Friday, June 30, 2006

Day Twenty-Two

The nation awakes to the headline "Lampard Injured" but sadly falls asleep again at this false dawn and comes round to the news that he's "Expected To Be Fit For Portugal". Bollocks. No disrespect to the man, but he's playing like a complete wanker ATM and is taking up a place that could be occupied by a real footballer.

The first two quarter-finals are today - I'll be rooting for the Germans this afternoon...

More later, perhaps.

UPDATE: Germany are through! JL1 is the hero! Cracking entertainment, I have to say, and a great result for the competition. Italy vs Ukraine is boring the living daylights out of me, but one good result a day is cool by me. Mark Lawrenson has just come up with "can't wait to see Shevchenko in the Premiership, he's a real winner". If Chelski can follow the man's example and get beaten 3 - 0 every time he's "this good" then that'll be fine AFAIAC.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Day Twenty-One

Bit of a wasted day yesterday, three hours sitting around railway stations, five and a bit hours on trains all to attend a meeting that had been cancelled by the time I arrived (on time) for it. I also had possibly the worst Burger King Whopper with Cheese ever made (well at least since the last one I had at the same outlet at Paddington Station). If Burger King have a QC department they might want to take a look at that place - burgers aren't difficult to make and can be truly awesome but if you use ingredients that are clearly several days past their "best before" dates the resultant item is likely to be fairly horrid. And it was. Oh yes indeed.

Nothing at all going on on the football front, maybe someone'll make some news up tomorrow...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Day Eighteen

Well the World Cup street party goes on for England and I have to say, England football performances aside, it's been absolutely great so far. Yesterday was no exception, no traffic on the roads during the game then kids and adults alike out waving flags and partying late into the night. Wonderful stuff!

The game itself? Better in the second half, I thought. Rooney had a fair stab at playing the lone striker role, but which really doesn't suit him at all. Otherwise I thought England, with the notable exception of the frankly abysmal Lampard, looked a fair bit better than in previous games. I'm still not convinced by Robinson, who seems to be gaining weight in the heat rather than losing it, but the alternatives are no more convincing so I guess we'll have to keep on with him.

Roll on Saturday!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Day Fourteen

Horrendous day at work, but then that's what I'm paid for so I won't moan. Not too much, anyway.

Cracking game this evening - Australia vs Croatia - a real cup game and if this is a taster for what's to come then I can't wait.

In other news, the Italian match-fixing scandal investigations are coming on apace. This one could have very, very wide ranging repurcussions, I suspect. More on this in the morning, I have chicken [1] to cook right now.

[1] A misleading description. This stuff came from Tescos and appears merely to be some form of unidentifiable organic matter (and not much of it) suspended in water (lots of this). If I have to add much more oil to cook the stuff I'm in danger of inviting an American invasion of Shepton [2]. Note to self: you really must shop somewhere else in future.

[2] Yes, I am aware that Shepton prison was an American military prison for some years and that they carried out executions there (every executed man being black, IIRC). This, however, isn't meant to be a political blog...

UPDATE: Re [2] above, "their racial mix was :11 African American, 3 Latino and 4 white and it is thought that their average age was 21.5 years" - this is taken from an article you can find here. You may also find this interesting, too.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

England vs Sweden

Well here we go again. We really do need at least a point. Rooney and Owen up front, Hargreaves and Lampard in midfield, Carragher at right back. I have to say, with the exception of Citizen Neville for Carragher and Gerrard for Lampard this is the team I would have picked. Go for it lads!

1:00 Owen appears to be in agony, he's rolled off the pitch, looks like his knee's gone. Lewin's immediately called for a substitution, Crouch is coming on.

10:00 England look OK. The straight 4-4-2 makes sense and the midfield certainly looks better than it has in the last two games. I reckon we'll win this one but any more injuries or cards could play havoc in the next game.

