Spurs – Football Team or Harry’s Second Home?

Posted in Football, sport with tags , , , on 16/12/2009 by mfcx4tm2

My favourite footballer is Peter Crouch – great feet for a big man. The truest cliche ever. Great nickname too,  ‘the ladder’.  Turns out that a lot of the Spurs players have good nicknames. And also that  a lot them are associated with the home. Too many in fact. Has this been a deciding factor in Harry’s transfer policy? Crazy I hear you scream. Judge for yourself, but i think Harry’s trying to set himself up a little house of players:

Peter Crouch aka ‘the ladder’

Tom Huddlestone aka ‘the wardrobe’

Michael ‘Door’son

Johnathon Woodgate

Benoit Assou ‘a cot’o (for the baby)

Alan ‘Hut’ ton (like the garden shed, no?)

Wilson ‘Palace’ios (Harry’s home is a palace)

Danny Rose (Bush)

David Bentley (to do the school run in for Jamie)

Looks like a dead cert to me, all he needs to do is get some nice Deco(r)  in and he’ll have the lot.

Silverstone 2010 – All just a clever PR rouse?

Posted in F1 with tags , , on 09/12/2009 by mfcx4tm2

With the announcement on Monday that Silverstone will definitely be on the Formula 1 calender for 2010 we saw a rush for tickets which resulted in record sales for the race, with more than 6,500 tickets sold by Tuesday morning and bringing in a (rumoured) £1.2 million. What a turn around from 6 months ago when we thought there was going to be no more F1 at Silverstone and the F1 paddock was heading over to Donington Park.  If someone had forecast then that we would be back at Silverstone in 2010 as normal they would have been a very brave man.

But has all this drama actually helped attract interest in the race? I agree with Andrew Benson that the saga has been drawn out to almost tedious levels, but I can’t help thinking that without all this indecision, back biting and uncertainty we wouldn’t have seen ticket sales of such magnitude. Had Donington Park’s proposal been rejected originally and Silverstone confirmed for 17 years i don’t believe there would have been the rush we saw this week and the desperation of fans to see their heroes on one of F1’s most famous and history steeped circuits.

Now, i’m not suggesting the Donington deal wasn’t genuine, nor that there haven’t been disagreements between Mr Ecclestone and the BRDC, but the fact that it has gone on for so long and fans were left so unsure if they’d ever get to visit such an incredible circuit again has definitely added to the excitement over next year’s event. Is there a tiny possibility that Bernie knew all along that he needed the British GP on the calender, reached a deal with the BRDC but decided to keep it quiet for a tad longer so the story continued to be splashed across all the back pages, news channels and internet? We all know Bernie’s a clever little sod and he’s not afraid of playing with people’s hearts, whether its the team owners, drivers or fans.  Maybe this is just another classic example of Bernie playing the media as only he knows how.

Or maybe not. Just a thought…

F1 2009: Highlights on and off the track

Posted in F1, sport with tags , , , , , , on 24/11/2009 by mfcx4tm2

The cold, dark F1 winter is upon us and luckily we’ve had plenty of gossip and controversy to keep us amused since the flag fell in Abu Dhabi. As announcements start to die down and things fall into place, I thought this would be an opportune time to look back at the season and pick out some of my personal favourite moments. There were obvious high points, not least JB’s maiden championship, but the following list tries to delve a little deeper into particular moments that will remind me of an extremely entertaining 2009 season, both on and off the track:

