Tour de France 2008 (le tour....toujours)

It's time for the biggest cycling event in France, if not the most well known competition in the World. This grueling race which contains most of the best riders is from 5th to 27th July and will commence in Brest, with the finale in Paris.

..... LE TOUR TOUJOURS ! (The tour always...)

Here is the official link to the website

Fascinating if you like cycling... Will it be as eventful as last year and who will win??

Superb Spain Claim Euro 2008 Crown

So there you have it Spain won the Euro 2008 Football Tournament beating Germany 1-0 in Vienna. Finally they have achieved to win a major competition which has been long coming! It was 44 years ago that they last triumphed.... Congratulations to a fabulous side who played consistently in this competition from the very first match when they demolished Russia 4-1. So were they surprising winners? No not really, because they entertained, were positive in their approach, they kept possession and were patient even when under pressure. They matured as they progressed in this competition and whoever they played against they kept to their game plan of being comfortable on the ball, passing moving and never resorting to long ball tactics. Strong throughout the squad as was demonstrated in their last group match where they almost had a reserve team out. Different players but playing the same way.

Always loaded with talented players, Spain has spent four decades falling short of expectations. Now they have proved the critics that they can win a major competition!

Well done Spain...!

Euro at 13 June '08

So the Euro 2008 competition in Switzerland & Austria is off the ground .....

Who's in the "pecking" order to win and who's "packing" to go home?

Here a short take on the teams.... so far....

Lots of "huff & puff" in the team but at the end of the day no real quality within the squad. They have had lots of home support but will not progress to the latter stages.

Excellent result against the pre tournament favourites Germany. Could go far and they play attractive football. Must keep the impetuous up.

Czech Rep
Need to up their recent performances to progress into the later stages. Will be fighting for second place with Turkey behind Portugal who should top their group.

Which team will turn up? Same old same old France, they can be brilliant or very bad. Need to up their work ethic to survive in the "Group of Death"! Must beat Italy to progress.

Seemingly cruising until their recent defeat to Croatia. Will progress. Never write off the Germans. I predict that they could be very close at the end.

Too negative for my liking. If they attempt to continue to win games just on set pieces they will be going home soon. I don't think they will retain their Euro trophy this time...

Current World Champions struggling with an aging squad. Difficult to beat but are they hungry enough to win the Euro 2008. Big match against the French. Winner could join Holland in the knock-out stages.

They must be careful not to become over confident. Done really well so far. Play very attractive football. Dangerous side. Few sides can boast that they have beaten the Current World Cup Champions and Runners up, scoring seven goals in the process.

Not strong enough to win again like Austria lots of effort but no match winner for me. Apparently they have the loudest supporters, but will that help?

Looking good at this stage. No-one will want to be drawn against them in the knock out stages. Strong squad and mentally tough as well. Can Ronaldo and co add to their trophy collection this year?

They will struggle. Did well to qualify but don't expect them to do well. Need to beat Holland to qualify. Difficult!

Talented team but lack a cutting edge. Skillful but again like many other sides in this competition they lack real quality & belief.

Always the "bridesmaid". How many times do Spain fold in a major competition. Perhaps this is their year. They have quality and should do really well.... !!?

Hard working side and very organised, difficult to play against but that's about it.

Gone home already. Well at least the live there! (Not too far to go!)

Too negative. Like Greece attempt to steal a game rather than dominate.

What do you think?

Brief History of Bicycles

The Walking Machine
Baron von Drais invented a walking machine in 1817, that would help him get around the royal gardens faster: two same-size in-line wheels, the front one steerable, mounted in a frame which you straddled. The device was propelled by pushing your feet against the ground, thus rolling yourself and the device forward in a sort of gliding walk. The machine became known as the hobby horse or Draisienne. It was made entirely of wood. This enjoyed a short popularity as a fad, not being very practical for transportation in any other place than a well maintained pathway such as in a park or garden.

The Boneshaker (Velocipede)
In 1865 another two-wheeled riding machine was made, when pedals were applied directly to the front wheel. This machine was known as the velocipede ("fast foot"), but was popularly known as the bone shaker, since it was also made entirely of wood, then later with metal tires, and the combination of these with the cobblestone roads of the day made for an extremely uncomfortable ride. They also became a fad, and indoor riding academies, similar to roller rinks, could be found in large cities.

