Friday, 15 February 2008

Missing A Goal

On Tuesday, my team QPR squandered a 2 goal lead and ended up losing 4-2 to Andy Cole & his Burnley team mates.

To make matters worse, I missed Ranger's opening goal. The Central Line was buggered up thanks to a passenger illness at Tottenham Court Road (I mean, really!) so I entered the ground after 14 minutes of play.

As I went through the turnstiles, I asked the girl checking tickets if I had missed any goals. She mumbled "Er, I'm not sure.." to which I sarcastically replied "Well have you heard any loud cheers?!" I got to the bottom of the stairs leading up to the Lower Loft, I thought about running but thought, hey what's the hurry.

Big mistake. What happened next seemed to occur in slow motion. Firstly, people in the back row of seats all stood up together. Then some really strange acoustics. A short sharp "Ah........" followed by an eruption "YYYYYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!!!" and all the QPR fans jumping up & down and hugging each other.

As I ran to my seat I felt elation & disappointment simultaneously. The people who sit around me obviously thought it was very funny. No big screen at QPR, so I had to wait to see Sky Sports News for the excellent team move leading up to Gavin Mahon's headed first goal for the club.

Fortunately this has only happened on two prior occasions in all the games I've watched. One was at home to Tranmere on a bitterly cold day a few years ago. QPR were trailing 1-0 and I left the ground 5 minutes early so I could pick up a shirt in the club shop & avoid the rush. As I walked around into South Africa Road I heard the primeval roar that accompanied QPR's equaliser. Really pissed off with this, I made it round into the club shop just as another loud cheer went up from within Loftus Road. Looking gleefully up at the TV monitors showing the game, I was disappointed to see Jason Koumas celebrating Tranmere's winner.

More recently at home to Ipswich, I'd brought two guests along. Towards the end of the first half I felt the effects of the pre match pints going through my system. As I was stood at the urinal, Paul Furlong decided to belt one in from 25 yards. Cheers, Furs! Only one other punter in the toilets, no words were needed, we both shook our heads in disgust.

Nothing really tops missing one of the most famous goals of all time. The Champions League Final of 1999. A crowd of us watching the game on TV at my friend's flat. Upon Sheringham scoring United's equaliser, I made another toilet visit, in anticipation of Extra Time. A big gasp & shouting from the lounge......"yeah, good wind up guys"......."no really, Solskjaer has scored the winner!" I wasn't the only one. Lennart Johannson, UEFA President, had left his seat inside the Nou Camp, Barcelona, and got in the lift to go up to present the trophy to the expected winners Bayern Munich (who were winning 1-0 at the time). As he got to the top, he was told that United had levelled - so he returned down the elevator to watch Extra Time........

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

This man, (Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore) is the most odious man in football. Yes, you heard me right. Even more so than Robbie Savage.

Today plans were mooted for English Premier League clubs to play some of the games in their league season abroad.

No good will come of this. Money is ruining football, our national game. Small clubs, with over a century of history & tradition, are going to the wall left, right & centre. Massive TV deals benefit only those elite clubs at the very top of English football's pyramid. Grass roots football is massively underfunded. Football is being taken away from its traditional roots, and being replaced by a soulless vacuum.

You could argue, as Scudamore does, that:

"it's an idea who's time has come." Decided by who exactly? The Money Men.

"it's not taking anybody's game away...." Only the ordinary man in the street.

"All 20 clubs will benefit" All pigs are equal....but some are more equal than others....

"When the league does well, other people in the football family do well in terms of redistribution. " Not seen much evidence of that so far, Richard. Only an insignificant % of Premier League money trickles down to lower leagues.

"Globalisation is a challenge for all sports because the whole world seems to be interested in the very best of sport wherever it comes from" It will certainly be challenge for those domestic leagues in the countries where these games will be held.

"...making sure we turn that into positive benefits for the game at all levels in this country" I've no doubt that this will result in a shedload of cash pouring in from new TV and other media deals, but most of this dosh will end up in the pockets of agents & players. Just look at how players' wages have sky-rocketed since Sky have started.

I remember during the Carlos Tevez saga last year, when Sheffield United understandably tried to challenge a Premier League ruling that West Ham Utd wouldn't face a points deduction for fielding ineligable players. The Premier League board had convened for a meeting and made a decision on Sheff Utd's appeal. Upon leaving the meeting, Scudamore was pursued by news crews & journalists, asking him what him what the final verdict was. He turned and looked incredulously at the reporter asking the question, treating him with utter contempt.

He's doing it again with this new proposal. He will ride roughshod over any opposition to this idea. Make no mistake, this new plan will carry through sooner or later. I can imagine Scudamore's smug face as he announces it - I just hope that someone is on hand to slap him with a wet fish.

Saturday, 2 February 2008


Yesterday I donated blood for the 21st time in my life.

I've been a blood donor ever since I was at Uni. I've never thought too much about the altruistic element of giving blood. Don't get me wrong, I know that it's a Good Thing to do, but I've never paused to think about where my donated blood has ended up, or rather who it's ended up in. For some weird reason my main thought is how many times I will give blood before I die; I am fascinated about what my 'final score' will be. A bit egotistical? Maybe. I do think it is something that more people should be encouraged to do though, it's a form of national service in a way.

I find that giving blood is a clinical, quick procedure. Go to the donation centre, fill out the questionaire, do the tests, then lie down for ten minutes while a pint pumps out into a bag (I bleed quite quickly). 5 more minutes lie down to recover (don't want to get up too quickly and faint like a girly girl), a bit of a natter with the nurses, and then f*** off home. Easy peasy.

Some people ask me if it's painful when the needle goes into my arm. In all honesty the finger prick & actual insertion of needle only causes only a nanosecond of discomfort. What causes most grief for me is a day later when you have to tear off the protective gauze plaster, it's a bit like waxing!!