28 July 2009


...MI5 whistleblower, doomsdayist, anti-"Zionist conspiracy" campaigner who believes that 9/11 was an inside job, soi-disant re-incarnation of Jesus Christ who believes that "Castrol GTX adverts are a subliminal reference to God" and that David Icke is his John the Baptist, and transvestite whose feminine alter ego is Delores Kane (and who might therefore be a Dé Dannan fan...) was responsible for Middlesbrough's run to the UEFA Cup final in 2006?


Via OkeyDokeFootball


27 July 2009

Bréag, bréag eile, a haon, a dó

Me and him with more of this.


19 July 2009


I promise I'll get back to posting some angsty 5,000-word essays instead of just YouTube clips (pah — I promise nothing), but I can't resist this. It's the only goal of Thursday's Europa League 2nd qualifying round first leg between Brøndby and Flora Tallinn, and the scorer is Flora's Tõnis Vanna. I'll say no more except to re-iterate: Grafite's goal was a joke.

Spotted @


18 July 2009

Shameless exercise in nationalistic nostalgia

Pah. Sue me.


13 July 2009

The ol' olfactory factory

It's all true, you know.


11 July 2009

The hissing of summer...uh...roads...

Anyone who used to follow the Tour de France on Channel 4 will remember the fantastic theme music which, now that said station has disintegrated into a pitiful gloop of Big Brother, Russell Brand and some of the worst comedy ever to claim to be comedy (with the very occasional honourable exception), is no longer heard bar on YouTube.

But why is it that it took me until yesterday to find out that it was composed by...Pete Shelley? Yes, the Pete Shelley! Pete feckin' Buzzcocks friggin' Shelley! Maybe this is something that everyone else already knew and never told me, you swine.

It's a reworking of a song of his called 'Give It To Me', a wrong-speed vinyl-to-mp3 conversion of which I've managed to find. If anyone has the longform Channel 4 version, without the bits of commentary in the second video below, do please let me know.

UPDATE: After a bit of trial-and-error, I've taken that wrong-speed version of 'Give It To Me' and made my best estimate at a correct-speed version. I'm not familiar with the song, so it's probably a bit off, but Pete Shelley sounds like Pete Shelley, and the key sounds pretty similar to the Channel 4 theme, so...


09 July 2009

Aye, back to their communes and their collective farms

I was reminded of this by David Hepworth's blog today, and, thankfully, someone has posted it on YouTube. It's an episode from the great first series of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, and it has a footballing theme. Some of it is a bit 1973, if you know what I mean (mind you, some of the bits that are a bit 1973 are a bit 2009, too) but it's still wonderful.

(The theme music is missing from the beginning and end, for some reason. If you want to fill in the gaps the longform version is here.)

EDIT: Oh aye, and the sound's a bit low as well, so don't forget to turn the volume back down when you're finished.


08 July 2009

The opposition that makes Federer great

We're going guest-post crazy on SIATVS this week, if two guest posts count as "guest-post crazy". Today's author is Mark from Sport without Spin, with a piece on that tennis chap.

"When Federer becomes the boy with the racket of fire, creating the illusion of art, he also creates an additional illusion: that his opponent is not, in fact, opposing him. That his opponent is in fact co-operating with him: conspiring with Federer to create these patterns of angle and trajectory, of curves and straight lines […] it becomes a pas de deux choreographed by Federer, dancing with a man who is partner, stooge, straight man and butt: a partner who is cherished, ravished, made much of and humiliated before our eyes."

―Simon Barnes, July 2004

For much of Federer’s ascent to the upper echelons of tennis, Barnes’ words were indeed reflective of the illusion his elegant strokes created. The Federer narrative concerned nobody beyond Federer – how else could it be otherwise for a man who had dropped but three sets in his first seven Grand Slam finals? As he has climbed the increasingly steep slope to greatness, the illusion of Federer as mere artist has been dispelled, and the story of who he defeated has come to be as important as how.

Can a player truly be great if his opponents have no great achievements of their own? This, as Federer swept from one major triumph to the next as if floating on the breeze, was the only thing which dared to blot the legacy. The sport thrives on rivalries – on the Borgs and McEnroes, the Edbergs and Beckers, the Samprases and Agassis. One defines the other. If Federer kept winning without substantial challenge, might it perversely serve to tarnish his memory?

