17 August 2011

What A Difference 37.5 Years Makes

2nd February 1974
Old Division 1
Ipswich 7 Southampton 0
What footballers used to look like
Saints had travelled to Ipswich (if my memory serves me correctly it was a Saturday night time match for reasons I can't remember) and put up not much of a display at all in a 7-0 thrashing which I listened to in my bedroom. Much later that night, possibly into the early hours of the morning, I awoke to the noise of the party that my parents were hosting. I started to wander downstairs in my pyjamas to see what all the noise was about only to find my way blocked by none other than Eric Martin, the Saints goalkeeper who had let in 7 earlier that evening, and a few other players from the same team.
I was incensed (or as incensed as a young half asleep child in his pyjamas can be when unexpectedly coming across one of his heroes in his own home) and started ripping into Eric telling him what a disgrace it was that they were out enjoying themselves after playing so badly and letting the team down blah blah blah.
Eric calmly stopped his conversation with his team mates, drew on his fag, dipped two fingers into what I (probably naively) assumed was lemonade, and with a quick flick of the wrist shot  drink into both my eyes, whilst uttering, in his broad Scottish accent, the immortal words "Fuck off kid"
So I did.:(

Fast forward 37.5 years
16th August 2011
Championship (Old Div 2)
Ipswich 2 Southampton 5  
Modern day version
We've played each other and beaten each other many times since, but last night we finally gave them the long awaited thrashing in revenge. Listening on the radio the final scoreline flattered Ipswich. But more importantly is the total professionalism of the players nowadays. The club has been through a terrible few years, it's actual existence being in doubt only just over 2 years ago. Since then the club has been transformed from top to bottom and the whole ethos is reflecting in the way the team plays. Back in 74 a professional footballer was just a very good footballer (this didn't necessarily apply in Southampton's case) who got paid to play. Now they have so much scientific research into their fitness and diets there is simply no comparison.  I doubt any footballer with any respect for his profession would be caught smoking nowadays, although I'm sure they still partake in the odd after match lemonnade or two (all in the interest of team spirit of course).
In years gone by a Tuesday night Saints away game was a home banker whoever the opposition. Now our 9th consecutive league victory has smashed club records and had me casting an eye on the all time record (6 more needed for that). A 7-0 thrashing by any side simply seems out of the question at the moment.
There was one similarity with 37 odd years ago though. I once again listened to the game in my (considerably bigger) pyjamas. Some things never change.

15 August 2011

Carlsberg don't do Saturdays ..................

..............But if they did England cricket would go top of the world, Southampton would go top of the league, Pompey would lose at home after missing a last minute penalty and I would win the lottery.

Clearly Carlsberg can only influence sporting events.

13 August 2011

That's It - Times Up

The deadline has been and gone. The annual obsession that Fantasy Football has now started. The cut off time for making changes to my start of season line-up has passed. I am stuck with the team I have (apart from the allowed one a week transfers). Not a ball has been kicked in earnest yet, but my team already bears little resemblance to my original selection. With one game featuring two of my players called off, one player sold, one listed as injured and four listed as doubtful there's already been a lot of head scratching and tinkering going on.

The next 9 months will be full of statistic studying, watching games I have no interest in, regular checking of rival players teams, a tweak here or there and no doubt wholesale changes within the rules of the game. For what reason? None, other than the satisfaction of picking a team capable of beating mates in our private league. 

My biggest complaint about premiership football is the sheer predictability of it all. But if that's really the case how come I can never win the damn game !

The Week That Was - Why?

As every one knows by now parts of England suffered some of it's worst civil unrest in living memory. There's no point going over it again, we've all read about it, we've all seen the pictures, some readers may even have been directly affected. The question that needs answering is who was to blame. Absolutely no doubt in my mind, the people that took part. Plain and simple.

