Years later another opinionated Leeds fan reminded of these rugby club Sundays when he held court in the pub I liked; “I’ll tell you why Emile Heskey is the worst ever striker to play for England mate”. Mate. Mate, maaaaaate, I do not want to know.

I disliked Rhyl and Caernarfon because of their fans’ Bangor hatred. When I arrived in Wolverhampton I took an almost instant dislike to Wolves because there was an irritating fan on my course. When I was in Leicester I wanted Spurs to lose every match because of some annoyingly loud people that watched football in the Rat Bar. I disliked Real Madrid as soon as I became aware of their history but it wasn’t until I watched 2000’s champions league final with a haughty fan in my friend Mikes’ house in Wolverhampton that the dislike became notable. I disliked Lazio for the same reasons I disliked Chelsea and Rangers.

That was all then baby. Hate is out. Dislike is yesterday’s news baby. Don’t hit me with them negative vibes!

I have returned to a more pleasant era, a less judgemental paradigm. I can say with some certainty that I never truly disliked anyone because of their football allegiance in the halcyon ‘80s.

By secondary school I looked and sounded like a football obsessed kid. I followed Liverpool’s fortunes on account of the sew-on patch I bought from a toy shop when I was about four. I talked about football, I had the kits, I went to matches, but I never really hated Everton or Manchester United. I remember hoping Liverpool would win rather than wish defeats on others. Other kids may have given the impression that they felt strongly but I’m not sure they actually did.

I wish I could have expressed myself better, or given a different impression, but adolescence is supposed to be an uncomfortable time as you find your feet. Some of us only felt confident speaking about football and even then we lacked the expressive skill to go much beyond (Insert Name Here) must be crap because he doesn’t play for us”. I may have taken some defeats personally and offered the odd barbed comment but the words were hollow and I didn’t mean anything by my tone of voice. I knew that the supporters of other clubs were my friends. Any badinage was probably as much about the social mores of adolescents as anything else.

I don’t remember vitriol or visceral loathing but then there was no pressure to get involved. We weren’t surrounded by football, there were no “Superficial Saturdays” or pull-out football sections in newspapers and you had to visit a bookies to place bets. You were lucky to find interesting football magazines.

I received a few comments when I wore a replica shirt so a sense of rivalry existed. In the summer of 1985 an Everton supporting family friend called the eight year old me “murderer”, in jest of course, because I was wearing a Liverpool shirt.

A more pleasant example occurred in 1989 when I went to work with my Dad on the Monday morning after Liverpool had lost 4-1 away at The Dell, I forget the reason why. I was wearing a Liverpool shirt so one of his workmates spent part of their lunch hour gleefully repeating the scoreline. I didn’t react and he noticed that I didn’t react. Thank god for shyness, as without that little mental distance afforded by low self-confidence my life may have taken a different path; if I had seen the attraction of responding to comments I could be driving the banter bus by now.

I’m sure there were irritating football fans, the rugby club Leeds fan for example, but they were less noticeable (at least to me). I can see how proximity to away fans enabled match going fans to develop an ill-feeling towards certain fans but there was no way that non-match going fans could develop intense hatreds. Social media didn’t exist and if you saw fans of other clubs in your home area they’d probably be just like you.

Everything seemed quieter. You couldn’t create an impression of fanaticism and the bluffers’ social media shorthand didn’t exist. There were no giant car window stickers or other look at me merchandise and you couldn’t share knowing jokes or memes within seconds of match incidents. Imagine not being able to visualise the banter bus.

The tabloids may have discovered the joys of lampooning England managers by the late ‘80s but the media’s general tone was more relaxed, for example television covered less football in a calmer manner. If you look back at old clips of Match of The Day or The Big Match you’re immediately struck by the sedate pace and calm delivery.

My Dad’s instinctive dislike of ITV must have clouded my view of Brian Moore’s turn of phrase because when I watch repeats of The Big Match he seems to be the antithesis of our continual cacophony of hyperbolic adjectives. “So United had a day to forget…Now it’s over to White Hart Lane for today’s second match, your commentator is Martin Tyler….”  Sometimes the highlights programmes didn’t even feature pundits. Football without opinions! I could live with that.

The coverage may only exude sepia-tinged goodness because there was less football on TV. If we were re-immersed in that time we may find the coverage more annoying, the more switched on fanzine writers certainly noticed things were rather staid. However we can’t deny that this old style of coverage transmits a quaint charm when compared to our time. The closest the late ‘80s-early ‘90s got to the hyperbolic path was Elton “Live and Exclusive” Welsby but that looks disarmingly warm on you tube. An untelevised football competitions is now an anomaly.

Aside from my unfortunate forays into binary territory football has always been more of an ecumenical matter for me and it feels good to have finally returned to that way of thought. Reality isn’t the same as the evidence that causes snap judgements so naturally my once steadfast views have changed.

I have developed a soft spot for Wolves and long realised that I don’t really care about Halifax or Spurs and  I don’t mind Rhyl FC these day. When I went to watch Chelsea their fans seemed to be just like every other club’s fans. I’ve been to watch England twice since university and noticed that the majority of England fans were the same sort of people that went to watch Wales. I was a Welsh fan in the home end for one of the matches and the Geordie that sat next to me twigged that I wasn’t supporting England, consequently we spent the match chatting. He could have been my dad.

I go to enough matches to get a feel for things and I’ve realised that I see the same sort of people everywhere. I hear the same patter, I see the same styles of clothing and footwear. The same things happen everywhere; people laughing, people sheltering, people rushing to the ground, people leaving early to catch trains, people queuing. The only changes are the colours of scarves and designs of replica shirts.

I see people chatting everywhere. They could be childhood friends or university friends, work colleagues or season ticket holders thrown together by fate, they could even be people that first met on a bus to an away match. Whatever the reason one thing is clear; there’s a tangible sense of humanity. There are obviously years of friendship in the conversations. When I went to watch QPR’s League Cup match in August I was surrounded by people that had actually missed each other since the end of the previous season.

Most football fans are the same, in the same way that most people are the same. Therefore it’s individuals, rather than clubs or the associations people have with clubs, that present a problem. No club is immune from attracting individuals you’d prefer to avoid. I do my best to avoid the following archetypes.

The obvious morons. Even with a padlocked twitter account their outpourings always find me. You name it I see it; inane drivel, sexist crap, racist rubbish, godawful political views, stupid tweets, casual crassness. Why do they advertise? Ignore, block, block, mute, block, ignore.

The loud people. They’re everywhere; Trains, pubs, buses, on the street, in the barbers, in the pub, in work. Loudness on the way to football is to be expected and you can walk on by or change carriages. You can’t ignore match based loudness as you’re stuck with the “Look at me!!!! I’m so passionate!!” person for two hours. We all care baby, that’s why we’re here. Thankfully you only see them every other Saturday.

The bluffers. Why do some people stand around in a Super Sunday pub pretending to laugh at an alpha male’s comedy stylings? Why do some people pretend that they understand football? Why do some people claim to have a better insight that mere mortals? There’s no shame in admitting that you’d rather be doing something else.

The attention-seekers. Somebody recently labelled Manchester City as “Shark Team”. Whether this was a little embroidery or a linguistic device from a non-British journalist the phrase should not have led to fans parading around in shark-shaped inflatable headwear. We can do better than a lot of fans thinking “I’m a joker me, I’ll play along with the media’s idea of what it is to be a football fan!!”. We can do better than creating demand for the next great marketing scam. We can do better than holding a homemade sign for the cameras. Twitter has a lot to answer for.

Those that get involved with “working class street movements”. Their assertion of moral leadership is completely false because they clearly don’t realise that everybody, even scruffy leftard snowflakes, abhors the end result of terrorism. If they were really bothered about “standing up for the working class” they’d be marching against austerity or helping to organise a general strike. Mate, mate, mate you’re not saying it like is at all.

The poppy people. “Look mate all I’m saying is, if he don’t mind earning his money in a country that’s overcome by a mania to be seen to commemorate something rather than actually think about the historical event itself and the historical conditions that caused it, then why don’t he go back to where he came from mate? Am I right? I’m only saying it like it is mate”. It’s hard to think of an autumnal football period without thinking of people booing James McClean for his democratic wish not to have a heat pressed symbol of cynically engineered social pressure that doesn’t inhibit athletic performance applied to his shirt. Luckily I’m old to remember the time when players could get away without wearing them, well I am older than eight years of age.

The judgemental premier league fans of north Wales. I remember one of them at a birthday party I went to. He had just got in from a Liverpool away game. I had his number, I could read his face, I could see that he was judging us; “You haven’t been to the match today therefore I am considerably better than you”. Mate, mate, mate anybody can buy football tickets.

I still dislike certain clubs, Rangers, Real Madrid, Lazio, anything with a connection to Swiss energy drinks or blue sky corporate thinking, anything that’s become a self-worshipping monolith. I still want them to lose instantly but I try not to generalise about their supporters.

Irritating people are not club specific, they are everywhere. It is pointless to hate a club because they have irritating fans because it’s highly probable that your club also has irritating fans. Imagine that irritating people are drawn to the same football club as you, embrace enlightenment.





Opine, opine, opine

14 10 2017

Words, words, words, we’ve all got ‘em.

We’ve all got ‘em in our heads mate.

We must get our words out there mate!!!!!!!

We must get our football related words out there mate!!!!!!!!!!!!

Express them now mate!!!!!!!!!!!!

DON’T WAIT, DO IT NOW MATE!!!!!!!!!!!

QUICK!!!!!!!!

QUICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MATE MATE MATE QUICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you’re speaking about things on a football highlights programme, just relax mate.

All you have to do is get those footy words out there mate.

“He managed to shoot into Row Z…..”

It doesn’t matter that the ball actually bounced off the pole that holds the net up and actually ended up in front of Row A. You have to editorialise these days mate. You have to sound like you could do better than that mate. You have to make people feel that they could all do better than that mate. You have to become part of the knowing chorus mate.

See that footballer what done something wrong, we can all do better than that can’t we mate?

Yes mate, all of us are capable of doing better than that mate. ALL. OF. US.

Now tell all of your colleagues to keep riding that cliché horse mate.

(Insert team name here) can’t buy a goal at the moment!”

“Buy Goals” is it? If clubs could actually buy goals pointed questions would soon be asked. I’ll tell you what mate just keep editorialising with your clichéd opinions about the footy, that’s all consumerist slugs like us deserve mate. Just keep getting them footy words out there, we’re all part of the banter nexus mate.

Keep on with those banter based knowing attitudes as you introduce highlights of footballers doing stuff mate.  Nothing adds quality to football highlights like a banter based comment mate, apart from a banter based intro piece to camera, or a banter based chat with an ex-pro. The best thing is when someone makes light of an ex-pro analyst’s gambling problems with banter based commentage.

Banter, banter, banter, banter. We all love it.

WE LIVE FOR THE BANTER MATE, LIVE. FOR. IT. Absolutely live for it mate, love it mate. LOVE. IT.

Love the banter life. You. Can’t. Beat. It. Mate. Mate you can’t beat it.

Words, words, words.

Opinions, opinions, opinions.

Opinions, opinions, opinions, we’ve all got ‘em.

We’ve all got them in our heads. We must get them out there mate.

Don’t keep them opinions in mate, you’ll explode mate.

QUICK, QUICK, QUICK MATE, call a deejay type mate.

Get your opinion type words aired mate.

DO IT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

…….so I gets to thinking “Oooooh I’m a little bit angry. I’ll call up a phone-in deejay and let the nation know just what a character I am, my phone call will really change matters, just you wait and see.” then I phones him up…..“It’s a circus at the moment mate and he’s the biggest clown of the lot mate you build a team from the back mate I’ve been waiting 25 years for us to win the league mate he’s got a worse record than Brendan Rodgers mate if we’d have won the league I would have been the most proudest Liverpool fan in the world mate”.

The nation listens, the nation wonders, wonders why someone is that bothered about a football club that’s at the other end of the country from their hometown.

“You don’t have to be that interested mate!”

You’ve got to get your opinion on the telly. You’ve got to show them how your munificence is a wonderful antidote to all of the others. You still have to demand that some definitive action is taken because SOMETHING’S GOT TO BE DONE.

SOMETHING’S got to be done mate.

Just get your opinion words out there mate, they’ve created an unnecessary gap between the highlights that needs filling with unnecessary opinion based words. Go on mate speak thy brains!!!!!!!!!!

“Mate I’ve been really really supportive of our manager this season, but mate it’s time for a change. We drew today mate and we’ve had 8 games already mate. Time for a change I think mate.”

You have to get your opinion out there mate, you can’t just do nothing mate. We need something to take us to the next level mate. I know we need someone to take us to the next level mate. You know we need someone to take us to the next level mate. Everybody knows we need someone to take us to the next level mate. If we don’t get to the next level how are we gonna have a dream come true?

You’ve got to televise your opinion mate, it will help things to happen mate, honestly it will, honest mate, get your words out there mate.

Mate mate mate there’s a camera over there!

Get your words out mate!

Proper fans shout at cameras mate.

“COOMMMME OOOOONNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!”

They’re still shouting words at a camera? Why? Mate mate mate, I’d hate to think that you’re only doing it because everybody else does it. What’s wrong with a cheery wave or better yet, ignoring the camera?………… This country! tsk, tsk, tsk.

Are you “all about” those photos of away fans at a matches? You’ve got to get your opinion out there mate!

“Fantastic turn out for the Football Lads Alliance march in London this afternoon.”

The subject of your tweet doesn’t matter mate, the implication of your tweet doesn’t matter mate and the context in which your tweet exists doesn’t matter just comment and comment now mate.

Don’t question the Football Lads Alliance just get a tweet out there mate. I know you’ve “GOT THIS” mate.

Don’t wonder about them, don’t question them, just get you opinion out there. You’ve seen “Football” and you’ve seen “Lads” and that’s all you need to know.

Yeah they’re holding floral wreaths mate! They can’t be too bad can they?

Whatever you do don’t send the Football Lads Alliance a tweet that says “I see you’re interested in working class politics. When’s the march against Austerity? Are you helping to organise a general strike or what?” Don’t bother with that mate, they’re into “Football” and they’re “Lads”, WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED MATE?

Are you a SOLID GOLD FOOTY BANTER LEGEND? You’ve got to get the banter out there mate.

Is your team playing another team in a few Earth days?

You’ve got to drop another of them SOLID GOLD FOOTY BANTER LEGEND type moves mate.

“Literally bale and 10 sheep.”

BIFF!

BLAMMO!

KAZAAAAAM!

Another banter target despatched by the DEEPLY AMAZING BANTERMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The funny thing is that on Monday evening Wales literally decided to literally pick 10 farm animals instead of human beings against Ireland. They literally did, they literally picked farm animals instead of human footballers. They literally did. Literally true story that mate.

Has your team just lost mate? You need someone to blame mate.

Let’s all play the blame game!

BLAME GAME!!!!!!!!!

BLAME GAME!!!!!!!!!

LET’S ALL BLAME THE BLAME GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Get on Twitter and tell that scapegoat what you think of them mate.

GET ON TWITTER NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

“Ashley Williams is an absolute disgrace, 20k disappointed Welshmen in that stadium and he goes straight down the tunnel. Disgusting.”

And here is another!

“Agreed. Understand that he would feel down but as a captain you step up. Seen him him for years and he’s sadly slipping away now imo.”

I’ll bet they made exactly the same comments about Ashley Williams 30 milliseconds after the Euro 2016 Quarter Final finished. But then you’re hurting after a football defeat, people have to know just how much YOU hurt.

It’s all about YOU and YOUR hurt feelings mate.

Aaaaaaaaaaaah Hurt Feelings.

Words, words, words everywhere

Nothing changes.

Results still happen, trophies are still presented, clubs are still relegated and clubs still narrowly miss out on glory.

Words, words, words.

Words ad nauseum.

Words infinitum.

Quo vadis? Quo vadis?

Caveat emptor mate, caveat emptor.

That’s good mate, I’m afraid I’m not really in the market for anything at the moment mate.

Angry football noise, the pointless end of silence.

Angry football words, the pointless filling of space.

Results are merely the end point of an event chain created by random coincidence mate.

Those sodding opinion merchants are never silent.

Football would be alright if it wasn’t for the bloody words.

A few defeats and it’s universal chuntering through the medium of cliché.

“Don’t get me wrong, he’s done a good job but he’s slowly losing the dressing room and we need fresh blood to take us to the next level”

As soon you fail to lead 2-0 within ten minutes it’s………..

Why’s he still playing? Oh My God mate I can’t believe it. See I told you the manager’s clueless mate……….. Yeah Oh My God Mate, he’s playing him out of position again!

These words are hackneyed even within football’s comatose thesaurus of superlatives mate.

Words, bloody words. Words that sound the same, words that are the same. Identical bloody words. You hear them a thousand times a Saturday, identical bloody words spoken, every channel covered.

The world’s full of bloody experts with “sack the manager” as a default reaction.

Welcome to the land of hubris, home to the delusions of experts without expertise.

A manager spends their entire working day pondering how to tackle problems but our passionate experts always wonder “Yeah but what do they actually know?”

Our experts without expertise can always do better.

“Yeah he don’t know he’s doing that one. He needs to play a different system he does. It’s obvious the defence is pushing up too high, you can’t do that these days, he’s obviously behind the times.”

While it’s possible to gain an understanding of tactics, individual roles and patterns of play through study a layman can’t join the dots like someone steeped in football’s work culture. Some coaches are abrasive and some use outdated methods but they will still have an understanding of the football’s work environment that fans won’t have.

Football management is a tough occupation.There’s an omnipresent pressure to deliver results from your board, the fans and the media. You have to devise tactics and training plans. You have to motivate fellow humans. Then the capricious fates thrust unforeseen mistakes, injuries and own goals into your plans. Could a fan cope adequately with this situation?

In fact would a fan be able to perform any of a manager’s complex roles satisfactorily? To function efficiently within a work environment you have to understand it. Managers implicitly understand football’s rhythms because they have gained highly specialised craft knowledge from working within a specialised employment sector for decades,. Rather obviously fans won’t have similar career paths.

Why would a time served pro listen to the tactical advice of a fan? A fan can’t adequately conceptualise the experience of being a professional footballer but managers generally can because they were often pro footballers. How could a fan motivate time served pros? You can’t just repeat platitudes about doing it for the shirt, putting your shoulders through the grindstone and getting your late tackles in early.

Most players wouldn’t dream of entering a fan’s workplace to offer a forceful critique, why is the reverse tolerated?  Possessing a loud voice and turning up at the ground every other week doesn’t bestow coaching expertise.

Sometimes adequate knowledge can only be gained through experience, sometimes bluffers are easily found out.

That’s life that is.

Experts without expertise opining without responsibility, that’s football that is.

Football, that’s your life’s passion that is, that’s the thing that used to make you happy that was.

Let’s keep looking at life’s rich tapestry.

Your team has lost.

You’re angry.

You’re upset.

Your hopes have been dashed and you won’t be getting involved in the excited rush to make travel arrangements.

So you’re angry, so you’re upset. Join the queue baby!

To comment or not to comment? That is the question.

How does one express themselves?

Well, you’re not exactly commenting from a calm perspective, the hurt and anger is still coursing through your mind.

How about a you tube rant? That’s the new fashion for look at me legend types.

A you tube rant may feel good as you destroy your enemies with a point by point dissection and you may entertain hipster for thirty nine seconds but then what? Your team still lost and you found internet infamy.

Is providing internet entertainment whilst looking slightly unhinged a decent aspiration for GENERATION B(anter)

“I’VE PAID THROUGH THE NOSE FOR THIS THOUGH.” isn’t an adequate reason. You chose to pay, you didn’t have to choose to watch players that don’t have “half your passion”.

You’re angry. you’re upset, boo hoo.

You’re a self-described SOLID GOLD FOOTY BANTER LEGEND.

Great, so you’re a funny guy, a funny funny funny funny funny guy. You’re THE MOST FUNNIEST GUY IN THE HISTORY OF COMEDY.

WHAT DO YOU THINK LIFE IS? A TEAM WRITTEN COMEDY PROGRAMME WHERE EVERY LINE IS A FINELY HONED ZINGER? Mate, mate, mate, it ain’t.

Funny, funny, funny? No. Bor-ring, bor-ring, bor-ring. Nobody cares.

The day before your heart-breaking defeat another team lost. You felt great with your jokes and twitter memes. There was no way you were going to lose was there mate?

Then you lost, how do you react?

You could carry on with the jokes about your rivals’ misfortune because they lost as well. At least they were knocked out before you were, and you had more points than them and the ref was awful and everything.

The jokes won’t feel the same now. Making memes about another team won’t change the result.

You could get angry but the referee’s still missed that incident and your captain still miskicked it. Getting angry won’t change the result.

You could insult everybody. Those words will soothe for a few seconds but then what? You have demeaned yourself and your target because your feelings have been slightly bruised. You know that you only feel hurt because you know that you’d feel exactly the same as your target if your team had won. Insulting people won’t change the result.

You could hold your breath until you’re sick and that will make historical events change. Holding your breath is as likely to change things as the above, it won’t change the result.

You could just accept matters, embrace your feelings and achieve full emotional development you absolute SOLID GOLD BANTER LOOK AT ME LEGEND OF THE HIGHEST ORDER.

In other words, just be quiet, then do that more often.

Your words change nothing. The event has happened. Embrace disappointment.





US and THEM

8 10 2017

US and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US……..

I’ve never been able to work out why people refer to their football club as “us” or “we”. I’ve always felt a bit silly whenever I’ve referred to Bangor City like that but I’m the sort of person that’s jarred by internal questions; “Why did I use such a word?…… Do other people forensically question the precision of their language?”

I tried my damnedest not to refer to Bangor as “us” or “we” when I’ve been Radio Bangor’s co-commentator (The fan-controlled broadcasting service) but the white hot excitement of the Welsh premier league causes some acute mental shuddering.

I feel part of a “we” when I watch Bangor with my friends because I feel emotionally involved. I was born in the city and I’ve been going to watch City for nearly a quarter of a century. I look at the transitory players and it feels absurd to use “we“. Most of them have different feelings, they celebrate but they don’t feel like we do, they value trophies but they don’t look at glory like we do. I prefer it that way, feeling separated saves missing them when they’re gone.

………US and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US……..

I’m amazed that people feel they can refer to clubs as if they’re personally part of them “We Won!…….We Lost!…….Who are you playing today?….. I see you lost again on Saturday”. I probably shouldn’t be surprised, people aren’t afraid to self-confidently elbow their way into conversations.

“Oh aye, I used to go all the time………Blah blah’s great isn’t he!……. So do you think blah blah will make a difference as manager?……… Blah blah was great though wasn’t he, they don’t make them like him anymore do they! ……….. How much would he be worth today?”

If only this kind of thing was confined to the post-Chester Races trains that drunk people use to get home.

The matey shroud that surrounds the opening jousts of these conversations evaporates when the conversation’s nature becomes clear, one protagonist emits earnest football chatter while the other humours a child. Thoughts are visible; “We’ve got another one here, someone else that thinks they’re integral, someone else filling the air for the sake of it. Actually fella, I’d rather be left alone”.

I was on my way to the recent West Brom v West Ham match when I alighted in Wolverhampton. I yearned to ride the tram to The Hawthorns so I went to the terminus. When I got there it was clear that the tram wasn’t running because of long-term engineering works, I quickly realised why Wolverhampton hadn’t been listed as the last stop when I had checked the timetable the previous day.

I stood as an unmistakable visitor so naturally a bloke walked up to me. I listened to the typically hospitable local explain precisely which bus services I needed to reach the temporary terminus in Priestfield. His words transported me back to my academic salad days, the time when anything within reason felt possible. I thanked the bloke, realised everything sounded too complicated and trudged disconsolately back to the station.

The next train to Birmingham was full of loud men discussing Tottenham Hotspur’s prospects. I presumed they were going to the early evening match as “we” was used extensively. Judging by the accents, and the fact that it was an Arriva Train Wales train, the men were from Shropshire. I wondered how they felt a connection with Tottenham.

The other week a dead passionate Liverpool fan from daaaahn saaarrrf was on 6-0-6 and his call was so memorable they made a feature out of it on the BBC website. It was pure stream of angry consciousness;

“It’s a circus at the moment mate and he’s the biggest clown of the lot mate you build a team from the back mate I’ve been waiting 25 years for us to win the league mate he’s got a worse record than Brendan Rodgers mate if we’d have won the league I would have been the most proudest Liverpool fan in the world mate”.

There are better things to be angry about than a football club that plays two hundred miles away from the place you’ve always called home.

I’ve don’t understood why those that only watch televised matches become angry when their team loses, they’ve only bought a polyester shirt. I don’t understand how a passing interest can be maintained in a premier league club. It takes astronomical sums of money and military-style planning to gain access then you’re obliged and encouraged to feel personally hard done by. Surely it’s cheaper and easier to be interested in a club that’s physically closer, especially when they will probably need your help in some way.

………US and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US……..

It’s an obvious thing to say but there’s an essential link between a football club and the place in which it exists. Those that live nearby, those exiled by work relocation and those that adopt a club after moving to an area are able to view clubs as a “we” because they are being represented. I don’t understand how someone can feel truly part of an “we” by buying a piece of clothing that lots of other people have bought, anyone can buy a piece of clothing.

Take me and FC United. From the outside I may look part of it, I’m a co-owner, I go to as many matches as I can and I try to spend or donate as much as I can in the ground, but while I’m a part of it I’m apart from it. I’m separated from the “us” by a simple fact; I’m not from Greater Manchester.

I feel an affinity with the area because my Grandma used to live there and see Lowry painting on the streets of Salford but I’m not a local. I think I get FC United, I appreciate the club’s culture and I like the idea that it’s an expression of streetwise fortitude that’s part of Manchester’s rich historical tapestry of defiance but I’m not a local.

FCUM is an inclusive club but I feel like an interloper because I only became a member after I watched Looking For Eric. I can understand everything but I can’t truly feel it like a local does. I may be part of it but it’s an infinitesimally small part. I can’t kid myself along, I’m merely a fellow traveller.

I’ve developed an affinity with several clubs over the years for a variety of reasons, Port Talbot Town, Saint Etienne, Livorno, Hibs, Celtic. While I take an interest in each of them, and hope they do well, I’m a mere tourist. The only team I feel that I can manage a weak expression of “we” is the Welsh national team but even then I haven’t been to see them for years so I don’t really feel part of the “we” as much as I once did.

………US and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US……..

Imagine three imaginary places in the same BBC region; the large town of Milltown and the reasonably large cities of Hillingdon and Athenwell. They are all about an hour apart so they form a triangle on a map.

Milltown has Milltown United. Hillingdon has Hillingdon Rovers and Hillingdon Athletic and Athenwell has Athenwell FC and West End. There’s a noted football rivalry between Hillingdon and Athenwell. There’s no such ill feeling between the Milltown and the other places because their football paths have seldom crossed in the previous four decades.

Now imagine that two people from Milltown are having a football conversation on the phone. Anyone listening could assume three things; they are Milltown area denizens, they both support clubs from Hillingdon (one Rovers, the other Athletic) and they both detest Athenwell FC.

If you were to ask them they have nothing against the city of Athenwell itself, they like nights out there, the shopping and that. It’s Athenwell FC and their fans that they can’t stand. They’ve always been full of themselves that lot, even their Athenwell supporting friends from Milltown are like that, they’re all living in the past mate.

Naturally they hope that one hundred and twenty two year old Milltown United do well but their eyes are on starrier sights, that glamourous elite aren’t going to watch themselves. The antipathy towards Athenwell FC shows that they’re full of modern football’s annoying unspoken assumption; “I support Team X therefore I should automatically hate Team Y”, in short they have adopted the behaviours of the local followers of “their” clubs,

A keen rivalry is extremely palatable as it adds a frisson to matchday but the idea of hating somebody else purely on the basis that they follow a different football club is absurd. Other fans live in the same sort of houses, work in the same sort of places and use the same sort of shops. Disliking a group of people simply because you’ve chosen to become involved in big glamourous football club is beyond pointless, expressing this rubbish publicly is beyond tedious.

………US and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US……..

People make these choices in real life. The other week I was travelling home from Curzon Ashton v FC United by train. I had to go via to Crewe because of engineering work.

It was the same day that Manchester City beat Liverpool 5-0 so I was sat by a table full of understandably delighted City fans. It turns out they were from Crewe (we all alighted there). At some point between Stockport and Nantwich one of them related the phone conversation he’d just had with his Manchester United supporting friend;

“….So he says to me; ‘I’ll let you off that today ‘cause you beat the Scousers for us”.

They’re from Crewe but

“….So he says to me…..

….’I’ll let you off that today ’cause….

….YOU beat the SCOUSERS for US.”

Let that sink in, as the twitter cool cats say.

They like football and Crewe has its own football club.

Crewe Alex probably requires a little care and attention from the citizens of Crewe.

They choose to follow a rich club that doesn’t need their help/

They choose to self-identify as part of the “we”. 

When you view football like this there’s always a “them” to be judgemental about, Other people fall down the social order, players are always awful and everything’s crap or fantastic.

“Mate mate mate If you can’t be judgemental about things based on a purely arbitrary choice made when you’re younger mate, what’s the point in being a footy fan mate?”

It’s nonsensical to put so much store in an arbitrary choice made about incidental leisure time. I don’t know why it  happens? Is it the psychological need to belong? Is it the dislocation of a free market economy? Is it the alienation created by capitalism? Is it the premier league’s cultural imperialism?

………US and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US……..

I’ve noticed a different tone to the conversation when it involves someone that’s from the “we”. Let’s return to the day of West Brom v West Ham.

My phone had told me that I needed to catch the 16.52 train from The Hawthorns. I ended up missing it because they closed The Hawthorns’ station footbridge “It happens all the time when the football’s on mate, you’ll have to go around to the front of the station mate”. This meant a train towards Birmingham with the away fans rather than a train towards Crewe with the home fans.

As I left the stationside footpath I bumped into some West Ham fans that were going the wrong way. I told them that the footbridge was closed etcetera etcetera. They thanked me and naturally I became part of the conversation “They think they treat us like C**** just ‘coz we’re football fans don’t they”. I smiled in agreement. I continued to smile as they chatted about old away trips. They didn’t seem particularly bothered by the stultified match that we’d all just seen. There was an unspoken recognisance that witnessing a dull match was just one of those things that happens to a person that goes to football.

I ended up next to some different West Ham fans on the train. One of them was hectoring his bored looking friend, it was clear that he didn’t like the idea of paying good money to watch a scoreless draw; “I don’t rate him, or him, or him, to get to the next level you need defenders that can play and those three clearly can’t. How do we get to the next level?” I didn’t want to listen, I didn’t want to be aware of his opinion, but I had to listen.

Given the choice it’s more palatable to listen to someone with a story than someone trying to prove how much they care by airing a loud opinion that somebody else has already expressed.

Maybe it was only fate that had placed me near a moaner at the exact time he was getting a lament out of his system, maybe he stopped speaking about football the minute he left Snow Hill station. Maybe the moaner was an experienced away day veteran and maybe the first group were Johnny Come Latelys relating second hand stories. It doesn’t really matter they are illustrative examples about the way different groups relate to football. There are groups to avoid.

………US and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US……..

I know that I’m not vital to the world of football, I could stop taking an interest tomorrow and nobody would care. I know my place in the universe; I’m a speck of dust.

