Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Special Offer?

I had a call on my mobile phone at work yesterday.

"Is that Georgina Best?"
"Is this a wind up?"
"Er no, is that Georgina?"
"Er yes"
"This is Leicester City Football Club"
"Are you sure this is not a wind up?"
"No - I am ringing you because you visit the official Leicester City Website". She then went on to explain how they are trying to entice people to purchase 'pay to view" and have a special offer. Viewing until 14th September for just £4.99. No obligation.

No obligation. Also no football it seems to me. I'm not entirely sure when the new season starts and I know there are pre-season friendlies and things but its not the same is it.

Having said that, as invited I did have a look at the packages on the website. At normal prices it is less than £1 per week - about £40 per year. Which if I was a proper fan I think I would consider a pretty good deal, especially as I am unlikely to get to many games. Still being something of a fledgling fan, however, I think I need to continue developing my fanaticism a little more before parting with my money.

Imagine how many Pukka pies I could buy with £40.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Bring Me Sunshine

Morecambe. Home town of Eric Morecambe (who's real name was John Eric Bartholomew). And judging by one of the pages on the town's website a place where other people who like to share side- splittingly funny jokes live.

It is also the town which has spawned Morecambe Football Club, otherwise known as The Shrimps.

What do you mean never heard of them? Well to be fair they have been somewhat obscure. Until now. For the first time in their history they have been promoted to the Football League.

Shrimps of course come in a variety of manifestations, my favourite being the Barretts' version. And as we all know they are also a cure for hayfever.

Personally, I don't think shrimps are the most exciting thing Morcambe has to offer at all. The love life of a cuttle fish is where it is at for me. Bless!

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Fox Tales

There are two types of legend. A foot (work it out!) and a story about supernatural beings or events.

It would be fair to say that there is little legendary about the Leicester City team in recent months. Matty Fryatt and Iain Hume are probably the closest thing they have at the moment.

They do have their past legends though. People like Muzzy Izzet, who played for The Foxes between 1996 and 2004, before moving to Birmingham, although he retired a couple of years later due to injury. Steve Walsh (1986-2000). And not forgetting Gary Lineker (that's him with the man boobs in the picture ), the home grown Leicester star and England player.

Of course, legends are not always about good things. Sometimes infamy can be as enduring.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Not A Lot Of People Know That

10 things you may or may not know about the FA Cup;

  1. Referees can only referee one FA Cup final in their career (today's referee being Steve Bennett)
  2. The new Wembley Stadium where today's match is being played cost upwards of £750,000,000, almost 4 times as much as Cardiff's Millenium Stadium
  3. It is the oldest football competition in the world
  4. Chelsea and Manchester United are playing for the fourth actual trophy (one was stolen, one given away and the other one is now to fragile to use)
  5. Around 400 million people worldwide will be watching today's match (just think if each of them paid a couple of quid the stadium would be paid for!)
  6. Manchester United is the team that has won the most times - 11 (which makes it Chelsea's turn today I think)
  7. The cup has not been won by a non-English team since 1927 (Cardiff City)
  8. Chelsea and Manchester United have only met once before in the final (1994)
  9. Until 1993 the final was replayed if the scores were drawn at the end of the match. Now an additional 30 mins extra time is played and if still level after that there is a penalty shootout
  10. Tottenham Hotspur are the only non- league team to win the cup (in 1901)
I hope at least some of these were new to you. If not then you are very boring and need to get a life.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

I See White Socks - Where? - Right Over There

There are two famous Neil Warnocks. One is an agent for various top rock bands, including Status Quo, Deep Purple and Motorhead. The other is the erstwhile manager of Sheffield United. At least until yesterday when he resigned. The reason for his resignation is in some dispute, and a romantic link has not been ruled out.

The name Neil Warnock is now being strongly linked with Leicester City Football Club. Despite the attraction of images of large numbers of Foxes' fans playing air guitar in the stands, my guess is that this is probably he of the football world.