The High Wheel Bicycle
In 1870 the first all metal machine appeared. (Previous to this metallurgy was not advanced enough to provide metal which was strong enough to make small, light parts out of.) The pedals were still attached directly to the front wheel with no freewheeling mechanism. Solid rubber tires and the long spokes of the large front wheel provided a much smoother ride than its predecessor. The front wheels became larger and larger as makers realized that the larger the wheel, the farther you could travel with one rotation of the pedals. You would purchase a wheel as large as your leg length would allow. This machine was the first one to be called a bicycle ("two wheel"). These bicycles enjoyed a great popularity among young men of means (they cost an average worker six month's pay), with the hey-day being the decade of the 1880s. Because the rider sat so high above the center of gravity, if the front wheel was stopped by a stone or rut in the road, or the sudden emergence of a dog, the entire apparatus rotated forward on its front axle, and the rider, with his legs trapped under the handlebars, was dropped unceremoniously on his head. Thus the term "taking a header" came into being.

The High Wheel Tricycle
While the men were risking their necks on the high wheels, ladies, confined to their long skirts and corsets, could take a spin around the park on an adult tricycle. These machines also afforded more dignity to gentlemen such as clergymen and doctors. Many mechanical innovations now associated with the automobile were originally invented for tricycles. Rack and pinion steering, the differential, and band brakes, to name a few!

The High Wheel Safety
Improvements to the design began to be seen, many with the small wheel in the front to eliminate the tipping-forward problem. One model was promoted by its manufacturer by being ridden down the front steps of the capitol building in Washington, DC. These designs became known as high-wheel safety bicycles. Since the older high-wheel designs had been known simply as bicycles, they were now referred to as "ordinary bicycles" in comparison with the new-fangled designs, and then simply as "ordinaries."

The Hard-Tired Safety
The further improvement of metallurgy sparked the next innovation, or rather return to previous design. With metal that was now strong enough to make a fine chain and sprocket small and light enough for a human being to power, the next design was a return to the original configuration of two same-size wheels, only now, instead of just one wheel circumference for every pedal turn, you could, through the gear ratios, have a speed the same as the huge high-wheel. The bicycles still had the hard rubber tires, and in the absence of the long, shock-absorbing spokes, the ride they provided was much more uncomfortable than any of the high-wheel designs. Many of these bicycles of 100 years ago had front and/or rear suspensions. These designs competed with each other, your choice being the high-wheel's comfort or the safety's safety, but the next innovation tolled the death of the high-wheel design.

The Pnuematic-Tired Safety
The pneumatic tire was first applied to the bicycle by an Irish veterinarian who was trying to give his young son a more comfortable ride on his tricycle. This inventive young doctor's name was Dunlop. Sound familiar? Now that comfort and safety could be had in the same package, and that package was getting cheaper as manufacturing methods improved, everyone clamored to ride the bicycle. This 1898 Yale uses a shaft drive to dispense with the dirty chain.The bicycle was what made the Gay Nineties gay. It was a practical investment for the working man as transportation, and gave him a much greater flexibility for leisure. Ladies, heretofore consigned to riding the heavy adult size tricycles that were only practical for taking a turn around the park, now could ride a much more versatile machine and still keep their legs covered with long skirts. The bicycle craze killed the bustle and the corset, instituted "common-sense dressing" for women and increased their mobility considerably. In 1896 Susan B. Anthony said that "the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world."Bicycling was so popular in the 1880s and 1890s that cyclists formed the League of American Wheelman (still in existence and now called the League of American Bicyclists). The League lobbied for better roads, literally paving the road for the automobile.

The Kid's Bike
Introduced just after the First World War by several manufacturers, such as Mead, Sears Roebuck, and Montgomery Ward, to revitalize the bike industry (Schwinn made its big splash slightly later), these designs, now called "classic", featured automobile and motorcycle elements to appeal to kids who, presumably, would rather have a motor. If ever a bike needed a motor, this was it. These bikes evolved into the most glamorous, fabulous, ostentatious, heavy designs ever. It is unbelievable today that 14-year-old kids could do the tricks that we did on these 65 pound machines! They were built into the middle '50s, by which time they had taken on design elements of jet aircraft and even rockets. By the '60s, they were becoming leaner and simpler.

Pedaling History has on display even the recent history of the bicycle in America that we are more familiar with: the "English 3-speed" of the '50s through the '70s, the 10-speed derailleur bikes which were popular in the '70s (the derailleur had been invented before the turn of the century and had been in more-or-less common use in Europe since), and of course the mountain bike of right now. There are also many oddball designs that never quite made it, including the Ingo (you have to see it to believe it!)

