Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Stupid Americans FC News

I'm now a contributor to the Stupid Americans FC site. The latest news piece is online now but here's one you may have missed

Kris Boyd's Shorts

The news that Kris Boyd had make a shock return to the Scottish international set up must have had tent makers and camping supplies merchants all over Glasgow overjoyed. For it is only those fine fellows that would have the requisite material to produce shorts for the striker now plying his trade at Kilmarnock. It’s not that Boyd is a fat man – although he’s never shied away from a second helping by the look of him – it’s just that he is a big man who wears BIG shorts. Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock…now there was a fat footballer who wore massive shorts. But Boyd seems to have decided that not an inch of flesh should be seen while he is on the pitch. Such a demure attitude to dress is not expected in the professional leagues these days so I for one applaud Boyd and his continued fight to keep the cloth makers of Scotland in business. Still doesn’t make him any good mind.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Stupid News

I'm now a regular contributor to Stupid Americans FC and landed them two massive scoops not picked up on by the rest of the football press - they're here






Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Stupid Americans

I've written a deeply insightful piece about the fortunes of Joe Hart and the possible reason behind his drop in form*

You can read it here - Joe Hart


* this may not be completely true

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Cheers Craig


Tonight marks the end of the international career of Craig Bellamy. He’ll collect his 78th cap in Belgium and bid nos da to 15 years of representing Wales. A lot has been said about his temper, his ego and his goal celebrations but one thing that I think can’t be argued about has been his passion for playing for his country.



My favourite memory of Bellamy in Welsh red is jumping up and down at the back of the stand at the Millennium Stadium as he darted away from a shell-shocked Italian defence (to be honest, Manic Street Preachers playing as they trotted onto the pitch before the game had thrown them) to round Buffon and complete a, still hard to believe, 2-1 victory. 

There are, of course, countless stories of arrests, fights (with fellow players and civilians alike) and bust ups with managers that have, in my opinion, unfairly soured the general consensus about one of the best players in recent Welsh history. Although not in the same class as Ryan Giggs, it is unfortunate that a player like Bellamy has not played in a Euro or World finals – and the likes of Danny Mills have. As with all big names in Welsh football he has sometimes been accused of ‘missing’ games but Bellamy has had his injuries over the years and I don’t think you could accuse him of not caring. 

Bellamy has always believed he is the greatest player in the world and however misguided that is he has always given 100% and expected his teammates to do the same. Retiring from the international game should add a couple of years to his career and also means he doesn’t have to put up with any more qualification disappointments (as a player anyway). 

So farewell Craig, hopefully this new batch of young hopefuls will use your passion as an example, fulfilling all our dreams by qualifying for a tournament. And if nothing else convinces you of the greatness of the man, remember this - he also thought Alan Shearer was a soft twat.

Friday, 20 September 2013

I Get Everywhere!

I wouldn't call myself an expert in the area but Rude Magazine have included a link to my piece 'A Man's Guide to Lingerie' on the very talented Ayten Gasson site

http://www.rudemagazine.co.uk/features/who-made-your-pants.php


Friday, 16 August 2013

Getting Shirty

Here's something I wrote about replica kits for the excellent 90 Second Football Blog - a very efficient use of your time i'll think you agree

Get Your Kits Out For The Boys


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A Few Thoughts On The State Of Football



I was all set up to write a poignant article about my son and his entrance into the world of football until I sat down and came out with this melodramatically maudlin piece...

So a new season begins. The annual feeling of hope and belief in the face of, soon to be, inevitable despair. I’ve been a football fan for longer than most professionals plying their trade have been alive – by a longer amount of time than I’d care to admit. And something’s changed. My team will buy a few players that I’ve never heard of giving me a sense that maybe this will be the year that we are promoted to the ‘promised land’. But then I wonder do I even want to be part of the promised land with its shining Premier league arm badges? The simple love of the game has gone amid the cynicism and greed that seems to fester in the very core of English football. But this doesn’t seem to be the case elsewhere. 



