Football

5-7

I have witnessed a lot of things at the Madejski Stadium. Yesterday I saw a game that finished with a score of 5-7. Depressing thing is I didn’t go back on my promise never ever to watch another London Irish rugby fixture.

Reading 5
Arsenal 7

Even as I now write it in the cold light of day I can barely believe it. Going into the game I thought we would lose, I always do. Even when we won the Championship (English Second Flight) with a record 106 points, until it was mathematically certain I thought we would conspire to lose it. It’s the Reading way, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with un-erring accuracy.

Even I, the most pessimistic of football fans, thought we couldn’t possibly lose at 4-1 up at half time. We had dominated, with only Theo Walcott appearing to want to play for Arsenal in the first half. He deserved this goal. More was to come. Before the Walcott goal at 4-0 we gave it the big un. Taunting Arsenal fans, and at 4-0 it was like shooting fish in a barrel. The classic jibe about Robin Van Persie “Laughing at this.” Should have stuck in my memory for years. At half time sections of the crowd were asking for a change of board. “We want our Arsenal back” they shouted. Unfortunately for us they got their wish sooner than even they could have hoped for.

We knew Arsenal would come out all guns blazing. The old cliché “If we can keep it tight for the first twenty minutes” was uttered. Wave after to wave of attack, we weathered the storm for twenty four minutes. Then opened the flood gates. I watched in a kind of drunken nightmareish haze. No-one not even us can lose from 4 nil up. I’ll wake up in a minute.

Various people have mentioned the referee, who deemed it right to play for 96 minutes instead of the 93 he had previously stated. In those added three minutes Arsenal scored their forth goal. This makes no difference to me. In all sport, you play until the end. If the ref saw fit to play until midnight (however wrong) then the teams must play.

4-4 Extra time. Thousands of Londoners (some from “Just round the corner) jumping around like loons at a Sex Pistols gig. Three sides of the Mad Stad silent. Dazed, onlookers. Arsenal scored to make it 4-5. Ludicrous. But at least it was over, the torment of the turnaround. Done.

No but wait. Step forward Pavel Pogrebnyak to offer more false hope than a cheap rancid psychic medium searching for a missing child. 5-5. Now it was our turn to pogo like punks. Game on, we can do it. Get in! Push for a 6th.

Caught upon a wave of optimism. We lost the ball, they scored.. twice more. I would describe it but like a person involved in a horrific accident I have blocked it out. It is a blur.

Usually when we suffer a defeat, I think to myself, it’s part of the reason I go. Not to see us lose, but to experience the lows so that when those oh so infrequent highs come by I can take it all in. But 5-7…. All I can think is maybe we’ll get a sponsorship deal with Heinz next year and for all I hate my job I’m pleased I’m not a football manager. Where the hell do you go from here.

By Organic_Heinz_Tomato_Ketchup.jpg: Gordon Joly derivative work: Octave.H (Organic_Heinz_Tomato_Ketchup.jpg) [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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(BDYBIS) The Addiction

Ok BDYBIS 16. I was going to write about the Reading vs Tottenham game today, but we lost 3-1 and I don’t feel very much like writing about that. Call me a poor loser if you like, because I am. On the quiet of course I’m British after all. I like for things I like to win. Winning even by association makes you feel good, ask Charlie Sheen.

Part of the reason the Olympics were so good this time around is because people in the UK felt so much more involved with successes of the athletes. That is the attraction of being a sports spectator. You live with the hope of often infrequent highs, you live in anticipation that one day, just one day everything will come right and you will have your day in the sun. People who don’t “get” sport say it is pointless. Just some guys kicking a ball around or unfeasibly flexible girl balancing on a beam. Sport is much more than the activity itself.

By Francesco (cenci88) (Flickr: Gymnastic Artistic2) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sport spectating, the eternal balancing act.

It’s the day. The travelling to the venue, the nervousness over something you have almost no control over. Crowds can influence, hugely. They can encourage and destroy someone maybe even at the same time, the lines are narrow. The criticism that would spur on someone like John McEnroe to prove the critics wrong would destroy someone of a more sensitive disposition. Sport is not played by machines, athletes at their peak will go to great lengths to maintain a neutral emotion, often with great success. Steve Davis in the 80’s springs to mind. The human being is always in there though.