Chelsea don't need Grant

Madness hits Chelsea! They finish runners up in the Premier League and only narrowly lose to Manchester United in the Champions League Final on penalties..... So what do the club do..... sack the manager! Marvellous... Good luck to the new man, he will have to win the Champions League, FA Cup, Premier League, League Cup and the Egg Cup to keep his job....

Avram Grant has been sacked as manager of Chelsea, this being after less than one season in charge. His future at the English Premier League giants has attracted fierce speculation almost from the time he replaced Jose Mourinho eight months ago. Grant was the quietly spoken manager rarely getting excited win or lose, whereas "the special one" Jose was the opposite type of character, full of emotion, expression and winding up the press.

So what type of manger are they looking for now? The names in the frame to succeed the Israeli include Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini, Russia's Dutch boss Guus Hiddink, Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard and Ken Dodd of Knotty Ash. My favourite being the latter!

Despite the constant questioning over his position, Grant, a close friend of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, (some friend!) had been credited with leading the club to their first ever Champions League final.

He also oversaw their late surge for the league title, taking United down to the final day of the season before they were forced to settle for second place. Better than any manager at the club before? In the club's mind second place is just not good enough. Does that mean that all the clubs in the Premier League have failed as well, and will change their managers as well?

I wish Avram Grant all the best in the future and he can hold his head up high.

The dreaded penalty shoot-out...

So, the final ends in a draw... even after extra time and it's onto the nail biting penalty shoot-out which is not for the feint hearted and certainly not good for the chosen penalty kicker! The best player to be in this situation is either the goalkeeper who can be the hero or be the player not taking one at all!!

The latest victims of that sinking feeling of loosing a shoot out were Chelsea against Manchester United in the Champions League Final in Moscow. Ouch, that hurt John Terry (pictured distraught right) when he missed that crucial kick.... Fabulous way to end a game with high drama but so so cruel for the loosing team and such jubilation for the winners... Unfortunately there has to be a winner on the day so this is an option....?!

Here are a few famous players who have missed crucial spot kicks....

1. Roberto Baggio, Italy v Brazil - 1994 World Cup Final
The first World Cup Final to end in penalty shoot-out ended in sadness for Baggio, one of the players of the tournament as he blasted over the bar from 12 yards and the World Cup ended as it had begun: singer Diana Ross opened proceedings with a spot-kick that would have missed the goal on the next pitch.

2. David Beckham, England v Portgual - Euro 2004 quarter-finals
England's newest centurion is not unfamiliar with the sensation of missing from the white spot. In fact he missed three in a row: against Turkey (he fell over); against France (Fabien Barthez made the save); against Portugal when he sent it high and wide in the first kick of a losing shoot-out.

3. Martin Palermo, Argentina v Colombia - Copa America 1999
Spare a thought for poor Martin Palermo. The Argentine didn't just miss a penalty when playing for his country, he missed three as his team lost 3-0.

4. Brian McClair, Manchester United v Arsenal-FA Cup 5th round 88
McClair had a chance to bring United back level with a last minute spot-kick. Not only did the Scot have the ignominy of missing as his side lost 2-1 but he also had Nigel Winterburn in his ear all the way back to the half-way line.

5. Fehed Nicass, Dynamo Kiev
The identity of this individual, his team and the opponents are all uncertain, but he certainly knew how to fluff a penalty in style.

Is there anyone you would like to add to our list?

Not all penalty kick are simple as you will see in link below...

Athletics...short history

Athletic Events were an integral part of the sport competitions held in the classical days. Some of the competitions of those days were the Pythian Games, the Nemean Games and the Isthmian Games, which were all the Pan-Hellenic Games. There were also the Roman Games. Athletics was also the main event in the first Summer Games.

However, in the Roman Games, sports like chariot racing (pictured), wrestling and later on the gladiatorial combat commanded a greater fan following as compared to the athletics. The athletics were of course a part of combat training.

In Europe, various athletic events became popular from those early days. The sports became popular in Britain during the period between thirteenth and sixteenth century. Now there are many international events, where the track and field athletics is a major attraction. The field of international track and field athletics is governed by International Association of Athletics Federations or IAAF.

Track And Field Events in Athletics: Track and field athletics is a collection of three sports disciplines. These disciplines are running, throwing and jumping. The origin of the name, “athletics” is the Greek word, “athlon”. In Greek, the meaning of “athlon” is “contest". In some languages, track and field athletics are referred to as “light athletics” to differentiate them from the “heavy athletics”. The sport events included in the “heavy athletics” are weight lifting and wrestling. The track and field athletics is more of a direct manifestation of the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, which means “faster, higher, stronger”.

