Formula Onzzzzzzzzzzzz.

March 6, 2011

Red Bull's 2011 car

Hmmm,

Normally, this blog is devoted to the proper sports, that being football, boxing and occasionally, a bit of cricket. We tend to leave the world of Formula One alone, mainly because I don’t class it as a proper sport (no human endeavour, beyond the technical). Another big reason that I don’t talk about F1 too much is because it’s about as boring as Scottish football.

This isn’t about slagging Formula 1 off though, it remains mystifyingly popular and who am I to criticise it?

Actually, I know I’m being harsh on the petrol heads, because the one thing F1 is good for is a laugh. Formula One is the “actor” of the sports world, faintly ridiculous to everyone, but convinced of it’s own importance. Really, who actually cares about Formula One? The drivers are all about as interesting as a Dominic Brigstocke stand up show, and the cars, while nice looking, are so imbalanced it eliminates the prospect of any actual competition on the track.

Now, to give the billionaire circus midget, Bernie Ecclestone, his due, he acknowledges that his sport is about as gripping as a thalidomide hand job, so he’s come up with ways to make his sport more interesting. His latest wheeze is to propose artificial rain.

You read that right, artificial rain. Not a return to manual gearboxes and clutch pedals, nothing as prosaic as that, just artificial rain. Not a balancing of the budgets, which would give the smaller teams an equal crack at the points, but artificial rain.

The response has been predictably sniffy, Mark Webber has declared the idea to be unsophisticated and everybody else has been convulsed with laughter at the idea that in order to make the races interesting you have to fiddle about with the track and simulate rain.

I think it’s a brilliant idea, but personally I don’t think it goes far enough. I suggest that the tracks be replaced with a massive dodgem arena. I also think that the drivers should be made to drink half a bottle of JD before they take to the track, maybe we’ll get a spectacular “Senna” moment.

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Greetings all. Once again, I feel the need to apologise in the opening line of my blog, and there are certainly some metaphorical cobwebs to blow away. A little self loathing, and even more self doubt have kept me away from this place, but no more (there’s only so much Football Manager a man can play in a day after all!) I also need to hold my hands up and admit that my later blog entries had gone a little stale. I had lost my edge, largely because I was blogging about old news. Lesson learned, methinks.

So plenty has happened since I’ve been away. Celtic have got themselves right back into the title race, Notts have  had to sell their most influential play maker, and Darren Bent has proved beyond reasonable doubt that too many Premiership footballers are mercenaries. But that’s not fresh news, you can read about it anywhere you like. No, instead I’m going to talk about something a little more personal.

As some of you may know, I’m fortunate enough to do a job I adore for a living: I get to commentate on football from all around the world. I think it’s time I started to talk about those games here, so expect a post in an hour or so.

Until then, this might interest you. If you fancy a free ticket to a Football League match, keep your eye on this page.

Catch you all very soon.

Sporting Classes

February 15, 2010

Today, I watched England beat Italy in the Six Nations, now I don’t really know anything about rugby, but I’m reliably informed that the beating of Italy is a fairly common occurrence.  Now, it may well have been because I’d just eaten a particularly glorious Sunday lunch, but I found myself falling asleep in front of the box. There could be lots of reasons for this, but I think the main one is that I find rugby boring to almost super-natural degree.

However, I managed to watch most of the match and, By God! It was the most tedious sporting event it has been my displeasure to witness, but again, I’m sure that’s more to do with my almost total ignorance of the sport. But why do I have almost no knowledge of rugby? Well, it’s simple; I never really played it at school.

School plays a massive part in our collective sporting development and the schools that you go to largely determine the sports you play. Now I went, like Mike, to a fairly bog-standard Comprehensive school and if my memory serves me correctly, the only sport we seemed to play was…football (nothing wrong with that by the way, but some variety would have been nice). Occasionally, we forayed into other sports, Hockey got an airing a few times and numerous athletic pursuits were also attempted, but by and large, football ruled our PE roost.

Our school never attempted to teach us other sports such as Cricket or Tennis, and why would it? Football was easy to play and compared to rugby, was comparatively injury free, cricket required the use of a lot of specialist equipment, which our school simply couldn’t justify spending the money on. Of course, our school had it easy; we hadn’t sold our playing field to developers.  It’s a tragedy that it seems the only schools that have the equipment to play with; the skilled staff and the fields to play these sports on are the fee paying ones. While Mike is right to say that access to football matches has been taken from the common man, I’d contend that the entire sport of cricket has been taken from him too.

There’s no doubt that if a young person wishes to play cricket or rugby, then they have to do something “extra”, maybe joining an after school club or attaching themselves to an amateur team. But that doesn’t seem quite fair to me, doesn’t the school have a responsibility to its pupils to present a varied sporting palette?

An apology and an update

December 10, 2009

Hi all.

As regular readers will have no doubt noticed, there haven’t been many new additions to the blog lately. Unfortunately, a dose of man-flu has severely disrupted my writing, and unfortunately I’m only just getting back to being myself. My apologies for this, but rest assured, I’ll be back writing in the next day or so (potentially even the next hours).

