Monday, September 27, 2010

A Sporting Evening with Mel Blyth and David Payne

On Saturday 13th November from 7pm, former Crystal Palace players Mel Blyth and David Payne will be in attendance at The Lindfield Social Club, Lindfield Road, Croydon, CR0 6HN, for a light-hearted evening of chat and discussion about their careers, along with their thoughts and opinions on football now, and in their heyday!

In a comfortable, relaxed, social environment, Mel and David will be happy to share their views and thoughts with you, answering any questions you may have for them.

In addition photographs of the players, which they will be happy to sign, along with other Crystal Palace Football Club memorabilia and photos will be on sale at the event.

Tickets are £7 per person, to be purchased in advance of the event. A buffet will be provided for all attendees, and the 'Lindfield Club' have a fully stocked bar at subsidised prices.

Finally there will be a raffle during the evening with all proceeds going to the charity 'Help for Heroes.'

This is a great opportunity for football fans, particularly those of Crystal Palace Football Club, male or female, young and of an older generation to meet a couple of former greats, and discuss all things football over a drink, and at the same time support a charity.

The evening is expected to last up to a couple of hours.

I attended an excellent evening at the same venue a couple of weeks ago, where Alan Hudson was the guest.

Entry is by ticket only.
For further details and to purchase tickets please email:

A little bit about Mel Blyth:

Mel was born in Norwich in 1944. He joined Crystal Palace from Scunthorpe in the summer of 1968 as an old-style wing-half, but he developed into a magnificent centre-back. He immediately became a regular member of Palace’s 1968-69 Division Two promotion side.
In Division One, Mel became a permanent fixture in the Palace defence alongside John McCormick.
After flirting with relegation for a number of years, Palace eventually lost their fight to avoid relegation at the end of the 1972-73 season, under manager Malcolm Allison. In the following season, Mel had a long spell of injury and shortly after the start of the 1974-75 season, Mel was signed by Southampton. Mel re-appeared in Palace’s colours in November 1977, when Terry Venables signed him on loan.
In both stints at Palace, Mel made 262 first team appearances scoring 12 goals.

A little bit about David Payne:

David was born in Croydon in 1947. An accomplished defender he made his debut for Palace in 1963 and went on to make 326 appearances, scoring 12 times before joining Leyton Orient in 1973.
David is 8th in the all-time list of most appearances for the South London Club.

Event venue courtesy of Google maps:

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

The New Breed versus The Old Guard - Betting News with Betfred


It is a mouth-watering clash of the billionaires with big ambitions at Eastlands this weekend as Chelsea and Manchester City clash this Saturday.

Roman Abramovich revolutionised the Premier League when he took over Chelsea and sprayed his millions around to bring quality footballers to the club, which led to Jose Mourinho leading them to the Premier League title.

Now the new boys on the block are City, and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has spent hundreds of millions of pounds in his short term at the helm in the hope of bringing success to Eastlands.

It is a case of the old guard versus the new breed when the two teams meet, and this game is set to be Chelsea's sternest test yet of their ability to defend the Premier League title they won last season.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are 6/5 in the online football betting to head back to the capital with all three points.

The West London side have been in scintillating scoring form this season and have blown away all that came before them in the Premier League, scoring 21 goals in their first five Premier League fixtures of the campaign.
However things could be different on Saturday lunchtime, when they face a City side that did the double over them last season - and many punters may see a City win at 5/2 as an enticing Premier League bet.

Didier Drogba, who has looked very impressive in the opening weeks of the season and is 9/2 with Betfred to open the scoring at Eastlands, claims contrary to public opinion, that Chelsea have not had an "easy start" to their season, but he admits the true test of their title credentials lie in the forthcoming games.

He said: "City will be a good test to see if we can deal with better opposition. After that it is Arsenal - another big one - so it's a crucial period."

Both teams are coming into this game having lost in the Carling Cup in midweek and seen one chance of silverware go begging. However it is the Premier League title that both teams, and their Chairman have their eyes on winning, so it should be an exciting affair when they take to the field.

