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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goodbye England

Don't panic.

You've not woken up in some kind of socialist hell, with Ed Miliband in charge of the country and all rational intelligent types such as myself fleeing to Zimbabwe.

It's just a post about football.

I shall get stuck in like some Uruguayan teeth (that was bitingly obvious wasn't it?).

1 GK Joe Hart - The best we have but he isn't Peter Shilton.
13 GK Ben Foster - Not much to do against Costa Rica but did it well.  Maybe worth a start in the next friendly?
22 GK Fraser Forster - Who?
2 DF Glen Johnson - Not an international class right-back.  He isn't Gary Neville.
3 DF Leighton Baines - I thought he was better than that.  He isn't Ashley Cole.
5 DF Gary Cahill - A reasonable defender and probably just our best defender in the tournament.  But he isn't Campbell.  Or Terry.  Or Ferdinand.  Or Butcher.  Or Pallister.
6 DF Phil Jagielka - I would rather Ed Balls in defence.
12 DF Chris Smalling - I would rather Margaret Thatcher in defence.
16 DF Phil Jones - I do think he shows promise, some good defending against Costa Rica.
23 DF Luke Shaw - Really impressed in his one game, and only 18!
4 MF Steven Gerrard (captain) - Some lovely passing but set up Suarez for that goal.  Not what he used to be.
7 MF Jack Wilshere - The jury is still out.  Will he ever stop falling over?  He isn't Paul Gascoigne.
8 MF Frank Lampard (vice-captain) - Looked decent against Costa Rica but not what he used to be.
14 MF Jordan Henderson - Yet to be convinced he is international class.
15 MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Could have provided that spark.  Shame he was injured.
17 MF James Milner - I can run faster than him.  I don't mind him as a utility player though.  He isn't David Beckham.
19 MF Raheem Sterling - Promising but naive still.
20 MF Adam Lallana - Promising but naive still.
21 MF Ross Barkley - Promising but naive still.
9 FW Daniel Sturridge - Promising but naive still.  Should have had more than one goal to his name.
10 FW Wayne Rooney - Scored one and created the other.  Should have had more than one goal but anyone who thinks he should be dropped clearly is a member of the EDL.  He isn't Alan Shearer though.
11 FW Danny Welbeck - Why?  He isn't Emile Heskey.
18 FW Rickie Lambert - Should have come on when we needed goals.

You may have noticed the main theme, unless you are one of those who want Rooney out.

We are not what we used to be.  Perhaps only Emile Heskey of the Golden Generation years would be replaced by one of the current crop of players we have.

If the Golden Generation couldn't win a tournament, then this lot won't.

We are simply a decently average team.  Maybe 20th in the world.  Which out of over 200 countries puts us in the top 10%.

We did quite well.  We were not second best in any of those games.  We were not outclassed like Spain were against Netherlands and Chile.

One of the best things about whenever England lose (or don't win by enough against a minnow) is the constant moaning by deluded folk on 606.  Most of them have London accents so probably support one of those perennially under-achieving clubs like Arsenal or Tottenham, gosh how awful it must be to support Arsenal and England.

My favourite examples was getting Pep Guardiola to be England manager.

Get real.  Why the hell would he want to go from managing the best European club sides to a part-time job managing England?

Then people suggesting Gary Neville to be manager.  Exactly what experience does he have other than Sky Sports?

And my favourite - wait for this.

Our pampered players don't show enough passion so we should get players from the likes of Scunthorpe to play for England instead.

Wow.

Of course the biggest question of the tournament is why wasn't Curtis Davies in the England squad?  Ridiculous.  Would have let in less goals.


But look on the bright side - the last time we were this bad, we won the World Cup just 8 years later.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Snakes & Cricket



My Dad once told me during my early teenage years that the two most fascinating things in the world were politics and cricket.

I didn’t believe it at the time.  How could anyone enjoy a game that went on for 5 days?

But during my early 20’s I used to have a lot of time to kill – these were the days before broadband, when I only had 4 television channels (albeit 4 more than I have now) and I had monstrous hangovers every weekend from drinking large bottles of vodka.

Laying in my rickety single bed, nursing pounding hangovers, I would eventually settle for the cricket – back in the days when it was free to air on Channel 4.

It involved minimal concentration – I could open my eyes for 10 seconds, then close them for 60 seconds.

I didn’t really understand it.  Even now I still don’t know what a gully or silly mid-off are.  I am vaguely aware of the Duckworth-Lewis method.

2005 was the peak of my interest in cricket – before I truly discovered nightclubs and the year we first won the Ashes back.  And the last year of cricket on Channel 4.  It was safe to say that cricket had become my favourite sport.  I dreamt of attending the Ashes for a full 5 days, or at least a test match.

