Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barry Glendenning


"In most ways I am content not to know such information, and to think of sportswriting not as a real profession but more as an agreeable frame of mind, a way of going about things rather than things you exactly do or know. A reasonable guess is a source of pleasure, since it makes me feel like one of the crowd rather than a human FORTRAN spitting out stats and reducing sports to unsavory accountancy. When sports stops being a matter for speculation, even idle aimless, misinformed speculation, something's gone haywire..."

-- Richard Ford,
The Sportswriter


"You'd think anyone with a passing interest in sport would know that the most reliable, bullshit-free place to find out the likelihood of something happening is to check the odds on a betting website."

-- Barry Glendenning

During Euro 2008 in Vienna, the Guardian decided to send a camera crew to film the Football Weekly podcast journos in various states of play. Short clips of mock-tourism around Vienna alrernated with frattish Wii tournaments and Croat-filled street parties. Ostensibly the least successful video, yet one that stuck out the most, was a four minute minute film of Barry Glendenning enjoying a beer and some sauerkraut while watching the Romania-France group stage match.

The game, you'll recall, was a dud, a deadly boring defensive parlay. Glendenning is seen alone, slowly drinking his beer and smoking cigarettes, at first mugging to the camera and then trailing off as the game descends into nothing. We know the game is terrible, yet he watches, transfixed and with a hint of real disappointment giving the lie to his flippancy (he texts to someone, presumably James Richardson, "are you watching this shit?"). In the end, he asks that the camera be turned off like a bereaved loved one after a tragedy.

Many posters on the Football Weekly blog remarked on similar experiences, sitting in empty bars, watching abjectly miserable matches yet unable to look away. Modern football disgusts us with its scandals, transfer fees, officious stats and journeymen divas, yet we still hold on to something outside of our own cyncial shells that keeps us coming back to the empty pub. Barry Glendenning, perhaps more than other football journalists, exemplifies this contradiction.

His audio work is the weaker of his gifts. Glendenning is, by his own admission, a failed stand-up comic. He is not a rapid-fire laddish pun-spinner in the English mold -- his role is more hipster curmudgeon, ratcheting up his outsider status as a farmer's son from the County Offaly while wearing Pixies shirts and bigging up his Brixton hood. On the Football Weekly podcast, whole minutes pass with Glendenning silent, brooding over metered stats and propped up controversies. And then he'll suddenly pipe in, ravaging someone or another's politically correct faux outrage, or making idle predictions on matches based more on his prejudices than on the typical signposts of choice -- injuries and stats. It isn't exactly 'ha ha' stuff, but you notice when he isn't there and the podcast descends into bland enthusiasm.

His written work is superb. His daily info-email, the Fiver, is laden with adjectives and adverbs dripping with icy contempt for football's bureaucrats, mercenaries and moneymen. This invective almost rivals his complete disdain for any hint of righteous anger on the part of football's 'aggrieved,' whether taking on the toothless 'Just Say No' approach to racism within England's temples of intolerance, the football grounds, or taking on Rio Ferdiand's holier-than-thou ranting over everyone's favourite minimum-wager, Ashley Cole. His minute-by-minute reports too have an off-the-cuff wit, well-formed on a minutes' notice. He is clearly a journalist's comedian, able to scratch out pithy lines on the post, in time for deadline.

He has many critics, some justified, many simply partisan football supporters. Glendenning's ranting against Big Four supporters sometimes tips into the absurdly self-negating - his views on Sunderland are left unchecked, and his loyalty to Roy Keane in particular sometimes grates. And it's true -- the man can't rhyme off Marseille's starting eleven at the drop of a hat, and he is constantly accused of not being a proper journo for his lack of Guardian Football front-page blogs. But his acerbic style, contrasting the dry autopsies performed over and over by football's self-appointed scribes, comes closer to the ugly truth of Modern Football. He may be bored watching the football, sitting and texting about the pointlessness of it all, but you can see behind it all a boyish hope that football will transcend its roots in money and madness.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Maradona Coaching Argentina -- A Preview



From his stint at Deportivo Mandiyú in 1994. He makes Bilic look like Alf Ramsey. I tried to find the clip where he flipped his fans the double bird, but the tubes don't have enough room for it. The internet's not a truck you know.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Is Richard Peddie Toronto FC's Daniel Levy?