I wonder whether the people that worship premier league clubs from afar feel the same, or do they feel a sense of entitlement, do they feel vital to everything? Let’s consider a few stats about three “football hotbeds”;

Greater Manchester Inhabitants – 2.25 million,  combined capacity of the six biggest grounds – 223,000

Liverpool–Birkenhead Metropolitan Area  Inhabitants  – 2.25 million, combined capacity of the three biggest grounds – 112,000

Glasgow Metropolitan Area  Inhabitants – 1.4 million, combined capacity of the four biggest grounds – 170,000

The implication is clear, nobody outside of those metropolitan areas is required to take an interest in that area’s  football clubs. In fact only 5-10% of each area’s residents need to attend to ensure full houses. The idea that at least 10% of each area’s population would be interested in watching football is plausible.

On the other hand, what do my thoughts matter? Nobody’s committing a crime, people are only interacting with football in their own way. Some people may have no compunction about taking advantage of the prevailing conditions in football – Traditional fans may have been priced out, or lost heart, or may no longer feel welcome – but so what?

People are only interacting with happy shiny world of football while they watch look at me home made protest banners on a Splendiferous Saturday Lunchtime™. I don’t suppose it matters really, people are only doing something with their free time. I’m probably just jealous or something.

Sod all that.

Mate, mate, mate, take an interest by all means mate, buy the shirt if you have to mate, just don’t pretend you’re a massive fan and more importantly, don’t go on about it mate. Everyone’s got interests. I could bore you with Ken Loach Minutiae or Czech New Wave banter. Do you fancy that mate?”

There’s nothing wrong with being drawn to a particular club, people are drawn to a variety of clubs for a variety of reasons. We all have soft spots for this club or that club, one day I will go to watch Livorno, but a passing attraction is nothing more than a passing attraction.

Mate mate mate if you’re going to treat football like a delicacy from the great leisure time smorgasbord at least use some imagination. My friend Gerry knows somebody that has season tickets for Inter Milan and Blackburn. This kind of situation is an ideal 21st Century situation. Why not access top quality European football on a monthly basis via a relatively cheap season ticket and cheap flights?

Then again why not simply go and watch your local club, they could probably do with your help.

I like to think that we don’t need to submerge ourselves in the bravado of a group, or submit to football’s PR industry. Call me a dreamer.

………US and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and USUS and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US, US and THEM, THEM and US





Ignore, ignore, ignore

23 09 2017

Whenever I was annoyed my mum would always said “Ignore them and they’ll go away”. Whenever annoying twitter users tweet other people tweet “Ignore them, they’re only looking for attention”. The theory is sound but the practice is not easy.

The waves of retweets you can’t help but see continually cause small breaches in the dike I’ve erected around the polder of my calmness. I may have a padlocked twitter account and an air of quiet satisfaction that I’m not “like that” but it’s often not enough. I don’t want to know that there’s a “North Wales Loyal” Rangers Supporters’ Club or that they meet up in a pub down the round from where I’ve typed this but I’m aware of both of these facts.

There are also self-inflicted breaches. I often read things just to see if they are as bad as they seem, like the time I decided to read a deejay’s book. Suffice to say the book is joint top of “The worst books I’ve ever held” list with Lovejoy On Football (another case of academic research) and The Da Vinci Code. On this occasion I could offer the mitigation of giving three quid to a charity shop and then re-donating it so someone else could do likewise but I should have followed my Mum’s direction. I may have read the deejay’s words and felt superior but what does that matter now?

The trouble is that circumstance allows temptation to goad my strong will. For example I was walking through a branch of Smiths last Saturday and the New Statesman’s cover piqued my interest. There was a German theme and I have a deep love of Deutschland so I flicked through the pages. The German article certainly looked interesting, then I noticed that there was an exquisite article about “the fractured left”. I knew that it that would just the sort of annoying research that propels my joy “to the next level”.

Then I noticed the price was £4.50.

HOLD ON, FOUR POUNDS FIFTY PENCE TO READ THE WORDS OF THATCHERISM APPEASERS? FOUR POUNDS FIFTY PENCE TO READ HOW WE’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG? FOUR POUNDS FIFTY PENCE TO READ A WEEKLY PAEAN TO RESPECTABLE ACCOMMODATION WITH THE FORCES OF MARKET CAPITALISM? YOU CAN BUY A COUPLE OF IRVINE WELSH NOVELS FOR FIVE QUID IN FOPP AND THEY’RE MORE RELEVANT.

I don’t know how many of the working classes will stump up £4.50 a week for cultural re-education but it’s actually great that The New Statesman costs that much, and The Times and Telegraph hide behind pay walls, otherwise I’d be on a constant quest to be wound up by other peoples’ words.

Being priced out has become a most familiar feeling. The cost of attending football matches is extortionate, televised football is virtually controlled by Murdoch, the TV programmes that everyone raves about are found on subscription services and cinema tickets cost nearly as much a DVDs.

This could be a problem but my exclusion from the version of popular culture where everything seems to be fantastic or “must-see” is liberating, fate’s way of telling me to relax more. I’ve managed without the likes of Game Of Thrones and Murdoch’s premier league on my TV for years I doubt gaining access to stuff like this will enhance my life greatly now. I’m sure that looking at things in this way has helped me to deal with life’s little annoyances.

Take an example from a couple of weeks ago, the book writing deejay was annoyed about Wales’ ambition to win football matches by choosing the most skillful players at its disposal. I could have commented but I let it go. I didn’t send him a tweet.

I may have passively aggressively quoted his retweet with a snarky rejoinder, but I let it go like it was nothing. I let it go and moved on, yes I moved on straightaway. Twitter told me to look down on the deejay says but I wasn’t going to do that. Why would I do that? I had let it go. He’s had an opinion but don’t we all. I HAD LET IT GO, ALRIGHT!

Look down on the likes of these phone-in deejay types? Don’t be silly! I’d love to share a train journey with a phone in deejay type.

I see a journey from Warrington to Glasgow. I sit down opposite the phone in deejay type. I recognise him immediately thanks to twitter. I remove the reading material and bottle of water from my bag. I pick up the book, remove the old train ticket cum bookmark and begin to read.

The phone in deejay type scans me discreetly. He clocks my Denmark 1986 retro shirt, sees that I’m reading McIlvanney on Football and notices that I’ve placed this month’s copy of When Saturday Comes next to the bottle of water (I’ve only got thirty pages of the book left).

He listens when my friend phones me, he listens as I remind my friend that we have to pick up the tickets from Celtic Park, he listens as I tell my friend that we’re bound to have a good day and we’ll meet Jimmy and his mates again in that decent pub near Celtic. He hears my laughter, he can see the excitement in my eyes.

He looks at me and can clearly see what I’m all about. He’s waiting for me to finish my phone conversation, he’ll knows what to say, I’m part of his flock, his people. He can feel the milliseconds pass.

When the opportunity finally arises he looks into my eyes and says;

“Which match are you going to?

Then I’ll reply with;

“I don’t really like football I’m afraid”.

Radiating waves of bewilderment, the best response he can manage will be;

“Eh?……I thought you liked football. Weren’t you on the phone about tickets?”

I’ll add;

“No!”

This conversation won’t go any further.

We sit in silent proximity for the rest of the journey, a mute acknowledgement of a metaphorical chasm.

I don’t react, I don’t justify.

I silently consumed the remaining twenty five pages of my book.

I was silently consuming my magazine.

There’s not a glance in his direction.

Words seem infinitely more interesting than a banter-fuelled loudmouth.

Needless to say I’ll have had the last laugh!

I’m sure that I’d become a subject on his show.

“I was on train yesterday and I was sat across from this fella, and he was wearing a old football kit, and he was reading a book about football, and had a football magazine in front of him, and he spoke to one of his mates about making sure he had tickets to a match.

So I said to him “Which match are you going to mate?” and I was expecting a bit of banter. But he says to me “I don’t really like football I’m afraid” and that was that, I mean what’s that all about?

I couldn’t get my head around it.

I mean how can someone not like footy in the first place but this guy said he didn’t like football and he was wearing one of those retro shirts, Denmark I think, he was reading a football book and had a football magazine, he had tickets to a match. How could he not be a football fan? It doesn’t make sense.

So he’s got a ticket for a match but doesn’t like football, it’ll be people like him that stop ordinary decent fans getting tickets. He’ll be the sort of person that eats Prawn Sandwiches and quaffs chardonnay while the likes of you eat luke warm pies and lumpy tea. These people are everything that wrong with football if you ask me.”

I reckon that I would probably call the next show he presents.

“Hi, first time caller, sometime listener when I’m stuck in the wrong taxi at the wrong time. I’m the guy from the train.

First of all I like to thank you for your grandiloquent character assassination, it made my day, week, month, year, and indeed, decade.

Your masterly emissions have echoed in my fuddled brain so violently I have been unable to sleep coherently since your eloquence. Kind sir, it is difficult to wonder where one starts your latest teatime oeuvre. One doesn’t know how to respond, one hopes the pedestrian cliché of “Bravo kind sir, bravo!” will suffice.

Picasso had paint, Mozart had notes, you embroider the ether with forthright opinions, your words are quite literally art.

We can try to pay tribute to the quality of your verbal art but its multi-faceted qualities present the most profound of problems. You are the very much the spoken word’s onion of genius football opinion, the confines of space and time do not allow us to lionise your multifarious layers of strength.

If we celebrate your perfumed words we may omit the profundity of your masterly soliloquy, if we laud the perspicacity of your intellectual ardour we may overlook your majestic turn of phrase. Suffice to say it was the most profound honour to be so ritually abused by sheer poetry.

Essentially what I am desperately groping to express is the idea that it’s nice to be recognised as an easy target for an attention seeking loudmouths lacking in grace and calmness.

I enjoy my use as fodder for another tirade that keeps the wheels of the banter fuelled horrorshow that’s now known as “football”.

Needless to say I have had the last laugh again, and I rest my case. Cheery bye the now.”

Football talk used to be fine in the right place at the right time with the right people but it’s irritating ubiquity has turned it into the mere rearrangement of words.

Pre-match analysis, pre-match interviews, half-time analysis, post-match interviews, post-match analysis. Endless words about nothing.

Opinions, opinions, opinions. Only the nouns change.

“My team lost…….He’s not trying……..It’s not fair”.

Football’s not fair, it’s not a moral investigation into the existential state of humanity. It’s two groups of eleven people trying to score more goals than the other.

Some teams win, some teams lose and there are some draws.

Shut up, you’re boring us all.

 





The annual appraisal

2 09 2017

Saturday Evening

Mark was two minutes from home, a single corner to go, the corner that always reminded him of beating Villareal in the Champions League.

2006 felt like it was an absolute age ago. What he’d give to be fourteen again.

Bloody football, you make the effort to care and what do you get? Nothing, nothing but sodding disappointment.

He reached his front door and plunged the key in to the lock.

Being fourteen on the day of the Champions League Final, that was life! Nothing was impossible!

He pushed the handle, opened the front door and went in. He was finally home after the usual tube scrum. He’d arrived at his sanctuary from the madding crowd, from disappointment, from Wenger. Another Saturday, another pain in the arse.

– “Hello Mark, was it a good game?”

“No Mum, it was awful again.”

– “Never mind love. Your tea will be ready in a minute, I’ll give you a call!”

“Great Mum, I’m going out with the boys later.”

– “Ok Love, see you in a minute.”

Mark shot up to his room, he couldn’t wait to log in to “Gooner Heaven” and lay down eternal damnation upon his pitiful team.

“Henry The Eighth” was back in the chair! Let the righteous fury commence!

Henry the Eighth – Down the Arsenal again, we were awful again, bloody awful. Wenger has lost everything, our respect, the plot, the dressing room.

It’s the players as well, don’t get me started. They don’t care, it’s scandalous, they don’t care. None of them. spineless performance from them. None of them care, we spend our hard earned money and what do we get? Nothing, bloody nothing.

That bloody Ramsey, what good is he? He’s literally the worst player I’ve ever seen in an Arsenal shirt. He should retire now, seriously. The fucking fraud. I’d have Wilshere over him any day you, he’s utter toss.

I’m utterly shocked, truly, that he can’t seem to play in midfield, he’s a bloody professional. My nan could do better than him! He never sticks to where he should be.

He’s a headless chicken, he should stick to rugby with the other Welsh. He’s a disgrace to the shirt. An utter fucking disgrace. I don’t know why we put up with his shit. I don’t know how he can look us in the eye. 

We’ll never win anything with a fraud like in the middle of the park. We need a leader, a taclker, a battler. We don’t need frauds. He’s living off past glories, he’s literally living off past glories. We should get rid straight away.

Clock End Preacher – Give it a rest will you, we’ve only had three games so far, we haven’t even finished August yet! You and your lot wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in the 1980s.

Henry the Eighth – It’s always the same. It just shows what I always say. You give your opinion and get slated for it. I pay my money and I’m entitled to an opinion.

With fans like you it’s no wonder that the club is in the mess it’s in. People like you are literally holding this club back.

Clock End Preacher – All I’m trying to say is calm down, things could be worse.

Henry the Eighth – Nice one grandad, that’s literally no help, it literally changes nothing.

Gooner Gerald – I’m with Henry on this, he speaks sense. You’ll never get to football heaven Preacher. Wenger and Ramsey are literally taking us to football hell.

Henry the Eighth – You know it GG! The preacher should stick to going to Church on Sundays.

Rocky Rocastle – It’s always the same, a couple of defeats and you lot want everyone gone. Can’t you just chill out, you won’t last the season with this kind of stress. You never know what might happen. We could win the Europa League.

Gerald Gerald – Looks like we got another one here Henry.

Henry the Eighth – These people are embarrassing, living in the past. We’ve literally got the most embarrassing fans in the world. They’re willing to put up with mediocrity and pay through the nose for it.

Mark was basking in the decisive last word when he heard footsteps on the stairs, it had to be Mum. It was.

“Your Pizza’s ready love.”

“Thanks mum, I’m coming down.”

Mark sprang to his feet, he loved the tomato base that Tesco used in their freshly made pizzas, he bounded down the stairs.

– “Did you remember to get those pens? You said you were going to work on your appraisal tomorrow?”

“Yeah that’s sorted I think. Thanks for cooking the pizza mum…”

Sunday

Mark was calm and the hangover barely registered, but then he had had less to drink than normal. There was no point in tempting fate with Monday on the horizon. He could have a proper night out next week.

“Mum, have you seen the ruler?”

– “How’s it going love?”

“It’s alright, I just need to get this right. It’s my homework. I want to tie up the loose ends, you know look good for tomorrow.”

– “You’re not worried about tomorrow, are you?”

“Not really, they already know I’ve met my goals and performance targets. It’s easy Mum.

Now where’s that ruler?”

Monday Morning

Mark felt a bit jittery today, it was his first annual appraisal under the new system.

Everyone said the new system seemed fairer, mainly because line managers no longer had licence to get revenge for perceived sleights and misdemeanours. Everyone remembered the flak because the company had lost Tom’s court case last year.

Mark can still remember the words from the full staff meeting; assessments………independent people…….. people from outside of the company……..no face to face interviews…………. a new process facilitated by the data from the continual monitoring process.

Mark lived under the presumption that everything was going alright, well it must be going alright if Steve hadn’t asked him to “pop in here for a quick chat“.

He also knew two things, one, despite what they said the data in the new data-based approach wasn’t as closely monitored as it should be and two, even if the data was checked the numbers were in his favour and numbers weren’t like line managers, they didn’t lie, numbers were cold hard facts.

Mind you, he was still jittery, despite his inner confidence.

– “Morning Mark”

“Morning Steve, you alright?”

– Not bad thanks.

Ahem, seeing as this is your first time with the new approach I just thought I’d remind you that we’ll be using the new method of annual appraisals. for your appraisal today.

        “Thanks Steve!”

“Let me introduce to you to your assessor, Aaron, He’ll be shadowing you today.”

“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Aaron, It’s Mark isn’t it?”

Mark looked up and was stunned, it was Aaron Ramsey. Aaron Ramsey was standing in front of him.

“Wait a minute, you’re Aaron Ramsey, I can’t believe it’s you! And you’re assessing me. I can’t believe it! I’m an Arsenal fan.”

“I know, that’s why they picked me! ………..Only joking!

Don’t worry about today, you know what’s involved don’t you?”

Mark nodded.

“Just work normally, I’ll be in the background observing. You won’t even notice I’m there.”

“Right, I’ll just get on with it, I can’t believe it, honestly I can’t!”

Mark was utterly dumbfounded, of all people I could have as an assessor it’s an Arsenal player. He couldn’t wait to text everyone, or tweet it. Then he remembered the “Phone-Free Work Environment” posters they’d put up last year.

Using a phone wouldn’t look good, especially on the day of his annual appraisal. He’d just have to wait. The Green account was the pressing business.

The shock of being in the same room as an Arsenal player gradually wore off and he relaxed into his work. He tried to remember the textbook methods of dealing with phone calls and office etiquette. He thought better of his usual routine, flirting with the ladies and bantering with the lads.

A thought entered his head; “If I tone it down will I look unnatural, will it look like I’m trying too hard? Management don’t like that sort of thing do they.” Mark felt like he was flying through the account pages, Mr. Green would be well happy!

“Aaron would know that he had a reputation as a bit of geezer.” thought Mark. In today’s modern business culture they value personality and informality, Mark remembered the maxim of his old team leader Geoff’; “As long as the work gets done lad”. Well the work was getting done, Aaron could see that. Mark started to think about letting his guard down slightly.

“Aaron will have seen that I’ve worked well” thought Mark, Of course he will, he couldn’t think anything else could he? Mark looked at Aaron, Aaron smiled and then looked at his clipboard.

Mark thought things were going well, the guard was dropped. Mark saw Chris go to the photocopying room, so he decided to go as well. Mark smiled at Aaron as he left, Aaron smiled back.

“Mate, mate, mate I can’t believe that Aaron Ramsey is doing your appraisal.” 

“I know”

“I thought you hated him!”

WellllllHe’s a nice guy in person. He’ll never know what I think of him, players don’t read message boards do they? Anyway I think the appraisal’s going well.” 

“I’m glad to hear that you’re smashing it.”

They bantered for about five minutes with a steadily increasing volume. Iwan the busybody came to check if there was a problem. Chris just looked at Mark and laughed.

Mark didn’t worry, Aaron didn’t seem to mind about the little comfort break. Mark guessed that things were going ok if the assessor hadn’t ask to see you,

Aaron hadn’t asked to see him. Aaron just sat there.

So it was back to the Mr. Green and his spreadsheet.

About three quarters of an hour later Mark went to say hello to the girls. He had been working solidly, and Aaron will have seen that. He tried to catch Aaron’s eye again, Aaron was looking at his clipboard. Mark didn’t worry, there was flirting to be done. Mark knew girls loved a confident guy.

Clare was off today but Lauren was there, lovely Lauren. Mark could tell that they both liked him, he always remembered the GQ article about the body language of flirting. Touching your nose was one of the good signs.

They indulged in some harmless flirty wordplay until Mark put his foot down; “I can’t stay around here, I’m being appraised. Laters!!!” And with that he was gone!!  Lauren was inwardly relieved, she didn’t really like blokes that were obviously trying too hard to impress.

Just before Mark reached his desk he noticed that Aaron was no longer there. Mark wasn’t alarmed, Trevor had told him that the assessor might only stay for the morning.

It was nearly lunchtime anyway so Mark didn’t worry. He was going to have a Southern Fried Chicken Baguette today.

He couldn’t wait to tell people about the identity of his assessor, Arsenal midfielder and fraud Aaron Ramsey. “I must remember to say that he’s alright” thought Mark. “People are going to love it when I tell them!”

Tuesday

Mark arrived at work in a relaxed mood, all he had to do was kill time before his debrief at 9:30 and he still had the work on the Green account to finish off.

He casually flicked through the pages, he felt safe in the knowledge that there was only a few pages left to do, crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s, that was all. He thought better of finishing it now as he wanted to leave something for later.

Steve asked Mark to come to his office. Mark noticed that the time was 9:31am on his computer taskbar’s clock.

“Sit Down please Mark.

Its probably easier for me to read through this report.”

Mark wasn’t worried.

“As you know the report is split into different sections, let’s go through them one at a time.”

Mark wasn’t worried.

“As you know, first up it’s “Productivity slash Output slash Dependability” Your continual assessment forms say that you’re usually on time with paperwork, although half of your return could do with more depth. In short you could spend a little more time on your paperwork more of the time. However don;t worry about this, these are standard comments for everybody.

To refer to the harder data. Your customer satisfaction ratings for the year were as follows: Q1 – 73%, Q2 – 85%, Q3 – 74%, Q4 – 87%, overall – 82.5%. 72% of my customers received order confirmation emails with 12 hours, all within 24 hours. Those figures aren’t too bad. Dependability?  Ah yes, you seem to get the work done and you’ve only had 2 days off this year. I’d say that’s ok by anyone’s standards.”

Mark wasn’t worried.

“Aaron’s verdict is slightly more damning.”

Mark was suddenly surrounded by bleakness.

“I’ll begin; “Dependability? For what? Mark seems more intent to strut around the office like a banter obsessed peacock instead of a colleague. He floats all over the place chatting and flirting.

His continual assessment forms show that he’s a a very subtle operator, he gives off the impression of getting work done but during the appraisal he spent barely ten minutes doing work-related tasks in every hour.

He seems to believe that sending three short e-mails an hour constitutes work. If we were to generalise this behaviour over an entire work year he will work for 7.6 weeks out of his contracted 46 weeks. It would be hard to generalise from three hours but this is simply not good enough, He appears to be taking the piss.”

Mark was too bamboozled to think properly.

“Excuse me Steve, he didn’t actually say that I was “taking the piss” did he?” 

“I’m afraid he did, shall we move on?

The second area is “Mistakes slash Waste” Your continual assessment forms indicate that you’re a conscientious and tidy worker, you don’t waste paper by printing off an unnecessary amount of sheets. Your computer log record tells us that you make few mistakes as you type and we’ve never had cause to ask for redrafts of your reports. From this point of view there’s no problem. The figures tell us that your order error rate was only 5.3%.

Again Aaron’s verdict isn’t quite as glowing……..”

Mark felt another uncomfortable lurch.

“……As already stated Mark chooses to spend most of his time in work doing things other than what he’s paid to do, so it would be obvious to say that his mistake slash waste to productivity ratio could be improved. In short his main mistake is to waste everyone’s time.

Again it would seem that he’s created a shiny positive image to mask the reality. He needs to improve his productivity rate.

Judging by the quality, or rather lack of quality, of his error-strewn work we can make two assumptions firstly, mistakes are commonplace and secondly, he fails to apply the attention to detail that is required by his job description. I heard that Chris spellchecks his work to avoid his section getting negative feedback.”

Mark was perplexed.

“So I wear a mask do I”  he asked incredulously.

“Let’s press on shall we.

Now it’s “Teamwork” your continual assessment profile states that you are an effective team player who adds complementary skills and contributes valuable ideas, opinions and feedback, and that you communicate in an open and candid manner. You can be counted upon to fulfill any commitments made to others on the team.”

Steve paused again, it was unmistakably ominous. There was another lurch.

“Aaron said that after he gained feedback from Mark’s colleagues he was able to see that Mark is often fine within a team but there are occasions when he appears to coast within the anonymity of a team. They say that he often needs to be pushed to make the required effort, and that sadly these occasions are becoming more frequent.”

Mark felt the need to finally respond to this character assassination;

“I’d disagree with that Steve. You know that’s not the real me is it? I’ve served on three key teams this year: corporate social responsibility, customer service process improvement and the one that deals with special orders.”

Steve continued.

“Yes I’m aware of that, don’t worry we all know about your extra responsibilities.

The next issue we need to deal with is “Fulfillment of Individual Goals”. Well we know from your continual assessment forms that you have completed all of the goals that were set in last year’s annual appraisal. You have attended a first aid course, you have attended an I.T. course and you have mentored Chris. That’s all good. You show some initiative, I’ve seen it, you’re a bit of a go-getter or the quiet aren’t you?” 

The familiar lurch.

“Aaron’s appraisal continues to be less than positive. While the first aid and I.T. courses are useful the mentoring process provides numerous concerns. It would appear that mentoring process has merely provided the conditions for the growth of a work relationship based on a mixture of puerile humour, loud football banter and exaggerated male bonding. In the very short time I was in the office I was able to see that Mark’s fellow workers viewed this relationship as a burden to be tolerated.”

Mark was stunned.

“What’s wrong with banter” he almost stammered.

“Let’s carry on to the final part of the appraisal; “Your future development”. This is obviously linked to the last part of your appraisal. I see you’ve gone for the logical step, you’ve decided to focus on the same areas; Further development of I.T. skills, fostering more a team attitude within the department and continuing the development of mentoring role. That sounds alright.

Aaron’s comments were again rather negative.,,,”

Mark couldn’t deal with much more, yet it continued,

“I suggest that until Mark decides to concentrate more on the fundamentals of doing his work correctly there is little point in thinking about developing the finer points of his role. After speaking with his colleagues I would suggest that Mark decides to devote less time to being the irritating centre of attention and more time to doing his work efficiently and quietly.”

It was almost washing over Mark by now.

“I’m sorry, what was that “Irritating centre of attention”?

“Look Mark, don’t take Aaron’s view too seriously, at the end of the day it’s only one person’s view.

All it does is give us something to think about, for you to think about.

We still value you, your figures speak for themselves. We’ve all got something to think about now. Don’t worry about anything. We still value you.”

Mark was quiet for the rest of the day.

All he could do was wonder how this could happen to him. He did his best, he worked his hours, he hardly took any time off.

“AND YET IT WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH!

WHY AM I BEING JUDGED ON THE BASIS OF A FEW HOURS?

WHAT ABOUT ALL THE THINGS I DO RIGHT?

Mark’s co-workers were worried about him, he looked slightly broken. Steve asked him if he wanted to have the next day off. Mark thought that this sounded like a good idea.

Wednesday

At 11am Mark heard the fron door’s inner letterbox flap move and something land softly on the hall’s mat. He surmised it was a latter.

He was both fascinated and worried, could it be for him? He arose from the sofa and made for the front door tout suite. The envelope was for him. There was no address or stamp but it clearly said “Mark” in black ink letters.

Mark felt unsettled and wondered who could have sent it. His friends didn’t send notes, his Mum wouldn’t leave a note, and she certainly wouldn’t post one through the letterbox.

He opened the envelope in an intrigued and fearful state. There was a single piece of paper inside.

He carefully unfolded what he took to be a blank piece of paper for a few milliseconds. He finally noticed that there were some lines written on one side. He read the words.

I’ve seen you in the Clock End. You probably think that we can’t pick out individuals in the middle of the crowd, or hear their comments, well we can.

How does it feel to be judged in your workplace?

It’s not a very nice feeling is it?

Aaron “The Fraud” Ramsey

A few hours later the penny finally dropped, football wasn’t really that important.

The weight of caring was finally off Mark’s shoulders, he could breathe, for the first time he could truly breathe!!!! He was liberated!!

He turned his computer on and logged into “Gooner Heaven” to leave a final message.

I am Henry the Eighth and I was wrong

He deleted his profile and turned off his computer for the rest of the day..





I hadn’t even realised you weren’t there!

27 08 2017

I’ll start with the first of three realisations. I don’t know whether I should continue to chain myself to the tradition of going to a match every week.

This mental journey began with a couple of connected recollections about David Elleray, the once famous referee, and Nick Hornby. I once read that Elleray turned down the chance to officiate at the 1994 World Cup because he had a job interview at his school. Hornby missed the replay of the 1993 FA Cup Final because he attended an award ceremony in which Fever Pitch was nominated.

I remember having a similar reaction to both events; “Imagine that happening! How awful would it be to miss your side winning a cup? How could you call yourself a true fan? I’ll never be like that! I’ll never let work come between me and an important match!” 

Needless to say I’ve missed matches for work-related reasons since those thoughts came to me. I’ve missed every Wales match for six and half years for work-related reasons.

In the mid ’90s I’d envisaged some nebulous “bad things” happening but all I’ve “suffered” is a growing sense of acceptance. I suspect that I’ll never watch Wales again. I don’t even check the dates of matches anymore, too many people are after tickets and I’m so far down the pecking order I’m in 2008.

While international football has become something that happens to other people normal football and work-related reasons had never coexisted in my life until that Saturday in May, when I missed Bangor’s European Play-Off Final.

My younger self would have been incredulous but my present self took life as it came, albeit with pangs of wishful regret. I had had enough time to get to the match because my work related business had finished earlier than I had envisaged.

If only I had had a car ready to go, but I didn’t have a car ready to go, so I sat on my sofa waiting for 5:15pm in the company of thoughts  “I could’ve gone, I could’ve gone. With better organisation I could’ve gone!” Sod it, I wasn’t going. I was going to miss the joyous moment that European football returned to Bangor, if it came, but who cares. “Calm bordering on sanguine” was my middle name.

Then the game kicked off. It was an odd sensation when I saw the players, I’d only ever seen them up close and personal but now they were on telly with bigger faces. It felt even stranger when I saw my fellow fans in the crowd. The thought that I should have been there never left, but I was obviously not there. The glory that I could’ve ended up enjoying felt like it was merely a whiff of a dilution of the glory I’d feel in the ground. On the other hand I knew two great things, I didn’t have a journey home and I had less time to wait for Eurovision.

When the European matches arrived I missed both of them, including the first European home match I’d missed since 1985, thanks to work-related reasons.

As you may guessed from the fact you’re reading these words nothing untoward happened in the universe because I missed the matches. Everyone carried on as normal. All three matches still took place.

There were no half time tannoy appeals about poor little me, there were no appeals on social media either, nobody commented. Nobody decided to give the next match a miss because I hadn’t gone. At most a few people noticed I wasn’t there.

The wider world spoke with cold indifference, it didn’t care that I had missed some football matches. It’s a stark moment when you realise that the world doesn’t care about you but what does one do? The world is a cold, harsh, disinterested place.

Before May’s European play-off match typical premonitions of jovial conversation within the glow of victory had caused regretful impulses yet I felt few post-match regrets. On a cosmic level the absence of my negligible presence barely registered, Bangor still qualified for Europe. On a personal level, what had I actually missed? Apart from the irreplaceable joyful conversations and glorious memories of drinks enjoyed I’d missed a match that had been televised, that was all.

I was clearly more able to cope with missing important football matches than I thought. Over the last few years there have been some recent weekends when I didn’t even bother with a match so I daresay I’d undergone an understated process of desensitisation.

When I coupled the fact that I wasn’t really missed with my lack of real regret enlightenment wasn’t far behind…….. I am insignificant.

It’s very illuminating to be reminded that you’re insignificant in the big scheme. It’s fantastic to be reminded that your petty choices and whims only really matter within the confines of your own head, that your petty desires are no more important than anyone else’s, that you are not more important than other people. Be like me, embrace liberation!

I remember reading that one of the Super Furry Animals claimed “Don’t be a C**t” as his motto. It’s an outlook that captures the beautiful simplicity of a decent world. It’s better to set aside ego-driven impulses for the simple fact that we will always need the help of other people. A co-operative society is always preferable to the alternatives.

Let us return to the first couple of lines. My enlightenment led to three realisations. Firstly, and already noted, I’m not sure I should continue to chain myself to the tradition of attending matches every week. Secondly, it doesn’t matter whether I turn up or not because my presence determines nothing, results happen anyway. Thirdly I should probably use a little more discernment when choosing which football matches I attend.

There are two enormous elephants in the room. The first is the fact that logic and football aren’t happy bedfellows. Football has manifest observable problems yet the idea of “football” still appeals and I still like going to matches.

Football charms with the promise of excitement and the potential of seeing something fantastic. There’s the aesthetic attraction of flowing moves and skill. Most importantly there’s the human interaction between like minded people. I still like to be in a crowd. The hubbub, the laughter and, wittingly or unwittingly, hearing a good story or two.