The often celebrated Bundesliga seems to have their priorities a little bit more in check. Fans still have a say and clubs seem to respect their feelings. I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to find a disgruntled Schalke fan bemoaning the latent greed in the German game but they appear to be on more of a right track – and the league is successful. I find it even easier to get excited about less vaunted leagues with fewer superstars. The MLS is a good case in point. Coming from the home of capitalism it seems odd that Major League Soccer seems to be a somewhat purer form of the game than what we have here in England. Maybe it’s the relative newness of the league and clubs, but the fans seem genuinely excited, not yet jaded, with this exciting and wonderful game. Fan groups may look towards Europe and South America for how to behave and conduct themselves but the spirit shown by fans at some of these games outweighs the comparatively lower skill level shown on the pitch. And that’s what seems to be the problem in this country. Fans have expectation levels so far out of reality that they will never be happy. 

The number of sides that can win the Premier League can be counted on one hand – with fingers to spare. Yet clubs up and down the country fall over themselves to pay exorbitant transfer fees and wages to land players who may be to catapult them to greatness. Most clubs don’t even seem to be embarrassed that it’s well known that they don’t believe they can win the league. And when they manage to qualify for Europe they refuse to take the competition seriously meaning that the entire preceding season was a colossal waste of time. 

I suppose what I’m saying is that I think I’ve fallen out of love a bit with English football. I’m sure as the season goes on my fondness will be rekindled but it’s definitely not what it was. And to reverse the old relationship cliché – it’s not me…it’s you.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Dowse Design

There's an excellent new shop in Hove called Dowse Design and I would like to buy approximately 90% of the stuff they sell. Here's a piece I wrote for The Holborn about it.

The Holborn - Dowse Design


Monday, 24 June 2013

Confederations Cup

I recently discovered a great new blog called The 90 Second Football Blog and liked it so much I thought I'd offer to write something for it. They foolishly agreed so here's a piece I wrote about the Confederations Cup (warning - this article does contain Robbie Savage)

The 90 Second Football Blog


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Beach Huts

Something I wrote about the simple beauty of Brighton's beach huts for the always elegant fellows at The Holborn - Beach Huts


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cascadia

Here's a link to something i wrote for the excellent In Bed With Maradona site about football fans in the Cascadia region of the United States and their work towards realising their dream of a representative side - Cascadia


Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Mylo

I have an amazing nephew. It changes all the time but at the minute he seems to be into battling, swords, Disney films and stylish bow ties. He's big on his DIY and tools and knows what a claw hammer is. Top of his wish list last Christmas was "a real sword". My brother and wife struggled with that one. He's funny, energetic and a great companion if you're into monster hunting. But the real reason that he's amazing is that he is here at all. Mylo was born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, or CDH.

Mylo soon after he was born

 The diaphragm normally develops in the unborn baby by around the 7-10 week gestation period of the baby’s development and CDH occurs when the diaphragm fails to form correctly or fails to develop in the unborn baby, allowing the abdominal contents to herniate into the chest cavity. Mylo's operation - performed as soon as he was born - and treatment was successful and he has just celebrated his fourth birthday. However, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia is an often fatal birth defect affecting 1 in 2,500-3,000 babies. There is no known cause or prevention and treatment remains medically challenging. Around 50% of babies born with CDH do not survive. Of the 50% that do survive, many of these babies will face varying degrees of medical problems throughout their lives. CDH UK is a registered charity that supports babies, children and their families affected by CDH, campaigns for study and research into the cause, prevention and better treatments of CDH and raises awareness of this devastating condition.

In less than two weeks my brother and a group of fellow adventurers are embarking on a bike ride from London to Paris to raise money for CDH UK. The fact that my brother didn't even have a bike when he agreed to the challenge probably tells you all you need to know about how ready he was for the journey. The support of friends who are joining him for the ride has been amazing and I look forward to waving them off from Newhaven on Saturday May 11th. I also look forward to seeing whether my brother will be able to walk on his return to these shores and if he ever wants to as much as look at a bike ever again.