Fans discussing him on the message boards have described him as "nasty" arrogant" and "conceited" although many of them also concede that his is a reasonable manager. There also seems some confusion about his name which on occasions is spelt "Warcock" or "Warthog". He does seem to have a knack of p*****g people off, including giving Nigel Worthington a two fingered salute a while back (he's not all bad then).

There is some evidence to back up these allegations. For example, he has some strong views about referees who have sight defects, which seems rather discriminatory to me.

In his favour though he is not flashy. Not for him a Porshe or a Jag. Oh no, he selects a more modest form of transport.

Nor, it would appear, is he a slave to the world of trendy dressing and image consciousness.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Oh Where Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?

I don't usually post twice in a day but this was irresistible ..........

Poor Jose. He's in trouble again.

This time it is for obstructing police. Allegedly he has brought his little dog into the country illegally. When police and other officials called at his house, he took the dog outside. Next thing it was gone.

One report describes how the dog warden for the area, one Lee Nash, has been looking for the dog since. He said "I've been patrolling the area since eight o'clock this morning. All I know is that it's a Yorkshire terrier with a red bow. A dog of that size is vulnerable and could fall prey to foxes."

Like one of The Foxes would ever want to harm a Chelsea dog!!

It's Not For Girls

Anyway, there I was sitting the pub last night when I said to my friend Droop "I'm learning about football you know". Once he had managed to suspend his disbelief for a while he said "Alright then, what's the offside rule?". (Revision tip: It is a common trick men use to test women's knowledge and flush out impostors. See here and here).

Ha ha I thought. I know this one (see post 9th March). So I proceeded to tell him, using salt, pepper and vinegar pots which is of course the way. Imagine my horror when instead of the cries of surprise and admiration I expected, Buttercup, who had been listening in, said "That's the old rule. The new rule is two players including the goalkeeper not two plus the goalie between the opposition player and the goal". "That's right" joins in Droop, looking very relieved that he can now unsuspend his disbelief because I have clearly been making the whole thing about learning football up.

"And they have changed the rule about being level now too" adds Buttercup. Oh god - now I'm out of my depth. "Oh have they" I said, trying my most charming smile "I didn't know that. I'm still learning you see". What I was thinking of course was "B******s".

So on the way home I spoke to my lover (on my handsfree of course). " What's the offside rule?" I said. He explained it.

"Just two players including the goalkeeper then not as well as".
"But two plus the goalie used to be the old rule"
"How come you didn't tell me when I described it before"
"I was confused by the sauce"

I mean, with advisers like this and the other 3 people I checked it with (yes Sandi, Hanif and Rupert you know who you are), who needs enemies?

Yorkie 1 Street Cred 0

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Its Not All Doom And Gloom

We have had a few serious days on this blog haven't we. Thought today we should have a bit of fun. Hope these bring a smile to your face.

Monday, 14 May 2007


Today we are going to think about something that is fundamental to the game of football. The football itself.

It is the sort of thing that can easily be taken for granted. After all it is just a ball. Or is it?

The FA has clear rules about the size, shape, materials, level of inflation and weight. Most modern footballs are made of 32 panels of leather or plastic, although there are variations on this. For example there is a 50 panel ball that increases flight time. The Nike Total 90 Aerow has rings intended to aid goalkeepers to determine the spin on the ball. There is even a prediction that in 2010, a newly shaped football will be in use which will have 92 leather flaps, the majority of which will be triangles and the rest will be squares and octagons.

80% of association footballs are made in a place called Sailkot, in Pakistan. Until 1997 this largely relied upon child labour. Following a campaign by activists in 1996 during the European cup, however, this situation was challenged, resulting in the Atlanta Agreement. Now no child under the age of 15 should be involved in the production of footballs.

Of course not everyone is lucky enough to have a proper football to play with. Despite football being a passion amongst people, especially children, all over the world, some have to be satisfied with a makeshift version.

