Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top Ten Hangover Cures.

With the festive season well & truly upon us, I thought I might put together a little DIY guide for the readers of Beer, Footy and Birds, listing my 'Top Ten Hangover Cures.'
Some are obvious & well renowned, others might well be considered more far fetched or put into the bracket 'Old Wives Tales,' but hey........whatever you find works best for you, or should I say 're-floats your boat,' then surely the source becomes inconsequential!

In no particular order:

1/ PRARIE OYSTER (A variation on the Bloody Mary)

1 ¼ - 2 oz vodka (optional)
1 egg yolk
3 oz tomato juice
Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and black pepper to taste.
Vinegar and ketchup are optional.

Pour in order into a wine glass taking good care not to break the yolk.
Down in one.

If made without alcohol, place ingredients in a shot glass and swallow all at once (Warning: Raw eggs may contain salmonella). Serves 1.


And plenty of it. Otherwise known as thiamine, this anti-oxidant is invaluable to the suffering hangover victim.

3/ IBUPROFEN preferable to paracetamol or Anadin – paracetamol can be toxic to the liver after drinking large quantities of alcohol, & asprin can irritate the stomach.


And plenty of it. Most hangovers are caused by dehydration. You lose a lot of water because of the diuretic effects of alcohol.
The number one remedy always has been, & forever shall be, to rehydrate it.


If you don't want to drink water, try a glass of flat ginger ale, which helps soothe your stomach.


Trust me on this – salt to replenish sodium ( however too much salt will cause dehydration ) & cola to burn up the alcohol & help prevent nausea.
You’ll be surprised!


Drink a glass of orange juice before crashing and as soon as you wake up. Orange juice will replace the potassium you lost during your drinking binge. A low potassium level leads to muscle cramps and muscle discomfort. Get your potassium level back to normal as soon as possible.
Orange juice will also help your blood sugar levels.


Your tummy is in an acidic state after drinlking and may cause your stomach to be very upset. Toast or bread can help neutralize the acid and make your tummy feel better. Honey contains simple sugars which will in turn help your body process the alcohol more quickly. Eat some toast with honey before turning in for the night or first thing when you finally wake up.
It'll can also help soothe the dryness in your throat.


Milk thistle is commonly prescribed for people with liver problems. Taking a few capsules of Milk Thistle before, during or after drinking may help your liver process the alcohol more quickly and minimize your hangover symptoms.


Many Puerto Ricans practice applying lemon juice to the underside of their drinking arm. If you share my sentiments for alcoholic beverages & 'double-hand frequently', a lemon for both arms is suggested. The application of the lemon juice must come prior to your binge for full effectiveness.


May I take this opportunity of wishing ALL the readers of my blog a very 'Happy Christmas & New Year' & may 2009 bring you much success & happiness in everything that you desire.

Thank you to each & everyone of you for all your support over the past year. Mark :-)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Footy's Top Ten' Hardest Men - Part Three!

I shall now conclude the final chapter on the subject of 'Football’s Hardest Men' with the final three names that I would consider as the most suitably apt nominees to complete my 'Top Ten' inventory.

In Part One on the 25th November, I focused on Duncan Ferguson, Claudio Gentile, Billy Whitehurst & Dave Mackay.

In Part Two on the 28th November, the men in question were Frank Barson, Norman Hunter & Andoni Goikoetxea.

Now in Part Three, I am going to focus my attention on the following 'hardmen' who have graced our beautiful game.

Before football became a non-contact sport, players frequently spoke about the first 10 minutes of a game as a period in which you had to 'earn the right to play,' essentially by being hard!
In the same breath it was arguably even more important the other way round: you had to earn the right to be hard by showing you could play; otherwise you came across as a sort of cowardly fraud, presenting the facade of being hard.

Step forward Graeme Souness.
Did Souness 'pass that test? He gave the test!'

In his playing days at Liverpool, Sampdoria and Rangers, the Scottish international midfielder was known as one of the toughest competitors in the game.

Graeme Souness, was similar in many ways to say Johnny Giles. He could actually play the game, he didn't need to just kick people up in the air all afternoon. Everybody knows what a gifted technician Souness was on the field, but if you're like me what you might well remember him for was some of the most horrendous tackles he unleashed on his opponents - potentially career ending ones. Perhaps the worst I ever saw was when he was playing for Scotland against Iceland one time. The Icelandic player had the temerity to go for a fifty-fifty with Souness and collected most of the Scotland man's studs firmly in his groin.

One of Bob Paisley's majestic trio of Scottish captures, with Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen, he cost £352,000 from Middlesbrough in January 1978. Five months later he supplied the pass at Wembley for Dalglish to score the only goal to beat Bruges & retain the European Cup. In general during his Anfield career the Scotland captain responded brilliantly to Paisley's demand to curb his explosive temperament and he became a midfielder of immense stature.

In six successful seasons as a Liverpool player Graeme Souness was at the heart of Liverpool's triumphs. Memorably described as 'a bear of a player with the delicacy of a violinist,' he was a high-octane blend of amazing strength & bewitching subtlety (centre left).

But when the legs & to a lesser extent, the eyes went towards the end of his career, he had to rely on an inadvertently hilarious thuggery.

He moved to Italian football in 1984, but returned to the UK as player/manager of Glasgow Rangers.

In 1986 Souness marked his Rangers debut with a red card inside half an hour, for a two-footed outrage on Hibernian's George McCluskey, thus sparking a mass 22-man brawl. (Souness actually nobbled the wrong gangling mullet, an easy mistake to make in Edinburgh in the mid-80s).

Even as a football manager he seemed to court controversy wherever he went.
Most famously in 1996 he nearly caused a riot while boss of Galatasaray, by planting a Galatasaray club flag on the centre spot of the pitch, of fellow Turkish side & arch-rivals Fenerbahce.

In Ron Harris, the man they called 'Chopper' you had a guy who was considered the unacceptable face of a talented Chelsea team in the late 1960’s & early 1970’s.

In that footballing era, every side had a so-called destroyer, a hatchet man, whatever you want to call them. There was at the Arsenal, Peter Storey, at Liverpool Tommy Smith, at Man Utd you had Nobby Stiles......& so on.

Harris was said to have tried to intimidate opponents even in the tunnel before a match, with a choice sentence perhaps containing the word 'ambulance'
Harris denies this saying that in fact he seldom used to speak to anyone before or during a game. However he said his manager at Chelsea at the time, Tommy Docherty did give him a tip about man-marking.
'He told me to larrup somebody in the first few minutes, and after that just to stay behind them & cough every now and then, to show them I was not too far away.'
The tactic plainly worked in the case of Tottenham’s Jimmy Greaves, marked by Chopper 19 times, scoring just the once.

It is Greaves, in fact, who wrote a foreword in a book saying, 'I've been acquainted with Ron Harris, better known as Chopper, for longer than I care to remember - and for most of that time I thought he was an evil git.' Harris came into his own in the 1970 FA Cup Final & subsequent replay against Leeds – two of the most bruising games ever seen!

His assault on Eddie Gray in the replay was one of the reasons the Blues won the trophy. Today there would not have been a player left on the pitch come the end of that Final. Nowadays it seems that too many teams have a soft centre where their midfield should be.

The game is much faster these days, of course, and the timing of a tackle is becoming a thing of precision. Old Chopper Harris, who was so short-sighted he had to be pulled back from scything down his own team-mates, would be permanently suspended these days.

Dissent is a major cause of cautions. And it seems that more modern players have difficulty in controlling themselves after being fouled. In the old days a player was willing to bide his time before getting even!

Last but by no means least, the final player to make my 'Top Ten' list of football’s hardest men is Forest legend Stuart Pearce.

Pearce was signed by Brian Clough in 1985 from Coventry City & he became a stalwart of the Nottingham Forest side of the 1980s & 90s. Pearce forged a reputation as one of the most uncompromising defenders in world football.

Given the nickname 'Psycho' by Nottingham Forest fans, the left-back cultivated a 'hard but fair' image that had him respected up & down the country.

There can be no doubt that Pearce was a hard man. He did possess an uncompromising tackle, but there was more to his game than that. He was a great crosser of the ball & had a fearsome shot on him whether it be from open play or a dead-ball situation. Probably his most notable goal was the bullet free-kick he scored in the 1991 FA Cup Final at Wembley.

Pearce was physically tough. He once tried to run off a broken leg in the twilight of his career at West Ham. But it was his mental strength to take a penalty for England in a shoot-out against Spain at the 1996 Euro Championships, which will live longest in the memory of all England fans, as he exorcised the ghost of 1990!

Pearce had missed a vital penalty-kick in the World Cup semi-final against West Germany in 1990, but made no mistake against Spain & the joy and relief on his face along with his clenched fist salute to the crowd when he scored, wiped out the memory of that miss & is one of English football's most enduring images (right).

