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Category archive: Sport

Monday March 25 2019

I’ve just watched England beat Montenegro at football, in Montenegro, 5-1.  A few days ago England beat The Czech Republic 5-0, in London, and I watched some of that too.  England are looking good.

Here is the most convincing explanation I have found of why.  In the bit under the subheading “More ball-hoggers”, it says this:

You know that lad in school who never passed the ball? Turns out he was on to something.

Ashworth says English players are already more technical than he has ever seen thanks to a revamp of the academy system in clubs and a more consistent playing style with England.

But the FA wants to go further.

Peter Sturgess, the FA’s foundation phase coach for five- to 11-year-olds, has been telling coaches up and down the country that mastering the ball is his number one priority. Passing can come later.

“We are saying that passing is important but it’s not a priority for foundation-phase children,” he told BBC Sport. “The priority is building a massive connection with the ball so their individual ability on it, in tight and pressurised situations, becomes as good as it can be.

“You put 11 of those players together on a football pitch and they can play any system you want, because they have less chance of losing the ball.”

Ashworth and Sturgess just might be onto something.  To have a good football team, start by having lots of “foundation phase children” who are good at controlling a football, with their feat.

Thursday March 21 2019

Looking out over the gloom of Bermondsey yesterday, with maximum zoom, from the balcony of a friend’s flat:

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Despite the dreariness and consequent blurriness, you can clearly see the Big Olympic Thing there.  Next to it, right behind the tower of the crane, you can also see, if you look a bit harder, the top of the London Stadium, now the home of West Ham United.

What this photo illustrates, among many other things, is the enormous contribution to a city made by Recognisable and Big Things.  Most of what you see in that photo is dull Unless you are a craniac like me) and generic.  You could be anywhere.  But once you see that contorted red shape, however dimly, you know at once where you are looking and what you are looking at.  These Things aren’t called “landmarks” for nothing.  They are like giant squirts of solidified piss from God.  They mark the landscape.  They give it shape and structure.  You know where you are with them, but without them, you don’t.  Without them, you could be anywhere.  With them, everywhere becomes somewhere.

Saturday March 16 2019

The job of sports fan internetters like me is not to just wallow in the mere news that the commentators have just been reporting and to repeat their opinions about why it all happened (although that can be fun to look back on, in the years to come).  It is also to notice the daft things that commentators sometimes say.  The above gem of verbal inappropriateness came, from ITV commentator Nick Mullins, after just 13 minutes of the England Scotland rugby game at Twickenham, just after England scored their third try.  England really don’t look like they’re going to lose this one.

The basic reason England are winning is that Wales, earlier this afternoon, dessicated Ireland.  That actually is not a bad word for what Wales did to Ireland.  Ireland didn’t score any points at all until the clock had gone past 80 minutes, Wales having already scored 25.  This meant that Wales already had the Grand Slam, and that meant that Scotland would not now be working themselves into a frenzy of Scottishness to deny England, who were undone two weeks ago by a frenzy of Welshness (which did deny England the Grand Slam), the mere winning of the tournament.

And now, on the half hour, England have just scored their fourth try, making it 31-0 to them.

And what did Nick Mullins say about that?

This:

“Scotland are being drowned.”

When you get dessicated, what you want is water.  But not that much water.

I feel sorry for Scotland.  If you’re an England rugby fan, feeling sorry for Scotland is great.  Scots never feel sorry for us, which is how they torment us.  We feel sorry for them every chance we get, which is our way of tormenting them.  All I am missing now is a Scotsman for me to feel sorry for in person.  They must really hate that.

But hey, Scotland have just scored a breakaway try.

Said the moisture-obsessed Mullins, switching metaphors:

“A shaft of light.”

If you’ve been desiccated but then drowned, a shaft of light is probably what you want.  31-7 to England at half time.

I am going to miss the end of this game because I am off out to dinner.  Fine by me.  My guess is that the second half of this game will be rather an anti-climax, like the second half of the England France game.  The only thing that could make it interesting would be a couple more shafts of light for Scotland at the start of the second half.  If that happens, I would have to stop feeling sorry for Scotland, which would be terrible.

And Scotland have indeed scored, 7 minutes into the second half.  Just before they did, Mullins said:

“Scotland are beginning to throw some coals on the fire!”

Said a colleague:

“Can that be the spark?”

Scotland not drowned after all.

Well, well, well.  Two shafts of light it is.  Two Scotland tries at the beginning of the second half.  Suddenly I am starting to regret that dinner date, and to stop feeling sorry for the Scots.

And another.  31-19.  It’s a game.

Another Scotland try.  31-24.  If Scotland win this, they will be as insufferable as I was being half an hour ago.

