On the twelfth day of TBIR Christmas – The Best game

Seeing over 100 games in 2012 means we have seen a few corkers.  And what better way to finish our 12 Days of Christmas than with our best three 90 minutes.  Well, in fact two of the three were only 45 minute games technically but made up want to stand up and cry “We love this beautiful game”.  Two of our favourites were international games, which was very surprising, and our winner only had two goals in, just to prove it is not always about the number of goals but the passion, drama and incident in the rest of the game.

So, thank you dear readers for coming with us on the past twelve days as we have waxed lyrical about all that was good (and bad) about our footballing adventure in 2012.  Same time, same place next year? Oh go on then.

3rd Place – Boston Town 4 Loughborough University 3
sam_3567Boston who?  You might say but United Counties Premier League sides Boston Town and Loughborough served up an absolute feast back in September.  I only arrived at half-time after watching the more famous Boston (United) play but the 22 players were obviously waiting for my arrival before putting on the real show.  The visitors were 2-0 when I made my appearance, and by the sound of it were running away with the game.  ”Bloody students…when you want them to be hungover from last night they bloody turn up looking like whippets” a local told me when I asked what the score was.  Over the next twenty minutes the score went 1-2, 1-3 and then 2-3 with just a minute to go.  The away keeper who had been in fine form then had a 90 seconds to forget.  First he let a simple shot squirm under his body and then with the last kick of the game Boston took the lead for the first time in the game when he was beaten with ease at his far post.  Just a shame there was only 55 people there to see it along with me.

2nd Place – England 2 Netherland 3
6797039632_aae5b301ec_bAn England game?  Are you mad?  Good old London Underground did their best to ruin the evening by delaying every possible route to Wembley and we didn’t get into the stadium until well into the first half but fortunately all the action was reserved for the final 33 minutes.  The Dutch showed their sheer class with three outstanding goals, whilst the English showed some true grit.  This was supposed to be the game that welcomed ‘Appy ‘Arry but a week is a long time in football, whilst a minute can sometimes be even longer as we saw in the 90th minute of this game when Ashley Young equalised for England then with the very next attack Robben curled an absolute peach into the top corner.  If all England games at Wembley were half as exciting they would be sold out every time.

Best game in 2012 – Egypt 1 New Zealand 1
7671833872_53594da8a5_bOlympic football in Manchester wasn’t supposed to get the general public on the edge of their seats, but the 60,000 who witnessed this warm up game to Brazil v Belarus on a sunny, but bloody cold day in late July saw one of the best games of football in decades.  Sure, there was only two goals but it simply was end to end action for 90 minutes.  Both, yet neither team deserved to win due to their attacking intent and last gasp defending.  Both keepers were heroes and to a man we all rose to applaud their efforts when they finished doing battle after an hour and a half.  Brazil may have been billed as the stars, but the extras but on an Oscar performance.

On the third day of TBIR Christmas – The best non football day out

Wow. This was an incredibly difficult one to come up with a top ten, let alone a top three. In a year where we went Olympic (and Paralympics don’t forget) crazy, there have been so many excellent days out away from football. Rugby Union, Rugby League, Cricket, Beach Volleyball. But after some serious thinking we have come up with a list of our top three events, ones that really stuck in the memory for a number of reason.

3rd best non football day out – Olympics Opening Ceremony
7667303684_019c831c79_bWe can all remember where we were when Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony burst onto our screen and wowed the world. The hype had been building for weeks, even months but even so, when it eventually started, the world stopped and starred. For an event that was on our doorstep at TBIR Towers we were actually in Edinburgh, having spent the day watching the opening day in the Football tournament in Glasgow. We headed into the city centre, watching the events unfold on a big screen set up especially for the event. They had done themselves proud with numerous torch bearers there for photo opportunities, bars and food outlets set up and lots of comfy cushions. This was the first sign of the country uniting as one, and I was proud to be part of it, even 400 miles away.

2nd best non football day out – Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 16 Castleford Tigers 34
7054359175_6f6c09abcb_zPassions run deep in the Rugby League towns in the north of England and local derbies are played with an intensity that is rarely seen these days in competitive sport. Castleford and Wakefield are separated by the M1, just a few miles apart. They are proud Rugby League towns and when they meet three times a season the local community stops and puts on their finest to support their club. The first meeting this season came on Good Friday and completed one of the best days of sport watching I had had for ages. Two rugby league games sandwiched Barnsley versus West Ham made for a great day of viewing, but this game was the icing on the Yorkshire sporting cake. Rugby League is a high-intensity non stop game. Add in the spice of local pride and you have a game and a half. Oh, and of course a few Stones Bitters.

