Category Archives: Football

Things for which I am grateful #365/365.

Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

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Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)


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Glory, glory, Leeds United! #353/365


Not many posts to go now before I complete my 365 things to be grateful for so I shall have to be selective.

It’s been a while since the once mighty Leeds United gave me anything to be grateful for. We’ve been languishing in the lower leagues since 2004. Scandalous really, when you think about the size of the club.


Leeds United is the benchmark for how not to run a football club. And the new owner, convicted tax dodger, Massimo Cellino doesn’t appear to be fairing any better. We’re already on our fourth manager this season.

But one can’t simply change one’s allegiances because the team is going through a sticky patch. Admittedly, a decade-long sticky patch.

Supporting a football team – or any team for that matter – is an act of basic tribalism. And, as we all know, a tribe is for life, not just for Christmas. So we have to take the rough with the smooth. God knows we’ve had our fair share of rough. Even more than Wayne Rooney.

'ave it.

‘ave it.

Most of Leeds United’s success came in the late 60s and early 70s before I started watching them in the mid 1970s, just as they began to decline. Though, I did get to see them win the old first division title in 1992 before it changed to the Premier League.

To pay homage to that team, I have to give mention to our outstanding midfield quatro of: the combatant David Batty in the middle, partnered by the graceful Gary McAllister. On the right, the feisty and mesmerising Gordon Strachan and the on the left wing, the beguiling Gary Speed. (May the gods rest his soul.)



We won the league title three times in ‘69, ’74 and ’92.

Won the FA Cup in 1972 thrashing Arsenal 1-0. Alan ‘Sniffer’ Clarke scoring the only goal.

Won the League Cup in ’66. (Beating Arsenal 1-0.)

Won the Charity Shield in ’69, ’74 and ’92.

Lost 2-0 in the final of the European Cup in 1975 against Bayern Munich. Though we did have two penalty appeals turned down and a goal disallowed even though the ref initially gave it, then changed his mind after a lot of badgering from Franz Beckenbauer.

Billy Bremner being a perfect role model.

Billy Bremner being a perfect role model.

Won the UEFA cup in ’68 and ’71. Beating Hungarian team, Ferencváros and Italy’s Juventus respectively.

Lost 1-0 to A.C. Milan in the ’73 final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

Champions League semi-finalists in 2001.

We’ll have to wait patiently until a chairperson with integrity and vision comes along to change the fortunes of the great Leeds United. And come it will, one day.

Meanwhile, here are some of their highlights.



1968-69 First Division champions

1973-74 First Division champions

1991-92 First Division champions

1964-65 First Division runners-up

1965-66 First Division runners-up

1969-70 First Division runners-up

1970-71 First Division runners-up

1971-72 First Division runners-up

1923-24 Second Division champions

1963-64 Second Division champions

1989-90 Second Division champions

1927-28 Second Division runners-up

1931-32 Second Division runners-up

1955-56 Second Division runners-up

2009-10 League One runners-up



1972 FA Cup winners

1965 FA Cup finalists

1970 FA Cup finalists

1973 FA Cup finalists



1968 Football League Cup winners

1996 Football League Cup finalists



1969 FA Charity Shield winners

1974 FA Charity Shield runners-up

1992 FA Charity Shield winners



1993 FA Youth Cup winners

1997 FA Youth Cup winners



1974-75 European Cup finalists

1969-70 European Cup semi finalists

1992-93 European Cup second round



2000-01 Champions League semi finalists



1972-73 European Cup-Winners Cup finalists



1967-68 European Fairs Cup winners

1970-71 European Fairs Cup winners

1966-67 European Fairs Cup finalists

1965-66 European Fairs Cup semi finalists

1968-69 European Fairs Cup quarter finalists

1971-72 UEFA Cup first round

1973-74 UEFA Cup third round

1979-80 UEFA Cup second round

1995-96 UEFA Cup second round

1998-99 UEFA Cup second round

1999-00 UEFA Cup semi finalists

2001-02 UEFA Cup third round

2002-03 UEFA Cup third round



1920-24 Second Division

1924-27 First Division

1927-28 Second Division

1928-31 First Division

1931-32 Second Division

1932-47 First Division

1947-56 Second Division

1956-60 First Division

1960-64 Second Division

1964-82 First Division

1982-90 Second Division

1990-92 First Division

1992-2004 FA Premier League

2004-07 Championship

2007-10 League One

2010- Championship

  • Record all-time goalscorer : Peter Lorimer 238
  • Record appearances in league matches : Jack Charlton 629
  • Record all-time appearances : 773 Jack Charlton/Billy Bremner



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#158/365 – The Beautiful Game.