15:30 Fine cross from Joe Cole, Crouch couldn't get to it (too high!). This looks like a Premiership game and England are playing, as you might therefore expect, well.

19:00 Owen's off for a scan tomorrow, looks like it may be just a twist rather than ligament damage. Still won't help Sven explain his extraordinary choice (and use) of strikers if we don't win the thing. Not that he'll then care, I expect. Never mind the quality, feel the pay packet.

23:30 Another chance for Crouch either to go for goal or to set someone else up, as against Trinidad & Tobago he did neither.

24:30 Good chance for Rooney contrived by Beckham, well defended.

31:00 Sweden coming forward. We look so much more solid with Hargreaves in the team - perhaps today's performance (if he keeps it up) will persuade the IN-GER-LAND lager crew that there's more to being a good international footballer than playing for Chelski.

33:10 Enland score! Joe Cole! Great goal, whacked in from miles (and no this doesn't justify the Chelski thing).

38:10 Absolutely great tackle in the area by Ferdinand on FL8. Ferdinand's having a fine game: the new formation is helping a lot, methinks.

39:30 Over the bar from Lampard. Unusual...

41:50 England corner. Half-heartedly cleared a couple of times resulting in a Rooney shot over the bar.

Half Time: 1 - 0 to England. Good performance so far, standout players for me are Joe Cole and Owen Hargreaves. Lampard is now looking out of his depth in what is otherwise a genuinely world-class midfield. To be fair to the man he's trying very hard but he's just not up to it. If we play the same lot in midfield next game with Stevie G taking Lampard's place we'll really be getting somewhere.

No Half Time changes, off we go...

50:03 Sweden score! Good header from a corner, defending none too clever, came close to the goal and you have to wonder what the keeper was up to. Not catching the thing, that's for sure.

54:00 Off the English crossbar! Swedish corner... eventually goes out of play in our favour but we're on the ropes ATM.

55:32 Ferdinand limps off, SC23 on. This ain't great news either, though at least SC23 scores from time to time.

58:49 Another Swedish shot clips off the bar. We're looking in trouble now.

60:00 Rooney's looking tired - what on Earth does Sven do now, having been forced to use two subs? Frankly I'd like to see TW32 on, we need strikers on the pitch but we really don't need the Granny Shagger injured/knackered. This is the sort of decision that separates the managerial men from the boys, but it's also the sort of decision Svennis tends to bottle. Time to stand up and be counted, IMHO.

61:50 Great tackle in the area by SC23, the big man's playing well.

68:30 Svennis brings on Gerrard for Rooney. Makes no fucking sense to me but then I'm not paid several million quid a year to screw England's chances of progressing in this tournament.

71:09 Cleared off the English line by Gerrard. If our luck continues like this we'll have a good chance despite Svennis.

74:30 AC3 clears on the right. He's doing a lot of this. Where the fuck is Carragher? I quite like Brainiac's idea of playing Lennon in midfield and Beckham at right back. Think about it...

76:02 There's no one upfield at all for us when Sweden have the ball in our half. What started so well is looking horribly wrong now and it's just down to inept substitutions. Mind you, we only started with a good team by accident.

84:44 England score! Gerrard, great header! I have to say though this puts a false gloss on things, we're still not looking convincing and Lampard's getting worse as the game goes on.

89:47 Sweden score! Well no surprise really; Larson gets it after some awful defending.

FULL TIME: 2- 2. Well we got what we needed, if not what we wanted. Plus side? We're not playing Germany in the next round and Joe Cole and Owen Hargreaves looked very good indeed. Down side? Svennis' decision to take two unfit strikers looks to be backfiring and Lampard looks more of a liability than an asset, which wouldn't be so much of an issue if you didn't know Svennis won't drop him. We really could win this thing, thanks to Svennis I don't think we will. I hope I'm wrong.

