Author Archives: David Meller

About David Meller

David, 22. Writes for This is Fake DIY on music-related matters, and The Sight is in End for sport-related things. Trying to become a journalist. Currently at the University of Salford.

“J.Hill’s Satanic Reign!”: Football and Indie Music, Ted and Alice

This is something I have just written for a music fanzine to go alongside a night I help with at Manchester’s very own Star and Garter. I thought I may as well pop it up on here for anyone else to read as well – David.

In the last issue of When Saturday Comes, the magazine that is perhaps the footballing equivalent to Private Eye, one particular piece caught my attention.

The Performing Rights Society have published a chart of the most popular football songs played on the nation’s jukeboxes, with the ‘respectables’ such as Pavarotti’s ‘Nessum Dorma’ and New Order’s ‘World in Motion’ riding high alongside monstrosities such as the other Keith Allen inspired football song, ‘Vindaloo’, and DJ Otzi’s ‘Hey Baby (Unofficial World Cup Remix)’.

The chart led to an unflattering judgment from the writer, David Stubbs: “There is nothing wrong with football. Nothing wrong with song. However, like ice cream and gravy, the two should never be conjoined.”

This is a deflating and rather misguided view. The ‘indie football song’, from the 80s to the present-day, has given critiques of the game and offered an education for the uninitiated; has presented opportunities for social comment, and perhaps the most important thing of all, chances to chuckle to yourself while listening to them on the bus.

One example is The Fall’s ‘Kicker Conspiracy’, released by Rough Trade in 1983 and signalling a poppier side to their sound, as well as sporting a sleeve of a violent fan directing his foot to someone else’s knee.

It was written when violence in the terraces was rife, and still holds an eerie degree of insight, with Mark E. Smith’s warning of “FANS! Remember! You are abroad!” failing to be acknowledged. Two years later at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, rioting Liverpool fans charged at Juventus fans before the kick-off of the 1985 European Cup final, forcing a wall to collapse, and causing mass panic.

Thirty-nine people were killed through being crushed by the collapsing wall or by being trampled upon in the impending stampede, and English sides were banned from European competitions for five years. It later transpired, however, that the inadequacies of the stadium and the authorities could also have been partly to blame.

The song also contains your usual Smithisms, particularly with the line “J. Hill’s satanic reign!”, which again contains a huge amount of insight on Smith’s part. His belief – as documented in his recent autobiography Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith – that he can see into the future and be a “bringer of bad news”, may not be as far-fetched as once thought.

“J. Hill” is of course Jimmy Hill, the former head of the Players’ Union who campaigned for uncapped wages (yes, it’s partially his fault that the top players now get £50k+ a week); an early figurehead who envisaged the power television could hold over the game; and overall irritating prick with that huge chin, who David Baddiel and Rob Newman took the piss out of on The Mary Whitehouse Experience.

Birkenhead’s Half Man Half Biscuit are another case of football and song coming together well. A friend of mine recently said that everything she knew about the game came from listening to HMHB – it’s definitely nothing to be ashamed of, since it’s the best education an indie music listening, non-football fan could possibly receive.

HMHB’s most noted football song is ‘All I Want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit’, released in 1986 as a B-side to their debut single, ‘The Trumpton Riots’. It has made the Czech European Cup semi-finalists from 1967 famous to HMHB fans and beyond.

‘All I Want…’ is arguably a song of pre and post-adolescent disappointment, written by the typically dry Nigel Blackwell. The spoilt child with a Scalextric set who thinks he’s better than the other kids; the kid who has an uncle that runs a sports shop who kept a Dukla Prague away kit to one side for him; the sod whose Subbuteo rules you have to abide by before he goes crying to his mum; the git who, years later, is handing out the dole payments.

It makes you laugh because you can empathise being around the spoilt child aged seven or eight, but it makes you angry because the one who’s had it on a plate is making his way in the world.