As it happened, a man from Spain emerged who simultaneously inflated the scale of Federer’s achievements and threatened to deprive him of the number of titles he might yet win. Though Rafael Nadal is his match on any surface, it was on the clay of Roland Garros where he stood proudest, most wall-like, in the way of Federer’s most coveted title, the French Open. In four years, Rafa would not be beaten here. And every year, there was a defeat for Federer along the way, denying him the statistical greatness he craved – the semi-final of 2005, then ever-more brutally in the three ensuing finals.

Last summer, Nadal yielded just four games against him en route to a straight sets win at Roland Garros, and therein the first suspicious seeds were sown that the rivalry had turned substantially in the Spaniard’s favour. Such suspicions were confirmed when Federer was beaten by Nadal at Wimbledon a month later for the first time in 42 matches and six years. Then came Federer’s tears in Australia at the start of 2009. As Federer wept in defeat, we wondered if we were watching a man fearing that the greatness that had long been presumed and credited, pending the record books catching up with his talent, might be denied. And in the process of these record-denying defeats, something of the greatness and self-assurance of the Swiss had been stifled. He was ranked the world’s number two, and with reason.

All the while, the sport’s best finally began to look like credible challengers to Federer. Novak Djokovic, tenacious, powerful and competitive, won his first Grand Slam and started to look comfortable competing with Federer and Nadal. Andy Murray followed. Federer’s window of opportunity seemed to rescind by the minute.

And then in one furious display from Robin Soderling in May, the obstacle to greatness was removed, the window reopened. Here was a Swede whose talent and good fortune had come together for the first time, and with a force he seemed to exercise without understanding its source, he blew Rafael Nadal off the court in Paris – off Nadal’s court in Paris. Could Federer have done the same that week? He did not need to – he merely needed to win seven tennis matches, and by the time he faced Soderling in the final, he was not against the man who beat Nadal, but rather one who had given everything to his best fortnight of tennis, and did not have anything in reserve to beat the second of the world’s best players.

If Roland Garros was the confirmation of Federer’s place in tennis history, Wimbledon was his coronation, the completion of a world tour of successes lasting six years and surpassing all others. His opponent in the final was Andy Roddick, the man who had been conquered in the 2003 Wimbledon semi-final, then again in successive finals. Roddick, younger than Federer, and winner of the 2003 US Open, had once been expected to be Federer’s great rival, a role he could not yet fulfil, a burden which consumed the tip of his talent, and left Nadal to fill the breach. He had been burned by the fire of Federer’s greatness, however, and was condemned to a career on the precipice of the biggest triumphs in tennis. He came into the final with a record of 2 victories to 18 defeats against the Swiss. But Roddick’s verve has been renewed this year, his will stronger, and Federer broke him only at the 39th attempt in the final. Roddick’s career has been defined by Federer, defined by a belief that he could not be the world’s best, and in this last glorious and cruel defeat, the only difference from previous disappointment was that Roddick had performed to such standards that he was able to help define Federer’s career.

There are an infinite number of narratives being written every moment, but it is only at occasional points that we can stop, reflect on them and measure their significance. Federer could retire today with a wealth of trophies and records, enough to assure his legacy, and a rival has emerged in Nadal whose achievements are so significant in their own right that they add legitimacy to Federer’s, as well as a supporting cast of Djokovic, Murray and Roddick who have extracted and tested Federer’s obstinacy, resilience and resourcefulness. But would Roger’s Wimbledon coronation have been possible without Soderling’s day of brilliance, without the result of a match which Federer did not even contest?

The initial feeling that not beating Nadal at the French Open somehow diminishes the significance of Federer’s victory here has now subsided. Poetically, it would resonate well – if you were scripting a screenplay it would be essential – but the 23 year-old plays a game which asks such a fearsome amount of his knees that he was unable to compete effectively after the clay court season and missed Wimbledon. Perhaps in itself that is a measure of the overdrive needed to compete with Federer, whose body copes far better with the game he plays. Besides, Nadal has proven often enough that for Federer to continue recording Grand Slam victories, he has had to find more in himself, transgress simple artistry and establish character. Amongst his opponents have been some sublimely skilled men, each trying to script their own story, each taking Federer to his limits. And despite those challenges, those questions, those serves and passes, Federer has found a way to achieve more than anyone in the history of his sport.



For victory!

(Click to enlarge)

Deadspin explain in graphical form the "full-court press" metaphor from Sarah Palin's strange, strange resignation speech.