Humbling isn't it.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Sit Down Shut Up

There is an interesting debate raging at the moment on the LCFC message site "Talking Balls". The start of the thread, by a fan called Floppus, talks about his experience at the last match of the season, Leicester v Wolves. In essence he is a 61 year old man with a degree of disability (he walks with a stick), who for understandable reasons expects to be in a safe environment when he goes to support his team, home or away. He also has a not unreasonable expectation that he will be treated with dignity.

At the recent match referred to there were apparently a significant number of Wolves fans in the main stand. The issue was that some of them were apparently openly goading and abusing Foxes fans, what Foppus describes as "clearly in breach of the normally accepted code of conduct expected these days at football grounds".

The subsequent responses are mixed. Some totally agree with him and feel this should be formally notified to the club as a complaint or at least brought to their attention. Others take a more pragmatic view, which is essentially that LCFC fans would have done the same in similar circumstances.

I can't remember if I have said this before but one of the things that really struck me when I went to watch Barnsley v Leicester last month, was that although there were songs and chants about teams and individuals, and some quite cheeky responses directed at the opposition fans (for example singing "Sit down, shut up" when Barnsly had a near miss), it was more like tough banter than fuelled by hatred or aggression. This was certainly in contrast to my earlier, albeit brief, experience of the terraces, where it really felt like threats were meant and indeed were sometimes carried through (see previous post for more info on football violence).

I had concluded that much of this hatred and aggression has more recently been channeled into a ritualised goading rather than a genuine attempt to provoke and justify violence. What the debate referred to above made me reflect upon was firstly exactly where the line between the two lies and secondly that there is a degree of fragility in the current situation where peace has largely broken out in football grounds. There remains a certain tension around just where the differentiation between appropriate banter and offensive and provocative comments and behaviours is, since it clearly lies in different places for different people.

If you are a man of 61 who walks with a stick you are probably fairly unlikely to respond to inappropriate behaviour with violence. Far more likely you will simply stop going to matches which would be a travesty and a return to the days when many people did not feel safe to stand on the terraces. On the other hand if you are someone that does not take a slight easily, even if you did not arrive with violent intent, there could be enough provocation to create self-justifying anger and consequently an anti-social response.

Another twist in this particular debate was that the alleged abusers seemed to have been corporately hosted visitors, which some commentators consider (perhaps not unreasonably) carries particular expectations about behaviour and respect.

The anger on this occasion is firmly directed at the club and the stewards for not upholding these required standards of behaviour, and a sense that because these guests were corporate guests and therefore have a considerable business value they were allowed to get away with things ordinary fans would not have been.

Of course this then also has echos of some of the sociological issues referred to in yesterday's post between football as a traditionally working class game and its 'theft' by the middle classes.

Its a conundrum for sure. Still I guess Foxes fans will simply have to get used to The Walkers Stadium being a magnet for corporate hospitality. It's known as The Crisp Bowl in some circles and is clearly a great place to party.

Victim of our own success then perhaps!!

Saturday, 12 May 2007

You're Gonna Get Your F*****g Heads Kicked In

I want to talk to you about an important subject. Football hooliganism.

It is a topic that surfaces on a fairly regular basis, one way or another. There is so much that can be said about it and so many different angles to explore. One of the things that strikes you fairly immediately when you start to look at the issue though, is how difficult it can be to differentiate between fact and fiction, actual and myth.

For example, one 'myth' that I believe is around is that football violence is a fairly modern phenomenon. Yet in a report by SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre) they state that there as been an association between football and violence since its beginnings in the 13th century in England:

"Medieval football matches involved hundreds of players, and were essentially pitched battles between the young men of rival villages and towns – often used as opportunities to settle old feuds, personal arguments and land disputes."

SIRC go on to say that the 20th century was probably the most violence free, particularly during the period between the two world wars and the decade after the second world war. It was only in the 1960s that behaviour associated with modern football hooliganism, such as pitch invasions and riots emerged, linked to the televising of matches.

Another myth is that football hooliganism is a British disease. Since the 1970s, however, there have been numerous incidents on the continent. Some would say this is due to copycat behaviour, others that as in Britain it is a reclaiming of the game.