I don’t think I could live without the enjoyment of visiting a new town, or spending time with good friends. The so-called laws of probability tell me that I probably won’t see something fantastically memorable very often but the possibility is always present. Sometimes I just like to be lost in thoughts about the ghosts of football’s past and I see those ghosts everywhere. My love of my version of football is a feeling I can’t adequately explain.

Take my compulsion to watch Hibernian’s Scottish Cup triumph on you tube. I don’t support Hibs yet I still still feel compelled to watch the clips. Whenever I watch the last minute winner, the people lost in celebration and the fantastic Sunshine On Leith there’s a warmness in my brain, I know what it means for those involved and I can’t help getting wrapped in the emotion of the circumstances. Some things just cause a positive reaction and football has that effect in my head. That’s enough for me. I feel like I still need football.

The second elephant is the application of a discerning eye to football, you can do that but it isn’t always enough. I’ve tried to limit my football interactions to what I can stand – watching matches in a ground, refusing to buy anything connected to Murdoch, leaving the shiny corporate hagiographies that pass for magazine articles unread, ignoring the banter bus, putting a padlock on my twitter profile – but I’ve found that it’s impossible to insulate yourself from those you want to ignore.

I avoid pubs when they broadcast matches, I take an ambivalent attitude to Match of The Day and I block banter accounts. Yet this is still not enough, Murdoch era attitudes and opinions cannot be avoided. Especially if you choose to leave your house or use public transport.

You can’t legislate for the actions of other people, much as I’d like to become Prime Minister and pass laws. Opinion seeps around any social media dam. You can only avoid so many TV adverts based on the cliched excitement of sports broadcasting types.

“GET READY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GET SET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY IS BACK!!!!!!!

NOW STOP THINKING AND GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY!!!!!!!”

Even the BBC broadcasts bloody football adverts of this type. Sentient fans know that football is often crap and boring rather than continually fantastic, dramatic and delightful.

Then you weaken, and give “THE FOOTY” on the telly another go for sentimental reasons. It’s alright until you’re realise that the craze of perpetual analysis still holds, football still has a self-imposed sense of importance it doesn’t warrant.

“I DON’T WANT TO SEE A RED THERE GARY!”

I don’t want hear in depth analysis that perpetuates this controversy driven football culture.

“HE’S ENTITLED TO GO DOWN THERE MARK!!!!!”

Not entirely, the word “entitlement” doesn’t appear within the foul play section of the laws of association football, I’ve checked.

“WE ALL LOVE THE TALKING POINTS™ DON’T WE!!!!!!! IT’S WHAT MAKES THE GAME WHAT IT IS, ISN’T IT CHRIS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”

Talking Points™ are the currency of the damned, the angry phone-in callers and the bluffers.

If we’re going to analyse something why don’t we concentrate on the way “our” sport is governed and organised.

The miasma of inconsequential opinion seems to surround me wherever I go. Bluffers and loudmouths are on every train I catch with their Talking Points™. Preserve me from the words ejaculated by hectoring mouths and the opinion shaped nails upon my psyche’s blackboard. I just want some peace.

I can’t get away from the bluffers’ world. The craze of perpetual analysis has convinced bluffers that they know what they’re talking about. Bloody opinions are everywhere, as if a law prohibits a carefree attitude.

The other day short video clips of Jack Wilshire getting sent off in an Under 23s match were doing the rounds on twitter. It’s the sort of thing that rocks a bluffer’s world, the evidence they need to make another plagiarised knowing comment, another metaphorical nod and wink, another easy dismissal of a professional player. “You can’t trust him when the pressure’s on.”, “He’s a nutter”,”He’s a fraud”.

Why does a short clip of Jack Wilshire getting sent off in an Under 23s match need to exist? The continual externalisation of football opinion is an extremely pointless act. Mate, mate, mate I know what I know, my opinion is only my opinion. Bluffers appear to believe that their opinion is the loud gospel that needs to be expressed everywhere mate.

Football minutiae – facts like winning runs, goal scoring feats and odd scorelines – used to be briefly diverting little quirks. When the minutiae started to appear on the twitter the bluffers were awarded with a ready made knowledge mine that enabled them to appear like experts without effort. “Mate, mate, mate I can’t believe your twitter feed mate. You’re a real football nut you are mate!!!” 

I don’t know why some people are happy to limit their experience of football to the perpetual hype juggernaut of Murdoch’s football culture. I don’t understand how people stomach the hyper-commercialisation. Why is there a dearth of imagination? How can people not yearn for a bit more integrity? Why is the shiny seen as more appealing than the authentic?

In moments of weakness I sometimes wonder whether I’m judging these bluffers too harshly. They’re not doing anyone any real harm, they’re only watching the footy aren’t they?

“Yeah couldn’t you go to another train carriage or something and stop moaning you effete pseud?” 

Well I suppose I could, less of the effete please, it’s called “having standards“.

I know the bluffers are only fellow human beings combating the alienation of the capitalist mode of production by developing an interest in something………..

BUT

…… they’re using their free will to submit to the Murdoch version of football.

The bluffers couldn’t care less that people like me have emotional ties to football, they’re content to offer the forces that are slowly turning football into a joyless economic equation their connivance. They could decide not to be part of the cynically created market that exploits both themselves and football but they don’t.

They love it when their own interchangeable hero from the super club carousel kisses the heat applied trademarked badge upon their polyester clad chest. Some have even been known to look up from their pool table, shout “GET IN!!!” and slap their own polyester clad chest.

The situation is very frustrating. If people knew that I liked football the bluffers and I would appear to be the same. I find that if you have a conversation with someone that gets football their interest usually comes out gradually in the middle of an interesting conversation about something else, they don’t bludgeon you with“look at me I’m a proper fan just like you!!” overcompensation buffoonery to prove they’re in tune with the zeitgeist.

Some recent highlights from my fascinating life show my problem. The days followed the usual pattern; I interacted with football in my own way (Undertaking mental journeys to beautiful possibilities) until something polluted my headspace.

Two Saturdays ago I read When Saturday Comes on the way to FC United v Kidderminster and started to think about going to Southport v FC United on the way home. We’d only made a couple of stops after leaving Manchester when the confident young men sauntered through the automatic doors of my carriage. They were ostentatiously carrying “The Banter”.

It was my misfortune that the opposite table was empty. It started as soon as they sat down. Banter. Facebook, Banter, “LEGEND!!!” this, “CLASSIC!!!” that. The football analysis had the conviction and polish of true expertise;

“Let me tell you who’s in City’s line up”…………“He’s awful.”……………“He’s not as bad as Monreal” …………“Can you believe Kyle Walker is worth £50 million? That’s like saying he’s twice as good as blah blah blah.”…………“What you need from a wing back is technical skill, that’s why blah blah blah is much better than blah blah blah”.

They were only on the train for about 10 minutes.

A full 612 seconds of equilibrium shattering.

They got on the train with a clear conscience, did “The Banter” with a clear conscience and a gleam in the eye, and alighted with a clear conscience.

Their six ton granite lump of premium footy banter had transformed my erstwhile serene mental lake of human joy into a choppy grey mass of water.

How are you supposed to enjoy football when people are allowed to use the banter and analysis in such a wantonly cavalier fashion? Loud football opinions are like human posteriors, every person has one but it’soften  impolite to let others hear them.

Listening leads to the continual fight against delivering a coup de grace;

“Maaaaaate, mate, mate I don’t care why you think what you think about Ozil.

No offence mate, it’s just my opinion but I just don’t care about your opinion to be honest mate.

Maaaaaate mate mate how would you like thousands of critics to analysing your work days on twitter? “Look at him, taking too long to go to the photocopier again!! What a fraud!!”

Call yourself a football fan, you’re nothing like me.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe mate, eaten chips on a boulder outside Hampden Park mate, I’ve watched non-authorised merchandise glitter in the dark near the Shankly Gates mate.

All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears in rain mate.

Recant the banter life, Recant!

Follow me, for I will save your soul!”

Needless to say, I’ll have had the last laugh. If only I had the confidence!

The same sort of thing happened last Saturday. Once again I had engaged with football on my level. Nine hours of reasonably enjoyable time with Nottingham Forest v Middlesborugh at the centre and train reading material provided by Irvine Welsh, Daniel Gray’s Stramash and the When Skies Are Grey Summer Special.

We’d reached Chester on the way home. Two Liverpool fans were amiably chatting away about the day’s events when apropos of nothing some bloke decided to insert himself into the conversation with a bronze droplet of football wisdom;“Try supporting Villa!”. It was yet another “Look at me, I’m part of the zeitgeist!!!” moment.

It was delivered like an appeal for sympathy.  Why on earth does someone need sympathy for a making a decision with a clear head, a decision that doesn’t really matter in the cosmic sens? He told the carriage that he hadn’t been to Villa’s match…………….

“That’s the thing about football mate, they’re your club and they’ll always be your club.

You can change your politics, your wife, your pets and your underpants but you can’t change your club.

Am I right? ‘course I am Chief!

………… If the social pressure to conform with the zeitgeist is the only thing making people maintain an interest why do they still bother? It’s surely simpler not to bother at all. Nobody would judge you if you just gave up, nobody would care. Do the world a favour, give us peace.

I’m torn. I find it difficult to retain an interest in football because there appears to be little for the likes of me in Murdoch’s football culture yet I manage to retain an interest. Irritating processes continually encroach upon my limited interactions with football yet I still find a serene football world I can deal with.

I fear that one day I won’t care enough to look for serene moments but I may feel differently when that day comes. I should probably start moving to other train carriages with the other effete pseuds and snowflakes until then.





Baby I’m Bored

20 02 2017

A slightly different version of this post appeared in an Australian fanzine edited by a nice man called Geoff Briggs.

I’ll come out and say it at the beginning, I’ve gone off the Welsh Premier League.

I feel a little naughty for admitting this in public. When you’re even slightly involved in this league there’s unsubtle pressure to support the league through its thick and thin. You’ve got help put the league on the map and so on. I can’t live this lie any longer, I have reached the end of my tether with the competition. I’m not trying to be a clickbait contrarian, it’s just how I feel.

At the start of September a freelance journalist came to our north Walean hinterland to see if we’d felt any “bounce” from Euro 2016. Aside from the anecdotes poured over agog audiences there was absolutely no connection between Bangor City and Euro 2016.

The only possible connections between the Welsh Premier League (WPL) and Euro 2016 were the rules of football and the word “Wales“. The European Championships were a passing manifestation of divine brilliance and the WPL is a moribund entity that’s evaporated my enthusiasm for leaving the house on a Saturday afternoon, or Friday evening, or Sunday afternoon.

This feeling didn’t emerge overnight, I’ve experienced five seasons of ebbing joie de vivre, I lost the last few traces of it in the gap between the magnificent Euros and cold stark reality. A combination of three things – The WPL’s nature, brainwaves and the unforeseen effects of the club licensing process – have caused the joy drain.

Firstly, “the WPL” should be re-initialised as “the BIP” (Boredom In Perpetuity). We meet the same clubs and visit the same grounds so the same club can win the title. The WPL contained eighteen clubs until the advent of 2010’s “Super Twelve”, a competition that divides into hermetically sealed sections after twenty two matches. Now there’s a top half that ends with European play offs and a bottom half that may end in relegation. Every August I dread another existential slog.

Playing clubs at least four times during a season is bad enough but during a recent season cup matches and European play-offs meant that we played Rhyl, our fierce local rivals, seven times. Even the fiercest rivalries becomes anaemic through unrelenting contact.

A run of decent league results normally allows an unlikely side to challenge for a league title but the WPL provides erstwhile pacesetters with two extra matches to catch uppity interlopers. The clubs coasting along are merely saddled with bothersome pacesetters they can’t catch. Repetition has bred so much contempt that some clubs have welcomed relegation and others have denied themselves promotion.

I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum, success and near relegation, so I have experienced the full spectrum of boredom. The spectre of relegation is humiliating in any system but in the super twelve you stand to be punished by players that you’ve faced countless times on the WPL roundabout.

When you’re title challengers there’s no light relief. The relief of a win evaporates when you realise there’s another match next week and every defeat has two simultaneous effects; you miss out on points and any advantage you enjoyed is slightly eroded by the baying mob at your heels.

When you’re “enjoying success” there’s a horrible melange of stress, a flowchart of stress if you will; Expectation stress > spectating stress > defeat aftermath stress > realising that other sides have won stress > missing UEFA prize money stress > losing players that would bring you glory next season stress. Our championship winning season of 2010-’11 contained ten absolutely awful dread-stained weeks.

Club licensing has generally had a positive effect on the WPL in terms of facility development, rule application and ensuring that clubs are sustainable but it’s also inadvertently diluted the anticipation I used to feel.

Last summer Port Talbot Town, our friends in the south, were relegated and Caernarfon Town, our local rivals, were denied promotion. In both instances there were valid reasons for the decisions but the crumbs of comfort I doggedly put my faith in – the potential visits in a new season – had been hoovered up.

Lastly, the brainwaves. Aside from the Super Twelve, we’ve had the 3G pitch football community hubs and Sunday matches. The desire to create local community football hubs based around 3G pitches may sound laudable – an all-weather pitch that can be used by the local community – but what if an area already has a local council operated all weather pitch? Isn’t the competition risking local authority employment during our times of cynically manufactured austerity? Where’s the sense of community in that?

3G pitches aren’t without their problems either; recent research has shown that 3G pitches may have worrying health effects. There’s nothing wrong with a grass pitch if it’s looked after. The FAW could fund the annual salaries of highly qualified groundsmen for each club for less than the cost of one 3G pitch.

When they came up with Sunday matches last summer it was almost my final straw. Who in the UK prefers going to a football match on a Sunday? How are you meant to relax when Monday morning’s work is clearly visible on the horizon? What about the semi-pro players that work on Mondays? We all need a day off from football.

At the start of the season I scanned the fixture list in anticipation of away days to come and discovered that all of the away games that can involve a good day out – Rhyl, Newtown, Aberystwyth – were scheduled on days other than Saturdays. Then I noticed we were scheduled to visit Cardiff Met, the only ground I hadn’t visited, on a Sunday. Thankfully they’ve relented over Sunday matches but my enthusiasm remains comatose.

There are only two sensible options; return to an eighteen club league or change the course of the future with time travel. Based on the latest news –  the clubs seems unwilling to change the nature of the league – the latter option seems the one most likely to happen.

We could back to the 1880s and set Wales on the same process of development as Scotland; a league based around one area – the Glasgow – Edinburgh Central belt – that eventually spreads over the whole country.

We could go to 1992 instead. We could convince Cardiff, Wrexham and Swansea and the rest to do the decent thing and join the League of Wales. This isn’t fanciful, Dynamo Kiev joined the Ukrainian league, Dynamo Minsk joined the Belarussian league and Hajduk Split joined the Croatian League. If it’s good enough for Eastern Europe it’s good enough for Wales!

Even with the obvious caveats – the geography of Wales prevented the development of a proper national league and the prospect of Football League promotion was always too persuasive – the only realistic prospect of pleasant change is using Doc Brown’s DeLorean.

I once owned a Manic Streets Preachers’ t-shirt that was emblazoned with the legend; “Baby, I’m Bored”, it’s a shame that I lost it ages ago because it feels rather apt. I’m not asking for much, some enjoyment is all I want, they seem to have enjoyment in the Cymru Alliance.

I’m sure that every point in this post can be refuted but my boredom feels tangible. I know change won’t happen, I’ll just have to concentrate and enjoy those conversations about films and comedy instead. Going to local football because of an almost perverse sense of duty may be the way forward.

What’s enjoyment anyway? A fleeting glimpse of a good thing that warps reality by causing unrealistic expectations.





“The angry people” by a big snowflake

11 02 2017

A very odd paradox appears to have developed in football.

Years ago many clubs were able to win trophies and people were philosophical about their club’s failure to win trophies.

Today a cynically created elite has a virtual stranglehold on success and people seem unable to deal with their club’s failure to win trophies.

In other words, people have become more intolerant of failure when there’s less chance of experiencing success. It’s all very weird.

It would seem that football and Iceland now share the same physical geography; plentiful hot eruptions. Some people are not only far from embarrassed about appearing to be dead angry they truly believe that we all need to know that they’re dead angry. Some people evidently dwell under the delusion that they deserve happiness more than others.

Anger, anger, anger, it’s everywhere!

Booing abounds and banners soon follow. Social media often hums with you tube videos of FAN TV ranters. Managers blast everything, commentators become incredulous, pundits simmer and tabloids bark. It’s lucky that we’re not living in the New York of Ghostbusters 2 otherwise the flowing molten anger would coalesce into something supernatural and foreboding.

Obviously the situation is not this simple. It only feels like everyone is permanently angry because shouting irritants are more noticeable. I imagine that the majority of football fans are similar; hopeful of witnessing something fantastic but willing to accept the mediocre and the mundane out of habit.

Football does that to you, as soon as you discover it’s creases childlike innocence is washed away. Players aren’t perfect, other fans are boring, managers are annoying and analysts are irritating. For the majority of fans good moments are like occasional day trips to fantastic destinations; gleaming memories to be cherished.

Those interested in football obviously connect with it on an emotional level. Despite the implication of their bellowing shouting irritants don’t care more than quiet people, every football fan cares about football otherwise they wouldn’t be interested in it. You wouldn’t apply the same logic to other areas of life. I may passionately care about recycling but I’m not going to start shouting and balling on You Tube about my council’s policy on refuse collection.

Emotions are intrinsic and private until expressed. Most people can choose whether or not to externalise their emotions. Some situations require externalisation – a danger lurking nearby, someone causing grave offence – but most of the time it isn’t required. Why do some people feel the need to draw others into their self-referential soap opera by sharing momentary football frustrations?

Thinking about how you express yourself in public is as much about common courtesy as protecting dignity. While not all football fans rant and rave, there is an angry fog in football’s climate. We can’t blame football for the fog’s existence, expressing emotional “LOOK AT ME, ME, ME!” anger seems to be a societal issue.

Some people have carved out political commentator profiles based on this type of angry you tube commentary, people film other people when they’re angry so they can tweet clips and Laura Keunssberg makes people really angry. Everyone is angry.

Anger by itself isn’t the problem. For example righteous anger as a force for good, as in John Lydon’s famous lyrics “Anger is an energy”, motivates you to try and improve something. The problem is solipsistic nihilistic anger and its corrosive effect upon society.

Take the EU Referendum. The result was partly attributable to solipsistic nihilistic anger; the anger of “a forgotten underclass“, the anger about the “EU’s undemocracy” and the anger about “immigration“.

Enter the Voice of Reason;

“I’m not sure about that, you’re just a bad loser!”

Fair enough, let’s look at an example from north Wales. Dissatisfied voters in the constituency that contains north Wales’ biggest employer, the Airbus plant, were so angry about the EU they voted Leave. You don’t need to be a bitter remoaner to consider the potential problems created by this display of anger.

By helping Leave to win they may have started a chain of events that leads to the end of the Airbus production in north Wales. The clues are there; Airbus, a European consortium formed to compete with American companies, wouldn’t exist without the EU and major hints have already been dropped about possible future plans. I imagine that Airbus’ potential closure would cause great upset.

The victory enjoyed by the Leave campaign happened partly because ranting populist politicians were given free rein to cynically ferment anger before the referendum. These self-declared anti-politicians took the situation – our cynical government’s unnecessary austerity – and played on justifiable fears by bending their old rhetoric to suit their goals, you know like any old politician does.

Naturally some people were stirred into anger by the general atmosphere and seductive rhetoric of a certain point of view. Consequently a change in the UK’s relationship with the EU became the panacea for all our problems.

During the horrible referendum campaign we saw the normalisation of intolerance and the belittling of justified concerns in debates. A common tactic – something known as “whataboutery” – was used to cloud debate. various non-sequiturs were added and many spurious “Well what about them?” comparisons were made.

If you doubt the logic of all this consider the following question, would Leave have won if the angry ranters had not been granted a normalising volume of exposure? Three years ago a possible EU referendum just wasn’t on the political radar.

It’s difficult to say what will happen know, at best we’ll suffer the retrograde fantasy of a “Global Britain”, at worst we’ll endure years of traversing through a quagmire of labyrinthine negotiations to end up in an even more inward-looking unfriendly society.

The Voice of reason chimes in;

“Come on, you’ve got to “GET OVER IT!!!” The referendum happened and democracy won!”

Yeah but it’s like this voice of reason mate. We didn’t see the righteous anger of 1945, the anger that created a better society with a practical version of a better country. Last June voters were motivated by the nebulous fantasy of a better country and solipsistic nihilistic anger. I’m amazed that some people honestly thought that by voting leave a fairer Britain would automatically rise from our austere environment?

I have two main issues with the referendum result. Firstly, the “democratic will”. How are we meant to respect a result caused by the 37% of the eligible electorate (or 27% of the total population). Call me a stickler for details but I’ve always thought a majority had to be at least 50.1%. Secondly, a generational political decision of seismic significance took place in a fetid atmosphere of rancour and bluster without the requisite thought..

Is our present course of action the safest course to take? Can we trust this result?

The Voice of reason renters the fray;

“You’re just an anti-democratic clown looking down your nose at your inferiors.”

It’s not that simple. Consider the people that may have changed their minds once they realised what their choice entailed. Consider the people with morning after regrets on the 24th June. Consider Leave voting farmers that still want EU funding, Consider Leave voting areas that rely on EU funding. Consider the interviewees that said “What’s the EU ever done for this area?” as they were interviewed in front of a community assets that only exist because of EU funding. Consider the Question Time audience members that had changed their voting intention because they’d seen the EU’s apocryphal straight bananas in a supermarket. Consider the interviewees that said they voted out “for the adventure” as though they was picking that month’s city break.

How do these people feel now? We are about to undertake the biggest constitutional upheaval in a generation on the basis of this? How are we to respect this result so meekly and so blithely?

Prudence demands that the potential consequences for British society AS A WHOLE are considered thoroughly before any action is taken, whether people are belligerent remoaners or an easily pleased patriots everybody will reap the outcome. Have we considered the potential consequences thoroughly? I’d suggest that we still haven’t and the vote happened eight months ago.

The tone of the debate is shown by a single example. When the spectre of defeat loomed large the arch anti-politician Farage claimed there should be a rerun in the event of a 48%-52% remain victory, now that he has enjoyed his own 52%- 48% victory Farage is strangely reticent about offering us a chance to eliminate the doubt enshrined in a narrow victory.

It’s odd that that some people decided to subject us all to irreversible major social upheaval without going through a long thought process. The referendum was a once in a generation choice, rather than a general election that can be reversed the next time around. If people had thought about the issue a bit more instead of becoming automatically angry at the sound of two vowels we may have gained another result.

The electorate are ostensibly rational human beings not helpless simpletons. Yet some were wilfully unconcerned about the potential problems that would result from a certain choice. To put it another way, some chose to saddle everybody with the outcomes of a decision they couldn’t be bothered to research properly. These people chose the view of the angry populists spewing easy solutions for complex problems and we’re all about to pay the price.

The Voice of reason renters the fray;

“See I told you, you’re just an anti-democratic clown looking down your nose at your inferiors.”

Go on then, we’ve all get to “GET OVER IT!” so everything’s alright.

On the other hand……….The campaign may have been short of practical information but that’s no excuse. It’s our duty to become informed citizens. There has always been information available about the EU and there were calmly explained you tube videos explaining the pitfalls of choosing Leave before the referendum. The videos were shared extensively on social media.

The EU is certainly not perfect and it never has been but if you look at the EU with the dispassionate mind of someone weighing up the best course of action you might see something different from the harsh words of populism.

You might see an institution that was conceived by people who had experienced the effects of two viciously destructive world wars, people who naturally thought that it might be better to work together on issues than restart old enmities. You don’t have to be an expert historian to know that the competition between nation states caused two world wars.

When viewed in this way the EU could be seen as an attempt to find a better way of doing things rather than living through the endless repetition of old mistakes.  That sounds pretty sensible to me and it is still the EU’s main motivating emotion, peaceful relations are still better than war.

The Voice of reason renters the fray;

“Yeah but what about the out of touch Euro-bureau-crats! Brussels Dictatorship imposing laws upon Britain!”

Yeah whatever. Any political body can formulate bad laws but what’s worse? A British government pursuing pernicious welfare reforms or the EU trying to harmonise high production standards in European factories? The EU’s government is no better or worse than any other government.

In terms of decision making all EU members have say in terms of the council of ministers because it is composed of nominations from the member states. Seeing as some issues are bigger than the borders of countries perhaps it’s often sensible to deal with certain matters on an international level. For example pollution doesn’t respect national borders.

Thankfully the UK is no longer the centre of a constantly sunlit empire, we’re a collection of relatively small land masses off the northern coast of Europe. Consequently it’s more sensible to have narrower aspirations than our stridently bellicose past. The UK is part of Europe so it makes sense to become involved with the countries that are close by. Surely it’s more sensible to work with those close at hand?

The Voice of Reason again

“Yeah but we didn’t have a vote then, so we need a vote now. WE DIDN’T WANT BRITAIN TO CHANGE”

Change is not to be feared, society does not remain in aspic because various process make change inevitable. Jarring changes cease to jar eventually; my grandparents’ generation struggled with decimalisation yet my generation knows nothing else. It’s the same with Britain membership of the EU. Positive change should be embraced, a good idea from there, a better way of doing things from over there etc. Change does not have to result in the automatic loss of culture, culture adapts.

The EU has not destroyed national culture, Italy, Germany, France and Holland have been members of the various pan-European organisations since the beginning and no sane person would claim that they have become homogenised into a single area. Italy is still unmistakably Italian, Germany is still unmistakably German etc.

Is immigration the tangible problem that it’s made to be? People mentioned the pressure placed on education, housing stock and the NHS but our central government could solve those issues if they were so inclined. People say they’ve come to steal our jobs and steal our benefits but they can’t do both.

A collection of disparate migrants hasn’t got enough collective economic power to influence wage levels. The “market economy”, or rich people, do that. People mentioned the loss or dilution of our culture but in the past politicians like Enoch Powell made similar inflammatory claims and so-called British culture quite clearly didn’t die. In short Enoch hasn’t been proven correct, immigrants have greatly enriched British society.

The Voice of Reason

“BUT BRITAIN WILL BE BETTER OFF OUTSIDE THE EU, THAT’S OBVIOUS!!!”

Well, no political decision exists in a vacuum and most of them have unintended effects. Can a sovereign Britain demand to be respected by other countries simply on the basis of a few politicians saying “Of course Mercedes will continue sell us their cars or French and Italian vineyards will continue to sell us their wine. They won’t walk away from this market!”?  How can anyone say with clarity what is going to happen? Do all divorces end well? The EU will impose post-Brexit tariffs so European producers could just easily as abandon Britain as keep trading with us.

The post referendum revelry reminds me of something I experienced in Year 10. Our PE teachers divided our two classes into Team A and Team B. Team A were considered to be the cream of the crop, more luminously skilled, more windswept and interesting etc. Naturally I scraped into Team A by the skin of my teeth.

For some reason we decided to carry the Team A and Team B scenario into our lunchtime game instead of picking mixed sides. Team B won the lunchtime match 1-0 thanks to the jammiest goal you’d ever see. To them went the spoils, to us went the bruised egos. They wouldn’t countenance a rematch despite our frenzied attempts at negotiation. ”We won, that’s all that matters”. Luckily this was the time before conversation stoppers like “End of.” I don’t mean to belittle the victory of the Leave side but when I think of their gloating the pettiness of smug teenage logic comes to mind. Sadly the situation is a bit more serious than the petty trifles of my salad days.

This is the problem with acting on solipsistic nihilistic anger, whether it’s football, politics or whatever else it tends to cloud things. With the referendum we’ve let a single vote, in a period of almost extreme public agitation, determine our future because too many people believed the easy words of the populists.

It’s not so much that we lost, I can take losing; I’ve only “won” three general elections in my life. The problem is that we lost because enough people didn’t think it was necessary to consider the issue properly. Tweeting “GET OVER IT REMOANER!!” simply isn’t enough for our democratic health. We deserve better than that.

We deserve to have properly informed political debates. We deserve better than elected politicians using fantasy aspirations to guide us. We deserve better than a British Prime Minister venturing cap in hand to unsavoury leaders.

The Voice of Reason ejaculates again;

WE WANT A “GLOBAL BRITAIN”?

But we already had twenty seven partners in the EU and we’re part of the commonwealth.

The Voice of Reason….

“IF YOU LIKE THE EU SO MUCH WHY DON’T YOU GO AND LIVE THERE!”

If I had the chance and the means I’d be off before you could say “Begone snowflake bad loser, disrespecter of the 37%”.

I know the words you’ve just read are the bitter words of impotence and that “there’s no use crying now”. We have to accept and GET OVER IT because we can’t change the democratic will of 37% of the British electorate.

I realise that I’m a treasonous traitorous snowflake for having an opinion, so be it, hollow name-calling is the least of my worries. The country I have lived in for the entirety of my life no longer feels like home.

I have spoken to friends from Europe since June and none of them understand why, or how, Leave won the referendum. It was like a mania swept the country and it doesn’t exactly make you hopeful about what may happen around the metaphorical corner.

So, I may be a treasonous traitorous snowflake and I may no longer have a country but it matters not, I have books to read. quality music to listen to and a Sopranos boxset to devour. It may not look like it but I have also partly disengaged from a situation that was expertly depicted by The Simpsons years before it happened in Britain.

This was the referendum campaign

This is my attitude now, on the days that I’m not in shock or annoyed by the outcome.

We may have unleashed a society of perpetual moaning about garden fence heights, encroaching conifers and the sort of people from Number 26, “See I told you they were weird when they moved in dear!” As far as I’m concerned the Leave voters can have the cesspit of mean-spirited pettiness they have created.

Consequently it’s back to football.

There are too many angry people claiming an interest in football. It’s odd that these people are never angry enough to consider giving up the cause of the anger. It’s baffling that so many people seem unable to deal with the basic facts of football. There are only three possible outcomes of a match and you’ll never win all matches. When you think about it, in the present context football doesn’t really matter a great deal at the end of the day Clive.

When you analyse the process that leads to the so called undying love for a football club it begins with a simple choice; the choice to become interested in a particular club and that is all. Why are individual capable of free-thinking and unburdened by predestination unable to stop their behaviour in an area they’ve chosen to become interested in? Why become angry about a choice you made? You can change your mind, unlike the EU Referendum.





Happy New Year, same as the last

22 01 2017

I love festive football. There’s a chill in the air, a cheer in voices and you’re unsure which day it is. It’s lucky that the Radio Times adds the day to the edge of the page.

Films, tangerines, nuts and football, what a time of the year! You don’t even notice Mrs. Brown’s Boy’s insultingly odious sentimentality or Eastenders’ needlessly depressive fug. I always think back to the joyous time when you could round off a Christmas Day’s TV with The Untouchables or Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I love Christmas because I loved Christmas. I love festive football.

It’s a time of wonderful sensations; the feel of new socks on cold feet, the disappointment caused by the misleading garment specifications on the website that provided your new coat and the sound of a joke with someone you haven’t seen since the last New Year’s Day match.

A Boxing Day match is served to me and it feels relatively good. The rough edges have been smoothed by Christmas cheer. By the final whistle I’ve realised that it’s no better or worse than usual. New Coats, New Socks, same feeling.

The result is immaterial. I’ve still got days off and a trip to Derby the next day. It’s cold but my cold nose reminded me I was alive. What a victory I’d seen well, well I’d seen a victory.

A Piers Morgan tweet about Aaron Ramsey floated out to my timeline. I thought I’d muted the arrogant popinjay. Here comes the block!