Please Feed The Loony

No doubt you've got a mobile phone, or indeed several, and look at the thing from time to time thinking "I wish that logo screen were a mite more surreal". Up til now there's been little you can do about it... Hurrah for Mr Fisher! Visit his all-singing-all-dancing mobile wallpaper site here for more weird backgrounds than you could shake a ferret at. You know you want one...

Day Twelve

England vs Sweden tonight. The Carne Asada's festering away in the fridge, the beer's chilling and the sun's looking like it might put in an appearance. Not a lot of news this early in the day, but there's an (oddly out-of-focus) picture of the new Arsenal home strip on the official website. Looks pretty good, 70s style retro which should appeal to Geoff. You can preorder from mid-July, if you do this your shirt will come with a free DVD of last season's 7-0 dubbing of Boro. Sounds like a deal.

UPDATE: Well we now know who England will get in the next round: a win or a draw tonight will see us play Ecuador, defeat will leave us facing the Germans. Let's not lose, eh?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Day Eleven

Great weekend, thanks very much, how was yours? Slightly muzzy head again this morning, I think it's something to do with Brizzle opening hours.

BBQ Time, Somewhere near Bristol

A couple of interesting results over the weekend, particular highlights being the Ghana and USA ones. Togo vs Switzerland is on in a moment or two - not that I'll see much of it as I have my back to the screen. More later, perhaps.

UPDATE: No surprises in the early games but Spain vs Tunisia is currently rather fun, it being 0 - 1 after 65 minutes. FF15's been brought on... Raul's get Spain back in it with a knock-in after the keeper parried FF15's shot, 72 minutes gone... Well that should do it, Torres has scored, set up by FF15 with a very fine pass... Spain are looking like a very good team now, FF15 has made a vast difference, as has Raul... Another fine pass by FF15 and Torres fucks up a sitter, they get a corner out of it though... Penalty to Spain, Torres held down jumping for a header, Torres takes it himself and scores, though the keeper got a fair bit on it, Torres was decidedly lucky... And that's it. The scoreline flatters Spain slightly, in that they had a fair bit of help from the Tunisian keeper, but that's not going to show up in the record books. If the Spanish coach has the bottle to start a game with the team that finished this one then they'd be a force to be concerned about, IMHO. Something tells me he'll go back to Plan A for the next one, though. We shall see.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Day Eight

Another England performance of excruciating ineptitude, another three points. We're through to the next round, at which stage we are likely to be making our exit unless Svennis and his lads can come up with something more closely resembling a performance by a team of top-flight footballers than that of a Sunday morning pub team after a particularly good Saturday night.

The Charlton Inn, Shepton

Friday today (just to remind those confused by having to live by numbered days) which is a good thing, IMHO.


UPDATE: Mexico 0 Angola 0 What a fantastic result! 10-man Angola get their first ever point in World Cup Finals football (well it is their first time in the tournament)! Man of the Match: the Angolan 'keeper, great, great game! It's this sort of game that makes this competition so very wonderful. Roll on Saturday (that's Day Nine to you)!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Day Seven

England play Trinidad & Tobago today. Loads of people at work in England shirts today, excitement abounds. We'll be watching the match in The Thatch tonight I think, general opinion has it that The Charlton is going to unbearably full. Best I phone the bank for a loan, The Thatch isn't exactly cheap.

Latest news on the Granny Shagger is that he's going to be examined by an independent medical bod some time today. It's all getting very silly. The Beeb site is joining in with a build-up page which is basically various journos and managers engaged in a will he/won't he debate (well not really a debate, more a listing of opinions).

One player who won't be taking part is Citizen Neville, who's out for 10 days. This gives Svennis the chance to piss the nation off by picking the ever-popular Hargreaves to play out of position again. I wish he'd give the poor guy a full game as a holding midfielder so everyone can see what he's actually about. Good for the team, too.