In the present time, modern track and field athletics are generally held on a running track of 400 meters length. The track events or the running events take place on the track. The field enclosed within the track is used for staging the field events like jumping, vaulting and throwing. The athletics competitions for men and women are held separately. The distance of the sprint events are generally the same for men and women. However, the barriers in the hurdle and steeplechase events are lowered for women. The weight of the shot, javelin, hammer and discus are also less in women's competition.

Archery...past and present

A Brief History of the Bow:
The earliest bow was found in Europe and dated at around 9,000BC. In Scotland the earliest found is 4040-3650BC. The earliest found in England is 2600BC.

Longbows were so called to distinguish them from crossbows. The English proved their longbows were much quicker to use and in medieval times various sorts were developed. (photo left of Henry VIII with a longbow)

Hunting Bow
Potential game were herded toward the bowmen sited in a camouflaged area, who shot at 20-30 yard range with bows of 60-70lb draw weight which was just light enough to hold and aim.

Birding Bow
Strung with silken string for quietness, mostky aimed at Herons, using flu-flu arrows which were easier to find and also only stunned the birds, not damaging them.

War Bow
Shot at 120-200 yard range with a pull of 100-160lb. Not aimed specifically but used en masse to create an arrow storm. (Battle of Hastings / Bayeau Tapestry).

Drovers/Rural Bow
Made of boughs of seasoned ash which would have been already cut for fences etc. The shapwood forms the back of the bow and the heartwood used for the rounded belly.
Each bow took four years to make as horn and hoof glue could only be used in the Spring. England became short of staves and were imported as a tax.

18th Century Recreational Bow
Mainly made of Rosewood. The sport of Archery was developed by the Victorians as a leisure activity shooting at 120 yards which is 7.5 (N) or 5.5(S) roods. Originally a masculine domain but when ladies and families were introduced to archery the clubs began to swell their numbers enormously.

An interesting video link below on the basics of Archery:-

Cricket verses Baseball

Saw a bit of baseball the other night and it struck me how "very different" it is compared to a "proper" sport like cricket.

Cricket is a sport of empire, played in smart clothes, involves gardening and cups of tea. It also has many variations on the game from very quick "twenty-twenty" which lasts two hours to the traditional cat & mouse five day Test Match which lasts up to five days.

It's a game that all types of people play from the Lawyer to the man down the market. The game is subtle unlike the bish bash baseball. It is played in good spirit almost anywhere if you have a bat & ball. In India they play in the road & in West Indies they are on the beach.

So to Baseball. It is a game played by only rebellious colonials, involves fashion-free clothing, fat people, catching with big gloves and spitting. Why do they need the big gloves? Perhaps the ball is too hard for their hands? Baseball is really a grand version of rounders which is played in private schools by children. It's certainly dangerous for the person batting that someone can throw a ball at you up to 100mph without bouncing needs good reactions to get out of the way. Oh... and by the way you can have a round small bat to waft at the ball like trying to swat an annoying insect. Even the umpire or ref has got padding on. I mean!

Really there is no comparison......

Cricket's a sport, Baseball's just a game!!

English 2007/8 football season closes...

So what of it? Another season draws to a close and what's happened that we did not expect to occur during this season? Whilst the English National side failed to qualify for Euro 2008, the top two English sides made it to the Champions League Final in Moscow! I understand that there are many non English players in both sides, but it is an odd fact. Perhaps this may kick start the England Team into action!!

Premier League Winners:- Man United or Chelsea (predictable from the outset, with the possible inclusion of Arsenal who fell away late into the season). In the end Man United won the title.

Relegation:- Derby - their squad was not added to when they got promoted - So they were always going to struggle. A note of warning for their replacements next year. Fulham managed to win their final match to send Birmingham City & Reading down.

FA Cup.. For a change, the top teams are not in the final. Good for the game that is dominated by large clubs & money driven. It's ironic that Cardiff supporters will have to go to Wembley for the final & not stay in their home town, or will Pompy come good after their recent bad form?

New Arrivals to the Premier League next year? Who will join West Brom & Stoke? Will they do any better than the three sides that came down will do? It's going to be very tough for these teams.

The pick for me from the other leagues: Leicester going down from the Championship, they continue their slide down the leagues. In League One, Leeds ended up with 76 points which was a fantastic achivement to get into the play-offs, as before a ball has been kicked that they were deducted 15 points. They could have gone up as runners up. League Two, MK Dons keep up there march through the divisions, whereas Wrexham drop out of the league to be replaced by Aldershot.

Best Sport?

