Sunday, 30 September 2007

Spooks And Spirits

Sorry for the absence. Still having problems with my Broadband.

I suspect Leeds United fans had a hand in making some of the equipment. Either that or there are spooks in it. Anyway, it is not working properly.

So The Foxes played The Potters yesterday. Score 1 - 1.

This is what Melton Fox, one of The Foxs fans had to say about our performance:

"Nothing to say, other than a nondescript performance from a nondescript bunch of players."

Interestingly, another fan, Dikin, talks about the notion of 'team'. He says that whilst there are some better players in the squad this year, he still doesn't see a 'team'.

I say interestingly because it is something I have been thinking about too.

Remember the replay match against F*****t? Well I think it is significant that The Foxes went on to win that game.

My theory is that it was team spirit that worked for them that night. They were joined in an act of sportsmanship and it led to a feeling of being part of something bigger. That 'spirit' was then captured in the way they played.

Well it's a theory anyway.

Meanwhile, I will be on the telephone first thing tomorrow to see if I can get a bit of 'team spirit' from BT.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Bloody Nose

Leicester City - 1 goal

Aston Villa - 1 bloody nose

Matty Fryatt - there's only 1 Matty Fryatt!!!!!!

Pie Fight At The OK Corral

The Leicester City fan sites have been buzzing for the last few days. Not about the League Cup match against Aston Villa tonight but about an article in the Leicester Mercury .

In it, Milan Mandaric has spoken out about the conflict between himself and the fans. He has invited disgruntled fans to meet with him tomorrow night to air their concerns at The Walkers.

It's a brave move. There are a few cynics that see it as something of a publicity stunt but most fans seem to recognise the gesture for what it is.

One of the key questions is just what went on behind the scenes that led MM to sack Martin Allen. Rumours continue to be rife and include allegations of bullying (which have been about since he first left) and drug taking (specifically coke).

Mandaric's comments in The Mercury hint that his reasons were significant and the pathway to his decision pretty clear. It does suggest extreme behaviour of some sort, although beyond that it is speculation.

What I like about the article, as so often with this man, is that he talks about his feelings in amongst the business issues. It is really refreshing in these days of spin and where too much emotion is seen as a barrier to hard business practice to see someone who is prepared to put himself out there.

He is also prepared to meet his critics face to face:

"For 45 minutes, maybe the Walkers Stadium will become the OK Corral on Thursday night. I am prepared for that."

OK he is quite cute and will have an eye to the PR opportunities. On balance though I reckon he is pretty genuine.

That's what I think anyway - and of course as a football fan I am not only allowed but indeed expected to have a view.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Tiddy Oggie Señor

Cornish tin miners were responsible to introducing football to Mexico. So I read on a large display board at Paddington Station today.

The display did not mention their other key export to Latin America - the Cornish pastie.

Amazing isn't it. Where there is football there are pies.

Mexico has of course continued its involvement in football since then, qualifying for 13 world cups, including the last four. And if a report earlier this week is to be believed, Argentinian Diego Maradona is set to return to coaching there.

The football tradition in Cornwall, however, seems to have flourished to a slightly lesser degree. In fact if you were to count the number of Cornish clubs in the Premiership, Championship and top two league divisions you would find .... um...... none.

Reassuringly the Cornish FA does have its own website, with articles on important topics such as goal post safety.

Of course the Mexicans do have a distinct advantage, being the speedy types.

Monday, 24 September 2007

It's Grass Jim But Not As We Know It

"Lord make us better persons
More considerate towards others
More honest with ourselves and more faithful to you
Make us generous enough to want sincerely
To do your will whatever it may be
Help us find our true vocation in life
And grant that through it
We may find happiness ourselves and bring happiness to others
We ask this through Christ our Lord"

This is the prayer on the website for Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College.

The link with football? Well the school has recently installed a state-of-the-art artificial surface for their football academy. It is the only pitch in this country made of the same materials as the Luzhnike pitch in Moscow where England will play Russia on the 17th October.

The plan is that the England team will practise there on the 15th to get them used to the surface.

Of course, artificial football surfaces have not always been as well regarded as they are now. Indeed they remain controversial, but not to the extent they were in the 80s and 90s.

Advantages include:
  • Good in places with extreme climates
  • Are more robust and last longer
Disadvantages include:
  • They have to be regularly disinfected because the accumulate body fluids (yuck!)
  • Can result in injury for certain manoeuvres (such as sliding tackles)
The worst disadvantage, however, is the risk of Turf Toe. Nasty!