Pearce later said in his autobiography of his penalty miss in Turin in 1990. 'My world collapsed, I had been taking penalties for as long as I could remember, but now I'd missed the most important penalty of my life.'

The 1992 Euro Championships saw him come up against a certain Frenchman Basil Boli. The giant Frenchman headbutted Pearce, without the referee noticing. Pearce was visibly angry and had to wipe blood from his face. Normally you would have given Boli five minutes at the most before 'Psycho' sent him to the treatment room. But the England captain surprised us all when he just got up and continued with the game.
You wouldn't have blamed Pearce for flooring the Frenchman, such was the ferocity of the headbutt, but Pearce showed he was better than that and beat his man by 'playing football.'

He won countless trophies with Forest and scored some classic goals. He made 522 appearances, & scored 88 goals for The Reds.
Whilst for England he made 78 appearances & scored 5 goals. Not bad for a left back!

*Putting together a list of foootball's top ten hardest men was no easy feat, & I am well aware that I had to leave out many other well-known players, who some of you might consider more worthy contenders than the players I did eventually choose.
So before I sign off I will add an additional list of some of the other players I considered but overlooked before I decided on my final ten
- Nobby Stiles, Joe Jordan, Marco Tardelli, Kenny Burns, Tommy Smith, Terry Butcher, Luis Medina, Peter Storey, Antonio Rattin, Roy Keane, Jose Batista, Billy Bremner, Vinnie Jones, Miguel Angel name but a few!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Physio Room - Injury Update

Click on the 'Link' below to see which Premier League footballers are currently suffering from a winter chill & instead of playing this weekend they will visit their local School of Performing Arts’ - all extremely relevant to 90 minutes on the football pitch - believe me!
Their amateur dramatics will come under scrutiny as they practice/rehearse & act out the following series of comedies & tragedies this weekend:

Collapsing as if shot, stabbed or poisoned – This can be done with the re-enactment of any of the following famous assassinations: JFK in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, Martin Luther King in 1968 or Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
(All with the sole aim of winning a penalty or a free-kick at worst, for nothing more than a tap on the ankle, a slip on the turf, or the waving of a finger by an opponent).

Simulation & Manipulation – Practice this by rolling around on cushioned gym mats, clutching a bodily part combined with a well rehearsed but convincing grimacing face.
(Feigning injury in an attempt to get an opponent carded &/or sent-off).

Performing Imaginary Card Tricks – Practice for this involves the removal of an imaginary coloured card from ones pocket & then to display it forcefully at another individual by raising it skywards,
(An attempt to further enhance the thoughts of a referee on how to deal with the preceding event, usually a foul, by means of producing an imaginary card, in a cynical attempt get a fellow pro booked or sent from the field of play).

Timing & Facial Expressions – With the help of other performing art students they must brush up on their timing & facial expressions by lining up in a row & on the word ‘go’ they must move forward together & raise an arm pointing skywards & shout simultaneously ‘off’ whilst glaring menacingly.
This must be done in a confident professional manner for maximum results. Timing of the raising of arms is critical & the ‘stare’ must be convincing in a threatening way. With that a nonchalant nod of the head must follow.
(A back-four trying to claim that an opposition player is in an offside position, even if they were knowingly not. This is particular effective using a steely glare at the linesman & a nonchalant nod of the head at the referee in a manner which makes the linesman feel intimidated enough to give the decision in your favour & the referee convinced you must be right because you look so cock-sure of yourself).

We name and shame them...........!


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Seen Stoke's Sling-Shot Samba Style !

After seeing pictures of a certain young lady in a London newspaper this morning, I thought it only fitting to do a little bit of research on the background of this rising star of the Brazilian women’s national football team, and look at her own unquestionably unique and rather remarkable individual the female game’s answer to Rory Delap, (below left)
the man whose deadly throw-ins have attracted a host of media attention, and have been described in some circles as 'weapons of mass
destruction on the football field.'
Delap’s gargantuan throw-ins have been the talk of football this season as Stoke City have taken their Premier League bow.

Leah Lynn Gabriela Fortune was born in San Paulo,
Brazil to American parents.
It turns out her dual citizenship is a blessing in disguise: Leah can play with one foot in each continent, straddling playing time between her club, Team Chicago, and the U-20 Brazilian national team.
However, all bets are off once Leah turns 21, when she'll have to commit exclusively to the USA or Brazil.

But for now, as the youngest player on the team at 17, Fortune is taking full advantage of the opportunities that come with a starting role for Brazil.
With a 30-goal surplus against opponents over the course of seven games, Leah and her teammates stormed through the CONMEBOL South American U-20 Championships last March, as if every game was a carnival.

However the headline cascading across Brazilian televisions and newspapers during the Tournament was 'Leah Cambalhota Mortal' - for Leah is famed for owning a trick the Brazilians had never seen before! A throw-in in which she levitates the ball into the box with her hands by means of a somersault!

Click on the Link and watch Leah in action, for Brazil in their victory over Mexico at the 2008 Women's U'20 World Cup.


In her second game in the CONMEBOL, Leah connected with forward Pamela on a flip throw for the team's first headed goal in a 5-0 rout of Paraguay. 'The Brazilians had never seen anything before like it, so they were going nuts. The crowd loved it,' said Leah. Her father and Team Chicago program director, Hudson Fortune, was also on hand to see the games. 'Every time Leah had an opportunity for a throw-in, the crowd would stand and chant her name in hopes she would do a flip throw.'
And hers has a nickname, 'The Mortal Somersault.'

Leah may not be able to match Delap in the weights room, so she uses incredible leverage to get an insane amount of air underneath the ball and turn every throw in near the box into a poor man's corner, not unlike what Delap endeavours to do when he unleashes a throw for his club side.
'The Mortal Somersault' even earned Leah time on Brazil's 'SportsCenter' highlights reel following an U-20's win over Argentina.
The 'cambalhota' is a front handspring from the sidelines that slings the ball into a box teeming with targets. Fortune's flip allows her to hone in on a roving player - a move that can turn the game on its head.

After a year of gymnastics as a child, she transferred the skill to soccer and has been executing the flip throw since she was 9. The closest thing to a corner kick, the 'cambalhota' leaves most defenders gob smacked at the sight of a throw-in with 20 extra yards of firepower.

The U-20 World Cup in Chile concludes on 7th December.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

'Footy's Top Ten' Hardest Men - Part Two!

Part One of my guide to 'Footy's Top Ten Hardest Men' featured Duncan Ferguson, Claudio Gentile, Billy Whitehurst & Dave Mackay.

Now in Part Two, I shall nominate three more candidates who in my opinion are suitably worthy of inclusion in this inventory.

Next up, Frank Barson (Barnsley, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Watford). Famed for his brutality even in the 1920's, when footballers were less squeamish about physical contact than they are today, Barson was perhaps the first great hard man & was probably the most controversial footballer of his day.

An imperious specimen of masculinity notorious for his own inventive take on the physical side of football, he certainly looked the part: Barrel-chested, thighs like tree trunks, fists permanently half-clenched, a broken, twisted nose and his hair tightly greased back.

Barson could play though - he once scored a header from 30 yards for Manchester United against his former club Aston Villa, but inevitably he was remembered for an unprecedented degree of disciplinary trouble.

Once banned for seven months for a sickening challenge in a match against Fulham, Barson was frequently escorted out of grounds by the police to protect him from mobs of angry opposition fans.
After one especially zesty display for Barnsley, he had to be smuggled out of Goodison Park to avoid a group of home fans who wanted to discuss with him his on-field behaviour!

Some stories suggest he brought a gun into the manager's office to accelerate discussions over a pay rise, & he unashamedly spoke of his friendship with the Fowler brothers, who were later hanged for murder.

He marked his last professional appearance at the age of 39, by being sent-off against Accrington Stanley on Boxing Day 1930.

Barson won his first and only international cap for for England against Wales. England lost 2-1 and Barson was never recalled to the side. His reputation for dirty play probably was an important factor in this decision.

Barson died in September 1968 aged 77.

In Norman Hunter, (Leeds, Bristol City & Barnsley) the Leeds United side of the early 1970's probably possessed the dirtiest player of that era.

No mean feat in one of the most cynical sides in English football history, that also contained the likes of Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles, Jack Charlton & Allan Clarke.

Initially an inside forward, Hunter was moulded by Leeds into a central defender who made the No.6 shirt his own in 14 years with the club he joined at the age of 15.

His fellow professionals made him their Player of the Year in 1974 - the award's inaugural presentation.

It was against Derby, at the old Baseball Ground in the 1975-76 season, that Hunter secured his place in football's annals of infamy, with an epic punch-up with Francis Lee that resulted in both players being sent off.
Lee infuriated Hunter by winning a penalty via his well honed trick of taking a dive. When Hunter put a right hook on Lee he couldn't have been prepared for the City man's response, a whirring, blurring, wind milling assault that floored Hunter.