In a period where nepotism and selfishness were also the results of Thatcherism, this football-based tune has arguably become an example of social comment. Like all HMHB songs, while the esoteric references are there, the meaning of the song doesn’t seem to get lost.

Finally, a song that brings together the blunt edge of The Fall and the dry humour of HMHB is Luke Haines’ ‘Leeds United’ off the self-titled EP released in 2007.

With HMHB-like references to World of Sport, Haines presents football violence as a form of carefree enjoyment and escapism from domesticity against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper, with his of his thirteen victims compared to a single goal: “It’s a 13-0 defeat on the front page of the Post…I was beaten we were gutted I was sick as a parrot…Propping up the bar World Of Sport then fixing the car, you’re on a mission from God, it’s what the weekend’s all about.”

So, while the fusion of football and song can be disastrous, they can also complement each other, like the time bookmaker Fred Done paid out early on bets for Manchester United to win the League in the 1997/98 season… only for Arsenal to end up doing so.

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Filed under features, Football, half man half biscuit, indie music, jimmy hill, luke haines, mark e smith, music, Soccer, Sport, the fall

Match Report: Portugal 2-3 Germany

UEFA Euro 2008



Att: 42,000

Portugal 2-3 Germany

A tired maxim, but an important one: never write off the Germans. Once again, they prove that when it comes to clinical finishing and efficient, sharp use of possession, they are still the kaisers. After two poor performances, the Germans once again look like the favourites they were labelled as before the tournament.

Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose looked accomplished and dangerous alongside one another; Michael Ballack, improving more with every game and surely an early candidate for player of the tournament, controlled the centre of midfield with a delightful arrogance.

For Portugal, it’s a typical outcome: mercurial, thrilling and disgustingly talented, but wasteful and disorganised. It’s a disappointing exeunt from international football for Luis Felipe Scolari, who will now make the transition to Chelsea where many of his Portuguese stars, and Ballack, now take residence.

Portugal started off the better side, with Simão’s creativity going forward and Bosingwa’s pace proving troublesome on the right-hand side against Germany’s Philipp Lahm. If it weren’t for an ineffective Nuno Gomes, Portugal should have been a goal up after eleven minutes, after a teasing low ball from Bosingwa failed to be capitalised upon. Moments later, João Moutinho spurned a sitter in front of goal from a Bosingwa corner.

Then, after twenty-two minutes, a move of absolute excellence, with Ballack at its centre.

Klose passed to Ballack, and then a succession of one-touch passes between Ballack and Podolski resulted in a beautifully weighted ball from Podolski, and an unmarked Bastian Schweinsteiger waiting in the eight-yard area. A goal of the highest quality, and certainly up there with the two fine counter-attacking goals scored by Holland against the Azzurri.

Four minutes later, and the Germans were two up thanks to some woeful Portuguese defending. With Ricardo Carvalho nowhere to be seen, Klose rose and headed in unmarked, leaving Cristiano Ronaldo wondering who was meant to be marking the 2006 World Cup Golden Boot winner.

By now, Germany were in complete control of the midfield; but Portugal still threatened when going forward, and Ronaldo managed to put his side back in the game before half-time with his cross-angle run into the area and eventual shot rebounding for Nuno Gomes to finish. Ronaldo then almost equalised for Portugal minutes later, with a shot that just crept past Jens Lehmann’s left-post.

Portugal came out the better side after half-time, with Ronaldo becoming more of a threat. With a questionable spot of gamesmanship by Arne Friedrich, in which he intentionally stood on Ronaldo’s foot after a strong challenge, it was clear to see the threat he was now beginning to pose.

But that was wiped away thanks to some erratic goalkeeping by Ricardo. Ballack, who looked to have pushed his club team-mate Paulo Ferriera to gain an advantage, was there to header in from a Schweinsteiger free-kick that Ricardo failed to deal with.

Scolari later threw on Nani, who consistently threw possession away with thirty-yard efforts and misguided passes — apart from the one moment he actually used his eyes. With Helder Postiga also thrown on, Nani picked him out perfectly with three minutes remaining.

