Category: Sport


Lights out at Murrayfield

Like many people, I have a bucket list of sorts; stuff I want to see or do before I finally kick the bucket and shuffle off this mortal coil. A lot of things are probably a bit too big for me to really do – I want to go see a live WrestleMania, a want to see a Superbowl, I want to see a Houston Astros game… and one of them? I ticked it off this weekend.
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Big Reffin’ Deal

So, you may well have noticed there’s a kerfuffle in Scotland right now, regarding referees and a strike. You may not know how it came about, or what happened to make it such a big deal. Granted, you may not care, but tough – I’m going to tell you all about it.
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And the cup runneth over… then stuck the boot in

So that was the World Cup that was… and to be honest, with a few exceptions, it was distinctly average.

The big names that were supposed to set the world on fire were nothing more than an accessory, there to show face, not form. The majority of those “big name” players that were featured in the Nike ‘Write The Future’ ads ended up writing a Shakespearean tragedy rather than a triumphant tale of glory. This was a tournament that was living in fear. Almost every nation had the desire to not lose, rather than to win etched into their pre-match tactics.
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Baseball Bits n’ Bobs #1

Well, hello.

Being that I now have access to baseball on ESPN, I figured I’d like to start doing the odd little recap on it here and there. Nothing major, just what pops into my head on a random basis. This time…

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The Fantasy Effect

The title of this is nothing to do with any of my dreams, before anybody gets remotely excited. No, I’m talking about sports. Baseball, NFL, Premiership – anything that has the fantasy sports effect.

What is this effect? It’s the wrenching, tearing feeling you have in your gut as a sports fan of a specific team, when you’re forced to either pick a player from a hated team, or root for a player against your own team. Why would you do this? Because all’s fair in love and fantasy sports! For an example, my fantasy baseball team. I run a team – The Bongonian Conspiracy – in a Yahoo league. It’s safe to say, I like baseball. A lot. My team? Well… for my sins, I’m a Houston Astros fan.

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So Farewell Then, Big Tony Mowbray

The axe finally fell on the tortuous reign of Big Tony Mowbray at Celtic Park today. Unanimously hailed as “a nice guy” by pretty much everyone – including me – that niceness wasn’t enough to paper over the glaring cracks. From his tactical ineptitude, mind boggling substitutions, and bizarre transfer dealings, to his tendency to treat the captain’s armband like a hot potato.

At one point last night, I think there were something like 5 forwards on the park, with Aiden McGeady playing at left back… I mean, seriously… c’mon!

The squad that he inherited did need some work done to it, even Gordon Strachan would admit to that. What it didn’t need was constant rejigging from week to week, overloading on wingers, and just awful, awful tactical decisions.

The man got West Brom relegated by playing pretty football… what on Earth made him think the same tactic would work at Celtic? Yes, at times, it was great to watch – but 90% of the time, there was no end product. We’re like a cheaper version of Arsenal right now.

As for his signings, the jury is well and truly out on some of them. Fortuné looks like a world beater with the ball at his feet but has spells where the proverbial cow’s arse and banjo would never meet; Danny Fox came and went, felt like a loan signing more than someone Mogga thought would improve the back four, and as much as I’m loving having Robbie Keane in the hoops, it’s always gonna be short term, and a centre half would have been much preferred.

But the main thing is, Mogga himself never looked happy. He always had the look of a man that had dropped a tenner and found a pound. He looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights and had absolutely no idea how to cope with “THE MEDIA” as a whole. His constant “we’ll take it on the chin and move on” lectures after each loss or dropped point or European whuppin’ started to grate a little.

Well, I hope Mogga goes on to make himself happy, and I’d love him to go back down to England and make a go of his career.. But as a Celtic manager, he made me reminisce about the good ol’ days of John Barnes. We had little excitement on the pitch, and crucially, even less passion, something Neil Lennon will instill for the rest of the season, if nothing else.

Farewell, Big Tony Mowbray.

Death knell rings for Portsmouth

PFC Crisis

The inevitable badge-split-in-two picture


The big breaking news story in football today is not, as I would prefer, Clarke Carlisle going for a three-peat on Countdown, but the long running saga of Portsmouth FC finally giving up the ghost and going into administration.

Seems to me this isn’t so much breaking news, as “Is that it? Finally?” – this is a tale that’s dragged on as much as Who Killed Archie Mitchell… and has just about as many suspects. Portsmouth were living the dream at one point, a rich owner, FA Cup winners, Good Old ‘Arry Redknapp in charge, wheeling and dealing – and that was just his tax returns wa-hey!

Then this season… it’s all gone down the pan. They’ve had four owners, 2 managers, and countless off field amateur dramatics and distractions. It’s been all go at Fratton Park, and not in a good way.

