Thursday, April 29, 2010

Congratulations to Fulham F.C

May I congratulate Fulham Football Club on their success in the UEFA Europa Cup tonight.

Their achievement in reaching a first European Final in their 131 year history is without doubt a 'fairytale' that has come to fruition.
Fulham are a traditional family club, built on good old fashioned principles including a strong work ethic, and the ability to operate financially within their means.

The masterstroke was the appointment of Roy Hodgson (below left) as manager in December 2007.

By employing such an experienced and astute manager in Hodgson they have allowed him to assemble and mould together a group of players (with no superstars), and install into them genuine self-belief and a magnificent team spirit, combined with a never say die attitude on the field.

Despite often being overshadowed by their affluent West London rivals Chelsea, they have achieved a milestone tonight I suspect even their own fans could only ever have dreamed of - a European Cup Final !

After an epic campaign, which began way back on the 30th July last year with a third-qualifying round tie against FK Vetra of Lithuania, The Cottagers' run has spanned a total of 18 European ties, in which they have overcome the likes of Italian giants Juventus, German Champions Wolfsburg, current Europa Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk and last night Hamburg.

Their success has been the only shining light on what one can only describe as a poor season for our domestic clubs in Europe, with the 'Big Guns' failing to get beyond the semi-finals of either European competition this season.

The UEFA Europa Final will be staged in Hamburg at the HSH Nordbank Arena on the 12th May 2010, where Fulham will play Atletico Madrid for the trophy.

I am sure every football fan up and down the country wish Fulham the best of luck in Germany next month.

May I say your Club is a credit to the English game.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ten Of The Best Names In Football, Ever !

Rafael Scheidt - Rafael was Scheidt by name, and shite by nature. Signed for Celtic from Grêmio by John Barnes for just under £5 million, the Brazilian was sent out on loan to Corinthians by Martin O'Neill after just three appearances. The Guardian newspaper called Scheidt the second worst transfer in the history of soccer in an article published in 2001.

Dean Gerken - From about 2003 onwards Bristol City's Gerken fought it out with Dean Brill for the coveted title of 'best-named goalkeeeper called Dean'.

Rod Fanni - French footballer who currently plays for Ligue 1 club Rennes and the French national team.

Ralf Minge - An East German international in the 1980's, who spent his entire professional club career with Dynamo Dresden.

Jean-Jacques Misse-Misse - Former Cameroon international striker who had brief spells with Dundee Utd and Chesterfield in 1998.

Dieter Stinka - German midfielder who won the German championship in 1959 with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Milan Fukal - Czechoslovakian defender who played at the European Championships in 2000, and once had a trial with Leeds United.

Ricardo Virtuoso - Brazilian midfielder who was unable to live up to his name.

Razvan Rat - Romanian left back who played at Euro 2008, and who currently plays for Ukrainian Premier League club Shakhtar Donetsk.

Daniel Killer - Killer was part of the Argentinian squad that won the 1978 World Cup.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fiery encounter could light up the Emirates - Betting News with Betfred


Emmanuel Adebayor will enter the proverbial lion's den when he returns to the Emirates in a light blue shirt on Saturday evening.

The Togolese striker left Arsenal to join Manchester City last summer and then further incurred the wrath of Gunners fans as he raked Robin van Persie with his studs and then celebrated in front of the away support during his new side's 4-2 win earlier this season.

Adebayor was given a one match ban for his behaviour in that tie and Kolo Toure, who also swapped life in North London for Manchester, has warned him not to get carried away again if he scores - and the striker is 6/1 to be first goal scorer with Betfred.

Toure, who will be looking to help Ivory Coast upset the World Cup 2010 betting in the summer, said: "He needs to show more intelligence because we all know what he did was not the best reaction - and as a friend I've told him that."

City need a win to ensure they remain in contention for a top four finish, as they are two points behind Spurs with four games to go. This urgency could mean many punters see City to win at 3/1 with Betfred as a decent football bet.

Spurs and City will clash at Eastlands at the beginning of May in a tie which could go some way to deciding which of them qualifies for the Champions League.

My Tip Of The Weekend:
I expect a much closer encounter between City and Arsenal this weekend than their meeting earlier this season at Eastlands, so my tip is under 2.5 goals in the game, which can be backed @ 6/5 with Betfred and looks the value bet - Saturday 24th April, kick-off 5.30pm, live on ESPN.

By Drew Swainston
(Guest writer from Betfred on behalf of Beer Footy and Birds!)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Some Seriously Smokin' Sizzling Sexy Sirens Of Sport !

Top Centre:
Natalie Anne Gulbis, born 7th January 1983 in Sacramento, California is an American professional golfer who plays on the U.S-based LPGA Tour. She played in her first LPGA tour event as an amateur at the age of 14 and turned professional at 18. Gulbis finished sixth on the LPGA money list in 2005 with over $1 million (U.S.)in earnings, and played on the winning United States Solheim Cup team. Gulbis' first professional win came in 2007 at the Evian Masters where she defeated Jeong Jang in a playoff to claim the winner's share of the $3,000,000 purse.
She is considered to be a golfing sex symbol by the LPGA. Gulbis posed for the November 2004 issue of the magazine FHM. She released a 2005 calendar, which featured her not only playing golf, but also in striking poses in swimwear. Gulbis has said that she likes the attention she gets, even if it is for her appearance.
In November 2005, a reality television show, The Natalie Gulbis Show, made its debut on The Golf Channel. Gulbis has also appeared on the 2007 version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour by EA Sports.

