Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A scouser's guide to egg-chasing

"The Rugby?!?!? Are you a woolyback or what?"

"A load of sweaty posh blokes grabbing each other's balls? No thanks"

"It's egg-chasing, get a grip."

It's not an uncommon reaction where I'm from. Liverpool, you might be aware, has a pretty good pedigree when it comes to football. Almost without exception if you are a Scouser you are either red or blue...there is no room for anything else. Well almost...I remember as a kid taking a break from the constant games of football to watch the Internationals. Will Carling. Rob Andrew. Jeremy Guscott. The Underwoods and their crazy mum...the national team was on the radar but nothing else. You'd certainly never take an interest in the normal down-to-earth club rugby that got read out at the end of final score. Gosforth? Harlequins? Saracens? They aren't the names for proper teams. It's Plymouth Argyle not Plymouth Albion...Nottingham that has the Forest not Jedburgh. No, in the 'pool we stuck to what we knew. There was no need to diversify...in the early 80s regardless of which one it was you could be fairly happy that your team was one of the best in Europe. Who needed a bunch of muddy amateurs playing for a team with a funny name?

Basically that's the way it stayed until I went away travelling. From my days watch the 5 Nations I had a rough working knowledge of the game and whilst staying in Brisbane us and a few of our fellow hostellers grabbed tickets for the Queensland Reds V Otago Highlanders game. It's fair to say that sitting on the hill at the near end of Ballymore Stadium was more than a bit bewildering. Not nearly as much of a culture shock as it was to our Danish friends ("It's quite violent isn't it") but still pretty early on I decided that it was easier just to go with the flow and enjoy the game...the rules would come later.

My abiding memory of the game was of Wendell Sailor...there was something about him that just made me think "sh*thouse". I wasn't sure how I knew but after spending my entire youth watching sport I knew a player who was giving it everything for the team. "Is he injured or something?" I enquired of a local "Nah, he's just a fairy" came the answer. "Yeah..." I thought "...gotcha". I mightn’t have known much about the game but this was a sport I could ‘get’.

So with that grounding we moved across the Tasman Sea. I'd like to think that no visit to the UK would really be complete without going to a football match. It's the people's game. It's fundamentally part of the national identity, an all pervasive lowest common denominator. It'd be difficult to visit the British Isles without touching upon it but to actually get to grips with the game, the allegiances, the rivalries is massive part of getting to grips with the British psyche. The same is true with Rugby Union down in New Zealand. We'd arrived in Auckland and were immediately swept along into the tail end of the 2003 Super 12 season. Most of the family we were staying with were islanders...natural born rugby players. Rugby League was okay but the 15 man game was everything.

I have a pet theory that sports fans the world over will talk about their team in much the same way...it's only when you hear them talking about their rivals that you really understand them. On the day we arrived in Auckland the folks we were staying with plonked a couple of crates of Lion Red in the front room and settled down to watch Canterbury Vs Wellington...they'd actually bought Hurricanes hats purely 'cause they hated the Crusaders and so that’s basically where it started for us. The Blues won the Super 12 that year, uncle Dave and his brother Jason were proud as punch whilst Aunt Moira swooned over Carlos Spencer. Having Brits in their midst, however, was making the Kiwis nervous...even folks as footy orientated as us had realised that England where looking a bit good. The autumn internationals months previous had been a massive success for the northern hemisphere and a Grand Slam had finally been completed by our boys. The locals were unimpressed. England were boring, old, slow, one-dimensional and above all arrogant...they were coming over in a few weeks and these facts would be demonstrated. In the mean time we were to sit back and get more Lion Red down us. I loved it : The game, the banter, the obsession. The pride with which they talked about their team was pretty infectious. The almost reverent way Dave, Jason et al spoke about the national team ("Yeah, he's pretty good but he's not an All-Black"). It helped that we instantly fell in love with New Zealand...that such a nice bunch of people had something they all adored made it impossible not to get swept along. We were welcome to join in on the understanding that England WOULD lose when they came down here.

