Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today's that day I hate at World Cup time. After 19 straight days of action and 56 games, we now have those two horribly long football free days. Yes dear readers, it's hell time.

Sure there's the two day spell between the quarters and the semis and then the two day one between the semis and the pointless third place match, but it's always this first break that hits the hardest. There's nae fitba on the telly.

I've tried to recapture the mood today, without having to resort to sticking my head in a beehive. Andy Murray's excellent triumph at Wimbledon helped.

Since we seem to love countdown shows in the UK (and I'm not talking about Jeff Stelling's Channel 4 effort), I've stockpiled all the ones that were on in the lead up to the tournament.

So my next two days will be filled with the 100 Greatest World Cup Moments Of All Time, 50 Greatest World Cup Goals and Most Shocking Moments. I'm sure my wife can hardly wait!

Will also be interesting to watch them and try and figure where certain moments of the 2010 World Cup will come into the next selections that they'll roll out in four years time. I think I might have Robert Green's howler in all three shows!

I also have a couple of domestic North American games to watch, as Vancouver Whitecaps take on Montreal Impact in USSF Division 2, followed by Seattle Sounders travelling to their hated local rivals Portland Timbers in the US Open Cup.

Maybe it's not going to be as much hell this time as I thought!

Ach, who am I kidding? Less than 48 hours to go till the real stuff's back on my screen. Can't wait.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It would be easy to take cheap shots at England following their departure from the tournament. Well, luckily I've never been one to shirk accepting the easy jobs so here goes.


Ahead of the game, Capello's big decision centred around who would partner John Terry in the centre of defence. "Fabio ponders Terry partner" declared the BBC website's headline. It strikes me that, as long as Terry isn't pondering Fabio’s partner, the Italian can rest easy.

***

For anyone who found themselves a little confused watching the Monday night game, I'd just like to offer the following clarification. The game was between Brazil and Chile and finished 3-0 for Brazil. The commentator sadly forgot to mention any of this due to his being in denial after Sunday, which resulted in him spending almost the entire 90 minutes hero-worshipping the English referee and the two English linesmen. Seems he thinks that the English officials are possibly the best at the tournament and have the potential to go all the way to the final!

Do they never fucking learn? What's going to happen when Howard Webb, like their last wonderful official, issues someone with three yellow cards and gets sent home? Will we suddenly hear about how it was some guy from Bolton that invented the vuvuzela, that Table Mountain, prior to a freak shifting of the Tectonic plates in 1923 was actually situated just outside Scunthorpe, or that Nelson Mandela was actually born in Wakefield, supported the Trinity, and was only relocated to a South African prison after breaching his ASBO?

***

Actually, obsessive commentators aside, whether we should be happy at England's downfall is a debate that will probably go on forever, but the world clearly still needs educated about the geography and politics of the British Isles if the following snippet is anything to go by. I stumbled upon it on a Japanese website (don't ask) and it probably illustrates very effectively why we feel like we're banging our heads off a brick wall.

"I can still hear the Mexican sportscaster shouting in the radio for more than a minute — 'Dieguitooooo, Dieguitoooooo, Diego Armando Maradonaaaaaaa!' — after the Argentine soccer player scored his second goal against the British during the 1986 World Cup that Argentina would go on to win after beating West Germany in the final game.

He had good reason to shout. Diego Armando Maradona — now Argentina's coach at the World Cup in South Africa — had scored his second goal after dribbling past six British players (including the goalkeeper) in what is commonly called the The Goal of the Century."

All I can say is good luck to 'Japan & South Korea' in their game against Paraguay today.

***

On what I've seen so far, I reckon it's actually the Argentinians who deserve to lift the cup a week on Sunday. It's not so much the individual skills of Messi and Tevez, or even the goalscoring exploits of Higuain. It's not even the way they're managing to produce the goods as a team. I think it's the fact that their players have to endure a snog off Maradona every time they enter the park, leave the park, score a goal etc. I mean there were a couple of times in '86 when I felt like giving him a manhug myself (a polite one with minimal actual contact obviously) but for the players putting up with his perpetual snogathon, they surely merit the reward of lifting the trophy at the end of it all. It must seem particularly odd to Sergio Aguero, who must by now be wondering if there was some sort of mix-up at the altar when he wed Maradona's daughter Giannina last year.

***

The US also departed the tournament this weekend after their extra-time loss to Ghana. Bill Clinton was watching on, for some reason accompanied by Mick Jagger, the singer who is recognisable by his full pouting lips (oh, perhaps it's starting to make sense now). Speaking of which, I didn't see Monica anywhere around. Pity really, she'd have made short work of a vuvuzela. "I knew it was Bill's vuvuzela - it was average size but curved rather to the left."


The Undisputed

Monday, June 28, 2010

I was going to talk about goal-line technology in the blog today, but since there's probably thousands of other blogs doing that today, we thought better off it. We've talked about it before and we'll come back to it once all the hysteria has died down and a sense of calmness prevails once again.

Anyway, as this picture shows, there no need for it. Mauricio Espinosa got his call spot on.

The humour that has come out of yesterday's England no goal decision has been tremendous, especially north of the border as you can imagine.

The other side of it all has been the English media. Humour isn't really something you'll have found in there today and yesterday. Watching the ITV highlights again last night (well you just HAD to really), I really thought we were going to see presenter Matt Smith end it all right there and then.

It's been as over the top as usual. All the flop and shambles headlines and articles criticising their performance as disgraceful have been trotted out, whilst trying to balance the anger at Fifa's lack of embracing modern day technology to review such matters.

They've been so torn. Do they attack the players or the officials most? They love to attack players when they're down but then Johnny Foreigner also had a part to play. It must have been torture for them.

People have asked me why I "hate England" so much. I don't. I don't hate England the country. I don't hate English people. I have some really good English mates and we've had great banter this world cup around their team's performance and my team not even being there. It's part of football. I hate the English football team. I want them to lose. I have the "Anyone But England" t-shirt to prove it.

A lot of non English people in the UK are turned even more off the team by the English media. It's been rammed down our throats in the build up to the tournament, as it is every year. If it wasn't 1966 this, it was all those adds aired in Scotland with the English flag prominent in them. Gie us a break. Seriously. Please do.

It's been comical listening to them though. Yes, England looked good in qualifying, but even with their "easy" group draw, there was no way they would get past the quarter finals to most neutral observers. It was a horrible squad that Fabio Capello took over there. I said immediately "where will the goals come from" and that was their biggest downfall. Well, that and the inability to string passes together at times.

2006 was England best chance to win the trophy again and they blew it big time. Not only was the tournament in Europe but they had arguably the best squad of their generation at their disposal. This year they weren't in the same league.

Did the English media really expect the team to win it or go very deep? Were they just stirring up national fervour or just plain deluded?

You kind of get a sense that there must have been some that were partly delighted that they had so much doom and gloom to wallow in and another manager to hound out and players to attack like a pack of wild dogs.