First, a proviso: I'm no expert when it comes to back-room politics in the sporting and/or footballing world. I usually turn off Setanta when the ticker starts running and one of their blandly attractive anchors speaks in singsong about implied transfer fee agreements and shareholder unrest.

However this week, I, like some of my more qualified colleagues, have taken some interest in the recent troubles at Tottenham. And when the Guardian compared Daniel Levy to someone named 'Jesus,' I simply had to read past the lede paragraph. What's funny is as I look more and more into Levy's history of woe at White Hart Lane, I think more and more of Toronto FC's relationship with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE).

Toronto FC, MLS's second most popular franchise, failed to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, losing 2-0 to crap franchise San Jose. While there were few cogent post-mortems in the major press, Cathal Kelly did write a damning article on Mo' Johnston's player acquisitions this past year. Under Johnston, we lost unspectacular but solid midfielders Maurice Edu and Ronnie O'Brien, and acquired Rohann Ricketts and Laurent Robert. Robert has already been shit-canned (perhaps Johnson should have given the MLS more credit when he acquired a washed-up player cut from 2007-2008's Derby County!). Ricketts did score a couple of goals, but is slow on the pitch and hardly a game-changer.

Kelly lays most of the blame at Johnston's feet, but to my mind, Johnston is a cog taking orders. Mo' is partnered with Paul Bierne, an MLSE regular. And supervising both is Tom Anselmi, COO of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who answers to MLSE CEO Richard Peddie.

Peddie is not a popular figure with Toronto hockey fans. The Maple Leafs are currently 'enjoying' what's expected to be yet another 'transition year' in the NHL. Peddie's MLSE hired and fired John Ferguson Jr., the GM who ran the club (into the ground) between 2003 and 2008. Peddie was in charge during MLSE's massive ticket scandal last April. And Peddie is one of the reasons why Leafs fans pay more and more to see a team that gets worse and worse.

Yet Peddie has made MLSE a massively profitable corporatation, in part by exploiting the Toronto Maple Leafs' unshakeable brand. The bedrock of his business plan: hockey fans in Toronto are still willing to pay $200 a ticket to watch an NHL club that hasn't reached a Stanley Cup final, let alone won the thing, since 1967. Peddie simply but shrewdly exploited fan loyalty to avoid the costly business of winning trophies-- hence, MLSE's business model stresses marketing, branding, and club loyalty over on ice success.

Toronto FC is no different. Once it was apparent home games were selling out and season tickets were running at 90-95% renewal rate, creating a winning on-field product played second fiddle to consolidating popular support. Expect to see Trader Mo' trade players for cash as long as his cheques are cut by MLSE. There is no reason why Peddie and MLSE will abandon this business model, which is why I don't expect Toronto FC's popular support to translate into cups anytime soon. Pundits often talk about how Toronto soccer fans are 'more sophisticated' than others in the MLS and will demand a better on field product. Well, sorry, Leafs fans know more about hockey than anyone in the biz and they've been showing up for forty years.

My heart goes out to Tottenham supporters -- hopefully they will put up more of a fracas than Toronto fans ever have, or likely ever will.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whaaaaa?


I mean, I know it's early and three of the Big Four are still up there but...whaaaa?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stuff North American Football Fans Like*


*Oh hell, fine.

4. Watching Games in British-Themed Sports Pubs

North American Football Fans (NAFFs) are a solitary bunch. Often suffering from internet addiction, they tend to keep their football and their social lives separate, that is, until match day. When Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday rolls around, watching a blurry Justin TV live-streamed game with Cantonese commentary comes a distant second to going down to your local "Bishop's Bollocks" to see your favourite Eee Pee El club on the big screen.