One year following Reading I went to every away game bar 5 or so, not a boast as there are some that go week in week out. This season was not a good one. On our travels my Dad and I saw the team win once. Why did we continue to go? I mean you wouldn’t watch a turkey of a theatre performance more than once would you? Well whilst football has been bashed this year, it is a living breathing theatre. Unscripted you never know what is going to happen. World beaters last week turn into players who look like they have never met, seemingly overnight. So you go to reach the highs again.

It’s addictive.

It’s not just football, any and every spectator sport has twists and turns that even a EastEnders script writer would dismiss as far fetched. So whilst I experience the low tonight the Spurs fans will bask in their deserved glory. Both of us knowing, each feeling is fleeting and to have experienced the lows means we can truly enjoy the high.

(BDYBIS) 60 Million Dollar Season

Last April, something amazing happened. My mighty Reading FC won promotion to the Premier League by beating Nottingham Forest 1-0. A league title followed and we were once again the promised land.

A rainy bus parade Photo courtesy of the Resident Weeble

Time passes. The summer of sport progressed, with a lacklustre Euro 2012, followed by a spectacular Olympic games. So much so that the build up to the Premier League was not what it should have been in terms of excitement. Although as the season kicked off at home to Stoke City our return was complete.

We got a point on the board from that game. 1 point in our quest to gain a guaranteed 60 million pounds next year. You see this year is all about next year. The TV contract for the 2013-2014 season has been decided and the money invested will rise 70%. The bottom side in the Premier League next year will “win” 60 million. Which is more than Manchester City got for winning the title last year.

It is obscene. 60 million for being the worst. Although as a fan it’s got to be good news because even the boards at Rangers and Portsmouth combined couldn’t burn through 60 million pounds that quickly. At Reading currently, we are a well run club, so it should ensure we are competitive for years to come.

So as much as the scenes captured here in the promotion parade are great to relive, I don’t want to see them occur again. Because that will mean we survived, rubbing shoulders with the big boys.

Reading FC Champions Bus Parade from slowlycreepingdeath on Vimeo.

Whilst I Was Sleeping

Whilst my motivation has been lacking I missed:

Jimmy Carr and Tax
Team DB not for Team GB
Microsoft Surface
Euro 2012
Murray Mania

So because I know you are all dying to hear what I (the angry masses) thinks about all this microblog a go go.

Jimmy Carr

Rich man employs people to pay as little tax as possible shocker. “It’s not fair” scream the masses all of whom would have done the same thing if they had:

1. Thought of it
2. Could afford a decent accountant.

Life isn’t fair, people will always want more for less in return. Human nature folks, embrace it.

Team DB not for Team GB

David Beckham 25 year old footballer plays for Man Utd and England, he has the vibe of a man who has yet to reach the pinnacle of his career, he has a wicked right foot that can fizz crosses into the box and he can hit a dead ball with style similar to that of Roberto Carlos. So it is a travesty that this young talented player has been denied a chance to perform at London 2012. What do you mean he’s 37 and a bit part player in LA? You are kidding me???

The Olympics is supposed to be for athletes who are at the peak of fitness to compete with each other according to Olympic ideals and values. Yes David Beckham gave a lot to bring the games to London but so did Seb Coe. I don’t see anyone mounting a campaign for him to get out his running spikes. Why? Because he had his time. As has Beckham.

Microsoft Surface

Finally a piece of hardware that suits Windows 8. An iPad killer? No. I don’t think so one because the iPad fitted into an ecosystem that was already in existence, and the distribution plans are shaping up to be a nightmare. On launch the Surface will only be available at Microsoft Stores and online in the states. How many stores? Less than 30!

Euro 2012

England were ok. Despite all the press saying we failed. We played a defensive game versus Italy that nearly worked. Boring well maybe, but defending is part of the game too. Spain were a cut above. The dutch need to actually like each other, relax in each others company. Maybe over a smoke and a pancake.