Even before the tournament started you had stations like BBC3 airing hour long programmes to announce "the Frankenstein's Monster that is England's Worst Ever Football Team". Yeah that's right, slag off players who at least had the skills to pull on their country's shirt in the first place and carve out careers as professional footballers. It's shocking really.

Perhaps if the media actually took a step back and didn't whip up people's expectations so much, played down England's chances and just treated the tournament for what it is, a chance to shine not a god given right to lift the trophy, well maybe just then the players would actually play that bit better and not feel so much pressure on themselves to perform. Maybe not this time round as the team were truly shit and deserved to be dumped out sooner than they actually were.

Maybe the Scots, Irish and Welsh wouldn't hate the team so much either. Yeah right!!! GIRFUY England!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thought we should maybe re-write that burger advert...

Sepp Blatter sitting in the stand
Well-known inhabitant of Cloudcuckooland
Counting the dollars, converted from Rand
He's just passing by

He says South Africa's on the up
What happened before, they were just mixed up
So he's given them the World Cup
While he's just passing by

Jabulani, crazy ball, rises up but just won't fall
Soars above the defensive wall
Lands on a Durban shopping mall
It's just passing by

Uzbeki ref, the best of all,
Linesmen right on every call!
That won't happen in the league next year
When they're back to being 'insincere'
A short-lived phenomenon, this is clear
Just passing by

For some the game is hardly seen
Looking for themselves on the giant screen
Bras in the colours of their team
Might get spotted, Hollywood dream
If the guy with the camera, shooting scenes
Is just passing by

Shots of the crowd so we can spy
Brazilian ladies, girls from Paraguay
Spanish beauties who don't have to try
To melt the heart of any guy
Just passing by

The Korean girl, says her name is Stella
Don't let her blow on your vuvuzela
Cause her real name's Stan and she's a fella
Just pass her by…

...faces partly hidden behind their fans
Wicked eyes and sunbed tans
Lovely ladies to a man
Just pass them by

The Italians bore, the Greeks even more
Brazil v Portugal made us snore
I'd hoped we might get goals galore
Games start at three (I'm asleep by four)
Just pass me by

Maybe youth is somewhat lacking
We've got Cannavaro and Hakan Yakin
Both their teams have been sent packing
They were just passing by

But at least some teams have entertained
New Zealand never lost a game
North Korea just the same
Returning home to great acclaim
(Opponents goals cut frame by frame
As the opposition striker's taking aim
Faulty film gets the blame)
And as for the seven-nothing shame
We'll just pass that by

In the bars of Dublin dressed in green
They're thinking of what might have been
But the craic is strong, their smiles beam
As tricky Thierry's hardly seen
And the French implode and beat the scene
They were just passing by

(and hush please)...

The Germans have ended the English dream
St George is slain by the football machine
But if they'd won their group and got easy teams
The TV people had painted the scene
England with the cup, the world's best team
A final win over the Argentine
If the Algerian defence weren't so stubborn and mean
The United States not quite so keen
If the ball had stopped with Robert Green
But it was just passing by

There's a World Cup for everyone


The Undisputed

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The World Cup reached the serious stage today, so we thought we'd have our Friday Fun a day late.

We'd joked about it in our View From The World Cup #3, but this spoof video captures just how we expected the North Korean's 2-1 defeat to Brazil to have been reported back home. It's good fun, enjoy:



If you have any other funny or spoof videos from this year's World Cup, then please post them in the comments section for us all to enjoy.

Friday, June 25, 2010

So, what price a Slovakia v Japan final then? I know what you're thinking – you don't care as long as Engerlund don't win it – fair enough. Speaking of which, and this is a little-known fact by the way, but Japan's Scottish-born midfielder Finlay McTavish has sacrificed the right to have his name on the back of his shirt at the Finals and has instead joined the "Anyone But England" campaign. Nice one, Finlay...


***

It's been a difficult World Cup in terms of predicting which games are going to be entertaining and which aren't. Games like Chile v Switzerland and Cameroon v Denmark turned out to be well worth watching, while Italy v Slovakia was bog-awful for 70 minutes then brilliant for 20. And today's supposed Festival of Football between Brazil and Portugal turned out to be a total snoozefest that made that Isner-Mahut tennis match the other day seem like it positively whizzed by. And, as if that wasn't bad enough, we then get commentator Jonathan Pearce telling us that since South Africa went out, all the locals are now supporting England. Aye, and Yakubu was unlucky with that miss the other day.

***

Cameroon's exit will likely mean the departure of coach Paul Le Guen. PLG only took over part-way through the Indomitable Lions' qualifying campaign, following the resignation of previous coach Otto Pfister, who himself sounds less like a football manager and more like a new line they’re doing at Ann Summers.

***

So, North Korea depart the tournament and go back to what they do the rest of the time, namely annoying the Americans and acting strangely at the border with the South. Commentators won't miss having to grapple with their unfamiliar names, K Kyong Il, J Tae Se and so on, but it'll remain a lost opportunity of this World Cup that we never did hear their fans – or the Chinese actors who were purportedly wheeled in to represent their fans - burst into a chant of "There’s only one M In Guk" (eh, no there's no).

***

Biggest laugh of the week was probably the one the legendary Brazilian captain Carlos Alberto broke into when asked by a reporter about England's performances so far. After picking himself up off the floor, he just shook his head and said, "no, no, no, no, no." To tell you the truth, it's bad enough with Pele and his erection problems without the English making Carlos Alberto pee himself as well.


The Undisputed

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The 2010 World Cup bares little resemblance to the event that kicked things off 80 years ago in Uruguay.

There's no denying that the 19th version of the tournament has now become an even greater cash cow than before. It's what major events like this and the Olympics have become in this modern age and it's only going to get worse.

With an estimated 36 billion viewers worldwide, it's hardly surprising that money flows freely to be an official part of it all.

Having witnessed the 2010 Winter Olympics first hand this year, the money and sponsorhsip attached to it was just crazy. Volunteers, for example, weren't allowed to wear any shoes branded with non sponsor logos. They had to be covered up daily with black tape. Likewise, non coca cola cans, bottles and beverages weren't allowed to be anywhere near the venue. Not that that worked, with many Starbucks coffees being brought in and complaints from spectators saw outside food being allowed in at some venues as well.

The World Cup in South Africa is even bigger business than the Olympics. The total cost of staging the tournament is thought to be $3.5 billion. The money taken in from sposnors, broadcasters and hangers on is going to be much more.

How are these figures broken down and where does the money go?

The UK's Know Your Money website has done a breakdown of some of the expenses, with regards to stadiums and sponsors.

It's fascinating reading and you can see it in full HERE.

With the financial state of so many countries being pretty dire just now, you have to wonder just why so many are keen to put on these big global events. Vancouver's tax payers will be paying for their Olympics for many a year yet, and the whole games were a huge success.

With Brazil hosting both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics within two years of each other, you have to fear for what state that will leave the country in.

Hopefully we can get a breakdown after the World Cup as to what money has been taken in this year. It'll let us see if it really is all worthwhile staging it or whether taking part and watching from afar is the way to go.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

So, England stuttered their way through to the second round. As the final whistle blew, it looked like they were going to be group winners and facing a likely path of Serbia then possibly Uruguay. However, Donovan was on song in the other game and popped in a glorious late winner for the US to change England's likely path (at the time of writing) to Germany then possibly Argentina. Nice one - I’ve a good mind to go out and buy all his albums.