Best non football day out – Olympics Day Three
7686055030_3aaa6ff41b_zThis really could have been any day from our Olympic summer but for the fact we managed to squeeze so much in it has to be the best day of sport EVER. We had been lucky to pick up tickets in the general sale for multiple events on the first Monday and the sunshine came out to welcome us as we arrived at Horse Guards Parade for the women’s Beach Volleyball. Whilst everyone may have mocked the sport, everyone deep down wanted to be there to watch it. It was an excellent start to our Games and continued as I headed to Lords for the Archery, the girls to the Olympic Park for the Water Polo. At tea-time we watched the sports from the huge screens and then finished the day off with some Hockey as Team GB beat Argentina. Words cannot describe the day.

The Olympic Diary – Day Eight – Eton Mess

So after ten different events in eleven venues it was time to head to our final Olympic session. With only two more days available before we headed to our pre-season football training camp in the wilds of Suffolk, and few new tickets appearing on the website (even at 2am when I set my alarm to check) this was likely to be our last session of the 2012 London Olympics. Eton Dornay had been the scene of some fantastic triumphs last week with Team GB proving once again that we were the kings and queens of the water and we hoped to see that continue with our trip down to Royal Berkshire.

After the success of the rowing it was now time for the canoeing and the kayaking. It’s quite confusing as to the difference between them all, especially as you also factor in the Canoe Slalom that had taken place at Lee Valley last week. So here is my explanation of the differences between them all:-

Sprint Canoe – a flat race over 500m and 1000m (200m and 500m for women) on still water. The canoes are propelled by people in a one knee stance.

Slalom Canoe – a race down a 300 metre course that has a 5.5 metre drop from start to finish and involves passing through up to 25 gates along the way. However, unlike the spring canoe, they are seated all the way down.

Kayaking – Similar distances as the Sprint Canoe but the people are sat inside, just like the Slalom Canoe

So, not confusing at all then. Continue reading

The Olympics Diary – Day Seven – It’s all about the Newtonian counter-reaction

Legacy is a very popular word at the moment. It has become the political hot potato despite the fact the Games still haven’t finished. During the last week the one legacy I have seen already has been a change in the British people. No longer do we make small talk about the weather, but instead we talk about if we had any tickets for the Olympics. I have no idea what we will talk about next week when the Games have finished but I expect some embarrassing silences before we become comfortably enough to broach meteorology again.

When the question “Did you get any Olympic tickets?” raises his head you get two responses. A “No” will result in an almost patronizing “aahh” and a comment along the lines about the BBC showing all 24 events at the same time, and it’s better to watch Gary Linekar and Gabby Logan anyway. A “Yes” though almost certainly results in a second question…”Anything in the stadium yet?” The simple fact of the matter is that THE Olympics is really all about the events on the track.

Everyone wanted to see events in the stadium. I don’t think it was ever going to hit the heights in terms of jaw-dropping architecture of the Birds Nest Stadium in Beijing or the sheer size of Sydney’s stadium from 2000. The whole embarrassing fuss that has surrounded the future ownership of it has been unwanted and as we enter the final few weeks of its original designed “life” it was still no clearer than it was 3 years ago as to who would be the permanent tenant of the stadium. Bids had been received from West Ham United, Essex County Cricket and an audacious statement to turn the whole park into a Formula 1 track. Continue reading

The Olympic Diary – Day Six – It’s like Croydon on a Saturday night

My name is Stuart and I am addicted to pressing F5. There I have admitted it. Whether it be on my laptop, my desktop PC at world, my iPad or just on my iPhone on the train home. I was clicking on that “Search” button on the London2012.com site every few minutes. Ever since LOGOC surprised us all by releasing thousands of tickets in the early hours of Thursday morning I had been trying to fill my calendar on Sunday without much luck. The same events kept appearing as available, but of course we all knew those tickets didn’t really exist. Lord Coe told us to be “patient” and that over 10 billion people were searching the website for 3 tickets, or something like that, ignoring the simple failings of chosing the wrong vendor who had an incredibly poor reputation for managing ticket sales in the past.

But at 11.34pm on Saturday night I struck gold. I hadn’t been to ExCel yet and didn’t really fancy some of the events, but Boxing all of a sudden appeared. Not just any old boxing either. The first bouts of Women Boxing ever held in the Olympic Games. Amazingly, the event had been a demonstration sport back in 1904 in St Louis yet got no backing to make it a formal event. Just over a hundred years later it was finally given the recognition it deserved and it was to be an Olympic event. I quickly pressed “reserve” and I had a ticket in my hand – well almost. Unfortunately I could only get one, so I carefully broached the subject with CMF, playing it up that it was bound to be barbaric and unlady like. She simply raised an eyebrow like she does when she knows I am trying to justify something. Continue reading