Thursday, 31 January 2008

Is There Anything New Under The Sun?

If I tried to get away today without at least some reference to the announcement today of Capello's England squad you would probably stop calling me a football fan (that assumes you do at the moment of course).

A few surprises in there, the biggest one to me being the inclusion of Michael Owen, who has only managed one goal since October. And the exclusion of Reading's David Kitson, the highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League. I wonder if his recent behaviour off the pitch had a bearing.

As for the decision to leave Beckham out, whilst at one level I feel sad, another bit of me thinks Beckham deserves better than a token inclusion in the team for his 100th cap. If he can play in good form and have earned his place (which Capello has hinted is entirely possible), the experience will ultimately have far more personal value.

In the meantime David, if you are reading this and need a little TLC to make it all better just let me know.........

There I've done it now so let's talk about what I really want to discuss, which is the coup being planned by Liverpool supporters to oust Hicks and Gillett. It is obviously very early days but if it were to come off, the ramifications for English football would be massive.

It's not a new concept - in fact it already works well on the Continent, but it would certainly be a first for the Premier League.

Indeed when you get down to it, there is probably nothing completely new under the sun. But things do come in different shades and flavours. Like the new look England squad. Without its usual topping.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Handbags At Dawn

I'm not usually prone to schadenfreude as you know, but I can't help a wry smile about the antics at Newcastle. Keegan is adamant that the appointment of Dennis Wise as Executive Director of Football was no surprise to him and that his position as manager has not been undermined.

I can't help feeling that he protesteth a little too much though. What do you think? I see handbags at dawn.

Much more interesting though, I think, is the immienent announcement of the England team for the forthcoming friendly against Switzerland on February 6th.

Will he or won't he include Beckham, if only for the one match. Many notable voices are speaking out in support of him getting his 100th cap for England, joining the elite group comprising Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Billy Wright and Peter Shilton. Voices such as that of Sir Alex Ferguson, Steve McLaren and Sven Goran Eriksson.

And who will be Captain? I favour Gerrard.

As for other players, I would have David James in goal and Rooney would definitely feature. Be good to see some new faces too though. Kitson, Bentley and Young must be contenders.

And what of those who don't get picked and think they should? More handbags at dawn perhaps?

Oh well - not long to wait now. I will just have to manage my excitement somehow in the meantime.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Felicitous Fox

I arrived home from work reasonably early yesterday - about 5pm. I raced around sorting washing, unloading the dishwasher, laying the table and of course writing my post.

I was on a mission.

When my lover arrived home about 6 I watched him prepare our tea (far be it from me to interfere!) then after he accompanied me on the guitar for a few choruses of "Red Neck Woman" we donned our Parkas and made our way down to the pub at the bottom of the hill.

Why? Because The Foxes were on Sky 1 of course, playing Crystal Palace.

We didn't get to see the start of the match because it was Vera Duckworth's funeral. The Landlord feared a riot if he tried to switch over. At the break though he did, much to the disgust of one of the other customers, who was dressed as Captain Birdseye and said football is ruining TV. He stomped off in disgust, muttering that he would never get home across the fields in time to see the next episode.

The match itself was hard fought on a dreadful pitch. It was like a mud bath at the Walkers (it did look rough when we were there a couple of weeks ago). One of my favourite moments of the evening was half time when a whole load of men came out bearing garden forks to tidy up the pitch. Talk about spitting in the wind.

All the commentators on the radio this morning are saying it was not a very interesting game. It wasn't Premiership football that is for sure but there were times when The Foxes put something together, passing, placing, running and generally trying to work as a team. They looked as if they had heart and I was struck to see Olly presenting as engaged and relaxed. He is clearly relishing the challenge of turning the team around and there are signs that he is doing just that.

Our late goal has put us 15th in the table (5 places up) and made me a very happy Fox.

Leicester 'till I die!