***

German ref Herr Stark missed a trick by not finding some excuse to award Slovenia a penalty-kick late on. How good would that have been – the Germans knocking the English out on penalties when they weren’t even playing them.

***

Slovenia's Cesar promised Wayne Rooney "an unpleasant experience" and spent the game, largely unsuccessfully trying to make this happen. Someone should have told the centre-half all he needed to do was hold a mirror up in front of him.

***

Away from the park, it's reported that one lady in South Africa has had to seek medical attention for a ruptured throat which she'd suffered as a result of blowing too long and too hard on a vuvuzela. At least that's what she told them at A&E! I might give her a call when she’s better.


The Undisputed

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

So, it’s Uruguay and Mexico who emerge from Group A, and deservedly so. The Uruguayans won the game everyone thought would be a draw, but goal difference means the Mexicans also edge through despite Bafana Bafana’s win over Buffoona Buffoona.

***

One Mexican player who’ll be appearing on our TV screens next season will be Javier Hernandez who has signed for Manchester United. At the World Cup, the youngster has been sharing striking duties with Blanco and Franco, ideal preparation, one would have thought, for sharing them next season with Wanko.

***

Had the hosts managed to eat away the goal difference, they could have ended up in a drawing of lots to decide who progressed to the Second Round. As always FIFA’s preparation was meticulous and they had the balls all ready to go into the hat in case this tie-break had been required. According to a FIFA spokesman, there was one yellow ball representing South Africa and one green ball for Mexico.



by The Undisputed

Monday, June 21, 2010

Today's three matches brought the 2010 World Cup to the halfway stage. 32 games down, 32 to go.

It's not been the greatest World Cup so far, but there's been some diamonds in there amongst the rough and some signs that the tournament is now starting to pick up steam.

The early group games are often cagey affairs, with excitement lacking. It's certainly been the case in a lot of the games this year. I did expect more goals than we have had to date though, I have to admit. The Portugal goalfest today will have certainly helped those that have a bet on the number of goals scored in the entire tournament.

Those with betting in mind though will be mightily pissed off at the number of coupon busters so far, but it's set all the groups up for a fantastic final round of group games this week and that can only help the tournament catch fire.

Of the 32 teams, only two have offically been eliminated (Cameroon and North Korea). Realistically though there are several others that have been read their last rites.

We can still harbour some hopes that big guns France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and, of course, England might not qualify for the knockout stage. It's amazing that all six countries are not topping their groups (with the exception of Portugal who had Brazil to contend with). France and England aren't currently in the top two qualifying places in their groups and the rest face tricky last games.

Stuff having the best teams go through for the sake of quality football. I want upsets! And I think we're going to get them.

I think France, England and Germany will all crash out. Spain will do enough and Italy will probably squeak through but only just.

For the Italians it's going to be very tight. I backed Slovakia to do well, but they're going to have to find some form pretty soon for that to happen.

I would love Italy to go out early as their antics, along with a few other nations. have been disgraceful.

Certainly the biggest annoyance of the 2010 World Cup, even more than the swarming vuvuzelas, has been the diving and blatant cheating from players.

The amount of playacting has been disgraceful. So many players going down clutching their faces when nothing's gone near it. So many falling over trying to win free kicks and penalties. Players are constantly asking for cards for their opponents. Jersey and short pulling has gotten to epidemic levels.

The referees seem powerless, either through being clueless or not being able to clearly see situations and having to give players the benefit of the doubt.

It would suit FIFA better to be more concerned with addressing this issue than seeing players booked for celebrating scoring. It makes a mockery of the sport.

Some of the sendings offs, like Kaka's, are laughable, if it wasn't for the serious plight it puts their teams in. There's been some appalling refereeing though to add into that equation. I'd love to think it's going to get better as the tournament progresses, but it's hard to see that happening.

So as we're at the halfway mark, here's some highlights and thoughts from us so far:

- North Korea's goal against Brazil was a joy to see

- Not as much as the faces of the English players and pundits after the Algeria game though

- New Zealand have been the pluckiest team so far. If they can pull off a qualification then that will be one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's 80 year history

- Uruguay have such an exciting strikeforce, but it's a shame to see that they're still dirty, cheating bastards most of the time

- Probably not as bad as Italy, who have been shocking in every aspect of modern football

- Just when most of the African countries seem to have sorted out their goalkeeping problems, they now seem to have problems scoring and look like struggling big time. Ghana seem to be their big bright hope for the rest of the tournament

- Chile and Paraguay look like the two teams who could spring a few shocks along the way and be the unexpected teams to go deep

- Best referee of the tournament so far? Amazingly, from Uzbekistan. Ravshan Irmatov's handling of the England-Algeria game was tremendous, after having had the tournament's opener as well. He's put those of some bigger footballing nations to shame

- We're still going with our tip of Argentina to win the whole shebang

- We also said that Slovenia could be dark horses in their group. Let's hope that's the case come Wednesday!

This is the first World Cup I've had to watch in full outside of the UK, although I was over in the States for the 1994 tournament, but was back for the knockout rounds. Despite the early kick off timing problems, I've managed to balance a work routine around it so that I can see every game. My panini stickers even arrived today, so I'm all good to go for the next 32 games!

Hopefully we get lots of thrills, spills and excitement. It wouldn't be the World Cup without that mind you. C'mon the Argies!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I don't really know when exactly lego made it's big comeback, but it's back whether that be in video game or You Tube video form.

There's a great company called Hamster Productions who are producing some of the best highlights from this year's World Cup in lego form.

You can view all their videos HERE, you may have seen some of the work before in their spoofs of The Apprentice.

The video for the Robert Green goof is fantastic, but in the meantime, here's them capturing Kaka's sending off from Brazil's game this evening against Ivory Coast:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

England’s latest tale of woe came on Friday night when an impostor found his way into their dressing room. He was closely followed by ten of his mates then, to make matters worse, a fan got in there as well.

***

So what of Fab Cap’s fab caps? Having been drawn in the easiest group in the history of World Cup Finals, it has been generally assumed (mostly by themselves, right enough) that they would take only two games to make it into the knockout stage. And they haven’t let anyone down. Sure enough, after only two games they now go into what is effectively a knockout game against mighty Slovenia. Well done England – you’re bang on schedule.

***

One thing that’s helping my enjoyment of the World Cup now is that at last my ears seem to have reached the point where they’re filtering out that ceaseless droning noise that’s been going on in the background whilst games are being played. I mean, why have Jim Beglin commentating anyway?

***

Sometimes, when we’re trying to enjoy the matches, the TV directors insist on digressing by showing close-ups of attractive young lady supporters from the various participating nations. What with us being serious football supporters, and being firmly against women (oo-er) being seen as sex objects, we don’t really approve of this. However, since the TV people have presumably identified a market for this sort of thing, VftWC has grudgingly condescended to cater for you non-purists with one such picture only.

