24 April 2015

McIlvanney on Best

A film on George Best from 1970, written and narrated by Hugh McIlvanney. It contains this quote from Best:
I know players that try to hurt me. I've even heard trainers from the bench shouting 'Break the bastard's legs' ... They say afterwards that it's during the game, they didn't really mean it. But when they said it, they meant it. It makes me feel the only way to get back at them is to make them feel so inferior that they'll never want to play another game of football again in their lives.
Uploaded to YouTube by Seb Patrick


17 March 2015


Footballers: you can't trust a bastard of 'em. Give them a ball and a yard of grass and they might well do something so extraordinary that you won't quite know what it is — but they probably won't. They'll probably fail to do even the ordinary. (Amongst other things, natch,) a game is a litany of failures: earnest attempts to perform those simple and difficult acts that everything complex and easy-looking depends on, not coming off. The spectator's hopes are repeatedly raised, giving rise to a basic constant apprehension. Even a really good player, someone who will be tremendously dear to you in a few minutes' time if he does something exceptional, as he may have been many times thitherto — even he's likely to screw this up and ruin it for you. If you know you might react to his endeavours with anything from a brush of regret to a sincere cursing of his bloody inept excuse for an immortal soul, it's hard to let him do his thing without at least a ventricle being in your mouth.

Sometimes, though, a player is far better than he actually needs to be, and your (your?) privileged position as the spectator who knows what should happen next; the idea that this is a hell-sent obstacle to your contentment rather than a craftsperson possessed of an expertise that really is beyond the last confused and embarrassed mutterings of your ken — that shite no longer applies. You're not going to succeed in second-guessing the really good stuff. There comes a stage when the only thing to do is to let a player be with no interfering from that poor forsaken heartlet of yours. When Sergio Agüero set off for the Bayern Munich goal, you had to trust him to take you wherever he was going. And if you didn't get it the first time, he repeated it for you a few minutes later. He's nice like that, so he is.

Watching Mesut Özil demands this trust. The typical Özil pass looks like it's been played too gently to reach its destination on time, but turns out to have the perfect weight; it makes every other player's passes look off, over-eager to be correct. He floats between positions no else can see. He creates passing angles that briefly seem like they can't be feasible, and yet.

Özil's game is full of personality, but has no charisma. It has no interest in selling itself — it just is. It says the most amazing things, but at such a low volume that you have to lean in to hear.

But a big fat transfer fee precedes him wherever he goes and barks a hype-crammed announcement of his greatness. It gives off notions. For that sort of outgoing, shouldn't he be more ... well, outgoing? Shouldn't he personally greet each supporter with a smile and a quip as they walk in? Why is he so reticent? Why is he playing that way? What's he hiding?

Alexis Sánchez can play badly (as he has done quite a bit lately) and still get a brilliant report from Generic Co-Commentator because of his workrate. Özil can play well and still get convicted on the evidence of his body language. Even television's Mr. Analysis, Gary Neville, can't help spiralling downward in his assessment of Özil before touching down on the feeling that he just doesn't look right.

Early on against West Ham at the weekend, Theo Walcott was put through on goal, and instead of shooting first time, he waited for something or other and was tackled. In the second half, Özil was put through on goal, inside the penalty area and outside the left-hand post. It looked like he was lining up to shoot, availing fully of the couple of minutes' worth of space he had. Instead, he played a high pass across the goal, and the chance was lost. It would have been the most Özil move ever had the pass been any good. After Walcott, I struck the furniture. After Özil, I laughed. That's our Meslington.


Image by MiikaS on Flickr (Creative Commons)


30 August 2014

Gaelscoil joke

Gafa le Mata


25 October 2013

Keeping It Peel

For Keeping It Peel Day, in honour of the Word spread by the Rev. John, thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded (ta, the British!), we present a special mix. Every second of every last track has been lovingly, tenderly, gorgeously hand-picked from the archive of sessions performed for Peel's programmes, spanning [counts] thirty-four years of broadcasting excellence? Bloody hell, even if we do say so ourselves. Our dedicated team of expert music-listening technicians has curated this unique blend especially for your aural delight and, possibly, oral ensquealment. (Side effects may vary. By reading this, you waive all statutory rights.) And because we have total faith in the quality of our product, we believe in being completely transparent with you, our trusted client, about the ingredients that have gone into this unique, one-off, unique, special and unique one-time unique podcast, including the date each was recorded:

(0:00) Ivor Cutler, "Life in a Scotch Sitting Room, Volume II, Episode 10" (15/7/1985)

(0:35) The Delgados, "Last Rose of Summer" (16/10/2002)

(3:25) Dawn of the Replicants, "Windy Miller" (28/4/1998)

(6:01) David Bowie, "Moonage Daydream" (23/5/1972)

(10:52) Supergrass, "Pumping on Your Stereo" (23/7/1999)

(14:02) Dick Dale, "Surf Trip" (28/8/2002)

(16:47) Bhundu Boys, "Ndoita Sei" (17/1/1987)

(21:27) Dexys Midnight Runners, "Tell Me When My Light Turns Green" (26/2/1980)

(24:38) The Fall, "He Pep!" (7/12/1995)

(28:44) Public Image Ltd., "Poptones" (10/12/1979)

(33:12) The Auteurs, "Buddha" (20/2/1996)

(37:29) Eric Bogosian, "The Coming Depression" (10/8/1983)

(39:17) Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, "Give Booze A Chance" (5/5/1968)

(41:51) Super Furry Animals, "Fragile Happiness" (12/7/2001)

(44:10) Boards of Canada, "Olson (Version 3)" (16/6/1998)

(46:32) Half Man Half Biscuit, "Song for the Siren" / "Vatican Broadside" (3/9/2002)

(49:36) Young Marble Giants, "N.I.T.A." (18/8/1980)

The mix is 53 minutes long, and will take up no more than 49 of your hard-earned megabytes should, as we hope, you choose to load it down (or "download" it) to your digital datum storage unit. Sound quality varies because of the nature of these things and because what do we look like, some kind of professional Audacity users or something, geddouttahere.

Listen. Enjoy. Treasure. And sing along! The singer out of Slipknot went to Rome to see the Pope, everybody!, the singer out of Slipknot...

Visit the Keeping It Peel site for more Peel-related wondrousness from around the web.


16 October 2012

Trapattoni's team talks: Germany and the Faroe Islands

(The above in words here.)


24 August 2012

The Normanthology may or may not save your life

News for you, darlings. Those of you who have hung around hereabouts since days of yore, God love you, will remember that I occasionally contibuted to Norman Einstein's, a monthly online sports magazine. It went for 21 issues, and it was bloody good. Now, the editor, Cian O'Day, has picked some of the best pieces and arranged them in book form. There's something of mine in there, but if that doesn't put you off, please consider giving something to the Normanthology's Kickstarter drive. $10 will get you a copy of the book; more dollars will get you more stuff. Give $150 and I will write that article of mine on Venezuelan winter league baseball you've fantasised about for so long.

Some of the Einstein's crew can be found at Steven Lebron talking about the book and the site and whatnot. Cian and Einstein's contributor Graydon Gordian do likewise with David Roth at that Classical.

You have two weeks to give give give — even less if you're reading this after I write it. We'll be forever grateful if you do, and you'll be one great book to the good. Go raibh míle!





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