In 1973 Leeds lost to AC Milan in the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup. This match is one of a series of matches involving Italian Clubs that are regarded as being 'fixed', by Dezso Solti, a Hungarian refugee, who, according to the testimony of a number of officials, was responsible for bribing referees. Hunter was sent-off in this match for retaliation.

In his years of playing, Hunter acquired a reputation as a dirty player, apparently happy to use methods not within the laws of the game to curtail the effect of opposition strikers. As such, he was often referred to by supporters, journalists and sports commentators as Norman 'Bites Yer Legs' Hunter, a nickname which stuck with him throughout the duration of his career.

Leeds' trainer Les Cocker was once told by Hunter that he had gone home with a broken leg. 'Whose leg is it?' Les asked him.

Andoni Goikoetxea (Athletic Madrid & Athletic Bilbao). 'The Butcher of Bilbao' was plainly at least one prawn short of a paella, and delighted in reducing star names to flotsam & jetsam.

Opposing forwards lived in fear of receiving the ball with their back to goal.

Pride of place in the living room of El Sod (right) is a glass case, containing one football boot. The boot he had used to break Diego Maradona's left ankle & destroy his ankle ligaments with in 1983.
That 'psycho tackle' put the Argentine star out of football for a substantial length of time. 'Crack! It was like the chop of an axe from behind,' Maradona recalled. 'My leg went numb, I knew everything was ruined.'

Goikoetxea was given a 16-match ban for the incident.
When Maradona recovered he sparked a fight between the teams in retribution.

Following his ban, Goikoetxea then crocked another Barcelona ace, the German Bernd Schuster, leaving him with a nasty knee injury.

Goikoetxea played 39 times for Spain, making his debut against Holland in February 1983. He represented Spain at both the 1984 European Football Championships & the 1986 FIFA World Cup.

Part Three of 'Footy's Top Ten Hardest Men' will follow soon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'Footy's Top Ten' Hardest Men - Part One!

In these days of namby-pamby, overpaid professionals it's sometimes good to take a look back at when men were men on the football pitch!
Those were the days when every team had its hard man.

It is fair to say that the modern game has taken away the stereotypical hard men, largely down to the camera scrutiny the players now experience on a pitch. You no longer witness, the subtle kicks, pinches or whacks that was part and parcel of the game then. These were the make-up of the real hard men who went about their business quietly and effectively.

My recollections are conjured up using a combination of books & news articles I have read over the years, archived television footage, as well of course as witnessing some of the players in question at first hand, with my very own eyes as a paying spectator.

My first introduction to a genuine tough man was Billy Whitehurst (Sheffield Utd, Hull City, Newcatle & Oxford Utd), a strong man with both a big physique and a reputation to match. I remember in one match Billy kicking out the front teeth of the then Coventry City skipper, Brian Kilcline, a big tough opponent in his own right.

Nobody would deny that he was seriously hard. He once apparently offered out the entire Crystal Palace side in the players' lounge at Hull. When he was at Oxford, he was rumoured to be supplementing his weekly pay, and winding down by means of bare-knuckle fighting with the local gypsies. Neil Ruddock said that, when Billy whispered sweet promises in his ear mid-match, 'I used to start shaking.'

Vinnie Jones, a colleague at Sheffield United, recalls in his autobiography how Billy (right) nipped an escalating rumble with a phalanx of Sheffield Wednesday fans in the bud by knocking out stone cold the opposition ringleader with 'one of the best right-handers I have ever seen - inside or outside a ring'. During that spell at Sheffield United, he was sent out to roam the green with the explicit instructions from his manager, Dave Bassett: 'Go and cause some bollocks, Billy.' He so rarely disappointed.

Italian's have always had a reputation for being 'hot-headed' & 'synical' & in Claudio Gentile (Juventus, Fiorentina & Piacenza) you had the ultimate symbol of Italian cynicism. There was nothing remotely 'gentile' about Claudio!
He was one of the Italian defenders to make up an infamous 'defensive trio' alongside Bergomi & Tardelli in Spain in 1982, where together they led Italy to World Cup glory.

Gentile came to international acclaim in the 2nd phase match against the title-holders Argentina, when he man-marked Diego Maradona out of the game by kicking & flooring him constantly throughout the game. In response to his performance against Maradona, Gentile famously quipped, 'Football is not for ballerinas!'

One of Gentile's most favored tactics was to stand behind the striker who had the ball while kicking between his opponent's legs to play the ball, leaving the opposing player's legs beaten and bruised - a tactic adopted by top-flight defenders ever since. Gentile was also a master of the hard tackle to get the ball, not the player, and was rewarded for his skill by a career that lacked even a single sending-off.

In Dave Mackay you had the hardest footballer in an era when the game really could be termed a man's game. Mackay came back from a twice-broken left leg to dominate in midfield for Tottenham during the 60's before a late and glorious swansong at Derby.

Mackay could show anger, but never, pain. Not because, he thought it showed weakness to the opposition, but because the part of his brain that registered pain or fear had apparently stopped working. After he suffered a grotesque leg-break at Old Trafford in 1963, which would keep him out for almost two years, he barely grimaced, and as he was stretchered off he sat up leaning on his elbow, looking almost bored. Truly, types come no stronger, or silent.

Mackay was definitely one of the good guys: a genuinely outstanding left-half and a truly honorable man, who used his clout to put the hurt on opponents but never ever to seriously injure them.
Nonetheless he was intimidating enough to send the opposition, psychologically, for an early bath.

Engaging with him aggressively was not to be advised.
Billy Bremner discovered this when he kicked Mackay's bad leg. The picture of Mackay, teeth gritted so hard that it seems like they're about to splinter everywhere, grabbing a terrified Bremner by the shirt is one of football's most iconic hard-man photos (right).

Dave Mackay was the indestructible hero.

Where to start with Duncan Ferguson,(Dundee Utd, Rangers, Everton - twice & Newcastle). His career was often punctuated by controversy both on and off the pitch, and by injury. The ex-con has been branded everything from hard man to hooligan, but to Everton fans, he was a hero.

'Big Dunc' was brandished the yellow card a total of 37 times in his 269 Premier League games & shares the dubious record for the most Premier League red cards, collecting a whopping eight along with Patrick Vieira. He was once sent off for punching Paul Scharner in the stomach and a subsequent fracas with Pascal Chimbonda resulted in a total match ban of seven games.

He was capped for Scotland seven times, but made himself unavailable for selection by his national team due to a dispute with the Scottish Football Association.
He has scored the most goals of any Scottish player in the FA Premier League.

Ferguson also frequently found himself in trouble with the law, leading to four convictions for assault, two arising from taxi–rank scuffles. However, his most memorable on–field confrontation was with Raith Rovers defender John McStay in 1994 while playing for Rangers. Ferguson headbutted his opponent and this led to a three-month spell in prison.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Physio Room - Injury Update

Click on the 'Link' below to see which Premier League footballers are currently feeling a tad under the weather, & instead of playing this weekend they will be at home emptying their well hidden penny coin jars & bagging it all up in readiness to take to the bank on Monday morning, before training.

Also on their 'to do' list will be other such gems as de-scaling the kettle, iron & shower head, gathering together all last year's unopened Xmas gifts to sell at Sunday morning's local car boot sale, before peeling the sprouts in preparation for the Sunday roast, which will be served after they get back from the car boot sale!

On Saturday night instead of staying in with the Missus & watching 'Strictly Come Dancing' they can be found interviewing bouncers down at their uncle's drag strip club, which they so kindly bought for him & put in his name as a 'thank you' for all his years of toiling down the mines.

We name and shame them...........!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bars: They ply you with liquor, they take your money & then they kick you out!

Excessive consumption of alcohol will ultimately get you drunk.........a pretty simplistic, visionary assessment made by my goodself, I am sure you will all agree.

As the Government bring up the habitual 'binge drinking' monthly debate, an alcohol concern organization are probably at the same time raising concerns regarding the price of booze in supermarkets, whilst a Doctor somewhere releases his latest dissertation on 'drinking in moderation' & a local council witters on that 'happy hours' in certain establishments are irresponsible.

I cannot possibly be the only person who feels bar owners & their employees, whether they be managerial sorts, bar staff or doorman alike have a responsibility themselves to look after their clientele & it's about time they acknowledged that fact sooner rather than later. They should stop believing they are above & beyond the law when it comes to the consumption of alcohol by any individual in a..........well 'licenced' drinking establishment actually!

How is it then that as long as you can reach into your pocket, grasp hold of some legal tender & order a drink in a semi-coherent manner you are then allowed to continue to do so over & over again - until you reach the point where you have your collar felt as you find yourself being escorted out of the licensed premises by some meat-head, wearing a black suit, a crisp white shirt and depending on the repute of the establishment, possibly even a dickie bow too.