Yes, I’m talking about football.

And no, my American chums, not your kind of football where you use your hands, I’m talking about our kind of football where we use our foots. (Why don’t they call it Feetball?)


Unfortunately, that’s about as good as it gets for the English national team because they’re actually not very good at using their feet.

That said, it doesn’t stop me admiring the skills of the foreign players who grace the Premier League or indeed, the classy sides in the Champions League.

One of the reasons England won’t stand a chance of winning the World Cup is that FIFA have brought in this stupid rule which means you have to actually be English to play for the national team. That’s game over right there.

Take the recent warm up match against Peru – our man of the match was goalie, Joe Hart. (Even though it was actually given to Sturridge who was very poor despite his cracking goal.)

Let’s have a little player rating, shall we?


It was rhetorical.

Joe Hart 8/10. Man of the match, for me. Busier than the Peruvian keeper. Jagielka owes him big time.

Glen Johnson -8/10. Yes, that’s minus 8. He was a liability and certainly played like a man who has no competition for his place. Constantly lost possession. Worst player on the pitch. Kyle Walker – you are sorely missed.

Leighton Baines 0/10. Provided no width on the left wing. Rarely got forward.

Gary Cahill 7/10. Was the only decent defender on the pitch.

Phil Jagielka -5/10. Another liability. And against better teams would have probably been responsible for us conceding 2 or 3 goals. Owes Joe Hart a night on the beer. (They’ll probably do that night before the Italy game.)

Steven Gerrard -5/10. Constantly gave the ball away by over-hitting passes.

Jordan Henderson -2/10. Perhaps didn’t lose possession quite as much as Gerrard, but did he actually pass the ball forward at any stage during the game?

Lallana 0/10. Completely ineffective. Which was a shame as I have high hopes for him.

Wellbeck -4/10. Constantly lost possession. I don’t think Hodgson realised he was playing otherwise he would have subbed him after four minutes. Looked about as menacing as 16 stone streaker.

Rooney -6/10. Actually was a 16 stone streaker. Looked very short of match practice. Gave the ball away at every opportunity. Had the first touch of a newborn giraffe on crystal meth.

Sturridge 2/10. Only gets into positive figures for his cracking goal. The rest of the time he was hapless.

I can’t be arsed doing the subs. Life’s too short.

You wouldn’t have thunk we won 3 – nil. T’was a tad flattering.

England’s main problem was their first touch. (And their second, third etc.) They were set up like a Spanish team yet can’t seem to be able to control a ball without having to take three touches and have a minimum amount of space around them akin to the turning circle of a Passat estate.

“I was delighted with England’s performance,” said the Italian, Uruguayan and Costa Rican coaches.

Look on the bright side, England: at least after the group games you’ll get to spend a couple of weeks on the Copacabana. But please, don’t try beach footy, you’ll only make twats of yourselves.



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To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.


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Meet the Superhumans

If you don’t live in London, but you do live somewhere else in England, you might be a bit fed up of hearing the media banging on about what legacies London 2012 will leave for the rest of Britain.

Well, the clue’s in the name, people!

I live in sunny Stockport, in the northwest of England, and I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what kind of legacy London 2012 will leave for Manchester.

We had the Empire Games back in 2002. And we still have loads of lovely legacies such as the Etihad Stadium, where Man City play. Then there’s the velodrome, where people can ride their bikes… I get a bit stuck after that.

You don’t hear Londoners whingeing about the Commonwealth games not leaving a legacy in t’ Big Smoke.

They’re not our games.

It’s a non-question. It’s non-news.

To be honest, the Olympics don’t do a lot for me in terms of sporting excitement.

I’m more of a turn on a sixpence put it in the back of the onion sack kind of bloke.

What does excite me though, is this ad for the Paralympics by those lovely people at Channel 4.

It really makes me want to watch the Paralympics much, much more than the Olympics because of their Superhuman attitudes and abilities.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for one second that Olympians are any less motivated or hard working than Paralympians.

But, because I’m not that interested in the Olympics, it would have to take something superdooper special to get me interested. And this does.

Yes, it’s a little bit predictably shot, but it does get the hairs on the back of my neck standing, so job done. Not all ads are aimed at the head.

Not only is it a great ad. But I’m really looking forward to seeing some of these gladiators in action.


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Why England won’t win the Euros

I wrote the exact same headline before the 2010 world cup. Except it said World Cup instead of Euros, of course.

