With the Paralympics dominating the nations attention England’s opening World Cup qualifier away to Moldova seems to have arrived somewhat under the radar.
I would imagine that most would feel that the result is a forgone conclusion, after all it’s only Moldova for Christ sake. And then it’s the Ukraine at home, easy ah! If only! If nothing else Euro 2012 taught us that we really are not as good as we thought we were. On the flip side, we’re not that bad either.
Of course we should expect a decent points return from these games but in no way is it a given. If Moldova raise their game and the football Gods are against us then who knows, it happens. And let’s face it, we got away with it against the Ukraine out in Donetsk, on on Tuesday maybe the luck will turn.
So let us pray, for the value of these games is massive. The reward for qualifying from this group is a trip to the World Cup finals of 2014 … BRAZIL … the stuff of dreams. The dreams we live for as football fans.
The Olympics has turned the nations sporting focus away from the national game, and with some justification. But this has left football in a difficult place. The England team are on a hiding to nothing over the next few days. Most people automatically expect, and a failure to deliver will do nothing but pour more scorn on what many see as an over exposed and some would say poisoned sport.
But for those of us that love the game, love the thrill of the big tournaments and wish to live the dream the next few days are massive. We mustn’t underestimate the values of these two matches. And with England are in transition all that matters is getting the points on the board. Because England have to make it to Brazil, we have to. If we get 6 points from these two games I’ll be opening the savings account and setting up a direct debit. 4 points and the wife might get something at Christmas. But any less than 3 and I’ll be taking up handball because I just could handle watching 2014 in a boozer listening to Mark f-in Lawrenson telling me just what I am missing.
So come on England. It’s a long road to Brazil, but if we get there we’ll have one hell of a party. And I bet the rest of the nation will be only to keen to jump on the bandwagon once again.
Come on England
With the season kicking off on Saturday we were, as ever, all led to believe that the biggest game of the weekend was either at Newcastle, Arsenal, Man City or any of the other teams battling it out in the top flight.
Now to the fans of those clubs those were indeed big games, but nowhere near the biggest for fans of say, Leeds, Yeovil, Port Vale or even Hemel Hempstead Town. What the bods in TV land always overlook is the fact that when your team is playing every other fixture really does play second fiddle, no matter who it involves.
The importance of a football club to its fans and the community it is meant to represent runs deep, something many still fail to understand amidst the gloss and globalisation of the game being played by those at the top table.
On Saturday I had the privilege to attend Rotherham Utd FC’s return to their home town when, after a 5 year absence, as they kicked off their league campaign in their brand new arena: The New York Stadium.
On first hearing the name it would seem the piss was there to be taken. But once it was explained that the name was a reference to the steel provided from the area that went to make the New York City fire hydrants suddenly it made far more sense than say, The Reebok or the Sports Direct … blar blar blar. And what a stadium it is, tight, compact and with outstanding views and seating. But most importantly, a town had its football club back.
Taking a football club away from the area it supposedly represents has never worked well for a club. Brighton having to share with Gillingham, Wimbledon at Palace. And the MK Dons very existence for that matter! Just drop the ‘Dons’, hang your heads and have done with it. Your only connection with the once cup winners is that of being like the naughty uncle no one likes to talk about.
On seeing the sense of pride the supporters of Rotherham had on welcoming their team home you can’t help but ask yourself why the board of West Ham are so set against the wishes of a vast number of their fans in chasing a move away from Upton Park. All that tradition, the intimidating atmosphere. The community of which WHUFC is the heart beat.
We all know money talks but it doesn’t talk louder that 11,000 Yorkshire men and women singing their hearts out at having their football team back home. The New York is a great little stadium and as the PA announcer stated before kick off: ”People of Rotherham, get up off your arses and support this club” … Priceless, even the kids cheered.
It was quite obviously fantastic to be United once more.
Now that the Olympics has finished the nations focus once again returns to the national sport, football.
Our obsession with the game for once found itself on the back burner as as the stars of track, road and water took centre stage and won the hearts and minds of a nation with their sportsmanship, dedication and above all modesty in victory.
The instant recognition to those that helped them achieve their ambition; their family, friends and coaches, was one of the most memorable aspects of what has been an outstanding festival of sportsmanship. Instantly they voiced great respect for the support of the nation, be it vocal and through funding. In both victory and defeat our athletes were quick to praise those around them. Those that won displayed unbelievable pride in the flag, whilst those that fell short felt despair at letting their nation and loved ones down. The truth is that none one of them let anybody down.
Each and every one were a credit to their sport. The Olympics showed the world just what a multi cultural country we are. No one could ever say that the likes of Mo Farrah or Jessica Ennis had any less pride in this nation than I just because we happen to have different colour skin.