This fearless group of cyclists have already raised nearly £4,000 for this great cause but if you have any spare change I'm sure they would really appreciate it if you could help them towards their goal. Here's the link to the donation page: Mylo's Bike Ride

I've always known I have an amazing nephew. Now it looks like I have an amazing kid brother as well. Thank you for taking time to read this today.

Mylo today

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A Few Thoughts on Broadchurch



So it was the detective’s husband. Although most media reviews have gone big on the fact that only 29 people in the world knew the outcome, most people seemed to have a pretty good idea who the killer was before last night’s final episode of Broadchurch.

Critics have fallen over themselves to praise the ITV drama, heralding it as the British television event of the year so far. And one of the themes that nearly all reviews and previews went with was that it was Britain’s answer to The Killing and the rest of the Scandinavian crime drama wave that has proved so popular over the last few years. Now Broadchurch, and David Tennant in particular, was very good but I think the critics have got a little carried away with their praise.

There were elements of Scandi-noir in Broadchurch – especially using the setting as a character in its own right. This is something that writer Chris Chibnall has said was uppermost in his mind after moving to Dorset himself. But if anything it is unfair to compare Broadchurch to The Killing or The Bridge. The shadowy, rain sodden settings for Swedish or Danish dramas give those shows their own distinct style. Broadchurch used its small town setting as a major plot device to show that evil is not confined to the inner cities.


 


 Spot the difference?





As much as I enjoyed Broadchurch there were a few things that made me question the uniformly gushing reviews. The red herrings weren’t really a problem – and nothing compared to the first series of The Killing – and most story lines were tied up. There was though, especially in the first few episodes, a certain amount of overacting. Pauline Quirke’s character was immediately discounted as the murderer in my household due to her ‘creepy, I’m a murderer me’ staring. And it did feel a little ‘Midsomer Murders’ as the camera lingered on the characters staring mysteriously into the distance after an encounter with any of the detectives. Apart from the lead characters the rest of the cast were nothing special and the series really didn’t need to be eight episodes long. Five or six at most would have been sufficient.

Broadchurch was good though and I did look forward to the next episode every week. It will probably do well when it comes to awards but it should be enjoyed on its own merits and not compared to superior dramas. At the end of last night’s finale we were told that Broadchurch will return. It is difficult to see how this would work. The standout performances were the two lead detectives but with David Tennant’s character medically unfit to work and Olivia Colman’s dealing with her husband’s crime it is hard to see what the premise of a second series will be.

Maybe a second series was always part of the plan but it felt like someone at ITV had seen the ratings for this series and decided that the show must go on. It would be better for ITV to continue to find gems like Broadchurch rather than ruin the show by using the name to sell inferior television. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

A Few Thoughts on Cardiff's Promotion

When I was at university I used to get along to the old Ninian Park to watch Cardiff City in the old fourth division. Although some of their fans were a little 'boistorous', we always had a great time watching the likes of Nathan Blake and, after I left south Wales, I would still look out for their results. The Bluebirds did a bit better after I left and have now been promoted to the Premier League. But at what cost?

Everyone knows the story of how the fans heard rumours of a kit change/rebranding at the end of last season and then were told they were just that - rumours. And how the new Malaysian owners went ahead with the changes anyway, virtually holding the club to ransom by holding back sorely needed investment if their wishes weren't met. The bluebird on the badge was relegated to very much second fiddle to the Welsh dragon - which co-incidentally is considered good luck in the far east. Red was also seen to be much more in keeping with promoting the Cardiff brand overseas so decades of tradition were discarded in the race for cash and glory.


When I first heard of these changes at the start of the season I thought that Cardiff fans would never accept this. That a group of supporters calling themselves BLUEbirds would never allow their club to be rebranded in such a way. There has been some protest and a number of fans have turned their backs on the club declaring that it was not theirs anymore. A few more saw the handing out of free red scarves at a recent home match against Brighton as the last straw (an important fact to note here is that there was no mention of the word 'City' on these freebies). But, by and large, the Cardiff fans have accepted the new look.