Now I am not going to try & justify the drinking of alcohol to excess to anyone, either from a medical or a moral perspective, but what intrigues me is how one is so easily permitted to consume enough alcohol to sink a battleship in the first place!

Once I have had several jars of my favourite tipple I no longer care what damage I am doing to my liver & I have no desire whatsoever to stop drinking because I have gone past the so-called point of no return.
The worse for wear I maybe, but that does not stop the bartender from continuing to re-fill my glass.
The management have absolutely no intention of stopping me from drinking even more, provided I keep emptying my own & lining their pockets with hard cash.

And here come the pièce de résistance........inevitably one will come a cropper at some stage of proceedings, whether it's spilling yours or someone else's drink, accidentally bumping into a fellow patron, using inappropriate language or simply hitting the canvas like a pummelled boxer.

Once down the nearest exit beckons as a suited testosterone fuelled doorman plus radio & biceps the size of the average thigh dispatches you unceremoniously into the gutter, possibly minus a shoe & definitely with ones dignity in tatters!

Recently I was enjoying drinks in a local bar with some pals after spending the afternoon at a South London football stadium when one of us was 'thrown out' quite literally, for being 'intoxicated' ( but without any prior warning, not even a quiet word in the ear).

Bars should spend a bit more time man-managing, not man-handling its punters in an effort to prevent people getting ridiculously drunk in the first place!

Also they should take responsibility when their venue has stood back & watched their own punters get into a drunken stupor in the first place.

There is also an element of risk or even danger about leaving someone intoxicated & alone outside a drinking venue.

They may in addition to the typical behavioural anomalies associated with being drunk, such as being unstable on their feet be in a potentially vulnerable situation.

If for example they are left out in the dark of the night, are unfamiliar with the area, are inappropriately dressed for the weather or have a medical condition unbeknown to others - any of these predicaments could potentially lead to serious consequences. And what about if they are female clientele?

It’s about time watering holes had a long hard think about ways of controlling the amount of alcohol they allow to be consumed by drinkers, kept their eyes out for customers heading down the slippery slope before they finally fall off their bike & consider what could happen should they feel it necessary to remove someone from their premises & the implications that it might cause!

Prevention & detection are better than correction!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Babe Of The Month - Beer, Footy & Birds......the personification of life!

Model Sarah Brandner, the girlfriend of Bayern Munich and German International footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bend It Like Bentley!

Although we are only in October, the 'Goal of the Season' competition was effectively 'WON' last night by Tottenham midfielder David Bentley.

His glorious 35 yard long range dipping volley in the stunning 4-4 draw with Arsenal was arguably one of the 'greatest goals of its type' ever witnessed in the modern day era!

I know there are still about 6 months of the season remaining, but it is hard to imagine witnessing an equally good or an even better individual goal again this season........but we shall have to wait and see!

I can only think of two possible goals in recent times that might be considered on a par with Bentley's.
Firstly Matt Taylor's long range strike for Pompey v. Everton in 2006.Link

......and secondly Thierry Henry's volley against Man.Utd in 2000.Link

If you haven't already seen David Bentley's goal then watch it here now and all the goals in a quite extraordinary eight goal thriller!

Mr.Bentley.......take a bow!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cock-Sure !

The meaning of the adjective 'cocksure' - marked by excessive confidence; 'an arrogant and cocksure materialist'; 'so overconfident and impudent as to speak to the queen'; 'the less he knows the more positive he gets.'

It is rather ironic that this is one of those terms the origin of which we are far from cock-sure about. One point of certainty - it is old. Robert Whittinton, mentions it as early as 1520 in his grammatical tract Vulgaria:

'I haue knowen a man or nowe that thought him selfe cocke sure of his intent.'

Tottering Cockerels reel your necks in........I know it's not clever or original to bring up the current plight of 'The Spuds,' but what gives me the hump is all those fans of North London's 2nd Club, be it on radio phone-ins, on messageboards, on blogs, pub gossip & so on, but they think they are untouchable, 'to good to go down' not unlike teams of the ilk of Leeds & Forest in years gone by.
Your hear the rumblings of discontent for sure, but none of them seem to believe it could happen. Why ever not?

Here are some of the most stone cold simplistic observations as to why 'Spuds' fans' should indeed worry & why IT IS possible for the 'Spuds' to go down:

Results so far: P8, W0, D2, L6. These include defeats to Boro’, Sunderland, Hull & Stoke (no disrespect to the afore mentioned Clubs) but not quite the Premier Leagues’ heavyweights.

Lack of Premier League points: 2 from 24 (a points win ratio of just over 8%) & only 5 goals scored.
36 points were required last season to stay up, (Spurs finished in 11th position last season with 46 points). So in theory Spurs need another 34 from 30 games. However this season it looks like it will be a closer battle to stay up with more points required than last year to secure safety.
IF we say 38 points to be on the safe side then Spurs need another 36 points from 30 games which means a win ratio for a struggling side of 40% - 12 wins from their 30 remaining games.

The Manager: Juande Ramos – good overseas managerial record BUT NO previous experience in Premier League management. A jolly foreigner with arguably no interest in the spoken language & as a result only a token grasp of the native language of this country. Doubts about his tactical nous at this level are also doing the rounds.

Current Players speaking out publicly (rightly or wrongly) stating some home truths, namely David Bentley the expensive recent acquisition from Blackburn (& currently a shadow of his former playing self) called his own team sh*t & the experienced Jonathan Woodgate saying his Spurs team-mates 'need a good kick up the a*se.......and the way we are playing we deserve to be at the bottom.'

The Defence: 'Coco the Clown' alias Heurelho Gomez between the sticks & one clean sheet from their opening 8 matches says it all. A total lack of confidence is apparent in defence. May as well hire a behavioural therapist as a defensive coach.

Discipline: – or should that read indiscipline - 3 red cards in the last two matches......not down to bad refereeing, just insubordination: Premier League Statistics – 2 sent-off & 15 bookings in 8 games, 3 sent-off & 30 bookings in ALL competitions! Hardly subservient behaviour

Forthcoming Fixtures: – In the league Bolton, Arsenal & Liverpool next - a very tricky 4th round Carling Cup tie on the 12th November also against Liverpool & in danger of going out of the UEFA Cup at the group stage, with awkward ties still to play against Russian & Croatian opposition.

The Boardroom: The sacking of manager Martin Jol a year ago was the first of many big mistakes, a knee-jerk reaction to a generally disruptive working environment involving player unrest, an incoherent transfer policy, poor decision making at all levels & questionable on-field tactics.
Now Jol is at the helm of Hamburg & they currently sit proudly at the top of the German Bundesliga.
Damien Comolli, Tottenham’s Director of Football, deals with the transfer policy at Spurs & must be held accountable to a strategy which involved selling two seasoned and respected international strikers so near to the end of the transfer deadline, without first ensuring that appropriate signings had been made to fill the void. This was totally irrational & preposterous behaviour.

A member of the Tottenham Supporters' Trust recently cast his view across of the Clubs' current predicament when he said of the goings on. 'The people who run the club are obsessed by making money and they seem to think that volume, in terms of player transfer activity, adds up to quality. It isn't. Football has become obsessed with money and Tottenham are an arch example of that'

Players In/Out: Strikers – proven Premier League goalscorers Robbie Keane & Dimitar Berbatov sold (albeit for big bucks) to Liverpool & Man U respectively, only to be replaced by two inexperienced Premier League strikers in the shape of Roman Pavlyuchenko & youngster Fraizer Campbell.
To emphasise the point, top scorer this season is Darren Bent with 3 goals in the league.
For the next highest scorer see the column marked 'own goals.'

I for one firmly believe firing Ramos would be the worst possible solution.

Tottering Cock-Spur the trap door looms large!

Ramos to be next Premier League boss to leave/be sacked: Betting suspended.
Spurs to be relegated: 7/2.

Odds supplied courtesy of Coral bookmakers as at 16:45 on 24/10/08.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spitting Image

Man-ure & Ing-er-land Footy Star
...........and The Pub Landlord of ' The No Obvious Syrup Inn '

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lohan Behold Me !

LINDSAY MORGAN LOHAN was born in Long Island, New York, on July 2, 1986. Born of Italian/Irish parents and a straight 'A' student, she builds her life around work & her family.

Lohan is an actress, singer & tabloid celebrity. She has starred in critically acclaimed movies, such as 'Mean Girls', 'The Parent Trap' and 'Freaky Friday,' & in 2004 she released an album, 'Speak.'

Lohan may be young, but in the Entertainment Industry, she's already a bankable commodity. At 5 feet 5 inches tall, this green-eyed actress has a reputation for possessing 'spirited talent.'