So following the success of the previous year’s Christmas present of a Rugby League World Cup Final ticket for my Dad, I decided upon getting a ticket for test match cricket for last Christmas.  The original thought was Lords, but at £60+ a head it was slightly out of my price range – in the end Headingly in Leeds made more sense logistically as it was easy for my Dad to get to from Hull, and I could visit my mum too.

And I love Leeds.

So we began our journey using the Leeds Metro, some nice 60’s style trains and a large group of lads roaring with laughter – apparently one of them had crapped themselves.

Welcome to The North.

Immediately upon arriving inside the ground, beer was foisted into our hands.

I really liked the ground – it had a mixture of modern and traditional structures, the wide terraces being where we were sat – with the loudest fans and a handful of yobs – just two sections down from the fancy dress parts.

 
Any early sunshine soon disappeared under a lot of cloud, it remained bright and dry but there was no need to be worried about getting sunburnt.

But the lack of sunlight in my eyes still didn’t help with being able to see the cricket ball – even for the slower spin bowlers it was very difficult to see what was going on.  One had to rely on the sound of the ball hitting the bat to be able to work out where it was travelling.

The batting was slow.  There were lots of maiden overs and not an awful lot to cheer.  We missed the first wicket by being slightly late too.

After a couple of hours I was beginning to question being there, it was a tad…boring.  Did I still love cricket?

Lunch came, fish and chips consumed with further beers and England stepped up the pace of batting, albeit gradually, with a handful of boundaries to cheer.


The crowd then stepped up their contributions, especially when the first attempts at the strangely banned beer snakes got going in the boisterous fancy dress section – who would all stand up and applause every time the ample-chested Bavarian girls walked up and down.

 
Our section was rowdy but less rowdy – a good chunk of the crowd didn’t make it back from lunch – one assumes they went to the pub and stayed there.

The rest of the day consisted of more drinking, games of cat and mouse with G4S as they tried to confiscate our empty beer glasses, a competition to build the largest beer snake (I guess around 15m long), singing “G4S are unreliable”, booing as G4S then subsequently threw some of the more troublesome out, Mexican waves, lots of throwing empty pint glasses and various items, generally terrible paper aeroplane throwing, various chants, more drinking, singing “Rooney, Rooney” every time a fat person walked up the steps, various randoms – usually girls – being challenged to down their drinks, laughter and embarrassment when one guy dared to bring some wine to drink for himself.


And many rounds of “Feed the snake and it will grow”.  Inspiring.  And the slightly more inventive “Feed the snake – let them know it’s Christmas time”.

Oh yeah and some cricket.  We were doing really well but had a slightly disappointing semi-collapse of the batting near the end.

However we took the lead and it was nice to see England winning after watching enough football recently.

The cricket was often background material and much of the day’s entertainment was from the fans.  I doubt it would be replicated at Lords.

We finished the day with a really good meal, some beautiful pork belly in the middle of the vibrant city centre of Leeds – which was already buzzing with nocturnal life at just 7pm.

Just £37 for two really nice meals with drinks.

And then train back to Bradford for our £29 hotel room.

 
Leeds is such a great city – I could happily live there, if my friends were there.  And there was better weather.

The game should be finished tomorrow.

I highly recommend a day making beer snakes in Leeds.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Where Is Curtis Davies?

I didn't expect much this World Cup.

OK that's a slight bending of the truth as I expected us to beat Italy and Uruguay - and lose to Costa Rica.  100% wrong so far.  And then lose in the 2nd round.

I don't want to spend long criticising England, because I stink and really need a shower, I thought Rooney was very good and deserved his place, Baines was good, Henderson good and I could compliment various others.  And I am satisfied with Hodgson.

What I cannot defend is the...defence.  And the central defence in particular.

Perhaps we were just overly blessed in the past with Terry, Ferdinand, Campbell, Butcher, Pallister - I have overlooked several others.

I should insert here that I am a Hull City AFC fan and I have watched almost every game of ours this year.

And I could not understand why Curtis Davies was not looked at before the tournament.

He has been absolutely immense, all season.

I am convinced that if he was in the centre of defence, we would not have let in those goals, or maybe one of them at most.

So many times this season he repelled balls into the box, so many clearing headers, so many amazing tackles, so many man of the match awards and he is a LEADER.

Do we have any true leaders for England?

We are an averagely decent team with some promise for the future, with a decent manager.  We got to the World Cup and we are not out.

We shouldn't moan.  Well, not too much anyway.  Anyone stating we shouldn't be playing Rooney is a moron.  He scored and set up our 2 goals in this tournament.  Has anyone done better?  Could anyone do better?

And may I just say that Suarez is absolutely world class.

I am vaguely proud and satisfied.