In the event our lads didn't read the script...they played two tests, one each against NZ and OZ. The first saw Wilkinson kick the All Blacks into the ground and our pack hold their own goal-line whilst two men down. If that wasn't good enough two weeks later we took Australia to the cleaners by three tries to one in Melbourne. A 40 yards rolling maul being a particular highlight. It didn't matter that the locals still weren't impressed we'd done it. You notice the "we" there...that's what came of our travels round the world's most rugby obsessed nation. All of a sudden, out of guilt by association, England were "we" and what's more they were looking good. The World Cup followed soon after our return to the UK...I'm sure no-one needs reminding of what happened there. So there you have it, we'd jumped firmly on the band-wagon.

In the aftermath of this as the games increased media profile it was easy to have a look around at what was happening in the 'club scene'. The only problem was our nearest top level team was Sale....egg-chasing may have been a lot more alluring prospect to my little Scouse self but there was no-way I was going to cheer on a load of Mancs. There were plenty of teams around but it seemed wrong just to seize upon one. Leicester and Northampton both seemed nice choices as Austin Healey & Matt Dawson were both good Evertonians but to really support a team it had to be somewhere local. Enter Waterloo...as it happened my first game was against Blackheath a club that was deeply involved in the formation of the football league...I don't remember that much of the game because Cains Lager was one pound a pint but the rugby was fun and the place was wonderfully friendly & welcoming.

It didn't take much soul searching to realise we found our club, who needed the Premiership when you could drink with club players and officials standing next to memorials to the club's war heroes in a clubhouse that reeked of tradition and heritage (and beer and liniment). Since then an increasing number of us go to Waterloo whenever our footy teams aren't playing. It's a great club and handy neutral ground for reds and blues to meet up for some Saturday sport. There is still pitifully few people I know who are into rugby but who cares...the internet keeps you in touch with all the rugby info & chat you need. It doesn't matter our team will almost certainly never attain a decent level of play. The team do what they can do and the bar, with it's real ale and open fire, is always welcoming. Waterloo will always be second fiddle to the footy but does that really matter? We don't care.

Monday, February 26, 2007

League Cup Final : Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

BBC SPORT | Football | League Cup | Chelsea 2-1 Arsenal

Good battle in the Carling Cup final (lots of puns intended). Arsenal's youth team came up just short against Chelsea who seem to be able to count on Drogba when they need him most. Arsenal had been ahead when Theo Walcott scored his first goal for the club.

The game was marred/enlivened by a mass brawl which seemed incongruous given the concern that had been shown by both player and physio staff alike when John Tarry was knocked out cold by Diaby.

Today the entire sporting world is laughing at this moron seen protesting outside Croke Park on Saturday :

(spot the irony)

For me the events of Saturday mean it's one of those occasions that transcends sport. My Lions shirt means that little bit more to me after the reception England were given.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Super, super Saturday

First of all let's get the footy out of the way. God bless Everton, they put aside the dissapointment of Wednesday and the rumblings of fan discontent to put in a tremendously professional performance against Watford. 3-0 is a great score and it's nice to see Fernandes, AJ and Osman nipping in with goals. Beattie and Cahill spurned chances to make it a very impressive scoreline. We now have 42 points, 42 points from 28 games and the best goal difference outside the money clubs. All this in what's essentially been a dissappointing season.

Now onto the rugby...Scotland decided to give Italy a 21 point head start at Murrayfield. It was ludicrous, three interception type break-away tries (all this in the first 6 minutes). They ralleyed well but Italy defended like trojans. They gave away a tonne of penalties but because of the defecit the Scots had to go for the try instead of taking the three points. Ultimately the Italian pack held out comfortably for their first away win in top level rugby. Great to see how much it meant to them

And so to Croke Park. Words fail me on how to describe the dignified pride shown by the Irish fans. They warmly applauded England onto the field, respectfully observed our national anthem and them roared their own.

The game was, in truth quite one sided. England competed but they were in defense for basically the whole game and they couldn't live with Ireland's quality. There was only one team in it. A historic, richly deserved victory for the Irish including a great Shane Horgan try from a superb cross-field kick. They must be gutted that that one slip-up against France has robbed them of a Grand Slam.

Onto Paris. Wales stunned their hosts with two early tries....but then the French woke up and came hammering back at them. They look to be well clear at 29-14 but Wales kept on at them. Impressive performance but our Gallic cousins and a Grand Slam in the offing?