Lohan being the 'hot chick' that she is, has dated enough men to fill several football teams, & has crashed more cars than you will ever get to own in your entire life. In the latest twist to Lohan's love life, she has given up men for DJ Samantha Ronson.

Assets: A girlish charm that's hard to resist, large pert breasts.

Vices: Sex, drugs, alcohol, shopping and car crashes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Twenty20 only 50/50 !

An aberrant look into the world of cricket!

ENGLAND's lucrative Stanford Super Series Twenty20 clash is in doubt after the West Indies Cricket Board were left red-faced yesterday, following a High Court arbitration hearing in London found in favour of team sponsors Digicel, the telecommunications company, and against the WICB.

The root of the dispute has been the claim by Digicel, that they have the branding rights for 'the game' between the Stanford Super Stars XI and England, under the terms of their sponsorship contract with the WICB (which they extended until 2012 in July).

However Digicel claim they were frozen out when Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford set up his big-money series, which included a multi-million dollar challenge match for each of the next five years.

Digicel's stance has caused issue with the match organisers, Stanford 20/20, who would rather find their own sponsors for the match.

As a result of yesterday’s ruling The WICB will now have to withdraw its sanction for the lucrative match in Antigua on the 1st November, and Stanford and the WICB are now expected to be locked in talks with Digicel in a bid to reach a compromise.

This could mean the game going ahead without any centrally contracted West Indies players, such as Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, thus making a mockery of the event or it being called off altogether.

The match, inspired by cricket fan Stanford, will conclude a 'Super Series' of games throughout the week involving English Twenty20 champions Middlesex and Trinidad & Tobago.

The winning team will take home $20 million dollars in prize money, making each player a dollar millionaire overnight!

Stanford believes the dispute is an 'unwanted distraction' & the game would still go ahead, however WICB officials have yet to comment on the outcome of yesterday's High Court hearing.

Yesterday’s ruling was also a blow to the England and Wales Cricket Board, who are hoping the Stanford Series goes ahead as they hope the prize money will prevent its players from being tempted by the lucrative Indian Premier League

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Physio Room - Injury Update

Click on the 'Link' below to see which Premier League players are feeling below par this week, & will instead be staying at home to play 'camps' in the front room, using a clothes horse, towels & old bed linen, whilst hoping the missus is up for a bit of hilarity at the suggestion of a pretend game of 'Doctors & Nurses' (in the desperate hope of a bit of a fumble)!

All this & a bargain bucket of KFC each night along with the entire back catalogue of the 70's classics 'The Likely Lads' & 'Citizen Smith'............. a sure-fire source of pain relief.

We name and shame them...........!


Monday, September 22, 2008

The 'Goal' That Never Was & The Top 5 'Genuinely Good Goals' That Got Away!

As the shenanigans of 'The Stuart Atwell Circus' left Watford this weekend, Steve Coppell the Reading manager has renewed the campaign for video technology, after blundering officials awarded his team a 'phantom' goal during their fixture with Watford at the weekend (20 September 2008).

Coppell was as puzzled as Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd, the players and the fans when the officials awarded Reading a goal after the ball clearly went wide in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Vicarage Road in their Championship League clash.

While they were waiting to see whether the officials would give either a corner or a goal kick, they were amazed when referee Stuart Atwell awarded Reading a goal after after he received a signal from his linesman Nigel Bannister, indicating that a goal had been scored. This put Reading one up.

'I was in the stand at the time and I haven't seen it since. But when the whistle went I wondered what it was for as I couldn't see a foul,' Coppell said. 'Everyone trooped back to the centre and then it became obvious that the referee had given the goal. But after speaking to Noel Hunt after the game it became clear that the ball went out of play wide of the goal.'

Coppell said the incidents strengthened the argument for the introduction of cameras and goal-line technology to help officials decide whether the ball had gone into the net and crossed the goalline.

But he dismissed the suggestion that, after realizing the officials' blunder, Reading should have then let Watford equalize.

'Let's get this clear. The responsibility is not with the opposition to right a wrong,' he said. 'It is up to the officials to get it as right as they can.'

Boothroyd said it appeared the mistake was by the linesman rather than the referee.

'I've never seen anything like it. It's like a UFO landing, a mistake like that,' he said. 'I've been to see the referee and, in fairness, he's only going on what the linesman says. He's working in a team and if someone comes in his ear telling him it's a goal then I suppose he's got to give it.'

Watch it here:

There is a growing list of instances where the wrong call has been made over whether
the ball did or did not cross the line and here are some of the most famous genuinely good goals that got away.....!

1/ Clive Allen - Coventry v Crystal Palace, September 1980.

Allen, playing for Palace in those days, collected a free-kick passed square to him by Gerry Francis and lashed it goalwards, the ball arrowing into the far corner of the net. Only this thunderbolt hit the stanchion behind the goal & rebounded out with such ferocity that the referee did not even see that it had gone a good three feet over the line.

'They called my free-kick at Coventry the goal that never was & soon after that they got rid of the stanchion at the back of the net,' Allen said. 'We were 2-1 down at the time so it would have been an equaliser — but we lost 3-1. We went on a bad run after that & that certainly contributed.'

2/ Pedro Mendes - Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur, January 2005.

Tottenham were holding United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford with just over a minute to go. Roy Carroll raced from his goal in an attempt to pump the ball back into the Tottenham penalty area, but after a bit of head tennis the ball fell to Pedro Mendes some six yards inside the halfway line. Spotting Carroll haring back towards his own goal he let fly. The goalkeeper regained his ground in time to make what should have been a routine catch, but inexplicably spilled the ball behind him, where it bounced once before he scooped it back out, the ball having been an estimated two feet behind the line.
'Carroll has been denied the most embarrassing moment of his career, that is a travesty,' said commentator Alan Parry at the time.
It certainly is a decision that Mark Clattenburg, the referee & in particular Rob Lewis, his linesman, will want to forget.

3/ Jonathan Howard - Middlesbrough v Chesterfield, April 1997.

Chesterfield, of Division Two, looking to cause a huge upset, raced into a two-goal lead in this famous FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford. Still ahead 2-1 and trying to weather a comeback from Middlesbrough, Jonathan Howard appeared to have given them some breathing room when he fired a shot that rebounded down off the crossbar. David Elleray, the referee, was unsighted and did not award a goal, though replays later showed it was several inches over the line. The match ended 3-3 with Middlesbrough winning the replay 3-0.

4/ Tommy Black - Crystal Palace v Leeds United, February 2003.

Trevor Francis, the then Crystal Palace manager, was absolutely livid when referee Dermot Gallagher disallowed a Tommy Black ‘goal’ that would have given his side a 2-1lead over Leeds United in an FA Cup fifth-round tie at Selhurst Park. Gallagher decided the ball had not crossed the line, but again replays proved otherwise & what made it even more galling for Palace was that Michael Duberry, the Leeds defender, actually clawed the ball back into play using his hand. The visitors went on to give Terry Venables an undeserved 2-1 victory on his return to a former stomping ground.

5/ Gerry Taggart - Bolton Wanderers v Everton, September 1997.

Bolton were denied their first ever victory in the Reebok Stadium when Stephen Lodge, the referee, failed to spot Gerry Taggart’s looping header fall six inches behind the line, before it was cleared by defender Terry Phelan. The match finished goalless, and the two sides finished level on points at the end of the season. Bolton were relegated on goal difference, whilst Everton stayed up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Physio Room - Injury Update

Click on the 'Link' below to see which Premier League players will be crying off this weekend, in favour of an afternoon playing Blackjack in a darkened room with a bowl of cheesy Quavers and a couple of cans of Irn Bru for company!

We name and shame them...........!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jolly Hockey Sticks or Ice Creamed!

As the clock ticks by the England National Football team is preparing to tip-toe into a volatile Zagreb tonight knowing defeat to Croatia in this 2010 World Cup qualifier could demote us to also-rans on the World football stage. If Croatia,(not Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil or Agentina) beat England tonight then there will be carnage in the tabloids tomorrow, burning effigees on the streets, messageboards dining out on four letter expletives from now until kingdom come, along with a comprehensive meltdown on radio phone-ins, as enraged fans holler in despair at our demise........once again!

After sneaking away from a ski resort on Saturday by 2 black runs to none, pride may have been dented but the points were won. However there can be no slip up tonight as the former love child of the cockney East End wide boys from the London Borough of Newham will tell you, Slaven Bilic is no mug & he will take almighty pleasure from outsmarting his opposite number as he prepares a modus operandi of his own - it's just which English Football Club he endorses, not when!

Never in the history of International football have England ever been beaten on three successive occasions by the same nation until........hopefully never!

English sport is not all doom & gloom...........spare a thought for the Bulgarian National Hockey Federation.