It’s Derby on an extra bank holiday. I broke my journey to buy some wax for my new coat in Birmingham. Derby’s an ok place to visit, I suspect that I could call it home. The away fans’ pub offers a welcome toilet break and a quizzical stare or two. It would seem that Birmingham fans have shamelessly ripped off FC United’s songbook.

The ground is better than TV had led you to believe. A middle aged away fan sat in front of me, he wore his jaunty scarf like a World War One fighter ace. There was a flag for every home fan. The match was cold, there was little to stir the soul but it didn’t matter, I still had days off and I’d finally seen a match in Derbyshire. I reached the station in time to get the train home. I may have found a technique to hurry along with cold feet.

The year draws to a close, it is a chance to end a chapter and draw a line in red pen. It’s a natural end to a unit of temporal resolution.

It may be the natural end to a unit of temporal resolution that may have included the death of your mother, political devastation through wilful ignorance and an ominous takeover of your football club.

You may be glad to see the back of the year but you’re nothing special. You’re merely an insect riding a spinning sphere of rock in the infinite void we call space. Nobody cares what you think or feel.

Anyway it’s out with the old in with the new ya miserable get!!! Cheer up and get the drinks in!

New Year’s Day always has the same feel, quiet contemplation. I try to open myself up to waves of hope, what will the new year bring? Positivity rears its head from the undergrowth. A new year, a new unit of temporal resolution, a new chapter in life’s story, new tales for your memoirs.

Stillness lends the first day of the year the air of a prelude to something good, a pregnant pause before the ascent to a better existence, a better life. This year you’ll do it right. The diet, the outlook, the holiday.

As you stand with your mates at the away match in your hometown you know that  this year we’ll do it right, we’ll win the title, we’ll get to Europe,, we’ll win the play-offs, we’ll avoid relegation, we’ll sign some decent players in the transfer window, we’ll keep the same form, we’ll beat teams again.. We’ve had good days since August, we’ll have good days again.

Then you watch Llandudno score a goal that looked preventable. There’s the familiar lurch in your stomach, whereupon the pangs of disappointment neatly segue way to the familiarity of acceptance. Everyone wears a Spirit of ’58 hat.

It turns out the new year is just the same as the previous years in which you’ve existed.

2016 – Watch Football in Cold weather, feel bored, can’t feel fingers.

2017 – Watch Football in Cold weather, feel bored, can’t feel fingers.

I’ll miss more Wales matches, Bangor won’t win the league and Farage’s face will be on the news every day.

You’re still a mere insect on a spinning sphere in the infinite void we call space and still nobody will care what you think or feel.

At least there’ll be new trainers to buy, and more festive football to look forward to.





It’s a wonderful beautiful game!

10 04 2016

Imagine that one Saturday afternoon Claudio the angel gazes down from the celestial plane and sees your humble narrator getting his flymo out of his shed instead of getting ready going to a match.

Knowing your humble narrator as he does this behaviour would strike Claudio as rather odd, being the football season and all. Claudio is a positive sort so he would feel the determined urge to guide your humble narrator back to happiness by travelling down to Earth to ask your humble narrator; “So why do you feel so disillusioned with the beautiful game?

And so our story begins……

Your humble narrator doubted the veracity of the reality he seemed to be experiencing until the assurances of transmogrification and teleportation. He grudgingly accepted the chance to reassess his jaundiced view of “the beautifulest of beautiful games”.

Almost immediately your humble narrator and his celestial companion found themselves in the house of someone that was about to book tickets for a premier league football match. They stood in the background, invisible to those without the power to connect with the spiritual plane, while the man used his phone, he was four weeks away from his desired match.

His resigned air came off in waves, his shoulders spoke of a long wait. He was number 4 in the queue, he checked his computer’s screen for cheap train tickets on the required date. He was number three in the queue, he drummed on the table. He was number two in the queue, he checked the club’s interactive ticket finder on the other tab. He was number one in the queue, he said “Come on!! Come on!!!” under his breath. Then the agent finally asked the golden question.

“Hello sir, how many tickets would you like?”

He was so giddy he can hardly let the words escape from his mouth.

I’d like Two £59 tickets and a £25 ticket for my son please.”

“What’s your customer number sir?”

“It’s 12568”

“Oh I’m sorry sir I’m afraid you haven’t accessed enough privilege points for this match.”

The phone goes click and a taut wrinkled forehead is smoothed. Claudio says “Well, that’s just bad luck.”

Within a second Claudio and  your humble narrator are on the steps of a premier league superground. Everyone is very excited, well who wouldn’t be after spending so much for a ticket!!! A corner kick is about to be taken. They look to the left because two teenagers are singing “We pay your benefits, We pay your benefits!!” towards their northern visitors that won’t possibly be able to hear their social commentary.

A person to their right obscures the view of three others by thrusting a grammatically incorrect bedsheet banner upwards. Several people film the corner kick with electronic devices. “Why is that happening?” asks Claudio. “If I had to guess I’d say the narcissistic impulse to turn their lives into a social media opera” says your humble narrator. Claudio picks up a programme, flicks through it and comments; “What is an Official Lubricants Partner”?

“Oh it means they get a lot of money for acting as a corporate mouthpiece”.

Luckily nobody saw the floating programme. Claudio thought about your humble narrator’s point, looked around and said “Look at how pleased the crowd looks.” Two grown men arose from their seats to taunt the nearby away fans with outstretched arms.

They are suddenly outside another ground, a crowd surrounds a man with a microphone. Everyone seems very angry.

“What’s this we see here?” Claudio asks,

“It’s called FAN TV and we need a computer to view it.”

Your humble narrator and Claudio suddenly appear beside a table with a computer on it. The television is on and it’s showing a match. Caludio knows that your humble narrator doesn’t really watch football on TV anymore but still enquired; “Don’t you want to watch the match?

“No thanks, I can’t seem to get into a televised match these days.”

“Why not?”

“Everything’s annoying. The commentators are annoying, the co-commentators are annoying, the presenters and pundits are annoying, The ex-pros justify cheating with their cynical moral relativism and every match is a corporate sales device with logos everywhere.

Everything’s loud and brash and everyone’s got to be excited about everything all the time. I can’t really stick the highlights programmes either, they’ve all gone downhill. Match of The Day shows more of the pundits’ pointless analysis than match action. Who really cares if soandso was 2 yards too far to the left at one point, it was a bloody goal.”

“Someone like you shouldn’t be moaning, you should be happy. These days there’s more football on TV than ever before and it looks even better than ever……”

“Wall to wall coverage just makes my alienation stronger, you’re made to feel as if you’re obliged to care about this stuff. I’m not being forced to care by an excitable twat.”

Anyway, let’s get back to the point, what is FAN TV?” enquired Claudio.

“I like to call it “football’s latest phenomenon of mass irritation”.

Right on cue they find the clip featuring the Arsenal fan with a bee in his bonnet;“It’s all about the net spend, mate“. They watch angry fan after angry fan, all of them lost in a murderous rage. Claudio was about to ask something but your humble narrator jumped in.

“See that load of crap, that’s people with opinions. Well bugger me with a fishfork, a person…..with an opinion! Big deal, I’ve got one of those, I can hear my own opinion in my own head as I say this. Why the bloody hell would I want to share that? More importantly how would hearing my opinion improve anyone’s life? These angry after defeat ranters have been football’s background noise for a couple of years, the immature attention seekers need to be ignored not given a public platform.

Caludio meekly said “They’re only people expressing opinion though aren’t they?”

“Yes and FAN TV is merely the tip of the Iceberg, let’s look at social media.”

Your humble narrator took Claudio on a tour of twitter. Claudio was immediately rendered speechless by the bestial hated and bellendry confronted him. He recovered to pose a question;

Is it like this often?”

“All the time. It’s a never ending river of human detritus and pointless stupidity. The worst aspect of it is that everyone dismisses their own gruesome behaviour as harmless banter.”

“Yeah but those what do you call those things?…..memes, they’re harmless.”

“They’re not harmless, they’re proof of a society that’s easily pleased with itself. Too many gobshites think that getting the “pithy last word” is a major achievement. Too many gobshites are labouring under the misapprehension that they’re a character in a crappy American sitcom. And another thing, the jokes are shit as well.”

“Yeah but some of the other stuff is useful surely, what about those football stats people”

“How can you explain the beauty of a succession of balletic movements with a string of statistics?” 

“Yeah but these people are harmless.”

“I suppose they are really but Claudio the point is that I’ve grown weary of it all, the tweets, the FAN TV, the proper TV, the newspapers, the perpetual excitement, everyone shouting at each other, the continual “what about them….” arguments, and it’s all deep fired in the banter. I don’t need to read or experience any of it the knowledge that it exists is enough to blunt my interest.

There’s no escape from it. They won’t let you switch off. If you only limit yourself to taking a small interest, like checking social media for 5 minutes, they will somehow still mange to besmirch that with the banter.”

“Really?”

“Yeah they won’t let you switch off from it.  A few weeks ago I had time to kill before I caught a train so I went to the nearest pub for a quick drink. There were four lads around a table. They were loudly chatting about football and their ACCAS whilst looking at the betting apps on their phones. It was wall to wall banter. I was gritting my teeth after two minutes. Football is drowning in the fucking banter, I’m sorry to swear, but I’ve been worn down so much I’ve started  talk myself out of going to matches.”

“Ah yes, this is where I came in, let’s go to one of those matches that you go to.”

Your humble narrator and Claudio appear at a Welsh Premier League match, it was the fifteenth match between the same opponents in three Earth years.

Your humble narrator told Claudio that he should keep an eye on the ostensibly semi-professional number four in blue. Needless to say the clumsy attempt at a sneaky foul on the number seven in red wasn’t too far away, naturally his encore was an attempt to get the number seven booked by diving three minutes later.

Within another five minutes they saw phenomenon of “the communal hey” eight times. Your humble narrator assured Claudio that’s this incantation was merely a tactic employed by ostensibly semi-professional teams to try and pressurize the referee into seeing things their way rather than an ancient fertility rite.

Claudio saw one of the managers signal to one of his ostensibly semi-pro players to venture to the furtherest side of the pitch from the bench. 30 seconds later he had a new role; the player that was being substituted. They both saw how he proved the elasticity of time with his pedestrian tribute to the sloth!

So Caludio says “Ahhhh, I see why you’re disillusioned now. This ostensibly semi-professional football supposedly represents the antidote to paucity of moral cleanliness in “proper football” but it’s merely a pale imitation of “proper football”.”

“Yes, that’s it perfectly. To me, the events that we’ve just seen, that is football, the infuriating and soul destroying pandemic called football. That’s the reason I’ve started to wonder if I could do without football. The vague air of dissatisfaction probably started with the time I wanted to go to a match somewhere and I was obliged to go through the hassle of buying cheap train tickets and the rigmarole of registering to buy match tickets for a particular match. When the awaited day arrived I was confronted by a late running train with standing room only and a half empty ground. I persevered with Bangor matches and what have I ended up with? Fifteen matches against the same club in 3 years in a league that no-one cares about.”

“Yeah but aren’t there times when you get some enjoyment of football?”

“Well I suppose there are times when I can still have a laugh with my mates and the odd occasions I remember some brilliant piece of skill are the very rare times I go to a match and everything feels fantastic. For example I went to watch Sampdoria recently. I’d waited twenty five years to go there, every since I got The Football Grounds of Europe book for Christmas, and the evening was everything I’d expected; the architectural masterpiece, the packed streets and bars, the noise, the atmosphere, the fireworks, the social identity, the vibrant foreign culture. I haven’t felt so content in a long time. It lasted days. Then I read some angry tweets.

I don’t know what football will become either. Thirty years football looked like it was about to become a prohibited social activity but the fans kept the sport going by going to matches. These days a lot of those 1980s fans and their families are being ostracised by those that want to make money. The supreme irony is that the people who are prostituting football don’t value the people that made their behaviour possible in the first place by keeping the sport going.

And what like of people have replaced the expendable? Tourists and the sort of people that will willingly choose to pay £45 so they can let the world know they’re angry about paying £45 via a message on a bedsheet, the kind of people that will cry to catch the attention of TV cameraman.

The rubbish sullies all of the finer feelings that I attribute to football. It doesn’t matter how serene I feel I’ll inevitably become aware of the braindead tweets, the unending banter and the cynicism of those in control of football. No matter how hard you try you can’t escape the gross pantomime that football has become.

“There’s nothing I can say that will change your mind?”

“Nothing really. I prefer watching films these days, films never let you down.”

With that Claudio returned to his spiritual plane and your humble narrator returned to mowing his front lawn and perpetual domestic bliss.

 

If you’d like to read more about the scourge of fan TV read this, this and this. The last post contains the line “Equating commercial involvement with a lack of authenticity is disingenuous….”





Problems with that modern football number 45 – “The silky smokescreen”

26 08 2015

When I first went to London the Underground’s massive adverts were one of my landmarks. Their gaudiness assaulted me at first but they soon developed a warmly familiar feel. There was no Imperial War Museum in the cultural hinterland of north Wales so the ads quickly faded.

As an older and theoretically wiser person I can see adverts for what they are; brightly coloured attempts at bullshitting rather than brightly coloured public art. Their only purposes are antiseptic image projection for toxic companies and the creation of demand for stuff that human evolution doesn’t require.

Nowadays multinationals place brilliant adverts in today’s underground, and everywhere else, to tell us just how tame their pet sport is.

SKY 2

sKY 3

sKY 4

SKY 5

SKY 6

SKY 7

Being the home of the premier league is a multi-media thing.

sky 8

We should all play their game and unveil blog posts that unveil our favourite #PLmoments™. I could certainly have a lovely time placing all those #PLmoments™  into a top ten as there are so many fabulous #PLmoments™  to choose from! There’s the first £1000 season ticket, there’s the first throw in that teenaged millionaires argued over, there’s Jermaine Defoe’s demand for a personal assistant. THERE’S…..PEAK……BANTER!!!!!

After much ado about literally nothing I’d probably plump for two top top top #PLmoments™. The first would be the fact that multinationals love The Banter nearly as much as their own hype.

The second would be football’s changing place in the cynicism of the mutinationals. The media conglomerate that now owns British football used to view football differently when didn’t have a product to sell.

sun 1

The Times once described football thus;

“We football fans are living in strange times. Those of us who stood on the terraces during the Dark Age — an era when football was famously summed up by this newspaper as a “slum sport played in slum stadiums increasingly watched by slum people” — feel as if we have been transported back to the bad old 1980s, to the “game that time forgot”.

The multinationals slick contempt for us should be reciprocated but their approach is tolerated.

I recently went to watch Chelsea. Before the match people were more anxious to have their photo taken with images of millionaire players advertising the products of multinational official partners than realise there was a statue of Peter Osgood behind them. In the multinational world the gloriously moribund present has as much worth as the hard earned past.

P1470076

To paraphrase John Lydon, ever feel you’ve been cheated? I believe in better than this subscription funded circus.





Problem with that modern football number 44 – “Erm, which hipster club is your hipster club?”

20 08 2015

According to this quiz there are…

“…several ways to spot a football hipster; casually dropping positional nuggets such as ‘trequartista’ and ‘enganche’ into regular conversation, turning up to 5-a-side wearing a classic AC Milan shirt from 1984 or openly declaring that Giuseppe Signori was the most under-appreciated genius of his age are just a few. That leads us quite nicely on to this personality quiz aimed at letting you know just how hipster you are when it comes to your footballing tastes. You may surprise yourself.”

I did the quiz and here was my result;

Result: New York City FC

What this says about you: A newbie to the game. You have no idea what you’re doing, saying or shouting most of the time, but you know you like it. You were once overheard shouting “get in the hole!” during a World Cup game last year. You don’t live and die by your team, but whoever you support has been carefully chosen as much as a lifestyle choice as it has to do with glory-hunting.

Hipster factor: 4/10

That description was so bespoke I did the quiz again. This time the result was;

Result: Real Oviedo

What this says about you: Football is about ritual and community for you. Getting up on Saturday morning, going to the same pub before the game with the same people, cheering on your side come rain, shine or snow.

Hipster factor: 10/10

By answering three questions differently I’d gone from the most detestable specimen in football to the epitome of honour. What a foolproof personality test. Here are some of the other options I uncovered by answering in random patterns.

Result: Roma

What this says about you: Supporting a football team isn’t all about success for you. A full-time match-goer, you put your money where your mouth is when it comes to following your side up and down the breadth of the country and that makes you a knowledgeable fan on everything from the opposition’s youth-team left-back to which ground does the best bacon sarnie.

Hipster factor: 5/10

Result: Lyon

What this says about you: Not afraid to go off the beaten track somewhat when it comes to digesting your daily intake of football. You tipped Chile to win the 2015 Copa América and your all-time favourite player is Demetrio Albertini.

Hipster factor: 5/10

Result: Borussia Dortmund

What this says about you: Loyal to a fault. You enjoy life, taking it as it comes, the rough with the smooth. Friendly to strangers, welcoming to old friends. The game is as much about community and experiences as it is winning for you.

Hipster factor: 6/10

Result: St Pauli

What this says about you: A lover of how the beautiful game brings the community together: you’re the ultimate fan. You can’t think of anything better than watching your team at the weekend in a ground that allows you to stand and belt your favourite chants out for the full 90 minutes.

Hipster factor: 9/10

Result: Boca Juniors

What this says about you: Maniacally passionate. You’re never happier than when found in a corner of a pub d̶e̶b̶a̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ranting at someone on why the role of the trequartista is a dying art in the modern game and how football has lost its ephemeral magic.

Hipster factor: 8.5/10

Result: Athletic Club

What this says about you: Gumption. Pluck. Resourcefulness. Shrewd. No, this isn’t a film noir, but these are the sort of qualities that any c̶l̶u̶b̶ person should aspire to have and you’ve got them by the bucketload. Loyalty to your neighbourhood is a given.

Hipster factor: 7/10

Result: Swansea

What this says about you: While others may have flashier jobs, more money, expensive things to show off, you’re the person people gravitate towards and want to actually hang out with.

Hipster factor: 7.5/10

Result: Ajax

What this says about you: A creative thinker, not bound by the daily grind and rigours of work. Not afraid to try new things. You definitely had a gap year and have been to Amsterdam more than 12 times before you turned 21.

Hipster factor: 5/10

I know that this sort of fluff is just a bit of fun to pass a few minutes but that doesn’t mean it should exist. Surely there are better outlets for creative energy than this clickbait.

People are never adequately described by these glib reinforcements of stereotypes. Football fans don’t generally rant – in the a corner of a pub or anywhere else – about the decline of [Insert zeitgeisty term here]. I haven’t seen anyone argue about football since I was in school.

I know loads of people that like football but I don’t know many hipsters, I’ve always known people that have vague interests in “exotic” clubs for esoteric reasons but I’m not sure they’re hipsters. I can’t say I’m a hundred percent sure about what constitutes a football hipster, I’m not sure the author is clear about the subject either. A person with a 10/10 hipster rating is described thus;

“Football is about ritual and community for you. Getting up on Saturday morning, going to the same pub before the game with the same people, cheering on your side come rain, shine or snow.” 

A person with a 4/10 hipster rating is described thus;

“You have no idea what you’re doing, saying or shouting most of the time, but you know you like it. You were once overheard shouting “get in the hole!” during a World Cup game last year. You don’t live and die by your team, but whoever you support has been carefully chosen as much as a lifestyle choice as it has to do with glory-hunting.”

Of those two descriptions the second one seems to be closer to “hipster”, seeing as a hipster’s shallow existence can be defined by the phrase “something carefully chosen as a lifestyle choice”. Besides that, Swansea, a hipster club?

If the increasingly popular conceit behind the quiz – vibrant organic football cultures tranformed into mere content providers – wasn’t bad enough the bluffers behind the quiz are Squawka. Squawka used to be the self proclaimed world’s best authority on football knowledge through the application of pseudo science but now they’re the kind of bluffers that want to branch out in to the public sector. Beware the enlightened bluffers.





Mate, mate, mate!!!!!! Friday night is footy night mate. LOL!!!!

12 12 2014

Earlier today the premier league announced their plans to televise Friday evening matches from 2016. Some people like the idea;

@SimonClark8 – “Friday night football is the next logical step for the @premierleague. Happens in most European countries. Good way to start a weekend!”

@ayush_1901 – Great that PL will have Friday late nights rather Monday. Don’t need to wake up on Saturday anyway. PL putting fans interest first :P”

@darren_tenerife – “@richardajkeys The exiting news from the UK is premier league games on a Friday night from 2016 and a massive 168 televised games a year.”

Those with a soul don’t like the idea. Labour’s Andy Burnham tweeted this;

Can’t believe they now want Premier League on Friday nights. Yet again, football puts interests of armchair fans over those who go the game.”
Those that like the idea replied;
@HarryCNN – @andyburnhammp Considering that ratio is 50,000 or so at the game compared to around a billion or more watching on TV, isn’t it fair enough?”
@jarekd“@andyburnhammp @mattslaterbbc erm, Friday night games would surely be more popular for uk tourism than a Monday night??”
Needless to say the gobshites also replied;
@ChrisRogers123 – @andyburnhammp Typical Champagne socialist. Forget those who can’t afford to go. Nob.”
@WaheemSterling – @andyburnhammp ”Armchair fans” are the ones who put over £1bn TV money into the Premier League”

@NealKinsman · @andyburnhammp we pay are broadband to watch it so why shouldn’t they you bellend.”

@MrTempletonPeck @andyburnhammp @martynziegler I’m an armchair fan. Are you against people like me?”
This is what those of us with a soul have to deal with. If the lack of social conscience or feeling for football culture and history isn’t bad enough there’s the overbearing sense of entitlement. If I was Mr. Burnham I’d have sent @MrTempletonPeck this reply;
“I am against people like you because philistines like you are unaware you’ve strangled the humane spirit of football.”

Sadly I’m not Mr. Burnham. Can you imagine watching the match down the pub with “these people”.  While you’re trying to watch the red hot footy action they’d be creating memes or pestering you for the banter every 30 seconds. Call me mad if you like but I actually like to listen to the critical voices in my head and quaff my pint of fizzy cider in peace. Hell is other people.

Just when you think you’re out, they push you further away. It’s a good job the premier league no longer needs me.





Seedy Blatterworld doesn’t like flags that are “too political”

3 09 2014

UEFA have recently fined Celtic, Saint Johnstone and Dundalk thousands of Euros because their fans displayed the Palestinian flag during European matches. UEFA used Article 16 (2) (e) of their “Disciplinary Regulations on Order and Security” to prosecute these clubs.

Article 16 (2) (e) states:

“All associations and clubs are liable for the following inappropriate behaviour on the part of their supporters and may be subject to disciplinary measures and directives.

“The use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious or provocative nature will not be tolerated.”

I wasn’t aware of Article 16 (2) (e) until a few weeks ago yet now I wonder whether I’ll embroil Bangor City in a costly diplomatic incident with another display like this.

Dec 5 005

Let’s look at Article 16 (2) (e) ‘s hollow words again.

“The use of gestures, words, objects or any other means to transmit any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious or provocative nature will not be tolerated.”

UEFA are so concerned about preventing messages that are not fit for a sporting event they allow McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Gazprom to sponsor their events.

 





You’re targetting the wrong person chaps.

16 08 2014

Come August people interested in football are patronized by every other advert they encounter, the advertising industry thinks football fans are nothing more than flock of unthinking sheep.

Exhibit one

Aug 9 013

No-one loves the modulations and discordant notes of free-form football more than the special one. Oh yes, if there’s one person in the world of football that loves unpredictability it’s José Mourinho the spirit-crushing master tactician, the genius that can plan literally every second of a football match. You can tell that Jose loves unpredictability during the convivial interviews after Chelsea defeats.

Exhibit two

Aug 13 063

It seems that Murdoch’s TV channel doesn’t merely pay for the broadcast rights to the Spanish league, without them Real Madrid wouldn’t exist.

Exhibit three

Murdoch’s tabloid sized comic claims to literally “feel football”.

The Sun accepts love hurts in ‘We Feel Football’ campaign ahead of Premier League return

The devotion and emotional turmoil football fans experience, week in, week out, takes centre stage in The Sun’s latest TV ad ahead of the Premier League kick off on Saturday 16 August.

Created by Grey London, part of WPP’s Team News, the creative aims to promote The Sun’s football coverage and introduces a new line that will underpin the newspaper’s football-based communications throughout the season – ‘We Feel Football’.

The centrepiece TV advert is set to 1970s power ballad ‘Love Hurts’ by Nazareth, giving recognition to the fact that in football for every winner there must be a loser and for every moment of ecstasy there are equal moments of despair.

“For a large number of Sun readers, the back page is their front page. We speak for the football lovers, with an insatiable, endless appetite for the game – despite having their hopes built up and then crushed, time and time again. And yet, they always come back for more. As always, The Sun provides a voice and an active support for the fans – in print, in digital and on video – and we, like the fans, feel football,” explained David Robinson, marketing director at The Sun.

Pulse’s Martin Kalina directed the 60 second flagship snapshot of the heartbreak felt by those with a blind love for the beautiful game, with 30 second edits also set to run.

Of Kalina’s work Dave Monk, deputy ECD at Grey London, said: “We wanted a director who really understood the tragedy and raw emotions of the football fan. Fresh from experiencing a heartbreaking defeat in the World Cup Final, Argentinian director Martin Kalina brought a load of talent and a bucketful of tears with him.”

In addition to the TV creative a 10 second spot reminding fans of The Sun Goals app will also run alongside a 10 second spot promoting The Sun’s ‘Dream Team’.

A dedicated Scottish Sun TV campaign, which includes Scottish Sun columnists and former footballers David Provan and Andy Goram, will air north of the border.

We all know that Murdoch’s tabloid-sized comic has always “felt football”.

the-sun-the-truth

I’m not a fucking sheep marketing dickheads.





The power of advertising

31 07 2014

You can see some wonderful adverts when you’re sat in Rhyl bus station.

Jul 31 046

God bless television!!!

Jul 31 044

God bless television again!!! I’m not saying they hype things up but how was the match featured in the advert “season defining”? According to the internet the word “define” is defined as;

1. state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.
2. mark out the boundary or limits of.

I’m not quite sure how that match marked out a boundary or a limit and I’m not sure how it described the nature, scope or meaning of last season either. I didn’t watch it so I’ll assume that it was a “good match” due to the scoreline.

We need a bit more truth in football related advertising. The Man Utd advert should have said;

“Look maggots, just forget that your pathetic local football club exists, come and pay us for some reflected glamour instead.”.

It would have been beautiful if the BT advert had said ;

“Please buy a BT sport subscription as you may be lucky enough to see some good matches. Obviously there’s a chance you might also see a few goalless draws but I’m afraid that’s the luck of the draw. Football matches rapidly evolve because they are reactive to the single events that happen within the matches”

If only That Modern Football could handle the truth.

 

 





The banter doesn’t work – THE FACTS!!!!!!!

9 07 2014

Last night’s 7-1 football feast definitively proved that “The Banter” doesn’t work.

Cast your mind to the day when Spain were knocked out knocked of Blatter’s world cup a couple of weeks ago. If you’re like me you can still taste the bile that rose when this twat and his fucking tablet appeared on our television screens;

BqcOGo9CUAAEkGo

If anything’s an avatar for what’s wrong with that modern football it’s him.

Last night I prayed that the camera would capture him rocking slowly backwards and forwards in his seat, his once prisitine yellow shirt ruined by a dripping mix of tear water and facepaint. This scene would have been the highlight of my world cup. Sadly the camera didn’t find him, and to put it frankly, I feel cheated.

Last season two things happened amongst many other things. Firstly Manchester United managed not qualified for Europe for the first time in ages. Secondly Aberystwyth Town managed to qualify for Europe for the second time in their history. Naturally the person that controls Aberystwyth Town’s official twitter account saw an opportunity to use “The Banter”.

10478169_599644196816475_6563568437640604583_n

10458356_602192623228299_2856794851699651940_n

Those with a sense of humour proclaimed legendary banter, those with an ability to use polysyllabic words despaired. Having said that Twitter doesn’t have the space for;

 “Manchester United had a tough transitional season under two different managers whereas Aberystwyth qualified for Europe mainly because they were lucky enough to draw a third tier team in their Welsh Cup semi final and then play the already qualified for Europe Welsh champions in the Welsh Cup final”.

Twitter obviously can’t handle the truth. Anyway, Aberystwyth lost 4-0 away to Derry City, you know just like Manchester United would not have done.

Judging by this banter-driven bollocks Aber’s officials need to be more careful with their time.

 





A scientific analysis of England v Italy

17 06 2014

I’ve decided to give the moaning a rest today so that I can devote myself to humanity. This is my rather cumbersome way of saying that I will be using the venture science of football statistical analysis (VSoFSA) to prove how Italy beat England.

After lengthy use of the VSoFSA I can categorically prove why Italy beat England. In fact my VSoFSA skills are so finely tuned I can cut through the needless waffle to show you the exact point at which Italy were able to win.

Here is that moment;

Balotelli, 2

Here it is from another scientific angle, thus proving the scientific rigour of my work

Balotelli, 3

This work is not just based on the naked eye of your uncritical layman, your neanderthal football watchers, it has a firm basis in VSoFSA. Here is the proof via some scienfific diagrams.

Here’s the scene a second before the “Goal Creating Cross From A Position Of Maximum Goalscoring Chance Creation Efficacy Point” (or “GCCFAPOMGCCEP” to those in the know) arrived.

pitch 5

Here’s the scene just after the “GCCFAPOMGCCEP” arrived.

Football-Pitch-hd-wallpaper-hd-wallpaper-1440x900-3-52823d4dd6199-9528

Here’s an added heat map for further scientific rigour.

pitch 4

It ain’t easy being a venture scientist but it is very rewarding.





How to create a small football related internet buzz

14 06 2014

a.k.a “Fun with the cross of St. George during Blatter’s world cup!!!”

Follow these easy to follow “nine easy steps” to create a small internet buzz.

1. Get on the BANTERBUS

2. Set up a fake profile on social media

3. Compose an “authentic looking” message.

4. Post the “authentic looking” message.

5. Post the “authentic looking” message even though it contains grammatical and spelling issues that would be obvious to a chimp with ALN.

6. Post the “authentic looking” message, even though it’s meant to appear as though it was written by a quasi-official football club body.

7. Yeah just post the bloody thing!!!!

Bp17vi1IIAAxwR5

8. Watch angry idiots react

@danieldavidson2 11h – The Arsenal supporters trust must be on glue,bunch of wrongins to say the least

@LRMacaulay Jun 12 – @Arsenal banning St. George’s flag from the Emirates! That’s an absolute disgrace, your a top ENGLISH side and should be proud! Disgusting!

@Chapalar Jun 12 – The Arsenal Supporters Trust need to seriously reevaluate there existence.

@preece_wwfc Jun 12 – Arsenal supporters trust calling for the st georges flag to be banned. Yeah, fuck yourself 🙂

@MJOWLS Jun 12 – @piersmorgan is it true Arsenal Supports Trust has banned the St George flag? It’s a disgrace if it is especially the reason they’re stating

     @badmanbugs1981 Jun 11 – @Tabukjohnny @BADMANBILL1980 you fucking scummy cunts fuck wot anyone else thinks fly ur flag cunt! #Arsenal

@DMANUTC Jun 11 – Arsenal supporters trust are so sore with their st George’s cross offending others bollocks!!!!

@OfficialJFeeley Jun 11 – How proud you must be to be an #Arsenal fan. Your own supporters trust trying to get the #StGeorgeflag banned scum

@pitchtalk Jun 11 – ‘Don’t be a drag, ban the flag’, PC gone mad from @Arsenal supporters trust (AST) banning flags from the Emirates?