The humility and respect our Olympic athletes, their coaches and their families showed the nation has quite rightly won the British public over, and long may that continue. Many are asking for more of the same, a spreading of the word and more TV coverage and money for those that appear to appreciate the exposure.
And so to football. Boy could the game and those involved learn from our Olympians.
Following Team GB’s cycling success Gary Lineker interviewed David Braislford the cycling teams performance director live on BBC. Brailsford explained that the success was down to a philosophy in helping the athletes reach their maximum potential just when it mattered. Brailsford hinted that this philosophy could be introduced to any area of sport. The comment clearly excited Lineker who then asked the question, could this be introduced to the national football side. Brailsford took a moment. It was telling in its silence. It would seem football is different.
Modern football has too many outside influences. Agents and money control the game more than managers and coaches. The rise in player power has led to ego’s spiralling out of control and a lack of respect for anyone that dare question a players ability of committment to their club.
Loyalty is now a dirty word among the football family. We hear ex-players turned pundits defending the greed and actions of their friends and associates day in day out over the airwaves, to the extent where we now almost accept it as a given. It shouldn’t be. Loyalty is something to be respected in all walks of life. Pride in representing where you are from is what football in this country is built upon. It is why we have the greatest concentration of clubs and fans than any other part of the world.
That pride in where you are from and the love for their sport was demonstrated magnificently by our Olympians. Football must learn. At the moment the British public has new hero’s. Bradley Wiggin comments over his disgust for the undeserving culture of celebrity in this country were spot on. Football is not an entertainment industry, it is a sport. And what it needs more than anything is some true sportsman playing the game for the love and not the money.
We can but hope. Roll on the season.
Is it just me? Surly I am not alone, but women’s football. In the Olympics. Really?
Let’s not beat around the b … oops better not, I might be accused of being sexist, but women’s football is pony. And just what it is doing in the worlds greatest sporting event is beyond me.
Seriously, think about it. The celebration at winning the bid. The enthusiasm and dedication to training that athletes the world over have put in as they tick off the days. The delivery of the Olympic Park, on time and under budget (And can we have a round of applause for that please?) … and what do we give the World? A stadium less than a third full, in a city 150 miles from London hosting the sporting equivalent to Biggleswade Town v Daventry. Well f-me ain’t we the mummies and daddies.
For me football has no place in the Olympics full stop, be it male or female. The Olympics should be about seeing sportsmen and women who are at the top of their game competing against each other, no matter what their event, and football does not provide that at the Olympics.
On any given day I’d imagine that the GB mens football team would struggle to beat Scunthorpe, Spain they are not, and so what is the point when there are so many other minority sports that should and could be celebrated at this time.
I received a tweet yesterday saying that all the men slagging off women’s football were really just missing the homo-erotic side of game they secretly love. Yeah that’s right, we all love cock. If only I’d realised that before I spent all that money following England at the Euros. Silly me, I could have just got myself a butt-plug, some KY and a couple of gerbils and stayed at home. What a knob, I’d have been quid’s in.
No, I had a go at women’s football because it is piss poor. I’m not against women’s football. If women want to play the game then great, I’m up for anything that keeps birds looking fit. But let’s stop pretending it’s something it is not and never will be.
The thing that really grates on me is that there are some top women’s sports that have failed to make the Olympics, the best example being netball. Netball is a massive sport in this country. In Australia they have a televised national league, it’s a big deal, and being the Aussies they sex it up, because it sells and the ladies do very nicely out of it.
Women’s and men’s volleyball, handball, swimming. The cycling, gymnastics, canoeing. Minority sports getting the exposure they deserve, that is what the Olympics is about, not park football for pc brownie points.
Football has such a hold on this planet, it doesn’t need the exposure, especially shite football. The only good thing to come out of this is that the women’s game is exposing itself to be what it is, park life.
The BBC should cut the pandering, move over and give more deserving sports a chance to shine. And if they did that, I might even give them a medal.
Following on from my initial post last week I received the following reply from a guy called Andy:
Football is not above the law and racism is racism wherever it occurs. But for me it’s all about the context, not the words themselves. Even *if* Terry used the expression “black c***” in a derogatory way, he is using the word black as a descriptive word for a physical attribute. He would *not” be implying he was a c*** *because* he was black, that would indeed be racist. To me it’s an expression that, in the context, carries no more offence or element of racism than ginger tw@t, lanky git, fat bastard or any other combination you wish to use.
As I said in the previous post, a can of worms has indeed been opened. In his reply Andy offers up a very strong case, one which is really hard to argue against. But if only life were that simple.
As some of you may already know I am fortunate enough to earn my way in this world by working as a stand-up comedian, an industry in which the topic of who finds what offensive comes into question almost every day.