Middle Left:
Rachel Unitt, born 5th June 1982 in Walsall, England is an English football player. She currently plays as a left-back for England Women and Everton Ladies.
She signed for Everton Ladies in 2000/01 season, before moving on to Fulham L.F.C. the following season. After a spell at Fulham, she returned to Everton in 2004. Her achievements to date include winning the domestic treble with Fulham in the 2002/03 season and being named the Nationwide International Player of the Year at the 2004 FA Women's Football Awards. She was awarded the England Women's Player of the Year 2006, voted for by the fans on the FA website.
Unitt first played for England in 2000, and now has 69 International caps to her name, scoring 4 goals.

Middle Right:
Victoria Pendleton MBE, born 24th September 1980 in Stotfold, Bedfordshire, England, is a British Olympic and World Champion track cyclist.
Pendleton won one bronze and three silver medals in the British National Track Championships in 2001, while still a student. In 2002, she qualified for the England Commonwealth Games team. At the 2005 World Championships, Pendleton won her first major medal with gold in the women's sprint. She became only the third British woman to become a cycling world champion in 40 years.
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, she won silver in the 500m time trial and gold in the sprint. At the 2007 UCI Track World Championships, she won the team sprint with Shanaze Reade, the individual gold in the women's sprint, and a third gold in the women's Keirin. She crowned the year by being named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year for 2007, becoming the first cyclist to win the award in its 20-year history. Pendleton was also voted Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain's Sportswoman of the Year for 2007.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Pendleton won the gold medal in the Women's Individual Sprint Event.
Pendleton was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.

Bottom Left:
Allison Stokke, born 22nd March 1989 in Norwalk, California is an American pole vaulter. She vaulted to stardom thanks mainly to her looks, rather than her natural pole vaulting ability. However in 2004 Stokke did win a California State Championship, and broke several national records in her age division. As a senior at Newport Harbor High School, she set the second best mark in the nation for that calender year with a 13' 7" vault. In the CIF State Championship Finals she finished fourth.
Stokke's rose to 'Internet Fame' when a picture of her aged 17 at a track meet was posted on the internet. Soon more pictures would surface, millions of new fans emerged, and this future California Bear Field Star, would find unexpected, and unwanted fame as one of the few internet stars to have kept their clothes on.
Stokke now vaults for the University of California at Berkeley.

Bottom Right:
Daniela Hantuchová, born 23rd April 1983 in Poprad, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) is a Slovak professional tennis player.
She turned professional in 1999, and had her breakthrough year in 2002, when she won her first WTA singles tournament, the Pacific Life Open, and ended the year in the World's Top Ten. She has won two other WTA singles tournaments and been runner-up in a further seven tournaments so far in her career. She is currently ranked Number 24 in the world.
Hantuchová's biggest successes have so far come in mixed doubles. In this event, she won the 2001 Wimbledon Championships with Leoš Friedl, the 2002 Australian Open with Kevin Ullyett, the 2005 French Open with Fabrice Santoro, and 2005 US Open with Mahesh Bhupathi.
Hantuchová's other achievements include winning eight women's doubles titles, as well as reaching the final of the Australian Open in 2002 with Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and the French Open Final in 2006 with Ai Sugiyama,
Hantuchová speaks six languages and was trained as a classical pianist. She qualified for university in Slovakia but deferred it to pursue tennis.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Greatest Football Team Of All-Time

With the 2010 World Cup only 58 days away I thought it time to wet the appetite of all football fans, right across the globe, by selecting MY OWN personal 'Greatest Football Team Of All-Time.'

Now football is without doubt a game of opinions, and you may consider the players I have selected as not worthy of their place in my greatest team, or feel I have missed out players who you would deem as more laudable of selection, which I fully appreciate.

This was not as tricky an exercise as I had initially thought, as so few players are the cream in all the fundamental categories deemed in my selection process.

The criteria for which I based my miscellany on was as follows:

* No pre-war players (footballer was a cruder game back then & the competition was less fierce)
* Great technical ability
* Sustained excellence over a number of years
* An ability to inspire others
* Fervour for battle

There are 12 Europeans and 4 South Americans, and they all satisfy the criteria in abundance.

Four of them played in the 1950's, seven started in the 1960's, two in the 1970's, two in the 1980's and one in the 1990's.
No one country is represented by more than two players.


