The greatest show on earth

Every year I am blessed to have the opportunity to travel across the Ocean to the US of A. For some unknown reason I am considered a bit of an expert in the field of online intellectual property protection (or domain names) and so annually I head off to the sunnier climates of the west coast of America to DOMAINFEST – the biggest meeting of minds in the domain name world. Let me give you a moment to pick yourself off the floor with this news. I am sure you all think a trip around DFS sounds more fun, but let me just say two words to you from last year – Playboy Mansion.

I cannot believe that people do not know I went there last year. After all I do not like to talk about it. This year there was no visit to the best adult theme park in the world but it was still going to be an enjoyable trip, albeit very very busy. First up was a trip up the Pacific Highway to San Francisco, then a few days and nights in Santa Monica before a flight back eastwards to New York City. There, I would divert across to New Jersey, down to Philadelphia before finally returning to TBIR Towers and the welcome bosom of CMF.

Sounds like hard work doesn’t it? But mixed in there was a bit of fun as well. First up would a trip to see the legendary LA Lakers play, followed by a second NBA game in New Jersey and finally we would be experiencing a real Super Bowl party, in New York, amongst the New York Giants fans who would be competing in a replay of the 2008 final against the New England Patriots in Indianapolis.

LA Lakers 106 Charlotte Bobcats 73 – The Staples Center – Tuesday 31st January 2012 7.30pm
It isn’t long ago since the Lakers were the biggest brand in US sports. having won 16 NBA Championships and worth a staggering $643m according to Forbes magazine. They are also one of the oldest franchises in the NBA having “moved” to LA in 1960 after starting life as the Minneapolis Lakers (Minneapolis is the “land of a 10,000 lakes” – hence the name). They have been able to field some of the most famous names in basketball during their history, including Shaq O’Neil, Magic Johnson and more recently Kobe Bryant who still captains the team today. Also in the roster is Ronald William Artest Junior, or as he is better known as today, Metta World Peace.

“Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world,” World Peace said in a statement released after the name change court hearing…right. Continue reading

On the sixth day of Christmas…..The best non football day out

“On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a game that was football free”

Despite our love for the beautiful game we realise that there is more to life than football. Well, we only say that when the football season in England has finished and we cannot get to anywhere abroad to watch a game. So we have to take our hat off and take a bow to those other sports that have kept us entertained in 2011.

3rd – New York Jets 16 New England Patriots 37
“Stu…how do you fancy four hours of drinking, eating and occasionally watching some sport?”
Said Luge Pravda to me back in October when I had booked my work trip to New York. How could I say no? So just a few hours after touching down we climbed to the top of the MetLife Stadium, with a beer (BudLite of course),a foot-long Nathan’s hot dog and a smile a mile wide on our faces. American football is actually a good game – if you take out the bloody pointless stoppages in play.

2nd – Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos
I’d been to a few Rugby League games in my life but they had been of the London Bronco/Harlequins variety, and never a local derby. Castleford is a small town of 30-odd thousand people and when Leeds Rhinos came to town, the locals all came out in force. A capacity crowd saw a real humdinger of a game which saw the Rhinos eventually run out winners.It was a passionate, full bloodied affair played on the part by local players who cared for the shirt. Beer flowed, food that would have Jamie Oliver tongue-tied was being served and we left with a big northern smile on our faces.

1st – Surrey Lions v Hampshire
Cricket is really hit or miss as a day out. If the weather is good, the teams are in form and the crowd are in good voice it cannot be beaten. Last year at the Whitgift School in Croydon we had one of those days. For just £10 we saw 586 runs, 16 sixes and 17 wickets whilst sitting on the boundaries edge supping cold pints of Spitfire. On a day when you needed to keep an eye on where the ball was heading you could could not have asked for better entertainment at one of the finest natural cricket grounds in the country. Without any permanent seating, spectators laid out on the grass bank or simply sat cross-legged on the boundary rope.

The Patriot Act

I was excited.  I rarely say that these days about sport.  It does feel sometimes as if I have “been there, done that”.  I have seen World Cups, Champions League Finals, England Internationals.  I have sat in the press box at Rugby World Cup Finals, enjoyed the finest hospitality at Wembley Stadium and the Bernabau.  I have shared tactical knowledge with England’s finest manager, Alan Pardew (you cannot argue against this fact at the moment) and I have now experienced what it is like to sit at the Directors table at a football club.

But today I was REALLY excited.  I was in New York, with a week’s full of work ahead but I was going to see my first ever NFL game.  I couldn’t be looking forward to anything better, unless the warm up was a Lingerie League game of course (alas there wasn’t, but the Philadelphia Passion were at home to the Baltimore Charms on Thursday AND it is only 90 minutes away…Could I?  Should I?).  Myself and Mr Pravda were off to Newark (anagram of the word W@nker if you wanted to know) to see New York Jets play at their amazing new stadium, the MetLife against the New England Patriots and possibly the most famous ever QuarterBack – Tom Brady.

This wasn’t my first ever American Football game.  Back in 1990 I won tickets to see the London Monarchs play the Barcelona Dragons at Wembley Stadium.  I say win but actually all I did was buy a four pack of Coca-Cola.  They were desperate times for the struggling franchise as you can imagine.  Nor was this my first visit to Meadowlands, the huge sports complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  Back in 2005 I went to the then Giants Stadium to watch England beat Columbia in a post season friendly. I booked the trip back in February 2005 when the Hammers at the time were struggling to hold a play off spot in the Championship.  Of course they picked up form and ended up reaching the final against Preston North End in Cardiff.  All was not lost as I ended up watching the game in Nevada Smiths in NYC with John Motson and Sir Trev. Continue reading

The greatest show on Earth

It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one. What you got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not a winner. Vince Lombardi

Tomorrow sees the XLV Super Bowl in Dallas. The Lombardi trophy is being contested by two small town teams in the grand scheme of American affairs. In one corner are the record six times trophy holders Pittsburgh Steelers who are looking to win the title for the third time in past six years, whilst in the other corner is the team of Lombardi himself, the Green Bay Packers.

Much has been made in the past of the “weather effect” of the advantages of teams from the south playing in the Super Bowl final. Virtually every title decider in the past two decades has been played in the warmer southern states such as Florida, California and Arizona, and that has been said to have a detrimental effect on teams from the chilly north. But not this year. For a start both the NFL and AFL champions come from the north, and secondly the snow that has hit Texas this week has made the city look more like Chicago than the hot, dry desert state we all know it as. Continue reading

Silly money

The biggest sports news today in Los Angeles wasn’t the latest sighting of David Beckham actually in the city, with the team he is contracted to but the announcement of the biggest stadium naming rights deal in US, if not world history.  What makes this even more amazing is it’s for a stadium that doesn’t yet exist and the city has no teams to fill it.  Still, as Bull Durham was told, “Build it and they will come”.

The new stadium is to be built in the Downtown area of the city, next to the Staples Center, where we were last night to watch the basketball and will be called Farmers Field, taking the name from Farmers Insurance in a, get this, $700m over thirty years if AEG who will own the stadium bring in a new NFL (American Football) team by 2015.  If somehow they manage to bring in two teams (as they have in New York) this will rise to a cool $1bn. Continue reading