07 July 2009

Echoes of echoes

I hate to break it to you, readers, but the future despises you. That the upcoming round-number anniversary of the moonshot calls forth the memory of Kennedy's famously fulfilled promise only highlights this. You see, back when Jack made his proclamation, our forefathers — and maybe our foremothers too, if their false moustaches could deceive the local curate — would eagerly queue up for a turn at the kinetoscope, where would be played a cylinder informing them that by the year nineteen-hundred-and-eighty-five, we would all be living on Mars: being waited on by Plutonian butlers, having our nutritional needs satisfied by means of some kind of benign laser being shone up our noses, and establishing kickass nuclear launch facilities (one red planet is quite enough, is it not?).

In reality, as we sadly know, by 1985, NASA had given up faking moon landings, and Manchester United were FA Cup champions. Times were bleak; promises were broken.

There is a modern version of this phenomenon. We live in the midst of a media revolution. Some years ago, boffins, to use the tabloid vernacular, told us that we would all soon be interconnected by means of computers no larger than a standard household mangle, and that we would have so many television stations, broadcasting all day, every day, that we would need a device to control the set remotely. Our minds would consequently be expanded and peace would descend on our planet as we all listened to Mozart together in glorious communion.

Sadly, these wise folk were burnt at the stake as Protestants and never got to see their vision borne out. Well, half-borne out. True, we could listen to Mozart with our international brethren. But in reality, the internet, this vast virtual city, is filled with porn, cats and probably cat porn (hey, I'm not looking it up). People spend more time online irregularly updating their blogs and looking at x-rays of people who have various household objects located uncomfortably about their person than bettering themselves or the human race.

In other words, the bigger the field, the more the bullshit. Witness the coverage of the death of Michael Jackson. Now, I'm no member of the legion of the tedious who have somehow contrived to be offended by the fact that this has been a major news story. This was the death of Michael Jackson, after all, you loathsome stains of misery. But very quickly, with person after person stating and restating nothing more than the bare fact of the matter from a variety of locations in an array of media, it felt like someone was repeating a word over and over (over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over over) until it has lost its meaning. By the time the sun had risen on the Friday morning's acres of nothingness, it had become, weirdly, numbing.

Which sees us crassly segueing into football. Transfer gossip has probably existed ever since those grimy northerners stopped playing fair and began to give Scots suspicious-looking "supervisor" jobs at the cotton mill. Back then, such gossip would have been reasonable, as its outlets were limited: the terraces, the pubs, the Athletic News.

Things have changed. Newspaper sports sections have got bigger; indeed, papers who would once have seen such flim-flam as beneath them now often contain pull-out football sections. There are twenty-four hour sports stations — there are twenty-four hour sports news stations, which I'm sure is a harbinger of something ominous. Combine these with the aforementioned interwebs, and the space given over to what all blogs of this nature are required to call at least once every six months the "beautiful game" is, if my maths don't fail me, infinite.

The trouble with this exponential (oh look, my maths fail me) increase in capacity is that there is not necessarily that much more of substance to fill it with. This is bad enough during the season, when the gaps between matches are the occasion for the reporting of imaginary managerial feuds and non-committal press conference responses turned into declarations of war. In the close season, with just as much capacity to fill, there is practically nothing of substance to fill it with.

And so we get the steaming nonsense of transfer rumours. There is little discerning or discriminating about these. The football pages — assisted immensely by the hall of mirrors that is the internet (O! Brave new media!) — are, I am pretty sure, the result of a tear in the fabric of spacetime through which all possible transfer realities have poured. If a story about a certain player moving to a certain club turns out to be rubbish, don't worry! Just go to the next absorbent puppy-urine soaker-upper provider and presto!, the player is going to another club. For twice as much money. And if that turns out to be rubbish...

This is not to say that none of these stories are ever correct. I mean, if you put an infinite number of football writers in front of an infinite number of word processors, one of them would eventually guess where Javier Mascherano will be in September.

Though none, it seems, would know where Michael Owen was headed.

During the last gleeful application of free-market principles, I ventured that despite my growing aversion to the stuff, I would probably have it fed intravenously as the hours to the deadline receded. Well, I didn't. Which is to say, I did, only so I could be put out of my misery regarding the Arshavin deal, like a hedgehog waiting for the car to reverse back over its still-just-about-twitching body and let its soul fly to hedgehog heaven, where Arsenal don't lose as much. (By the way, Arshavin totally signed BEFORE the deadline. Okay?) The transfer columns are now something I instinctively skip, just like the racing pages or the listings for TV3.

