Tag 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!

Playing the waiting game.

I have been determined to not rest on my laurels this summer after a really enjoyable and busy time with the election at the end of this year. As a result I have spent lots of time seeking out work experience placements. Nowadays (and I suspect this has been the case for some time) you have to offer up your services for free in order for prospective employers to see if you are worth taking a punt on.

I have been exploring a variety of avenues ever since I returned home and I won’t lie it has been a somewhat frustrating time for me. The scary part of all of this is that I am on tenterhooks waiting to hear if I have been successful in receiving a work experience placement. I dread to think what I will be like in a years time when I am applying for hundreds of jobs in the hope that someone will notice the drive and commitment needed in me to succeed.

I have dreams and goals that I want to accomplish. Some of them realistic others more in the realms of ‘if I get really lucky’. All of this helps to drive me on even when I am sat in front of my laptop on a typically wet and windy English summer’s day waiting for an email or phone call.

I definitely need to find a distraction as my search for the perfect placement is bordering on the obsessive at times and it is driving me mad. I have been reading Gary Neville’s autobiography entitled ‘Red’. It is a fantastic read and with no disrespect to Gary an absolute steal at just a pound! Reading is good for me it allows me to navigate other people’s paths in life and see what the best and worst of their experiences have done to shape each character be it fictional or a real person.

I can see various similarities with myself and Neville, his attention to detail and need to better himself are just two of the qualities I see in myself. I will not pretend I am the finished article in any walk of life but I would like to think that you never are. The moment you start to think that way is the moment you give up on trying to be your version of the best at whatever it is you are trying to achieve. You are never too old to learn something new and there is a lot to be said for being proud of a good work ethic.

Attack the day
Attack the day

One thing I am certainly not proud of at the moment is my current physical state. I feel lethargic and run down. I put some of this down to stress about work and work experience but most of it is down to the bad habits I have allowed myself to get into. I sat up late last night planning a regime to follow in order to feel better about things this summer. Firstly I need to get out and do some exercise, I’d like for the weather to improve but it would appear that the jet stream has once again settled over this great isle and decided that a warm and sunny summer is not needed. So be it. ‘Get outside come wind rain or shine’ is the message I have been running over and over in my head of late and it is about time I started paying attention to it.

Right enough self medicating on here and pontificating about life and what it might bring over the coming weeks. Time to get out there and start making things happen. In the words of Gary Neville ‘Attack the day’!

Fruits of my labour and a feel good factor

Last week was busy, hard work and on top of that an awful lot of fun. It seemed like every day was packed full of things to do, deadlines to meet and accomplishments to achieve. I am glad to say that it feels like it was all worth it.

After covering the hustings for the election I felt I had made good progress with regards to getting content for news stories.  I used a couple for a live newsday assessment on Thursday that was fairly stressful but I think it went really well.

Everyone contributed and in my role as radio news editor I found it difficult to choose between stories, which can only be a compliment to the group I worked with. Everyone worked hard and produced good stories for both radio bulletins and online publication. I had a real buzz after it was over on Thursday and can see how being part of a news team and newsroom must be seriously addictive. I was especially pleased about the number of stories where the group had obtained exclusive content. We spoke to charities, the mayor, companies, sports coaches, chairmen and politicians directly and gave all of the stories a good angle.

I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted after it was all over but the workload hasn’t eased up as our final assignments in all modules are due in the next few weeks. It sounds almost crazy to say it but I am looking forward to getting the interviews and doing the work for them as most of the tasks that have been set are interesting and cover subjects I am enthusiastic about.

On top of all of this I have just received good news, feedback and a great grade for an assignment I was concerned about. Without sounding too arrogant it is always nice to get good feedback about the work you have produced and it is important to recognise where you can improve. When I write something I generally want it to be the best version of what I am capable of producing. This often drives me when working on any project and at times it can even get in the way as I am guilty of overthinking and over editing my work.

After stating last week that I would not be indulging myself in any extracurricular activities, the weekend sport made sure I was unable to fulfill my promise. Not only did I take time off to watch the rugby and football on offer, I gorged on it. I was completely consumed by sport this weekend watching all of the six nation and nearly all of Sundays football, Including Match of the day!

One particular result left me in a state of complete satisfaction. I have mentioned before about my trips to Old Trafford and so it is fairly obvious which game I a referring to! I explained to my housemate that I look forward to this fixture all year around only to dread it in the hours leading up to kick off, feel physically sick whilst watching it and then exhausted, upset/delighted as soon as it is over. It really can and does define my week. I have been walking around today on cloud nine with a subconscious puff of the chest a la Cantona.