UPDATE: Rooney has been passed fit to take some part in today's game. I have a strange feeling that one way or the other it'll be a short appearance, but then I'm very often wrong.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Day Six

A fine evening drinking in Brizzle has left me somewhat muzzy-headed this morning and it's busy here to boot :(

Very very little on the footy gossip front today, the red tops seem to have given up making things up. It looks, though, as if Sven won't be picking the Granny Shagger tomorrow in case he gets sued by Man USA. This is getting ridiculous.

Spain vs Ukraine is first up today, might be a good 'un, methinks.

UPDATE: Three really entertaining games today, IMHO. The excellent quality of the refereeing is helping a lot, I think.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Day Five

Not sure how long I can put up with this "numbered day" malarky, but everyone's doing it so I think I'll go with the flow for the moment. There's a bit of Arsenal interest today with TH14, PS20 and JD36 involved in the France - Switzerland game and EA25 likely to be turning out for Togo.

Under the simply appalling headline "Don't Do A Gazza Wazza" the Sun wonders if the Granny Shagger is in danger of a "G8"-style self-inflicted injury. I have to say that if he doesn't put a lid on it there's a very fair chance that his next appearance will be a very short one, either as a result of said self-inflicted injury or through a red card. I guess the latter option would at least keep Sir Red Face happy.

Not a lot of other news so far, maybe some updates later :)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Day Four

Just watched the Czechs beat the USA very comfortably. Rosicky was great and scored a couple of very, very good goals. A fabulous buy for us, I have to say - I'm not surprised AW was keen to sign him before the competition began.

Being ancient I lack the stamina to give you the full run down on every bloody game, the very fine Mr Prior can provide this service, though, so check out his site at World Cup Nutcase.

Weekend Round Up

Well England made it, if somewhat unconvincingly. Never mind, it's three points. I'm more than a little concerned that the Lampard/Gerrard thing really isn't working - personally I'd opt for Hargreaves/Gerrard but I don't suppose I'll be in the majority on that one.

The Bell, Shepton

Not a whole lot else has really caught the eye, I have to say, though Marquez for Mexico was superb and the Angolans brought a smile to the face.

The Bell, Shepton

Great weekend, good company, loads of beer and good food. What more could you want? Check some of it out at the excellent Hardcore Booze.

Have a great week!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Day One Round Up

Exciting, isn't it :) There are certainly going to be a few goals, the new ball looks well weird. Flies fine, but bounces like a "normal" ball on AstroTurf. Goalkeepers aren't the only ones who need to worry about this ball...

Germany 4 Costa Rica 2

Hey! Goals in an opening match! Entertaining game, unless you're a German defender.

GunnerWatch: JL1 had a decent game, particularly if you consider what's in front of him.

Poland 0 Ecuador 2

The pundits would have us believe this is a "bit of a shock result", which suggests they've seen Poland since the '70s about as often as I have. Thoroughly deserved result, even if Poland's use of the new "super-accurate ball" suggests they've been practicing hitting the woodwork.


I think it's been a fine first day. I've been particularly impressed with the refereeing, which I think has been both competent and sensible. I had thought we might get the usual glut of "FIFA says I must" cards, but, no, the men in the middle have done a very fine job. If their colleagues can keep this standard up then we're in for a good tournament.

'Ere We Go

So the World Cup starts today. Cracking stuff!

I'll be watching tomorrow's England game in The Bell, so if you fancy a jar or three I'll see you there.

Come on England!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

By George, That's Tacky

The flags are up. They do look more than a little tacky, I have to say, which is how it should be. We can't find anywhere to stick up our wall-planner thing, though...

The Mighty Foot has been scanned, no news yet on the outcome, there may well be no news before the morning. Yawn...

UPDATE: Well he's gone back to join the squad. The decision on whether he should go would appear to have been something of a close call and the best that anyone who knows what's going on has come up with is "there's a good chance he'll be ready after the group stage". This doesn't sound to me anything like "he's fully fit" and I really don't think risking him is in England's or his, for that matter, interests.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tuesday Update

Well, there isn't one really, since there's not been too much going on on the footy front. We're in a sort of lull-before-the-World-Cup-storm at the moment and even the transfer speculation has dried up.

