25 January 2011
An apology is an expression of sorrow

The news flash says that Sky sports anchorman, Richard Keys, has apologised to that female linesman for making all those remarks in an off-air conversation with the evil Andy Gray.


An apology - it seems to me - is an expression of sorrow.  How can you possibly feel sorrow for words spoken in private in the full belief that those words would remain private?  If the words were uttered in private then you bloody well meant them.  And how can you possibly apologise for things you mean?  “I believed it ten minutes ago but now I don’t.  I’m so sorry.”

It’s absurd.  And a lie.

I suppose it’s possible the words were uttered in jest but if so it just goes to show how deeply unfunny Keys and Gray are. 

They could apologise for that.

06 December 2010
What’s stopping England leaving FIFA?

Because if they did they wouldn’t be able to play in the World Cup.  That’s what the argument (see here for an example, right at the end by the way) boils down to.  Maybe, maybe and if that were the end of the story it would be a loss.  But the fun of putting two fingers up to FIFA would more than compensate for it.  And who knows how things would develop.  I doubt if England are alone in being shafted by FIFA and people are going to want to play us FIFA or no.

If I were in charge I think I would be inclined to go ahead and organise the World Cup regardless.  OK, so our only opponents might turn out to be Tibet, Vanuatu and Scotland but it would still be fun.

Hey, we could even take the opportunity to sort out some of the stupider rules.

27 November 2010
Hokey-cokey sectarian!? Who knew?
...this from the same church spokesman who two years ago supported a claim that choruses of the Hokey-Cokey could be regarded as sectarian abuse because of comic references to the rituals of Mass.
All part of the fun of Scottish football. Croziervision respectfully asks readers to try not to laugh.

19 September 2010
On blacks getting breaks

Some time ago James Hamilton mused on the rise of the friendly clubs - clubs like: Watford, Luton and Norwich - in the 1980s.  I wonder if one of the reasons for their rise was their willingness to field black players.  Norwich had Justin Fashanu, Luton Brian Stein and Watford Luther Blissett and John Barnes (and Worrell Stirling if you’re a real aficionado).  We shouldn’t forget in all this Ron Atkinson’s West Brom which fielded three black players at the same time, way before anyone else.  I am struggling to think when the big clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal followed suit.  Late Eighties I would guess.

I was reminded of this today reading about the anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix.  Here we have an American who first made it big in Britain.  Apparently, according to one commenter he even adopted some British English aphorisms.  I say “reminded” but on further reflection it occurs to me that there is no obvious connection (at least, not obvious to me) between the phenomenon of small teams being more open to black football players and Britain being more open to black guitar players.

17 September 2010
05 March 2010
League ranking and how well grounds are filled up
Click to enlarge

What this shows is league ranking - ie if you’re first in the Premiership you get a ranking of 1; if you are first in the Championship you get a ranking of 21 etc - versus the percentage of seats occupied.

The blue line is an Excel-generated trend line.  And it would appear to show that the better you are doing the better you fill your ground.

Interesting outliers.  The one furthest away from the line right down there at the bottom is Darlington.  25,000 stadium, restricted to 10,000 due to inadequate roads.  And they can’t even fill that.  The big outlier above the line is Norwich.  No idea why.  Support for Delia Smith or something.

28 February 2010
Podcast: Michael Jennings and I talk about the English Premier League in Asia

In this podcast we find out:

  • that the Premier League is a big deal in Asia
  • that it’s really big
  • how it got that big
  • why the 39th game is going to happen
  • and how it might be done fairly

On a technical note, this was another Skype recording. To me it sounds as if we are in the same room rather than at opposite ends of the internet.

Oh, and apologies for the rather abrupt ending.

This podcast was recorded on Friday, 12 February 2010.

Update Michael sends a picture of a Hawker centre (with Premier League game in progress?)


21 February 2010
What the football attendance statistics tell us

I love this sort of thing: Average Attendance Rankings for the Premiership for the 2009-2010 season to date.

One of the guys in the office - a Liverpool fan - was complaining about, well, Liverpool.  Which got me thinking.  Should Liverpool really be doing any better than, say, Newcastle?  My belief is that the chief determinant of a team’s success - in the long run at least - is its attendance.  So, how do Liverpool and Newcastle compare?  Well, it’s pretty close: 43367 average attendees playing 42199.  My colleague should thank his lucky stars.  Having said that I wouldn’t hold out much for Liverpool’s long term prospects. 

So, what else do these stats tell us?

Well, for starters, attendance is indeed a pretty good indicator of success.

Arsenal must wish they’d built a bigger stadium.  99% occupancy.

I really wouldn’t want to be a Chelsea fan when Abramovitch walks away.

They don’t half like their (not terribly good) football in Sunderland [and the North East generally - see the table for the Second Division]

And they really like it in Cardiff.  So much so that they would appear to watch it sat upon one another’s knees.  How else does one explain a 107% occupancy rate?