The 'profile' of a typical hooligan, apparently, is male, late teens/early 20s (although leaders are sometimes older) and working class. This is fairly uncontentious in that it can be evidenced. Where it gets more complicated is when people try to analyse and identify why such behaviours exist. Sociologists emphasise issues of working class masculinity. Psycologists focus upon arousal . Feminists say you can't consider football violence in isolation from other forms of violence.

I guess what you choose to believe will depend upon how you make sense of the world. Read here for more detail on these different perspectives. Or if you want to make up your own mind about this whole subject by some close observation of actual behaviours, watch this and this and this. It's not for the faint hearted though!

Possibly the most striking things about football violence is that it is an almost exclusively male activity, despite women making up about 12% of football crowds. Which makes you wonder what would happen if a similar phenomenon appeared in the world of women. Perhaps shopping?

Friday, 11 May 2007

Bosman (Bosman)

There is a rumour about Nils Eric Johansson of The Foxes (revision tip: Known as Nisse Johansson see post 23rd April - click on the label below). The rumour is that IFK Gothenburg of Sweden have approached Nisse about a move there at the end of the season. A Bosman transfer.

The name Bosman refers to the Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman, who successfully challenged in the courts, practises which effectively prevented players from transferring freely once their contract had ended. Since then players have been able to do this and Johansson will be in the position to do this when the season is over.

Players who transfer in this manner appear on transfer lists as Name (Bosman). Good thing the ruling was in 1990 so the player in question is no longer a professional footballer. Because otherwise he would be listed as Bosman (Bosman).

OK. I know it was a crap joke but its Friday night. That's all there is to it.

Have a nice weekend

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Handball Sir

You may be asking yourself - "Why has she posted a picture of Prince William on a football blog?"

If you are asking yourself that question then it is probably because you don't know that Prince William, or rather Prince William of Wales as he is properly titled, is the current President of the Football Association. Has been since May 2006.

The bad news is that he is an Aston Villa fan. Still, no-one is perfect. And importantly he does reportedly have a passion for both playing and watching football.

Of course he is generally associated with a rather squeaky clean image, and there are even some who hope this will have an influence on football hooliganism. Not that he hasn't got himself into the odd scrape mind you.

Doesn't he know 'hand ball' is against the rules?

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Don't Cry For Me Argentina

On 27th April 2007, West Ham United were given a record fine. £5.5 million pounds. Wow.

The charges related to two Argentinian Footballers, Carlos Tervez and Javier Mascherano. Their transfer to West Ham was set up in a way that is against FA (Revision tip: Football Association, governing body of football) rules. And then when the arrangements were questioned, the club lied to the F. A. Officials. Naughty. Very naughty.

There is a big row raging now because some clubs believe they should have given 10 penalty points, which would have course meant that they were relegated. West Ham retort that it is right and proper that the end of season positions are based upon performance on the field not off it. Complicated stuff.

Where do I sit in this debate? Probably on my sofa, guitar in hand, lost in my singing.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

They Think It's All Over ........

I thought I was in for a quiet couple of months. What with the end of the season and every one at Leicester City still reeling from the shock of being under threat of relegation for a time.

But no. The pre-season build-up for the 2007-2008 season has started. Announcements about a new kit deal, which means that kit will be for 2 seasons not one, providing better value for money for fans. Declarations from Milan Mandaric that he is prepared to spend money on getting a good squad together, despite only imposing a modest increase in season ticket prices. Speculation from the fans about what players, if any, should and might stay.

Still that doesn't stop me from pausing to reflect. This is my 53rd post on this blog. I have been learning about football for less than 2 months. The impact upon my life has been massive.

Apart from the discipline of blogging every day (yeah well alright most days - a girl's gotta have time for lovin' you know), I make a point of listening to the radio regularly to catch the sports news. BBC Five Live has become my default station. I am researching football topics most nights for information and supporting material for my blog. I turn newspapers over on the shelf to read the back page without having to pay for it. I generate conversations with people to share my knowledge and find out theirs. Old friends shake their heads and roll their eyes because they know what I am like when I am on a mission.