Anyway enough ego massaging and gloating for one day I have work to do and that is sure to bring me back down to earth with a bump. Enjoy your week people. Who said Mondays suck?

Sunshine and high hopes

It is nice to start this post with some real positivity and I owe much of the good feeling to a strategic attack on my workload. I had a really pleasant, relaxing and productive weekend which was a mix of catching up with someone I haven’t seen for ages, chilling with folk I spend lots of time with and getting some uni work done.

Key to my mood is a routine of early starts that have made lots of things improve. Firstly I seem to be far more productive when I have had a good nights sleep followed by an early start. As a result of this my mood is heightened and this triggers a positive cycle and one I am happy to be reaping the benefits of.

I hadn’t planned on returning to the Forest on the weekend but my mum asked me to check in on a few things for her and I am always happy to go and see my friends at home. The weather on Saturday was nothing short of glorious for early March and that morning I was determined to get some work done so I could take in some much needed vitamin D.

It was decided that we would do a tour of well known sun traps in the local area and get some fresh air. Our tour took us to Ross on Wye and from there to Aylburton with a few pit stops along the way. It was great to get a few hours of sunshine with the only downside being unable to take in as much FA cup football as I would have liked. Drybrook were away and so there was no rugby we were likely to watch locally but I must admit I would have liked to have seen a cup match between two of the areas football teams. I have talked at length before about my passion for local and live sports and it is a fire that no matter how hard I try, I can’t put out.

With cup exploits in mind I must admit I am struggling to write this post without being distracted by various websites and publications. Whilst I love the romance of the FA cup I also revel in the chance to watch the big boys take each other on in the latter stages of the competition. There is a rich and great history in tonights fixture between two of England’s best sides in the competition. In my lifetime alone there have been some truly spectacular ties between Manchester United and Arsenal. I hope the fixture tonight can live up to that billing and provide fans of the cup with the spectacle this competition deserves.

My thoughts outside of football are torn between assignments and trying to secure work placements. Life would be boring if there weren’t a few things to worry about along the way.  I have some avenues to explore and try and get myself a foot in the door. Fingers crossed I will secure something sooner rather than later.

With an empty fridge a trip to the supermarket might be just the way to kill time before kick off. A restock is long overdue!

Alternative lessons and overreactions

I have decided in the last few days to take a step back. I have always been a bit of a people watcher. Makes me sound like a crazy stalker I know but I must admit I can often be found staring into space and taking in my surroundings. At the moment I need to focus on my reactions to things rather than everyone elses.

Last night I lay in bed struggling for sleep for a long time and I started to over think. This is one of my biggest faults at times, I am really good at giving myself a hard time and making what is a relatively simple task to overcome a whole new outlook whereby I am doomed to fail.

I mentioned before that I needed to start a ‘to do’ list and having made a dent in it I have realised that I can over complicate things at times and cause myself stress that isn’t necessarily there. I am going to blame my dad for this particular fault as I am almost certain it is one of the many traits we share.

I am still all over the place with sleep and so I’ve decided to set an ‘early’ alarm for the mornings this week in the hope that some sort of settled routine will eventually make a difference.  Having to get up early for work everyday in the summer seemed to have a positive effect and I am hoping for similar results.

Yesterday was another reminder of how much I enjoy Sundays. It is nice to sit somewhere with a relaxed atmosphere and catch up with friends and chat about how our weeks have gone. I am lucky in a lot of ways as my friends and I share a similar sense of humour and when conversation gets to a stage threatening to be too serious there is generally someone there to lighten the mood. Always important to do so on a Sunday I feel before the weekly grind restarts.

I will use this as an opportunity to plug a friends business and more to the point, pub. Sundays seem to provide a theme of catching up with old friends and although it was only a brief conversation it was good to catch up with my friend and chef at the Butchers Arms in Clearwell. Food was spot on and we were treated really well by the staff.

Last Sunday saw me pay a visit to another old friend. This time for a proper catch up. As we talked babies, work and laughed at each other with some pretty awful football on the tele in the background, I realised how easy it is to slip out of peoples lives. On the flip side to that it was great that despite not socialising for such a long time, we were able to chat away straight away like it had only been a day or two since we had last hung out.

Going back to reflecting on myself I have come to conclusion that despite all of my protestations, I can be, at times all too easily influenced. Sometimes by other people and other times by what is going on around me. I don’t want to dwell on this too much but it is worth reminding myself every now and again, especially when taking part in large social gatherings.

Speaking of which I am looking forward to catching up with lots of people at the end of the month for more reminiscing, laughs and storytelling. The results of which I will no doubt transcribe on here soon.