Clearly one of the joys of living in the Space Age.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

What have Marcel Marceau and Arsene Wenger got in common?

Well apart from being French, and artists in their field, they are both good at mime - apparently. Or in Marceau's case, sadly, was, as he died yesterday.

The similarity probably ends there though. Unless Wenger likes Michael Jackson too.

Marceu is regarded by many as the master of mime - the art "that dare not speak its name"

Sounds a bit sinister doesn't it. A bit "Harry Potter".

Arsene, on the other hand, is viewed by his admirers as the master football manager.

No doubt others would disagree, citing the likes of Ferguson, Clough and Shankley. It would seem that most would accept that he is up there with the best though.

Not that he hasn't got his more "sinister side". I think that probably just shows he is human though.

Reassuring in a way.

Saturday, 22 September 2007


It has to be said. The Leicester City camp is not a particularly happy one at the moment.

2 -0 defeat at Charlton today. According to the fans that attended the performance of The Foxes left a lot to be desired. There was even a fight between two LCFC fans.

And the women are out of the World Cup too. Beaten by America although it sounds as if they put up a decent fight in the first half.

As one of the fans on the message board put it - " I feel sad"

Friday, 21 September 2007

Too Sexy For My Shirt

This is where our boys will be tomorrow. Bit of a library according to this roving reporter. Despite the obvious downsides of supporting the club though, (the first being that it is not Leicester City), the Charlton fans do try to look on the bright side.

I can't go but I will be wearing my shirt of course. And eating pies. Just so I feel part of it.

It's kind of interesting how the wearing of football shirts by fans has become such an important part of the culture. There is a long tradition of teams having distinctive 'uniforms' , so I guess wearing your team's shirt is one way of honouring the history of the club. I like wearing my shirt most though because I feel sexy in it!

Anyway, whatever the psychology or sociology of it, I will wear mine with a black armband tomorrow. I am going to stop obsessing about him soon I promise, but sad to hear today that The Special One is almost certainly leaving England.

Still, you have to let things go in life don't you. I did need to solve a mystery about him first though before I say goodbye.

Did you ever wonder what happened to his dog?

Good news - I have found him!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

It's Over For The Coat

If Mandaric had just waited a few more days................................

Imagine a certain gorgeous Portugese man being our new manager. Now that would be something.

I would have to consider selling up and moving the Leicester of course. Just so that I could attend every home game. The man is just so beautiful. So special. Yum yum!

It is sad though. After all he has achieved.

I guess that is just football.

It will probably be like all good things. Chelsea will only truly know what they had now they have lost it.

As the Special One once said:

"Maybe one day when I become 60 and maybe one day when I am in the same league for 20 years and I know everybody and everybody respects me a lot I will have this power to speak and people tremble a little bit."

My legs have started already just thinking about him.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Take Pride

So - heroes in the eyes of the world. Not just in this country. This report is from Sweden (my thanks to Steven on the Talking Balls site for that one). Even some of those grumpy old fans are having to admit to a sense of pride in the gesture made by The Foxes last night.

Meantime all is not completely rosy. Mandaric is starting to get a bit cheesed off about people moaning about his methods. He claims he has the interests of the club at heart in all he does. There are those, however, who suggest he thrives on instability.

I don't know what to make of it all really.

I do know that the girlies are doing all right though. 6 - 1 win over Argentina and through to the quarter finals. Guess that makes them heroines.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007



We won!

Its Not The Winning...............

I was going to write this post later when I knew the outcome of LCFC v Nottingham F*****t game but I have been moved to write earlier.

The reason?


In these days when money sometimes seems to be the central driver in football in this country, how refreshing to see this quality bubble to the surface.

If you remember, tonight's game is a re-run of the earlier match, abandoned at half time when Clive Clarke suffered a double heart attack. F*****t were 1 - 0 up at that point.

Tonight's match began with the announcement that the scoreline would begin where it was left off. Even more poignant as it is Gary Megson's first match and the opposition is his last club, which he left in difficult circumstances.

And as I type I have just heard Leicester have equalised. I hope they win. Even if they don't though I consider the decision a good one. Never mind what the rule book says. Sometimes you have to work to stronger laws. Such as natural justice.