What's the best sport?
  1. Football (or sometimes called Soccer, for some reason by Americans mainly!)
  2. Rugby (Union or League - played by real mean (supposely who are gentlemen!) with a very odd shaped ball toboot)
  3. Cricket (Traditionally an English game old chap, it's rules however can be a little confusing)
  4. Tennis (& other net games ... badminton & ping pong)
  5. Racing (Including cars, motorbikes, motocross, pedal power and even horses)
  6. American Football (Rugby with extra padding & the ball can be passed forwards.)
  7. Baseball (Rounders really......... for grown ups!)
  8. Golf (One man and a small white ball verses the countryside)
  9. Swimming (All over in a splash)
  10. Hockey (Either on or not on ice)

Please post a comment to me of "other sports" that are not in the list.

Ten sports sites to view

What's interesting on the web at the moment relating to sport........

Here are a selection that I found recently that are worth a look at:-

Our National Team...... cannot be seen!

The British National teams live matches are rarely shown on BBC or ITV but sold to the highest bidder. Sky TV wins and the average person who cannot afford the monthly fee, looses out. This is a sign of the times that our National Teams live matches are hardly shown on non pay-to-view TV! The government should step in and allow all citizens to see our sportsmen and women perform for Britian free and not have to pay.

Come on Mr Brown, give us back our right to watch Sport for the licence fee we pay.

Consistency in sport!

There's never such a thing as a "sure thing", especially when sport is concerned. Upsets, shocks, teams upping their game, disgrunted and delighted players & bosses. These are all used to sometimes describe a match or situation, which all add up to a piece of controvacy or someone complaining that there was no consitancy with a decision. This can wind people up and makes sport a spicy affair! A few examples below:-

Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland 9/3/2008. Scrum-half Mike Phillips of Wales decided to drop his a knee into the ribs of the prone Marcus Horan (Ireland), as the prop refused to release the ball. He was correctly sin binned but why was Horan not also peanolised for preventing a feee kick being taken quickly? Conclusion - One rule for one player and another for the other.

Football - Man Utd v Portsmouth. Was the referee really that bad on the day?

Or was it sour grapes by the Manchester club because they did not beat a Portsmouth on the day? There is no doubt on chances made that the south coast side should have lost, but that's the way it goes. Why not just say that we (Man Utd) were beaten on the day. Conclusion - Calm down and focus on winning matches not moaning to the media!

Cricket - The national side at the moment either good or abismal! They have good players as shown against India & Pakistan but have not done so well against the black caps (at the moment) Conclusion - Concentrate on the basics and things will be ok.

Athletics - Drug cheat Dwain Chambers has won silver at the World Indoor Athletics Championships - an event British athletics bosses did not want him to take part in. Strange situation. Conclusion - It's possible to... take a banned drug, get caught, serve your ban, run again for your country, win a silver medal.... very odd?

"To be or not to be" a Football Manager

What gets a man to hold their hand up and say "Yes I will be a professional football manager in England?", it cannot be for the security, so it must be the love of the game with all its pressures, up's and downs, from 'hero to zero' in a matter of months!

Question - Who's lasted the test of time?
Answer - Longest is Dario Gradi (pictured left) of Crewe Alexandra (League 1). He has been with his club for nearly 25 years. This is a remarkable fact in this day and age of hiring and firing managers due to the pressure that owners and directors of clubs put on the management.

Most managers do not last very long at all. In fact, out of the 92 clubs there are only 22 managers who have lasted for more than 2 years. Hardly good for your career or heart for that matter!

A few Premier League Manager facts below:-
  1. Half of the Premier League Managers are English (10 of the 20 teams)

  2. Four current managers played a total of 1046 games for Man Utd as players! Perhaps it's a good base as a player at the Manchester club in being groomed as a manager?

  3. Alex Ferguson has been with the reds for over 24 years.

  4. Arsene Wenger has been a Gunner boss for over 11 years

  5. Whilst David Moyes has been the manager of Everton for over 5 years.

  6. No English manager has won the Premier League: the four managers to have won the title comprise two Scots: Ferguson with Man Utd & Dalglish with Blackburn. A Frenchman, Wenger (Arsenal) and the Portugusese Mourinho with Chelsea.

National Football Centre - is it needed?

Why have a National Football Centre of Excellence? What do our nearest footballing rivals have at the moment? Below are a few.

FRANCE - The Clairefontaine academy 30 miles outside Paris does not have a national intake. It takes boys from Paris and the areas west and north-west of the city. Each year 24 boys, aged 13, are selected for the three-year residential course which they combine with playing for their clubs at the weekend. On average, Clairefontaine claim that six to seven from every intake go on to sign professional contracts. The success of French football is really built on a brilliant regional structure.