Monday, 28 January 2008

Great Balls Of Fire

So Manchester United and Arsenal have drawn each other in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Which perhaps puts paid to a conspiracy theory I heard about this weekend.

The suggestion was that the draw is 'fixed' to ensure that some of the top teams do not draw each other too early in the tournament. The method used to achieve this, allegedly, is that the balls for the big team are microwaved before the draw. The person dipping their hand in to select one then knows to put a hot ball with a cold one.

Like I say it is just a theory.

If you were going to try to fix things though you would probably want to make it a bit less obvious than this.

I'm not the only one muttering either. This blogger has some question marks about Chelsea's seemingly blessed pathway through the competition.

Lets hope there is no truth in any of these rumours and that the FA only use their microwave to heat up their pies.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

The Latex One Two

Manchester City suffered a cup defeat at the hands of Sheffield United today.

United were delighted when a groundbreaking new tactic proved a winner. Bryan Robson said:

"We knew Manchester City have been playing well this season and I needed to come up with something a bit special for the lads. The idea came to me when I was watching my grandson and his friends at his birthday party last week. I saw this little boy kick some balloons into the middle of the room then sneak a piece of cake when everyone was distracted. I thought 'I want a piece of that action'.

I couldn't have imagined just how well it would work though. It was like having a 12th man"

When asked whether the lucky first goal was really more a matter of luck than good planning he said:

"We are The Blades. Cutting edge tactics is what we are about"

Robson has dismissed suggestions that the latex one-two will become a regular feature of United's play however. He said:

"You can't always have your cake and eat it. We will be looking for other innovative ways to surprise our opponents. I am already building an idea around pass the parcel but that is all I am prepared to say at this point. We will be judged on our results"

I'm sure you will Bryan.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Yes ... . And?

The Foxes have appointed a new chief executive, Paul Aldridge. He is coming from West Ham.

Which is the team, coincidentaly, Russell Brand supports.

I didn't even know the job was up for grabs. Was it advertised I wonder? I might have considered it if I had been asked..........

Anyway, Paul Aldridge may be a name you will remember. He was chief executive of West Ham when Tevez and Mascherano were bought in and there have been allegations that he lied to the FA.

Interesting that Milan should bring in someone who has been accused of malpractice, at a time when he is still being investigated himself over allegations of money laundering (at least I have heard nothing about the case being dropped).

Now there's a man who says " Yes .... and?" to the world.

As for Mr Aldridge, well he clearly has a good pedigree. In addition to 1o successful years with The Hammers, his is obviously a skilled pie eater.

What other credentials could he possibly need?

Friday, 25 January 2008

Pie In The Sky

So "Special K" is not going to have Alan Shearer as his assistant.

But he has said that Shearer could play a "worthwhile role"

Which has got this girl to thinking.

I wonder what that role will be.

There is no doubt that having Shearer on board would have distinct advantages. Every city needs a legend and for Newcastle, Shearer is one of them.

But how to include him..........

Well I have some ideas.

What about club minstrel? After all he's got music in his soul.

Or choir leader. He does seem to have the gift inspiring others musically.

Of course, that sort of thing might not be enough for those in whom he inspires passion and emotion. Whether positive or negative.

And if all else fails, he could always make the pies

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Let There Be Noise

Its a dangerous old business being a football fan you know.

According to some research a few years ago, over-excitement can increase the risk of heart attack.

And then there are the important health and safety issues relating to noise levels. For example, Sunderland are apparently the noisiest fans in the Premiership, with fans being advised to wear ear defenders to prevent long term damage. Fulham are at the bottom of the league table.
E..v..e..r..t..o..n fans, it seems, have the most staying power.

But none of these examples compare with the difficulties facing the organisers of the Clericus Cup tournament.

You wonder why they feel the need to cheer so loudly. After all they've got God on their side.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Is Football Better Than Sex?

I had another football conversation last night.

