Unsporting Life

I’ve grown bored of hearing the footballing press belittling FC Nordsjælland this season before each Champions League Group Stage game. Lazy journalism, tired clichés and over use of Wikipedia have been the order of the day to explain who the Danish champions are. Whilst their appearance in the Group Stages owes as much to the poor showing of countries such as Scotland in previous European seasons as it does to the record of FC Copenhagen in the competition, they are there because they won their domestic league. They are the champions of their national league and quite rightly deserve a place in the Champions Cup – more so that 80% of other teams who didn’t earn the same honour.

Few gave them any hope of progressing. Even the Europa League was seen as a step to far. In truth the club themselves also shared this view but would still approach the campaign as a yardstick as to how far they had come in a short space of time. Nine years ago they made their European debut against FC Shirak in the old UEFA Cup. Four years ago they were back gain, even beating Queen of the South in the competition. Now they were ready to make their final bow at home in this years Champions League against Shakthar Donetsk, having already entertained Juventus and Chelsea.

Whilst the competition has given the players, fans and officials some great memories (and still with a visit to Stamford Bridge to come in two weeks time), their primary aim this season is to try to retain their SuperLiga title. With the long harsh winter already slowly descending on parts of Denmark, the club lays in second place, trailing the FCK machine by six points. Continue reading

Seven and the rampant tiger

I wasn’t the only person who threw myself head first into the Olympics and Paralympics, searching out daily availability for tickets and willing to see everything and anything.  Brian Parish, the brains behind the Daggers Diary went to almost an event a day.  One of these was the final of the 7-a-side football on the last day the Park was open.

After the excitement and drama of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, arguably the best seven weeks of sports seen in this country draws to a close. Both events have created new heroes for the British sporting public to follow, admire and emulate, and after all of the fears about transport, security and almost everything else, I would say from what I have seen, that it seems to have gone fairly well.

From a British point of view, there have been new heroes created, some have re-enforced their higher status, and some have probably increased it. Expect an increase in the popularity of Bradley and Eleanor as babies names over the next year or so.

There were disappointments of course. The GB men’s football team suffered an entirely foreseeable exit on penalties, while the women’s team, having done the hard work by beating Brazil and topping their group, then blew their chance of a medal in the quarter final against Canada. Whether either GB side will appear again is a matter for much debate. Continue reading

A Euro odyssey

For months prior to the European Championships we kidded ourselves we weren’t interested in going. The relentless bad mouthing of social issues in Poland and Ukraine by the English media certainly put many potential fans off, as did the complexity in trying to work out travel arrangements. For once tickets for the matches were as easy to get as a winning hand at PartyCasino.

But then the tournament started and all we saw was mirth and (good) mayhem in the pictures from our friends via Facebook and Twitter. So we haven’t got any tales to tell from the tournament, the first European Championships we have missed since 1992, but we know a man who did go, and he was only too happy to write a report for us. It is a good lunchtime read and so we have prepared it as a pdf for you to read.

So without any further ado, let me introduce you to Vinny Goodfield, aka The Richmond Red, and his story of the ultimate jolly boys outing – euro 2012

Devaluing the Euros

After just over three weeks of football, the world’s second biggest football tournament has played out in front of our eyes in Poland and Ukraine. Sixteen of Europe’s best teams have competed in thirty nine games to determine who would win the Henri Delaunay and join the likes of France, Holland, Denmark, West Germany, Greece and Spain in being crowned the champions of European Football. A few weeks before the tournament the bookies suggested that you should look no further than 2008 champions Spain for the winner of the tournament and when Iker Casillas elbowed Platini out of the way to lift the trophy they proved that class and form were both well judged.

However, that is all due to change in four years time. UEFA President Michel Platini has deemed the current tournament not open and fair enough and is expanding it so that 24 teams, instead of the current 16 will compete for the cup when the fifteenth tournament kicks off in France in four years time.

Just like Amino Acids are the building blocks for protein, the European Championships are the building blocks for many a player’s career.  Back in 1988, Marco Van Basten became a household name in no small part due to his tormenting of the English defence; In 1996 Gazza re-confirmed his genius on the world stage and in 2008 David Villa secured his huge transfer to Barcelona. The 1988 tournament was expanded from eight teams to sixteen to avoid the situation of heavy weights such as England, West Germany and Holland would never miss out on qualification. With just 53 nations competing for fifteen qualifications spots (fourteen this year due to the joint-hosting from Poland and Ukraine), it takes a serious shock for anyone apart from Europe’s top ranked teams not to make the tournament.

