A quote from the Footjoy TV ad: ‘This is the shoe that took advancement to a new level.’
WTF does that mean?
I’m posting this an hour before Motherwell FC, my team and my curse, take the field to defend a two goal lead in the second leg of the play-off for a place in the Scottish Premiership next season. Their opponents, Rangers.
They will lose. Gary Lineker is credited with saying that the rules of football are simple. The game is played by teams of eleven a side and the Germans always win. There is a third rule that he overlooked. Motherwell never beat Rangers twice in a row.
The really terrible thing is that this time the Scottish game needs them to lose. We have to have Rangers back in the top flight, suitably humbled, yes, with lowered expectations, but Scottish football can’t do without them at that level.
If by some miracle,’Well do see them off this afternoon, the Gers face another year playing Hibs, St Mirren, Falkirk etc, another year of significant financial losses, and a steadily declining balance sheet. Sure, they now have Dave King as chairman. Yet I do not hear of Mr King, who is said to have blown twenty million in his previous association with the club, having put any of his own cash into the pot this time around. He does have significant equity in the business, but this was acquired from existing shareholders. His plan seems to be a share issue but this will be severely hampered if Rangers do remain in the second tier. What would he do then? Stump up his own money? I wonder.
And if not? Suppose, heaven forfend, that he doesn’t actually have as much folding money as the Scottish media believes. Is the great Govan monolith as safe as we are told? That’s why Rangers have to win in a couple of hours. Our game can’t afford to discover that it is not.
Predictive text on my iPad turns ‘Sepp’, into ‘Seppuku’, a form of ritual Japanse suicide by disembowellment. A little extreme, but understandable.
Wee bloke in the Scottish Cup presentation party yesterday; looked disturbingly like Sepp Blatter. Did you spot him?
Sometimes a TV ad is so bad that it makes you loathe the product, instinctively.
There is one such on the box at the moment, for a very dodgy home-selling website. It features two unpresentable guys pitching a very bad script, and offering an ill-defined proposition. It’s called Purple Bricks: easy to remember, rhymes with Pricks.
Of all the stats and facts thrown around in the last couple of Blatter-dominated days, one caught my attention more forcefully than the rest.
The island of Montserrat is a British protectorate in the West Indies. It has a population of 5125, although 8000 people left in 1995 because of the volcanoes. 9% are urbanised; the remainder are rural. Its capital is called Plymouth, although that was abandoned in 1997, because of those pesky volcanoes. It doesn’t have an army, and it is listed by the CIA as a transhipment point for illicit South American narcotics bound for the US and Europe. Its main industries are tourism (when the airport and seaports aren’t closed by the volcanoes) and rum. It also grows cabbages.
Montserrat has a football team. More than that, it has a Football Association. Its national team has only played a handful of matches, 25, at last count, and most of those were away from home . . .you guessed, because of the volcanoes. None of its international squad actually plays club football in Montserrat; the second top scorer in the current group, with one goal, half the total amassed by the top scorer, plays for Partick Thistle. Its most notable away performance came in a 2012 friendly against a Network Rail XI, staged at the ground of Charlton Athletic, when it held the fearsome railwaymen to a 4 — 4 draw.
Because of this stellar record, Montserrat is a member of FIFA, one of the 209. As such we must assume that it cast a vote in yesterday’s election . . . if we assume also that it could afford the flight and hotel for its delegate, although I’m pretty confident that if that was a problem someone speaking French or German with a Swiss accent would have picked up the tab.
Yes, a volcanic heap in the Leeward Islands has the same voting power as the football associations of China, india, Germany, England, Italy, Scotland etc.
When the FIFA revolution finally comes, and it will, the first priority must be reform of the voting system, so that it reflects the strength and status of each member. For example, the top-ranking nation, averaged across a presidential term, might be allocated 209 votes for its preferred candidate, the second 208, the third 207, and so on, down to Montserrat and Bhutan, who would be fighting it out to see which had two votes to cast for Blatter.
Watching Sky this morning I heard a quote from a newspaper, describing yesterday as ‘the darkest day in the history of football’.
That is, of course, nonsense. There have been many darker days; the Heysel Stadium disaster, Stairway 13 at Ibrox, the Munich air crash, Hillsborough, the Bradford fire, to name five tragedies in my lifetime alone.
Nobody died yesterday: but in the name of all those who did, at those terrible events, for no reason other than they were following their team or their occupation, something needs to be done. It’s an affront to them that the horrible little Swiss bastard is trying, even now, to cling to office through a disgustingly tainted voting system. He needs to go, even if it means tearing the whole structure down and rebuilding from scratch.
