Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: football

A few words about Steven Gerrard, football, etc

Winning is one thing. How you go about it is quite another. Read the rest of this entry »

Thirty years on from the first Merseyside Wembley final…

…this documentary has been doing the rounds. Made in 1984, it is centred around that year’s League Cup Final – the first time Liverpool and Everton had met in a Wembley cup final. But it is about a lot more than the game. It is a fine document for illustrating how sport can genuinely bring meaning and joy to our lives. It is also a reminder of the rapidly fading link between football and the working classes. Thirty years on we have the same unemployment, the same feelings of isolation, the same rundown communities. But now you can’t even afford a ticket to the football.

Gary Neville is a boot-licking moron

…or so says his old team-mate Carlos Tevez, who made quite the attack on him via a radio interview for ESPN Argentina. Gary Neville had stated that Tevez wasn’t worth the money, following his move from Manchester United to Manchester City.

In Tuesday night’s Carling Cup semi-final, first leg, Tevez gestured to Neville, after scoring his first goal. Neville wittily responded by raising his middle finger. In a radio interview Tevez explained:

“My celebration was directed at Gary Neville. He acted like a complete sock-sucker [boot-licker] when he said I wasn’t worth £25m, just to suck up to the manager. I don’t know what the hell that idiot is talking about me for. I never said anything about him.”

Well, I think Tevez will have won himself a fair few new fans for sticking it to Gary Neville, not one of the most popular players in the UK. He may well have some unexpected fans in the red half of Merseyside, who have been known to call Gary Neville far worse things than a ‘sock-sucker’.

While this is a case of ‘handbags at dawn’, it is good to see a little bit of proper antagonism between the two sides. It certainly sets things up for a lively return leg at Old Trafford next week.

In the meantime, let’s hope ‘sock sucker’ enters common use. It’s handy as it sounds like something else that is quite a bit ruder. Just like when they dubbed a TV version of Beverly Hills Cop, so that ‘motherf***er’ became ‘melon farmer’. Great stuff.

Sporting Schadenfreude

Sunday was a good day for me.

Not because my team had won. They weren’t even playing, and probably wouldn’t have won even if they had been.

No, Sunday was a good day as Manchester United were knocked out of the FA Cup, 1-0 to Leeds United. This was a result to savour. Manchester United losing, not only to a team two divisions beneath them, but to one of their great historical and geographical rivals too. Wonderful.

Petty? Maybe, but then isn’t most sport pretty petty anyway?

This form of sporting Schadenfreude is not unusual. I’m sure many of us delight in the sporting misfortune of others. I have known football supporters who cannot just revel in their own team’s victory – for it to be a perfect day, all their rivals need to have lost too. Bizarrely, perhaps, there can be just as much joy in seeing another team’s failure as there is in seeing your own team’s success.

As a Liverpool supporter enduring a torrid season, I’m not proud, I’ll take what enjoyment I can get. As trophy after trophy slips away, I end up focusing more on hoping certain teams, such as the aforementioned Manchester United, will start to struggle too. As this season has seen all the ‘bigger’ sides be pretty inconsistent there has been more opportunities than normal for some Schadenfreude. Last season the top four sides lost 17 games in total between them. This season those same teams have already lost 19, with half a season still to go.

Sunday’s result saw yet another Alex Ferguson gripe about injury time, with him labelling the five minutes given as an ‘insult’. I’d suggest that was insulting itself, to the referee and to Leeds United. The arrogance is beyond belief, to essentially suggest that if one or two more minutes had been played Manchester United would have probably equalised. Ferguson should really look closer to home for the reason behind the defeat. His team lost because he picked the wrong side, not because the referee didn’t play a game of ‘next goal wins’. Yet, no sanctions will follow. Respect campaign? What Respect campaign?

Still, Ferguson’s rants do have one upside. Each time he complains about a lack of injury time, or indeed benefits from injury time given, more people visit here, and my post from earlier this year. So, thank you Alex, and thank you Google, for bringing me those people googling “fergusons injury time bitching” and “ferguson complains about injury time”. Much appreciated!

Ten little things that helped make 2009 a good year

We think in generalities, but we live in detail.