So, given that they are almost certain to be relegated, with or without the nine point deduction they rightfully deserve, how are they to raise the cash to cover the estimated £60-£70million that they are in debt? That, dear reader, is where I come in. I have ideas, see. Portsmouth becomes a hotbed for fund raising, by simply offering the following:

  • DAVID JAMES can offer hairstyling advice, and draw the results for you! Failing that he can collect sponsorship to shave his hair off.
  • AVRAM GRANT can offer massages. Make your own conclusions about his experience in those matters, please.
  • PETER STORRIE can hold career advice seminars, how to keep a job despite seemingly doing nothing of merit for years.
  • HERMANN HREIDARSSON should try and get a sponsorship deal for the bandages he inevitably ends up wearing at some point in the season.
  • KANU can market a range of comfortable heated cushions, for those long winter nights when you have to sit around doing nothing.
  • TOMMY SMITH can hold motivational speeches on how to achieve the a high level in your career despite not actually being up to it; positive thinking over aptitude.
  • RICHARD HUGHES and other assorted Portsmouth midfielders can challenge local children to games of Hide and Seek at £1 per go.
  • JAMIE O’HARA can sell customised calendars with the day marked down that he can return to the financial security of Tottenham.
  • DAVID NUGENT can simply donate some money and hope that gets his some good karma, and pray on his hands and knees that Burnley want to keep him.
  • Oh and in case you were wondering, as I type this, Clarke Carlisle just lost out by 3 points on the final Conundrum. He walks away with his teapot and his dignity. Maybe he can put the teapot on eBay and donate the proceeds to Portsmouth?

    Deadlines, dead ends and dust

    Yes folks, it’s a football post, so ready your good throwing rocks now, as football seems to be the third biggest fight starter after religion and salt n’ vinegar crisps in green packets.

    It’s DEADLINE DAY which in football terms is when all the shouting starts, stops and carries on into the night. All the clubs have until tonight to finalise their squads, which means desperate managers throw cash at any old donkey. Well, that’s what usually happens. This year, with the world being in a recession, there’s more loan deal than permanent deals.

    For me, the fun is watching Sky Sports News on the run up to the transfer window closing, because that’s generally when Jim White gets wheeled on to dispense his own brand of hyperbole.

    Whoa there, put a halt on that transfer pony!” exclaims the understated Jim at one point, just before 5pm; this mere minutes after declaring he was “getting emotional, but not too emotional, we don’t have time for that on deadline day!” and having a near heart attack as Harry Redknapp phones his mobile while live on air.

    What was getting Jim so exciteable? Not much until about 4.45pm, when Manchester City rushed through a last minute deal for Middlesbrough’s Adam Johnson… but that was just the starter. No, the main course was that phone call from ‘Arry – news of Robbie Keane being allowed to go to Glasgow to sign for Celtic on loan, truly a stunning deal, with no less impact to Jim, given his “alleged leanings” of course.

    Despite all that, it has to be said – Jim White on Deadline Day is a football tradition now. I can’t imagine watching anything else when he’s in one of his insane moods. He may not be the best presenter out there, but the man is passionate about his football, and he has the habit of being damned funny.

    Jim, if you’re reading this, I forgive you for asking Brian Laudrup “Why are you so good?”

    Weirdness abounds!

    Well, hello.

    It’s Monday, and already it’s bizarro-land in the wacky world of sports… here’s my take on today’s events so far:

    AP McCoy

    AP McCoy

    THE GOOD

    AP McCoy, National Hunt Jockey supreme. What more can be said about this incredibly determined human being? Already the owner of the record for more jumps victories than anyone else, he took that record a step farther today by claiming his 3,000th victory. Simply incredible. If I was wearing a cap, I would doff it to this genius… but I’m not, so I won’t. So there.

    THE BAD

    Chelsea sack Big Phil Scolari. Kinda bizarre, but when you think about it, not really. The Special One, Jose Mourinho was fired for less. He had a better record, but played dull football, so had to go. Scolari seems to make it his mission to play boring footy and try and scrape a 1 goal victory. Not good enough for well known football expert, Roman Abramovich, so off he goes into the sunset. Alas poor Phil, we hardly knew ye…

    THE UGLY

    Tony Adams. Heh. Take that aaaaany way you want, but the facts are simple: He’s not a very good manager. Portsmouth have been shocking recently, and his jacket was always on a shoogly nail – today that nail fell out, and off he toddles. Amazingly, rumours suggest he may walk into a job at Feyenoord! I have a lot of time for Big Tone, but managing is not his career, it seems.

    —  Tony

    The biggest massacre since the Highland clearances

    Well, you may or may not know this, but I like rugby. I like GOOD rugby, I should say.

    Despite this, I follow my country, Scotland. This is, of course, Six Nations season, and as such, this basically means that the other five teams take it in turns to kick the living daylights out of our sorry squad.

