Friday, 22 February 2008

Game 39 - Dead As The Dodo

So it looks like the Premier League's idea about playing a 39th game every season in a foreign country is virtually dead already.

Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA is against it.
The English FA (still, allegedly, in charge of the game in this country is against it)
The Australian FA is against it.
The Asian FA is against it
The US FA is against it.
Virtually every fan in England is against it.
Several club managers are against it.

Please forgive me while I just have a gentle chuckle to myself.

How can these money-grabbing morons that run the PL get things SO wrong time after time ? Yet still it is the most popular league in the world (based on attendances) . Makes you wonder quite how popular it could be if the people in charge of it actually knew what they were doing !

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I'm not even going to comment on Saints performance against Bristol Rovers on Saturday in which we seemingly conspired to get ourselves knocked out of the FA Cup. Yes I am, it was pathetic, inept, unprofessional, embarrassing, lazy, gutless - I could get out my thesaurus and find 100 more words but I think you get my drift. And all in front of a worldwide tv audience as well. Still, I suppose you can expect no more from a club in free-fall, with a board that doesn't have a clue which way to turn, to joint-caretaker-managers leaving everyone wondering who does what, to players who seemingly don't give a toss.

Yesterday tea-time the club took the first step back to normality. Having been linked with God knows how many names as manager over the past few weeks they have finally appointed their man. Dowie? Coleman? Adams? McLaren? Shearer? Nope, the man given the task of inspiring 1000s of disenchanted supporters and more importantly convincing a squad of unfit lazy players hat if they don't get their arses in gear they'll be playing in the old division 3 next season is none other than Nigel Pearson. A manager so experienced he has had a total of 37 games in charge at 3 different clubs in a 10 year period, winning just 9 of them. No offence, and I am all for giving the guy a chance but it's hardly the big name that everyone has been expecting. He's been given a 1 year rolling contract. This appointment to me sends out 3 possible signals.

  1. The club is in such a poor state financially they have had to take the cheapest option.
  2. The club has given up all ambition of returning to the big time and is happy to tread water for the foreseeable future.
  3. The club is still expecting a take-over at any time and are assuming that any new owners will want to bring in their own man
I hope for the sake of te future of our club it's number 3 but I've a horrible feeling number 2 is the more realistic.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Not Just Any Old Table

Carved Table, originally uploaded by Wurzel.

On Sunday we went out to the New Forest and ended up wandering around Furzey Gardens in Minstead. A bit "out of season" from a horticultural point of view but still a nice place to visit. What I found particularly appealing is that you are not "herded around" by signposts, you simply pick path and see where it takes you.

One thing we came across was this huge table. I'd guess its around 4-5m long. Closer inspection reveals no joints anywhere. I can only assume that the whole thing has been carved from a huge trunk.

I wonder if I can order one from Ikea?

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Premier League - You're Having A Laugh

So the latest money making idea from the Premier League Money Machine (PLMM) is that all 20 clubs should play 1 extra fixture overseas every season. Not an exhibition match but an extra competitive league fixture. Ever since the football league first started in 1888 clubs have played an equal number of games, playing each other once each home and away. Now, purely in the interest of making money this will all be thrown out of the window, with everyone playing each other twice PLUS 1 random extra game. So no longer will it be a truly equal league.

Whose interest can this be in ? The money men of course, no-one elses. All 20 clubs will earn the same from this venture so all it means is they are in no different a position (relative to each other) than they would be if it didn't take place. Their can only be one reason for it, the PLMM makes millions from tv deals abroad, they must be hoping that the hope (or threat) of being able to see the leagues teams in the flesh once in a blue moon can only make more viewers want to pay even more to watch on tv. Arsene Wenger commented that only 10% of Arsenal's fans are domestic, 90% are global and it would be good for them to have the chance to watch them play. Sorry Arsene, do the maths, if what you claim is true then (assuming Arsenal have twice as many domestic fans as actually attend games, probably a conservative estimate) then to keep those other 90% happy they are going to need to play in a stadium with a capacity of around a million. In fact double that, their opponents will need room for their fans too.

This is yet another step from the PLMM that is treating grass roots fans with contempt. Already around half the PLMM matches are played in grounds with acres of empty seats, as more and more fans get fed up with being treated as custmomers, and not - as many fans believe themselves to be - a part of their club. I have said for many years that the football bubble, if not bursting, is certainly being severely stretched. Could this latest idea cause the final "pop"?

I think the PLMM and the tv people have forgotten one very important element of the game of football. Yes, the PLMM is popular the world over for it's exciting competitive football. But try watching 10 minutes of any game - it could be technically the best game ever played - on tv with the sound turned off, and I think you'll agree it's as boring as shit. It is the crowd atmosphere that creates the tension and excitement. (It's no surprise County Cricket played in front of a few dozing spectators rarely makes our tv screens) If fans become more and more disillusioned and stay away in ever increasing numbers the PLMM and the TV companies will suddenly find they have a worthless product that nobody wants to watch.

One consolation - Saints look more likely to be heading to League 1 than the PL at the moment, at least we won't have to be a part of it.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

I Was There - A Great Moment In Time

Things still don't seem to be getting any better for us Saints fans. Until now that is when somebody has finally managed to upload a video of possibly our greatest ever goal. Not for quality of the goal, just for it's sense of occasion. Injury time against our "friends" from down the road, knocking them out of the FA Cup in the process a their own ground. Ironically injury time was only added for the time taken to treat Mark Dennis after their crowd momentarily took a break from hurling coins at us for the full 90 minutes and decided to aim at our players instead.

The best bit of the video is the crowd reaction to the goal. Over 8000 of us packed into that end , nowadays it's all seated of course and just 2000 have to sit sedately behind that goal (although admittedly recent visits there have given us nothing to cheer about). Match of the Day used a different camera angle of the same goal for the closing credits, I remember being able to pick myself out in the crowd, then I disappear in a mass of bodies surging probably 20 or more steps down the terraces. If ever proof was needed that all seater stadiums don't have the same atmosphere this is it - safer yes, but fun? - not any more.

Click triangle button to view, then replay over and over again

Monday, 4 February 2008

I See Giants

Well I managed it. I've tried before but never made the end of the first quarter, but last night for the first time ever I stayed awake for the whole of the Superbowl. It was past 3 a.m. by the time it finished and I loved every minute of it.

Not being a fan of either team, or the sport for that matter, I done my ususal and decided to support the underdog. Which in this case was the New York Giants, the New England Patriots having dominated the season undefeated up till the final.
Even to a novice it soom became apparent that the Giants "wanted it" that little bit more. Defensively they were superb, whatever the Patriots tried the Giants were equal to and more, seeming to anticipate every play. The BBC used the breaks in play well, explaining things in a way a newcomer to the game could appreciate what was happening without seeming patronising to those that fully understand the game.
The Giants soaked up everything thrown at them and slowly but surely I could sense them taking control of the game. And when with only a few minutes left Manning ( I was even getting to know the names by now) managed to somehow avoid 3 Patriots attempting to tacle him and kept his feet long enough to launch a 32 yard pass in the direction of Tyree. Amazingly he managed to pluck the ball from above his head at full stretch and keep hold of it as he crashed to the ground surrounded by opponents. It wasn't a scoring play but even watching my first game I knew that I had just witnessed something rather special ("one of the finest catches in Superbowl history" says the BBC website today) . It also turned out to be the pivotal moment of the game and the Giants went on to score a last minute touchdown to become worthy winners.
After just this one game I'm now looking forward to the next season of a game I used to ridicule as "not proper sport" . With proper (English) football becoming more boring by the season this could prove a welcome distraction.