Murray Mania

Tennis. I can watch. Not the greatest fan but I can watch. Wimbledon however seems to be surrounded by people who are unaware that Tennis is played as part of a world tour. They seem to think that Tennis pros play for 2 weeks in a year. I don’t think Andy Murray will ever win Wimbledon which is a shame for him and Scotland.

The New Job

Applying for a job, you know what it’s like. Bigging up your achievements, the project that you worked on for five minutes, whilst a colleague was making the tea, suddenly becomes a four year odyssey where you were master and ruler of a small country and 50 pure virgins were at your beck and call. Where your leadership was so good they considered it a privilege to surrender their womanhoods to you.

Maybe that’s why I’ve failed in my the last three attempts at getting a new job.

It is very rare however that this bigging up of your achievements is done by someone else on your behalf. With elements of the media massaging your ego, touting you as some kind of cross between Brian Clough, The Fonz and Jesus. You should be a shoe in for any job, you are the chosen one, the one to lead us into the promised land. Get that contract, wow the crowd, spank the monkey, win that trophy.

Some employers may fall for it, if you walk the walk, and talk the talk enough. However if someone else turns up with actual bonafide achievements they might just look at the other guy. Your backers will wail, before any work has been done. Their web of embellishments lies on the floor in tatters. How dare the other guy with his actual achievements, higher success ratio and experience in the field get the top job. He has no chance of bringing home the bacon… (Clearly) Rumours of money will be abound, they went for the other guy cos he is an inferior to you but he undercut you. Typical employer cutting costs and corners to go against public (media generated) opinion.

Maybe your backers will wheel out “experts” in the field to belittle the employer, it matters not that the experts in question, failed miserably whilst working at the level at which they like to appear so knowledgeable. “Not the first time they have gone against public opinion.”* Is this you he is talking about or himself and his failed career. It’s not working. The employers have their man, that guy.

That guy is Roy Hodgson, he has international football experience following spells at Finland, Switzerland and the UAE. He has won 5 league titles. Media darling Harry Redknapp has won one FA Cup. He has no international experience, he has a talent as a wheeler dealer, buying and selling players, making the most of the clubs money. A talent which is wasted at international level.

Will Hodgson's England attack or "Park the Bus"

Thanks to the the morons at fleet street, Roy Hodgson will have to win Euro 2012 to be ensured of a job at the end of it. He will be hounded out. Instead of given the chance his non-embellished CV should give him.

*Matt Le Tissier, speaking on TalkSport. About the FA going against public opinion, he failed for England as player, playing at Southampton where they built a team around him. He expected, in my opinion, England and the FA to do the same. He still remains bitter.

Man of the Year?

Football, the national sport of England. 2011/12 season. My very own Reading FC Champions of England’s second flight, displaying grit and determination coupled with a true team spirit unparalleled in the division. It is not surprising that only Ian Harte is represented in the PFA Championship team of the year, because our squad is together much greater than the sum of it’s parts.

The PFA awards have always been funny things. From the players for the players. Ryan Giggs won the individual honour a few years back despite playing a ridiculously small number of games during that season. But he did have an impact, and the award was given to him long before the super injunction surrounding his private life was blown apart. Ryan was revealed not to be the messiah, but a naughty boy a few years later, but at least his brothers wife actually agreed to sleep with him.

Ched Evans, a striker acquired for the princely sum of £3 million in 2009. He went on be part of the biggest underachieving Sheffield Utd side in many years being relegated to League 1 (the third tier) this season Sheffield Utd have performed well currently occupying the second automatic promotion spot. Ched appeared to have finally found his level, as Sheffield Utd’s top scorer. Indeed Ched has made the PFA League One team of the year. An accolade which the other ten members of the side must be delighted to share with a convicted rapist.

Yes. The PFA have seen it fit to include a man last week convicted and jailed for 5 years, in their team of the year. Now i know not all footballers are angels. But the timing of this stinks. Now I know the votes are cast quite some time before the season ends, so all the other players in league one did not vote knowing that Evans was a scumbag, but purely on his footballing performance. However by the time the results were published Ched was behind bars and being taught how it feels to be violated by a large Rastafarian named George (maybe).