With more goals than minutes in a game, Slovakia's women's ice hockey team claimed an amazing 82-0 victory last Saturday over Bulgaria in a European Olympic pre-qualifying tournament for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, in the Latvian town of Liepaja.

Bulgaria conceded a goal on average every 44 seconds!

Slovakia outshot the Bulgarians 139-0 during the 60-minute game, scoring on 58.9 per cent of their shots on goal.

The margin of victory is a record for a women's International Ice Hockey Federation-sanctioned event.

Janka Culikova led Slovakia with 10 goals, while Martina Velickova scored nine, Slovakia had 12 players record hat tricks, & fourteen different players scored at least one goal.

Bulgaria was eliminated after scoring one goal and conceding 192 in the tournament. Bulgaria lost to Italy (41-0) and Latvia (39-0), and it followed its 82-0 loss with a 30-1 defeat to Croatia.
In total, Bulgaria's women's ice hockey team surrendered more goals in four games(192) than the Detroit Red Wings did in 82 games last season (184).

The game was 7-0 after five minutes, 19-0 after 10, and an incredible 31-0 after only one period.

So at what point during an 82-0 loss in a women's ice hockey game do you turn to your mate and say, 'Come on pal, finish your drink we're outta here, & we may even beat the traffic.'
Well apparently there were fewer than 40 fans in the crowd for this rather one-sided contest.

After two periods, Slovakia led 55-0. If you're Bulgarian and still in the arena during the third period, chances are you're either one of the players or someone who also refuses to leave the worst movie ever made because you paid 'good money' for your ticket.

Down 77-0 with three minutes to go, Bulgaria put in its back-up goaltender, who promptly let in another five goals in just 85 seconds of playing time.

The 82-0 defeat capped what may have been 'the most pathetic tournament appearance in international hockey history.'

Slovakia, which also beat Croatia, Latvia and Italy, advanced to another qualifying group with Germany, Kazakhstan and France. The winner will secure a spot at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

To add insult to injury Slovakian coach Miroslav Karafiat said after Saturday's game, 'we took it as training.'

Ironically The Slovakian men's team clinched its biggest ever victory against none other than Bulgaria 14 years ago, when they won 20-0.

According to sources a Bulgarian media outlet that actually stands up for the women's team has taken the Bulgarian Government to task rather than hitting out at the players.

With a population of 7.4 million, Bulgaria have just 299 registered hockey players of which only 37 are registered female players, (Canada has about 74,000 female players) & only three indoor ice rings in the whole country.
On that basis Bulgaria could have hardly hoped for a successful run in the competition, although this ruthless and systematic destruction was nothing short of a national embarrassment.

The International Ice Hockey Federation said the result, set a record score for a women's IIHF-sanctioned event. It was not the all-time record for futility, however, that is still held by Thailand, who lost 92-0 to South Korea in the 1998 Asia-Oceania U18 Championship. Well that's a relief then!

The chair of the Bulgarian Hockey Federation is calling Slovakia's 82-goal win 'a kind of insulting mockery, & not at all sportsmanlike.'
We're counting down the moments until he lashes out at the glib reaction of the international sports media, which refuses to acknowledge goalie Liubomira Shosheva's amazing 57-save performance,(she faced 134 shots in 57 minutes).

A few Bulgarian news sources are picking up the story today, and they're calling it 'one of the biggest defeats in sporting history' & 'nothing short of a national embarrassment.'

.......Go on England, make us proud & bring home three precious points from Zagreb!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

The UEFA Champions League Group Draw, My Predictions & The Betting Odds.

An intriguing Champions League draw has paired Celtic & Man Utd together in Group E along with Danish champions Aalborg & the dangerous Spaniards’ Villarreal, runners up to Real Madrid in La Liga last season & finishing ten points clear of third placed Catalan giants Barcelona.
In fact if they had performed to the same degree during the first half of the 2007/08 La Liga season, as they did in the second half Villarreal would have been crowned Champions, conceding just one goal at home & losing only 3 of their last 19 domestic league fixtures. 'The Yellow Submarines' won 12 of all their 19 league games away from the El Madrigal Stadium, so they don’t suffer from travel sickness!
I believe Man Utd & Villarreal will both qualify for the first round knockout stage of the competition. The tournament second favourites Man Utd can be backed at a best priced 13/2 to win it outright while you can get 40/1 on 'The Yellow Submarines' shooting down all around come Rome next May.
The Bhoys are 8/1 to get through to the next stage but I would keep my money in my pocket & Aalborg managed by Scotsman Bruce Rioch, the former manager of Middlesbrough, Bolton & Arsenal to name but a few, make their first appearance in the competition for 13 years & I expect them to be the whipping boys of Group E.

The so called ‘Group of Death’ is probably a toss up between Group F & Group G.
Group F looks like a straight three way fight between Bayern Munich, Lyon & Fiorentina. The 1986 European Cup Winners Steaua Bucharest look unlikely to qualify from this group, but not I feel without putting a few noses out of joint along the way. It is worth bearing in mind that the Romanian domestic champions disposed of Turkish giants Galatasaray in the qualifying round, so any trip to their Stadionul Ghencea is fraught with a potential upset.

Group G hosts Arsenal, Porto, Fenerbahce & Dynamo Kiev. All of these teams are a shadow of their former selves. Kiev were Ukranian league runners-up last season & winners of this competition way back in 1999.
Porto are the current Portuguese Liga champions & were victorious in the Champions League back in 2004 whilst under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho, but have had to sell many of their best players of late.
Meanwhile Arsenal are without a trophy of any description since the 2003/04 season. Fererbahce, Turkish league runners-up last season & Champions league quarter-finalists last season (along with Arsenal) are probably on paper at least the best equipped team in the group along with Arsenal to reach the last sixteen. In addition they have a hugely partisan home crowd in Istanbul & the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium, will be a daunting & unforgiving place to go for any visiting team.
My money is on The Gunners & the Turks to qualify for the next stage. Incidently Arsenal can be backed to lift the trophy at 12/1. A big price & a big gamble!

Group C should see Catalans Barcelona canter into the next stage of the competition but who will join them?
Shakhatar Donetsk & Basle are both winners of their own domestic leagues in the Ukraine & Switzerland respectively, & along with Sporting Lisbon, will fight it out for the one remaining place.
I feel Shakhatar are the best of the three. They have a touch more in their locker than Sporting & Basle, including six Brazilians in their squad & a 5-1 demolition of Dinamo Zagreb in qualifying.
Barcelona are joint third favourites to lift the trophy along with Inter Milan & can be backed at odds of 7/1 to do so.

Inter like Barcelona are the stand out team in their group, Group B with the German Bundesliga runners-up Werder Bremen the best of a meadioca bunch. Group B is the weakest on paper & with Jose Mourinho installed as boss & an array of talent on the pitch including Toldo, Figo, Ibrahimovic, Adriano & Cruz the current Serie A Champions should stroll into the last sixteen.
Anorthosis Famagusta the first Cypriot side to play in the Champions League, along with the Greek side Panathinaikos will certainly do well to take points off anyone, other than each other!
Inter & Werder Bremen to go through then, & Inter to win it the tournament at an over generous 7/1. Get on now!

Liverpool shouldn’t have any trouble qualifying for the first knockout round in Group D, but their uninspiring start to the Premier League season both on & off the field may require them to be slightly on their guard. PSV, Marseille & Athletic Madrid are all to be respected but of the three only PSV qualified automatically as Dutch champions, with Marseille & Athletico Madrid making it through via the qualifying stages.
Athletico finished fourth in La Liga but should & could have finished higher before they ran out of gas in the second half of the season. They lost 12 in total out of their 38 league games, but 8 of those 12 were in the second half of the season.
Liverpool to win the group with Athletico Madrid to also qualify.
Liverpool to win the competition are 12/1, a bit skinny but once out of the group stages I expect any off field business to have be resolved & the players to be firing on all cylinders.

The big guns of Real Madrid & Juventus – 11 times winners between them dominate Group H. The only question here is who will win the group? Juve are 2/1 to win it, with Real at 4/5. Zenit St.Petersburg the UEFA Cup holders & Bate Borisov of Belarus make up the rest of Group H.
Put Zenit in Groups B, C, F or G & I would fancy them to go through. They are going to have to cause an almighty shock here to make any progress & I personally don’t fancy their chances.
Madrid & Juventus to qualify comfortably. The Spaniards are 15/2 & Juve 20/1 to be victorious in Rome.