Worst of all though. I have started fantasising about having a Leicester City shirt!

Do you think it's all over? Do you think I am hooked?

Monday, 7 May 2007

Sex It Up

Yes yes. I know I posted about the women's FA cup final yesterday but I am going to post about it again today. Well it is a girl's blog after all!

Arsenal, as expected, won - 4 - 1. Again. For it would seem that they have won several times before. 7 in fact. They certainly seem to be top dogs at the moment. This is the 4th trophy they have won this year.

The club is about to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. Evidence that Women's football is still in its infancy in many ways. So to the anonymous commenter on my previous post, perhaps we should not be surprised if it is slower and less clever. Less sophisticated altogether. Just like men's football. Look at a match from bygone times.

What will be interesting is to see how quickly it grows. Learning from the men's game.

They have a long way to go though. Image will be a critical start. There is a world cup coming up later this year. That could attract more attention than they have ever had before. But if you look at the England team, whilst they look quite sporty, they do not look beautiful. Not in a modern, image-conscious society such as we live in. They look very ordinary, which is of course beautiful in its own important way. But is it not the 'beautiful' society expects of its superstars. Society seeks perfection.

They need to find a way to bring sex into Women's football. Not necessarily in a pretty, dainty sort of way. But in a way that expresses what it is like to be a beautiful and accomplished woman.

I am going to make a point of watching the Women's World Cup in September. I will be interested to see how much coverage it gets and how it is viewed. And I will of course be interested to see how England get on.

See you tomorrow

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Up The Arsenal

If I told you that Leicester City lost 1 -4 to Wolves today, you would probably want to just switch off right now. Me too bud!

So we are not going to talk about that. We are going to talk about the FA cup final tomorrow. Between Charlton Athletic and Arsenal - LADIES TEAMS! Arsenal are favourites to win, having been on excellent form all season. Charlton are talking it up though and say they will be going their fighting.

I notice they are playing at the N***s F*****t ground. Only just over 17,000 tickets sold. I guess that is why they don't go to Wembly.

I see the match is going to be shown on the television. Wonder who will watch? Girls maybe. A few perverts probably. And hopefully some men too.

Who knows they might see something that could add a new dimension to the men's game and take the world by storm.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Denis Wise What A W**ker

This post is actually being written tomorrow in real time. I was feeling guilty for not posting for 2 days and as I have plenty to post about I thought I might as well just pretend I put one of the posts on yesterday.

And talking of yesterday (that is yesterday from the date of this post not yesterday from when it was written which would be the date of this post), if you look back you will see that Eric put a comment on my post. If you are too lazy to look back then I will tell you that Eric suggested I find out why Leicester fans hate Dennis Wise so much.

Following Eric's trail led me to his blog site (or rather one of them - he has several). I noticed a bit of a theme emerging, based upon a passionate loathing of both Leeds United and Dennis Wise.

Which led me to thinking there might be something worth following up. So I did.

Dennis Wise used to play for Leicester City. He already had a controversial record before arriving. His career was described in the Sunday Mirror in 2004 as "a litany of pettifogging petty thuggery ", and the article nicknamed him "The Beast". He was known for violent behaviour on and off the field, despite only being small.

But the reason that he is so hated by Leicester City fans is that he was eventually sacked from The Foxes for breaking the jaw of his team mate, Calum Davidson. Not as you might expect on the field or in training. After all, fighting on the pitch does not seem that unusual. But following a poker game.

Of course Mr Wise does appear to have some fox in him. For the wily creature decided not to take any personal risk when he got he took his revenge on Davidson and assaulted him whilst he was asleep. Nasty!

Still Denis Wise and Leeds United (revision tip: who are the devil) are where they belong now. In hell!