The British-Themed Pub (BTP) serves a number of different social functions. First of all, it replicates the presumed boorish fanaticism and excessive drinking habits of real-live British soccer fans. Second, it allows you to hoot and holler at the TV with other strangers in outdated replica shirts (most often circa 1999-2000) as if you were at a real-live Eee Pee El football match in a real-live stadium. The NAFF especially enjoys the BTP during internationals, when he or she can make it apparent they support a team that is not the USA, usually England, sometimes Germany or Brazil. Expect 'raucous' exchanges about Ballack v. Beckham from pimply, twenty-something Biology students.

Guinness is more often than not the drink of choice -- extra points if, when ordering, you make reference to 'the Black Stuff' just like that guy did in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The bored and annoyed waitress may give you a second look, but she will likely know you from last Saturday when you hooted and hollered 'One-Nil to the Arsenal' in a pretend English accent. Mentioning how Guinness tastes different 'on this side of the pond' is risky, although points to you if you order Indian food (if Indian food isn't on the menu, go for the Sheppard's Pie).

WARNING: It is never a good idea to take a non-NAFF with you to the pub on match day. They will likely note the resemblance between 'your hooligan mates' and a high school Dungeons and Dragons tournament. They will also enquire as to the fake British accents. Best just to tell the non-NAFF you will be 'enjoying a few pints of lager with my mates while we take in the football.' They won't ask any follow-up questions.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wenger backs Gallas after Arsenal captain photographed with cigarette -- Guardian Headline


Football's come a long way. Guiseppe Meazza was the only player in the Italy squad permitted to smoke, because he was that good. Matthias Sindelar smoked and cavorted with prostitutes during his playing days, yet still managed to beat defenders for fun.

Gallas, I can say without too much controversy, is not and never will be the same class of player as the above. But I have some sympathy for the man. I would imagine that, as a professional footballer at Arsenal, it must be frustrating to have to remain in peak physical condition all the time -- never to go on a bender, or smoke cigarettes and eat beans and potatoes while downing pint after pint of good old fattening lager -- only to see your club remain locked in a perpetual struggle for fourth place. Goodness knows what he got up to at Chelsea, but I would imagine a man with Claude Makalele in front of him probably felt comfortable washing down his post-match sushi with a can of Sapporo and a couple of Gauloises Rouges.

And to add insult to (thigh) injury, Gallas' cigarette apparently wasn't even lit! The Premier League champions paid 25 million pounds for Berbatov, a man caught on camera actually smoking, and not even while leaving a seedy club half in the bag but during some half-arsed window-shopping in SoHo. Defenders never have it easy in this goals-goals-goals world. Have a smoke on me, Dubya G.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Parable


A Reading from the Blog of A More Splendid Life, Post 133.

1. After he had eaten the lunch that he had prepared there, Richard said to them, "Yea verily I say unto you, the US Presidential election is like a football match between a widely-supported underdog and a once-mighty but now-struggling Big Four side. 2. It is in the eightieth minute, and the underdog leadeth by two goals to nil. 3. The assistant coach therefore said to his manager, 'Master, let us substitute a defensive midfielder for a striker, and play offense in order to further secure our lead.' 4. But the manager, sensing deceit in his assistant coach's heart, said, 'Verily, verily I say unto you, it is better to defend your lead by holding possession than by attacking and risk leaving an opening that can be exploited.'

5. The assistant coach, disheartened by his manager's words, said unto him, 'Master, since our second goal was scored by a former player from the Big Four club, a commanding midfield general, would it not be wise to humiliate them further with a third?' 6. The manager said unto him, 'No, for although our opponent is wounded, he is dangerous when angry. It is best to hold possession and let the clock runneth over.' 7. And lo, the manager substituted a striker for a defender, and the clock runneth over, and the Big Four side did not manage to score any more goals.