I believe we're stuffing flags up in the office tomorrow. Cool.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

England vs Jamaica

Svennis' last match on "home" soil. I wish I were there, the atmosphere before the game looks really great and I'd love to have a go at some of that Jamaican BBQ stuff they're all cooking up. It's got all the makings of a fun game in the summer sun. Bring it on!

On the footy side, we're back to 4-4-2. National sigh of relief? This looks like his first choice XI barring the absence of Citizen Neville and The Granny Shagger - Carragher's in for Neville, as good a second-choice as you could have, he'd be a first-choice in most sides. On paper this is a very good team indeed.

Owen really needs to get his act together today. He's up there with Crouch, which realistically should suit Owen down to the ground. If he fucks up again, though, will Svennis drop him? Actually, I think he might...

BBC coverage is so far crap as usual, why the fuck do I have to pay money for this nonsense? [1]

Here we go! Rock 'n' Roll!

2:00 Well Jamaica are playing well, look like they're up for it and certainly aren't taking prisoners. Might not be a bad idea to take Owen off now?

8:10 England in control but achieving very little. It's hot out there, too, could get interesting.

9:15 Free kick to England. Central and about 25 yards. Beckham, straight back out again.

10:47 Goal to England! Lampard. Well taken, following on into the area. Made it look easy. Shame he can't do the same thing from the penalty spot - if Beckham's not going to take them (and let's face it, he shouldn't) then AC3 would be my choice: knocks them in as cool as you like.

15:00 Joe Cole fouled, fair engough but he made a real meal of it. He really has got to watch that. Beckham free kick...

15:30 Goal to England! Good free kick, looks like an own goal.

20:45 Fine chance set up for Owen by AC3. Owen falls over. He really seems out of luck ATM.

22:00 Robinson rescues Terry from a rare lapse in concentration. There is a certain arrogance about the man (see my comments about the Hungary match) that he could do with losing. He may be good but I don't think he's as good as he thinks he is and that, I suspect, is a view shared by a few of the truly-world-class strikers he'll have to deal with in the World Cup. Nothing that a good bollocking wouldn't cure, however, he's certainly got the ability.

26:00 Crouch is everywhere ATM, doing a TH14. Good for him, he's way up in my Brownie Points league over the last couple of games. Is Owen still on the pitch?

28:04 Great knock back up Crouch, corner results.

28:10 Goal for England! Possibly RoboCrouch, possibly an OG, but we got the dance anyway. I could grow to love this man...

29:54 Great move, Owen yards offside. I know I keep knocking the man, but he's lost it, he really has. Give us TW32 at half-time so we can have a sensible comparison.

31:00 Goal for England! Owen, making hard work of an open goal. He's still not convincing me.

31:30 Terry off, SC23 on. Tight hamstring for Terry, apparently. Beckham's been looking like he's uncomfortable but he's still on.

34:47 AC3 off (tight thigh), Wayne Bridge on.

35:39 Shelton really should have scored for Jamaica. Shelton and Euell went through the revamped England defence like it wasn't there. Cross-shot went wide.

37:00 Jamaica may be 4-0 down but they're currently comfortably the better team.

40:51 Good run forward by Carragher, corner. England looking comfortable, having got their shape back. Corner cleared easily.

45:59 Shot by Shelton for Jamaica, over the top but a fine effort.

46:47 Another fine shot by Jamaica, wide.

Half-Time. 4-0. Can't argue with the score, whilst it looks a bit harsh on Jamaica, England have clearly taken the foot off the gas. I can't see that you can judge anything from what happens here, but at least it gives the team another chance to play together. Man of the Match so far? Peter Crouch by a country mile.

James on for Robinson for the second half. Makes sense.