Of course occasionally there are shocks. Back in Portugal in 2004 Latvia turned up having beaten Turkey in the play offs; in 2000 Slovenia surprised everyone by qualifying and then went on to make an appearance in the World Cup Finals in South Korea two years later, whilst in 2008 the absence of England from the tournament in Austria and Switzerland was seen as a major financial blow to the tournament organisers who had budgeted on tens of thousands of England fans making the trip over the Alps. Continue reading

Don’t fix what’s not broken

In ten weeks time our pain will be over.  Thanks to an invite from Supporters Direct, we will be taking part in the inaugural Supporters Direct Shield when we face fellow fan-owned club Fisher Athletic at Enfield Town’s Donkey Lane.   Seventy days.  Ten Saturdays without any Lewes games to look forward to.  It is more than possible that we will line up on that Sunday in July without actually knowing who our first opponents are (in whatever league it could be).  Fortunately we have the best tournament in the world to keep us happy for a few weeks slap bang in the middle.

The European Championships will fill our screens from mid June for early July and showcase the best talent in European football.  Oh, and England will be there too.  The reason why this is the best tournament is that the best teams are always there.  Every game means something, and can in theory go either way.  Just look at Group B – Portugal, Germany, Holland and Denmark.  There isn’t one weak team in the whole tournament, and that is what makes it so good to watch.  Obviously, after England have been eliminated in the Quarter Finals on penalties (whose turn is it this time?  My money is on Germany again), we can enjoy the continental skill of the best players in the world (bar Messi, is there anyone else we would want to see?) in the final stages while the stampede for Euro 2012 Final Tickets begins. Continue reading

Euro 2012 here we come

The Euro tournament is always a highlight in the footballing calendar. It is the World Cup without Argentina and Brazil, and in theory every game is a tough one, with virtually every one of Europe’s top 16 teams taking part. The 2012 tournament will be co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland. Some of the world’s best players are going to be there. From Wayne Rooney to Cristiano Ronaldo and from Wesley Sneijder to Andres Ineista, the on field action should be spectacular. BookiesForSports expects Spain to meet Germany in the final but what if the final is played out before empty stands?

This is what could happen if there isn’t a change in pricing for the visiting fans. When it comes to being a loyal supporter of your national side, you are used to facing a lot of increased costs come tournament-time and not just from extortionate ticketing prices.  Accommodation costs (and lack of availability), as we have seen for this tournament have gone through the roof, and concern has now been raised at the highest level within UEFA. There aren’t going to be too many fans at the tournament if they can’t afford to stay anywhere and don’t have any money left over for tickets. It would be interesting to know how many fans are going to be left holding tickets for games but with nowhere to stay. Continue reading

Style, Taste and Class…

Ladies and gentlemen….May I introduce you to our newest columnist, NorthernJess. A self confessed football agnostic who is intrigued with the constant media fawning of these over paid pre-madonnas she will be giving us her views on a regular basis on what she sees in the press. Today her first victim is Liverpool’s want-a-way star Andriy Voronin….

England, the country that hundreds of thousands of people migrate to every year, is apparently not good enough for a Ukrainian WAG. Yulia, the wife of Premier League player Andriy Voronin, believes the standard of living us Brits are used to is far beneath her, and that she would much prefer to live anywhere else.

Along with insulting the weather and the health service she attacked our dress sense and is reported to have said:

‘The Brits are horrendously conservative. Of all the colours, they like only black and grey.

‘And I was wearing bright and tight clothes, walking in high heels – and evidently looked more colourful than them.’

Clearly Yulia has been living in First World War Britain. Doesn’t she know the hottest colour on the catwalks is coral…?

I’m also not sure that black and brown leopard print, black heels and a black polo neck constitutes as colourful.

Andriy has been wise not to make comments on the English way of life, so it may be unfair to criticise his dress sense. But hopefully he will eventually realise that the life of a footballer does not mean having to wear a tracksuit 24/7.

The couple seem to be modelling themselves on Posh and Becks circa 2003. Andriy with his luscious golden locks tied back into a ponytail and his beau never seen in anything less than a 4-inch heel.

But judging by the photo I think his delightful WAG has got a bit confused. In her leopard print (velour no less) tracksuit she seems to have mixed up her Spice Girls, and she definitely looks scary.

The footballer’s wife is also reported as having said:’ Generally Liverpool is a small city with limited possibilities.’

Liverpool, European Capital of Culture for 2008, obviously does not hold sufficient allure for Yulia. Or perhaps she felt she didn’t stand out enough next to an array of glamorous WAG wannabes.

Andriy is waiting to find out where he will play next season and I’m sure his Black Sea beauty’s comments, made to a Ukrainian paper, won’t help him have a smooth journey back into the Liverpool squad.

Have a look for yourself here..”

Read more from Jess at her blog – Jestenders.