Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blackpool 2 Yeovil 0

I scored a ticket online for the Yeovil end just to see what the new stadium is like. And I have to say that while it is a monument to how we can't get anything done on time or close to budget, now it's done it is a fantastic stadium. It really is awesome. I took some pictures on my phone but I don't think I can upload them. It was a rare occasion when I wished I had a camera. Perhaps I'll get a flash digital one now I'm a balla. Anyway, great view, lots of legroom and it must be quite something when it's full and rocking, if it's ever both at the same time. Today it was about 2/3 full for the League One playoff final.

Both these teams came in with a reputation for playing good football but Yeovil didn't really turn up. Maybe they froze on the day, maybe Blackpool were just too confident coming off a 9 game winning run, but it was a very one-sided game. The Glovers (another scary nickname - watch out for us ! We make gloves !) weathered the storm in the first 20 minutes but, unlike Paul Darden, they were unable to become the storm. Adrian Forbes shot into the side netting for Pool and Andy Morrell was inches away from connecting with a header with the goal gaping. 2 minutes from half-time left back Robbie Williams stepped up for a free kick and Let Me Entertain You ... er no that doesn't work. What about Angel ? Nope. Or She's the One. I'm a bit stuck now, and googling for this kind of thing is utter cheating so let's just say the full back stepped up and [insert Robbie Williams song title pun here] curled the ball low into the corner. Keeper Steve Mildenhall looked to be at fault, jumping behind the wall just as the ball was struck, leaving himself wrong-footed.

Yeovil came out with a bit more appetite in the second half but just five minutes in they over-committed and the lively Keigan Parker was allowed too much time to cut inside and curl an excellent shot over Mildenhall and into the net. And that was pretty much that. Marcus Stewart took off his invisibility cloak with ten minutes left when he met Wayne Gray's cross, but somehow managed to send his header into the ground and over the bar. This was a shame because it would have livened up the latter stages and been nice for the Yeovil fans, who were a fairly good-natured lot.

So Blackpool will be taking on the Championship next season and while it's hard to see them doing a Colchester [1] they looked a decent outfit, well organised, passed it quite nicely and solid in defence. QPR reject Ian Evatt was rarely tested at the back, unlike Yeovil's Terrell Forbes who was sorely overworked (not least because his centre-half partner was a complete donk) but read the game very well and made some crucial interceptions. Matthew Rose remained on the bench, some things never change :-)

And I'm spent for another season. Tune in again next August !

[1] Then again it was next to impossible to see Colchester doing a Colchester this time last year.

Update : BBC Sport shows me how to do it : "they finally broke the deadlock just before half-time with a perfectly taken free-kick by Robbie Williams - Take that Yeovil!".

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Thought Or Two

The play-offs are so much more exciting than the Champions League knockout stages because, in part, there is no away goals rule. Discuss. If necessary that is, it seems self-evident to me.

While I'm here, Sheffield United have a lot of sympathy within the game over the whole Tevez business but they're doing their best to lose it. If their chairman wants to press for 21 clubs in the Premiership next season he can, but saying this is "the simplest solution" is an insult to the intelligence of anyone listening.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Own 1/50000th of a football club

This is just bizarre. The basic premise is collect £35 from 50,000 people, buy a football club and then have all the "owners" vote on everything from team selection to transfers. Quite how this works regarding tactical substitutions with 10 minutes to go is anyone's guess. To me it sounds completely unworkable so I suppose we should hope that the number one "fans' choice" of clubs to become the particular train to be wrecked, Leeds United, succumb.

Of course even the likes of QPR have debts that dwarf the $1.75 million being proposed as the "fee". Hats off to anyone who signed up to this and selected Arsenal, Liverpool or Manchester United. I sincerely hope they are taking the piss and have no intention of coughing up. However, that is quite a lot of money to a club like Barnet who don't actually have debts up to their ears. This might make great TV but frankly I'd be straight on Betfair to lay the team concerned to the hilt in the unlikely event that this ever happened (50,000-1 sounds about the right number regarding that).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

QPR 1 Stoke 1

There was nothing riding on this for Rangers today, and a good job too or I doubt whether the referee would have made it out alive. Rangers took the lead when Martin Rowlands cunningly fired a free kick into the mass of balloons at the near post. The visiting keeper managed to keep three balloons out but the ball squirmed home. Stoke weren't really very good and laboured during the first half, although apparently they hit the post while I was having a quick pit stop.

Stoke stepped it up somewhat in the second half and Dominic Matteo managed to spoon the ball over when it looked easier to score Brian. Then referee T Kettle (really, and remember the name) stepped in. Some websites list the bookings with reasons, for example Smith (deliberate handball) and Jones (persistent fouling). In this case it would just say Everyone (everything). He booked everyone for everything. It was no surprise when Sampsa Timoska was sent off without even making contact with his opponent.