Here Endeth the Lesson.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Specious One

In 1983 Melle Mel, rapping front man for Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, wrote "White Lines," an electro track ostensibly about the dangers of cocaine abuse. Yet underlying the Just Say No message ("Don't Do It!") is a manic ode to the 'joy' of blow ("Now we're having fun, baby!"). The song is remarkable in how it straddles the (white) line between NY's post-disco coke-mania and Reagan's anti-drug crusade, summed up best in the line "twice as sweet as sugar/twice as bitter as salt."



Echoing Melle Mel's duplicitous attitude to drugs is Jose Mourinho's attitude toward diving. Mourinho felt it necessary to go off on one of his most loyal tradesmen, Didier Drogba, along with Torres, Ronaldo, and Van Persie (?), for purposely going to ground to get a foul. Yet Mourinho went on to remark, "I hate diving, but I'm not happy if a player is kicked by somebody in the box and he tries to remain standing."

I'm sorry Jose, but if a player is kicked in the box and decides to go down when there is an option to remain standing, that player is simulating. That is a dive, a yellow card offense.

You'd be naive to think that Mourinho is alone in pushing this sort of sophistry. The Ferguson's, Wenger's and Mourinho's are putting both players and referrees in an impossible position by asking them to determine, on the fly, the razor-thin line between 'diving' and 'not trying to remain standing.' You can't have your blow and snort it too. Refs need to go public on this issue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Steven Gerrard: Liverpool can't keep pulling off last-gasp victories -- Daily Mirror Headline


Err, yes they can Stevie.

Show me a chunk of silverware you've won in the past five years that hasn't come from a mad-dash, hope against all hope effort coming in the second half? This is less a defensive predicament then a tactical stroke of genius (if you give Benitez the benefit of the doubt, which I don't) -- and where better to come back from two goals down then at Anfield?

I would have more confidence in Liverpool winning the Premier League by playing perpetual catch-up than by trying to win every game rampaging forward like Chelsea on steroids (bit of a redundant simile, that).

Plus it's more entertaining. I know Liverpool's a Big Four club, but lest we forget, Blackburn's hoisted that crowned Premiership trophy/eyesore and they haven't. If you squint really hard, you might just see them guys in red as honest-to-god underdogs.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you Mr. Gerrard. After repeatedly rejecting Chelsea's lecherous advances, you've made your bed. We'll see you soon, venerating your away fans after scoring a thirty-yard last gasp screamer at a stadium near you.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

To Zaki


Yes, Liverpool came back. Yes, Valencia's two yellows were not exactly Rob Styles territory in terms of refereeing. But Wigan let everyone know Anfield is no fortress.

But a word or two for Zaki. First of all, the goals. Magic. Second of all, the positioning. How often have we seen a normally composed defender bauble a pass from the keeper? Yet few other strikers would have pounced on it with such authority, or finish with such good graces.

I knew a Zaki, in my first year of university. He was my roomate for a time, a Pakistani national on his way to completing a degree in management after an ill-advised turn in engineering. We would walk home together, and he would always suggest the fastest route. "Take the hypoteneuse," he'd say, usually when presented with a park or a parking lot.

Here's to Zaki, willing to take the hypotenuse to goal while others rely on the killer pass or the pin-point cross.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why David Beckham Should Go to AC Milan


In football, fans tend to confuse fame, wealth and arrogance with poor on-field performance. This is understandable -- in football, it's difficult to qualitatively judge a player's worth outside of counting clearances and goals scored (sometimes even the latter isn't enough -- see Emile Heskey getting selected for England over Michael Owen). When Ashley Cole made the fatal back pass allowing Kazakhstan to nick a goal, he was soundly booed. It was a terrible error -- but Ashley Cole is no Titus Bramble. The boos came because he is popularly considered to be a rich, self-interested twat who'd no sooner jump ship for higher pay than wear an ill-fitting white suit with the missus.

While Beckham doesn't come in for quite the same level of vitriol, his US Weekly lifestyle has led many, Steve McClaren included, to over-criticize his on field efforts, usually at their own peril. Don't get me wrong. I think George Best summed it up best when he said, "He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's all right." But he can be a useful cog in a well-greased football machine and he has a good attitude, puking and red cards aside. And, most importantly, his style of play is perfect for Serie A.