@barmy1967 Jun 11 – Arsenal supporters trust call for there fans to not fly George cross .. Arsenal by name arseholes by nature shameful

@BCAFCste Jun 11 – Arsenal supporters trust are a joke

@adiesmith64 Jun 11 – If that is a true statement from the Arsenal Supporters Trust, I find that very offensive as an Englishman

@TyeMack Jun 11 – Fuck off!!! Fly the flag with pride! #ENGLAND

@gwalker1312 Jun 11 – Tell u what Arsenal fans should boycott their ground fucking shameful that in England at a game u can,t fly the England flag

@LukeThompsett Jun 10 – @NoHazardNoParty @JACKACTION27 absolute cunts if they don’t like our flag fuck off simple we live in England crazy shit typical arsenal

@Lt_Andrewsy Jun 10 – @dphartshorne wtf is that arsenal flag Ban thing, about?! That’s a disgrace.

@C_Mcfc Jun 10 – @PartInterested @TweetsGodfrey Have a look at the picture I posted from Arsenal supporters trust! These left wing cunts are embarrassing!!

@JustDogsWorld Jun 10 – @Nadalena @zigga01 its the national flag of the country arsenal get money from? its the Englsh league?? political correctness isnt! simple.

@t_i_m_s_k_i_n Jun 10 – @CarlTHFC just seen it on Facebook. No matter if it’s arsenal or anyone else it’s not racist to fly your flag.

@DuckieLewis Jun 10 – @cp_1979 biggest load of Shite I’ve ever heard that arsenal flag ban. It will b some daft p*** talking shite

 @_Rancid Jun 10 – @AST_arsenal are you for real about banning our national flag? You’re the problem & the reason things like this become an issue, cunts

“Anne Lyons” wrote this on facebook – I understand that Arsenal Supporters Trust are supporting banning flying the flag of St George from the Emirates as it offends many ethnic minority communities and urging people not to fly it at all.
This is absolutely disgusting. Are you an ENGLISH football club or not.

9. Alight from the BANTERBUS at the next stop.

 

The Reality

1. The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust do not have an account on Facebook.

All information is published on this website and the official Twitter account.

2. Arsenal sell England flags in their club shop.

 

You can see why UKIP gained so many votes.

 

Thanks to @the_itch1980 for pointing me in this direction.





My Squawka Trio. Number 3 – Why Steven Gerrard isn’t suited to a Quarter Back role

15 02 2014

The scientific football data analysis community has been filled by a lot of talk in the last fortnight.

Exactly 3.2% of this talk has concerned with the “withdrawn trequartista versus overblown false number 6 debate“, another 4% has been related to “Statistical models and the 1950s champions league“. The remaining 92.8% of it has been devoted to the “Steven Gerrard Quarter Back Role in That Modern Football” debate.

The last  issue is so hot it is quite literally the pomme de terre chaud du jour in That Modern Football. While we’re able to agree that Gerrard’s body won’t allow him to play the expansive and athletic style of old we can’t all agree about this “Quarter Back role“.

I’m firmly in the no side of the debate brigade, and here’s why.

Let’s start off with a couple of lovely heat maps because they are the stained glass windows for the 21st century’s peasants. (What I mean here is that the heat maps are like the stained glass windows in medieval churches in that they help the illiterate peasants of our age understand the stories and issues of our time. I say this just in case you couldn’t understand the intellectual reference I was making.)

These heat maps shows that the “Quarter Back Role” will seriously inhibit Gerrard’s natural talents. He’ll go from this;

pitch 2

To this;

american football

These heat maps prove that employing Gerrard in the will seriously restrict his movement. The “Quarter Back Role”  won’t allow Gerrard to use his undoubted natural gifts.

There are other compelling arguments against deploying Gerrard in the “Quarter Back Role”. Firstly the role will force him to wear the wrong kit. A real Quarter Back Wears this when he plays.

tom-brady

Gerrard doesn’t even wear a helmet when he plays.

stevie_2456895b

Again the “Quarter Back Role” will negate his abundant natural gifts.

Lastly, while it can be argued that the real Quarter Back’s defining qualities and a humdrum midfielders’ defining qualities are one and the same – they’re both defined by their ability to pick the right pass – there are subtle differences between the two roles.

Someone fulfilling the real Quarter Back role generally uses their hand to pass the ball.

USATSI_7377659

When Gerrard fulfills “the humdrum midfielder role” he generally uses his feet to pass the ball.

Steven%20Gerrard%20of%20England%20in%20action-845032

If Gerrard used his hands to pass the ball in a match he would concede at least a free kick and a yellow, and possibly a penalty and a red card, because picking the ball up is a deliberate contravention of the laws of football. What would be the point in Gerrard picking the ball up? Where is the efficiency?

To sum up, Steven Gerrard is just not suited to the “Quarter Back Role” as defined by my colleagues in the scientific football data analysis community.

I don’t mean to make it sound as this unsuitedness is inevitable but the industrial mindset of the football authorities inevitably make this unsuitedness inevitable.

Hopefully the scientific football data analysis community will have its way. Hopefully the pressure we can exert on the powers will destroy the pre-industrial mindset that pollutes football. The world deserves to see a type of football that’s unashamedly modern. The world deserves a type of football where there is equality between bodily parts.

Join the quest for equality!!

I have spoken, let that be an end to matter.





My Sqauwka Trio. Number 2 – Why Pele wasted his energy and was a bit overrated really

14 02 2014

Man’s common wisdom likes to tells us that Pelé was one of the greatest ever footballers that’s ever played the beautiful game, or that he was the best footballer that’s ever played the beautiful game.

Society has come to think like this because of the misguided hoi polloi and the misplaced wisdom of laymen. In other words we should disregard this accepted wisdom. There are two good reasons why we should disregard it all.

Firstly, unquestionably believing the common sense of the general public, the ideas the general public just puts out there when they speak their brains, is bad for society. When we believe their lack of thinking we abdicate our responsibility for intellectual rigour. By propagating their falsehoods we substitute logic for folklore.

When society trusts common sense in this way I like to call it “The Tyranny of the Laymen“. We are living in the 21st century so we shouldn’t allow intellectually inferior layman to create the wrong pictures for society. Society will never progress if laymen do our thinking for us. Come on people we don’t live in the middle ages any more!

Secondly, Pelé was a bit, how shall I put it?…….overrated. He may have played in 4 world cups, he may have won 2 world cups and he may have scored over a 1000 goals, but was this a good enough record? Could he have done better? Could he have done more? My exhaustive research tells me that he could done more if he had been bothered.

I use my status of venture scientist to work stuff out for all of us, I do it for the sake of logic and understanding. I do it for our human development. Consequently this short post will deliver another valuable discovery for humanity from the venture science of football data analysis.

Basically, I have managed to isolate the main reason why Pelé didn’t do as well as he could have; I can state quite categorically that he didn’t do as well as he should have because he generally wasted his energy.

The logic is clear here, if he’d have conserved more of his energy he could have done even more. For example he could have played in the more world cups than any other player, he could have played in a magical 6 world cups, rather than a humdrum 4 world cups.

Reality backs me up. Pelé played in the NASL until he retired in 1977 because he was “too tired”. If he’d have adopted our regime in the 1970s he could have played in two more world cups, Germany 1974 and Argentina 1978. Brazil would have done better at these world cups with a fit Pelé.

I think we can also safely say that if he’d conserved his energy in the he wouldn’t have sustained injuries in 1962 of 1966 world cups. A fit Pelé would have been in the starting line-up for the 1962 final and would have helped Brazil to reach the 1966 world cup final, where they would’ve beaten England. Pelé would have had at least two extra world cup medals with our regime and who’s’ to say what would have been achieved in the ’74 and ’78 world cups?

The logic is clear; the constant attempts to be the centre of attention, to be the hero, led to a greater amount of exertion through strenuous activity. The scientific football data analysis community has directly established the following cycle to explain this problem;

“Strenuous activity directly leads to greater tiredness > Greater tiredness directly leads to a lowering of one’s ability to anticipate nasty challenges > Other players hurt you > You miss matches because of the injuries you suffered.”

There are plenty of examples to show that Pelé was too fond of superfluous movement. Take his famous miss against Uruguay in 1970, some laymen regard this as an example of Brazil’s beautiful game, other laymen marvel at how Brazilians even try to miss goals in a beautiful manner, yet more laymen marvel as the audacious thinking behind such a movement.

These intellectual pygmies just don’t get it. He should have scored, I repeat, HE SHOULD HAVE SCORED.

Pelé should have scored but his pointless commitment to the so-called “Beautiful Game” cost his team a goal.

Just look at the way he dummied the keeper and then missed;

Pele 4Pele 2Pele 3Pele 1pele 5

Look at the first photo. It would have been far more efficient if he had merely taken the ball to the goalkeepers’ left and then round around him.

What good did all that showing off do? He missed with a shot, Brazil only won 3-1 instead of at least 4-1 and Brazil’s world ranking suffered. This catastrophe all sprang from that one piece of needless showing off. Everyone suffered because Pelé couldn’t control his exuberant “show off personality”.

You can see how he liked showing off in this picture. Look at him showing off by trying to play in goal to prove how great he is in all positions.

Pele GK

The other trouble with Pelé is that he just wasn’t selfless enough.

Now for the scientific proof that he did too much. In a famous behind the scenes video at a heavily fortified training camp Pele introduced the world to his serious plan for beating other sides; HE would do it all.

With the aid of a blackboard and chalk, he claimed that all his side would have to do is give him the ball in the penalty area his side was defending. Then he would go to work. He grabbed the chalk from the bewildered English coach and exclaimed “I do this, this, this, this, goal!” Whilst he exclaimed he drew what we now consider to be “a scientific diagram” of how this fantastic goal would happen;

pitch 1

It wasn’t really a scientific diagram because Pele was only an intuitive scientist, it takes a proper scientific football data analyst to create a properly scientific diagram.

Anyway the diagram’s contents proves that it wasn’t a scientific diagram. It may looks pretty but it depicts a useless and inefficient way of thinking about football. Just look at that, what a waste of effort that would have been. Dribbling may look good on the eye of laymen and he might have scored but how many dribbles like this end up with a goal? No more than 3 a season, that’s how many.

This is Pelé all over, his modus operandi was always wasted energy and my criticism doesn’t need to go further than the famous “WEWEWOoMSPaAP Principle” – “Wasted Energy + Wasted Efficiency = Wasted Opportunities of Maximum Scoring Potential and Associated Problems”. If you don’t buy this idea of wasted energy causing problems just look at Pelé’s heat map from the 1970 world cup final, everyone loves an argument-stopping heat map;

pitch 2

Just to underline the point let’s look at the way Pelé attacked in the 1970s world cup semi final against Uruguay, to be blunt he attacked from anywhere and everywhere;

pitch 3

Pelé could have done more and he could have been even better if he’d have worked more efficiently but sadly for Pelé we scientific football data analysts weren’t around when he was in his prime. If we had been around we could have shown him where he could have improved his efficiency. This scientific diagram would have helped him;

fOOTBALL PITCH

If he’d have focused his energy in working in the shaded area he would have played longer, if he’d have limited his forward thrusts to the areas shown by arrows he would have scored even more.

Pelé would have scored even more if he’d have limited himself to the attacking movements indicated, especially when coupled to the strength retaining movements of the shaded areas but they didn’t have the venture science of scientific football data analysis in the 1970s so he wouldn’t have known about it.

Anyway I think I’ve proved through the venture science of football data analysis that Pelé wasn’t quite as good as he, or we, once thought he was.

Bow down before me, for I am a genius.





My Squawka trio. 1. Why goalkeepers are now the last line of defence

13 02 2014

This post will represent the scientific proof behind the idea that goalkeepers have become the last line of defence in the defensive third of a football match.

I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I was literally the first devotee of the venture science of football data analysis to spot this trend, and I was shrewd enough to view it at what was considered to be the embryonic stage.

My pioneering steps weren’t a surprise to me. I knew something was going to happen even though no-one else could see it. As soon as I bought a ticket I knew that I would be glad that I was the only scientific football data analyst with enough nous to buy a ticket for that Scotland international in 2010.

A scientific football data analyst loves nothing more than being “in on the ground floor”, or “parked in the basement garage” if they’ve used their “Analysis Mobile”, of a new concept’s architecture. Scientific football data analysts love to experience that intoxicating mixture of awe, disbelief and dumbfoundedness that comes with discovery.

Just before that special Hampden Park kick off I saw that the goalkeeper was standing behind what had been traditionally called “The Defensive Unit”. This was very much a case of Hello gloriously heady cocktail!!” 

My new discovery came at just the right time for That Modern Football. In the year 2010 the term “The Defensive Unit” was looking a little stale – the term had been coined in the decaying carcass of the post-pre-post industrial era of football watching (1992-2008), an era also known as the “Slightly Pre-That Modern Football Era” – so things were due for an update. I gazed at the bewildering sight from my seat and felt the unmistakable feeling that I was watching football evolution in progress.

Here’s a scientific diagram that depicts what I saw.

gk 1

As you can see, the teams lined up and Scotland’s goalkeeper was, in effect, now being deployed as deepest lying defender of the Scottish team.

I was so transfixed by the pre-kick off revelation I was forced to intensely study the Scottish goalkeeper’s positioning throughout the whole match. During the match I noticed that the goalkeeper remained behind “The Defensive Unit” at all times. If the goalkeeper moved forward, so did the defenders.  I knew I was watching something special, this really was the evolution of tactical thinking! “The Defensive Unit” had become “The Defensive Unit + 1”.

Here’s another scientific diagram that acts as proof;

GK 2

The chap next to me spoke in mostly garbled English but I managed to make out a few words, “KEEP YOUR SHAPE!!!” was one of the more intelligible phrases. After he repeated the phrase a few times I realised that this new way of doing things had a name.

Wait a minute, if they had a term for it that could only mean they’d been using this idea for a bit in Scotland! So Scotland was teaching football another lesson about itself. This was how Columbus felt as he set foot on that Caribbean beach!

That was then, this is now. Scotland may have been the pioneers but now everyone was “Keeping their shape” with “The Defensive Unit +1”. Nowadays any seasoned scientific football data analyst worth their salt only needs to refer to a tiny proportion of their full match library on their generic television programme recording devices to understand how far the trend has reached. The goalkeeper is now the last line of defence in a truly universal sense.

The reason for its universality is the mingling of two concepts in That Modern Football; “The Shape” being one and “The Line” being the other. The army of scientific football data analysts helped those two concepts become symbiotic.

I will now digress. The symbiosis of “The Line” and “The Shape” goes back to that old cliché about shapes; “In the world of shapes the line is king”.  The venture science created by scientific football data analysts – linear shape conceptualisation – has conclusively proven that without lines shapes could not exist.

The beauty of “The Line” not only lies within configuration’s beauty, or the aesthetic art it allows to flourish, it’s beauty also lies within that fact that like all truly great art “The Line” synthesises form and function in perfection.

“The Line” is, quite simply, the most effective organisation system in That Modern Football. However the true beauty of “The Line” lies in the fact that within That Modern Football “The Line” is no ordinary static configuration, “The Line” is a flexible configuration; the players need the flexibility and mental capacity to make it work the most beautiful organising concept in the history of football.

In order to link “The Line” to “The Shape” we must remember that That Modern Football requires an organising concept to flourish. An organising concept is needed for a very simple reason; in That Modern Football everybody tries to score. The following scientific diagram proves this fact;

GK 3

The diagram also shows the clear triangular link between “The Line”, “The Shape” and the goalkeeper becoming the new last line of defence. This triangular link has led to a circular logic in the defensive logic of That Modern Football;

Everyone has started shooting at the keeper because he’s become the last line of defence but he has only become the last line of defence because everyone has started shooting at him.

I will try and clarify this so you can understand football batter. Because the goalkeeper has become the last line of defence he therefore he needs the protection of “The Shape” and “The Line”.

I see the problems posed for the layman’s understanding of the beautiful sport, it’s generally acknowledged that irony confuses laymen. Sadly this situation is filled by irony. For example here’s another slice of irony;

“The Shape” and “The Line” not only protect the goalkeeper they allow attackers greater freedom to attack the goalkeepers position.

In other words morons “The Shape” and “The Line” both protect the goalkeeper and allow the goalkeeper to be attacked more.

Here’s another slice of piping hot irony!!!!; “The Shape” and “The Line” have not only led to the goalkeeper becoming the last line of defence they have led to extra pressure that the goalkeeper feels. He knows that has to be alive to every possibility of being defeated, he has to be alert, he was to be watchful. To be a goalkeeper is to be the keeper of the flame. I hope this is all as clear to you as it is to me because the idea is as clear as an azure sky of deepest summer to me.

If you still doubt the scientifically assembled idea I’m trying to promote we need to have a look at these heat maps because heat maps remove all doubt.

The heat maps were lovingly and scientifically constructed from Simon Mignolet’s last match for Liverpool and they conclusively prove that goalkeepers in That Modern Football have become the last line of defence. Look at the way Mignolet metaphorically hugs the goaline.

1st Half

pitch 2

2nd Half

pitch 3

You can now see that goalkeepers are now not just the player that traditionally wears the number one shirt on the pitch they are also the number one last line of defence for the defence of a team that’s defending.

I proved this scientifically with scientific football data analysis.

I rest my case.

Bow down before me football serfs for I have proved my genius!





It’s not easy when your manager doesn’t know what he’s doing, or is it?

12 02 2014

Sometimes your manager is so bad you just have to get a tattoo that demands his resignation.

BerTlZMIQAAl4Rj

Sometimes your manager is so bad you have to get used to watching your club muddle on through with a mere fifteen millionaire internationals.

@Memz_Dogi Fuck off with your penny pinching transfer window you cunt. Did you really think we would win the league? This is wank

@arsenalaction Arsenal bottom of the spending table during the jan transfer window £0

@arsenalaction Who feels let down this morning?

Sometimes your manager is just so bad you want to get rid;

@soriano21776 The dictator wrote his own deal months ago, he has rewarded himself for his own mediocrity and self sustaining business model! Joke

@Memz_Dogi So Arsene is getting a new 2 year contract and will be on £8.5m a year. The man is a genius for being rewarded for failure

@CrazyGooner007 Arsene Wenger is one of the arrogant, self righteous, greediest, self gratifying, loathsome people that has ever walked the planet. Bastard!

@arsenalaction Wenger decision not to bring in quality players during the transfer window is the turning point

@Memz_Dogi Wenger again putting his stubbornness and selfish principles above the needs of the club. You can’t blame the board anymore #WengerOut

Sometimes the manager is so bad reality won’t even shift your mind;

@arsenalaction After 24 games, Man City is 1 point better than last season. Chelsea improved by +7 pts. Liverpool by +12. Arsenal by +17. Man Utd -19 down.

@arsenalaction The old Arsenal with Almunia, Gallas, Toure & Clichy would have bottled it tonight

Yeah sometimes a manager is just so bad you just have to let him have it;

@CrazyGooner007 Arsene Wenger has let the fans down more than anyone in Arsenal’s entire 127 year history#WengerOUT  #EnoughIsEnough

@arsenalaction  9days until the transfer window shuts. How serious is Arsene about winning the title?

@GoonerCharles Sign a striker Wenger you clueless idiot!

Imagine you’re the person that tweeted the last tweet. Imagine you’re@GoonerCharles and you’re the sort of person that pens this sort of twitter bio; “19 years of age. @Arsenal home and away, over land and sea. Gambler, alcoholic and Spurs hater. Student at Nottingham Uni. Snakes prohibited. #WengerOut”

I already can’t imagine just how difficult it is to be a 19 year old student alcoholic that earns enough to have an Arsenal season ticket and go to all away matches but then to put up with the rubbish that Arsenal constantly serve up on top of that, bloody hell that’s a hard life……..Wait a minute…….A 19 year old student that earns enough money to go to every Arsenal match, and he’s unhappy with his lot. Is this what the world has come to?

Here’s an idea for all the people moaning about managers. Next time you go to a match take a few mates, find a decent pub, have a few pints whilst you you have a chat & a bit of laugh before the match. This may enhance your experience of football, you might chill out to you stressed wankers. No one likes to hear a stressed wanker bleating.





Squakwa Torture

11 02 2014

I’d heard of Squakwa but it’s CEO, Sanjit Atwal, had been a stranger until last weeks’ passionate defence of football stats in the guardian. It wasn’t the most auspicious of first virtual encounters; to say I disagreed vehemently with his horseshit outlook – you can only understand football if you look at my statistics – would be the personification of understatement.

As a reasonable man I often questions my actions and this occasion is no different. Did I jump to the wrong conclusions, or allow myself to develop the wrong impression, about Mr. Atwal? I decided to give him a second chance, he might have something to say after all.

When I typed his name in to Google I found quite a few links.  The first one I clicked took me to this article ;

Engagement Beyond the Match: Q&A With Squawka’s Sanjit Atwal

Back in September, second-screen football companion app Squawka made headlines when BBH became a major shareholder in the nascent platform. With its real-time data visualizations for fans, the app has partnered up with brands like Gillette and Dominos among others. Prior to his presentation at AdMonsters Screens on Monday, 19 November in London, we caught up with Squawka CEO and Founder Sanjit Atwal to hear about the BBH deal, the nuances of consumer engagement and native advertising on the platform.

I’m a little confused, your site is supposed to be about football stats, but I don’t see any info on touchdowns, interceptions, sacks… This is all about SOCCER! All kidding aside, does Squawka plan to expand to other sports?

Absolutely! Our first goal is to ensure we have delivered soccer (cough *football*) fans the most amazing second screen experience possible. We have built our platform in a manner that would make sense for another sport to be plugged and we have a pretty good idea of the next sports that we will give a Squawka makeover to!

How did your partnership with agency BBH come about? Can you go into some detail about what it means for advertising with Squawka (not exclusivity!)? What will you get out of working with Zag, the ventures arm?

We are lucky to have had a pretty strong media background before starting Squawka and word soon got out that we were open to taking on partners that would compliment our own offering and skill set. BBH, like nearly all agencies at the moment, are looking for ways in which their clients can engage meaningfully with users across second screen and sports is obviously a hot sector for campaigns. Advertising with Squawka will continue as it has been – if anything we have had greater interest from the leading agencies now BBH are involved!

With the ventures arm of BBH (Zag) we are receiving valuable corporate level support – something technology startups rarely have access to pre-Series A investment.

So Squawka ‘engaged’ 10,000 football fans during Euro 2012 – since you guys pride yourself on stats, what kind of cool engagement metrics can you share? What are you highlighting with advertisers?

Well there is a lot to talk about but the ones I found most fascinating were analysing user behaviour during games. for example, we saw some games in which we had an average engagement time of 42 minutes!

The opportunity for a brand to have a meaningful conversation in this period is obvious. A great example is Dominos who saw massive 2.5% click through rates by changing the call to action to co-incide with the events on the pitch. We have now grown and are engaging many thousands of football fans a day (and growing rapidly) and are looking forward to deploying more campaigns as we approach Christmas.

Sadly, being an American I can’t access the Gillette Football Club channel on YouTube, but can you explain how Squawka is involved? How did your participation come about? Are other advertisers going to get involved?

Our role in the Gillette Football Club came about through out close relationships with agencies Mediacom and subsequently Proximity BBDO Paris. We were ‘sent’ to Paris to discuss a new Proctor & Gamble initiative in which the Gillette brand could get closer to football fans via YouTube. We were asked how stats & visualisations could be included and came up with concept to use our deep data intelligence to link to player videos. The project is in beta but has shown signs of a roadmap other advertisers could follow.

You know, native advertising is, like, a huge thing right now in the U.S.; it would seem Squawka’s platform could offer some interesting perks in that department. Have you or are you going to run any cool campaigns that take advantage of Squawka’s unique offering?

We are all about cool campaigns! We have some uber-cool briefs out there with agencies in which we really expand the current thinking behind second-screen advertising. I won’t give too much away but the industry has only just scratched the surface of what this channel can offer! In short, it’s all very exciting….!

OPS The age of multi-screen is upon us. Whether you’re interested in mobile, tablet, IPTV, goggles, or other enabled devices, learn cutting edge techniques and best practices from industry leaders and get involved in discussions with expert panelists only at AdMonsters Screens, Nov. 19 in London.

Could the following indicate our man’s true feelings?

“……..are looking for ways in which their clients can engage meaningfully with users across second screen and sports is obviously a hot sector for campaigns. Advertising with Squawka will continue as it has been – if anything we have had greater interest from the leading agencies now BBH are involved!”

I had a closer look at the Admasters site. This is what they do;

“Using a tested and refined methodology, we identify and bridge an organization’s gaps between strategy, process and technology. The result allows us to analyse product strategy, build and integrate technology infrastructures, develop and install best practices, and architect efficient processes for companies across the digital media landscape.

Current solutions we deliver

  •  The following includes just some on the solutions we are providing for clients:
  • Leveraging audience data for improved ad sales, and channel strategies
  • Migrating, implementing and integrating ad server and order management systems
  • Redesigning ad operations workflows to increase efficiency and decrease transaction costs
  • Developing strategies to manage inventory, increase traffic and optimize yield
  • Designing enterprise technology architectures and roadmaps
  • Creating unified reporting and dashboards for better insight and management decisions
  • Develop strategies for leveraging ad exchanges, DSPs, SSPs and RTB”

I could see where this was heading. Mind you, let’s not be too hasty.

The second link took me to a rather impenetrable article;

Scaled Digital Strategy Is Inherently Product (and User) Led

As we get closer to the adoption of web 3.0 you will start to see more use of the term ‘Big Data’. Like all de-jour terms ‘Big Data’ will mean different things to different people but, for the purposes of this article, we will focus specifically on e-commerce trends and the problems facing mature advertisers looking to grow their online business.

Anyone with experience of the affiliate market from an advertiser/agency/network-side will be have their own ideas on how to get more sales through the channel. Having worked on over 50 affiliate programmes myself I know that anywhere from 50-90% of the sales will be coming from around 20 or so partners. All great news if you’re hitting your targets. But what happens when your growth starts to slow? And it will slow. It’s as inevitable as Google updating their algorithm or eating too much over Christmas. Be it because of seasonality or consumer trends or just low traffic, online sales through affiliate do at some point plateau. So, where then do you go then to achieve the CEO’s 25% year on year growth targets without making half your staff redundant…? Assuming you like the guys you’ve hired, there are three other options:

•Work to grow the existing sales you are getting from the top 20 (or so..) partners

•Look to grow the other hundred (or so…) partners on the programme (otherwise known as the long-tail)

•Recruit new partners onto the programme

Of course, any affiliate marketing professional can tell you that all of the above avenues should be engaged. However, each has its own pro’s and con’s.

At Digital Animal we have been working to solve this problem whilst addressing the core issue at hand – users are the ones that make up the sales numbers…not affiliates. And users aren’t buying a brand. They are buying products that they need in their lives for whatever reason.

Digital Animal technology offers users the opportunity to recommend a product to a friend through 335 different types of social media and to be rewarded for the action (be it a sale, lead, click or sign-up). Essentially this means we are allowing brands to build a new eco-system of ‘micro-affiliates’.

Why does this work? Well, users are 90% more likely to purchase a product online if it has been recommended to them by a friend (Econsultancy Internet Compendium 2009). And it is working…from each friend recommendation, we are seeing eleven new users returning to the advertiser’s site.

By using product data feeds to feature the product information and drive user recommendations through shared online relationships, advertisers can now extend their virtual sales teams beyond traditional publishing sites to the end-users themselves.

Pretty much all innovative performance strategies I have seen over the last 12 months have been feed-driven. It’s a fundamental growth strategy and essential to scaling your digital strategy through many channels.

It is unfortunate then, that still so many advertisers have feeds that fall below the necessary quality or, as I have seen with more than one world-renowned brand, no feed at all. It’s like doing the weekly shop without a trolly. You’ll be able to walk away with a few items…but you could have had the whole isle. I’ll tell you what. You keep your feed up-to-date and I’ll stop using the term ‘de-jour’ in my articles…

About the author:

Sanjit is Managing Partner at investment accelerator Combusta, Commercial Director at Digital Animal, Founder of Social Media consultancy Eagle5Fox7 and a lecturer for the Digital Marketing Institute.

Originally from a creative background, Sanjit has worked across film, press, magazines, radio, local government, digital, mobile and social media in a variety of commercial and strategic senior leadership positions. Having created and managed digital strategy for some of the biggest name advertisers in the world, Sanjit has a wealth of experience in monetization techniques and user trends. A self-confessed technology and social media junky, Sanjit is passionate about creating and advising the most cutting edge of start-up projects. Clients Sanjit has worked with include: Dell, British Gas, lastminute.com, Apple, RBS, Nike, Expedia, Hotels.com, Mothercare, Kelkoo, eBookers, Thomas Cook, Nectar, Groupon, Natwest, Hertz, Tesco.com.

See more at: www.fusepump.com/blog/guest-blog-sanjit-…sthash.I3dO42Ai.dpuf

You could get lost in the article’s technical terms – “second screen experience”, “ monetization techniques and user trends”, “web 3.0”, ”Big Data” – but with a little time and patience you would notice that parts of the article are a possible indication of our man’s approach;

“Well, users are 90% more likely to purchase a product online if it has been recommended to them by a friend (Econsultancy Internet Compendium 2009). And it is working…from each friend recommendation, we are seeing eleven new users returning to the advertiser’s site.”

The knowledge that our man appears to be rather too interested in parting people from their money only satisfied my baser instincts. I was profoundly disappointed to find that another person seems to have succumbed to the dark side of market capitalism.

There were also still too many answered questions to feel spiritually satisfied. What the hell is a “second screen experience”? Who the hell are BBH? I had to find out more.

With a little more research my thrist for knowledge was slaked. “The second screen refers to this idea;

Defining and Categorizing the Second Screen

It’s hard enough to identify what devices are considered primary screens these days, much less what a second screen looks like. And while I have tackled primary, secondary, and tertiary screen nomenclature in previous articles, I won’t get into whether a smartphone in front of a tablet is technically a second screen. For our collective sanity in this review, the primary screen is a TV and the secondary screen is a smartphone, tablet, or touchscreen.

A secondary screen can be a distracter pulling you away from the primary screen. An example of a distracter would be watching “Downton Abbey” when your phone buzzes and you read and respond to a work email for 2 minutes. Or the secondary screen can be an attractor providing supporting and relevant information that maintains engagement with the primary screen. An example of an attractor would be watching “Top Chef” while chatting with the stars and your friends in the Zeebox app on your tablet. In years to come, I’m sure we will look back with quaint fondness on the days when we only had two screens in our living room or office.

While the definition of a second screen has been simplified, it still leaves us with a variety of categories for attractors. Most of the attractors that we will look at in this review fall into three columns: social networks, second-screen apps, and companion content. Social networks have been used to support watching TV from their inception, and it’s no surprise that both Twitter and Facebook are popular attractors for interacting while viewing. The sheer size of both these platforms makes them attractive engagement tools, but that may also be their greatest weakness. It’s hard to maintain focus on just one viewing experience with all the noise on these networks. The need for more focused social networks just for viewing TV led to most of the second-screen apps we see now. Apps such as Zeebox and IntoNow from Yahoo! are allowing individuals to discover, interact, socialize, and share from their mobile devices while watching TV. And finally, we have companion content being developed by media companies, broadcasters, and networks to cash in on the second-screen gold rush. Some of the recent tools that have been developed in-house or created in white label partnerships represent the biggest names in the industry. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has launched Disney Second Screen, movie-specific iPad apps that sync up and provide additional content while you are watching a film on your TV. CBS has put out CBS Connect, its own tablet app that features interactive chat, audio syncing with live or taped content, and access to behind-the-scenes features to support its most popular shows. With the popularity of third-party social networks and apps, it’s certain we will see more companies creating their own stand-alone content to attract and engage audiences.