I wonder if an ability to get bums on seats is a factor in team success.  Certainly, if I were a player I’d prefer to play in front of a packed audience.  There is something dispiriting about the sight of empty seats.  And it would seem that those teams that have high capicity utilisation like Hull, Stoke and Wolverhampton are doing well this season.  Oh, but hang about, the places with the spaces include Wigan and Blackburn who are doing fine and Birmingham who are doing brilliantly.  So, that would be a “no”.

10 December 2009
Lloyd Doyley scores a goal

It’s a Watford sore.  Lloyd Doyley’s been at the club for 10 years, made 200 and something appearances, had no end of chances but never actually scored. 

Until, that is, Monday night.

Now, I can’t quite claim that I was there when Doyley scored but I can claim that I was there in the pub when Doyley scored.


22 May 2008

...but funny.

29 February 2008

For all those interested in the travails of Newcastle United I rather liked this piece by James Hamilton.  He reckons it’s being teed up for a sale.

12 February 2008
In support of the Premier League’s International Round
You can find football fans
in the oddest places

Am I the only one(3) who finds the idea of Premier League teams playing regular season games abroad rather fun? I think it maybe because I see it as a way that capitalism can win over nationalism.  Up to now the ultimate stage has been the World Cup, an event that seems to do little other than serve up sub-standard football, put the process of male evolution into reverse and squander the talents of greats like George Best, Kevin Keegan and Liam Brady.  What if the ultimate stage was something that was actually quite good and something everybody, regardless of origin could buy into?  And it would give FIFA a well-deserved slap in the face - surely something we can all get behind. If I have one complaint it is about the way the Football Association has chosen to sell the idea.  It is all corporate stuff like “promoting the brand” and “exploting new markets”.  Had it never occurred to these guys that exploiting new markets and hence making more money is a good thing in itself(1) and that therefore the thing to do is to stress the benefits?  Why not: “This will give millions more fans the chance to see their football teams.  It will allow the Manchester United fan in Bangkok, the Arsenal fan in Sydney and the Watford fan in Bangalore the unique experience of seeing their favourite team in the flesh.” One of the crazier arguments against this scheme I heard over the weekend was the one that very few ordinary fans (as in, from the place after which the team is named) will be able to get to see their team when it plays abroad.  The irony seemed to be lost on these people.  This was the very weekend when people were commemorating the Munich disaster - a consequence of the pioneering spirit of Manchester United in entering the European Cup and playing in the oh-so-accessible Belgrade(2)Notes 1.  See Profit is Good. 2.  I haven’t looked up the sums but I would guess that is probably easier for the average Manchester United fan to travel to Sydney now than to Belgrade back then. 3.  See my friend Johnathan Pearce for an example of the vitriol this has induced.

15 January 2008
Al Bangura allowed to stay1

As predicted.

1. According to the Telegraph and loads of other people.

11 December 2007

Today comes the rather depressing news that Al Bangura, a Watford midfielder, it to be chucked out of the country.  This is wrong on no end of levels but I’ll stick to the fundamental one: there shouldn’t be any immigration controls at all.

22 November 2007
England 2 Croatia 3

Boy, was I glad that I decided never to get wound up by this sort of thing ever again.

21 September 2007
Is this what they call guerilla advertising?

Well, it made me laugh.  Especially, the disclaimer.

Talking of which, footie, that is, rather than disclaimers, I think I may have found out the real reason for Chelsea’s run of poor form:

Mourinho managing his last Chelsea game

See here in case you don’t know what I am talking about.

22 August 2007
Come on Germany.
23 October 2006
If you want to get ahead in football, get a suit

Look at this lineup of the Premiership’s most successful managers:


And now look at the lineup of the least successful:


Spot the difference?  There’s no doubt about it - a quick trip to Burtons can make all the difference.  Just ask Gareth Southgate whose sartorial conversion took place only a couple of weeks ago.

From zero…

image hero


24 September 2006
Why do we have the tapping-up rule? Gary Lineker, for one, can't see the point.

22 August 2006
Watford FC then and now

In 1982, as in 2006, Watford Football Club was promoted to Division 1 (yes, that’s Divsion 1 - we’re not going to have any of this “Premiership” nonsense around here thank you very much).

Then, the ground had a capacity of 28,000.  Now it is 22,000.

Then you could stand in the rain and jump about like crazy when we scored.  Now you can’t.

Then, the whole place looked run down.  Now, it looks incredibly modern.

Then, the average gate was 15,000.  Only Liverpool or Manchester United could hope to fill it up.  This season I expect it to be near capacity - they’ve already sold out their 13,500 season tickets.

Then, newly promoted clubs could expect to do well - in 1983 Watford finished runners-up.  Now, well, staying up would be fantastic.

Then, the best seat in the house cost a fiver.  Add in inflation and that’s probably a tenner.  Now, the cheapest ticket is £35.

Then, Watford was a natural Division 3 team.  Now, it spends most of its time in Division 2.

The stand that was then the best is now the worst.