However, I also thought I should let you know Ross and I are expanding our horizons, and will be adding the sports of boxing and rugby union to our bows. Expect to see the first boxing stories in the next day.

Cheers for your patience, and apologies again.

M

9-1 to Spurs, Wigan take a smashing and Roberto Martinez is forced to take a long-hard look at his team. Martinez is one of the new breed of managers that are currently doing the rounds in the Premiership, young, thrusting and … well, he is young.

Martinez’s team were easily thrashed by Harry Redknapps’ Tottenham.  You remember Harry Redknapp? You know, he managed Bournemouth, West Ham, Portsmouth and Southampton before finally taking the hot-seat at a “big” club (that’s Tottenham, in case you were wondering), and more importantly, it’s taken him over 25 years to get to that position.

The game seems to be in the grip of the cult of youth, and that doesn’t seem right to me. Just because Mourinho pulled it off at Chelsea (with the help of millions of pounds) and Guardiola is making a spectacular name for himself at Barca (with the help of the best player in the world, Messi), it doesn’t mean that youth is best.

Indeed it seems like the opposite is actually true, the older the manager, the more successful they actually are. Alex Ferguson is a spry 67 years old, Arsene Wenger is a positively dynamic 60 year old and Carlo Ancelotti is a practically baby faced 50 year old. But let’s look at their collective managerial records for a moment, over 70 years of managerial experience all over the world. Seventy years, between three managers, incredible stuff. But for my money, the best old manager in the Premiership is Roy Hodgson, 60 years old and a resume that would put Judith Chalmers to shame.  And while he’s managed the likes of Internazionale, the UAE national side and Blackburn, surely his greatest achievement is making Fulham look like a convincing Premiership team.

Of course, football has always been obsessed with youth, and young managers are hardly a modern thing. The great Brian Clough, surely the Mourinho of his day, started as a young 30 (!) year old at Harlepools United in 1965. But Hartlepools were at the wrong end of the old fourth division at the time, the idea of taking him straight to Leeds United or Liverpool would have been seen as sheer lunacy by everyone.

Nowadays, if a great player retires, it seems like the most natural thing to do is to parachute him into the hot-seat at the first struggling Premiership club (yes Shearer and Keane, I’m looking at you here) and hope that the “Mourinho effect” happens.  Great players do not necessarily make good managers. The only thing that makes a great manager is…experience.

So, Football’s quad-annual jamboree heads over to Africa for the first time in 2010. Africa’s great isn’t it? If you can forget the rampant Aids epidemic that devastates the Sub-Saharan region like a Scotsman at a free buffet. Or if you can forget the largely corrupt administrations that run the countries there into the ground. Or maybe if you put aside your concerns about the seemingly endless civil wars that take place in the continent. Yep, Africa is truly an amazing place to be, we used to call it “The Dark Continent” because we hadn’t explored it. Now we can call it the “Dark Continent” because of the sheer wealth of human tragedy that Africa experiences.

In the face of this, sending the World Cup to South Africa was always going to be a decision based more on emotion than on simple common sense. And indeed, why not South Africa? The Rainbow Nation, a true model of societal integration, great stuff.

Thing is, people aren’t really considering the main issue relating to SA, forget about President Zuma and his long running battles with rape and corruption charges prior to his becoming President. Forget about the shared border with Zimbabwe where thousands of refugees have fled to escape the tyranny of the Mugabe regime. They aren’t even considering the lack of South African footballing talent, I mean, I like Benni McCarthy and Aaron Mokoena as much as the next man, but they’re hardly setting the Premiership alight.

No, the main issue here is…Crime.

Forget what 2010 chief Danny Jordaan says about Tottenham Hotspur, The England Rugby Union Squad and the England Cricket Team coming to South Africa and not having any problems. These are highly pampered and valuable athletes, protected up to the eyeballs with armed guards, of course there won’t be any problems. But I wonder what Jordaan would say if he was faced with a few simple stats?

Here are some figures that anybody planning to go to South Africa should pay attention to, these are total figures for 2009 so far.

1)       Assaults – Over 550,000

2)       Homicide – Over 21.000

3)       Rape –  Over 50,000

4)       Kidnapping – Over 3,000

I’m really not trying to scare anybody with these figures, but they are fairly horrific. Anecdotal testimony suggests that a woman born in South Africa has more chance of being raped than of learning to read.

Should the World Cup be held there? Well, in the face of those figures above, beyond the emotional argument, there’s very little to recommend it. South Africa, like most of the rest of the continent, is still classed as “developing”, although it also has NIC (Newly Industrialised Country) status, which places it alongside the likes of India, Mexico and Brazil. The South Africans are spending millions on building new stadiums and infrastructure, money it can barely afford.

However, considering all of these things, I feel we should give the South Africans their chance, if Football has pretensions of being a true global game, then it should go to whoever wants it the most. Ultimately, South Africa needs to hold the World Cup, it needs the money generated through tourism. But far more important than that, South Africa needs the prestige, it needs to hold a flawless, spectacular and more importantly, a safe tournament.

you can find further info on South Africa’s crime by following this http://www.nationmaster.com/country/sf-south-africa/cri-crime