  • Looking back to the start of the season Jenson has said that it was his victory at Albert Park in Melbourne that was most significant as it illustrated to him how good the car actually and was the moment of realisation that they may have a championship challenger in their hands. Obviously Brazil was also an incredible moment but my lasting Jenson Button memory from the season will be him running around the last corner at Monaco with his helmet on, waving at the crowd and soaking up the atmosphere. I think it will be an image that will continue to be used decades from now and was my highlight from his season.
  • Mark Webber’s first win was obviously a very emotional one and it sent shivers down my spine listening to him screaming down the radio in fits of happiness. He’s obviously a well liked chap within the F1 paddock and too see him finally get his first win was a special moment.
  • A few of my favourites were courtesy of Rubinho. He’s another one that is obviously a lovely guy and provides some great entertainment on and off the track. His ‘blah blah blah’ outburst at Barcelona seemed very out of character but clearly the pain felt from the Schumacher years has left a deep scar. Things brightened up towards the end of the season though and before long we saw him and Eddie Jordan strutting around in the tightest pair of trunks you’ve ever seen. Surprised OFCOM didn’t have something to say about that before the watershed…  The high point was seeing the classic Barrichello victory wobble on the podium at Monza though, he’s still clearly thought of very highly by the Tifosi and you could tell how happy he was to have turned the tables on Jenson as the season came to a close.
  • Politics has always played a strong part in Formula 1 and, whilst people moan about it taking focus away from the racing, i think it adds an extra element and only accentuates the action on the track. We all loved the drama back in the Senna/Prost days and i’m sure people will love looking back in a few years and discussing the Renault scandal, McLaren cheating or the FOTA-FIA war.
  • It always nice to see a bit of fisticuffs come into play and Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil did a great job of playing handbags after their collision in Brazil. And Jarno wasn’t happy leaving it at that, as he brought photo evidence to the pre race press conference in Abu Dhabi to prove he was in the right. I think all he got was a few muffled laughs and the mick taken by Fernando Alonso though…
  • A couple of amusing moments from the many driver replacements in the season caught my eye as well. Firstly, seeing Luca Badoer falling off his Ferrari scooter seemed to perfectly sum up his return to Formula 1, and then we had Romain Grosjean popping his Renault into exactly the same piece of wall as Nelson Piquet Jnr had done a year earlier. It was so filled with irony that even the newly appointed Renault chief Bob Bell managed to raise a wry smile.
  • Finally, my lasting memory of 2009 will not be Jenson Button kissing Jake Humphrey on the neck or Ross Brawn’s tears on the pitwall, but of Kimi Raikkonen swanning around the paddock in his shorts and t shirt  in Malaysia, magnum in hand, as the rest of the drivers stood out in the rain waiting for the race to restart. Turns out Kimi had the right idea in the end, as the race was abandoned and only half points were awarded. Looks like he’ll be able to enjoy a few more Sunday ice creams next season.

Stadium Name Shame

Posted in Football, sport with tags , , , on 18/11/2009 by mfcx4tm2

‘Welcome to sportsdirect.com@St James’ Park.’

It’s got to be a joke hasn’t it? They’re pulling our leg. Those Geordies up to their old tricks again. But it seems Mike Ashley has proved just how little he knows his beloved compatriots once more by taking away the famous name of their stadium but only half replacing it – he couldn’t even go the whole hog with this one either. So now he’s failed at running the club, failed at selling it and failed at renaming the stadium. Not the best record.

It does illustrate the influence that money is increasingly having in the game though, and it isn’t just Newcastle that are sacrificing club history in the chase for more pennies in the piggy bank. We’ve already seen Arsenal leave Highbury to play at the Emirates and are soon to see Liverpool leave Anfield, one of the most iconic grounds in football, to play at a bigger, commercially named stadium (if the Americans can stay in a room long enough to get their figures in order that is). I find these two examples slightly more acceptable as the stadiums themselves are brand new and it’s true that the amount of money available from naming rights is incredible. However, renaming a club’s existing ground is slightly harder to swallow and I’m glad I’m not a Newcastle fan at the moment.

As a Darlington fan I’ve seen a similar situation evolve at our club as former chairman George Reynolds built a shiny 25,000 all-seater stadium (despite our average gate being around 5,000!) and seeing it fall on its face as he didn’t get the concert licence he was hoping for to support the funding of it. Perhaps a tad presumptious George. Anyway, the naming rights were sold for our stadium too in order to raise funds for the club after we sacrificed the history that went with the tin shed stands at the old Feethams Ground. Unfortunately though it seemed that any company that sponsored the stadium suffered similar fortunes to the team on the pitch as one after another went bust. It’s now called the Darlington Arena, looks like no-one else wanted to put their name to it…

So will we soon see Barcelona playing at the Adidas Stadium, Manchester Utd at the Andrex Arena or Newcastle at the…oh no, they’ve already changed. Is nothing sacred anymore?

X Factor ‘Judges’ Pass the Buck

Posted in Entertainment with tags , , , on 17/11/2009 by mfcx4tm2

Remember when Will Young won Pop Idol when he was up against Gareth Gates? Since then Will has gone on to great things, releasing numerous number 1 albums, countless hit singles and even branching out into the acting world. Despite coming second Gareth also went on to achieve a lot as did the irrepressible Darius Danesh who finished third. This success was down to the fact that they were selected as the best out of thousands, partly by the public, but mainly by professional judges who wanted to discover the greatest musical talent in the bunch. This proved to be a good formula but it has been tampered with so much that the programme that Pop Idol became, X Factor, has lost a lot of its value and is too focused on Saturday night entertainment rather than allowing the best performers to progress.