Finally Group A features favourites Chelsea, the dangerous AS Roma, Serie A runners-up to Inter, Bordeaux surprise league runners-up behind Lyon & the Romanian champions CFR Cluj.
CFR were the first Romanian team to win the title outside of Bucharest for 17 years.
Cluj more famous for Dracula & The Cheeky Girls are making their first ever appearance in the Champions league. Whether it lasts more than 6 games remains to be seen, so I have to stick with Chelsea & AS Roma to qualify from Group A.
Chelsea & John Terry are a best priced 5/1 to lift the trophy in May, whilst AS Roma are attractively priced at 28/1 to go all the way.
A bit of each way value beckons the Italians.( Each-way ½ 1,2 )

Group A

AS Roma 3/1 Q
Chelsea 4/11 Q
CFR Cluj 50/1
Bordeaux 15/2

Group B

Werder Bremen 5/2 Q
Inter Milan 4/11 Q
Panathanaikos 10/1
Anorthosis Famagusta 50/1

Group C

Sporting Lisbon 6/1
Barcelona 1/4 Q
Basle 22/1
Shakhtar Donetsk 6/1 Q

Group D

PSV Eindhoven 13/2
Liverpool 4/5 Q
Athletico Madrid 3/1 Q
Marseille 9/2

Group E

Villarreal 100/30 Q
Man Utd 3/10 Q
Aalborg 66/1
Celtic 8/1

Group F

Lyon 7/4 Q
Fiorentina 11/4
Bayern Munich 11/8 Q
Steaua Bucharest 14/1

Group G

Porto 100/30
Arsenal 8/13 Q
Dynamo Kiev 8/1
Fernerbahce 5/1 Q

Group H

Real Madrid 4/5 Q
Zenit St Petersburg 7/2
Juventus 2/1 Q
Bate Borislov 66/1

# Group stages to be played: Sept 16-17, Sept 30-Oct 1, Oct 21-22, Nov 4-5,
Nov 25-26 & Dec 9-10.

Q = My prediction to qualify for the next stage.

* Odds supplied courtesy of Coral bookmakers & are for teams to qualify through to the first knockout round only.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ten Classic Football Quotations made by Football Chairman

I've still got my old school report. It says I was dyslexic, backward, mentally deficient and illiterate - all the qualifications needed to be a football club chairman - GEORGE REYNOLDS, Darlington chairman, 2000.

If anyone thinks we're going to give away a company that we've built up over six years at a personal loss in order to satisfy the whims of some Indian with a curry shop, they had better get real - JIM OLIVER, Partick Thistle chairman, spurning takeover interest from a group of Asian businessmen, 1995.

We'll deal with anyone, whether they are Asian, Eskimo or a one-eyed black lesbian saxophone player - JIM OLIVER, Partick Thistle chairman, denying allegations of racism, 1995.

We will serve sheep's testicles as a delicacy in the boardroom. There are plenty of sheep in Wales so it's right that they should make some representation at Ninian Park - SAM HAMMAM, having left Wimbledon and taken over as chairman at Cardiff City, 2000.

I'm off to my 300-acre farm. You lot can bugger off to your council houses - KEN BATES, Chelsea chairman, to the press after Chelsea's relegation, 1998.

At other clubs the directors probably get worried if things aren't going well, and they don't like people coming up to them criticising in pubs and at parties. That doesn't influence me at all. If people start telling me what's wrong with the team, I just say:
'Look why don't you f--- awff ??'
- PATRICK COBBOLD, Ipswich chairman, 1981.

The lowest point of the year was hearing Nick Barmby had used the five worst words in the English language: 'I want to join Liverpool.' - BILL KENWRIGHT, after taking over at Everton, 2000.

The Super League idea has about as much chance of getting through as there is of Arthur Scargill admitting he needs a wig - ERNIE CLAY, Fulham chairman, a decade before the launch of the Premier League, 1992.

I'm just a frustrated would-be professional player who in the end wasn't good enough. Today you have prima donnas and they are highly paid. Their intelligence, across the board, is a lot higher than in my day. Comic Cuts was the typical newspaper of the dressing-room in my day whereas now it's the serious papers. We actually got complaints that there was only one public phone in the changing rooms because they wanted to ring their stockbrokers after training - DOUG ELLIS, Aston Villa chairman, 2000.

I don’t give a f*** about football protocol and the other club owners. They want me to sit and have lunch before the games. F*** that. I don’t go to football to drink chardonnay in the boardrooms with those tossers. I go to win games. I don’t have anything in common with 90% of football club chairmen. They don't interest me - SIMON JORDAN, Crystal Palace chairman, 2004.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Pre-Season Predictions 2009/09 - Winners?

Premiership Winners: Chelsea 15/8
Championship Automatic Promotion: Birmingham 6/1 & Wolves 12/1
League One Automatic Promotion: Peterborough 11/1 & Carlisle 16/1
League Two Automatic Promotion: Darlington 9/1 & Wycombe 10/1

*Odds are for each team to WIN their respective leagues OUTRIGHT.
#Betting Odds supplied courtesy of Coral bookmakers.

Friday, August 01, 2008

'Babes Of The Month' - Let The Season Begin!

Crystal Palace Squad List - 2008/09

# 1.Julian Speroni
# 12.Darryl Flahavan
# 38.David Wilkinson
# 40.Scott Flinders

# 2.Matt Lawrence
# 3.Clint Hill
# 5.Patrick McCarthy
# 6.Jose Miguel Fonte
# 15.Lee Hills
# 20.Danny Butterfield
# 22.Johannes Ertl
# 30.Ryan Carolan
# 34.Aaron Dalhouse
# 35.Rhoys Wiggins
# 37.Billy Bingham
# 43.Nathanial Clyne

# 4.Shaun Derry
* 7.Carl Fletcher - on loan to N.Forest
# 10.Nick Carle
# 11.Victor Moses
# 16.Neil Danns
# 23.Paul Ifill
# 24.Ben Watson
# 26.John Oster
# 27.Leandre Griffit
# 31.Jamie Smith
# 39.James Dayton
# 41.Kieron Djilali

# 8.James Scowcroft
# 14.Sean Scannell
# 17.Simon Thomas
# 18.Calvin Andrew
* 19.Craig Beattie - on loan from W.B.A
# 32.Shefki Kuqi

# Subject to change.
* On Loan

Monday, July 21, 2008

SIMON JORDAN on the state of our game, the Bostock fable, an array of his Infamous Quotes from over the years.....along with my own thoughts!

SIMON JORDAN has delivered the most damning verdict ever on the crumbling state of the beautiful game.

Jordan, the flamboyant Crystal Palace chairman has finally decided to walk out on football as the game descends into a bickering war over players’ inflated contracts, lack of loyalty, greed, corruption and arrogance.

The final straw came after seeing Tottenham run off with the Eagles' Academy gem John Bostock for the price of “a packet of crisps,” and culminating in Manchester United superstar Ronaldo’s absurd claim that he is being treated 'like a slave'.

Jordan admits to being disillusioned with the game even before he was pushed over the edge by an FA tribunal’s decision to award Palace just £700,000 compensation, (rising to £1.25 million with add-ons), for youth player John Bostock following his controversial transfer to Tottenham last month.

Jordan, who has run the show at Selhurst Park since 2000, is so dispirited by big clubs stockpiling all the best young talent that he is on the verge of quitting.

Palace, who lost in the Championship play-off semi-finals two months ago, handed Bostock his League debut at the age of 15 last season.

But their far-sighted investment in youth merely alerted big clubs to his potential, and Jordan felt bitter when Spurs manager Juande Ramos snatched the teenager.

Eagles manager Neil Warnock revealed: 'I’ve never seen Simon as disillusioned as I did over the Bostock affair. He’s still enthusiastic about Palace, but he feels utterly saddened by the way football is heading.'

He was devastated, absolutely rock-bottom, because he loves the academy and he knows how important it is to the club.

Jordan was so upset that he went back into the tribunal and told them, 'I don’t know what clubs like Palace can do to keep our brightest youngsters. Big clubs can tap up all the best 14 to 16-year-olds and we haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of signing them now. We’ve nurtured Bostock since he was seven years old, we put him in the first team when he was still only 15 and we’ve done all the hard work.'

'And all we get for it is a tribunal fobbing us off by saying it’s a record fee for a player of his age - but they are out of date because really it’s peanuts.
Look at Aaron Ramsey - he’s only 18, but he’s just gone to Arsenal for £5 million, and we only get £700,000 for Bostock. It’s crackers.’

Warnock has warned Bostock that, for all the glamour of a Premier League club’s payroll, his talent could wither on the vine at Tottenham.

Certainly the youngster is unlikely to dislodge £16 million Croatian Luca Modric from the first team, and Warnock fears Bostock (right) may join the forgotten generation of home-grown prospects whose path to regular football is blocked by big-money foreign signings.

‘If anybody thinks the big clubs don’t go around tapping these kids up, they are going soft. They are living in cloud cuckoo land.’

‘I think Bostock would have broken into our first team next season and played regularly in the Championship. The only reason he didn’t play more often after Christmas was that he had ten O'level exams coming up.’
I was dead straight with him and told him that I had lined up this Australian lad (Nick Carle from Bristol City for £1 million), but I wouldn’t sign him if Bostock wanted to stay because I didn’t want to block his progress.’