My friend Darling (so called because she is one) and I were chatting to my stepson, Bumper Sticker (a Liverpool fan prone to crashing into cars on his motorbike) and two of his mates, (one an Aston Villa supporter and one a Toffees lover). We talked about all sorts, from hair products to, inevitably, football. During this we established that Mr Aston Villa fan uses no hair products whereas Mr Everton uses loads of gel.

This is how part of the conversation went:

Darling: What's so great about football?
Georgina: It's just amazing. Better than any soap opera. You couldn't make up half of the things that go on.
Bumper Sticker: What like you getting on Sky Sports? (he then proceeded to tell the story of how he had been away on a dirty weekend in Blackpool, turned on the TV to see me being interviewed)
No Products: Football's great. Better than sex.
Loadsagel: Better than sex?
No Products: Definitely

Now you might argue that this assertion tells us more about the sex life of No Hair Products. On the other hand, you could say that what he was describing was the depth of passion, of highs and lows that football can bring.

For example, what about the drama surrounding Justin Gregory that has been unfolding today?

A poor, harshly treated Blue Square South league player, discriminated against by the 'jobsworth FA', who seem to be breaking their own rules by imposing a discretionary two match ban. The whole football world outraged, shouting " Justice for Justin".

And then, in true footballing fashion, the story took yet another twist tonight, when Havant's match against Thurrock had to be abandoned part way through because a flood light failed. Meaning that even if the FA were to reverse the two match ban, Gregory would still miss Saturday's match.

Gregory is said to be distraught. Beside himself with anguish and inconsolable, saying a lifetime dream has been shattered.

I bet he's never responded like that to periods of celibacy.

So perhaps No Products has a point.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

We Will Remember Them

So what is the best way for a crowd to pay tribute to others who have died in tragic circumstances?

This is the conundrum currently facing Manchester United.

The idea of celebrating life instead of mourning death is a notion that has gained currency in recent times. I have been to several funerals in the last few years where the dress code was bright colours and the order of the day to tell funny stories and recall happy memories of the person.

I can certainly see the value of this sort of approach, but I am sure too there needs to be a place to express sadness and loss. Especially when there is a degree of tragedy or sacrifice involved.

For example, I can't think it would ever be appropriate to have a joyous celebration for those who died fighting for their country. There needs to be a degree of reverence and respect for their sacrifice.

How best to mark a death, or the memory of one, needs to include those left behind too where appropriate. After all part of the process should, in my view, potentially offer some comfort and healing to loved ones.

So I say good on you Man U for sticking with what seems right and not being tempted by a potentially less challenging, more pragmatic solution.

And may those poor souls rest in peace.

Monday, 21 January 2008

The Cunning Of The Fox

Don't you find Foxes fans in the most unusual places?

During a conversation with a work colleague today it emerged that her son and husband are Leicester City followers. Her son, Tom (hello Tom!), even collects retro kit.

And listening into the conversation was another colleague, Tony, who though sadly an egg-chaser, did say he would check out the blog. (All part of my secret football missionary work to convert the egg-chasers to a proper ball game).

So that is potentially two more readers. Two more to add the approximate 120 readers per day according to my hit counter. Virtually all of whom are very very quiet. Rarely galvanised into leaving a comment.

Shyness? Or maybe stunned into silence with the cleverness of my arguments.........

Or members of the Arsenal library perhaps?

Well despite the quietness of Georgina's readers, its certainly not quiet at the Liverpool Villa match tonight as the visiting team have just gone 1 -2 up.

And if that isn't enough excitement for you, the Ivory Coast won their match today in the African cup of nations.

Do you think Georgina could have been right in her prediction - again?

Sunday, 20 January 2008

When You're Smiling........