My Tip of the Weekend:

Chelsea should be too strong for the inconsistent City and I expect them to continue their superb scoring form, so Betfred's 4/1 for the Londoner's to score three goals or more looks like good value. Also Carlos Tevez at 11/2 to score first in the match looks a steal.

Saturday 25th September: Chelsea v Manchester City, kick-off 12.45pm - Live on Sky Sports 2.

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Weird & Wacky World of Footballer's Pre-Match Rituals

When it comes to pre-match rituals and superstitions, footballers are in a class of their own. Whatever it is, however weird or wacky it may seem, footballers will do anything if it makes them believe they will play better. Goalkeepers in particular seem to have a penchant for peculiar pre-match rituals. Here are just some of the more unusual footballing pre-match rituals I have discovered:

Malvin Kamara:

Former Huddersfield striker Kamara recently revealed that he would watch 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory' before every match. He claimed it helped to "calms his nerves, bring him luck and maintain his goalscoring form."
After netting a less than impressive three goals in 45 appearances for 'The Terriers,' the player was released in 2009 and now plays his football for non-league AFC Guiseley. Maybe it's time to retire that ritual Malvin?

Sergio Goycochea

The Argentina goalkeeper literally used to take the pee. He had the unusual habit of urinating on the pitch before facing a penalty. Apparently he relieved himself once before a penalty and saved it, and so continued the tradition for the remainder of his career. "It was my lucky charm and I went before every shoot out," he said. "I was very subtle, nobody complained."

John Terry:

The Chelsea captain has revealed that he has "about 50 superstitions," which include listening to the same Usher CD, using the same urinal at Stamford Bridge and taking the same seat on the Chelsea team bus. He also claims to have used the same shinpads throughout his career before he misplaced them after a Champions League tie with Barcelona in 2005. "Those shin-pads had got me to where I was in the game," Terry revealed. He now wears a ‘lucky pair’ that were teammate Frank Lampard’s.
No mention, though, of the superstitious use of team-mates' birds before a big game!

David James:

As befits a goalkeeper, England's David James has a couple of odd pre-match 'must dos'. Portsmouth's resident artist and philosopher has admitted to not speaking to anyone before kick-off, as well as waiting for the urinals to empty of players before he enters and spits on the wall. Classy!

Shay Given:

The Ireland and Manchester City keeper insists on keeping a vial of 'Holy Water' at the back of the goal for every game he plays for club or country. With Ireland, he’s following in a tradition of superstitious keepers, as predecessor Packie Bonner used to carry a piece of clay from Gartan in County Donegal in his glove bag wherever he went.

Steve Phillips:

The former Bristol Rovers keeper cannot change his water bottle.

He reveals: "When I walk into the dressing-room the first water bottle I pick up I have to keep with me for the rest of the day."

"It doesn't matter how dirty or battered it gets, I can't use another one or else it's bad luck."

"And not only that, but once it's empty our kitman Roger Harding - and only him - has to refill it from a new bottle."

"Roger is the only other person allowed to touch my bottle. I don't let anyone else anywhere near it."

Neil Warnock:

The outspoken QPR manager is no stranger to irksome behaviour, and it seems as though his penchant for the irritating extends to his personal life. If his side are in the midst of a winning run, the former Crystal Palace and Sheffield United manager will stop at every traffic light on his journey home, even if the lights are green.

Kolo Toure:

The Ivorian defender has to be the last player out on the pitch. This superstition lead to a booking at the start of the second half in a Champions League clash with Roma - for taking too long to return to the field of play, following the half-time interval.

Gary Lineker:

Back in his playing days, former England marksman Gary Lineker consciously avoided shooting at goal during the pre-match warm-up, so as to ensure that he didn’t ‘waste’ his good shots before games.

Bobby Moore:

In a superstition mirrored by many of today’s superstars, England’s World Cup-winning captain would insist on being the last member of the team to put on his shorts prior to kick-off. It is thought that Moore’s West Ham United team-mate Martin Peters would often wait for Moore to put on his shorts before he put on his own, only to see Moore subsequently remove his own shorts and put them back on again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Anna Rawson - Australian Golf Babe

Anna Rawson (born 5th August 1981, in Adelaide) is an Australian professional golfer and model.
She currently plays on the LPGA Tour. Anna turned professional at the end of 2004, and in 2008 she qualified for a full time tour card via Q school for the 2009 tour.