Combining sportsmanship with winning football is the best outcome of course.

Come on you Foxes!!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Chin Up

It's never happened before - ever.

In fact, if I told my friends they would never believe it. I can hardly believe it myself.

I watched Match of the Day last night for the first time in my life! Not only that but I was on my own and watching a really crappy telly (signal round here is really poor unless you have satellite).

Even more alarmingly I found it entertaining and informative. I particularly liked the analysis after each of the match highlights. You know the bit where they draw circles around players and explain where mistakes were made.

Highlights for me included:
  • A goal in the top left hand corner of the net by Emmanuel Adebayor of Arsenal which was executed with skill, control and grace
  • A shot of Roy Keane standing on the touchline. (What a sexy man!)
  • An apoplectic Jose Marinio when Chelsea had a goal disallowed (wrongly in my view)
The show is now hosted, by our very own Gary Linneker. I have to say though, I think I will always associate the programme with that old stalwart, Jimmy Hill. Renowned for his prominent chin, he has other facets too.

For example, he seems to attract an ... er ... slightly unusual fan club. He has also been the subject of homophobic chanting by Scottish fans. He has appeared on Fantasy Football as a star guest and has a demonstrated a sense of humour.

And of course, stroking your chin and saying "Oh yeah - Jimmy Hill" means you think someone is lying to you.

Next match for LCFC is Notts F*****t. Which they will win 6 - 0 (she said rubbing her chin)

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Best Foot Forward

Until I started learning about football I thought a metatarsal was probably some sort of dinosaur.

Now I know, if course, that they are the five long bones in the foot. They are susceptible to injuries, which are caused by direct trauma (such as stamping or a hard blow), excessive rotational forces or overuse. Treatment involves the use of ice and sometimes a removable plastic cast.

The injury is common in professional footballers and has been on the increase in recent years, a phenomenon attributed to the use of lighter weight football boots. High profile victims include David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville. And today, it would seem, Emile Heskey too.

That will be a blow for beleaguered Steve McLaren, especially as Heskey has played such a major part in the recent change in fortune for England.

Unfortunately, even with all players having two healthy feet, Leicester were unable to secure a win today. 1 -1 at home to QPR. What a shame they were not able to replicate Brazil's performance against China today.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Boys Don't Cry

Did your mummy ever tell you boys don't cry?

A bad philosophy of course. Potentially harmful to their mental health.

That doesn't stop there being lots of pressure not to though.

Interestingly, this article suggests that it is more acceptable in some circumstances. For example, tears within a religious context can be seen as a strength.

Perhaps not surprising then that in the world of football, which of course some might argue is the 'new religion', men bursting into tears and weeping happens now and then.

There is something poignant about a grown man crying though don't you think?

Of course not everyone is quite so kind. Take this for example. Or this.

I guess that makes Gazza a role model. Bless him.

No tears for the girls today though. They held the tournament favourites, Germany, to a scoreless draw.

Nice one.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Megson, Mandaric and Mystery

You're probably wondering how I did it.

Predict that Gary Megson would be our manager I mean.

Well maybe it was this. Or perhaps I did this. You probably suspect this. Or this.

Of course I am not going to tell you. A girl needs a retain an air of mystery you know.

And talking of mystery, it's all happening at the Women's World Cup. Never mind the actual football. Police and FIFA have been called in over allegations that the Chinese have been spying on the Danes. Of course, if they did then it worked because they beat them 3 - 2.

England have a break until Friday when they play Germany. Lets hope the Germans score a few less than Monday.

And finally, just before I go, some late news in.

Rumours that Gary Megson is terrified Milan Mandaric will sack him after just one game if Leicester City do not beat QPR this Saturday have been fuelled further when he was stopped for speeding on the way to The Walkers Stadium today. He told police "I'll do anything for three points"

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The Dog's B******s

Poor Sir Alex Ferguson. He copped for one of these on Monday. Just goes to show that even a knight of the realm has his vulnerable spots.

Kevin Reynolds, the man responsible, will be sentenced at a later date but is likely to go to prison.

Of course football is no stranger to the occasional low-aimed mishap.

Ouch! Oohh! Owww!

As for Sir Alex - he might have sore nuts but he is still the Dog's B******s!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Love Football

I want to tell you about Sandy.

Sandy is someone I work with.

Sandy loves football. More than anyone I have ever met. He knows everything about everything.