Five things that stopped me smiling this weekend are:

  1. Leicester City only managed a draw (though not as sad as I would have been if they had lost)

  2. The Foxes are just hovering above the relegation zone (lets hope they don't crash and burn)

  3. The planned loan of Isaiah Osbourne to Leicester has been called off (an important part of Ollie's improvement plan)

  4. Liverpool have been further destabilised by talk of a takeover (not that I am particularly fond of of Liverpool but I believe in managers being given proper support and treated decently)

  5. Reading were beaten 0 - 2 by Manchester United despite a brave fight (you should see my lover's little face bless him)

On the other hand, five things that have made me smile this weekend are:

  1. The Wise/Bassett empire has suffered an undignified knock at the hands of Doncaster (you see there is a god)

  2. Arsenal's 3 goals against Fulham (all three beautifully scored)

  3. Keegan "opening talks" with Shearer about a role at the club (if he ends up with anything I predict some meaningless ambassador role)

  4. Ollie's weekly column (what a wag he is)

  5. Something else - but I think I will keep that one to myself.............

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Just A Thought

I've had an idea. (Don't worry, I'm eating lots of chocolate to recover).

I don't know if I mentioned before that I work for an older people's charity. One of the things I worry about is how many older men are socially isolated. For many, the world of work provided social support as well as a sense of purpose and value. Retirement, which should in my view be the pinnacle of your life, can become a sad time if those things can't be obtained from other sources.

And then I got to thinking about how many of those older men probably used to go and watch live football on a regular basis when they were younger and how much they would have got out of that.

And then I started to consider the sorts of things that might be getting in the way of some of them going now. Maybe fear for their safety. Perhaps the need for comfort and a fear of being cold. Possibly they just couldn't get there because they have no transport and mobility problems. For some, the loss of the friend they used to go with may be the reason they stopped.

And then I wondered if there was anything that could be done about that. What if a younger person who goes to football was to buddy up with an isolated older man and support him to go to a live match, whether through reassurance about his safety or practical help. I think that sort of arrangement could have the potential to bring joy to both of them.

It's just a thought.

Friday, 18 January 2008


Have you ever had that experience where you said something bad about someone thinking you would never see them again? And then they turn up. And they know what you said.
Michael Owen must be feeling a tad uncomfortable I suspect. His comments in his autobiography "Off The Record" were - well to be blunt - blunt.

Of course he could be describing a real flaw in Keegan's management style. On the other hand what if what he experienced for the first time in his life was someone who did not treat him like a god amongst mortals but as an individual who is part of a team.

Fergie is well known for his philosophy that no individual is greater than the team. Maybe Keegan holds the same belief.

We can only speculate - at this stage at least.

So, to turn now to more important matters, The Foxes play Norwich away tomorrow. Remember them?

I tell you what - I will love it if we beat them. Love it!

Thursday, 17 January 2008


I'm not going to post about Keegan tonight (or "Special K" as I heard a fan refer to him on Talk Sport today. Get me a bucket!). Except to say he is not the Messiah. Trust me.

The other compelling story of the day, which I think would have had more coverage if the Magpies hadn't stolen the limelight, is a certain investigation into the tax affairs of one Fabio Capello.

I'm not going to comment on the ins and outs of the situation of course. Just remember that crossing swords with the Her Majesty's Inspector of Taxes is not always a bad thing. Lester might disagree of course. But for some it has provided unlimited material for a comedy routine. Gems such as;

"I told the Inland Revenue I didn't owe them a penny because I lived near the seaside."


"I thought it would be a good idea to go into Politics, maybe I am a little old... but you know... I'd love to be Chancellor of the Exchequer - That way I'll be united with my money!”

Not that the Tax Inspector is likely to come knocking on any of our doors these days. They don't know where any of us live. Some bizarre story about a computer disc and an errant parcel delivery boy.

And now it's time for me to go. It's just left for me to say;

"What a great day for going up to a Newcastle fan, tickling him behind his elbow and saying Who are ya? Who are ya?"

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Swansea Meet Their Waterloo

4 - 2 to Havant and Waterville.

In a parallel universe where miracles happen.

No Pressure Then

They say never go back.

I heard someone on the radio tonight say that only 1 in 10 people who return to something they have done before, no matter how successfully, manage to make it work.