Read more at: and annarawson on twitter

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Totally Gaga! - Mint Sauce, Mustard or Horseradish?

Lady Gaga wearing a controversial meat dress at a music awards event held in Los Angeles on Sunday night.

The wacky pop diva managed to offend vegetarians, animal rights' campaigners and food safety obsessives.

Lady Gaga's push for world domination is almost complete!
She shocked and amused the fashion world on Sunday night, when she wore an outfit apparently made totally out of cuts of raw meat, to the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) in Los Angeles.

The 24-year-old global pop phenomenon picked up a total of eight gongs on the night, most for her song 'Bad Romance'. The video for 'Bad Romance' has been watched nearly 278 million times to date on ' YouTube ' and music video site ' Vevo.'

The meat dress was just one of three outrageous costumes dreamed up for the evening by Gaga, who has made a name as much for her crazy fashions as for her music.

She arrived in a spectacular outfit by the late Alexander McQueen: a Victorian-inspired gown and a Mohawk feather headdress atop a long white wig, with monstrous stilettos that made her look like she was on stilts.

Later, she changed into a black dress so overflowing she needed help to get onstage.

Gaga was teary-eyed during her victories, and after the show, she told Ellen DeGeneres:
"Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian, because as you know, I am the most judgment-free human being on the earth. However, it has many interpretations. For me this evening, if we don't stand up for what we believe in and fight for our rights pretty soon, we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones. And, I am not a piece of meat."

Earlier this month, Gaga wore a meat bikini (right) for the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan.

Rivals such as Katy Perry and Ke$ha did try to compete for the limelight.
Perry was dolled up liked a 40s pin-up girl and had her nails decorated with portraits of her fiancé Russell Brand, while Ke$ha copied the Gaga book by turning up in a dress made out of black bin-liners.

The only questions remaining after the VMAs are how can the girl born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta top her latest performances, and how far will she go?

Those who have worked with her say she is fiercely intelligent and very driven, with an instinctive gift for creating hook-laden pop songs.
Her rise, after being spotted by Interscope music executive Vincent Herbert, has been spectacular, and she was recently named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Lady Gaga could outdo even the apparently immortal Madonna and become the biggest pop star in history.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Will Stoke Play the Role of Villains? - Betting News with Betfred


Aston Villa fans will be hoping the classic 'new manager' syndrome kicks in when they face Stoke City in the Premier League on Monday night.

Despite the season being only a few games old, it has been a rollercoaster ride for Villa fans. Firstly Martin O'Neill unexpectedly resigned just five days before the opening day of the season.
Then caretaker boss Kevin MacDonald went from hero after victory on the opening day, to villain following a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of newly promoted Newcastle United, all in the space of a week!

Now former Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier has been 'unofficially' handed the reins at the club.

Although Houllier has been announced through the media as the new Villa boss, and unveiled as the new man at the helm of the Birmingham based club via a press conference this afternoon - it has become apparent that his tenure does not in fact start this Monday night.

As Houllier 'negotiates' his exit from the role as the French Football Federation's (FFF) technical director, he will not be in the dugout for Monday's trip to Stoke in the Premier League, with caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald running the team in his absence.

Villa are currently sitting in the Premier League top four and their powers of recovery were evident in their win over Everton last time out. To get a win against the Blues after being trounced by Newcastle, and then going out of Europe in calamitous style to Rapid Vienna only days earlier, showed the fighting spirit among the team.

Struggling Stoke who have not won a point all season are 13/8 in the Premier League betting to stop the rot on Monday night.

If Villa can show a similar resolve against The Potters, who are always tough to beat at the Britannia Stadium, then the 15/8 on offer for Villa to take all three points could well be seen as a good football bet by many punters.

Many football fans will be wondering what effect Houllier will have on the players at Villa Park. It has been a long while since he was a Premier League manager and his success at Liverpool came a decade ago.

It will be interesting to see how the players perform for the new man and how they feel about him replacing MacDonald, who is clearly highly thought of by the players, and has spent many years at the club.