Alfred North Whitehead
English mathematician & philosopher (1861 – 1947)

The web and the wider world are full of ‘best of’ lists, looking back at the past year and indeed the last decade. However, I thought I didn’t have a whole lot worth adding to the more general debates, such as best albums, best films, best sportsmen and women. Does the world really need another end of year/decade review?

So…instead I’ve decided to compile a list of some ‘little’ things I’ve enjoyed this year. Maybe this will offer a tiny insight into my world, and hopefully prompt some thought on those little things in life that make the world a more enjoyable place. Life is all in the details.

1. The seaside

This year I’ve been to the seaside several times with my Significant Other, and had a wonderful time on every occasion. In the UK we’re really lucky in that you are never that far from the sea. Maybe there is some primal pull, but more likely it’s great to regress to being a kid again, with ice creams, crazy golf, dashing around the arcades, skimming stones and fish and chips on the beach. We realised that we can jump on a train and in an hour or so effectively be on holiday, if only for the day. A great way to ‘get away from it all’, and cheap too!

2. Actually going to the football

I used to go to games all the time years ago, but I think following a team week-in, week-out is probably a young man’s game. Saying that, there’s nothing to stop me going to see a match from time to time, and I’ve got back into that this year, again accompanied by my ever-supportive Significant Other. We live close to Charlton Athletic, who late last season started giving tickets away as they hurtled towards relegation. This season has been far better for them, and popping down the other week on a whim and catching a game was a lot of fun.

3. Piccolo coffee

I was never a big coffee drinker. But this year I’ve fallen for the trendy coffee brigade’s fancy drinks. A piccolo is kind of like a very strong, yet miniature, latte, essentially an espresso topped up with a little milk. I’ll often grab one from a little coffee stall near work, generally at lunchtime, to kickstart my afternoon. It is absolutely delicious, and a welcome change from the luke-warm, sugary, whipped cream abominations from the big chains. I’m on course to become a coffee snob!

4. Scoring baseball

More to come on this soon, folks, I promise. But generally speaking, I had real fun following this year’s MLB season. Even though the Mets were beyond rubbish.

5. Staying in on a Saturday night

I used to get rather jittery staying in on a Saturday night, worried I was at home while everyone else was out having fun. No more. I think I’ve finally hit full-fledged Grumpy Old Man mode, and so can’t abide jostling crowds and overpriced drinks in trendy bars, or nightbuses home from dingy nightclubs. Also, I’ve loved spending some time with my Significant Other, a takeaway and some crap telly. Strictly Come Dancing, X Factor, Match of the Day, bed. I never thought this would be my idea of bliss!

6. Spicy chilli peanuts

My snack food of the year. I’ve bought a big tub of them for Christmas, and can’t see it lasting long. Plus, I can kid myself that peanuts are a healthier option.

7. Cain’s Mild

My drink of the year. A classic beer from a Liverpudlian brewery. Full of flavour, but low in alcohol, so I can drink plenty of it without falling over. Coveting a can of mild, again, suggests I am now truly an old man, in heart, mind and increasingly in body. This is not a bad thing. I think I’m actually growing into myself.

8. The New York Review of Books

On the surface, this is a periodical with a load of book reviews. But really, they are just a launchpad for articles on much wider issues, so an issue might throw up some interesting perspectives on all manner of things – the fall of the Berlin Wall, Theodore Roosevelt’s environmentalism, the new ballparks in New York, prison reform, schooling…you name it. It is refreshing to see such a wide range of issues covered, and for writers to be given the room to cover them in sufficient depth. Plus, it makes me feel a bit cleverer for reading it.

9. QI

It’s bloody brilliant, isn’t it? And like number 8 above, I feel a bit cleverer for watching it. You can never have enough trivia stuffed in your brain, as far as I’m concerned.

10. Listening to Christmas songs

I love Christmas songs. Big Rock Candy Mountain feeds my addiction with some weird and wonderful efforts, but I’m just as happy with the more mainstream fare. Phil Spector’s Christmas album is probably one of the best (not just Christmas) albums ever. Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is my number one guilty pleasure. To me, that song is perfect. It’s a shame that in just a few days I won’t be listening to these songs for another year…

So, what little things made your 2009 a good one? I’d love to hear about whatever helped make your year.

Photo from kevindooley, via Flickr