The picture we've chosen shows a gorgeous Paraguayan babe with a fantastic cleavage and a hairy twat:



by The Undisputed

Friday, June 18, 2010

Well that's the 2010/11 league fixtures announced and not only are they not giving me a very exciting football odyssey (although I still have the non league ones to come), they just confirm what a difficult season East Fife have in store.

A combination of some pretty poor play last season, losing the only player we had that could regularly put the ball in the net and a horrible lack of quality signings so far, means I'm not very optimistic for the season that lies ahead. In all honesty, as it stands right now, I'd put us as favourites for either a spot in the relegation playoffs or the automatic relegation place itself.

I sincerely hope the players and management prove me dramatically wrong.

The League season kicks off on Saturday 7th August with a home match against those club killing bastards of Airdrie United. Having hopefully had two good Cup performances under our belts against Brechin City and Raith Rovers, there are a couple of positives to this.

First off, a home opener is always nice, but most importantly, having got rid of all their players, Airdrie don't have a team at present, so hopefully we can catch them cold with a lack of coherence and unity amongst whatever players they do assemble between now and the season start.

If it hadn't been for their mass clear out, you'd have backed them to be amongst the favourites for promotion back to the First Division, the yo yo club that they are. They always seem to pull themselves together or get the lucky breaks, so getting one of the games against them out of the way so soon is great.

Not so great is the fact that we then play them away from home in the last match of the season. How the hell does that work out? Excelsior Stadium hasn't been a happy hunting ground for the Fife, so I wouldn't fancy our chances for going there needing something to stay up on the final day.

Our "derby" game is now Peterhead. Sigh. But at least we're at home for the New Year's game on January 2nd, so no long trip up north for the hungover masses. We find ourselves away yet again on Boxing Day though, to guess who? Airdrie Fucking United.

Looking at our run in, it doesn't make good reading. I fancy the top four to be Livingston, Peterhead, Ayr United and Brechin, with Alloa and Airdrie not being far behind. Those six teams make up six of our last seven games, with only Stenhousemuir, who should be battling away in the basement with us, providing some respite in there.

Horrendous potentially. Let's just hope we bag some points early on in the campaign, especially with four of our last six matches being away from home.

The other potential nightmare scenario for us is that the second leg of the playoff final is on Sunday 22nd May. One day after the Scottish Cup final. How can we possibly be expected to play two games in 48 hours? Shocking!

I don't want to be too doom and gloom before a ball is even kicked in anger, but let's hope that we see a rash of summer signings to warm our cockles, as the fixtures haven't done it!

C'mon the Fife.

You can view East Fife's full set of fixtures HERE.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Diego Maradona, when asked who he feared at the Finals, said he's not afraid of anything unless it's wearing a mask. Perhaps he should beware Slovenia then who, despite doing nothing for the entire ninety minutes, managed to nick all three points off Algeria. If the Slovenians weren't wearing masks, they certainly should have been.

***

Underdogs – or is it undersheep – New Zealand sprang arguably the biggest surprise of the 2010 Finals to that date with their last-gasp draw against Slovakia. Slovakia of course used to be part of Czechoslovakia (they were the second part). The first part, Czecho, didn’t qualify this time.

***

Following on from their goalkeeping woes on Saturday, England's latest setback came when a sewage pipe burst and left their nicely washed and pressed kit covered in... well, the stuff that flows through sewage pipes. Accident or analogy, surely it's bad enough that England's chances are being sabotaged by their number one, without them being sabotaged by number twos as well.

Mind you, when I come to think of it, maybe the big man upstairs had misheard their prayers. Hey God - they said "a fluent attack" not "effluent attack".

***

Congratulations to North Korea for producing possibly the World Cup's biggest shock of all time as Ji Yun-nam's 89th minute goal gave the Asian side an improbable and incredible 1-0 victory over the mighty Brazil!

I'd like to sincerely thank North Korean Radio for providing me with commentary on Tuesday's game.



The Undisputed

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Scottish and English League fixtures get announced tomorrow and for fans all over the world, we can finally start to plan our season, holidays and life!

As an exile now, I've never looked forward to the release of East Fife's fixtures as much as I have the last two seasons. I've always been someone who has planned his life around the football whether it be work, holidays, weddings or funerals. Committed? Sad? Both? I dunno, but it makes me happy so that's all that counts!

It was only when I got into the company of other exiles though that I realised how important the fixtures announcement is.

Last season one of my mates, an Ipswich fan, was eagerly awaiting planning his trip home so that he could hopefully see Newcastle play at Portman Road. I myself, coincided my own journey home so I could see the start of East Fife's Scottish Cup campaign. Strange, but nice, that all these travel plans await the fate of the fixtures computer.

A 2-1 Cup defeat away to Montrose on a miserable Saturday afternoon should have made me come to my senses, but clearly not, as I plan to head home the same time later this year as well. I'm still holding out hope for a brilliant away day to some obscure non league side and not Brechin or Arbroath at Bayview.

This year though, one of my other friends has inspired me to do something I'd always planned to do when I was living in the UK, but never got round to it in my 38 years living there! I'm going on a footballing marathon, or hope to.

My friend's English odyssey saw him take in a remarkable 7 games in 8 days with matches at QPR, Man City (twice - he is a City fan though to be fair), Birmingham, Southampton and AFC Wimbledon (the latter of which he said he enjoyed the experience of the most). He even caught an England game, but there's no accounting for taste.

What I want to try and do is to take in as many games as I can, in as many weird and wonderful lower league and non league grounds as I can. Grounds I've never been to. Teams I've never seen and some that I have. I've got some gigs to fit in as well that I've got tickets to, but the rest of my spare time is going to be spent trying to catch fitba.

If the fixtures gods are reading this, what I'm hoping for is the chance to see Ian Holloway's Blackpool take on the big guns in the Premiership; Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground; AFC Wimbledon again after enjoying my trip there so much last season and hopefully their fellow occupants of Kingsmeadow, Kingstonian; and some of the other non league team's whose fortunes I've been following of late like Salisbury City, Newport County and Bath City.

It's highly unlikely I'll have all of my wishes granted, but as long as my Fife one and one or two others can come to fruition I'll be happy. The fact that I have to wait a further couple of weeks for the non league fixtures to come out is a mild annoyance, but at least I can start my rough plans tomorrow.

The disappearance of Chesterfield's wonderfully old fashioned Saltergate ground last season made me realise that if I don't go to some of these grounds and places, then they'll be gone forever and I'll never get that chance to experience these real football places.

It really is true. You don't appreciate what is there until it's gone. I'm not going to make that mistake again and neither should you. Once the fixtures come out, plan your own football adventure.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Now, what was that about Scottish goalkeepers? Some information I meant to point out to Fabio Capello before he picked his team (sorry, Fabio, I forgot) but according to the Opta stats for last season the Premier League goalie with the most errors leading to a goal was Rob Green with 4. The English number 1 (or is it number 2?) shares his name, give or take the spelling, with playwright and poet Robert Greene. Now what quote was he famous for? Oh, I remember - "Oft times many things fall out between the cup and the lip." Quite.