Yet by now, it was too late. Portugal and the world now awaits the talk of where Ronaldo will end up to re-emerge in earnest; while Germany expects once again, with Ballack — perhaps the best leader the Germans have had since a circa. Italia ’90 Lothar Matthaus — only growing in confidence.

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Filed under cristiano ronaldo, Football, germany, Match Report, michael ballack, portugal, Soccer, Sport, UEFA, uefa euro 2008

Match Report: Italy 2-0 France

UEFA Euro 2008

Group Stage: Group C


Att: 25,000

Italy 20 France

Ten years’ ago this month, France were World Champions. Two years’ ago, France almost became World Champions once again. But after this defeat against an Italian side that is finally showing some promise, and to refer to Domenech’s much-discussed star-gazing, France is in the midst of a supernova.

Not only is this supernova illustrated by France’s early departure, but also in the players that signify this so-called golden era. Thierry Henry is worryingly short of any threat compared to his Arsenal days; Nicolas Anelka was an irrelevance, coming on as a substitute when Domenech ran out of ideas; Lilian Thuram refused to play because of a supposed bout of nerves; and William Gallas was ineffective and reverting to his volatile state, at one point on the verge of tears.

France’s challenge effectively ended after eight minutes when Franck Ribery, the man who is constantly referred to as the next Zidane — the link between the golden-era and the new, uncertain one — went off with an injured Achilles. The pain etched on his face was likely mimicked by every French man.

Within twenty minutes, Luca Toni could have single-handedly embarrassed the French; instead, it was more the opposite. Opportunities provided by Simone Perrotta and Andrea Pirlo on several occasions weren’t taken, and Toni’s indifferent form will be a real worry for Roberto Donadoni. Toni is in danger of becoming Italy’s equivalent to Andrew Cole: lethal at domestic level, unconvincing at international level.

Still, Toni’s persistence managed to come through after twenty-five minutes thanks to some French assistance in the form of Eric Abidal. After three attempts in getting the ball, Abidal brings Toni down in the penalty area, and France are a goal and a man down thanks to a superior Andrea Pirlo penalty. It was all either side deserved.

The unfortunate Samir Nasri, a transfer target for Arsene Wenger and brought on to replace the injured Ribery, was then taken off after a mere fifteen minutes in a desperate attempt from Domenech to bring some stability to his unstable back four. Yet it also shows how at odds the French were as a whole — needing a win, yet bringing off a talented, attacking player.

Karim Benzema was the stand out player for the French and when going forward, gave a still uncertain Italian defence something to handle. Benzema drew players towards him and left gaps that Henry seldom exploited; and when the French came out for the second half, he spurred the side on which almost caught the lackadaisical Italians who defended dangerously deep on several occasions.

Benzema’s efforts, however, would prove insignificant when on sixty-two minutes, Henry made his only noteworthy contribution. A Daniele de Rossi free-kick deflected goalward off Henry’s flailing left-foot, leaving Gregory Coupet with no chance.

It was only after de Rossi’s strike that Domenech decided to switch to three attackers and eventually bring on Anelka — the lack of any verve or enthusiasm, Benzema aside, was stunning. Indeed, Benzema almost gave the French some hope with a finely struck curling effort that required the best from Gianluigi Buffon.

The Italians’ tournament may have finally begun, and it would be foolish to dismiss them. But with Gennardo Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo suspended for their quarter-final against a ruthless Spanish side, they’re up against it. Even so, these are the Italians.

For France, who reportedly have Didier Deschamps waiting to take over from Domenech, they have a huge black hole to fill (enough of the astronomy terms now…).


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Filed under Football, France, Italy, Soccer, UEFA, uefa euro 2008

Euro 2008: Preview! – THE GROUP OF DEATH

There’s a football tournament starting on Saturday, you know.

Yes, behind the new of Mark Hughes’ appointment at Manchester City; England’s act of diplomacy in travelling to Trinidad & Tobago being acknowledged as an official ‘A’ game; and Cristiano Ronaldo now looking to be on his way to Real Madrid, Austria and Switzerland are preparing themselves to be the focal points of European football for the next month.

Euro 2008 is almost here, and England’s football fans are trying to adopt a team — or forget it’s on.

Can Greece retain the title they somehow won four years’ ago? Will Spain, the underachievers of all underachievers, finally break their duck? And Austria, with the likes of New Zealand, Omen and Zimbabwe ranked above them in the FIFA World Rankings, manage to get a single point from their group?

Here on The Sight is in End, we’ll try and keep you up to date with match reports and other bits of hastily written nonsense that attempt to be humorous in some way. But for now, let us try and offer some sort of preview for you. Here’s Part 1 of 2, with the second part following…well, before Saturday.

As you’ll obviously know, the tournament is divided into four groups that were drawn in December in Lucerne, Switzerland. It raised laughter caused by anticipation and groans triggered by disappointment; yet it has yielded some potentially thrilling and memorable encounters:

Group A – Basel and Geneva: Czech Republic; Portugal; Switzerland; Turkey

Group B – Vienna and Klagenfurt: Austria; Croatia; Germany; Poland

Group C – Zurich and Bern: France; Italy; Netherlands; Romania

Group D – Innsbruck and Salzburg: Greece; Russia; Spain; Sweden

Let’s concentrate on the group that will be played out in the Swiss cities of Zurich and Bern. Group C is this tournament’s GROUP OF DEATH:

Group of Death: A regular visitor to the language of football, this nice piece of hyperbole appears whenever World Cup draws are made, but can make an intermediate appearance at European Championships or other regional tournaments, too. It is so familiar that commentators promptly debate which of the groups drawn might be the Group of Death this time round, as though it were a title which has to be assigned to one of them: ‘Cameroon, Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Libya, Sudan and Benin – Group Three certainly looks like the Group of Death in the African Zonal Qualifying.’

(Leigh and Woodhouse, Football Lexicon, p.56).

One of the possible favourites is set to go out alongside Romania (or am I too quick to judge, there? After all, they finished ahead of the Dutch in qualifying…). The beauty of it is that it’s almost impossible to predict who else will fall first.

Italy are now without Fabio Cannavaro after suffering an ankle injury during training — a major blow for the World Champions, especially with the strike-power France and the Netherlands possess. However, with the likes of Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Luca Toni present, it’s difficult to cast aside the Azzurri.

The presence of Gattuso in the centre of midfield always bolsters the Italians, with his physical presence bringing with it the arrogance and confidence the Italians thrive upon. He is their key player, and should ensure they see their way through the group. He’ll probably snarl the Italians through the group if he has to.

Still, they stuttered their way through their qualifying group (remember that evening at Hampden Park?), and with the managerial novice in Roberto Donadoni, it will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressures of a major tournament.

After the furore Donadoni caused with the omission of Alessandro Del Piero from the squad that faced Spain in a friendly (sorry, I’ve gone mad with the colours here, haven’t I?), the pressure is on for his side to live up to the expectations of the Italian public: domestically, Italian football is still recovering from the Calciopolis affair, and the way to recover is seemingly through the national side.

France have a mixture of the precociously talented and the hugely experienced (perhaps too experienced…). Luca Toni’s team-mate at Bayern Munich in Franck Ribery, labelled as the next Zidane, will probably be the main creative threat for France alongside Thierry Henry. He offered moments of brilliance two years’ ago in Germany and after a stunning debut season over there, is already a possibility for player of the tournament. Presumptive, I know. We’ll see.

Up front, Les Bleus are almost spoilt for choice with Henry, Lyon’s Karim Benzema and Sidney Govou and Nicolas Anelka all giving Raymond Domenech a selection dilemma. Even so, judging Anelka’s form at Chelsea, it’s likely Henry and Benzema will start together with Govou possibly completing a three-line attack.

But their qualification was even more laboured than Italy‘s, finishing just two points ahead of the Scots. And with the likes of Claude Makelele and Lilian Thuram at the wrong end of thirty, their age could either provide much needed experience and strength or a degree of frailty: for these two, it’s set to be their final outing in a major international tournament.

On paper, the Netherlands look pretty frightening: Arjen Robben, Ruud van Nistlerooy, Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder. Were Ryan Babel fit, any uncertainty about the Dutch attack being frightening would be erased.

The experience of captain Edwin van der Sar will also prove vital as it did for Manchester United this season, especially with Marco van Basten’s adoption, attacking football — which is where the main weakness lies.

Van Basten, in his final outing as Dutch manager, will hope his side plays the football that will allow him to be remembered in a similar light to that of the great architect of Total Football, Rinus Michels. It could be a mode of football that tears apart an uncertain Italian defence minus Cannavaro but with a volatile Marco Matarazzi and a fading Gianluca Zambrotta; and a French back four with an aging Thuram and an unpredictable William Gallas.

But it could so easily go the other way, with a defence that looks ominously shaky: Giovanni van Bronckhorst has seen better days, and Wigan’s Mario Melchiot could turn out to be a first choice defender. This could be oranje’s undoing, but it sure does make them kurious. Fall fans will hopefully get that.

Romania. Adrian Mutu and Christian Chivu aside, it would take a feat of Grecian proportions to get out of the group. Yet top of their qualifying group? A reformed Adrian Mutu in the form of his life? It seems premature to write the Romanians off completely. They re-hired Victor Piturca — the man who took them to Euro 2000 and knocked out England — and qualified with two games to spare. The performances against the Dutch cannot be ignored, and we all recall what can happen when the French underestimate sides. Could it happen?

The side I have written least about, could have the biggest say of the lot. This GROUP OF DEATH easily makes up for England’s failure. Unmissable.

Part 2 will follow shortly.



Filed under Austria, Football, France, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Soccer, Sport, Switzerland, uefa euro 2008

UEFA Cup Final Build-Up: Pictures from Manchester (or how silly this post now seems…)

This post, covering the build-up to the UEFA Cup Final, came before all the bottles were thrown, a lot of windows were smashed and police officers were kicked and punched. Some of these pictures have now taken on a dark (yet, perhaps, darkly comic…) irony. I must say that on experiencing the atmosphere yesterday afternoon, it was a joy — thrilling, exhilarating, in fact. It was jovial, affable, and trouble that occurred later on didn’t seem that likely.

Still, when you’ve got tens of thousands of litres of alcohol, being served since 10am, seeping through the veins of almost 200,000 people (I wondered whether the 100k estimate was actually rather conservative), it seemed kind of inevitable that something would happen. The failure of the big screen in Piccadilly Gardens seemed to act as a trigger, although speculation doesn’t really help.

Manchester, from 1.30pm to 5.00pm

If Manchester was ‘mad’ in the late eighties and early nineties, then I have no idea what it could be described as today. The city’s unrecognisable — a sight of constant blue.

In excess of 100,000 Rangers fans (and a few Russians…) are readying themselves for tonight’s UEFA Cup final at the City of Manchester Stadium, with Rangers hoping to win their first European trophy since the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1972.

For Zenit, with former Rangers manager Dick Advocaat at the helm, this is their first outing in a European final after dismantling a Bayern Munich side that is arguably the best since the likes of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Gerd Muller played together in the late seventies. On that fact alone, Zenit have to be considered favourites.

I couldn’t resist having a look, camera in hand, at what the atmosphere was like. Currently, Manchester is a proud, memorable image of fans savouring a European final.

If you wish to use any of these photos on your website or if you have any enquiries, then please email thesightisinend@googlemail.comthanks!


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Filed under Football, Manchester, News, Rangers, Russia, Scotland, Soccer, Sport, UEFA, UEFA Cup, Zenit St. Petersburg

Ah! That’s Champion(ship / League, but only the latter part)!

Apologies for the use of the first person throughout this post, but something has been niggling at me.

I felt a little ashamed in being a Manchester United fan yesterday afternoon. While sat next to an avid Stoke fan, it made me realise that the Premier League is severely lacking in one, important aspect that makes football the game that endears so many – spontaneity.

The Championship’s denouement was one of those special afternoons in football. It left you lost, perplexed, and yet, you didn’t care – clarity wasn’t necessary. You just went along with the journey, wondering where you would end up at the end. For the neutral, there’s no finer feeling (it is maybe why the play-offs tend to be the best games all season); for the Stoke, Leicester and Southampton fans, it was perhaps of a sort of masochistic torture.

Ever since that momentous FA Cup quarter-final between Barnsley and Chelsea, Mick McCarthy’s comments in the post-match analysis have stuck with me. Fans of Barnsley have experienced Premier League football, relegation, more relegation, promotion, and now the FA Cup in the space of ten years.

Excitement and despair, those two feelings so closely aligned with one another, consistently experienced by Barnsley fans. As he put it, it’s exciting to be a Barnsley fan, because the spontaneity is always there.

This is not the case with the Premier League, with one of the top four guaranteed to win the division and claim those Champions League spots. Supporting a team like United means that the result is almost predictable week-in, week-out.

When the unpredictable does happen, it’s almost treated with distain by some United fans; the prospect of losing means that everything they’ve bought into has been demolished completely – like losing does not happen for those supporting what is once again the richest club in the world. Well it does, and at times (and dare I say it), it’s a refreshing change.

This is why as a United fan, I live for the Champions League more than the Premier League;  for a start, the Premier League doesn’t force me into a nervous, drunken stupor like last Tuesday. My appetite for the European Cup isn’t just in terms of the history United have with ol’ Big Ears, but because it’s where that sense of unpredictability is most likely to be (in the latter rounds, anyway; the group stage feels like an irrelevance at times). The quest for another European Cup is what feeds me more than another  almost-certain Premier League title.

However, today’s game between Newcastle and Chelsea is intriguing: Newcastle, the masters of spontaneity within the Premier League over the last two decades, could unexpectedly hand the title to United if they beat Chelsea this afternoon; yet a Chelsea win will make next Sunday a day of relevance, even if it may be only slight. I’m not sure which one I want.

Even so, it’s very easy for me to write the above – I know that all too well. But I guess there is something that United for once lack, which most other clubs at least have. Perhaps this is why I’ve gone to a lot of Stockport County games this season.

God, I’m confused.


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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Chelsea, Comment, England, English Premier League, Football, Football League - League 2, Football League Championship, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Opinion, Soccer, Southampton, Sport, Stockport County, Stoke City, The Football League, UEFA Champions League

We’re back! / Twenty20 and its dependence on football

So, after the bane of University work hindering my chances of writing, I’m pleased to say that for the foreseeable future at least, The Sight is in End will finally resume its normal service.

The reason why I haven’t written much is that I didn’t want to hastily churn something out that I wasn’t particularly happy with, simply to keep having content on the blog. Now, that may seem counter-productive since yes, a blog should be updated regularly in order to keep its audience et ceteras, but I’m not a fan of that school of thought.

Let it come to pass that if it means taking weeks out and then writing one or two decent things, then that’ll do me (and hopefully, you). Anyway, I’ve gone on too much.

Before this year, I bet hardly anyone had heard the name Allan Stanford. A multi-billionaire Texan who has been based in Antigua for over two decades, in 2005 he announced he would set up an inter-Caribbean Twenty20 tournament in the hope that he could use the format to revitalise West Indian cricket, and therefore becoming one of cricket’s most important in the process.

Three years later, and Stanford has done just that. Australia had Kerry Packer; India have the deflated ICL creator, Kapil Dev; now England and the WI have their own equivalent.

Stanford promises $10 million Twenty20 matches between a West Indies All-Star XI and England, as well as tournaments at Lord’s that would allow two additional Test playing nations to compete alongside the WI and England, have wooed the ECB into taking him incredibly seriously. All this talk has allowed him to become the man at the heart of the English equivalent to the IPL.

Stanford has promised substantial financial backing for an English-equivalent, providing it arrives within the next two years. After that, he says, the opportunity will have disappeared.

For an English IPL to happen, it’s likely that for Twenty20, counties will have to amalgamate, with Lancashire, Yorkshire and Durham theoretically put together to form a Northern side. I would have loved to have seen Geoff Boycott’s reaction to that.

However, the often ECB attitude of cynicism and ignorance seems to have been put aside; and as seen with the BSkyB Test-match deal, money is the subject that always pricks their ears (don’t let me stop you using the Joe Orton anagram in “ears”, by the way).

All this promise of millions on single matches is nothing when you think that when the English IPL eventually comes to fruition, he could be tapping into a worldwide market worth around $500 million. Twenty20, Stanford says, has the potential to become the biggest game in world sport, surpassing football in the process.

They sound like the remarks of a deluded idiot willing to gamble millions; but with the support of the Asian sub-continent, he could have a point.

Yet Stanford’s talk of overtaking football is forgetting one thing: that Twenty20 is clinging to football. As well as the game itself being easily digestible and over in a couple of hours, it’s everything else that surrounds it that makes you realise that Twenty20 depends on today’s version of football in order to advance. The examples aren’t implicit either — they’re down right blatant.

The TV presentation, the red tunnels, the floodlights, the glamour, the kits made by Reebok and Adidas and Nike, the LED advertising boards, cricketers marketed as stars and given a ‘bought’ through an auction, and the use of the footballing lexicon (Indian Premier League) and talk of a Twenty20 Champions League (that will probably have its own classically-inspired theme-tune (with a hint of tabla) featuring”The Champions!” sung in English, English (with a hint of Caribbean), Afrikaans, Bangla, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Sinhala and Tamil).

This is all rhetoric, and the effect of it can be seen by how the IPL is a serious plaything for the wealthy akin to the Premier League. Not only have the fans succumbed to the rhetoric, but the wealthy Bollywood stars and millionaires have as well — and how. Football, or specifically the Premier League, has made sport the ultimate plaything that can yield profit and bring more publicity for them.

It seems that where football is going, Twenty20 is following. Whether it could be the other way round in years to come? Doubt it.


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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Cricket, ECB, England, English Premier League, India, Indian Cricket League, Indian Premier League, IPL, Kerry Packer, Opinion, Sport

Trescothick retires from international cricket

It’s eerie how things can develop. After writing about the plight of Marcus Trescothick on here a few days ago, it seems that his “stress-related illness” has finally beaten him, and he has announced his retirement from international cricket.

“I have tried on numerous occasions to make it back to the international stage and it has proved a lot more difficult than I expected,” he told the Somerset website. “I want to extend my playing career for as long as possible and I no longer want to put myself through the questions and demands that go with trying to return to the England team.”

Judging from a disasterous (if somewhat exciting…) start to the final Test in Napier, his absence makes you wonder what impact it could have on the Test side. Pietersen, much discussed for adopting a “mature” batting style recently, went back to his old self. Without doing so, England could have lost the game before lunch.

Anyway, that’s irrelevant. As conceded in the previous post, all that matters is if he gets better. Hopefully he will, and Somerset will reap the benefits, as well as Tresco himself. He will be remembered as perhaps the most consistent batsman England have had over the last decade, with an average of 43.79 from his 76 Tests.


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Filed under Cricket, ECB, England, Marcus Trescothick, News, Somerset, Sport

The plight of Trescothick casts light on the smokescreen of sport

Marcus Trescothick is still unwell. He has just pulled out of the UAE tour with Somerset “to be with his family” according to Somerset’s chief executive Richard Gould. 

This is the third time Trescothick’s euphemistic “stress-related illness” has come to light concerning tours abroad, with Trescothick coming home during England’s tour of India in 2006. He later returned for England’s tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but then ruled himself out of  the ICC Champions Trophy in India. 

He later dealt a major blow to England’s efforts in retaining the Ashes by breaking down and returning home after two warm-up games. 

Last season he broke the thousand run barrier for Somerset, which included an innings of 284 against Northants last May. 

For England, he averages 43.79 in his 76 Tests with a career best 219 against South Africa at the Oval in 2003. 

It’s unlikely Trescothick will ever return to the international set up unless he somehow gets better. This is worrying for England judging from some of the sub-standard batting performances in New Zealand so far, as well as the numerous poor performances we’ve seen in previous series since the Ashes tour of Australia. 

Of course, Trescothick’s mental wellbeing is all that matters, as duly noted by Paul Collingwood:

“It’s just really sad,” he said. “We just need to get him right, for his own sake really. We can be very selfish and ask whether he will ever play for England again, but it doesn’t really matter because we need to get him right.”

Trescothick is an example of the mental torment that can inflict sportsmen. The man who can hold it together in the most mentally taxing of sports, struggles to do so off it. It holds a strange, tragic poignancy. 

He shows that sportsmen, who look dominant and act as examples of human endeavour and hard-work, are actually vulnerable people (as shown through countless examples — too many to name here).

It’s something that needs to be remembered a lot more, especially with the amount of money that sport as an industry is now built upon. It’s so easy to forget now-a-days. 

His illness also shows how sport can mask reality. There is a separation of the two worlds but when they blur, it’s almost post-modern. You get trapped into this world of sport where reality seems to be put aside, yet it can be thrown right back at you at any time; by tragedy, incident, or your side’s victory/defeat.

When sport transcends that barrier between the two, that’s where it holds its power. But it’s dangerous, for crossing it can also make sport feel irrelevant, and mere escapism. Tresco is an example of the other, as shown by Collingwood’s comments.     

I hope he gets better soon. He should be known as the sportsman that can transcend the barrier through success, not because he suffers from that “stress-related illness”. 


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Filed under Comment, Cricket, England, Marcus Trescothick, News, Paul Collingwood, Somerset, Sport

We support Ground for a Pound

Apologies once again for the lack of posts over the last two weeks — it’s really beginning to get to me, actually. However, that will hopefully change within the next few days.

This is a quick one for you all. My home-town club Stockport County (although I’ll plainly admit that I’m a United fan, but I’ve been going to a lot of County games this season after a gap of a few years…) have launched an innovative and quirky way to try and raise £1 million and therefore begin the process of buying Edgeley Park back from Cheshire Sport, the double-glazing magnate Brian Kennedy’s sporting arm and owners of Sale Sharks.

County are one of the few clubs that are essentially owned by the fans, and Cheshire Sport have given the fans’ trust eight years to raise the £4.5 million needed to buy the 100+ year old ground back.

Anyway, the scheme is called Ground for a Pound and all it asks you is to buy a pixel of Edgeley Park (and some of the houses surrounding the ground…) for £1 sterling, in order to contribute towards the needed £1 million. After only being online for three days, the demand has been fantastic and it’s getting some decent press as well, notably in The Times and on Sky Sports. 

So, your quid could really help towards getting the ground back, and cementing the future of Stockport County.

Or buy a few pixels at once or maybe even one a week – up to you. If you want to advertise your business, website etc, then it’s cheap advertising for you, too, as all pixels act as a link.

And hey! Once they’ve raise the million, you could have your pixel selected and have the opportunity to name one of the stands!

‘The Sight is in End’ End – I dream… 

Go on!


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Filed under Barclays Premier League, Edgeley Park, England, English Premier League, Football, Football League, Guinness Premiership, News, Rugby Union, Sale Sharks, Soccer