    Traditionally, the Scots have generally been quite good at rugby… perhaps never world beaters, but good enough to hold our own and pull off the odd title win in the Six Nations (or Five as it was) tourney. Recently, we’ve been the strongest team in the competition… mainly because we’ve been at the bottom of the table holding the other nations up.

    This year looks like being no bloody different…

    The game today against the Welsh invaders (well, if you believed the BBC’s Scottish News, that’s what they were) was shambolic; it was teeth-grindingly awful; it was diabolical; worst? it was embarrassing.

    Whether they’ve changed the rules to make it illegal for a Scots player to tackle an opponent without being knocked at least 3 feet backwards. Sure, the first try was scored during a period when we were reduced to 14 men, thanks to Geoff Cross and his suicidal head first assault on a knee-cap…but they would have steamrollered over us without that advantage anyway!

    They oozed power, pace and class, without ever giving the feeling that they were out of 2nd gear. We oozed desperation, panic and the feeling that we couldn’t even find 1st gear, let alone second.

    The main culprits for me? Well, I’ll go into that in a second. The team itself though was poorly organised and looked like they’d met each other for the first time 10 minutes before kick off. Mr. Hadden has to take the blame for this lack of conduciveness.

    The Welsh team fought like demons for each other; they supported, they harassed, they supported the ball carrier and provided a simple out ball more often than not. When they had to defend, they dug in like their life depended on it – take the last 5 minutes or so of the 1st period as an example, they calmly repelled a frantic Scots attack, which was easily the most confident we had looked in the entire match.

    Our team had no drive, no desire and most appallingly for a Scottish team, no damn PASSION.

    How we managed to stay within 13 points of the Welsh is more down to them not killing us off with conversions rather than any great spirit from ourselves…

    Surely this has to be Frank Hadden’s last chance. I’m not saying we should change coach now – not much point mid Six Nations campaign – but come the end of the tourney, he has to go… be it of his own volition or be it forced upon him, his time is up.

    Who can replace him? There is another problem… I don’t know! The heart says Ian McGeechan but my head says surely he would not be remotely interested in what is fast becoming a poisoned chalice.

    On to today’s culprits…

    Southwell: Honestly… did little to nothing with his kicks, and was guilty of some terrible ball handling. Not the worst player on the pitch, though.
    Webster: Bravely tried to carry on despite knocking himself silly. Looked like he didn’t know where he was for a while. Looked like he might have contributed, had a couple of strong runs.
    Cairns: The Invisible Man. Was he even playing? I didn’t notice him until he was replaced! Awful.
    Morrison: Can’t recall him doing much wrong. Or right. Or much at all, to be honest…
    Lamont: How this man gets a game at THIS level is beyond me. Really, really, really awful. Plus point: He’s not Rory.
    Godman: Hailed by the BBC pre game as a great potential stand-off. Pffft! Did precious little with the ball and kicking was suspect.
    Blair: An off day for Mikey. One great tackle on Lee Byrne and a lot of possession but didn’t build the play in his usual manner. Poor.
    Jackson: Totally anonymous. Can’t remember his name being mentioned once in a positive manner.
    Ford: See above… might as well not have been there.
    Cross: Best moment was crying his eyes out during the national anthem… carted off the pitch after trying to head butt someone’s knee. Never a good idea.
    White: A shadow of his former self, sadly. Winding his career down. The presence that he once had is no longer there.
    J Hamilton: A menace at line-outs, but not ENOUGH of a menace. By no means the worst player on the field though.
    Hogg: Another Mr. Average. Did little to support the play and tackling was a nightmare.
    Taylor: Probably the best starter, to be honest. Tried to get things going but had precious little support and was often running into a Red sea with little support.
    Barclay: Did OK, I thought. Unlucky to be replaced but by that time it was all over.

    Replacements:
    Paterson for Webster (21): Don’t get me started. A one trick pony with the boot, and not a leader. Not powerful enough to be playing where he was slotted in today, despite a couple of decent runs. A luxury player, not an essential one.
    Dickinson for Cross (31):  Slotted in and promptly vanished into the desert of anonymity that we seemed to revel in today.
    M Evans for Cairns (52): Changed the pace of the game for us. Should have been on from the start, looked genuninely excited to be on the park and tried his damnedest to get involved.
    Gray for Barclay (56): Not entirely sure why the change was made but did alright. Not ground breaking or dynamic, but decent.
    Cusiter for Blair (62): Did his starting chances no harm with a series of nice touches. Was quick, strong assured but again let down by those around him.
    Hall for Ford (62): Says a lot I didn’t even realise he came on!
    Brown for Hogg (73): Another average, no frills cameo. Game was long gone by this time.

    In the name of all that’s right, this starting line-up has to be ripped apart and rebuilt before next week. France in Paris? We are just target practice if we don’t sort it out and quickly!

    If nothing else, all I want to see is some passion from the guys on the pitch. They should be giving everything they have and more for the right to wear that jersey, not just going through the motions as they did today.

    — Tony