***

Words of encouragement for England from one poster on an American ‘soccer’ website…

"We beat them 1 - 0 in our previous World Cup encounter in 1950; today England tied us 1 - 1. It took 60 years, but they are improving."

***

You know that thing where you start out saying something and then have to change it mid-flow as you realise it's going to sound very dodgy indeed. Ahead of the opening game, ITV showed the Argentinians in practice, including their ritual of having the losers of the training game turn their backs while the winning team kick footballs at their rear ends.

Back to the studio and Andy Townsend suggested that he and Gareth Southgate might try that with presenter Adrian Chiles. Cue the best 'save' of the tournament so far as Chiles adjusted his response mid-sentence to something relatively innocent, when it was pretty apparent that he was originally going to say, "It would be a privilege to have your balls hitting off my backside, fellas."


The Undisputed

Monday, June 14, 2010

How important is your team's crest to you? Would you care if they changed it? If there was to be a change, would you only want it to be a modernisation (ala Aresnal and Juventus), a complete change or should history be preserved and no tinkering done?

With regards to East Fife, we had an enforced change before due to copyright reasons. I like the current crest, but we've had debates on AFTN before as to whether we should change it? In all honesty, I don't really care one way or the other.

I'm not that attached to it and it's not as if we've had it since we were formed in 1903. If we were to change, I'd like to keep the saltire in it, but apart from that, I'd be happy with pretty much anything. Or at least I think I would be! I just don't put a lot of onus on it as a deal breaker in whether I buy Fife strips etc and I can't see me ever falling out with the Club about it.

Club crests and logos are a big deal in North America though, especially when it comes to new teams starting out. A bad logo or hideously unpopular crest can kill a club, with merchandising opportunites greatly reduced.

Last week's blog covered the launch of Vancouver Whitecaps new club crest for their forthcoming Major League Soccer inaugural season. I like it. It's definitely a grower and once you see it on strips, scarves and more, it's pretty sharp and distinctive.

Portland Timbers, the 18th expansion side to go into MLS, also next season, had launched a slick video campaign in the build up to the launch of their MLS club crest.

They seemed to have done everything right, they seemed to 'get it' when it came to the Club's proud history that dates back to 1975, a year after Vancouver Whitecaps. They'd had discussions with the huge Timbers Army supporters group and in September last year, owner Merritt Paulson was quoted as saying:

"I want to briefly clarify a discussion that took place yesterday between the TA and the FO reps concerning a new team logo for MLS."

"At the outset, I would say that our logo in MLS should unequivocally not be exactly the same as it is in USL-1. We are making a move to major league. This is not simply a Championship League team being promoted to the EPL...The franchise is being elevated and significant change will be taking place (in a good way) on many levels. A new logo is critical to represent that change."

"However, the Portland Timbers are not the typical USL-1 team, our history is not the typical pro U.S. soccer team history and you are not the typical fans. We recognize the need to pay significant homage to our past."

"As this relates to logo/colors etc: simply expect evolution, not wholesale change. We will not get this wrong. Trust me."

Those last two sentences are now coming back to haunt the Timbers front office. The Portland fans don't just HATE their new crest, the absolutely DETEST it.

Now before we go any further, here's the current crest on the left and the new MLS adaptation of it on the right:


What's your thoughts on them? Which do you prefer and why?

Portland's FO were so confident that the crest would be well greeted that they decided to launch it to thousands of people at half time of an open air showing of Saturday's US-England match.

Big mistake to say the least.

The crest had been leaked in the days leading up to the launch due to the fact that tshirts bedecked with the new MLS crest had been sent out to Dick's Sporting Goods for sale and somehow, people had got hold of them before the official launch day according to the Timbers Soccer City forum - a thread which incidentally has 84 pages to it at the time of writing this!

The unveiling was met by some cheers and polite applause, but these were soon drown out by boos and chants of "it's so shitty it's unbelievable" and "you fucked up".

You can view video taken at the event below:



The reaction hasn't gone down well with the Timbers and has strained relationships between the Club and fans, not an ideal situation when you're trying to launch your new "product".

The crest and the fans reaction to it is also likely to be the subject of ridicule from the Vancouver Southsiders and Seattle's ECS both now and when the teams meet next year. Once you know the fans don't like something or someone then you have to play on that.

Now some, outwith Oregon, may wonder just what all the fuss is about as I mentioned at the start of this piece, but the thing is that the crest meant a LOT to the Timbers Army and they told their Club that. This seemingly counted for nothing.

For what it's worth as a neutral, I don't think it's too bad. At least on some items. There's an embroidered patch of it on their website that looks pretty smart. On the other hand it looks dreadful, cartoony and like two bones as opposed to an axe on the tshirts, the definition of the green on the axe head appears to be the major problem. On other merchandise their once mighty axe has been reduced to looking like a hatchett.

So as we thought all along, the Timbers Army have tiny choppers.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

We thought we'd take this opportunity to tie up some loose ends with stories we've featured in the blog over the last few weeks.

First up, the plight of Salisbury City who were facing a two division demotion for failing to pay off all their creditors by the second Saturday of May, despite entering into a payment agreement.

Salisbury's appeal to the Football Conference was heard on June 9th and was not upheld. As a result the Club, who have done so well to become challengers in the Blue Square Premier, will now play next season in the Southern Premier League.

A spokesman for the Club's board said on Thursday:

"We moved heaven and earth to help get the club back on an even keel. We inherited all kinds of problems that were clearly not of our making, but with the help of our supporters, sponsors and the local community at large, we ensured that the club has now been stabilised and has a very important role to play in Salisbury life."

"To punish the club again seems particularly harsh and we know from the level of support we received from people in all walks of the game, many feel the same way. We are heartened by their comments and good wishes and know we have many friends in the football community."

The Club received over 5,000 signatures on an online petition protesting against the unjust original action by the League officials. These included signatures from people at over 100 League and non-league clubs across the land. Sadly it was to no avail, but we wish them all the best for their new rise up the football pyramid and we'll hopefully see them in the Conference again soon, and then who knows, maybe even the Football League itself.

It's starting to seem that relegation is becoming a thing of the past with all the reprieves teams seem to be getting, Forest Green Rovers being the team to benefit in the Blue Square Premier as a result.

Our second story to revisit up is that of the Boreham Wood thug who punched Kingstonian captain Francis Duku in the face during the Ryman League's Premier Division promotion playoff final, which Boreham Wood went on to win.

There has still been no decision around Kingstonian's appeal. It's unbelievable! There is a rumour though that this will be dealt with this coming week.

We'll keep you updated whenever a decision is made but with the Club already planning for next season, any decision isn't going to benefit them very much by the looks of it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

And so it begins.

The World Cup kicked off yesterday with a spectacular opening ceremony in South Africa and a pretty good opening match between the hosts and Mexico. Not a classic, but one of the better tournament openings.

Let's just be thankful that it wasn't the borefest that was France and Uruguay that kicked off proceedings.