Then, Elton John and Graham Taylor had a plan to build a brand, spanking new stadium on a greenfield site.  They were laughed at.  Now, to all intents and purposes we’ve got one.

Then, there was a problem with football hooliganism.  Now, to the best of my knowledge that is confined to the national team.

What does this all mean?  Probably, that football is much more popular than it used to be.  Or, that its fans got richer.  Or older.  And more Southern.  Whatever it is it’s quite dramatic.  I don’t think there was anything like the same kind of change in the quarter century prior to 1982.

27 April 2006
Competition time

Here’s a little challenge for you should you feel so inclined:

Name a Scottish professional footballer

I am damned if I can.  In the Seventies it would have been difficult not to what with Bremner, Dalglish, Wilson, Gemmel, McQueen, Jordan etc all playing.

Just to prove that the boot can be put on the other foot:

Name a successful English manager

I am talking serious silverware here ie League Championship, European Cup or managing a serious football team for a reasonable length of time.  For the League I think Howard Wilkinson (in 1992) is the most recent.  For the European Cup I think it’s Joe Fagan (1984) and for the serious football team the nearest I can get is Kevin Keegan in his Newcastle days.

Just blips or signs of deeper truths?

Update Aargh!  Turns out that Bob Wilson wasn’t/isn’t Scottish.  Not that that stopped him playing for the national team.  Ditto his successor.

24 February 2006
The Wembley hoax

So, Wembley’s going to be delayed again, eh?  Yeah, well, I’d lay some pretty heavy odds on it being delayed again and a few more times after that.  For, I think it’s about time we revealed the truth.  There is no Wembley Stadium.  It’s a hoax.

You see, the reality is that Wembley Stadium is an 80-year-long, three-card trick played on unsuspecting foreigners.  First we put it up.  Second, driven mad with envy at this symbol of national virility, and at massive cost to their bedraggled taxpayers, insecure foreigners (you know: Aussies and Frenchmen) build their own.  Third, we tear ours down thus demonstrating that national stadiums are a complete waste of time and leaving Johnny Foreigner to admire his folly.

Don’t believe me?  Well, just look at the success of the England Road Show, in which the team have travelled up and down the land and had a whale of a time. 

Ah, but what are all these photos, then?  A six-year old, a Meccano set and a bit of Photoshopping.

But, what about all these head honchos at the FA getting all steamed up?  All part of the plan.  It’s World Cup year and the last thing anyone wants is the FA putting their fingers into the team’s pies.  Best to keep them occupied.

Let’s face it, who in his right mind is going to spend £120m on a national stadium?  That would be stupid.

25 January 2006
In praise of Sven

What is one to make of this Sven business?  He saves our 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign and leads us to an unprecedented run of results which include victories over Germany and Argentina (twice).  Now, in a normal, rational world that should make the guy’s job secure. 

But this is no normal world.  This is FAland.  “Oh but, Sven is the Scandalmeister”, they say.  Until, that is, you look at what he is supposed to have done.  Banging Ulrika Jonnson and Faria Alam?  Hey, FA bods that’s what single men are supposed to do.  Claiming that managers take bungs?  Fuck me, you don’t say.  Or that David Beckham is unhappy at Real Madrid?  Ditto.

And now, for the pièce de résistance - they want to replace him with an English manager.  Now, I might understand if the Great One were still available but he’s not.  Hey, FA guys, take a look at the top of the table.  See any English-managed teams there?  No? I didn’t think so.  Hmm, thinks, maybe there’s a reason for that.  Hmm, like maybe the English are rubbish at managing football teams.

Really, the sooner the FA is parcelled up and sold to the Glazers the better.  They couldn’t do any worse.

Update  Seems that the FA is prepared to look at foreign coaches.  Don’t you just hate it when the facts get in the way of a good rant?

15 June 2005
Best wasn’t - Adams was …link
27 May 2005
“Just before Liverpool scored, their chance of winning was 0.2 per cent (1 in 500)” - what would we do without the Fink Tank to put things in perspective …link
16 May 2005
“It’s simple. If Glaser cocks it up he loses his 800 million. Let him get on with it.” - quite …link
13 May 2005
What is wrong with Man U fans?

At last they’ve got someone in charge who looks like he might sort out their underperforming management and get them back into contention for major trophies and what do they do? Complain about it.  Unbelievable.  Relegation is too good for these people.

Update  Laban Tall points out that football clubs aren’t like other businesses.

05 April 2005
Hales v Flanagan - S&M has the root causes. Oh yeah and there's something about Labour's managerialism. Whatever …link
05 February 2005
FA Cup Final on a Wednesday - how the mighty are fallen …link
03 February 2005
What’s wrong with Arsenal? - Scott Wickstein thinks he knows …link
05 December 2004
It's grim up north

Wayne loves cars so much that he proposed to Colleen on a petrol station forecourt. On to her trembling finger he slipped a £25,000 diamond and platinum ring, which, when she learned how much time he’d been spending in a Liverpool brothel, she reportedly threw into a squirrel sanctuary.

From the Telegraph.