He used to play himself years ago on a professional basis. Now he indulges his passion by watching it, mostly on the telly. He's got every satellite channel you can imagine that shows football. And if there is more than one match on at the same time, he gets additional TV sets so that he can watch them all simultaneously.

He reads this blog sometimes and has encouraged my growing interest in the sport. Every day when he comes into work he talks about the latest football news with me. And recently he collected vouchers from The Sun for six days running for a free football skills video. How sweet is that.

He doesn't support any particular team - he just loves watching good football.

Which is probably why he has chosen to watch the Women's World Cup.

PS: For your information Andy from Kenilworth, the scorer was Kelly Smith.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Bending It Like Beckham

Football is now the biggest female participation sport in this country.

I know - I was a bit taken aback when I read it too. But as the Women's World Cup kicks off today, with a headline-grabbing scoreline for Germany (11-0 against Argentina!) there is, at least for a short time, an increased focus on the sport.

Brian Barwick, Chief Executive of the FA claims to be a big fan and is in China himself to watch the tournament.

Anyway a significant factor in the growth of the game was the 2002 film "Bend It Like Beckham". Great movie. If you haven't seen it yet I suggest you get out and get a copy right away girls.

Meanwhile, back at Leicester City the ... er.. slightly less headline-grabbing news is that we are down to a shortlist of 4 for the manager's job.

You'd better hurry up Milan. The girls are taking over.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

I Have A Dream

You'd think, wouldn't you, that there was enough football in the world. But I have discovered recently that for some people watching matches and following football on the media is not sufficient: they want more. And so they wander off into the realms of Fantasy.

Fantasy Football.

Players select a 'fantasy team' out of players in the real football league. The progress of those individuals in then tracked and points awarded or deducted in the fantasy game according to what happens in real life.

Still with me?

So, for example, points might be awarded for some or all of the following achievements.
  • Playing in a match
  • Scoring a goal
  • Scoring a hat-trick
  • Making an assist
  • Keeping a clean sheet
  • Being rated highly in a newspaper report
  • Being Man of the Match

As well as the above, points can be deducted for some or all of the following:

  • Conceding a goal
  • Receiving a yellow or red card
  • Missing a penalty kick
  • Scoring an own goal
It's quite a neat idea really.

The concept was used as a theme for this show.

Wish they would bring it back. I might understand it now.

Friday, 7 September 2007

None Must Sleep

Vanish, oh night! Set, stars! Set, stars! At dawn I will win! I will win! I will win!

The translation of the words at the end of the aria Nessun Dorma (None Must Sleep), made famous, of course, by Luciano Pavarotti as an English football anthem during the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

As someone who loves opera I have always liked anything that makes it more accessible. Simon Barnes writing in The Times today, however, suggests that this unusual marriage actually resulted in political and cultural change:

"It was a validation. Pavarotti’s lung-busting anthem of conquest sent out the message: it’s all right to like football. It really is acceptable to allow football to stir your spirit, lift your heart and set free your mind. Football is life-enhancing, football is another form of opera."

My post has of course been prompted by the sad death of Pavarotti yesterday. A giant of a man with a gargantuan voice. He will be a sad loss to the world of music. And no doubt fondly remembered by many for his contribution to football.

And love of pies of course.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Keep Your Trust In Me

With the tension and speculation about who our new manager will be reaching an all time high today, with yet another rumour (this time that Paul Sturrock at Swindon has been approached), I think we need a little sing- along to chill us out.

So girls, link arms with some gentle swaying from side to side and to the tune of Que Sera Sera:

When I was wondering about our manager

I asked Milan who will it be
Will it be Jewell, will it be Warnock

Here's what he said to me

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
I must get it right you see
Que sera, sera
Keep your trust in me

So I said to him the fans want to know
I have Megson up in my head
They think it Roeder, Sturrock or Dowie
Here is what Mandaric said

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be

I must get it right you see

Que sera, sera

Keep your trust in me

So I guess we will just have to wait

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Falling With Grace

There are a quite a few members of the England squad currently out of the team due to injury. Beckham, Campbell, Lampard for example.

It must be so frustrating for players to be injured. And yet there is also a culture of faking injury on the pitch when it suits.

In fact some might argue faking injury and its related activity of diving are art forms in themselves. So girls, I have been undercover to find out more about the art of the football dive.