During my career I have done jokes featuring old people, kids, blind people, women, men, gay guys, animals, disabled dogs and dwarfs. I’ve even f****d off Eskimos. But am I being offensive? Surly that depends on who is the victim of the joke. And every joke has a victim.
Here’s an example: I used to do a routine about dwarfs. I’d say that they were different to midget’s which is why some of them work in the circus. Now, the truth of the matter is that some dwarfs do work in the circus. And from what I gather the money ain’t too bad either. We are all dealt a hand when we arrive in this world, and so what we need to do is make the most of what we are given. The point of routine was to highlight this. Everyone wants, and should, be treated as equal. Feeling sorry for people who choose such a path is actually far more offensive to me than the pity some people offer up to mask their own insecurities.
This was highlighted to me once at a gig in Watford. I’d had a decent gig. I had done dwarf stuff. Suddenly I was surrounded by a group of women, one of whom had a dwarf child. They were looking for an apology but it didn’t come. It soon became clear to me that they hadn’t listened to the whole routine, that they had heard a trigger word and switched off. And they clearly were not offended by any the other topics I had covered. The fact is they were being selective in what they found offensive. She then played the classic:
“I bet you wouldn’t get up there and do a joke about a black person?”
Now, I never said the dwarf in my joke wasn’t black. I hadn’t even considered that little gem one way or another. She had bought race into it. And so, would it have been more offensive if the dwarf in the joke, he or she, (which of the two were you envisaging?) were black or white? … Surly the answer to that question lies in whether or not you have an issue with the colour of someones skin.
Personally I don’t. But some do.
A few years back I was touring Hong Kong and Thailand with an Australian comic of Vietnamese decent, a guy called Hung Lee, lovely fella. We were mainly playing to ex-pats and Hung was doing great every night until he used the word ‘Wog’ in a routine. Every night without fail you would hear a sharp intake of breath whenever the word left his lips, but to Hung the word meant nothing. It’s just a word, a word Australians use to describe Greek and Cypriot people. A word those nationalities openly use to describe themselves. Indeed there was, and maybe still is, a comedy programme featuring comics from those ethnic backgrounds called ‘Wogaramma’ on Aussie TV!
No matter how many times I told Hung of the offence the word caused to Brits he refused to drop it. He felt we had chosen to be offended, and in many ways he’s right.
And so we go back to the original topic: IS FOOTBALL RACIST?
Of course it isn’t. Some people are racist. Is John Terry racist? Only he knows the real answer to that one. But as I said in the original post, his run in with Anton Ferdinand does open a can of worms … and we all know what those pinky, brown, red mud eating little wankers are like.
PS: If you want to see some of my comedy then visit my website: www.eddybrimson.com
There can be no doubt that the John Terry racism case has opened up a whole can of worms.
Let’s not beat about the proverbial. If you look at the evidence JT clearly uses the words “F-in black c***” and JT admits using the words “F-in black C***”. However, in his defence he states that he was only repeating the words he claims Anton Ferdinand had falsely accused him of using, something AF denies.
It all seems a bit mixed up. The verdict leaves me none the wiser. Was it all a case of banter, an attempt to wind up an opponant, gamesmanship? … or is someone lying? If it is the latter then following the not guilty verdict it is clearly Anton that now stands accused. Racism, it’s a funny old game ain’t it? It almost beggars belief.
Following the verdict cries came thick and fast, with the football community stating that the case should never have come to court. There is a mentality among the so-called “football family” that what is said in the heat of the game should be dealt with internally. That football is a passionate game, that football can, and should be left to look after its own business. Bullshit, utter bullshit.
The football pundit Bobby Gould appeared on Sky news minutes after the news of JT acquittal broke claiming such shite, offering up views which, as a football fan, I felt were both ignorant and embarrassing.
BG rattled on and on about this mythical “football family”, a family that has in the past defended wife beaters, drunks and street crawlers and brawlers. Somewhere along the line there has to be an acknowledgement that some family members are non too good. I could start a list, but I’ve not got all day.
The JT case will leave many Black and Asian fans questioning my belief that football has achieved more than any other area of society in changing racist attitudes. And when that is coupled with the views expressed by those basking in the glow of this so-called “football family” it makes my argument even weaker.
Is football racist? No it is not. But as in every walk of life some people sadly are. Whatever your views on the John Terry verdict the police were right to bring the case. Football needs a reminder that it is not above the law.
If I were to use such language whilst up in the stands my feet wouldn’t touch the ground, and I am sure the likes of Bobby Gould would be the first to call for me to never be allowed near a football ground again, and rightly so, if found guilty.
Personally I have real issues with the racism industry that has built up around football over the past few decades. I am sick and tired of football being branded a racist sport because the slur taints each and every one of us. However, the JT case and the “football families” reaction to the verdict have once again placed me firmly on the back foot.