I loved the bit at the opening ceremony where the kids rapidly changed and spelt out the competing nations. I'm sure they were glad that Bosnia-Herzegovina didn't qualify.

We're not wanting to make the blog about nothing but World Cup for the next month, but we have to get our predictions out there and make some early comments about the tournament.

Having previously hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and the cricket one in 2003, South Africa have now got the chance to host a proper sport's global tournament and they seem to be doing a pretty good job of it so far.

You can't blame the football organisers for all of the crime and issues away from the football action, but Fifa must have known that by taking the tournament to one of the world's most crime ridden countries, there was always going to be an issue.

Let's just hope there's not anything too major or too much petty stuff to overshadow the African continent's first World Cup. It clearly means a lot to the fans to have it there.

We've seen 5 matches so far, that's 8% of what we have in store from the 64 matches already! It's been a pretty mixed bag so far, with the US-England game by far the standout match of the early games in what could be one of the most open tournaments in World Cup history.

So who are we tipping to do the business in South Africa?

Group A is a lottery, but I've gone for Mexico to come out on top, closely followed by South Africa. Having shown in last year's Confederations Cup what a rabid home crowd can do to lift your game, I think the hosts will get that same kick this time around, with France being the ones to feel that the most. I just can't see France pulling their shit together and nothing I saw in yesterday's match has made me change my mind.

Group B is also now underway of course and I'm going for Argentina to run out easy group winners there, with Nigeria going through as runners up. I have to say thought that South Korea's performance this afternoon has made me think I may have got this one wrong and they'll take that second spot, but I won't change my original prediction after the fact.

I've gone for the US to win Group C and not through any anti English bias. Well, maybe a little. I've based that on the fact that the States did well down in South Africa last summer and England have a very poor attack out there. The English should take the runners up spot but they will write Slovenia off at their peril. Take them for granted and they will regret it.

Group D is another group I'm predicting a surprise winner in. I've gone for Serbia. My complex manager is Serbian and I've been talking to him for months about his team and he feels that they are the best team of their generation and at a peak at the right time. Germany will go through as runners up, which may suit them if my predictions in Group C pan out. This is an interesting group though as both Australia and Ghana could shock everyone and go through. Definitely the group I'm most looking forward to watching.

I can't see past the Dutch in Group E and I'm going with the African crowds to drag Cameroon over the line in second spot. It depends which Indomitable Lions team actually turn out at the tournament. The one we all know is capable of doing well or the disjointed ones of recent Cups. The big drawback for African teams has been poor goalkeeping but we've seen that both Nigeria and South Africa have had some fine goalkeeping performances so far. Cameroon badly need that as well. If they don't get it, Japan may sneak through.

Group F is not one for excitement. I've gone for a lot of no scoring draws and 1-0 wins in my pools for that one. Italy should come through ok if they don't start too slugglishly, but I don't see them doing much after that. Slovakia should take second, but I know a lot of people are tipping Paraguay to be dark horses. I just can't see it myself.

Group G is the ones that everyone is calling the "Group of Death" this time, but I still feel that Group D deserves that honour. Brazil to win, with Portugal just sneaking second spot. Would love to see North Korea do another 1966 shock run but very much dreamland there!

The final group is Spain's chance to shine early. Chile should go through as runners up with ease as well.

After that, and down the road, I've gone for Argentina to win the whole shebang, with a final win over the Netherlands.

It's all guesswork from everyone of course and there's bound to be a few shocks along the way. Hopefully at any rate.

Let's just hope we get a cracking tournament and South Africa do themselves and Africa proud as hosts. It's going to be a great month.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weezer have recorded a song to buoy the US team in the World Cup. Pretty good it is too.

C'mon the US. Do it for Scotland!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Despite popular demand, we've tracked down The Undisputed, mysterious author of AFTN's "View From The Bay" section, and insisted on an occasional World Cup update as the tournament progresses. We can't promise it'll be as funny as James Corden(?) but it should at least be up there with Patrick Stewart. Enjoy.


View From The WC #1
10/06/10

One day to go, and we’re off and running in the 2010 World Cup. I’m supporting nobody, I’ve avoided all fantasy leagues, sweeps and bets so I can just relax and enjoy the games without having to worry about the result. I mean, we’ve enough of that all winter. Of course, I’ll be hoping England don’t win because it’ll be insufferable if they do, and I don’t want the French to win cause nobody likes them. And I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Chile for no good reason. And the Dutch do play great football. Oh yeah, and the sooner South Africa are out the better, cause I don’t see why they’ve had every major sporting tournament thrown at them just because they at last caught up with the rest of the planet on the skin-colour thing. But apart from all that and some other stuff, I’m determined I’m remaining totally neutral! Mind you, those damned Australians can sod off back to their barbecues.

***

Of course, one of the main fears for many Scots at this time is whether that lot south of the border will finally get it right. There’s no doubt they’ve got a far better chance now than they’ve had in a long time. However, I think we can rest easy. They still won’t be able to take penalties, their defence is still slow, and then there’s their strikers. I mean, Emile Heskey? Heskey has, I believe, a total of seven goals in international football which is one behind Paraguay’s Jose-Luis Chilavert and Colombia’s Rene Higuita and they were both goalies.

***

This will be the first time the World Cup has been staged in Africa and, despite Pele’s past predictions, none of the sides from that continent have yet troubled the business end of the tournament. Is this the chance for this to change? While Cote d’Ivoire are many pundits favourites to do well, Fulham defender John Pantsil is ‘totally confident’ his Ghana side will make it to the semi-finals. I reckon the delusional defender’s been in England too long. Maybe he’s getting his underwear mixed up – Bras-il maybe, Pants –il – I don’t think so.

***

As usual at World Cup time, there are a host of opportunities for a wager, with plenty of offbeat markets available for the adventurous punter. Paddy Power are offering 200/1 against all three of Greece’s group matches finishing 0-0, they’re even giving odds on who Maradona will insult first (11/8 the ref, 2/1 South Africa, 40/1 Pele – the mind boggles). Last but not least, they’re doing a market on the number of red cards English ref Howard Webb will issue. As far as I can see however, they haven’t issued odds on him issuing three yellows to the same guy.


The Undisputed

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Yesterday we had a look at the new Vancouver Whitecaps club crest for when they become a Major League Soccer club in 2011.

The other expansion side next year is Portland Timbers and they are also launching their new crest this week, on Friday.

The Club have launched a really classy teaser campaign in the lead up to the big announcement, via a series of videos, so for your enjoyment, we include them here:

Teaser One

Teaser Two

Teaser Three

Teaser Four

So will the hype be worth the wait? We'll find out on Friday but it's nice to see that these two clubs realise the importance that a new crest is to their worldwide identity.

There's been talk on the AFTN forum that East Fife should re-look at their crest. Maybe we should start uo those discussions again.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Today was a monumental day for Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club.

With around nine months until they kick their first ball as a Major League Soccer club, the Caps officially confirmed their MLS Club name this morning at a press conference at Vancouver's Convention Centre, which I was lucky enough to attend. The big news though was to be the unveiling their new club crest. It's not every day you get to see a football club totally rebrand itself, and for the better at that.