You may recall that when I reported on the match on Saturday I mentioned that some of the Plymouth team executed a number of dives during the match. I therefore thought that might be a good place to start.

With my hidden camera I filmed the Plymouth squad practising their technique recently. Pretty impressive huh?

But it is not until to see a dive executed during a match that you really get to appreciate the sense of timing, flexibility and eye for opportunity this underrated art form requires.

I haven't quite worked out where it fits in the Total Football system but no doubt that is just my ignorance.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Fancy A Nibble?

OK girls. Time to start warming up for the World Cup.

The FIFA Women's World cup starts on 11th September in China. England are ranked 12th.

The squad has been named:

Rachel Brown (Everton), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Casey Stoney (Chelsea), Katie Chapman (Arsenal), Faye White (Arsenal), Mary Phillip (Arsenal), Karen Carney (Arsenal), Fara Williams (Everton), Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), Kelly Smith (Arsenal), Rachel Yankey (Arsenal), Anita Asante (Arsenal), Siobhan Chamberlain (Chelsea), Rachel Unitt (Everton), Sue Smith (Leeds United), Jill Scott (Everton), Jody Handley (Everton), Lianne Sanderson (Arsenal), Vicky Exley (Doncaster Rovers Belles), Stephanie Houghton (Leeds United), Carly Telford (Leeds United)

Under the leadership of the head coach, Hope Powell, the England team fought their way in through qualifying matches last year. Their first match in the tournament will be against Japan.

I'm starting my preparations in plenty of time to avoid the rush. Off to the shops now to stock up on nibbles and a couple of crates of Bacardi Breezer.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Totally Beautiful

I frequently hear football referred to as "the beautiful game". And yesterday my lover said that Arsenal play 'beautiful' football.

Easy words to say, but just what does 'beautiful' mean in footballing terms?

Certainly I can't pretend I saw much that I would describe as beautiful yesterday (apart from the rather swarthy looking fan wearing a retro LCFC shirt), although as I said there were some moments of flow and grace.

Arsenal, it would seem, base their style of play upon a system pioneered by the Dutch, and in particular exemplified by Johan Cruyff (we have met him before), called Total Football. The basic principle rests on the idea that other than the goalkeeper players are not 'fixed' in their positions, allowing a more flexible response to the narrative of the game as it unfolds.

If, for example, a defender sees an opportunity to attack and take the ball forward, they would be 'back-filled' by another player. Sounds like the perfect example of team work to me but it must take time to build with a team. The key, apparently, is space and how it is used.

It contrasts with a system I have been reading about in "How Soccer Explains The World" (yes, we have talked about that before too) called Catenaccio. This system makes use of a 1-3-3-3 formation, including the Sweeper position (further revision reference) and the emphasis is upon strong defence. The idea was to score as early as possible then defend strongly to protect the position. It is not particularly fashionable any more, not least as it can lead to somewhat pedestrian and negative football. Like the baby and the bathwater, however, it should not be discarded completely as it can still be an effective strategy in the right situation.

I wonder which school of thought our new manager will favour.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

The Referee's A W****r

.... according to the fans around me on the terrace today. Yes I was there at Home Park, wearing my Leicester City shirt and cheering the boys on.

Interesting to come back and see the comments on Talking Balls. Clearly other fans were disappointed with the relatively lack lustre performance, although there is also a sense of a point is a point, especially away.

Not that the game wasn't without a few dramas, albeit small. There were some fantastic dives by a number of Plymouth players, which in other circumstances would surely have warranted a BAFTA. The referee also attracted some attention from our end as a result of some curious decisions. I was feeling a bit worried several times when I couldn't work out what he had blown his whistle for, only to realise no-one else, including the players, did either. They even sang a special song to him.

Like the Plymouth fan who rang in to Five Live about the match this evening to say the ref had a blinding game, I too had the thought about blind.

Interesting to look around at some of my fellow fans as well. Next to me were two very pretty girls, with LCFC shirts, printed DUMB and DUMBER. Nice one. And then there was Andy Stevens, who sat next to my lover and kept him entertained, allowing me to concentrate on the match. Finally, and most bizarre of all, I saw my lovers double, only a kind of before and after version, with my lover being the before. I did take the opportunity to point out to him the evidence of what too many pies might lead to.

Overall though it was disappointing. There were some flashes - moments when they seemed in control and working together but I have to say I have come away feeling the Premiership is still a very distant dream.