Friday, 9 January 2009

Bashley are better than Manchester United

Back into the old routine this week, memories of the festive holidays fading fast and the New Year already a few days old. Easter Eggs are already on the shelves and we are counting the number of shopping days until Christmas. Back to work with a thud and a cold.

Football-wise, it's been a messy old week. The weather has played havoc with football fixtures; the Beckham roadshow takes centre stage in Milan and is uncomfortable viewing; Ronaldo smashes up his Ferrari; and the January feeding-frenzy that is the transfer window gathers momentum. As for me, I still live in my own little world:

1. Bashley are better than Manchester United. Seeing Derby's great result against Manchester United in the Semi-Final of the Carling Cup on Wednesday sparked a childhood memory. Here's what me and my friends used to do when we were kids. In a totally puerile and simply pointless attempt at one-upmanship we used to have a little 'game' we'd play that would demonstrate how crap your mate's team actually were. Here's an example to show how it works. My mate supports Manchester United. They lost 1-0 to Derby County midweek in the Carling Cup. Derby lost just before Christmas at home to Crystal Palace. Palace lost to Leeds United in the Carling Cup earlier in the competition. Leeds United were humiliated at Histon in the FA Cup. One of Histon's few defeats this season was in the League against Woking. Woking have this season lost to Maidenhead United who in turn lost to Bashley in this season's FA Cup. So, with an air of supreme confidence I could rib my mate that, actually, "Bashley (from the Southern Football League) are better than Manchester United"! Follow? In the days when kids had to entertain themselves, we had hours of fun with this one. Who am I kidding? I still do it.

2. My son really does support Spurs. In my book I wrote a whole chapter on the disappointment I felt when my son declared he supported Tottenham Hotspur. At the time, I hoped it was a passing phase. A year on, and I fear his support of the last team in London that I would have wanted him to support is now entrenched in his psyche. He got a Tottenham mug for Christmas, with his name on it. He proudly wears his Tottenham kit. He was delighted with their win over Burnley in the other Carling Cup Semi-Final. Worst of all, he now wants me to take him to a game. I have run out of excuses for not taking him. Bugger. I have asked a few people I know who support Tottenham how to get to White Hart Lane. None knew the answer.

3. I have become addicted to bagging new Football Grounds. It is Facebook's fault. They host a neat little application called 'Football Grounds I Have Visited' which allows you to tick off grounds, both old and new, that you have been to. All levels of football, all over Europe. My count stands at 103. Some of my mates have also counted up their tally. POSH Mate claims to have been to 105. I demand a recount. In the meantime, I'm hoping to bag a new ground tomorrow by going to see Molesey v Chertsey Town. Don't tell POSH Mate.

4. I will be on display at The National Football Museum. Well, not me; my memorabilia from the 'Wick To Wembley' FA Cup run last season. Programmes, ticket stubs, shirts, photos, flags, newspaper cuttings, television and radio interview clips and my book. Who would have thought it? Needless to say, I'm very honoured and excited in equal measure. I will be travelling up to the museum, in Preston, on Friday 13th February with the display opening on Valentine's Day. I've always said that the FA Cup is romantic.

5. I still despair at the language of football. Anyone who knows me well enough knows this is a bugbear of mine. Some of the language used in sports journalism, especially football, is rather excessive. The emotive nouns and adjectives that are used far too often and completely out of context. Here are two recent newspaper quotes to consider:

"How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe". Headline in 'The Guardian', 7 Jan 09.

"Conceding a goal would be a catastrophe for us". Bordeaux's manager Laurent Blanc, December 2008, talking ahead of his side's UEFA Champions League game at Roma.

You tell me - which is the real catastrophe?

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