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Fallen Angels

Do you remember me posting a while back about there being certain teams that Foxes fans hate? Like Derby and Nottingham Forest? The latter so much so that I have noticed on the message boards that some fans can't even bring themselves to type the name, referring to them as "N***S F*****T" or similar.

From what I can make out, there is a team they hate most of all. And that team is Leeds United.

I should have guessed. There were lots of chants about them at the match last Saturday. And about Denis Wise, who I have since found out is their manager. Here is an example of one:

"Wise, Wise whatever have you done,
You've put Leeds in Division One,
You won't win a Cup,
You won't win a shield,
Your biggest game will be Huddersfield"

Anyway Leeds are in a spot of bother. A big spot of bother actually. As the chant suggests they are being relegated from the Championship to Division One - or are just about to be unless there is some miracle. How shameful!

Not only that, but they have grave financial problems. Rumours are rife that they are about to go into administration. They are hoping that a saving angel with rush in to buy the club at the eleventh hour. They only have until Wednesday afternoon though, when they play that last match. They will be docked 10 points if they go into administration and after the match on Wednesday that would come off next year's points.

To top it all, just five or six years ago Leeds were up there. In the Premiership and in the final of the European Champions Cup. They went mad buying loads of players who did not in the end deliver enough and their financial problems started. Since then they have slid downhill.

Talk about angels falling from grace. Mind you, who is the most famous fallen angel of them all? Why Satan of course.

Which makes Leeds - The Devil!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

You'll Never Walk Alone

Poor Jose Mourinho! (Revision tip: Jose is manager of Chelsea). His team played Liverpool in the return leg of the semi-final of the European Champions League last night. Liverpool won in a penalty shootout (Revision tip: They have a penalty shootout when neither team wins at the end of the game and after a period of extra time called "Extra Time").

Sad enough that they lost in such a way. Sad too as Chelsea look like being 'also rans' in other title challenges, including the Premiership (which is all but won by Manchester United now). Most sad, in my view, however, is that 'the special one' does not appear to cope with defeat with much dignity. The media has been full of reports about ungracious comments that he has made during the last few days. These include personal comments about fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo as well as declaring that decisions about penalties are consistently weighted against his team.

On the other hand, whilst his apparent lack of sportsmanship does grate, there is something very compelling about his passion. I read a great story that two years ago he was banned for a period from contact with his players for making ungracious comments about a referee. Rumour has it that he went to the quarter final of the European Cup in which Chelsea were playing. It is suggested that he maintained communication with his fitness coach, Rui Faria, through an earpiece hidden under Faria's woolly hat. Ten minutes before the end of a game Chelsea won 4-2 he was reportedly smuggled out of the stadium in a laundry basket. When asked if this was true he said "The truth is like oil, but the reality is that sometimes it appears too late. I was suspended for two games, I don't want to say anything more about that, only that the oil came to the surface."

Oh and there is one more thing. He is absolutely gorgeous.

So Jose, if you happen to read this and ever find yourself in a laundry basket again - you don't have to walk alone. Just give me a bell!

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Singing From The Heart

I went to a funeral recently.

Not the most extraordinary of events. But what struck me was the quality of the singing. Or rather lack of it. And it wasn't just because it was a funeral. I have been to various events such as weddings and christenings during the last few years. Same thing there.

I have wondered if this is nothing new and I have just got older and see things differently. You know, remembering things in the past differently. I suspect not however. I think we are a nation that has forgotten how to sing.

I am not sure if singing has ever been that cool for boys in my life time. Pop singing was OK of course but church singing - only for cissy choir boys.

You are probably wondering what this has got to do with football. Well what prompted this reflection was seeing the fans singing on Saturday at Barnsley. I saw men who I am sure have not even played air guitar for the last 20 years, singing their hearts out. And I saw it again tonight when I saw Liverpool v Chelsea on the telly at the pub tonight. Men singing with their hearts.

I love singing. I have only discovered it recently. It makes me feel whole. It has such a healing power.

So if football turns out to be about nothing more than getting men to sing - with their hearts - then I think it is the most valuable phenomenon of modern times.