Yesterday I had a strange and unsolicited email from a person named Libby Barr, managing director of customer care with BT. She told me that she’d been snooping on my Broadband usage in Gullane and that my wireless connection wasn’t great. That wasn’t news to me. It’s so unreliable that I’ve been using powerline adaptors for almost a year. She told me also that I could buy a range extender from the BT online shop. I knew that too; in fact I have a range extender, a better model than BT sell. Its benefits are marginal.
The Libbster’s message also included the following gem:
“We want to make sure you’re getting the best from your BT services so we recently checked the data from your BT Home Hub to see how well everything’s working and saw that you might not be getting the best wireless connection to some of your devices. Don’t worry, we can’t see what you’re using the internet for – only how well it’s working.”
Nice to know, but it doesn’t explain how she was able to do that, since I haven’t been at home, nor used my broadband there, for over a month. Nor does it offer any form of recompense for BT’s self-confessed failings.
When I tried to quiz Libby about the content of her message and to express these concerns, I found that it is impossible to contact her. Instead I was referred to a section of the BT website labelled ‘Contact Us‘, where I was able to key in my questions. I did so, at some lengths, then pressed ‘Send‘, so be advised that missives had to be restricted to 240 characters. Undeterred, I asked a simpler question: ‘Are you a help desk or an extension of Twitter?‘ That led me to be connected with someone named Sweety Pathak, who thanked me for my patience, before I’d even shown any. This cued an even simpler question; ‘Do you speak English?‘ Sweety wasn’t sure, for her only response was further gratitude for my patience, at which point, I decided it was in fact exhausted.
Six years ago I read a book called ‘Foul!’ by a man named Andrew Jennings, a journalist on a mission to expose the shady dealings of FIFA, football’s notorious world governing body. Staggeringly, that title now appears to be out of print, but I expect to see it reappearing on the shelves very soon, after this morning’s events in Switzerland.
International football is a multi-million pound industry that has fallen into the hands of rogues. The cell doors in Zurich had barely clanged shut this morning, before FIFA’s Communications Director was on camera claiming bizarrely that it was a good day for his organisation, and that its congress and presidential election would go ahead as planned.
If that happens, the time has come surely for those with integrity in the sport to take action. FIFA’s main commercial sponsors should send a swift, clear message that they will pull out if the present regime is continued in office. The European federation, which is and always will be the financial engine room of the game, should back this up with a warning that they will withdraw from FIFA, and set up a rival administration. If they did that they would be joined very quickly by the South Americans, and probably Asia also.
The beautiful game is a corrupt laughing stock. It can’t go on.
Quote of the morning from Bruce Critchley, the veteran Sky golf commentator; ‘One should never wear brown shoes after six o’clock in the evening.’
To my mind there are two ways of looking at Bruce. He’s either a national treasure or he’s an annoying old twat. I know which camp I’m in.
So I was wrong about Mr Tristram Hunt coming t through to lead the Labour Party. I guess that the cousin of a former Tory Cabinet Minister would have been a step too far. That leaves us with three likely candidates, since Mary Creagh may not clear the threshold of 35 nominees among the parliamentary party.
I’ve been looking at the CVs of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. Apart from their Oxbridge link, they have one other common trait, and that is minimal experience of the working world outside the political sphere. Liz Kendall does list a spell as director of the Ambulance Services Network, but even after a good rummage in the NHS website, I’m not exactly certain what that is. If Mary Creagh does make the list, she will add experience as a lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Cranfield Management College. How one can hold such a post on the back of a modern languages degree followed by a stint as a volunteer in the European Parliament and then a post with the European Youth Forum, and without every having been an entrepreneur, well, that rather beats me.
My point is this. These people all want to be Prime Minister, yet none of them seems to have any real practical work experience outside their very limited, enclosed little world. Surely there is room for a public examination of the credentials of everyone who aspires to be leader of a national political party. If there were, I suspect that most of the candidates would fail.
One election behind us and another looming.
Who will be the next Leader of the Opposition? I’d have put my money on Chuka Umunna until it emerged that he wasn’t backing himself. The bookies are saying Andy Burnham, but his association with the ogre Len McCluskey may cost him. Yvette Cooper is second favourite but her association with her husband, rejected by the electorate two weeks ago, will surely taint her. The coming man is said to be Tristram Hunt, but a quick glance at his CV reveals him as ‘Tony Light’ or even ‘Tory Light’, take your pick. Then there are the outsiders Liz Kendall, and Mary Creagh, of whom the less known the better.