The Italian top flight, while not the in-depth chess match described by both its proponents and critics, is a league of calculation, conservative attacking play, and intelligent, consistent defending. It is a league where midfielders are given the chance to breathe, to think. David Beckham, while hardly versatile (see my rant on this topic over at Soccerlens), is a midfielder that can do a lot of damage when he is given time to think about his crosses. He is not a young man, but at thirty-three there are worse things than getting headhunted by AC Milan. We tend to forget that Stanley Matthews took Stoke to League One at the sprightly age of forty-five.

The other reason Beckham should go to Italy is because MLS is a terrible, terrible league. It is boring, the quality of play is all over the shop, and the league table is too horizontal. If Beckham were to leave now, Don Garber and everyone involved in the travesty that is MLS will be forced to do some serious soul-searching about the mess they have created. My interest in Toronto FC is on life-support, but it has less to do with our terrible form, but rather that our terrible form still leaves us five points out of a play-off spot with no relegation in sight. A soccer league without competitive incentive is nothing but a travelling circus, and Beckham's departure will send that message to talented footballers from Montivideo to Madrid.

By saving his career from sliding into the ether, Beckham might do more for American soccer than he did by coming over from Real Madrid in the first place.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can Somebody Tell Me What Exactly is Wrong with the CSA?


Judging by the eggs next to my comment count and the subsequent drop off of subscribers, I'm going to let my NAFF series lie for little bit to bring you some down-home angst about the state of Canadian soccer...

A brief glance at the Voyaguers, Ben Knight's blog (who's looking at this very question right now), or pretty much anything written by soccer pundits in this country in the past fifteen to twenty years is all you need to ascertain that there is something called the 'CSA,' and that that 'something' is inherently evil and the cause of all soccer-related suffering in this country.

During this brief glance, you will read words like, 'failure,' 'near-sighted' and 'provincial.' But, like a Thomistic proof for the existence of God, one seems to learn about the CSA and what it does only by examining what it has wrought. The consensus there at least is clear -- a failed national soccer program, a failed men's senior national team, and failure to promote the Canadian game at home and abroad.

I have no qualms with these claims. Certainly the brain-trust that appointed Dale Mitchell to coach the senior men's team, the same Dale Mitchell who produced one of the worst-ever performances from a host nation at a major FIFA tournament, should be held accountable for our pitiful but hardly-surprising early elimination from WC 2010. And when players complain on the record that Canada's national set-up is a joke, when the national team takes a ferry-boat to Martinique for a friendly that the CSA didn't deem worthy of recorded statistics, when a governing soccer association determines a friendly in Estonia in the middle of a snow-storm is good prep for playing teams in Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, you have a serious problem.

So the CSA is clearly not helping the Canadian senior men's team. But this is not enough. Since I have a healthy Canadian readership, I would like someone, ANYONE, to help me out on this one. Is the spinoff group Canadian Soccer Federation's list of recommended changes viable or accurate? Is there also a government funding issue, as Ben Knight argued today? Is the taxation level on smaller provincial leagues too low? Are there specific accountability issues, and if so, what are they? And how can us regular joes hop on board to help, other than by wearing black t-shirts at national team games? Please comment...

My own guess here is that this issue might bleed into traditional left/right politics. More on that tomorrow...


Friday, October 10, 2008

Stuff North American Football Fans Like


Number 3. The Eee Pee El

The Eee Pee El is considered by the NAFF to be the best league in the world. Period. If pressed on the matter, the NAFF will employ the classic 'La Liga Gambit' and reply, "While La Liga comes in a really close second, it just can't match the pace and power of the Eee Pee El." The 'La Liga Gambit' deftly reinforces the NAFF's status within the Global Football Culture as one who follows non-English leagues, while drawing attention away from the fact the NAFF secretly likes the Eee Pee El because of the Englishy songs and the Englishy commentators and the Englishy striped scarves.