The bigger question, and the one that needs serious action to resolve, is who is to blame for those taking part thinking that it is ok for them to act in such a manner. Unfortunately the answer, in my opinion, is all of us. The majority apprehended so far appear to have been in the late-teen age group so are what could loosely be described as  a generation. Keeping (as best I can) political bias out of the following list, this is a generation that has grown up with (in no particular order):-
  • Parents that have been allowed to shirk their responsibilities in teaching their children the difference between right and wrong and the true meaning of respect for themselves and others. Children have grown up thinking that they can act as they like without any responsibility for the consequences (some even seem unaware that actions have consequences)
  • Teachers who are unable to force a child to behave and/or knuckle down and learn because they may be accused of infringing the child's "human rights".
  • Schools wasting more resources on the disruptive minority than the majority who are there to learn.
  • Police who must be sick to death of apprehending criminals (especially juveniles) only to see the courts hand out the softest of punishments (if any at all) sending out the message that breaking the rules doesn't really matter. And afraid to take split second decisions when urgent action is needed for fear of later prosecutions if anything goes wrong.
  • A system of benefits and tax credits that have almost enslaved a portion of society to non-employment. Even those that genuinely want to work find that to take a job means that due to loss of benefits they would actually be worse off.
  • Unrestricted immigration which means that many that are prepared to work find that jobs have already been filled by others coming here from other countries.
  • No sense of true leadership in the country. Agree or disgree with her policies can you think of any PM, or MP even for that matter that has truly given the impression of being a Leader capable of being in charge of the country since Thatcher?. The expenses scandal also lost a lot of respect for the government, many seeing it as "them getting away with it"
  • Concentration of academic acheivement at the expense of vocational training. Admittedly everyone has the same opportunity in our education system, but there are some who are simply not capable of (or not interested in) academic acheivement. They may well be capable of laying bricks (just one random example) and earn good money from it but where is the vocational training in schools to help direct them down a more suitable path?
  • A growing culture of instant gratification, an "I want it and I want it now" attitude.  Reward without effort. We've all seen reports of how much the likes of (for example) Wayne Rooney or Rio Ferdinand earns How many that aspire to his lifestyle have been shown the dedication time and effort it took them to get to the top of their profession to be able to earn it.
  • The banking crisis has caused economic difficulty which can breed resentment. The banks had to be bailed out, the alternative would have been far worse. Yet I have never seen an official version of why, set out in a simple everyday language to help people understand the situation. Lack of understanding fuels resentment
  • An environment where "political correctness" often over rules common sense, and the "rights" of criminals seem to take precedence over the rights of victims.
I have long said that allowing a section of our society to grow up with the attitudes of those seen causing the problems this week is a bigger threat to our country than any terrorist group.  Maybe this week was the wake up call the country needs. I said above we are all to blame, what I meant is that, in general, we have all allowed the  above factors to happen with no real protest. Maybe the country as a whole needs to be a bit more pro-active when it is clear that things are going wrong with society, instead of moaning about it amongst ourselves but effectively burying our heads in the sand. Although I am now treading on dangerous ground, some would say that is exactly what has been going on this week.

What are the answers? I don't have them. It's often said that National Service bred respect and responsibility. I can't see that ever being reintroduced, but maybe some form of Citizenship test should be passed before a child is considered an adult?. Punish parents for the actions of their children? Maybe parents need to pass a test before they can actually have children.? It should be ensured that no-one who actively wants to work should be worse off by taking it. No-one should be able to simply avoid work (out of choice) and live off the state without contributing something back. And above and beyond somehow a sense of community, of togetherness, or responsibility and respect to ones neighbourhood needs to be installed. Maybe the Krays and their like had the right idea all along?

It's important to remember that despite the huge media frenzy over the disturbances those taking part are still in the vast majority in our country. I'd like to think that the picture below of one of the many clean up operations by volunteers still represents the true England.  But, if problems continue to be ignored, for how long?

Broom Army photo by @Lawcol888

01 August 2011

Picture problems ?

Hmmm. It appears the 2 pictures in the previous posts uploaded directly from my phone via the blogger app aren't of the best quality. I'll have to see what's gone wrong. No doubt there'll be a setting somewhere that needs a tweak or two. Having said that, the signal in the areas they were sent from, surrounded by high cliffs, was so hit and miss I'm amazed they ever got uploaded at all !