Houllier said that he was disappointed MacDonald, who took over the reins following O'Neill's shock departure in August, had turned down the chance to work as his assistant. "I am working on naming an assistant manager," the Frenchman continued.
"Joint management doesn't work, but in some capacity as assistant manager he (MacDonald) would have been helpful. He could also have maybe learnt the trade and, who knows, taken over from me. But I understand his decision, he's a nice bloke so I won't hurt him - I told him I'd like him to stay at the club."

Once Houllier is 'officially' installed as Villa's new first-team manager, MacDonald will return to his job as reserve team boss.
Houllier could take charge of the team at Villa Park for the visit of Bolton in the league on the 18th September, or possibly for the midweek Carling Cup clash against Blackburn, or failing that the league trip to Molineux on the 26th September.

Meanwhile Kevin Macdonald will reside in the dugout on Monday night, and will continue to do so until further notice, OR when the contractual issues between Villa and the FFF are finally resolved.

My Tip for Monday night:

This is going to be a very close game and Stoke are notoriously tough at home, so Betfred's 9/4 for the match to end in a draw seems a logical outcome.

Monday 13th September: Stoke City v Aston Villa, kick-off 8pm - Live on Sky Sports

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

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Worst Sporting Champions of All Time ! - Part Three

As this blog is predominantly football orientated, it is on occasions refreshing to take the opportunity to write about an individual or a sport not associated with 'the beautiful game.'

Back in July I wrote two articles, one on the Aston Villa side of 1982, the other on the Blackburn Rovers side of 1995 - using them as examples of two teams who could be best described as undeserved 'Sporting Champions' - teams that were actually top of their field, yet were still pretty rubbish.

In this third installment I am going to investigate the credentials of an individual sporting champion.

In 1976 Britain's James Hunt, was crowned Formula One World Motor Racing Champion, but in my humble opinion he was more 'chump' than 'champ' and another example of an undeserved 'Sporting Champion.'
This is why!

On the face of it, Hunt was the most perfect Formula One star. Dashingly handsome, he lived a playboy lifestyle with champagne flute in one hand, and a bevy of beautiful women lusting and drooling over him, wherever he went.

He drove in a romantic, swashbuckling style, and the public were in raptures when he landed the coveted world title in 1976.
Sadly, but aptly the annus mirabilis of Hunt's career could be best described as a bit of a farce.

Lauda won the opening race in Brazil, Hunt was forced to retire. Spain was next.
Jarama hosted the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix. There was controversy after the race when Hunt was disqualified for a technical infringement. Although he was eventually reinstated, it took several weeks.

Long Beach was a new venue for 1976, the street circuit being chosen to host the United States Grand Prix West. Hunt endured an unhappy weekend, retiring from the race after colliding with Depailler.

After average showings in several other races, the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch saw Hunt and his McLaren team embroiled in further controversy. After the race was stopped for a first corner accident Hunt restarted in a repaired car. Despite winning the race on the track the repair work was deemed illegal. The Englishman's points were removed and the win given to his championship rival Lauda.

Hunt was left floundering miles behind championship favourite Niki Lauda in the race for the world title.
Lauda had now won five of the opening nine races, Hunt just two.

That is, until at the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, when a horrific crash left Lauda hospitalised and severely burnt after his car caught fire.

During the ensuing weeks, with Lauda indisposed and fighting for his life, Hunt closed the gap at the top. Amazingly Lauda was back racing six weeks after his near-fatal crash, returning at Monza, Italy swathed in bandages and finishing a respectable fourth, while Hunt crashed out.

Following his accident and despite his bravery in returning to the track so quickly Lauda was clearly 'out of sorts' and he failed to win another Grand Prix that season, although he managed to finish third in the penultimate race at Watkins Glen, New York.

Lauda understandably baulked at the 'dangerous' wet conditions for the final Grand Prix of the season in Japan on the 24th October, and retired after two laps.

Hunt had no such qualms and skidded recklessly round the track to scrape a third-placed finish, and in doing so steal the title from Lauda by a single point.

From a man whose burnt face was hanging off and whose injuries had prevented him from driving for part of the season - well done James, you were indeed one of ''The Worst Sporting Champions of All Time.'