Surprising then perhaps that Kevin Keegan, known for his cautious, safety conscious ways, is prepared to take that risk.

Having said that, the odds on him becoming manager of the month in the near future are pretty good.

All that assumes, of course, that there is any science to how these things work in the world of football. I mean we are talking about a parallel universe here. One in which the likes of Keegan have a status such as that of the Greek Gods.

I don't want to sound cynical. After all it is hard enough to survive in that harsh environment without people not even giving you a chance. But with that kind of worship there is only one way ultimately and that is down. And the world just isn't the same as it was 11 years ago.

I wish him luck. And that he is able to stay this way. And not this.

PS: I've just heard the radio that Havant and Waterville are beating Swansea at half time. Lets hope they can resist the pressure too.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Its Not Big And Its Not Clever

So giants Liverpool had their return match against Luton who to their embarrassment held them to a draw last week.

With their players worth millions of pounds each they demonstrated their prowess and might by beating a team 2 leagues below them, whose players haven't been paid for goodness knows how long and who have faced an uncertain future for weeks.

Not only that but they decided to prove how brilliant they were by making it a humiliating 5 - o defeat.

Very big and clever.

Diamond Geezer

So it looks as if Luton are reprieved. For now at least.

A consortium led by TV presenter Nick Owen are close to finalising a deal to buy the club.

More well known for his long partnership with Anne Diamond, he is not without a sense of humour (well he is buying Luton for goodness sake!).

Anne, on the other hand has had more ups and downs in her career. In 1989 she hit the headlines after suggesting the best thing about the fall of the Berlin wall was increased shopping opportunities for East Germans! 1991 saw her champion the cause of cot-death following the sad loss of her baby son.

Since then she has struggled with weight problems and championed the cause of pie eaters everywhere. She was also 'outed' as a cheat on Celebrity Fat Club, when it was revealed she had had a gastric band fitted.

More recently she has taken to selling ... er .... diamonds.

Anyway, back to her former sidekick Mr Owen, who has the support of various groups of Luton fans. I reckon that if he can pull this rescue bid off, he'll be seen forever as their diamond geezer.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Shot Across The Bows

The chiefs at Liverpool have admitted that they had talks with Jurgen Klinsmann back in November about the possibility of replacing Benitez. This was at a time when relations between the joint owners and the Liverpool manager were particularly strained.

It could be that they felt obliged to speak out following allegations in some of today's papers to that effect. If, like me, you are slightly more prone to conspiracy theories you might think the news has been 'leaked' in order to send a clear message to Benitez that he is not irreplaceable.

The statement is cleverly constructed of course. They are delighted to have sorted things out, confident things are back on an even keel etc. But with pressure growing given some of the variable results at Liverpool recently, I would not be surprised if Liverpool have a different manager by the beginning of next season.

How quickly everyone falls out of love in the football world. Everyone except the fans and their teams of course.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Dib Dib Dib!

Leicester City have drawn Everton in the FA cup.

Leicester City Women that is.

They play on Sunday 27th January at 1pm. Sadly not at such a prestigious venue as the men though. No Walkers Stadium for the girls. They get Blaby Scout Headquarters!

The venue it seems is host to various other community activities. Such as the Coffee Bar, a weekly meeting group which cites its aims as:
  • To provide a friendly, informal social group for people to drop in for a chat and a coffee.
  • To increase people's confidence and self esteem by attending a community group independently.
  • To provide the opportunity to meet new people.
  • For people to be able to gain information on groups, activities etc. that are happening.
  • To support people during their illness and/or as they are recovering and moving on.
The building is also the home of a number of beaver colonies.

Scouting is a subject close to Ian Holloway's heart at the moment too. His chief scout, Gary Penrice, is apparently the only man he would leave his wife naked with. Unfortunately Olly has not paid as much attention to the "Be Prepared" motto as he should have done, resulting in him forgetting his wife's birthday.