I’m off to dinner.  Thank goodness for mobile phones.

Another Scotland try!  Under the posts.  31-31.

Mullins:

“Are you not entertained?”

I think I am.  Four shafts of light, in the second half alone.  Five, if you could the one in the first half.

England’s defence is being desiccated.

LATER (i.e. after I got back from my dinner party (very enjoyable)): England 38 Scotland 38.

Friday March 15 2019

Here are three photos I took, on May 21st of that year:

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I vaguely recall refraining from showing them here (and there was indeed a here then) because I had no idea what was going on.  I still have no idea what was going on.  I should have asked more questions at the time.

Some kind of sporting event promotion perhaps?

Saturday February 23 2019
Friday February 22 2019

Yes, about that horse’s head sculpture that I showed a photo of here, a week ago.

I complained about how the way its neck was sliced through was maybe too obtrusive a part of the whole effect.

Well look at this other photo I took of it:

image

Sorry about the bus, but this is my only photo from anything like the angle I need to make my point.  Which is, that the severed neck looks like a face, and the horse’s ears look like little arms pointing upwards.

And the whole thing looks like one of those idiotic Olympic mascots.

Not, surely, the look the sculptor was going for.

Monday February 18 2019

Being logical about it, there are five Six Nations weekends each year, during which each of the Six Nations plays all the other Five Nations, and there are forty seven Six Nationsless weekends.  But Six Nationalists like me know which weekends I am talking about.  I’m talking about the one between week 2 and week 3 and the one between week 3 and week 4.  The Six Nations is happening.  But, it’s not.  The Six Nations is under way.  But it’s stuck.  I have just endured the first of these two weird ordeals.

But in between these two black holes of non-Six Nationsness, the key game of this year’s entire Six Nations, Wales v England will be happening, in Cardiff.  Both England and Wales have won their first two games, and only they can each still win a Grand Slam.  England, with their three South Sea Island hulks playing, have been unbeatable, so far. And they have many times started out unbeatably against Wales.  But then the Welsh play catch-up rugby, which is a game that they, unlike any other Six Nation these days, can actually play, and they often then win, despite England’s scrum being on top for the whole game.  So I am taking nothing for granted.  Especially when you consider that England will have only one Vunipola playing, the other one having hurt himself against France, as earlier noted here.  But England will have a Tuilagi playing, in addition to the surviving Vunipola, so I just about fancy them to win.

Meanwhile, how did I survive the recently concluded weekend?  Well, there were two good cricket matches to be following.  There was an amazing test match between South Africa and Sri Lanka, which SL won by one wicket, following an unbeaten last wicket stand of 78, and what was clearly a wonderful 153 not out by their wicketkeeper Kusal Perera.

Here’s a picture of Perera celebrating that amazing win:

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But, note those empty seats.  I wonder how many people actually paid to be present at this game.  Rather few, if that’s anything to go by.  People are now saying, as they have been for many years, that Test Cricket is dying.  But it keeps being interesting, in a way that the other crickets now played can’t ever really match, any more than a number one pop song can quite match a Bruckner Symphony.  That’s if you like Bruckner symphonies.

The other good cricket game was one of those other crickets games, the final (finally) of the Big Bash League, contested between the Melbourne Poisonous Spiders and the Melbourne Big Hairy Bastards.  Or some such belligerently metaphorical contestants.  It was definitely Melbourne v Melbourne.  Melbourne won, but not before Melbourne had looked certain to win but then suddenly collapsed, allowing Melbourne to snatch the trophy.

The two semi-finals having happened on Thursday and Friday mornings, I was up promptly on Sunday morning to follow this game.  But it happened in the Australian afternoon instead of in the evening, and it was all done when I clicked in.  Oh well.  It was fun to read about.

Wednesday February 13 2019

Last night: Manchester United 0 Paris St-Germain 2.

This evening: Tottenham Hotspur 3 Borussia Dortmund 0.

From a BBC report on tonight’s game: How could anyone underestimate the resolve of this Spurs side after the manner in which they have kept pace with Premier League pace-setters Manchester City and Liverpool without any squad strengthening and recent injuries to key figures Kane and Alli?

But: Oh dear.  Because this makes it that bit more likely that Man U will sack Solskjaer and buy in The Poch.  Which it would seem they can do and Spurs are powerless to prevent, unless The Poch decides for Spurs.  As he well might.

I really, really hope Man U contrive some kind of miracle revival in their away leg in Paris.  As to what Spurs manage in their away leg, well, I just hope they get through, and that nobody else important gets injured.

And that the way Spurs are now playing says to Poch: You can’t walk away from this.