Maybe it's just a function of age; maybe there comes a point when nothing about these stories can surprise you and that's that. On my own personal Premier League Southgate Rankings, for instance, every team in the top flight moves above the Southgate Parallel within weeks of a new season's beginning. Maybe, once more, it is because there is so much noise out there that echoes rebound back off other echoes. Last year, seeing Hull in the Prem was deeply weird at first. But soon they became part of the furniture — a lying, whining, zealously over-lacquered part of the furniture, but a part of the furniture nonetheless.

Whatever. Transfer rumours, which not so long ago I faithfully pored over, are dead to me. The only way to deal with the close season to assist m'colleague in making shit up. But I have a question which remains unanswered: have I — who have effortlessly bestridden the information galaxy like a hyper-intelligent and slightly cynical colossus since birth, who was taught my letters and numbers by television puppets, who registered my first note of scepticism at the advertising industry just before my third Christmas — conquered the media, or has it defeated me?



05 July 2009

Numbers, screaming

You know how I effectively said, after Roger Federer won the French Open, that the stats and records he's notching up are essentially just symbols — earthly representations of something that cannot be adequately rendered as such?

Yeah, well, fuck that. Symbols matter. A fifteenth major, at Wimbledon, in front of Sampras, Borg and Laver, against an immense opponent in Andy Roddick, in a match which featured a thirty-game deciding set...How's that for a symbol?


04 July 2009


Time for a guest post. Today's author is Elliott, head honcho at the excellent Futfanatico, with his thoughts on that great big footballer magnet in the centre of Spain.

Kaka. Cristiano Ronaldo. Benzema. Raul Albiol. The sums have been gi-normous. The names make the mouth water. Well, maybe not Albiol. Still, the mood at the Bernabeu for Kaka’s unveiling spoke wonders about the general feeling in Madrid – the joys and exuberance of childhood. But across the country, and the channel, a different mood reigned.

Just last summer, Sir Alex bullishly refused to sell his Portuguese plaything. So what happened? Bear Stearns collapsed. American owners at both United and Liverpool have struggled to re-finance their debts, or find interested sheiks, and Setanta went belly-up. In a tumultuous market, business considerations overcame sporting interests.

The reaction among United fans has been positive – few will miss the sullen and moody Ronaldo. His accomplishments have immediately been forgotten – 40 plus goals? That was so last year. Yet, despite making a handsome profit on the Portuguese investment, resentment lingers. Anger flashes in the eyes and words of columnists. Why?

United, the reigning champion of England, is not a selling club. The Red Devils poach talent from all over the world – they are not a two-bit pawnshop five miles from a military base. Calderon played a weak-bluff last summer, tossing a line and hoping Ronaldo would bite. He did not. Perez, on the other hand, cashed in all his chips, the keys to his car, and his rolex. He went all-in beyond United’s comprehension. And the Red Devils folded.

Florentino Perez knows the value of money to others but has little regard for it himself. He loves zeroes and signing checks, two troubling habits in times of depression. Still, the concerns about “Madrid accumulating debt” are disingenuous. These are the folded arms and grunts of the doctors at their child’s school auction – winning the prize until the banker showed up.

But how should you, the neutral, react? Should you wish a plague on the house of Perez? Too late. The last edition of the Galacticos played pitiful football – only the individual brilliance of Zidane and, later, Ronaldo brought home any trophies. And do not expect trophies to rain down from the heavens - egos will derail any sustained success.

I, as a Madrid fan, am self-medicating on Wimbledon to repress the cognitive dissonance. Last season, the current roster came within 6 points of Barcelona until a late slide. But now Perez has mortgaged the future for immediate returns. And if a phantom goal derails a return leg, then the heads will fly. Not the players of course, but I hope Pellegrini kept his return ticket open. And of course not Perez.


03 July 2009

Knowing when to pun

The 2009 Tour de France begins tomorrow. Huzzah! While I get ready for my annual three-week stint as a cycling expert and acquaint myself with the list of riders who haven't been banned (it's quicker that way), you can do two things:

1) Read a couple of Albert Londres' wonderful, revelatory reports from the 1924 Tour;

2) Have a listen to some numbers by the Delgados. The band had albums called Domestiques and Peloton, and were named after Pedro, who won the Tour in 1988 and who TOTALLY DIDN'T TAKE ANY ILLEGAL SUBSTANCES. (The following year, he showed up almost three minutes late for the prologue, in which he finished dead last, though he did recover to finish third overall.)

The Delgados split up in 2005, but thanks to the miracle of recorded sound, we can still, as if by magic, hear their unique brand of Scottish indie miserablism. Here, in order of the order I've put them in, are some selections:

"Accused of Stealing"





  ©Template by Dicas Blogger.