Apparently the "Be Prepared" motto means "you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your DUTY".
  • Be Prepared in Mind by having disciplined yourself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.
  • Be Prepared in Body by making yourself strong and active and able to do the right thing at the right moment, and do it. (Source: Wikipedia)
Sounds like our players could do worse than sign up to this.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

In Out In Out And Shake It All About

I'm in heaven!

I travelled up to The Walkers today with my lover to see my best match ever.

After a bit of scrabbling around to get ready we set off, stopping on the way for a carbo-loaded meal at a rather seedy pub on the outskirts of Leicester (who puts chips with cheese and potato pie for goodness sake?).

I have to confess I wasn't feeling too optimistic given recent performances but I was excited at the prospect of seeing some of our new signings.

And they didn't disappoint. The first goal by Howard after just 11 minutes was fab and the crowd went mad. The Foxes dominated the game throughout and if they had just had better finishing could have been 6 or 7 up to be honest. The second goal by Hayles was excruciating as it trickled over the line.

Oh and of course I am completely in love with Zsolt Laczko.

Despite the flair, there were a couple of howlers. We were very lucky they did not get an equaliser when a mistake by Stearman left the goal wide open. And frustrating too that Kisnorbo got himself booked. Other than that though Coventry were pretty unimpressive . To the point that Dowie apologised to their fans afterwards! And one of the assistant referees was clearly a secret Foxes supporter ,given the number of times he awarded offside against Coventry when they weren't. I thought it was only girls who weren't supposed to know the offside rule!

Overall though they played like a team. Definitely the best football I have ever seen them play. Well done those Foxes.

And as if the game was not entertaining enough on its own (which it was), Mr Holloway's antics on the touch line were the icing on the cake. He appeared in the technical area every now and then, making somewhat obscure but grand gestures. An arm out here. A leg out there. The odd little foot shuffle and a shaking of the head.

Meantime my poor lover's team lost to Aston Villa 3 -1. Still I cheered him up by pointing out that at least he isn't a Newcastle fan today.

As for me - I''m doing the Hokey Kokey!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Its A Sad Bad Mad World

I don't know about you but I feel really sorry for the staff, players and fans of Luton Football club.

As Kevin Blackwell and other coaching staff tender their resignation, and fans watch players being sold off wholesale, you have to wonder where it will all end.

Even sadder is that in such difficult circumstances they are playing well. They have only lost one out of their last 13 matches, and recently took Liverpool to a draw in the FA Cup.

Not bad for a League 1 team on their uppers!

They are called the Hatters because of the town's historic links with hat making but you can't help thinking the fans probably think they are in the middle of a mad hatter's tea party.

Well here is a little something to cheer them up.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

... and another one's gone and another one's gone. Another one bites the dust.

Poor Sam.

Where did it all go wrong?

Well after 8 years of success at Bolton, who he not only took into the Premiership, but to just below the big 4 in the tables, I guess you can see why he was looking for a new challenge. Newcastle is bigger and seems a 'hungrier' club. I have heard numerous commentators in recent weeks talk about the 'unrealistic expectations' of Newcastle fans who are ambitious and think they are bigger than they are.

How different it might all have been if his bid to succeed Sven as England manager had succeeded. (I wonder if he would have done any better than Steve McLaren). Or if Newcastle had not had a change of chairman within just a few weeks, Freddy Shepherd being replaced by Mike Ashley. And what if some of his purchases had proved better quality, rather than the likes of Joey Barton, who whatever his skills, has suffered injuries and more recently spent the New Year in prison.

Life is full of "what if's" of course but you can't help feeling some sympathy for the man. Because when it actually boils down to it, the team is currently 11th in the Premiership (higher than they were this time last year) and he has only held the tenure for 8 months. Hardly sufficient time to turn things around.

The most distasteful aspect of all this for me, however, is the suggestion that Alan Shearer should be his successor. Untried as a manager at any level (he is not even a qualified coach), my impression of him (admittedly based upon only a few appearances as a Match Of The Day pundit) is that he is uninspiring as a person, whatever his achievements as a player.

