Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Sex(ism) Lies & Videotapes

It's Wednesday 26th January, Sky Sports 1 is on and West Ham are playing Birmingham in the second leg of their Carling Cup Semi Final. A familiar voice is missing from the match this evening though, Andy Gray ex-Wolves & Everton striker was sacked by the satellite channel yesterday.
What started out as an off air exchange between Gray and his on & off screen mate Richard Keys, turned into front page headlines that rivalled the woman who put that cat in the wheelie bin.
The original sexist remarks against the female referee's assistant (and going by the definition of the word "discrimination or devaluation based on a person's sex", they were indeed sexist) while off air but with mics still turned on, could have been dealt with. An on air apology, maybe a prepared statement read out, these things normally do the trick and it all would have been swept under the carpet. But this "leaked" audio clip was then followed by another, this actually showed Gray this time making a lewd remark to fellow presenter Charlotte Jackson (again it appeared to be off air and during rehearsals). And this Sky decided, was too much and Gray was given his marching orders.
The central theme that kept on rearing it's ugly head during the whole series of events was that prickly subject of sexism, but in the second clip that got Gray the bullet he showed no sign of sexism at all! Lewd? yes! Pervy? yep! Dirty old man? Definitely! But in any workplace you will find this and having worked with the fairer sex on many an occasion I can say that it doesn't always come from the male! Plus anyone who's ever had the dubious honour of catching ITV's Loose Women will know......well! (sorry is that sexist?)
We all indulge in banter and whether Ms Jackson took exception to Gray's request and reported him we just don't know. Like the pundit himself may have said before in the event of a sending off, it's all about intent......
But the whole sorry mess that this has escalated into also stings of hypocrisy, Sky Television is of course owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns The Sun newspaper, the very same newspaper that decided that they needed a picture of Sian Massey the lady in the middle of the story and so on it's front page printed one, of her dressed in a short skirt slightly the worse for wear at a party! And we all know what we find on page 3 every morning...
With most news stories there will always be conspiracy theories, Andy Gray was in the process of suing the News of the World (The Sun's sister newspaper) for alleged phone tapping. And with what amounted to in total four "leaked" clips (reporter Andy Burton describing Ms Massey as "a bit of a looker" again not actually sexist and another in which Keys did make a sexist remark by refering to Jamie Redknapp's ex girlfriend as "it") eventually being unearthed, along with Keys comments on "dark forces" at work before his eventual resignation, you can't help but think that they were either not liked within the corporation or Sky just wanted a shake up of the old guard and either way needed an excuse.

If anything, Gray & Keys are guilty of stupidity, you work on television, you're wearing a mic and the camera's are on you......hhhmmm let me think, should I maybe be careful about what I say just in case??

Saturday, 22 January 2011

What makes a stadium a home?

There's been a lot of talk over the past few weeks with regards to the Olympic stadium, and the use of it after them few weeks next summer! Two Premier league teams have thrown their names in to the hat to take it over once the Olympics have been & gone! The two different sets of supports for their own reasons don't want it! West Ham due to the fact the running track will be kept! and a large part of the fans will be sat further away from the adapted football pitch than they would be, if sat watching the action from their armchair at home. And Spurs fans because their not from EAST LONDON their from NORTH LONDON! Spurs fans need to face up that as much as they either love or hate Daniel Levy, the fact is he is a BUSINESSMAN.

Now the fans play a massive part of the reason that Spurs are a profitable team, cast your mind back over the last few seasons, over 9 new kits, new merchandise, ticket prices increased. Now could you imaging how much Levy could of made if White Hart Lane could seat 60,000 + fans per game! At upwards of £45 a ticket? that’s a lot of money. 

The talk of the Northumberland Development project was music to the ears of Spurs fans and for the local community. But the fact is Levy wants to spend less to make more! It’s how Businesses work! The opportunity to create a larger stadium outside of North London for less money doesn’t trouble Levy when he goes to sleep at night, after all it’s he’s club and he can do what he likes!

A fair way down the road in East London large areas of temporary structures are being created for the 2012 Olympic games. All the structural ground work would still be useable, transport links in place. All that’s needed is someone to create a new stadium! Be it for football, rugby or athletics! Step forward Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and Chairman Daniel Levy.