Stoke poured forward against the ten men but lacked the quality to fashion much in the way of chances. Paul Furlong and Marc Bircham came on for a last hurrah but unfortunately just as Bircham entered to a massive ovation, Rangers fell asleep at the back and Stoke walked in an equaliser through Mamady Sidibe. Amazingly, Furlong was clean through on goal in injury time for the ultimate story-book finish but sadly his shot was saved and that was that.

The players came out afterwards for a warmly received lap of, hmm, well honour's a bit strong after finishing 18th so how about respect. And respect is due to Furlong and Bircham who have been mainstays of the club for five seasons, best of luck to them in the future. Rangers will have to rebuild this summer but I'm fairly confident that we have the right manager and a backbone of a team in place to push forward with.

Friday, May 04, 2007

LOL administrationaments

If you thought Leeds were slimy going into administration with one game left so that the 10 point penalty counts this season when they're down anyway, check out "Dodgy Boston". From a BBC website report :

"Reports have claimed that if Boston were losing [tomorrow] and looking set to be relegated to the Conference anyway, they could attempt to enter the CVA during the game - and suffer the 10-point deduction immediately which would have little effect in real terms. "

Now that's taking the piss.

Update : And in fact that's exactly what Boston did. They filed for CVA during the closing stages of the game, which they lost 3-1. I skimmed the BBC forums on the Leeds thing, and a lot of their fans were saying "Well your club would do the same", and to be fair I expect they would. I would at least have the grace to be embarrassed about it though. Clearly the rules need to be re-worked so that there is a proper deterrent in place to ensure that clubs only enter administration as an absolute last resort.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


A lot of people seem to think that karma is completely random bad things happening to bad people. This comes from watching too many soaps on TV. You know, character takes drugs, then he's knocked over by a bus. Gosh, drugs are bad. Can you name a soap character who took drugs and nothing bad happened to them ? It's so transparent [1].

The way I think of karma is as an inevitable consequence of your previous actions. Cutting a corner here leads to more problems further along the line than you would have incurred doing it properly in the first place. When the problems are so far down the line that they're someone else's problems though, that's when it all falls apart. Politics is a good example of that. Current governments are borrowing so much off future governments and generations to prop themselves up that it's all going to come crashing down when the bills finally come in. Mark my words. Er, anyway.

What relevance to football ? Well, the bills seem to be coming in at Chelsea. In the last week we've heard reports that first of all Ballack sloped off to Germany for an operation without the club's knowledge, which is an incredible thing to do and shows a total disregard for the club. Now Shevchenko has, reportedly, pulled out of tonight's Champions League semi-final with an imaginary groin strain because he wasn't going to be starting. Well, this is what happens when players join your club solely for the money or, in Shevchenko's case as far as I can see, because Milan didn't want him any more and no one else could afford him. They don't care. So there's no point acting all surprised about it when their commitment flags. Chelsea's final karmic day of reckoning will be upon them eventually, and at the risk of incurring some bad karma of my own, man it's going to be sweet.

And this weekend Leeds United fought their way out of the Championship, unfortunately (for them) via the wrong door. Their problems were created, of course, by Ridsdale and O'Leary paying fortunes for a bloated squad of players, all with money raised against up to 10 years of future ticket sales and sponsorship. What did they think would happen if they didn't keep that Champions League money coming in ? Since then various people haven't been good enough to turn the tide, whether they were decent blokes doing their best (Blackwell) or weaselly little self-serving cunts (Wise). So it's off to Hartlepool and Cheltenham for them next season, and while I'm here don't forget to lay the bejesus out of Leeds in match betting for at least two months next season. I saw how much teams were up for playing QPR in that division, imagine what they're going to be like for Leeds.

But should we take any pleasure in this misfortune ? Well, it's very hard not to. If Chelsea fans walked around saying "Well, it's nice, but we know it's all been done on external money just like a cheat in Championship Manager so let's not gloat", or Leeds had gone around saying "You know, we're doing great right now but let's not forget this is a big risk the way we've mortgaged against future income so let's not get carried away", then fine. Of course what they actually did was stick their beer guts out and strut around going "you lot are all shit aaaaaaaarrggghh". Thus, the rest of us may be excused the odd wry grin when it all goes tits up, as it inevitably will.

The struggle between good and evil in this world is closer than it might be because of balancing effects. Evil has an advantage because it's prepared to cut corners and, when it can get away with it, cheat. But evil contains the seeds of its own undoing, because the individual people involved are, by nature, evil and liable to turn upon each other rather than pull together when the going gets tough. It's all a rich tapestry :-)

[1] Actually this is a trick question, because you can't name any soap character who nothing bad happened to.