Great, great day of rugby. In review it's disappointing to see England pummelled like that but realisitcally the game went to form. People seem to think the English are always talking about their Grand Slam prospects like they are a foregone conclusion but it really isn't the case. We are in transition, we are moving in the right direction but it's come far too late for the world cup. Basically we've treaded water for the entirety of the Andy Robinson era...anything we can get going now will surely be too little too late. It's sad to see what's happened to the Welsh after their tremendous Grand Slam season. They now sit bottom of the table which strikes me as harsh but them's the breaks. Regardless of what happens for the rest of the tournament Ireland and France must be pretty happy. Ireland have real quality, strength in the pack, and a midfield that's truly world class. France are looking very, very efficient. You couldn't begrudge them a title and a grand slam if it comes. They are suffering loads of injuries but they look very, very good.

Three rugby games and now Match of the Day...my fridge is still full of quality lagers, ales and ciders. Happy, happy days

Football madness

BBC SPORT | Football | Premiership | Live: Premiership:

"1642: Sheffield United manage their first shot on target as Rob Hulse hits the bar."

Eh?!?!?!?!? You expect better from the beeb, you really do.

Henry V - Act 3, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

Surely amongst all this pre-game trash talking and history raking the metaphor that's needed is this :

and then once the game starts :

Henry V - Act 3, Scene 1 by William Shakespeare:

"Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!' "

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Done another of my spoof articles

Prompted by the ludicrously over the top reaction to Moyes's subsitution last night. It was a crippling dissappointing way to lose and we've seen far too many of these game where we finish seemingly comfortable games playing like we're down to ten men. Fitness? attitude? It's something that really needs addressing...but the hysterical "Moyes out" reaction is just stupid. Anyway :

Blues reach nadir as they fail to complete double over Spurs by Football correspondent : A. Moaner

Inexplicable like-for-like substitution blamed

Liverpool, England.

It was the straw that broke the camel's back. The once patient & vocally supportive ranks of Evertonians could finally stomach no more as they saw their side concede a late winner at Goodison last night. It meant that the club lost it's chance to complete the first double over their North London bogey team in decades. Under previous regimes this sort of thing would just never, ever have happened and it's a sign of how far the once perennial relegation strugglers have sunk as they slip further into the mid-table mire.

Previous Everton teams have shown pluck and courage to stage late-season fightbacks to drag their way out of season long battles with the drop. The current Everton side look timid by comparison as they tamely surrendered their two month long un-beaten league record.

It was clear for everyone to see that he is man bereft of ideas as his threadbare squad, lacking any fully fit fullbacks and two of it's key midfield/attacking options squander yet another opportunity to close in on a European place. They say when the going gets tough the tough get going...well Moyes should learn from his illustrious predecessors. Smith's strong centre-half dominated squad had the versatility to play in numerous positions...last night Moyes was forced to take off tiring foreign new-comer Fernandes adding yet another defender. This heralded a desperate reshuffle with stand-in fullback Neville having to fill in in his favoured position of central midfield in order to make way for the clubs most talented right-back. The game swung on this gaff and whereas before Everton had somehow weathered the storm of four or five chances coming from the Spurs left flank they eventually conceded high quality 89th minute goal.

A man like Walter Smith got to this stage in the season with a team scoring less than a point a game, he grabbed them by the scruff of the neck and somehow, by sheer force of will, managed to limp them over the line to safety. True grit was on display in those great sides. Something today's Evertonians rightly hark back to. What abundantly clear is that Moyes isn't the man break Everton into the G14 elite and he needs to be replaced sooner rather than later. A man like Capello, Beckenbauer, Mourinho, Wenger or Ferguson need to be brought in otherwise arguably the best Everton team in the last twenty years might never again have the chance to add to their solitary Champions League qualification.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Photo blog

Beens I while since I did a photo blog...we went to chinatown at the weekend to the new year celebrations :

and here's some general pictures :

Sunrise over our estate

Sunset too!

The Waterloo boys debate their next move.