I remember thinking when Capello was brought in, that if he couldn’t win the world cup with that squad of players then no one could.

Then I started getting a bit worried when our best goalkeeper, Joe Hart, couldn’t get in the team. On the plus side, it did make me realise I was a better manager than Fabio Capello. Which is nice.

I just hope Roy Hodgson doesn’t make the same mistakes as his predecessor and realises that he needs to make a fresh start.

Let’s rid our national team of these egotistical Premiership players who, quite frankly, are not nearly as good as they think they are.

The most encouraging England performance I have seen in many a year was our one nil victory over world and European champions, Spain.

Admittedly, any neutral, (or Spaniard), will quite rightly testify that England just put eleven men behind the ball and got a right footballing pummeling.

You don’t beat a team like Spain by playing football. They’ll annihilate you. You beat them by tactics. Or tic tacs. Whichever works best.

What I admired about the performance was that it featured quite a lot of lesser-known premiership players who played out of their skins. And, more importantly, for their shirt.

Players like: Phil Jones; Phil Jagielka; Joleon Lescott, (who was man-of-the-match by a long chalk); Scott Parker; Kyle Walker; Danny Wellbeck and Jack Rodwell.

The squad also featured the likes of: Milner; Adam Johnson; Leighton Baines; Gary Cahill and Daniel Sturridge.

Of course, some of the aforementioned players are more household names now than they were two years ago. But they’re still not dead-certs for a first team spot in the England team.

There’s been a lot of talk in the press about Hodgson trying to mend bridges between Terry and Ferdinand. Why?

Dump them. We have better centre backs in Jagielka, Lescott, Jones and Cahill. Contrary to what Terry and Rio might say to get a place in the squad, it will split the dressing room. It would be suicide to take them.

Ashley Cole may well be considered one of the best left backs in the world, but he’s a petulant, gun-toting imbecile who has the permanent expression of someone who’s just smelled something unpleasant. Get Leighton Baines in. (Who is deadly from a dead ball.) And Micah Richards has got to be the best right back in the Premiership this season.

Wayne Rooney may be the Premiership’s leading English striker, but do we want a player who is banned for the first two games and can be a temperamental liability if things aren’t going his way? Do you ever see Lionel Messi sulking like Rooney?

Most people were expecting Harry Redknapp to get the England job. And, I put Spurs’ recent dip in form down to the shambolic way in which the FA dealt with the sacking of Fabio Capello.

Of course, the media were partially responsible too. But perhaps they might not have been quite so definite in their predictions about the future England manager had the FA come out immediately and said they wouldn’t be talking to any possible replacements until the end of April.

Instead, they said nothing and let the whole circus gather momentum until it was almost plausible that Redknapp was already in charge.

This media spotlight had such a distracting and damaging effect on Spurs’ season that I wouldn’t blame them for suing the FA for loss of future revenue, should they not get into the Champions League.

Only time will tell whether Roy Hodgson was an inspired appointment. But, if I were him, I’d take a leaf out of Republic of Ireland’s Italia ’90 squad and pick a team rather than a group of individuals.

Ireland got to the quarter-finals that year by playing to their strengths. Greece won it in 2004. Did they have a squad of household names? Of course not. They played their game.

And we should play ours. We have some decent footballers but we can’t play football like Spain or Holland. We don’t have that kind of class.

But what these younger, lesser-known players have, is True Grit.

Could England win Euro 2012?

They might have a chance if Hodgson goes with the less fashionable and predictable names. After all, they have already beaten the world and European champions.

Unfortunately, I think Mr Hodgson will probably bow to public and media pressure and pick the same olds, same olds.

Take note, Roy, Capello didn’t listen to me and look what happened to him.

Here’s my team:

Attacking, isn’t it?

And here are my subs:

Okay, where’s Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney, I hear you ask. Well, they’ve had a go. And they’ve failed.

And, whilst Peter Crouch may play for unfashionable Stoke City, he has scored the goal of the season in the Premiership and continually pops them in for his country.

I haven’t included Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere because he’s out injured for the rest of the season. (Is that the case for Chelsea’s Gary Cahill?) If so, then Phil Jones would be my next choice.

And while we’re on the subject of local elections, Stuart Downing couldn’t put a cross in a ballot box let alone a penalty box. So don’t go there.

Good luck, Roy. I like the cut of your jib.

And please, media – will you stop making juvenile jokes about his speech impediment? It’s embarrassing. Do you really think so little of the English public that we think it’s funny?

Hmm, I know I’m being a bit of a ‘Tinkerman’, but I like the look of this team too.

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