Category Archives: Football

Too old for a kick-about?

Near the end of the Christmas break I was sat thinking about how I’ve spent previous holidays over the years. With the Premier League providing a footballing feast that could rival mum’s Christmas dinner there can be no doubt that football enthusiasts are provided with everything they could have wished for over the festive period.

As I sat in a local pub taking in the second half of Watford vs Man City through the reflection in well placed picture I couldn’t help but think that in years gone by, no matter what the weather was doing, I’d have been out with mates with a ball at my feet and the cliched jumpers for goalposts.

There are plenty of ways a man in his late twenties can get his footballing dose of exercise; there’s five-a-side and weekend teams a plenty but all of this means money and commitment. This begs the question: What happened to the days of being able to contact a few friends, stick some old rags on and kick a ball around in the nearest field or park? Is there a specific age where it is no longer acceptable to have a game of headers and volleys or Wembley with your pals?

I can remember vividly being given a France 98 Adidas replica football and taking it in turns with my friends, desperately trying to perfect the Roberto Carlos free kick technique as a kid. Would such an activity really be so childish and a waste of time nowadays? Ok so it isn’t the most productive use of anyones time but it’s cheaper than a gym membership or hiring a 3G pitch to play on for an hour.

There is of course the matter of adult responsibilities getting in the way but part of me is a bit gutted that at some point over the holidays I didn’t get my hands, and more importantly feet, on a ball and have a good kick about up the rec.

It amazes me that so much time is given up to the gogglebox and social media as we get older. Perhaps if I had spent more time kicking a ball about with mates rather than binging on the latest must watch TV series I wouldn’t have so many people asking me, in a not so subtle way, what my new years resolution is this time round.

Open fires and great expectations

It is that time of year again. My thoughts turn to cosy nights in with friends and family. Comfort food aplenty and that magical Irish stout elixir comes into its own. I should point out that whilst most people enjoy cider in the summer, early autumn produces the best fruit and shouldn’t be forgotten. This is club rugby time for me too. I don’t know why but I seem to become far more engrossed in the oval ball game this time of year and really look forward to taking in as many matches as possible.

Something crazy seems to happen around this season too. Despite the clocks going back last night the weekend seems to have been and gone in the blink of an eye. Maybe it is the light drawing in early or just a funny quirk of time but I feel like I was preparing myself for so much this weekend and now it has passed I can’t remember actually enjoying any of it.

This morning was definitely the highlight of my weekend. Spending time with the family including my nephew put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. I was an expectant sport fan this weekend. With both rugby and football providing what should have been some decent entertainment. Now all’s been said and done I can’t help feeling a little short changed. When it comes to sport and in spite of my own physical limitations, I am somewhat of an armchair perfectionist. I have always been the same and expect the highest standards from those at the top of their game. With that in mind I was seriously disappointed with the All Blacks, South Africa game. I am not used to seeing New Zealand give away so many penalties and the South African’s inability to create any moments of magic left me a little underwhelmed. Today Argentina made an average wallabies performance look good and the Manchester derby was the most expensive in history but lacked quality throughout the game, especially in the final third. Below is the sort of sporting entertainment I was looking for. Not that I’m greedy or anything..

There are always university assignments to keep me entertained and I have plenty to do in that respect. I am looking forward to getting the first bunch handed in and out of the way. It is amazing how clear my head becomes after submitting work. It is almost as if I can ready myself for the next challenge and look forward to what’s new. Whilst I am on that subject it might be an idea to get my head stuck into some. Ciao for now.

Football lite and begrudging admiration

This summer is one of those awful summers football fans across the world dread. A summer without a significant international tournament to stave off the Premier League cravings. The women’s World Cup provided some much needed entertainment but it feels like it ended a lifetime ago and pre season football just doesn’t cut the mustard.

I really dislike preseason for a number of reasons. I don’t like that a new signing might get injured before the campaign gets underway. I don’t like the ‘football lite’, as I like to call it, in the preseason matches. Even glamour ties like Manchester United versus Barcelona have a diluted feel to them which is not helped by the number of substitutions managers feel they need to make to give everyone playing time. Mostly though I hate how drawn out and laborious the transfer window is. I do not buy into the drama of so called ‘sagas’ and can just about put up with the spectacle that is deadline day.

One of the biggest reasons I get so frustrated this time of year, especially as a budding journalist, is the amount of speculation and nonsense written and reported about transfer targets. So many stories feel as though they a made up off the cuff because someone who works in the canteen at Anfield heard the youth coach talking about player x,y and z. As far as I can see it is the only form of journalism where bare faced lies can be used as headlines only for the story itself to contain nothing to back them up and borrowed waffle from a press conference in the far east or the US. If that wasn’t bad enough so called ITK (in the know) accounts have a field day on social media reporting newspapers and media outlets work as their own. If all the speculation is to be believed the Premier League will have to change their rules to allow squads to contain 60 players or more.

One consolation for me this summer is the Ashes series. I have always enjoyed cricket in a way that most of my friends haven’t and whilst I love the pace and big hitting of limited over cricket I am a bit of purist at heart and I love test matches. Cricket captured my imagination as a youngster and I have been lucky to grow up in a generation of real greats (all though it must be said very few of them have been English). I was lucky enough to catch the end of Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose’s blistering careers. I saw Alan Donald and Shaun Pollock devastate batting orders. I saw Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar score runs for fun but it was the Aussies that truly impressed me the most. As an Englishman it’s probably not the most popular of views but the standard of top quality players churned out by Cricket Australia is quite remarkable. As a (poor) left handed batsmen I always felt an affinity with those players most and the explosive Adam Gilchrist was a secret favourite of mine for years. I couldn’t help but sit back in admiration as he smashed England all over for the second fastest test hundred with Monty and Hoggard getting most of the punishment. Then they had the enigma that is Shane Warne who got the ball to turn so much he bamboozled batsmen for years. If that wasn’t enough they had probably the most consistent bowler ever in Glenn McGrath at the other end always looking to take out the top of off stump.

What a side?!
What a side?!

With the series currently tied at 1-1 I can’t wait to see how today’s crop of talent perform against our boys who need a big performance after the last test. I looked into getting tickets but as a skint student I am once again priced out of such events. My hope is that the batting line up can perform much better than it has thus far in the series, particularly the top order which has really struggled. Fingers crossed and good luck England!