PLUS (later): This

Sunday February 10 2019

The weather outside is again really nice, but it’s wasted on me and my camera.  Because, it’s Spurs v Leicester on the internet, England v Windies on the internet, and England v France on the TV.  Football, cricket, rugby.  How can a man ignore all that?  Well, maybe “a man” could, but I can’t.  Spurs have beaten Leicester (and now Man City are crushing Chelsea); and the Windies have got England back on the floor in the cricket (where England have been all series).  As a test cricket fan I am glad that the Windies getting back into the swing of doing that well.  For a while now, it has seemed that their only talent was for the limited overs stuff.

And, England are crushing (crunching) France, although a few French tries at the end would not surprise me.  Two out of three is not bad

The first weekend of this year’s Six Nations was great, but the second, now nearing its end, has been rather flat.  Ireland got back on the horse against Scotland yesterday, and Italy, as they do, lost.  Now England are doing what all the commentators said they’d do to France, following their great win over Ireland last weekend.  The charm of the Six Nations is how unpredictable it can be.  On the first weekend France got beaten by Wales after being 16 ahead at half time.  Italy got no less than three late tries against Wales when they were looking down and out, which was a definite surprise.  When England got the final try to settle it against Ireland, the commentator said: Who saw this coming?  Not me.  But so far this weekend, it’s all gone with the not-especially-smart money.  France are now 36 behind, so even if they get five late tries, they’ll still lose.  It’s all looking a bit “waiting for the end” just now.  The serious business of the game was being sorted when England got their four first half tries, which meant that their bonus points, for four tries and for winning by more than seven, were both settled, along with the win.  Can England get over 50 points against France?  Maybe, but it doesn’t feel like it matters.  Yes, a commentator has just said: “The match has rather fallen asleep.” Indeed it has.  The most important moment of this match may prove to be when one of the Vunipolas walked off injured.

Anyway, it’s over now.  44-8 England.  Plus, when I was trying to find a report on England crunching France, I came across our Ladies crunching their Ladies.

The England men, meanwhile, have been transformed by their returning-from-injury South Sea Islanders, the Vunipola brothers and Manu Tuilagi.

Tuilagi is odd, in that he is pronounced Tooey Langy.  Except by Jonathan Davies of course, who says Tooey Largy.  Davies also says Viney Polar instead of Vooney Polar.  The world needs to find a way to mispronounce “Jonathan Davies”, and keep on doing that until he learns his job.

But, hello.  What’s this?  The Windies 59-4 (after being 57-0!), replying to England’s 277.  Two wickets in two balls to Moheen.  Two more wickets in two more balls to Mark Wood, who I didn’t realise was playing.  By the sound of it (i.e. from reading the Cricinfo chat), Wood should have been in the England side from the beginning.  Only four wickets on day one.  Ten wickets already on day two, and it’s not yet tea time.

It is now!  Windies 74-5.  Another to Wood.  “England are rampant.”

Tuesday January 29 2019

I do like an interesting hat, when I photo a photoer:

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And I admire this photoer’s choice of subject matter.  The Scalpel was looking especially fine, its angle catching what was left of the setting sunlight.  We’re at the top of the Tate Modern Extension, by the way.  A favourite spot of mine.

But, going back to that hat.  What does it say on it?  P........S?  Philadelphia Eagles?  Pittsburgh Steelers? A bit long, but conceivably one of those.

Hang on, I wonder if I photoed any more photos of that same photoer, which might shed light on the matter.

Yes:

image

I hope a robot couldn’t identify this guy from that photo, what with it being so blurry, although I dare say his loved ones could.  But, anyway, what that says is that the hat goes P....OTS.  And we have our answer.  He is a supporter of the New England Patriots.

And no wonder he is proud to be sporting this celebratory headgear.  The Patriots are due to contest Super Bowl “LIII” (53), against the Los Angeles Rams, this coming Sunday, which I will be watching on my TV.  Here is a Daily Telegraph report about that.

The game will be played in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium, of which, the Telegraph says:

That jagged-looking roof opens and closes in a very pleasing way:

The “:” is there because there then follows video of this pleasing effect (that being it on YouTube).  I greatly enjoyed this.

Blog and learn.

Sunday January 27 2019

There was a meeting in my home last Friday, at which Simon Gibbs spoke, most eloquently and engagingly, about “What Libertarian Home Has Done Right”.  (I made him choose this title.  He is far too modest to have chosen it himself.)

Also on Friday, at this blog, I had already featured a cat photo, taken by my friend Dominique Lazanski.