Since Spurs made it clear they wanted the Olympic stadium site, Spurs fans near and far have been voicing their views, and its clear they want to stay in North London, and in my view Too right!

This is not like moving a Tesco store on a B&Q store, this is a club that has built up history over the years playing at White Hart Lane in North London, The first team to win the double, the glory days of old all washed away! A legacy ruined! All because a certain businessman….. wants to create his own history.

Now the fact of the matter is that if Levy wants to move to East London he will move the home of the Famous Spurs as he see’s fit, and will sell off the naming rights to a random rich company just for good measure!

Can you imaging how much fun The other lot that support that other team in North London are having right now! There laughing at the Spurs fans, Chants of “there’s only One team in North London” will ring true! This is more than Business this is PRIDE! 

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Big fish, little fish......

A lot of people will say that the FA Cup has lost it's magic and while it may be true that we've not really had a decent final since arguably 1991 (an unbiased opinion), the early rounds have given us some memorable performances and results in recent years from the likes of Barnsley, Havant & Waterlooville, Cardiff & Portsmouth.
The Champions League may promise to pit Europe's elite against each other but where else would you have the Champions of the highest league in the country potentially play a team made up of part time footballers?
It's at the Third Round stage that the "Big Boys" enter the competition and it usually has it's fair share of upsets and drama, if the magic had gone and the big teams had distractions elsewhere nowadays then what were their excuses back in say, 1972 when non-league Hereford knocked top flight Newcastle out? Of Newcastle there would be more to come later.

This particular FA weekend for me was spent in the pub, not that an excuse is needed of course. But Soccer Saturday with Jeff and the Boys is the ideal accompaniment to a few pints of watered down lager and a packet of pork scratchings, they go hand in hand, there's even a Soccer Saturday drinking game!
Along with the best drink and bar snacks that McMullens can supply another essential is the filled out betting slip of course, more so during the FA Cup with a chance of a giant killing on offer! and my four pound accumulator promised me a return of nearly two grand if my seven predictions proved correct.

Now Soccer Saturday has had it's classic moments in the past, Merson's tooth falling out mid-report, Chris Kamara mistaking a sending off for a substitution, Jeff Stelling's James Brown doll to name but a few, but on this particular day we had a show without major incidents; presenter wise at least. But it's down to these presenters that make this show; which essentially boils down to us the viewer, watching people, watch football, a success.
So settling down on the bar stall that I would later be slouching on, three o'clock was here and the games kicked off. I had my money on upsets at Norwich, West Ham, Stoke, Blackburn & Southampton. Of course myself and my mate weren't the only one's aiming to prove our superior football knowledge and earn ourselves some extra pocket money, as the reports and scores started to trickle in, other blokes around the pub were checking their own grubby bits of paper.
An early goal for Leyton Orient (a second team of mine) started proceedings off nicely and the subject of second teams came up later when the Landlord was found to be cheering on Wigan, Everton and Arsenal! We've all got them, the minnows, the local team or maybe the first team we were taken to see as a lad. The FA Cup gives us a chance to focus of them a bit more.

Maybe it's the smaller away grounds, the crowd closer to the pitch, the more physical opponents or just complacency but there's always an upset or two and as the results came in; particularly for the likes of Brighton, Notts County, Southampton and the rest it was apparent that the FA Cup had done it again.
Yet as the beer flowed more was to come, Stevenage were drawn by Noel and Serge to face a rematch against Newcastle United. Back in '98 it had been a rather surprisingly unsporting affair; for a start Kenny Dalglish, Newcastle manager at the time didn't want to play at Stevenage (all those roundabouts can get a bit confusing eh Kenny!) and eventually it was agreed that with some new temporary seating the game at Broadway Hall could take place. Dalglish had been ungracious towards Stevenage in his dealings and it almost became a grudge game before a ball was kicked with Grazioli's equaliser taking the tie back to St James Park where King Kenny had wanted the game to start off with! But things were further sullied there when Newcastle won the replay with the help of an opening goal that hadn't even crossed the line. Stevenage though had done the Conference proud and there was an obvious hint of revenge in the air on Saturday evening as we tuned in to ESPN.