Gordon Taylor has defended the league one team saying “it’s based on football ability” well yes this is true. I don’t think it was ever intended to be based upon anything else. That’s not the point. To release this so shortly after his conviction brings the game into disrepute. On the front pages, rapist. Back pages, hero. This is course is disregarding the emotions the girl and her family must now forever face.

The PFA should use common sense and not let one scumbag devalue their award. Because on the whole footballers are intelligent hard working professionals, the majority represent the game and their club without incident. Evans gave up his right to share in those accolades and now must wait for the court of appeal to decide his fate.

Goal

It’s a rush of adrenaline, it’s a second or two of mass hysteria. Thousands of people rising to their feet in unison. Fists punching the air, voices and heart rates raised to new levels an almost primal reaction.

On the other hand it’s despair, crusher of hopes dreams and ambitions. Peering through fingers in disbelief often at the very people who are ardently celebrating your ineptitude. You’ve been here before, so have they. They know, so they are savouring their moment in the sun.

It’s a GOAL.

Or is it, did it cross the line? Was he offside?
Surely that was a foul ref. Are you blind?

Today, QPR scored a goal. But it will in the fullness of time be forgotten. This goal will never be recorded in the QPR history books, because even though the ball crossed the white line of destiny (the goal line) the goal was not given. The linesman said it did not cross the line.

QPR's "Goal" Image BBC SPORT

QPR went on to lose 2-1. Denial of what was a clear goal may have cost them dear. My own club Reading have also been involved in a controversial non-goal. As you can see the ball goes nowhere near the goal, and yet we scored!

So the FA have announced they want video technology to be introduced. Is this a good thing? I have to admit I am torn. On one hand, it should ensure a fairer game, but where do you stop? If there is a foul in the build up to a goal, does that get appealed and sent for review? If not why is this “non-goal” given less important than any other.

The referral system works excellently in many sports, notably cricket. It also proves that 95% of the time umpires are correct. It works in cricket because it is a stop-start game, with only a few variables to check. In football there are very few breaks in play, and even expert summarisers with the 300 cameras Sky have on each game still cannot come to a consensus. Then of course there is the beautiful game itself.

One of the reasons football is so popular is it’s simplicity. A ball is just about the only piece of equipment you need. It is played on a amateur level world wide by millions. The same game. The likes of FC Barcelona can afford HD cameras on the goal line, HD cameras up both of Lionel Messi’s nostrils if they want. FC Dog ’n’ Duck cannot.

Now in English football we have the greatest cup contest in the world. The FA Cup. The reason why I love it is that amateur sides can enter. They can go from 9 people watching them play at their home ground to 76,000 people watching them play at Old Trafford against Man Utd. Now what if FC Dog ‘n’ Duck held Man Utd to a draw at Old Trafford and they brought them to their ground behind the local Lidl’s. Barry a welder by trade, Ducks centre forward through on goal, smashes it to the top left, it hits the bar and bounces down. Is it over the line? Who knows? No cameras on the goal line. Whereas if a similar goal was scored at Old Trafford the whole would know, and no-one would have anything to write about, blog about, or talk about.

That’s the other thing about football. It is a soap opera. A game of opinions like no other. Do we really want Siri to tell us if that was a goal or not, or do we want officials who are human who will occasionally get it wrong sometimes.. just like the players.

Terry in June

John Terry, Chelsea captain. Centre back once one of England’s first names on the team sheet and indeed their captain. He was due to lead the England Football team in the upcoming European Championships in June of this year. But he won’t and in my opinion he shouldn’t even be there.

He is 31 years old, a success and an idol for many Chelsea fans, local boy done good. Moving through the ranks at Chelsea to captain the club and win the Premier League title 3 times. On the pitch he is the kind of player that every fan wants to see playing for them, full of blood and thunder, he’d argue that the sky was green if he thought it would help Chelsea’s cause, and before his body decided to crumble he was England’s best centre back. (Although not for the same reasons he is at Chelsea, I’ll explain in a bit)

You see he has had some pretty serious injuries in recent years, which have robbed him of a yard or two of pace, he only had a bit to begin with. International strikers will exploit that. Chelsea are having (by their standards) a poor season with injuries and suspensions taking their toll. So is John Terry Englands best centre back? With the arrival of Gary Cahill he’s not even Chelsea’s.