There are designated high schools for children who are gifted at sport - Eric Cantona attended one and they are throughout France. There are eight schools that are multi-sport but run the same football programme as Clairefontaine. The football flagship was once based at Vichy but was switched to Clairefontaine, just outside Paris, which is known as the Institut National du Football. It also caters for women's football and is the base for the France senior team when they play home matches.

GERMANY - No national centre and no national stadium. The federal-minded Germans leave player development all in the hands of the clubs who – judging by national team performances – do a very good job of it.

SPAIN -All national teams from junior to senior levels train at a complex outside Madrid known as La Ciudad del futbol de Las Rozas. However, the place does not have a residential training scheme and was quiet enough to be used recently as a temporary base for Real Madrid while their new training ground was being built. Promising young Spanish players are developed by their clubs and then recommended by their regions to play in the junior national team.

ITALY - The Italian football federation leaves development of young players in the hands of the clubs who get them as early as seven years old. The clubs oversee their players' education as well. For example, as a trainee at SPAL in Ferrara, a young Fabio Capello studied for a chartered surveyors' diploma. The jewel in the crown is Coverciano – the Italian football federation HQ – on the outskirts of Florence. The Italy senior team always prepares there although again there is no residential scheme for young players. Instead Coverciano is the Oxbridge for coaches, physios, sports doctors and even directors of football. It is there that Capello and generations of post-war Italian coaches have gone to learn the secrets of Italian football management – with great success.

ENGLAND - Before the Burton Proposals there was Lilleshall (pictured below) and also Bisham Abbey.

A proposed dedicated centre for the training of future England stars, is to be in Burton on Trent, Staffordshire. The former FA chief executive Adam Crozier signed off the purchase of the 350 acre Byrkley Park Estate for £2million in 2001. Planning permission was granted in June that year and an opening date of 2003 was set. It's still ongoing.........
When we all finally assess a team it is down to what major event have they won?
World Cup: Italy (4): Germany (3): England (1): France (1): Spain (0)
Euro Cup: Italy (1): Germany (3): England (0): France (2): Spain (1)
So Italy are the most successful team (in this list) in the World Cup
and Germany have won the most trophies in total with 6.
We should therefore adopt a joint German & Italian thoery to their National sides!!

Home and Away !

Apparently the Premier League has announced that it was "considering" staging an extra 39th round of matches in five overseas countries starting in the 2010-11 season, with Sydney and Melbourne mooted among possible venues?

How will this work, who will they all play against and where? At the moment the 20 teams all play each other twice which is 38 games. That's the simple bit. 19 home games and 19 away games.

The proposed 39th game will it count towards the final league table or is it for the away fans of Man United (for example) in Sydney to see one live match? Marketing, money making or a thank you for loyal fans overseas?

Proposed format (but don't hold me to this!)

Four clubs to travel to one of five host cities, with two games taking place in each venue over a weekend (10 matches, 20 teams). Cities would bid for the right to become a host, not for individual matches. Points earned from the games would count towards the final Premier League table.

Confused? .....................You and everyone else will be !

p.s. If the proposals are not clear how can anyone be for or against it?

Rugby Union or Rugby League?

RUGBY LEAGUE is better?

Rugby League is the better game in every way. It's faster, more open, more exciting. In League, the ball is always in motion; in Union, the ball always seems to be stuck under a pile of bodies. In League, most of the points come from tries; in Union, most of the points come from penalties. League games are all-action, with barely enough time to squeeze in TV replays; Union games involve lots of standing around in bewilderment as the play gets halted for constant rule infringements.

The reason for the constant rule infringements is that Union has far too many rules. Nobody knows them all: not the players, not the commentators, and certainly not the gentlemen in burberry who shout 'heave' on the sidelines. Perhaps fittingly for a game played by people who grow up to be lawyers, games often hinge on the interpretation of obscure rules and precedents that are applied almost at random. It's like an ultra-violent version of Mornington Crescent.

I'm tempted to say that the more rules there are in a game, the less satisfactory it is. Chess, for example, is a very simple game, yet it is deep and rich enough to have inspired a mass of study and literature. Go is simpler and richer again. In fact, simplicity has been the key to most of the games that have inspired the popular imagination - from football to basketball, from Scrabble to Monopoly. Apart from Rugby Union, I can't think of another popular game with such a messy, patched-up ruleset. Why has this abomination survived for so long? And why has it flourished when there is a much simpler and more satisfactory alternative in Rugby League?