The NAFF can greatly enhance their social status by demonstrating they followed the Eee Pee El 'before everyone else got on board when Arsenal started winning everything.' Teams, dates and players are important here. You will be laughed out of the pub if you claimed to started following Chelsea because you really liked the ball-handing skills of Tor Andre Flo. However, claiming you got into the Eee Pee El because you liked watching Matt LeTissier, if backed up with evidence (preferably a vintage 96' Saints kit) can get you NAFF Eee Pee El cred for life. To be safe, it's generally a good idea to say you started watching the Eee Pee El "just after World Cup 98."

WARNING: Proving early Eee Pee El cred can be a dangerous game. English relatives, if used wisely, are an essential tool. For example, no one will believe you if you say you liked Arsenal 'before Wenger' unless you can produce evidence of an English-speaking granddad who 'always loved watching the Gunners at Highbury.' Additionally, proving adherence to Manchester United before their treble year is also a risky venture, so its always good to have an English uncle or grandparent on hand to back up your claims that you liked "United back when Fergie couldn't win anything." No NAFF will ever believe you liked Chelsea before Abramovich, relatives or no, so don't bother.

Stuff North American Football Fans Like


Due to popular demand, I'm going to milk this thing for all its worth, and then when people get bored or I really miss the mark I'll try and come up with some sort of intelligent analysis or something.

Number 2. Conspicuous Use of the Term 'Football.'

"Football" is one of the North American Football Fan's favourite words, because it serves multiple social uses. For example, a NAFF might say in casual conversation, "The only sport I really follow is football." The non-NAFF will immediately assume the NAFF is referring to American Football, the four-quarter gridiron game that is often the NAFF's least favourite sport. This confusion is intended, because then the NAFF can correct the non-NAFF by saying something like, "No, I'm referring to actual 'football', you know, the one that involves use of your feet? American football is association football's developmentally challenged bastard child." By using the term 'football,' the NAFF can express his or her total disdain for indigenous North American sports.

The term's use doesn't stop there. For example, the non-NAFF might innocently reply, "Don't you mean soccer?" The non-NAFF has made a fatal error. Now the NAFF can make a further point -- that he is not merely a fan of the game played by school children across the United States and the Canada, but a participant in the Global Culture of Football. The NAFF is now free to demonstrate to explain that 'football' is not merely a game to be badly played in grade school, but a global sport phenomenon that North Americans "just don't seem to get. 'Soccer' is sooo American. 'Football' is what the rest of the world uses."

WARNING: You must be careful when using terms like "footie" or "futbol" around NAFF's. They will assume you are patronizing them, or that you are a newbie who picked up these words when away on a Student Exchange program.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stuff North American Football Fans Like*

*Now, before you start ranting and raving about how Christian Lander is terrible and how I'm completely unoriginal, just know that both of us grew up in the same city, went to the same university, and knew practically the same white people. So I would have come up with this idea anyway...it was just a matter of time. And yes, he's terrible. I won't do this often, I promise.



Number 1: England

North American Football Fans or NAFFs usually first got into the game through internationals, and their team of choice is invariably England. To a non-NAFF, this might seem a little odd; England have only won one rigged tournament well over forty years ago, and haven't really done much since. Why wouldn't NAFFs support the USA, or the Canada (NB: 'North America' in this instance refers its modern usage i.e. not including Mexico)?

England provides several key advantage to the NAFF: it doens't win much, so followers cannot be accused of 'glory-hunting' (pretty much social death to the NAFF), it is European and therefore more 'authentic,' and England is home to the Premier League, the NAFF league of choice. Plus, English supporters sing tunes you know with words you can understand (eg. "Two World Wars, One World Cup"). The topper is you don't have to buy an England jersey; you can use the one your uncle gave you in the late 1990s, pretty much the golden age of soccer to the NAFF.

Most regular NAFFs,
not having personally experienced drunk xenophobic England supporters abroad, support England unconditionally. Recently however, some super-NAFFs have begun to criticise England in step with actual English England supporters.