The “second screen experience” isn’t  isn’t just passive experience, it can deprive suckers of money;

Who’s Missing a Big Opportunity on the Second Screen?

Will 2013 be the year of social TV, when this growing sector hits the mainstream? Was 2012? There has certainly be a lot of industry activity from consolidations, acquisitions and new product launches.

Even over just the last months, GetGlue’s been acquired by Viggle, Zeebox reached US shores and already’s seeing significant number of downloads, networks like CBS have rolled out new companion experiences, Dish launched its app and there are lots of others seeking to become the breakthrough app and ‘go to’ destination.

There’s clearly a lot of dollars chasing the growing second screen audience.  Numerous studies have shown that TV viewers are engaged on their devices, be they laptops, tablets or smartphones.  Which of all the apps now in the marketplace will become the social TV ‘killer app’ is still to be determined – and in fact that app (or likely apps) may not even exist yet.

Today, big audiences are online and watching TV simultaneously; there’s a tremendous opportunity for brands to reach those viewers in this emerging cross-platform environment.  Whoever captures them stands to win big.

However, in many ways, the second screen audience seems to be quite dispersed across all of the varied companion experiences, and hence difficult to reach.  But one opportunity that does not seem to be pursued aggressively is that of the large audiences on ‘mainstream’ online media sites already.  Many of the highly trafficked sites on the web have this co-viewing audience now, perhaps without even realizing it.

What they’re not doing however is providing a rich, engaging companion experience for these viewers.  While not necessarily applicable to all shows and all sites, it’s not difficult to imagine how a lot of these high volume sites could easily keep their users more engaged and on their site longer by offering them content related to the show they’re likely already watching.

Sports sites hosting live content related to Monday Night Football, teen-oriented sites delivering live chats around Glee, entertainment sites discussing American Idol or The Voice during the show are all ripe but for the most part missed opportunities.  Most of these destinations have huge online audiences that are multi-tasking between TV and their site.  Why not provide companion content to focus these viewers and engage them – on their own site – with what’s happening right in front of them in their living room.  As viewers seek more social TV type experiences, these destinations can keep these viewers or lose them to others.

There are numerous platforms and ‘white label’ providers that the ‘big’ sites’ could use to embed such TV companion content into their own properties.  They say Willie Sutton robbed banks because “that’s where the money is.”  The online giants should look to their own sites because that’s where the co-viewing audience – and the social TV money – is.”

Needless to say Murdoch’s television channel has bought in to  the “second screen experience” concept;

Our breath-taking second screen features include a customisable split screen enabling you to customise the mix of video that you’re watching, Sky Sports 360 – enabling you to re-watch match Champions League highlights from up to 20 different angles, player touch maps and team average formations for Premier League matches – putting Gary Neville’s Monday Night Football touchscreen analysis tools in your hands – and many more!

It seems as though everything’s just dandy with the “second screen experience”!!!!!;

It will also include match-day stats such as the number of shots on and off-target, yellow and red cards and passing success rates.

In terms of social media the Football Match Centre will include a curated Twitter feed with aggregated fan commentary.

“We know that Sky Sports customers want the latest stats and facts about their favourite teams and players, and the new Football Match Centre within the Sky Sports for iPad app does just that,” David Gibbs, Director of Sky Sports Digital Media said.

“With over half a million downloads since launch, we hope that the addition of a football second screen experience to the iPad app will continue to excite fans, providing an intuitive and innovative way to follow the match included as part of their Sky Sports subscription.

“The update builds on the launch of the Formula One and Masters second screen experiences which add more depth to a viewer’s enjoyment of our linear channels,” Gibbs added.”

The “second screen experience” is so wonderful it also includes “The Banter”, or “aggregated fan commentary” as they call it. The sad thing is that they claim they’re only responding to customer demand. Yeah it’s all about the choice and to hell with the direction of your money, who cares where it goes!!!!

As for BBH, they’re an advertising agency called Bartle Bogle Hegarty;

Sports app Squawka brings on ad agency BBH as shareholder

London-based Squawka, the maker of  sports companion apps, has secured a partnership with ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty in return for a share of the business.

The deal will give Squawka access to BBH offices globally and Zag, the ventures division of BBH, will help the Squawka management team with marketing, strategy and business operations. The financial aspects of the deal and share purchase have not been disclosed.

With offices around the world, BBH, whose client base includes Audi, Barclays, British Airways, Google, Johnnie Walker, Virgin Media and others, recently announced that they were to become wholly owned by Publicis Groupe – one of the world’s largest advertising and media groups.

That’s not a bad organisation to leverage your marketing management.

Squawka launched in public beta in June this year and has already attracted the eye of advertisers including Gillette, Domino’s and Paddy Power. It’s a web-based second screen experience for viewers of live televised sport.

Fans can look at real-time statistics on the matches and players they are watching, and this information fuels the chat and banter between fans on Squawka’s embedded social platform.

Squawka engaged more than 10,000 football fans during Euro 2012. With that many eyeballs on screens for the service, there’s little question as to why the company is a magnet for big players in advertising.

In August Squawka announced that it is to provide real-time data visualisation for the forthcoming English Premier League, La Liga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A seasons.

Using Squawka, users can compare teams and players in real time, looking at dozens of different match actions. Using more than 2.9 million possible on-pitch actions, Squawka’s live Player Performance Score can be used to compare the performance of players and teams.

As a web app, the service works on desktop and tablet devices and the company says that native mobile apps are on the way.

Squawka also provide stats and data visualisations for the recently announced Gillette Football Club, a major new partnership between Proctor & Gamble and Google who together have launched a dedicated football channel on YouTube.”

How lovely! Everything’s just great;

Sanjit Atwal, co-founder and CEO of Squawka, commented; “This partnership represents an important moment for everyone at Squawka and for our mission to deliver football fans a unique second-screen experience. The BBH team have not only shown a desire to drive Squawka forward today – but also a clear vision of how Squawka can be developed globally over the next two years. We are looking forward to driving the business forward together.”

Neil Munn, COO of BBH and CEO of Zag, added: “BBH only looks to partner with consumer tech businesses that can deliver outstanding success. Squawka is just such a business – as it offers something really special within the world of social TV and second screen companion apps. We think Squawka’s unique stats are worth consuming and they are worth sharing. We predict a lot of football fans will feel the same way and this platform will become a popular part of match days.”

Let’s stop awhile and consider what we’ve learned. Let’s see if I can get things in the right order;

1. Atwal wants people to love football stats.

2. Atwal is the co-founder and CEO of a “company”, Squawka, that provides football stats in brightly coloured diagrams.

3. During Euro 2012 it is claimed that Squawka ‘engaged’ 10,000 football fans. During Euro 2012 Atwal became fascinated with analysing user behaviour during games. He discovered that some games when they had “an average engagement time of 42 minutes!”

4. Atwal describes this sort of engagement time as an “obvious opportunity” for a brand to have “a meaningful conversation” and certainly looks forward to “engaging many thousands of football fans a day (and growing rapidly) and are looking forward to deploying more campaigns”.

5. Atwal states that Squawka’s mission is to “deliver football fans a unique second-screen experience.” and that they’re “all about cool campaigns” with “uber-cool briefs” in which they “really expand the current thinking behind second-screen advertising.”

6. Squawka signed a deal with one of the world’s largest advertising and media groups, BBH, that “will give Squawka access to BBH offices globally”

7. Atwal seems to view internet users as potential customers;

“……..At Digital Animal we have been working to solve this problem (Hitting sales targets) whilst addressing the core issue at hand – users are the ones that make up the sales numbers…not affiliates. And users aren’t buying a brand. They are buying products that they need in their lives for whatever reason……”

“……..Well, users are 90% more likely to purchase a product online if it has been recommended to them by a friend (Econsultancy Internet Compendium 2009). And it is working…from each friend recommendation, we are seeing eleven new users returning to the advertiser’s site……..”

I when I worked this out I and became even angrier than I already was.

On Friday I was only angry at him because he was a false prophet that wanted to remove the joy from something I care about, now it seems that market capitalism is only the motivation for his zealotry. He seems to be nothing more than a smooth-talking salesman fuelled by shameless cynicism.

Not only does he hopes to use people like me to make a killing, he’s taken something that people like me care about polluted it a little more. My first instinct was correct; he is a snake oil salesman.

It’s enough to make you despair.





What’s got up my goat this week?

9 02 2014

a.k.a…….So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 28

107. This sodding t-shirt

BfoFjh7IgAE6OVH

If I was the kind of person that thought their weekends were proper weekends I’d put my key in the lock and snap the end off. In the solitude of isolation I’d go in my sitting room, sit in my favourite chair and have a long, hard think about the futility of my existence.

108. More twitter rubbish

BBC Wales’ rugby department tweeted this last night;

@BBCScrumV We’ve been joined by a Vincent Tan flash mob for the #ScrumV radio forum pic.twitter.com/jWp7YqBxP4

The tweet included this photo

Bf-VeLTIUAA39Xm

Jesus Christ, is nothing sacred nowadays, even gobshite owners are turned in to figures of fun. While we’re on the subject of gobshite owners Phil tweeted this photo last night;

Bf-zgT9CUAAckrh

As Phil said, blue is now “officially retro” for Cardiff City.

109. 2014, the year of Brazilian clichés

I found a photo of Brazilian dancers this week. I defy you to look at it and not hear Clive Tyldesley”s pre-prepared lines about samba and smiles.

Brazil

To the summer, hurrah!!!

To the shots of scantily clad ladies, hurrah!!!

To the shots of people in Brazil shirts gurning at the cameras, hurrah!!!!

To the shots of the rich and attractive Brazilians enjoying their access to the world cup, hurrah!!!

To the thought of Blatter telling us all that matters is the spirit of football bringing people from across the world together, hurrah!!!

To the official sponsors, hurrah!!!





Data is just a row of numbers man.

8 02 2014

An “academic” not only wrote this sodding article he used the word “cool” to advertise it on twitter;

@SanjitAtwal I wrote this for @guardian_sport on why data in football is cool @Squawka http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/feb/07/defence-football-statistics-drama-data …

Here’s the load of shite in its full glory;

In defence of football statistics: the drama is in the data

Some fans think statistics rob football of its romance, but data visualisations can improve our understanding of the game .
John Keats once accused Sir Issac Newton of destroying the poetry of the rainbow by trying to explain how all of the colours got their hues. It’s a story I found myself recalling after reading Michael Moruzzi’s article that claimed analysing football through statistics misses the point of the game.

Football has succeeded in attracting many fans due to its unfailing accessibility. But this great strength of the game also appears to be its biggest weakness. If the game we all love suddenly starts to seem inaccessible then a natural wariness from fans is probably to be expected. This wariness fuels the current argument raging between the legacy art of the beautiful game and the enterprise science of data analysis.

Numbers are perhaps not for all. It’s to the traditionalist’s credit that they fall back with an argument based on the beauty of the sport being reduced to binary output; however it does seem odd that we would choose to polarise such a thing as football as either art or science.

Data and, crucially, data visualisation is key to helping a new generation of fans understanding the game better. What is more, data visualisation can help fans get closer to the action when processed in real-time. Where in-game data was once solely the realm of managers, it is now available to fans at no expense other than the effort to type in a URL or to open an app. So what does this mean for the modern football lover?

It means offering the ability to turn opinion into fact instantly. This does not mean the tribal pastimes of the sport – the trash talk on the terraces and in the pubs – are redundant. On the contrary, surely having access to the data in a digestible format should spark more debate and fuel further discussion? To deny this would be to admit that Britain has lost something Keats, Newton and co were famed for – the appetite for both a vociferous and informed argument.

I’m not saying the written and broadcast media have cracked the winning formula yet (one need only observe the fashionable and entirely inaccurate “average position” graphic doing the rounds in production studios at the moment that actually shows you where players have touched the ball). But I think we must keep striving towards balance in our sport media consumption or face a bleak future.

There may be a generation of fans who crave nothing more than clichéd punditry and mundane highlight shows in which they get their quick fix of goals and showboating. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that there is so much more nourishment and stimulation available on the very same games.

It’s the equivalent of a happy meal versus a seven-course gourmet dinner. Both are foodstuff, but the tastes, flavours and subtleties of the gourmet dinner delivers a vastly more rewarding experience. The analogy stretches comfortably to football and the ability data has to uncover new and gripping storylines in a match, team, player or season.

If you seek it, there is indeed drama in the data. The metrics of pass completion, interceptions, headed duels and so on are, when put in context via data visualisations, skeins woven together. The story they tell may or may not have been the one presented to you on the weekly highlights show, but the power is there for you, the fan, to judge the performance for yourself.

The art and science of football can live together not only in harmony but also in a symbiotic relationship in which they both inspire and derive meaning from one another. How else would one bring to fore the true performance of a player such as the previously maligned Jordan Henderson for Liverpool? I hope the visualisation above informed, engaged and entertained you. Why would anyone not want to know more about the thing they love?

Sadly people appreciated his effort;

@Cnyari  – More than cool, it’s the future! RT @SanjitAtwal for @guardian_sport on why data in football is cool @Squawka http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/feb/07/defence-football-statistics-drama-data …

@Ciaran_O  @guardian_sport @SanjitAtwal you’re the Richard Dawkins of football Sanjit! Great piece.

I’m not saying our hero’s pretentious but he puts himself on the same level as Keats and Newton and fancies himself as a scientist because he looks at football-related numbers.

I’m not saying our hero’s arrogant but he has set up a false dichotomy of primitives versus pioneers – “the tribal pastimes of the sport” versus “the enterprise science of data analysis” – to self-importantly place himself at the centre of a pseudo scientific industry. The cheeky bastard despises primitives yet he’d dearly love them if they give his pioneering attitude an fawning audience, I could choke on this chancers’ arrogance if I thought about it too much.

Giving his brand of football data horseshit some kind of scientific basis is an insult to the scientific method. Scientists use data to prove, or disprove, important ideas for the benefit of humanity, this snake oil salesman counts the amount of times men kick a ball to each other.

This particular snake oil salesman might think he can help people gain a better understanding of football through data but two problems hold him back.

Problem Number 1 –  He doesn’t actually understand football. If he has to use data to help him to understand the simple sport of football then he can’t understand football. Fans don’t need data to understand football. They have eyes so they are quite capable of analyzing the matches they attend and figuring out stuff. Fans are able to see who ran, who tackled and who passed the most, they know who’s good at shooting and who needs 4 shots to get his eye in. For example a Liverpool fan managed to spot the qualities of Jordan Henderson today;

@LFCHistoryShow ROLLS ROYCE ENGINE. This lad is turning in performance after performance. Covered every blade of grass. HENDO! pic.twitter.com/Wj2GRNOtHX

Data will only hint that a team’s been unlucky, a fan would know. The sort of person that needs in-game data is the kind of person that’s depriving other people of a ticket.

Problem Number 2 – Data isn’t cool, it’s the dry numbers a smartarse uses to win arguments, it’s something that politicians use to hoodwink people, it’s what snake oil salesmen use to con people.

The claims for the greater use of data are easily shot down, let’s consider this idea;

It (Data) means offering the ability to turn opinion into fact instantly. This does not mean the tribal pastimes of the sport – the trash talk on the terraces and in the pubs – are redundant. On the contrary, surely having access to the data in a digestible format should spark more debate and fuel further discussion? To deny this would be to admit that Britain has lost something Keats, Newton and co were famed for – the appetite for both a vociferous and informed argument.

Firstly opinion is not fact. Secondly, if Britain needs anything it’s less football opinion not more, I suspect this snake oil salesman has never been surrounded by a super sunday cacophony.  Thirdly, greater access to information won’t create more informed arguments, it’ll lead to people taking more strident positions because they can clothe their prejudice in hard data. The only thing that will come from greater data is more angry shouting; “LOOK LAD, JUST ADMIT THAT CLEVERLEY IS BETTER THAN YOU THOUGHT, LOOK HIS PASS COMPLETION RATE IS 94.3% NOT 89.3%. IT’S THERE IN BLACK AND WHITE, BLACK AND WHITE SEE” What a horrible scenario this is.

Data can be useful for managers and coaches, as it can help them with their jobs, but fans don’t need it. You either like football or you don’t, you either get football, or you don’t. It’s that simple.

Data can tell us that John Jensen finally scored for Arsenal on a particular date, and that Djimi Traore won the European Cup after his side had been 3-0 down against the clinical European aristocrats of Milan, and that Ole Gunnar Solkjaer stabbed the ball past Oliver Kahn in May 1999. But data can’t describe what it was like to witness these events. Data couldn’t possibly explain the inherent joy, or drama, of the last 4 minutes of the Italy v Germany 2006 world cup semi final.

Data is useless for fans because the attractions of football and the attractions of data are polar opposites. Data’s attraction is it’s certainty and proof, football’s attraction is it’s unpredictability and beauty, football’s attraction is not the knowledge of pass completion rates.

You may know that your club has a 75% share of possession and a 99% pass completion but this don’t won’t explain why your centre back cost you the match with an inexplicable own goal in the 88th minute. A fan would understand why it happened, but that’s football for you.

Please don’t think I’m having a go at the many decent people that keep records of useful stuff like results, caps and playing records. I respect the compilers that preserve this sort of data because their work involves a labour of love and a sense of duty.

This sort of data is also invaluable if people ever have a nagging query. There’s some wonderful about our ability to visit websites like Tony Kempster’s or Bart Kassies’ European football site or the Welsh Football Data Archive or the immense Football Club History Database.

There’s nothing wrong with data per se either  If people want to analyse matches through data then good luck to them, live and let live and all that. I mean who am I to judge? I’m not above writing data-related blog posts (Here, here and here ). Football’s a broad church and we all do our own thing when it comes to the beautiful sport. Some of us have a few pints with mates, some go in the ground early, some collect programmes, others travel around the non-league grounds of England and take pictures of corner flags. All of it is valid.

As a comrade on the WSC message board said last night, the trouble with the calculator using snake oil salesmen is that he tells us he’s paradigm shifting in such a condescending tone;

He’s claiming that stats are integral to appreciating football…………..He’s arguing that unless you enjoy his company’s brand of largely meaningless info-graphics, you’re an idiot; that you’re too stupid or too blindly ignorant to ever appreciate or understand football’s complexities.”

The people that take enjoyment from football don’t often claim to have greater insight than the next man, even when they’re standing next to Michael Owen. In claiming to possess the divine right of insight he’s claiming a power that no sane British person has claimed since the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

In short, wind your neck in lad.





The wonder of local football

7 02 2014

If you ever want to know what’s going on in north Walean football read Dave Jones’ excellent blog; North Wales Football. Dave’s blog featured an interesting post last Friday;

“TOMORROW’S FAW Trophy fifth round tie between Ruthin Town and Llanrug United will now be played at Coleg Llandrillo’s 3G pitch in Rhos-on-Sea (kick-off 1.45pm).

Two previous attempts to play the match at Llanrug fell foul of the weather, so as per competition rules home advantage switched to Ruthin for this Saturday.

However, the Ruthin pitch is also unfit, so to ensure the outstanding tie is completed, the club has been given permission by the FAW to play the game at Llandrillo.”

This story reeks of semi-pro football charm; archetypal weather ravaged pitches, ad hoc agreements to play on municipal 3G pitches, rules that state home advantage is lost after two postponements, a governing body doing the decent thing to get things sorted, although this is the exception rather than the norm.

Semi-pro football is often forced in to ad hoc measures as weather ravaged pitches are a fact of life; Carmarthen have had to play home matches in three different grounds this season (Carmarthen, Llanelli and Port Talbot) because of their wet pitch, Bangor and Airbus agreed to switch Tuesday’s Welsh Cup tie because of Airbus’ pitch problems and this season’s FA Trophy tie between FC United and Witton Albion became such a saga – two replays and three postponements – that Radclfiffe Borough’s ground was needed at one point.

It may be my jaundiced mind but ad hoc measures lend a nice feeling of comradeship to semi-pro football, for example when FC United home matches aren’t able to use Gigg Lane they sometimes use Stalybridge Celtic’s ground.

Try imagining that this kind of attitude exists in the gilded prison of elite football. Go on, try to imagine that Man City and West Brom agreed to play an FA Cup match in a leisure centre because of bleak winter weather. That situation is an impossible dream.

You just know that kind of thing would never happen in the gilded elite of world football, and it’s not just because premier league club pitches have teams of people dedicated to their upkeep. The premier league’s mindset is as far from “charming ad hoc” as it’s possible to get. The franchises and the CEO of the premier league just couldn’t lower themselves to ad hoc arrangements.

Elite football washed off the last faint traces of mucking in and making do when it disappeared up its own arse about 20 years ago, there’s something profoundly sad about that.





So what’s cheesed me off in the last few days?

2 02 2014

a.k.a…….So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 27

101. More statistical bullshit

‏Last week I read a tweet….

@sportingintel MT @alexcobham How unequal are Europe’s ‘Big 5’ leagues? Based on squad costs pic.twitter.com/dZZbfndrkF << taller tower, less equal the league

….that came with a graph.

bollocks

I tried to work out what the graph was saying but I couldn’t. My lack of understanding might be due to the gap between today and my Maths GCSE exam but I doubt it.

Normalised Herfindahl index????? Market Concentration????   What the hell does it all mean????? What is the graph trying to tell us????? What’s the percentage about?????

102. Gazprom’s grip on European football

Gazprom does not light up the football. FACT.

Read this to see why. Be warned, it’s quite worrying.

103. When managers tells you their thoughts

Some managers bitch when they lose. For example Chelsea drew 0-0 with West Ham last week and Mourinho said; “West Ham played 19th Century Football”

Some managers use hyperbole when they lose. For example  Tottenham’s Tim Sherwood and Blackburn’s Gary Bowyer have both said “Man City are the best team in the world” after they’d lost matches to City.

The clear solution is broadcasting less opinion.  We need to stop interviewing managers, and players, and pundits, and experts, and fans. We need to stop Chiles, Townsend and Lovejoy.

104. TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™

Read this to see why TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ is the epitome of TMF.

TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ only exists because people have let corporate interests get away with it so it’s hilarious when an evening’s LADism-fuelled enthusiasm……

@_stevelee_ Transfer deadline day drinking game with the boys later, life don’t get much better #wavey

@WIGGy_muFc  @rickjoyeux deadline day drinking game, let the fun begin, come on Jim lad!! #TransferDeadlineDay @SkySports pic.twitter.com/aLONYAwNgf

@Rob_Huish Transfer deadline day drinking game is amazing @j_hind @Tim_Brown94

@ShaunAT_11 Transfer deadline day drinking game with the lads #GettingOnIt

…..becomes a morning’s wistful realisation of alienation from humanity;

@fossymassive Who else had a bad deadline day?:/

@RyanCasey74 What a shit desdline day #wasteoftime

@Jwilson96_  Shittest deadline day ever

 ‏@DionMayhew Never going to learn that no future deadline day will ever match the best windows of Jan 2011 #Torres #Suarez #Carrol

@SamJudas99 You know it’s a bad Deadline Day when Crystal Palace and QPR have done the best.

105. More Twitter rubbish

Earlier this week an intellectual Loyalist and Rangers fan called Billy Carson started following me on twitter. He dearly wanted  to have a conversation with me.

@bigbilly62 wank

@bigbilly62 wanker

@bigbilly62 bawbag

@bigbilly62 now fuck off

Yesterday an account by the name of @MoyesOutASAP  appeared on my timeline, the account contained this bio;

Everyone join the #MoyesOut campaign. Spread the word. Save the club from mediocrity. #MUFC Sign this twitition http://twitition.com/amsps/#.Ue9SAoVxDQw.twitter …

If we have a closer look at that twitter petition, their twitition, we find out this;

#MoyesOut campaign is a fan-funded drive to collect funds from genuine Manchester United fans and donate it to the club so that a new manager is appointed“1

Here are a couple of their tweets;

@MoyesOutASAP This is a request to all match day going @ManUtd fans to boycott all home games till Moyes is sacked. Your support is precious. #MoyesOut

@MoyesOutASAP Not since Munich 1958 has something caused so much damage to this great club. #MoyesOut

Even if this is joke profile, or a WUM (Wind Up Merchant) in action, it’s still a note-perfect satire of TMF.

106. He’s the owner, he does what he wants

This statement appeared on the Leeds United website at 12:20pm yesterday afternoon;

A STATEMENT FROM GFH CAPITAL

A statement from the owners…

Following recent media reports and speculation, GFH Capital would like to confirm that it has agreed to sell a 75 per cent stake in the club to Eleonora Sport Ltd, a company owned by the Cellino family who have many years experience in football and who plan to invest substantially in the club including the re acquisition of Elland Road. Eleonora will be working on completing the required Football League approval.

The Cellino Family is a well known Italian sports family, who have owned Serie A side Cagliari since 1992. They come to English football with an ambition to support Leeds United financially to take it to the Premier League and a belief that the club can sustain top-flight status.

Since the agreement, Leeds United is in discussion with Elenora Sport Ltd. on a number of issues concerning the Club matters including the structure of the management of the first team.

This article appeared on the Yorkshire Eveneing Post at 05:30 yesterday morning.

Cellino flexes his muscles at Leeds United       

Leeds United were consumed by chaos last night after new owner Massimo Cellino began his reign at Elland Road by ruthlessly sacking Brian McDermott and losing two major club sponsors. 

Cellino, who is on the verge of completing a £25m buy-out of Leeds, dismissed McDermott within hours of securing a deal for the club – prompting shirt sponsor Enterprise Insurance to dramatically withdraw its support in protest.

Yorkshire-based theme park Flamingo Land, which backs United’s academy with a deal worth a six-figure sum each year, followed suit soon after as anger over the treatment of McDermott spread.

Andrew Flowers, the managing director of Enterprise Insurance and until Thursday part of a consortium who were bidding to buy Leeds from current owner Gulf Finance House, said the sale to Cellino and his ruthless dismissal of McDermott was “a disgraceful decision which brings the club into disrepute and one which we won’t be associated with.”

Enterprise Insurance paid its sizeable sponsorship fee in full and up front earlier this season and the money is understood to have been used to tie top scorer and club captain Ross McCormack to a new four-year contract in August.

Flowers told the YEP: “I’m devastated for Brian and we’ll be looking to end our sponsorship of the club. In no way do we wish to be associated with this regime.”

McDermott took training at Thorp Arch on Friday and held his regular press conference shortly after 1pm, voicing uncertainty about his future at Elland Road with Cellino close to finalising a 75 per cent takeover.

The former Reading was dismissed later in the day and informed of Cellino’s decision to sack him by an unknown lawyer.

Acting chief executive Paul Hunt is also understood to have left Elland Road.

Gianluca Festa, the former Middlesbrough defender and a long-time ally of Cellino’s, is set to take charge of United’s squad for today’s game against Huddersfield Town at Elland Road, exposing him to an inevitable backlash from the club’s supporters. Cellino attempted to place Festa in the Leeds dug-out for their 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town on Tuesday, a request that was denied by the club but which many saw as a blatant attempt to undermine McDermott.

United have not parted company with assistant manager Nigel Gibbs or first-team coach Neil Redfearn and both could assist 44-year-old Festa this afternoon.

Gibbs in particular is highly unlikely to remain at Elland Road beyond this weekend.

Festa has little in the way of prior management experience, all of it coming during a short stint as manager of Italian lower league side Lumezzane during the 2012-13 season.

He is, however, a close confidant of Cellino’s and made a number of visits to Thorp Arch while Cellino was tying up his takeover.

The owner and president of Cagliari is believed to have  agreed all necessary terms with

Turn to page 43

GFH and the club were expected to make an official announcement today. No comment was made by them last night as tempers flared in the wake of McDermott’s exit.

The Football League is now facing a key decision over whether to sanction the 57-year-old’s takeover with Flowers poised to mount a legal challenge if the takeover gains official approval.

Flowers was one of the figures behind Sport Capital, the consortium who tried and failed to buy Leeds from GFH last month and conceded defeat in their bid on Thursday. “I’m considering all legal options,” he said.

The Football League’s Owners and Directors Test appears to be all that stands between Cellino and full confirmation of his buy-out, and the governing body will come under intense scrutiny when it begins considering a record showing two conviction in the Italian courts for fraud.

Football League rules require anyone purchasing more than a 10 per cent stake in any of its member clubs to pass the test, and the League’s regulations ban anyone with “unspent convictions for offences of dishonesty, corruption, perverting the course of justice, serious breaches of the Companies Act or conspiracy to commit any of those offences” from becoming an owner or a director.

It is not known whether Cellino intends to take up a seat on the board at Elland Road – his son Ercole, who spent time in Leeds last week and took tours of United’s stadium and training ground, has been suggested as a possible figurehead for Cellino’s regime – but the Italian’s involvement will bring the Football League’s policies into sharp focus.

Those doubts, however, did not aid McDermott, who was appointed by Leeds on a three-year deal in April and oversaw just 36 games.

A source close to the 52-year-old said: “The things that have gone on at Leeds are unbelievable. He’s shocked and devastated to be leaving. It’s very, very wrong.”

As Cellino and GFH tied up loose ends, a desperate attempt was made by another group of potential buyers to drag GFH to the negotiating table.

Leeds Together, fronted by ex-Manchester United International managing director Mike Farnan, urged the Bahraini bank to engage it in meaningful talks and consider an offer which they said was “the best way forward.”

But Cellino’s bid found more favour with GFH and he and his associates are understood to have flown into England from Italy yesterday to put the finishing touches to his takeover.

There were no confirmed transfers in or out of Elland Road last night, with Leeds turning down a flurry of approaches for captain and top scorer Ross McCormack.

In the 7 hours between the article and the statement people realized that McDermott had been sacked by an football club owner that didn’t yet own a football club.

Just to make things even more interesting this statement was published on Leeds United’s website at 5:00pm yesterday afternoon;

BRIAN McDERMOTT: CLUB STATEMENT

A statement….

The club would like to make it clear that Brian McDermott remains our first team manager. He has not been dismissed from his post as has been suggested and we look forward to him continuing in his role with us in taking Leeds United forwards.

If only there was a test that potential club owners could take.





Is it TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ or JIM WHITE DAY™?

31 01 2014

The rumours about tomorrow’s Welsh Cup trip to Airbus – the match was said to be at risk because of the typical north Walean weather – forced me to go on to the BBC website at 7:55 this morning. I inadvertently saw the special link to TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ as I was about to click the link for the weather section.

My tired mind had forgotten about TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ until my tired eyes saw what they saw. I cursed the god of intelligence and humility, why wasn’t I allowed to forget about the greatest day in the football season™?

This morning’s unwitting reminder was my second of the last two days and I didn’t need another jarring jolt. Yesterday’s BBC article – “The madness that is Transfer Deadline Day” – was enough for both days. Oh how I wish I could forget the sensation of the first three paragraphs coursing through my sense of wonder;

“There is a man on my telly standing outside The Den in a suit speaking fast and portentously without full stops or commas and with lots of superlatives.

I’m scared because there is also a clock counting down in the bottom right-hand corner so something important must be about to happen like the arrival of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse but it turns out Shaun Batt has joined Leyton Orient from Millwall instead. On loan.

Welcome to Transfer Deadline Day, which I’ve deliberately written in capitals because there are those who think we should make it a public holiday. “

After this morning’s jolt a compulsion forced me to see if things were as bad as I feared, I had to find out what was happening.

A journalist called Marc Higginson was “Live Reporting”. I scrolled down and found that my prejudices were proved again.

07:34What about Harry?

I always wonder what transfer deadline day is like for football managers. Harry Redknapp might not be the obvious centre of attention today, but I bet he was up before the milkman this morning – walking the dog and plotting his first car door interview of the day. Even if he doesn’t sign anybody, it just wouldn’t be transfer deadline day without ‘Arry.