I congratulate the team and Malky Mackay for achieving promotion, especially after season after season of coming up just short. But what I feel more than anything else is disappointment. Disappointment in the fans of Cardiff City. Years of tradition have been thrown away for a chance to scrap around for 18th place in the greatest league in the world TM. Who knows what further rebranding will take place over the summer. Cardiff Dragons? FC Cardiff Malaysia?

Maybe if Cardiff get relegated next season more fans will feel the need to question the owners over their decisions and try to take back the club they used to support. One thing is for sure though, the clock cannot be turned back. Cardiff are not the Bluebirds anymore. It is questionable whether they are even the same club.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Bread and Milk

The Holborn is an excellent website, podcast and (soon to be) magazine all about "heritage, style and hard work". I wrote about an excellent coffee shop in Brighton for them

Bread and Milk

A Man's Guide to Lingerie

Here's a piece I did for Ayten Gasson detailing my immense knowledge of lingerie - and the things that all men need to know

A Man's Guide to Buying Lingerie

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Coleman in Correct Decision Shocker



Chris Coleman has been portrayed as stamping his own personality and authority on the Wales national team by stripping the captaincy (captaincies are always ‘stripped’) from Aaron Ramsey. At the same time he’s told Craig Bellamy to make up his mind about playing for his country again. Wales fans may shudder at the all too familiar prospect of the national coach risking the ire of the country’s best players by issuing ultimatums. With Chris Coleman still awaiting his first victory this could easily be seen as a bold move – if not foolhardy. But that doesn’t mean that, in this case, that his move is a bad one.
The Ramsey decision will probably be seen as a bigger deal of the two. But this is where I think Coleman has got it completely right. When Ramsey first burst onto the scene as a teenager at Cardiff he was seen as many to be THE future of Welsh football. A star in the making that, unlike Wales’ traditional superstars, could actually run a game from the middle of the pitch and not be let down by the less skillfull members of the side. The British (see English) media became aware of him on a larger scale when he ran England’s midfield ragged in the U21 European Championship play-off games in 2008 – capped by a great goal at Villa Park in the second leg. 


I would argue that his level of influence and skill are not at the same level now. The main reason for this, of course, is the terrible double fracture he endured playing for Arsenal against Stoke in 2010. But, as is the way with Wales, he is still looked at as a saviour - a player who can take the nation to the promised land. Brazil in 2014 to be precise. This is both incorrect and unfair to Ramsey. The pressure of captaining the side only made it worse. This is a view I’ve held for a while but was strengthened by watching him in two recent games. As part of the Great Britain Olympic side that went out of the competition at the hands of South Korea he constantly looked like he wanted much more time on the ball than he actually had and made a string of poorly conceived passes that gave away possession. The fact that he missed a penalty that would have taken Team GB undeservedly through to the semis just topped off his night.
Against Belgium in the recent World Cup qualifier in Cardiff he again took far too much time and repeatedly gave the ball away. Although Belgium were nowhere near as impressive as their team of superstars had promised, Ramsey failed to inspire a side (admittedly on the back foot after James Collins’ red card) that desperately needed their ‘star’ player to start the qualification group off on a positive note. The fact that Ramsey is unable to hide his frustration with himself when misplacing passes just goes to prove that he knows that he is not performing as well he used to.
Of course this being Wales there is no way that he should be dropped as he is still a Premiership star in a team of lesser players. But taking away the captaincy may take some pressure off of his very young shoulders and help him concentrate on his game - hopefully resulting in Ramsey rediscovering the form that made him one of the best young midfielders in Britain just four years ago.

Older Pieces

I've a got a few things that I've written that would have been uploaded here if it had existed. From time to time I'll upload them in a 'classics-you-have-missed' kind of deal. Or something. Anyway, here's a short piece about Aaron Ramsey being relieved of his duties as captain of Wales.

Some archived content

Here's a few links for articles I was commissioned by Content On Demand to write for online health site Healthspan:

Are Eggshells the Answer to Alleviating Joint Pain?

Stop Knee Pain Holding You Back

Herbal Medicine Week

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Welcome

All praise due to the internet! No longer will I have scraps of paper lying around my house containing my collected thoughts and ramblings. Now I can keep them all in one handy place and share them with the world. Lucky world.