Living in Hertfordshire, Stevenage are about as local as I could get to a league team and I wasn't the only one in the pub wanting them to win. Newcastle could offer no excuses for what transgressed, they had an International defender in Coloccini who had appeared in the World Cup and with experience through Barton & Nolan you could hardly call it a weakened team. Still I couldn't see Stevenage winning the game before kick off, but just as my accumulator had proven I wasn't the best person at predicting football results and not only did the team 73 places lower than their Premiership counterparts win, but they did so convincingly and were the better team.
So a thoroughly enjoyable drunken day/evening had been had and football had provided the entertainment in the end. The magic was still there and long may it continue. Now if we could only transport that spirit, fight, pride and motivation into the Premiership we might just be onto something.......

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Transfers and urban myths

So it's the 6th of January, not much has happened in terms of movements in the Premiership, The usual suspects are being linked with everyone from North to South! The talk of Beckham heading to White Hart Lane, Dzeko up in Manchester about to sign for the blue half, and of course no transfer window would be complete with out the inclusion of Robbie Keane.

January can be a bad time to purchase that special player, what with the rise in VAT! Any player that is valued by his club will not be aloud to leave, prime example would be Andy Carroll, Harry had a word with the Newcastle Board, And we all knew what the answer was via the morning papers!

Beck's back in the Big time! It would be great to see such an icon back in our league, but from the view that Beck's wants to play, he would be better suited for a team that are floating around mid-table. The likes of Villa or Blackburn. There would be a good chance he would figure on a more permanent basis. If he ends up going to one of the top 4/5 he may find himself in a "coaching role" advising that teams younger players on what to do in the future!

Dzeko is @ last about to sign for City, Everyone knew this would happen! Its been dragging on for what seems a lifetime. It's a lot of money to spend on a player that is not proven in our league. City have an embarrassment of riches and will need to off load a few players. Players that could walk into almost any team in the League. The likes of Given, SWP, Roque Santa Cruz, Adebayor & even A Johnson. But city, as we know do not like to sell to rival teams. So could the Championship or a move away from England be the new home for a few of this guys either on loan or permanently?

Robbie Keane..... Who is there left for him to play for? @ the age of only 30 he seems to have lost his heart playing @ The Lane, once an icon for so many Spurs fans, he now struggles to last even 20mins. As is the case with age, you end up losing your pace and your bounce back ability! Owen would be an example of this too! So as we understand here at It's a football thing Keane is on his way to the Midlands to sign for the Blues.

A quick look @ some of the other transfer rumours doing the rounds:

Glen Johnson heading to Spurs?
SWP off to St James park?
Bojan to be offered to Chelsea?
United join the race for Scott Parker?
.....and of course David Bentley linked to Blackburn!

Now before i head off to make another round of teas! I leave you with what could only be classed as a pipe dream, the moment you heard this story you wanted to laugh, and in away you do feel for the supporters of this club! Imaging your teams floating around mid-table, over the last 10 or so years its been a mixed bag, relegations, promotions, europe, and of course that Carling cup win......

Could you imaging being a Blackburn fan and hearing that your club has put in a bid for a one Mr ronaldinho! It leaves you with a smile on your face!

4-4-2 it's a football thing!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Bad boys, bad boys..........

Apparently Joey Barton's Sister is in fact his Mum, well she is if you believe the chants being sung at White Hart Lane last Tuesday. I'm not sure where the suspect parentage comes into it (his Mother & Father split up when he was 14), but of course why let the truth get in the way of a good (?) chant?
Barton has had an eventful career to say the least, mainly off the pitch and on the front pages, but what he has done to Spurs supporters personally isn't on record.
It was ironic really that I was at a game in December with Panto season upon us he was roundly booed or jeered every time he touched the ball. I know that Joey has had his fair amount of unsavory moments in the past but that doesn't make him a bad footballer and he certainly can play.
So basically he's one of those players we love to hate and he's not the first, he's stepped into the hard man role vacated by Roy Keane, before him Vinnie Jones and going further back Tommy Smith. There have been others of course, loved by their own supporters hated by the opposition. All the best teams have had them, especially winning ones and what would a team like Spurs on the verge; it's being said, of bigger things give to have a player like that in their midfield?