50:30 Good break from Lampard, poor cross though. Corner nonetheless.

51:50 Crawford yellow-carded for a fairly awful tackle on Lampard. His moaning about it may well have got his card upgraded to red in a meaningful match.

54:42 Fine move by England (Beckham/Lampard). Corner. Cleared without too much trouble.

55:40 20-odd yard shot from Joe Cole. Not bad, but didn't bother the keeper either.

57:56 Jamaica attack. Good cross cleared by Carragher. Corner.

58:40 Corner cleared by Ferdinand for another corner. This one cleared easily.

64:00 It's all gone rather quiet. It's about SvenSub time, but there's not much sign of activity. Shot from Joe Cole, well saved.

My commentary is likely to suffer for the rest of this game from my need to deal with the kids visiting my neighbour. Obnoxious brats.

67:00 Goal for Enland! RoboCrouch! Great cross on the ground into the six-yard box from Carragher.

73:00 All a bit lame now. England are pretty much in control and are just attempting pot-shots. Jamaica certainly haven't given up, but they're running around a lot to no great purpose.

76:00 England have one substitution left. I'd really love Svennis to take Owen off and put on TW32 but he's taking off Gerrard and putting on Downing. Again fair enough, but I'm starting to worry about his reliance on the currently useless Owen. Sure, the guy needs games to get fit but the World Cup isn't the place to give him them. I'll probably be proved wrong by little Micky getting a hat-trick in each of the group games but when this doesn't happen I reserve the right to say "I told you so".

80:00 70k in attendance today, apparently. Great. I still think England matches should continue to go on a "road show" round the country, it's been really popular and gets crowds for England games we'd never get if they were all held at that place in Middlesex.

81:00 Penalty to England. Owen floored. Crouch to take. Gently put into row Z. Has he been talking to Beckham? Shame, though, he deserved the hat-trick. [2]

83:45 Free kick to Jamaica. High, though not that much.

89:00 Goal to England! Absolutely fantastic goal from RoboCrouch! Very, very well deserved hat-trick. If that's not enough to get him a start in the first group match then I may well have to introduce Svennis to the joys of vegetable marrows myself...

Full-Time. 6-0. Fair result, Crouch the Man of the Match easily. Everybody else pretty good though I have to say Terry and Ferdinand (though the latter wasn't so bad today) need to realise it doesn't just come on a plate and they do have to work from time to time.

[1] I appreciate there's more to the BBC than football (and indeed TV), comments via the "comments" bit perhaps?
[2] That's two missed in two games. Do we practice these? CF the Arsenal vs ManUSA cup final shootout...

Friday, June 02, 2006

When In Brighton

Don't stay at The Malvern Hotel. No, really, just don't. It's so bad it's gone all the way through "so bad it's funny" and out the other side to "just fucking awful".

What's wrong with it? Well it's in a fairly horrible state of disrepair, paint, plaster and wallpaper peeling and questionable electric fittings, but that would be almost excusable if it weren't filthy. By filthy I mean uncleaned toilet and vomit stains on the wall in the room I was in amongst other delights. The crack is, the place isn't cheap at all: £65 pp per night, in our case. Good quality chain hotels in the same area of Brighton are £10 - £25 per night cheaper... The place exists, of course, because there is an endless stream of foreign tourists in Brighton who don't know they're being ripped off. This sort of thing needs stamping on, it's little short of a national disgrace the way we allow visitors to our once fine country to be treated.

We should have figured out something was up when I called for directions on the way in:

Me: "We're heading in from the West on the A27, please would you give us directions?"
Chinese Woman who runs the "hotel": "You will be here by half-past eight".

It traspired that this was intended not as advice but rather as a demand (we ended up having to buy a map to find the place and in retrospect sincerely wish we hadn't).

Just so there's no confusion, the place I'm talking about is:

The Malvern Hotel
33 Regency Square

Just say no.