The name of the club remains true. They will be Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The name may keep it's roots in the past but the new crest certainly leaps into the future with a fresh and modern look.

I'll admit that I wasn't initially blown away by it. At first glance it seemed a little bland and simple, but it's the simple subtleties that have actually really grown on me in the passing hours. When you view it from afar, it comes across as very striking. What I like most is that it is certainly fresh and modern, moving away from any old image of the Club's past, whilst embracing it at the same time and showing that the CLub, much like the city itself, has moved on with the times.

The crest comes about following a 10-month consultation process that included world-renowned soccer brand Adidas, Publicis Canada, Whitecaps FC ownership group, staff, fans, and season ticket holders.

The new "brand" and logo, which will be used throughout the club from November 2010, draws its inspiration from the spectacular geography of Western Canada's largest city, as well as the club's long tradition of success. The MLS Caps will continue their long tradition of using white as one of their primary colours, while the club have also incorporated the colour of 'deep sea' blue as a reflection of Vancouver's natural landscape.

"This new logo and brand takes into account the rich history and tradition that we have established as a club, while providing a fresh representation of one of the most beautiful cities in the world," said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. "The new brand and logo not only engages our many fans that have supported us since 1974, it will also engage new fans to our Club and to the MLS with a symbol that truly reflects Vancouver and the incredible
landscape that makes this city unique".

The new logo sees the words 'Vancouver Whitecaps FC' written in white on a deep sea blue background, with the renowned mountains of Vancouver's north shore sitting above the Club's name in white and reflecting down on the city's waterfront - below the Club name. The colour used to symbolize the refection of the mountains on the waterfront is a lighter blue or "Whitecaps blue", which pays tribute to the primary colour on the Club's logo worn during the historic 1979 Soccer Bowl championship. Lining the new mark is the colour silver, a distinct nod to the Club's numerous championship titles that have been won since 1974.

This morning's event was MC'd by Pete Schaad, with Bob Lenarduzzi and Caps CEO Paul Barber making speeches, along with a fantastic video showing the Caps crests and championships through the years and a model of the new look BC Place.

Paul Barber took the opportunity to speak about his first impressions of the city, after causing big news when he made the move from Tottenham Hotspur to Vancouver, showing the ambition of the MLS bound side. He ensured everyone that the MLS experience was "designed to deliver an absolute unforgettable period of time" for fans, whilst the renovated BC Place would be "one of the great theatres to watch the Whitecaps".

The Caps also took the opportunity this morning to announce more details about next year's season tickets. There will be a cap of 16,500 season tickets for year one and deposits for 10,000 of these have already been sold. The remaining 6,500 deposits will go on sale at 10am on Saturday morning, with their debut season shaping up to be the hot ticket in town for 2011 as there will be a 20,000 maximum capacity for year one.

Vancouver has always traditionally outdrawn Seattle, Portland and Toronto when it comes to crowds when teams are in the same leagues. With the success already seen in Toronto and Seattle, if they do this again then the whole place is going to be electric and I'm excited to be a part of it.

Prices for next season's ticket packages were confirmed as starting at $319 for a minimum of 17 MLS home games. Taking into account the likelihood of Voyaguers Cup games and friendlies, this will work out at fantastic value for money, especially when you look at what you get for your season ticket at East Fife and the rest of Scotland these days!

With the new jersey and kit sponsor due to be announced shortly, this is certainly an exciting time to be a Whitecaps fan. I wish it was next year already!

*** You can see some photo's of this morning's press conference on the official Southsiders Flickr page HERE ***

Monday, June 7, 2010

As the week counts down to the start of the 2010 World Cup Finals, it's probably fair to say that it hasn't been the best lead up to a tournament with regards to positive news.

Aside from the players injuries, crime in it's various forms is what has stolen the headlines.

We had the hotel theft that affected the visiting Columbian team, followed by the terrible injuries sustained by sixteen fans when a crush happened outside the Nigeria-South Korea warm up game when way more people than capacity turned up for the free match.

The latest blight came today when South African police announced that 10 Argentinian barras bravas "hooligans" were deported, including one guy who was out on bail for murder!

I have to say that I never thought that hooliganism was going to be a factor in these finals. With visiting supporters likely to be less than most recent finals and the fact that it costs so much to get to South Africa in the first place, I, probably naively, thought that we'd have an incident free tournament in that regards and it was more crime from locals that would be hitting the headlines.

The fact that some supposed group leaders have been sent home then it would appear that some organisation may have gone into this.

With South African police not being used to violence and having seen how they deal with "lesser" crimes at times, any outbreak of hooliganism at the tournament isn't going to end well.

Hopefully these bad news stories will soon dry up once the action on the field begins but I do have a sense that they won't and that will only be bad for football and the African continent.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The 2010 Unicef Soccer Aid charity match took place this evening at Old Trafford and as Al Murray said at half time, it was a great game of pub football.

On the whole it was pretty entertaining stuff. I'm sure not many people would expect to see a team lining up with Zinedine Zidane and Mike Myers up front in their lifetime, but that's what we got, along with the usual ex players, top celeb players like Ralf Little, and the usual mix of good celebrities who you'd like to see muck around on the football pitch and some reality show no marks you couldn't care less about.

As we'd said before we're not a huge fan of so many of the charity "celebrity" matches, but Soccer Aid is something we can always make an exception with.

This year was the third staging of the bi-annual event and had some of the best collection of players so far, as an England XI managed by Harry Redknapp, took on a World XI managed by Kenny Dalglish.

Zinedine Zidane showed some sublime glimpses in the first half in particular, to show why many still feel he was one of the best players to have ever graced a football pitch. He was joined in the team at half time by Luis Figo. Not a bad line up!

The first half was played in almost a constant drizzle, which saw some of the non footballers visibly tire as the half went on, but England went into the break one up, following a great move and finish by Jamie Redknapp.

The World XI's Nicky Byrne, of Westlife, had earlier missed the chance to put his side in the lead when his penalty was saved.

With the rash of celebrity substitutions coming in the second half, the quality of football on display may have dipped a little, but it was still entertaining with some real flashes of genius on the World team in particular. Whether that's just because I was missing seeing some football on my TV screen this weekend I don't know!

England went retro to go two up, with the old school SAS partnership of Alan Shearer crossing for Teddy Sheringham to head home doing the damage. Minutes later Henrik Larsson thought he'd pulled one back but it was ruled offside, but Joe Calzhage soon did get the World XI on the scoresheet.

With the celebrity goalkeepers in for the second half, this was possibly the start a goalfest, but fair play to Patrick Kielty and Jamie Theakston, they made some really good saves, especially the latter's point blank stop from Henrik Larsson in the dying seconds.

Sami Hyypia had tied the game up at 2-2 in the 79th minute which took the match to penalties.

The celebrity only shoot out went to eleven shots each and despite Jamie Theakston pulling off four tremendous saves (England's goalkeeping questions being answered!), England fell victim once again to a penalty shoot out defeat.

