Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Last Moving Thing...

A new poem on Caught By The River today.

You can read it here, if you so choose.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Panesar Returns. (An Old) Order Is Restored...

Few images in sport can elicit the kind of warmth in my chest that the sight of Monty Panesar celebrating a wicket can.

It is an oddly comforting experience to once more be listening to the cricket, willing on a genuinely classy England performer, one who has never given anything other than his very best, while also bristling from time to time at the thinly veiled patronization lurking in every back handed compliment dished out by the dear old chaps in the ancient bastion of cultural diversity that is Test Match Special. Welcome back, Monty.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Last Night...

A great night last night at the Caught By The River Social Club.
Thanks to everyone who came down and listened, to John for a brilliant stint as anchor and Robin Turner and Charles Rangeley-Wilson for allowing me to share the stage with them.

A new poem went up on the site at the weekend as well...

Read it here if you want.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Troubled Striker Of The Week...

I often ask myself the question...

"Are we worse now that I care less? Or are we worse because I care less?"

As does the Russian existentialist and once great exponent of the midfielder-forward position, Andrey Arshavin.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Short Term...

Andre Villas-Boas' assertion about reserve teams that has been reported in the press today is a salient one; perhaps the relative strength and high level of competitive football that Barcelona and Real Madrid's B Teams play to does have a positive impact on their first team's abilities to bring through players from their academies, but it is also a moot point. The fact is, that the second tier leagues in almost every other European country are almost completely redundant. They're not as widely watched, followed in the press or pored over in the way that the Championship or more pertinently Leagues One and Two are here. Even the Conference has a huge profile compared to anything of a similar standard in Spain or Germany. Although there isn't anything comparable in either Germany or Spain, who have three and two professional leagues respectively. This has arguably created a skewed situation in this country because players who are by definition mediocre (and what I mean by this is relative to other professional players) are disproportionately rewarded, both financially and culturally (big stadia that are filled even in the lower leagues, TV presence at matches, national media exposure) for playing at what is, again speaking relatively, a fairly low level. You can be set up for life playing football in what used to be the third division. While that cannot be good for the standard of player being developed by our game, it is an inescapable by-product of our football culture. As a country we love football clubs, as much as we love football, whatever league they play in; they are old, traditional, familial and the fact that a club as venerable, not to mention recently successful, as Luton Town can now be playing four divisions below the top echelon and filling its stadium regularly is a state of affairs that just wouldn't happen anywhere else in Europe.
The real point though is that Villas-Boas' statement is all well and good, but the short-termist aesthetic peddled in the media and by fans that Chelsea and Man City's moneyed era has ushered in is diametrically opposed to the idea of nurturing young talent at big clubs. You only need look at the media (and fan) reaction to Wenger's last 5 years at Arsenal, where the club is regularly harangued as a failure, and yet in this time has actively pursued a policy based on development of players ahead of forking out hugely inflated transfer fees for established superstars (I hesitate to mention the £50m spent on one Fernando Torres when Chelsea already had Daniel Sturridge at the club, but only hesitate.). So he can't have it all. He can't have 50 million pound superstars warming one bench, and then have the Championship wrapped up by March courtesy of a bunch of expensive youngsters (all signed from the likes of Luton at the age of 15, no doubt...). No, sadly, he can't have it all. None of us can.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Greasy Pole...

I'm sure most people have already seen this; it's been posted elsewhere and I'm sure already commented on ad nauseum on Twitter and by far more interesting commentators, with far more witty and insightful things to say than me (I quite liked this piece in The Quietus, for example), but I had to mention it. The cricket was a bit boring, for a start...

EDIT: Just seen two wickets fell in the last couple of overs. I'd stopped listening by then, typically

I'm pretty sure I'm not actually offended by this article. I think I just feel sorry for Alex James. Is he ok, do you think? He certainly can't write. Unless he's preparing a children's book, and is using his "food" column in his "newspaper" to work out a suitable voice.
In fact his writing is the worst aspect of this whole sorry affair. The whole article reads like a disorientating mixture of children's school report and some archaic, naive propaganda piece. It's horrible. The whole thing is horrible.

I think a man should be judged by the company he keeps, and this picture is as damning a piece of evidence as anything...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

We're All In It Together..

... but not in the actual boat, presumably?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Chris Gayle...

A couple of summers ago, my family were about to go out for the day. Everyone was getting ready, putting on jackets, shoes, hats. I said I'd catch them up. I wanted to watch the first couple of overs of the West Indian chase against Australia. I thought I knew what would happen. Gayle would get out early, because I was watching and then I'd have to watch Ricky Ponting's tiny eyes crease up in smug satisfaction... wouldn't I?

An hour later I left the house with the biggest smile on my face having watched Brett Lee, still regularly firing them down at 90 MPH, completely and utterly destroyed. Look at his face on about 3.01! They must have needed 5 balls. Let's hope Gayle brings a bit of this to Somerset this summer. I don't think we'll see him over here playing for the West Indies again.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Caught By The River Social Club...

... I'm delighted to have been asked to read a few poems at the CBTR Social Club's first event of the year. At The Stag pub, in Hampstead, which looks like a great pub, and with a host of other writers and music from Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou. Tickets available here.