07:50BBC Sport’s Ben Smith

What to expect

“Look a little closer and you soon see there is a strong possibility that fax machines across Europe could be in for a day they won’t forget in a hurry. At the top of the table, Liverpool are working hard to bring in one more, while down at the bottom, West Ham are shopping for a bargain.

“The Hammers are trying to hijack Fulham’s attempts to sign the Greek striker Konstandinos Mitroglou. The Olympiakos player underwent the first part of his medical with Fulham yesterday and further tests are planned today before an £11m deal is completed.

“But West Ham remain determined to add a striker, as well as a defender, to their squad before tonight’s deadline.

“And they are now exploring the possibility of pinching Mitroglou from under Fulham’s noses. St Etienne striker Max Gradel is another target.”

07:57BBC Sport’s David Ornstein

What to expect

“Transfer deadline day just wouldn’t be the same without Arsenal making a late foray into the market. The Gunners have been linked with a loan move for Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic, while across north London Tottenham are open to the possibility of letting midfielder Lewis Holtby leave, most likely on loan.

“Reports suggest he could join Fulham in a deal that would see striker Dimitar Berbatov go in the opposite direction and rejoin his former club. Staying in the capital, Crystal Palace are working to sign a goalkeeper and centre-back – the latter could be Ivan Ramis if the Wigan defender lowers his wage demands. If the right opportunity arises for the Eagles to sign a striker, they are also ready to do that.”

08:00 – 15 HOURS TO GO

The clock continues to tick, but we’ve not had a single transfer confirmed as yet. However, that could all be about to change as club offices up and down the country open for business. I can picture the scene now – Premier League managers checking the fax machine has ink and paper and club secretaries loading themselves up on coffee. And Big Sam tucking into an egg butty.

On TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ everything is frenzied, even at 08:01. What a day!

When something develops it’s own shorthand and clichés it begins to look like an institution, if anything tells us about the irritating nature of TMF it’s that TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ has become an institution.  TMF being TMF TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ will mean that someone will be stressing about whether Arsenal are able to make their customary late foray in to the market to save the soul of TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™.

At 8:15 I succumbed to the twitter urge, I had to find out whether Arsenal had saved TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ with a late foray in to the transfer market.  I couldn’t see any news about that so I typed “Jim White” in the search box on twitter. (Jim White is a Murdoch lackey that gets uncontrollable excited about this farrago.) Needless to say I ended up despairing at humanity.

@Pickles8Derby Feels like Christmas!!!!!!! It’s transfer deadline day woooop!! Howay Sir Jim White

@sampdobson The light at the end of the tunnel is a night infront of the box watching Jim White

@Barnesy1715 Can’t believe I’ve got to work a late shift on #DeadlineDay again! Hopefully they’ll let me go early so I can watch Jim White do his stuff.

@ashtonadamsbcfc Deadline day!! Might get a few cans and the boys round tonight and play the Jim white drinking game

@daveberry_tweet Jim White. God I want him so bad, yellow tie and all. Happy deadline day My love I know you’re going to be brilliant

@GetYourTipsOut RT if you’re buzzing for #TransferDeadlineDay with @nataliesawyer and Jim White tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/k2tVwC1g3f

@MessiMinutes Sky Sports News on. A hugely exciting 30 hours in the transfer market. A real Deadline Day for Jim White to get his teeth into.

@dannywarren14 Today is all about the main man himself, Jim White #DeadlineDay

@Lwaughlfc Nothing better then a bit of transfer deadline day! It’s all about Mr Jim White tonight! #skysportsnews #TransferDeadlineDay

@saultrup What would transfer deadline day be like without Jim White from Barnet, London

@jonesgary16  Jim White on DEADLINE DAY #classact

Free-thinking human beings are staying in with TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ drinking games™. People actually look forward to TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ and some are “buzzing” about it, you can be sure that some twats will have taken the whole day off. TMF is a bottomless pit of craven bovine stupidity.

Looking at all the tweets made TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ look even worse; some “people” have re-christened TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ as “Jim White Day”. In other words people have even managed to sully the contrived corporate soul of TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™.

@squarefootball1 Happy Jim White day to you all! we hope you get the players you want at your club!

@TomBell1988 happy jim white day to all #DeadlineDay #jimwhiteforprimeminister

@markusd81 @SkySportsNews Christmas day may only come once a year, but we can be thankful that Jim White day comes twice a year #jimwhiteday

@MyOnlyCardiff Scott Dann & Ross McCormack. That would be the best Jim White day present ever! #CCFC

@LD_Reid89  I am off to uni tomorrow with 1 intention- wearing yellow and watching @SkySportsNews for Jim White day! #DeadlineDay

@HarryDiamond93 When will the government declare #DeadlineDay the national holiday it should be?

@Daler960 @HarryDiamond93 no it should be made national Jim White day guys a legend

Even betting firms and pro footballers succumb to the bullshit;

@WillHillBet Happy Jim White day everyone. Heard any rumours? Premier League club to make the most signings today: 10/11 Palace, 11/4 Fulham, 9/1 WHUFC

@Rossmccormack44Jim white day tomorrow .. Looking forward to see what shade of fake bake he has on! #tangod

The blasphemous bovine hordes have taken TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™’s soul thrown it on the dusty floor then trampled all over it, stamped on it’s head and then repeatedly kicked the jerking body. The lovers of TMF can’t even treat their holiest days with the reverence they themselves have ascribed to them,  and these people are allowed to vote.

Sadly TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ fever has even infected the “good newspapers”;

 @guardian_sport Transfer deadline day – live! http://gu.com/p/3mbxe/tw  via @guardian

I was unable to resist going back on the BBC website at 08:45. When I scrolled down I found this;

08:04Ridsdale’s view

Former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale has told BBC Sport his Deadline Day dos and don’ts.

Step one is find the fax machine, but there are some other key points for clubs to lock down.

He said: “If a player doesn’t want to play for you, the best you can do is get the best price for the club. A classic example was when I sold Rio Ferdinand at Leeds. He returned from the 2002 World Cup and came into my office on his first day back and said he wanted to go to Manchester United.

“Once we knew he was going, the cat and mouse game is how much can you get for him. Ultimately we got £30m. It was difficult. Once you know the player is going and where he wants to go to, how do you push the price up so the other club don’t say ‘we know he’s coming to us so we’ll keep the price depressed’? But we managed to get them from an initial bid of £18m to up to £30m so it was a job well done.”

I can’t think of a better person to talk about transfers than Peter Ridsdale. I noticed that the information at the top of the screen implored idiots to get involved;

Get Involved

Excited? Nervous? Repeatedly smashing the ‘refresh’ key on the transfers page already? Hoping that your star striker will still be at the club come midnight?

It gets to us all, does Transfer Deadline Day. But how are you all feeling? How are you staying across all the moves? Where are you following from? Who have you seen heading to Anfield/Old Trafford/Stamford Bridge/Boundary Park? We want to know.

Text us on 81111 (UK Only) with your names, leave a message on the BBC Sport Facebook page or better still, send us your pictures and prose to #bbcfootball on Twitter.

We really want some top, top photos this year. Ping us.

Whilst I was trying to work out whether pinging the BBC was an offence under the Electronic Communications act  I scrolled down the screen and noticed that someone had got themselves involved

Tarek A: This is make or break for Arsenal season. We need to buy a big name striker by the end of the day.

My God that prose is powerful enough to stir Arsene into action. “Make or Break”, did you read that!!!!! “WE”………..”NEED”………“A” ………“BIG NAME STRIKER” Yeah Arsenal really, really, really need a big international, like that bloke Arshavin bloke they signed a few years.

I checked again at 09:15 but TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ was just too frenzied;

08:50It’s been a slow start, hasn’t it? The only ‘done deal’ so far has been Crewe signing a player from non-league [0821]. I feel like an early-morning fisherman who has reeled in one tiddler in two hours. I’ve got big hope of landing a big one after 9 though…

If I took TMF and TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ seriously I would have to look for a place to rest my weary head. The volume of excitement on TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™ is so great that you can have two weekend’s worth of excitement by 09:15

I couldn’t resist going back to twitter at lunchtime. It was still full of bovine stupidity.

@Eddieclarkk Jim White, deadline day legend #fact

@kieranmckelvie Can’t believe I’m working on transfer deadline day, missing jim white already

@UncleLroyCFC Love Jim White Day.. #Excited @SkySportsNews

@j0etaylor11 Deadline day isn’t the same without Jim White

@mike_cleary1985 @SkySportsNews no better way to spend my birthday watching #DeadlineDay and the greatness that is @nataliesawyer and Jim White

@PeteyHarris @TheLADBible Jim White made Rick Astley give him up #JimWhiteFacts

I logged on to twitter at 2:00. It was still full of bovine stupidity.

@wiz0012 Jim White, Jim White, Jimmy Jimmy White. He’s big and grey, it’s deadline day, Jimmy Jimmy White! #SkyDeadlineDay

@arcurtis Man date in front of the tv with Jim White later, can only mean Transfer Deadline Day..

@keaganvanzy @SkySportsNews five hours of cancelled lectures on deadline day. Jim White really is Santa.

@Fozzboss The day Jim White leaves sky sports will be the day the world ends basically Howard Wright ‏@aitchdoubleyou Jim White makes transfer deadline day so enjoyable

@AherneLaura Want to be Jim White?! Now you can with #SkyDeadlineDay cut-out-and-keep mask and tie! -> http://sky.me/jimwhite  pic.twitter.com/dWGf1s7L4C”

@JoeGrom I bet Jim White has been around the sky sports news team #DoesWhatHeWants

@stephenmarsh9 Haha Jim White is such a ledge.

Q. What’s wrong with the phrase TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™?;

@SkySports Will Lewis Holtby be a hit at #FFC? Don’t miss a thing on #SkyDeadlineDay wherever you are: http://bit.ly/1hWuXgc  pic.twitter.com/Jnm9Bv3ioT

@SkyBet #SkyDeadlineDay FREE BET FRIDAY! Get your Jim White mask and tie on and win a £20 free bet if we RT! Get it here -> http://sky.me/jimwhite

A. As you can see its correct name is SKY TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY™





The things that have annoyed me this week

28 01 2014

a.k.a…….So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 26

95. In TMF conspiracies are everywhere

The people that like TMF don’t seem to be able to accept simple things. As soon as “their” club loses they start moaning. If “their” club has the temerity to lose a few games they contact radio phone-ins  to squeal  “Why is life always soooooo unfair?!?!?!?!” like teenage rebels.  On the other hand, if “their” club does the unthinkable and narrowly loses a couple of important matches they smell a conspiracy.

For example, if “their” club hasn’t won anything for ages and ages and ages it won’t be because other teams were better, or more consistent, it’ll be because there is a conspiracy that favours of other clubs. In the eyes of this Arsenal arsehole a pro-Manchester United refereeing conspiracy has been replaced by a pro-Manchester City refereeing conspiracy;

“Are the refs favouring Man City? I believe so based on strings of bad officiating in games involving them but with the victims of the bad calls always being their opponents. But there is no way to prove that they are buying their results. To continue to suggest so would lose us the support of other fans who might also believe, like us, that there is something fishy about officiating but uncomfortable with accusation of corruption without proof.

 My position on this matter is based on the team that used to enjoys such benefits: Manchester United. But then nobody ever talked about ‘oil money’, we just assumed that they were in the pockets of Alex Ferguson. And many of them were indeed intimidated or enamoured with the Scotsman. While I agree with the notion (that Ferguson owned the refs), on the other hand, I think that Man United got everything they wanted because of a very compliant media.”

Some Rangers fans look at their club’s punishment and prefer to see a conspiracy against the club rather than their club’s culpability;

“………..I am talking about the vile cancer of Rangers-hating bigotry that so many engage in, from the man in the street to trusted HMRC officials, to journalists and pundits and to those who work in the football authorities.

Rangers-hating is a national disease in Scotland. It has clearly resulted in the obscene persecution of a famous sporting institution and has shown widespread endemic corruption in so many organisations. People have been shown to be quite prepared to risk liberty and livelihood in order to do damage to Rangers Football Club.”

When some people see their club lose it’s down to the referees’ conspiracy against the club;

There’s a refs conspiracy against United, claims Fergie after defeat at Arsenal

“Sir Alex Ferguson last night pulled ‘a Jose’ by claiming referees are biased against Manchester United.

Just five days after Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho ranted about the world being against him, a furious Fergie insisted United do not get decisions in big games.”

In their outraged excitement people are destroying the English language, “Woe is me, everything’s sooooooooooooooooo unfair!?!?!?!”  Calciopoli and Dynamo Berlin’s success and the systemic corruption around the aftermath of Hillsborough are conspiracies, a couple of defeats isn’t a conspiracy.

96. Collymore and twitter trolls

I’ve written about this before and it sadly happened again  last week. Sadly Stan dared to offer another reasonable opinion.

One of the most disturbing things about twitter is the ease that racial and derogatory language comes to some people. To a lot of people it’s merely “banter, mate”. Last year Wales lost to Serbia and a bloke that was following me on twitter tweeted;

“Surely a retarded monkey with aids would be a better manager than Coleman?”

I took issue with the wanker but it turned out I was in the wrong; I was “precious”. After I blocked him he continued to sarcastically refer to me as “precious”. About 18 months ago I spent 3 hours arguing about the causes of Hillsborough with a USA-based Man Utd fan after he’d tweeted something about “self-pitying Scousers” causing the deaths of their own at Hillsborough. Again I was the problem.

I had a real world taste of this casual wordplay when Bangor played in Aberystwyth a couple of weeks ago. Teenaged Aberystwyth fans in branded clothes decided to use economic factors to berate their supposed inferiors – me and my friends – with chants of the following calibre;

“Go back to your council houses”
“Let’s all go to Tesco, where Bangor buy their best clothes”

We stood there while bloody 14 year olds insulted and judged people from the comfort and security of an existence paid for by caring parents. We stood there and took it because they were kids.

Another Bangor fan and I eventually grew weary of their freelance sociology so turned around to ask them what they thought they were doing. To see their faces drop milliseconds after the question “Do actually you understand what you’re singing about?” was posed was rather satisfying.

Why do we have to put up with this crap?

97. Rich clubs list

The “Football rich list” came out last week and what an absolute load of unmitigated crap it is.

Why the hell do the media give this less than subtle appendage-measuring exercise such prominence in the proper news? What good does this knowledge do the general public? All it does is make capitalism and sport seem as though they are inextricably linked. Bollocks to it

98. Illegal decoders

The Man’s trying to prosecute illegal decoders in pubs again. It says a lot about TMF that there are unlicensed ways of viewing it.

99. Twitter again

Some Chelsea supporting arsehole tweeted this;

@Famous_CFC Hard to take the expert opinion of a lower league footballer seriously when commentating on a team of superstars #clarkecarlisle

100. This bloody country

This story say a lot about how we, “we” as in “society”, view footballers;

Adnan Januzaj’s initiation into the ranks of professional football continues, with the 18-year-old Manchester United star the subject of a tabloid ‘kiss-and-tell’.

No bedroom revelations to embarrass young Adnan, thankfully, but rather the source of student Melissa McKenzie’s dissatisfaction was the £30,000-a-week star’s choice of venue – budget chicken joint Nando’s.

Melissa, 25, was also peeved Januzaj turned up in tracksuit bottoms and trainers and let her pay for parking after she had allegedly picked him up from a street corner where his mum had dropped him off.

‘I’ve never met anyone so stingy in my life,’ Melissa told The Sun. ‘I was so excited for the first date. We met on a social network site and I got all dressed up and even got my make-up done – costing me £30.

 ‘I expected him to come to me in a flashy car, but I ended up driving him about in my old blue Fiesta and I was left to pay and display. Then he said he was taking me to Nando’s – my face fell.

‘I usually go there for a quick bite to eat with my mates. I didn’t expect to be going there on a date with a Man United footballer, especially in my dress and heels.’

Yes, dead right, Melissa – how dare he act like us regular plebs.

The paper reports that Januzaj did fork out £18 for dinner before the evening moved on to to a three-star hotel, where the pair watched The X Factor.

Melissa claims the forward then asked to be driven home at 9pm, and alas the romance ultimately led nowhere.

Possibly a lucky escape there, mate.”

I’m unable to find the most horrible aspect of this story as all angles are equally horrible; from the “newspaper” it appeared in to the salacious “kiss and tell” slant; from the depressing way that some people view their fellow human beings to the criticism of a person for acting like a normal human being. The only positive thing about it is the hope that she was misquoted.





So what’s annoyed me this week?

16 01 2014

.k.a…….So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 25

92. Fans are not dissicated counting machines

Better men than me have complained our unquenchable need to analyse football matches on a statistical basis –  @Regista_Michael wrote a lovely article about the issue for this month’s When Saturday Comes and @the_itch1980 once said “Assists aren’t a real thing. They’re made up by Fantasy Football to amuse nerds” – but they say great minds think alike so here’s my twopennorth worth

There are two good reasons why stats and football shouldn’t really mix.

Firstly, as my esteemed examples have pointed out, football is an experience to be felt rather than an equation to be solved, even cynical managers and players have feelings about the spirit of football.

Number crunching divorces football from emotion. You can see this in the final two paragraphs of this article from Wired;

Wilson missed the last game of that season, when City played Queens Park Rangers. City were level on points with Manchester United, but had a superior goal difference. “I had a flight but it was delayed, so I ended up only watching the first half on TV,” recalls Wilson. “By then when we were winning 1-0, so I was confident.” In the second half, QPR scored twice. Two minutes after stoppage time, City’s striker Edin DŽeko equalised. By then, United were winning their match and, if nothing changed, would be the champions

Two minutes later, City’s attacker Sergio Aguero received the ball on the edge of the box, in a position to shoot. According to Prozone’s goal-expectation model, he had a 12 percent chance of scoring. Instead of shooting, he went around a defender to a corner of the penalty area and, from a spot where he had a 19 percent chance of scoring, slotted the ball past the keeper. By the time Wilson landed at Gatwick, the news ticker running across the TV screens was saying that Manchester City were the new champions.”

The nail biting circumstances of one of the closest league seasons in British football and the emotion the Man City fans felt is lost in the bone dry certainty of the scientific method. This;

Has been replaced by this;

angles

Secondly, while data analysis might seem to be a useful tool for managers and coaches the work of the boffins is unnecessary.

Look again at the last two paragraphs of the article. The article’s author is actually amazed that a footballer moved the ball into position that he was more likely to score from. I’m sorry to tell you this boffins but Aguero probably didn’t weigh up the scientifically proven goal producing efficacies of the different positions before he moved, he naturally moved from one position to another because that’s what he’d been coached to do all his life.  I’m really sorry boffins but child footballers were told to do that in my dim and distant day.

The article also tells us above the breakthrough made by Sam Allardyce and his boffins. Sam and the boys managed to figure out that…..

“…..they would have an 80 percent chance of not losing if the players outworked their opposition by covering more distance at speeds above 5.5m/s.”

Yes Sam’s boffins discovered that team has a higher chance of winning if their players are fitter and quicker than the other team. They won 2004’s Nobel Prize for stating the bleeding obvious with that pearler.

The Wired article also covers the latest thing in twitter based analysis, heat mapping;

Heat Mapping

Heat Mapping: the red shows Everton left-back Leighton Baines’s territory during the game (both halves are superimposed here). Baines’s corner-kicks are shown at the lower-right. (More Here)

Call me a luddite but what is the point in this?  Anybody with a knowledge of football and a pair of eyes would be able to spot that Leighton Baines covers a lot of ground would be able to make that deduction, never mind a seasoned coach with years of football experience.

We can see the unnecessary sheen of scientific buzz words in this bit of the article;

“Analysts now know that it is the distance run by a player when sprinting that indicates good performance, and that it is ball possession within the last third of the pitch that correlates with success. Better metrics imply a more refined understanding of the game. “Sometimes we look only at the individuals and forget the context,” says Blake Wooster, a former director at Prozone, who now runs a sports startup called 21st Club. “For instance, Barcelona’s [Lionel] Messi is one of the best players ever, but what would happen if you took him out of that context and put him in another team? You can’t assess talent in a vacuum.” An example of that type of contextual statistics is a model recently developed by Prozone called “goal expectation”.”

They could have reduced this sentence;

“Analysts now know that it is the distance run by a player when sprinting that indicates good performance, and that it is ball possession within the last third of the pitch that correlates with success.”

To this;

“It doesn’t matter how pretty a side looks if their final pass is crap”

They could have reduced this passage;

“Better metrics imply a more refined understanding of the game. “Sometimes we look only at the individuals and forget the context,” says Blake Wooster, a former director at Prozone, who now runs a sports startup called 21st Club. “For instance, Barcelona’s [Lionel] Messi is one of the best players ever, but what would happen if you took him out of that context and put him in another team? You can’t assess talent in a vacuum.” An example of that type of contextual statistics is a model recently developed by Prozone called “goal expectation”.

To this sentence; 

“He might look good in Madrid but could he do that on a wet November Tuesday in Hartlepool?”

A lot of fans might act like wankers but a lot of us know something about football, we don’t need to a boffin and his laptop to understand the sport. We can see if someone’s not happy, or not running as much they used to. We can see the players that appear to be everywhere, we even notice the players that go unnoticed. Fuck off Boffins.

93. More tweeting

The Mirror tweeted this last night.

SUB: Emyr Huws (yeah, we know) comes on as City and DOESN’T score after 15 seconds: http://mirr.im/1eDTXqp

It’s lovely to see that the Mirror realise that some Welsh people might spell their names differently beacuse they speak a language other than English.

In all seriousness I hadn’t realised that Murdoch had bought the Mirror.

94. Not enough fans view things like this

An esteemed user of the WSC, and an Anti-Tan refusnik, message board wrote this about challenging autocratic club owners;

Of course my preference for a first course of action is withdrawing your financial & physical support of a regime by boycotting, that’s what I’ve already done.

The problem is there is far too much of this perverse “support the team, it’s not their fault” attitude from too many supporters, as if 25 paid employees (none of whom will be at a club in 5 years time) are of any importance.

If club owners like Tan and Allam attempt (and succeed in the former’s case) in driving through their autocratic whims using their own brand of threats and a climate of fear then I think it’s perfectly legitimate to respond in kind.

It’s not one-way, I’ve had threats of violence made about me from a former owner of my club simply for questioning his plans. A clique of supporters loyal to that former owner (now life president and beneficiary of £22m from Tan recently, all of which was further loaded on to the club as debt) including his convicted hooligan personal bodyguard gatecrashed a protest meeting I chaired saying they would “bury” anyone protesting inside the ground. It worked, opposition was scared away.

These people aren’t poor, weak old men, they’re ruthless, powerful venal bastards and you have to at least make some threat that you’ll fight back.

It won’t happen of course, far too many supporters focus on a league position and enjoy their PL “success” over every other aspect of a club. They’re enabling cunts like Tan and Allam and care too much about an entity in Companies House rather than the football club. It’s worth dropping to D4 like Portsmouth or starting again in non-league to drive these egomaniacs and speculators out.

Nail on the head.





So what’s annoyed me this week?

11 01 2014

a.k.a…….So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 24

90. The moral neutrality of sponsors

In 2014 PR guru actually thinks “The nature of Cardiff City” is a sober slogan of sporting endeavour;

Cardiff City.

91. The egotism of pundits

Read this BBC article to see which players Robbie Savage chooses as “The twelve players that aren’t good enough for Manchester United“;

Manchester United: Robbie Savage says 12 players should go

Manchester United must spend £200m if they are to rebuild their squad to the standard that once made sides visiting Old Trafford feel helpless.

United lost for the third time in a row with defeat at Sunderland on Tuesday and I think as many as 12 of the 27 players who regularly feature for them are now on borrowed time.

Blunt United

Wayne Rooney tops the Premier League’s assist-makers this season but he is the only United player in the top 40.

Manchester City, meanwhile, have eight players on the same list

The players are getting shot at by people like me, but they should look at themselves. Are they running hard enough? Are they tackling hard enough? Are they putting the same effort in as they did for Sir Alex Ferguson? These are the questions I’d like to ask them, because they do not seem to be.

The fear factor I had to deal with at Old Trafford when the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and David Beckham were lining up for United has gone but I think a dozen players should make way as part of the rebuilding job manager David Moyes faces.

Good goalkeepers

There were question marks at first about David De Gea but he has matured into a fantastic Premier League goalkeeper. Understudy Anders Lindegaard is a good back-up. Both should stay.

Changes at the back

Chris Smalling: I am not convinced by him. His passing is not good enough for a Manchester United player. He should go.

Did you know? Smalling has given the ball away seven times per game on average this season and his pass completion rate stands at 80%. Only Rafael (76%) fares worse among United’s defenders.

Alexander Buttner: I’m surprised he is there in the first place. He is not good enough to be a Manchester United player and has not played enough games for that reason.

Did you know? Since joining Manchester United at the beginning of last season, Buttner has completed just two of his 25 open crosses in the Premier League.

Fabio: He is not as good as his brother Rafael. He did not do it at QPR, so what chance has he got of doing it at a club like Manchester United? Not at the level he needs to be at and has to go.

Did you know? Fabio has made only nine Premier League starts for Manchester United since joining the club in 2008.

Rio Ferdinand: He has been one of the best central defenders in the Premier League and a great servant for Manchester United, but injuries and age have caught up with him. There has to be a role for him at the club, but not as a starting member of the first team. I would suggest he joins the coaching staff.

Did you know? United have won only 29% of their league games with Ferdinand in the side this season, compared to 62% without him.

Who stays? Nemanja Vidic can help blood a young centre-half despite his best days being behind him, while Patrice Evra’s experience remains an asset, though defensively he is vulnerable. Rafael and Jonny Evans are in good shape, but Phil Jones must settle into one position soon if he is to fulfil his potential.

A midfield overhaul

Marouane Fellaini: I am not sure what his best position is. He is not good enough to play for United in the middle of the park and not quick enough or dynamic enough to play off the front. He should go.

Did you know? The Belgian has not scored or provided an assist in his past 18 Premier League appearances (eight for United, 10 for Everton), last scoring against Manchester City in March 2013.

Anderson: They paid a lot of money for him back in 2007, but the Brazilian has played just four league games this season. In my view, he has not recovered from the injuries he has suffered and cannot hold down a regular first-team place, so he should go.

Stuck in the middle

“How many of their midfielders would get into a top-four team? You compare their options to Manchester City and I think it’s a given – there are shortcomings.

“They are all good players, make no mistake. What they are not is consistent enough to play for Manchester United.

“Dealing with the pressure and delivering the consistent level of performance is what it takes and I don’t think there is enough of it in that midfield.”

Did you know? Since the start of last season, Anderson has only played 21 times for United (979 minutes). He has completed 90 minutes once in that time (the 5-5 draw with West Brom at the end of last season).

Ryan Giggs: The best Premier League player ever, but if they are going to rely on a 41-year-old to produce the goods next season, it does not say a lot for the rest of the midfielders. He will stay on as a coach and possibly be the next manager, but, playing-wise, he should go.

Did you know? The United veteran has created just seven chances in nine league games this season and has no assists.

Nani: I’m surprised he got a new five-year contract. He has not scored or created a goal in eight league games this season. He’s just too inconsistent and should go.

Did you know? Only five players (Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Young, Robin van Persie and Steven Gerrard) have produced more assists than Nani since he moved to the Premier League in 2007 (43).

Ashley Young: At times, he looks great and scores some great goals, but he’s only completed one league game this season. That says to me he is inconsistent, so what is he in the team for? To produce goals? He has not been doing that enough, so he should go.

Did you know? Despite being third on the list of Premier League assists since 2007-08, Young is yet to register one this season, creating only eight chances in 10 appearances.

Tom Cleverley: Has played in all but four of United’s league games this season, but I am not sure what he contributes. Does he pass it well? Does he score goals? Does he tackle? What does he actually do? He plays for England and I think he is good, but I am not sure what he contributes and, for me, is not a Manchester United player.

Did you know? In the Premier League, 22 midfielders have made 900 passes this season. Six are yet to produce an assist: Mile Jedinak, Jose Canas, Gary Medel, Michael Carrick, Lucas and Cleverley.

Antonio Valencia: I was torn on this one. I am not sure he has ever recovered from his injuries. He had a blistering yard of pace in the past, but I think he has lost it and does not get around the full-back enough. He should go.

Did you know? Only three players (Stewart Downing, Morgan Amalfitano and Ahmed Elmohamady) have completed more open crosses in the Premier League this season than Valencia (16).

Who stays: Michael Carrick’s consistency makes him indispensible in this current squad. Darren Fletcher is a quality player if he has overcome his health issues and I want to see what Shinji Kagawa can do, as he is proven at a top club in Borussia Dortmund. Wilfried Zaha should be allowed to prove he belongs at the top level, while Adnan Januzaj clearly does.

A tweak in attack

Javier Hernandez: Does not perform well consistently enough when he starts games. He is a good impact player but is no Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Who stays: Strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are the only world-class players in the United squad, while Danny Welbeck offers an alternative option.

In conclusion

United’s slide boils down to the loss of Sir Alex Ferguson’s genius more than the shortcomings of new boss Moyes.

The players they currently have are not bad players, they are just not United players. For Ferguson to win the league with this squad last season shows just how special he was.

The 15 who should stay

De Gea, Lindegaard, Rafael, Evra, Jones, Evans, Vidic, Carrick, Fletcher, Kagawa, Zaha, Januzaj, Rooney, Van Persie and Welbeck

In the past, the average players at Manchester United had world-class ones to pull them along. Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Eric Cantona got the average players into positions to win league titles.

Some will now question Moyes, but I’d be questioning myself if I was a player in that dressing room.

It will take an awful lot of money to rebuild this United squad, but I still think the former Everton manager is the one who can do it.”

Savage’s analysis may be correct – he should know what he’s talking about, he wasn’t good enough for United – but he’s hardly best person to be airing the faults of fellow footballers in public.

Let’s cast our minds back to September 2003 to see how he dealt with public criticism………Wales have just failed to beat Finland at home so mystery begin to shroud Wales’ certain path to the European Championships. Step forward John Benjamin Toshack……..

“Among those who saw fit to criticise were John Toshack, a former player and manager – for one game. He claimed that Wales were “lulled into a false sense of security” and that they could have won with “more ambition”.

Manager Mark Hughes, who has exceeded all expectations – including his own – in turning his nation from a tin-pot outfit to a respected, well-drilled unit, is more disappointed for his staff than on a personal level.

“Perhaps people have been waiting this long to have their say,” said Hughes as he considered Wales’s first competitive defeat for two weeks short of two years.”

Robbie immeadiately hated Toshack for his temerity. The bad feelings festered until they reached their apogee; “The Fried bananas affair”….

When I think about the cosy chat I had with John Toshack after he became Wales manager it makes me feel sick. “It’s a fresh start,” he told me. It wasn’t.

When Mark Hughes left I did a hot-headed interview, saying I thought Gary Speed and Brian Flynn would be the perfect people to take over and not Toshack. I was nailed by my own comments.

I was in his first squad, for a friendly against Hungary in February 2005. I had just moved to Blackburn, and I was also ­struggling with a groin injury, but I still turned up because I was desperate to show him my commitment to Wales.

Under Sparky, no expense was spared on Wales duty. There would be about six or seven menu choices. It would be good, healthy stuff, but there would still be a king’s feast waiting for us at mealtimes.

Walking into the dining room at Toshack’s first get-together, I stopped in surprise. There was nothing on the table. I looked at Giggsy, and he looked at me. We sat down at this empty table, and it was like being in school. The waitress came in to take our order. Plain chicken, no sauce. Or spaghetti ­bolognese. Fried bananas or rice and ­broccoli.