It's always sweet to see them lose that way, no matter who scores the winner, and on this occasion it was Hollywood A-lister Woody Harrelson. Cheers!

So what can we take from the game? Zidane still has the skills to play properly today, Shearer still goes to ground too easily, a strikeforce of Zidane, Larsson and Figo would have been wonderful to see on any pitch, anywhere in the world, Brian Lara looks like he may have had a good career as a footballer if he hadn't chosen cricket, Dermot O'Leary really shouldn't be let near presenting football and UNICEF is a great cause worth supporting.

The only disappointing aspect of the evening's entertainment was that those fucking annoying horns seem to have somehow made their way into the UK. It's going to be bad enough in South Africa for the next month but let's just hope that we don't see a proliferation of the damned things in the UK now. It's NOT a trend that should catch on. How can anyone like the fuckers??!!

That aside it was a good night of football for a good cause and you can donate to Unicef's Soccer Aid HERE. Please give what you can and remember, every little helps.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

One of the great things about the World Cup is that it's the only occasion where you can really see pretty much all of the world's best players assembled in one location.

You want everyone (except England obviously! :p) to have their best players and strongest squads together, in the hope of seeing the best World Cup finals ever.

This year though, the players seem to be dropping like flies.

So many squads have been hit by injuries, withdrawals and serious doubts on some of their top players.

England's loss of Rio Ferdinand is a big blow to them, not as much as if they lose Wayne Rooney (as they seem very short on goalscorers in their squad), but their pain is not felt alone.

Germany have lost Michael Ballack and others; Didier Drogba is now extremely doubtful for the Ivory Coast with a fractured arm; Arjen Robben is a major doubt for Holland with a hamstring injury; Ghana have no Michael Essien; John Mikel Obi adds to the missing Chelsea players by having to withdraw from the Nigeria squad; and other teams hit by injuries to top players are Italy, Slovakia, Chile, Brazil, Mexico and the US.

Some of the injured players may make it. Some may make the latter stages. Some will unfortunately miss out altogether.

With teams having to play so many matches now for their domestic clubs, it would seem that the raft of pre tournament friendlies is a step too much for some of these players as we covered before in the blog.

It's a shame that this fixture congestion, and overuse of players, is going to deprive us of some of the best players in South Africa, but I think it's something we're going to have to get used to for tournaments down the road and that's the biggest shame.

Friday, June 4, 2010

One week to go! It's starting to get exciting and once my 640 panini stickers arrive in the mail and I'm sticking them in that album, I'll be all good to go.

The World Cup is all about sharing the planet's love and obsession with the best sport there is. So with this in mind, I want to share a couple of fantastic World Cup related sites I found out about this week.

The first is quite simply the best World Cup fixutres calendar I've ever seen! It's tremendous. You can view the matches by country, by host city, by day and by group and you can find it HERE.

The other site comes courtesy of US sports television giant ESPN.

To promote their World Cup coverage in the States, ESPN have worked in conjunction with the ad agency Wieden+Kennedy and Cape Town-based artists group AM I Collective to create 33 original pieces of artwork: one for every participating country and one overarching World Cup piece.

Each painting brings to life the story of that nation. The look of the artwork is inspired by hand-painted African art found in the streets and townships across South Africa, and the entire African continent.

The murals will appear in publications across the US and also feature in billboards and transport hubs in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago from now until the end of the tournament.

You can view them all HERE.

They're truly fantastic and I would mind having a set of them in some form or other to add to my collection. Let us know your favourites. I personally love the Japan one best.

Over the next few weeks, we'll bring you some other gems from around the web and if you find anything yourself, then please let us know.

Let the one week countdown begin.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I knew it would happen in my lifetime. At times I did doubt it, but now I'm back to being confident again. Yes, Scotland WILL lift the World Cup.

Let the rest of the world have their chance while they can, because come 2034 Scotland is going to win and all thanks to Scotland's national drink, Irn Bru!

Well, thanks to the soft drink and some beautiful fertile Brazilian ladies that is.

Irn Bru have had some brilliant advertising campaigns over the years (just thinking about their Snowman tv commercial has me chortling away). Their new "Welcome To Bruzil" one though is sheer genius and a nice distraction from the non-stop England ads we're being subjected to.

Their plan: Place a series of lonely heart adverts in Brazilian newspapers in an attempt to encourage the nation's men and women to strike up a romance with Scots lads and lassies. Turn that romance into full blow carnal passion, add in no birth control and ta-da, the new generation of Scottish footballing talent - "a Samba McFootball team that will gub the world".

The aim to mix the Caledonian gene pool with the footballing wizardry of the South American champs, giving rise to 11 players capable of winning the 2034 World Cup, is well underway. Barr's Martin Steele visited Rio de Janeiro last week in order to place the lonely heart ads on billboards and in the dating sections of the Brazilian press. One, placed in the O Globo newspaper, reads: "Scots lass seeks Brazilian man with good sense of humour to make Scottish football magic".

Ya beauty, to quote one of their new ads!

Will it work? It'll be fun finding out and trying for those lucky lads. Maybe I should throw my hat into the ring now!

The campaign has already been endorsed by Scotland legend Archie Gemmill (oh that goal!!!). Hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more goals like his on the World stage soon!

You can find out more about Irn Bru's campaign on their official website. There's fun videos, you can check your DNA (I have a good engine) and you can even generate your own Bruzilian name.

All we have left to ponder about now is whether we can stage a bid to win the Cup on home soil!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Crystal Palace saved from extinction" was the dramatic headline on the BBC website today. The last minute deal to secure Palace's future was a close run thing.

With so many clubs being in crisis this season, both north and south of the border, you do become a little bit blase when reading about the latest court proceedings involving football teams. They pretty much always seem to strike a last minute deal, although clubs like Chester City show the full impact of what can happen when that deal can't be reached and they finally reach the end of the road.

The plight of Crystal Palace should be a wake up call to many but you know it won't be. For such a big name, with a big history, to be in a state where they are just moments away from ceasing to exist, it's frightening and it's only going to get worse. Once one of the bigger teams goes, and it WILL happen one day soon, then there could be a domino effect as banks and creditors begin to panic and (rightfully) call in their debts.

How do clubs let themselves get into this state? How can Boards allows so much money to be owed to so many, especially with regards to HM Revenue and Customs? That's not exactly expenditure that you don't know about and can't budget for.

Palace, and other clubs like Cardiff, have now reached a new slippery slope of selling future season tickets in advance, with the money then disappearing far to early into the Club's finances and expenses and no foreseeable sign of future income on the horizon.

Banks, and in particular Lloyds Banking Group, are getting tired of waiting for their money and as heartless as they will look, they are all in enough shit themselves without allowing badly run business from dragging them down.

Maybe it will take a big name club to go bust to make people get a grip. The Premiership promised land is making too many clubs take a gamble to reach it. Cardiff failed this year and it will be interesting to see if their new owners can steady that particular ship.

In the meantime, all we can do is speculate which will be the next club to go into administration. I'm betting it's going to be within the first two months of the new season then as one topples, watch the rest sadly fall.
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