WARNING: Do not say David Beckham is your favourite England player to a NAFF -- it would be best so say, "Wes Brown's form seems inconsistent this year," or "Joe Cole is the most underrated winger in the sqaud."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ceci Pas Une Permiter Sign Board


I don't want to toot my own horn, but I am a LEADER in the football writing world. My audience of twenty looks to me as a voice they can TRUST, not a voice that will shank them around like a Gerrard strike into Row Z, or yell at them at a press conference or something. Some ask if me if I'll ever sellout, and I say, you kiddin'? NEVER!

I mean, yes, it's true that footbo.com is the world's leading football friend network, but I'm not going to peddle a website just because some guy emailed me or something!

And what of it if I exclusively purchase my football-related gear from SoccerPro.com? Sure, they may have politely asked me to review their products at no cost to myself, but that's what we call in the business a happy coincidence. It's called Serendipity, and the movie-version was totally awesome.

Sometimes I think to myself while listening to Five Live on a special Five Live widget that allows me to listen to Five Live on my website whenever I want, available now at www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive, how could people be so callous as to cave in to commercial demands?

Sure, it would be easy for me to give into the almighty dollar, (not that I need to now that I pay such low low prices to watch football at http://www.free-football.tv), but some of us have higher priorities in life. So the next time some bozo says, AMSL is a phony website that is out trying to make a buck rather than tell the truth about football, you tell them 'f*ck off,' and go download the greatest podcast known to man, The Guardian Football Weekly hosted by James Richardson.

Note: Jokes aside, prods mentioned get nuff respect. Especially footbo.com, but especially that Five Live widget dealie. Don't send me hate mail. Word up.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

North London on a Highway to Hull

I will admit, I'm not really big on regional geography when it comes to England. I know where the bits and pieces are, but if someone were to make a joke about 'those girls in Hull,' I would smile into my 3.25% Real Ale bitter and pine for the hotel room so I could watch more of those late night shows where people call in at 35 p a minute to try and solve some idiotic puzzle about seals and boats.

However, I will bank that Wikipedia is telling me the truth when it says, "Hull weathered a period of post-industrial decline, during which the city gained unfavourable results on measures of social deprivation." In other words, Hull is Baltimore, or Sudbury. And North London is downtown Toronto. And everyone hates downtown Toronto.

I have to say, North London, is, if anything, a fun place to smile into a 3.25% Real Ale bitter all evening. Having said that, one can easily see why the rest of the country is pleased that the little football club from Kingston upon Hull, 104 years out of the top flight, is slicing up North London clubs as if they were giant slabs of Montreal smoked meat.

Perhaps that's why on the Hull wikipedia entry, that snappy little advert of a sentence was immediately followed by, "However, the city has embarked on a programme of regeneration and renewal and a range of sporting and cultural activities is available." Yeah, 'sporting activities' like condeming Arsenal to fourth place and relegating Tottenham, pretty much the wet dream of the entire Northern footballing establishment. They are the anti-Derby, and the Tiny Tigers are giving competitive parity in the Premiership a run at legitimacy. Unless of course it all comes crashing down in January, like most things in this world...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Joe Kinnear's Swears Make Baby Jesus Cry

After sitting through hours of sterile political debate, both Vice Presidentialist and the Maple Syrup variety, it's nice to hear someone willingly spout expletives at the national media. Wouldn't this be much, much more elucidating?

Biden: Well, Sarah, I respect and admire John McCain for his service to America, but he's kind of acting like a douchebag to the American middle class.

Palin: For fuck's sake Joe, he's running for president don't ya know, and these folks on Main Street, they work so goddamn hard.

Or, for the Canadians out there:

Harper: Mr. Dion, you totally lost your shit in the middle of national election.

Dion: Mr. Harper, stop telling Canadians these fucking lies about my Green Plan!

Or perhaps not, actually. How amazing was Ledbitter's goal today?