Terry for England. These days he seems to get through Chelsea games with blood and the aforementioned thunder. Passion and a will to win. Whenever he is on England duty that seems to be lacking. It’s not just him either, none of the current England squad appear to care about England. The last time I really cared about England was in 1996 or maybe 2000. Players seemed to have that desire, now I don’t see it. Steven Gerrard is being touted as the next Captain. He is good at Liverpool… at Liverpool he cares. So will Terry minus blood and thunder get in the starting eleven to wear the three lions.

Then of cause there is the allegations of racism. Which is why John Terry won’t be captain of England this summer. Now I’m very torn on this issue. Firstly let me say that I don’t like John Terry as a man (what I know of him) or as a player, secondly I don’t think John Terry is racist. I think what he said to Anton Ferdinand was said in the heat of the moment and Terry was merely trying to be (for want of a more macho word) hurtful. If example if Anton Ferdinand had been ginger or fat or had a big nose and he’d mentioned that it would have been in the same way that he used the “black” adjective, poking at what Terry deems a weak spot on an opponent. Like a playground bully.

This doesn’t mean that what Terry said doesn’t have racist overtones, and for a man who is Captain of his country, an idol to youngsters. This is unacceptable. I have written before about Wayne Rooney and how he shouldn’t be used as a role model. I don’t think an England Captain should either, but I do think they are ambassador for their sport and country.

If there is a promising youngster who loves football, has the skill on the pitch to be the next Gazza, who happens to be black. Who is put off the game because he believes the sporting leader of his country will persecute him for his differences, it’s a loss. To football and all the people involved, the player who will never fulfil his potential and the fans who will never be able to marvel at the skills.

And what about the actual racists, who wrongly and in the comfort of their own homes now count Terry as a poster boy for their warped world view. If he went to the Euros and lifted the trophy would this not re-enforce their stance, even if Darren Bent (a black player) scored the winning goal.

Terry’s position is the England team is untenable, even for just football reasons. If you take the allegations against him, and the fact that his personal life has shown him up to be nothing more than a selfish child-like man only out for number one, he should be as close to the England team as I am this summer. Watching on the TV.

Pull Your Socks Up Claridge

Reading 3
West Ham 0

West Ham down to 9 men. Jack Collison sent off for a very late tackle on Reading’s Jimmy Kebe, after Jimmy stopped to adjust his socks.

Expert analysis of this incident by the BBC’s Football League Show pundit Steve Claridge.

“Well for me it’s a little bit disrespectful, to the opposition the game’s won urm and to start taking, what you could describe as taking the mick, I’d probably use another word for it. At that stage of the game I don’t think I don’t think… I think it’s unnecessary and er it’s not… and you can’t condone what Collison does but in that situation it’s understandable. And that’s the sort of thing that would happen, I’ve played in plenty of games where if someones tried to do that, that has been the end result. It doesn’t surprise me, let’s put it this way that it’s not an English player that’s done it, maybe y’know I just don’t think that over here, that I think that y’know players understand that it’s a disrespectful thing to do.” (View the speech here for the next 6 days. At about 20 mins 40 seconds in. UK only sorry.)

Ok let’s try and be a little balanced here. This is not the A team for the BBC, Match of the Day is the flagship show with pundits with great experience and varying degrees of arseclownery. Claridge is not deemed fit to ply his trade on this, so you can expect the odd clanger here and there. Yes I am writing this piece as an amateur, and probably recorded live TV is a difficult thing to do, not sure if I could do it and you have to call things as you see them at the time and I respect anyone’s right to do that. However.

If I stopped to adjust myself at any point in my life I would not find it “understandable” if someone flattened me for it. There was no West Ham player within 20 yards of Jimmy Kebe at this point, if there had of been he wouldn’t have been able to stop and adjust his socks. The way Collison reacted you would have thought Jimmy was vociferously waving his ol’ chap in his face. Yes the game was over, yes maybe there was gamesmanship but it happens in all sport. “Mind the windows Tino!” is a thing that instantly springs to mind. In professional sport you get paid to deal with this.