Rugby Union is better?
Rugby union has bigger and better tournaments for the fans to enjoy – the Six Nations, Heineken Cup and of course the World Cup. These are unsurpassed in quality, passion and pure theatricality, which is something that isn't offered in league. Also, the number of league to union converts (Jason Robinson, Wendell Sailor, Henry Paul etc) proves that union is the better code!

Rugby league is simply a game where you run forward, then jog backwards the way you have just come. It is a stop start game. Rugby union requires so much more. People who think rugby union is just a bloodbath sport for fighting are wrong. It is a game that flows and has complex tactics. Whenever I have watched rugby league, I find it intolerably dull, and I think that is because I have played the wonderful game that is rugby union.

What do you think??

The 100 metres roll of shame.

Why do so many professional sportsmen & women feel the need to cheat by using drugs? The obvious answer is to get ahead of the others who have chosen not to, but is it that simple?

The latest example the british athelete Dwain Chambers was caught and served his ban and now has been chosen to represent his country once again. What message does that send out to the young? He served his punnishment for abusing the system and he says that he's clean. Many believe that his punnishment should have been a life ban, would this have sent out a stronger message to those who are tempted to go down that route?

Chambers was European 100m champion, had been banned from sport for two years after being found guilty of a doping offence by an independent Disciplinary Committee. Perhaps he should be given a second chance to prove that he has learnt his lesson? If he does it a second time then it should be a life ban!

1) Chambers is in a long line of cheats that have been caught..... Other cheats.....include....

The 100m roll of shame

* BEN JOHNSON - Won Olympic 100m gold in 1988 but tested positive for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol.

* JASON LIVINGSTON - Before the 1992 Games, tested positive for the steroid methandianone.

* DWAIN CHAMBERS - Tested positive for the "designer" steroid tetrahydrogestrinone after being implicated in the Balco scandal.

* LINFORD CHRISTIE - The 1992 Olympic champion tested positive for nandrolone at the end of his career.

* TIM MONTGOMERY - Banned after being implicated in the Balco scandal.

* MICHELLE COLLINS- Banned after being implicated in the Balco scandal.

* KELLI WHITE- Banned after testing positive for the stimulant modafinil.

* CHRYSTE GAINES - Banned after testing positive for modafinil

Bye bye Adam....

Question ?
Who has hit one hundred sixes in Test match cricket?

Australian Adam Gilchrist is that man.

Everyone loves a "six hitter". Whether is it is on the village green or in a professional match, we all love watching the cricket ball sail over the boundary rope and out of the ground. (except the bowler!)

Australia's latest retiree will be missed by teammates and cricket lovers all around the world.

From the moment he entered the international cricket arena he had an impact, and now, as he walks away from the game, he will be remembered as one of the all-time great players.

He has changed the old school role of the wicket-keeper/batsman and in many ways he has raised the bar in terms of what is expected from the man behind the stumps.

Good on ya mate........... Take a bow....... !!!

Happy retirement....... Mr Adam Gilchrist

Artificial 2010 World Cup ?

The Fifa president has suggested that the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa could be played on Artifical pitches & not traditional grass.

What are the pros & cons?

Some cons:-
Would the players be happy playing on plastic?

This could be the future for Goalkeepers? Wearing pyjama bottoms to protect their legs from the nasty plastic pitch (Bless)!! ---------------->

More injuries as the plastic pitch is not good for joints.

Some pros:-
Artificial turf is a solution, you can use it more than just once a week, saves mowing !

No wear and tear on the pitch

It could be used for other events such as pop concerts.

Many players and coaches dislike artificial pitches arguing the surface disadvantages teams that are not used to playing on them.

Any thoughts?

African Cup of Nations Final - 10/2/2008

African Cup of Nations Final – 10/2/2008

The defending champions Egypt won the Africa Cup of Nations with a 1-0 victory over rivals Cameroon. The final had looked as if it could be heading for extra time until the 77th minute when Mohamed Aboutrika broke the deadlock in front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 35,000 in the city of Accra (Ghana).

Cameroon upped the tempo towards the latter stages of the match, but struggled to create any openings. Egypt were always in control - their quality shone through, even though Cameroon’s physical presence was noticeable throughout the 90 minutes It was ironic that the Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o was the top scorer for the tournament with five, although he ended up on the losing side in the final.

Egypt fully deserved their win and has now won the Africa Cup of Nations for a record sixth time. All eyes will be on Egypt during their campaign to qualify for the World Cup Finals in South Africa in 2010.