I wanted chicken with gravy, but we weren’t allowed. I looked down at this plate of dry chicken, one veg, no gravy, fried bananas – and then I followed the habit of a ­lifetime and acted out of instinct. Up went the white tablecloth as I pushed back my chair and crawled under the table.

The lads were laughing but trying not to let Toshack see, and I started my hunt. “Where’s the veg?” I called out. “Maybe there are some sauces under here.” I could see Toshack’s face, and he wasn’t amused.

“Is there a problem?” he almost snarled. “My chicken’s dry, and there’s no gravy or sauces.” “Ah,” he said. “You should have used your initiative and put the bolognese sauce on your chicken.” I could not believe I was having this conversation.

The get-together ended early for me, because I had a groin injury and went home. Before the next Wales squad was announced all the talk was about me becoming the new captain. I never saw what was coming.

The phone rang early one Monday morning. “Hi Robbie, John here. I’m just letting you know that I’m going to try something different. I’m not selecting you.”

I could feel myself boiling up inside, and I then made a fatal mistake. “You can stick it up your arse,” I told Toshack. “I’m retiring now.”

I had made it so easy for him. There was an agenda. I wasn’t in the squad because I was such a big personality and I was an influence on people. There was no other reason.

The bad feelings became a feud…..

Savage launches attack on Toshack (Mar 2005)

…..that kept going…..

Savage blast for Wales boss (Jun 2007)

….and going…..

Savage attack on Toshack (Sept 2007)

…..and going…..

Savage attack on Toshack (Oct 2007)

……and going….

Robbie Savage in new blast for Wales boss John Toshack (Mar 2008)

…….and going…..

Savage’s fresh Toshack criticism (Jun 2009)

…….and going…..

John Toshack must quit as manager says former Wales international Robbie Savage (Sept 2010)

Even though Savage harboured a six year grudge against someone because they made a valid criticism – a criticism that your humble author and a select group of friends also made – he still expects us to take him seriously as a football analyst.





So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 23

7 01 2014

86. Programmes for iPads

Match programmes have many, many roles; pre-match reading material, half-time reading material, organs of club propaganda, mementoes, sun hats, small magazine shaped missiles, dust collecters…..

Physical programmes could become relics if clubs like Arsenal have their way.

Matchday Programme on iPad

Packed with all the usual high quality interviews and features, the iPad programme also contains a wealth of interactivity including exclusive video, audio and photo galleries, bringing you the best of the action from on and off the pitch.  

Programmes are available from midnight before a weekend match, and midday on the day of a midweek fixture; costing just £2.99 per issue, £3.99 per month or £39.99 for the calendar year. 

For any queries on the iPad Matchday Programme app, or for technical support, please email: programme@arsenal.co.uk

To view the latest edition of the iPad programme you might need to update your app. You will be prompted to do this when you attempt to download the edition. 

Talking of irritating tablet use…..

87. Bellend plus ipad

The ipad is killing modern fandom.

Chelsea ipad

88. Celebration Chereography

We don’t need this crap!

arsenal 2

Goal music, big official flags and stadium announcers that leave gaps for surnames can all fuck off, we don’t need any help to feel happy after goals, we know how to feel!

The one that really got to me was Bolton’s “I Feel Good!!! / twats running with giant flags’ combo from the 2000s,  the display was so bad even the Bolton fans hated it;

Why should we be told to ‘feel good’ when Bolton score? And what’s Tony Christie doing ordering us to Texas after one goes in the net? Athers hates it, and here’s why…

 There are few things as exhilarating as seeing the ball hit the back of the opposition’s net. The thwack of Bolton boot on ball followed by the glorious sound of over 20,000 fans roaring in delight is about as good as it gets for a Saturday afternoon in a retail park. 

But suddenly, amongst the shouts of delight, something else happens. Something that has crept into grounds all over the country of late. A man in a sound room somewhere joyously presses ‘play’ on his cassette deck and in kicks a poorly recorded version of an old pop song over the public address system.  The roar of the crowd dies down and suddenly some of the Bolton contingent either start to clap in time to a song about a town in Texas or do a dance to a song by a man with tattoos where his eyebrows should be. I refer of course to Tony Christie’s ‘Amarillo’ and James Brown’s ‘I Got You (I Feel Good)’. 

As I mentioned this is obviously not just a Bolton Wanderers thing. Elsewhere the most common ‘goal song’ around the country is the embarrassing ‘Tom Hark’- usually found in the lower leagues of English football. However, the award for most annoying music probably goes to Norwich City’s ‘Samba de Janeiro’ with Middlesbrough’s ‘Pigbag’ a close runner up.

These clubs are often derided by many supporters as ‘small-time’ or ‘tin-pot’ clubs solely for their tacky celebrations incorporated into the ‘Match-day experience”. It is unfortunate that at the moment our proud club falls into this bracket as well.  Goal music is designed to enhance the match-day experience for the supporters, to enable us to wave our £3 rollover hotdogs and 300 degrees Celsius pies in the air and rejoice.

Whether it actually achieves this objective is of course another matter. It could be said that the music can in fact break up the continuous roar of the crowd, especially if it’s an important goal.  Some of the children present may enjoy the music, however I believe that they come for the football and will come back in the future for the football. Indeed the pure energy from a roaring crowd is an exciting thing for a youngster, something that they hear once every two weeks and look forward to. 

Although we don’t get on with our big North West neighbours Liverpool and Manchester United, it can be said that these clubs would never dream of playing goal music to ‘aid’ their celebrations. The fans simply would not stand for it and it’s time that we didn’t either.

We are a proud club with a long history and in this author’s opinion it is time that we removed this Americanisation from our stadium – this is Bolton Wanderers, it’s not an ice hockey game.  What can be done about this situation, something simple such as many letters regarding the matter sent to the club? I doubt they will have any effect at all unless the club receive thousands. 

A better idea to start would be something like a large ‘no more goal music’ banner paraded at the Reebok. It would surely catch the attention of the powers that be and hopefully some of the many TV cameras. I call on all supporters with similar view, through use of The-Wanderer fanzine and website we can eradicate goal music and enjoy our future victories at the Reebok without Tony Christie or James Brown. 

At one of the best times in living memory to be a proud supporter of Bolton Wanderers, goal music and indeed celebration flags are one embarrassment that can be removed very easily with some effort on the part of the fans. As for the ‘easy’ chant, that requires another article altogether.”

89. The fans that know they’re on TV

Jan5 007

Jan5 008

Calm down people, calm down.





So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 22

6 01 2014

83. Tim Lovejoy

Read this review to see why.

84. MK Dons

Read this to find out why.

85. Salzburg Red Bulls

Read this to find out why.

86. It’s all about the R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Let’s connect some dots………

1. Mark Clattenburg is being investigated by referees’ chief Mike Riley after Southampton accused him of ‘abusing and insulting’ their captain, the England star Adam Lallana.

2. “Southampton hit back after Mark Clattenburg is told he ‘has no case to answer’ in Adam Lallana row

Club say they “do not consider the case to be over” after Clattenburg is   backed by Professional Game Match Officials Ltd for telling Southampton   forward: “You’re very different now since you played for England. You   never used to be like this.”

3. Adam Lallana has wed his fiancee six months early – to avoid his wedding clashing with England’s tilt at the World Cup.

The Southampton captain had been due to tie the knot with Emily Jubb on June 14 – the day Roy Hodgson’s men play Italy in Manaus.

Instead, the pair, who have been dating for seven years, got married in a £500 ceremony at Poole Register Office in Dorset on Christmas Eve.

The couple had arranged their June nuptials before Lallana was in contention for next summer’s showpiece competition.

A pal told The Sun: “Emily totally understands. She knows it’s a fantastic opportunity to play in a World Cup. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

“Adam wanted to get married but has a very hectic schedule during the season and didn’t have time between the season ending and the call-up for Brazil. He’d booked the wedding not even thinking about Brazil — he never expected to be in contention.”

4.Adam Lallana, Jay Rodriguez and Fraser Forster earn first England caps against Chile (15 Nov 2013)

Reporting a referee for being “disrespectful”, what’s next? “We’re not playing today, the grass is too wet“…….. “Those nasty supporters are looking me, I can’t concentrate, call my lawyer!!!”…

Far be it from me to judge our hero but if someone brings their wedding forward by six months because they’ve assumed that they will be an integral part of England’s squad – An assumption based on the fact that they’d appeared in the two friendlies that other players couldn’t be arsed turning up for – they tend to look a little cocksure to the untrained eye.





So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 21

1 01 2014

Happy New Year, same as the last, let’s carry on with the list……

80. More fans on twitter

You know how it is…..

Fan watches match, fan sees Howard Webb turn down two “blatant penalties”, fan tweets this kind of thing;

@MickDunning1997 “All we can do is hope Howard Webb gets severe brain cancer and dies a really painful death

Another tweeted this;

@Gallagherlad95 “Forget the top 4, the FA will not stand for it. They will ensure we miss out so Suarez leaves the country and joins Madrid.”

Another tweeted this;

@Wal_LFC  “We all know why we aren’t getting penalites, its because the FA is trying to teach Brendan a lesson for speaking the truth about referees.”

Another tweeted this, is it English?

@getagripulot “Some slagging of BR again 4 me we shud ov at least drew v 2 ov top teams in country. Blame FA an officials we have improved under BR. YNWA”

Another tweeted this;

@ro_jito  “I’ve said it previously – somebody with Howard Webb’s past with South Yorkshire Police should NOT be officiating Liverpool fixtures.”

Imagine being stuck in a lift with people like this….

81. Stupid drunk people that think they’re funny

Especially the ones that confuse racial abuse with The Banter;

“Two men have appeared in court in connection with the racial abuse of former Manchester United star Andy Cole on a flight from Dublin to Manchester.”

82. There aren’t enough fans like this anymore

Goodbye To Atomic Boy Syd

Syd Bevers, a leader in the field of football supporters’ groups, passed away last week aged 91. Syd was the founder of, arguably, the most famous of all supporters’ groups, The Atomic Boys who followed Blackpool around the country from the late 1940s through to the 1960s. Gerry Wolstenholme

It was in the late 1940s when Syd Bevers came up with the idea for a different type of supporters group. He even came up with a topical name for his group of fans and named them The Atomic Boys. Discussing the Boys in later life he recalled the reason for choosing his group’s name, “At the time the atomic bomb was the foremost thing in world history. And, it wasn’t such an inappropriate title for the boys and myself really, for when we went along to all the various grounds, we took the place by storm.”

Syd did not stop with just a name, however, for he also decided that his team would be exotically dressed and would also have a mascot that would be noticed. He arranged for costumes to be made and, when necessary, borrowed. In addition he came up with the idea of a real live duck to play the role of mascot!

The whole concept was conceived at Elland Road, Leeds on 4 February 1946. Again Syd remembered it well and said, “It was a marathon match with Middlesborough. We had drawn the two‑legged FA Cup tie, 5-5 on aggregate and had to play a deciding game at a neutral ground and Leeds was selected. At that game I particularly noticed there was something missing in an England that was recovering from the Second World War and needed something to brighten up spirits generally. And that was colour. I don’t think you’d have known who was supporting who ‑ there was definitely a distinct lack of colour.”

Syd pondered on the matter and then decided “something wanted putting into practice” so on his return to Blackpool, after Blackpool had been defeated 1-0, he got a group of his friends and fellow supporters and told them of his plan. Reaction was very favourable and the name The Atomic Boys was devised. Initially the idea was that everyone in the group had to have a tangerine coat, white trousers and a straw hat. Syd remembered, “It was no problem to get a tangerine coat because all the waiters in town wore white coats so it was just a matter of acquiring one of those and applying a little tangerine dye!”

However, this idea was not too long-lived as Syd thought it made everyone look the same and he certainly did not want that, he wanted his group to be very different and well remembered. So he developed his idea further and came up with the plan for everyone to have different, and on occasion, exotic costumes although he himself did retain the tangerine coat as the leader of the Boys. But where were these costumes to come from initially? Syd quickly solved that problem for, being a businessman in town, he had many contacts and offers to make attires poured in and some costumes were even borrowed from Madame Tussauds waxworks where at the time Blackpool Football Club also had a connection in the Parkinson family.

The Atomic Boys quickly became a major spectacle on the football scene up and down the country and were well received at every ground they attended. Fame even spread wider than football circles for Syd did much charity work and recalled that as well as attending football matches his group was once asked to go, as celebrities, to an El Alamein ball. “We wore military costumes, it was a change and the fun was great,” he said and it was subsequently to give a new dimension to the attire worn by The Atomic Boys at football matches.

The idea of the mascot came along later and The Atomic Boys, rather bizarrely, acquired a duck as the Blackpool mascot. There were three ducks in all throughout the times of the Boys and they were called Donald, Douglas and later Puskas after the famous Hungarian footballer. Douglas was presented to Syd by film star Douglas Fairbanks junior and Syd remembered how it came into their possession. “We all went to a film premiere, Mr Drake’s Duck, and it starred Douglas Fairbanks junior. The star had heard of our exploits and, in view of the film’s title, presented us with this duck. And that is how the second duck was called Douglas.”

One amusing incident that Syd recalled regarding one of the ducks was when he and a friend decided that they would make the white duck even more appropriate to Blackpool Football Club – they would dye it a shade of tangerine! Recalling that incident, Syd said laughingly, “We thought it would be simple. We acquired some finny haddock dye from another friend, filled the bath with water, mixed the dye in and we were ready for action.” The duck was duly taken to the bathroom and put into the tangerine coloured water. “But what we did not expect was the act that followed. The duck panicked, flapped its wings all over the place and the whole of the bathroom, plus us were covered in tangerine dye. What a mess to clean up!” Thereafter, perhaps not surprisingly, the ducks remained white.

The naturally white Douglas even made it to Wembley in 1953 despite advice to the contrary from none other than Stan Matthews who felt that Syd would be in trouble for trying to take livestock into the great stadium for the clash with Bolton Wanderers. But Syd decided to risk taking Douglas inside and to achieve this end he hid him in a large carpetbag. Syd remembered, “Standing in the queue I kept opening the bag to let Douglas have some air and when he quacked I gave a loud cough. How I managed to get him inside without being detected I just don’t know.”

He did manage to get Douglas in and, despite intense security inside the stadium, he did manage to give the crowd a treat as the duck was briefly paraded along the cinder track before the game, much to the delight of the Blackpool following. But the arrival and entrance to Wembley was not the first the capital had seen of Syd Bevers and The Atomic Boys that day, they had already made their presence felt elsewhere. On arrival in London, Syd, wearing a flowing tangerine cloak and a silver headdress as tall as a cockatoo’s crest, clutched a weighty seven-pound stick of Blackpool rock as the coach he was travelling in passed through Trafalgar Square. He had specifically directed the coach to the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street.

This was in the days when the street was open to the public who could walk up and down and have photographs taken in front of the door. Syd did even better than that and he was greeted by a police constable as he approached with his cohorts, who the London press described “as gay as a pack of clowns in a harlequinade”. The familiar noise of the then ever-present wooden rattles echoed up and down Downing Street and the noise was augmented with the sound of a ship’s siren, which the Atomic Boys took everywhere with them. Thousands of Blackpool voices also chanted “2‑4‑6‑8, WHO DO WE APPRECIATE? B‑L‑A‑C‑K‑P‑O‑O‑L” and all the racket reputedly brought the comment from the police constable on duty “Now then, now then, no noise if you please.”

Syd duly approached the door of number 10 followed by crowds of onlookers who had spotted the amusingly and exotically dressed ensemble as it arrived. As Syd was about to knock on the door one of his companions, dressed in the burlesque dress of a contemporary exiled monarch, said, “This is where Syd goes out on his ear.” But he obviously did not know Syd’s capabilities, personality or persuasiveness. As the door was opened to his knock, he said, “A present for Sir Winston [Churchill]” as he showed the huge stick of rock.

Much to the surprise of his colleagues, Syd was admitted to the hallowed home and the door closed behind him. It was fully seven and a half minutes before he re‑emerged and then, once again much to the astonishment of the rest of The Atomic Boys, it was not under arrest! The Boys and the rest of the assembled crowds rushed towards him as though he was the Pied Piper and asked him what had happened. “Well”, said Syd, “I was conducted to an ante‑room and a secretary came and said ‘Sir Winston is out for an hour’.” Syd then said that seeing the rock the secretary asked what it was to which he said he had replied, “It’s Blackpool rock for Sir Winston — and look, it’s stamped Sir Winston all through.”

The secretary was apparently taken aback by the size of the stick of rock but Syd reported that he managed to say, “That’s nice. I assure you it will be given to Sir Winston when he returns and I assure you, too, that he will wish Blackpool the best of luck.” On his way out of Number 10, Syd was photographed for a national daily newspaper which later titillated readers with the comment that it was “an Eastern potentate” making his exit before sharing the joke with them by informing them that it was only a Blackpool football supporter exotically dressed!

Before departing, Syd reported to the assembled multitude that he had been pleased to hear that the Prime Minister would be wishing Blackpool the best of luck. But Syd knew that Sir Winston would not want to be biased so he added, “I suppose he had to be impartial and as he [the secretary] escorted me to the door he whispered ‘And, of course, Sir Winston will wish all the best to Bolton, too’.”

The 1953 FA Cup Final was The Atomic Boys greatest hour but they continued their wholehearted support of the Seasiders. They continued to parade about the town in their costumes before important games drumming up support and they roused the crowd on matchday. Before a game, Syd would walk out to the centre circle, allow the duck to perambulate for a few minutes before giving a mock bow and kiss to the centre spot as a show of support for the club. When visiting other towns The Atomic Boys became the centre of attraction and always created a tremendous atmosphere at the grounds.

One of the later incidents, and one that I remember as a young boy following Blackpool everywhere, was when Syd took the duck to the ill‑fated Scunthorpe United FA Cup tie in 1961 when Blackpool embarrassing lost 6‑2 to the Second Division side. Before the kick-off a Scunthorpe fan dressed as a butcher came out of the crowd with a meat cleaver and ran off with the duck threatening to chop off its head. But it was all in good humour, Syd duly retrieved the duck and there was no blood spilt ‑ except perhaps later in the Blackpool dressing room!

At everyone else’s request, Syd did make a final attempt to resurrect such enthusiastic support with a duck as mascot and that was when Alan Ball returned to manage the club. Ball thought that it would be a good idea to have a duck mascot once again but the moment had gone and although Syd duly obliged, he sadly said, “It was doomed to failure.”

Blackpool was understandably proud of The Atomic Boys in their time and Syd was the undoubted leader of the troop. He was a true gentleman and will be sadly missed by family and friends everywhere. Remember him today when you give that extra cheer for the Seasiders!





So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 20

29 12 2013

76. I paid  £15 to watch non-league football

scan0003

Being charged £15 to watch semi-pro football certainly makes you stop and think.   I’m sure the club has some kind of justification about needing to gather in as much money as possible but, £15 to watch semi-pro football? It would be easy to say that Stockport could encourage more people to attend by charging less but I’m sure the club has it’s reasons for charging £15 to watch semi-pro football.

Let’s see how Stockport compare to some famous European names (I know people are always making comparisons like this but it doesn’t hurt.)

Stockport play at Level 6 in English football pyramid and charge £15.

Real Madrid‘s tickets start at 25 Euros (£20.86 at today’s exchange rate) Feyenoord’s at 23.50 Euros  (£19.61) and Paris Saint Germain‘s at 20 Euros (£16.68). Benfica charge their members as little as 17 Euros for tickets (£14.19)

Schalke charge as little as 15 Euros (£12.52), Barcelona as little as 13 Euros (£10.85) and Benfica charge their members as little as 17 Euros for tickets (£14.19)

Something’s gone awry here.

77. Club Owning pantomime villain boos his own team

Vinny really gets in to panto mood!!

 

78. Michael Owen looks back at his career

Bask in those easy self-assured words!!! “I always knew I was way ahead of everyone…….”





So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 19

28 12 2013

72. Some of the people that like That Modern Football “get” foreign owners

“Vincent Tan epitomises the demonisation of foreign owners

“God knows foreign owners can be a curse. There are numerous examples of foreign owners taking over local clubs, with disorganisation, a managerial merry-go-round and in more extreme examples financial irregularity following. Whether it is the disastrous series of ownerships that occurred during Portsmouth’s dramatic fall and near demise, the short-lived, but very shady Thaksin Shinawatra ownership of Manchester City, or even the largely stable and successful Glazer ownership of Manchester United that has however, seen the club saddled with huge debt, there are numerous horror takes surrounding foreign ownership of English clubs.

However, these high profile incidences have led to foreign owners being by and large demonised by all football fans, becoming a totem for every perceived thing wrong with the game. The fact is that most foreign ownerships go entirely unnoticed, with neither huge success nor spectacular failure. Other cases are very much positive for the clubs involved. Looking back at the example of Manchester City, whilst Shinawatra’s ownership plunged the club into financial uncertainty, it was another foreign owner, Sheikh Mansour, who not only rescued the club, but propelled it from its position as a long suffering, struggling side into English champions. Abramovich is another whom receives heavy criticism, and although he has brought a constant stream of new faces to Chelsea, what he has also done is transform the London club from England’s nearly club, to perennial title challengers.

The man in the headlines this week is Cardiff owner Vincent Tan. The Malaysian has been no stranger to controversy since his takeover of the Welsh club, and has been widely demonised, a figure of hate amongst Cardiff fans. The main anger has arisen over Tan’s extremely bold decision to transform Cardiff’s image, completely rebranding the club from the ‘Bluebirds’ and adopting the motif of a red Welsh Dragon. This has involved a total kit change, as well as a new badge, wiping away years of history. It must be painful for Cardiff fans to watch the club they have devotedly loved and supported be transformed, and many have turned their backs on the team for as long as Tan is the owner and Cardiff is red. However, football fans have famously short memories; Chelsea and Manchester City fans now fully expect titles and Champions League football, regardless of how their sides have historically performed.

Before Tan’s takeover, Cardiff’s financial problems were well publicised, with the club haemorrhaging money each money. The situation was entirely untenable, and without intervention, could have eventually resulted in the end of Cardiff City football club. It was Vincent Tan who took the club out of that situation and onto secure financial footing. It was also under the ownership of Vincent Tan that the club finally made it to the promise land of Premier League football. Achievements such as promotions, survival and titles are usually and quite rightly attributed to players and managers, but without a secure platform, none of that is ever possible. It was Tan that provide Malky Mackay with that platform.

As painful as it must be for Cardiff fans, Tan obviously felt that a rebranding was necessary to bolster the Bluebird’s financial footing, and increase revenue. As difficult as it is to put aside history, if the choice is watch your team play in a different colour, or watch the gradual demise of your team in their traditional kit, for most football fans it must surely be an easy choice. In choosing a dragon as Cardiff’s symbol, Tan has at least picked something which is inherently Welsh, but also marketable in the highly lucrative Asian market. It is often something football fans don’t want to admit, but in this day and age, football clubs are businesses. If a club goes under, it is not just that the fans lose their team, but numerous people lose their jobs and their livelihood, not just players and managers, but groundsmen, kit men and everyone else associated with the team.

Owners and Chairmen have to make decisions that keep a club alive and on a secure financial footing, they have a responsibility to stake and shareholders to do so. It is with this in mind that this columnist wants to offer a certain amount of defence for Vincent Tan’s recent actions. With the dismissal of Head of Recruitment Ian Moody earlier in the season, speculation was already surrounding manager Mackay’s future at Cardiff City and has been sent into overdrive following recent statements made by Tan, and BBC reports of supposed correspondence between Tan and Mackay. According to BBC reports, which it should be noted only shed some supposed light on the supposed point of view of Vincent Tan, the main issue of dispute surrounds Cardiff’s summer transfer spending. It appears that Tan is of the feeling that a summer transfer budget of £35 million was agreed between Tan, Moody, Mackay and Chairman Mehmet Dalman, and is obviously not pleased that spending eventually rose to more of the region of £50 million.

It is apparently for this reason that Head of Recruitment Ian Moody was dismissed for earlier in the season. If Tan’s opinion of events are to believed, and that between them Moody, Mackay and Dalman purposely ignored then Tan of course has every right to be angry, and dismissals would be fair action. The dispute in this seems to regard not whether a budget of £35 million was agreed, but whether add-ons were to be a part of this is not clear. If add-ons were meant to be part of the agreed budget, and there has been a £15 million overspend, then firstly why was this allowed by Tan and Dalman? And secondly, why then were Mackay and Dalman not also dismissed? It is not clear.

Since the summer, tensions have only increased through Mackay voicing his desire to spend again in the January transfer window. Again, it is unclear how party Mackay was to the summer overspend, it is also unclear how aware Mackay was over Tan’s displeasure and that there would therefore be no January transfer kitty. If Mackay was involved in a conscious overspend in the summer, or has been made aware that one occurred and that consequently there would be no January budget, then his comments to the press can only be viewed as an attempt to manipulate public opinion to try and force further spending. If this is the case, then Tan’s comments that Mackay must resign or be sacked, whilst ill judged, are perhaps fair. On the hand, if Mackay was unaware of the summer overspend, and no discussions have been made regarding a January budget, then Tan’s actions are then of course completely out of proportion. Whilst Mackay still should have discussed a January budget before going to the press, Tan’s position is obviously unreasonable.

Given that crisis talks are now set to take place the answer probably is that Mackay is neither entirely innocent nor completely guilty in the whole affair, and likewise, Tan most likely has reasons to be displeased but is overreacting. For Cardiff fans who feel hate for Tan, they may want to consider what the alternative might be. Mackay has brought success to Cardiff, and based purely on the performances of his team, deserves to stay on as manager. However, if behind the scenes the Scott is playing politics and subverting the management structure, then fans need to ask themselves if this is really the man they want to take their club forward. What is most imperative now is an end to all the ‘he said, she said’ games, and total transparency in future decisions.”

Let’s hope this was an elaborate satire.

73. The wily ways of Oligarch owners

Tan Out4

74. Some fans still don’t care

As this tweet proves.

@AledBlake After 30 years supporting CCFC, I know for sure this is not the first, nor the last, period of idiocy. Will have my season ticket next year.

75. The arseholes that work for betting firms

Within roughly 10 minutes of Malky Mackay’s sacking Paddy Power, the company that brings us “Betting news and banter served with a side of mischief”, had tweeted this;

“We make Malky Mackay 6/4 second favourite to take over at West Brom”

bet365 also sent this tweet to a teenage comedian;

“Vincent Tan is 20/1 to get the job… Probably more feasible than most might think!”

How great that these companies try and make money out of people being sacked!!!





So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 18

27 12 2013

69. Cristiano Ronaldo leaves room for Ballon d’Or in own museum

The above line is the headline of this Guardian article ;

“Cristiano Ronaldo opened a museum in his honour in his birthplace on Sunday, which he said had extra room for the Ballon d’Or and many other trophies to come.

Standing next to his 2008 Ballon d’Or and 125 other individual and team awards dating back to his Madeira childhood, the 28-year-old Real Madrid and Portugal striker said the CR7 museum was a gift to his fans.

“Of course it’s a special day, it’s the opening of my museum and I am proud,” the Portugal forward, who has scored 33 goals this season, said. “I have room for more trophies. I don’t really want to mention specific ones. All I want is to win more awards and, if the Ballon d’Or comes, there is extra room here.”

Football’s world governing body named him, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi of Argentina and Bayern Munich’s French winger Franck Ribéry as the three finalists for the 2013 Ballon d’Or award, formerly known as Fifa world player of the year.

Ronaldo said he is not desperate to win the most prestigious individual award in the sport.”I hope that happens but I am not obsessed about it,” he said. The Ballon d’Or results will be announced on 13 January.

Despite the frenzy at the opening the space is more humble than an average museum. It occupies the ground floor of a discreet five-storey building, a few hundred metres from the Funchal city centre and with a view of the Atlantic.

With an idyllic sunny day greeting him back, it is easy to understand why Ronaldo took the chance to remember that leaving this place remains his hardest moment as a footballer. “You can’t win anything without sacrifice. Mine was to leave Madeira when I was 11 and try it out at Sporting. To move out to the mainland was the hardest thing in my career.”

Curious neighbours stood on their balconies to witness the ruckus, unusual on the quiet island with 260,000 inhabitants, famous for its luxuriant biodiversity, strong-flavoured bananas and fortified wine. It is not any 28-year-old that has the chance to cut the ribbons to a museum in his name but Ronaldo said his treasure cove deserved it. “Here is the evidence of what I have won, no one will take it away from here and these were things I wanted to share with my fans, show them what I have already achieved,” Ronaldo said.

The first piece on display, probably the smallest, dates back to when Ronaldo was eight and top-scored in a tournament with his first club Andorinha, Portuguese for swallow.

The next youth trophy mis-spelled his first name, attributing it to ‘Christiano’, and was half broken, contrasting sharply with the two shiny Golden Boots – won as Europe’s top scorer – and a lifesize wax figure of him in a Portugal shirt dominating the main room. “Does the statue look the same or what?” he asked. “No, I think it looks more handsome [than me],” Ronaldo joked.

Ronaldo also paid tribute to Manchester United’s former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who oversaw his rise to stardom over a six-year spell at the Premier League club, his family and his agent, Jorge Mendes.

All the match balls from games in which Ronaldo scored at least a hat-trick are also on display, the last from Portugal’s 4-2 win over Sweden that earned them a berth at Brazil’s World Cup.

The front page of the local newspaper Diario de Noticias da Madeira showed what the museum means to his people back home. It displayed an eight-year-old Ronaldo wearing an oversized pink shirt while receiving his first trophy with a shy smile under the headline “Trophies for the world to see”.

Lines like “…..the 28-year-old Real Madrid and Portugal striker said the CR7 museum was a gift to his fans.” are par for the course with CR7; ‘I expect the store will be a success. I really like the clothes and I identify myself with the style of CR7.’

70. “Football Banter with Carling and Now TV”

Just read this and shudder…..

“Carling have teamed up with NOW TV to offer free Sky Sports Day Passes with special packs of Carling. Soccer AM’s Max Rushden, Fenners and Tubes tell us how to win one of these packs by tweeting your best #FootballBanter”

71. “Football ‘banter’ pages a great fan outlet”

Read this and shudder slightly less…..

“At the end of the day, it is like a virtual matchday… just every single day of the week. I would strongly recommend that you give it a go. It may not be your cup of tea, but it is definitely worth a try. You may find yourself hooked.”





So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 17

26 12 2013

65. When fans change their minds

In May 2013 most Cardiff fans were really happy with their owner.

Tango

Tan Out 1

Tan Out 2

In December 2013 most of them weren’t happy with their owner.

Tan Out

66. A fan actually made this

Bb9WkweIMAEIJjt

67. That Modern Football turns a man that does kick ups turns in to a self-proclaimed genius

The definition of the word “philanthropist” seems to have changed. When I was younger a philanthropist was a rich Victorian dude that, in lieu of a welfare state, funded the building of hospitals, schools and libraries. A philanthropist called John Bright was responsible for funding the building of my old school.

John Farnworth’s twitter profile tells us that he is;  “Football Freestyler | TV Person | Philanthropist | Future Author”. In 2013 a philanthropist is now a “freestyle footballer“, or “someone that shows off by doing kick ups to earn a living.”

I’m not saying he likes selling himself but here’s his website. I’m not saying he’s pretentious but he has tweeted this;

“Great artists are thankful for their power, whatever it’s expression, because they know it’s a gift that benefits all of mankind” Power Vs Force”

If we let this kind of ball juggling circus bollocks get out of hand there’ll be no future in our dreaming. It’ll be the end of football as a social activity. I’m not being dramatic about this.








%d bloggers like this: