Category Archives: England

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.

David.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

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.

David.

Leave a comment

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.

David.

1 Comment

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”. 

David.  

Leave a comment

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!

www.groundforapound.com

David.

1 Comment

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

Eduardo Leg Break: Pictures (WARNING)

Right, I’m going to warn you now. There’s a very good reason why the broadcasters won’t show the full detail of Eduardo’s leg-break.

I’ve managed to find a clip of the break (mainly to see how bad the tackle was and to satisfy my own sick sense of curiosity), and it’s clear to see why.

But, the effects need to be seen. Personally, I’m not sure whether Martin Taylor’s tackle warranted the gruesome, unfortunate outcome. To me, it looked like Eduardo over-ran the ball, tried to regain it, and Taylor caught him unintentionally.

Still, it was a poor tackle and while extreme, Eduardo will now act as a permanent example of what bad, careless tackling can do. Let this act as the one moment where the art of tackling came back. In fact, it shouldn’t even be an art – good tackling is a necessity.

If Eduardo comes back and plays football again, then anything is possible in the game. However, after Wenger’s bleak assessment, it looks likely that his career is in real, severe danger.

The video the images are taken from has since been taken down due to a copyright dispute. However, I hope the BBC show the tackle and provide prior warning this evening on Match of the Day.

Let something good come out of this ugly mess. Show it to kids, schoolboys and aspiring players. Let them know that this could be them if tackling isn’t improved, and let them know that their possible career, for all its conceivable riches and celebrity, could meet a sudden and awful end. This should act as the ultimate reality check.

Having witnessed David Busst’s leg break when he played for Coventry against Manchester United in 1996, I thought nothing could surpass the nauseating effect that possessed. Eduardo’s break is the worse kind of compound fracture imaginable.

If you’ve got a soft stomach then I would advise against looking at the images below, particularly the second image.

A dangerous, clinical, young striker’s career could well be over, and the outcome needs to be seen:

 

 

Thanks for all your comments. Needless to say, I’m absolutely staggered at the interest these pictures taken off a YouTube clip hastily taken down have caused. It seems that the power of blogging was fully realised and experienced with this, and we managed to be right on the ball. Unlike Martin Taylor…

Anyway, most of the comments on here have been considered and well expressed, which is excellent. But I’m going to close the ability to leave comments on this for now since it’s taking quite a bit of time to moderate and edit some of them. However, if you have any particular views, then why not send an email? Who knows, I may even put it up here…

Email us at: thesightisinend@googlemail.com

David.

141 Comments

Filed under Arsenal FC, Arsene Wenger, Barclays Premier League, Birmingham City, Comment, Croatia, Eduardo, England, English Premier League, Euro 2008, Martin Taylor, News, Soccer, Sport

Apologies and Mascarenhas

It’s been a slow week here on The Sight is in End, for which we apologise. I have been knee deep with Uni work, and would rather write something that I’m proud of and spend some time on, rather than trying to knock something out quickly. What I can tell you is that I’m currently watching England try and save the one-day series against New Zealand, and it promises to be a fine game indeed.

In fact, I will make one point. England need to utilise Dimitri Mascarenhas much, much more than they have done so far.

In Napier, where we had one of the most entertaining ODIs England have ever played in certainly and on a fast pitch, he bowled two overs and didn’t even bat, even when England had plenty of wickets in hand in their remaining overs, and were in the search for boundaries. The way Collingwood was thrashing it through the leg-side and beyond the short boundary, you wonder whether he could have done the same, and maybe put the game beyond New Zealand’s reach.

Of course, maybe I’m fixed on the Mascarenhas we see as an explosive and talented Twenty20 player, as shown in Auckland. Still, for a decent all-rounded like him, two overs and a number eight position almost makes his place in the side pointless.

David.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cricket, Dimitri Mascarenhas, England, New Zealand, Sport