I won’t be taking up Harriet Harman’s invitation to register to vote in the election, but I have taken a look at the background of the five potential candidates. At once an interesting common fact grabbed my attention: each one of them is a Oxbridge graduate. Only Chuka does not have a degree from either Oxford or Cambridge, but his name won’t be on the ballot.
If I was a Labour supporter, that’s a mould I’d be trying to break. The People’s Party seems to be no more; it has become as elitist as the crowd across the floor of the Commons, and there is nobody on offer who is going to reverse that trend, especially not Mr Hunt, the man I suspect may win out in the end and whose personal manifesto seems to be ‘Let’s pick the best bits of Conservative policy and copy it.’
If there was a second election next month, and the SNP fielded candidates in every UK constituency, running on an out and out left wing manifesto, how would it do? Very well, I suspect.
Still on TV and still on Sky; I have confessed in the past to being addicted to Game of Thrones, but Monday’s episode may have turned me off. No, I don’t mean the debate of the value of a dwarf’s appendage as an alternative medicine . . . ‘Okay the dwarf lives until we find a cock merchant!’ That was funny.
It was the scene at the end that did for me, where Sonsa Stark, after surviving heroically for four and a half series finally meets a fate worse than death at the hands of the unspeakably beastly Ramsay. If I carry on watching it will be in the hope that one day, the psychotic bridegroom is handed over to the aforementioned trader in body parts, unless, of course Brienne gets to him first.
Last night saw the end of a Sky original series called Critical. I saw most of the episodes, although there were one or two points when I averted my gaze from the effects department’s latest creation on the operating table. For those of you who only know of a clam shell as a crustacean’s house, best leave it that way.
‘Real-time drama’ they called it, without ever really explaining what the clock was for. Once it got moving, it was all pretty predictable, part from the horrors self-inflicted on poor old Lorraine. In the final episode, you knew from fairly early on that the accident victim wasn’t going leave the scene with two legs. You knew that Glen wasn’t going to drive into the night and out of the action, that he would be back for an enigmatic reunion with Fiona, and probably for a second series.
And yet I watched it to the end. Why? I have Lenny James to thank for that. The man is an absolute star and he can play Skinner any time he likes.
Haven’t heard in a while from the Senator in Arizona. How are you doing, Ma’am?
Labour in Scotland is in a mess of unimaginable proportions. It is lost, leaderless and possibly irrelevant having been replaced as Scotland’s leading left of centre party by the SNP. The front runner for the national leadership gave a very clear hint on TV yesterday that he wouldn’t mind if it was cut adrift.
If it is to survive as anything meaningful, it needs a new, strong helmsman and needs him fast. His tenure needn’t last long. The job is to renew the failed party’s faith in itself, to point the way forward and rebuild it as a campaigning unit. He’ll shout me down for suggesting this but my candidate for that task would be my friend George Foulkes. He has integrity, experience, ability, and he takes no prisoners.
He may be 70+, but if I had any wish to save the Labour Party in Scotland, which I don’t, he’d be the guy I’d choose.
I have arrived at a turning point in my life. Yesterday. Motherwell FC, my team since I was a little lad, were condemned to a play-off to determine whether they are relegated from the Scottish Premier League, or whatever the bloody thing is called this week, a competition so charismatic that it can’t find any sponsor willing to have its name associated with it commercially. There is no realistic prospect that ‘Well will emerge victorious, regardless of the opposition. The club is going down, to what is called illogically the Championship, and who knows what lies in wait beyond that, maybe even relegation to the Highland League in the fullness of time.
For me the terrible thing is not that. It is not the prospect of weary journeys to Forfar or Falkirk, or even scenic Brora . . . not that I’d be going. No, it is this; after sixty-five years of loyalty, (this is a man who, aged seven, gave up the chance to see the now legendary Stanley Matthews FA Cup final on TV to stand on he terraces and watch Motherwell Reserves) I find today that I do not give a good Goddamn.
(No, I’m not going to explain the relevance of the title of this post: work it out.)
Harking back to the Kevin Pietersen business one last time, a thought occurred to me as I lay awake early this morning listening to the Mother of all Tramuntanas. Wouldn’t it have been simple, and at no cost to whatever personal code of honour drives Andrew Strauss for him to put a proposition to KP?
The Enfant Terrible isn’t an Enfant any longer. Very soon he’ll be 35, an age at which most top batsmen have opted out of at least one form of the game, to prolong their careers. So why didn’t Strauss say something along the lines of, ‘Look Kev, why not get us both off the hook by announcing your retirement from Test cricket on grounds of age and self-preservation, and we’ll pick you for the short form England teams, which are in dire need of help.’