Home is where the heart is

The corner of Gwladys Street and Goodison Road

Shot of the upper Gwladys St in the aftermath of a goal

Great view of Liverpool World Heritage waterfront

Our Cathedral

Can you believe we got this piece of trash for winning the league!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bellamy putts Riise in his place

Times Online

ITV Football - News

Benitez threatens action

Player arrested

Fancy Craig Bellamy being involved in a fracas, this time he's meant to have battered Riise during a boozy golf holiday....Us folk on ToffeeWeb are wondering if Beneathus is going to inform us all whether Bellamy used a big club or a small club?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

BBC SPORT | Football | FA Cup | Bolton 1-3 Arsenal (aet)

BBC SPORT | Football | FA Cup | Bolton 1-3 Arsenal (aet)

Tremendous game tonight...not a big fan of Bolton but was actually glad when they scored as it ensured an extra 30 minutes of the game. Both teams didn't hold back at all. Fair result in the end given the penalty misses and the stunning open goal spurned by Arsenal. Good stuff.

Noticed some balloon of a Bolton fan had a Union flag with Bolton written on it...only problem being the flag was upside down. I mean come on! At least get your country's flag the right way up!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Oh I've never felt more like singing the blues

Until last week any glee in them across the park meeting defeat would have been open to accusations of petty jealousy however after that pendejo’s petty sniping it seems to have a more tangible, noble edge to it. Karma Mr Benitez! Payback’s a bitch.

Knowing Scouse footy fans as I do I’m pretty sure Evertonians are going to have those ‘small club’ jibes rubbed in their faces for a while to come…even if their new owners have christened them a franchise called Liverpool Reds (Red Devils if new phantom signing Mascherano is to be believed). Everton, having the temerity to take 4 points off our more illustrious neighbours, were branded a small club and so the title Beneathus is no longer anything to do with league positions.

So as news of the RojoMierda's result filtered through we trooped out of Goodison singing the blues (as in “Oh I’ve never felt more like singing the blues. When Everton win and Liverpool lose”)…our lads had done their usual trick of somehow contriving to make an easy victory nail-bitingly difficult. We’d bossed the first half with AJ opening the scoring and should have been 3 goals to the good. Brad Friedel had kept them in the game. The second half saw us revert to type and sit further and further back although ultimately, despite pressure a-plenty, we were good value for our win. The back four of Neville, Yobo, Stubbs and Lescott had soaked up everything they threw at us. The main grumble was how leggy we looked. There seemed to be a lot of tired legs out there. Blackburn are a dirty, physical side but for once we lived with them and gave as good as we got. Well done blues. Lescott was our man of the match again but Arteta ran him close. He is a superb, superb footballer…I desperately hope all this transfer talk is unfounded. I’ll understand if he does go and I’ll always look out for him, he should be playing for Spain…it’s not his fault that the media don’t focus on ‘small clubs’ like Everton…indeed the BBC et al have been chuckling away since the pendejo’s whinging not realising that he is just cementing the top four cartel they are always decrying.

Honourable mentions go to AJ, who ran himself into the ground as usual, Stubbs, who seems to have his swansong set to repeat and Fernandes, who came into the team and looked fairly lively and skilful.

BBC Match Report

The game was also notable for a lad we may well have met whilst travelling in Malaysia turning up at half time. He was brought out onto the pitch at half time and just missed out on a £10,000 prize from Barclays. We are assuming there aren’t too many other Everton fans in Portsmouth called Sau Lam! Unlucky mate.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Our Country's Good

Our Country's Good | Theatre story | Guardian Unlimited Arts

BBC Liverpool - Our Country's Good

Saw a superbly ambitious play at the Playhouse on Friday. Our Country's Good set in the newly established penal colony in 1789 New South Wales. A bunch of convicts are being encouraged to put on a play by an earnest lieutenant with the blessing of the new governor (and the chagrin of the more disciplinarian officers). The stalls at The Playhouse have been gutted to raise the audience onto one big performance area. Some of the scenes you really did feel part of the action. Highly recommended, it’s a top play and it has a really great cast.

Our Country’s Good @ Playhouse Theatre

Echo Interview

Speaking of penal colonies (Do you see what I did there) the English are at last putting up a fight down under. Having forced an Australian collapse in the first innings of the first final of the triangular series our downtrodden no-hopers found themselves 15-3 at the start of their reply. Cue a tremendous fight by Bell, Collingwood and Flintoff and a nail biting win for England (4 wickets and 4 balls to spare). Unbelievable knock by Collingwood to complement his two run-outs and a catch whilst fielding. Brilliant to see the spirit back in the side….as I said last week about the rugby boys one swallow doesn’t make a summer but it’s nice to see.

BBC report

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


When will I learn?