Lev Yashin - 1954-70 (USSR) Soviet Union


Paulo Maldini - 1988-02 (Italy) Italy
Franz Beckenbauer - 1965-77 (West Germany) Germany
Bobby Moore - 1962-73 (England) England
Carlos Alberto Torres - 1964-77 (Brazil) Brazil


Alfedo Di Stefano - 1947 (Argentina) Argentina , 1957-61 (Spain) Spain
Michel Platini - 1976-87 (France) France
Johan Cruyff - 1966-78 (Netherlands) Netherlands
George Best - 1964-77 (Northern Ireland) Northern Ireland


Pelé - 1957-71 (Brazil) Brazil
Ferenc Puskás - 1945-56 (Hungary) Hungary, 1961-62 (Spain) Spain


Gordon Banks - 1963-72 (England) England
Franco Baresi - 1982-94 (Italy) Italy
Zinedine Zidane - 1994-06 (France) France
Diego Maradonna - 1977-94 (Argentina) Argentina
Eusebio - 1961-73 (Portugal) Portugal

If you feel you would like to agree or disagree with any of the players I have chosen in my 'Greatest football team of all-time,' or you would like to suggest a player who you feel should be included, then please do not hesitate to post any comments below.
All feedback is received with interest and thanks.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Can The City Top Four Machine Keep On Rolling - Betting News with Betfred


Manchester City put themselves in pole position for Champions League qualification last weekend and need to continue that form this weekend when they face Birmingham City.

Last Saturday's demolition of Burnley, coupled with Spurs' loss to Sunderland, mean City now occupy fourth spot with six games to go, and have a one-point lead over their North London rivals.

Roberto Mancini's side do not have an easy task this weekend when they face ninth-place Birmingham City, who are a much improved side, but are not well-fancied to spring a surprise. Alex McLeish's men can be backed at odds of 7/1 to take all three points. The draw is available at 7/2 with Betfred.

The Italian manager has called on his players to continue their top form over the coming weeks to ensure they finish in the Premier League top four at the end of the season, and City are now favourites at 5/6 in the football betting to bag the last Champions League place.

"It's more important that we finish well this season, and we must concentrate 100 per cent to get fourth place because we have six games that are very difficult," Mancini said.

Those last six matches for Manchester City include a local derby with Manchester United, a trip to third-placed Arsenal, and games against Aston Villa and Spurs at Eastlands - so it looks like a very tough run-in.

One City player who won't be available for the next month or so is Joleon Lescott, who has a hamstring injury and could be out of action until May as a result. The lay-off could hamper his chances of appearing in the 2010 Football World Cup .

My Tip Of The Weekend:
City are on fire going forward, as shown by the 6-1 thrashing of Burnley last week, and with home advantage as well, my tip is a comfortable 3-0 win to Mancini's men which can be backed @ 8/1 with Betfred - Sunday 11th April, kick-off 4pm, live on Sky Sports 1.

By Drew Swainston
(Guest writer from Betfred on behalf of Beer Footy and Birds!)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A History of Idiosyncratic Events in Football – Part Four

--------------Kings Of The Drop--------------

There is nothing worse for a professional footballer (injury excluded) than relegation, unless of course, it's more relegation.

Carlton Palmer, perhaps surprisingly for a player who otherwise had a relatively distinguished playing career, which included eighteen full England caps - is right up there with the 'Kings Of The Drop,' having gone down five times with West Brom (1985/86), Sheffield Wednesday (1989/90), Nottingham Forest (1998/99), Coventry (2001/02) and Stockport County (2002/03).

Neil Redfearn can also write the names of five relegated employers on his 'Curriculum Vitae.'
Bolton (1982/83), Lincoln (1985/86), Barnsley (1997/98), Charlton (1998/99) and Halifax (2001/02).
Redfearn's playing career spanned over twenty years and he played for 13 different league clubs. Redfearn is currently fifth in the all-time list of most Football League appearances. His last league appearance for Rochdale in 2004 took his total to 790.

Perhaps the biggest 'Jonah' of them all is poor Simeon Hodson, (below right) who managed to taste relegation three times before his 21st birthday!

In all Hodson has been involved in teams relegated from the top five levels of the English football league system.

Notts County (1983/84) relegated from the old First Division, Lincoln (1985/86) relegated from the Third Divsion, Lincoln again (1986/87) relegated from the Fourth Division.
In 1990/91 he was part of the West Bromwich Albion team relegated from the Second Division.

In 1992/93 he was a member of the Mansfield Town team relegated from the Second Division also, which following the inception of the FA Premier League, was now the third level of the league system.

It is worth noting that, though he left before the season's end, he played for Notts County in the 1984/85 season when they went on to be relegated from the Second Division. Consequently, his first four seasons saw him involved with clubs relegated from the top four levels in order. Incredibly, his fifth season (1987/88) saw him initially at Newport County (but he left two months before their demise to join West Brom), as they went on to be relegated from the Fourth Division.
That makes five relegations and one near miss in a League career of just ten seasons.

To cap it all off, in 1999/2000 he was relegated from the Football Conference with complete the set!

Thus, he can claim to have been relegated from the top five levels of the English football league system with five different clubs.

In 2001, aged 35, a knee injury forced Hodson to retire. He is now a PCSO for the Warwickshire Police.