Sport

(WMB4X) Tea for Two (am)

It’s the Ashes (again) in Australia. So heres to weeks of disrupted sleep whilst I watch eleven of my compatriots retain (hopefully) professional sports smallest trophy. The first test match is in Brisbane and play starts (for day two) at midnight UK time tonight.

The Ashes

For me it’s actually quite nice. Nicer than when the test matches are on in England. Nowhere to go, no-one who’s gonna call. The wind and rain going on outside whilst I can at least see the sunshine in full HD. I only wish I didn’t have to go to work the next day. Cricket is a sport that many people don’t understand the appeal of, I get that. The naming conventions for the field placings don’t help. Leg slips and Silly Mid-offs are too much for some. Again maybe that is part of the appeal for me.

Test matches last five days (and you thought baseball was a long game) but during that time the upper hand in the game can change several times. A marathon rather than a sprint but with tactical elements a plenty, and especially in the case of the Ashes a great deal of human emotion and passion.

Stuart Broad England fast bowler, has been made a panto villain in the Aussie press for “refusing to walk”. Which basically means, he was out in a previous match, but the umpire didn’t give it so he stayed put. A bit like a footballer doing a bad foul then staying on the pitch because the Ref didn’t give him a red card. There have been front pages encouraging all Aussies to blank Broad wherever he goes. Broad fought back in the best way possible by taking 5 of the 8 Australian wickets to fall yesterday.

When you are up watching this kind of theatre. It is important you stay refreshed, and whilst I did succumb to a wee shot of Jack, by 2am I was ready for bed. Which brings me to the title of this ramble. There is nothing, no drink on earth, I would rather have by my side in the early hours than tea. It warms the mind and soul. So if you like me are watching the cricket or maybe some other more fitting event to your personal preference. Askew the coffee, say good-bye to gin. Go and make a brew. You won’t regret it.


Go and visit the Resident Weeble. He might show you his googly.

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He Used to Manage Slough.. He’s Not a Royal Now

Loyalty in Football it’s a rare thing indeed. Always an agent that can get you a better deal than you are on, at a more prestigious club. Players, managers everyone involved and why not. Almost everyone wants to progress and make as much money in the process just as this was any other industry. But it’s different.

Lets say you work a manufacturing plant, managing a small team of 25. When you were appointed in 2009 their work was shoddy and disorganised, no-one brought your product. Your predecessor was an arrogant man with a God complex who wanted to re-invent the wheel. You had been working under him. You did your bit quietly and professionally making a good impression on those who would become your team.

You stabilise the ship. Getting your team to produce some very good work, with minimal expenditure. It is not quite on a consistent level yet but that’s ok. Your products are gaining a good market reputation, and even when some of the best manufacturing operatives moved on to seek out opportunities in Germany you still manage to galvanise the team. Quietly working with a great passion and professionalism.

A year or two goes by. Your team missed out at the 11th hour on a huge contract worth in excess of £90 million. The CEO keeps the faith, and a year later you win an industry award and the new Russian owner nails his colours to your mast and gives you a new contract. Manufacturing with the biggest and brightest lights in the industry. In this line of work you would be given time to stabilise, maybe even fall back a little and consolidate for another assault on new markets. You are lauded as your industries leading light and your company is proud.

If you are in football you get the sack.

Brian McDermott turned down an approach in February 2012 from the then Premier League club, Wolves, to stay at Reading and “finish what I started” which he duly did. Winning the Championship for only the second time in the clubs history. Earlier this week he was sacked.. I have waited a few days before writing this piece. I am so angry. Granted results haven’t been what they should have been this year and the club does sit join bottom of England’s top flight. However I am disgusted that Brian’s loyalty (been with the Club since 2000) and work counts for nothing.

Just after Christmas, Southampton, a team who gained promotion by finishing second behind us last year, sacked Nigel Adkins. I have to admit I don’t like Southampton or Adkins. I laughed. I thought that is a poor way to treat a manager who has got you so much success. That would never happen at Reading. We are a well run club, not prone to press the panic button. How wrong I was.

Brian took us from the brink of Division One (Third tier of English football) to the Premier League. He did it not by spending millions on prima donnas but by building a close knit team of players, displaying a quiet air of determination to WNG (Win Next Game) He is a man who lives and breathes football and always acted with the best interests of Reading Football Club in mind. Thanks Brian for all you achieved and the memories which you helped create. I wish you every success and I hope you find a club which treats you with the respect your talent deserves.

Save us from Di Canio.

Brian McDermott: Out on his own

Brian McDermott: Out on his own

(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.