Can the FA reimburse me two hours of my life please.

You've got to conclude it's just a get together with their mates nowadays. There is just no hunger, no pride, no desire, no togetherness.

Think of the players of yesterday and how much it meant to them?

Gone but not forgotten

It's always wheeled out that England don't do friendlies and that we are a "big game" team but if you can't perform in the warm up games then when push comes to shove and it's time to get a result then there's no continuity to base your performance on.

There is no momentum 'cause there is no desire in these minor games. They honestly don't look like they know how to get it going nowadays.

You have players with bags of talent but a totally disfunctional team ethic...then you look at a player like Peter Crouch

I have a theory that Crouch has absolutely no natural talent whatsoever however 'cause of his freakish tallness sucessive managers have given him the chance to dedicate his life to playing and practicing footy every day of his life with top level coaching at his disposal.

If the answer to this question comes out against the gangly galoot then people up and down the land can think "I could have played for England given the chance". It essentially makes Crouch the Jade Goody of football.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sing songs

Whilst I'm not one to indulge in generic hateful abuse of the Munich/Heysel sort I had to laugh at the Evertonian's Stevie Gerrard paternity songs.

Apparently it's all over Liverpool that his girlfriend, Alex Curran has been getting rattled by a local drug dealer called Pancake.

I've no idea if it's true but the bluenoses were all singing :

"What's that coming over your bird? Is it a gangster? Is it a gangster" (to the tune of Monster by The Automatic).

He was big and tough enough to ear the Lower Bullens a few years ago so he'll just have to take it (Along with all the "The baby's not yours" songs.

I remember hearing about something similar when Tommy Docherty was United manager and was found to be sleeping with club physio Laurie Brown's wife. The liverpool fans were all singing "Who's up Mary Brown" to them.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Everton hit back at Benitez jibe

Everton hit back at Benitez jibe

Well done Everton for calling them out on it...Nice to see them lot showing thier true colours on a national stage.

Stubbs is characteristically languid in his reaction

This season we’ve beaten them 3-0 and got a draw here

Personally I think we should treat the comments in a sensible, measured way by driving Keith Wyness to Anfield wearing a bobble hat in order to shout "How would you like to suck my balls Mr Benitez!" through a megaphone.

That'd just about cover it I think.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Go Jonny go go go

Comeback at last

Wonderful to see Wilkinson back and firing after all his trials and tribulations. He bagged a full-house (although the try was a bit dodgy). Robinson, Ellis, Farrell, Tindall and the forwards did well too.

All in all a good first game for Ashton. One swallow doesn't make a summer but it's good to be going in the right direction.

Derby day moaning from the rednoses

And so we finish the derbies with 2 clean sheets and 4 points. Not too bad.

BBC Match Report

The reaction from the rednoses has been gratifyingly petulant. Classles no-marks, can't wait to see Bascombe's column. A point is neither here nor there really but the whining makes it tonnes better...No doubt they'll apply for dispensation to the FA and get the game replayed.

Benitez pitched in with some petty jibes after the game

Spaniard talks nonsense

IOL: Benitez aims 'small team' jibe at Everton

Well in to our Irish pals to calling him to account and to Moyes for rebutting the nonsense. Who was trying to win at Goodison when he rested some of his best players? He fits right in over their the arrogant, fat, shit Spanish prick. It no longer matters where you are in the league. From now on you'll always be Benathus.

Replacing one myth with another


Well then, the friendly derby is a thing of the past, fair enough but just making it out to be 'cause Everton fans are jealous and resentful over Heysel is pretty over simplistic.

For me what really poisoned it was when in May 94 we were heading into the game that could have seen us relegated. They were like pigs in shit over it. Crowing and gloating. Parties planned, coffins draped in Everton flags at the ready (or at least they told us they had these things plannned). On the day of the game cars were screeching to a halt and abuse was being hurled at anyone wearing a blue scarf. I remember thinking that they'd obviously been waiting a long time for this and now they were showing their true colours.

The low level of smug crowing that Evertonians had always endured at the hands of our more illustrious neighbours was ratcheted up but after that it was never just friendly banter. I don't despise Liverpool Football Club...I merely loathe their smug, deluded, arrogant fans and the myths they self-perpetuate that they are somehow a cut above everyone else.

Anyway today is derby day...I am fearful of a pasting.