If Italy win both games and we win then we are through.  Balotelli wants a kiss off the Queen if Italy beat Costa Rica.  That is quite some image.

For 10 minutes tonight there was hope, the Walkabout went absolutely mental and I had the contents of at least three pints all over me - hence I stink and my mullet is still dripping with beer.

So there is still hope.  Maybe a 10% chance at best.

But without Curtis Davies, I cannot see us keeping a clean sheet against Costa Rica.

Hodgson - call up Curtis Davies.  You will not regret it.

DAVIES FOR ENGLAND.


We can still win the World Cup.  In my lifetime.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bills, Bills, Busted Bets, Bats, Balls and Bills



Don’t you love it when a load of bills come in at once?

First a 6 month water bill, then gas and electricity and now Bastard Atlantis are charging us a hefty sum disguised as a Deed Of Assignment – I really hate estate agencies.  Especially Bastard Atlantis.

I’m not totally sure how I am going to be able to afford it – the following options are available to me:

1.            Cash converters.
2.            Start shopping at Aldi.
3.            Move out and then realise that my costs for moving in somewhere else are about £300 anyway.
4.            Move to Hull.
5.            Prostitution.
6.            Win money from gambling.
7.            Borrow from the bank, cut back on spending, moan a lot about being ripped off by Bastard Atlantis, see if our landlord would at least go halves with us on the Bastard Atlantis charge and continue to use the word ‘bastards’ a lot.

I did nearly come good on number 6 – until last night I had got 8 out of 9 on a 10 team accumulator – Spain being the team that had let me down.

Thankfully Russia only drew last night so it was rather less galling - 8 out of 10 correct results is simply just decent credibility – 9 out of 10 is aaaaarrrrrgh so close to winning £300 to pay for said bills.

Not only bills do I have to pay though, there is the small matter of spending money and accommodation for my holiday to Croatia to pay for – I have considered not going but that is throwing £400 away.  Not that I have dared look for replacement accomodation yet.

And how can I not go to Hull City’s away games in Europe?

Looks like I will be borrowing money from the bank once more.  Ah such is life.

So the plan for the next couple of months has to be spending as much time as possible inside, studying, redesigning my DJ website (only took me a month to go from loving it to disliking it - what the fuck was I thinking with that banner), launching my web design website/company, and looking for ways to earn some money.

But I have said it before, and will say it again, I do quite enjoy the challenge of watching my pennies and being skint.

However before then I do have a small matter of all day drinking at the cricket in Leeds with my Dad this Saturday.  My first ever test match - how exciting!

Then DJing the week after, maybe out the Saturday after, boat party the weekend after.  Plus watching England in the football. 

Bastards.

ps Anyone fancy dinner at Bills?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My World Cup Preview. In Gravy,

Brazil



Brazil Nut gravy, of course.

Though you would expect the legendary hosts to have something a bit more special.

Croatia



Pašticada – stewed beef served in special gravy sauce.  Going to be rather tough, maybe chewy.

Mexico



Tex-Mex chili gravy.  Should qualify for the next round.

Cameroon


Cameroon Beef with some kind of sauce - not quite gravy but then again Roger Milla wasn't quite a
38-year old player.

Spain


Paella with gravy.  Look at that formation - what a team.

Netherlands



Well the Dutch like to do things differently, so we have a graph about gravy.

Chile


Chile gravy.  Clearly copying their style from another well-known country on that continent, this gravy has the potential to go far, especially with that stylish boat, but face stiff competition to get out of their group.

Australia


Some excellent consistency but very patchy - I do not see how they are going to get out of their group with that kind of showing.

Columbia


Columbia have had to enter the competition with a gravy boat, a fine Wedgewood Columbia model, and also worth noting is that they have Nigella Lawson's cleavage in goal.

Be careful not to spill it into your own net or you might get shot.


Greece


Due to financial considerations, Greece have entered this classic but cheap looking gravy boat.  But once upon a time this could have been a surprise winner, albeit probably not against South American competition.

Ivory Coast


Missing the Ivory, this elephant gravy boat is the best the Cote D'Ivoire can do post-Drogba.

Japan


We expect the Japanese to be disqualified for entering too many players.

Uruguay


Suarez practising his gravy-diving.

Costa Rica


The bowl on the left is Costa Rica's entry from Rancho Margot Costa Rica Eco-Lodge.


And she might become Miss Universe.  We believe that she loves gravy.

Italy


Neapolitan ragù - normally one of the favourites but we cannot see it progressing far this time.

England


The Home of Gravy.  Is it time for gravy to come home after 46 years of hunger?

Switzerland


Chocolate gravy, of course!

Ecuador


Armada del Ecuador Navy Gravy Boat.

France



French fries in gravy.  Not got the depth of previous years.