The tournament was a great advert for African attacking football, flair and entertainment which was reflected in the 32 matches played and there were 99 goals scored.
It will be interesting to compare this competition with the forthcoming Euro 2008 to be held in Switzerland.

England v Switzerland - 6/2/2008 - Friendly

England (2) Switzerland (1) – 6th February 2008 – Friendly Match

A new Wembley pitch, new players but is it a new era?

It is always difficult to assess an international match but there were a few talking points which came to light. England was vaguely promising and patchy in equal measure under the new gaffer. They provided the minimum requirement of a win.

Let’s start with the pitch. It looked as an international pitch should have done, not that cabbage patch that England had to play on against Croatia in a crucial match!

Capello (photo when he was a player) has set his stall out and will not be hurried or pushed by the media or any expert pundit. He appears to be his own man and demands respect from all around him. This can only be a good thing and was needed to be strict. After all “Rome wasn't built in a day!”

The team. There were pluses in the performances of Wayne Rooney, Joe Cole and David Bentley - and minuses in the displays of Ashley Cole and Wes Brown.

Cole is so far removed from the defender that excelled at Arsenal that he will soon face a fight to save his international career, while Brown is hardly international class in his favoured central defensive position, so his emergence at right-back in Capello's first side ahead of Micah Richards was a mystery.

England looked vulnerable defensively, with only Rio Ferdinand a likely long-term presence from this line-up, and defending set pieces will figure prominently on Capello's "to do" list before the friendly in France next month.

The attacking system also needs looking at as Rooney is better playing behind a striker rather than up front on his own - how Capello addresses this problem, and who with, will be fascinating.

The days of England's star system are over. The era of a high-profile group of players being assured of selection simply by joining up with the squad has passed.

In conclusion the players, team and system will change as there were many first choice players not involved this time, so we can only really judge the team and new management when the real international matches have started.

The players will have to work hard, gain respect, be punctual and carry out instructions that have been given. A bit like the rest of us at work!

England v Croatia - 21/11/2007 - Wembley

England v Croatia - 21/11/2007 - Wembley

The weather was dismal, pitch below was dreadful and the performance worse.

The team was wrong, the system was wrong, the attitude was wrong. Paul Robinson is out of form, so is dropped. Fair enough. David James is playing very well at the moment for Portsmouth - but is left on the bench. A rookie goalkeeper, yet to make even a save for England, is pushed into this vital match. Hello? The midfield again has Lampard and Gerrard together, diluting the effectiveness of both. David Beckham may not be fully match fit, but just check how many direct assists he has in recent matches for England. More than anyone, by a long way. We play 4-3-3 (or 4-5-1) when we all know our strength is playing 4-4-2. Croatia subsequently have the midfield to themselves, as we have no-one closing them down. We were, basically, all over the place. And the defence was, well, basic to say the least. Up front, Crouch had no-one to lay the ball off to. MaClaren & his team realised this all to late.

The second half was (slightly) better for a short period. Defoe won the penalty, soft, yes, but he was in there - and Beckam provided (again) the killer pass for the 2nd one. We should have then gone on to win the match, so what went wrong? Attitude. We sat back - we let them come on to us. Why? Where was the passion? It was like, "we've done what we had to do - now just sit tight". How many times have we seen this before? At the end of the day, it was just not good enough. The manager got it wrong (again) and had to change things around - too many players did not perform as well as we all know they can - but the most disappointing thing of all was that we seemed to lack leadership and passion, both on and off the pitch. We were given a second chance by Israel, a third chance when we drew level, and still managed to blow it. There is some serious thinking to be done - and it should start with the FA admitting that they got it wrong once again.

What would other countries have done in a similar position? Could you imagine Italy playing such an open match. I think not!

Arsene Wenger was asked recently if he thought the influx of foreign players was responsible for the downturn in standards in English football and I heard him say that were we to examine the results of the English team prior to the arrival of foreign players we would find that in truth, very little has changed. The mere fact that so many foreign players are playing in the premier league, should have had all the bells ringing at the FA in relation to the fact that our academy's were not then producing the youngsters who could have filled the places now occupied by the foreign players. Football has changed, it's no longer about sport in it's truest sense, it is now solely about money. Managers jobs and reputations are based on results and as such they draft in players from wherever they can if they consider them to be of the right calibre.

We got exactly what we deserved from this competition.

NOTHING ! (Diddly squat!)

Perhaps the current Football setup should take a leaf out of the England Rugby Team !

p.s. Who decided in their infinite wisdom to play an American Football mach just before a vital International Match at Wembley?