All I can say is if it really was fan pressure that led to today's events, getting Shearer as a manager is probably what they deserve.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Blatter Patter And Other Matters

Gabor Bori. Not the name of someone from a Russian spy thriller but the latest signing for The Foxes.

Who incidentally shares my birthday, although there is a slight difference in our ages.

He is used to playing in blue and white, which are the home colours of his Hungarian team, MTK Hungária FC, so at least that is one adjustment he won't have to make.

Of course Bori is not the only foreigner to be making an impact on the football scene. The transfer window is seeing a frenzy of activity as clubs swap players and bring in new ones from the continent and further afield.

And then there is the biggest news of all - Mr Capello himself - who officially started at the office yesterday, although he was out and about at the weekend watching potential England squad recruits.

Interestingly, despite a warm welcome from England, Mr Capello's appointment has attracted criticism from none other than Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA.

I have to accept that is a real name, whatever my instincts might tell me. And judging by his views on how women's football might be improved, is probably very apt.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Down And Dirty

I received a letter from Leicester City Football Club today . Inviting me to attend the match against Crystal Palace on 29th January at a discounted price in celebration of my forthcoming birthday. Sounds like an opportunity not to be missed I would say if my lover and I can do the necessary juggling with work (its a weekday evening).

That would hopefully be an opportunity to view our new signings, including Ben Alnwick, who has just arrived on loan from Tottenham to replace Fulop in goal (Fulop having returned to Sunderland following the end of his loan period). We have to hope that he has not learned bad habits from Paul Robinson, the main Tottenham goalkeeper, who appears to like scoring goals. Sometimes they are spectacular. Other times they have proved less fruitful. And he was certainly not popular on Saturday for his goal scoring.

Despite only being 20, Mr Alnwick already has a .... er ..... "colourful" past. Lets hope he understands that when we say "get down and dirty" at The Walkers, we are referring to full commitment to football, not anything else.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Hold Your Head Up

Not the happiest day in Leicester City's FA career. A 2 - 0 loss to Southampton, who they also lost to 2 years ago in the same competition.

The fans on the message board seem split. For some, anger is being directed at both Holloway and Mandaric for our continuing poor performance. Others, (rightly in my view), are warning that time will be required to turn things around and that we all need to be patient.

I have to say that after posting on Friday to say the FA Cup did not hold special value for me I really enjoyed the dramas of yesterday. Finding out that Chasetown were at 1 - 1 against Cardiff at half time raised a smile. Consoling my lover when Reading went 2 -1 down against Tottenham, only to watch is delight a few minutes later when they equalised. Seeing Oldham and Coventry stuff Everton and Blackburn respectively on Match of the Day.

And I just loved some of the goals. Wayne Rooney's goal for Manchster United was fabulous. (I'm becoming a real Rooney fan I have to say). Gary McDonald's winning goal for Oldham was great too.

When people talk about the FA cup embodying what football in this country should be about, I have a much better understanding now of what they mean. There is something deeply satisfying about the thought of the Cardiff team bus full of professional players driving through back streets to reach the tiny Chasetown ground. A ground where;

"the chief executive took three months off work to build the main stand, the treasurer arrives early to make the players' sandwiches, the president serves in the club shop, and the groundsman does much more than mow the grass. There is not one full-time employee and, apart from the manager and players, only two members of staff get paid",
(Guardian 4th Jan)

Chasetown did not get their fairytale ending yesterday. But they captured the spirit of football. And they can hold their heads high.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Land Of The Giants

The Football Association Challenge Cup. F.A. Cup to ordinary people like you and me.

Dave Kitson of The Royals has caused something of a storm this week by saying that the tournament is of minimal value to him. In fact what he actually said was that he "didn't give two s***s about it". He said the priority is the Premiership, and in particular ensuring that Reading say in the top flight.