Recent weeks have seen the show lose some good (if not great) singers in Lucie and Jamie, and yet Lloyd and the phenomenon that is Jedward have continued to survive. The main reason behind this is that the judges seem so intent on avoiding their one job, judging, so that we can experience the ‘drama’ that is provided by DEADLOCK. Except, it’s not drama if we know it’s going to happen every week is it? I’m not a Simon Cowell hater like many people, but he gave the game away when he allowed the public to decide who should go out of Lucie and Jedward. It would seem he’s more interested in headlines than allowing talent to flourish, which even frustrates me a bit as an apathetic viewer so I can’t imagine how Lucie feels as someone whose dreams have been dashed.

Another thing that narks me is the team system that has been introduced with the judges. How are we supposed to value the their opinion when they appear to simply do whatever it takes to keep their own acts in the competition? Fair enough, allocate a judge to each act to be their mentor, but if they’re not good enough then tell them so and vote them off. There’s a tactical voting element to everything the judges say and do now that basically makes everything they say irrelevant. And then they don’t even judge at the end so I’m not sure what they do at all other than take the mick out of Louis and ensure we get DEADLOCK week after week.

Let’s go back to the old days, everyone sings, the judges say if it was good or not and the best ones win. Simples.

Baptism of Fire for Short at Ferencvaros

Posted in Football with tags , , , on 13/11/2009 by mfcx4tm2

Craig Short has been thrust into the limelight at Hungarian giants Ferencvaros after being put in charge of the club (dubbed Hungary’s Manchester United) until the Hungarian league’s winter break on the 21st November. It is Short’s first experience of management, having taken over at the helm after previously being assistant to Bobby Davison, and it is a task he is relishing despite knowing how tough it will be. The severity of the task must have dawned on him after his first game in charge which was abandoned with Ferencvaros 1-0 down due to crowd trouble. This involved some fans throwing flares at the players who, understandably, were a tad scared. Can’t imagine that happening at Old Trafford.

The reason i mention this was that i met Craig when i played football for a team in Harrogate a few years ago. Craig was friends with ouButcher blood injuryr coach and came down to watch a game whilst he was still playing for Blackburn. During the game i was lucky enough to be involved in a clash of heads which resulted in blood pouring from my forehead like a tap. I came to the side of the pitch to get some attention and, clearly concust and unable to make a sensible decision, said i wanted to get my blood soaked head wrapped up like Terry Butcher and carry on playing. I wasn’t listening to any of the helpful advice i was being given when Craig put his arm around me and said he thought i should go to hospital. Now, you can’t argue with Craig Short, so i went and had 7 stitches in my forehead!

So, that was my brush with a premier league footballer and, if he can manage the Hungarians like he managed me that day, i’m sure he’ll do a fine job!

Greatest Hits or Musical Money Spinner?

Posted in music with tags , , , on 09/11/2009 by mfcx4tm2

A Greatist Hits album. The pinnacle of a band’s musical life, a look back at the material they have produced over the years, highlighting their best material. A fantastic idea no?

It used to be. An artist’s greatest hits used to come at the end of their career, usually after they retired or even once they had died so people could look back at the amazing catalogue of music they had created and enjoy it in one package. However, record companies have seemingly ruined this concept, turning it into a money spinner that has resulted in musicians releasing a greatest hits album before they’ve even established themselves as a credible artist. It echoes the trend of celebrities writing autobiographies when they’re barely out of puberty. Thanks, but I’m no more interested in how you used to play in the street than the kids next door who are still doing it.

The idea that a band’s greatest hits can come out before they’ve released all their regular albums is a little bit silly and ends up in multiple greatest hits albums, meaning they’re not even a greatest hits at all (but all the time racking up the pennies for the bigwigs). It’s happening more and more often now with greatest hits albums being released by the likes of Snow Patrol, Natalie Imbruglia and Foo Fighters when they’re nowhere near the end of their lifespan.

Dave Grohl summed it up this week when he called the release of their greatest hits album ‘an obituary’. He’s not happy about it but it’s something that is written into contracts when bands sign long term deals and illustrates the lack of power that even big bands like Foo Fighters have in the industry. Even Radiohead, potentially the most influential band in the business, had a greatest hits released without their blessing. If they can’t keep the rights to their music then what chance do smaller acts have?

I’m already on the edge of my seat waiting for the release of Jedward: Greatest Hits I. Shouldn’t think I’ll have long to wait…