Back to Claridge, via a dictionary:
Condone:
verb (used with object), -doned, -don·ing.
1.to disregard or overlook (something illegal, objectionable, or the like).
2.to give tacit approval to: By his silence, he seemed to condone their behavior.
3.to pardon or forgive (an offense); excuse.
4.to cause the condonation of.
5.Law . to forgive or act so as to imply forgiveness of (a violation of the marriage vow).

“…And you can’t condone what Collison does but in that situation it’s understandable.” This could almost be excusing Collison.. sure sounds like it to me. So you can’t condone it Steve but you are going to. OK.

Not going to focus on the last bit of this ‘expert punditry’ too much. Englishman, honest and true. Johnny foreigner bad and untrustworthy. Been done to death and does not hold any water what-so-ever. At worst it’s a borderline racist comment (on Network TV) at best it’s a hideous generalisation, not befitting a man paid for his views on the game.

If I Didn’t Have This Blog I’d Cease to Exist (maybe)

Some selected quotes from the greatest thinkers the world has ever produced…

“I think therefore I am” – Descartes

“I have a dream.” – Martin Luther King Jr

“I like big butts and I cannot lie” – Sir Mixalot

“If I didn’t have an opinion, I’d cease to exist.” – Joey Barton

One of those doesn’t deserve to be in that list, anyone guess who?

Anyone who said Sir Mixalot needs to take a long hard look at themselves.

Joey Barton doesn’t of course deserve to be in a list of worlds great thinkers, he is after all just a footballer, captain of Queens Park Rangers. A man who’s footballing talent has been hampered by a violent streak and massive sense of self importance. It has been well documented as to why a man of great footballing skill actually finds himself at premiership new boys QPR but for those of you not in the know here’s a brief recap:-

  • During his time at Manchester City, he stubbed out a lit Cigar in a team mates eye at their 2004 Christmas Party.
  • In 2005 he was sent home from a pre-season tour of Thailand after assaulting a 15 year old Everton fan (who insulted him and kicked him in the shin)
  • In 2007 he assaulted his own team mate Ousmane Dabo at City’s training ground, leaving Dabo in hospital. Dabo pressed charges and Barton pleaded guilty, resulting in a 4 month suspended prison sentence.
  • So following a brief suspension from football, Barton signed for Newcastle Utd. During this time he was found guilty of assault (no not another team mate or pre-pubescent) punching one man over 20 times.. He served a prison term of 77 days.

I could go on, but it’s getting boring.

Joey Barton now is a star on Twitter (@Joey7Barton) this was how he brought his Newcastle Utd career to an end. He openly criticised Newcastle’s board and manager Alan Pardew, resulting in him being released on a free transfer. He continues to air opinions about his fellow professionals and the game in general. Prompting the FA this week to meet with him and discuss social media.

“I feel that the FA came to hush me down or make me not have an opinion. If they came to do that, they picked the wrong person, because there’s no way I can be like that.”

Ok, now let me draw attention to another opinionated man. Stephen Birrell. Birrell was jailed for eight months, for writing some sectarian comments on a Facebook page (from the BBC News website:-)

On 1 March, two days before the Old Firm match, Birrell posted: “Hope they (Celtic fans) all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha.”
On 4 March, the day after the game, he wrote: “Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers. Simple ha ha.”
Four days later Birrell posted: “They’re all ploughing the fields the dirty scumbags.”
He also posted abuse directed at the Pope.

Birrell, has not killed anyone, nor assaulted anyone. He expressed an opinion, just as I am doing here and just as Barton needs to do to exist. What both men are too stupid to realise is, the internet is not the place for the throw away comment, the terrace jibes between fans that are over in a second.

Things I put here will stay here for 40 years!. If I insult my boss, there will be consequences. Barton doesn’t think there should be, but that doesn’t matter, in the real world, which twitter is a part, there are consequences so we all must self censor to a degree and learn when it is appropriate for the inappropriate.

This sums it up, when Reading manager Brian McDermott was asked “Are you going to introduce a Twitter policy at Reading?” He replied.
“No need, they are all grown men.”