The response has been something of a furore, with some even calling for him to be charged by the F.A. for bringing the game into disrepute.

I have to say as someone new to football I don't share the sense of tradition and passion that surround the competition. Whilst I think it unfortunate he chose to use somewhat unsavoury language, what he is saying makes perfect sense in the big business world of football.

But for those whose love of football has a far better pedigree than mine, Kitson's remarks have proved heretical. So what is this fine tradition?

Well one of the unique opportunities it offers is for small teams to find themselves up against the top teams in the country. Like Chasetown who play in the British Gas Business Division One Midlands league and who are hosting Championship Cardiff in the third round tomorrow.

As a knock-out tournament it presents different pressures. For example, a more tactical rather than strategic approach is required.

Leicester City have a record in relation to the cup. Sadly, it is for being the team to appear in the most finals (4) without winning one of them. Hey ho.

As for Chasetown's chances of being giant killers, either in this round or further on if they do well tomorrow, I think a miracle might be required. They are in the lowest league of any team ever to get to the third round. The last non-league team to beat a top flight club was Sutton United in 1989.

Still we believe in magic don't we.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

To Be Brutally Honest..............

........ was the subject of a phone-in today on Talk Sport.

I have to say if you had told me this time last year that I would be a regular listener, I would have said you were having a laugh. Firstly they talk about football most of the time. And second it is quite 'blokey'.

Not surprisingly, though, as my interest in football has increased over the months, I gravitated to 1089/1053 AM. I think Mike Parry is great. I love his energy and passion and he knows stacks about football. Obviously it is disappointing he is an Everton fan but no-one is perfect.

Other favourites are Alan Brazil and of course the adorable Wrighty.

Anyway, having a few days off before I go back to work on Monday, I tuned in, feeling particularly safe from any 'blokeiness' as I was painting my dining room a gorgeous girlie pink.

The "To be brutally honest..." discussion topic was intended to provide an opportunity for people to ring in and say the unsayable. Quotes include:

"Steve Redgrave has never had the recognition he deserves because its rowing. No-one cares"

"Wenger is a rubbish manager. He doesn't buy players in because he is no good at spotting talent."

"Most people would laugh if Allardyce lost his job because he bigged himself up"

I will leave you to decide on the validity of each of these.

Like I say, Talk Sport is an acquired taste.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Signing For Dummies

I don't know about you girls, but when a man reaches inside his shorts and pulls something out I'm hoping for something a bit more interesting than a dummy!

Apparently Tevez's rather unique celebration for his winning goal against Birmingham yesterday was dedicated to his daughter, Florencia.

Not the only mysterious symbol associated with goal scoring at the moment though. There is also the "A" sign being displayed by some players. Those 'in the know' tell us that this is a positive gesture, however, as it symbolises a new initiative aimed at using football to provide positive role models for young men.

I'm sure you will agree that when you are in the public spotlight, setting an example of good behaviour is important. If gestures are used then they should not be like this. Or this. And of course not like this.

It is also important to know what different gestures mean, just in case you inadvertently cause offence.

Meantime we can only hope there is no further hidden meaning to Tevez's gesture. I'm not sure the football world is yet ready for paraphilic infantilism.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Sponsored By Wrigley's

Sir Alex Crossalot has been moaning again.

This time it is about the home crowd at today's match who he said did not offer enough support. Before that it was the behaviour of his players. He moans that referees are biased. He rages about the BBC.

Maybe he should take the odd trip to this pub on a Sunday.

Of course sometimes he has just cause to have a bit of a whinge.

What is interesting is how this venerated football manager manages his stress.

No herbal tea and sustained yoga positions for him. No meditations or bizarre forays to find himself.

No - Sir Alex has his chewing gum. Shedloads of it. And he does not take care with disposal of the wrappers either according to certain sources.

Mind you, if I thought it could do this I might take it up. I need something to help with the misery of today's 3 - 1 defeat at the hands of QPR.