What I had not expected was that Dominique Lazanski would get a mention in Simon’s talk, but she did.  Very favourably, as a Libertarian Home speaker who did much to soften the atmosphere of a series of meetings that might otherwise have remained rather beery and blokey and not sufficiently female friendly or, to use a word Simon likes a lot and which he himself epitomises, not “kind”.  Libertarianism is, after all, all about making the world better, which definitely includes kinder.

I had been intending to put up more than one Dominique photo on Friday, but meeting preparations meant that only the cat made it, that day.  Here are all the other photos I had already liked and set aside for here, along with a photo of a cup of coffee, which I added to the collection to get the number back to a convenient one:

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Click and enjoy.  Most of these little squares are mere excerpts from the originals, so you will have to click to enjoy.  But even if that doesn’t appeal, the basic point here is that Dominique Lazanski is, like many others these days, someone who combines taking very good photos with having a very full life doing other things besides taking photos.

This is the big photography story these days.  This big story is not how good the very best photographers, the Real Photographers as I refer to them here, are at taking photos and how very, very good their very best photos are.  No.  The big photography story these days is how good people like Dominique Lazanski are at taking photos.

To find out more of who Dominique Lazanski is, go to her website, or to here Twitter feed.  To explore all her Instagrammed photos, go here, that being where I encountered all of the above photos myself.

I chose my favourites, partly by particularly noticing the last two and the most recent of the above photos when they showed up on Facebook.  In addition to being a Dominique Lazanski friend I am a Dominique Lazanski “friend” on Facebook.  And the rest I found by simply clicking through all of her Instagrammed photos very fast, and noticing which ones I found myself pausing at.

Those drinks are included because I drank one of them myself, on Christmas Eve.

It could be that I am mishandling the Social Media, again, and spilling beans that are not mine to spill.  If Dominique finds out about this posting and informs me that she regrets it and would prefer to be living in a world which did not contain it, then this posting will be expunged forthwith.

Tuesday January 15 2019

Yes, I do believe it has finally happened.  Stokes, Woakes and Foakes are all in the same England cricket team.  Truly, an historic day.  Too bad Stokes is not Stoakes, and that Chris Woakes is not Ben Woakes.  As it is, we have to make do with Bens Stokes and Foakes, and Chris Woakes.

In other news: this.  My opinion?  What Steve says.

Monday January 14 2019

Last night, Spurs lost 0-1, at “home” (i.e. Wembley), to Man U.  I had been half hoping that Spurs might lose, because this would make it less likely that Man U would want to replace their current manager, Solskjaer, with the man whom he outmanaged last night, Spurs manager Pochettino.  Spurs really need Pochettino to stay, and they want Man U to back off trying to lure him away with their infinite money.  It is all explained in this piece.  I said that!  But alas, I didn’t say it soon enough.

This being why the Spurs strikers were so careful to aim all their shots at goal straight at the Man U goalie, David de Gea.  They want The Poch to stay with them too.

Just kidding.  de Gea did really well.  And concerning that, I liked this tweet at the end of the game last night from Watford goalie Ben Foster:

I see a lot of people saying all De Gea saves were straight at him, please factor in that the guy has some mad sense to know where to be at just the right time, you can’t teach that. Proper goally

But not very proper punctuation.  What has Ben Foster got against full stops?  Maybe he used up all his stops, performing a similar miracle to de Gea, for Watford against Crystal Palace.

I recall hoping on a previous occasion that my football team would lose.  England were playing Germany at home.  It was again a management issue.  It was worth England losing to Germany if that resulted in Kevin Keegan ceasing to be England manager.  Keegan is a great guy, but was wrong to manage England.  England did lose.  Keegan did step down.  Soon after this, England beat Germany in Germany, 1-5.  But sadly not in the World Cup or the Euros or whatever it was, which England and Germany both qualified for.  Germany presumably won that.

My thanks to Patrick Crozier, with whom I dined earlier this evening, for lots of details about the above, which I had either forgotten or never knew in the first place, like Foster being the Watford goalie and England playing Germany in the last game at old Wembley and then winning 1-5 in Germany.

Saturday December 15 2018

Well, it’s official.  I care more about cricket, as played by anyone, than I care about football, as played by Spurs, the football team that I tell myself I support.

If I truly support Spurs, how come I only bothered to wonder the next day how badly they had lost to Barcelona recently, in their clearly doomed attempt to qualify for the last sixteen of the European Champions League, or whatever they call it?  Answer me that.  On the night, I was so concerned about when the next test match between Australia and India would start, and whether I could hear any commentary on it, that I completely ignored Spurs.  When you consider that this Barca/Spurs game was on Tuesday night, and that the Australia/India game didn’t start until the small hours of Friday morning, you can see what a crap Spurs fan I am.