Honduras


Such a violent country that they even have gravy guns.

Argentina


Gravy for cheats.  But still pretty damn excellent, just make sure you clean your hands first.

Bosnia & Herzegovina


Erm...you might need to use your imagination here.

Iran


One fine Persian gravy ladle.  Check underneath first in case of hidden uranium.

Nigeria


Your long-lost auntie will be sending you this gravy train worth millions of pounds, first please pay me £1,000.00 to 60-25-87 54789856.

Germany


Solid and consistent.  Could be a winner.

Portugal


Loco Moco - Portuguese sausage, eggs over easy, grilled onions and white rice - but can one star name make a team?

USA


Thanksgiving gravy.  You have to admire their effect and enthusiasm but it just isn't going to be a winner.

Ghana


Basic Ghanaian Gravy.

Belgium


Belgian waffles.  But is it gravy?

Algeria


Back to boats - a W.H. Grindley Algeria Gravy Boat.

Russia


Подливка

South Korea


Biscuit and sausage gravy apparently.  Bordering the insane.

****************************************

They think it's all gravy.  It is now.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Clubbing, DJing & Stuff

I don’t go clubbing as often as I used to.  My priorities have changed.

I don’t earn as much as I used to and my costs have risen.  Labour’s cost of living crisis is significantly biting into my clubbing potential.

I also don’t have the time – I am spending much more of my free time studying – a night out can and generally does wipe out the motivation to wake up at 530am to study for a whole week.  Not to mention the various trips to watch Hull City this year.

Most of my clubbing friends also don’t go anywhere near as often as they used to – and then sometimes our availability doesn’t match.

And then sometimes I ever wonder if I still love it.  Line-ups can often send me into fits of desire but I hardly go clubbing.  Am I past it?  Do I still have the legs? Do I still have the desire?

But I wasn’t going to pass down the one chance to go with my bestie (gosh isn’t that a crap word?) following her exams – and before her next 6 months of studying.

We picked a date but there wasn’t a stand-out option.  There was Tama Sumo at a small venue in Shoreditch, Move D at fabric – though as much as I love fabric I increasingly despair with the crowd, and then Guy Gerber and others at Studio 338.  Partly during the day.

Daytime clubbing means you get back at a sensible time and I like Studio 338 with it’s outdoor terrace.

 
We arrived at 4pm, two hours after it was supposed to start however they couldn’t let us in as there was nobody to search the girls.

Not the ideal start but we didn’t wait too long.

The warm-up DJ who’s name escapes me did a decent job, but it wasn’t until Mayaan Nadim started that a few hardy souls braved the covered dancefloor in the warm sunshine.  And yes we were first to dance.

I have listened to her sets before and never been especially taken but live was a different prospect – Mayaan is a sweet-looking but purposeful DJ, with a gracefulness about her presence and her music.  I was quite enchanted and really enjoyed the 3 hours she played for.

Then Miss Kittin came on.  Ghastly music.  Electro by numbers.  FFS.

We left – Guy Gerber was due on at 10pm but we decided it best to get the last train back to Reading instead of committing to another 10 hours in London – plus a friend had asked if I could help out DJing – of course I could.

I do really like Studio 338.  Plus they have some excellent line-ups – Cocoon are doing an event there, as are Art Of Dark with Cassy and Onur Ozer shortly, amongst others.  I highly recommend a visit, especially for a daytime party.

Why aren’t there more daytime parties?

So then back to Reading, with the 11pm train non-existent, we crammed onto the 1130pm train – like sardines, I hope I smelt of nightclub.  It is never easy getting home, is it?!

I made it to Zeus just about on time for my set, and confidently got behind the decks, found my first track, realised it was about 8bpm slower than what was currently playing and managed to train-wreck it.

I couldn’t actually focus on the decks, nor could I read what was on the CDs at first, I was absolutely hammered and train-wrecked about 3 mixes, that I remember anyway.

Gosh I was shit.

I’ve not practiced in two months, I had no idea what I wanted to play – no planning, no preparation, no practice.

It was the worst set I have played in over a year – I was pretty frustrated though yet I still got a smattering of compliments so other people must have been more wasted than me.

I was still much better than Miss Kittin though.

I did improve after the first few mixes once I gained my bearings – but lesson learnt, do not turn up to DJ wasted especially with no practice or prepation.

On the bright side, I have rediscovered my desire to DJ and need to put this right by playing the best set ever next time I get chance, and also making a superb DJ mix as soon as I can.

And I have also recalled just how much I love clubbing.  It remains what I live for and I dearly wish I could go more often.

Oh yeah and I need to retrieve my headphones.

Now time to focus on the World Cup and a small matter of the cricket, including my first ever day at a test match.