So I asked him and his dad if they were going to sign for us, and they were adamant, ‘Yes, we’re definitely going to sign for Palace.’ Next thing I know, he’s off to Tottenham.

‘Is he going to get in their team ahead of Modric? There’s no way he’ll get in the side at Spurs for three or four years - he would have been better off getting 50 to 100 games under his belt with us.’

‘We need new legislation to stop big clubs tapping up all the best kids before they are 16 because, at the moment, there is nothing we can do to stop it.
It’s a sad day for football when you spend nine years cultivating talent in your academy system so the big clubs can just come along and pick them off.’

We all know Simon has his critics, but I think a lot of neutrals will look at this particular case and feel sorry for him because it’s just not right.


Jordan has become one of the most outspoken personalities in football since buying Palace out of administration eight years ago at the age of 32, which made him the youngest chairman in the Football League.

He made around £40m after selling his firm The Pocket Phone Shop to the Carphone Warehouse and immediately pledged to have the South London club back in the Premier League within five years. He achieved his goal of seeing his boyhood club play in the top flight - albeit for just one season as Palace were relegated in dramatic style on the final day of the 2004/05 season.

But it did not take long for him to grow tired of the way football is run.

If Jordan, who used to step out with underwear model Sophie Anderton (below), does leave the game, football will be a duller place.

As the 40-year-old multi-millionaire businessmen prepares to sell his Championship club to the highest bidder, love him or loathe him, Simon Jordan always has something interesting to say:

Never short of an opinion, here are some of Simon Jordan's best lines.

1/ “You read on the front pages of newspapers about people unable to sell their homes and heading for the bread line - but you read on the back pages about footballers turning down £150,000-a-week offers!"

2/ “Footballers live on an island called ‘Football World’ where everything they do is right and everything that is said about them is wrong.”

Jordan is also disgusted that Chelsea’s England midfield star Lampard, 30, is continuing to hold out for a mammoth £150,000-a-week deal at Chelsea.

3/ “There is not a footballer or any kind of sportsman on the planet worth £150,000-a-week,” he said. “I can tell you a few surgeons who are - but no sportsman."

4/ “The more I watch this ‘Planet Football’ and see the back pages dominate the front pages and people like Coleen McLoughlin - who is just a plain little girl from Liverpool - set up as role models," I think to myself: "What the hell is going on?"

5/ “The moment the door of Selhurst Park hits me on the a***, I will not be coming back.”

He directed plenty of his venom at players’ agents, who he believes are responsible for many of the ills of the modern game.

6/ “Agents are nasty scum,” he said. “They’re evil and divisive and pointless."

7/ “They only survive because the rest of the sport is so corrupt and because leading football club people employ their sons in the job.”

8/ “In my opinion, no owner in their right mind would willingly invite an average agent into his academy, any more than a brothel owner would let a syphilitic nutter into his whorehouse."

But, amazingly, Jordan also took a pop at the long-suffering fans who have to dip further into their deep pockets every time a player agrees a new contract.
He insists the fans’ expectations increase the pressure on clubs to go after the best players and that in turn, hands all the power to the men in the dressing room.

9/ “If you get 60,000 people singing your name every week, you lose touch with reality.”

10/ “Fans wonder why they have to pay £50 for a kit for their son - but the price is that because they’ve been clamoring for better players.”


Other off-the-cuff classic Jordan quotes include:

11/ "I had an Aston Martin phone worth £15,000 given to me as a present. I dropped it in a gin and tonic about 15 seconds after opening it."

12/ "I'd rather support Millwall than sell Andy Johnson."

13/ "What does Everton chairman Bill Kenwright think he will get for £6m? Andy Johnson's trainers."

14/ "Even if I built a 50,000 seat stadium and bought Ronaldinho there'd still be complaints about crap hot dogs."

15/ "In retrospect, of course I regret calling them (Charlton fans) morons. Imbeciles would have been more appropriate."

16/ "Charlton have a cheap matchday coach service that goes out into Kent to nick Gillingham fans - that's pretty clever. We might start sending a coach to Brighton."

17/ "In terms of the credibility the papers have in dressing rooms, I've had players arguing their worth based on the marks out of 10 they get in The Sun."

18/ "I don’t give a f*** about football protocol and the other club owners. They want me to sit and have lunch before the games. F*** that. I don’t go to football to drink chardonnay in the boardrooms with those tossers. I go to win games. I don’t have anything in common with 90% of football club chairmen. They don't interest me."

19/ "Without being arrogant, I am probably the highest-profile club chairman in the country. Whether it is because I am young or I fight causes or I have a big mouth or I date silly girls, I don’t know."

20/ "In some ways I admire football fans because in what other business can you serve up crap and then have people come back for more?"

My problems with Birmingham started when I went into the boardroom at St Andrew’s and David Sullivan (the co- owner of the then Coca-Cola Championship leaders) came up to me and said: ‘Simon, I have known you for a few years but you keep yourself to yourself. Are you gay?’

21/ (On Birmingham's David Sullivan and David Gold) "I think they are disingenuous. The ethics with which they do business, I don't appreciate. I have had enough dealings with them to be able to have that view. Am I surprised? They sell dildos for a living. That gives you a judgement on what they may or may not be."

22/ "If I see another David Gold interview on the poor East End Jewish boy done good I'll impale myself on one of his dildos."

23/ "I think in life you get what you deserve. Despite my distaste for the owners, I don't wish any club bad luck. If Birmingham go down, am I going to shed a tear? No. Because the best thing about Birmingham is the road out."

24/ (On suing Iain Dowie) "I would not issue a writ through my lawyers on a point of principle, I will issue it on a point of law because a point of principle is expensive, as Iain will find out."

25/ (On how he would deal with then Newcastle bad boy Craig Bellamy) "I'd strangle him with his own tongue."

26/ (When West Ham beat Man Utd in the first game after Alan Pardew had gone) "If I'd have been him, I'd have gone down the training ground, said ‘thanks lads' and pulled out an AK-47. They hadn't done it for him, but they could beat the champions for Alan Curbishley. F****** unbelievable."

27/ "At the end of the day, I have a certain hairstyle. Whether I'm too old to carry it off now, I'm not sure. But it's a subject for discussion, and there's only one thing worse than people talking about you - and that's people not talking about you!"


In my opinion: Football needs more people like Simon Jordan not less - heart on his sleeve, money where his mouth is, and a true appreciation of what football means to its community.
He is simply saying what we all know to be true.

Simon Jordan’s comments capture what lots of football fans in general think today. The game has lost its way with inflated wages, huge transfer fees, spoilt egotistical footballers and their wags, and corrupt agents and foreign owners who have no idea what our game is all about.
Football is big business, with the sporting element now of secondary importance!

Those who are saying Jordan is only speaking out now he's going are wrong. Remember the stand he took over Steve Bruce going to Birmingham, Iain Dowie getting out of his contract to go to Charlton, or his refusal to pay Tim Cahill's agent a fee when Palace were trying to sign him from Millwall.

Jordan rescued Crystal Palace from going under. He rescued a club that he loves. He has put his money where his mouth his. He has supported his managers to the hilt. Jordan is a Palace fan, one of us and has the club and its supporters at heart. He wants the best for the club and the Bostock affair has left a foul taste in the mouths of all those involved with CPFC.

He may be disillusioned, as all true fans must be with the way football is going, but his stand over the Bostock affair has at least brought the matter of Academy development to the attention of UEFA. Whatever else Platini has said, surely it is no coincidence that he has since put forward proposals for the protection of Clubs who produce young local talent?

Fans must shoulder some of the responsibility. Surely they realize that each and everytime they put their hand in their pocket and spend their hard earned money on 'their' team, that all they are doing is simply continuing to feed greedy players, agents and owners.
Footballers have been treating supporters like mugs for years, and we fall for it every time. You can't moan about footballer’s earnings and then happily hand over the likes of 50 quid for a match ticket or an acrylic club shirt.

Sooner or later though the long suffering fan is going to say enough is enough and they are going to stop going to matches, stop purchasing merchandise and start cancelling their Sky Sports subscriptions.

I agree with the fans who now go to watch lower-league football - you'll see guys giving their all at a reasonable price.

As a Palace fan, I have great respect for Simon Jordan. He took a club he loves and I love out of the hands of the administrators, turned them around and did as he promised, took us to the promised land - the Premiership (albeit for one season). This man has always spoken his mind. So to all those who disagree with Jordan’s comments about football and want to slag him off – could it be because he is a successful businessman and a self made millionaire, and therefore you might be a tad bitter and jealous?

Good luck Simon Jordan in whatever you do next. Your chairmanship and loyalty will be sadly missed when you sell up.