It was only some time on Wednesday that I internetted the news that Spurs had got a draw against Barca (thanks to a late equaliser), and that because Inter Milan had also only got a draw in their game, Spurs had squeaked through, but only after an agonising wait for the Inter result caused by that game going on for a couple of minutes longer.

While all this drama was going on, I was oblivious to it, and was instead scratching about on the internet chasing that cricket game.

Which is still going on.  Day 3 will be getting underway in a few hours, on Radio 5 live sports extra.  My sleep is already deranged, in a way that usually only happens when England are playing in Australia.

Today, I did keep track of the Spurs Burnley game, which Spurs won (thanks to a very late winner).  So: more drama.  But although I was aware of this while it was happening, I was again scandalously relaxed about it all, despite this game being billed as a Spurs Must Win If They Are To Stay In With A Chance To Win The League sort of a game.  Oh well, I was thinking, as it remained 0-0 right up until extra time.  Oh well, that’s how it goes.  Maybe next year, when they have their own stadium to play in.

Maybe the reason I am not shouting at Spurs in my kitchen, urging them on to glory, is that they are indeed engaged in building themselves a brand new custom built headquarters, in the form of that new White Hart Lane stadium.  So according to my way of thinking, they shouldn’t now be doing this well.

However, it would seem that all the money that the new stadium will bring into the club has caused Spurs to do something now that they haven’t been doing for several decades, which is keep their best players.  I’m talking about the likes of Kane, Deli Alli, Moura (who scored the late equaliser against Barca) and Eriksen (who got today’s very late winner).  Such stars might still make more money if they went to Real Madrid or some such even richer club.  But, at Real, they might not do as well on the pitch as they are now doing for Spurs.  They might then fall off the football pyramid of greatness, never to climb back on it again.  Footballers are interested in money and glory, not just in money, not least because glory turns into more money later, when they later try to get football jobs without being players any more.  Spurs look like they could be about to do both money and glory rather well.

The same goes for the current rather-hard-to-spell Spurs manager who is masterminding all this.  Many now assume that he will shortly move to Madrid.  I’m not so sure.

I mean, if this is how well these Spurs guys can do while the new Spurs HQ is still being finished, think how well they might do when they get really settled in in the new place and are able to concentrate entirely on football.

Or maybe it’s that a new stadium is not really a new headquarters building, more like a huge new factory, for something like a brand new airplane.  Boeing bets the company every time they launch a totally new aircraft.  A football club bets itself whenever it moves into a new stadium. But this stadium is actually for doing football, rather than just a place to do lots of headquartering.

Friday November 09 2018

Friday used to be my day here for “Cats” and then I expanded it also to “Other creatures”.  I hadn’t thought of anything creaturely to blog about, and hoped that when I went out walking today, I might encounter something appropriate.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Within yards of my home, I encountered these creatures:

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Police horses and their riders are often to be seen in the SW1 part of London, presumably just getting exercise in between riot situations.

Coincidentally, I recently had a discussion with someone on the subject of what work horses still do, following their replacement as transport by trains and cars and the like, and as warriors by such things as tanks.  Well, they still entertain us, by racing against one another, and by acting the parts of real transport horses or real war horses in historical dramas, mostly on the screen, but occasionally live.

But apart from that?  The only thing we could think of was assisting the police by participating in riot control.  I surmise that horses are called upon to do this because they combine being very scary to humans on foot, with their scary hooves with metal shoes on, with also being so very cute.  That way, rioters are dissuaded from trying to hurt such horses.  If rioters do actually hurt any horses, they incur the wrath of the general public in a way that rioters do not when they merely attack human riot police.  Horses combine being very formidable riot opponents with the fact that their presence at riots is very clearly not being their fault.  In a way, they are merely victims of such riots, victimised by the demands placed upon them.  We sympathise with them already, just because they have to attend riots.  If the rioters attack them, we sympathise even more.  Our sympathy may be excessive, but we feel it.  This places rioters in an impossible bind.  They like to think of themselves as heroes.  But heroes don’t torment horses.  Only villains do that.

Are there any other ways that horses make themselves useful to humans?  Perhaps my problem is that I am urban.  Out there in the country, in spots where vehicles still have problems, there must be such uses.  Transport in hilly or mountainous country?  Oh yes, cowboy horses, herding cows!  Silly me.  I can’t think of any more just now, but I bet if I continue to imagine the non-city parts of the world, more horse jobs will pop into my head, the way that cow-herding just did.

Fox hunting doesn’t count.  That used to be a real thing, when there were no other ways to combat foxes.  But now, fox hunting is just country folk having historical-re-enactment fun.